Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: A Year in Review

A Year for Following Dreams & Facing Reality...

Last New Year's Eve, I decided that rather than having any New Year's resolutions... I would chose a theme or motto, a simple but powerful one: To Be True to Myself. It took massive courage, but in all my choices and major life changes this year...that is what I did.

In February, I left my job in the financial industry to pursue more creative ventures. After pouring my soul into Photography Getaways, I faced the hard facts that the business just wasn't quite ready, so I focused on a dream trip to Europe which did serve as 'research' for Photography Getaways.

When I tried to purchase my ticket abroad, Travelocity had a glitch charging me for two tickets, but with no confirmed reservation. As fate would have it, the next day I was contacted by HomeAway Vacation Rentals encouraging me to enter their BlogAway contest for the Royal Wedding. I jumped at the opportunity! Within a week, I was a Top 3 Finalist. I fought my heart out on Facebook and Twitter for votes. With the help of friends, family members, and loyal blog readers (especially my Dad and cousin Olivia) I won the week long trip to London for the Royal Wedding!

So, I extended my stay in Europe afterall, visiting one of my dearest friends, Sheila, a woman I met on a spontaneous trip to Switzerland in 2007, after opting not to get engaged. This allowed me to spend a week with her in Birmingham, UK... a town I quickly grew to love.

From there, I flew to Paris where I rented an apartment for 10 days. Though the dream was fulfilled I realized the city streets were not Hollywoodized like in Midnight in Paris.

After Paris, I got in my little rental car and ventured to the Loire Valley for a week... and had my own little driving scene abroad like in The Holiday. It was the bravest thing I've ever done, as silly as it sounds! Learning new traffic signs in a foreign language, while having a Frenchman come to my rescue after getting stuck on a narrow village one way road, denting the bumper and not getting that thing called rental insurance... I needed the whole day to recuperate at Chateau de Les Sablons eating wine and cheese in the private courtyard. Yes, I stayed a week in a French Chateau!

On my way out, I stopped at Chateau Villandry... where the French Gardens are almost as exquisite as Versailles. It was an emotional day, because I had changed my ticket to come home earlier from Nice instead of continuing with my planned 8 weeks to Cinque Terre, Rome, Tuscany, and then Switzerland.

I was exhausted, lonely, hadn't spoken much English to anyone, was stressed about getting to and from with my luggage, and the dollar wasn't going as far as hoped. I lost 8 pounds (currently 13 lbs!) because I couldn't enjoy all the fabulous French food.

So I pressed on to Dordogne, where I stayed with a fantastic English couple at Les Quatre Piins, and made wonderful friends who were so hospitable to me. Maybe I had given up too soon. Things were looking up... though I was desperate to get rid of that rental car. But I saw all the places I dreamed about... visiting Domme, Beynac, Le Roque Gageac, and Sarlat. It was remarkable... though I wished I had someone to share it with.

I traded in the car and took the train from Cahors to Nice and stayed in my first hostel... Villa St. Exupery. It was so much fun! I should have incorporated more hostels into my trip all along. I knew I didn't want it the entire time, but it would have saved money and offered more socialization.

So I boarded the plane on June 5th, from Nice to Fort Lauderdale, content that I had followed my dream. Even though France had chewed me up and spit me out... it was eye opening, and I'm proud of myself for following my dreams.

As soon as I landed in Fort Lauderdale, it felt like home for the first time in five years. But when I got home... the problems in my personal relationship hadn't magically worked themselves out like I hoped. I gave it everything I had for over three years. Love wasn't enough. It was time to walk away 

with my kitty... and time to return home 3,000 miles away. After 11 years of living in a different state than my Mom, it was the perfect time for a mother's love to heal all wounds in Truckee, California.

The second half of the year I found balance. I spent more time away from the computer and social media. More time on excerise, developing friendships, and catching up on family time

I found a new guy quicker than I planned, and finally I'm not fearful of commitment, but just content and optimistic to see how things ride out.

I've almost completed my novel... a dating/ relationship memoir. A difficult task to face the past, but I'm finally ready to face the end!

The most important thing I learned about Being True To Myself... is I should have done it all along and much sooner. This goes for everything: jobs, dreams, relationships, etc. Because the bottom line is you have to live for yourself, you are responsible for your own happiness, and once you're happy from within, things will work out the way they are supposed to.

It is too late to live with regret, but because I wasn't true to myself sooner... My Mandatory 2012 Resolution theme or goal is: To Rebuild.

Rebuilding will take time. I'm starting from scratch again. But I'm greatful for all I've been gifted this year. My belief in fate, faith, and spirituality has improved by leaps and bounds this year. When I really needed guidance through prayer... it was there. I never prayed more than when I was in Europe... or these past few months. Courage and strength from within, and signs I couldn't ignore appeared when I desperately needed it.

My real Christmas gift (not the movie Runaway Bride my parents jokingly got me...yes, Eggs Benedict are my favorite) came a week early... a new job for the Department of Health & Human Resources for Carson City which will begin mid January. Social services will be a whole new field for me, and I feel it will be rewarding, giving me more purpose to help people. I'll also be getting my own place again for the first time in five years in just two short weeks! So, I couldn't ask for anything more than starting 2012 with a new career and a home of my own.

Thanks for sharing the journey with me this year!

Have a Safe, Happy, & Prosperous
New Year My Friends!
Remember YOU have the power 
to make it ANY kind of year you want!!

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  1. What a beautiful recap of 2011. You have come a long way...lost and found. So very happy for you and this journey you have allowed your soul to endure.

    Wishing you a blissful 2012.


  2. Oh my goodness I LOVED reading your recap! That's so amazing that you traveled to all of those places by yourself. I would NEVER be that brave - I could only imagine how accomplished you feel! Reading this was truly inspiring to me to do more in 2012.


  3. you are such an amazing woman and it's been an honor to read your beautiful words this year. i hope you continue to have such an open heart and brave spirit, you are such an inspiring and remarkable person. Can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for you

  4. Beautiful recap! You have had quite the year and have come out on top with alot of lessons learned. Here's to a wonderful New Year for you filled with lots of love, fun and adventure! xxoo :)

  5. What a post. You are so motivating Dear. I am so happy to hear that you are being true to yourself! I need to do much the same! I hope your move back home has been quite an adventure! I have found a new home too on the blogsphere. I had to pop in and see what you've been up to! Glad its all for better! =)

    - Melanie, now founder of Lemanie's Randomness



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