For the last two years, I have written an annual post around Thanksgiving about the things for which I’m grateful. While there are so many things for which I’m thankful, it can be a little challenging to come up with something new, or a new way of looking at the same thing. Things like family, friends and other things I have in my life are things that I will always be grateful to have. But I do try to come up with a few things that might be different than a past year or that really stand out to something or some feeling that occurred over the last year.
1. Yoga Teacher Training
This is a big one. For the last year, my life has been quite focused around yoga as I underwent my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training certification. In the best possible way, the training can be time consuming and demanding – physically, emotionally and mentally. On weekends where I didn’t have trainings, I studied, took class and worked to sequence my own classes. And even over our “summer break”, I met with my fellow-trainees once or twice a week to study and practice. Having met up like that, I can say that our time was invaluable to coming back in the fall. And as I’ve met up with my classmates over the past few weeks after training completed, I am reminded of how much I loved being a part of the training. Not only am I growing my own practice and building a stronger foundation, but I have met and gotten to know some incredibly wonderful and kind people. It has been an honor to have gone through this journey with my group.
To carry from the last item, I made some lasting friendships through my teacher training. I also this year got to see friends who have moved – or from whom I moved away some time ago. I started off the year taking a road trip to Austin when my friend met me there from DC. I had such a fantastic time further exploring Austin with her and just catching up. Not to mention it did allow me to see more of Austin. So often my trips to the state’s capital are quick weekend trips with time for maybe one or two things. But we ate delicious food, saw different neighborhoods, and did I mention that my friend is really one of the most fun people to hang out with?
In the middle of this year, I also learned of the passing of a friend of mine. It was news that was very tough to hear, maybe made even more so that it was so unexpected. This was a friend who was one of the nicest people I’ve met, who was supportive of my writing and our shared interest in development work. While we didn’t talk often, whenever we were in each other’s town we would try to meet and catch up. The excitement with which he talked about his own upcoming projects was contagious, and there have definitely moments where I think of something and that he would be a great person to share it with.
You can never tell your friends how much they mean to you too many times.
This year was not as full of travel as I ordinarily try to do otherwise (see number one – I was going through an incredible yoga journey!). But I did manage a few road trips around Texas and saw things I hadn’t seen before – like finally seeing the bat colony in downtown Austin – and I very recently came back from a trip to Jamaica for a friend’s wedding. This was the first time I saw this friend since her move, and I was definitely reminded of how much I miss her! I’m grateful I was able to attend her wedding, visit a new place and catch up with her.
I am always grateful for my opportunities to travel, whether it has been for work, for fun, or for weddings. I love the ability to visit new places and gain new experiences, as well as of course visiting familiar places and seeing the friends and family who live there. So it is also fortunate that while I miss them, I have friends and family living around the country and all over the world.
4. The Ability to Read
If you know me or have followed this blog or me on social media, the fact that I love to read should come as no surprise. I read for enjoyment, yes, but also for knowledge. I read to learn more about my world and current events, along with the history of things that interest me or for which I recognize I need to learn more. Health, climate change, what’s going on in countries making headlines, etc. And this year, when there has been so much focus on the media and calling a variety of breaking news items into question, the ability to read is so important. I can research a subject to get different takes on it and form my own opinion, rather than letting only one pundit tell me what to think.
And finally…yes, I am grateful for the holidays. There has been so much negativity this past year, that I have been looking forward to the goodwill often accompanying this time of year. Just today, as I went to yoga and then picked a few more items at the store, everyone was smiling. The woman checking out my groceries asked me if I was cooking, and then with a broad smile told me how much she was looking forward to getting home to get started cooking for her family. The music, the twinkling lights being put up for the Christmas holidays…all to me generate warm, happy feelings. I love the lights, the crisp cool days where I can stay inside with a book and I love picking out gifts for friends and family, a little something to say “I am thinking of you and am happy to have you in my life.”
For the holidays, it’s a reminder of what connects us and not what makes us different. To me, I think that’s something we’ve been needing and it’s finally here.
No matter what you celebrate – if you’re celebrating – I hope that you’re surrounded by the things that bring you joy.
And if you are giving thanks today, then I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!