Monday, December 30, 2013

My Year in Review- 2013

“Would the seed of a new kind of life, scattered here by the wind, take hold?” 
Tulips in Holland at Keukenhof (May)

As 2013 comes to an end I thought I would take some time to reflect on the year and remind anyone who reads this that your current condition is only as permanent as you make it.

To some, a year flies by like nothing, but to others it drags on and on seeming to never end. Mine was a bit of both. When I made a list of the big events that occurred in each month I realized that though this year was a struggle for me, there was an awful lot of good that came out of it. I've never done one of these before, but here are some of the awesome things that happened this year.

Fireworks on the street in Amsterdam.

January- After ringing in the new year with new friends in Amsterdam, I had a lot to occupy my mind. Life in the Dam was not getting any better. I made the choice to travel as much as possible and make any real decisions about keeping my job or not slowly and carefully.

Fuengirola beach just outside Malaga.

February- I spent my February Crocus Break in Wales where I made the final decision to quit my job and change my life. Later in the month I decided to seek out the sun and headed to Fuengirola, Spain to clear my head. It was a month for initiating change and gaining some perspective.

Mumford & Sons in Rome, Amazing!

March- Keeping to my goal of increased travel, I headed to Rome for a Mumford and Sons concert. I met lots of great ladies working all over the world. My sister Kate also came to visit! Now that I knew I was quitting my job I initiated a new goal of making the most of Europe while I was there.

Queen's Day festivities in Amsterdam

April- Spring was sort of starting, but not really. My parents came to visit at the beginning of the month, and I was a super tourist in my own city and on a day trip to Belgium. On a whim I also decided to take a trip to Wales for a weekend. The weather was amazing, and it was the perfect way to recharge and get out of the city for a couple days. Finally, to end the month, Queen's Day was quite an event with the induction of a new king and lots of orange.

Wawel Castle, Krakow

May- May was another big month with tulips finally blooming after a very long and cold winter. I took a visit to the acclaimed Keukenhof which was pretty spectacular. It was like the Disney World of tulips. Later in the month I visited Krakow, Poland with a great friend. What an amazing city it was filled with so much history and hidden gems around every corner. It was never on my radar, but wow what a place. I'll be blogging more about this one in the coming year.

Tuileries Garden, Paris

June- This was my last full month living and working in Amsterdam, and boy was it a full one. It started with a visit to Valencia, Spain, a surprise trip for my partner Tim. It was sunny and warm and a great place to go for a bike ride to the beach. The rest of my month was a bit of a blur filled with packing and a visit from my other sister Jess.  We did get a chance to escape to Paris for a couple days and take a couple afternoon jaunts to the nearby towns of  Haarlem and Leiden.

Summit of Shirley Canyon Trail, Squaw Valley

July- The adventure was only just beginning. On July 1 I moved from Amsterdam back to the states. There, I spent my time mostly in the Northwest in Squaw Valley, Portland, Seattle and Sequim. I also spent a few days with family back home in New Jersey. Travel was starting to become the lifestyle. I officially had no home base (except for my parents), and I was living out of a suitcase. Reality was starting to set in, but I ignored it because I was having too much fun.

Hot air balloon in Sequim

August- This was a relaxing month for me with lots of time in both Sequim, Washington and Sparta, New Jersey visiting with family. I got to ride in a hot air balloon and paddle a kayak for the first time.

Cape Cod looking for clams

September- Life had finally set in, and I realized that I didn't have a job to go back to at the end of the summer. Everyone else did. But I didn't want one, so I took up running even though nothing was chasing me. I also went to Cape Cod for a weekend of family fun.

October- Alas, summers have to come to an end, so I decided to book more travel. I headed back to the Netherlands oddly enough to erase the negative feelings and visit friends. It was also my transition to temporarily moving to Aberystwyth, Wales. It was my new home until December.

Edinburgh, Scotland

November- I thought November was going to be a quiet, boring month. It was absolutely not. I participated in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and drafted a whole novel. I also took a very long bus ride to London to visit a couple fabulous people. And who could forget my week in Edinburgh, Scotland where I developed a fondness for haggis. It's a very fine food.

Me and a falcon in a desert near Dubai

December- Wrapping up the year I did something to help me focus my life a little. I went to Dubai for The Creativity Workshop. It was one of the best decisions of the year maybe even my life. I'm serious. And after that workshop it was like my life started to open up. I landed a travel writing job, and I have moved from Wales to spend some time living in the Pacific Northwest.

So much can happen in a year. If someone had asked me last year where I thought I would be a year from that moment, there is no way I could have predicted where I am now. It's been quite a ride but totally worth it.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned from 2013 is that anything can happen, and it can happen fast. Within one year I went from being a teacher in a job that made me very unhappy to changing my entire life. I no longer go to a job in the morning, and I'm not tied to someone else's calendar. My life has become completely flexible, and I'm loving it. Once one decision was made, the rest sort of just rolled out easily like sugar cookie dough.

“In life you can either choose to follow your heart or not. There is no middle way.”

Pottery in Valencia, Spain (June)
Quotes from the book One Day the Shadow Passed by Jonathan Reggio p. 151 and p. 138 respectively.