One of my bucket list goals was to live in Europe for at least six months, and 2016 was the year I made that a reality. Because of the connection I made with Dina twelve years ago, she invited me to join her in launching HD, a non-profit safe house and recovery program for women who have been sexually assaulted and trafficked in Athens, Greece. It was one of the most amazing years of my life, both because I got to use my talents to do meaningful work and because I stretched myself enormously in adapting to a foreign culture. Honestly, right now I still feel pretty burnt out by it all, but I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. Which is good, since I’m going to keep living in Athens and working with HD throughout 2017 (but we’ll get there in a future blog post)!
I could go through a blow-by-blow of what happened in 2016, but instead, I’m going to base this post upon the five resolutions I made a year ago.
1| Say yes to more things that scare me.
I think I did all right on this one, although I did not anticipate how “things that scare me” would grow to include “walking down the street to buy pet food.” Things got rough for a while. (Let me clarify, that wasn’t scary because of facts, but because of my brain.) Overall, this whole year was scary! Although I love traveling, the process of making a foreign country your home takes SO much effort, and it required almost constant “yes”s to work opportunities, friendships, and responsibilities.
2| Focus on health.
Balancing #1, I think I did a GREAT job in letting myself say “no” to things. I knew before I moved to Greece that my personal inclination is to do everything and be perfect to everyone around me. But I said no to a ministry opportunity, and when leaving my apartment felt impossible, I let myself cancel plans and then form new ones when I was feeling less empty.
I also got physically healthy. Thanks to lots of walking and a country that makes eating healthy an easy priority, I lost weight and gained endurance. Until a bunch of friends visited in October and November, and then I came home to the States for the holidays, anyway. But health isn’t a one-time goal – there’s always next year to keep going!
3| Learn enough Greek to go shopping, navigate public transportation, and carry on basic conversations.
Wow! I’m so glad I set the bar low on this one. I can definitely shop, navigate public transportation, and carry on basic conversations in Greek. I can even carry on medium conversations in Greek, although my brain gets tired very quickly, and usually only with people who make me feel safe.
4| Visit at least five countries during the year.
I did this too, though there will be an entire blog post on travel tomorrow!
5| Decide what I’ll be doing in 2017, and where.
Yup, did that too! I’m going to be staying in Athens and continuing to work with HD. Now if only I knew what I’ll be doing in 2018…but I never seem to know much beyond a year from now.