2016 – The year I grabbed life by the horns

pokhara, nepal, backpacker
Balcony moments at our home in Pokhara, Nepal <3

It’s been a year.

It’s been a year since I cleared out my desk at my old corporate office job, packed my backpack and grabbed life by its horns.

A year.  It took 2 years of saving up to do it.  Two years of stress and frustration, but I did it.  I had set myself the goal of leaving in January 2016 and gift myself with what I called My Freedom Travelling & Writing Year.

My main goals:

  • living my life on my own terms (and not having to beg to have days off to do what I really wanted to do)
  • be free to decide, every single day, where on this planet I wanted to wake up
  • have time to write

And I did it.  I can now look back at 2016 and say I did all of that.

The first 4 month travelling plan, turned into an extended 7 and half months on the road – 34,330km to be exact.

I sat and took my time to savour life for 6 weeks in Pokhara – I took in the nature around me, I woke up to no alarm but to the sun rays seeping in through my window, then stretched out to grab my laptop and wrote my 72,000 word novel.  It’s still in its rewriting phase, but the core is there.  I did it.  I gave myself the time.

holi, india, mother, daughter
Celebrating Holi with mum in India <3

I spent 4 weeks with my mother in India.  Yes, my beautiful warrior mother of 62 years old came to join one of the most significant things in my life, Right2Smile‘s project in Bodghaya, India.  We slept in the same bed for weeks, I don’t think we ever did that! She worked with the girls of Garden of Smiles that I had so many times spoken to her about, she got to know the feeling of belonging to a group of volunteers and living and working towards a better understanding of what might look so foreign from the comfort of home.  We went to Varanasi together, then said our see you later by the Ganges River in Rishikesh.

cambodia, backpacker
Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

I then was on the road again alone (well, not really, you always find travellers on the way and I made myself some pretty cool new friends).  I climbed up 2,842m to Triund near Bhagsu in Dharamsala in India.  I climbed up to Panchase in Nepal.

I flew to South East Asia and explored the South of Vietnam, then went through the Mekong Delta River and crossed over the Cambodian border by boat.

I went to another Right2Smile project in Takeo, Cambodia and met another group of amazing people.  Then it was time to explore the upper part of Vietnam.  One of my childhood friends, joined me for the last 10 days in Sa Pa and Halong Bay and then it was time to come back home.

Sa Pa, Vietnam

In these last four months of being at home, I finally sat down and started doing what I dreamed of for years – create a job that I could do from anywhere in the world.  I started off my freelance writing business, which will help me perpetuate this lifestyle.

A lifestyle where I can be at home for four months and have quality time with my family and friends.  A lifestyle where I can choose where and when I need to be at a set time.  Where I can choose to work in the afternoons if I need to spend time with my nephew or anyone in the family.

And now? Wow. I was walking Diego (my dog, not my sexy dark Latino boyfriend, no), and I looked around the Marsaskala valley, where I live and I thought, “Wow Den, you thought it’d be a year and here you are planning to do it again this year.”

I don’t take any of it for granted.  I wake up every morning, put on my favourite song and I’m grateful.  Grateful that I had the opportunity to find out what I really want in life and work towards it.

Grab life by its horns, reader, maybe your dreams aren’t to travel and write like me, but find them, find the things that make your heart thump, find the small steps that will take you there, and do it!

It’s worth every second.

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