When I first started thinking back over 2014, all I could see in my mind’s eye was the dissertation. But when I actually really looked back — month for month — I was surprised by how much I accomplished above and beyond wrapping up my PhD. Like visiting three new places (London, Malta, and Langeoog), setting two personal records in the half marathon, and relearning how to swim. Turns out, 2014 was a fantastic year for me!
But on a larger scale, my heart aches for friends and loved ones who have suffered this year. It also aches for the state of the world that my nephews will inherit from us once they’re grown. In one way or another — either by action or inaction, by speaking our minds or staying silent — we are all responsible for its creation. I console myself with the thought that my work, which I don’t talk about in detail on this blog, is my contribution to making the world a better place. But sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough, and this is what I will carry into 2015.
So on this last day of the year, for what it’s worth, here’s my little review of what’s happened in my small corner of the world during 2014…
At the beginning of the year, I was feeling overwhelmed with my dissertation, but still managed to fit some fun in too. I laid out my running goals for the year, visited the Sie. Selbst. Nackt. exhibition at the Paula Modersohn Museum, and really started using Pinterest as a creative outlet.
Even though February was a short month, a lot happened! In addition to running a 15K race as part of the Winterlaufserie in Bremen, I also started taking weekly swimming lessons to overcome my fear of the water. A major highlight was heading over to Hamburg for my first ever Instawalk, where we Instagrammed what felt like the whole of Hamburg’s public transport system. I’d love to get an Instawalk organized in Bremen — who’s in?
Thanks to all those swimming lessons, I conquered some major fears and did something I definitely didn’t think was possible at the start of the year: I passed my swim test and earned my bronze swim patch, making me a Freischwimmer in Germany. Another amazing first happened this month too — my first ever trip to London, which was awesome in so many ways, not the least of which was a yummy food tour of East London.
I didn’t think March could be topped, but April was pretty dang amazing. I set a new half-marathon personal record in Bonn, traveled to Malta for a conference (see here too), and took a day off from work to clean the Stolpersteine in Bremen.
After all that excitement, I spent May just trying to stay on top of everything and keep breathing.
June marked the 6th anniversary of my arrival in Germany. Wow, where did the time go? I invested lots of energy in taking care of a balcony garden and training for a relay race with a team of colleagues. My favorite part of June, however, was my first trip back to Berlin since leaving in November — and I saw Pearl Jam in concert (for the billionth time), did some serious eating and shopping, and took in the David Bowie exhibition.
All of my free time in July (and large parts of June) was unsurprisingly devoted to watching the World Cup. It was beyond fantastic to be in Germany when they won the final match, and I will never forget the euphoria of those moments, dancing in the street in a crazy downpour! I also did a bit of exploring through my neighborhood, appreciating the local architecture.
In August, I took another quick trip to Berlin, but otherwise kept quiet and put my nose to the grindstone and worked intensively on my dissertation.
As part of my preparation for the upcoming Bremen half marathon, I participated in a small local race: the Frauenlauf 10K. Also, emboldened by my successful swimming lessons at the beginning of the year, I participated in a day-long course to learn the crawl stroke. I definitely didn’t master it, but I did make significant progress with my breathing technique. And combining my dissertation writing with all this running and swimming was no coincidence — the mind-body connection helped me stay sane in 2014!
Before this year, my half marathon best time hadn’t budged for about 10 years. You know the story — I kept doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. But after a summer of intensive speed training, I set another personal best at the Bremen Half Marathon — taking a total of 9 minutes overall off of my half marathon time in 2014! It was really tough, but SO satisfying. All of my other energy, however, went into focusing on the final weeks of writing my dissertation.
After four years of blood, sweat, and tears, I finally submitted my PhD dissertation. I had really hoped to finish it much earlier in the year, but as someone wisely said to me: it’s not done ’til it’s done. And that was the God’s honest truth. Afterwards, I enjoyed a much needed recovery on the East Frisian island of Langeoog. I also learned about the special tea culture in that part of Germany!
To round out the year, I got ready for the holidays, showed my parents ALL the Christmas markets during their visit (including side trips to Lüneburg and Worpswede), and celebrated all three days of Christmas with friends in both Hannover and Bremen.
2015, I’m ready for you! How was your past year? Are you happy or sad to see the new year arrive?