Jan 4, 2016

Happy 2016 from East Africa.

It's hard to believe it is already the first week of 2016. I am sure you must feel the same. Two days ago I returned to my lovely, random countryside town in Rwanda after spending 2 glorious weeks in Uganda with a friend who is also an English Language Fellow in an African country. It was fabulous. Once I can get my pictures to upload I'll blog about it.

For now, I feel the need for a linguistic transition into 2016 on my little blog.

On the last day of the year, I was in a beautiful, quaint town on the edge of the source of the Nile River called Jinja Town. I spent the day reflecting about the trials and joys of 2015. What a year.

In 2015, I spent months healing a broken heart from 2014, fell in half-love with someone who wanted to marry me and decided he wasn't the one. I'm so proud of myself for leaving and not settling for half-love because it seems that it is nearing "time" to have a family. I would rather live a solo life (with cats) than accept less than what I know love can look like.

I was screwed stifled in my Phd because of Chinese bureaucracy and after 5 years, 200+ pages written in Chinese, and presenting my defense in Chinese, I chose ABD status. Having a Phd behind my name is not worth bending my morals to adapt to the Chinese system. I held my head high, wailed some massive tears, and I walked away. The feelings of helplessness and defeat were crippling. I'm sure my life will have larger trials in the future, but up until this point - that was the worst. However, knowing I have been steadfast in my beliefs brings me some sort of peace. Lesson learned: don't write about religion in a communist society...they will take you down.

Both of my parents suffered losses in regards to their mothers. Watching my parents in their role as grieving child was/is heartbreaking. Yet, I was and continue to be encouraged and inspired by both of my parent's strength in loss. I could only wish to be as graceful while under trial. Through these experiences, I have observed the power in cultural familial roles. It seems that in aging and illness, we find what matters the most to us; be it privacy, dignity, pride, or family ties.

In 2015, I traveled to Myanmar with a dear friend (a dream!) and rode bikes through the Burmese Water Festival, and finished the long-goodbye to my life in China that was built over almost a decade.  My time in China ended with my mom coming to visit for the 4th time. (!)

In 2015, I decided to be happy. I decided that I missed great adventure and was not living as wild and whole-heartedly as I could have been. Frankly speaking, I was sad and I didn't want to be sad anymore. Thus, I made one of the easiest decisions in my life - to leave China after 7 years and move myself and my cat-child to Africa. This decision made this year monumental.

I have no idea why it had to be this way. (But isn't life always best with a side of mystery?) I just knew somewhere in the corners of my guts that I needed Africa. I needed really hard and really good - and that is what Africa has been to me these past few months - really hard and really good. After some periods of personal and professional setbacks, I feel like I am the best version of myself again. Finally. Entering into 2016 as a healthy, happy human is such a source of thankfulness. If we only hold on through storms, there could be infinite blessings we don't even fathom on the other side. My personal experience this past year is proof. We have no idea where the stirrings of our hearts can take us. 

Sometimes it takes a huge move, literally or figuratively, to help us re-align with our personal goals, our passions, and what makes our lives worthwhile. I'm thankful for the sadness and madness that was the first half of 2015, because it led me to now. And 2016 looks full of promise. Promises of African sunsets, huge classroom craziness, lots of red tape, a summer with my family, 25$ imported cat food, inspiring/educational travels, deeper cultural awareness, and more mosquito bites and fewer hot showers than 2015, haha. 

Cheers to growth, change, and pressing on towards the goal until we get to heaven. 

walk slow. xoxo 

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