Our New Years holiday weekend felt similar to most of 2020. We went from having a solid plan to seeing it slowly unravel. So many of us went into 2020 with plans, goals, and dreams, and slowly the plans dissolved, and the goals changed.
Back to our New Years weekend…3 of my friends and I had loosely planned what would be about a 50 mile, 2-day walk from the middle-part of the island, where we live, to Cape Hedo, the northern tip of the island. We mapped it out. One friend even ran parts of it, and I felt confident that we could do this. My husband and I rented an AirBnB about halfway, so my friends and I could shower, get quality sleep, and go into the 2nd day of the walk feeling strong.
As it got closer and closer to December 30th, which would be day 1 of our trek, we could see the weather getting worse and worse on our weather apps. I am the oldest of the four ladies, but I am not claiming to be the wisest. However, this time, I think my age, wisdom, and life experience kicked in, and I finally spoke up. I knew that this would be a miserable walk, and it was NOT what I had envisioned. I called it off. I left it open so that they could fight the elements on their own, but this was not something I was interested in doing. I had nothing to prove to myself or anyone else. No one complained. They all just kind of agreed to call off the walk.
Plan 1 was down the drain.
Plan 2. Even though we were no longer willing to walk 50 miles in 2 days in rain, cold, and wind, we felt optimistic that we could still meet at Cape Hedo, spend New Year’s Eve there camping, and then watch the sunrise, which is a Japanese tradition that we all wanted to experience. Everyone agreed that this would be a good plan. We rented our camping gear, and we would meet there mid-day on the 31st.
Since my husband and I had already paid for the AirBnB, we stayed there on the 30th as planned. One of my girlfriends, her husband, 2 kids, and 2 dogs joined us. It was a small cabin up in the woods and a cozy place that was warm and inviting. We pulled out our sleeping bags, some of our camping food, and did some glamping. It was lovely.
We woke up on the 31st, and we headed to Cape Hedo. As soon as we got out of the car, we felt the biting wind hit our faces. We looked for a comfortable place to set up our tents, and realized quickly that there would not be a comfortable place out there. The 40mph cold winds would be right in our faces all day, and when the sun set, it would get even colder. All I could picture was me sitting in my tent, all alone, miserable, with my snacks and my wine. Once again, this is NOT how I wanted to ring in the New Year, and once again, I called it off. When I was in my 20s, I would have definitely pushed through and roughed the elements. In my 30s, I would have begrudgingly done it. In my 40s, there is no way I am putting myself through misery for no reason. There are times and places when you should make yourself uncomfortable, and there are times and places when there is no need. This was one of those times.
I told the other 2 friends who were not with us that I was once again calling it off, and I let them know that I would be working on Plan 3. They could still do Plan 2, but I would not be forcing myself into this kind of misery. They agreed that it did not sound fun, so they were out of it too.
Plan 2 was down the drain.
As we began driving back south, my husband and I hopped on the AirBnB app and frantically looked for a place that would accept 4 adults, 2 kids, and 3 dogs with a same-day-check-in. This was no easy feat, but we were determined. We were not going to let our New Years Eve go down the drain completely. We had already experienced so many let-downs this year, and we would not end the year on another let down. Determined, we found a place, and it was lovely.
One of our favorite places on the island of Okinawa is Kouri Island, and it is on this sweet, little island, we found an owner who would so kindly let us bring into his quaint home – 4 adults, 2 kids, and 3 dogs. We invited our other friends to join us, but they were content staying home and creating their own New Years celebrations.
Our New Years Eve ended up being quite enjoyable. We watched a Japanese performance show with a Red Team and a White Team of singers, dancers, and acrobats. After 4 hours of various performances, the Red Team won a few minutes before midnight. This performance show has been aired for decades. We also ate soba, which is another Japanese New Years Eve tradition. We drank champagne. We played cards with the kids. We watched the dogs chase each other around the small house. We chatted and laughed, and we actually made it to midnight. We also woke up in time to see the sunrise, and we got beautiful, memorable views. It was not what we planned, but it was delightful.
Plan 3 was a hit. Finally!
Then we picked up where we left off with the original plans. We loaded up our stuff, met friend 3 of 4, her husband, and 2 dogs at the ferry, and the 3 couples, 2 kids, and 5 dogs got on the ferry for our New Years adventure to the neighboring Okinawan island of Izena. The weather was chilly, but with enough layers on, it was comfortable. For the next 3 days, we would hike, play with the kids, cook and eat, sit and visit, walk around the village, and admire the beauty of the island. We sat in gratitude that we could experience something so remarkable.
There are times where we force happiness and there are times when it just happens. For most of 2020, I really WORKED REALLY HARD to create happiness and to find gratitude. I kept saying, “there are times when I have to work for it, and there are times when it just happens.” Over this past holiday weekend, happiness wasn’t work. Finding gratitude wasn’t work. It just happened, and it felt so good.
As I go into 2021, I can recognize now that 1) I have nothing to prove to anyone. 2) I have found friends who are easy to be around with great attitudes. Being around people who are positive and happy are the type of people who I like to be around. 3) I have a husband and puppy-dog who just want me to be happy. 4) Happiness, Joy, and Gratitude are worth working for, and are even better when they just happen.