The year may change and so might the setting, but those final moments leading up to midnight always feel the same. The champagne cork will pop soon, and the clock will shove December and the last twelve months aside. We wait in anticipation to welcome a year that’s new – a set of four digits we are not yet used to writing out. The countdown to midnight always comes with a whole lot of excitement and a little bit of angst. It is a chance to start fresh, but it also comes with some pressure to think ahead, to set new goals, to better ourselves and change all those little pesky things about our lives that we wish we could change! Who knows what the year will bring. That is the beauty and the scariness of life, after all…
When I welcomed 2013, I wished for a whole lot, like any ambitious, hopeful person would! I wished to surprise myself with my progress in my PhD work and be successful, even (and especially) outside of my comfort zone. I wished to cherish simplicity and beauty, and to recognize those important moments in time, before they become memories. I hoped to be able to dwell less on what is not absolutely crucial and to worry less (which, I admit, is easier said than done). I vowed to make more time for family and for people I care most about. It was also important to me to make time for new creative projects and for passions that add to who I am – and who I wish to become. I wanted to write plenty, travel plenty, cook plenty, photograph plenty, and love plenty.
Looking back, 2013 turned out to be a great year.
It was a year of hard work, newfound scientific independence, and astonishing progress (the finish line is closer in sight!). It was a year of flourishing outside of my comfort zone, as I was transplanted to a new university in Italy. Suddenly, I lived in a house on a peaceful vineyard, at the foot of intimidatingly towering mountains. I lived there for several months while I collaborated with an excellent researcher and collected data in his lab. I had to learn new skills, and learn how to work with new people with different styles than mine.
It was also a year of conferences in faraway lands where I presented my own research results for the first time. Academically, it was an insanely busy year – one where I discovered my limits…and then ignored them, to push myself to develop all the more.
It was a year filled with hundreds of evenings spent with wonderful friends – old and new, near and far. 2013 made me an auntie and godmother for a second time, and made me appreciate my beautiful family, every single day. It was the year where I discovered I do want to be a mother someday, and perhaps even someday soon. This is not to be taken for granted, as I was never certain of this, or of any kind of “maternal instinct” buried deep inside of me.
It was a year where I listened to my heart and made time for my passions – my photography, my writing, travels. I am proud to have put together my first coffee-table book of photographs and several canvases, and I am incredibly excited to pursue this avenue further in the coming months. I opened my heart up to peace and inspiration, which made me work faster and better. My scientific side and creative side were in harmony this year.
It was the year of the 20 soups – a creative mission I had set out to accomplish at the start of 2013! It pushed me to be creative even at the end of long, busy days of work, and to patiently cook and joyfully eat. It added balance to my days.
It was also the year of recruiting and testing 119 participants for my research, which amounts to 357 hours in the lab! [Insert exhausted face here]. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the testing phase being behind me soon!
It was a jam-packed year, where the vast majority of the 365 days were memorable and rewarding. It was beautiful, stressful, exhausting, inspiring, happy, frustrating, challenging, surprising and filled with blessings.
It took me a few days after that stroke of midnight to concretely dream up what I’d like 2014 to shape up to be. It is, after all, easier to look back than to look ahead. It could be intimidating to look forward, to stare in the face of a new, blank, unwritten and unknown year.
But here it goes – my hopes and dreams for 2014:
If I had to use just one word, I’d say I hope 2014 will be “smooth”. A healthy, productive year, with only those challenges which are surmountable and rewarding, without tragedies, losses or heartbreaks.
I hope to impress myself with my PhD work, because satisfying yourself and being proud of your own accomplishments is half the battle in life.
I hope to continue to balance work, family and my creative aspirations, without stretching myself too thin.
I hope to realize if and when I do stretch myself too thin, and give myself the chance I deserve to recoup and prioritize my health and well-being over anything and anyone else.
I hope to grow even more patient and even more serene – because those are the qualities I sometimes lack.
I hope to take a picture a day (another 365 project!) and to learn to make 12 kinds of risotto, so that I may continue to develop in my photography and my dabbling in the realm of food photography.
I hope to have a thesis ready at the end of it, new stamps in my passport, and that invigorating “the world is my oyster” feeling in the face of new opportunities.
I wish to be productive, inspired, patient, supportive, attentive, alert and receptive to the beauty and inspiration in front of my eyes (and my lens), healthy and happy.
And I wish the same for all of you!
May 2014 be everything you wish it to be. May your year be filled with dreams come true, inner peace and balance, an abundance of opportunities and successes, kind people – whether they are close to you or complete strangers – laughter, good food, warm smiles, creativity, hope and pleasant surprises.