In theory, we should be thankful all of the time for the blessings we have. In theory, we shouldn't need a special day to remind us of how fortunate we are to live in the country we do, even with all its problems. In theory, everyone should be able to realize on a daily basis that situations are relative and most of us with internet access to even read this blog post are far more fortunate than many, many people in the world.
But problems are relative, and people get bogged down in the day to day trials - myself included - and sometimes it helps to have a day where you are given the directive to slow down and appreciate all you have. Because when you really start naming the things for which you are thankful, you realize you already have most everything that matters in this life...
Maddy's List of Thanks
1. More than anything else, and especially in light of recent reminders of how precious this life is, I am thankful for my health.
I have the ability to walk, run, sleep through the night, eat pâté or milk or wheat without my insides revolting against me. I can stay up late working through the night on projects and while my body may not be happy the next morning, it won't give out on me just yet. I am so thankful to have the freedom I have to do nearly anything I can think of merely because I am lucky enough to be physically healthy.
2. In congress with that, I am incredibly thankful for my mental health.
I won't deny there are times I jokingly refer to myself as the crazy lady or as being a nutball once in a while (terms I should really use less) but in light of recent stories coming out about those who battle severe depression or other mental illness on a daily, hourly, even minute-to-minute basis, I am so lucky to have been born with the brain chemistry I have. That may sound strange, but I appreciate it greatly in these times.
3. This usually goes without saying (or is one of the more cliché things to be thankful for - why?) but I am thankful every day for my family and friends.
The people who I was born into association with could not have been better. I know so many who don't necessarily have the same relationship with their given family, and I am grateful every day that I have the family I do. But, there is much to be said for the family you create - and the friends I have in my life these days are those who have supported me, encouraged me, consoled me, taught me, uplifted me, and sometimes even just hugged me on an especially bad PMS week. My friends have given me so much and I can only hope I give out a fraction of that good energy back to them.
4. I am thankful that I can travel.
Not many people have the ability, physically or financially, to just pick up and plan a trip when they feel like it, and I am so happy that this year I have made it happen more for myself. I recognize this is a luxury not everyone (or even close to everyone) enjoys.
5. I am thankful for my education.
Growing up in Palo Alto, I thought college was a given. I thought getting a job that pays more than a Mini Cooper's worth of starting salary was a given. This is...patently untrue, and I am so grateful for all of the opportunities I've been given. I got a head start in life and I intend to appreciate it to the fullest.
6. I am thankful for second chances.
This year has been one of the most turbulent in some ways but has also taught me just what stuff I am made of - and I'm made of tough stuff. There are things I never thought I'd get over that I did. There are things I never thought I'd learn to let go of, and I did. Believe it or not, I'm not speaking only about romantic relationships - I feel this year has challenged some of my closest relationships in all areas of my life, and I've come out on the other side knowing more about myself and about those in my life. Now, the key is taking that knowledge, and moving forward. Doing better. Taking another swing at it all.
7. Finally, I am thankful that I was born as myself.
This may sound a bit strange, but this year I have learned more about myself and how I handle things in relation to other people and what my goals are... and I wouldn't want to be anyone else. For a girl (woman) who has dealt with self-esteem issues her whole life (hello, who hasn't?) this is a huge step. I am appreciative of those little bits of me that no one else has, and I enjoy my own company greatly. Not in a narcissistic way, but, you know. You have to like yourself. You're the only one you'll be with for your whole life!
This list is obviously not exhaustive. How can you recognize each and every moment of your life that brings you joy? Each fluttering leaf in a fall wind, each pause to listen to a song on the radio, each moment I can splurge on that "fancy cheese" with my friends because I'm not counting my pennies this week... these moments are un-list-able, because I am fortunate enough to have so many.
The best I can do is promise to recognize it, be grateful for all that I have, and hope I can live my life in a way that reflects that.
(Oh, and also, I am thankful for the take out Pho place down the block from my apartment, if we're being realistic about things. They have saved me on many a lazy weeknight.)