My 2016 'Thankfuls'

I can't believe it's been a year since I last wrote about the tradition of "thankfuls" at my friends' Veggie Thanksgiving. In fact, on Tuesday afternoon, I was sitting at my desk, watching the sun slide down behind the snowy pines across the street, when it struck me that I had not yet achieved the right mindset for my favorite holiday.

Even though my pals' pre-Thanksgiving bash didn't happen this year (for good reason, with people traveling and small children sleeping and life happening), I still wanted to fill my head with the best kinds of thoughts before I started baking pies for my family's own gathering. Here's my list: 

I'm thankful for health. My fantastic surgeon did an extraordinary job resolving (fingers crossed) issues that have long been problematic. Which has allowed me to spend two sessions a week getting my tail kicked by a terrific personal trainer (seriously, the day before Thanksgiving, and I got to do 40-minutes of eight-exercise, full-body circuits). Which provided the push I needed to get back into regular visits with a great chiropractor. Energy up. Pounds, inches, and sizes down. Legs returned to the same length.  

I'm thankful for work. This may seem like an odd thing to say, but when you're self-employed, it's not something you take for granted. I am very fortunate to have great relationships with former colleagues and friends who have scattered far and wide. I have not yet had to make cold approaches to organizations; everything I've done this year has come from people I know well enough to ask about their families by name. I am so grateful for that, since I've determined that I can only manage two out of these three things at the same time (new client acquisition, paid work, and/or MFA deadlines).

I'm thankful for opportunities. From January onward, I've had so much support from so many people. My amazing King's faculty thoughtfully scheduling me to speak with an incredibly helpful publishing contact in Toronto who provided much-needed insight about pitching my book, specifically. My cousins very generously offering to help me fly to the far side of the country, if needed, to arrange more research interviews. The random people in random places (the receptionist at the car dealership, patrons at the library, medical folk, etc.) who've asked what I'm writing and, when I've told them, immediately embraced the project, providing unexpected validation.

I'm thankful for courageIt's funny, but when I think of my own courage this year, I immediately think of one specific email I sent, after talking myself out of it for months. I don't think of my really uncertain surgery, first steps into a training studio, wacky first freelance year, or work toward a terminal degree. Are my priorities are arranged a little oddly? Perhaps. Or perhaps they're exactly as they should be.  In any case, when I talk about courage, I'm thinking of Mr. Khánjání, and the owners of that toy shop in Qaemshahr, and the neighbors of the Bahá’í in Yazd who caught and held his murderers until police arrived. The kind of courage that inspires.

I'm thankful for mountains. Anyone who knows me knows that I choose oceans over mountains nearly every time. But that's real life, and this is a metaphor. This year, I'm really glad I've had the challenges I have, in all of the areas above. The fact is, mountains make me stronger. They also help me realize what I have to offer the world. And that's pretty darn empowering!