“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living, heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.” – L. R. Knost
A new year is 365 blank days of life events that have yet to happen. Some years drag on for a long time, and others go by too quickly. Some years we will soar and other years we will remain stagnant. Sometimes, we even take a few steps backwards and we crash and burn. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s often necessary. Some years can start off horribly…and then unravel in a uplifting way that you wouldn’t ever imagine was on the horizon for you.
2014 was that year for me.
The year started off gloomy. I was very unhappy at my joband I was still picking up the pieces of a lingering heartbreak. I had a hard time letting go mainly because I couldn’t exactly grasp the series of events that suddenly changed my life, and it made me question my faith in people.
My thoughts were clouded with anxiety and self-doubt, my heart constantly felt heavy, I cried myself to sleep every night and the stress and long unappreciative hours I was putting in at work was not helping.
To add to that funk, the winter had been brutally long. Cabin fever, the lack of sunshine and a never-ending dark and icy atmosphere made me feel worse. I felt stuck and I desperately needed an escape. Ugh, I thought. This year is already fucked.
I needed a break. I needed to get out. A refreshing trip to Europe with my best friend not only provided a much needed break from my chaotic job and the Canadian winter, it was just what I needed to clear my mind. It gave me the chance to enjoy a beautiful change of scenery and to do the thing I love most. Traveling is my therapy (although music and Nutella are cheaper alternatives).
There’s nothing more exhilarating for me than to put my life on hold and to explore a new place or to finally visit a place I’ve always dreamed of seeing. Strolling the cobblestone streets of Geneva with snowy mountains in the background to being inside the Harem in old Istanbul to basking in the Mediterranean sun in Antalya to walking through the ruins of an ancient civilization in Ephesus, it was all a boost of much needed mental refreshment.
Turkey and Switzerland had been very dear friends of mine this year. They helped me recharge my heart and soul and they filled my passport with good memories.
Spring was not quite around the corner just yet, but the promise of upcoming sunshine seemed to have a been a prelude to new beginnings that were in store for me at the end of this month. I was barely holding on at work but I think reaching the end of that rope only forced me to roll up my sleeves and aggressively get back to my career path drawing board.
I researched companies I was interested in, networked and reached out to professionals in industries I had genuine passion for. With a refreshed mind and ignited determination, I knew that this was the time for me to finally make the move towards a career path that made me happy.
The fruits of my labour have finally blossomed: I landed an exciting new job that shifted my career path into a direction I was eager to be a part of. I was now working in an industry I loved and belonged in, I had a new title and I worked with a team of colleagues I easily called friends. I released the unpleasant memories of my old job into the wind and happily embraced this new stepping stone. I felt free.
Sunshine and warm weather had literally pulled everyone outside of their homes. Streets were bustling with people, patios were filling up and the bright colours of parks and boutique window displays reflected the mood of this new chapter. Socializing, meeting new people, making new friends and trying out new places were part of my weekly agenda. The feel-good vibes I felt made me realize I was ready to put myself out there again, so I dipped by pedicured toe into the dating scene.
Work was going great, spending time with my friends was awesome but the dating scene was brutal. After a number of stale dates (and a few odd ones) I gave up on “searching for love”. I put dating on hold and I decided that there were far more important things to focus on: my health, my goals and my passions.
I cut out unhealthy habits, physically and mentally. Physically speaking, I got back to healthy eating and started incorporating a more active lifestyle by going for hour-long walks after work and taking up cycling. I bought a bike and took a lot of pleasure in disconnecting from technology and getting in touch with nature during my sunset or weekend bike rides.
Mentally, I took a Facebook break due to the empty boredom it gave me. The removal of unproductive social media made me realize how much free time I had to do plenty of other stuff. And that got me, well, here!. I felt the need for a creative outlet so this was the month I started my own blog. *Hi, you!*
During my hour-long walks after work, I’d pass by antique shops and came across neglected, yet still beautiful, furniture. This brought me back to a hobby I used to enjoy doing – refurbishing old furniture and bringing them back to life again. So I kept my eyes open, picked up a few items and away I painted. The encouraging suggestion from friends and family made me take the plunge in trying to sell the furniture I painted. For years I dismissed that idea, but somehow it didn’t seem like such a bad thing to try.
All of these new activities actually made me anticipate alone time. Before I submerged my time and energy in a passionate hobby, my old self barely wanted alone time and always wanted to be out and about. But this time around, I genuinely enjoyed my alone time and made time for it.
I turned 29. I remember dreading this month at the beginning of the year when my friend jokingly reminded me that it would be the last year of my twenties. But when the time actually came to embrace 30, I welcomed it with open arms.
I realized that age is only concerning when we worry too much about the future or regret the past, instead of being present and making the most of our day-by-day. When you feel like you’re on your own track and focusing on what you enjoy doing, age is trivial.
With the end of summer, September was also the month I started thinking of plans for the upcoming year, such as moving out from my parents’ place and possibly working abroad.
And during all this planning and goal-setting and furniture painting and cycling, I made a random acquaintance in passing that seemed so minor and insignificant at the time.
Work was starting to get busy since our peak season was approaching but I was ready to take it on. This was the month I started noticing that my skinniest of skinny jeans were starting to get loose. The quinoa salads and cycling were working!
Over lunch one day, my colleague talked about an organization she was volunteering for. It sounded really interesting and I felt it was an important cause. I asked her to send me more information and I joined their team. Meeting the staff and the kids of the organization was very rewarding and inspiring, and I was looking forward to this 6 month volunteering project.
In passing, I started to see my September acquaintance around more often. We’d talk, we’d joke around and we gradually became friends. I also happened to think he was cute.
Good feedback from upper management and colleagues have been resonating back to me as I continued to build good relationships with my clients. I was also approached to work on different projects which I know will open new doors for me later on.
With the Holiday season approaching, my work hosted a glamorous Christmas party at the end of this month. I asked my September acquaintance if he wanted to be my date. He’s fun to be around – he makes me laugh and I feel comfortable being silly (i.e. myself) around him. He’s also an incredible kisser.
This was the highest peak of our busy season at work with travel, weddings and the Holidays coming up. But in between the craziness, memorable moments between family, friends and colleagues who easily became friend filled my time and heart with contentment and gratefulness.
Even though I took slow, baby steps in starting a new relationship, there was something about my September acquaintance that made me feel like opening up my heart again would be worth it. It scared me, but not as much as it excited me.
My two best friends who worked overseas were in town for the Holidays and I was ecstatic to see them again. To add to the excitement, one of them (who I travelled to Turkey with earlier that year) got engaged and asked me to be her Maid of Honour! It was just feel good vibes all around.
As the end of the year approached, I stopped to take it all in. I remembered how I felt exactly a year ago and compared it to how I felt a year later, and the contrast amazed me. I felt like a completely different person. I truly had a new heart and a new mind.
I looked back at the personal and career accomplishments I had secured and found it funny how a year ago I felt so stuck and saw no way out of the darkness.
And right when I was not even looking, hoping or thinking about anything remotely associated to romance, randomly saying “Hi” to someone had somehow led to an unexpectedly exciting and new chapter in my life. Wow, I thought. This year has been fucking awesome.