It’s January here. Just like it is all around the world. Yet, I’m having a hard time remembering that it’s a new season, and a new year. For one thing, it’s hot. I keep talking of summer like it’s just around the corner, not six months away. Time seems so continuous here, unmarked by changing weather, unconstrained by the structure I’m used to back home.
Agona Akrofu, Ghana 2013
It feels a bit strange to contemplate new resolutions. So much has happened and changed in the last year, I’m not sure how to quantify or qualify these changes.
A year ago, I wrote about the process of letting go. I wrote about the fear of quitting my job and leaving my home. I wrote about the loss of security and the knowledge of what comes next. I wrote about choosing to step out in faith and the things I wanted to pursue during my travels: community, simplicity, heart transformation. I wrote of tangible things too — destinations I wanted to discover and languages I wanted to learn.
-Scuba dive in Thailand
-See as many sunrises and sunsets as possible
-Learn and love with abandon
-Study religion in Morocco
-Spend Christmas in Israel or Turkey
I didn’t accomplish even half of these things. I never made it to Thailand, I slept through more sunrises than I intended, and my French still really sucks. I didn’t travel to Israel or Turkey, and the only thing I studied in Morocco was the food. I’m still working on all the rest.
Yeah, I ate the whole box.
Essaouria, Morocco 2013
Still, 2013 was one hell of a year and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I honestly don’t care that I didn’t get to see or do everything I had hoped or expected. I have no regrets. This journey has never been about a bucket list of must see places or experiences. It’s about seeking. Seeking a lifestyle that correlates with my values and beliefs, living in community, loving and learning. What matters the most is who I’m becoming.
I want to continue this sentiment into the next year. Instead of making a new to-do list filled with tangible items to be crossed off, I’d rather set some intentions.
Intentions for 2014
– I want to continue allowing faith to be a louder voice than fear.
I have no idea what the next year will bring. This terrifies and excites me at the same time. I’m so tempted to base my decisions on safe options, allowing fear and anxiety to take control. Instead, I want to wait in hopeful expectation as things unfold.
-Travel slowly and with purpose.
I have been the most content and happy while living and volunteering in Ghana. When I was traveling in Europe I felt burned out and overwhelmed by the velocity of goodbyes. I spent a lot more time alone, taking in the sights, hopping from place to place, following my whims.
I think it’s important and healthier for me if I slow down while traveling and volunteer more. I love having a purpose in teaching at the school, and really establishing relationships with the locals. I don’t have to stay in one place for five months each time, but I need to be more aware of my movement and the reason I’m traveling.
Hanging out with the other volunteers and our host Dad, Pastor Joe
Teiman, Ghana 2013
-Live (even more) simply.
I realized I’ve been living like a middle-class backpacker. I’ve been traveling cheaply, but indulging more than I need to. Living in Africa has reminded me how little I really need to get by. My happiness doesn’t come from seeing tourist attractions or having that second beer with dinner. I enjoy those things, but I don’t need them.
If I’m really traveling to pursue community, adventure, and heart transformation, I can start spending a lot less. Don’t be surprised if the next time you see me I may look a little more rough around the edges!
Hanging out with the mariachi.
Mexico City, Mexico 2013
-Stop worrying so freakin’ much about the future.
Most of my worries have nothing to do with the present moment (actually, maybe like 1% of them). My stress usually comes from thinking about things like “how am I going to afford a plane ticket home?” and “what am I going to do about health insurance?” “where will I find a teaching job?” “what if I’m ruining my chance at finding love?” and “what will my friends and family think if I tell them I’m not coming home?”
I want to start making decisions based on what brings me joy and fulfillment each day. If I practice making the daily adjustments necessary to live authentically, why shouldn’t the future take care of itself? If I’m choosing happiness today and every day, why would I suddenly find myself trapped in an unhappy lifestyle 10 years down the road? It just doesn’t make sense. When what I’m doing no longer feels right or stops being what I want, I’ll adjust. I’ll change when I need to.
-Live by grace
I can be unbelievably hard on myself. By default, I can be extremely judgmental and hard on others, too. I want to start accepting myself for who I am, where I am. I want to stop feeling self-righteous or inadequate by comparing myself to others.
The older I become, the more I realize that real change comes from living intentionally, day by day. Becoming is more important than doing, a truth I’m still learning. I can’t wait to see what the new year will bring, and I hope to keep sharing the journey with you!Paris, France 2013