It's a brand new year and a chance for a new start, but sometimes we can't start something new until we have reflected on some of the lessons we have learned. I think many of us would like to write off 2016 never to speak of it again. But, I bet if you really take a minute to reflect on the year you will find a small treasure of lessons that have made you a better you.
For me, 2016 was a true year of firsts. I made the move to Japan in 2015, but it wouldn't be until 2016 that I started to take advantage of what that really meant. It was difficult each month with the emotional ups and downs of living in a foreign country away from everyone I know and love. I shed more tears in 2016 than I ever thought possible. But each time that I found myself on the floor, I was given the chance to do something incredibly new and exciting. And instead of just letting the downs get the better of me, I chose to take risks.
In 2016, I was lucky enough to have a year full of amazing experiences. I started the year by seeing snow for the first time in my 30 plus years. Followed quickly by my first snowboard experience, where I learned that good balance makes life easier. I then experienced my first cherry blossom season, where I learned the importance of endings. I found a new hobby in rock climbing, where I was able to really get out of my head and belong to a community for the first time in months. I rode a mountain bike for the first time, and learned that losing control every once in a while is very important to me. I walked my first marathon, where I learned how amazing it is to do something physically challenging with a team. I sang on stage in front of a big crowd for the first time, and learned that doing something for people you love can give you a talent you've never had. I surfed in the ocean for the first time, where I learned that the water can numb the worst of pains. For the first time in my life, I did something completely spontaneous and crazy out of pure curiosity and discovered that my heart always knows what it really wants regardless of what I've told myself in the past. I also had my first visitor, where I learned that time and distance has no effect on a true friendship. I went white water rafting for the first time, and learned that being goofy is a necessity. I climbed rocks outside for the first time, and learned that fear has about a 5 minute effect before I can shut it up and succeed. I went skydiving for the first time, and learned that true serenity comes from a feeling of pure freedom. I summited a mountain covered in snow for the first time, and learned that being bad at something is part of life. And finally, I went whale watching for the first time and I learned that you can definitely feel things before you EVER see them.