It’s hard to believe that it was only one year ago today that I boarded the plane to New Zealand that marked the start of what was supposed to be a year of traveling around the world. As you know by now, I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped, only making it to five different countries before I ended up with a teaching job in China that has me now stationed here for another year. I have no regrets though. I am so glad that I knew myself well enough at the beginning of my trip to know that I wouldn’t enjoy trying to keep up with the backpackers who leapfrog from country to country, trying to hit them all in just 365 days. There are many places in this world that I want to see, but experience has taught me that quality is better than quantity in terms of how I travel.

I had thought that after my previous ten years of travel and living abroad that this past year was going to be easy. Easy it was not, but it was valuable in a way that none of my other travel had been and it helped me to rebuild a confidence and a joy that I thought I had lost. I discovered so much about myself in this past year and about my ability to cope with difficult situations. I learned how to be alone with myself without the distractions of the modern world to keep me from my problems. I learned to navigate in the wild and keep on going when the trail gets muddy and lonely. I’ve jumped off bridges and cliffs, climbed mountains and waterfalls, and navigated some of the craziest cities I’ve ever visited. I’ve struggled with cultures and languages so far from familiar to me that I was almost never certain of what I was eating or whether I would end up in the places I was trying to get to. All of the ups and downs and in-betweens have shaped what has been the best year of my life so far. Here are some of the highlights:

NZ Rugby World Cup
The Overland Track
The Landie…living in the wild
France with my besties
Camping at the foot of the Great Wall
Bicycling around Yangshuo.
Staying at a farmhouse in rural southern China and climbing
Climbing Southern Utah and being reunited with my cousin
Roadtrip with Todd
Feeling loved (friends, Todd, my sister)

I’m grateful to all of you who have put up with my wandering ways over the years. I’m looking forward to the adventures to come and I hope some of you can be in on them!