Oh how I have missed the mountains. After spending two and a half years studying in Washington, DC, I have gotten used to the city life, the hustle and bustle, and the never-ending buzz. Now as I ride in the car down familiar roads to the Great Smoky Mountains, I am reminded of all the fond memories from my childhood - hiking, camping, swimming, and biking. The peaceful lands are in sight now, and I can already feel an inner calm emerge. As my family talks around me, I look toward the barren trees standing tall in the crisp winter air. The mountains guard a mindset of peace and an incomparable view of the stars that I have not found in any city. 

On that note, I am reminded of how we as humans often get caught up in the stress and worries of the day and forget to appreciate all of the natural beauty around us. Whether it be found in nature or in the people we interact with, beauty is all around us. 

My friend Nicole once told me that if you think about it, the world is truly amazing and beautiful. Just think about all the wonder and awe, the intricacies that merge into a globe of harmonious chaos. Yet, humans are always unsatisfied and want something more - it's quite the paradox. 

I do not believe that discouraging aspiration and desire is the answer, for innovation and adaptation is part of our DNA. I do, however, think that a greater mindfulness and sense of appreciation is needed. 

Being back in the mountains was a spiritual experience for me. Hiking though the worn trails, looking up to take in the distant mountains, and finding the rushing waterfalls all connected me with something bigger than myself. Refreshed and renewed my family drove back home before going our separate ways and starting 2015. Happy New Year! Much love.