Sources: Kam Franklin & Joanna's Backyard
As a part of our Sources series with Mountain Valley Spring Water, Kam Franklin found a new source of inspiration in a solo trip and a new destination. Read Franklin’s own words on Joanna’s Backyard below.
When I worked my full time job, I spent a lot of time daydreaming about vacations. I’d sometimes go as far as filling up a shopping cart with flights, hotels, resort stays, etc. but I’d never purchase it. The timing was always off. The money was always wrong, and I would always find a million other things that “had” to be done instead of relaxing. At one point, I had somehow convinced myself that I hated relaxing. Mainly because I thought that it meant that something in my life wouldn’t get done if I took a break. Thankfully, the universe had other plans for me.
A few years ago, I had to learn how to stop living my life for other people. I am a recovering people pleaser, and the way people thought about me used to consume me. From my art to my body, I lived to cater to others. That is, until I realized how much I was draining, neglecting, and aging myself to keep that shit up.
At first, telling people no, drove them and me crazy. I hated the feeling that came with letting people down, but regaining control of my life and my time gave me the opportunity to seek out the adventures that actually mattered to me.
Around that time, I started working on a song called, “Do Whatever”, with my band, The Suffers. Here’s the first verse:
“Full on disclosure
I’m not here for exposure
I came to have a good time
So let me shine
It ain’t gotta be a weekend
To find that joy that you’re seeking
So treat yourself to something more and you’ll be fine”
This song is a reminder to live my life everyday unapologetically. While I quickly figured out how to explore this professionally, personally, I was still a wreck. After every tour, I would come home to the same empty house, drink at the same bars around my hometown of Houston, TX, and pretty much repeat this routine. I found myself getting more and more sedentary, and while my professional career was thriving, my personal life was sad.
Summer 2018 took a huge toll on me emotionally and professionally. I parted ways with my longtime management, I cut off a lot people that I felt were contributing to my sadness, and I slowly started taking the steps to seek my own personal joy. I knew that I was going to be on the road until December 30th, so I started researching places to bring in 2019. After reading up on tons of places and flights, I decided on Barbados.
One night, I found a cheap red-eye flight that would get me there on the afternoon of December 31st. After a while, I took a deep breath, and clicked “purchase”. Over the next few months, I would tell everyone, not to brag, but because I needed to convince myself not to back out from going. The recovering people pleaser within me knew that if I told people I was going, I would have to go. I only knew one person that lived down there, but they were going to be gone on their own holiday by the time I arrived, so I was on my own.
I knew that I wanted to immerse myself in as much of the local culture as possible, so I opted to share a home with someone on Airbnb. There was only one review for Joanna’s house (my host), and it was in French, which I don’t speak. However, the one photo that stood out to me had a clear view of the crystal clear ocean in her backyard. The price was right, and even though I couldn’t see much else in the photos, I took a chance and made a reservation to stay with her.
After a long, two month tour, opening for Thievery Corporation, the day had finally come to fly out. To say that I was nervous is an understatement. I almost missed my flight because I was late to the airport, but minus all of the delays, I finally made it. When I arrived to Joanna’s house, she met me with open arms, snacks, tea, and rum. Her energy was so warm and welcoming. After she showed me to my room, she walked me to the back patio, and there it was. In my backyard for the next 9 days, the brightest, bluest ocean water I’ve ever seen. We were in St. James, Barbados. It’s a tiny neighborhood on the island that is filled with locals, quiet beaches, and gorgeous homes. You’re right on the water, so there’s a constant breeze everywhere you go.
I swam everyday. Every single day. My phone only worked when I was on the house WiFi, but since I rarely at the house, I was able to take in everything around me without the constant distraction that is the internet. Every time I swam, I felt lighter. I walked everywhere, rode on packed buses, asked tons of people for directions, took a ride on a sunset catamaran tour, danced to soca and reggae music every night until I couldn’t feel my legs, sipped way too much rum, flirted with everyone I met, and I spent as much time in the sun as possible. What was the end result? Joy. Pure joy.
Every morning that I was greeted by the ocean in Joanna’s backyard, I thanked God for the moment. I was so grateful for the opportunity to see something so beautiful in what felt like my own private oasis.
On my final day there, I couldn’t stop crying. Not because I was sad to leave, but because I knew that Barbados had brought back to life. The ocean healed me. The locals reminded me how beautiful I am without makeup. The fresh Marlin and Roti everyday lead to me losing weight without even trying. It’s amazing what happens to your body with fast food is nowhere to be found. I don’t know if my future vacations will be as lovely as this one, but I look forward to finding new ways to to fall in love with nature, people, food, and myself.