When last year was drawing to a close, I did not write a reflection post like I did in 2013 and I’m not entirely sure why. However, I did want to do one this year and can hopefully keep it consecutive with the years going forward. I think that taking time to look back on the year that’s gone by is an important part of looking forward to the new year ahead.
I’m going to start with some notes about 2014, since I did not reflect on it in writing last year and there are factors that affected my 2015 a great deal: 2014 was a year not unlike 2013, full of change—some forced and some of choice—and growth. I ended a relationship that had lasted almost a year, where my partner was emotionally unavailable and subtly mentally abusive. About six months after that, in August, I started a new, much more healthy relationship with my current partner, Rob. But in that same month I was also laid off from my job, after an incredibly rough year at the company. I was, thankfully, offered a few months severance. I also had stock, which I sold, and some savings, so I was okay financially. In September 2014 my great-aunt passed away and while it was a difficult time emotionally, she did leave me a small inheritance.
Thus, with my bank account fairly stable, I ended up being able to take what I refer to as my “Gap Year” from full-time employment. Between August 2014 and November 2015, I was technically unemployed, and this was mostly by choice. I did some freelance work, which coupled with all the aforementioned had enabled me to still live comfortably and afforded me the opportunity to travel without having to worry about taking vacation days. And seize this opportunity, I did!
This is a photo I took at Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic on my latest trip to Europe. It’s a chapel that’s decorated entirely in human bones, and it’s been on my bucket list since I first learned of its existence. It houses the bones of over 40,000 people.
I took over 800 photographs on my nearly 2-week long trip, and I have so much to say about the places I’ve visited that I’m not even sure where to start, as it’s been so long since I’ve blogged seriously. (Though, let’s be honest, I’ve never really blogged “seriously.”) I aim to try, though. (As per usual. Also #parentheticalstatementsareawesome)
So this is just a short update, enjoy the creepy photograph. High contrast black and white really brings out the texture of the skulls.
One of my goals for 2014 is to go on a volunteer trip abroad. When I got back from my trip to NYC over the winter holidays we had a presentation on my first day back to work. It was from Surf for Life, an organization that gives back to developing communities where tourism is on the rise due to the surf (hence the name). They’ve worked with my company before, and a few of my team members have gone on trips with them last year and the year prior. After their presentation and a description of their projects this year, I was very excited to sign up.
This year, in April, I’ll be traveling to northern Nicaragua for a week with 10-11 coworkers to build an elementary school in a very rural area. Details on the project can be found here. Our sleeping accommodations don’t even include air conditioning! Our tasks will include mixing concrete by hand and brick-laying. It’s going to be quite an adventure.
As a volunteer we’re each required to raise $2,000 for the trip, so now starts the fun part of fundraising. Since my employer does charitable donation matching, I will be able to collect any donations myself and then give them to Surf for Life in my name in order to maximize all the contributions! Every little bit counts.Please consider donating to the cause and know that your gift, however small, will be doubled!
(If the Gofundme site does not work for you for whatever reason, I can also accept money via Paypal or SquareCash. Please contact me if that is the case!)
October 30th: Day 3, London -> Lancashire / Greater Manchester
We took a National Rail train up to the northern part of England where we’d be staying for a few days with Matt‘s parents. As both Louie and I were in the wedding party (he on the groom’s side and myself on the bride’s) being there early was a requirement. (Louie needed to be there for the Stag Do!)
However, before boarding our train we had breakfast with our AirBNB host at a place called Brown’s where I was able to order a french toast (despite that not being common in England, or so I am told). Louie had Eggs Benedict but his eggs weren’t runny enough to his liking. Then our host took us to M&S and Tesco to get snacks/candy for the train… which ended up being: 2 Cadbury chocolate bars, 1 bag of chocolate covered strawberries, 1 tin of chocolate covered macadamia nuts, 2 scones with strawberry jam & cream, and I think something else as well that I cannot recall.
We woke up at 9 am and had breakfast with our AirBNB host at a local pub, which was super cheap. I had teacakes (which are somewhere in between an English muffin and a raisin/cinnamon muffin) and a cup of tea, Louie had a breakfast wrap. Afterwards we went to Pret a Manger and our host bought us each cups of coffee and a chocolate croissant, which he insisted were made in France and then brought over to Pret daily. (Not sure if that’s true or not, can anyone confirm?) Either way, the coffee at Pret was much better than the drinks we had at Starbucks in Piccadilly the day prior. (Starbucks is truly awful here.)
Then we walked across the Hungerford Bridge (pictured above) on our way to the South Bank to visit the London Eye. The queue was a bit long, it took about 45 minutes from the time we lined up to boarding.