Our Voyages: 5 Tips for a Hometown Vacation

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There is no better cure for the inevitable homesickness you'll feel when you move away, than going home. I hadn't been fully aware just how homesick I was until we landed in San Francisco three weeks ago. The relief and happiness that came with arriving in the city I think of as home was met with a bit of trepidation because I knew this was going to be a whirlwind trip. Visiting your hometown (or wherever you consider to be home) can be a tricky and exhausting trip. You want to see EVERYONE, EVERYONE wants to see you, and there are about a gazillion places you want to eat at and things you want to do before you leave. Scheduling all this is no easy feat and it took many years of coming home from college to feel like I am finally close to getting it right. These are five tips I try to follow for planning and executing a successful trip home:

Do Not Over Plan  If it can be helped, try not to plan each hour of each day out too far in advance. Having room to be spontaneous will make the trip feel less stressful than when you are "going going going" from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. This has always been a hard one for me because I am a planner, but on this trip I let our moods guide us a lot more than I usually do and it made for a more relaxing trip overall.

Balance Social Activities  Of course it would be great to get one on one time with each one of your friends, but there aren't enough hours in the day to do that. So balancing one on one friend and family hangout time with group family and friend hangout time is key. We went wine tasting with a group of our friends in Sonoma and it was a great way to catch up with multiple people without feeling rushed.

Make a Short List  Homesickness is not only about missing friends and family. It's also about missing your favorite coffee shop, ice cream place, corner store or nail salon. Along with spending time with my BFF and siblings, my short list included eating at least one burrito (anywhere would do) and drinking at least one beet juice (from Greens and Company). Once those two things were checked off my list I felt more at ease about leaving San Francisco again.IMG_8640

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Don't Forget Your Significant Other  Plan out a bit of time to hang out with him or her and do some of the things you liked to do together when you were living there. It's very easy to go on a trip home with your significant other and get back from the trip feeling like you haven't seen each other in months. Rob and I weren't as good about this but we did have a mini road trip together from SF to LA where we got to chat and be together which was a nice break from the rest of the trip. We also ended the last three weeks with a vacation to Bermuda, so getting time together in CA wasn't as imperative.

Be Present  This is probably my most important tip! It's very easy to get caught up in all the planning and scheduling and forget to enjoy the time you're spending with your family and friends. My trick for staying in the moment is making lots of toasts no matter what kind of beverage is being consumed. It brings people into the moment and reminds them to be thankful that you're all together.

Happy San Francisco Vibes

I wanted our weekend in San Francisco to be mostly relaxing so I tried really hard not to plan the whole weekend out, weeks in advance. I'm proud to say that I did a pretty good job! I only had four must dos on my list. Eat burritos, drink my fave beet juice (what up Greens and Co.!), hang out with my siblings (didn't get a pic with my bro yet) and spend every waking minute with my best friend. I'm very happy and have been smiling all week because all four of those things happened!     Here's to another weekend with family and friends on Catalina Island! 

Creating a Meaningful Life: Creative Writing Classes

CreatingAMeaningfulLifeFor our second to last class, we explored the memoir style of creative writing. Our assignment was to pick a memory from our past and make it into a scene. The first memory that popped into my head was when my sister and I were told we would be getting another sibling. It was our last assignment and my favorite one to write. Five years into my innocent existence, my parents threw me a curveball. I had finally accepted that this small being who looked like me but with hair wound like corkscrews was not going to be taken back to the hospital where she came from. But when they told me they wanted to add a little boy to the mix, I was thoroughly shocked.

My memory of the moment I found out I was getting a little brother is a bit blurry. Through that blurriness, though, I see us in our living room. A square of sunshine reaches into the room from the window next to the front door, cutting the darkness created by the closed shutters on the front window. My sister and I were engaged in something that wasn’t listening to our parents, so when they asked us, “Sonja, Alexis, do you want a little brother?”, we didn’t hear them the first time. They asked again. This time we heard, but we were eager to get back to whatever we were doing. So we said, “No thank you.” We hoped that would be the end of it.

I can assume that there must have been a silence in which my parents panicked, realizing that asking a 3 year old and a 5 year old if they wanted a baby brother was probably the wrong approach. A few beats later they changed course. They put on their most cheerful voices and said, “Girls, you are going to have a baby brother!” I wailed, “Nooooooooo!” My sister followed my lead and began crying as well. I can’t recall if I was actually upset that I was going to have a little brother or if I was upset that they had told us we were going to do the opposite of what we had said we wanted. The kind, older sister that I am now hopes that it was the latter.

My mom assures me that the crying stopped quickly once they explained how fun a little brother would be, and that we could help her take care of him. My sister is positive that this was not the way it went down at all. She can’t recall exactly how it happened but she is sure we had said we wanted to name him Champ.

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