12 days on a boat sailing across the South Pacific provided ample time for rest and reflection, not to mention days spent exploring and afternoons by the pool. I found myself looking back on all the changes the past year brought, particularly as this one comes to an end and I prepare to close the chapter.

From the comfort of inside one of the pods staring out onto the ocean, I began thinking about the decisions and choices that have brought me to exactly where I find myself today. 2017 was a huge year. Leaving the comforts of a well-established career, moving abroad far from my network of family and friends, redefining what life looks like, helping the kids adjust and documenting it all through stories I hope will help shape important conversations that promote unity and somehow inspire people to live their best life.

So much of what I have focused on over the course of the last year has been based on wanting to change the world, to pour into this place we all call home – people from so many different walks of life, religious affiliations, cultures, demographics, political affiliations. From time to time we have laughed, we have vented about politics and we have discussed great books (and wine). Through all of it, the goal has been to inspire and empower each of us to work on personal growth, all while serving as a reminder that at the core of everything is humanity.

Each day we open our computer screens, our cell phones, or turn on our television to watch the news we are reminded of the great division among so many of us. A world that is riddled with pain and hurt, where our connections have become tied to technology as opposed to personal interaction. Where it has become more important to paint a picture of what we think our lives should look like as opposed to living authentically. Where our wholeness is wrapped up in numbers and likes, as opposed to the very essence of who we were all created to be.

When we are constantly inundated with distraction, it becomes difficult to simply allow ourselves the space to listen and gain wisdom in the stillness.

As I reflected on the last several months and my own quest to change the world, I was reminded that the place to start is within myself.

Before our travels, a girlfriend and I were discussing the different seasons in each of our respective lives and the challenges that come with closing one chapter, opening a new one, and knowing what you are supposed to take with you on each leg of the journey.

It was a very real and raw conversation. We reminisced about random stop overs for wine and great conversation from the back deck, lunches fueled by champers and business plans, empowering friendships and relationships, and searching for the meaning of life.

We both cried.

This year has been one of great change – location, surroundings, career, people in my daily life, which side of the road to drive on. Those things were to be expected and I planned accordingly as we prepared to leave everything behind. But, while sobbing into the other end of the phone from across the world, I realized something else had changed – me.

My perspective and my priorities.

I don’t think any human being can go through tremendous change in their lives and not expect a transformation to follow.

I thought I had it all figured out. Now, I find myself stopped dead in my tracks – an opportunity to open my eyes and really listen.

A search for clarity.

As I look for meaning in my own life and how I can continue to challenge myself to grow into the best, most authentically whole version of myself, I am reminded that the beauty of humanity is that our experiences, laughter, pain, suffering, joy, and loss connect us all. While situations and circumstances may be different, our hearts are all the same. We all bleed the same. We all love the same. We all have an opportunity to shine our lights and leave an impression on the world. And in becoming a truer version of yourself, that light will shine even brighter.

I still don’t have the answers for what may come next and I have learned to be okay with that. With the ability to say, “Okay Universe, show me what you’ve got” comes the peace of knowing it will all be okay. It may not work out the way you thought, in fact it may look completely different than what you anticipated, but it will always be okay if you are open and allow your heart to be full of wonder and love.

Sometimes, it is a simple phone call with a friend that provides that “ah ha” moment. Other times it comes as a subtle sign – the answer to an internal question you have been pondering. Other times it comes as a complete ‘reality slap’ that wakes you up and shakes the ground beneath you.

This week, if you find yourself struggling to gain clarity in your own life – be it in a personal relationship, your professional life, or some other situation you may be facing – take some extra time and space to simply listen. Sometimes the signs we need are right in front of us, we just need to allow ourselves to truly open our eyes to the possibilities that exist outside of the ‘normal’ we think we have created for ourselves.

Cheers to a new week, closing chapters, and living your most authentic life.

Happy New Year!!!

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