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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful Thursday/ Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving is here again—it feels like Thanksgiving 2014 was just yesterday and I'd soon be welcoming in 2015... with heavy heart. Now we’re about close 2015 and I feel optimistic. This past month, I've noted a number of Facebook friends and I’ve been personally posting gratitude lists on our Facebook feeds. It's inspiring to read all the many experiences, people and things for which they are grateful. It has also made me realize I have a lot to be grateful for myself and this exercise made me really see it. Yes, I do my weekly “Thankful Thursday” posts, but it was amazing to think of all of the things throughout the month. I believe in the power of gratitude. In the past three years, there were times when a sense of gratitude carried me through really difficult emotional times. It took me a long time to get out of the negativity of that one life-changing experience that happened in November 2013… three weeks before Thanksgiving. It has been this past year, with the help of, I’ve been recalling all the wonderful, positive aspects of my life and have made some changes. It has a calming effect when I'm anxious. Making a gratitude list changes my thought stream from the "Life sucks!" channel every time.

Brigit over at the Adventures of the Southern Buddhist-Catholic blog inspired me to make a list. I found her blog through Kelly Paul’s, Rand Paul’s wife, book. My one co-worker noticed me staring at it, put a hold on it so I could check it out after the library finished processing it. I’m thankful for that and finding Brigit’s blog has been great. Here's a different kind of gratitude list that's more honest and inclusive:

I am grateful for ....

1. Losing my first full time job a month ago. It was only two-and-a-half weeks in duration, so nothing for the resume, but I was let go for being “too creative.” I was bummed at first and I really liked some of my co-workers, but looking back… I wasn’t really a fit and I was “too creative” for the environment. Although it was a bit soul crushing, it made me realize my passion. I do love my part-time library job, but I need a direction that lets me be creative. This made me see my true gifts and where I should focus my talents—it gave me a new direction.

2. Although I curse the two relationships I had in 2008 and 2009, those four unhappy months with those two guys made me realize something: I am a kind-hearted person and I should surround myself with people who love and care about me…not people who mock and make fun of me. I found some really great friends (and dropped the crappy friends I had through high school) after these ordeals. The second boyfriend’s father also introduced me to his former Arabic translator (father was in the military), which I still keep in touch with today. The translator and I became great friends and he helps me with my Arabic from time to time. We converse at times via text message in Arabic. If it hadn’t been for that relationship with the 2nd guy, I wouldn’t have met Ziad. I probably wouldn’t have had the help I had in Arabic either—I came to love the language and learning it.

3. All the jobs I've applied for — and didn't land. If I had been hired for those positions, I would not have written all the stories I have written, nor met the people I've met while writing those stories, taken the travels I’ve been on, photographed all of the events, and would not have had the opportunity to work at the Senior Center.

4. The Senior Center. While it wasn’t the best job—I was an independent contractor and it lasted for four months—it made me come out of the deep depression I had felt since November 2013. Yes, I had (and still have) the library, but working two jobs made me feel useful again. I worked two jobs in college. Just getting up every day and seeing the seniors gave me purpose. While there were some stressful moments, I’m glad Mary gave me the chance and gave me a new sense of direction.

5. Life. I am thankful to be alive and breathing; being able to contribute to the world and making a difference.

6. The time after the incident where people shunned me because they minimized my story (blaming me for what happened), and other times in the past year and a half when I felt very, very alone. Without those times I would not appreciate all the wonderful people I have in my life today.

7.My spirituality. While most might not agree with the practices from what the media portrays it as... it brings me peace (and also brings me to what I'm thankful for with #11).

8. The sorrow I've felt when Nan died. Her death creates a void in my life, but it also serves to immortalize her in my heart.

9.  Lucky I have a  roof over my head and although I might disagree with my parents, they still allow me to live with them. I also have food on the table.

10. The times I've felt slighted, left out, or looked over. I am a more compassionate, more inclusive person today because of these experiences.

11. People who annoy the living crap out of me and cause me to feel angry, frustrated or disgusted because of their narrow-minded opinions, self-centered acts or just plain stupidity. Chances are I do/say the similar things and by reacting to these jerks I get a chance to see myself clearer. (Ugh!)

12. Thyroid disease. While it is a bummer at times, it made me look at my life in a new way. While the condition is chronic, it doesn’t mean I have to stop living my life. I just have to accommodate my life a bit.

13. My library job that I’ve held for almost 9 and a half years. I love the women I work with and it feels like family. I love going to the library to work my shifts.

14. The paid internship I had through West Chester University from May 2011-December 2013. It made me really grow as a writer. I was a technical writer; I wrote instruction manuals for Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Outlook. I taught faculty and staff how to use Word, Mail Merge, and PowerPoint. I also planned the monthly agenda and did other office work. I also loved the people I worked with: Darlene, Treiva, Lauren, Caeli, Brittany, and the rest of Academic Computing group.

15. My studies at West Chester University. I’m grateful I was given an opportunity to learn Arabic, meet Lana and Mahmoud and form relationships with them. I still keep in touch with Lana—she was great and really helped me as well. I also loved the history (what I started out majoring in) and especially loved the English (what I majored in starting in 2011 and graduated with) departments. Even the philosophy (minor) department was awesome. The people—from faculty, staff and the friends I’ve made—have really shaped me.

16. Ally. She was one of my friends early on in my college career. She worked as a travel agent for teens and encouraged me to take a trip alone. That’s how I ended up going to Green Bay in 2011. I’m thankful for her suggestion because it opened a new door for me. I love to travel and I love writing about my travels.

17. Marsha, Claire, Mary, Chris, Dave, Andrew, Liz, Hanan, Janie, Susie, and all the friends I’ve made over the years. Whether they’re friends I have met in real life or online friends, they mean the world to me. They’ve been by my side through thick and thin.

18. The books I've self-published so far and the community it created. When I self-published my first book as a senior in high school, a lot of the faculty and staff members bought a copy. The principal also wrote an article about my accomplishment for the newsletter. He also interviewed me about the process. When I self published my last book in 2011, it created a community at WCU as well. Many staff and faculty members bought a copy and the library has a copy of the book still in the collection. I'm currently working on a book, which will be done in 2016, and I'm looking forward to it being done.

I love how Brigit ended her blog, “this is not an exhaustive list but you get the idea. In fact, the very act of making this list provided me with a sense of peace. And after all, that is what this journey is all about? Finding peace in/with an imperfect world. I guess the best way to do that is to find "the good". If we can do that, then loss and heartache lose their sting, and suffering is no longer without meaning.

Yes, I am grateful, so very grateful, for all I've been given.”

I feel the same way. I had a wonderful day today and I would love to share my day with y’all as well.

Dog sitting Daphne. She's been great. (Daphne is my aunt's dog)

What are you thankful for today? How was your Thanksgiving?


  1. Happy Thanksgiving!

    We watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles today, and I made my sister a giant pot of green tea, ending up drinking about three-quarters of it.

    Yesterday evening I spent a suspicious amount of time with Matt not doing only Russian. He noted about half of my injuries and told me to get better. I think he really likes me, but I don't want to push him any one way. (Meanwhile, Mom's already picked out a townhouse for us. ._.) I had to stick around for an extra hour since he had to launder my shirt after it got too mysteriously filthy to explain away to my family economically - I would have had to spend a long time explaining exactly what we were doing, and that embarrasses and humiliates me. (He loaned me a longer-sleeved one of his while it was in there. I didn't ask to keep it for the week, even though it was warmer, since I'm not *really* in that kind of relationship with him any more.) When I got home, I laundered the shirt he cleaned for me again so it would stop distracting me by its smell.

    I am thankful for what's supposedly the day, as I've noted on the book of Faces. Also, for the love and care of those around me.

    1. Thanks, Claire, same to you! It sounds like you had a lovely day as well.

  2. Hi, dear Jessica Marie!

    I'm up to my ears in family today but wanted to break free long enough to wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving. I applaud you for making this list. Life is a great big balance sheet. Every year there are victories to celebrate and defeats from which to learn.

    I am very thankful to have added you as a new friend this year (and thankful that you like to rock :)

    I will be surrounded by family members through the weekend and will return to blogging Monday. Have a happy Black Friday and a safe and happy weekend, dear Jessica!

    1. Hi, dear friend Shady!

      I'm glad you could stop by! After dinner last night, I went back to my aunt's to dogsit. This morning and afternoon I'll be in Philadelphia, then back to my aunt's until 9:30 tonight. Daphne is doing okay.

      That's true, Shady! I never looked at it that way. Last year had more defeats than victories and I learned from them. Although this year has been a roller coaster, I think I've had more successes. I know I learn from them all.

      I'm thankful to have added you as a friend as well. I'm glad you love metal. :) I'm thankful for the blogging community as a whole.

      I hope you have a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday, dear friend Shady!

  3. What a great list. I'm glad your attitude is positive.


    1. Hi Janie,

      While I still hate what happened to me, it really did make me realize who my true friends were. It also closed a door on a relationship with someone in a different state... which turned out to be a blessing (if things would have progressed...I might have been in a worse situation than now). I'm also lucky to still be alive - I am thankful I was given a second chance. I'm thankful for that although there are some days where I still get sad.

      I am thankful for my opportunities and lessons I've learned along the way as well.


  4. Hey Jessica,
    It is ally! I was looking through my old blog, and find you again! I am so honored I made your list. It really means something to me <3

    1. Hey Ally,

      It's nice to hear from you!I hope you're doing well, since I haven't heard from you in a while! You're welcome. <3