Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Things to be Thankful for:

30 Things I’m Thankful for in 2009

I’ve been feeling a bit stressed and overwhelmed in my life lately. Work is not a problem in itself, but having a busy full time workload to try to focus on mixed with raising a four-year old who is going through the typical (but exhausting) changes of amazing explosive learning and striving for independence that turns into exasperating (and sometimes heart-breaking) episodes of defiance leaves my life nothing short of a train wreck. I literally feel like I’m walking on eggshells emotionally at times, and I’m usually tired on some level regardless of how much sleep I get. Losing daylight to the time change doesn’t help, either. Getting the home organization front back under control is helping a little, but I think I need a little extra boost.

To counter the cycle of negativity, as we head into the holiday season which is kicked off by my very FAVORITE day of the year next week (!!!), I am going to follow the trend I’m seeing from other friends online in listing out some of the things I’m thankful for. A number of people have been posting one thing a day for the month of November. I don’t have that kind of focus to post one each day, but how about if I list a month’s worth all at once? That seems like a lot, but despite the problems I have both externally driven and generated from within, I do have a number of people and relationships I value very deeply, and a comfortable life to be grateful for. I’m going to call them out here!

1. My husband. I am exceptionally grateful to have met, be sharing a life with, and be raising a child with such a wonderful man. He shares many of my views on life, enjoys some of my same interests, indulges my sense of humor, and even shares a lot of my aesthetic preferences. He is a kind person with a warm smile who I love to be with. He works hard, values his family, and makes me very happy. I am lucky enough to have had him wait for me to enter his life and be willing to give up his adorable kitties and some food freedoms to keep me in his life. As he told a cab driver in Vegas, we are soulmates.

2. My son. The birth of my son, OUR son, is the single greatest joy that I have ever experienced. He is the light of my life, and was worth every single second of hardship during pregnancy and the early days. He is a beautiful, precious person that my husband and I still marvel about having created, and he charms us daily and everybody he meets.

3-4. My parents. I am extremely lucky to have two unbelievably amazing parents who provide unlimited help and support, love, and have always been there for me. It is a credit to them for raising me to believe in the inherent goodness of people and the importance of doing the right thing. They have worked hard to achieve the things they have and have always set an outstanding example by being amazing people outside of their role as parents and now grandparents. It is a bonus that I never take for granted to have them living nearby and be actively involved in our lives.

5. My aunt and uncle. I have a number of relatives who I value, but in particular I do have one aunt and uncle who are a bigger part of our lives, and I am grateful for them. We get together several times throughout the year, and they are a pleasure to hang out with, very thoughtful, fun, and love our boy as though he were their own. I wish we saw them even more, but I am glad we work to keep it frequent.

6. My grandparents. I was blessed with some amazing grandparents. My mom’s dad died when I was very young, but he served his country proudly and set an excellent example for my mother to become the amazing person she is. My Grammy (mom’s mom) was a true pioneer and an amazing lady. She played sports young and continued to love them later, served as a nurse in the military during wartime, raised a large family partially alone after my grandfather died (my mom was the oldest), and was just an all around impressive person with a passion for life and her family. I am grateful she was able to be with us long enough to see me marry my honey. Likewise, my Grandpop (dad’s dad) also served his country in several wars, and then went on to pursue other fascinating interests like flying and sailing. My Grandmom (dad’s mom) is the only grandparent I still have around, and although her mind is starting to fail her a little, she is a sweet lady with a warm heart.

7. My extended family. I have loads of other family members who, although I don’t see very often, have a place in my heart and left a positive impression on me growing up. My mom is the oldest of six, and mixed with several spouses and kids I fondly remember huge chaotic Thanksgiving gatherings, summers with my aunt, uncle, and cousins, and occasional visits to my mom’s aunts/uncles/cousins up further north. I have reconnected with some through Facebook, and miss them all.

8. My mother-in-law. I think the cliché about nobody getting along with their mother-in-law is sad, and I’m glad it doesn’t apply to me. My mother-in-law is sweet, wonderful, and awesome. I wish we got to spend more time with her, and look forward to her upcoming visit.

9. My “second” mom. Not everybody is lucky enough to have a second mother growing up, but I did. As my mom was a trailblazer in the world of working moms, I had a second one to watch me before and after school, and a whole family to fill in until mine got home. She is missed by all of her family will always hold a special place in my heart.

10. God. I am not outwardly religious, but I was raised catholic, and I do believe firmly in God. That being said, I am grateful to God for being so tolerant of me, and filling my life with happiness despite my lack of dedication to visiting him anywhere other than in my own head more than once or twice a year.

11. The United States of America. I am grateful to happen to be born in this great country. It is not perfect, but I feel very lucky and I am a proud patriot. ‘Nuff said.

12-15. Four dear girlfriends. I consider myself very lucky to have four close friends, each met at different times in my life, with whom I frequently talk, regularly get together, and can bear my heart to and let it all hang out with. One is a college sorority sister who no longer lives in the area but who is never far from my heart and life. One I met shortly after getting married through her now husband; with them we share a lot of common interests and our kids are now sandwiched in age. Another I met through my son, she is more like me than anyone I’ve ever met and became a dear friend in a short period of time. Last but not least is my “newest” close friend, who I met through my husband’s work, and we found ourselves instantly compatible. I would be happy to spend any of my time with each of these awesome ladies, and I am grateful to have them in my life.

16. Other good friends. I do have a lot of other worthy friends to be grateful for. Some are the boys associated with the ladies listed above. Some are friends from my husband’s office. Other college, high school, and childhood friends are in the mix, too. All are worth knowing and hanging out with.

17. My husband’s company. He is lucky enough to work for a great company, which is small enough to be a close-knit group of people, but big enough to keep going through the tough times, and it has always been there for us. He has grown into his career there and it keeps him on his toes but also gives him fulfillment.

18. Fairfax County, Virginia. It was a great place to grow up, and it is a great place to work. I’ve grown and flourished in my career there, and they provide well.

19. The nursing staff and one NICU doctor at Fairfax Hospital. While listed above as the greatest joy ever, the birth of our son and the couple weeks after were also some of the most stressful and difficult times I’ve ever felt. There were some amazing staff who attended to me as well as to our son during his time there who surely had wings tucked under their scrubs. And to one doctor who spent an entire afternoon studying our boy’s confusing chart to make some sense of his health to give us some much-needed answers I will always be thankful.

20. Our son’s school. I am grateful to have our son enrolled in a preschool/care program with warm, talented, and trustworthy teachers and staff, and which has a healthy, pleasant environment and a beneficial curriculum.

21. Our home. Our home is modest, but I am grateful for its shelter, security, and its housing of us, our things, and our good times and memories created here.

22. Our neighborhood. I am grateful that our home is located in a neighborhood filled with nature trails, wildlife, and beautiful scenery. I am also thankful for the wonderful amenities we have such as 3 pools, numerous playgrounds, easy access to shopping, and a duck pond filled with fish and turtles.

23. My education. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to get a higher education, so that I may pursue my chosen career, but also so that I am able to think and learn independently.

24. My health. Although I have a myriad of “issues” as anyone does, I am grateful to have my general health. No terminal diseases, no physical disabilities, and I have use of all my senses.

25. My mental health. This one is arguable at times, but I am grateful for a clear and productive mind.

26. My eyes. Already mentioned the senses above, but I am particularly grateful to have clear unassisted vision, and with some decent looking eyes to peer out of.

27. My business. I am happy that I have accomplished starting a business for myself, and whatever level it remains at in my life I will always feel that pride.

28. Hobbies and interests to be passionate about. I am grateful to have a lot of things that I like to do and that make me tick, and others waiting in the wings for when there are more than 24 hours in a day. Some are physical, like ice hockey, pole dancing, and running/triathlon, others are more creative, like scrapbooking and photography, still others more passive like reading.

29. My parent’s beach house. I am grateful that my parents have the means to own a home at the beach where I spent summer vacations growing up that is easy to get to and often available for a getaway. My son shares my passion for the beach and I am grateful he has access to this beloved resource.

30. The internet. Gore really came through on that one, ha! J Seriously, though, the internet has only been a reality in my life since post college, and it has changed and improved my life and the world in so many ways it is easy to forget. After this many years I am still constantly impressed by new things I learn it can be useful for.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 9, 2009

All Over the Place

That's where me and my head are at. Had a nice, relaxed weekend, with few obligations. Got the house partly back in order. Ate better. Recognized some ways to fend off the eating trigger feelings, and convinced myself I am done buying Chips Ahoy. Exercised out in the sun and fresh air both days. Got a fair amount of thinking done during those walk-jogs. Have decided that in the future, my discussions about my successes/failures with food and exercise will focus on what I have DONE in a particular day or week, and not just blathering on about what I want or claim to want to do. Having lofty aspirations and concrete deadlines didn't seem to do me any good before.

On the reading front, I read a very, VERY light book as a palate cleanser before tackling Dracula. Because, yes, although I'd punch anyone in the face that called me a Twi-hard, after 2500 pages of the Twilight saga, I admit I felt kind of involved in the story and the characters, and it is a letdown to be done with it. I do agree with my critics that the writing is not particularly stellar (and perhaps got even less so after the first one), but it was hard to argue with the plot, I was riveted. I do want to see the movie(s), but I am quite certain that the visual in my head will look comparably dumb onscreen, especially since I hear the acting is as poor as one would expect from a bunch of rookie teenagers. I made the mistake of trying to read the academic analysis of Dracula first, instead of just skipping past and starting the story, and it was boring as hell. Don't get me wrong, I am as academically capable as I ever was, that's just not what I'm in it for at this point in my life. A little entertaining escape is what I seek in my reading, please.

Wish I could focus myself a little better, though, in general. I am having a bit of an attack of the all or nothings, and I wish I could do it all- FINISH getting the house in order down to every last detail, start again and catch up to now in my scrapbook once and for all, throw myself more fully into exercise, etc. But, I am finding those thoughts to be way too much, and distracting from other important things such as work. The real work, the one that pays the bills. It has picked up suddenly, and left me behind a little. So, the moral of this weekend, is, that doing a decent amount in several areas is healthy, and I can't let my brain rage out of control pining for perfection that doesn't fit into the clock. A holiday Wednesday might allow me a little more house progress, must focus again more fully at the 'ole job tomorrow.

And sometime soon, my demon 4-going-on-16 behaving child will return to the sweet self he usually is and stop sucking the life out of us. :)