“What have you guys been up to lately? How have you been?” It’s a common, genuine, small-talk conversation starter, yet I’ve struggled to answer it the past two years.
“Does anything really compare to 2016’s incredible backpacking adventure?” I wish I didn’t think that to myself.
These days, my schedule seems to have a consistent rhythm, so when I think back on the past few weeks or even months, I blank. I stumble through an answer sort of like this: “Oh gosh, Jeff and I have been great! So busy but a good kind of busy.” [ crickets ] To fill the internal awkwardness, I ramble some more …
“You know, I feel like we always have stuff going on … I feel so busy all the time, but I’m struggling to remember anything significant we’ve done lately.” [ FACE PALM EMOJI ]
As the year approaches its end, I struggle with another year going by. Days turn to weeks, weeks to months, seasons come and go, and next thing you know, it’s a new year. It gets me down. “Did I live this year to the fullest? Am I living the life I want to live? Am I happy?”
Thankfully, a former colleague introduced me to a “One Line A Day” journal four years ago. So, to get myself out of my “end of the year / life is going by too fast” slump, I looked back on all my entries for 2018. I was reminded of all the special moments, memories created and feelings felt.
And just like that, I got my much-needed, self-induced reality check. Because it has been one heck of a year — filled with an abundance of love, happiness, fulfillment and gratitude. Even the not-so-great-at-the-time-moments — the frustrations, miscommunications, long days, difficult days. That’s where the growth happens. Those are the moments you push your shoulders back, sit up a little straighter and press on.
Even though I am not on a half-year journey through South America or hiking the Camino de Santiago [ like I had hoped! ], I’m truly grateful. I really am! I feel thankful every.single.freaking.day. for my life, my family, my career, my husband, my adorable pups, my travels and even my cozy, little home.
After my backpacking trip in 2016, I feel even more thankful for the things I used to take for granted — a warm shower, fresh [ and free! ] drinking water and air conditioning!
Before we toast our champagne glasses and ring in 2019, I encourage you to reflect back on your year. When were you happiest? Fulfilled? Grateful? What were your pain points this year? How did you push through the struggle?
Then ask yourself, “What am I going to do in 2019 to live it to the fullest? How will I make sure I am living the life I want for myself? What is going to make me happy?”
Several years ago, I stumbled upon a quote that I’ll never forget: “Have great dreams and dare to live them.”
Dream big. Really, really big. Then go out into the world and live it.
And hey, why not journal about it, too?!
Want to start a journal but not really sure what to write? Check out my favorite travel-related journal entries from each month of 2018 [ with a few photos sprinkled in ]:
January 30: Tonight, we chose a wedding venue in New York City — a small gazebo in the middle of Central Park. Eeek!
February 22: Thankful Mom ventured down to Nashville with me! We got to listen to parts of our wedding band. I love our mother/daughter road trips!
March 9: Marriage license = check! What a fun experience today in New York City. We checked out our little gazebo in Central Park, took a peek at our hotel for May, shopped and ate lots of yummy food in the food hall underneath the Plaza!
April 28: Brunchin’ in Baltimore! The neighborhood near the water is really neat — lots of boutiques, bars, restaurants and cafes. And today is the perfect day for a wedding.
May 4: Made it to NYC after a very bumpy flight. Walked all over Central Park because our beloved treehouse gazebo is infested with bees. We are quickly trying to find a new spot!
May 10: What a day! We’ve done so much — two tough hikes to Amalfi and Atrani and back to Ravello, a cooking class/dinner with a local family, hanging by the beach, gelato, coffee in the square. Love today. Love Jeff. Love Italy.
June 21: Shared another blog post today. It is hard work, but I love sharing these experiences with others. Even if I inspire just one person to travel, I’ll feel successful.
July 11: Heading to South Carolina to visit our family, particularly my uncles, who move to China next week! Excited for a few days of relaxing with the fam!
August 24: Explored Salem, Massachusetts, this afternoon. Love all the witch-related museums, although it’s terrifying and sad that the witch trials actually happened.
September 21: A road trip to Asheville turned into a night in Lexington, Kentucky! Bad weather caused us to stop 90 minutes into our trip, but we still had such a fun spontaneous night out!
October 24: Sundays are for family. Spent the day in my favorite place — Mom and Dad’s house — relaxing, snuggling with the pups and making homemade pizza. I feel so thankful for my family — I know not everyone has such a great relationship with theirs. I am so grateful for mine.
November 22: A lovely Thanksgiving spent in the Big Apple! Nearly froze my toes off at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it was worth it. So special to experience the parade live with Jeff and my parents. Feeling thankful.
December 4: Jeff and I made a bucket list of all the adventures we want to experience in our lifetime together — from touring the US national parks to visiting Antartica to attending a World Cup!
What are your favorite memories from 2018? What do you look forward to in 2019?
Share them in comments below!