Now how’d that happen? Somehow while I was eating and drinking my way through the holidays the one year anniversary of the start of AWOL Americans happened. So did our 100th post. I tend to think of our “start” date as the one where we got in our car in Kansas City in the middle of a blizzard and started driving South. But there was so much prep and work and thoughts and emotions leading up to that moment that we started documenting it before we left for Playa del Carmen, hence our one year of posting here. Thank you all for spending the last wild and crazy year with us. One year down, hopefully many, many more to go.

I’m not one to spend a lot of time looking back – always moving forward – but the changing of the year and the anniversary (birthday?) of this blog is a good moment to reflect. I tend to spend my time focused on our day to day life and trying to take care of what is in front of us that I rarely step back to think about all that I have actually accomplished. This year I had time over the holidays to do just that.

The Good

We did it. We actually packed our bags, loaded up our car and moved to Mexico. We found a great apartment. We made some friends. We figured out how to get water delivered to our apartment, our long-term Mexican visas,  and how to navigate the healthcare system in Mexico.  We had some really amazing experiences swimming with whale sharks, exploring Havana and teaching English to some awesome kids.  We also met a tremendous amount of really great people from around the world through this blog. We frequently hear from people who are considering making a similar move and want some advice. Our advice never changes – do it!

The Bad

It is not all sunshine and rainbows. We still have our moments of loneliness, fear and despair. These feelings can and do happen no matter how pretty the scenery is where you live. We worry about lack of job security, we worry about money, we worry about being far from loved ones in case of an emergency and we worry that it’s never going to stop raining in Playa del Carmen. A change of environment doesn’t solve problems, you should never move with the idea that it will, but in my case moving to Mexico has put me in a much better mindset and given me a new perspective and new way of thinking. If I ever need to clear my mind it’s just a short walk down to the ocean.

Kansas City Snowfall
In one year we went from this….
...to this. Will take this kind of trade off every single day.
…to this. We’ll take this trade every single day.

Looking Ahead

If the first few days of 2014 are any indication, this year promises to be just as wild of a ride as 2013. I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, I think you should resolve to live your best life and be the best person you can be every single day of the year. While I don’t succeed every day, I still wake up the next day with an effort to try again. I’d rather not wait until another January rolls around to start over. That being said I’ve made a list of things (oh how I love me a good list) that I will be working to accomplish this year.

I want to make more of a difference in the community we live in by volunteering my time, my money  and my expertise. I want to grow my freelance writing business. I want to get much, much better at Spanish and taking pictures. I want to explore other parts of Mexico. I want to get many more dives in. And most of all I want to have many more amazing experiences with my very willing husband in tow.

One Year Down
It helps to have someone willing to go “all in” on some non-traditional life choices. Looking forward to doing some additional gambling together in 2014.

So that’s what is on my agenda this year, I’m really anxious to see where this road we are on leads to. How about you? Not necessarily resolutions but what are you looking forward to accomplishing or where are you looking forward to exploring in 2014?