Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

I am fortunate enough to have been around for twenty-two Thanksgiving celebrations and I am thankful that each time, I have been able to celebrate with people I care about and who care about me.  I think especially this year, in light of the terrible things that have been happening in the world and in my own city, it's especially important to take a step back and think about how lucky we are and about the things we are grateful for.  So here are twenty-two things that I am thankful for this year, in no particular order of importance or amount of gratitude:

  1. Understanding Professors.  I don't know why, but this semester has been particularly difficult to deal with... it's not that my classes are excruciatingly difficult, but I've been having trouble keeping track of what work I need to do and that has made me fall behind a bit.  Things have gotten better now, but it was really hard earlier in the semester.  I'm grateful that I have understanding professors to help get me through those rough patches.
  2. My family.  They put up with me for a semester and a summer this year after I came home from Europe.  It was nice to have them to lean back on when I needed help then and it's nice to know that they still have my back if I ever need help or I'm struggling.
  3. My fiance.  I've been discovering that I can be kind of annoying to live with, so I'm grateful that my fiance has been patient and supportive through this transitional time as we continue to adjust to living together and taking responsibility for ourselves.
  4. The Safety Of My Friends Abroad.  One of my French families lives near Paris.  We found out that one of my French sisters was in Paris the night of the Terrorist attacks, but she got in touch as soon as she possibly could and told everyone that she was okay.  I am grateful that all of my friends and family in and around the Paris area are okay.
  5. Having A Place Of My Own.  Getting a place of our own was almost not a possibility until jobs and other circumstances came through for us.  I am very happy to be living in a great neighborhood and living close to other parts of my life (work and school).  I am grateful to have a place that we can mold to our own needs (within reason).
  6. Artemis, My Kitten.  I wanted a cat since we moved in, but I never anticipated how much having an animal around can improve a person's mood and lower stress levels.  I am thankful for this kitten for improving my mental health and for bringing a smile to my face every single day.
  7. Having Work That Helps Me Pay My Bills And Keeps Me On My Toes.  I am lucky to have a job, and I'm even luckier to have several so that I can pay my half of the bills and still have something leftover.  Some of my jobs are mentally draining, but I am happy that they are jobs that generally involve me thinking quickly and making good decisions.  I never want to work for retail again... that was just awful...
  8. Down Time.  For the longest time, I didn't really have down time, not even on the weekends.  Now that I'm not as busy as before, I have more down time and it makes a world of difference in my mental state.
  9. Good Books To Read.  I have access to two libraries in my neighborhood and between the books I own and the ones that are my fiance's, we have a killer collection of books right here in our apartment.  That's really special.
  10. People Who Risk Their Lives To Do What Is Right.  I am grateful that there are people out there who are willing to risk their lives and fight for human rights for everyone.  It's a really important cause, but also a dangerous task.
  11. Clean Smells.  Seriously, my heart gets happier living in a place that doesn't smell funky.  And when I work in an area that doesn't smell like dirty diapers and child drool.
  12. Opportunities To Try New Things.  I had the opportunity to be a writer for my University's newspaper and to be a Commuter Senator on campus.  Even though Senate didn't end up working out (I'm not very sad, plus, it's for the best), I'm still happy that I had the opportunity to give it a try.
  13. Having Plenty To Read.  Anyone who has been in my apartment comes in and is immediately taken aback by the sheer number of books that line our walls.  This is my favorite part of my living space.  It makes me happy.
  14. Living Close To My Cousin And My Sister.  Even if I don't see either my cousin or my sister very regularly, it's nice to know that we could get together at a moment's notice should we want to.
  15. Having The Means To Travel.  I haven't traveled since I got back from the Netherlands in January, but I've revisited in my mind so often and I can't help but feel this wave of gratefulness every time I think about everything that I got to see and do in my four and a half months away.  I'm still in awe.
  16. Internet and Social Media.  The internet is how I (and millions of other people on the planet) keep connected and how I accomplish any of my work.  The internet is my lifestyle.
  17. Fieldwork.  Not every day in a high school or middle school is rainbows and unicorns, but every day is a learning experience.  Learning is what I'm in those places to do, ultimately.
  18. Scented Candles.  This goes with the clean smells point, but candles are also relaxing.  Lately I've had a heightened need for relaxation and candles are a nice way to start that process.  I also feel grateful because up until I moved into this apartment, I really didn't feel like I could light candles in my living space.  Either that or it was outright banned in my living space.  So I'm happy that I can now use these.
  19. Art Supplies.  I'm grateful that I have a stash of paint and lots of paper and projects that I can pick up or drop off whenever I'd like to.  Art is another relaxer for me, so it's nice to have it in close proximity.
  20. Planners.  My savior.  I'd be so lost without you.
  21. Chocolate Ice Cream.  I tried so hard to resist this.  I've succeeded at keeping this in my house only sometimes, but it's not gone for good.  And I'm happy that it's not gone for good.  It's a nice comfort treat every once in a while.
  22. Time Spent At Home.  I have been learning this school year that it's not so important for me to be on the go, busy all the time, but it is crucial for me to be somewhere I can charge my batteries.  Being busy for a good chunk of the semester has made me realize how much I like being in my own space, doing my own thing.  This is something that I need and will cherish in my last year of school and beyond.
What are some things, big and small, that you are thankful for this year?

Thanks for Reading!


A Review of 'Yes Please' by Amy Poehler (Audio Book)

"In Amy Poehler's highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious.  Powered by Amy's charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by."

This was delightful to listen to, at least most of the time.  On my mom's and my brief trip to Iowa (you can see that post HERE), we put this in the car stereo and it was excellent to sit and laugh until our bellies hurt.  I love listening to autobiographies of well-known people because then, at least in my eyes, celebrities become people.  I think it can be easy to think that if someone is funny or a comedian, they're happy people with happy lives, and that's not always the 100% truth.  So listening to Amy Poehler was a nice reminder of that.  Amy doesn't live a life filled with hardship, but she's had her experiences.  But this isn't the main thing that I will take away from Amy Poehler's "Yes Please."

She does have some good nuggets in this book.  Her advice "Good for you, not for me" resonated with me because it reminds me that we as people are not exactly the same.  She mentioned the phrase while talking about the birth of her first child, but since I'm not at that point in my life right now, I've interpreted this a little differently.  I think you can apply this phrase to anything.  For example: my career aspirations.  I know full well that many, many people are looking for those who studied and majored in some kind of science in college.  Physics, biology, chemistry... whatever it is.  But 1) I suck at science, even if I find it fascinating at times and 2) I tend to get bored while studying science of most kinds, even though I find science interesting outside of an academic setting.  Good for you, those who love and enjoy science and have prospects in one of those fields of work, but not for me.  I've got some English teaching to do.

She had some creative ways to talk about difficult parts of her life that she still wasn't totally comfortable sharing with the world.  For example, her divorce.  I think the only reason she felt she needed to mention her divorce at all was because both she and her ex-husband are public figures.  You know it happened, but you don't necessarily know the details.  And that's okay.  We shouldn't need the details.  But I think Amy handled it as maturely as possible.  She up with book titles related to her divorce if she were ever to write a book  about it (but she probably won't, because as she said, writing a book is hard).  The reason why I say she did this maturely is because the book titles she came up with reflected her feeling about going through divorce without pointing fingers or airing their dirty laundry.  Amy was in control of her story and her situation.

One of the more moving parts that I read, and unfortunately it was towards the end, was when she talked about her outreach trip to Haiti after they experienced an earthquake shattering their already fragile infrastructure.  Even when she was just observing, my heartstrings were being tugged repeatedly because she was observing with the eye of a mother.  When she visited the Haitian orphanage and saw child after child who desperately needed someone-- literally anyone-- to love and care for them.  It' devastating to listen to, although not as devastating as if we were to experience that ourselves in person.

The ending got a little bit preachy when she talked about how phones and modern technology we use daily (smart phones, laptops, etc.) are taking over the world.  In an autobiography about Amy Poehler, I would have liked to hear about another part of her life, not hear Amy get up on her soap box, if that makes sense.

Overall, this was enjoyable to listen to, but after a certain point, the order of the chapters felt strange and I think that contributed to the feeling of this book dragging on.  And this isn't a super long book to begin with.

I give 'Yes Please':
Thanks for Reading!