Recap: 2016 Was a Whirlwind

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Boy, where do I even start? This year has been a whirlwind, with ups and also downs – that lead to bigger ups than I’d ever thought possible. (Isn’t everyone saying this in their recap blog posts?). Fact is, 2016 has been one - if not the - best year of my life. Disclaimer: Year recaps always make me slightly nostalgic.

I started 2016 completely bundled up, shivering, surrounded by crazy drunk college people (I was sober, yeah, I really was) in Pacific Beach, here in San Diego – that was pretty much four weeks after I stepped out of the airplane from London Heathrow, direct flight to San Diego Intl. Airport. 

The year started with a bang and I spent it with a few people I’d met the weeks before (– and realized how cold it can get at night in California’s southernmost city; first world problems). 

Here I was, celebrating New Year’s under palm trees, by the water, thousands and thousands of miles away from Germany. New year, new beginnings? Literally. San Diego was still a blank page and should be filled with so many stories during the next 12 months. The good, the bad, the ugly – and the absolutely life changing. 

Right now, as I am trying to organize my thoughts and recap 2016, I am sitting at Starbucks – my lovely Chelsea next to me. It’s raining cats and dogs outside. I hope my little nugget (aka smart car) doesn’t float away. C. is snapping me at this point but of course I don’t know that. I’ll see me on snapchat in a few minutes. I love this nutcase. I have my latte and double smoked bacon cheddar sandwich next to me. The typical coffee shop music is playing in the background. Where has this year been? I’ve come so far. Yet, so many dreams, goals seem to be unreachable. However, looking back on all the blank pages that have been filled with memories the past 12 months also makes me realize that nothing seems to be impossible, if only we hold on to what we want and keep on walking, keep on moving forward. I have learned that it is so much about the mindset – and everything else then usually falls into place. It’s a natural process, if Iwant to or not. 

So, let’s see what happened this past year. (Recaps are great, actually. Even though they make me sentimental for some reason, I love re-living certain moments by actively thinking back.)

I explored lots of new places in California and beyond

Having had the opportunity to not just settle into my life here in beautiful San Diego, get familiar with the city, learn about the true meaning of U.S. holidays, and living a somewhat local life, but also getting to travel around a little bit certainly added to my collection of memories. I started the year with a visit to Los Angeles (had to realize it’s anything but glamorous, though), went on a road trip up the coast with T. when he was visiting, during which I got a taste of Indian Wells, Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, Monterey, Carmel-by-the-sea, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco. 

I also went to Sin City, aka Las Vegas, when T. was here, and then again when my brother visited in September. I returned to Santa Barbara when my parents visited after not having seen them for 11 months and we also spent a weekend in Temecula for wine tasting. On top of that, I got to go to the quaint little town Julian for apple pie and some mountain time twice. 

I also experienced the extreme temperatures in the desert – Phoenix, Arizona, is where I was taken twice, and experienced first hand the (to me) almost deadly summer heat and the pleasant winter temperatures. I also had to realize, when spending a weekend in Sedona, that just because High Desert has the word “desert” in it doesn’t mean it cannot snow. 

Well, and then there was this legendary “the-mountains-are-calling” trip to Estes Park, Colorado.I am just realizing that I got to see quite a few places. This blog, once again, shows me how great of a space it is to organize and collect my moments. The re-living part is certainly the cherry on top.

I got to reunite with my besties & made great friends

My dear Aly, who I met during my high school exchange semester back in 2008 in Balwinsville, Central New York, flew out here to SD in February. Man, we had a blast for the few days that she was here and did some crazy things. 

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Also, one of my close friends from back home, Vivienne, came over in the summer and spent a solid 7 weeks here. Good times! Apart from that, I made the move and changed my CrossFit box after about 5 months – which was one of the best decisions I’ve made. The CF Humanity family is an absolute welcoming lot of people.

And as fate would have it, I bumped into R. Also, around the same time, I immediately became friends with Chelsea, who is subleasing office space, and who is ironically working for a German company. Oh, fate…sometimes, you just know, and it clicks instantly. In addition to all the reunions, my former host parents from Baldwinsville visited me for pretty much 24 hours, flying right from Las Vegas to San Diego. 

Never have I been in better shape in a more encouraging environment

My new gym fam and social hub also helped me become a better version of myself. It always sounds so corny, but it’s true. I am in the best shape I have ever been, have met inspiring, kind and warm-hearted people, that are always willing to help, and that push me to my limits in the best way possible. 

Over one and a half years into CrossFit and I have successfully taken part in two competitions. I love this gym, I love the spirit, I love the handful of people - specifically one - that have become a meaningful part of my life here. 

Also, working out more than ever and challenging myself have contributed to a healthy, balanced (not just body but also) mind and soul. 

I went through a major (spiritual) life change

I had to realize that all most things come to an end, if I want to or not. I recently told someone: 

“You know what, we are so good at lying to and betraying ourselves, that we build a facade and live a life we think we should, kind of being able to pretend we’re thoroughly happy. But how about we just pause for a few minutes, take a deep breath and are bloody honest with ourselves? First, it might be a sharp pain, but then it will be the best, most relieving feeling ever.”

Well, this is what I did essentially. I was bloody honest to myself, especially starting the second half of this year. I almost crumbled under this in the first place. This honesty meant letting people I considered part of my life for the longest time go in order to pursue my dreams and to also give them the chance to breathe and find their own path. I initially had doubts and thought I was being too egoistical. 

However, there was that day when, all of a sudden, I had this warm feeling deep down inside; I began to thrive in that I never had such a feeling of happiness and appreciation for the things I had or specifically have before. It was really weird at first, to put it like that, but this also brought me to some kind of spiritual connection. I realized that the changes, the moves I made, are good for me. I have never really gone to church, even though I do believe. However, this feeling I had brought be closer to … something or someone. The pure honesty with myself evoked a feeling I have never experienced before. 

It was this time when, all of a sudden, I had a completely different perspective on life. It’s not about rushing through it, about wanting more, about being better, about chasing goals and forgetting to live in the present. Discovering my enthusiasm for hiking and spending more time outdoors also helped immensely to reflect, to breathe, to appreciate – to live. 

I have found my happy place here in San Diego – or in the States in general. I am as happy, as content as never before. 

And this is not the end of the story…

…it’s only the beginning, I should say (dramatic silence). Tomorrow is the last day of 2016. The story will continues – literally the redhead story. 

And I will start 2017 with a bang, this time with people that have become an important part of my life. 

Here’s to you, 2017. This may become the most life changing, decision making year I have ever had.

I hope you all have a healthy, prosperous, and happy new year!