Undoubtedly, I am in the holiday spirit this time of year. When Christmas music and holiday decorations appear in the stores, I get a sense of excitement and joy because this truly is the most wonderful time of the year! I get to enjoy all the beautiful lights and cheer without the hassle and stress of Christmas shopping (because I’m Jewish). Moreover, I celebrate the holidays with lots of birthday cake because both my oldest daughter and I have birthdays in December. Who doesn’t like cake?!
But I am getting ahead of myself. We still need to celebrate Thanksgiving! I’m sure there are a ton of “what I’m thankful for” posts and tweets flooding the interwebs this week, but it does not diminish my honest and heartfelt list below. Instead of putting together the usual “healthy kids, gainfully employed, happy to have a home” kind of list (which I am still totally thankful for!), I am pushing myself to dig deeper and perhaps this will open up a new way for others to think of thankfulness too.
Top 5 List of “What I’m Thankful for This Year”
1. I am thankful to appreciate the intangibles.
I am thankful this list has nothing to do with stuff or anything I can purchase with money. It is easy to get caught up with wanting stuff and buying new and shiny things (on sale no less!), but after watching one particularly funny bit by Jerry Seinfeld, I view my house as a “garbage processing center” for stuff before it ultimately makes its way to the garbage dump. I am thankful what makes me truly happy has nothing to do with swiping my credit card.
2. I am thankful for getting comfortable with discomfort.
I just listened to a set of CDs from Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön, and she talks about leaning in and burning the seeds of aggression. I have been studying Buddhism for about a year now, so I am thankful this is becoming something I can now truly internalize and experience instead of just read about. I realize this may be a little too “crunchy/groovy” for some readers, but what this really means is I am making progress in turning off the broken record of negative thoughts in my head, and I am learning to sit in the discomfort and ultimately see it dissipate.
3. I am thankful for doing the scary things.
A lot of people live their life by basing most of their big life decisions off of fear. They stay in a job they do not like, a marriage in which they are not happy, or a house they no longer want because the alternative is too scary. I understand the “what ifs?!” can be paralyzing. In my mind, living my life based on fear truly scares the crap out of me because then I essentially stop living. Admittedly, when something scares me, I want to run in the other direction, but if it scares and excites me, then my gut is telling me I should sit up and take notice. I need to do it. I want to take a “what if” and make it a “why not?” One example from this past year is learning a new language (Spanish). I had to push away all the negative thoughts like “What if I suck? What if I just don’t get it? What if I’m the dumbest one in the class? What if this is a huge waste of time?” and just go for it because why not? Starting this blog also falls into the scary and exciting category. I’m not a website wizard, and the thought of opening up and being vulnerable can scare the bajeezus out of me. And yet, I’m thankful I sucked it up and shared the scary things because in return I found love, kindness, and support from my wonderful readers and I think I helped some people too.
4. I am thankful for becoming older, wiser and nurturing “newish” relationships as an adult.
The holiday season marks another year coming to an end and with my birthday at the end of the year, we can literally tack on another year. (There are times I feel like an old oak tree gathering rings around my trunk.) This year I had the good fortune to develop relationships with folks I never thought I would become close with. In my “old age” I have learned to listen to what I think about someone instead of letting another’s words color my opinion of a person. In my younger years I would easily become swayed by what someone older and seemingly wiser would say, but now I can make up my own mind and it feels good. This year I nurtured relationships with people I had previously “written off” and I’m really glad I did.
5. I am thankful for a marriage in which I continually fall deeper in love with my husband and reestablish him as my very best friend
Okay, you can put your barf bags away and stop making gag noises. This is true though. While this blog is named in honor of my truly outstanding and amazing girlfriends (for which I thank my lucky stars on a daily basis), my husband gets top billing for most awesome (grown-up) person in my life. My husband can make the most mundane activity (like spending a whole Saturday night looking at furniture online) entertaining and fun. He is the only person I never get sick of. He is the ying to my yang and the most amazing parent I have ever met (so I am super happy he’s on my parenting team and “all in” when it comes to raising our girls because I have come across some real head-scratching parenting moments recently! Also, it doesn’t hurt to know I’m crazy attracted to him, so back off ladies!). Not too long ago someone said, “I don’t know how you do it Michelle” and I could only respond with saying I don’t. Without my husband, I would not accomplish a teeny tiny fraction of what I get done and I would probably be clinically depressed without his unconditional love. My husband supports all of my seemingly crazy ideas like, “I want to sign up for Spanish!” or “What do you think of me starting a blog?” to “Let’s plan to retire in France!” I recently sent my husband a list of questions about marriage before and after kids with the thought of publishing a post about how having a kid, and then more kids (multiples, yikes!) can change a marriage. His answers were too personal to share on my blog (sorry folks), but the result was me falling more deeply in love with him. No matter what comes our way we continually work on communicating with one another to stay on the same page, we honor and respect one another, and we always support one another. There is not a single person in the world I respect more than my husband and like a true product of Generation X, my respect must be earned. He’s got it all, and I’m so thankful to have him.