A letter to 2015


January 1st, 2015.

I told myself these next twelve months would be different. I stood in my living room, still perfectly decorated for Christmas and pictured a different scene—one happier than this silent, empty room. I held my gaze on the white knit stockings and imagined a tiny one hung next to them, reserved for a new little life. This will be the year, I promised myself. It was the same promise I made for the past five January firsts. I couldn’t do this for another year. Something had to change.

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I spent my twenties waiting. Always anxious for what was next, never content to be still, as pausing meant wasting precious time and falling behind. I spent my twenties wishing for a future where life could finally be the story replayed from my childhood imagination—that was the path to happiness, I concluded. Then I took a detour and realize life had just been guiding me to what I should have been searching for all along. It took years to find it, but once I followed my intuition I ended up exactly where I needed to be. And after such a long journey with so many obstacles, the view from the top is that much sweeter.

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Sometimes what you want and what you need are at odds. Suffering isn’t recognized as a blessing until it’s over and circumstances you aren’t prepared for open up new worlds you didn’t know existed. To those suffering: know that every minute of pain is one minute closer to a greater happiness. You must first climb the mountain before you can summit—the steeper the  cliff, the higher the peak. Make sure you have the right guide, then keep going and don’t you ever look back.

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In 2015 I reached the lowest point of my life. Pain beyond what I thought I was capable of handling. I was broken. But it had to happen—I had to completely unravel so I could put the pieces back together to build something better. Without all of the complications and distractions and noise of the everyday life that had lead me to this point. I had to leave it all behind, to run away and become lost in a new environment where I’d be forced to rely on my instincts and intuition. I had to rediscover my happiness… the purpose and passion we’re all born with that becomes buried and stifled over the years. There was no other option to continue living.

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So I stripped away all that didn’t matter and dug deep to find that happiness. And somewhere on the chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean known as the Philippines, I finally found it. I took that happiness, the one that shined so new and bright thirty years ago, dusted it off and promised I’d never lose it again. I’d let it live in my heart and mind and soul and guide me through this new life.

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The fear of leaving was nothing compared to the fear of settling. It wasn’t an act of bravery—I simply did what I had to do. And if I had ended up with what I’d wanted all these years… perhaps I never would have found it. Or maybe it would be years down the road after existing in a life I wasn’t meant to be in. Those years of heartache were all for a reason. And as much as I didn’t understand it or think it was fair at the time, I realize now it had to happen, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat to be where I am now.

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One day I’ll get to that place I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl. But instead of wasting the present by wishing a future, I’m working on spending each day so in love with my life, remembering I don’t need anything more to be complete.

Thank you, 2015, for teaching me these lessons:

We’re born with a light that’s simple, pure and bright, but over time it can dim—buried underneath the stuff we accumulate over the years. When that light fades we feel empty, so we fill the void with more, convinced that adding to our lives will make us whole. It’s easy to do in this world of increasing abundance and excess, and eventually many of us can no longer find our light at all… so we live in darkness. We continue to add more, burying that light further, not realizing that it’s what we’re searching for all along.

We were born with everything we need to be happy. It’s already within us, we just have to uncover it.

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Trust the timing of your life. Trust your intuition and let your true happiness guide you. Not what you think you want, but what you know you need. The voice is in there somewhere—it may just be a whisper, but if you listen closely enough, you’ll find it. Don’t just listen to it—act on it.

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Stop being a bystander in the world and a witness to your life. Get out of the passenger seat and take the wheel. Go to the places that only exist in your dreams. Take responsibility for the fact that you’ve created your own reality and your mind is the only thing keeping you there—the only thing getting in the way of your happiness. That’s the trouble with our minds… they are flawed. So if we rely on them to dictate our lives and create our identity, our lives will always be flawed. The only way to achieve the elusive perfection we seek, to feel complete and whole, is to detach from our ego and live in this present moment. Life doesn’t have to be a calculated game with winners and losers—it’s much simpler than that, and there’s freedom and beauty in simplicity. Get rid of the clutter and you’ll find it.

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Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. From the darkest depths I was catapulted to new highs in a matter of months. In June I was convinced 2015 was the worst year of my life—now I’ll tell you it’s the best. When life seems hopeless, know that this is your best opportunity to create something amazing. Use your struggles as fuel to change. The deeper the pain, the harder you’ll fight.

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There is pure bliss and contentment within our reach, available at any time to anyone… yet we settle, because it’s safe. It’s your doubts and insecurities and fears that are preventing you from your best possible life, but a better life begins on the other side of fear.

None of us are making it out of this earth alive anyway, so take that risk. Your life is worth it. You are worth it. Your heart knows what it wants, your intuition knows what you need. All you have to do is follow it.

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Silence all of the noise you’ve been conditioned to since the day you were born and hear the voice—not the one you think you hear, but the one you feel. That becomes your compass, then retrain your mind to serve as the tool to get you there. And know that “there” is not a place, it’s a journey and a way of being, and you’ll recognize when you’re on the right path. You’ll think and act differently and feel it in every cell of your body. You’ll just know. And if you can exist in that space, you’re already there—no matter where you are.

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Cherish this moment and be present and alive in it, because you never know when it’s your last. All we ever have is right now.

What will you do with your 2016?

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18 thoughts on “A letter to 2015

  1. Wow, waking up this New Years Day and reading this was the perfect way to start 2016. I must say I’ve been following you since your DIY’s in your FLA home and I just can’t get enough of you (I don’t mean that to sound stalky or sexist) that’s not my intention. I just mean you say and do everything so eloquently. I don’t know what happened last year and I know that’s totally your business but you’ve come such a long way and look how far you’ve come just since JUNE. Some people it takes a lifetime of figuring things out. I love following every step of your life’s journey and I hope you keep us “in the loop” so to speak because what you’re doing is just beyond words. I’m an almost 60 yr old grandmother and I’ve started living my life to the fullest (don’t get me wrong I’ve always been a very glass 1/2 full kind of person). As my husband and I always say you can’t take the money with you and all our children are doing quite well, so yes we are enjoying life and spending our kids inheritance and doing exactly what we want. Kudos to you Jenna for finding it at half my age. Have a WONDERFUL 2016 !!!

  2. Great article which so reminds me of myself back in my 20s! I knew I was not in the right place and needed a big change in my life. I know what you mean by fear of leaving and settling. I needed to leave my country where I was born and raised, and wanted to try out my luck for a new life in the U.S. My English was not so fluent, I had to figure out visa status anything I did, and with no savings, any money spent was a financial responsibility I would have to deal with. At some point, I had this fear as if I were a little child abandoned in the middle of nowhere. I was scared of the uncertainty and the risk/consequences my decisions would bring. But once I broke out of the comfort zone (which was not actually comfortable ), I realized there are so many opportunities waiting for me to make my life better. Kudos to you, and I also want to show you my respect for your courage and for figuring out such young age. I look forward to your next journey of your life!

  3. Jenna, you might not know it, but the wisdom and clarity you convey (especially in this post) has inspired me to follow in your footsteps (figuratively if not literally). I’m grateful to know you and of your journey. May your 2016 bring surprising revelations and joy in places you didn’t even know existed.

  4. Beautiful photos, beautiful message. You are wise beyond your years and inspiring to all who read your blog! Happy New Year Jenna Sue!! Cant wait to read your next post!

  5. May you find your peace in 2016. Know that your posts have given many peace in their lives. Your photos of your journey have taken many of us to places we will never get to see. Thank you

  6. Jenna,
    I have loved following along with your journey of the last few months. I’ve learned new things and appreciated all your words and pictures. You are so impressive and inspiring and I am happy that you have come out on the other side. Thank you for sharing it all with us. I don’t, however, get this post. Maybe I’m just thick but I don’t really understand what you are trying to say. I feel bad even saying that because its not my intention to be or seem negative. I just don’t get it,… I’d like to.

  7. Thanks for those eloquent words. Do you consider your journey a spiritual one? Does God figure into this, or do you just call God something different? Not trying to judge at all. Just wondered. Peace to you.

  8. This makes so much sense to me because I am in the exact same place. I went through something very similar except I was in it for one year. 2015. I made life changing changes and transitioned into something I don’t even recognize right now. I was living behind the shadow of someone else and in doing so, I lost myself, my dreams, independence, autonomy. I risked my family, my friends, my hometown, I put everything on the table because I wanted to reach “the dream life” so badly and so desperately. Pinch-me-I’m-dreaming became my drug as I found myself playing house. Maybe I don’t understand in terms of the duration of your relationship, but I SO get the kind of pain you felt and how it’s something that we had to go through rather than pushing it aside to begin the healing. You are very inspiring!!

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