Reflections on 31

Ko Tao Island Sunset - Birthday location this year

Every year around my birthday, I unconsciously start to reflect until it comes up to the conscious. I review the year assessing what I did, what I accomplished, what I would like to improve and things I wasn’t so crazy about. It takes different forms every year but it is starting to be more of a constant formula, especially as I write and journal more often. Some of these things are just for me, some I like to share.

31 was certainly a big year for me in the travel department (more on that later). It was a year of transition and upheaval personally and career wise. I made some hard and some believe, crazy decisions, but they were mine and I own them. I am a pragmatic person and each decision is not arrived at easily. Each decision is labored over and mulled until there is nothing left of it, except hopefully my truth. This year my decisions didn’t just affect me (I guess this is always the case really), they had a ripple affect with people I love. While I still hold some guilt around that particular aspect of certain decisions, I still believe that they were right for me and what I needed to do.

Grand Canyon
 I am blessed to have travel be a huge part of my life, especially right now. 31 was a whopper of a year for travel. I traveled for a total of 193 days (not including local weekend trips and miscellaneous day trips at home) while I was 31. I visited 8 new countries and revisited some favorites.  I trekked in the Himalayas and thought I might die (read more here), went inside of Stonehenge, I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, I visited the Angkor Wat temple complex, went inside a “dormant” volcano and visited my first ever tropical island. My new countries included Nepal, Bhutan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. I made return visits to Ireland, UK, Austria, Italy and Germany. And I visited two new states in theU.S., Arizona and Oregon.  I’d say that’s a pretty good year in travel!

Bangkok - Giant Buddha - Wat Pho Temple

This year I read a book that changed the way I look at myself and how I interact in the world. That book was “Quiet” by SusanCain.  I haven’t had a book affect me like that in ages. It opened me up and read from my inner psyche like it was common knowledge. Besides being incredibly well researched, it is compassionate and teaches compassion for all types of people through its pages. I’m not sure if that was part of her intention, but it is something I read between the lines. I would recommend it to anyone. It is good for just about everyone, introverts, extroverts, and people trying to understand other people in their interpersonal relationships.

Koh Rong Island, Cambodia - First tropical island visit!

During my year of transition I faced some pretty big personal fears, ones I would never admit out loud before. I posted a list of them on the front door to my apartment so I could look at them each day, reflect and see if I couldn’t find a way to overcome at least one of them, if not more. This is an ongoing battle. Fear and insecurity, as one would expect, follow you on the road and if you let them, they can take you hostage. (When you travel alone your psyche can be your best friend or your worst enemy.) I keep the more common ones at bay by having a regular conversation with myself about them. Fears are one part lie, one part small truths that get blown up out of proportion and one part legitimate. I take each one through its courses to see which it really is. If there is nothing to be done about it, sometimes I’ll shelve it until a different time. The ones that I can, I work on. The best example (that I am willing to share) from this year is pretty recent but has taken years to reach, and that is my snake fear. I actually looked at one in person! (If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen this already. If you don’t follow me, head on over and like the page!) Battling insecurities and fears is a life-long battle I am engaged in. I’m happy to say I chipped a minuscule piece off the block this year.

Mediation Moment - Glendalough, Ireland 

Every year I draw breath, I learn. This year was no different. I learned that I have less figured out than ever before, and that might just be ok. I learned that I’m less attached to my “stuff” than I thought. I learned that no matter how much love and support you have, the one naysayer can still sometimes get through and corrupt your thoughts if you let them. I learned that even though I am scared to share what I write most of the time, I am compelled, in my being, to do it.  I learned that sometimes you can forget what you are capable of until a particular situation arises again. I learned that I can still surprise myself. I learned that parts of you really can go to sleep if you let them. I re-learned the compassion of strangers. I learned that I get dehydrated very easily. I learned that when I don’t do yoga, I am a much less tolerable person. I learned to accept my introversion as tool instead of something to be worked against. I learned that although I see the world for the most part in grays, there are some areas that always find a way to be black and white to me, and that’s not always a good thing. I re-learned that what will always matter most to me is those I love, past, present and future.

Two of my favorite people, at one of my favorite places on earth, doing one of my favorite things, sunset watching. One of the great memories from this year. 

Above all, I am grateful this year. For each opportunity, for health, for travel and for the people I love.

(And for a private room every now and then J )

Thanks for reading!