Hello, my beautiful readers!
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and your 2019 is off to a great start.
I know it’s been a while, but I’m finally back to my creative space. Thank you to each and every one of you who reached out to ask how I was doing and cheered me on to come back to the blog.
So where have I been in the past three months?
Well, just like a box of chocolates, life in 2018 was a mix of joy and pain. On one hand, I was blessed with amazing job opportunities, travels and people. On the other, I was humbled and challenged in more ways than one. I had to do a lot of soul-searching and confidence-building, learn my worth yet tame my ego, forgive and heal, face some failures and even bigger disappointments.
I do not plan to bore you with the details of my private life or fill your inbox with drama, but I do want to share a few short words of encouragement in case 2018 was not generous to you either. I’d like you to know that you are not alone. Life’s not as perfect as it looks via retouched, meticulously curated Instagram feeds, and everyone is fighting some sort of battle or two. Perhaps even three.
But you know what’s the big secret?
It all has a purpose even if we don’t know it yet, and it all just makes us stronger for something better in the future.
I cannot say that I am out of the woods just yet, or found all the answers I’m seeking, but one thing is clear – I cannot let a few challenges affect my entire life and stop me from doing what I love the most. I came across this quote which I want to share with everyone who might also be struggling at the moment:
Your circumstances are not your life. You have a life, everything else is a circumstance. The circumstance is boot camp for you to be prepared to come into your fullness.
With that in mind, I’m looking at 2019 with a grateful heart and hopeful eyes. Also, a huge to-do list.
Instead of resolutions, I wrote a very specific list of goals for this year which are aimed to help me become a better human, improve my skills and broaden my general knowledge. This means less Netflix and more reading and learning, but I’m fine with that. I will be sharing all the interesting bits with you along the way.
But I know you are here for the inspiration, not for cheesy quotes and life coaching. So on to a few exciting blog- and travel-related news and updates.
First and foremost, I decided to do a little rebranding and couldn’t be happier. The blog is now called Travels With Nano and all my social media handles have changed accordingly. Make sure you follow me on Instagram for updates and inspiring images.
I’m also incredibly proud to say that a few of my travel articles have been published on National Geographic! I still cannot believe this happened. Several months ago, their editor reached out and solicited me to write a few city guides for them, almost all of which are now published online. I couldn’t have even dreamed of the opportunity and feel incredibly blessed and proud to see my name in the world’s biggest travel publication. If you’re curious, read my guides to Kyoto, St. Petersburg and Moscow, where I spent one too many vacations with my mom and granny growing up.
Next, I did my annual stats review and was amazed at how much this little nook on the web has grown in the past three years, with roughly 59,000 views/23,900 visitors in 2016 to roughly 280,000 views/156,000 visitors in 2018.
As flattering as this growth is, I don’t want it to sway me away from the initial purpose of my website. Numbers were never the goal and I won’t allow it to measure the value that I provide. I am here to inspire, not influence. I want to help you plan your worldly adventures. Most importantly, I want to establish a dialogue, share what I know about the world and learn from you as well. My goal is to write useful and compelling stories about the destinations that I visit so that you are inspired to go there as well. You know what makes me the happiest person? Your emails and messages saying that my posts helped you plan your travel. As silly and soppy as it may sound, I keep every single one and plan to publish them somewhere on the web. I love you all!
Lastly, while I don’t expect to travel in 2019, I still have tons to tell about my recent trips. While I’m now based in Virginia (at least for the time being), you will never know I left Japan. Expect stories of me following “the silk road” in far-flung corners of Kyoto Prefecture, eating gold-covered ice-cream in Kanazawa, hiking the moss forest of Yakushima, basking on the golden beaches of Okinawa and taking an epic road trip around Kyushu. Plus, fantastic times spent exploring Australia, Washington DC, Annapolis and southern parts of California. Per usual, I will leave a few images below to whet your appetite for what’s to come. It most definitely feels good to be back!