2013 has been nothing short of surprising. Recently, I lost my job. And for a historically type-A-control-freak-planner-extrordinnaire, this normally would have caused major issues (enter the mental breakdown). But it’s been the most refreshing learning experience of my life. Unfortunately, in our society, we move at a lightning speed pace everyday and rarely can catch a break to pause, reflect, and look inward. Thus, I am beyond grateful that I have been granted the opportunity to press the pause button.

Pressing pause inspired me to book a trip to SE Asia and satisfy my unwavering desire to travel the world. Traveling through Thailand and Cambodia opened up my eyes and my heart to more than I could have ever imagined. It allowed me to gain perspective during a time of uncertainty and also endless opportunity.

I traveled with two girlfriends, old co-workers who also lost their jobs, and it wasn’t too long before we discovered we share very similar personalities. Thus, the trip evolved from a “vacation” to an eat-pray-love-style working introspection, if you will, filled with conversations about ourselves, our lives, and our next steps. During our many discussions, we started to share a working list with each other of our non-negotiables for our return back home. Changes (big or small) that we must implement. And how timely that we formalize these lists as we embark on a new year. 

I’ve never been a huge fan of New Years resolutions so I appreciated this article I came across yesterday that described a refreshing spin on traditional resolutions and challenged readers to instead adopt New Years themes. Rather than a concrete behavior, a theme should be a word that resonates with you and embodies something you have been missing. Instead of defining specific behaviors you want to practice, you simply keep your theme in mind and allow your days to unfold from there.

My New Years Themes (and non-negotiables):


– Meditate more. Sign up for a yoga retreat. Practice rose, bud, thorn daily. 



– Spend more time with friends. Cook at home more. Travel. 



– Read more, watch less TV. Learn a new craft. Self-teach Buddhism practices. 


Life begins where your comfort zone ends. How will you step outside your comfort zone in 2014? What are your New Years Themes? 

Wishing everyone the happiest New Year and much joy and adventure in the upcoming year. Cheers, friends!

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  1. Sounds like an amazing trip! I think I’m going to Cambodia in March. Any tips for GF eating there?

    • It was incredible! Cambodia was definitely the highlight of our trip. Unfortunately, I was only there a couple days so I have a limited grasp on the dining there. I will say that fresh fruit, vegetables, coconut milk-based curries, and rice are in abundance so you shouldn’t have any issues there. If you end up in Siem-Reap (which is where we visited), email me and I can give you some additional pointers!

  2. Kathy

    Beautiful perspective. Best of luck for your next adventure.

  3. emmastirling

    Love love this post Kara & your philosophy. X

    • Thank you, Emma! Hope you’re enjoying your summer in Oz. We miss you dearly over here in the states. Come visit us soon! xo

  4. Great post! I discovered New Year’s themes several years ago and adopted the one of “intention” which I’m still working on! Being in the moment with my kids and making the most of every moment that I can – still a work in progress. So glad you got to go to SE Asia – what an incredible experience and I’ve loved your pictures. Happy New Year! All the best for an even better 2014!

    • Happy New Year, Ann! I love the idea of themes too solely because it reinforces the journey, not perfection. You said it best – it’s a work-in-progress! I’ll keep the pictures from SE Asia coming :). I feel so grateful and lucky that I had the opportunity to travel there – such an amazing experience. Wishing you and your family all the best and more in 2014.

  5. Sounds like an awesome adventure! I didn’t realize you were between jobs…it IS the best time to travel. I hear the Cambridge Zen center is awesome, but I have yet to go in myself.

    • Robby! I’d love to pick your brain about your somewhat-recent travels. I still have an itch to see more of the world while I’m in this transition period. I’ll definitely check out the Cambridge Zen Center too – thanks for the reco! Look for an email from me soon 🙂

  6. Glad to hear about your adventures in SE Asia — really enjoyed your post. Looking forward to reading more as 2014 unfolds. Happy New Year!

  7. Can’t wait to catch up and hear all about your adventure 🙂

  8. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to go to Thailand…silver lining. I can’t wait to see and hear more about your trip!!!

  9. Jo-Ann Nelson

    Good for you Kara! So happy you were enlightened on your trip. Keep up the posts. Love reading them.