This is the last weekend of my summer break. (For all my new followers that I’ve gained, I teach at an arts-integrated school in Los Feliz.) Yesterday, we had grand plans to end this summer with a daytrip to our favorite place, Joshua Tree, to take in its breathtaking some views, but LA traffic had a different plan for us.
The few days leading up to this weekend have been hectic. My body ached from all the heavy lifting it was asked to do. From helping my school declutter old curriculum (goodbye old textbooks that we never used) to clearing out Brandon’s storage unit (hello combined assets!) and to setting up our new classroom spaces with my teammates, I pushed myself to finish so that Brandon and I could have a worry-free day. I should’ve known though that for me worry-free days are far and few between, especially leading up to the start of a new school year.
An hour before we were supposed to leave, I let out a long and heavy sigh after sitting in front of my laptop all morning and scrambling to get two loads of laundry done. Brandon asked what was wrong, and out came a long list of all the things on my mind (aka all the things I still had to do) from my mouth. I remember telling him that I didn’t think I could be fully present while we were at Joshua Tree as I leaned into his shoulders. He reassured me that everything will get done in its own time and to just trust in myself. And off we went, determined to be present and excited to see the glorious sunset that you can only see in the desert.
Another two hours passed, and we were back at home. After the first hour in the car knowing that we had only gone a little more than 10 miles, we knew we had to turn back around so another hour was spent retracing our steps to right back where we started. At first, I was incredibly disappointed (and really annoyed that we had spent two hours in the car to end up right back at home). I have no grand adventures to tell on Monday. This thought had been plaguing my mind all summer long. As a painful introvert, I had always dreaded small talk of catching up after being away for the summer, even when I had traveled somewhere fun; but now, having gone nowhere, it just seemed so much more dreadful.
Maybe I can arrive late on Monday. What could be my excuse? Doctor’s appointment? Car repair? These thoughts continued to run through my mind as I unpacked our day trip bag filled with our cameras and our zero-waste supplies: our Swell water bottles, our reusable utensils, a water bowl for Jayla, her food and doggie bags, and human snacks. But then some new thoughts came to mind…I reduced my single-use plastic this Summer (aka I saved dolphins and sea turtles!). I embraced simplicity and found some body positivity while chasing minimalism. I created. A lot. 10 blog posts in fact. That’s more than I’ve done in years. We now know we can handle a dog together after taking care of Jayla for a month. I learned to make coffee. Good coffee. So good that we only really went out for coffee a few times this whole Summer (and in doing so, saved more dolphins and sea turtles). I really did have a wonderful Summer. It might be better than most Summers actually.
Maybe, just maybe, staycations are the most relaxing vacations.
We were given the gift of time. Because we were both at home all Summer, we had a lot of free time. Time to truly and completely unwind from the school year. Time to declutter. Time to build happy habits like cooking, journaling, and reading. Time to unplug and watch LA’s beautiful sunsets. Time to create. Time to learn. Time to relax. Time to actually enjoy the home that we’ve created but are typically too busy to relish in. Time to get to know our neighborhood a little better. Time to just be.
Unlike when we travel to new places, there was no rush to be anywhere or to try or pressure see as much as we could in the time that we had. No anxiety of finding a new coffee shop or places that we liked to eat. No pressure to document my summer on Instagram. We could just be wherever, whenever, and however.
I learned to be enough for myself. Too often, we feel the need to escape, as if our problems or the stress of work would magically disappear or work itself while we’re away. But with nowhere to escape to, I had to sit with my problems and work through them. I’m starting to confront my shopping habits by being more transparent with myself and with you. I’m growing to love my body and treat it better by nourishing it and strengthening it. I gained confidence to dress how I’ve always wanted to but never had the courage to do so. I’m learning to be at peace with the things I can’t ever really escape from: myself and our home.
For so long, I thought if we had a bigger place, we’d be happier. If we had more money, we’d be happier. If I had that pair of shoes, my outfits would be complete. Or if we traveled to Tokyo, we wouldn’t want to go anywhere else for a while. I was caught in the life trap. Everything we’ve ever really needed was right here at home all along.
We chose joy every single day. Because we didn’t spend money on a trip, we could splurge on the little things like buying our favorite bags of coffee beans from Intelligentsia to brew at home, our favorited marinated Korean meat to cook for dinner, and a steady supply of popcorn to munch on as we watched movies together in the evenings. With nowhere to be and nowhere to go, we stayed in bed for however long we wanted. We took baths sprinkled with essential oils and put on some face masks. We laughed. A lot. We belted out oldies while cooking, and dragged ourselves through Becca’s season of The Bachelorette.
Every day was a good day this Summer, and we were happy. In the end…isn’t that all we can ever ask for?
“Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.”
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