One Year Later

IMG_3523On this day last year, I said goodbye to my mother and sister through tear-filled eyes. I was a few sniffles away from abandoning normalcy. I don’t remember feeling many emotions in those final moments. Mainly just a calmness.

Perhaps it was more of a numbness. Excitement, sadness, anticipation and fright can’t coexist without causing spontaneous combustion. So my natural instinct was to silence them all. I regained my composure, donned a genuine smile and waved goodbye to my family. In that moment, I had no way of knowing I was about to embark on an epic adventure which I replay in my mind every day.

You’re crazy. I don’t know how you did it. I wish I had the balls to move abroad. Where the heck is Turkey, anyway?

Despite some of the mixed feedback I received when I announced that my new home would be in Istanbul, I never waivered on my decision. It would have been easy to succumb to the criticism, but in following my heart, I made one of the best decisions of my life. Now that I think about it, I’m noticing a recurring theme…

This heart of mine has been a proven navigation system over the past six years:

  • When I began my college career, it carried me to a small, private school. During those two years, I learned that being independent means turning mistakes into life lessons.
  • When my heart yearned for a larger school with more opportunities, it brought me to the University of Oregon. My experiences in Eugene laid the foundation for the type of person I desired to be…both personally and professionally.
  • When my time at UO ended, my heart said it was time to move to Portland. This move landed me at a marketing agency that gave me incredible real-world experience.

Despite my heart’s track record for leading me on amazing adventures, I never would have thought it would lead me halfway across the world. But thanks to its desire for adventure, I continually find myself on a trajectory lined with exceptional relationships, experiences and opportunities. Call it serendipity. Call it intuition. Call it certifiably crazy. Whatever it is, I’m humbled by the exposure I’ve had to the world and its people.


My heart is now throbbing with the excitement of being in Denver, Colorado. Much like when I moved to Istanbul, I moved to the Mile High City on a whim. I had never been to Colorado. I only knew one person living here. And I had no idea what the job market would be like. All uncertainty aside, my heart said it was where I needed to be.

LinkedIn’ing, shmoozing, mass emailing and caffeine drinking have been major parts of my daily routine since I landed in Denver. The last few weeks have also been laced with the reverse culture shock that comes from reintegrating oneself into society.

Some days I’m paralyzed by the thought that I may never get to travel at great lengths again. Lack of money, time and resources all dictate whether I’ll have the flexibility to jump on a plane bound for somewhere far, far away.

But then I remind myself of a few things:

  1. Nothing is permanent…or at least it doesn’t have to be.
  2. Life isn’t a straight line…it’s a curlicued, zig-zagged and tangled one.
  3. Travel will forever be a priority…no matter what.

So at this moment in time, my heart is telling me I’m right where I need to be. While the process of securing a career job is tedious, I’m laying the foundation for a great career in a field where I know I’ll thrive. On to the next adventure!


One response to “One Year Later

  1. I Ayni—surprise! It’s Mom…following your heart is the most important roadmap you will ever need to find the love, adventure, and fulfillment of your truly beautiful heart’s desire. I loved revisiting your site and so look forward to our visit soon and learning more about your future plans…my love to you both! P.S.>>>When you have a chance I’d love for you to “meet” my dear friend Anna’s daughter from Santa Barbara who is teaching English in Japan. I have a feeling after reading her blog you two are going to find an instant connection. Her mom and I spent the last few days together as she owns and is renovating the Pine Belt Bank building here in Butte Falls…Monique Couture(Mo) and
    her partner Jacob lived on a boat in Bellingham, WA while attending graduate school at Western Washington University. Mo studied Environmental Policy and spent two summers in Alaska as an intern for the National Park Service and BLM. The more Anna shared stories about her daughter’s and I told her about some of “Ayn’s” adventures we agreed it would be wonderful if you two could connect….I agree.
    Thought you might enjoy a connection in Japan. To learn more about Mo and her new adventure you can go to ——her following blog at>>>

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