Thursday, September 1, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

Time can be expressed as the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. The Rolling Stones said, "Time is on my Side, yes it is." I love this lyric and I feel like time is on my side certain times while other times not so much. For example, I don't know why but every morning when I hit the snooze button on my alarm clock the extra 15 minutes I get seem to go by in the blink of an eye. At other times, the clock seems to be standing still, especially in the last hour of my work day or when I am waiting to board a plane. Looking at the big picture I wonder, how am I already 27, and has it really been almost 10 years since I graduated from high school? Then I think, I haven't even really started my life yet. Looking back over the years I definitely have milestones that stick out in time. 
Today is a really special day for me, because it is my 1 year anniversary of moving abroad to Scotland. I imagine that this will be one of those milestones I look back at and think, wow, what a great year that was. I remember last year, right after I accepted the job in early August and was preparing my move (in three weeks no less), I had a conversation about brave women with my good friend Amy. I don't think I have mentioned in any of my previous posts, but moving to Scotland was the scariest decision I have ever made in my life.  I remember riding in the car with her thinking, "What the hell am I doing I am picking up and moving to a place I have never even been and where I don't even know a single person." I am ashamed to admit this, but I didn't even know Edinburgh existed before I saw the post for the job on the internet. And even though I am adventurous and love to travel, Scotland was never on my list of places to visit. But there comes a time when we as individuals are presented with a challenge or opportunity that will test who we truly are and shapes us into the person we want to be. I knew that Scotland was a journey I must make, even if I was scared out of my mind. 

Amy and I continued to discuss women we knew who had done brave things in their lives, and I used these examples to conjure up the courage to follow through with my dream of moving abroad. Most of the women we talked about were people we knew personally, and I really believe that I draw strength from those women every day. I knew I would always feel empty inside if I didn't go for it with my opportunity in Scotland, and once I made my mind up to do it, I never looked back. Going into the adventure, I told myself I would give it a year. I am the kind of individual who needs deadlines and goals, and I told myself even if I was miserable, I could stick anything out for a year. I laugh now because this past year seemed to be like the 15 minute snooze button on my alarm clock. Without a doubt, this was the best year of my life. I have learned so many things about who I am and what kind of person I want to be. I have been able to let go of negative things that were dragging me down in my old life. I feel like the light inside me has turned on, and I can't imagine ever going back to the old Katie. The road less travelled brought me here, and I am thankful I had the guts to go for it and the support of my family and friends. 

Not only is this a year anniversary for my big life change, but today is the Road Less Travelled's 1 year birthday. This is my 80th post and to date I have had 9,948 blog readers. The breakdown of my readers includes 4,212 from the USA, 3,124 from UK, and 1,126 from Germany. I never imagined I would have this many people interested in reading about my life, but I am so thankful for those dedicated readers who continue to provide me with positive feedback about my writing. When I look back over the year, I am so happy with the progress The Road Less Travelled has made, and I have such a good time writing about my story and sharing for those interested readers.

I am definitely a stat person and love to see progress. If you read my blog regularly you will see I count all the countries, continents, and US states I have visited. So continuing on with the theme here are few interesting facts from the last year. I visited 14 countries this past year, (some are doubles including Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, and Spain). I flew 13 times, most flights with RyanAir, an airline I HATE to LOVE. I have actually run out of space for stamps in the visa sections of my passport. I have also had 12 visitors come and stay with me this past year. 12 visitors in 12 months, at times I felt like a hotel, but I really enjoyed hosting all of you who made your way over herethis past year! 

I am also a top 5 kind of girl. I always love reflecting on trips or adventures and think, "what are the top 5 things I loved most about the experience?" So here are my top 5 in no particular order of highlights from the past year.

1. Getting back to volleyball. Joining the Scottish Volleyball Association has been a wonderful experience for many reasons. First, I have been able to get back in shape. Second, I have been able to make some of my best friends here in Edinburgh. We have had so many fun times laughing and crying together. I love being back on a team again and can't wait for the season to start this month! 

2. Celebrating my birthday in Portugal with my mom and Carla. Of all of my mini trips this year, I have to say my most favourite was with my mom and Carla for my 27th birthday. Portugal is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited, and being able to be there with my mom was something I will cherish forever. 

3. Dublin for St. Patrick's Day. Not only was this trip fun because of the St. Patrick's day festivities, but if I didn't go to Dublin I would have never met the German. I love the expression "all things happen for a reason" and I truly believe we were meant to meet that weekend in March. I feel like my life changed a bit after we met, or at least opened my eyes to some new possibilities for my future.  I am so thankful to have him in my life and am looking forward to our adventures together this year. 

4. The Burgh. I know I mentioned earlier I had no idea that Edinburgh even existed before I saw the job post. This is so embarrassing to admit, but the past year experiencing this city in person has been eye-opening.  The Fringe festival this past month has been amazing and I love the spirit the city exudes. It is one of the most unique cities I have ever been to, and I am privileged to say I am an Edinburgher.  The live music, the people, the architecture- I love it all! The University of Edinburgh is included in this as well. I could not imagine working for a more supportive organization and have thoroughly enjoyed my past year here as an employee.  

5. Surviving the challenge. This past year was a challenge I set for myself, and I wasn't sure how I would come out at the end of it. But I have to admit, I feel stronger, happier, and healthier than ever. I tried new things, failing at some and succeeding at others, made new friends, learned that I can live and thrive on my own, and found a sense of peace within myself that has allowed me to see that all things work out the way they are suppose to. 

I know that many people love reading my blog for the pictures, and as you've noticed I haven't added any in this post. It just me, raw and real for those of you who want to see, and if you have made it this far thanks for reading. I can't imagine what the next year will hold. This year will be hard to top without a doubt, but I welcome the challenge. Life is always the next great adventure.  
Until next time, I will see you on the internet. 

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