Saddle Up: My Revelations for the Year of the Horse

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2014 is the Year of the Horse, under the twelve animal signs of the Chinese zodiac. Were I still in Shanghai, I would see red lanterns and giant horses strung up all over the city in celebration of the auspicious occasion. Last year was the Year of the Snake, supposedly a period of great change and the shedding of old skin. As someone born in a Snake year, I thought I would feel this growth and rebirth most acutely. I was hoping for a great epiphany in which the purpose of my life would finally be revealed and I would set off on my clear new course.

Needless to say, this didn’t happen.

While 2013 had some incredible moments, it wasn’t profound on that level. I’m still struggling to figure out what I want to be when I grow up and define my goals as an expat/blogger/writer. But during my two weeks home with family, I had plenty of time to ponder these issues and am now chomping at the bit to sort them out.


I recently read a postΒ that resonated with me, about embracing our own quirks and owning who we are. Anyone who knows me personally will tell you that I can be something of a goofball. I like to have FUN! The whole point of this blog has been to show my friends and family all the fun things I was doing across the world while based in strange and wonderful Shanghai. But I’ve come to realize that my blog has lacked a key element – photos of myself in action. That changes right now. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to, well, ME!


Striking a pose in Shangri-la.

Skydiving in upstate New York.

Skydiving in upstate New York.

Becoming a millionaire in Vietnam.

Becoming a millionaire in Vietnam.

Kayaking in Halong Bay.

Kayaking in Halong Bay.

Making new friends in Yunnan.

Making new friends in Yunnan.

Striking a pose in Bangkok - I can't resist a good costume!

Striking a pose in Bangkok – I can’t resist a good costume!

Trying to cool off in Singapore.

Trying to cool off in Singapore.

From now on, I plan to incorporate more photos of me being my silly, authentic self. I will try also to share more personal insights into the places I visit rather than just the facts, ma’am. Maybe I’ll go back and tell you why I wasn’t crazy about Beijing, or how I felt taking my first solo international trip to Hong Kong. Or maybe I’ll just move forward and share new experiences as they happen. If there are specific things you want to hear about, please let me know.

I’m hoping that by opening myself up a bit more, I will make more heart-felt connections with like-minded travelers. I met some fabulous ladies in Shanghai who enriched my time there and continue to inspire me from afar. As I prepare for my next expat adventure, I am also setting the stage for new friendships with people who will introduce me to new foods and experiences, motivate and challenge me in equal measure and, most importantly, make me laugh.

I’m getting ready to move overseas again in a few months. (Stay tuned this spring for more!) I can tell you it’s a place I’ve never visited before and one I’m extremely excited to explore. I hope to become an expert on my new home, establishing favorite spots around town and sharing recommendations and cultural tidbits about this up-and-coming destination.

In the meantime, I plan to enjoy my time in the States, reconnecting with friends and family and playing tourist in my backyard. I’d like to visit a few new-to-me states while here and take my first trip to Canada, our great neighbor to the north.


I also want to reestablish my yoga practice, something I enjoyed while living in NYC but haven’t done for years. I took a sunrise class on the beach in Thailand, and while I felt great afterwards, I ultimately never sought out a Shanghai studio. Here, there’s one just up the street so I have no excuse aside from laziness. I don’t intend to curtail my food adventures, so more exercise is in order to make sure I’m in prime condition for future fun-doing!

Yoga on the beach

What dreams do you want to gallop towards in the Year of the Horse?


37 thoughts on “Saddle Up: My Revelations for the Year of the Horse

  1. Love it!! Bring on the photos! I’ll be at yoga in Dallas too. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Shannon, for the kind words and inspiration! Sky diving was incredible – the scariest part was the ride up in the little plane. Once we jumped it was simply amazing! I’ve re-watched the video of my jump several times πŸ™‚

  2. Aw, I loved this! It was so nice to see pictures of you goofing around having a good time. Sometimes I think that travel blogs have a tendency to veer towards being overly serious (perhaps so that outsiders think of us as being more legitimate?); I know this is something I myself have been guilty of lately, and it’s something I want to change as well this year. I’m not talking going full-on zany and wacky (nor are you, I suspect), but this is all supposed to be fun (and it is!) so I’m going to try to make more of my posts reflect that! Hi ho silver, away!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…A Room of One’s Own, A Place to Call HomeMy Profile

    • Thanks, Steph! I think I was so focused on sharing the practical information for the places I visit that I lost sight of my original intentions. The responses I’ve received have been very encouraging so I know it was the right step to take. You guys already look like you’re having the time of your lives so anything else you share will just be icing on the cake πŸ˜€

  3. While I thought your old style was great (informative, behind-the-scenes), I think this new direction will resonate more with general readers who may never actually go to the places you’ve been to, but are drawn towards you and your writing! Can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!
    James recently posted…Photography For Dumb BloggersMy Profile

    • Thanks, James! I love researching the places I visit and learning more about the history, so that part isn’t going away. I just hope to incorporate more of my own personal narrative, to humanize it a bit. We’ll see how it goes!

  4. I’m glad to see you emerge from the shadows ~ I think it will personalize your experiences even more. And happy to see some of my favorite photos here today!

    • Thanks, Jan! It was fun to cull through the photos and remember the joy I felt during these moments. Travel is joyful and I want to share that with the world!

  5. Love seeing photos of you! That’s one of my biggest pet peeves on blogs — not enough photos of the blogger. It especially drives me nuts on the About page. I’m nosy and I want to know what people look like!
    And good luck with 2014! Sounds like you have some fun plans underway!
    Sally recently posted…Happy 2014! Let’s talk about pants! Or lack thereof!My Profile

    • Thanks, Sally! You aren’t the only one who can rock a metallic headdress πŸ™‚ And thanks for the reminder that I need to update my about page … πŸ˜€

  6. Well hey there my dear – given that I missed meeting you personally last year in Laos, truly great to see all these pics of you! Indeed, I think personalizing your blog so we can see the zany lass behind your fine writing will be a plus for all your readers.

    And about finding your “purpose in life”? Heck girl, stop looking. Just keep on being YOU, and celebrate the adventures – both small and large – that each new day brings.

    Can’t wait to learn where you’ll land next. I don’t suppose… it’s anywhere near Ecuador (where I’m headed soon), is it? Hopefully one day our paths will cross again.
    Dyanne@TravelnLass recently posted…Kathmandu: Sardine-fest with 20,000 Nepal Soccer Fans!My Profile

    • Dyanne! It’s great to hear from you! I’ve just realized that your posts have been sadly lacking from my Bloglovin feed. Will have to remedy that! South America is sadly not in the cards for me right now, but am sure our paths will cross again eventually!

      • Yes, Heather, I’m afraid that when I moved my TravelnLass site from Blogger to WordPress, I lost a boatload of subscribers including James and apparently you. ;( I’ve been recently trying to sort it out – what email did you use to sign up? I may have to delete you from my feedburner list and manually subscribe you myself. Do send me a private note.
        Dyanne@TravelnLass recently posted…Ringing In The New Year In Chiang MaiMy Profile

    • LOL I guess your town hasn’t started decorating yet. I’m sure the shops in Shanghai are overflowing with horses at this point. I wish I could be there to see it, but a new part of the world is beckoning! πŸ™‚

  7. Love this post! I like the informative ones too so it will be nice to see some of the fun ones of you incorporated. Can’t
    wait for my next trip!!

  8. What a great post!! and you know what?? LOVE a good costume as well!! I keep wanting to head towards Vietnam or Thailand … not sure how to go about it with dog … but who knows … I may figure it out!!

    • Thanks so much, Sonja! Vietnam and Thailand are amazing destinations in and of themselves, but I don’t know how pet-friendly they are. The Thais are very kind and accommodating so I’d probably start there. Good luck!!

  9. What fun times you’ve had in 2013. Hats off to you for opening up and personalising your blog. 2014 sounds as though it’s going to be a very exciting year for you. All the best for your big move!

    • That was longer ago than I care to admit! We went to a skydive ranch in Gardiner, NY. The jump was in conjunction with a local radio station, for a children’s charity. I’d definitely do it again! You?

  10. YAY! I love seeing photos of you, and I’m looking forward to more πŸ™‚ Wishing you a wonderful 2014! And good luck with the yoga practice- it is also one of my goals to start up a daily practice this year. Luckily I have a studio about half a block from our house in Mexico, so I’ll be able to start the year off well πŸ™‚
    Casey @ A Cruising Couple recently posted…A Preview of Life in San Pancho, MexicoMy Profile

  11. Well, it’s finally nice to meet you.. cough, cough.. I mean, MEET you here. πŸ™‚ I must admit I didn’t know who I’d meet on a rainy day outside an art gallery on Moganshan Lu, but happily you weren’t a ferret or insufferable, turning out to be a friend I can have adventures with. It’s about time the blog world knows you as I do.
    Jeannie Mark recently posted…Ripples of ChangeMy Profile

  12. Hooray! So good to finally meet the ferret behind the fun πŸ™‚ I was born in a snake year as well and last year was one of crazy change (as you know) – I’m hoping the horse sees me settling down again somewhere new with possibly less crazy. Look forward to hearing where you go next!
    Edna recently posted…UpheavalMy Profile

  13. Happy Chinese New Year, Heather. I really like this post and the photos of you, thanks for sharing. I wrote a post for chinese New Year last year already short before returning to China and had planned to do this again quite a while ago. Inspired through your post I decided to add photos of me instead of using the photos of a chinese New Year in Hongkong which I have used before. I hope you don’t mind that I posted a link to this post on my blog.

    I was in Hongkong for Chinese New Year in 2011 when the Year of the Rabbit was heralded. I witnessed a parade on New Year’s Eve and a huge firework the following night and really enjoyed it. But I could imagine that it was different than families from mainland China celebrate Lunar New Year.

    I am also born in a Snake year, so we might be the same age, unless you are not in your mid-twenties anymore. I am living in Europe, in Germany to be exact, so maybe we cross pathes when you move over to here.
    Vanessa recently posted…2014: Ringing in the year of the horseMy Profile

    • Thanks so much Vanessa, I’m so happy to have inspired you! Sadly, I’m not in my mid-20s anymore though most days I still feel like I am! I do hope our paths cross in Europe in the coming year!

  14. Hi Heather, after posting my comment I noticed my mistake; I intended to write “unless you are in your twenties”. I am not in my twenties anymore either. I am curious where you’ll be living next and I am looking forward to read more.

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