At the start of the year, my mother and I sat down to create a budget. It was laid on my heart to start saving for my wedding because I knew it wouldn't be cheap. I was single, but I went with it anyway.
I decided to save a certain amount of money this year and knew that meant cutting out some of my excessive spending – the most of which was attributed to vacationing.
I spent anywhere between $800-$1500 per trip. This varied based on location, duration, and whether an all-inclusive resort was an option or not. I may not have vacationed often, but when I did, I did it well. Cutting this per trip expenditure out of my yearly budget had the potential to bring me well above my savings goal.
This was a major – and worthwhile – sacrifice.
With my love for islands, and the Caribbean Sea, I went into it knowing it would be hard. What I didn't know, however, was how abstaining from vacations this year would lead me toward a deeper path of self-discovery.
Admittedly, many of my vacations were an attempt to escape some hardship. I vacationed when I graduated with my Master's and had no idea of my next move. I vacationed after I lost a valuable friendship. I even vacationed (a lot) after ending a three-year relationship. Unlike past years, escaping to a tropical paradise wasn't an option in 2018.
When life became challenging, I had nowhere to run. I couldn't hop on a flight and temporarily ignore my problems. I couldn't explore new terrains, imagining that it was my new life. I simply had to sit and deal with whatever life was throwing. I'd still take vacation days from work – because, self-care – but I did not accompany those vacation days with an actual vacation. Instead, I used those moments to pursue clarity and peace right where I was.
There was beauty in doing so that I had never taken time to understand. There was so much possibility in healing right at home. For as long as I could afford taking vacations, I vacationed. I'd venture off to discover a new part of the world and find a new part of myself. I pursued healing in different countries and found fun in places that I would have to spend loads of money to visit again. As memorable as those times were, they weren't sustainable.
Why should my only source of fun come from the exploration of foreign places?
Why should healing only happen poolside?
Why should my only escape be by way of a 4-hour flight to an island in the Caribbean?
And how come the idea of living my best life is only reflected in my ability to do these things, to visit these places, and to take pictures to prove it?
Truthfully, there is nowhere I could go that would make me immune to life happening. I could vacation for 13 days and return to the same turmoil I had just left. Since I couldn't run away from life this year, I decided to craft the life I desired. Finding fun and creating the best life right where I was.
In my moments of sadness or anger, I would retreat to my apartment, turn the lights off, light some candles, and find zen in the smooth sounds of my favorite soulful artists. Doing this helped me create a peaceful space in my own home. I set up a fortress that I could utilize for meditating and self-discovery; this served to be incredibly helpful for re-centering myself after bad days.
In the moments I needed fun, I would use Eventbrite and Instagram to find activities that could provide the level of "turn up" I was looking for. Doing this helped me make new local friends and explore events within the city that I never knew existed – events that I would later frequent.
When I needed time to simply relax, I would schedule a sauna visit at a spa about 20 minutes from my apartment, sit in solitude, and listen to ocean waves, compliments of Pandora Radio. On special occasions, I'd include a one-hour facial. This provided me with a similar sense of isolation and calm as my usual vacation, for a fraction of the cost.
With all these alternatives, I haven't missed vacationing at all.
This year, I learned that living my best life isn't about escaping from the life I have, it's about embracing it. It's about exploring the places right outside my front door and finding joy in what each one has to offer. It wasn't about counting down until my next trip, it was about enjoying each moment for what it was. It was about fostering growth in the space God placed me to grow in. It was about being able to find refuge, and healing, and possibility, and fun wherever I went.
It was about curating a fulfilling life right here, right now. This is my version of my best life.
This isn't to say that you shouldn't take vacations. Of course you should! It's to suggest that if you're looking for your best life, it can be found right where you are.
xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image by Shutterstock
Zoe Hunter is the writer, speaker, and creator behind the women empowerment brand DEAR QUEENS. She uses vulnerability, storytelling, and spiritual development to empower women toward healthy decision-making. Stay connected to Zoe's work by visiting DEARQUEENS.com or following her on Twitter @zDEARQUEENS.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Watching Angela “Blac Chyna” White’s transformation in real-time has truly been a sight to see. It wasn’t that long ago that she announced that she was reversing her cosmetic surgeries in an effort to go back to who she was before the world came to know her as Blac Chyna. In previous interviews, she stated that she was dissolving her facial and lip fillers, removing her breast implants, and getting a butt reduction, as well as removing the dimple piercings that enhanced her fame and controversial tattoos.
In a recent Tamron Hall interview, the mother of two said that she has “fully recovered” from the procedures. She is also celebrating one year of sobriety and opened up about being worried about how her new journey would be received by others.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry for so long, right, and of course, like, you know, coming out, I’m like young, I’m gonna do wild things as we all have,” she said.
“...I feel like by me being vocal and showing everybody you can change your life and things can get better, like through myself, that right there is an accomplishment, and that’s a part of freedom, too.”
But as she started on her journey, many people have shown her grace, which is something she’s grateful for. “And then the fact that people have been showing me grace, it’s like amazing,” she said. “And I feel like when I did it, I just did it. It was more so like spiritual thing and I feel like people see that, and I’ve always been like my authentic self, so what you see is kinda what you get with me, and that’s just kinda what it is.”
Chyna, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Sacramento Theology Seminary and Bible College, has also repaired her relationship with her mom, Tokyo Toni. The social media celebrity surprised her daughter on the Tamron Hall Show. Prior to the sentimental surprise, Chyna dished on the reconciliation and having a better understanding of her mom.
“I must say, some of the things I have to take accountability for because, like my actions. As a mother, you don’t want to see your daughter doing certain things ‘cause it’s like it doesn’t matter what my past was or what we’re going through, I didn’t raise you that way,” she admitted. “So, it’s like, okay, maybe I was a little bit wrong. Maybe I was acting out a little bit. But I feel like as we grow older, I kinda see more, and I understand more.”
Chyna will be starring in season two of Fox's reality competition show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.
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Feature image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images