Hey time, please slow down!
Here we are once again preparing to say goodbye to another year, not only a year but a decade! This might possibly be the first and last time I publish a "look back at last year/decade" kind of post, but I feel like writing about this topic rather than our recent trip to Andalucia, Spain. Why not let my mood take the lead? No excuses? So, get yourself a drink and enjoy the ride!
Thinking back to the beginning of the 2010s feels like another lifetime. It's been a transformative period that I've come a long way from being a timid, small-town Turkish girl to whoever I'm today. Read on and help me name it, or perhaps, you might get inspired to reach your own summit.
2010 - First step to freedomOn paper, it looked like the new decade was off to a great start that I and hubby felt ready to take the first step into our financial independence: buying a condo. Yep, even if it means being in debt at first. When you write down all your monthly expenses, you'll notice that your rent is presumably the largest piece of the pie. A great amount of money that you throw out of the window every month. Turning this expense into savings is, in my opinion, the door to liberation. We had been already saving up for the down payment, and by that time we both had stable jobs with regular payslips. Besides, in March, I got promoted, which meant not only more income but also the reinforcement of my future at the company. So, we were good to go and 2010 was primarily all about finding the right place for us. The real estate market in Munich back then was already in favor of sellers that we experienced some setbacks.
In May we gave ourselves a break from real-estate hunting and traveled to the USA before having a huge debt load.
|Oh my, we were young!|
The USA was my second overseas destination after Thailand, where we'd backpacked without a plan. But starting with the USA, I introduced spreadsheets with day-by-day itinerary, and trip planning became one of my hobbies. Back then, the world wasn't big enough yet, hence I could easily save some highlights in a given country for another time, unaware of the fact that my save-for-later list would overgrow. So, it was going to be just California and New York for now, where you can read the details of our road trip to California in this post. As always, we tried to travel/live as frugal as possible. I'd like to share the picture below for clarity on our frugality :)
|Live cheaply, travel more :)|
2011 - Work, work, work, a health issue, facing a fear, and a new hobbyDespite my recent promotion, I wasn't there yet in my career. I kept working hard. So very hard that my body went on strike in the very first days of 2011. I would work 9-5 without any breaks, just a banana for lunch, and little water intake to minimize the time spent for maintaining my body. One morning, I couldn't even get up because my head felt so heavy and dizzy. Diagnosis: positional vertigo. For more than three months, I would feel dizzy, for instance, while turning from one side to the other in bed, or turning my head around while sitting. My daily life was quite restricted but I kept working hard with a slight difference: I took care of my nutrition, though I didn't even try to lower down my stress level. My software bugs to fix would keep me busy all day and night.
Travelwise, 2011 was slow because of the expenses related to our home, and then Tom needed a car to commute to his work. The very first weekend getaway with our second-hand VW Polo was to Königsee, a stunningly beautiful place in Bavaria. You may want to check it out here in this post.
In November, I won for the first time a sweepstake that I had the privilege of ziplining across Munich's Olympic Stadium. It took me 5 minutes proper to lift my feet from solid ground, but the thrill was addictive. And this experience was just the beginning of my never-ending battle against fears.
|I couldn't find a picture of mine, this is from the web.|
And again in the last months of the year, I decided to upgrade my point-and-shoot camera to a Micro-Four-Thirds (MFT) Mirrorless System Camera. A new hobby was born.
2012 - On the road to burnout and the moment of U-TurnThe MFT system camera was so complex that I spent my evenings learning about all the settings. In January, I even spent a day of my valuable annual vacation for a beginners' photography workshop.
At the beginning of this year, I decided to initiate the process of getting a German passport. After living for 10 years in Germany, I was emotionally ready to part ways with my Turkish passport.
In February, we visited Cologne for the carnival, an event you should experience once in your life. I was dressed as a mermaid wearing a blue wig, and Tom as a Mexican fish (though in the pic he lost his mustache already).
|This blue wig is important, you'll find out later why.|
|An overcast spring day in Regensburg, Germany|
This year, I was seriously in an insatiable need for new experiences and always on the hunt for deals on Groupon. As a lover of water activities, I registered Tom and myself in an Open Water Diver course in Germany for half the regular price. Scuba diving, a hobby we started together. However, after the pool training, Tom decided to quit and I decided to continue. Despite all the fear, and trouble I had to face during the pool training, at the end of the day I felt euphoric and light like a feather. I knew scuba diving was the thing, a great passion for me.
In order further to face my fears, the fear of public nudity, in this case, I signed ourselves up for Spencer Tunick's large-scale nude photo shooting in Munich. Due to poor event management, we left the area around 6 am after freezing our butts off through the night while waiting for our turn (yeah, it was like 10 degrees Celsius warm at the end of June). Later I heard that the golden group had to wait until about 8 am. Even though we left early, they sent us two prints of the shooting, the naked Ring.
In June, I got promoted once again and eventually reached my immediate career goal. But it didn't occur to me to slow down a bit, not a single bit. On October 3rd, my body sent a serious warning signal, which forced me to stop and take a moment to contemplate. All of a sudden, a car engine was roaring in my ear that drove me almost mad. I was diagnosed with tinnitus. After two weeks of treatment with cortisone serum, acupuncture, and anything else that could help repair the possibly damaged neurons (or whatever the reason was, the doctors didn't really know but guesstimate), the car engine went silent but the bees are still around, even today. Over the years I've learned to live with it, and when the buzzing sounds get louder, it's a warning for me to slow down and take care of my well-being. I call it my built-in alarm system.
In November we traveled to India for three weeks, where the time went by really really slow for the first (possibly last?) time in my life. I wrote about some of my impressions of India here.
Now after having irreparable damage, basically indicating that I was burnt out, I sought ways to lower my stress and started learning Spanish to keep my brain busy after work, to divert all my brain cells to anything, except my software bugs and bees buzzing in my head.
2013 - Getting better in self-care, facing fears and my new hobbiesIn January this year, I was finally gone through the long process of getting a German passport. With the vanishment of all the visa restrictions, I was eager to plan our next trip.
Due to my struggles with scuba diving, I had decided to complete the open water part of the course in a tropical place, instead of the cold, murky lakes of Germany. After completing the pool part, all you have got is a year not to start from scratch again. So in May, we traveled to Jamaica and Cuba, to complete my scuba diving course in the former, and practice Spanish in the latter. Toronto was a quick stopover, where we took a helicopter ride for the first time (and so far last time).
|Niagara Falls from above|
Back in Germany, we spent an overnight in Salzheilstollen (healing salt caves) in Berchtesgaden deep below Earth's surface. I was a little claustrophobic back then, and I was really worried about whether I could survive the night down there without having panic attacks. Hell, I did! I could breathe easily, and the experience was really fantastic that I had a good night's sleep to the soothing sounds of Australian music instruments. Although I haven't written about this yet, I wrote about our visit to Hallstatt which was incorporated into this weekend getaway.
|Overnight in salt caves|
By the end of summer, I was seriously infected by the travel bug. My brain was no longer busy with my software bugs at work. But the idea of consuming only without producing anything, and the fact that my pictures were destined to fall into oblivion kept bugging me. Travel is undeniably an integral part of our consumer society. To counteract this, starting a blog was something I'd had always in mind, but I would keep procrastinating with the excuse of not having the cool experiences to fill up a blog. But then I thought, when exactly would be the right time ever? In five years from now or after having seen 50 countries? Or perhaps now? Then, I decided to come up with a name for my blog and buy the domain name before it was taken. And when I came up with the simple but genius (!) name "Maho On Earth" after weeks of contemplation, I would say to myself, "well, you've been actually to quite a few places. Slovenia and Croatia lately, why not to start with a few simple blog posts and design your website? There is sure a learning curve in that area too." So I created the very first version of my website on Google's Blogspot domain and started writing up the very first posts in the last quarter of the year.
To end the year with another challenge, we traveled for the first time over the year-end holidays and built our own Igloo in Wegscheid, Germany. It took us an entire day to construct an igloo from scratch, but what a great team we were! A short snowshoeing tour was another first we experienced in the last days of 2013.
2014 - All about facing challenges and living dreamsIn February, I officially launched my blog. As an introvert person, going public was extremely weird to me. That's why in the beginning I shared my blog with a few of my closest friends and tried to remain as anonym as possible for the rest of the world.
To further please my travel bug, the destination we picked this time was Central America. I had spent my twenties with settling down in a foreign country and saving up for real-estate. Now in my mid-thirties, I was in need for speed to see as many countries as possible and experience new things. That's why I came up with a mini Central America tour to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Four countries in three weeks! Once again I had to pick the best of the best as it wouldn't be possible to properly cover them all in such a short time frame. On this trip, I acquired my Advanced OWD certification in Belize and then wrote about all the satisfaction of overcoming my fears in this post. I climbed up a volcano in Guatemala and decided to hike more often in Bavaria. My trip to Central America was a climax in many ways and you'll find several posts on the blog, including a round-up here. I came back home with great satisfaction and enthusiasm to further challenge myself.
As a Mediterranean girl, the cold wasn't my best friend. To break the ice, I went scuba diving in Lake Blindsee in Austria in June. Mountain lake diving was something I avoided in the previous years and I didn't want it to follow me like a nightmare. I wished this experience as my birthday present. Yep, I couldn't imagine a better gift but diving in a 14 degrees Celsius murky lake!
And then towards the end of June, I flew to Istanbul to pick up the kids. It was one of my greatest desires to host my then 14-year-old sister and 12-year-old nephew in Germany while they were still kids. It's always been an important duty and pleasure for me to broaden their horizons, to show them there is much more out there than our small hometown.
|While in Istanbul, I got my hair colored blue. Yes completely blue! Remember the blue wig? That's all its fault!|
For six weeks in summer I was temporarily a working mom, and as it turned out I did a good job. They both didn't even complain once about missing their parents or home. On the contrary, they wanted to be adopted by us, and they didn't want to leave at all. Phew :) In that summer they possibly didn't learn German properly, but they gained self-confidence and trust of their parents for sure. They were on their own in a foreign country without getting lost once. And despite the language barrier, they were able to make friends from all over the world.
|Putting the kids in separate classes was a tiny detail of the plan :)|
|Weekends meant exploring nearby destinations|
|Germany won the Football World Cup!|
My blue colored hair caught, no wonder, the attention of my colleagues as well that I started becoming social at work by having one or the other coffee to chat with them. What an astonishingly mighty wig I wore for the carnival!
This year, I continued my Spanish courses too, but I was at a stage where I needed real practice rather than a classroom, thus I decided to quit at the end of the year. Sadly I wouldn't be able to arrange a month's stay in a Spanish speaking country so soon.
To further get along better with cold, I bought cheap winter gear on eBay, and off we went to Finland over the Christmas holidays. Ice climbing to build trust in others and nature, and husky sledding stick out in my memories.
2015 - Getting fit in shape, and on the road to midlife crisisIt happened to me as well. After getting married, I would keep getting fatter and lazier to dress up nicely. I hadn't been feeling comfortable in my own skin for a long time already. Beginning with this new year, I started swimming regularly, twice a week on my lunch break and changed my diet. As soon as I was happy with my body again, I started wearing nice clothes fallen into oblivion in my closet.
To further improve my photography skills, I joined a Street Photography Workshop in Munich in January, and in February I visited the Hot Air Ballooning Festival in Tegernsee to practice night photography and time-lapse techniques (I've yet to work through those shots).
And this year for the first time, I had no desire to plan a trip. I was fed up with narrowing down the things I wanted to do and see. A vacation meant compromises only. With my bucket list growing, my dissatisfaction would keep growing too. But we still did some short trips around Europe, like the one to Lichtenstein.
Tom's greatest desire in this year was to celebrate his dad's 60th birthday at a camping resort in Italy, where my parents-in-law go to the very same place nearly every year. Family is important, so I combined his wish with my wish of seeing Aida in Verona. I wrapped it as my birthday gift, so Tom wouldn't say no to watching a "boring" opera.
|Watching an opera at Arena di Verona. Check!|
That family trip was rounded up with a night in Malcesine on the shores of Lake Garda, and a day trip to Venice and Burano.
|I was in Venice in 2003 for the first time, but this time I had a chance to visit the nearby Burano Island as well.|
|We visited the beautiful Malcesine on our trip to Lake Garda in 2012 and now returned for overnight because it was so beautiful.|
In September I combined my business trip to Leiden, the Netherlands with a weekend getaway to Bruges, Belgium. Catch me if you can! :)
|Ziplining to this view from the Olympic Ski-Jump in Garmisch-Partenkirchen - This wasn't scary at all|
Back from Africa with amazing experiences. the last trip of the year was for business to Israel. It was an experience in itself to deal with my tough customers, but we got along quite well, thanks to the heartwarmingly cuteness of the picture above that served as a screensaver. My customer had initially booked me for a few days only, but they kept extending and extending. At one point, I had to reject them to be with my family over the Christmas holidays. I wrapped up the trip highlights of Israel in this post.
After spending Christmas with family we went to Chodová Planá in Czechia to take a beer bath in the brewery.
|A beer spa is great fun even if you don't like beer, like me.|
2016 - All the same good oldAs we had all the gear gathered for skiing thanks to our Finland trip, this year winter we spent two weekends to learn skiing. Tom had already learned on a school holiday when he was a child but then he never had the chance (or money) to get back on the slopes. And I hadn't had a chance to even stand on skis in all those years while in Germany, as I was busy with saving money and avoiding expensive hobbies. But I wanted to try skiing out before I could claim whether I liked it or not. So we booked a 2-hour private session to get on the skis. Tom recalled the skills very quickly, and I wasn't bad at all. Apart from those 2 hours, we applied the trial and error technique. And yes I liked skiing!
This year, we had no big travel plans after a relatively expensive trip to Africa. Traditionally every year in June, we traveled to Turkey to visit my family, and this year was, of course, no exception. Apart from that, we explored the Bavarian nature in depth, did more hiking to wonderful places like The Lake Eibsee, Tegernseer Hütte, or Hoherkranzberg.
|Sailing on the Lake Tegern, Bavaria|
|Sunset treat at the Lake Schliersee, Bavaria - after relaxing at the beach|
|Survival training with an overnight camp was another activity in this summer - Tom is interested in such kind of stuff|
I attended another photography workshop and published the photos in this post: A Spooky Summer Night in Munich. Of course, I continued swimming twice a week as well, and additionally, I was exercising outdoors cross-fit with a group. To check my fitness level, I joined the Tough-Mudder event in September. Anything mad out there, give it to me!
Beach volleyball with my colleagues was another extension of my activities. BTW, my job wasn't a stress factor anymore. As a dear colleague of mine put it right: "You make your tasks appear so easy, but I know they are not. How is that possible?" The short answer probably is to learn not to stress yourself out by yourself and others. The corporate life is long, you have plenty of time to accomplish your tasks. Your health, both physical and mental, is the most important thing. Nobody will and can compensate for your health.
Towards the end of the year, my Israeli customers needed another visit from their doctor, but this time right from the beginning they booked me for two weeks. This not only gave me the opportunity of visiting Jerusalem and the Dead Sea once again but also I was able to append a few days of holiday to visit Jordan. I wrote about Petra and Aqaba part of my trip already, but I am yet to bring "Desert Alone" on air.
Since we had some budget left after skipping a big trip this year, we went to Lipno nad Vltavou in the Czech Republic for a week of skiing to learn it properly. We picked this place due to the economical reasons, not because of the fantastic slopes. For beginners like us, it was absolutely sufficient though.
2017 - Preparations for getting out of the rat raceAnd right at the beginning of the new year, I had achieved another goal: I could ski down the blue slopes and I was ready to tackle the red one at the end of the skiing week. To my surprise skiing turned out to be much easier than scuba diving. Probably that's why you need a license to scuba dive but none for skiing.
|My shameless hubby in Cesky Krumlov, a day trip to take a rest from skiing|
Back home, I signed up in a Kettlebell training for two months over winter. Though I was able to attend only 12 sessions out of 20, I could build up muscles very quickly and felt much stronger than before. At the end of the course, I noticed that my swimming skills got upgraded to the next level. Suddenly I was able to swim freestyle without issues, though I hadn't been practicing freestyle lately. Very effective training it was!
Leaving "the known" behind and going on a world trip was now the hottest topic this year. We'd been putting off this dream with the excuse of not having enough money. We would think we needed to save more and more money. You would probably never feel like having enough money for making such a leap. But before turning 40, I felt the urge to pull it off not to let a comfy lifestyle and fears take control of my dreams, my life.
In between the preparations physically and mentally, we traveled to Scotland, Ireland, and Amsterdam for the King's Day, all within 10 days in April. My birthday present of the year was paragliding over the Neuschwanstein Castle, and in August we did a seriously beautiful and tough hike with an overnight stay in a mountain hut.
|Paragliding, the step before sky diving :)|
|King's Day in Amsterdam|
|And I was finally in Prague in October, before eventually setting off to faraway destinations|
The most difficult part of leaving the rat race is the idea of losing your security and safety, that's the monthly income you take for granted. Obviously feeling safe was not something I'd find in my bank account but in myself, yet still, instead of quitting my job right away, I asked for a year of unpaid leave by sending out an email to my direct manager and HR manager. Yep, email because they were based in different countries, and talking would just mean being a ping-pong ball between them. Besides, writing is the strongest way of conveying myself, hence from the bottom of my heart, in silent tears, I wrote the following:
"I didn't know where to start, hence this email.
As you know, I have been working at ABC for over 10 years now - already more than a quarter of my life, and that still happily! Over these years I've kept achieving my career goals one by one to my satisfaction. However, as I am about to join the big 4-0 club shortly, I've caught my life goals lagging behind. After much consideration, I've eventually decided to take action.
To give birth to a lifetime dream, I would like to take an unpaid vacation for a year, starting from March 1, 2018.
I am aware that I am not asking for something common, but I'd highly appreciate your support in this matter, in the best possible way you can."
About a month of interrogation later, my employer came to the conclusion to keep an asset like me for as long as possible, and at the end of the year just before the holidays, I received the verbal approval for a sabbatical year.
2018 - Living the big dreamAnd at the beginning of the year, I received the official approval for my unpaid leave, and then in mid-January, we found a tenant for our condo. So nothing could hold us back now from going on an adventure of a lifetime.
In February, I paid a short visit to my family in Turkey. My sister wished for her 18th birthday a trip to Cappadocia, and my brother was able to join us with his family as well. I was grateful for being able to experience another first-time together with my sister and elder nephew: hot air balloon ride over the snow-covered fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. Later, I and my sister continued to Mount Erciyes, near Kayseri so that she could give skiing a try for the first time. As I became a master (!) in skiing with 38, I taught her the few tricks I knew, and she proved herself to be a great talent. It was important for me to convey the knowledge so that she would have a chance to improve her skills during her university life. Skiing is not so difficult or expensive as one believes, it's just the beginning that's hard. All you need is a kick-start from an experienced person.
Back in Germany, the rest of February was all about fine-tuning and handing over the keys before we were off to pursue our dreams. I published several posts about our world trip (start here), but what I probably haven't shared yet is what an emotional breakdown it was to hand over my corporate badge, and cell phone. This time I was seriously disconnected, it wasn't like taking a few weeks off. I was about to walk into the void, a completely unknown future. Up to that moment, I didn't know I was emotionally attached to my job, because I perceived it as a tool to achieve the bigger goal. But it was apparently more than just a tool; it filled a great part of my life and I felt the pain of sudden emptiness. A pain that lasted an entire weekend, where I couldn't hold back one or the other teardrop.
And at that point when nothing could go wrong, that's at the airport gate while waiting for boarding, I burst once again into tears. What appeared to be a distant dream was now all real and coming towards me at full speed. I got the feeling that I would be crushed by the avalanche of my dreams. Fast forward to today, nothing appears unattainable to me anymore. And I can tell you this much: Stop putting off your dreams!
The entire year felt like my birthday, but on my real birthday, I was out in the ocean swimming with wild dolphins in Japan. And to compensate for our cheap backpacking honeymoon trip to Thailand, we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in Hawaii.
2019 - Lost in TransitionThe transition from 2018 into 2019 was smooth sailing on the mighty Amazon River, though the rest of the year has turned rather a little stormy that required a great deal of improvisation. Due to all the soul-sucking events after my return home, I was virtually inactive here on the blog and social media. I was feeling like a deflated balloon for the most part of the year, and negative energy is not something I'd like to emit through your screens. So we have a lot to catch up with, you may want to get yourself another drink :)
First of all, let me take you back to my boat on the river: Please take a moment and check out the RTW round-up post to refresh your mind. At the beginning of the year, i.e. towards the end of our world trip, we were looking forward to returning "home" eventually. We were tired of packing and unpacking so frequently, and above all, we were tired of each other. Possibly that's why we agreed to the extension of the rental contract with our tenant, not giving much thought as to where we would stay when we return to Munich. In the end, upon our return, Tom stayed with his parents in his hometown, and I with friends in Munich to be able to commute to my work easily. In April, I found a temporary studio apartment, where Tom would visit me over the weekends, and I would have the much-needed time and space for myself during the week. After a year of 24/7 together, a little bit of distance was what we needed to miss each other again.
Apart from being homeless, returning to the 9-5 routine was a real shock, comparable to throwing a frog into boiling water. I wanted to jump out immediately and run away, but I forced myself to stay and deal with the situation. Well, because avoiding something is easier than resolving, and analyzing my feelings and behavior of my colleagues after my return was an integral part of the entire experience. Besides, I didn't want to quit my job without a goal, without knowing what I wanted to do next. I am not going to get into the boring details here, but with hindsight, I can tell this much: My farewell from work was unexpectedly accelerated and sweetened with an icing on the cake.
Travelwise I was so burnt out that for the first time I didn't wish anything but sleep on my birthday. I spent June in Turkey with my family and friends; and then spent two months in summer in the hometown of my husband, close to the Bavarian Alps in Germany. I took advantage of having such a wonderful nature literally in our backyard, and jumped on a bike as often as possible, for the least on sunny days.
From the end of August to mid-September, I was once again in Turkey, now with hubby, to spend time with my brother and his family in Ayvalik. Joining the most famous music festival in Turkey, namely Zeytinli Rock Festival, with the teenies had long been on our bucket list, and this year was the last chance before my sister would turn 20 and prefer to participate in such events with her own friends. After the festival, we spent a week in Istanbul to search for a flat for my sister, because she's a proud university student now.
Having dealt with our familial and non-familial duties, by mid-October, it was finally time to fix ourselves. I was so much in need of vitamin-D and sea that we decided to put down some temporary roots on the sunny coast of Spain, near Malaga. We needed a place to call our own, as well as time to digest what'd happened so far and find direction in our life. We found a lovely small apartment in the middle of the Torremolinos town with fantastic views and all the amenities we could ask for.
After living in a flatshare with family and friends for so long, it felt great to have a place for ourselves, a closet to unpack our stuff, a kitchen to prepare our own meals and enough room to spread out a little bit. We enjoyed ourselves while having breakfast on the balcony, going for a walk down to the beach promenade that stretched for miles, exercising consistently, and exploring the nearby attractions. This was also a new experiment regarding a location independent lifestyle, and the consensus is we wouldn't like to travel any faster than as in our Andalucian experiment: at least two months for a given region, not even for the entire country. We think for Andalucia three months would have been great, probably six months would be the best.
The bottom line for 2019, tt's been a damn roller coaster ride! We had both up and downs, and it took me a long while to reflate myself, but here I am again in Germany to spend the holidays with family and writing up my review of the last decade. I am sure the post has become lengthy again, so thanks for your patience and sticking around for so long :)
Outlook into the futureSo, what will you do now? Many people ask. Honestly, we've got some ideas but we don't have any concrete plans yet because of some variables. Once all set, I'll sure announce the news, but for now, looking forward to the new year and decade, I wish to be able to, including but not limited to:
- get back into my fitness routine, get in shape and rebuild lost muscles
- improve my (underwater) photography and scuba diving skills
- work towards marine conservation, especially big fishes
- learn freediving (wind/kite/body surfing perhaps too)
- get fluent in Spanish ―good enough to sing along flamenco songs
- write a book or two
|I'd like to experience awe in nature|
|I'd like to call this place my office|
Contrary to mine, Tom's dream is more down-to-earth: settling down somewhere nice. finding friends in his chosen hometown, and selling German sausages, perhaps in his own pub, and performing magic tricks for his clients or the community kids.
|Tom's desire is to sell German sausages, perhaps in his own pub|
|and he also wishes to entertain his guests with his magic tricks|
I don't know whether a decade would be enough to get there, but honestly, my only wish is to be in good health, that's all. Everything else is secondary. As long as you know what you want and have the determination, no doubt the dots will connect down the road, even if the shoes you wear have a hole:)
In conclusion, to avoid misunderstandings, I'd like to emphasize that I'm not a master of anything, and I am not saying that my life is the best or right one. I've made conscious choices. The moment I made a certain choice for myself, I denied some other kind of life at the same time, in full awareness. I am not envious of your life and I am not trying to champion the choice I've made either. As long as you are happy with your choice, it's equally good as mine.
My growth has been slow and steady, but rest assured I am waving goodbye to the 2010s with the liberation of knowing that I can shape my own life. Accompanied by Cat Steven's song "if you want to sing out, sing out", I'd like to toast to a healthy, prosperous new decade, and happy everything folks! May the tenacity and courage be with you. Cheers!
"You can't connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path and that will make all the difference." - Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011)