Hey, there. Happy 2015!

I just love a new year. Even if it’s an illusion, the new calendar with its 12 pristine months feels like a fresh start—a chance for a new beginning. I didn’t set any official resolutions this year, because that’s not how change works for me. I am, however, proud to say that yesterday I deleted the highly-addictive time-suck, Candy Crush Saga, from my iPad and my life. (If only it were so simple to click and delete all our bad habits!) I am back at home (Lake Atitlan, Guatemala) after a two-week visit to Austin for the holidays. It was really wonderful to spend time with my family and friends back home, but it was often challenging, as my current lifestyle is quite different from the mainstream culture in my country of birth. I experienced some pretty serious reverse culture shock, especially when it came to the holiday shopping/consumerism mayhem. Remember those old “Choose Your Own Adventure” paperbacks from the eighties? They were young-adult fiction stories, and at the end of each chapter, you could choose between two alternatives, each sending you to a different page in the book. Of course, in real life, we have way more than two options, so many in fact that our choices and freedoms often become so overwhelming that we end up choosing to stay within our comfort zone.

It’s important to remember that change is gradual.

If I compare my life today to my life six years ago, it’s transformed a whole lot. I am now in a healthy, sustainable, committed relationship and mother to a toddler, whereas before I struggled with nonstop dating dysfunction. I live in a tiny house that lacks many of the amenities I would have expected before—and I adore it. I have chosen my own adventure, and I now live a life from which I do not wish to escape. Of course, this transformation has been slow, gradual and sometimes intense and painful. In choosing this lifestyle, I am also rejecting the lifestyle of my beloveds back home in the USA. To some, that feels like an indirect insult. Sure, it is possible to live in a more minimalistic, simple way in the US or anyplace in the world. But old habits die hard. For me, it’s a cinch to be unhealthy in Austin. There’s too much convenience: too much yummy yet non-nutritious food, too many cable channels, too many SUVs, and too many big box stores selling too much crap. I am so thrilled to be back in my chosen home, back with my loving husband and affectionate cat. I feel a little guilty for being so happy yet so far from my family… but not that guilty. I am excited to continue choosing my own lifestyle in 2015, taking more leaps of faith and practicing mindfulness and compassion as I go. May your day, month & year be a fabulous one!