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A Year of Firsts

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.

I was truly lucky in 2016, and I never saw it coming. But the truth is, I may not have done ANY of it if it wasn't for those tears from all the tough times. I have spent a big chunk of my life "letting" things happen to me, but 2016 taught me the importance of actively participating in my life. I learned that each day is made up of active choices, the things you do, the places you go, the people you love. They are all ACTIVE choices. The more you commit to being true to you and consciously choose your life, the more experiences you will have. Not always good, not always exciting, but always vital to your growth. It can be quite painful, but in the end you might be lucky enough to have a list of an amazing year of firsts.

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