2019 Wrap-Up: Travels, Crossroads & New Destinations

It’s time for another yearly wrap-up, albeit a bit late. Isn’t time fast?

It feels like just yesterday that I was in Jeju, intoxicated by the ocean breeze and the autumn colors. But that was in 2019. It’s already another springtime in South Korea. Year 2020.

Before I finally, completely take in the new year, which had arrived over three months ago, I will look back to another wonderful year that had passed.

2019 was another beautiful year of pursuing happiness and self-love—with a little bit of self-neglect and self-doubt. Just like in 2018, I let myself loose and traveled to amazing new places. I also let myself gain more weight.

Thinking back, it’s amazing how I got to put resources (especially monetary) together to make those 2019 trips possible while still being able to splurge some on calorie-boosting eat-outs. Considering I was in an underpaid job (not aiming to gripe; just stating an astonishing fact).  

In 2019, my string of overseas holiday trips was kickstarted by Taipei in late-January. And then, two Japanese cities back to back in June—Hakodate City and Sapporo City.

January 2019: Taiwan
June 2019: Hakodate, Japan

Next, a birthday escapade in Singapore in July. The roller coaster that was October reached its culmination in another back-to-back trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Jeju, South Korea.

July 2019: Singapore
October 2019: Jeju

Of course, I cannot overlook my own homeland—I also explored destinations in the Philippines, thanks to my “underpaid” job (LOL, it’s got its travel perks too). My first stop was Banaue, home to the UNESCO-recognized rice terraces that are absolutely stunning to see in person rather than on postcards and on Philippine currency (they’re on the 20-peso bill). That was in May. And then, before the year ended, I got to explore two major tourist-drawing cities in Palawan—Puerto Princesa and El Nido in December. World-renowned destinations like the Puerto Princesa Underground River (another UNESCO site) and, especially, the lagoons of El Nido are thronged by tourists but they are still breathtaking up close.

I guess the travels will always be one of the highlights of my every year. I have a feral inner-animal in me that struggles to break free and run across vast meadows. Literally, I love to be in places with parks and greeneries and mountains. They somewhat sate my frenzied soul.

Every year, I doodle a “vision board”—a concept I learned from a motivational workshop I attended back in college. A vision board is literally a board that lists or illustrates the things you want to do, to buy, or to achieve for the year or your whole lifetime, something to refer to every now and then to remind you of your goals. In other words, it’s just a bucket list but more visual—you use photos, illustrations, and/or clippings to make your vision more vivid.

In my case, I thought having one vision board for a lifetime would be so overwhelming that I would probably just be disoriented when I look at it—I have a lot of dreams. So, I modified the concept a bit. At the beginning of every year, I allotted the first page of my planner for my—well it’s not a board anymore, so—“vision page” where I (in my effort to conserve effort) doodle my goals for the year instead of putting clippings together. So, whenever I opened my planner, it would be the first one I’d see.

If I’m being honest? It wasn’t very effective.

Every year, I’d check off not even half of the goals I set on the vision page. 2019 was probably the best I’ve done with this vision board tradition.

“More solo travel”— ✓
 “Taiwan” — ✓ 
 “Singapore”— ✓   
 “Climb another mountain” — ✓
 “Take my weekends back” (I was working on most weekends) — ✓

That’s not to say I did not accomplish a lot in 2019. I did reach more cities than Taiwan and Singapore, didn’t I? A lot of new goals and opportunities sprouted up along the way, things that were not originally doodled on my vision page. It’s like, every time, the universe was saying, “Hey, here’s a new adventure. Take this route instead.” I’m grateful for that.

Life is very dynamic. A lot can happen, and a lot of things won’t go according to the way we planned. That’s what makes living exciting. The path to our goals may be straight, curvy, slippery, or unpaved and rocky. We’ll find ourselves at the crossroads, sometimes dead ends. Dead ends mean we either look for a new path or perhaps rethink the destination. That happened to me a lot especially at the end of 2019 and at the beginning of 2020.

At the end of 2019, moments of dejection became more common. I felt frustrated with my life. I felt like I was already at a dead end in my current company. No matter how hard I tried to rev up my engine, my passion, I saw no more path forward.

And then came my fortuitous retreat to Jeju. I felt like I have found my soulmate. A really glaring lightbulb lit up, and it liberated me from the dullness that was shrouding my passion. Suddenly, my vision became crystal clear again. I had a new goal. A big, mighty goal.

It was time to take a new path to a new destination. And I’m headed there now in 2020.

Perhaps this new goal would be best tackled in a separate daybook entry.

As I have learned, even if things didn’t go according to my vision board, there were still a lot of beautiful things that could happen. Life indeed is composed of exciting roller-coaster roads, and when my spirits dip low, I am simply gathering momentum for the skyward ride.

Still, I couldn’t help feeling a bit frustrated when I look at my vision board. What’s the point of having this, then?

Should I ditch the vision board tradition? I am not going to.

The vision board is not a strict set of rules. I am going to keep it up because I do need the guide and the reminder. It’s nice to have something to refer to when I am not confident of where I am going or if I have forgotten the directions—just as when you would refer to a map when lost. The vision board is also a nice source of inspiration.

My 2020 vision page is a bit more simplified but still doodled. There are four main themes where all my goals will fall into place: Home, Career (planner note: Or should I now call it a vocation?), Fitness, and Earth.

I started running my engine early this year, and I feel that I’m on a good start. Let’s see where I will be at the end of the year.

Let’s get it!!!

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