The last few weeks have been emotionally trying for a lot of people.
I couldn’t help but think that now is a pretty good time to reflect on what we have to be grateful for.
We’ve got Thanksgiving around the corner in the US, and I believe gratitude can help us overcome all the negativity going on right now.
Some might think it’s a trivial exercise in the face of bigger issues at hand, but if we can’t be grateful, what else do we have?
I’ve been through a lot of dark times in my life, but thinking back, I always had things I could be grateful for.
Unfortunately, when you’re going about your day-to-day, you tend to take the simple things for granted. We place more emphasis on the negative than the positive.
It’s time to change that. I hope you’ll join me in thinking about everything you have to be grateful for, despite the odds many of us are facing.
I haven’t written a “being grateful” post in quite some time, but that doesn’t mean I stopped practicing gratitude. It’s the one thing I always come back to when I’m having a bad day, because it puts everything into perspective.
So instead of focusing on recent things, I’m going to go all over the board and mention a few things I’ve been grateful for this year.
An Amazing Support Network
This year hasn’t been an easy one for me, as I mentioned in my update. But no matter what happened, my family and friends were behind every decision I made.
I was honestly a little surprised about it. One of my biggest fears in breaking off my engagement was getting judged.
You see, my family is pretty small. I have two older cousins, and two younger cousins. I’m in the middle, and also the only only-child in that set.
My two older cousins are married with kids, and I was “next in line” – at least, on the marriage front. And from the outside looking in, their marriages went fine.
I had this irrational fear that I’d be labeled the black sheep by breaking the mold. I figured my family would think I was absolutely crazy for moving to Texas, further away from everything I knew.
And then, when I found someone new, another layer of fear was added on.
But they were supportive throughout the entire thing. They welcomed C with open arms, and they didn’t question me about the past. The friends I confided in, and my parents – they understood.
I try not to take having an amazing support network for granted. Many, many years ago, when I was still in school, I felt completely alone. I didn’t have any close friends, and you know, when you’re a teenager, you don’t really confide in your parents. Those years were tough, and I’m so glad that when I’m feeling down, I have people I can reach out to.
Flexibility – in More Ways Than One
This year would have turned out very, very differently had I been in a regular job, or if I didn’t have enough savings.
I was able to visit family and friends on multiple occasions, sometimes for an extended period of time. I was able to toss most of my belongings and move with what could fit into my car. I was able to get an apartment – on my own – in Austin, Texas, when many people who move there are struggling.
I was able to make the decision to break things off without financial worry. I could move because I didn’t have a job tying me down.
Even though I made some difficult decisions, I’m very thankful that I didn’t have to deal with an extra layer of stress. Not having enough money, or being “trapped,” would have made those months a lot harder.
While I talk about the “blah” side of location independence a lot – being “on” all the time, setting your own hours and then working all the time – I can’t deny that it helped more than hurt during those months of transition.
And of course, I’m always a fan of saying that saving money gives you options. That’s the #1 reason I’m a saver (well, after I pushed away my fears around money). Lack of money can hold you back from taking risks and living the life you feel you were meant for. No thanks!
A Sense of Home
I’ve said this before, but when I lived in Charlotte, I never felt like I was “home.”
I distinctly remember the first time going food shopping, and telling R that it felt like we were on vacation.
Well, it didn’t feel like “vacation,” but I never felt settled. And I suppose part of that reason was because my plan, going into it, was to be out of the city in a year or so.
A lot of people would probably find that strange, but at the time, it was what I wanted. I didn’t want to settle down – I wanted to explore!
Unfortunately, that “end goal” wrecked havoc on the rest of my life. I never focused on making friends because I figured there was no use if we were just going to leave. I always felt like I was working toward the “next thing,” whatever that was.
And when we were still there after two years, my internal clock said, “Time’s up! Move on!!” And I cut loose.
While I still think it was the right decision, it was somewhat depressing not ever feeling like I was home.
Whenever I went back to NY and stayed with my grandma, that felt more like home. Sure, I’ve spent tons of time there over my life, but it was hundreds of miles away.
Whenever I visited my parents, that felt like home. Sure, I had “my” room, but it was a place I generally only visited for 2-4 days at a time, once every other month.
Whenever I returned to our apartment, I wondered when we would be leaving.
And that same thought followed me to Austin. For some reason, even though I liked the city far more than I enjoyed Charlotte, I couldn’t see myself there for very long.
Which, of course, led to my ultimate decision of moving to NJ, a place I never thought I would call home.
I have a post coming up on why it’s still not 100% home, but it’s the closest sense of home I’ve felt in quite some time, and it’s nice.
Maybe that has to do with the fact I’m living in an actual house, and not an apartment, but I wager it’s more about the fact that C’s family and friends are one of the most welcoming groups of people I’ve been lucky to be introduced to.
And that leads into the next thing…
Having a Social Life
It’s probably sad that I’m putting this down, but we’re going for the simple things we take for granted, right?
Like I said, when I was living in Charlotte, my focus wasn’t on having a social life. It was on building a business, and I sacrificed time with others to focus on my work.
This year, I’ve changed my tune. After feeling rather alone for the last few years, I felt myself wishing I had people to go out with on the weekend, or at least to play games with. I no longer wanted to be glued to my computer during the wee hours of the night.
That was part of my reason for moving to Austin. I wanted to make my own friends and have my own social circle. And while I did have friends there, after one particular instance, I realized it was a silly reason to stay.
I’ll probably touch on this more in another post, but the mindset I was in during that time was that of needing to figure myself out. On my own. Because that’s what Eat Pray Love is all about, and that’s what so many people tell you to do after being in a long-term relationship.
While it’s not bad advice, I kept trying to stick to someone else’s story because it was what I thought I should be doing.
“I should move to Austin, force myself out of my comfort zone, learn to be more independent, make my own friends, and be single no matter what for at least a year.”
Should can be very harmful, more harmful than we realize.
Long story short (for now), I got past the fact I’d be joining a group rather than making my own, and I haven’t looked back. C warned me when I moved that I should say goodbye to having weekends free, and aside from a few, he’s been right.
I basically went from being a hermit to having to say “no” to invites, and I come back from most every hang out feeling immensely grateful that I have these people in my life. That I have these events to look forward to, when before, it was just going to be another weekend of working.
I’m also grateful I have C to push me when I’m not feeling particularly up to things. Not to sound ungrateful (when I’m clearly not), but as an introvert, socializing can be tiring, and there are days when I just want to lounge around and enjoy time at my own pace.
However, most of the time, I don’t regret spontaneous nights out, and it’s forced me to prioritize my life over work, which is a shift I’ve been needing to make for a while. I just didn’t have a huge reason to do it.
Being in Somewhat Familiar Territory
A few weeks ago, we decided to head into NY for some hiking. There’s nothing I love more than the fall foliage. This is my favorite season, by far, and being able to enjoy it was just…nice. Admittedly, I don’t spend enough time outside, so it was nice to enjoy nature and go off the beaten trail.
Last year, we had come up in October as well, and it’s because I just can’t stand fall down south. We actually visited my parents during the last week of October (which I’m also grateful for), and it felt like summer! It was 80 degrees at one point, with no sign of leaves changing.
Getting to experience fall and winter, as I’ve always known it, was one of the small bonuses of getting to move back up here. Especially now that I don’t have to commute in the snow. ;)
Anyway, being in NJ is actually better than being on Long Island when it comes to getting to upstate NY. On Long Island, you have to go through numerous tolls, cross a few bridges, and get stuck in traffic in the process. It’s quicker to just cross the state line from here, which is really nice.
What’s not nice is that getting into LI is a pain from here, but we can always take the more expensive route – the train – for more convenience (and less traffic).
We’re also planning on a trip to the city to see the tree, something I haven’t done in probably 5 or 6 years. I’m not the biggest fan of NYC (being a little claustrophobic), but there’s something really magical about experiencing it in winter with all the decorations and holiday cheer.
- I’m always grateful that I basically live with a chef. I hate cooking, but he loves it, and he’s great at making food the way I like it, so I actually try new food.
- I’m also grateful that I somehow ended up in a group of friends that all enjoy cooking, so I can look forward to Sunday night football dinner, or a buffet at a large gathering. Yum.
- I’m grateful that our dog is in good health!
- I’m grateful whenever it’s a sunny day out. Bonus points if it’s the perfect hoodie weather.
- Only nerds will understand this, but I’m super excited that I’ll be joining a DnD campaign soon – moreso grateful that we have a friend who’s experienced enough to DM.
- Something freelancers take for granted a lot is internet access, mostly when it’s working. It’s only when it’s NOT working that it becomes an issue. So I’m grateful to have amazing speeds and constant service, because TWC absolutely sucked in Texas.
- I’m also grateful I was able to join a family plan on Verizon and only pay $40/month. Sorry, Republic Wireless, but the lack of service and paying a buttload for a phone wasn’t working for me anymore. (I paid $1 for my Galaxy S6.)
- As always, I’m grateful for the fact that I have shelter, plenty of clothing, clean water, probably too much food, and options. That’s more than some people can say.
- I’m grateful for coffee. (Does that need an explanation?)
Okay – your turn. What are you grateful for in your everyday life that you tend to take for granted?