Balance,  Living Abroad,  Thriving

Letters to a New Year (Dani 2019)

Dear 2019,

Your predecessor, 2018, was a doozy of a year! She was filled with huge life changes—from moving in with my boyfriend, to getting engaged, to getting married—and so I have no idea how you could top that…but let’s just be honest: I’m hoping that you don’t. While last year was filled with amazing big moments that were magical and beautiful, those moments were also strung together by stress, anticipation, and, admittedly, some anxiety. I by no means am saying that all the goodness wasn’t worth the fight but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m hoping you’ll be a quieter year!

2018 was incredible, but it was also just A LOT.Seeing as December 2018 was truly a culmination of all of the above, I feel like all the big moments (and the stress that came along with them) have come together and now I can finally settle down and enjoy it all. I get to just enjoy living in my beautiful home and feeling like it’s finished and we’re no longer anticipating big visits from our families and desiring everything to be ‘perfect.’ I get to simply enjoy being married and spending time with my husband, no longer stressing over the details of my wedding-day ensemble or which restaurant we’ll be able to get a reservation at. I’m looking forward to having time to breathe and just enjoy the present rather than living in the ever-impending future.

That being said, I hope 2019 can be a year for celebrating small victories. Unfortunately, I feel like we often live in a world in which, if you’re not hustling 24-7, it’s assumed you’re not trying hard or doing enough; that you can’t expect success to just find you. However, I don’t believe that’s true and I hope that the way I live out 2019 can be a testament to that. I still plan to move forward with my life; I still plan to experience challenges and successes as I go…but I’m simply hoping they can be of the quieter variety.

I truly believe we are met with challenges and successes (including the ‘successes’ that are simply picking ourselves up from ‘failures’) on a daily basis but we are generally so focused on what we’re expecting to have done by tomorrow/next week/next month/next year that we don’t take the time to see them. But in 2019, I WANT to see them!

I’m truly looking forward to the SIMPLE joys.I want to give myself the grace to see how successful it is to prepare a lovely meal even after opening the fridge and initially thinking there was nothing that went well together. I want to give myself the lack of judgment to see how successful it is to end an English lesson that, perhaps didn’t go as I had planned, but still left my student smiling and singing something in English. I want to give myself the space to recognize what I need in THAT moment—whether it means staying in on a Saturday night to write in my journal or staying out late on a Tuesday night to connect with new friends at our intercambio and not overwhelming myself, instead, with a bunch of ‘shoulds’ that may not apply to the reality of that moment.

I recently read something on Instagram something that truly resonated with me. Stacy Irie of @Irie.soul wrote about “acceptance of what is, regardless of how uncomfortable or icky it might feel” and how frustrating it can be to feel as if you are regressing when you come back to the same negativity or doubts you’ve done so much work to overcome. I immediately connected with what she was saying as I feel like I’ve done so much learning and practicing in terms of of positive thinking, law of attraction, and listening to my inner voice. I believe in that stuff and want to live my life out in that way, but sometimes that feels so much easier when things are going my way than when they feel like they’re not (or they’re simply a bit more stressful than before). I thus end up throwing more negativity at myself for having a negative outlook in the first place and you can just imagine what a sad, vicious cycle that becomes.

BUT, Stacy went on to conclude that “The work is never ‘done,’ those feeling actually never go away. Life is a constant ebb and flow. I am not regressing, I am ebbing, I am flowing, I am being tested. I am being given an opportunity.” And I LOVED that way of seeing things! I hope that I can remain reminded of that fact throughout 2019 and not categorize every ‘down’ moment as a ‘failure’ or ‘regression,’ but instead accept it as where I’m at now and move forward with love and grace.

May 2019 bring me the peace and love to face whatever may come.I hope for 2019 to be peaceful. I hope for it be merry and bright—which, yes, is a Christmas theme but I love it nonetheless and wouldn’t the world be a bit more merry and bright if we brought some of the joy and spirit of Christmas into our daily lives? I hope for 2019 to be filled with love, new adventures, and beautiful memories. We are planning a big trip to the US this summer and so I can already imagine that becoming a big new plan, something to scheme about, organize, and then inherently stress over being ‘perfect’ or not…but I hope that with the peace and joy I plan to cultivate in 2019, it can instead be merry and bright.

I hope to let go of having so many expectations and instead focus on happiness, focus on joy. I know I am most at peace and thus most satisfied when I let things be, when I can experience them naturally unfolding in the most beautiful ways, and yet my very human brain continues to tell me to meddle, to tweak, to perfect…in such a way that I end up worrying rather than enjoying.

This year, I strive to enjoy! And by allowing myself to do that, by allowing myself acceptance of the ebb and flow, by working peacefully towards my goals but simultaneously surrendering to the journey, I believe I can truly thrive. So this year I want to strive not harder but more gracefully and more peacefully…perhaps that is, in fact, my own definition of thriving!


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