Welcome to 2015.

“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”
– Tom Bodett

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope that the beginning of the new year is treating you well and that the end of your previous year was equally as pleasant.

I believe the first thing I want to mention in this blog post is with regards to my previous blog entry. I sincerely want to thank everyone that took the time to read about my “origin story.” (Lenny Benologa vs The World, “Just Another Story About Some Brown Kid.”) Whether-or-not you left a comment and/or publicly or privately messaged me after you read about it, I am truly grateful that you took some time out of your busy day to read it. I have some of the best, supportive, and most encouraging people in my life, and for that reason – I am forever grateful. I believe that it’s partly due to the fact that I wrote that entry that I feel so much more invigorated today than I have in a while.

I’ve never really been the type of person that experienced a change between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but somehow, this time – I definitely felt different. There were a few unfortunate events that transpired near the end of 2014 that seemed to leave me feeling a bit despondent, but fortunately, things have turned around quite a bit, and I’m optimistic about this upcoming year. Granted, I got some great and helpful advice from a friend as well, and I’m now on cloud 9.

Looking back, here are just a few of the milestones I managed to achieve in 2014:

  • Successfully applied and was accepted into my dream job (JET Program)
  • Paid off my first car loan
  • Gifted my car to my little brother
  • Obtained my Bachelor’s degree
  • Moved to Japan
  • Dropped 10kg in 4 months
  • Managed to get back up to running 5 miles
  • Attended my first Pride parade, ever
  • Went fishing
  • Learned how to drive on the left-side of the road
  • Visited a galley of new places
  • Travelled to S. Korea
  • Met and befriended some upstanding people
  • Successfully living life in rural Japan.

I can spend more time writing them all out, but these are just a few that I wanted to mention for the time being. Seeing these accomplishments written down puts a smirk on my face and only causes me to wonder what this year could bring.

In other news, I’ve only talked about this with a few people back home, but there’s a high chance and probability that I won’t be coming home anytime this summer/this year. If I can manage it, I’d much-rather do as much traveling as I can before I purchase that expensive plane ticket back. I’m already in planning mode of the various places I want to visit, and interestingly – my plane ticket home could buy me a multitude of plane tickets in-and-around Asia/SE Asia.


Here’s just a small list of places I’ve already discussed visiting with friends, this year (if time and money allow):

  • Tokyo (April 2015)
  • Fukuoka (Spring 2015)
  • Thailand (Spring 2015)
  • Hiroshima (Spring 2015)
  • Okinawa (Summer 2015) *Ikei Island, Kerama Islands, Ishigaki
  • Mt. Fuji (Summer 2015)
  • Sapporo (Summer 2015)
  • Europe (Fall/Winter 2015) *London, Berlin, Italy, France
  • Taiwan (Winter 2015)
  • China
  • Guam
  • Philippines
  • Australia
  • Fiji
  • New Zealand
  • Hawaii

I’ve already re-contracted with the JET program so, technically, the soonest I’ll be back home will be August 2016. With that said, I figure that I should take advantage of where I’ve been situated and how cheap travel can be within my area. Shockingly, I also found out that plane tickets to Europe from Japan are cheaper than tickets to Fiji, Australia, or the United States, so I might as well travel as much as I can, right?

At any rate, aside from the traveling, I figure that I’ll do my best to focus on myself this year. I have a tendency to put others’ wants and needs ahead of my own, and I think that’s a part of what made the end of last year a bit miserable for me. Regardless, I’ve learned the lesson I needed to learn and will focus on my health and wellness over the course of the next year. This doesn’t mean I won’t occasionally put someone else’s needs ahead of my own, but I’ll be sure to do it sparingly and in scenarios with evident reciprocity.

Cheers to 2015. May it be an exceptional year for us all.