What I learned.

We’re a few days post-trip and already back into the swing of things at work. I did get a freckled tan after-all, though slight, and I found trace amounts of sand in my CROC’s this morning when I slipped them on. It’s so wild how it takes forever for vacation to come and once it does, it happens quicker than the snap of your fingers; right back at it wondering when the next blip of magic will happen again.

This trip was different than all the rest. For the second time in my life, I traveled with both of my parents. The first time was a quick weekend road-trip to Wisconsin nearly a decade ago, so nothing like this. My mom has been my travel companion for the last 5+ years on most of my big trips but this year we wanted to gift my dad with the bragging rights of being able to say he’s been to all 50 states (supes jelly, dad!) and we did just that!

Along this journey, I learned a few things about myself, traveling, and DUN DUN DUN… my parents. I should get into the habit of writing my “What I Learned” post whilst in airport waiting room areas vs 4 days post-trip because I think this list would have been longer and written with much more enthusiasm than it will turn out to be.

Oh well, live and learn as they say. Here we go:

  • I don’t know how to relax. Relaxing is defined by: being less tense, less anxious; basically to chill TF out. By being on vacation, I suppose I do embody a sense of relaxation but not really. I’m always analyzing, always critiquing. Always making sure all the peoples are content enough; figuring out what we need to do next. Like, if I’m not paying attention to the schedule, who will? I had plenty of opportunities to relax on this vacation. Many moments were filled with sitting on the beach or poolside. Heck, I even had a 80 minute massage. But in those moments when one should relax, I felt even more overwhelmed with my thoughts. I had planned to read much more on this trip than I did but whenever I tried, my mind wandered. I couldn’t just lay down on the beach and do nothing because my brain was racing, I felt like I needed to be in the water. Laying still was too much work. How does that make sense? Even during my massage, I couldn’t help but wish I had a pen and paper to write down everything zooming by from one side to another in my head. How does one turn that all off and relax?
  • Waikiki/Oahu was a little more slummy than I expected. Before your mouth drops to the ground, here me out. Oahu is BEAUTIFUL. The sand and the water; the blues and all the other colors; the vibe and the air.. it’s legit beautiful AF. I just hadn’t mentally prepared to witness the level of homelessness that we’d seen. There are a lot more areas than I’m used to seeing that are run-down and not maintained. Entire communities with garbage laying around living in generalized filth; homeless community tents neighboring elementary schools, etc. But it’s everywhere else too, not just here. Every community in every state or country on most every continent will have this; it’s not new. It was just a bit more in your face than anywhere I’ve ever been. I should mention though, that I didn’t feel unsafe at all at any point. I think those that are homeless here are homeless by choice. The weather is beautiful year-round, tourists throw unused goods in the trash like it grows on trees; what is there to lose?
  • My dad and I aren’t suitable travel companions. Nope, we most certainly are not. When our day was planned to the minute, I was too structured and when I said we can do whatever for the next few hours, I was too nonchalant. There was no winning. This trip, I was sure was a perfect combo of planned and spontaneous. I had a handful of things planned for specific days and then other days were full of free-will opportunities and ideas galore. It probably would have been perfect for me and my mom but throwing my dad into the mixture just didn’t work. We made due though and we survived.
  • Love is complicated and relationships aren’t easy. Of course I already know this. I have my own complicated history in this department. But one thing I’ve always protected and never really taken time to analyze is that my parents love is complicated and their relationship isn’t easy. I think I’ve always held my parents up on this pedestal (and still do). They’ve been married for over 30 years and I’m well aware that it hasn’t been an easy 30+ years. We weren’t sheltered in our upbringing; we knew when tough times were a’ brewin’. But, they figured out how to make it work and I’m grateful for that. While it’s hard to admit, my parents as individuals are both flawed and they bring that into their relationship, just like the rest of us. What is wonderful though, is how they have figured out a way to still love each other during and through various ups and downs. On this trip, I observed my dad in a way that I’d never before, a way that I didn’t like; because it was something that seemed so familiar to me from my past. And I watched how my mom handled it. They know how to work through anything, it seems, as individuals and as a team. After all these years, they still love each other without an asterisks. And that, my friends, is love worth fighting for.
  • My mom is a saint. Yeah, she is. See the previous point for some context but besides that, she’s just way more chill than I’ll ever be. My dad can’t always control his emotions and I’m admittingly a bit high strung. But my mom is like, so cool. She doesn’t (or doesn’t seem to) hold grudges. When it’s time to do something or try something new, she’s down to do it. When I’m crying because I’m afraid I’m making things more difficult than they should be, she assures me that I am not. Saint Julie, she is.
  • My dad is hilarious. Like, he’s the kind of funny where he doesn’t even realize how humorous he is. When he does pull out his dad joke-esque one-liners, they are gold but what’s even better is when he’s not aware of it. I wish he could see himself the way I do. For examples of his classics, refer back to posts earlier this week or follow the hashtag #shitdadsays on Twitter.
  • There are far too many rich people/celebrities in Hawaii. We passed many homes of those that make more money than I could ever imagine in a life time. Bette Midler, Jackie Chan, and Carol Burnett to name a few. Did you know Bill Gates (and others) own entire blocks of real estate? Not necessary, my guy. Not necessary.
  • God is so good. I didn’t make as much of a point to do my daily devos as I had planned but I did manage to get in a few Elevation podcasts on the flight home and started reading a book a dear friend suggested called Not Safe by Mark Batterson. Outside of that, I found myself being a bit more deliberate with everything I saw and photographed on this trip. I had a few moments of solitude where I was just like 1. Is this my real life? and 2. Holy crap, God is an artist. While my parents took a break to rest, I meandered down the beach one day and walked to the end of a jetty-type thing that divided the shallow calm beach with the loud Pacific Ocean. As I stood at the end very end, all alone, I just let the waves hit me; let the salty water brush my arms. I admired how perfect the waves were. Sailboats dotted the horizon and I imagined whales and dolphins alike swimming beneath my favorite color of blue. How did He imagine all of this to reality? In my wildest dreams, I don’t think I could have.

Okay, that is all. Mahalo for reading!

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