2015 The Year of the Yes: How Death and Travel Molded My New Years Resolution

This photo was taken (by me) at Sala Kaew Ku in Nong Khai, Thailand. It is a Buddha statue park that is extremely bizarre yet amazing.

This photo was taken (by me) at Sala Kaew Ku in Nong Khai, Thailand. It is a Buddha statue park that is extremely bizarre yet amazing.

I left for Phnom Penh, Cambodia at the end of September 2013 to spend a year teaching English. Little did I know it would be one of my best life decisions and an epic, life-altering adventure. There is an infinite number of things that made my time so amazing but the building blocks of it was: I loved my lifestyle, I loved the friends that I made, I was fascinated by the culture and history, I loved the city and overall I loved the country. Now, fast-forward a year to the beginning of October 2014 when I completed my teaching contract. Upon its completion, I set out on a three month, 4-country, South East Asian back packing trip. I was ecstatic and had been looking forward to this trip for over a year. A month and two countries into my travels I got a phone call. My grandma was on her deathbed and it seemed it was a matter of days before she would pass. Thankfully, this wasn’t unexpected and I had already decided what to do if this situation presented itself. I acted accordingly, and in 15 minutes I had my flights booked. I left from northern Thailand the next day and would be back in the Bay Area in less than 48 hours. This was a harsh reality that I had to wrap my mind around and I had no choice but to be ready. After 13 glorious months abroad I was coming home to one of the weirdest and emotional homecomings I have ever encountered. To cope with my tangled emotions I started to plan out what I wanted to do when I got back. One of my top things (other than writing) was to continue the Cambodian lifestyle that I fell in love with. I knew it was going to be challenging but it was a challenge that got me excited and it got me thinking: How is this going to be possible? How am I going to bring my cheap, practically stress-free, Cambodian lifestyle back to one of the most expensive, stressed out places on Earth? To answer my own question I had to break it down. What did I love most about my time in Cambodia? That was easy, it was all the new and exciting experiences that I had. Even my daily walk to work was exciting because in Cambodia there is always something that will make you look twice. So I thought, once a month I should do something new. Before I could even finish that thought, I already could envision my failure and that didn’t sit right with me. So I thought some more and broke it down even further. I asked myself why did you have these experiences? How did you have them? My answer to both questions, quite simply, was that I said “yes.” I said yes to people who invited me out for drinks or quiz night where I met my friends and other awesome people. I said yes to vacations planned by others and I said yes to people coming on trips that I planned. I said yes to host beer pong parties, where I brought some American college culture to the Far East. I said yes to pretty much anything I could say yes to. When I thought about it, I said yes to living and working abroad for a year in Cambodia, which was the spark that lit my 2014 on fire. I realized that this simple act of saying “yes” would lead to new and exciting experiences wherever on earth I was. After having this beautiful epiphany it dawned on me that not only had I come up with a solution to my problem, I had also come up with my New Year’s Resolution: To say yes to as many big and small opportunities as possible. This is why, for me, 2015 is “The Year of the Yes.” I know that 2014 and 2015 will be incomparable because so is Cambodia and the United States. What excites me is that hopefully with saying yes, I will have just as memorable and impacting experiences as I did in 2014- as the Cambodian saying goes, “Same Same, but different”. I would like to underscore that this is meant to be a positive resolution that opens up new experiences. With that being said, I invite you to join me on this journey and see where the simple act of saying yes will take you. Feel free to use #YearOfTheYes on Instagram and Twitter to share our experiences. Best of luck and I hope your 2015 is one for the books.

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