December is always an interesting month. The end of the year usually means I have plenty to think about in terms reflecting on the past year, what I loved about it and what I could do better in the next 12 months.
I was originally planning on being in Scotland for NYE this year, and even though I’m sure that would’ve been an epic time, I’m glad I chose to stay stateside instead. I ended up having one of my favorite NYEs in awhile, and I celebrated it with one of my closest friends and 60+ other wonderful people on an estate in the middle of nowhere.
My last month of 2017 was mostly spent taking little trips around northern California, preparing my business and mindset for the new year, and appreciating where I was at and who I was with.
I never expected 2017 to be a year to myself, but then again, I guess you never really know what life will bring you with each new year.
I should know better by now.
Even though I didn’t expect it to be a year to myself, I can say with full clarity now that I’m so very glad that it was. This was the year that I found my independence again, understood fully what I deserve in my life, and embraced my alone time.
I’m someone who is already pretty good at being alone. I’m an introvert, most of my pastimes are solo ones – reading, playing my guitar, listening to music, cooking. And my work is very much a solo pursuit, from writing to doing digital marketing for clients.
I’m used to being alone, but 2017 was a year where I really just had myself to pull me back up from my bootstraps, to lean on, to make sense of stressful, happy, and sad situations.
The best girls Mendocino getaway starts with a cozy accommodation on the coast
When I asked one of my best friends if she was interested in doing a Mendocino getaway, she couldn’t say yes fast enough. When I told her we would have the chance to stay at a cozy accommodation with an ocean view on the northern California coast, called the Brewery Gulch Inn, she was even more excited for our weekend to start.
Mendocino is only about a 3.5 hour drive from San Francisco, and it’s one of the few places that is still relatively unknown to many Californians and tourists. I’m sure most people, even those who grew up in California, wouldn’t be able to place it on a map.
I’ve always had a big heart for animals. That heart has only grown fuller as I’ve traveled more and seen the amount of animals that need help around the world.
From the many stray dogs I saw roaming around Greece, to the homeless kittens in Thailand, and yes, even dogs who were rotting from the inside out in Myanmar, there is plenty of help that is needed around the world and right here at home.
I’ll be the first to say that before this year I had never volunteered at an animal shelter. And to be honest, I initially did it for selfish reasons. I was going through a difficult time in my life in Thailand, and I just wanted to feel that unconditional love that animals are so good at giving.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with my return to Malaysia this year. The brief time I spent in the country in 2013 was a good experience overall, but it’s also the first place where I was aggressively groped in broad daylight.
Granted, gropings can happen anywhere, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t taint my experience while in the country.
It stuck with me so much that even today, four years later, when I hear a scooter coming up behind me I get a dose of adrenalin and and my sense of awareness goes into overdrive.
I knew I wanted to come back to Malaysia someday to have a more positive experience, and focus on all of the good that the country has to offer.
I can’t believe I’ve been back in California for over a month already. It has gone by super fast, probably because my schedule has been filled with plenty of work, family time, and catching up with my closest friends who live in the Bay.
I tested out doing a sober month in November for the first time ever (at least since I’ve been drinking alcohol, obviously), and it was actually really nice to take a break from drinking.
I only broke it for one weekend when I had a fun couple of nights out with some friends in San Francisco – but even still, that whole weekend I only had one beer and two glasses of champagne. So all in all, my first sober month went pretty well.
Where I might be living, visiting, and going back to – these are my potential travel destinations for 2018!
It’s my favorite time of the year! And no, I’m not talking about the holidays, although to be sure November and December can be some of my favorite months, especially when I’m surrounded by loved ones.
I even used to say that winter was my favorite season, but really I think that’s because I grew up in California and it gave me an excuse to play the Mariah Carey Christmas CD as much as I wanted.
Spoiler alert, fall and spring are now my favorite seasons, because they’re usually perfect for travel without the crowds, and I love that feeling of the changing of seasons, of new beginnings.
But, I digress.
*EDIT* We have a winner!! CONGRATS to Toni! You’ll be receiving your book in the mail within a couple of weeks.
It has been so long since I’ve hosted a giveaway on this blog, but when I got an email in my inbox about an artsy new coffee table book about LA and Paris, I knew I wanted to learn more about it.
The book that landed in my inbox was called Why LA? Pourquoi Paris? by Diane Ratican, illustrated by Eric Giriat and Nick Lu. It’s a colorful book full of captivating artwork and words that paint an expansive overview of both cities.
I’ve heard Paris compared to New York a lot, but rarely have I heard Paris compared to LA. The comparison peaked my interest because, from a distance, it doesn’t seem like the two cities have much in common.
I know I say this every single month, but whoa, where did the time go? I’m not sure how we’re already into the second week of November, but here we are.
With that said, one of my goals before the end of this year is to get into a better habit of mindfulness. I want to be able to value the passing of time more, to take one day at a time, and to not always feel like I’m running one step behind.
October was bursting at the seams, which is probably why I felt so exhausted by the end of it – I barely had time to catch my breath. Note to self: slow down in November and December. Your body, mindset, and bank account will thank you.
The month started with a fun travel blogging conference, then turned into two weeks of road tripping and traveling around Ireland by myself, and finally ended with my return to California after over a year of being abroad.
So, let’s dive right in and get to the good stuff. This was my October!
My friends and I made our way giggling in a tuk tuk to the party. The night before we had danced on a moonlit beach, Leos in hand, swaying in time to the palm trees and chill electronic beats.
“Wow, you seem to be doing so well. If I was in your position, I would not be this okay right now,” one of my friends said to me, when I mentioned my abrupt breakup from two weeks ago.
I shrugged my shoulders, “I guess I just want to be happy. I don’t want to be sad over something that wasn’t meant to be.”