Carolyn’s unedited reflection on 2014

Hey everyone,

photo(16)Carolyn here. The other day I sat down and reflected on the past year without thinking ahead of what I wanted to write and without stopping to edit (I have only changed a couple of typos). Apologies that it is a bit lengthy. The words just kept flowing. I have decided to post this rather personal reflection on this blog because it speaks to the transition between home and travel but more so for selfish reasons- to practice “putting myself out there”. This blog has been a great exercise for me in finding confidence in myself, my voice and my writing. I also hope to post more personal posts about daily life and revelations in the coming year. So here goes. Cheers to 2015 and “putting yourself out there”!

Carolyn’s 2014 Reflections:

It is challenging for me to recollect what happened during the first half of this year, the months prior to leaving for World Tour. I know it was a year of transition. From the comfortable, the easy, the pretty-much-perfect to the new, the homeless, the adventure, the world. After a few moments of reflection, the first 6 months become very clear and my heart warms. I see my boyfriend’s niece and nephew growing up so fast, swimming in the pool, running in the sand, eating ice cream, looking over the railing of a boat back at the wonderful city of San Diego, where we lived. I see uncontrollable laughter at my Aunt Nancy’s 70th birthday in Washington and my Grandma Sato eating sushi and playing Mich (the infamous Sato card game we play every time we get together) with us. I see my sister Julia and her boyfriend floating down the river in a raft with Jon and I. We yelp and laugh the whole way as we bump into rocks, our legs sticking out the sides because it is too small for us all even though it says it fits 6 people. I see the faces at the Stockwell family reunion (my Dad’s side), faces I haven’t seen in ages. Everyone still smiling and with the same humor as always. I see so many faces of staff and volunteers at Planned Parenthood, where I worked for 8 years. I see myself leaving on a high note and feeling accomplished, proud and grateful. I see  friends jumping for joy at the monthly Friday Night Dinner crew when we hear Kartik and Laura are pregnant! I see the girls team winning the volleyball game against the boys in our Saturday “Friends” league! I see the faces of Jessica, Zach, and Jon light up when we realize we won the Sunday volleyball league. I see large glasses of beer being crashed together at Thursday’s Stein Night at Raglan. I see good times with old friends, new friends, family, a grand yard sale and farewell party at our Ocean Beach apartment.

I see a lot once I sit down and reflect. The past 4 months since we left have been so life altering that it is very easy to recollect what has happened- an epic jam session with Elias in Guanajuato, lots of buses and homelessness and adventure heading through Jalisco and Colima. Thank goodness for couchsurfing, the extremely well run bus system in Mexico, and for bargain hotels. Camping, roadtripping, and hammock-ing down the Michoacan coast on the most beautiful and secluded beaches I’ve ever visited. Ceviche and views in Acapulco. 2 months of reading, meaning-of-life conversations, surfing, yoga, and friends in Zipolite. 1 month of music, art, dance, and good food in Oaxaca City. And just a couple bouts of sickness.

It has been an incredible year. And I mean “incredible” literally- it is hard to believe how great this year has been. I feel almost guilty for how fortunate I am. Not everyone is able to live such a wonderful, peaceful life, doing a job they love, surrounded by friends and family they love and who love them and who they get to see often, and all by the beach…and then get to say goodbye to it all and travel around the world. What!? I did that!? Who the heck am I? What did I do to get so lucky. I like to think that luck was just a small part. I like to think that I made good choices in life and not only made those choices but acted on them and worked hard to make certain choices that led me to this “lucky” place in life. I budgeted for 3 years specifically for this trip. And before that I had been saving since I graduated college, sharing a room for years after graduating just so I could keep putting money aside, never trading my 2000 Corolla for a new car payment, ordering the cheapest thing on the menu, never acquiring debt or a master’s degree (is that redundant?), working my booty off at the job I loved and never expecting or asking for a promotion but getting them every 1-2 years, rarely shopping, never caring about brands, and getting lots of sleep and eating healthy food to avoid doctor’s visits. I even went part time because I thought it would save money. Give me more time to cook, lower stress and thus doctor’s visits, make instead of buy Christmas presents, and most importantly to me, that decision gave me more time to be with the man I love. To talk to each other about our goals, habits, insecurities, pasts, and dreams. To do things together and enjoy the sunrises and sunsets over the ocean. To make and care for a garden and then make salads together. To analyze our relationship often and to talk about things that are bothering us before they cause resentment or tension. To make the choice together to spend even more time together and share in a life changing experience that will literally change our world.

I like to think that I made these things happen in my life which has led to me this exact moment where I am sitting back on a red couch, feet up on the coffee table, Macbook balanced on my thighs, Jon strumming the guitar in the background, twinkling Christmas tree to my left, messy kitchen to my right, and Oaxaca City all around.

I also know that while certain choices have certainly led me to this spot, luck had a lot to do with it. I can remember being a child of 7 or 8 and knowing that I was one of the “lucky ones” on this earth who was born to two parents who loved me and loved each other. I am lucky that they modeled to me what a healthy relationship looks like and how to treat others with respect and how to be open-minded and how to live a life that is meaningful to me. I am lucky that the egg that turned into me, spontaneously split into two and gave me my twin sister who has always been and always will be my life companion, my buddy at the family reunion, the person with whom I share the most intimate, embarrassing, and random thoughts and emotions. Because of her, I am not scared to share these same thoughts and emotions with my partner Jon. She taught me that good people understand, empathize, and won’t disregard or scoff when you share a piece of your soul.

I am not one of the “lucky ones” who has never struggled with money, felt depressed and alone, wished I was someone else, been in an unhealthy relationship, was mean to someone else, panicked with feeling of “I have no idea what the heck I am doing”, or questioned my identity and self worth.

But I am certainly lucky that these doubts, insecurities, and struggles did not get the best of me. And at the same time, I made choices to pick myself up and turn my faults into strengths, turn bad situations into life lessons, and found out how to always love myself first.

This is the first time I have actually sat down and written down my end-of-year reflection. I usually just try to think of something witty to say around the dinner table or at the work meeting. And I am glad I did because I realize that my life and particularly this outstandingly stupendous incredibly fortunate and exciting year has been a result of personal choice and luck (or God, or the Universe, or science, etc) and I will keep that thought with me as I live each moment moving forward.

Salud! Cheers! Chin chin!

Happy New Year and Feliz Ano Nuevo!

Special New Years Shout Outs: Jon and I both wanted to thank my parents for coming to visit this past week. We had such a blast and it meant the world to see them and spend this time together. I can’t think of a better way to start off the New Year!

We also want to thank all of you for reading our little blog and keeping in touch with us. Hearing from you and knowing you are reading, makes us feel closer to home and to each of you. We wish you all a bright, happy, and adventurous 2015!