To be thankful

Thanksgiving begs for sappy gratitude posts, and I’m in no position to resist.

Family. We became a family of three this year and it’s been a heck of a ride. My highest highs, my lowest lows and everything in between. Babies bring you such an overwhelming sense of purpose and connection. They make you feel whole, and they make you discover the real meaning of love. I am thankful for the blessing of a happy and healthy baby, for access to top medical care for both of us, for the way the experience has challenged me and for how it has brought me closer to my husband. I’m thankful to have parents who support us and delight in being grandparents. I’m thankful for my brother who is a driving force in my life and sometimes the only person who can get in my head to help me sort things through.

Marriage. We’re past the 3.5 year mark since our wedding and are close to hitting eight years as a couple. We’ve grown up together and continue to grow in ways I appreciate and never anticipated. Jim, you are my better half and my grounding force in life. You are what makes me wake up happy each day and go to sleep feeling safe. I’m thankful for the love and balance you bring to my life, the wonderful father you’ve become and for your never-faltering integrity and kindness. There are lots of ups and downs on this ride but I wouldn’t want it to be with anyone else.

Work. I am thankful to work in a dynamic environment with people who truly have become a second family. It is a rarity to be able to say that, and to have had their support when I became a mom was invaluable. There are lots of frustrating moments and hard weeks, but I’m privileged to learn from all different kinds of people and to be pushed at every turn.

My body. Have you ever pondered how insane the human body is? Straight-up magic. I’ve always marveled at what my body is capable of and love pushing myself physically. The past year this awareness soared as I not only carried a baby (STILL blows my mind that people make other people), but also learned the value of functional fitness and training. I’m thankful for my health and what my body provides.

Friends. Friends are family, no way around it; life would be an incomplete puzzle without them. I’m thankful to have so many incredible, loving, hilarious and inspiring friends who show up when it matters most.

Stillness. It’s fleeting to have moments of stillness and quiet these days, so I’m especially thankful when they occur. Introverts rely on alone time to recharge and I’m no exception.

Dogs. My dogs have taken the inevitable backseat following baby’s arrival, but they’re as loving and loyal as ever. They’re loud and messy and wonderful.

Writing. I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to think and share on this blog, for all the support and encouragement. And for the opportunity to truth-tell and help others feel ok.

I think beyond anything I could list here, I’m just thankful for the life I’ve been given and the places it has taken me. The people I’ve met. The challenges I’ve overcome. The love I’ve experienced and the losses I’ve learned from. I’m thankful for how it all weaves together.

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You know you’re Jewish on Christmas…

1. You can hum along with every Christmas carol but can’t recite the words to any of them.

2. You stare in disbelief any time you see someone voluntarily consume eggnog.

3. You find the idea of a stranger sneaking into your house through the chimney to be terrifying, not magical.

4. Elf on the Shelf…What?

5. There are no childhood photos of you screaming bloody murder on  Santa’s lap. I’ve seen dozens of friends post these images of themselves and their kiddos this week, and I can’t say I regret missing this rite of passage.

6. The only holiday movie you’ve seen in its entirety is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

7. You don’t know what the word “yule” means. Yuletide…Yule log…Clueless.

8. You desperately seek plans on December 24th to avoid #FOMO

9. It feels appropriate to crave Chinese food on December 25th.

10. You own Christmas pajamas but have no photos of yourself wearing them.

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Tuesday Confessions

1. Before leaving for work today I had the privilege of cleaning up a double whammy of dog urine AND dog vomit.

2. Last week I asked a delivery man at work to only speak to me in Spanish when he passed by. Today was our second conversation. “It’s all coming back, all coming back to me now” -Celine Dion

3. Everything on Facebook makes me cry lately. What gives. Inspirational stories of goodwill, pets up for adoption, sleep-deprived friends lamenting motherhood…I think it’s the holidays, but I may need to abstain so I can stop snotting all over my computer.

4. I have a knack for catching onto shows way behind everyone else. Usually two to five years behind. But I’m almost current with House of Cards (which is on, like, now), and I like it very much. Makes me miss working in the governor’s office and slightly remorseful that I never used my journalism degree to become an actual journalist.

5. I critique neighborhood Christmas light displays in my head with the intensity of a Romanian gymnastics judge. I have no experience but very competitive standards.

6. My oldest friend Amy lives in LA and lost her cell phone this week. This tragedy has been alleviated through several lengthy, humiliating and hysterical Facebook exchanges that culminated tonight in a photo of the cast of Dawson’s Creek.

7. Three jobs I’d be terribly suited to pursue are cab driver, calculus professor and exterminator. “Plumber,” adds my husband.

8. When I went home for Thanksgiving, I brought back about 120 plastic horses I’d collected as a child, that I’d forgotten about until I realized they’re now selling for a pretty penny on ebay. At the time, taking them from their safe stable at my mom’s seemed like an easy way to make some money, but now, I’m not wildly excited to begin selling and shipping plastic figurines in my spare time. Unfortunately, these giant boxes of horses are taking up a lot of space in the garage. I’m open to suggestions here.

9. Jim and I bought new living room furniture yesterday. I’m 30 and it still feels strange to buy furniture at places other than IKEA or Goodwill.

10. We painted the living room Wheat Bread and the bathroom Grey Goose. Guess we like grains. Draw your own conclusions on where the parties happen.

Since Last Thanksgiving (part 4)

Time for the 2013 edition. Lots of older Thanksgiving reflections went down in 2012,  2011 and 2010.

Since last Thanksgiving I…

Camped out at a four-day country music festival. Minimal showering, maximum entertainment.

Was elected to the Board of Directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona.

Sold a first house, bought a house. We have a garage now, and a fireplace like legit grown ups.

Celebrated my second wedding anniversary.

Had surgery on my wrist.

Traveled to LA, Boston, San Diego, DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Fran and Denver.

Journeyed to Singapore and Vietnam for an epic two-week jaunt with Jim, Dan and Jenny.

Turned 30. It’s awesome. Great friends planned a surprise party that was perfect.

Became a big fan of The NewsroomHomeland and The Mindy Project.

Wandered across Arizona…threw axes at the Renaissance Festival, went tubing down the Salt River, toured the Queen Mine in Bisbee and tasted wine in Wilcox.

Paid off my car.

Watched a lot of friends become parents to adorable little humans.

Saw fun. perform for the fourth time, and Tegan and Sara for the first time (then found out my husband is related to T&S). Also saw and loved The Book of Mormon.

Did my first pull-up, ever. And mastered a whole bunch of other physical feats at an amazing new gym. To say this place is life-changing is an understatement.

Hiked a lot and went to brunch a lot. Two lovely but unrelated pastimes that I think are divine.

Created a freelance writing portfolio. Later broke up with a company I did freelance writing for, in a flurry of passive aggressiveness.

Got promoted.

Became mildly obsessed with antique stores.

Prayed more.

Gave more.

Nobody puts Thanksgiving in a corner

Can we talk for a minute about how much I love Thanksgiving? Because outside of my birthday, it’s the best holiday out there. A day that not only symbolizes togetherness and gratitude, but also emphasizes the cultural importance of eating carbs in excess.

I admit Halloween has a good thing going with the candy, a really good thing. But let’s be serious—a Kit Kat’s got nothing on sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. Yeah, Thanksgiving is so avant-garde it prompted the combination of marshmallows and root vegetables. Hallelujah!

You know, I also appreciate Thanksgiving for being so inclusive; anyone can celebrate and there are very few rules or things to remember. The whole basis of the day is that a long time ago, different cultures overcame some pretty dreadful first impressions to ultimately live and learn together. I’m not naïve enough to think it was as tranquil or picturesque as modern textbooks would have us to believe, but still, it represents a blending of ideas and I dig that. Although there are no reports of marshmallows at the first Thanksgiving, it’s believed to have taken place in 1621 in present-day Massachusetts –> home of the Red Sox –> more points to Thanksgiving’s coolness tally.

This year is the first occurrence in a lifetime when Hanukkah begins on Thanksgiving, and at first, I was skeptical. Could these two glorious occasions really intermingle without any drama? It seems they’ve worked out their differences, though, and hello—we’ve found a way to tactfully incorporate more potato-based treats into one sitting. Win!

So maybe I’m a bit too passionate about Thanksgiving, but the reason I find it necessary to SHOUT a little is because some people—no one I know personally, thank goodness—are pre-empting Thanksgiving this year. Yep. Bypassing it like it’s not a HUGE deal—like it’s Columbus Day or something.

This week I noticed Christmas lights already up around my neighborhood, and Christmas décor was in stores before the Halloween candy had a chance to take a final bow. And don’t get me started on Starbucks—they released red holiday cups on November 1, you know, 55 days before Christmas.

You guys, I’m nothing if not a freak about winter festivities, but I think we’re rushing just a bit. I vote we slow down just a smidge to make sure all the special occasions get their day in the sun (or snow).

Thanksgiving

L’shana tovah, y’all.

I’m admittedly bad at sticking to New Year’s resolutions. I really like the idea of them–starting fresh and committing to positive changes–but the hype and post-holiday wind down always prevent my success.

I’ll cut out processed sugar…after the Christmas cookies are gone. And I’ll walk the dog every night…until I work late and determine sleep is more important than dogercise.

That’s why it’s so exciting to celebrate Rosh Hashanah–it’s like a bonus round for resolutions–double or nothing.

I can revisit areas I’ve neglected and refocus on giving thanks and living with intention. It’s a privilege, really, to have this opportunity for reflection.

As a kid, it felt weird to have a separate New Year. I felt singled out for being different and never understood why the majority of the world’s calendars were several thousands years behind schedule.  But like most awkward, uncomfortable parts of childhood, I got over it, and now I love celebrating the high holidays. Well, except for the fasting, but that’s not ’til next week. Until then, it’s game on.

L’shana tovah, y’all.