Thursday, November 25, 2010

The President Pardoned "Apple" and "Cider" This Year... Two More Things I Am Grateful For

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on all that I am thankful for at this time in my life. Well, I take that back… knowing how easy it is for me to go on and on, perhaps I'll just stick with my top ten. 

My health 
My first afternoon in California, I decided to go for a little jog in Griffith Park. It was a beautifully overcast day with just a sprinkle of rain. It was brisk without being too cold and the air smelled clean, a difficult thing for Los Angeles air to do. I walked around the park for a while and found a trail that headed upwards into the hills. I thought I would take the trail for twenty minutes or so and then head back down. I started up, alternating between walking and jogging. Twenty minutes passed but I felt so great that I kept going. It was quiet and peaceful. I had worked up a steady sweat and was feeling exceptionally energized. Twenty more minutes went by and I was still climbing. 

A little over an hour later, I found myself at one of the highest points in Griffith Park. I had a 360 degree view of the city. I was actually looking down on the Griffith Park Observatory which, until then, had been as high as I'd ever gone in the park. It was a breathtaking view. I sat and meditated for a while and went to stretch my legs. As I did so, I realized how they weren't that tight. I felt great. No, I felt fantastic. I had just made an aggressive and intense climb for over an hour and was ready to do it all over again. 

I am no saint when it comes to what I eat and drink. I like a cheeseburger and beer just as much as I do a green tea and tofu salad. But even though my weight is in a constant state of fluctuation, I can look at myself without a doubt in my mind and know that if challenged, I could get up tomorrow and run a marathon. Okay, maybe a half marathon… either way, I take care of my body physically and am rewarded with almost no illnesses or injuries. Finding out about my dad's diabetes has made me even more aware of the things I put into my body and looking at my health in a long-term fashion has become automatic. I can certainly still make improvements and, as many of you know, I'm always trying to improve… but in the meantime, I am very grateful and thankful for the condition of my health. 

On December 6th, it will be six months without a cigarette. On December 2nd, it will be five months without smoking marijuana. My lungs love me. 

My family 
As I've mentioned before, my father is the oldest of eleven. My mom didn't really have a chance to get very close to her siblings because of drama with her own mom. As a result, the four of us (mom, dad, brother and me) have always been a pretty solid unit. As I've mentioned many times, my brother and I are very different souls and don't often see eye to eye on things. However, I honestly wouldn't trade my family for anything in the world. 

My dad is the kindest man I know. He works as a property manager for a series of lower income apartments in the area of Naked City which is what the locals call the neighborhoods behind the Stratosphere Hotel. My dad is the kind of person that gives people a chance when no one else would dream of it. Even he will admit that sometimes, this doesn't work in his favor (for example, one of his tenants got angry and tried to burn down her apartment last week). However, I know that for all the people that don't work out, there is one or two that are able to start their life over with the opportunity given to them by my dad. I wonder if he truly knows the difference he makes for people. He certainly makes a difference for me. 

My mother is one of the most resilient women I've ever known. I have made the awful mistake in the past of confusing her fear of change with an inability to move forward and grow. In fact, no one has done more growing in their lifetime than my mother has. While we all have issues to deal with, my mother was dealt a hand that most people would just fold and give up. Instead, my mom has proven time and time again what a winner she truly is. Every once in a while, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I see how much I am becoming my mom. And this makes me smile. 

My brother… well, I think I covered my overall feelings about my brother in my previous blog about forgiveness. The year my brother kicked his meth habit was the same year that he received an award in our bowling league for Most Improved. Obviously, this was for his overall bowling average throughout the 33 weeks that we bowled… but I knew in my heart as he walked up to received his prize money that it meant much more than that. I thought I was going to lose my brother to the streets and eventually, to death. Every day he is alive is a day he has given himself. If that's not Most Improved, I simply don't know what is. What a lucky son he has to have such a strong father. And on that note, an even luckier son to have such a wonderful mother as my sister in law is equally amazing. No wonder they found each other. 

My satellite radio 
I love to drive. I love my Corolla because it is comfortable, reliable and is named after Phil Mickelson (I bought it the weekend he won the Masters). But what tops it off is my Sirius XM Satellite Radio that my parents gave me as a birthday gift this year. In all seriousness, I would pay the full amount that it costs to have satellite radio to only have Alt Nation as it is the best radio station I've experienced. I've been introduced to some of the greatest alternative music I've ever heard - and I grew up in Seattle! In addition, I have an entire station dedicated to Mystery Theatre. Nothing makes the 15 freeway more exciting than being read a murder mystery thriller from the 1940s. Awesomeness. 

My Smart Phone's navigation 
Truthfully, I'm thankful for my Smart Phone in general. I'm one of those people who thought that I would never have a use for a Smart Phone and now that I have one, I can't imagine NOT having it. As someone with absolutely no sense of direction, I often have a lot of frustration trying to get around a new area. For example, my trip to California included visiting friends in North Hollywood, trips to Griffith Park and Malibu, hanging with a friend in Costa Mesa, chilling with another friend in Ventura and then partying with even more friends in Long Beach. Oh, and endless trips to groovy coffee houses. 

Normally, I would be all stressed out, trying to Mapquest my trip and then read my terribly written directions while attempting to keep my car from veering into oncoming traffic. Now, all I have to do is type or speak my destination and let the phone tell me the rest. Perfect. If only someone would create an app so I can personalize the voice that gives me the directions, then my life would be complete. My choice? Christopher Walken. 

My belly 
This is a tough one for me but I am insisting on being thankful for my belly. To say I obsess over the size of my stomach is just shy of a monstrous understatement. I admit, it's completely vain of me. I mean, we've already established that I am a healthy person. Unfortunately, I tend to equate physical beauty with a flat stomach. While there are many lucky people out there who could eat an entire box of jelly filled donuts and not gain a pound, I can't seem to dream about lasagna without waking up heavier than when I fell asleep. However, in looking at my "vacation belly" today in the mirror, I had to smile and be grateful. 

This is not an ideal economy to be in and while it is obvious that the U.S. is struggling as a nation, I know that there are many other countries out there who are having a worse time than we are. Lots of unemployment, lots of sickness and lots of sadness. My belly is a reminder that I have money to buy groceries, a home to cook in and a boyfriend who takes me out to eat whenever I feel like indulging. In fact, tomorrow, there will be so much food and libations to enjoy with my friends that my belly will be more thankful than it has been in a long time. And while it will most likely take the good part of next week to get back into my skinny jeans, I am extremely grateful for all the food I get to enjoy. 

My brain 
Yes, it's overworked. Yes, it's useful when someone needs the correct spelling of a word. No, it doesn't remember historical dates and no, it didn't do very well on the SATs. But I love my brain. I love that I was blessed with an intellect that allows me to have deep, stimulating conversations with a multitude of people. I love that I can rap about football for hours at a time. I love that when I sit down with my colored pencils and the intention of creating something beautiful… I do. I love that I can sit and pour my heart out and it makes sense. I love that I can have a conversation with just about anyone on just about anything because of all that me and my brain have experienced. I'm grateful that I was given the gift of smarts. I'm by no means the most intelligent person I know, but my brain comes up with some pretty cool shit sometimes. For this, I am extremely thankful. 

My MacBook 
I get to be a writer everywhere I go. I used to carry around a voice recorder and a journal so when something popped up in my head that I didn't want to forget, I could make a note of it. Now, all I have to do is open up my laptop and write away. The mobility I now have gives me the opportunity to capture how I feel right when I feel it. I can post blogs from everywhere, I can travel and still stay connected at all times and I feel super cool when I whip out my Mac and get the job done. I feel lucky, grateful and give thanks every time I hit the "on" button. And, as my friend Laurel said when I first bought my computer "Once you go Mac, you never go back." 

My friends 
It's been very recent that I've realized how many amazing people I have in my life. I fully admit that historically, I have taken my friends for granted. I have abused their friendship and taken from them without giving anything in return. My trip to California reminded me how many amazing people I have in my life and how they still love me, even though I haven't always been lovable. I get to spend tomorrow with some great friends who have always been there for me and have some of the biggest hearts around. 

As I've written about numerous times, my friend Nancy is the most unbelievable person I know. It is such a privilege to call her my friend. And she is just one of many people that I have in my space that I love, adore, respect and cherish. It's important for me to let my friends know how much they mean to me. I spend a lot of time alone, but no longer do I feel lonely. Kyle, Chris, Nancy, Greg, Brendan, Erin, Dan, Brian, Danny, Robert, Brandy, Kelly, Laurel, Rex, my adorable and wonderful "Jeremy", Tara, Beau, Justin, Whitney, James, Cory, Alana, Maryann, Travis, Matt, Rodney, Rhonda, Shannon, Scootr, Julia, Nick, Karrie, Ariana, Jess, Koreena and many others that have come into my life and simply gifted me with their presence. Thank you and I love you for all that you are to me and to the world. 

My apartment 
I've had a lot of apartments over the years. However, there is something very special about my apartment now because it's the first time since I moved to Las Vegas that I've had a place to call my own. I spent the first few months painting the walls and slowly furnishing it the way I wanted to. It's cute, it's cozy and it's mine. There is definitely something to be said about having my own space. I have a friend who has been staying with me off and on for the last nine months or so, and being able to have a spot that I can give to someone else who needs it is also something I am extremely grateful for. As I sit here and look around at all I have, I am endlessly thankful. 

My readers 
And finally… I am thankful for my readers. Blogging is something that I really enjoy. I don't have the "typical blog", whatever that is… my blog has turned out to be more of an online journal. However, it is so fulfilling and satisfying knowing that my words reach people and are relatable. That was my intention from the very beginning. All I need is one person to read something I write and feel a little less isolated and I am full of a joy and satisfaction that nothing else I've done has ever been able to do for me. I am excited for the day that I walk by Borders and see my name on the cover of the next New Released book. 

On that note… I couldn't be completely finished without expressing my thanks and gratitude to Jeremy who has reminded me what dreaming big feels like and why it is so important to continue doing so. I am absolutely, incredibly and undoubtedly in love with you. Your belief in me is something that still amazes me. Thank you for barreling into my life with your positive attitude and winning mentality. If it is okay with you, I would be very happy taking on the world by your side. 

See? Could you imagine if I kept going? And I could! Because there is so much that I'm grateful for. And as I finish writing this post, I see that it is 12:03am - officially Thanksgiving Day. There is one more thing to be thankful for as I close this up for the night… 

Sleep. :)

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