Keeping the Possessions Minimal, but Not My Interests.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAVJAAAAJDY2ZTI5OTNiLTA1YWMtNGEzMS05ZTljLTUzNmRlZTE0YjE1YgSometimes people think (and I think) I’m contradicting myself because I choose to live a minimalist lifestyle with less clothes, less makeup and overall less possessions. Yet, my interests are not minimalistic at all. I’m currently interested in writing: blogging, creative writing and handwriting/lettering.

But I also like to read and talk about psychology, the environment, sustainability, sewing& embroidery, botany & gardening, cooking & nutrition. Not to forget I work full time as an English instructor and I love teaching. And I’m almost sure I forgot to mention a few some.

My old (though somewhat related) interests were in playing the guitar (which I decided to sell as I wasn’t playing for nearly a decade), knitting and crocheting, animal rights, social anthropology, sociology, and political sciences. Last but not least, I also want to learn (and feel the need to learn) more about positive sciences. I’m regretful that I hated Math and Physics in high school.

Does a person who wants to lead a minimalist life style need to keep their interests to minimum? I definitely don’t think so as the whole idea behind minimalism is to keep what matters and what is valuable. So it pretty much depends on the person.

But then again, I sometimes feel guilty that instead of excelling in one particular skill, I tend to go back and forth between these areas, and knowledge and skills  grow slowly. It feels like I need to have a life purpose yet I don’t. Wouldn’t life be easier for me if I just tried to excel in teaching? I sometimes wonder.

However, recently I came across a term, coined by Emilie Wapnick:

Multipotentiality

“An educational and psychological term referring to a pattern found among intellectually gifted individuals. [Multipotentialites] generally have diverse interests across numerous domains and may be capable of success in many endeavors or professions, they are confronted with unique decisions as a result of these choices.”

She also has a fantastic TED talk:

She simply describes those of us who has many interests shouldn’t blame themselves, or be afraid and discouraged. Even if you lose your curiosity in one subject and be a beginner many, many times in your life, you use all your accumulated skills and knowledge and bring a new perspective to your new areas. So in a way, you are always a beginner, but because of your complicated history, you are never a beginner.

This really makes sense to me because as separate as they may seem, all of my interests feed into each other, and help me lead a more meaningful life every single day. I can relate to most of my students, who are studying at different departments, because one time in my life I delved into their profession in one way or another.

Sometimes I decide to quit one of these areas altogether, as in the case of the guitar, and I feel a bit guilty about that too. But after watching Emilie’s talk, I realized practising classical guitar taught me rhythm and mathematics, as well as  how to appreciate music. It introduced me to great musicians as well. So I’m always grateful for that. I don’t want to go back in time and become a master guitarist, though, I just wasn’t meant to be one. I didn’t have the motivation that my teacher had, for example, practising four to six hours everyday. I was too busy researching some other area I found mind-opening.

Learning that there are a lot of people like me is a relief. Learning that multipotentiality is not a burden but a gift made me more confident in pursuing my endeavours (or starting new ones, does learning really end anyway?).

Do you feel you are a multipotentialite, too? Or is specializing in one area more of your thing?

image source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-multipotentialite-judi-umali-rajkumar ( a good reading piece too if you’re into it)

you can also visit: puttylike.com (Emilie’s website)

The Road Not Taken


It cannot be a coincidence that both Koray and I love the poem “The Road Not Taken”. I’ve always loved the things that aren’t that popular,  stayed away from best-sellers even though I felt they were good, and always had the urge to try unfamiliar things. Now I can’t say that I’m a courageous person, but when it comes to taking the road not taken, you can count me in. Part of the reason for this, I believe, is that the crowds disgust me. I can’t stand being in a place where there are too many people. And, when traveling in Japan, we of course wanted to see the attractions, and avoid the crowds at the same time. That is a difficult task, as in some attractions there were thousands of people. Going by our instincts, we found the roads less traveled by, and that made the whole difference.

Fushimi Inari Shrine ve Mt. Inari, Kyoto

We arrived at Fushimi Inari station by using JR Nara line, and it was just two stops away from Kyoto Station. Fushimi Inari is the #1 tourist attraction in Kyoto, and it’s not hard to understand why. The shrine which was built in 852 AD, gained fame when the emperor’s wish for rain and abundance was granted. Since then, thousands of people donated a Torii gate when their wishes were granted, so Mt. Inari was soon full of corridors made up by orange-red Torii gates.

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The entrance and the biggest Torii gate.

The biggest gate is at the entrance, donated by a leader who wished for his mother to recover. 

So the corridors of Torii gates offer a magnificent, almost intoxifying experience walking through them. The gates go all the way up to the top of the mountain.

When tourists come here they take photos like these: (source: http://jpninfo.com/11830)

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isn’t it pretty awesome?

When we arrived at the shrine and started walking through the Torii gates, the situation was exactly the same: the people were trying to take the best photos, without anyone in the background, while keeping hundreds of people waiting. And most of them probably couldn’t take the plunge to go all the way up, so they turned back after the first hundred meters or so. At this point, disgusted by the crowds, we saw a signpost saying if we turn right, there are two shrines 50 and 100 meters away. So we decided to get some air and visit them, and maybe come back and continue walking through the gates again. I’m glad we did! At first we weren’t keen to climb all the way up (233 metre high and 4 km long- sometimes very steep path, which took around two hours), but if we climbed along with the others our only experience was walking through a thousand red gates. But on the road we took, a forest with huge bamboo trees were waiting for us!

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It turns out the shrine 50 metres away, was actually 50 metres above, so it took us half an hour to get there.

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The bold lines are the main road, and the one on the right is our path. The writings with kanji indicate the small shrines.

When we saw this map, we decided it would be a waste to go back, so we kept climbing to the top. Two hours later, we had climbed 233 metres. As tiring as it was, it was the highlight of my Japan trip and one of the best experiences ever.

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There were lots of moments we felt eerie and freaked out. The only noise was our footsteps, rain and the birds’ singing. All of the shrines and graveyards we passed by looked abandoned except for one, but the candles kept on burning despite the rain. And a cat followed us for a while, which scared Koray as I had told him before that spirits can take the shape of animals like foxes or cats. 🙂 And in Japan it’s not common to see stray cats,  especially on a mountain. It was probably a monk’s pet or something, but as there was nobody around, I admit it was a bit scary.

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I really like hiking, but as I’m not very good at sports, I always felt I’d be left behind if I join a hiking or a mountaineering group. But here, among birds and giant bamboos, in the eerie silence of shrines, I made the best hiking ever.

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And happy ending!

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Behind me is the main road where people usually take to climb to the top.

On our way back, we took the main road and we got really happy we didn’t take it while going up. Aside from an observatory terrace and thousands of gates, there wasn’t really much to look at. And as it was all stone stairs, I imagine it was harder to go up.

Mt. Inari, without a doubt, one of the most exciting places for me in Japan.

 

Click here for all blog posts about Japan.

First Impressions on Japan and the Japanese

  • Most Japanese can’t speak English.

I read a lot on this, but I didn’t expect it to be true. I can say with relief that, in fifteen days, I met maybe two or three people who could speak proper English. There were some times that they understood me, but I didn’t understand them. 🙂 Luckily, Japanese people are very good at using body language and making use of maps, so except for food it wasn’t a big problem in daily life. Since my husband and I are Muslims, we had quite difficulty in finding out if there is any pork or raw egg in meals. So if you have dietary concerns, I strongly suggest that you learn the Japanese phrases (and the possible Japanese answers to them) to ask if the food contains meat/pork/raw meat/raw egg etc.

  • They are both under the effect of Western culture and not.

 

 

When I saw Stradivarius, Bershka and Zara all next to each other in Dotombori, Osaka, I almost felt like home. While it is possible to see people in kimono, yukata and traditional attire on the streets, Japanese people are usually under the influence of Western fashion. All working men and women wear suits (it is even possible to see women who wear ties)

 

  • Kawaii everything

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I guess this kid must be famous. His pictures were all over billboards.

Kawaii can be translated as “cute”, and it is an essential part of Japanese culture. Kawaii doesn’t care whether you are a male, female, old or young. It takes you under control! Especially cartoon and anime figures are everywhere, and it is very natural to see a middle aged man in snoopy shorts or a grandma rocking a hello kitty purse. What was interesting for me is again regardless of age and gender, everyone has a phone charm. As iPhones don’t have a hole for charms, they found a way to hang their charms to their phone case.

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crosswalk fashion. source: unsplashed

And boy, there are a lot of things that hurt your eyes. My husband, Koray, is obsessive with the color harmony of belt, watch and shoes in a man. So his attention was mostly on men who care nothing about the color harmony, and some men with wrinkled shirts, which seems quite common in the subway. The most interesting thing for me was wearing socks/stockings inside sandals and defying the whole reason of wearing them.

 

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It seems the yukatas come with cell phones and selfie sticks attached to them. source: unsplashed

  • Addiction to cell phones might be one thing we have in common.

A quarter of people on subway are asleep (official Japan guide says it’s almost a hobby to sleep on subways), a handful of people are reading an actual book or an e-reader, and all the others are on their cell phones. Some sidewalks even have the “don’t text and walk” sign.

 

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    The famous philosopher’s road in Kyoto. And yes, she’s on her cell phone.

    Gender is a bit weird. 

As I mention in kawaii, cute things aren’t just limited to children and young girls. On the contrary, children wear much simpler clothes whereas everybody who feels kawaii is welcome to express it in the most bizarre ways. Besides, most men wear what I would call “feminine” purses  and  women and men alike like to dye their hair every color imaginable. There are lots of women with man-like haircuts as they are many men with women-like haircuts (and of course this is just my viewpoint of gender, as a half westerner, half middle-eastern). That’s why sometimes I couldn’t understand if someone walking in front of me was a male or a female. And maybe that is the reason why so many Japanese and Korean dramas have the theme “misunderstood gender”.

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From Hanazakari no kimitachi e, a famous J-drama where the lead actress goes to an all-boy school dressed as a boy, why of course to be with his crush who is a celebrity athlete.

  • And then there is the onsen.
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one of the onsens we’ve been to, Naniwa no Yu. The picture is from their website, it’s prohibited to take photos inside, which makes sense.

Onsen might be translated as “hot spring bath”. These are gender-segregated public baths which run water that come from hot springs. The baths are about 50-60 cm deep and most of them are around 37-40 C degrees. Besides the numerous health benefits, I found going to an onsen really refreshing and fun. In Turkey we have a similar concept, which we inherited from Roman baths, but we almost always wear a towel or even a swimsuit to public baths. In Japan though, you need to be completely naked. Not one single piece of cloth to cover your private parts. And for us it took some courage first, but then we were okay. In Kyoto we went to two onsens, and then when we went to Osaka our bus pass also covered onsens so we visited two other ones. If I had had more time I would visit more! :)What I wonder about onsens though is the gender segregation. Japanese people, so far I understood from their literature, movies, cross-dressing and such, are open to lgbtq and it’s not a big taboo as it is in the Turkish culture. But here the only segregation is through sex, male and female. Everyone can enter this place and the only exception is having a tattoo. But they don’t seem to care about the possibility of taking a bath with gay people.

  • They stick to their principles.

 

I could say Japanese people are extraordinarily polite, when I think about the lady who apologized twice for keeping me waiting in front of a public toilet, or the numerous people who so kindly (sometimes only with very successful body language) gave me directions. I was never let down when I asked for something.

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talking about toilets… here you go, a Japanese toilet controller.

But considering people just bump into, and sometimes crash each other to get into trains without saying “sumimasen” (sorry) at all, I could say they are quite rude. As far as I’m concerned, just as every society they have an unwritten moral code and some things are acceptable while others are not. It’s just our perspective that compares the politeness with our cultural codes.

The big difference between Japanese and the Turkish I think, is that Turkish people have always had contact with neighbouring cultures, namely, Persian, Arabic, Greek, Roman and French. So our vision of hospitality and politeness has been somewhat a synthesis of the Middle East and Europe. However, Japanese had very little contact with other cultures until a hundred years ago, which makes their culture very unique and sometimes illegible.

  • Would I live in Japan?

Much as I’m in love with the culture, the answer would be a no. This is the first time I feel so foreign and so alone. It was obvious we weren’t Asian so I can understand that we caught attention, but everywhere I go, especially in onsens, people just kept staring at me. I smiled as I normally do when I make eye contact with someone, but the answer was mostly the same stare.  I feel like I could easily fit in a European country, but in Japan, I will always be a foreigner even if I don’t have the language barrier.

Sorry for keeping this a bit long, but  I still haven’t talked about my favourites: the Japanese gardens, Shinto & Buddhism, and food. And I apologize in advance if any of my views hurt any person. So until next time, Sayanora, or more friendly, ja ne!  😊

 

5 things to be before you die

In a creative writing book, one of the prompts was to write “5 things to do before you die”. Five isn’t a big number, that’s why you  need to put only the biggest dreams there. You can’t put “not so sure” kind of dreams in a list of five.

At the beginning of the list, I wrote “publishing my novel or stories”. Then I thought, what if it happens? Will I accomplish my dream when I get to publish one book? That didn’t sound right. Or one of my biggest dreams was to travel to Japan. Hopefully I’ll realize it this month, then what? And when I thought further, I really couldn’t find any goals or things worth “doing” before I die.

So I blamed myself for having no dreams, no passion. But the problem wasn’t with me, it was with the question. The word “to do” indicated a process which is fated to end. If you say “to be”, however, the things you’ll write can be more extensive and more meaningful. And as long as you live, your dream doesn’t have an ending. You can keep on “being”. With this in mind, I prepared a list of five things to be before I die.

  1. To be a writer. A blogger, a novelist, or any kind of writing that I can’t imagine for the time being.
  2. To be a traveler.
  3. To be a minimalist, living intentionally.
  4. To be consistent with my beliefs and principles.
  5. To be a master of yoga (having it as a part of my life)

Now this list feels right!

And not to forget:

In between all the rush…

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Just pause.

For maybe 10 seconds.

Or maybe 10 minutes.

Pause as much as you can.

And ponder.

How Small you are, in the Universe.

Just a grain in the powder.

And how Big you are.

So big that you carry all the Universes

just inside one cell of yours.

And that you can change everything,

Everything that you are.

If you have the energy to tilt your head,

You have the energy to change everything

That things are.

Tilt your head and look above,

Tilt your head and look inside.

via Daily Prompt: Pause

Style Matters (but not the size of your wardrobe)

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I really can’t say I’ve found my style yet, a style that I can keep for years. Or rather, I’m denying my jeans & basic t-shirt style and hoping that I’ll come up with something chic (or I’ll be a cool grandma who’s still wearing jeans and a star wars t-shirt). Meanwhile, I adore people with style, people who follow a timeless fashion.

In an earlier post, I talked about fashion designers like Micheal Kors and Vera Wang, who stick with black in their wardrobe. Today I’d like to turn to Royal Family and the “repeaters” that I like a lot!

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Princess Anne, the only daughter of the Queen is definitely my favourite, she likes wearing the same outfits with small changes again and again, and here is one outfit that I love. She first wore this marvelous lavender coat with a matching hat in 1979, and has worn it to several occasions since. Her outfits are probably made from the finest material and with great design and tailoring involved, why waste them, right? This coat is definitely timeless fashion. If you want to see her other outfits that she’s wearing again and again, you can check this newspaper article out.

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Princess Kate also follows Anne’s footsteps, and she’s getting lots of attention for it, like everything she does. I remember how the media blamed Kate  for wearing skinny jeans! (I thought she looks great in them too.) She is on the newspaper no matter what she does, so if she chooses to do nice things everyone knows about it. I’m not British, but maybe because I teach English for a living, I’ve always thought the Royal Family is a huge influence on today’s society. They are big role models, along with superstars and scientists and politicians. So I really appreciate these two princesses’ styles and hope we can learn from them. Being thrifty and frugal is not only for the commoners! 😀

Things I said Goodbye This Week

This week I said goodbye to my guitar, which has a sentimental value but has never been used for the last seven years. It’s been sitting at my parents’ house, sadly. I remember the first time I started to play when I was twelve; I had a very cheap guitar, but I was quite eager. I even filled my journal pages saying that it was my only friend. Ovsn853792er the years, however, after I saved some money and bought a Yamaha, I realized I wasn’t made for playing the guitar. I could write, or cook for hours for example, but I couldn’t stand guitar practice for more than an hour. So I slowly stopped playing it, and this photo is from 2009, when I almost never played the guitar.

I asked a friend of mine, who is a musician, what to do with it, and he said he can gladly buy it. As a matter of fact, he needed a classical guitar. I sold it for a symbolic price, after all, what matters is that he is going to use it far better than I did, and it will make the guitar happy.

 

The second thing I said goodbye to is eight books. Two of these, I realized I will never read them again. Two of them, I realized I had the original English copy of the book, and these img_0997are the translation. I never liked the other four anyway. So I put them on the Freecycle group of the university I’m working at,
and in a minute, I gave them all away.

We fill our homes with items saying “what if” to ourselves. What if I play the guitar again? What if I read this book again? What if my grandchildren want to read this book? We even imagine these items as our legacy, we see our grandchildren using them as a memory. In reality, no grandchildren will keep 500 books just because they inherited them. They will most likely keep the ones of utmost value. So I believe even if we keep some items as legacy, we must keep the best of them and in the best condition.

 

 

5 Reasons to Prefer Short Hair

Even a very simple choice such as a haircut can change one’s daily routine greatly. Here are my top reasons why I prefer short hair.

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1. It’s practical.

You need minimum time and effort when styling short hair. Even with very stubborn hair like mine, all I need is a straightener and it takes 5 minutes at most. But for most, it’s just wash and go.

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2. You don’t need that many hair products.

When my hair gets longer, it tends to tangle and shred, and makes me worry and run to the drugstore like most women. But with a bob-style haircut, all I need is a small amount of shampoo. And now that I’ve found the right shampoo after many tries, I’m in heaven.

hxctvxljrwi-aidan-meyer3. You need less accessories.

Of course I need pins and stuff, but when my hair is long I tend to tie it, which means my husband will find hair bands everywhere in the house, and it drives him crazy. So less hair, less mess.

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4. Less hair loss

Less hair, less mess again. When my husband or I skip going to the salon for a couple of months, our house is filled with hair! Gross, and I did a little bit googling about the fact. It turns out many people experience it, but there is little evidence to suggest that longer hair shreds more. Maybe it’s because they just break in the middle, or they stand out as they are longer. It may also because of tying the hair, which I do a lot. But when I have a bob haircut, I almost never shed any hair.

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5. It looks cool!

Some people worry that they won’t look beautiful without long hair. You never know, most people who have the guts to have their hair cut look much younger and cooler in my opinion.

As my teenage role model was Dolores O’riordan, I always thought short hair was much beautiful and interesting than long, except for Alanis Morissette of course. She should never cut her hair! 😀

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I hope this inspired you to try out a new hairstyle next time you go to the salon!

all images except Dolores and Alanis are taken from unsplash.com, a place for free photos.

17 Before 2017- and thoughts on 2016

Earlier in September, I set seventeen goals for myself to accomplish before 2017 starts. Here is what it looked like:

 

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November and December was crazy at work, so I can’t say I was great at making all of these goals come true. Let’s see how it went:

Goals 1 to 4: Minimalism

These were the goals related to my minimalism journey. Although my kitchen and vanity are quite compact as they are, I wanted to declutter them once again. However, apart from giving away empty jars and throwing away unused make-up, I haven’t been quite successful in these.

And again, although I know what to wear pretty much every day, I couldn’t set a time to organize my wardrobe just for work. I do love my winter sweaters, though!

My fourth goal was to finish 7 skincare and make-up products before 2017. I finished 2 of them, threw away 2, and working on the other 3.

 

Goals 5-9: Mind Goals

These are goals related mostly with mind. I started a novel about 4 years ago but never touched it for 3 years until I went back this year. But I am not sure if I like it anymore. I am like 5000 words in, and I’ll maybe go on, maybe not. Anyway, I would like to write an independent short story no matter what happens in my novel journey.

This is what I set out on. I’m proud to say that I wrote more than one story, in fact, I wrote 3 stories and I’m working on the 4th one. Plus, I registered for a creative writing course, which has been my highlight of the year.

FutureLearn: I managed to finish three courses at FutureLearn, which has been so great and informative. The courses are: Nutrition and Well-being, Start Writing Fiction and Mindfulness for Well-being and Peak Performance. These courses are given every two or three months, they are entirely free and given by professors all around the world, and are interactive so you get to participate in a lot of discussions. I strongly recommend the platform and these courses in particular.

In addition to writing, I wanted to read 50 books, but I could only finish 29. This is pretty big for me, I had set a rather impossible goal anyways.

And for my blog:

My blog of course is among my goals. Keeping a record here really helps me put things in perspective. Right now I have 100 followers, I want to double it by the end of the year.

I couldn’t spare much time on blogging since October, so I am a bit disappointed with myself. I have only 53 posts and 134 followers at the moment, which isn’t much progress since September. I hope I can work more on it in 2017.

Goal 10: Job

I started my new job on January 6th, and towards the New Year the committee will decide whether I will be permanent or not. Fingers crossed!

I have my final examination on Wednesday, so still fingers crossed!

Goals 11-14: Health

 

Oh I feel so guilty about this! I haven’t had my check-up, nor did I practice much yoga.

Goal 15: Crafts

I did finish the table cloth I started! Here is a close-up:

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Goals 16-17: Spirit

I’m still working on making meditation a daily habit. I think my main problem is that my days can be unpredictable, so it can be difficult to set a routine. But I am hopeful 2017 will be a better year for me to practice more mindfulness.

And last but not least, finishing the year in gratitude is so important to me. This year has been both challenging and rewarding for me. I got into a new job, and I went through a very interesting training process. Some parts of it I loved (like getting to know yourself first and being more mindful), while some parts I couldn’t really make sense. Serenity was my key word last year, yet I was more stressed than ever. Still, it is very interesting for me to see that every passing year I am growing as a teacher and a person, and it feels like I am getting more self-confident. I make more conscious choices, and behave more responsibly. I guess I have become an adult without even realizing!

As I am writing these, I am worried as well as excited for 2017. It hasn’t been a good beginning in Turkey (mass shooting at a night club in İstanbul) and it seems we can’t escape terrorism: it’s in our daily lives now. It is very distressing to live with it and go to public places, as there has been 3 massive suicide bombings in Ankara, where I live. There has been students in my school who lost their lives at the age of 18. It is just hope sometimes that keeps you alive, so my wish for the new year is to never stop hoping.