Exhaling…

IMG_1511Lately, I have been processing through how thankful I am for exactly where I am, both in life in general and physically. Sometimes, especially over the last couple years, I find that I get so focused on surviving, getting through, and just trying not to botch things up too badly that I forget to look around. Then, there are other times, like recently that I am constantly overwhelmed with thankfulness for exactly what is happening.

Recently, I was thinking through the process by which I got to where I am, and I am kind of amazed at how things have worked themselves out so far.

If you missed it, I decided to pursue my consulting business full-time; and, while there is a certain level (ok a whole heck of a lot) of uncertainty, I have totally been in awe of how God has stepped in both in huge ways, but also in the smallest of ways. Once I (finally) decided to make the switch, my extreme level of fear of failing dissipated like the morning fog. I just knew that this decision was exactly right (as oh so many had been telling me for a while).

Virtually instantly, God provided a couple of new clients, a tremendous amount of encouragement from so many people, a possible part-time job in the same field, and more peace has settled in my heart than I have felt in almost longer than I can remember.

Internally, I felt as though I had just accomplished the biggest feat, and I suddenly exhaled the breath I didn’t know I was holding.

Last week I was driving and realized that for the first time in more than a year, my thoughts and feelings both agreed that, “this consulting thing is going to work, and.. it will be really good.” I was almost shocked and started laughing at myself, alone in the car about the fact that I can move so slowly, and often be the last to realize some things.

However, if I only credited making a decision in terms of which direction to go as the reason why things feel so much more at peace, I would be skipping half of the equation entirely…

I have the most amazing friends. I say that often, to basically anyone who will listen, and I mean it every single time. Throughout everything, my friends have been supportive, encouraging, offering ideas or prayers, and have patiently spent an exorbitant amount of time just letting me verbally process. I am so beyond thankful for each one, for the ways in which they have shown me practical love, and carried me when I just could not do it or handle it anymore. My friends have supplied me with hope, excitement, and laughter in times when I just could not find my own.

Finally, I feel safe. Emotionally, spiritually, AND physically I feel safe because for so long I have not felt as though I had all three.

I feel as though I have finally stopped clenching of my white knuckled fist and have taken a deep breath.

It all feels like healing, precious healing.

Love of Traveling…

I love traveling.

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Seriously, short or far, driving, the train, or flying, I love traveling. Even the obnoxiousness of delays, weather, unforeseen obstacles, I love the unknown adventure that comes with traveling.

I think my love for traveling is why I miss Europe so terribly every day. Seriously, I think about my two-week trip to Europe every single day.

Closseum.k

I replay conversations had with one of my best friends…
Cable car of death

I remember amazing food… and some.. not so fabulous food.
Pizza Venice Cafe Dessert Clams1

I laugh to myself about funny conversations, signs, experiences, reactions etc…

Falling Sign

I miss exploring, and walking until I have cankles, and getting to just play and experience something entirely new that I had no idea existed, or had on my bucket list to cross off.
Effiel Tower and UsPutting Ankles Up

I love seeing things that take my breath away.
High ceiling

I miss having nothing to do but talk about anything that comes to mind whether serious, silly, ridiculous, precious, touching, memories, heartaches.. all of it.
Venice

I even miss the crazy adventures that were inadvertently created trying to lug everything around from city to amazing city.
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Every single day I miss it.

But, mostly, right now I think I miss how my heart felt traipsing around Europe. I felt full, excited, loved, like God and I were connected, and as though my partner in crime understood me perfectly. For the very first time in my adult life, I had the chance to take a real vacation and just relax and let my mind not think about work or school for an extended period of time. I was able to just focus on the things in front of me, not the things I had to do tomorrow or checking things off my to-do list… I was able to use the time to process through hurts and bounce thoughts off of someone repeatedly as I worked through them over the course of the couple of weeks. I had the chance to look through my camera lens and be creative and see beauty.

Taking Pictures

Barcelona sunrise

Life just looks different when you purposefully look for beauty.
I want to do better at purposefully looking every daily.

Classic Paris

And, we laughed. All the time, every day.

I will often find my heart suddenly transported back to the feelings I had when I see pictures of (any of) my trips… Such as, I will once again find my heart full of thankfulness to God for allowing us to see the sunrise on a completely cloud covered morning.

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While I realize, that sometimes it may just be that it is easier to miss something purely because it was fun and great, and I am in full on hatred mode of winter right now… (since the snow pile in the driveway is taller than me…) But, in reality most of my sentiments are not really a new feeling, every single day since getting back, I have thought about my trip to Europe. I will find myself going about normal activities, and things I learned will bubble to the top of my mind to be mulled over again, conversations we had will replay in my head, people we talked to will spring to mind, and all of the time we were able to just be together and be friends; it was exactly perfect.

I think that the beauty I see in traveling, the experiences that follow me for the rest of my life, and all of the things that I find myself learning and going back to for such a long time add to my love of it all.

I could talk endlessly about all of the things I have learned and the ways that traveling has changed me, but it would be better conveyed over a cup of coffee in person.

Although, in reality, sometimes the learning takes place while you travel will show up in the form of just fun trivia… Like seeing a scene in a movie (Now You See Me) and knowing that the place does NOT actually look like it is depicted on the movie.. therefore it is a set.Lock.KiraLock.MeLock.Both

And, like the one time I was thumbing through a “100 things you must see before you die” book and seven of them I saw on my trip ONE trip to Europe, and three others I had seen on other trips… (And, I even think that some of my pictures were better than in the book!)

I have now experienced two types of travels: Travels to help others, and travel for the sake of fun. Either one is great and honestly life changing in different ways, but both serve a wonderful and unique purpose. I love each type of trip.

All of these things, and so many more are what continue to grow my love of traveling, and why it will always hold a special place in my heart unlike anything else.

29 Things While Being 29…

Venice Lunch.2I do a year-end review each December, which is probably my favorite post annually, but, my second is a looking ahead to the coming year.

This year’s post however, is a different version of my typical looking ahead/New Years post.

I have been doing quite a bit of thinking about this upcoming year, and I have realized a few things:
First, I have no idea what this year holds. Sometimes, I have a sense, an idea of what to expect, a feeling that God is going to head in a particular direction… this year, nothing. No idea.

Second thing, this year, I will have my “golden birthday” I will be turning 29 on the 29th of January. I do not really think a “golden” birthday holds any particular luck or added blessings, but, since I love birthdays, this gives me a reason to focus on fun things instead of just talking about the year to come.

So, I wanted to share my 29 things to do while being 29 bucket list (in place of a New Years Resolution). And, I would like to highlight real quickly that, most “30 before 30” lists or “29 while I’m 29” lists are fairly lame.

(Trust, I did a lot of google searches for ideas) The lists I looked at for ideas were mostly along the lines of:
fall in love (because we can decide these things),
get married (rude),
learn to cook a meal (who doesn’t know how to at 30?!),
have a kid (are you crazy?),
forgive (ok, a good idea, but why does it need to be on a list of things to do before you’re 30?)…
Mine are much more active and intentional…

Please join me by either making your own 2014 list, participating with me on any of my items, or checking up on and praying for me throughout this year to accomplish these goals!

(I would love for them all to be numbered 29.. but that’s just not realistic so only a few of them are aptly numbered)

So, 29 things that I would like to do or accomplish while being 29 (in no particular order):

  1. Travel out of the country at least once in 2014.
  2. Visit 5 places in-country this year that are not where I live (will live or have lived also do not count).
  3. Take a road trip. – A legit “get in the car and go” trip with a few friends.
  4. Pay an additional $2,900 this year above my regular student loans payment.
  5. Build a solid savings.
  6. Go to the beach (any beach) 29 times. – What can I say, I’m a water and sun baby!
  7. See the sun rise or set at each beach I go to (weather permitting).
  8. Re-adjust 20lbs of my body from fat (yes it is there) to muscle – Although probably cliché, I’m not saying I want to lose 20lbs, just re-adjust/build it.
  9. Run a half marathon.
  10. Finish the first draft of the book with my dad.
  11. Revise and add to my Life Goals bucket list.
  12. Check 29 things off my Life Goals bucket list.
  13. Read 12 new books this year (at least).
  14. Do at least one thing (spontaneously) that I’m a little (or a lot) afraid of. – This will remain open-ended cause I feel like pre-planning it would defeat the purpose.
  15. Be open to dating. – This one sounds odd I suppose, but I want to be intentional about being open to dating… instead of killing it in my head before it even starts.
  16. Learn West Coast Swing. – This one was added for me by a friend haha
  17. Go Salsa dancing regularly. – Unlike learning a new type of dance, this one is more just going and dancing frequently since I love it.
  18. Create a list of 29 things to pray for, and then pray for them regularly all year-long. – Feel free to send me things you would like me to add (this is on top of my 3×5 cards).
  19. Memorize 29 new scriptures. – I just feel like this is something I tend to neglect, and I do not think that is an ok thing to let continue.
  20. Finish reading the entire Bible. – I started last year and have only gotten half way through.
  21. Take 29 days this year and fast. – Likely a fruits and veggie fast since my body does well with those.
  22. Snail-Mail 29 hand written letters/cards this year. – Who doesn’t love getting notes in the mail?!
  23. Send 6 care packages. – I just really feel like I need to focus on being intentional about loving others better in ways such as this one.
  24. Draw or Paint a large piece of art to hang in my place. – I have neglected painting and drawing for years and miss it terribly.
  25. Go camping or backpack for a weekend with friends. – I don’t think my friends realize how many things they’re gonna have to do this year with me!
  26. Throw a themed house party. – I have always loved the Murder Mystery parties… So, maybe something similar to that.. or just a fun themed party!
  27. Pay for a stranger’s order 29 times throughout the year. – This will probably get difficult to keep track of, but I like the idea of having to consciously think of this type of stuff repeatedly.
  28. Make my t-shirt quilt. – I have been intending to do this for more than 5 years!
  29. Collect a daily note of something I’m thankful for/memorable moment and collect them in a jar all year. – I got this idea from my sister-in-law and loved the idea.

I am excited to do all 29 of these things on this list in 2014! Please join me in any (or all) of these items. At the very least, I hope that you get inspired to make your own list of things to do in 2013.

Let the fun commence for the year I’m 29!

Revised Bucket List…

When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to be the type of old person who had so many ridiculous and crazy stories of things I have done, places I have been, and people I have met that the only question that would make sense is: “How did you have time to do everything?” When I settled on that as a huge goal in life, I began crafting a bucket list of sorts… Only, it is more of my “life” goals, but the meaning is essentially the same I suppose.

So, regularly I revise my bucket list because I think it should be ever-growing and molding; plus, I must replace the items I have accomplished with new ones!

A couple of years ago, I re-organized my list and created categories which has made it easier to manage, follow, update and honestly just be really excited about. So…

It is time to update my Life Goals list again!

Experiences:

  1. Watch the sunrise AND sunset from each side of every ocean or sea (a = Sunrise, b = Sunset): 1. Pacific (b), 2. Atlantic, 3. Indian, 4. Arctic, 5. Southern, 6. Mediterranean Sea (a), 7. Caribbean, 8. South China Sea, 9. Bering Sea, 10. Gulf of Mexico (b), 11. Okhotsk Sea, 12. East China Sea, 13. Hudson Bay, 14. Japan Sea, 15. Andaman Sea, 16. North Sea, 17. Red Sea, 18. Baltic Sea
  2. Have a croissant at a French cafe 
  3. Ride a gondola in Venice
  4. Stay in a hostel
  5. Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand
  6. Attend La Tomatina in Spain
  7. Be in Spain for running of the Bulls (but not participate)
  8. Move somewhere new alone
  9. Participate in a giant food fight
  10. Drink whiskey at a pub in Ireland
  11. Ride a helicopter
  12. Ride an elephant
  13. Ride a camel in the desert
  14. Ride through the Panama Canal
  15. Horseback ride through a coffee plantation
  16. Jump off a waterfall
  17. See the Pyramids at sunset
  18. See a glacier in Antarctica
  19. Visit the church made entirely of bones
  20. Visit ancient ruins
  21. Stay in the ice hotel
  22. Stand on the Great Wall of China
  23. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  24. Stand inside the Taj Mahal
  25. Tube down a river
  26. Learn to roll in a kayak
  27. Learn to snowboard, and ski
  28. Learn to wakeboard and water ski
  29. Drive a sports car over 100mph
  30. Go parasailing
  31. Go paragliding
  32. Go dog sledding
  33. Go on a Safari in Africa 
  34. Go rock climbing
  35. Go to the Kentucky Derby
  36. Go white water rafting
  37. Go Sky diving
  38. Go on a multi-day biking trip
  39. Go on a cruise
  40. Go wine tasting
  41. Wine taste at a vineyard in Italy
  42. Climb a volcano 
  43. Climb a glacier 
  44. Climb a mountain
  45. See and/or climb Mt. Kilomanjaro and Mt. Everest
  46. Hike the Inca Trail 
  47. Watch the sunrise or sunset over the Grand Canyon
  48. Watch the Northern Lights 
  49. See a shooting star 
  50. See Bioluminescent Plankton 
  51. Ring a church bell
  52. Choose fifty favorite places to relax and connect with God
  53. Attend the entire summer Olympics
  54. Zip line through a canopy
  55. Drink lemonade on the front porch swing on warm summer night
  56. Live in a house with a window seat and wrap around porch
  57. Christen a boat
  58. Learn to surf
  59. Learn to paddleboard  
  60. Dive with Manta Rays in Hawaii
  61. Swim in the Dead Sea
  62. Swim with a whale
  63. Snorkel the great barrier reef in Australia
  64. Swim with bioluminescent plankton in Puerto Rico
  65. Scuba dive 
  66. Tango in a milonga 
  67. Spend a night in a treehouse
  68. Have a big wedding celebration with everyone I love

Travel:

  1. Set foot on all seven continents: AsiaAfricaNorth America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.
  2. Set foot in all fifty states:Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  3. Cross the Canadian border 
  4. Go to Cuba
  5. Go to Spain
  6. Straddle the equator on two continents
  7. Take a road trip across the U.S.
  8. Have an adventure in Greece
  9. Take a month-long vacation without computers
  10. Live in another country for a year
  11. Go to Fiji
  12. Spend a summer touring Europe
  13. Go to Hawaii
  14. Go to South America with my sister

Personal:

  1. Attend a Ball
  2. Learn Latin dances: Argentine TangoSalsaCumbiaMerengueCha chaBachata, Rumba, Mambo,
  3. Learn to West Coast Swing
  4. Be a published artist
  5. Get art in a gallery
  6. Write a book or novel
  7. Finish and publish “Facts of Life”
  8. Throw a block party
  9. Blog consistently for 10 years
  10. Go a day without speaking
  11. Organize a retreat
  12. Start and run my own business
  13. Get my second degree black belt
  14. Get a tattoo (I have two)
  15. Do two pull ups 
  16. Own a very large dog 
  17. Be conversational in two languages: 1. English 2. Spanish
  18. Learn a least enough in three additional languages to semi-understand
  19. Make my own list of the hundred best things to eat
  20. Plant a tiny orchard
  21. Grow vegetables in my own garden
  22. Go berry picking
  23. Make completely homemade pies 
  24. Make butterscotch from scratch (I have a recipe, now I just need to get all the ingredients and do it!)
  25. Run a 10k
  26. Run a half marathon
  27. Shoot every major gun: PistolShotgunRifle, Muzzleloader, Revolver
  28. Start a fire without a match
  29. Build a house from start to finish
  30. Own a Beach house with friends

Giving:

  1. Help someone get through college
  2. Do something for someone they can never repay
  3. Tithe my whole life
  4. Start a non-profit or help run one
  5. Buy stock on my own
  6. Do one grand loving gesture a year
  7. Be debt free by 35
  8. Use my work to improve lives
  9. Remove money as a concern from my life
  10. Gift 1 million dollars to missions (not tithing)
  11. Help my family become debt free
  12. Give people in ministry free vacations at the beach house

Total, there are 124 things on my bucket list so far, which realistically is more than that due to the sub points. And, since this is an ever evolving Life Goals, things will likely be crossed off and added to this year.

In 2013, I crossed off 12 things from my list!.. In 2014, I aim to cross off more than double that!

I am currently working on a list of 29 things I want to do in 2014 because I am turning 29 on the 29th of January! One of the things I have discovered as I compile this “29 Things” list is, most “30 things to do before you’re 30” lists are lame, and almost all of the “29 things to do when you are 29” lists I have found are stupid. So, I will attempt to create an actual solid list of things to do in a year, and leave out things such as, “Forgive” “Fall in love” or “get married” as key points on my list… My list will be much more active and intentional.

I cannot wait to share my 29 things I want to do in 2014!