Looking Back on 2015

There's always been something special about the number 5 to me. I loved being five years old (which just so happened to be in 1995.) 2005 was a particularly special time of my life, in terms of love and friendship. 2015 only carried on the tradition, bringing with it adventure, personal growth, new experiences, forgiveness, and regeneration.

Between the Work Away adventure, a period of unemployment, and my recent relocation to one of the world's most expensive cities, this year demanded some serious financial attention and flexibility, and yet it worked wonders on my anxiety-driven, miserly tendencies. It's an interesting phenomenon; that the process of putting money toward new experiences and other people (rather than hoarding it for my own sense of security) should make me feel more at ease and, in some sense, all the richer.

While I currently have less to my name than I did this time last year, I feel more generous and less materialistic than ever before. As anyone close to me can confirm, I still spend a lot of energy worrying about my budget, but I'm finding it easier to let go of these concerns in exchange for living a fuller life. If similar financial anxiety is preventing you from following your heart -- whether it's traveling, moving to a new city, or enrolling in those music lessons you've always wanted -- I encourage you to raise your third finger to it and take what comes in stride.* The inner fulfillment that comes out of the experience will negate any stress that comes from making it a reality.

As you may have noticed from more recent entries, I am also becoming increasingly invested in a minimalist lifestyle. To me, this does not mean dressing in black and white, embracing Ikea furniture, and throwing away all my old love letters, but rather being more mindful of the information, people, energy, and physical objects I welcome into my life. In the past six months I have forgone new books for library cards, forgiven a three-year grudge toward a lost friendship, gone vegetarian, and donated one half of my wardrobe without personally purchasing any new clothes. I'm not trying to pat myself on the back about it (after all, there's always more to do), but I bring it up to illustrate: (a) you can make huge life changes in a comparatively little amount of time, and (b) one small adjustment is liable to inspire several larger ones. The simple choice to go on a trip prompted a total transformation to my lifestyle, from the way I process anger to how I shop at the grocery store. Ultimately, it has helped redirect my focus from how others perceive me to who I wish to be at heart.

Whatever you do, do it for you. I'm a firm believer that we can all change the world, but it begins in our own hearts. If you can radiate the best version of yourself, you stand a better chance at helping others find theirs.

I'd like to close with a few shout-outs to some groups of people who have been particularly inspiring and/or helpful this past year. If you hosted J and me on our trip through Europe, I so appreciate your hospitality and hope I have the chance to repay you with an open door in the year ahead. If you are a Spokanite friend who helped me feel welcome again in my hometown after six years of absence, I am grateful to you. If you are my brother or my parent, I am thankful for your accepting me as an ever-evolving person and for not tethering me to an outdated version of myself -- particularly when we all wound up under same roof again! If you live in (or visited) New York and chatted/walked/shopped/wined&dined/laughed&cried with me in the past three months, bless your heart for giving me buoyancy in this stormy, sublime ocean of a city.

Finally, if you are reading this now, I am graciously indebted to the time and attention you've provided me and Inspirsession. Every time I feel silly, fearful, or pointless in the process of typing out these posts, I am reminded of the kind words people like you have shared with me, and I am reignited once again.

*Take this with a grain of salt, obviously. If your dream is to own a San Francisco penthouse and you can't afford to feed your cat, you may need to put that dream on ice for a while.

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