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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Some goodness

So many things are happening that make me want to use exclamation points! I want to remember them all!

1. Arizona now recognizes marriage equality. Finally. My heart is so happy.

2. We got an Honest Company gift certificate from Anna and Josh after her wonderful visit. I’ve always loved this stuff but never wanted to splurge on it. As Anna noted, “Products that are good enough for Jessica Alba are good enough for us.”

3. We survived taking the baby to a brewery event and a tailgate party. Minimal crying. Great teamwork.

4. Ally is about to have a baby! I am WILDLY excited about this!

5. Michelle is coming to visit.

6. Dan is coming to visit.

7. Our new AC was installed and new roof is almost complete after July’s crazy storm damage.

8. Jennelle and I took the kiddos to the zoo. The weather was beautiful and it was an unexpected workout. And we both mastered stroller assembly, so we’re basically certified engineers now.

9. Baby is mostly sleeping through the night. I want to skip through a meadow shouting with glee. Actually sleeping for more than two hours at a time makes me feel like a super hero.

10. I successfully cleaned out the laundry room, which previously looked liked a natural disaster took place within it. It’s much less embarrassing now.

“so good”

I love my brother for lots and lots of reasons. One of the more bizarre ones is that everyday, without fail, he sends me an email with a link to something interesting, that I never would’ve come across on my own. I think it’s his personal commitment to ensure I stay intelligent and cool.

Sometimes he’ll send news articles on how nauseating AZ politics are, or why I shouldn’t drink out of plastic water bottles…sometimes it’s a time-lapsed video of the earth from space (he’s a self-proclaimed time-lapse video nerd…yeah, those exist)…and other times it’s an obscene joke or new album I should download.

This week I got an email with the subject line, “so good.”

So like a jerk, I waited three days to actually sit down and watch the video – because I’m really busy and important and whatnot. But when I finally watched it today I was riveted. RIVETED.

This makes me so happy. It makes me want to dance around, dressed as a hipster teenager. And I’ve now watched it four times.

I recommend you take three minutes and 26 seconds to watch it, too. You’ll be snapping your fingers and smiling after. Promise.

We are more than stuff.

I loved this entire article by LZ Granderson, but this sentence really struck me:

We are more than stuff.”

Well, duh. Of course we are. So why does so much revolve around our work? Why is “what do you do for a living” often the first thing we ask each other?

My doctor makes me list my occupation on paperwork and even the Census Bureau keep tabs on it. It seems comically offensive to be defined so one-dimensionally: height, weight, salary…

I’d say the most valuable things in life – our family, friends, passions and interests – certainly do a better job describing the essence of who we are than our last pay stub. But those questions seem too intimate for passing conversations. Instead, the default topic is one that we can use to make assumptions about someone’s entire lifestyle. We use something as simple as a job title to gauge another person’s happiness and financial status.

The passage below is so powerful I read it several times before moving on in the article:

We may understand that money does not buy happiness, but over the past few decades that notion has been competing against a message that at every turn tells us we can’t be happy without it. This dichotomy has slowly disconnected the American dream from the idea of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and attached it to one’s ability to move up the ladder.

I am absolutely, positively guilty of the type of exchange described in the next excerpt. I’m ashamed to say I think I do this daily. Despite the fact that I possess the logic to know this is a ludicrous way to draw conclusions, it’s still my natural instinct.

If you’re at a bar and someone’s response to that question is “I’m a lawyer,” the people around generally assume that individual makes a lot of money, drives a fancy car and is not living paycheck to paycheck. He or she is happy, if you will.

Obviously this is not the same rosy outlook people have about someone who says “I work at McDonald’s.”

┬áIn our culture a person’s worth is tied to his or her profession — the higher the salary or profile, the more valued the individual is as a person, and the happier we assume he or she is.

And sadly the reverse is also true.

If it weren’t, women would not feel the need to defend their decision to be stay-at-home moms in the era of the career woman. If it weren’t, men would not feel challenged if they’re dating a woman who makes more.

Reading this article threw me for a ginormous loop. Mainly because it’s rare to read something so realistically eloquent. But also because it left me seesawing back and forth between the knowledge that salary and debt don’t define a person’s character any more than his hair color, but a life without financial stress might damn well be an easier, and dare I say it, happier one?

Maybe. But I think this is true only at the surface.

Money truly can’t buy happiness, and the quest to have more and more of it often ruins families, health and sanity. I don’t know if I can fully train myself to avoid asking new acquaintances about their careers, but I hope to transform the types of conclusions and instantaneous judgments I make as a result.

I’m going to round out these deep thoughts with a Dalai Lama quote my brother sends to me every time I stress about finances:

Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

cut from the same cloth

You know how they say twins have their own secret language? Dan’s three years older than me but I’m pretty sure we also have one, because I doubt anyone else in the world knows what the F we are talking about in this excerpt from tonight’s conversation:

We went on to discuss a nightclub he went to this weekend:

Me: the LMFAO party rock song is huge here, that’s what started playing in my head when you typed that – “everyday i’m shuffling” – oomcha oomcha oomcha

Dan: i have ZERO idea what you are talking about

Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ6zr6kCPj8 – this song is EVERYWHERE. the ‘return of the mack’ of 2011

Dan: yes this song is everywhere here. constantly being played. it’s f**king TERRIBLE

Me: but it’s like crack. can’t stop head bopping to it

Dan: omg that song is burned into my soul now

Me: is there a word for getting a bad song stuck in someone’s head. or can we invent one?

Love you.

check the map

One of the highlights of a typical day is the random email I’m bound to receive from my brother.

Sometimes he tries to educate me on things and sends lengthy articles that I file under read later.

Other times he sends a diary of what he’s consumed for the past 24-hours, Dan Vs Food.

Last week he sent a link to the map below..

Couldn’t resist sharing it. We’re hoping it comes in poster sizes.

Love you DSW

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