Monday, November 21, 2016

Turning 30...plus 30 Days of Gratitude!

Thirty. 30. THIRTY YEARS OLD. Today, I officially begin a new chapter.

 It's not so much that I'm upset or bitter about leaving my 20's...it's more so that I just can't believe I've been on this earth this long already. When I really think about it and everything I've done/experienced, it seems fitting...but on the other hand, it feels like yesterday that I was eating Spaghettios for lunch, giving my Paul Revere speech in 6th grade, and playing a forward on my high school basketball team. While it is a little sad to leave the end of an era, I also consider it a huge privilege to grow another year older and look forward to all of the memories I have yet to make in my 30's. It's true what they say...as you get older, you become much more confident in yourself and less concerned about what others think. Not in a negative way, but more like, you just give yourself more freedom to be who you really are...



Due the timing of things, I think it's fitting that my girlfriend asked if I wanted to participate in a "30 days of Gratitude" challenge this November. There are 5 of us great friends in a running group text who talk on a regular basis so we figured this was not only a great way to hear from one another every day but to also remind each other of all there is to be thankful for. 

I am grateful for...

1. Smell: Fresh Pine...it doesn't get better than that.

2. Technology: Apps like Google Maps & Waze...I never have a fear of being lost (which would probably happen quite often, otherwise!)

3. Color: Royal blue is my favorite color but this time of year, I really indulge in all the different shades of red and orange on the trees. 


4. Food: Sandwiches. I'm 100% serious when I say this is my favorite food. It may sound simple on the surface but when you think about it, there are ENDLESS combinations so it never gets boring and always seems like the perfect comfort meal...pair it with salad in the summer and a hearty soup in the winter, but always make sure it includes avocado. 

5. Sound: The floor fan in my room - Seriously. I grew up sleeping with a fan which now means I don't know how to sleep without one. I spent multiple nights in hotel rooms on work trips, staring at the clock or tossing and turning because it was dead silence and it absolutely kills me. To eliminate this issue, I purchased a travel fan (which takes up half the room in my suitcase) but it is so comforting to have with me. Anyone else like sleeping with noise? 

6. Nature: Being by the water, whether it's a lake or the ocean, it completely relaxes and humbles me

7: Memory: Preparing for Thanksgiving every year with my Mom - We have always (and still do) watched the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade together with a cup of chocolate in our favorite mugs. When I was little, she used to wake me up so we could watch together and the house always smelled amazing because all the while, she would be whipping up our marvelous dinner. We would wait for the end for Santa to arrive because for us, that was the official signal that the holiday season could begin.


8: Book: One of my all-time favorites is The Lovely Bones. I read it a long time ago yet it still comes to mind when I think about all the ones that had the most impact. I remember reading it multiple times and being so enthralled with the idea of someone watching and waiting for justice from Heaven. 

9: Place: Our lake house - I feel a different kind of happiness when I'm there, especially when the time is shared with my Family and friends. We are lucky to experience all 4 seasons there, as each one brings special traditions we look forward to.

10: Taste: Peanut butter! I didn't have to think too long about this one and I think I get it from my Dad who has eaten half a PB sandwich before bed for as long as I can remember. It makes my belly happy, especially in desserts, ice cream, smoothies...okay, pretty much anything!

11. Holiday: Christmas. Very original, I know. Yes, I love Thanksgiving (especially since we host it) and I look very forward to 4th of July each year but for me, there's just no comparison to the feelings I experience each December. I feel lucky enough to still have some of the "magic" I did when I was little. I think it's because my parents always made it such a memorable and joyful experience for my brother and I, so the happiness of the season is permanently instilled in me. Just ask my husband who knew what he was getting into when he married me, starting with listening to Christmas music right after Halloween ;)

12. Texture: This UGG blanket. This was a gift from my Family when I was in a very bad state of mind after my dog bite experience and it provided exactly what I needed...a lot of warmth and comfort. I had spotted it in a store in Lake Geneva while shopping with my Mom and was overcome with excitement. It was the biggest, best looking blanket I had ever seen, a fantastic gift for somebody like me who is constantly cold. Guys, it's expensive but one of the best winter purchases you can probably ever make.


13. Ability: To love deeply and show it without any guards up. I don't ever worry that my friends/Family question my feelings for them...it is is more important than anything to make sure they are reminded every single day.

14. Sight: My dog's uncontrollable wagging tail when I walk through the door. Every day when I get home, he is waiting and overjoyed with excitement to see me. No matter what kind of day I had, he makes me happy.

15. Season: Summer. Fall is a close second but for me, nothing beats being barefoot in the grass, days by the water and dining al fresco under white night lights. 


16. Body part: My legs. Most of the time, I enjoy being tall so I'm pleased with how long they are and how strong they have gotten over the years thanks to many years of basketball, strength training, running and most recently, yoga. 

17. Knowledge: My recent refresher on American history, starting with our visit to Washington D.C. I realize now, how I took my history classes for granted in high school and didn't appreciate my teachers who were trying to instill very important values in us. But better late than never, I have found a new interest in the details of our country's history.

18. Piece of art: Right after my wedding, my Mom had a local artist paint a portrait of my bouquet. My flowers meant so much to me that day and I was sad when that moment arrived that they were no longer fresh but before they wilted, the painting was made so I was able to preserve that memory forever. One of the most thoughtful things I've been given. 

19. Touch: Hugs. I don't care if I just met you or have known you since diapers, I grew up being a hugger and feel that it's one of the most feel-good ways to show affection. 

20. Who in my life am I grateful for: This is a long list...but while it might be generic to say, my close friends and Family are at the very top. I feel blessed every day with the lottery I won when it comes to these people which also makes the thought of losing any one of them very frightening...a fear I am always trying to work through.


21. Song: I Still Remember by Bloc Party. Years ago, this song was one of the reasons my husband and I find the courage to turn our friendship into something more. During this period of time, he had intentionally used some of the lyrics as an AIM "away message" (remember those, you guys?!), knowing I would see it and he was right...it made a huge impact. Since that day, it has been "our song."  

22. Story: I am grateful to know (all) the stories of how hard my Dad worked to provide a comfortable, happy life for our Family. He took an entry-level job at Allied Van Lines when he and my Mom got married, thinking he would be there a few years. When he retired more than 10 years ago, he was the well-respected President and CEO. In the midst of his career, he was traveling excessively, sometimes for weeks on end in some very dicey situations. I was too little to understand how waring it was but I know now and I appreciate every minute of it. He is the smartest man I know and exemplifies everything about the "American Dream."

23. Tradition: Christmas Eve at my Grandpa's house. For 30 years now, I have celebrated my favorite day of the year on his couch, surrounded by extended Family (cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.), patiently awaiting for "Santa" to arrive. When all the cousins were younger, it really felt like the real deal..Santa handed out gifts to each one of us and we would sing Christmas Carols before he left to continue his "voyage." Now that we're all older, I'm happy to report that I enjoy the tradition just as much. Us adults have been demoted to the floor to make room for the new, baby cousins and rightly so...it is a joy to watch their faces light up when Santa comes...especially after a few shots of Crown Royal at Grandpa's bar :) 

24. Challenge: I am SO grateful for accepting the challenge of running the half marathon. I never in my life imagined I would be able to list that accomplishment. Not because I couldn't, but because it just seemed too overwhelming to put in the time and make it happen. Turns out, it was one of the most satisfying experiences.

25. Moment this week: Sitting around the table by the fireplace with my Family at brunch. Everyone got together to celebrate my birthday and we ended up telling some of the same old stories that always seem to have me doubled over from laughing so hard. I opened some really thoughtful gifts that day but the best one, is just all of us being together.


26. Form of expression: Yoga -  I started at Yoga By Degrees almost exactly one year ago and it definitely changed me in a positive way. I have one of my girlfriends, Amy, to thank for that...I  shared before how she started teaching our group of friends at home on a regular basis and that's what motivated me to incorporate it into my daily life. It's one of the only no-judgement practices in this world where you can truly let go and just be yourself. I am so thankful for that.

27. Small thing you use daily: The candles in my home which I switch out regularly depending on the season. I am obsessed and look forward to lighting them nightly after work or on weekend mornings.

28. Small thing that happened today: While we were out and about, I assisted my Goddaughter to the restroom...we walked there hand in hand and while I was waiting for her and we chatted about silly things. I was just imagining myself in that same situation as a Mother, some time from now...I hope I'm lucky enough.

29. Friend/family member: My Mom because she represents both categories - Growing up, she has been everything you could hope for in someone taking care of you. Supportive, loving, selfless, nurturing, smart, and most of all, loyal. As I transitioned into adulthood though, it became very clear that she was also a true friend, one I could go to with anything and come out feeling more positive about the situation. She makes this world a wonderful place.

30. Talent or skill: I have a pretty decent eye for photography. I've spent most of my life documenting moments through pictures but so do a lot of people. It's just one of those parts of my life where I feel most comfortable and at home -- No matter where we are, I find myself noticing the smallest things and pausing for a moment to capture it...the way the light is hitting the trees, a narrow alleyway with a beautiful object at the end or a moment between Family members you would miss if you blinked.



Cheers to a new year and much more to be grateful for!

Wearing:

Hooded Cami: c/o J. Jill
Top: Old Navy (similar)
Jeans: Old Navy
Boots: Choies (similar)
Bag: Old Navy (similar)
Necklace: Accessory Concierge
Sunnies: LOFT