This has perhaps been the greatest year of my life. Rich with experiences and learning opportunites, we were able to travel to so many important and significant places around the world in one year. All those memories, great sights, unfortunate mishaps, and wonderful times that I had around the globe are a treasure that I know I will carry in my mind for the rest of my life.

At the beginning of the year, Alex put up a line on our blog that said we were Learning and growing as we go. The year has been such an opportunity for me to learn and grow. Now, as I look back, I can see with real clarity how I have learned from and grown in so many special locations.

Today, as we took the long drive to Seattle, I just thought about how wonderful and neat it was to be home. Also, how strange and disorienting it is. To come back to a home after one year of being away is going to require some adjustment. We have to unload the garage, put everything back into place, install a new flooring for the basement…the list goes on.

Before I stepped into the house, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The entire year had somewhat been leading to this moment, the moment of regression to the place we started. I had exited this very door approximately one year ago, returning after traveling so much.

The self I was when I left through that doorway was different from the self that re-entered it one year later. I had learned and grown.

Traveling the world has been the most incredible way to learn. From so many cultures comes so many new learning oportunities. Not only have I advanced in my 6th grade curriculum, but I have gotten to feel and really absorb the history and the culture of the places I visited. Going to museums, seeing great historical monuments, and watching films/presentations related to the location I was in has been the perfect way to internalize what I have learned.

I think that before I started the year, when I looked at exotic things, I would tell myself that is from “that other part of the world.” In many things, I would see the United States or Seattle. But now, after visiting and learning about so many cultures and countries, in those same exotic or ordinary objects, I almost always see references or reminders of what the year was like. I can connect to things that before I would be very far away from. Greenlake reminds me a little bit of the plants of the Amazon. After being there, I can look back and see myself hiking through the jungle, spotting caimans, and gazing up at the Milky Way and the sea of stars. Before this trip, my complete understanding of the Amazon rainforest was: a rainforest in South America, and the biggest in the world. And that was enough. But now I can feel that part of our trip in me.

Traveling the world has also been the most incredible way to grow. I think that the thing that most grew about me was my respect for the rest of the world. I am not proud of my understanding or comprehension of the world before I got to explore it. Now I really see the beauty of our planet, despite how different opposite faces of it may be.

It will be amazing to finally be settled in our home again after so much time away learning and growing. I don’t know if my ecstasy for being in Seattle will continue for months, or whether I will get bored of a life without travel. But for me, one thing is certain: it’s good to be back.

Below: Before and After a Year