My year 2014 and plans for 2015

It’s a little tradition that every year I make a summary of recent months. Mainly, it’s just my personal reflection to see whether I used my time properly or quite the opposite – I wasted it.

Except the summary, I do plans for the next few months. To know where I am going. They are not the resolutions like “once a day do something”, but rather goals to achieve like “in January do/finish this and that”. These are my personal specific aims.

Last year, however, it turned out that most of the plans have changed, because life just did so, and that’s okay – I’m open to changes. Sometimes I allow coincidence to act, because later it turns out that change was better for me.

The most important lesson that I learnt in 2014? I have to do and not think too long, because it just leads to doubt, and these very effectively restrain me from taking various initiatives. As a result, I missed a lot of chances in the past.

In 2014 I started to follow the thought The life begins where the fear ends and it became my personal motto.

And because of this I can say that if 2013 was a good year, 2014 was awesome. Really, I am very happy that many things happened and I am now where I am.

I already can’t wait for 2015, because I feel that it will be even better! I know that I have to act and not think, and I know that this time I will use most of the chances that will show up, but more about that in a moment.

For now I would like to summarize my last 12 months. I will not separate my blog from work and travels, because I came to the point where one doesn’t exist without the others.

In 2014, I spent 93 days on the road, 1/3 of it were travels around Poland. 27 days of the 93 were tour leading (for those who don’t know yet – I work as a tour leader), others were just my personal journeys. But it does not matter anyway because everything is connected.

January

The year began with a meeting in one of schools in my hometown Mińsk Mazowiecki, during which I told the students about our hitchhiking adventure last year around Georgia and Armenia. It might sound immodest, but I should do such a thing more often, because this is my cup of tea. I feel freely in front of the audience and I just like public speaking, maybe that’s why I love my job as a tour guide. But it was my only appearance in this year, so maybe in 2015 I’ll have chance to do some more public speaking.

A week after the lecture in the school I flew to Budapest for a few days. I’ve already tried several times to go there, even had tickets, but somehow I haven’t succeeded, until now. I had Budapest on my bucket lists for a long time and I am glad that I could finally fulfill this dream. I was not disappointed, because the city amazed me. Will definitely come back sometime in the spring, but for now other places wait to discover!

plans for 2015

And at the end of January 3 EVS (European Voluntary Service) volunteers from Portugal and Spain came to us to Mińsk, who for the next seven months led in our schools, kindergartens and library intercultural classes in English. I was a mentor to one of the volunteer, which means I had to be her ‘guardian angel’ and help for all problems or concerns related to living in Poland and the volunteering. Great experience! Next year we’re going to have a similar program, but we’ll see where I will be, so I do not promise anything specifically.

February

In February, me and Sebastian spent a week on the training for volunteers organized by the society Gemma from Velden with the support of the EU programme Youth in Action. Training was called H.A.P.P.Y. – Healthy Attitude Promotes Positive Youth – and allowed us to meet many great people from the UK, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. It was a very intense week, but also inspiring. And even though it was a training, we really had a great time and the atmosphere was very friendly. Awesome, and I would love to take part in something like that again!

March / April

8th March I got on an Emirates’ plane in Prague and flew to Sri Lanka. I fulfilles the biggest dream of my life – I tried a solo trip outside Europe. In Sri Lanka I spent three weeks and came back delighted. Not only with the country, but also that I did it, I tried myself and even if Sri Lanka is an easy country to travel alone, I broke the ice and I can go on a similar trip to a different location.

Besides that, Sri Lanka was a mental breakthrough for me. I’ve been always afraid of such a lonely journey, and now I know that all our fears are deeply rooted in our mind and you just have to do something to get rid of them. Take the first step. Now I know that what does not kill me, it makes me stronger. I can move mountains!

plans for 2015

This trip helped me to make the decision to launch my own company. I always wanted to have my own business, be my own boss, etc., but I just was afraid. I don’t have experience, it’ll not work out, I’ll lose money etc. For years I’ve postponed the launching moment, because there was always something wrong, I’ve been always waiting for a better time.

And just before I’ve started my tour-leading season, I’ve realized that it will be more useful for me to start my own company, because of the stupid employment legislation in Poland.

I came back home, thought about it about 5 hours, and then I launched my company in about half an hour. The next day I went to the commune office to validate something and that’s all. What scared me for so many years, I’ve done in a few hours. I was the head master of your own business. 😀

And there is no turning back (all right, it is, but it’s not my style to retreat), and if I have company, I have to start doing what you’ve always wanted – to organize trips for women.

What is more, with one of already mentioned Portugal volunteers we run occasionally some workshops about travelling in the library in my hometown. It wasn’t much, just a few meetings, but the atmosphere was great and it was good to systematize my knowledge and experience how to give it to other people.

May / June

These two months have passed me so quickly that it haven’t even noticed when. Because of work, of course. Whoever thinks that the tour leader work is only about “you travel and you got paid for it,” should carefully read this section.

Tour leader work does not begin at 8 am and ends at 16, but begins at the moment of meeting in school (I’m talking now about school trips I lead around Poland), and ends about 2/3/4/5 days later, when you come back. During these seven weeks, 4 were such that I could see my husband only during weekends (or even not, if he had some running competition). I admit that at some point I was tired, because it is exhausting when you spend every day with 40-members group of young people, who, as we all know, must have fun in certain age.

What is more – although surely some of you will smile pityingly reading this – I gained 5 kg during those seven weeks. Because usually I eat 5 light meals a day every 3 hours, and now suddenly every day I had to eat breakfast, then around 2-3 pm only candy bar or a sandwich, and then only after 6 o’clock, when we came back to the hotel, we had a dinner of two dishes. Of course, necessarily soup with pasta and main course with potatoes. Every day. It was a nightmare for me, as I try to eat really healthy. And my body knew that the next day it will not survive just on sandwich, so it accumulate beautifully all this food in my hips. And now I don’t have any clothes that fit me, they’re all too small. [I know it doesn’t sound too serious, but this is one thing that this year failed. This my personal confession. Well, I’m motivated to lose this extra kilos.]

But I don’t complain – what I like the most in this job is that I usually have the opportunity to see places where I haven’t been yet or I’ve been long time ago. For example, this year for the first time I’ve visited Ojcowski National Park in Poland, I also had the opportunity to re-visit Slowinski NP (the last time was 15 years ago?) – one of my favourites national parks in Poland, with sand dunes by the seaside – and the island of Wolin and a few other places. And damn, our Poland is beautiful! It’s so diverse and picturesque country that if someone is going to complain about it, and marveled at some all-inclusive-paradise, I swear I will not be a nice person for him.

At the end of June, I’ve spent a few days in Riga with my husband, another city on my bucket lists. And I was disappointed a bit, because everyone, who’s been there, is so amazed by it, and I’m not. Ok, the capital of Latvia is nice, but I haven’t feel the unique atmosphere there. Perhaps one day I’ll go back, but for now I do not need it. It’s only Riga.

plans for 2015

July

A few days after coming back from Riga we went to Slovenia. And it was a blast! We fell in love with the Julian Alps, when we were in the town of Bovec by the Socha river, we were delighted by picturesque, although touristy town of Piran on the Adriatic, where we ate delicious calamari with garlic, and found out that we could live in Ljubljana. We spent 2 weeks in this small country, we did some sightseeing, visited friends we met during the February training in Austria and we would definitely go back. Slovenia is wonderful!

plans for 2015

August – September – October

From 1st January until 1st August there is 212 days and I’ve spent about 90 on the road. Great, cool life, but I must admit that I was a bit tired already, I wanted to catch up with the writing on the blog and take care of business. So these months have passed me on creating the website, writing, arranging itineraries, organizing and sharing thousands of e-mails, sometimes also on wasting money. It’s been three months of very hard work by the computer. I haven’t traveled, but I do not regret, because I’ve done a lot of good work.

Oh, no, sorry, I forgot! You can’t call it traveling, but sightseeing – yes. Several times I went to Warsaw for sightseeing. You know how it is – you live somewhere, work, but do you really know the attractions there? So I visited the Copper-Roof Palace (Pod Blachą Palace), Palace and gardens in Wilanów, Royal Bath Park, basements under the Old Town Square, Praga district… I fell in love with Warsaw although I didn’t expect this!

plans for 2015

November

November was cool, because despite the fact it was another month by the computer (except for the long weekend with the Independence Day), a lot has happened.

We spent 5 days in the Beskidy Mountains, so I managed to get 2 new hills to my project the Crown of Polish Mountains (it’s about reaching 28 summits of all ranges in Poland) and I visited 3 places in my Polish Bucket List.

Besides, I also won a competition organized by Angelika Śniegocka, a Polish coach and author, who was looking for inspiring stories about a work change to her book. I found the competition just by chance, I sent my application and a few weeks later I got the information that I am among the winners and my story will be published in a Angelika’s book! 🙂

Speaking about the books – I also got an offer to write a guide to Amsterdam, and because I love this city, the more willingly I accepted the offer.

However, not all my plans went smoothly, because at the end of the month I was about to go to Lublin, which won in the poll and my readers voted for it. As my financial situation was quite difficult this month, I had to postpone visiting Lublin (I hope that in January it will succeed). I emphasize, however, that I don’t give up on visiting the city, but only postpone it.

December

December? What December? I had so much work this month, not only mine but I also helped my parents in their company, that I don’t know when December passed. I only know that it was raining and the weather was truly Novemberish, and today, as I write this (it’s 7:20 am, 26th December) it’s snowing outside. I like Decembers like this. 🙂 I just hope that it will not melt down for a while, and it’ll stay with us little longer.

Summary

Was it a good year? Definitely yes! Places I’ve visited, the number of journeys which I have done, starting my own business – all this made this year qualify to really great year, full of opportunities to act.

I also definitely gave my bucket list a specified shape – I made a personal game out of it, it’s called the Bucket List Challenge. It’s ambitious and motivates me to fulfilling my dreams, although I just started.

The only thing I did not like, except for those 5kg from my trips ;), is my Russian. I did a lot less material than I planned. In the coming year I am going to improve it.

Plans for 2015

2015 is going to be ambitious and hardworking. Full of initiatives and successes!

In March I’m going to Berlin to take part in tourism business meeting, one of the largest in the world, and shortly after that I’m going to Sri Lanka, this time with a group of great girls who wants to experience some adventure. Less than a month later, I go to Georgia and Armenia, and in the summer we are planning with Sebastian some ambitious hiking. In October maybe Georgia again, but I will not plan ahead anything else.

From my personal goals, I’m going to lose those 5kg, which at the moment I’m doing pretty good, and continue my Russian. Maybe I’ll try some conversations once a week via Skype? This is another fear to overcome, because in Russian, in contrast to English, I have a fairly large language barrier, which I will not get rid of, if I do not speak.

Moreover, I have prepared a plan of blogging for January and February, and I feel it will be hot. I do not know how suddenly I’m so creative. I’ve always been, but all of the sudden I have really great ideas about topics, all in one moment and I can’t wait to publish them for you. I hope I’ll not leave anyone neutral! Or at least that’s my intention.

2014, thank you for allowing me to act and not postpone my dreams for later.

2015, you’ll be a blast! 😀

And how was your 2014? Are you happy about your activities and developments? Or maybe this year was not necessarily good for you and you know that 2015 will be better? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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