It’s the last day of November and there’s only one month left of 2014. This time of year reminds me of all the things I’d like (or need) to get done by the end of the year, which means it’s crunch time. 2014 has been a great year, both personally and professionally, so I also want to remember the things for which I’m most thankful. Here are my top 10…
1. Family and friends. This is by far the most significant one. Without good family and friends, I wouldn’t have the support that I do for all of the things I’m involved in on a regular basis. They are my sounding boards, my cheer squad, my grounding force and the most important part of life, as far as I’m concerned. I could go on and on here, but suffice it to say that without good family and friends, I would probably not have #s 2-10.
2. Health. Something I’ll never take for granted. It’s very easy to get into a routine and forget about our health, but it’s one of the most important aspects of our lives. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t be around long to see all the good things life brings. I’m thankful to be in good health, although I’m sure there’s always room for improvement, like most things in life. My legs allow me to run–one of my favorite things to do. Although I may not always get the finishing times I want, I am glad that my body can get me from point A to B time after time. And the good food we are fortunate enough to be able to buy nourishes our bodies to keep us strong and healthy. One of the things I’m most thankful for since we moved to SoCal is the abundance of fresh produce. Just walking through the produce section at the supermarket can lift one’s spirits. It sounds silly, but it’s true.
3. A stable and fulfilling job. I really enjoy the work that I do, and I don’t take that for granted. I know many people do not actually enjoy their jobs. I find it sad that so many work so hard at jobs they dislike, but I get it. Not everyone is in the position to make a change in their employment and find something more fulfilling. However, if you’re like me and have the chance, even if it takes you a few years to get started, I highly recommend it. Starting my own business was one of the best life decisions I’ve made. There are plenty of tough times and moments of uncertainty. And I know that for a lot of people, the uncertainty of how well your business will do from month to month is too scary to even consider. But if you can take that chance and believe in yourself, you will succeed! Besides, we’re all a work in progress. So, that’s not to say that every day is filled with rainbows and unicorns. But for me, working for myself is very fulfilling and I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to do it, to work with amazing colleagues all over the world and to have personal interactions with my clients. The fact that I can make a decent living from it is icing on the cake!
4. The ability to travel and see new places. If you know me, then you know that if I get a chance to go somewhere I haven’t been that even sounds remotely fun, I’m there! It’s very important for my husband and me to travel, even if only given a few days here and there. Traveling is one of the best things in life, so it’s a priority in our budget when it comes to saving. The ability to see and experience new places, people, foods and cultures is one of the greatest parts of living. Many of the places I’ve been have taught me something or shown me something I never would have thought about had I not traveled there. And for that, I’m so thankful.
5. New opportunities. This has been a year of great opportunities for us. I say “us”, because I guess I only think about it that way. To say “me” would seem a bit too individualistic (see #1). This year, my husband got an offer for a fantastic job that he really enjoys and I was able to grow my business revenue to a place I thought I wouldn’t reach until the end of next year or later. I was elected to a national board in my industry, which is something I thought impossible at my age. But my colleagues were so supportive of me and it is now a reality. With these new opportunities, we have also gained the ability to travel more (ahem, we never turn that down if we can help it… see #4!) and have both gained new colleagues who have become our friends, too. I know that some years will not bring as many opportunities for us, so I’m beyond thankful for those that 2014 did bring.
6. Technology. Whether for work or for personal use, I am so glad to have technology at our fingertips. I know that I am guilty of being too connected sometimes, especially for work. However, technology is such a large part of what I do that it makes me wonder how much longer tasks and projects would take if we were still without the use of such advanced technology in our daily lives. I plan to write another post about a piece of technology that has helped me keep things organized. So, stay tuned for that one. Another area of technology for which I’m thankful is the ability to stay connected to friends and family all over the world. We have moved 4 times in the past 8 years. We are tired of moving. But we have gained friends in many parts of the country and world, so to be able to stay in touch with them and see them regularly (what did we do before all this?! Oh yeah, we wrote letters!), is priceless. Don’t get me wrong. I still looooove sending handwritten notes and will always have a love for analogue, but really. Technology keeps us connected when we’re far away from those we love.
7. Hobbies. When I’m not working, I’m probably doing something related to my hobbies. I do wish I read more often, and I’m still in the middle of a book that I’d like to have already finished, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get back to it. I’m also kind of savoring it, so I’m ok with the fact that I haven’t finished it yet. Most of my hobbies are like this… a work in progress. I am so enjoying my photography hobby, and I’ve made a lot of progress in this area. When I look back at some of the photos I used to take, I am amazed at the difference I see. I know that a lot of people would not notice this, but if you study something enough, you know when you’ve improved. Running will always be a work in progress. There are great runs and there are runs that you cannot wait to finish. Each time is different and for various reasons. But I’ve never finished a run and thought, “Ugh. I feel awful.” My crocheting hobby has also seen a lot of action this year. Umm… year of the baby, or what?! Seriously, everyone I know is having babies this year! My list of gifts keeps growing, but there’s nothing like seeing a photo with that new little one wearing one of my pairs of booties or hats. Crocheting is a very calming hobby, and I have some new patterns that I hope to tackle in 2015.
8. Relationships. This is another one of my most important things for which to be thankful. I’ve met a lot of great people this year, many of whom I found in groups related to my hobbies. The Project 365 (photography) group I found online couldn’t have been a more supportive and fun group of people. I learned so much from them and their feedback. I’m also just happy to have stuck with it and finished out the project with 365 photos! Several of them have become my friends, and it’s nice to have people to talk photography with now. I also met a lovely group of people through the Team ASPCA group I ran with this fall. They are an energetic and happy bunch! I still stay in touch with several of them and hope to join them in some running meet-ups soon. There is a group of colleagues I work with all year through volunteering, and each year we are able to get together during an annual conference in the fall. Every year we become closer, get to know one another better and are just happy to spend real time with one another. I won’t go into family and friend relationships again. That’s #1. 😉
9. Outlets. My outlets are mostly my hobbies (#7), but there are always a few more I could add to the list. I really enjoy reading a good book or flipping through a magazine from my coffee table reads. I’m pretty behind on those, but they’re there for me when I have a moment. I also love a good book full of photographs and information, like this, this or this. Sending handwritten notes is another one of my favorite things to do. I savor sitting down with a favorite pen, some beautiful stationery and writing to a close friend just to say hello. And receiving those types of notes? There are few things better. I just received a sweet note last week from my friend Mary in Germany. It was just a note to say hello and that she was thinking of me. That’s the best kind of note, especially knowing how busy she is. And what better outlet is there from a hectic day than to take a moment to tell someone they are special to you? It’s just as beneficial for you as it is for them.
10. Good coffee. Do you really think I’d let this post go by without mentioning it? Hah! Good coffee… where to start? If you like coffee (or tea, or any warm beverage), you know that feeling of the first sip in the morning when no one else is awake yet and it feels like you have the world to yourself, even if just for a few moments. There’s also that same warm feeling in the afternoon when you take a break to enjoy a cup of joe (or what have you) and flip through the mail or catch up on your favorite blog posts or magazine. And the social aspect of enjoying a warm drink while having a great chat with a friend? Well, that’s also priceless. I, for one, truly enjoy my personal coffee breaks (see what I did there? yeah, I had to) and find them necessary to enjoy that moment and then get back to the grind. It’s a little something to look forward to when I know I have a 10-12 hour work day or a job for a client that I’d rather put off. It’s also fun to schedule coffee dates with friends in advance. As busy as we get, we need to remember to take more time to get together with friends and catch up with one another. At least, that’s my plan for 2015. 😉
This is simply my list of things for which I’m thankful this year. I find it good practice to reflect on these things every year and more often. I’ve heard many people say that they find such posts in social media to be self-serving. That’s the opposite of my intentions here. I love to hear people talk about what they’re thankful for, so I thought I’d share mine with you.
Thanks for reading… I know it was long! What are you thankful for this year? Please share!