My youngest niece graduated from high school last week, and so we packed up our things and drove up to Sacramento to celebrate — just as we did when her older brother and sister reached that milestone.

But this year, we did something different: we stayed a while. My sister and I have been trying to arrange a couples’ trip up to Mendocino for the longest time, but between the restraints of work and school, it’s been hard to coordinate. With the start of summer and all of us in the same place, we were finally able to make that happen.

And as it’s just silly to rush back home so you can get back to work mid-week, we extended our holiday until Friday, and made a pit stop in one of our┬ástate’s natural wonders: Yosemite National Park.

It was our first real vacation – not just an extended weekend – in three years.


As you all know, I’m not the outdoors type – but I still found plenty of ways to enjoy the beauty of Yosemite, including a morning art class that had me wielding a paintbrush for the first time since I was a kid. The resulting watercolor wasn’t great – but it didn’t totally suck, either. And I got in touch with a part of myself that’s been dormant for a long, long time.

Yosemite Watercolor

My first attempt at painting in something like 40 years.

In fact, I think just the fact of being on vacation – without the usual workday stress – allowed each of us to be our authentic selves again. You know, the people we were before we became parents and homeowners and had to act like responsible adults. For one week, we were relaxed. For one week, we weren’t bickering with one another. For one week, I felt at peace.

Now that I am back, I am trying to figure out how to hold on to that authentic self I got to meet again while on vacation. I may make some time to do more painting, if only for myself.

And start planning my next vacation. Hopefully, I won’t have to wait as long.

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