I had an unbelievable year. No, really…I almost don’t believe some of it actually happened.

I actually left San Diego. 
I cried my eyes out because I was so excited, so hopeful, so nervous and just…infinite. Free. I swear I’ve never felt so free as the day I drove away. I don’t regret it but I’ve missed it every single day since then. A big piece of me was left there and I can’t wait to go back to get it.

I drove across the country.
And sincerely thought I would die in Vail, Colorado. Alone. Yes, alone in both the driving and the dying. Fortunately, I survived and I think I will find myself driving cross-country again very soon. Steering way clear of Vail, of course.

I got on a one-way flight to Cambodia all by myself. 
I said my goodbyes and was so totally ready to go. A country I never even considered visiting completely blew my mind. I stuck out like a sore thumb, took more dust into my lungs than you could imagine, drank a lot of 50 cent beers, and loved every minute of it.

I sat on the floor of a classroom with 25 adorable Thai kindergartners.

the cutest

There was no air conditioning and I had to wear a “sweat”-er over my uniform to cover my tattoos. The students called me “teach-ah” or “kay-TEE” and gave me lots of hugs. I taught them the days of the week in English with the “Happy Days” song. You don’t know cute until you’ve seen such a thing.

I climbed to the top of a island in Angthong National Marine park
Pretty much everything I thought I knew about myself and the world changed with this in front of me; one of the most spiritual moments of my life. I was teary the entire boat ride back to Koh Phangnan. It was one of the last things I did in Thailand and I think it may have been the very reason why I went there in the first place.

I actually left Thailand.
Some might say it was crazy. And I didn’t last as long as I thought I would abroad. But I think I learned the lessons I needed when I was there and still think leaving was the right thing to do. Even though I miss the pineapple and the coconuts and the beaches and the food and the buckets. I will definitely go back someday.

I was blindsided upon my return to the states
The people I thought would be happiest to see me expressed disappointment that I wasn’t still there. Complete strangers were in awe of my adventure, while the ones closest to me weren’t even concerned with the trip – only with what I was going to do with myself since I couldn’t seem to make my life work on any side of the world. Not exactly the homecoming I expected.

I truly enjoyed my waitressing job this summer. 
Bachelor Degree be damned. I don’t care what society says – waitressing is a decent job and it is not easy. Also, restaurant on the water + boss likes you + good at your job + lots of tourists and bachelor parties =  freaking rolling in the dough for a few months. I’m not about to make it my career but I enjoyed every table, every dollar and every shift drink.

I rang in 28 by jumping off of a rope swing in the middle of the rainforest in Puerto Rico.
Surrounded by some of my favorite people in the entire world. With more than enough Medalla and Barcardi to go around. Lucky doesn’t even begin to describe this and “best birthday ever” just isn’t enough.

I struggled with some pretty depressing depression this fall. 
Getting out of pajamas was a daunting task. I wanted to write and work and create and enjoy myself but just…couldn’t. Some days I didn’t even recognize myself. How did I become this person? I was in a place that I didn’t want to be. I didn’t know how to change it. I don’t do cold, clouds, or winter. I need palm trees. I have a decent handle on it now but I know that it could change at any time if I don’t focus on the right things. Depression is a slippery slope and no freaking joke.

I spent more time with my family than I have in years. 
My heart became absolute mush when my nephew called me “Kate” for the first time. I got to go to his first birthday party, and have dinner with my grandparents, and chat with my aunt when she stops by the house. I’ve gotten to know my parents on a completely different level and have a new perspective on my family and my role in it.

Last year, I wrote about things I did right and things I did wrong. I’m not doing that this year. Many of those things have remained the same and I’ve come to realize that they are things I’ll never stop working on. I’m also not going to set goals the way I did last year. I didn’t reach a lot of the goals I listed out for myself – which is OK with me. I know I’ll do them in time. For now I’m sticking with the “no goalstheory and will see how it goes. No limits, no extra pressure. Just me and the things I want to do and the way I want to feel. From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows it really has been an amazing year. I changed and grown and done things I never thought I would do. It didn’t turn out exactly the way I expected but I’m learning to like it that way and I’m so ready for more.