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2020 Reflections by the UrbanYEG Team Part 5

As 2020 comes to an end, members of the UrbanYEG team wanted to share their personal accounts of a high and a low from over the last year. This winter season may be filled with various and contradicting emotions, and we wanted to especially reflect on one of the most memorable years yet. This is a reminder that we are all in this together- in both the ups and the downs and into the new year. Here is a submission from UrbanYEG team member Karen Vuong (@karenvuong_).


High: My Solo Trip to Palm Springs


I was going through your typical quarter-life-crisis, and 2020 seemed to be a good year to make bold decisions.


So it seemed only fitting that I quit my job at the office and go on that solo trip.


For context, I am an only child, and up until this point have never travelled by myself beyond the city (I still don't have my drivers'). So it took a lot to convince my parents, but much more to convince was my own wildly imaginative, very anxious mind and its what-if's - a lone young woman, kidnapped in the remote desert night and never to be seen again!


Well, I guess that was the fun (and terrifying) part - not knowing.


In short, my solo trip marked the beginning of my "adulting" journey and was nothing short of incredible. Time seemed to unfold in a story-like way, and I constantly surprised myself at my own resilience and courage. Prior to this trip, I'd gotten into the habit of telling myself why the world was scary, why I was stuck, and why I couldn't do or handle certain things (or life in general), so I wanted to create experiences of myself doing things that I never thought I was capable of doing - to prove my anxious brain wrong.


This trip was a radical leap into a deep trust - in myself, in people, and in the universe. Taking risks became my daily life for a while, and I relied on my intuition and the kindness of strangers.. Catching rides from people I'd just met to remote places out in the desert - to be in a sound bath in a tiny house full of more strangers, attending a moon women's healing circle, or hiking a deserted trail. Heart-to-hearts were common with Uber drivers, contemplating the meaning of life together and our places within it.


(Note: I am very grateful to have had that experience pre-covid and to be in the financial position to afford it.. I really hope that this is still possible in the near-ish future to anyone wanting to do the same!)


Low: The Death of Miki


Just 5 days before I planned to move out of my parents', my family dog passed away. This was my first experience of grief.


My dog Miki was my dearest friend - as an only child, I had been asking for her since I was old enough to pick a favorite animal. I was ecstatic when my mom finally gave in to the decade of begging, and my dad, who had a mild fear of dogs after being bit by one in his home country, melted in her presence immediately.


Miki taught me how to enjoy life, love purely, forgive, and be present. She brought so much joy to my family and I, and she was always so full of life - anyone who'd met her knew that her energy and love for life was endless. I cherish those quiet moments laying with her in the sun, and the times we stared into each others' eyes, exchanging a love beyond language. She knew and loved me through a decade of growth, saw me through my roughest times, and still loved me. The greatest gift.


The day after she passed away, I woke up to the reality-shattering realization that she was truly gone. What a feeling. And I thought I knew sadness… You know when you visit the mountains (or really any natural environment), sometimes you're hit with great awe - to be in the presence of something so great, so magnificent, that it grips you for a long moment. I was in awe to be experiencing something as powerful as the grief I had for my dog. It was the scariest thing I've ever had to do - let myself feel it, and trust that it wasn't going to kill me.


A truly humbling and transformative experience.



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