Positively giddy describes my overall feeling as I stand at the starting block of 2012. I have a hunch it’s going to be an epic year for me. Though, I think I have this hunch because I finally feel ready to see to it that it’s epic. This is the year I grab life by the reins.

So, for myself, but also in lieu of the BootsnAll Indie Travel Challenge, here are my big goals & resolutions for MY big, new year…

At 25, I can’t help but feel like life is a little too comfortable and predictable, and that I’m not at an age I can appreciate or accept this. 2012 will be the year I challenge this notion and step out of my comfort zone, while I’m still young and free of any big responsibilities (i.e. a husband, kids, house and car and the payments that go along with them).

“Someday you will miss today:” I will be more present in the moment. This is difficult with so much excitement in my upcoming months. There is something very special about the “here and now” before a big change. I need to become better at recognizing this. A few months from now everything about my environment will be different; which makes enjoying the way things are now even more vital. Enjoy my apartment while it’s still mine. Enjoy my job/s while I’m still working there. Enjoy my family while I am so close to them. Enjoy the feeling of anxious excitement before the big trip–this is a fantastic feeling that is often unrecognized until during or after an exciting life event ends. I need to remember that someday I will look back on this time with nostalgia. I’m heading into a new frontier and I have no idea what’s in store for me. That’s a pretty mind-blowing sensation.

Even if I weren’t waiting in line for a thrilling metaphorical roller coaster, I would need to practice living in the moment. Life is short and precious and filled with spectacular sights to see, fantastic lessons to learn, inspiring people to meet, delicious foods to try–wherever in the world you happen to be standing–and we are only guaranteed one second of it at a time. I want to start living a life that reflects these beliefs.

I want to challenge myself  beyond what I would if I were to merely pack up and transplant in Chicago, Austin, Seattle. True traveling seems like the best way to achieve this. As Steve Jobs once said, “Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses toward growth.” Growth is my ultimate underlying goal for 2012.

I want to put my time and money toward real life lessons and experiences rather than higher education in a brick and mortar institution. This year I will begin my “Masters in Big Life Experiences”  It’s an independent study program, in case you haven’t heard of it. 😉

This will have me following a path that would take me from Patagonia to Alaska if I let it. Though, I’m not entirely sure where my travels will take me–and I’d like to keep an air of spontaneity– I do know I will be learning Spanish in Latin America. I will explore places where time has stood still.  I will return to the place that ignited such a passion inside of me–a passion that could provoke me to work several jobs, pinch pennies, and leave a perfectly good life behind so I can chase the unknown. If I go nowhere else in Central America, I will return to Nicaragua.

I know that  I want to learn Tango in Buenos Aires; learn Salsa in Medellin. I want to climb volcanoes, take a boat ride on the Amazon, explore Inca ruins, eat my way around Lima, guzzle Mate in Argentina, photograph llamas, parooze open-air markets, practice Yoga in the mountains of Ecuador, swim through the brilliant blue cenotes of the Yucatan, and sleep on other people’s couches. When the Mayan Calendar ends, I want to be in the land of the Mayans. I want to learn to cook Mexican food in Mexico; learn to scuba dive in Honduras.  I want to help on an Organic Farm in Costa Rica; volunteer with children in Guatemala.  Believe it or not, I want to take 20 hour bus rides through spectacular mountain passes, sprawling green valleys, quaint colonial villages.

“A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without familiars in order to be open to influences, to change.” ~ Katharine Butler Hathaway

I will simplify. Starting in Spring 2012, for a year of my life I will own nothing more than what I can fit in a modest pack on my back. I want to see what life feels like when stripped of material distractions.

I want the new year to involve more of those mind baffling wonderful moments that force you to wonder how you got so lucky to be standing where you are… And next New Years Eve, I want an even better version of myself to be celebrating in a crazy new place–only God knows where–and I will be thinking, “I can’t believe this is my life.”

Above all, I will take a chance, a risk, a leap. Because though there is never really a perfect time to start anything epic, the position I find myself in currently, is damn near close. I will get out and explore; because if I don’t, I know I will forever regret it.

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