At this time of year, we all stop and think about what we’re thankful for. Sure, the usual stuff, family, friends, career, home. Well, this year, as we’re celebrating our 4th holidays in our 5th wheel, I really gave this some thought. What I realize is that in addition to all those typical and very valid reasons for thankfulness, I’m thankful for the life I’ve lived thus far.
All the trials and tribulations, all the ups and downs, all the falls on my face and the jumps for joy. All of it, I’m thankful. We all live our lives very differently, encountering different experiences along the way. I remember in my psychology class learning about siblings raised in the same house and how they will retell completely different stories of their childhoods. Because as individuals we experience the world around us in an unduplicable way. Like no two finger prints are alike, neither are our experiences.
I’m thankful for that 2nd semester in college. Even though I failed all but one class, due to not attending classes or doing homework, because I was too busy getting to know someone that would be forever in my heart, someone to grow old with, my best friend, Matt. I’m thankful for the opportunity to grow up the following year, when I had to work full time while going to school part time to retake my classes because I lost my financial aid due to a low GPA. This experience could have set me on a very different path, but I’m thankful that I found resilience and perseverance to push on and correct my faulty decision making.
I’m thankful for not getting the fulltime teaching gig at the local community college. Because it allowed me to continue working at Lowe’s where I made amazing friendships, experienced managing a team, gained a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses and pushed myself as I balanced motherhood, career, marriage, and self-care. Not always succeeding at perfect balance every day, but somehow doing pretty well over the years. Kind of like eating, we know we should eat a balance of the food groups each day, but you all know there are those days where we swing towards the carbs and other days we swing to the proteins, etc. At the end of the week hopefully we’ve eaten a well-rounded diet.
I’m thankful for being laid off. Don’t get me wrong, it still stings six years later. But our plan was to be in North Carolina for 3-5 years. It had been 14 and a half. We bought a house, started careers and popped out some little ones. The roots were getting deeper and more entangled. Getting laid off forced me to stop and breath and reevaluate. Was our plan of old still what we wanted? Yes! More than ever, we wanted our girls to grow up seeing, hugging and spending time with grandparents not just one time a year and through skype.
I’m thankful for all the time we’ve gotten to spend with Matt’s parents. Living with them for a year and a half and visiting them for weeks at a time. Living the flexible life that we’ve been living has allowed us to spend more time with them and my parents than we would have been able to if we were stationary and working regular jobs. Ultimately, showing me a remarkable best friend in my mother-in-love and providing me lots of opportunities to melt back into my parents’ arms when I visit each time.
I love that we’re still homeschooling and closer as a family than ever before. The girls will grow up and leave the nest one day, but right now I love that they curl up in my lap for cuddles, all of their long, bony, lanky selves. We talk and share everything. I am thankful that we’ve had the opportunity to live in a small space the last 4 years helping all of us to really recognize what’s important and how stressed-out stuff can make us. Learning patience with each other and with ourselves as we navigate small space living.
In a nutshell, I’m thankful for the life I’ve lived, for the experiences I’ve had. We can’t always control what happens, but we can control how we respond. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and during each of the aforementioned “oh shit” moments, I might not have been as thankful as I am now. But you know what? I’m thankful for that too. For having the feelings I’ve felt during each of my experiences. The deeper the feelings, humility, fear, anxiety, the more likely we are to remember those events and learn from them. To be able to look back and see our experiences for what they really are. Teaching and learning moments. One brick in the construction of what we call our lives.