2015: All The Things I’m Grateful For

2015 has been an emotional year. An unexpected relationship breakup, multiple family illnesses and a general feeling of “what now?” have cast a slight shadow over certain parts of the last twelve months. But I have decided that I don’t want to define an entire year by the crappy stuff that happened, rather I want to look at all the things that I am grateful for – and once I started listing them out I realised I am very lucky to still have so much to be grateful for in 2015, despite the lows. And as for the low points? Well, I’m even looking at those as positives now, despite how difficult they felt at the time.

Those of you who are regular followers of the blog will know that this year I embarked on a journey of self-discovery and self-development, and one practice I adopted early on was to start a gratitude journal. Every morning, I write out ten things that I am grateful for and I reflect on those ten things. This small exercise has had a massive impact on my life, as I’ve started framing everything very differently to how I used to.

the road ahead

I’m looking forward to the road that lies ahead…

Life will always present you with both the good and the bad; you’ll never stop encountering difficulties and less than desirable situations. However, what you can do is reframe the way you think about things, which is what I try to do now. Don’t get me wrong: I still have days when I want to pull the duvet over my head, feel sorry for myself and do nothing but watch crap TV, but those days have become fewer and fewer as I realise they don’t really serve me in any way.

I’m healthy, I have a loving family and friends, a roof over my head, and food on my table – with these things and these things alone I have already won the lottery, and I never stop being thankful for them. And then I started listing out the rest and I realised that, actually, 2015 has been pretty damn good.

Here’s what I am grateful for in 2015:

My sister beating cancer

My biggest inspiration in 2015 was my sister, Natasha, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in April. She fought with all her heart and dealt with the whole ordeal with maturity levels that some thirty-somethings don’t demonstrate (she’s only 17). It came as a big shock to us all, and it was very difficult to watch people who I love to go through such a tough time. However, she made it through, and towards the end of the year, doctors told her she’s in remission, which was definitely the highlight of 2015.

Raising £2,711 for Cancer Research UK

Back in June, I took part in the Race for Life with a team that was put together in my sister’s name. Together we raised £2,711, £246 of which I raised on my own personal page. It felt so good to be doing something in the name of charity, especially when the cause is so close to my heart. Everyone was so incredibly supportive, which was really touching; I was so chuffed to raise so much money despite the fact I only had my fundraising page up on Facebook for a week! My friends and family truly rock!

Travelling solo in Barcelona

Despite the fact I had travelled solo in the past, I was slightly nervous about being solo in Barcelona in August. Did that stop me from going? Hell no. In fact, I purposely ensured I’d have a few days alone in the city because I wanted to challenge myself. Sure, I had spent the previous nine months travelling with my now ex-partner, but I had never been intimidated by travelling solo in the past, so why should that change just because I was newly single?

That's me!

That’s me!

Throwing myself in the deep end worked and I ended up having a wonderful few days solo in the city. It was the first of many steps that I took this year that helped me prove my own strength and move forward. I now look back and feel so proud of myself – I somehow knew exactly what I needed to do in order to pull myself up and out of the difficult situation I had been thrown into.

Making friends for life in Skyros

I spent two weeks in Skyros on a writing retreat at the end of August, and those of you who have been around for a while will know how magical the experience was for me. Not only did I rediscover my love for creative writing, but I also met a group of caring, warm-hearted, authentic people, many of whom are now some of my closest friends. As an introvert, I had never felt that I ‘belonged’ in a group so instantly before, and every time I replay the whole experience in my mind I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Skyros <3

Skyros <3

In fact, my experience in Skyros is what put me on the aforementioned road of self-development that I’m now on. Thanks to Skyros, I have a roadmap for how I want my life to be in five years time, and I know exactly what I need to do in order to get there. And the beauty of it? Even if things don’t pan out the way I hope they will, the Skyros experience taught me that it doesn’t matter – the road will lead me to where I need to be.

Experiencing Christmas markets in Germany

I love Christmas. Germans love Christmas. It was therefore written in the stars that I had to spend some time in Germany before Christmas. Or something.

In December, I spent a week exploring various Christmas markets in Munich. Oh, and this also included a pit stop in Salzburg! I had an absolutely marvellous time sampling loads of German delights (mainly stodge with a side order of sugar) and drinking glühwein. It was also great to be back in Germany, a country I fell in love with a few years back when I was last there – and one I can see myself living in.

Christmas market in Munich

Christmas market in Munich

It was so great to end the year on a positive note. Also, while on this trip, I developed two ideas for what I want from 2016 career and home base wise; I’m now working on these two ideas while I wait to see which one ‘bites’ first.

Practising yoga every day for a month in Ubud

I’ve been practising yoga on and off for most my adult life, and it’s the one form of exercise I’ve always enjoyed above all else. I was therefore so happy that I got to spend an entire month practising yoga at one of Ubud’s best studios. Ubud is a famous hub for yoga and healthy eating, which is what made the whole experience so special. I enjoyed my morning flow classes followed by a bottle of coconut water from the health food store that was just down the road from the studio. Ah, memories.

A piece of my heart is still in Bali...

A piece of my heart will forever remain in Bali…

I went every single day, which resulted in me becoming stronger and deepening my practice. It really was a gift to be able to do yoga every day in one of the world’s most beautiful locations.  Every time I think back to the experience I smile; Ubud will always hold many special memories for me.

Spending precious time with my family

When old plans go out the window, you make new plans. And I’m lucky enough to have a supportive and non-judgmental family who will always give me the space I need in which to make those new plans (as well as a bed and food!). I’ve been with my family, both in the UK and here in Cyprus, for almost seven months now, and it’s been great to spend all this quality time with them. I’ve spent the majority of the last decade living abroad or travelling, so I only get to spend a month maximum with them each year. I therefore really value the opportunity to be with everyone for a longer stretch of time.

I also feel incredibly grateful to have them all in my life. Things that happened this year made me realise that we’re not all lucky enough to have families who support our life choices, give us love when we feel like things aren’t working out the way we want them to, and love us unconditionally. My family will never kick me when I’m down, and I love them even more for it now.

Winning NaNoWriMo

This year, I finally took part in National Novel Writing Month. The gist of it is, you have to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days, and along the way you enjoy the support of a massive community of writers. I’ve wanted to do this for a few years now, so when the opportunity came around this year I decided I had to go for it.

I cried tears of joy as I watched my word count cross the 50k mark. It really was an emotional moment for me, and I felt damn proud. And that’s the overwhelming feeling I have as we edge towards 2016 – I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of myself for turning a crappy situation into a positive one, for not giving up or becoming bitter, and for ending the year on a massive high. NaNoWriMo was definitely one of the things that gave me that extra confidence boost, and I’m looking forward to continuing to write books in the New Year.

You guys!

The little community that is growing thanks to this blog is in part what made me decide to continue with it when my ex and I separated. And I’m so glad that I decided to continue to document my travels here – you guys have been so incredibly supportive! The comments and messages I’ve received over the last few months have really touched me, and I’m so thankful to have such lovely readers!

Other 2015 Bits and Bobs:

Most popular posts written in 2015

A Tale Of One Dreamer Off To See The World

How (Not?) To Deal With Cockroaches In Vietnam

My First Two Months Of Solo Female Travel

My Very Own DIY Yoga Retreat At Radiantly Alive In Ubud

Most popular Instagram photo

Follow me on Instagram! andrea_anastasiou

My favourite destinations

Ubud, Bali

Skyros, Greece

Munich, Germany

My favourite posts

Why I Don’t Think Long-Term Travel Is For Me – Right Now

A Photo Walk Down Memory Lane – Childhood Memories Of My Home Village, Ora

Barcelona – A Love Letter 

The Beauty of Winter in Munich 

A Final Note To End The Year On:

2015 has been a challenging year for me, but I’ve found solace in personal development, reading a ridiculous amount of books, spending time with my loved ones and working on things that I love, such as this blog. I’ve also found an immeasurable amount of solace in travel. I love to travel, and it has been so therapeutic for me this year – so much so, I intend on writing a post on this subject in January.

This year, travel has served a number of purposes. For one, it invigorated my soul and made me see that there’s a big, bright world out there that’s waiting to be explored. This was symbolic for me, as it also made me realise that I’m extremely lucky to have the freedom to lead the life that I want to lead. Once I had this realisation, I started making new, exciting plans – ones that I’m looking forward to sharing with you in 2016.

Travel also enabled me to meet people whom otherwise I wouldn’t have met. My paths crossed with some beautiful souls this year, and they have helped me in ways I cannot even begin to describe.

Last, but not least, writing about my travel experiences on this blog has been therapeutic – and that’s because of YOU, my readers. As I mentioned above, you guys have spurred me on, supported me with amazing words, and made my journey extra magical. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me, and I’m looking forward to sharing another year full of travel experiences in 2016.

Despite it all, I’ve managed to end the year feeling positive, stronger than ever and excited about 2016 – and that’s my biggest achievement. It goes to show how much difference a few months can make.

Happy New Year, and I’ll see you all on the other side 🙂

What are you grateful for in 2015?

  • Hi Andrea
    This is great post! I’m really happy for you practising gratefulness – it works wonders! A few years ago I read ‘The Magic’ by R. Byrne and started doing some gratitude exercises. I saw immediate positive outcomes!
    Keep up the good work and have a prosperous 2016 year 🙂

    • Andrea

      Thank you so much, Joanna 🙂 I’ve never heard of this book before, I’ll have to check it out – thanks for the recommendation. And yes, exercising gratitude is very powerful – it’s made such a difference to my life.

      Have a great NYE 🙂

  • Iain Dewar

    I am a new subscriber to your blog, and wow, what an emotional year you have had! Glad you enjoyed it. Looking forward to future posts!

    • Andrea

      Hey Iain, thanks for stopping by 🙂 Yes, 2015 has been emotional, but I’ve learnt a lot of valuable lessons. Happy New Year!

  • You’ve had such a challenging year, and i’m happy for you that you turned bad situations into an amazing year of personal growth! Also, that’s such good news about your sister beating cancer!!

    • Andrea

      Thanks Anna 🙂 Yeah, it was challenging, but I’ve come out of it feeling stronger and like a different person. I’m so ridiculously excited about the future, which tells me that all the hard work that I put in paid off. Never give up – that’s my motto 🙂