growth, gratitude, and support.

I'm one of those people who always gets reflective in December. I like to look back and take stock of what's happened, see what I crossed off my to-do list. and inevitably, what I haven't done.

2012 was quite a year for me. quitting my job, moving to the other side of the world, battling culture shock and scooter-crash injuries... it was tough. and at the end of it I felt heavily that there was still much to be done. I wrote this on December 30th last year:

I had a lot of expectations about where 2012 would take me. Taiwan... was definitely not on that list. from the moment we arrived here, it has been a learning experience. eyes opened. fears faced. stereotypes smashed. more than I had imagined, and sometimes less. it hasn't all been pleasant or comfortable, and at times was downright terrifying. but that's life. progress. growth.
 and while I've grown immensely in our time here, there is still much I want to accomplish. lucky for me - there's a whole new year just ahead in which to do it.

>> which brings us to 2013. <<

if I could sum up 2013 in one word, that word would be: growth. I'm not even sure I can properly explain to you just how much I've grown, or in what ways. I'm stronger, more confident, and more myself than I've been in years. I'm older and wiser. and I'm finally starting to figure things out. who I am and where I'm going - or at least where I could go.

none of that would have been possible if not for the opportunities and people who were there for me this past year...

1. my Husband: he supports me both financially and otherwise. he works, and I don't. but we are in a place that allows us to live off a single income and still save and travel. last January we traveled to Thailand and the Philippines. while we were there, I started keeping a journal, and through that writing I began this process of growth and self-discovery. when I feel unsure about something, I know I can talk to him and he will reassure me of my strength and capability, and tell me to "go for it." every crazy idea I've had over the past year [or really, ever] of "maybe I could do this" he has supported me and encouraged me to chase my dreams.

2. the blogging community and my readers: all of you lovely people with your comments and your tweets and your emails. you make me smile every day. I know I already wrote an entire post thanking you, but it should be said again. and in particular I would like to thank the expat bloggers out there - you've shown me that I'm not alone. I don't remember the exact date that I discovered Chelsea was following me on twitter and I decided to check out her blog, but it was a life-changing moment. why had I never thought to look for other expat bloggers? she was the first one I ever found, and since then I've fallen in love with ladies all over the globe. life in Taiwan can be tough sometimes, but knowing I'm not the only one going through these struggles has been an immense comfort to me.

3. Everyday Happy: I was brave enough to sign up for Melyssa and Erika's e-course, and I'm so glad that I did. not just for what I learned through the course itself, but for the people it brought into my life. my course buddy, Rebecca, was wonderfully supportive throughout the course, and even mailed me a package full of happy things. and it was ultimately a conversation with another participant, Codi, that pushed me into buying a passionfruit memebership to start offering sponsorships [which are coming soon, I swear.] during the course, I started keeping a gratitude journal. I've not been great at doing it every day... but it has helped me to focus more on the good things in life.

4. family and friends: this one is another that bears repeating. movie-going and potlucks and game nights, skype dates and emails and 3-way chats have helped keep me sane this year when things got tough. for those back home... during the time we spent together this summer, I learned so much about myself and how I've grown through this experience. but mostly, I love the way you accept me with all my quirks and crazy plans and ever-changing ideas. when I shared this post declaring myself to be a writer, I was terrified. but the response was overwhelming, in a very positive way. every person I've told about my plans to write a book has been supportive and promised to buy a copy. [and I'm going to hold you to it! kidding... or maybe not completely kidding.]

5. coffee: wait, just hear me out. I'm writing this post while sitting in Starbucks and drinking a coffee poured by a barista that knows my name + order the moment I step through the door. this coffeeshop has become my safe haven for writing. a place where I can go to shut out the world, pretend that I'm anywhere in the world, and it feels like mine. if writing in Starbucks is a cliche, it is one I will happily fulfill. because they accept me here.

all of this to say... what I am most grateful for this year, is support.

I've accomplished a lot this year. I overcame a knee injury to train for and run a ten mile race. I traveled to five countries. I grew my blog by over 100%. and I embraced the idea of being a writer. I'm proud of myself, because a lot of that is on me and my efforts. but it wouldn't have been possible without those who helped me along the way.

I'm glad that I've grown enough as a person to be able to ask for support when I need it, and incredibly grateful for the people I have in my life who have provided me that support. I've always been independent and considered myself self-sufficient, but there's only so much a person can do on their own. thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for getting me through 2013. whether you helped in a large or small way, I truly couldn't have done it without you.

[linking up with Erika for the December grad-itude post]

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