This is admittedly my favorite time of year. From November 1 through January 1, I can listen to Christmas music as much as I want, spoil the people I love, and I get to go home and spend time with all the people who matter most to me. I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media about 30 days of giving thanks, and while I love that idea, I am already 3 days behind and will inevitably forget to post. Instead, I’m going to give y’all a list of the 30 things I’m thankful for and you can just come back everyday and read the next one (or read them all at once…whatever floats your boat).
1. My parents. They’re where all this goodness began, and I could be more thankful of their endless love and support. Life hasn’t always been easy, but it’s certainly been worth it. They have raised my brothers and I to be free thinking, strong willed adults. I miss them so much and wish we were closer together, but this move to Texas allowed us to become so much closer. I don’t know what I would do without our conversations via text, phone, and even FaceTime. I love you two so so much.
2. My brothers. Good God almighty, these two are a trip! They drive me crazy, sometimes I want to punch them in their faces, but I love these two more than anything. It’s been so nice seeing them grow into such funny, caring, and (mostly) sophisticated young men. I look forward to where life takes all of us and I love you for allowing me to be an integral part of y’all’s journey.
3. My extended family. A lot of people have “close” families, but this clan is so close it’s scary. My aunt Mary Pat might as well be my 2nd mother, my Aunt Lucia is basically like the older sister I never asked for, my grandma Maggie is one of my best friends and role models, and with few exceptions, I know that at any time on any day, I could call a Perfetti or Kiernan and talk to someone who loves and supports me. They might not all love all of the decisions I’ve made (cough cough 5 tattoos later), but this unending support network is what keeps me grounded.
4. My undergrad. I was just talking to someone about the loyalty that most have to their undergrad institution compared to that of your grad school, and for me, it’s very true. I will bleed orange until the day I die. Syracuse taught me more in four years than I ever could have learned inside a classroom. They taught me a lot inside the classroom too, but had I never gone to college, I wouldn’t even know about the field I’m now working in. I also wouldn’t have met some of the most inspiring individuals in my life…Otto, I can’t ever thank you enough.
5. My friends. I’ve blogged before about my lack of friends and how I value fluid relationships more, but there are a few people who I truly value as lifelong friends. Erica has seen my best and worst and everything in between, and while I would’ve walked away from me a long time ago, she’s always been there for me. Megan, who I met when I switched high schools in 8th grade and had NO idea who anyone was is now my only other friend from HS who’s in grad school. The two of us have been in college for 6 straight years now, and this experience has brought us much closer together. In addition to these two, I have a group of people from undergrad who I might not talk to every day, week, or even month, but when we do chat, we’re right where we left off and I love that about them.
6. My cohort. We’re small but mighty out here in West Texas, and though we’re not all friends, these 6 individuals are the people who have really shaped my experience in grad school. Being the guinea pigs for an academic program has been less than enjoyable, and in some ways we’ve gotten the short end of stick with our program, but we’ve stuck it out and relied on one another to make it work. None of us know where the next months are going to take us, but I look forward to seeing how the journey plays out for everyone.
7. Ryan Bye. The male version of myself who managed not to kill me in my first year as a professional. We drove each other crazy and it definitely wasn’t always pretty, but you forced me to grow personally and professionally and I can’t ever repay you for that.
8. Red wine. When I moved to Texas, I only drank white wine. Working through last year with #7 up there, I learned to enjoy cab sav like it was part of my job. You’re probably judging me that red wine is in the top 10 things I’m thankful for, but oh well.
9. Coastal Carolina University. I only worked there for about 6 weeks, but those 6 weeks not only allowed me to live at the beach for the summer (a rough life, I know), but I got to connect with great staff and students. My internship was certainly not at all what I thought it would be, but my supervision skills were greatly enhanced and I got a taste of working in the region where I’d eventually like to end up.
10. The ocean. I don’t get to see it nearly enough, but standing on a beach with the waves cresting over my feet and legs reminds me just how small I am in the grand scheme of things.
11. My previous relationships. I like to joke around that I’ll be “forever alone,” but I don’t actually think that’s the case. My previous relationship–the good, the bad, and the ugly–have shaped where my next relationship will go. Without the ugliness of my past, I wouldn’t know the beauty I want in my future, so I have to be thankful for that.
12. My health. We all have areas we want to change, but being able to go to the doctor and get a clear bill of health on a regular basis is a gift not afforded to everyone.
13. My babies (aka my dogs). Laugh all you want, a-holes, but the unending love that a dog has for its humans is something I think we should all aspire to feel. I don’t see them much, which makes me appreciate them that much more when I’m home.
14. Those who challenge me. I’m not the easiest person to get along with (I know, it shocks me too sometimes), and even when I do my best to fly below the radar, I find that there are always people who are going to be a challenge. These people make me think critically about who I am and how I carry myself. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to change.
15. Travel. I’ve been all around the country and I hope to go all around the world someday. Traveling allows me to immerse myself in something completely unknown and helps me expand my horizons further and further.
16. Students. I am a student myself, but the students I work with on a daily basis are what remind me why I chose this field. They drive me crazy, somedays they’re infuriating, but most days they restore my faith in humanity and allow me to see that our generation is going to turn out just fine.
17. Privilege. I know, I know, this sounds like such a student affairs-y answer, but it’s true. Life was not always easy for my family, but I was afforded so much privilege that has allowed me to get to where I am today. We always had food, shelter, and each other. School and college were never an option. My brothers and I never wanted for anything. How could I not be grateful?
18. The Internet. Moving halfway across the country for school was a huge challenge, but being able to immediately connect with my family and friends all around the country is so easy with the internet. This blog, my social media interactions, the ability to research anything from a Jimmy Buffett quote to a scholarly article…the internet is a part of my everyday existence and I appreciate it.
19. Food. It obviously provides nourishment and all that jazz, but food also brings people together. Maybe it’s being Irish and Italian or having parents who are chefs, but there’s not much I love more than being able to cook a good meal for the people around me. When the food is good (and even when it’s not so good), the laughs and love come naturally.
20. Love. I feel like a lot of the aforementioned topics surround love, but I think it deserves to stand on its own. The love of family and friends and significant others is what allows many people to thrive, myself included. It is also imperative to have a love yourself.
21. Pedicures. Yeah, I’ll say it. I once had a friend tell me that you can tell a lot about a person by how they take care of their feet. I don’t get pedicures nearly as often as I should, but that hour of bliss every month or so is such a relaxing time that you just have to love it!
22. Photographs. I’m not a huge fan of getting my picture taken, but as I’ve lost people in my life, I’ve realized that a photograph is a beautiful way to remember the good times in a still moment.
23. Memories. I think one of my greatest fears in life is losing my memory. At the ripe old age of 23, I have so many beautiful memories of things that even the idea of losing them makes me nervous.
24. The holiday season. Like I said before, this is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the music, the weather, the celebrations…all of it. Being able to come together with those I care about most and share laughs and gifts…ugh! There’s no better time of year!
25. The future. I know that the future is going to hold hardships and isn’t always going to be fun, but I look forward to all the good that will come before and after those hard times.
26. My faith (or lack thereof). I’m at a place in my life where I don’t know what to believe, but I am able to work through that on my own and through the support of those around me. Many people aren’t afforded the ability to ever question what they believe in, so I don’t take this point lightly.
27. Music. This probably sounds really cliche, and I’m a-okay with that. I listen to a little bit of everything, and different kinds of music allow me to escape to different places. When I want to feel like I’m sitting in my kitchen at home, I listen to Jimmy Buffett. If I want to go back to driving around with my grandpa, it’s Frank Sinatra. Green Day and Simple Plan take me back to junior high, while country brings to me all those summer nights. Rap and hip hop remind me of undergrad, and so on and so forth. Music is a perfect escape.
28. Dancing. I’m by no means ready for Dancing with the Stars, but whether it’s a 10 minute dance break at 3pm in the office, dancing around the house with my family when I’m home, or going out on the weekend, it’s such an outlet for emotions that it has to be included on this list.
29. My ability to say, “No.” I think this was one of my first words, and it’s something I’ve always taken for granted. There are so many people who aren’t afforded a right to say that word to any number of things, that the fact the I have to remind myself to say no to things is something I often taken for granted.
30. Myself. Come on! Y’all know I’m in love with myself so you had to guess that I was gonna make it onto my own list! In all reality, I love myself because of everything and everyone I have in my life. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without the list above and tons of other things I didn’t talk about.
(For any record that counts, coming up with 30 tangible things to be thankful for on a whim is not as easy as I thought it was going to be)