This year is coming to an end and 2020 is approaching in full speed. I feel it is about time for me to do a little reflecting on the past twelve months of living in Chicago. It was a very unusual year for me. I had quit my job, said goodbye to family and friends, joined hubby on his international assignment as the expat spouse, and decided to take advantage of my new role and dedicate my time a little differently.
I still remember when exactly one year ago, I found myself in our new apartment between an array of unpacked boxes, anxious about what this new place and lifestyle would bring for hubby and myself. There was excitement about the opportunity of leaving our regular routine behind and starting something new. And there was quite a bit of worry about whether I will get bored, find people I like, end up missing work or even be able to sustain a healthy marriage.
I arrived into a dreadfully cold Chicago Winter equipped with a long list of hopes and ideas for how I envisioned my upcoming year. Forwarding to 12 months later I can conclude that 2019 has probably been one of the most exciting times of my life. In fact, none of my initial worries became true. Instead, it was a year full of new experiences, adventures, insights, learnings and life-changing moments.
Here are my personal highlights of 2019:
- Over the course of eleven months, I successfully completed my coaching education and am now a Certified Professional Coach. I learned how to coach people of all walks of life, helping them achieve overall fulfillment and satisfaction by overcoming obstacles small and large that might be holding them back. Throughout this journey, I met a lot of like-minded people, but most importantly learned a lot about myself.
- I dedicated much of my time to working out, became a big fan of ‘Reformer Pilates’, continued my daily Yoga routine and finished one 5k and one 10k race at a somewhat decent time. Public races were not something I had ever been interested in participating to. But Chicago for some reason inspired me to try and see if I would be able to train for it. I found out that I am! 🙂 Before I was able to further advance to an even longer 15k or so race, I found out I was pregnant (which I had unknowingly already been at the time of my 10k, but it seems baby didn’t mind the exertion).
- With a lot of free time on my hands, it was crucial for me to give back and dedicate some of my resource to a good cause. I found three volunteer opportunities which suited me well and allowed me to both utilize my skills as well as grow as a person. I held workshops on the topic of leadership at Chicago’s start-up hub 1871, helped sort donated clothes at Dress for Success and brought people from a hot moment to a cool calm with Crisis Text Line. Despite of very different nature, all three activities were highly rewarding and sometimes took me out of my comfort zone.
- Because I had never played an instrument before, learning to play the guitar was something I had set my mind to from the very beginning. After one year of weekly practice, I can conclude that I will most likely not turn into the next female Carlos Santana. That said, my guitar makes a great decorative object in our living room and I always highly enjoyed the conversations I had with my dear instructor (at times more than the playing).
- I had gotten this great DSLR camera from my brother-in-law for our time in Chicago and thought it would be sad to operate this device just in auto mode. I signed up for three professional photography and editing classes, started practicing my newly acquired skills while exploring my way through this amazing city and enjoyed being part of a community of passionate photographers.
- I can announce that this is my 32nd blog post, which is way more than I expected I would publish when I created this site in a pre-departure rush about a year ago. There was a little baby-induced hiatus at the end of this year as well as when things were rough at the beginning of my pregnancy (no mood for blogging when you are green in the face). But apart from that, writing was a way for me to reflect on my experiences in the windy city. I will certainly continue on my writing journey as we enter the new year.
- Tadaaa, I am typing this blog post with all my ten fingers after spending several months on a slightly boring but seemingly effective online program. It was worth the invest and I am no longer wasting valuable time looking for letters on the keyboard. I am now a member of the 10-finger-typing club and can stop envying hubby, who has been mastering this skill from the very beginning. Wohooo.
- Some of the most precious times for us as a couple was our Winter vacation in Colorado and our Summer vacation in California. We did not attempt to save money, had a blast exploring these two amazing destinations and returned to Chicago with wonderful and long-lasting memories.
- I am not much into lining up certifications which nobody might ever ask for, but I had three subjects in mind which I have always wanted to know more about and potentially become an expert in. I so invested a little bit of time and money to become a certified MBTI & Hogan practitioner (both are personality tests which are often used by companies) as well as a certified Scrum Master. I also attended classes in a few other topics I was curious about, such as Design Thinking and Creative Writing.
- But all the above seems almost neglectable in comparison to the arrival of our little baby boy in late November this year. There are no words that can describe the overwhelming feeling of welcoming your own baby to this world. Life literally turns upside down and the only thing that suddenly matters is his happiness and wellbeing (sleep, shower, breakfast … all becoming second priority).
As I am writing this blog post, we are still acclimatizing to being parent. It is a job you can not be prepared for and which is equally exciting and exhausting. Once I have fully settled into my new role as mom, I will write more about this entirely new experience and share with you the ups and downs of yet another chapter in life. Next year for sure will be different!
I would like to thank you for following along on my journey and wish you a great start into the new year. What were your personal highlights of 2019 and what do you envision the new year to be like? Do take some time to reflect on it, over a glass of wine or a nice piece of chocolate.
Happy new year!