i always like to think back on the year and reflect on what i learned...so, without further ado.....the life lessons of 2014.
1. it's not where you are or what you're doing, it's who you're with
Jao and i were lucky enough to travel quite a bit this year. europe, asia, the US. but when people ask me about where we went or what we did, all i remember is who we were there with. i don't really have a lot of commentary about France or about Amsterdam itself...but oh my god i still laugh out loud thinking about Philippe telling Kasper to wave at him from the other side of river and Kasper responded (in reference to his Bruce Lee tshirt) "Bruce doesn't wave." and i will never forget drunkenly dancing with Ivy at some dive bar we found. or talking about online dating with Jason and Eli over some ice cream. i realized this year that it doesn't even matter WHAT you are doing or where you're doing it...what matters is that you're with your people. everything i love here in Bangkok i love it because i share it with Jao. all our travels have been so spectacular because of the people we're cruising with. i know that in most of the places i've been, i've missed out on seeing a majority of the attractions....but what i haven't missed is the experiences. i may not have seen any of the "must sees", but i collected 365 days worth of hilarity, love, and happiness with my friends and family this year.
3. you can be too rich, too poor, too skinny, too fat, too loud, etc....but you can never be too well-read.
something ignited in me this year to learn. i mean yes i'm a student, obviously and i learn a lot about my research topic continually. but i was REALLY inspired this year by my trip to Abu Dhabi in the UAE...particularly our visit to a mosque there. i wrote about it earlier this year, how wonderful our guide was and how much i learned, but once i left, i realized that i needed to learn more. i started reading, reading, reading. reading more and more and more about American and global politics, the wars in the Middle East....how they started and how we got to where we are today. i started reading about the politics on both sides, from both points of view, and seeing political issues not as an American, but as a global citizen. i realized this year, through all of my reading, that if we ever hope to have any chance at ever coming to a kind of "cease-fire" between the west and the middle east, we need more people who are willing to look at things from their perspective too. and i've been inspired this year to help be that change, be in the group that's proactively leading that charge. i've read more about the history and history of politics in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria in the past year that i have in my entire life. and of course the more i read, the more i realize i don't know anything and just need to read more. it's been a really rewarding succession.
4. Don't focus on eliminating the bad, focus on increasing the good.
a lot of new years resolutions focus around...foods you shouldn't eat anymore, people you shouldn't be around anymore, things you shouldn't do anymore. this year i learned that focusing on the good, on what you SHOULD do, leads to a more fulfilling life. i know snickers are bad for me. i still like them. but i also really love green mango, boiled chicken and rice, green curry with fermented rice noodles, E-San style sausage, coconut juice, and som tum, which are all not bad for me. so instead of telling myself YOU CAN'T EAT SNICKERS....i think more about omg the sausage lady is at the market today!!! eat more sausage!!!! and then who wants a snickers when you're full of delicious sausage and green mangoes? and i mean, there are lots of people who stress me out. but there are also lots of people that i love being around. so instead of worrying about the ones who stress me out, i'll focus my energy and effort on being around the ones that are awesome. i'm not actively angry at the stressful ones, i just choose to focus my energy towards the good ones. it's way easier. and you know, life isn't supposed to be hard :-)
5. having everyone you love all together at once place is SO RARE. cherish it.
Jao and i had our wedding earlier in 2014. it was spectacular. but when i think back to it, what was most spectacular is that every person we love and care about...everyone was there, in one place at one time. and the more i think about that, the more i realize that that moment probably will never happen again. and WOWZA! how lucky were we to have that moment! again...it wasn't even about the wedding, it was about all the people that matter being there with us.