I pretty much just got back from Belfast and it’s already time to start to counting down to the next adventure! In exactly 11 weeks, I’ll be on my way to Europe with Tim and my mom. We initially planned the trip to meet up with my aunt, but now it looks like she may not be able to join us. And that mean we have to re-plan everything! We’ve got to decide on an itinerary, figure out how to get from place to place, book hostels and hotels, research places to eat and shop, and buy backpacks and travel equipment. There’s a lot to think about and not a lot of time to do it in! I love travel research but whoa.
So here’s what I already know.
We’ll be going to:
- Cinque Terre
We may need to put a city in between Paris and Rome, and one in between Munich and Amsterdam – we haven’t decided yet! We’ve got only 20 days, we don’t want to put too much stuff in, but since it’s likely the only European trip my mom will take, we need to make the most of it. It’s a tough balance.
I’m excited to get started with the day-to-day planning! I’m also looking forward to digging into information for a true traveler, not just a casual vacationer – like travel backpacks and shoes, easy rinse clothes, rail passes, cheap eats… things for the wanderer. It will good practice for next year, when I wander through Spain, and hopefully for wandering through Thailand and Vietnam in the future, too. Yep, I’m really going to make a dent in my 10 countries goal!
I’m sitting in the Boston airport trying to process all that’s happened in the last 9 weeks. The bustle of the airport, the smells of the food court, the nauseating pit in my stomach – I just don’t have the mental capacity to tell you what Belfast has meant to me. I might not have that fully sorted out for a few weeks or even months. Maybe in a year, I’ll know for sure how the Belfast experience has changed me. But for now, here’s what I’ve got:
I knew before I left that this would be a significant event in my life, but I could not have predicted how proud I would feel at the end of it. Do you remember when I said that this was my year to be fearless? I really took that to heart. I did things that truly scared me, not the least of which was living in a foreign country for 2 months.
I walked across a high rope bridge in high winds – TWICE.
I sang karaoke in front of a sassy tranny and a room full of strangers.
I paid for things with an American credit card (everyone in the UK hates that, FYI).
I actively volunteered to do things that I was scared of just to challenge myself – and I was fine! I even had fun!
But there was a sense of fearlessness that was subconscious as well. I have long considered myself “not good at making friends.” I’m afraid to approach people and I feel like I’m socially awkward. I have an imposter complex and I always feel like I’m the odd one out. So I don’t put myself out there, at least not all the way. I’m not always authentic is what I’m saying.
But on this trip, I was authentic. I couldn’t be anything else – we worked long hours and were so stressed, I didn’t have energy to keep my boundaries up. I was just – me. Though it may not sound like it, that was fearlessness at work! And I was fine!
I made friends. Good friends, people who I can’t wait to see again, who genuinely liked me. I’m kind of blown away by that. And I caught up with an old friend at the end of my trip, someone who REALLY knows me and knows all the things I’ve been through. She knew me when I was the worst version of myself – it doesn’t get much more authentic than that. And she still likes me anyway.
The most important take away for me from this trip is that I was, ultimately, just fine. I could leave everyone I know and everything I love with just a backpack and a suitcase and I would be just fine. I could start a new job in a new place where I don’t know anyone, I could live on my own again, I could start over – and I would be just fine.
That’s an incredibly powerful thing to learn about myself. Now I just have to remember it.
Remember how I said I wanted to post every day from Belfast? Well, I have been – just not on this blog. I created a microblog that would work with a mobile app so I could create mini entries from my phone. It’s an excellent app and I like how that blog is shaping up. The problem is that I haven’t had the time or energy to transfer the stuff from there to here.
So, to find out about the first 3+ weeks of my Belfast adventure, for now you’ll have to visit this link:
It’s heavily censored and pretty simplistic – it’s made to share with folks from work, so there are a lot of happy, upbeat phrases and exclamation points. I am happy and excited to be in Belfast! Look how pretty everything is!!! Everyone I work with is great!!!!!
All that stuff is true, of course, but there’s another side to it. The long work days, the unceasing pressure, the inescapability of work. It’s seriously work, work, work, all the time. Even when we’re out exploring… it’s with people from work. Even when we’re at the pub… people talk about work. Oh my god, I’m so sick of work.
And I miss my family like crazy! Being so far away from Tim, Grif, my parents and my friends is really difficult. At times, it feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach because I miss my guys so much. I love Belfast in a lot of ways, but not even 1% as much as I love my fam. I am literally counting down the days until I come home.
Don’t get me wrong – I made the right decision when I volunteered for this position and I don’t regret it for a minute. Belfast is a great city, filled with lovely people and food so good, I’m gaining weight by the minute. My apartment is amazing and I get to wake up every day to a stunning view of the river. I walk everywhere, which is wonderful – I’m kicking ass on my fitbit! I am really glad I’ve had this opportunity…
But yeah, I’m already wishing I was at home. Just 37 days left to go!
When I set my intentions for this year, I focused on fearlessness. My fears have routinely kept me from realizing my potential and I’m so over it. This year is my year to finally stand up to them. The lyrics from Airborne Toxic Event’s song “All I Ever Wanted” say it best: “All I can think is it must be some kind of rebellion / to arm your fears like soldiers and slay them.”
Because this is a year of fear-slaying, I took a chance at work. I don’t usually do that – I try to do my best work without calling attention to myself. It’s generally safer and easier not to stick my neck out. In the early, crazy days of working at a tech start-up, it was a genuinely good strategy and probably a big part of the reason I’m one of the most tenured people in the company, but I’ve kept it up too long. Recently, an opportunity came up to apply for an 8-week project in Belfast, Northern Ireland, working with people from all over the world. I have always wanted to work internationally and it seemed like a dream assignment… but I talked myself out of it. Two people I work with are from the UK, so I’d never get selected, I thought. Even if I did, they’d be mad at me. Anyway, I’m not qualified enough, I don’t have enough experience. It would mess up other opportunities at work. It would be really difficult to leave Tim and my dog, Grif, for 2 months. I needed to focus on my upcoming family trip. I would probably just screw it all up and ruin my relationship in the process.
Yeah, that was my anxiety talking me out of it. Those were reasons not to apply, but they weren’t good reasons. Some weren’t even REAL reasons – it’s unlikely that it would hurt either my career or my relationships. It was difficult to ignore that negative, anxiety-driven tape playing in my head, but with encouragement from co-workers and my mom (as well as Tim’s blessing), I set my concerns to the side and applied for it.
That, in itself, was a risk. Like most people, I try to avoid rejection and disappointment, so it was hard to put myself out there. And yet, I opened myself up for a NO. The negative voice in my head told me the answer would be NO. I braced myself to hear NO.
And the answer was YES!
I’m going to Belfast for two months, through April and May, and I’ll be working with another trainer who I really like (you may recognize him from my Karaoke birthday thing), and… that’s all I know. Everything else is a big fat question mark. That does freak me out, but it’s not going to scare me away. I’m going to prepare myself to do really good work, I’m going to line up some people to stay with if I happen to have a long weekend while I’m there, and that’s it. Everything else, I’m just going to take as it comes.
I am crazy excited. Yeah, I still have that voice telling me that things could go horribly wrong, but it’s getting easier to quiet down. I’ve learned that amazing things can happen when I take a risk, and having that proof is going to make it easier the next time an opportunity comes up.
This news was relatively sudden and unexpected, so I haven’t quite figured out how it’s going to change the direction of my blog. I want to share Belfast. I know it’s a beautiful city with a complicated history and the trip has the potential to be life changing. But I’m not sure what kind of time I’ll have – I might be working 10+ hour days and occasionally on weekends – so writing might be out. If so, this may just be a photo blog for a while! I recently found out that TWO people are reading, so I hope that wouldn’t disappoint you both.
I’ll share more details when I get them!
So far, 31 has been amazing! I took two weekends to celebrate and did a ton of fun stuff, including… (drumroll please)… CROSSING A THING OFF MY LIST!
Say goodbye to
10. Sing a Song at Karaoke.
How was it? Amazing. Awesome. Addictive? Yeah, I loved it. I thought that it would be a little fun and a little awkward, but it turned out to be ridiculously fun and not-at-all awkward.
Some of the credit goes to the lovely people who sang with me – they really got into it. By the time we left, my face actually hurt from all the laughing and smiling. Though I was very nervous right before it began, it didn’t end up being embarrassing or scary at all. In fact, I’d love to do it again!
(Mini review: We went to August Karaoke Box in Tempe and it was a mixed experience. I made the reservation 3 weeks in advance but they didn’t have it on file when we got there. We still got a room because it wasn’t busy – it was a 12 person room, and though there were only 10 of us, it felt really cramped and got crazy hot. However, the touch screen system was neat, the sound system was good, and the videos were hilarious because they were total nonsense. Overall, the staff was friendly and helpful, but they forgot to give me my ID back at the end of the night, which caused a big issue the next day. It wasn’t perfect, but I’d probably still go back.)
We did a bunch of other fun stuff too!
Tried float spa meditation for the first time at True Rest Float Spa. I really enjoyed it! It felt like I’d gotten a massage after.
Had Tim’s family over for ice cream cake – which is his excellent family tradition. He has enough siblings that I get DQ cake almost half the months out of the year.
Went out for sushi at Shimogamo. It was simple but delicious.
Went to the Chihuly in the Garden exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens with Tim and my mom. Chihuly is one of my favorite artists and his 2008 show at DBG was inspirational. I didn’t think this one was quite as good, but it was still wonderful. AND we accidentally showed up on their Dog Day so the whole place was filled with pups! That was a happy surprise.
We wandered around the exhibit, ate a seriously tasty lunch at Gertrude’s, and wandered around some more. It was a beautiful way to spend an afternoon. It also got me really excited about learning to blow glass!
The birthdaypalooza ended with a wonderful brunch. I like to multi-task our events and since our house has really come together, this was the perfect time to have a housewarming. I got some bagels, baked a couple of breakfast casseroles, and put together a mimosa bar – bam, party! It was great to celebrate with friends and family and I love showing off our house!
All our hard work and $$$ have really paid off. I’ve gotta post some before and after pics soon.
If the rest of the year is even half as good as the last two weeks, I’m going to be in good shape. And I think it will be – I’ve got some big travel plans and goals to help me feel/live better. Hopefully I can be a much better blogger this year, too!
It’s my birthday! And you know what? I am happy about it.
People at my office thought it was weird that I was excited to celebrate the passing of another year. They said they never take their birthday’s off, they don’t make a big deal of it, etc. But, honestly, they all sounded kind of sad about it.
If you don’t celebrate for yourself, who will? To me, it’s about taking the time to say, “I’m worthy.” Worthy of celebrating, worthy of treats, worthy of fun, worthy (in spite) of aging, worthy of another year. Birthdays shouldn’t be sad – they should be an affirmation that your life is valuable.
So I’m doing nice things for myself today! I’ve got a session at a meditation float spa in the afternoon, then lunch with friends, and then – EEEEK – karaoke! I rented a private room and invited my boldest friends – we’re going to sing the night away. Also I think there will be cake.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what songs I want to sing. There’s one that I’m really hoping they have – it’s out of my range, but it’s my favorite song at the moment.
In fact, I want it to be this year’s theme song. I want to play it every time I feel sad or defeated or stressed. I want to sing it and feel it and carry it with me for the whole year.
This is going to be a year of fearlessness. Of wonder. Of growth. Of love. Of gratitude. Of singing and dancing and travel and laughter.
This is a year of Happy:
A year ago, I created a list of 30 things I wanted to accomplish. Or rather, 30-year-old-KT created that list. I’ve changed in a year (and I bet you have, too) so now the question becomes… can the list change?
I think it can. And I make the rules around here, so there you have it. Every year, I’m going to re-evaluate the list and swap out goals if I feel it’s appropriate. I won’t add something just because I know I’ve got an opportunity coming up and I won’t remove anything just because it doesn’t seem achievable. The criteria for the swap is one Thing sounding better than another Thing, that’s it.
Thing #22: Drive the PCH -> See Every Hawaiian Island
Before this year, I’d been to Maui twice. I kind of figured that all the islands were pretty much like Maui the same way that all of Kansas looks like the rest of Kansas. This year I went to the big island of Hawaii and was proven totally, utterly wrong. Hawaii was so beautiful and fascinating in its own unique way – it made me want to see ALL of the Hawaiian islands. It’ll take longer, admittedly, but I feel more passionate about it than I do about seeing the West Coast via car. I think I’d rather see it by bike, so maybe it’ll turn into #4.
Thing #23: Meet Someone I Admire -> Get My Degree
Earlier this year, I was really stressing about looking for a job without a completed college degree. Even if I just get my Associates, it’ll make me feel so much more confident and secure. Besides, why meet someone I admire when what I really want to do is become someone I admire?
I think those are the only changes I want to make this year. They’ve both been floating around in my brain for the last couple months. Am I just making this harder on myself? Maybe. I’m cool with that.
In other news, my birthday is just a few days away! I’m genuinely excited to turn 31. I hope I still feel that way when the number rolls up to 39, haha. But right now, the world seem so full of opportunity and possibility. I’m really excited to see where 31 takes me!