Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful.

I don't know if I have ever fully appreciated Thanksgiving. Since it just so happens to be wedged between midterms and finals to a college student, and is a place where my (slightly) dysfunctional family gathers and attempts to go around the table where 45 people say what they're thankful for before diving into the catered Thanksgiving dinner (since my aunt finally admitted she cannot cook) - it always was a bit chaotic and stress-inducing for me.

Last year brought on the stress of meeting J's extended family for the first time - including his tres conservative grandparents who only listen to hymns (no, seriously), don't watch TV (they put on American Idol and were horrified by how immoral it was - no, seriously), and don't believe girls should wear pants or skirts that fall above the sole of your shoe, I was hyperventilating like crazy (I changed my outfit THREE times over at my aunts house).

Maybe it's because this year I am super mature and grown up, now that I'm a post-grad (just kidding). Maybe it's because we've had a lot of things happen in our family this year and I'm just grateful to be around them. Maybe I'm finally realizing that I have a really good life and that I'm so blessed. Whatever it is, this year, I'm determined to reflect on the things I'm thankful for - the things in my life that I really take for granted, or that I just don't acknowledge enough.

Due to some things going on in my family, lately the fact that we really don't have that much time together, and so we should be focusing on the big things, and not the petty little things is making me want to shout from the rooftops how much I appreciate certain people or things, that just make my life better, or give me a breather, or are just so extraordinarily amazing, and yet - I overlook them, every single day.

1. Family.
I feel like this really should go without saying, but my family and I have a complicated relationship (i.e., only in the past few years have we actually begun to develop a relationship). Going away to college was the best possible thing that could have happened - I definitely appreciate them more, and I'm really enjoying spending time with them.
I'm thankful that we're headed towards positives in our relationships, that we're doing more together, laughing more than fighting, and trying to make ourselves involved in the interests of our other family members.

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2. Cooper.
I know it sounds trivial, and to anyone who doesn't have a dog, I don't think it would make sense. This dog though is there with me every night when I sleep (even though half the time I want to kill him because he is a major bed hog and a LOUD snorer, and looks at me like I'm the devil when I try to move him over), and when I'm sick, or hurting he will NOT leave my side.
I think everyone should get a dog so that everyone can know what unconditional love is.

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3. Friends
Being out of college now, I miss my friends more than ever. I told a friend tonight, that I feel like I really didn't appreciate her sound advice, or just the fact that I could literally roll over in bed to talk to her - there was none of this coordinating schedules to iChat with each other. I miss my friends from school every single day - I miss planning birthdays and holidays with each other, I miss lazy movie nights, I miss making my way through the entire series of The OC every single year with my roomie Rach (it was a tradition) and having Friends, Golden Girls and Law and Order: SVU marathons with my other roomie. I miss the laughs, the bonding, the road trips, shopping, nights out, and nights in.
Looking back, all the things that I was so worked up about seem so trivial, and all I can do is revel in the fact that I am blessed with so many amazing friends.

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4. J
Our relationship is tres complicated at the moment, and at the point where things could go one way or another, but regardless, I am thankful for him. Through the ups and downs, I've learned so much, and I've grown so much. I wouldn't take back anything, and I'm grateful for all the time and memories we have together. He's helped me grow more than anyone, and I love him very much. Regardless of the fights, and regardless of what happens with us down the road, I will always love him for the wonderful person that he is, and everything that we've shared together. I hope we can make it, I do - but regardless, I've learned so much and I'm so thankful for this wonderful person I've gotten to know better over the past two years.

I'm also thankful that he'll be joining my family for dessert this year on Thanksgiving (which is a VERY big deal, because his family is very into tradition, so his leaving them early is a huge victory for moi) - and I won't have to change my outfit, so it's a win-win!

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5. "Time Outs".
Okay, so a few weekends ago, my parents informed Pat and I that we were being evicted, because they had FOUR couples coming to stay at our house for the weekend. We were PISSED, thinking we were going to be banished to the cabana by the pool, until my parents announced they booked us rooms at a hotel.
This weekend away was EXACTLY what I needed - I was able to unwind, watch bad Lifetime movies (my weakness!) and Jersey Shore (my other weakness - why am I so trashy?!), drink wine, order room service, and read, read, read (though at this time, I was reading Night, which did not ensure a good night sleep, so I chased it with some People).
So, dear mom and dad, please invite company over again SOON - having time to just get away was so refreshing and rewarding - I really came back feeling like a new person!

Tons of room service (yes, that was all for moi), and wine/computer/books was all I needed to rest and recuperate from the day to day stresses!
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6. The Kids at Work
These kids at work make my day so much better. Every day, no matter what happened the day before, my third grade boys come running in, super excited to see me, and quickly filling me in on absolutely everything I missed from the previous day to the present.

Some of the stories they tell me break my heart, and are things I carry home with me (like the brothers who told me last week about the monster fight they had with their parents), some stories they tell me make me laugh (like the Indian and Chinese boy who are two of my favorites who told me that their dad's refer to them as "Harold and Kumar"), and other stories warm my heart (like when they tell me that they think I'm one of their best friends).

Lately I've been seeing these kids EVERYWHERE - at Whole Foods, at the library, at Starbucks, Market Basket - all over, and I'm always greeted with a big hug and smile.

7. Poppy.
Because he is adorable, and so old, and says things that he absolutely should not because he apparently lost his impulse control in his old age, and he makes me laugh.

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8. Blogging
I love having a place that's just about ME. I can write whatever I want, and it's mine - none of my real life friends know about this blog and I keep it private so that I can just be me. Beyond that, I've met so many people who I really do consider to be friends. I think that the blogging community is misunderstood by people who aren't directly in it - and before I got my blog, I never would have thought that you could consider people you've never met your friend - but I do. I really truly am thankful for each and every one of you - I've come to know and adore you through the mutual readings of our blogs, I Tweet with many of you, email - it's really so wonderful knowing/getting to know so many of you!

9. Traveling
It meant so much to me to be able to go to China this summer - to work in the university, to connect with students there - who I'm still keeping in touch with, to see a completely new culture (and learn how accommodating the people there are to non-language speakers! I can't tell you how well I was able to get by with gestures, pointing, and using my fingers as numbers). It was the experience of a lifetime, and I'm just hoping that I can head back next year to reconnect with all the amazing people I was able to meet there (including ELVIS, who if you don't know, is the guy I met over there who I had a big crush on, and who was crushing on moi as well).

I love traveling, and I'm grateful that I've had the chance to experience the cultures in China, in Europe, and in Africa - that my eyes have been opened to the lifestyle of others. These are all experiences I am beyond thankful for, and truly blessed to experience.

Are you even surprised I found a Starbucks in China?
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Great Wall (in the pouring rain!):
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My roomie (and fellow American) Courtney and I (believe me, I was so thankful to have PIZZA and beer over in China after 3 meals a day of Chinese food!), and moi and ELVIS <3
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10. Freedom
I know it sounds stupid, and maybe even a little cliche, but I am so thankful that everyday I can get up and I can wear whatever I want, I can say how I'm feeling, I can express myself. So many women in so many countries do not have that luxury. I feel so blessed that I can be an independent woman - that I can be proud of being a woman, rather than feel oppressed in something I cannot change. I'm thankful that I live in a country where I have the same rights as men (I know sexism exists, but laws say that we are SUPPOSED to be treated equally), and that all races are considered equal. I'm thankful that we live somewhere where we can all worship as we please, believe what we please, without fear of oppression.

Again, I think traveling has kind of helped me appreciate that more - especially going to China this summer, where there were certain things we couldn't EVER speak about (like Tienamen Square, or Tibet).

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Of course I'm also thankful for things like my health, music, the fact that I have a home and that I don't have to worry about having enough food to eat, or clean water to drink -- these are things that I consider "normal" that to so many in the world are luxuries. I am really, truly blessed and way too often I can't seem to realize that.

Today at work, I was talking with the women about different things with the holidays, and we were all sharing the horror stories, the good stories - everything. One of them told me that it's always so easy to concentrate on the stresses, on the things that drive us crazy, but that being positive is a state of mind, and that it takes practice. You have to try to train your mind to BE positive, instead of negative - kind of like how you have to train your body if you're trying to get in shape.

"You have to think of the little things," she told me. "Like the fact that Alex S. thinks the world of you and that you found a way to connect with him over a mutual interest [Harry Potter saves the day!] in a way that none of us have - that's a huge blessing." It's true though - these little things are so important, and yet are something that I overlook or push out of my mind when things get rough.

(And not to brag, but it really is a big deal that Alex S. is my new bff, because he did not give me the time of day before he found that we had a mutual interest in Harry Potter, and now he's been opening up about how rough things are at home, which kind of gives me new insight into why he acts the way he does!).

She told me the way that she tries her best to beat the stress and to constantly be thankful is that once a week, she sits down and journals all the things that she's thankful for, and then can reflect back on days where she's feeling down or discouraged. I'm adopting this idea, and even went to Anthropologie tonight to pick up a notebook to begin this. Too often I get so overwhelmed, and take everything for granted.

So, my resolution (a bit early) is that once a week, I'm going to be journaling EVERYTHING I'm thankful for, no matter how trivial it might seen. I'm hoping that doing something like this more regularly will help to make me more and more optimistic - and to help me not be so self-centered and ungrateful!

I'm wishing each and every one of you a beautiful and very happy Thanksgiving! Don't forget that I really, truly am thankful for each and every one of you.

What things are you most thankful for during this holiday season?

P.S. I'm going to have something veryyy exciting for you guys a few days after Thanksgiving! So excited to share with you :)

16 comments:

Jenna said...

Oh, darlin'! I loved this post. Let me say first--you are just gorgeous! These pictures just simply glow and exude so much life. I am truly glad to be your friend (and I completely agree that the blogger-world has a stigma attached, and this is sad. My mom said the other day how my blogger-friends weren't my "real" friends, and I didn't say anything because there is really no way to explain that, but you want to know what? She is dead wrong. You absolutely are my friend, Allison! Okay, rant over :)

You and your fam are adorbs. You and J are also so cute together (I hope everything is okay! If you ever need to share/vent, I am here. Drop me an e-mail. About anything. Just offering :) I would like to point out that I was ADDICTED to the O.C. and began watching it a couple years ago. I bought all the seasons on DVD, because once a day on SOAP net wasn't fast enough for me, HA! And Friends? ALL TIME FAVORITE SHOW.

I loved this list so, so much. I am so very glad to have you as a blogger-friend. Or you know, really just a friend. I don't care what anyone else says, that's what so many of you girls are to me--you included!! Keep being your wonderful, stunning self. Talk SOON!!

xo,
Jenna

maureen @ The Inglenook Decor said...

amazing post Allison! So true...we have so many things to be thankful for...mine is a J as well {Jason} and I'm not sure how complicated ur family is but mine is too & in the past few months, it's finally on the mend. My life, I felt was really complete except for my family relationships but now , it really is.

Lindsay said...

Love your list. Cooper is quite possibly the cutest dog I ever did see! I'm thankful for you too! I wish everyone understood how awesome blog friends are! I am especially thankful for you passing on the love of Vampire Diaries (fully caught up now!!). I hope everything works out with J. Andy and I sure have had our ups and downs over the past 6 years so if you ever need any advice let me know girl. Have a good thanksgiving :)


ps. thanks for all the sweet comments on the outfits. I still feel strange posting them and I appreciate all the kind words!

HiFashion said...

This is such a wonderful post!! Thanksf=giving is such a wonderful tradition: I wish we had it in England.

I love everything that you're thankful for! We are lucky that we have our health, our friends and a strong support system to help us.

Hope you have a great thanksgiving.

Couture Carrie said...

What a wonderful, considerate and lovely post, darling!
Thanks for sharing your beautiful sentiments and photos...

I am thankful for fantastic bloggers like you!

xoxox,
CC

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

What a sweet post! So much to tbe Thankful for!

Jocelyn said...

I love this. And that Idea for a thankful journal is such a good idea! I may just have to steal it.

I hope that things with you and J work out, I have loved hearing about your relationship for the past little while, I think you're my oldest blog bud Alison. And to be honest I really do consider you one of my friends! How strange is that? If you're ever in utah give me a ring!

Freedom- everytime I watch the news I am grateful for my life, my belongings, a.religion and blessings that I have. We often forget that, and I think we all need to do a better job of recognizing it.

Thanks for this post dear :) Happy Thanksgiving!

-Joce

Nicole Linette said...

I always love reading your blog! It's so uplifting yet down-to-earth; you are gorgeous girl with a golden heart. Everything you listed here I think is wonderful-- particularly the carrot cake cheeesecake (HAHA)-- and I would love to talk to you about your trip to China sometime! I plan on studying there during the spring of my junior year :). I wish you the Happiest Thanksgiving; you really deserve it. And I'll be anticipating your next post!

Cheers,
Nicole ♥.

J said...

those are great things to be thankful for, thanks for sharing!!! its always nice to take a step back and think about how lucky you are to have your family and friends there for you

Melissa said...

Aw what a lovely post. Us Canadians had our Thanksgiving already and I thought the same thing... that I had never really reflected on what I was thankful for.

It was nice hearing about what you were thankful for and those pictures were adorable. You look so happy!

Melissa

Morgane said...

i love love reading you ... You really seems to be a good person with a growing-up maturity... Make me remind how i was , realy ! Plus your mother looks a lot like mine: weird no?

Olive said...

Allison, I always love your posts, so much. Reading them always jumpstarts me to write my own :). I've kind of disappeared for a couple weeks with an overload of schoolwork, and then I lost my grandpa this past weekend, so things have been rough.. With Thanksgiving being right here though, I have been trying to remind myself of all there is to still be thankful for, and this post was very inspiring to me. The holiday hasn't ever been a big deal to me either, since my mom doesn't cook, and my grandma can't anymore, we do a catered meal too. I appreciated it much more this year after losing my grandpa just the week before.
So good you don't have to stress over being presentable to J's grandparents this year, must be such a relief! I don't really understand how people can let themselves get wound up over little things, but I guess everyone is different. I'm so happy for you and how things are changing for the better with your family, it's hard to get to that point where everyone is at peace. And it rarely is a permanent state :P.. But I know what you mean, my mom and I used to go back and forth a lot while I was growing up, but now we can see where the other one is coming from, thanks to maturity kicking in on my part, and parenting experience on hers, but it really is something to be thankful for and appreciate. Beautiful photos, by the way =)! Cooper is so cute, the love of a dog really is unconditional. I hate being away from my border collie, Candy, during college :(. Good luck with your situation with J. Love is difficult, and being in the crossroads is scary. But I think it's amazing that you're able to see the good in it all, and even if things don't go in accordance with the fairytale ending, you still are trying to learn and grow from it all, and take all of the positivity that you can. I'm trying to adopt that philosophy myself. Hah, that's awesome how you had a little get-a-way weekend! I love staying in hotels :P.. That seemed like a good deal afterall. I loved your Night post awhile back, by the way. I didn't get around to leaving a comment, but I thought it was very inspirational. I need to get my hands on that trilogy.
Wow, I am writing a lot, haha. Sorry if it's a nuisance to read :P. Kudos to you for connecting with your kids like that! No matter what they say, teachers will have favorites ;), feel no guilt. “Harold and Kumar” hahaha, that is priceless! Congrats my dear, I'm so glad work is going so well for you. The photo of you and your Poppy is adorable. Cherish the good times and the laughs you share.
I am thankful for you, Allison! I agree so much, people who don't use writing to really express themselves always have trouble accepting the idea of blogger, or “internet” friends. I don't see it that way, you are a person, I am a person, and I absolutely love to read the things you have to say. I consider you my friend, and I'm thankful that you take the time to read what I have to say. Sorry that this was a mile long---I'm running on empty from working through the black friday madness since midnight, and going shopping after, and needless to say, I am exhausted! So I just ramble and ramble :P. Have a great weekend!

Kristin said...

You have a beautiful family doll and it's so nice to hear that things are looking up for you! xoxo I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Jenni said...

Hey Allison!!! I am so hopelessly behind on my blogs, but it was important to me to stop in and say I hope you had a really wonderful Thanksgiving!!! This is a perfectly lovely post, and I'm glad you were able to express yourself and all of the things you are thankful for. I relate to you on quite a few of these, especially dogs and blogging... ha!! I seriously love my dogs, like, ridulous amounts. More than some of my own family members!! Ha ha!! And the blogging thing - I totally know what you mean about making real and true friends through this amazing network! I feel silly describing it to people who don't blog, but oh well!!! ;)

Hope you have a wonderful and relaxing Sunday girl!!

fhen said...

allison this post is totally lovely
i like to read how you feel about the precious people around you
and to me it's really great to know a friend from blogging like you :)
i hope you enjoy the upcoming festive season dear!
xoxo

Bella Harris said...

Awwwweee, I love this! So many things to be thankful for... and I just want to snuggle up with Cooper. I have a gang of little Chihuahuas that literally follow me everywhere... just can't get enough of them. Trust me, there's half-destroyed stuffed animals all over the house. lol xxx

You look so beautiful!