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Sunday, November 13, 2011

30 Days of Thanks

So, people on Facebook have been putting their "30 Days of Thanks", posting one thing per day during this Thanksgiving month that they are thankful for in their lives. With my crazy schedule, I've fallen way behind in not even starting on my thankful list, so I decided to just do it all at once on here. There are so many things to be thankful for in my life, and I don't want to miss an opportunity to put a few of them in writing. So, here goes...

1) My amazing, hilarious, creative, lovely family. Quite literally, I wouldn't be who I am without my immediate and extended family, and since I think I'm turning out pretty spiffy, I have to say I owe quite a bit of credit to them. My sense of humor is a great blend of my dad's sarcasm, my mom's quirky wit, and my brother's comedic timing. The intelligence I *hope* I possess is very much due to my parents insistence that I study hard and often, and that I always find ways to apply what I learn in the classroom and out of it to everyday life. Creative writing? Both of my parents, but also from my brother's incredible gifts of poetry and musicality. I'm so thankful, despite passionate fights and heartfelt tears, that we always find a way to find laughter in everything instead of dwelling on the hard parts. I'm so blessed.

2) My honest, crazy, supportive, and loving friends. When things have gotten hard in my life, like really painfully difficult, they are always there to support me with tough love, humor, and just the right amount of sugar coating when needed. I never fear that I'll be mislead by them, but I also don't have to worry that they will say anything to me purely out of spite or just to hurt me. Literally and figuratively speaking, they have in so many ways saved my life. I can never thank them enough, but I will certainly spend every day of my life trying to do so.

3) My "furbabies". Copper and Gus-Gus (and Karma, though she is an outside cat now and actually kind of belongs to my landlord these days) never fail to greet me after a long day of work and/or studying with nuzzles and love. They are my favorite movie buddies, and the best cuddle bugs. There is nothing like the love and affection of animals, and even more so from those who are rescued, as Copper is and Gus-Gus is the offspring of (Karma is the mommy), and I'm so grateful for all they bring to my life. Even if I still hate the litterboxes more than any of chore... okay, cleaning those is pretty much tied with doing dishes. Ugh.

4) My house. I know how lucky I am to get to live in my own house at 25 (with a roommate upstairs, but not's a weird, awesome arrangement), and the rent I pay--which includes all of my utilities too--is kind of incredible. Yes, I clean my landlord's house to knock off part of that, but I'm hardly complaining. Organizing, cleaning, and cheaper rent--kind of three of my favorite things.

5) My job...and all of my coworkers. Having a job in general during this recession is a blessing, so it means even more that I happen to have a job that I adore, where I get to work with some of my very best friends. I'm good at my job, and I get to use my psychology degree all the time in dealing with customers. Leaving it once I (hopefully) get into law school is going to be very hard, more difficult than most people realize and more than I've fully let myself fully comprehend. I know I'll stay friends with these people for years, and since my parents live here, I'll get to visit often...but it will be very hard to not see these people day in and day out. I love what I do, and my slight OCD cringes to think of what will become of those things I care so much about once I'm gone. But I know I'll leave it all in good hands, if I can ever bring myself to do so!

6) My book club, SCI. Not only do I get to keep in touch with four of my best friends, but I'm able to read books I oftentimes wouldn't think of picking for myself. Working in a bookstore, I get lots of book suggestions, so many so that sometimes it is difficult to pick the few I have time to read during any given month. I love the books my friends and I have picked thus far, and I can't wait to see what else people will pick! My sincerest hope when it comes to this club is that it lasts for a long, long time. With all of us living so far away from each other, sometimes the only time I get to talk to these wonderful friends is during our Skype discussions. We always plan on the meetings lasting an hour, but they usually fall much closer to two. We always have to catch up on each others' lives after the book discussion! So totally the best part :)

7) Movies...both my collection and the ones I (rarely, these days) get to see in theaters and at friends' houses. Often, stress relief is most quickly found in a simple movie (or TV show marathon!); other times I really like to pick a movie that challenges me to think deeper, or on a topic that I don't typically give much thought. Plus, movies also help to bring friends and family together, for fun all nighters or lively discussions. Films can be great for healing, learning, and so many more things.

8) Coffee. Yes, so simple and integral in my life. Caffeine is my friend, always totally has been, but even more so with the chaotic nature my life these days. It's the little things, really.

9) The Holidays, and everything that goes with it. It's true that this time of year can sometimes bring out the worst in people, and I see a good many of those people at work and out shopping, but mostly I see only humanity and love during this time of year. Also, extra holiday money at work is AWESOME!

10) My iPhone. Okay, okay...I know it sounds stupid. I'm just grateful that I have a way to stay in touch with more people more effectively throughout my day. With my e-mail, Facebook, text messages, phone calls, Twitter, blogs...and all the other (clearly too many online services I'm subscribed to...) ways to keep in touch, I don't feel like I'm going to miss out on the important updates in my life. It's a wonderful tool.

11) Facebook (and my laptop). The fact that I'm able to keep in touch with so many friends who live so far away is a blessing. So scoff if you must...but I'm grateful that such a site exists. My laptop helps me update my blogs and brainstorm story ideas and journal entries, and since writing is such an important release in my life, my laptop is kind of crucial. It's getting older and slower, but it has so many memories and documents on it. Simply wonderful.

12) Old TV sitcoms. By old, I mean the ones from my halcyon days--Friends, Will & Grace, Heroes, Home Improvement, Grey's Anatomy (yes, I know it's still on, but it's changed a lot and I don't have time to watch that much TV these days anyway), Seinfield, Daria (miss this one so much!), Clarissa Explains It All, The Secret World of Alex Mack, Are you Afraid of the Dark?, and many others. What's funny is that TV has never taken up too much of my life, and I'm not one to freak out if I miss an episode of something, but these shows brought a good bit of cheer to my life. I mostly don't even get into shows until the boxed sets come out anyway, so the week to week grind isn't pertinent to me. On a side note, I hate commercials even more than ever because I'm not used to them anymore since I watch shows on DVD. Commercials are a bitch! I'm glad that I get the time each week (usually) to watch Dancing With The Stars with my parents (free food AND quality time--double score!), and Tim Allen's new show (drawing a blank of the name right now) is HILARIOUS. I'm glad to see a show that is sitcom format instead of all reality TV. Clearly, I'm okay with some reality TV (DWTS), but at this point I'm really over turning EVERYTHING into a reality show. It's just too much, and it's draining creativity on TV to the point of ridiculousness, and I hate that these "celebrities" with no talent make so much money exploiting themselves, their families, and their friends. I just miss old school TV.

13) Red Wine. No, not in an alcoholic way. I drink FAR LESS than I used to, and I have no real desire to go back to drinking that much at this point in my life. It's just very nice to sit down with a glass or two of wine after a long day and read a book or watch a DVD. It doesn't hurt that red wine, in moderation, is good for the heart and the eyes. Since I'm blind in one eye and have a (very minor) heart murmur, these health perks are kind of awesome.

14) Great makeup. As I get older, I'm much more comfortable in my own skin, but the added spark with makeup always helps cheer me up. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look nice, nor is there an issue with letting it help you feel better about yourself and the world. Plus, makeup is just fun!

15) Fireplaces, and the smells of fall. I'm not a fan of being cold, and my fireplace is one of my favorite parts of my house in large part for this reason. There are few things in life more relaxing and comforting than a warm fire as the weather starts to turn bitterly cold. The smells of fall are just luminous, and just happen to be the first thing that stir up my holiday excitement and help me to be cheerful as opposed to overly stressed during the time of year where happiness should be front and center.

16) Long chats, long letters, long term memories. Sometimes, it's impossible to fit in a three hour phone chat...actually, it's often too hard to do such a thing. I'm okay with that, even as I know one of my favorite ways to bond with friends is through said chats (and even more so in person, but that's even tougher), because it makes it so much more special when I DO get to have them. Of course, because of that whole time issue, long letters help too. First off, I think letter writing is a lost art form, and I don't want it to completely die out with the the digital age. Second, I'm just much better at expressing my thoughts in writing as opposed to speaking--especially when it's particularly emotional. Third, I just love writing, and though I love to get letters back, I don't write them to others assuming I'll get a written response. It doesn't matter, because I know they'll have my letters, and will hear what I mean so much better. That being said, write to me! I do love getting mail OTHER than bills and junk. Both of these things help lead to those long term memories--the ones that give me comfort, joy, and strength forever afterwards. And what gifts could be better?

17) My Mama's home cooking. I don't get it often because of that damn time issue again, but when I do---YUMMY! Not only is my mom an amazing mother and great at her job, she also happens to be one of the best cooks I've ever met. I hope I have retained some of what she has taught me. Many of my favorite childhood memories have their roots in my mother's cooking, and I also learned about how to be healthier from her as well. Two amazing lessons, a gazillion delicious dishes, and one incredible woman. Thanks, Mom!

18) Movie Dates with my Daddy. These are so rare now, but I can still count on a fun night out whenever an action movie (usually the ones based on superheroes!) hits theaters. These "dates" started with the first Harry Potter, continued through college as I would forgo the midnight releases and drive the nearly 6 hours home to see them with him, and ended with the last movie release earlier this year. The original inspiration for these "dates" may be over, but the "dates" have become a tradition. For that--the time we get to spend because of them more than anything--I'm very grateful.

19) Traditions. Much like the daddy/daughter dates, the other traditions in my life are quite meaningful as well. Whether it's Christmas Eve Service, our annual Christmas Eve viewing of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, DWTS viewings, monthly (or bimonthly, during less hectic times) chats with my brother, SCI meetings, spending the night and watching HP (and talking all things HP) with Laura, Faux Christmas with my GPS best friends, or so many other random traditions, I'm glad to have the stability and somehow the spontaneity that these traditions ensure.

20) "Regulars" at work, many of whom have become good friends. Retail work can be ugly, and people can be outright nasty when they want to be. That's just the truth, and years of working in customer service have taught me patience and understanding, but sometimes...TOO MUCH. My kind regular customers--the ones who know my name by heart and genuinely want an update on my life when they ask, or who bring me cookies when I'm stressed and give me hugs when I'm down--they serve to remind me that there are so many more good people in this world than bad ones. People can certainly get you down, but not everybody is lucky to have customers who help bring you back up. I am, and I'm so blessed.

21) Hugs and "cheek kisses". As much as I love my crazy schedule, I do occasionally just find it all to be too much. Don't forget, I have clinical depression and anxiety and I'm ADHD. My medicine is something I'm lucky to have, and it helps, but sometimes everything comes crashing down at once. It's fairly normal, and it doesn't worry me when it happens--it just SUCKS. Coming into work or meeting a friend somewhere and being greeted with a hug and/or a kiss on the cheek is oftentimes enough to lift me out of the funk. Like I said, it's the little things.

22) TWLOHA, or "To Write Love on Her Arms". Though I'm less vocal about my past than I used to be--not out of shame, but instead out of maturity--but most of it is no secret. I "was" a cutter (I put it in quotes because a relapse is always possible, and I'm well aware of that, but after months without one, I'm hopeful), I had anorexia, bulimia, and exercise anorexia. I still live with the root causes of many of these issues. A lot of aspects of my life--friends, proper medication, future plans, etc.--go into helping me keep my day to day sanity. But I'm one of those people who usually has to learn things the hard way, hitting rock bottom before I can rise from the ashes kind of thing...and TWLOHA saved my life. The organization is a resource for all types of people--self-mutilators, drug addicts, the eating disordered, and so forth--and it's helped in many parts of my life, but the cutting is at the forefront of the issues helped by this incredible group. As a cutter, I never wanted to kill myself; indeed, I wanted to feel more alive, or sometimes, alive at all. I cut to remember that I could feel things, and to cry out for help on my flesh in a way I could never seem to express in any other way. TWLOHA gave me hope, and a support system, and a reminder. Many reminders. In January of 2010, I got "love" permanently tattooed on my left arm--the side of the body that holds all of my self-inflicted wounds. Many think I did it as a way to cut without cutting, and that's not so far fetched. Many people do just that, and then become obsessed with tattoos and piercings. I still just have my ears pierced and 2 tattoos (the first I got when I was 18 in 2004). Part of me wants probably 2 more tattoos max (one HP and maybe one for the NEDA), but I'm in no hurry, if indeed I ever even get them. No, I got my love tattoo because I love, and because the organization means so much to me (for myself but also many other friends). The primary reason, however, is that it reminds me that I am worth NOT cutting, and that I don't need it, and that I need to respect and love myself as much as my loved ones respect and love me. I got it as a reminder not to cut, even when it seems that's the only thing that will help. When things are bad, I am forced to look at it and therefore must think if I REALLY want, NEED, to do it, and though I've relapsed a couple of times, I know tend to pick up the phone and call somebody instead of making that first cut. Because it's never just one cut, and also because that could be all it takes anyway. Like I said--I never wanted to die, but I shudder to think how easily I mistakenly could have. One of the 2 National To Write Love on Her Arms Day (the other is February 13th) is tomorrow (well, today technically), or November 13th. Mine is permanent, though sometimes I still write in anyway on that day, but it warms my heart when friends tell me they wrote love on their arm for me, or for others. Amazing. Wisdom can be strength and compassion...and hope.

24) Hope. Speaking of TWLOHA, I'm so thankful for hope, and for the ability and gift of hope itself. Times are tough, and hope is easy to lose sight of, but it's always going to come back if you let it. I'm grateful that such a thing even exists, and that I'm lucky enough to feel it. I try to give hope to others, and I think I sometimes do, because it's such an easy thing to give and can so quickly change sometimes day, mood, or entire life. Yelling and criticizing are easy; hope and friendliness take work. So work at something. We all need hope in our lives or we can possibly dream of surviving. And giving somebody else something that brings them hope? Priceless.

25) Food. I know, kind of a given...except it's not for so many people. I often complain about how much Ramen I have to eat to save money, and trust me, it's a lot of frickin' Ramen, but really? Some people can't even afford that, and there will always be a hot meal when I need one at the homes of my family and friends. I hope I remember to donate a toy to the Angel Tree this Christmas, along with some canned foods for this season. As poor as I feel (and am, to a large extent), I have so much more than so many others can ever even dream of having. Sharing is a great gift--for the recipient and the giver.

26) My gift of writing. I'm aware that this sounds conceited, but it isn't meant to do so. I don't think I'm the best writer in the world, and I'm definitely not the most prolific, but I'm okay with saying that I'm a pretty fine writer. Being able to express things how I want them to be taken is very important to me, and though people may not forgive me, listen to me, heed my advice, and so on--I'm glad my thoughts can be seen that way. Writing is a comfort for me, and I hope I never tire of it. Time doesn't permit me as much writing as I'd like, nor does the creativity in my mind, but I always come back to it. One of my first loves, my therapy, one of my "vices", my passion, and something that can piss me off quicker than just about anything else--writing is all of these things and so much more. It's my voice, whether people want to listen or not. I love writing to and for others, but this writing thing? It's really for me--to heal, to guide, to accept.

27) The use of my parents truck. In late April/early May, my car died. I could get it fixed, but that would run me about $2000, and as the car is pretty old (it's a '95), it really just isn't worth it. So, I'm going to have to sell my beloved Dixie for parts, hoard most of my tax return, and keep my fingers crossed for more bonuses and such at work. In order to get a new car, which I need regardless but especially if I'm heading back to school, these things will have to be done. Until then, I'm so very, very grateful that my parents let me use their truck, the only other vehicle they have. They work on the same street downtown so they usually ride in together, and I never complain (okay, rarely) when they need to use both cars for meetings or the like, but they still don't HAVE to let me use it. Since I have a lot going on, and also because I get called into work sometimes semi-spur-of-the-moment, it's very convenient. Sure, somebody else is sometimes available to work, but I also need and love the extra hours. Sometimes, somebody from work could pick me up since I live so close, but often it's too big of an inconvenience or there is literally nobody to come get me, and the truck allows me to get in and earn that extra money, or things like that. It's just nice that I have parents who are willing to help me out.

28) The LSAT. It's driving me nuts and totally stressing me out, and it's also giving me a plan and a purpose and motivation. And it also is helping me remember that I'm fairly intelligent and worth a good job. So, while I want to hit somebody much of the time, I'm happy that it has already given me more than I ever expected in positive payback. December 3rd, people! Send good vibes my way!

29) Baths. I don't get to take them a lot, and often I'll get in and immediately feel too hot and get out within 20 minutes. But after a double, or a day of studying, working, and cleaning, or randomly when I just need to decompress (or want to rip my uterus out rather than face my cramps, or do similar to my spine because of my nerve and muscle damage), there are few things more helpful than a bath. Bubbles aren't required, but they certainly are fun. A bath, a glass of wine, a good book--hello, dream Friday night!

30) The United States (and the rest of the world)--and my life in it. I hate politics, and I often think our government is slowly--or, you know, rapidly--sinking us beyond repair. But I still live in the land of the free (thank you, military men and women!), and in a time full of diversity and cultural learning opportunities all around me. I would love to have the money to travel, and someday I think I will, but for now I'm good in the States. As bad as things can--and may--get, nothing on this thankful list would be possible without the existence of a wonderful world--one that continues to thrive even amidst controversy and scandal. It's a world where it is easy to remember and lament what you don't have and forget what you do. Try and remind yourself of your blessings sometimes. It's way more fun than sulking over your misfortunes--and also causes less wrinkles.

So, that's the list! As always, I talked to much about way too many of these, and this is just a dent of my thankful list. There are so many blessings in my life, and though I sometimes forget in the day-to-day things, I never take them for granted.

I know how lucky I am, and I'm thankful. Are you?