On July 5, 2012, my two-year journey to Hong Kong was over. I stepped off a plane onto U.S. soil sad that my adventure was over, though excited about where my life was going next. I’ve skipped a gratitude post the last few years at New Years or Thanksgiving, so here’s a make-up covering the last 5 years:
After a work training in New York, a colleague and I stayed for a quick 24 hours in NYC. I thought it would be fun, and potentially cheaper, to stay in an Airbnb so I chose one in Tribeca. The cost was fairly expensive for 1 night, but the description made it sound promising and the location was on-point. When we arrived, the host was eclectic and a little over the top, but nice enough. We weren’t at the place very long, but neither my colleague nor I were particularly impressed and stuck mostly to ourselves when we were in the loft. I don’t remember acting rude or grumpy, but apparently I’d made that impression on our funky little host:
When I received this feedback, I was taken aback. Yes, I can be short/curt and not super open to new people, especially when the time investment is so short. I was exhausted from a week of intense full-on training. But was I rude? Was I grumpy? Was I brusque (according to Merriam-Webster: blunt in manner or speech often to the point of ungracious harshness)? I honestly don’t think so, but I came across that way to Reno.
Shortly after receiving this email, a friend randomly walked into the cafe where I was sitting. I was happy to see her, of course, but Reno’s feedback flashed bright lights in my brain: BE EXTRA SMILEY NOW. ACT HAPPY. DON’T BE GRUMPY…AT ALL.
From a young age I assumed my life would go the traditional route: meet a man, fall in deep, passionate love, get married, buy a house with a picket fence and a blooming garden, have babies, live happily ever after. When my life didn’t exactly work out that way, I started dreaming more broadly.
For starters, I wanted to move to Asia. I’d been there in college and had *that* feeling when I was traveling around China; I knew I’d live there again. So, I did it. I researched, I day-dreamed – a lot – and moved to Hong Kong.
Then when I was in Hong Kong and my “get married and have a baby” dream wasn’t coming any closer to fruition, I dreamed up a new dream: at the age of 35 if I was no closer to having a family, I would move abroad again. I’d always been interested in joining the Peace Corps, I wanted to learn Spanish, I’d like to see more of South America, etc. The possibilities were endless.
Recently, though, that “move abroad again” dream faded. I like living in Chicago. I love my job. I love my new yoga gig. My family is close. My life is here and I’m not ready to leave – even if 35 is 1.5 years away. As the “move abroad again” dream receded, a new dream formed:
Own a tea shop & yoga studio
It’s hard to believe that nearly 2 months have gone by since I last wrote a blog post. Since deciding I was going to move to Hong Kong, I’ve written on a fairly consistent basis. Sadly, this year, though, I’ve lacked the motivation to just sit and write. When I do have spontaneous thoughts about good blog ideas, I haven’t been writing them down or cracking open my laptop and writing them that instant as I used to do. I attribute my lack of enthusiasm to write to the fact that I’m just too darn busy! Luckily, though, it’s all good things:
- I started teaching a new yoga class!! It’s at 360 Chicago, the beautiful 94th floor observation deck at the John Hancock building. (P.S. I get free tickets if you want to come!). It’s on Saturday mornings at 9:30. The pay is great, the view is amazing, and next week I’ll be on TV promoting it!
In early winter 2014, my right wrist and hand started aching at the end of every day. After typing on a computer for 7.5 hours, I’d go home to Facebook, probably some sort of dating app where you either swipe left or right 100 times in 5 minutes, and Instagram. My hand would fatigue easily, making it hard to write with a pen or even cut up a piece of chicken. It was painful to play volleyball, and most devastatingly, yoga was nearly impossible.
The year previous I’d had intense headaches to the point of not being able to concentrate at work. At that time, I’d gone to see more than a half-dozen doctors within as many months and spent a good chunk of change. (I chronicled my situation in 2013 here and then again in 2014 here.) Eventually, an orthopedist specializing in the neck found out that I had a fusion in my cervical spine causing a lot of neck muscle tension. After multiple months of physical therapy, I was feeling better.
Were the wrist and hand pains related to my neck malady? Onto another quest I went, seeing more than another half-dozen doctors:
On the eve of my 33rd birthday, I look back and reflect on the 365 days before me with gratitude:
- Received a promotion at work
- Moved to a new ‘hood with a new friend
- Traveled to 4 countries and went on 6 other vacations
- Had the honor of serving as the maid of honor in my cousin’s wedding
- Attended two yoga retreats
- Made new friendships and strengthened old ones
- Wrote a multitude of articles for new publications
- Deepened my yoga practice and started my meditation practice
- Volunteered countless hours to organizations to which I’m connected
When I turned 31, I cried and cried about my birthday. I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything because I couldn’t hold a relationship, let alone get married and have babies. I was – and have been for many years – consumed with having a family as my purpose in life. On past birthdays I’ve wished for love, a husband, marriage, a family, but this year I wish for continued happiness.