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2014: A Wild but Wonderful Ride

I think it’s a good practice to take a little time at the end of a year to reflect on it.  To consider what I’ve learned, where I have been, and how I have changed.  This helps get me ready to set my intentions for the year ahead.

We have had some intense years in the past, and although very stable in many ways, this one has been quite a wild ride– leaving us excited, hopeful, proud, and a more than a little emotionally worn out.

The Wild but Wonderful Ride of 2014

We began the year having just received an unexpected and severe (seriously) pay cut for Jeff that left us reeling and honestly feeling a little bit trapped.

My theme word for the year was freedom.  To me, this meant that as a family we would be intentional and choose what we want for our lifestyle, rather than just letting life happen to us.  I wanted to think outside of the box, and have an attitude of possibility.  There were three things in particular I wanted to see happen this year, even though we didn’t know how they would become possible: to visit the USA, to travel to four different countries, and to find a new long-term adventure.

January

At the beginning of the year, I set some challenging (read: terrifying) goals for myself.

  • I had never created any products before, but felt it was time.  I set a goal of publishing two ebooks: one about thriving in times of crisis and transition, and another related to food.
  • We were well overdue for a visit back to the USA, and I decided that I would need to earn enough money to send us home in 2014.

Both of these goals threw me headlong into confronting my beliefs about my own worth (what I might have to offer) and personal issues about money (and being on the receiving end of it.)  Let me tell you, that part was much harder work than actually writing either book!  And I am so glad I went ahead and got some of that worked out.  I believe this will free me up for so many creative endeavors in the future.IMG_1370February

I released Pruned: Blossoming Through Life’s Difficult Seasons with much excitement (and not a little anxiety.)

Then we took that family trip we’d been saving for all year in 2013, to Tenerife!  We had never taken a vacation like that before, and it was really sweet and surreal.

I began the series of guest posts on expat life on my blog. These are a lot of fun, and I hope to have some more for you in the coming year!IMG_7465March

Jeff and I had an unexpected and wonderful adventure– we had our first little “getaway” in six years, a date in Paris.

This month marked the beginning of foraging season, and I am pleased to say that foraging became a major topic here in 2014!

We also welcomed a couple of sets of visitors (from Belgium and the East Coast) to our home for short but really fun stays.1185672_619026194836802_1207080894_n-1April

I listened to the audio version of The 4 Hour Work Week, and it was super inspiring.  Although I’m not a fan of the author’s personality, it has really helped both Jeff and me to “think outside the box” and start to create the kind of life we dream of.

We visited the super-pretty city of Bath, stopped in Bradford-Upon-Avon, and had another great couchsurfing experience.

Jeff applied for a new job, and we were really, really, really hoping he would get it.IMG_8721May

In May, my focus was on some self-care and “spring cleaning my life.”  I had some health issues I wanted to clear up, and taking the time to do the 3 Weeks to Vitality protocol and some other things was really helpful.  I also resumed a meditation practice I had accidentally forgotten about.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that this was the month that I also began taking bodywork clients here in Bury St. Edmunds.  We were thinking at this point that we might be moving to Cambridge or somewhere else, but all the signs were right in the moment, and I went for it.  Let me tell you, that has been wonderful, and it’s one of the things that has made me glad to be in Bury for the last few months.

June

We took a fun trip to see our friends in Belgium!  They live in Ghent, but let us stay in their beach house in the charming town of De Haan for a really fun weekend.

Amelia had her birthday, and we kept celebrations simple and special with a family camping trip in our own backyard.

In June, we got the really difficult news that Jeff would not be getting the promising job that we had been pinning our hopes on.  That was hard.  We had to take a step back and reflect on what to do when doors close.IMG_9924July

Recovering from disappointment and regrouping, we went to the beach a lot in the evenings and spent a lot of time working on finding possibility while staying in Bury St. Edmunds.  This was a really important process for us, and helped us each conceive some personal goals and plans for our future.

At the end of July, I published my digital cookbook.  That was a super fun project, and lead me to the print cookbook that I’ll be launching this January!Table ImageAugust

Life is really fun to look at in retrospect sometimes.  This is one of those times.  Just a few weeks after we experienced the disappointment of not getting the job Jeff had been vying for, Jeff was asked to apply for the position we had been dreaming of ever since we moved to Europe over four years ago.  It was surreal and unexpectedly terrifying for both of us.  From finding out about the position to being offered the position was only a matter of two weeks, yet those weeks were the longest, most emotionally draining ones of the year.  Here’s the story of when dreams come true.
IMG_9894September & October

England is at its best in the fall.  Knowing that this would be our last one here, we just focused on enjoying it.  We did a lot of foraging, and brewing of country wines and hard cider with our foraged fruits.  We also took some nice day trips to enjoy the charms of England while we could.IMG_0754November

This is when the whirlwind we’re currently enveloped in began.  The really wild, wonderful times of travel and preparing for our move, and publishing a cookbook. All at once.

We took an impromptu trip to Ireland to meet up with a blogger friend and her family.  Ireland was gorgeous, and we especially loved hiking Torc Falls during our visit to Killarney National Park.

After three and a half years away, we finally made it home to visit our families.  This was incredibly important to us, and such a wonderful experience.  And I have to tell you, that trip was made possible by you.  This blog and my ebook sales paid for it during a very financially tight year.  I am so thankful.
IMG_2656December

Since we got back from the USA, we have been doing Christmas celebrations, starting to take care of preparations for our move, and I have been almost swallowed whole by my print cookbook.  Finishing it has been a huge victory, and a great way to finish out the year.  I will officially be launching it (along with the new version of my digital cookbook) in a couple of weeks, but so many of you have already bought it!  Thank you.

Now we are preparing for a preview trip to Spain in three weeks, and hoping to find our home at that time.  Then, three weeks after that, we will be moving on to our next adventure, in Spain!
And Here We Are at the Table Cookbook

It has been such an incredible year.  Exhausting, uncertain, sometimes scary, but also wonderful and fun and exciting and– boy, oh, boy– I just feel like we did a whole lot of living in 2014!  I am so thankful for all of the things I learned, all that I dared to hope and to do, and all that we have ahead of us.

And I am thankful for you.  Thank you for coming along with us on our exciting journey.  I sincerely love sharing with you, hearing from you, and having this community of fantastic people through And Here We Are…

I am wishing you a fruitful 2015 full of inspiration, courage, and joy.

How would you describe 2014 in just a few words?  What are you most proud of?  What was most challenging?  What was the most pleasant development for you and your family this year?

8 Responses to 2014: A Wild but Wonderful Ride

  1. Cindi Brumpton December 31, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    Goodness, I recently discovered your blog and love it! Congratulations …. But I must rush, I want to read more back posts!

    • ariana January 6, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

      Oh, that makes me smile. Thank you, Cindi. I’m glad you’re here, and hope you enjoy those old posts!

  2. jetsetgluttonette January 1, 2015 at 4:03 am #

    Ariana, I’ve been obsessed with your lovely blog! Love reading all your posts, and I feel like I already know your little adorable family :) Best of luck with everything in 2015! Excited about your big move to Spain!

    • ariana January 6, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

      Thank you so much for this sweet note!

  3. Caterina B January 1, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    Maybe you should contact House Hunters International to do a show on your house hunt in Rota. There was an episode recently about just that. A family from the states was looking for somewhere to live in Rota. The dad is now the principal of the high school on the base in Rota. I have forgotten his name. Here’s a link to the episode if you’re interested. At the least you could maybe get an advance look at possibilities.

    http://www.hgtv.com/shows/house-hunters-international/episodes/a-family-decision-in-rota-spain
    Just a thought!

    • ariana January 6, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

      Hi Caterina,
      Thanks so much for that link! I spent about an hour trying to figure out a way to watch it here, but couldn’t. I have a feeling that in a week or two, it may be available somewhere.

      We did have the opportunity before to be on HHI, and I began the interview process. In the end, Jeff shared that he really doesn’t want to be on TV, and of course I completely respect that. :) So, we’ll just watch other people go through the process…

  4. Connie Saunders January 3, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

    Ariana, I simply wanted to let you know that I am thrilled to have found your blog nearly a year ago. I love following your family adventures. You have also inspired me to pursue some of our families’ own dreams. Last year I believe my word was “jump”. I took a huge leap of faith and quit a job that was suffocating me. We have been able to get by, and now I am pursuing “possibilities” for the coming year. I am focusing on my ceramics and we have applied for jobs with DOD. Thank you for all your inspiration. It is truly amazing what one year can bring. I am so excited to follow on your adventures in Spain this next year. Happy 2015 and the adventure that comes with it.

    • ariana January 6, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

      Connie,
      Thank you for this really sweet note! So pleased and humbled that our story has inspired you. And congratulations on making those big leaps!! I hope you get some great news this spring or summer about a DOD job, and find so many more possibilities along the way!

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