In the sweet spirit of gratitude and my absolute favorite week of the year, I wanted to highlight my top 20 list of the things that I am endlessly grateful for, the blessings of my life that surround me daily and make me who I am.
- la familia
I don't know how I managed to luck out with the brood that knows me inside-and-out, but I got pretty damn fortunate. Because of the way I've been raised, I presumed everyone else around me lived in a crazy hectic home with constant support and encouragement, but it's taken me longer than I'd like to admit that what I was showered with just wasn't the norm. And now, as an almost-26-year-old, I am all the more grateful for it. Most especially, the support from my dad is unwavering. He is one of the greatest men I've ever known, and so much of the good in me comes straight from him. He is selfless, steadfast, wise and witty. My aunt Susan and uncle Byron are the older siblings I never had. Their home is my refuge from the stress of life. Their kids are my entertainment, and their mutual adoration and commitment is a model for what anyone would be lucky to have in life. These three people, most especially, look out for me, day in and day out. And for them, I am forever grateful.
Like many of you, I'm sure, I've had so many factors contribute to the development of my faith. I am fascinated by religions, but more so, blessed to be saved by Jesus, and for everything that means for my life. My faith is deeply personal to me, and something I hope to chisel and refine and broaden for my entire life. I was fortunate to attend a university that strengthened my spiritual backbone, led me to ask questions and delve deeper into the Word.
- my job
There was a time when I was appreciative for a job, basically because of the means of paying my bills. Many of you know that I absolutely loathed my year in Dallas. The city was wrong for me, my job was wrong for me, my coworkers weren't my favorite people, I was just lost. It was miserable. The struggle continued before I found my position here at Baylor, but in retrospect, it was entirely worth it. I've had a job that I absolutely love for nearly two years. I have coworkers I log lots of after-work time with. I have a boss whom I absolutely adore, who's grown to be a close friend over the past year. I have lots of flexibility when it comes to traveling, or taking time off. I can pay my bills, and still manage to have fun, travel, shop (mostly) when I want to... it's a total 180 from my experience in Big D, and I am all kinds of relieved, appreciative, blessed and excited to still be doing what I'm doing (not to mention, my office is tucked right next to a Starbucks--literally in the same building--so my desk is constantly inundated with coffee cups. Namely the festive red ones that are all the holiday rage. This is an entirely separate category that makes me exceedingly happy).
This one's a given. I could plug away page after page about this guy, but you've heard it all before. I'm thankful to have a man in my life who is my best friend. Who challenges me, teaches me, and makes me laugh. Who--three years later--still kisses me like it's the first time. Who travels to see me at the drop of a hat... even for all my friends' weddings here in Texas. Who remembers the little things. Who is my first and last conversations of the day. Who makes big plans with me and sends me mail and my favorite flowers. Who dreams with me and prays with me. I love him. He's such a monumental part of my life.
I've had several girlfriends since college who have been the sisters I never had. I'm blessed beyond measure to have their love and support, to be able to call them at 3 in the morning, or to spend time just giggling hysterically over countless inside jokes, movie quotes, or Baylor memories. Our lives are all in different stages, but our connections haven't faltered. I am excited for every single one of them and the directions their lives are headed, and my heart is full at the thought of everything else in life we'll endure together.
You knew this was coming, right?? But seriously... my little fluff nuggets are my world. It melts my soul to watch Maizie and Milo play together. They provide me with so much laughter and love... one of my favorite parts of the day is coming home to bury my face in their warm, fuzzy necks. They're my constant shadows, always trailing along behind me at home, or flanking each side of me when it's bedtime. What can I say? Fluffy white dogs are clearly my forte.
I'm super thankful for my education, and for the sacrifices my dad has made to provide me with such an acclaimed college experience. I never dreamed I'd work for Baylor (mostly because I knew that'd require me staying in Waco), but to see the university transition and grow from where it was when I was a freshman is such a surreal thing. I still feel myself beam a little when I encounter someone in conversation who comments about how prestigious my degree is, or about how wonderful of a school Baylor is. I know college isn't a given for just everyone. I know there are plenty of people who are far more intelligent than I, who don't have the opportunity to set foot in a college classroom and live the life I had for four years. I am super thankful for the knowledge I learned, the experience I had, and the irreplaceable friends I made.
- the silly things I love
This is kind of vague, but as a whole, I'm thankful for the quirky hobbies that make me, me. I love sports. I love the rush of being a fan. I love following a team from the beginning of a season, and emphatically trudging through until the end. I love the hope that a new season brings. I love the once-in-a-lifetime plays, the rivalries, and yes--even the heartbreaking losses. I love music more than most anything in life. I love the emotion a chorus can evoke, and how a lyric can take you right back to an exact moment in time. I love traveling, and the opportunity to explore new areas, and random dive restaurants. I love the photo ops and the planning that goes into a trip. I absolutely love reading. Reading gives me my "me time," more so than most anything else I do. Amazon is my vice. Confession: I have over 450 books on my wish list, and at night before I nod off to sleep, I buy books. It's my dream to have a library in my home day, complete with heavy mahogany floor-to-ceiling shelves around all four walls and a sliding ladder. I love decorating. I love people knowing me a little more when they walk into my home or office. I love collaborating old with new, fancy with modern. If I could do anything else in life, I'd love to be a decorator. I love having a space of my own, a place to call "home." Somewhere that's all mine.
- a full refrigerator and my love for cooking
This sounds a little obvious to some, maybe, but I think a big mark in life is defined by what's in your fridge. College years are unmistakably noted by the leftover pizza, beer (canned), and array of condiments for the routine sandwich. It sounds silly maybe, but I love going to my refrigerator and having real food! I love cooking. Absolutely LOVE to cook. I love highlighting recipes, rifling through cookbooks, and experimenting with ingredients.
- the internet [and the iphone]
I realize this screams "millenial," but I think we all take for granted how much the internet has changed our lives. From something as basic as email and googling any information we're seeking, to something as developed as twitter, facebook or blogging or skype. Wherever we go, us iphone-users can dial into basically any shred of information we could possibly want to know. We use our phones to find maps, restaurant recommendations, take photos, play games. I spend more than my fair share on pinterest and Twitter, eBay, Amazon (obvs) and researching--whether it's a recipe or rifling through Wikipedia. Not to mention, the blogging and twitter worlds have led me to a posse of fantastic women, many of whom have grown to be my friends.
- being a Texan
Okay, so I know this earns me some points for being a teensy bit obnoxious, but I blame it on my roots. I am defined by a lot of things, but I just love being a Texas girl. I love that this is my home. I love that I was lucky enough to be born here. I love the big city rivalries, the open land, the quirks of Austin, the ritziness of Dallas, the richness of Houston, learning the countless highways, the Hill country, the shopping, the sports teams, the history, the small town life. I love it here. But more so, I love...
- being an American
I am eternally grateful to our military for the selflessness and sacrifice. Grateful that many of them are half a world away, defending my freedom, so that I can sit at an iMac and type away. I am a firm believer that our military men and women aren't awarded half of what they deserve--both in income and gratitude. They're the best of the best, they've protected you and me. Never in my life will I forget my little brother telling me something while I was in college... I was pretty upset, talking to him about how I felt something was wrong with me, enjoying life at Baylor, while he, at 19, was a Marine, fighting in a war that we all struggle to understand. With equal parts boyish charm and knowledgeable man, he told me that he's over there so I can be here, doing what I love. That he wants me to enjoy my days, living my college life--that THAT was why he was overseas. It was much more of a tender moment, and my silly words could never evoke the kind of heartwarming emotion that the experience brought to me, but it was one of those defining moments in life for me. I love my country, I love our military, I love being an American.
- my place in life
This one has been a bit of a struggle for me sometimes. I pride myself on loving life--on soaking up every possible ounce of what's out there. While my heart is forever full for my friends, it's been a little difficult to witness the slew of endless weddings and babies being brought into the world over the past year or two. There's a little bit of envious, "when's it my turn?" This year has really shifted my perspective on that idea. My entire life, I've always been waiting for the next big thing. When I could date. When I could drive. When I graduated high school and went to college... and on and on. It's been endless. Only in the past year, when I've truly decided to be happy in my place in life, have I been satisfied. To live in the here and now. There's a reason for where I am, and how I'm living life. I love the balance of my days... working and coming home to my puppies and my me time. I am supremely confident that I will have a moment, later in life, when I'm surrounded by a hyperactive dog (or two), screaming, temperamental children and a filthy kitchen, when I will crave the serenity of my mid-20s. And right now, I'm choosing to love where I am.
Lastly, I'm grateful for you. Thank you for following along, throughout the ride that is my life... I'm excited to see what 2012 will bring to us all!!
What are you grateful for this year?