As I stood outside Tsutaya Bookstore in Shibuya with my friend Daichi, ‘Free Hugs’ sign held high above my head, one woman approached me and gave me the biggest bear hug ever. When she let go, she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Thank you for that. I really needed that because my family is really far away right now.” I didn’t get her name, where she’s from, or question her further because sometimes there’s beauty in anonymity and paths colliding for only split seconds. Our short interaction was enough to create shift within.
For me, this year was about people. It was about reconnecting with old friends and cutting ties with those I no longer have something in common with or those that don’t have my best interest at heart. It was about making a bunch of new friends and strengthening relationships with those who share in the same creativity, joy, and interests. Specifically those who love food, travel, and Japan as much as I do and have a deep respect and appreciation for photography, exploring, and understanding different cultures. It has been a year of learning about mental health, loneliness, happiness, healing, and purpose. It was also about understanding how, despite all of my growth and progress, I still have a lot to learn.
- Atlanta, GA
- Puerto Rico
- Costa Rica
- Philadelphia, PA
- Jasper National Park
- Vancouver, Canada
- Austin, TX
- Los Angeles, CA
- Boston, MA
- North Carolina
- Dallas, TX
- Chicago, IL
- Abruptly returning to the US from Japan following months of panic and anxiety
- Taking a food tour in Puerto Rico with Spoon Food Tours (one of the best food tours I’ve done)
- Attending a week-long yoga retreat at Blue Osa in Costa Rica
- Starting my own Youtube channel
- Visiting Colombia / South America for the first time and eating my weight in mangos
- Visiting my father’s side of the family for the first time in 2 years
- Spending time in the mountains in Boulder, CO and finally meeting my friend Meg in person
- Attending BlogHouse in Philly and spending the weekend with people who love to write as much as I do
- Taking a girls trip with my aunt to Jasper National Park
- Visiting my friend Anna in Austin, TX
- Going to the emergency room in Austin, TX due to dehydration and sugar overload
- Spending a day exploring San Diego with my energy healing practitioner who plays a pivotal role in navigating life’s ups and downs
- Collecting all of my foodie recommendations in one place
- Watching Team USA dominate at the Olympics (on TV)
- Reuniting with friends I’ve known and loved for 10 years in Boston and dancing to all of our favorite songs
- Attending my first digital detox camp in North Carolina called Camp Grounded
- Returning to Japan for some closure from aforementioned abrupt departure
- Visiting Nepal for my second Habitat for Humanity trip
- Flying on a plane through the Himalayas and seeing Mt. Everest
A Few Favorites from 2016
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
- Eating Vietnam by Graham Holliday
- The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
- My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
- It’s Only the Himalayas by Sara Bedford
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
- The Vacationers by Emma Straub
- A Quiet Place by Seicho Matsumoto
- Goodbye Sarajevo by Atka Reid and Hana Schofield
- Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
- Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake
- 25 – Adele
- Joanne – Lady Gaga
- Self-titled Album – Pentatonix
- Posts I’ve Written This Year
Where to in 2017?
For the first time ever, I don’t have any travel plans scheduled for the year. Nothing. Nada. It feels amazing. Typically, I am an OCD travel planner who endlessly thinks about where to go next and where I want to go before a certain milestone. But it’s not about crossing countries off of bucket lists anymore. For me, it has become about connecting with people, revisiting places that I want to explore deeper, enjoying my life, and of course, the food.
Also, I don’t know that I’ll continue to share my travel plans in advance because it seems every time I do, life comes along and says “that’s what you think you’ll be doing at that time of year, but GIRL, you’re in for a surprise!” So for the coming year and then some, I’m just going to ride the wave and see where it takes me. If you have any travel plans set already for 2017, comment below and tell me what they are so that I can vicariously indulge.
What’s Next for SYT?
First of all, I just want to take a second to acknowledge the fact that I’ve been writing on SYT for 5 years now. That’s one whole hand. That’s one year longer than a college or high school career. It’s madness, is what it is.
This year, I’ve spent more time sharing my content on social media than actually creating it and that makes me want to cry. Therefore I am selfishly taking back SYT and travel to be my own again. I’m going to travel for travel’s sake, write for writing’s sake and for my own well being, and share moments and photos with people around me in the moment rather than online. I love all the interactions and people I’ve met through social media, but it doesn’t bring me the same joy or quality of life as it does to be present wherever I am.
So consider this my resignation. I no longer consider or label myself as a travel blogger nor will I continue to pursue a freelance writing career. Blogging is not my purpose on Earth but rather an avenue to express my creativity and manage my sanity.
I will continue to write on here, but it will not be consistent nor my first priority. As for social media, I’ll be using it more for the purpose of finding opportunities to connect with people in real life, events, etc. rather than sharing one perspective of my life. For I don’t feel like I am my best self communicating through the internet. I will still remain active on Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube as much as I feel like it, but I will be stepping away from Facebook, Pinterest, and Snapchat because it’s just too much.
I want to spend this next year learning how to communicate more effectively, spending more time with friends offline, and taking better care of my mental and physical health. I want to invite my curiosity and creativity forward to take the wheel and flourish, unhindered by public response.
For those of you who have come with me on this journey over the last 5 years and for those of you who will continue to walk alongside me, thank you, and I welcome and am always grateful for your company. As you all go out into the world to create your own story, I hope you find moments to breathe, process, rest, and restore balance. I too shall do the same. I don’t know what the future has in store for any of us so I shall say thank you for everything up until this point. Thank you for the kind messages, thank you for reading SYT, thank you for the hugs, words of encouragement, everything.