The first of the year always brings with it reflections of the previous year. I started to get down on myself for not accomplishing everything on my lofty “to do” list for the year. I may not have lost the weight I wanted, wrote a book, or learned a new language…but as I reflect on the things I did accomplish I realized it might not have been as unproductive as I originally thought. It turns out I had quite the year!
Things I Accomplished in 2013
1) I finished my Master’s Degree and Graduated from Purdue University, ( I ran a race the day after I finished my degree.)
2) I ran a two 5k races, two 10k races and my second 1/2 marathon! 13.1 Miles!
3) I returned to Spain….and it was even more beautiful and meaningful than the first visit. I visited my favorite parts of Madrid and we were reunited like the old dear friends that we are. I also had the chance to make “New Friends” of the enigmatic Granada, the majestic Alhambra, and the leisurely Mallorca. Most importantly, God spoke directly to me during this return pilgrimage to Spain, and I learned how to Abide in His love and through that, my joy was made complete. This return to Spain last April was one of the most spiritually rewarding experiences of my life. I will always treasure this trip, as I will always treasure Spain.
4) 2013 will be the year that I lived with my brother. We shared an apartment this year and on top of being the best brother anyone could ask for, he has also been a great roommate! I respect and admire him so much for the incredible man he is. it has been great fun living together! I will be forever grateful for the this time we spent together here at Ashley Place. Derrek is more than my brother, he is one of my best friends.
5) I attended my first professional soccer game… a Quarter final championship league game at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Madrid. I wanted to go but I couldn’t afford even the cheap tickets. However, God provided above and beyond my expectations! He took the opportunity to show off and I was GIVEN 14th row VIP tickets! It was an incredible once-in a lifetime experience!
6) I was awarded the Lilly Grant witch funded my summer research trip to Asia. I planed and organized this massive 2 month expedition. I found the schools, teachers, and translators necessary to complete my research, as well as plan all the travels, get my visas, and arrange all my 19 different flights. It was a massive undertaking that included 15 different cities. In two months I didn’t spend more than three nights in a row in the same bed. A large part of my year was dedicated to planning and implementing this project, but I learned so much about the Asian academic systems and the unique Asian Culture. This trip also allowed me to add seven new countries to my map which include; Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, China, South Korea, and Japan. It even extended my total country count to 25! (I only have 5 more to go in my whole “Thirty before I’m Thirty” plan!)
7) It has been an amazing year of adventurous firsts! I walked the great wall of China and I explored the ancient temple complexes in the Cambodian Jungle. I got a real Thai massage in Thailand. I navigated seas off the coast of Phuket in my Cave Canoeing adventure. I rode (and fell in love with) an elephant named “Sabo”. I saw the most beautiful orchids in the world at the Singapore Botanical gardens and I journaled in front of my hotel room window that displayed the mighty Petronas towers of Kuala Lumpur. I saw an epic light show dance across the Hong Kong Skyline, I stood in attention with the ancient Terra-cotta warriors of Xi’An, I explored the streets of old Beijing, ran to the birds nest and visited a real silk factory. I attended both a dumpling feast and a tea ceremony. I sailed down the river Li and witnessed its glorious 20,000 peaks! I met the kindest people I will ever know in a South Korean coffee shop. I ate a black egg that had been boiled underground in the sulfuric waters under Mt Fuji. I attended a festival in Kyoto, saw the Golden Pavilion, stayed in a traditional Japanese Ryokan (inn) by the sea where I slept on mats on the floor and bathed in (public) natural hot springs. I also visited a real Ninja House!
8) I also dated someone for the first time…it turns out I am not really good at that sort of thing. I really prefer my independence it seems. However, it was a great learning experience and I am glad that I went on my first real date in 2013…..finally!
9) I had a student teacher teach in my classroom. (I know! When did I become old enough to be the one imparting wisdom to future teachers?!) I did not enjoy this experience as much as I had expected as it was more difficult for me to give up control of my classroom than I had anticipated. Maybe there is a theme here and in 2014 I should work on being less independent and more collaborative.
10) This year I also took a chance and applied for a Fulbright Fellowship in Finland. This is perhaps the biggest adventure I have dared to pursue. It would mean me leaving my teaching position in Westfield for a few months to head to the Nordic Country of Finland for a 4-5 month research project. I will not know until April if I will be accepted into the prestigious Fulbright community, but I put myself out there and dared to dream. Who knows what the next year will bring, but I think I can content that 2013 was an amazing year.
HERE is to another great Year! HAPPY NEW YEAR!