Hello, my beloved readers! I apologize profusely and indelibly for my lack of writing, activity on my blog, and posts. I proposed that I would be more active on my blog and it's February and it's my first post in 2014. Epic fail. The truth of the matter is, resolutions are always great at the beginning, but then when they start to lose their stigma, so does the determination to keep up with them. Alas, this brings me to February and my first post in 2014. And yet, I didn't want to immediately jump on writing what the new year can bring and everything I plan to accomplish because I wanted ample time to reflect on 2013. What I did, what I lost, what I gained, what I learned, what I appreciated. I wanted to reflect the previous year with an eminent respect so that I can begin 2014 on the right foot, with the right mindset, and with the right perspective. When looking back on the previous year, I can make adjustments, start over, or continue. Thus, falling off the grid socially can be therapeutic and remedial.

A constant message surrounding 2013 is the ubiquity of change. Change is everywhere; change occurs ceaselessly; and change occurs slowly yet rapidly. And I would be remiss without mentioning style. But before I delve in my world of style and fashion, let me start by saying that it is much deeper than that. Beginning in July, I began an intense workout regime and dietary restrictions to lose weight. Prior to this, I was solely motivated to lose weight on the account that I would look good, I would be slimmer, and appear more attractive. While all those are true, I wanted to lose weight because I wanted to look the best that I can, without vain ulterior motives. Since then, I have 12-13 lbs and I have dropped a dress size (and a half...technically...). My self-esteem and self-confidence has increased greatly, but to be honest, I'm not seeking validation from others, if I look good or if I'm slimmer. It's what I think about myself, and finally, I made peace with my body. A positive repercussion of my weight loss allowed me to discover new regions of fashion that I was otherwise inhibited since it wouldn't flatter my body shape or I simply couldn't pull it off. I found myself wearing prints, styles of skirts, and colors that I otherwise would not have worn. Brief pause. I want you to understand that my weight loss was not motivated by selfish desires or by vanity. It was the simple fact that my body can look better and I wanted to do that, for my body's sake. I finally could wear clothes that I've always wanted to wear and that's when it occurred to me that clothes are a mere representation of our mental, emotional, and social growth. A person who is growing mentally and emotionally will not wear the same clothes that she wore a year or even 2 years ago. Likewise, just as my style and personal fashion sense evolves, so does my mind and interpersonally. When a woman begins to change her style, it is a sign of intellectual maturity as well as interpersonal growth.

They say that travelling opens your eyes to the vast world and introduces you to the bigger picture. It comes to no surprise that I absolutely adore traveling. The changing of planes, the grabbing my suitcase, looking outside the window and realizing that I am in a new country, a new continent, a new place absolutely thrills me. Naturally, I do romanticize travelling a tad since it is often not quite as luxurious as I describe it, but the actual experience is something I thrive in. I was fortunate enough to spend my entire summer in Europe, an entire 3 months submerged in a culture unlike the one I am accustomed to. I ate the same foods, shopped at the same stores, walked the same paths, and spoke the same language (albeit with some hesitancy), and saw the same sights. However, when my summer was over and I returned to my once comfortable place, I immediately recognized that I was not the same person. The person that left North America and left Europe are two different people. Reconciling this fact proved difficult as I struggled to embrace my experience in Europe in America, since many of the social and cultural norms in Europe are foreign, alien, and even quietly dismissed. Thus, I found myself in an inner qualm: how do I continue my life without feeling the pangs of my experience? I couldn't separate the two--I was no longer the same person when I had left for Europe. Seeing the expectations of people who assumed that I would return the same with seeing beautiful scenery was not the case. I was truly transformed mentally, emotionally, and even culturally. This revelation reached its peak when I returned to Europe for a month in December. It was strange that I was longing for a place that is not immediately familiar yet bizarrely fitting. The way of life, the type of people, the style of communication...Learning lessons and priceless advice from the people that I've encountered. You cannot put a price on an adventure learned abroad. To this, I have one thing to say: Travel often. As much as you can. Whenever you can. Don't just travel and see things, take pictures, and return. Experience it. Traveling does indeed make life richer.

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