Thankful.

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

As a cool breeze turns into cold air and golden leaves fall from their branches (or so I assume, considering I live in South Florida), Thanksgiving is the last real day of fall.

Of course not officially, but the day after Thanksgiving is the standard Christmas tree shopping day. It’s when we brave the Black Friday insanity and attempt to buy as many Christmas gifts as possible. It’s when we start blasting Michael Bublé’s festive hits, when we take down the fall wreath on our front door and replace it with string lights in the trees and an inflatable Santa on the lawn, when we replace all normal clothing for sweaters with light-up reindeer and elves on them, when we forget about the existence of apple cider and move on to hot cocoa.

Thanksgiving is really the last hurrah for those of us who can’t get enough of fall and it becomes socially acceptable for the rest of the world to jump head-first into their collectively insane Christmas mode. Though I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to this season (maybe I just didn’t drink enough Pumpkin Spice Lattes) I am waiting with bated breath for some colder weather to kick in so I can break out my beloved penguin sweater and actually remember what it feels like to shiver for a reason other than accidentally putting the AC on too high.

I love Thanksgiving, despite it’s obvious historical flaws, because it reminds everyone to take a step back and remember what you have instead of what you lack. It says, “shut up, be grateful, and eat a meal with the people you love.” We need that reminder every once in awhile. Actually we could probably use it every day, but that might be asking for too much.

I have compiled a list of some things in my life that I am appreciative of right now, which I hope will inspire you to do the same. You, me, and the rest of the blogging community should take a second to consider what we love about our lives. Think of this moment as all of us sitting together at a giant dinner table. There are dishes upon dishes of delicious steaming food lying front of you, you’re drooling, but I’m the mom of the group who makes everyone wait so we can “go around the table saying what we’re thankful for.” It’ll be fun.


 

Reasons why I’m joyful:

  • My family is close and I like that I like spending time with them. Also, my mom is my best friend. We have a pretty solid Rory/Lorelai thing going for us.
  • I stumbled upon a signed copy of John Green’s newest book in Barnes and Noble a couple weeks ago and I’m still not over it. There was a lot of squealing. I nearly knocked over a whole display with all my jumping.
  • In fact, I’m just grateful for Barnes and Noble, for all bookstores, for libraries, for books in general.
  • For the first time in my life I have a healthy social life, which sounds kind of sad, but I’m really happy that everything turned out the way it did because I appreciate my friends in a way I never could if making friends had always been an easy feat for me. I am happy that I don’t put myself into a box labeled “quiet” anymore, and as a result I have been able to discover that I am a lot more outspoken than I ever realized, which lead to realizing a whole lot more about myself like how independent I am and that I am capable of making my goals a reality.
  • My sister is making broccoli and cheese casserole for tonight, which is pretty much what I look forward to all year long. When the plumbing in our house stopped working and my mom said that we weren’t going to be able to cook this year, my sister and brother-in-law swept in like knights in shining armor to make us all dinner. If you’ve ever had broccoli and cheese casserole, you know how much of a blessing my sister is for saving the day.
  • My cat meows really loudly for me whenever I leave her. I mean the poor thing full-on panics, but hey I have a cat that is super attached to me and actually cares about my existence. Not many cat owners can say that. Also sometimes she likes to throw her arms around me like she’s giving me a hug. She is responsible for turning me into the crazy cat lady I am now.
  • I live by the beach, which is my perpetual happy place. I live near a lot of nature preserves and gardens and I am in constant amazement at how beautiful the place I have been lucky enough to grow up in is. I want to explore the rest of the world of course, but I can’t imagine a better place to call home, and I don’t really want to.
  • There is practically an endless supply of music to be discovered and nothing beats finding a song or a band that makes you really feel something. I discovered this band the other night called Hollow Coves and I listened to their song Coastline on repeat until I fell asleep. It made me cry a couple times because I instantly felt so connected to the song that I wanted to curl up and live in it forever. I love that people can create beautiful things that make us feel so strongly, whether that be in art or music or writing or whatever it is that they thought to make. Humans are pretty cool. We’re capable of some wonderful things.
  • Disney World exists. That’s really all I need to say about that. 
  • I mentioned this a couple posts back, but the creator of the entire freaking universe and everything in it is always readily available to have a conversation with you. He thinks about you. He came up with the idea of you and thought that the world needed one of you in it. I can barely wrap my head around it, but it’s amazing.

 


Of course there are countless more reasons to be grateful, but we don’t have all day. There’s turkey to eat and a parade to watch and people we love waiting to spend time with us, but these are a few things that make me happy. There’s always something to be appreciative of, despite whatever difficult situation you may possibly be in at the moment. There is beauty in life, in the everyday routine, in everything He has made.



What are some things you’re thankful for right now? It can be anything from “I’m currently drinking coffee out of my favorite mug” to “I finally paid off my car.” If it brings you joy, it’s important.

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Working Out Doesn’t Have To Suck (#1)

How many of us are pretending to love going to the gym? I get that it’s necessary or it’s enjoyable to see what your body can do or you crave that sense of accomplishment when you start to see the way your body can transform, but unless you’re a huge fitness nerd (which, seriously, kudos to you if you are…meanwhile the rest of us mere mortals are just trying to get off our butts once in a while) it can get boring pretty quickly.

I’ve learned to go from being the person who makes jokes about how lazy I am and how the gym is my enemy, to realizing that there is so much more to working out than lifting weights in a grey-walled gloomy room full of sweaty people who are way better looking than me. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the people who adamantly go to the gym, but I’m the kind of person who needs variety. I need to go outside or do something where I can make fun of myself on occasion.

I think it’s (mentally) healthy to create a balance. I burned myself out on the gym and didn’t go back for over a month because I tried to convince myself I really loved going everyday when I really only liked the result it was having on my body. Working out soon became a boring routine, but exercise doesn’t always have to be like that.

Hence, the creation of a new blog series in which I explore ways to work out that have absolutely nothing to do with going to a gym. Fun and unconventional activities, or just things to get your heartrate up.


I’m choosing to start this series off easy, and by easy I mean familiar.

Tennis.

Before you ask, “Gabby, since when do you play tennis?” I don’t.

However, it was the one sport I was forced to play as a kid that I actually enjoyed. Gym class was typically a nightmare filled with pretending that I forgot my hideously unflattering basketball shorts or choosing to run the mile just to get out of activities like dodgeball or kickball or basically any other sport involving me trying to hit a ball when my natural instinct was to run away from it.

And I usually did. No one wanted me on their team and I didn’t want to be on anybody’s team so no one was happy in gym class.

But there was one day every year when the teacher would mix things up and tell the class “we’re playing tennis.” Oh Lordy, my anxiety-ridden heart would immediately turn back into a normally-functioning heart; the familiar dread and immediate wondering of how many times in a month I can get away with saying I have cramps all melted away in that moment because finally we were playing something I enjoyed. I would have loved gym class if it involved far less team sports and more independent activities like tennis, jump rope, and solo basketball. Alas, those days were few and far between so I reveled in them the best that I could.

As I got older I continued playing tennis on an occasional evening at my old elementary school courts with my siblings. None of us were good at the sport per se but we managed a game or two just fine and it was a lot of fun, but our lives got busier and we fizzled out eventually. Fast forward about ten years and I found myself saying to my sister, “hey we should try to play tennis again.” (Keep in mind the word “try.”)

A couple hours later, after scrounging for tennis balls that her dog hadn’t yet destroyed and dancing to some old school Black Eyed Peas to pump us up, we were on the court once again.

And we were awful.

I mean we were absolutely the worst.

Tennis balls flew over the fence more times than either of us could count, we swung and missed the ball by about two feet almost every time, I cowered in fear at least twice, the whole thing was a disaster. By the end of it, we were thoroughly worn out both from running around so much and from laughing at how ridiculous we knew we looked.

I went to sleep that night with sore legs (and right arm) and a smile. 

You don’t have to be good at an activity to take part in it. Sometimes it’s more fun to be really terrible at something and be able to laugh about it with people who are equally terrible. If you keep trying you probably won’t even realize how much you’re improving as well because you’re too busy having fun.

What matters in the end is that you made time to do something good for your body and if you enjoyed it, that’s even better. You don’t have to play tennis professionally or be the world’s best dancer or become an awesome surfer or whatever it is you want to do. You should do your best at everything you try, but that’s an entirely different concept than taking everything way too seriously when, maybe, it just isn’t your thing.

Listen to the wise words of Nike (or Shia LaBeouf…whichever you prefer): “Just do it.” And enjoy doing it, whatever that may mean for you. 

“One day you’ll laugh at how much you let this matter.” (Morley)

Remember that the little things which bother you now are exactly that: little. Even if your problems are weighing you down, even if cumulatively they seem impossible to face, even if you are completely overwhelmed and your mind is wreaking havoc on itself, you will not always feel this way. This is temporary. Remember that.

Take a few seconds to breathe, re-evaluate your situation (maybe your attitude about the situation as well), and just look up. Be reminded of who is on your side. Consider how powerful and flat-out inspiring the one who created you is; and you get to talk to Him personally. You get to be honest with Him. You get to ask him questions; ask Him for the things you want and need directly.

The same creator of all your favorite flowers in your garden, every ocean and every creature within them, the tall trees which have withstood years upon years of storms; He created it all for you. For us. He created you for a purpose. And that purpose is one much bigger than any problem in front of you right now because your purpose has the potential to create better longer-lasting effects than your problems ever will, if you so let it.

Let go if you must. Embrace challenges. Let them be reminders that you’re on your way to something better, that maybe this is for a reason bigger than you can see right now, that things will definitely feel better again.

Open Your Mind

Be fearless for what you may lose,
Because to gain eternity is greater.

Decide to see
Every passing moment as as thing of
Beauty

Grace

The work of a passionate artist.

Think harder about
Right now;
Why your body feels so much
And your thoughts are in constant expansion.

Your growth is not your own doing,
But strength
Is a gift.

When The Fat Girl Gets Skinny by Blythe Baird

If you know me, you know about my deeply rooted love for poetry. Oh, you thought that was going to go away with this sudden change of blog content? Absolutely not. It was bound to manifest itself in one form or another.

I’ve seen hundreds of poetry videos, read thousands of poems, and most of them are beautiful in their own regard but occasionally I come across one that really hits home. One that pulls me either farther into reality or so far out of it that I can barely recognize myself for a while afterwards, depending on the subject-matter. I’ll rewatch or reread it until every word is etched into my brain and I can recite it at a moments notice, just in case someone asks what my favorite poem is. They never do, but I like to tell it anyway.

This is one of those poems for me. It’s not that it’s the most perfectly written. It’s simple in most regards, but as I said, it hits home. The simplicity highlights how profound it actually is. How real it is. The first time I watched it, I let it play on repeat while I lied on the couch crying. Hopefully you don’t do that, but hopefully it does give you something to think about.

Things to do instead of starving yourself/purging/anything that you could maybe possibly consider the opposite of eating:

  • Stop comparing. Get off the internet and get away from the photos that you titled “Thinspiration.” In fact, delete that word from your vocabulary entirely because it’s nothing more than a made-up term to make people feel guilty that they don’t have an unhealthily flat stomach or protruding collarbones. Stop looking at your “progress” photos. Stop comparing the way your stomach looks in the morning to the way your stomach looks at night. Stop staring at your friend’s bodies and thinking, “but they have the right kind of curves.” There are no “right” curves. There are the curves they have and there are the curves you have. That’s it.
  • Do something productive immediately after eating. No, I don’t mean punishing yourself with five hours of exercise. I mean doing something other than dwelling on how guilty you feel. Finish that book report you’ve been putting off, learn a new skill, volunteer and give back to your community. Something to make you feel better and not worry about the food in your stomach. You are meant to eat.
  • No, that one brownie will not make you fat. However if it will make you feel so disgusting that you can’t function, then eat something healthy instead. What matters is that you ate something. You don’t always have to take a big step, but take a step.
  • Spend time making food, and then eat it. Instead of digging into a bag of chips or a Ben & Jerry’s tub of ice cream, something that is immediately satisfactory, make food that requires effort. This is especially helpful if you cook/bake with other people because then they can not only keep you in check but make it fun too. You worked hard for it, so you will feel better about eating it when you’re done. Again, one bowl of ice cream won’t make you fat, but baby steps are still steps nonetheless.
  • Pray. Talk to people who understand. Talk to anybody who will listen and consequently tell you what you need to hear.

 

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38) 

Choosing “Magic”

When you’re a kid, life has this almost surreal quality to it that tends to get lost somewhere along the path to adulthood. It’s more than simply allowing reality to set in, like the realization that money is really difficult to come by and relationships aren’t constant rainbows and butterflies. It’s the heightened emotions that made life a little more interesting. It’s going to Disney World and totally believing you’ve been transported to another planet. It’s scraping your knee on the sidewalk and convincing yourself that nothing could feel worse than what you feel in that moment, until your mom comes along and scoops you into her arms and you’re instantly reminded that that’s your favorite place to be. It’s black and white emotions running at a mile a minute.

Adulthood is more like thousands of shades of grey (insert inappropriate, overdone joke here). I struggled with accepting this fact, this lack of constant rollercoaster emotions and noticing the everyday minute details that make life extra special, because I was convinced I would never feel it again.

I thought life was never going to be as interesting as it used to be. In some ways, maybe I was right. I won’t feel the same glittery magical array of emotions that comes along with an endlessly imaginative childhood brain, but that doesn’t mean I have to turn into an unfeeling robot. My decisions now carry so much more weight than they used to. I get to have a say in the path I take in life. My emotions are, roughly, within my control and just like my decisions, they carry more weight than they used to. Maybe they aren’t as magical, but they’re bigger.

I’m never going to have Prince Charming sweep in on his white horse to save me, but I will probably have a caring partner who loves and supports me. I’m not going to go to Disney World and believe that Winnie the Pooh is not a guy in a costume (sorry), but I can go on vacation and make my own kind of fun that is catered to my personality.

However, there is a familiar feeling of dread that tends to creep up on me this time of year when the holiday season has begun and I think, “here’s another reminder that I’m not a kid again” because I built up the holidays so much back in the day. “Will all the days I used to spend months looking forward to feel like just another day of the week now?” the pessimistic part of me asks myself every year.

Until the light outside begins to change.

Considering the fact that I live in South Florida, the changes of season here are beyond subtle. So subtle in fact that most non-natives, and a lot of natives too actually, don’t notice the change from summer to fall. But I can tell the exact moment when everything is different. Summer consists of hot wind, harsh bright light, and a constant buzz of life and excitement. Then one day, usually sometime in September, our little corner of the world seems quieter, the light outside turns into a soft golden tint, and the air is at least not deathly suffocating. It’s my favorite day of the year and I never know exactly when it will happen, which makes it that much more exciting. I usually end up skipping around telling people, “It’s fall, it’s fall, it’s fall!” which typically elicits a response that insinuates I’m clinically insane considering they are still miserably sweating.

But it’s the beginning of something different, something beautiful and dare I say a little magical. I like beginnings. They’re happy. Middle’s are nice because they’re comfortable and you’re invested at that point, and endings are an important part of life, but nothing beats a good beginning. All the excitement is just irreplaceable.

So, soon enough other people start catching on to the change of seasons and we collectively start drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes, attempt to recreate crafts we found on Pinterest, plan our Halloween costumes before we even know where we’ll wear them, all because it’s fun. Do we always need a good reason to do something beyond it simply being enjoyable? (Within reason…dear Lord, please don’t use this logic as an excuse to be lazy or do drugs or anything else really stupid.)

So maybe life as a whole doesn’t feel exactly the same way it did when we were kids, but it’s still special. When we were younger, we felt everything with little to no basis for feeling it, whereas now we have legitimate reasons to feel the way we do. You will still feel that “magic,” as long as you’re willing to feel it. You can watch a Hallmark movies and feel absolutely nothing and mock them for being unrealistic, or you can love them for what they are and love that they capture the holidays like your childhood-self felt them. You can get annoyed when kids knock on your door screaming “TRICK OR TREAT,” or you can be friendly and realize that they’ve been looking forward to this all month and there is nothing stopping you from getting in on the fun in your own way. You can be upset that you went to your mother’s house for Thanksgiving and she bought food instead of making her famous homemade casserole-of-some-variety, or you can revel in the fact that you get a day to spend with those you love. Even if they don’t make your favorite casserole.

My point is that life changes when you get older and you can roll with it, making the best of every stage, or you can get swept up in “…but,” and never be satisfied. Everything may not be exactly like it used to be, but isn’t that exciting in itself?

The older you get, the more you get the chance to appreciate the out-of-the-ordinary moments if you choose to make the most of them. To experience a little less grey every now and then. And the fact that these moments don’t happen everyday makes the magical moments ones you won’t soon forget.


 

On a sidenote, happy Halloween! I’m finding out that, as an adult, you get quite a few different opportunities to dress up, which I think is pretty unfair to the kids. They’re the ones that live for this kind of stuff. I’ve worn a pig costume in a preschooler’s play, a cowgirl costume to a party, and this Tardis inspired outfit at work today. I’m exhausted. I had a few other chances to dress up that I didn’t take as well. And yet, kid’s typically get just the one day. Young me would be pretty unhappy if she knew this information.

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If you dressed up this year, what did you wear? How did your view on the holiday season change from childhood to now?

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