The Holiday Edition | 2023 Wrap (Gratitude List)

Seasons Greetings 🎄

The holidays are such a wonderful time to reflect on the year that has been. Christmas eve finds me for the first time cozy in my New York studio apartment, feeling every inch of blessed to be in this season.

Looking back, 2023 has been a year of growth, for me: seeing the world in new light, recentering the self, and falling in multiple loves.

2023 Wrap – A Year of Love and Wonder

Taking it in frame by frame – the month of January found me out of a love, and almost immediately into a new love. I spent the months of October to about March navigating love in a new land, with loves that were in themselves wonderful, but also in many ways not for me. 2023 found me being even more intentional about choosing me – loving me.

I spent the entirety of winter in New York, with new and old friends. My second spring (or first – I arrived in New York in Spring of 2022, and did not appreciate spring then, coming from warm Malawi, as I do now – out of a New York winter) was absolutely beautiful. The earth getting warmer – the flowers blooming as beautifully as ever. As soon as the earth got warmer, my life got crazier.

First was a trip to Washington D.C. I remember leaving my apartment at 2am – travelling via train, so I could make it in time for my 8am conference. I specifically remember deeply enjoying that train ride, and wanting to take more of such long rides. I never did. Someone may have fallen in love with me in D.C.; maybe a few people… tales for a different day.

I left D.C. and went directly to Miami for Afronation. I enjoyed Miami – it’s beautiful city, if you spend it with the right people. I learnt (or affirmed) about myself how deeply I dislike concerts.

I spent some good times dancing with Botlhe and the girls in Miami, and I may have fallen in love again – someone I met in an elevator.

I realise I do have a few elevator pitch-style romance stories to tell – I’ll tell you in time. This was one of the most beautiful whirlwind romances, and though it did not last beyond our very beautiful and short trip together, I was reminded what it was like to fall head over heels for someone, and perhaps how important it is not to settle, as there is always always a more beautiful love.

I came back briefly to New York, and nearly a week later left for Malawi, to support my team as they launched the Music4Malawi second cohort. It was the most heartwarming experience, being around so much love and care in that way, having had missed it so.

I later travelled with Linda and Rhoda to Windhoek as they attended the Sound Connects Fund 2023 Conference. It was Rhoda’s first trip out of Malawi, and it felt right that I be there. Windhoek was a beautiful story – I remember it being quite cold, yet very sunny. It was grounding, and extremely reflective for me. I remember seeing the estates on our way from the airport, a setting for what was to come. I recall looking around Windhoek, and asking myself “where are the blame people?”

Still, we had a delightful time in Windhoek, and as they returned to Malawi, I made my way to Cape Town – retracing my mother’s footsteps; figuring out what she so deeply loved about this city.

My Miami love curated my Cape Town trip, recommending things I should do, and I quite enjoyed my time. I spent my days mostly walking around, beautifully alone. I enjoyed my evenings with Thoko and Mwaka, indulging in cuisine as we ate and laughed our lives away.

I returned to New York briefly before my birthday – and I had quite the mixed feelings about my birthday, now newly laced with my mother’s memorial. I wasn’t sure if this was a time for celebrating or grieving – and I did a bit of both, but mostly celebrating, my own life, and my mother’s too.

I found another love, who made certain every inch of my birthday was lovely, and ensured summer was as good as a New York summer can be. We lived a sweet love, and we saw New York. Oh we saw sweet sweet New York!

I remember wanting flowers, lots of flowers, for my birthday, and my friends made sure I got flowers.

Fall found me traveling a lot more than I had anticipated – doing a few University tours, as I consider further academia. It was a season of catching flights and exploring different parts of North America, some of which made me fall deeply in love (with both places and people), and others which made me question every inch of myself, seeing myself much differently than I have before, as a black woman.

This season found me in beautiful museums and delightful libraries, with equally wonderful souls, having the most intriguing conversations, falling in love with what it means to live alive.

Winter finds me resting, juggling a few things at work in my business, but mostly resting.

The holiday season finds me resting, too, as I plan my end-of-year trip to Malawi.

As I grow older, I find myself less interested to share updates of my life as it happens (and I will miss this deeply, as the digital memories and footprints have been a wonderful thing to have), but I imagine seasonal newsletters like these will become a thing of 2024 and the future – they are better, and more reflective, for me.

2023 with By Ntha

I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt thanks to each one of you for being an integral part of this incredible journey.

A Year of Travel: Exploring the Beauty of Our World

In 2023, By Ntha embarked on a journey of discovery, venturing into new landscapes, cultures, and experiences. I took many chances – one of which was pivoting this blog into a newsletter, a new way of sharing; which was positively welcomed by you. The thrill of exploring uncharted territories and connecting with diverse communities in new ways has been a source of inspiration for me.

With your support , I have been able to share business and professional growth tips, as well as travel tales, hopefully sparking a sense of wanderlust and cultural appreciation within the By Ntha community.

Building Bridges: Creating Connections That Last

This year has been about more than just physical travel; it’s been about building bridges and fostering connections. The By Ntha community has grown stronger, embracing a spirit of inclusivity and shared experiences. Together, we’ve built a network that transcends borders, bringing together individuals with a shared passion for exploration, learning, and cultural exchange.

Growth in Every Direction: Personal and Collective Development

The essence of growth has been woven into the fabric of 2023. By Ntha has grown not only in terms of reach but also in the depth of the experiences I share. Your engagement, feedback, and shared stories have contributed to the evolution of By Ntha into a community that celebrates diversity, embraces change, and encourages personal and collective growth.

Expressing Gratitude: Thank You for Being a Part of By Ntha

To each member of the By Ntha community, whether you’re a long-time supporter or a new addition, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your passion for exploration, your commitment to building connections, and your openness to growth have fueled the spirit of By Ntha. It is your collective energy that has made 2023 a year to remember.

23 Things to be Grateful for in 2023

As I stand on the brink of a new year, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey we’ve shared throughout 2023. This year has been a tapestry of exploration, connection, and personal growth, and it’s all thanks to each and every one of you. Join me in expressing gratitude for the memorable moments and experiences that have defined our collective adventure.

1. Adventures That Transcend Borders: The thrill of discovering new landscapes, meeting diverse communities, and experiencing the beauty of our world.

2. Cultural Connections: The joy of connecting with people from different walks of life, fostering understanding, and building bridges across cultures.

3. Community Growth: Witnessing the many communities I am a part of flourish, welcoming new members, and embracing a spirit of shared exploration.

4. Shared Stories: The power of storytelling, as we’ve shared travel tales, cultural anecdotes, and personal experiences that inspire and connect us.

5. Inclusive Spirit: Celebrating the diversity within our community and appreciating the richness that comes from our varied backgrounds and perspectives.

6. Collective Learning: The opportunity to learn and grow together, expanding our horizons and challenging our preconceptions.

7. Good Travel Practices: Embracing new travel habits and promoting best practices that contribute to the well-being of our community.

8. Transformative Experiences: Those moments of personal transformation that come from stepping out of our comfort zones and embracing the unknown.

9. Friendship Across Continents: Forging friendships that transcend geographical boundaries, creating a global network of like-minded explorers.

10. Cultural Appreciation: Developing a deeper appreciation for the customs, traditions, and art forms that make each corner of the world unique.

11. Personal Resilience: Navigating challenges and setbacks with resilience, turning them into opportunities for growth and learning.

12. The Joy of Giving Back: Contributing to communities we’ve visited, whether through volunteering, supporting local businesses, or participating in meaningful projects.

13. Digital Connectivity: The ability to stay connected virtually, allowing us to share our experiences and insights even when physically apart.

14. Flexibility and Adaptability: Embracing change and adapting to unforeseen circumstances, finding strength in flexibility.

15. Mindful Living: Cultivating mindfulness in our travels and daily lives, savoring each moment and being present in the experiences we encounter.

16. Creative Expression: The opportunity to express creativity through photography, writing, and other forms of artistic exploration.

17. Health and Well-being: Cherishing the gift of good health and well-being, enabling us to fully embrace the adventures that come our way.

18. Positive Impact: Recognizing the positive impact we can have on the places we visit and the people we meet, leaving a lasting legacy of positivity.

19. Culinary Discoveries: Exploring new flavors and culinary traditions, expanding our palates and enriching our gastronomic experiences.

20. Mindful Consumption: Becoming more conscious consumers, making choices that align with our values and contribute to a sustainable future.

21. Inspirational Travel Companions: The joy of sharing our adventures with like-minded individuals who inspire and uplift us on our journey.

22. Technological Innovation: Leveraging technology to enhance our travel experiences, from navigation tools to language translation apps.

23. The Promise of Tomorrow: Anticipating the new year with excitement and gratitude, ready to embrace the adventures and opportunities that lie ahead.

Looking Forward to 2024: New Adventures Await

As we step into the new year, I am filled with anticipation for the adventures and opportunities that lie ahead.

I deeply enjoyed my 2023, and I am looking forward to an even better, more intentional 2024.

By Ntha will continue to be a platform for exploration, connection, and growth.

I invite you to join me on this exciting journey as we navigate uncharted territories, build lasting connections, and embrace the transformative power of growth.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to each and every one of you. Thank you for being a part of my life, and a part of By Ntha, for sharing in the joy of travel, for building bridges that connect us all, and for contributing to the growth of this incredible community.

As we express gratitude for the year that was, let’s carry the spirit of exploration, connection, and growth into the coming year. Thank you for being an integral part of the By Ntha community.

For you, and being a part of my 2023, I am grateful. Stay light, stay loving, and stay wonderful.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with joy and love.

May the new year bring even more reasons to be grateful.

All my love,

Ntha

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