A Year of Soulshining

A goodbye gift from dear friends in Lima

It’s been one year to the day since I arrived in Lima, Peru and began the most amazing year of my life.  I’ve said many times that I feel like I’ve lived out several lifetimes in this past year.  I’ve passed through my share of seasons, emotional states, and border crossings.  I’ve felt alternately like an old lady and a ten year-old girl.

I am now more aware of who I am and what I want to accomplish in my life.  The details are still a work in progress, but I know that my primary goal is kindness.  Without that ingredient, none of my other accomplishments will matter.  It’s like trying to bake a cake without flour.  Just doesn’t turn out very well.

But I’ve also realized over the course of this year that I need to learn to balance kindness with strength.  I want to get better at acknowledging when enough is enough, speaking my mind, standing up for myself and the things I believe in, and muddling through hard times.  I don’t think any of these qualities are at odds with being kind; in fact, I think they are vital elements of self-kindness.

Enough with the life lessons.  Today I want to reflect on all of the fun times I had this past year with friends, new and old.  Here are some great photos that celebrate those moments.

And of course, thank you to all the wonderful people who made this year so memorable!

Going dancing with fellow volunteers in Lima

Romana, Almudena, and me in Punta Sal, Peru

An alternative birthday card for Mark

The beautiful Almu’s birthday party in Lima

Manuel holding me and Sarah. Fairly close to our actual size.

Joseph, Andrea, Juan and me

Playa Blanca, Colombia with Steve, Monika, and Liz (and a cart of piña coladas)

Exploring Jerusalem with my best friend and college roommate, Roxanne

Hookah bar in Yaroslavl, Russia with Anya and Tallas

Can you spot me in this picture?

My year of international volunteer service may have passed, but there is plenty of travel in store for me in the future.  I hope to keep sharing it with you all as I go.  Stay tuned!


  1. Congrats! What a wonderful adventure and one that will provide memories for a lifetime. I think this is a wonderful way to experience the world and an excellent way to gain life experience. The corporate world is what it is but traveling for a year is beyond words and is priceless. Good for you embarking on this journey and enjoying it along the way. May you have many many more happy years and memories to come! 🙂

  2. Su

    Congratulations Meghan, how inspiring. I hope that when you go home, you think about sharing your volunteering experience to young people from all walks of life. It is the kind of experience that ‘makes’ a person, and although I don’t know you personally, it sounds like it has made you! Good luck with your re-entry and look forward to reading any updates. Take care.

    • Thank you Su. You’re right, so many of the things that I experienced this year have changed me for the better. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit this at age 26, but I really feel like I transformed from a girl to an adult, in many ways. I’m still working on putting those pieces together and figuring out a way to align my professional work with my values and new mindset.

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