Hello, everyone! I hope you enjoyed all of the holiday celebrations with friends and family and have charged into 2016 feeling ready to take on the world. I know that some people aren’t a big fan of the hullabaloo around the New Year, but I love the celebration of the end of one year and beginning of the next. Maybe 2015 was a great year for you, and you are anticipating more of the same in 2016, or perhaps 2015 kicked you around a bit, and you’re looking into 2016 with cautious hopefulness that life will change for the better.

New beginnings invite reflection which is really what new year’s resolutions are all about. It takes courage to look at the parts that you may not be proud of and make goals to better yourself. I’ve found that keeping my goals (note the replacement of the word “resolutions”) simple is what sets me up for success. I used to write a full page of 20 or more resolutions/goals for the new year, and while I would accomplish maybe 1/3 of them (in a good year), I would inevitably focus on the 2/3 that I missed and feel crappy about myself instead of celebrating the 1/3. No more! Last year, I made two basic goals: eat clean and try new things. This year, my goals are to ramp my “survival”Spanish up to a conversational level and to find a better balance of family, friends, work, play, and alone time.

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I spent two weeks at home for Christmas, and it was all kinds of wonderful. The first week was crazy emotional and overwhelming in the best possible way as I got to see my family and friends and adjust to being home again. It felt like I had never left, and yet, I had 4 1/2 months of experiences and a small ache in my heart for my other home that said otherwise.

“When you live out of the country, you never feel like you’re really home again because your home is two different places.”

-paraphrased from someone wiser than me

The Monday after arriving home, I dashed off to my old job at the center with a near desperate need to see the tiny humans that still hold a major part of my heart. I was mentally prepared for most of them not to remember me since most of them are under 3 years old, and I have been gone for a decent chunk of their short lives. This is why it practically brought me to tears when I walked into the first classroom, and one of the toddlers that I had cared for as a baby and babysat previous to my move gasped and said, “Are you coming to my house?!”. This unleashed the 2-year-olds and reminded me just how wonderful it is to be showered with love by little people all trying to give you hugs and kisses and tell you all of the things on their minds at the same time. If you’ve never experienced it, it’s similar to being attacked by a litter of wiggling, exuberant puppies, and it gives you the best ever case of the warm fuzzies. There are a few younger babes in another classroom that were in my care from the beginning of their time at the center, and I love them like they are my very own. To have them scream in excitement, run around the room, and throw their arms around me makes me tear up even now just thinking about it. 1709_10154388590274256_7943177752812562185_n While I was there, I also got to catch up with the fantastic ladies that I worked with in my classroom and chat with the wonderful parents who also have a place in my heart. The quote above comes from one mom who completely understood the onslaught of feelings when coming home after living somewhere else-how different, wonderful, and overwhelming it can be and also let me know that it was ok to miss my other home even while being overjoyed to see all the people that I love most.

I got to spend some time with my nieces and that time was beyond precious. Seeing how much they grew and changed was amazing, and I enjoyed every second of their love, cuddles, and goofy antics.

The last place I visited was my home church. The moment I walked through the door, my pastor greeted me with enthusiasm along with some other friends. Each one said, “Welcome home! Come and worship with us!”, and I walked to my regular seat with tears running down my face realizing all over again how much I missed spending my Sundays with these wonderful people and feeling so incredibly blessed to be able to call Oak Hills my home.

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All in all, being home in Minnesota was wonderful, and I returned to Torreon exhausted from all of the feelings and looking forward to seeing everyone again in June. I am so thankful for everyone who made time to see me even around the holidays which are already so busy and for my family who made room for me for 2 weeks and made me all of my favorite foods.

It’s good to be in Torreon again with the friends who have become like a family to me, and I’m looking forward to an awesome 2016 which I have no doubt will be filled with many adventures and interesting experiences.

Until next time!

-Chelsea

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