Friday, December 28, 2007

A new beginning.

O Christmas Tree...

I have a yearly tradition that on Christmas Day, I sit by the tree and write down in my journal the year in review and my goals for the year ahead. Usually I will look back at the previous year's goals to see if I made them happen. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Some goals make it on the list year after year.

Sitting down to write down everything felt different this year. The past few times doing this, I have looked at the year behind me with a tinge of sadness and regret, mostly because my problems always seemed to remain the same, a year come and gone with no progress. I am always hopeful that the year ahead will make everything better.

But this year, it was a joy to write everything down for a change. I am proud of how far I have come, the achievements that I have made, the things I did. And my resolutions for the new year do not seem so urgent. Sure, I would like to lose a few pounds, but I know this is not the answer to my happiness. For once in a really long time, I feel content with my life, and I only wish that I continue living in a way that satisfies me. My biggest fear is that I will forget all that and next year, sitting next to the tree, I will be thinking, what happened to that girl who was in Europe?

In some ways, Europe already feels like a long time ago. I found a receipt for the chocolates I bought in KaDeWe in Berlin yesterday and was amazed to discover that was less than a month ago. The novelty of being home has worn off, the move is pending, the job search becoming more real and I am starting to feel stress under my skin.

In Europe, I always felt like I was accomplishing a lot because I was always moving forward, always going ahead, trying something new, seeing the next new place. This past week, I feel like I am standing still. In order to be happy and find my heart's fulfillment, I will need to keep moving ahead. I can't be still anymore and wait for my life to happen to me. I saw my dad this week and while he has all kinds of ideas of what I should do with my life that aren't necessarily my own, he did have this main message for me. "You have to be active."

While I would love to spend the next year of my life traveling, I have no choice for now but to spend it one place, earning and saving money just like everyone else. The trick of the next year is to live my life in a way that excites me, where everyday (okay, maybe many days) feels like an adventure, where I don't fall into a mundane routine that bores me silly and makes me feel trapped and depressed.

So that is what I wrote about in my journal for what I want in the upcoming year:

My life should focus on people, not work. Believe it or not, this used to be hard for me. I need to work on this.

Find a job that interests me, pays the bills, but doesn't take over my life. I think that means finding some freelance marketing work to fund my life while exploring some other opportunities--like writing--to fulfill my passions.

Keep on traveling. A three-month long trip is unlikely, but I do want to go places this year. Argentina with Dan's family is on the horizon. If I cannot afford anything else, I do have New York City as my playground to search and explore new things.

Practice my Polish. How am I going to get better if I don't practice?

Nurture my artistic spirit. I realized that my artsy side has been hibernating for the last ten years and I remembered it during this trip. I am loving photography right now. I want to keep writing. I want to take out my sketch pad again. I want to create something.

Don't forget to be FUN.

This is a sketch of my goals. They are vague, they need definition to become real. I need to think some more, maybe do another self-test to get my life in focus. It's a journey, not a destination.

On that note, I am sad to announce that this will be the last entry of Polish Ham. This blog was just an idea at first and it turned into so much more than I expected. Not only was it a way to keep track of my thoughts and feelings during this life-changing trip, I was able to stay in touch with my family and friends, and I think in some ways, it brought us closer together. People started talking about the Ham. It became a topic of conversation. My mother's brother started calling my mom to discuss it. Family members reached out to me saying that they wanted to become closer. People got to know me in a way that they never did before. I would find out about people reading that I never thought would read it. It made me write everyday (something I always say I want to do but never do) and while I may have degrees and promotions and achievements and marathons under my belt, this blog is probably the most special to me for all the reasons noted. It was bigger and better than I ever imagined.

So I want to thank my readers for the awesome experience. Sure, it was me writing it every day but it was you who made it all worthwhile. Reading your comments made me feel like I was never alone. And in celebration of my new goals for the New Year (and because some people told me that they might die without reading my blog), I am starting a new blog about my everyday life called Everyday Ham ( My goal is to live a life that is worth writing about. It probably won't be as interesting as a whirlwind of travels and I cannot promise that I will write everyday, but it is my goal to translate what I learned on this experience to my everyday life. It won't be easy, there will be mishaps and twists and turns and good, bad and fun times to be had. I will write about it along the way.

I hope you join me for the ride.

Me and my dad.


Maria said...

Thank you Iwonka for Polish Ham. Reading your blog was such a nice experience for me, it was almost like traveling with you. I wish you life's best and hope all your dreams become reality. And I am ready for your new blog..

Annette said...

I will miss you polish szynka!