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Month in Review: December 2016

December, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

You ushered out one of the worst years in recent history.  You allowed me to find love in the most unexpected of places.  You sent me constant reminders to follow my heart.  You gave me ample time with the people I care about most.  You taught me gentle lessons and allowed me to grow.

I hope December was a mindful and meaningful month for all of you, as it was for me.  I’m heading into 2017 feeling confident and focused–two things my heart has not perceived for quite some time.  And it gives me so much hope for the future.

Here’s a quick glance at the blessings December bestowed on me.

In December 2016…

I got lots and lots of practice in letting go.

As I’m sure is true for most people, December was a stressful month on my side of the globe.  From family get-togethers for the holidays to harrowing weather conditions that laughed in the face of our plans, the month certainly kept me on my toes.  I failed miserably at every attempt to maintain a routine (work, fitness, sleep or otherwise) and for longer than I should have, I let this get the best of me.

Eventually, I was able to just let it all go.  Let go of how I wanted things to be in order to accept things as they were.  Let go of my expectations, my desire for control, and my ego’s need to remain busy and productive.  And you know what?  Everything worked out just fine in the end.  Deadlines were extended, and some long, deep breaths were taken.  Even the stressful times are gifts, and December really went all out in gifting them to me.

I got some new ink.

This may not be common knowledge, even amongst my friends, but I live much of my life by mantras.

“…the word mantra comes from two Sanskrit words: man meaning mind; and tra meaning vehicle or instrument – a tool to transport the mind from a state of activity to one of stillness and silence. We get the words train, travel, and transportation from the Sanskrit root tra.” (source)

Mantras in ancient Sanskrit focus on a certain sound or vibration and do not necessarily translate to something useful in English–these mantras are wonderful in their own right, but the word mantra has taken on a much broader significance that is accessible to yogis and non-yogis alike, and those are the ones I’m talking about here.

A simple word or series of words repeated as affirmations allow their meaning to permeate our daily lives, and can indeed transport us to a place of stillness amongst chaos.  I’d been considering another tattoo for some time (I had two small and discreet ones already) and when I uncovered a mantra that I wanted to live by at all times, I knew I had a winner.

When I’m feeling anxious about life, where I am headed, what I have or have not achieved, the rude person who made me feel small, the tragedies that leave me feeling helpless, I simply remember these 6 words:

All is as it should be.

All is as it should be tattoo

I spent Christmas with my family for the first time in 8 years.

I couldn’t believe it myself when I first counted back over the years, but it was true–I hadn’t spent a single Christmas in Washington with my family since 2008.  After that, I was on the East Coast for two years, Thailand for another two, South America for two more, and Sweden last year.

This year, I joined my mom, brothers, and some extended family in Anacortes, a charming port town north of Seattle.  My cousin lives there with his wife and two kids, and many others live nearby, making it a practical meeting point.  Some of us came from a bit further away (like my brother who drove nearly 10 hours from Eastern Oregon or my aunt who flew in from Reno) but to see all of those smiling, familiar faces was more than worth it.

My brother and I joined everyone on the 24th for a few days of eating, watching sports, more eating, dancing with the little ones, and catching up on our lives.  We managed to forget to take a single family photo, sadly, but my hope is to spend more Christmases like this one in the future.  When prioritizing events like this with family or others that I love, I often refer back to this article on Wait But Why to really keep things in perspective, such as how much time with them I will really be afforded after all.  Because as you’ll see in the article, it’s not all that much, even if we’re being super optimistic.Anacortes, Washington

I made some important decisions about the future of my work.

This month was full of important changes that I’m really excited about.  I finally decided that it was time to say goodbye to my Pinterest management services in order to free up more time for blogging, so I finished up my final month with my one remaining Pinterest client.  I’ll still offer one-on-one consulting, but I will no longer be managing Pinterest accounts for a monthly fee and that feels SO good.

The above decision was in part due to another opportunity that came along, the chance to join a team of freelance writers working for a travel app.  This new writing job will be my main project outside of my blog from now on, offering me a bit more consistency and financial stability than I’m used to (a very welcome change!).  So that’s the second major development December brought with it.

Having my focus split between fewer jobs will definitely help me work toward my blogging goals faster, because as you probably know, I still hope for blogging to be my primary source of income in the future.  I think with this new structure, I will get there even faster.

Lastly, I decided to bring on a VA to help me out on a part-time basis starting in January.  I’m most excited about this change and to see how much more this little blog can accomplish with some extra help.  I’ve always been insanely envious of couples who blog together–what I wouldn’t give to have had help from the get-go!  But no matter, late is better than never, as they say!

My Most Popular Posts

Thank You, 2016

How One Couple Turned Their Travel Obsession Into a Lifestyle

My Best Instagrams

What I’m Reading

I didn’t squeeze in nearly enough reading this month, but I did manage to get my hands on a copy of The Celestine Prophecy and I can’t recommend it enough.  I originally went in search of this title after doing a rudimentary Google search for books on the topic of synchronicity.  It kept popping up and even though I couldn’t quite ascertain what it was about, I knew I had to read it.  When a friend’s mom happened to have a copy and offered to let me borrow it, it was almost too good to be true.  And once you read it, you’ll understand why all of these little events were so relevant!

A Few Things I’m Loving

Best Travel Blogs for 2017 – My first ever feature in a Buzzfeed Community post!

Elizabeth Gilbert’s 4-Question Test to Know Who to Trust – Some excellent life advice from one of my favorite authors.

A Bad Lip Reading of The Empire Strikes Back – Because we can’t be so damn serious all the time.

City of the Sun – A little something sweet on the ears.  I saw this band playing live in Central Park back in April and just rediscovered their tunes.  I think you’re going to love it.

That’s all for December.  Onward and upward!

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