What a year it’s been

by Kim on December 12, 2013 · 54 comments

I rang in 2013 at a palace in Jaisalmer, India, huddled around a bonfire underneath a dark desert sky. Music thumped from the dance floor. When midnight arrived fireworks exploded above me and I raised my head to watch. Rockets boomed and fell to the ground in a medley of color and smoke. Above the chaos, a pinprick of stars held steady and unshaken.

My Rickshaw Run teammate, Hannah, leaned over and knocked her Kingfisher against mine. “To our first full year of freedom,” she said. It gave me goose bumps because the air smelled of change, like so much possibility. Later, in the first hours of 2013, I walked back to my hotel behind the walls of the old Jaisalmer Fort. I closed my eyes that night knowing I had witnessed the birth of a year that was mine to do with as I pleased.

The next day, January 1, 2013, I climbed into a three-wheeled rickshaw and drove 3,000 kilometers down the length of India in the most mind-blowing and ridiculous adventure I have ever had in my life. It was a journey that changed the core of me. A year later I’m still trying to understand how.

Rickshaw Run India

Afterwards, I moved to the beach. Brian and I rented an apartment in Palolem, India. I went running and wrote all day. In the evenings I met friends  for drinks. Most nights, Brian and I walked hand in hand to a seaside restaurant and ate dinner by candlelight, calmed by the rhythm of the waves. It felt like home. We were happy.

Palolem, India

But we got antsy. The mountains called. We went to Nepal and walked to Annapurna Base Camp. It wasn’t enough. We walked the Annapurna Circuit. We made Pokhara home base. We thought we had it all figured out. Slow travel, that was our mantra. We were electrified. We had hit our stride.

Annapurna Circuit Nepal

We returned to the States for the summer. Ohio. Midwest. Ten years removed. We were bored and unhappy. Stuck. Two versions of life slammed into each other head on. It undid us for awhile. But there were bright spots, too. Time with family and friends. Caring for our dogs again.

Bear the dog

And I wrote a book. A book! It poured out of me in Indonesia. It was molded and shaped during those long days in Ohio.

The summer turned cool. Fall arrived. I headed to Spain, alone, to walk the Camino de Santiago. 34 days later I stood at the Atlantic coast with tears in my eyes and a deep well of pride blooming inside of me. I navigated an entire country on foot, 555 miles, by myself. I felt whole and filled. Just like in India, I felt changed. Just like India, it is too soon to say how.

Kim on the Camino

Brian came to Spain. We rented a car and drove through Andalucía with the windows down. We took a boat to Morocco. We drank wine. I tried to explain my time on the Camino. I couldn’t. Some things are yours alone.

We joined forces with eurail.com on a whirlwind tour of Europe by train. Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary. Six countries in as many weeks. Museums and historical squares and Christmas markets. Christmas markets. Because the year is coming to a close again.

Prague Christmas Market

Tomorrow we board a flight to Vietnam. This year when the proverbial calendar page turns over and 2013 blows away with the wind, we will be in SE Asia. We will be there with good friends and sore butts, bicycling our way through the Vietnamese countryside.

A year in the world. One hard, crazy, unpredictable, beautiful, exhausting, exhilarating year. Even to read it, to have lived it, it seems almost impossible.

As I scan back over the year, I keep coming back to where it all began: Three years ago this month, when I launched this blog. Then, I was dreaming of exactly what I have now. Writing. Traveling. I had no idea if it was possible. It felt impossible. But now I am here. I did it. It makes me wonder, what will the next three years hold?

I realize now more than ever how much power we have over our own lives. Most things are within our reach but we have to be brave enough to grab for them and flexible enough to accept that they might not look exactly like we think they will — and we have to trust.

We have to trust that if we do the hard work all of the other things we can’t control will fall into place. We have to understand that we don’t know the whole story, that we can’t see the big picture when we’re standing in the center of the stage. And we have to be patient and persevere.

Also, no excuses. No fucking excuses.

When I think back on this year, I see the faces of the countless men who fixed the rickshaw I drove through the chaotic beauty of India. I see the family whose kiosk we ate breakfast at in Pokhara each morning, their black-haired, wide-eyed baby staring out at me from the sling on her mothers chest. I feel the red dirt between my toes as I walk down our street in Palolem. I smell the fresh mountain air in Nepal, hear the lull of the train as it knocks down the tracks through the countryside of France.

I remember the laughter, the conversations, the tears, the fights, and all of the amazing and beautiful people I have crossed paths with these past twelve months. It has been such an intense year. It has been transformative, it has been challenging. It has been the most fulfilling year of my life. I am grateful.

Onward, to 2014.

***

Life On Fire ebook coverI wrote a book about how to live your dreams. You can buy it on Amazon for $8.99.

 
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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

gail December 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

You are endlessly inspiring to me, Kim. I’m working toward exactly what you’ve described here. I’m making difficult choices and I’m saving my pennies, I’m saying NO to shit that doesn’t fill me up, and I’m saying YES to opportunities that move me in the direction of quitting my 9-5 and traveling continuously. I am so so happy I found your blog (right at the start of your Camino) and have now read your book three times. Onward and upward. Best to you and Brian in 2014. Bon Voyage. You’re amazing.
gail recently posted..Incubating Dreams

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:30 am

Gail, thank you so much. I’m so happy you like the book!!! It is an honest to God honor to write this blog and to have built this community with all of you lovely people.

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A Southern Gypsy December 12, 2013 at 11:53 am

This is so inspiring. As someone who started my blog a few months ago knowing I wouldn’t be able to quit my job until fall 2014, it makes me excited to see how much you’ve done in your first year. I can’t wait to write my “first full year of traveling” post :) Congrats and I look forward to reading about cycling Vietnam-that’s something high up there on my list.
A Southern Gypsy recently posted..Wednesday Wanderlust: Ireland

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:32 am

I started my blog before I ever left to travel and it really kept me motivated and gave me a place where I could share all of my fears and excitements about changing my life. Good luck in your adventures. The fall of 2014 will actually be here before you know it.

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Rob December 12, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Lovely post. Here’s to freedom Kim :-)
Rob recently posted..Goodbye – The hardest thing in the world…

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:32 am

Yes, cheers to that!

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Karyn @ Journey Out Of Plastic December 12, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I’m another one who’s hoping to be where you are one day. I’m saving my money and trying to develop a location-independent income so I can take off too. I have launched a travel blog but I’m not quite ready to unveil it to the world yet (one day soon I will! :)). Like I said on Twitter, your blog is so damn inspiring, and to read about how it’s possible to have a year such as this really gives hope to those of us who want to do the same.
Karyn @ Journey Out Of Plastic recently posted..Why Growing Your Own Lettuce Is Awesome

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:33 am

Thanks Karyn. And let me know when your blog goes live to the world.

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Sarah Somewhere December 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm

What an amazing year you’ve had! Congratulations on everything you have experienced, learned and achieved and all the very best for the next leg of the journey xxx
Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Might as well face it I’m addicted to carbs (and Twitter)

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:34 am

Thanks Sarah. Same goes for you. Happy 2014!

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Rhonda December 12, 2013 at 2:34 pm

oh Kim… what a lovely, lovely blog. A year in the world indeed…. how truly amazing your year has been and an excellent reminder to all of us that we, too, can make our dreams come true with a little trust in the universe, an open mind, and a whole lot of hard work. Enjoy Vietnam, be careful on that bike, and enjoy some time in an amazing area of the world! XOXO
Rhonda recently posted..Soaking in Southern Comfort

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:35 am

Thank you Rhonda. It has been a really wild year. It was fun to think back on it and count up all of the things that we’ve done… man you can pack a lot into 365 days.

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Lauren @Roamingtheworld December 12, 2013 at 5:10 pm

AMEN Kim!
Yes. I’m in a grand transition myself after 2 years of expat life in Spain I’m now wanting new challenges and giving something a chance- call it ironic but a stab at a “career” and salary job simply because I haven’t done it…
Yes Yes Yes to this. Life keeps reminding me of this mantra.
“We have to trust that if we do the hard work all of the other things we can’t control will fall into place. We have to understand that we don’t know the whole story, that we can’t see the big picture when we’re standing in the center of the stage. And we have to be patient and persevere.”

My life continue to grace you with lots of beauty, opportunities and the unexpected!

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:37 am

YES! I honestly believe it is all about chasing those things that fill us up and leave us joy, whether that be expat life or a salary job or WHATEVER. I’m so glad that you’re going for it. When we fill ourselves it not only does us well, it is a contribution to the goodness of the world.

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Patti December 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm

“We have to trust that if we do the hard work all of the other things we can’t control will fall into place.”

This is SO true, Kim. We live our lives with the same thought process believing that what is meant to happen will happen, and we just need to do our part.
Patti recently posted..See the U.S.A. – 4

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:37 am

I do too and so far it hasn’t failed me.

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Carmel December 12, 2013 at 8:12 pm

To another amazing, challenging, scary, exciting, adventurous and fun year!
Carmel recently posted..WAT TOOK YOU SO LONG

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:38 am

YES! And hopefully it will also be a year that we can hang out in SE Asia??!?!

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Jade December 13, 2013 at 6:48 am

Wow. This post almost brought tears to my eyes- you are living your dream and your awe and appreciation of that fact is so amazing to hear. Like so many others my biggest dream is to live a life of my choosing, filled with my desires, not conformities and restrictions. You make that seem possible.
Thank you for writing so beautifully and so openly.
Jade recently posted..Korea’s cute and kooky cafes, part 1

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:39 am

Thank you Jade, it is possible. Keep your eyes on the prize as they say. Happy new year to you.

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Emily December 13, 2013 at 7:12 am

It is so true that we have power over our own lives. So many people have told us “Oh I could never do what you are going to” letting their own perceived limitations or self-imposed barriers and excuses prevent them from facing fear and just trying. We’ve had to tackle these worries too, and of course there is some doubt, but I am pushed forward to ensure my greater fear, regret, isn’t realized.
Emily recently posted..19 Days to Go: Reflections on 2013

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:40 am

Oh yes, the fear and doubt don’t go away completely (though they really dwindle to a barely perceivable blip on the radar after awhile). Onward, Emily.

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JR John December 13, 2013 at 7:18 am

Hey! You’re in India!

Glad you’re liking it! (coming from an Indian).

Regards,
JR John
JR John recently posted..3 Reasons To Think Beyond AdSense For Your Blog Monetization

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:40 am

Thanks JR. I’m actually not in India right now unfortunately, since it is one of my favorite countries on earth!

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Montecristo Travels (Sonja) December 13, 2013 at 7:32 am

LOVE: I realize now more than ever how much power we have over our own lives. Most things are within our reach but we have to be brave enough to grab for them and flexible enough to accept that they might not look exactly like we think they will — and we have to trust.

We have to trust that if we do the hard work all of the other things we can’t control will fall into place. We have to understand that we don’t know the whole story, that we can’t see the big picture when we’re standing in the center of the stage. And we have to be patient and persevere.

Also, no excuses. No fucking excuses.

Thank you for that bit!! and for your blog!

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:41 am

And thank you so much for reading it.

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Mima December 13, 2013 at 7:45 am

Kim,
this post brought tears to my eyes. Its so inspiring … I am happy for you that you are living your dream and you deserve it! Your hard work is paying off!
Happy New Year to both of you and hope 2014 is even better for you than 2013!
Mima

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:42 am

Thank you Mima. Happy New Year to you as well.

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Caroline December 13, 2013 at 8:59 am

Great recap! The realization of how much power we have over our lives is huge and something I have also recently started to realize and believe! Good luck with biking through Vietnam – I don’t think my bum could take it!

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:43 am

I’m not sure my bum will be able to take it either!

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Margie December 13, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Beautiful, just beautiful. Enough said. Wishing you blossoms and beauty in 2014.

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:43 am

Thank you Margie.

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Eden Rudin December 13, 2013 at 11:02 pm

As we meet travelers who are visiting Belize the conversations often turn to me asking them if they are blogging about thier adventures.
If they show interest in expressing themselves or if they already are blogging, your blog is my first (and sometimes only) ‘oh my gosh you must follow/read’ if you want to get inspired and really do travel blogging right.
I am so glad to have found you 2 years ago and will continue to rave about you and your adventures!
Happy 2014 and we have an extra bedroom when you get to Belize ;-)
Eden Rudin recently posted..Grocery shopping

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:46 am

Eden, that is such an honor. Thank you for spreading the word about this blog. I was just thinking the other day that I’ve never had a post go viral or anything like that… the growth of this blog has literally been word of mouth, and I am so appreciative of that. And I will totally take you up on the offer of that room when I make it to Belize!

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Amy December 14, 2013 at 5:59 am

What an amazing year filled with so many different adventures; you’ve achieved so much. I remember reading your blog for the first time about a year ago before I left the UK and being so inspired by your journey. I look forward to seeing what you get up to in 2014!
Amy recently posted..Journeys from Hell

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 6:46 am

Thank you Amy. It has been a wild and wonderful year. Wishing you a fabulous 2014.

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Rachel December 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm

You are such a talented writer !! I really admire how clearly your thoughts become a cohesive post (a lot harder said then done in my opinion haha). I walked The Way this past summer too. Musta missed you by just a few days. It was soooooo entertaining to read each day and understand what you meant. Especially the not wanting to walk even one step further. Haha, good stuff. I hope Vietnam is amazing! For some reason I am so nervous to go on another big adventure. But I’m planning on teaching english in SE Asia next year. I’ve never been before. I look forward to hearing how incredible that side of the world is :)

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Thank you Rachel. I’ve got to say, they definitely don’t come out cohesive at first. I really have to write and re-write to get something that makes an inkling of sense. And I know what you mean about being nervous. I am ALWAYS nervous each time I go to a new country. I was terrified before walking the Camino!

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Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) December 14, 2013 at 6:38 pm

What a great retrospective! Even before you left home you were an inspiration, but now, seeing how much you’ve seen and done and all the places you have been in one year… it really boggles the mind!

I loved looking back at your accomplishments and milestones for 2013… and I’m even more excited we’ll get to squeeze one more in before the year comes to a close: meeting up in Vietnam! FINALLY! :D
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Chewing the Fat with One Giant Step!

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Kim December 14, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I know, I can’t believe we finally get to meet… SOON!!!

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Charlie December 15, 2013 at 5:15 am

What a year! And it’s been captivating following along. Here’s to another amazing year and enchanting stories to come :)

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Kim December 16, 2013 at 12:59 am

Thanks Charlie. It has really been quite a year :)

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Victoria December 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Congratulations on an amazing year! It’s been wonderful following along, and I look forward to seeing where next year takes you.
Victoria recently posted..A few of our favourite things (December video edition)

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Kim December 16, 2013 at 1:00 am

Thanks Victoria, you two had quite an amazing one as well. Onward to 2014!

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Carrie December 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Love this post! Honest and insightful. Particularly when it comes to knowing it is too soon to know how some of the big experiences of this year have impacted to you. Wise words.
Carrie recently posted..A 3-1/2 month road trip. Why?

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Kim December 16, 2013 at 1:00 am

Thanks Carrie. Cheers to you in 2014.

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Turf to Surf December 15, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Wow. What an incredibly inspiring post and year. It’s just teeming with enthusiasm for life and the future. I am a recent discoverer of your blog. My husband pointed me to you with the words “She’s a great writer and reflective traveler. You’ll like her.” And it’s true…you are and I do. I have some similar dreams and it’s nice to know there are traveling writers who worked hard and persevered and made it happen. I’m in awe. Keep it up!
-Tasha
Turf to Surf recently posted..Jobs on a racing yacht

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Kim December 16, 2013 at 1:01 am

Thank you Tasha! What a nice thing to say!! I’m so glad you enjoy the blog and best of luck on your upcoming travels. You can do it!

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Ali December 16, 2013 at 6:57 am

Wow, I almost forgot India was this year! I’m so happy for you for going after your passion and making it work, and you’ve certainly had an amazing year. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings you. And a bit jealous you’re getting to warm weather about a month before us!
Ali recently posted..Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg – More Than Just Model Trains

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Kim December 18, 2013 at 2:00 am

I almost forgot too! And I have to say Ali that the warm weather is great :) You’ll be here soon.

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Kaleena's Kaleidoscope December 17, 2013 at 6:29 pm

That’s incredible, what a year you’ve had! Sometimes a year can go by so fast and I find myself feeling like I haven’t done much in that time, but then when you lay it all out like in this post you realize how much ground you can cover and how much you can accomplish within just a year! Congratulations on everything, I love reading your beautiful writing, and best wishes for 2014! :)
Kaleena’s Kaleidoscope recently posted..The Tale of a Wannabe Runaway

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Kim December 18, 2013 at 2:02 am

It is pretty crazy what can happen in 365 days. Best wishes in 2014 to you as well!

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Maddie December 24, 2013 at 9:22 am

Wow, you really get a feel for what an incredible year it’s been for you when it’s all documented in one place like this. Congratulations on being brave enough to chase your dreams Kim.
Maddie recently posted..So what happens now?

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Kim December 27, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Thanks Maddie. You too :)

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