I’m sure this will come as a surprise to no one, but I have to officially say that this last year has been the wildest, weirdest, and most life-changing one of my life thus far. There were so many things that happened, so many new places that were visited, and so many ways in which I grew, and in that I declare that 2018 was a game changer. I solo-traveled for the first time in March, followed closely by my big solo-trip around Europe; I learned more about who I am and the way I’ve been made (thanks for the assist, enneagram — a 4w3 right here); I learned how to identify my feelings and work through them in a healthy way; my confidence and belief in myself skyrocketed; I embraced my single status and am (finally) thriving in it; and — most importantly — I stepped into more freedom and abundance as I’ve continued to follow Jesus. It hasn’t been an easy year — not in the slightest. But it has undoubtedly been the best one yet.
So here it is: a quick recap of this last year . . .
2018 by the Numbers
6 — months of living out of a suitcase
14 — international and domestic flights
36 — train / bus / ferry tickets in Europe
8 — states visited: California, Tennessee, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Florida, New York
13 — countries traveled to: US, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, England (UK), N. Ireland (UK), and Scotland (UK)
42 — cities stayed in: 32 in Europe + 10 in the states
4,089 — photos taken on my phone
157 — posts on Instagram
26 — blog posts written
I singlehandedly planned my solo-trip thru Europe
I traveled for 4.5 months for under $12k (cash)
I received a promotion at my job, where I am now a remote technology project manager
I reconnected with family members in London and Washington, which has meant the world to me
I’ve continued traveling, learning from the generosity and kindness of friends all over the states
I started a podcast: Wild Hearts with Gennean!
I fell in love with a city in a new country, one that I think about daily and will definitely be returning to
I got a crazy beautiful vision from God for the next year, one that’s going to require a lot of faith to see come to fruition — soli deo gloria!
First, I learned that healing doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it always require pain. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I moved Nashville near the end of 2017, I brought with me some very real bitterness from my four years of having lived there. I thought that I was good: that the few months between leaving Nash and starting my Europe trip had given me enough time and space to heal from the pain I experienced in that season. I quickly realized that I was quite wrong about that, but didn’t want to go back to that place to really work through my hurt, so I avoided dealing with it, in turn avoiding God. But while sitting on the coast of Northern Ireland in July, I finally leaned in and, in that moment, I learned that walking through healing doesn’t always mean re-opening old wounds; this situation was one where I just needed to let it go. So I did just that, and, in doing so, realized that healing isn’t always as scary or hard as we think it might be.
Second, as someone who has notoriously been a type-a planner and had a hard time dealing with change, 2018 was the year of letting go, and in so many ways. Through my travels, especially, I learned — either from having too much to think about or from things out of my control — how to really be flexible for what may have been the first time in my life. Formerly, I was known for mildly freaking out when things would change, especially unexpectedly (heyo, product of divorce!), but circumstances this year taught me to chill out and see the glory in letting life just happen. I’ve learned the beautiful balance of responsibility and faith, and I am a better, healthier, more full person because of it.
Lastly, I learned to just keep saying yes: yes to the unknown, yes to the risk, and yes to Jesus. Looking at my track record, I’ve been reluctant in the past to say yes when opportunities presented themselves, when there was unknown (or change) involved, or when I believed God was prompting me to do a new — and oftentimes scary — thing. But something shifted this year. I started seeing things in a new and powerful way, which starts with first looking back. Every big decision I’ve made in the past has been in faith — and, spoiler alert: they’ve always worked out — but the decision to say yes too often took far too long to make. So when I felt a new thing rising up and got a vision for the future during the summer, I just did it: I said yes. And if you were wondering, yes, I am 100% doing it scared, but I also know that the One who has directed all of my steps so far can be trusted, because He is faithful and, well, His track record is pretty dang good.
If this last year is any indication, I think that 2019 is going to continue to challenge me in my faith, in my belief in myself, and in my willingness to do hard things. I also think that it’s going to propel me into new places and new spaces, and that I am going to continue to grow into the best version of myself. I believe with all of my heart that my God has always got the best things in store for His kids, and so I’m believing for and proclaiming His promises over my life: for new adventures, for deeper relationships, and for more abundance. I have very little figured out at this point, but the one thing that I am absolutely certain of is that He is good, so I’m clinging to that and will be saying yes to all that comes my way in this next year. Bring it on, 2019!