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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Giving Thanks on Mother’s Day

Mom,

Thank you for showing me what it means to be a strong woman. To speak up when needed and never get pushed around. I rarely hesitate to speak my mind–sometimes to an excess–but it’s saved me more than once and I value having the confidence to do this without fear of what others may think.

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Thank you for not letting me wear short shorts or skimpy tank tops in high school, even when I threw fits and swore up and down that everyone else’s parents let them do it. I see young girls today wearing clothes that are far too revealing and now I get it. I know that I can flatter my body without actually revealing it.

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Thank you for teaching me to appreciate the arts. For taking me to the theater, symphony and ballet, and encouraging my pursuits of art and music.

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Thank you for recognizing that as a quiet child, horseback riding was my passion and the key to my confidence. You gave your time, money and likely your sanity to support me and travel with me; looking back I can’t imagine what a commitment this was and I will always value your sacrifices.

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Thank you for being my cheerleader. You’ve always been the first to help celebrate my successes and it’s made them even sweeter.

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Thank you for getting mad at me when I did dumb things as a teenager and said hurtful things out of anger (or hormones??). Without consequences I wouldn’t have learned to be accountable.

Thank you for letting me cry when my heart was broken, and for sharing my joy when I fell in love.

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Thank you for loving Jim and welcoming him into our family with all your heart.

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Thank you for not abandoning Dan and me when we were the world’s most annoying teenagers and threatened to kill each other on a regular basis. You told us we’d be friends one day and you were right.

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Thank you for making the job of being our mom your greatest joy and focus. You’ve never failed to nurture us, support us and love us unconditionally. Your love is a gift I will always cherish and will undoubtedly pass on to my children.

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Since Last Thanksgiving (part 3)

Time for the 2012 installment of Thanksgiving reflections. Here’s what went down in 2011 and 2010.

Since last Thanksgiving I…

Went to Vegas twice, Denver twice, Chicago, Boston, Sedona, Flagstaff and San Francisco.

Had an adult spring break in Lake Havasu.

Celebrated my first wedding anniversary.

Entered the last year of my twenties.

Saw my favorite band perform in three different cities.

Watched a lot of friends get engaged, married and pregnant.

Discovered that I like deviled eggs.

Was published on The Daily Muse, Betty Confidential, Forbes, Forbes Woman, Forbes Tech, Yahoo! Shine and the Today Show websites.

Watched all five seasons of Big Love and all five seasons of Mad Men.

Saw our next-door neighbor’s house burn down, and then be rebuilt.

Presented at a career event at ASU.

Donated plasma and platelets for the first time.

Met Steve Forbes.

Joined a soccer team.

Celebrated a year of being matched with my little sis.

Fell more in love with my husband.

Continued realizing how lucky I am to have my parents as my parents.

Focused more on how good life really is.

30 dollars to make you holler.

The 10 best things that $30ish has bought this spring:

1. Membership on a Tempe coed soccer league with Jim and 20 of our closest friends. We are terrible and uncoordinated but we play hard and occasionally we don’t get injured.

2. Chiropractic care. Because somehow — between sitting in a small, square cube for nine hours a day — and sleeping seven hours a night, I find ways to pop nearly every part of my back and hips out of place. The good doctor saves me from myself.

3. Delicious sushi here. Many times. You have to go. Have to.

4. A ticket to see Eric Hutchinson perform at the Crescent Ballroom. Moving up, living down.
5. Baby gifts for my friends who are having lots of babies. Well, they’re only having one baby each, but all together it adds up to a lot of teeny tiny clothing.

6. Mother’s Day brunch with my mom. Cinnamon roll french toast is as good as it sounds.

7. Succulents! The name alone is worth the price tag. I felt a compulsion to garden so I bought little cacti-succulent thingies and special cactus soil. So what if it’s only been two weeks and one is already half-dead, it was the experience that made it worthwhile. I think.
8. My monthly gas bill. Exciting? Not. But in warmer months it’s about $25 a month, to offset gargantuan Arizona electric bills, and that ain’t bad.

9. 40 pounds of dry dog food. It keeps my loves happy.

10. Presumably, a share or two of some sort of investment fund I don’t understand in my 401(k). This will perhaps help me retire before I’m 106.