Meandering Thankfulness: the adventure continues

Last year, I wrote a Thanksgiving post that seemed to speak to a lot of people. That wasn’t necessarily the intention, I was just trying to get some thoughts out about my journey in the year thus far, the things I had learned, and what had changed. So much, and yet so little.

And you know what this year has me realizing? The case is still the same.

As I took M on our second annual Thanksgiving morning walk, I thought about where I was last year. What was going on in my life. The wins. The things I thought were wins but were actually losses in disguise. The battles. The highs. The lows. The adventure. When I think about where I was last year versus now, it is easy to brush it off to say very little has changed. It’s also easy to say so much has changed.

The events as a whole in the last year continue to reinforce the idea of being pieces of a bigger mosaic of life. There are those splotches where I threw my fists on the painting in sad frustration about not feeling like I’m where I thought I’d be right now. There are the bright and sunny pieces of accomplishments, of happy moments spent with the dearest of friends. It’s all a part of life. It’s a part of the adventure. I’m equal parts thrashing, singing, serious, happy, sarcastic, playful, studious…I’m living an adventure because I choose to see life that way. In a world where very few people actually LIVE an adventure, I’m thankful for the mindset that lets me do so.

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Granted, as friends and family can attest, that doesn’t necessarily make me the easiest person to live with. Always pushing. Never settling. Those things can get tiring.

Falling on your face gets tiring.

But you know what’s more tiring? Standing still. Whether it’s out of fear or complacency or simply because you see no need to push. That doesn’t feel like a life to me. What are you learning by standing still? Sure…I fell on my face. There’s some red on the mosaic from blood or embarrassment, but I learned something. And I got up and moved forward. Adventure. As Jessie J would say, I’m creating my masterpiece.

I realized last year that I am thankful for the fact that there is a bigger mosaic. That all of these highs and lows of the adventure along the way add up to something. This year I am thankful for those highs and lows in general. It takes courage to live. It takes courage to seek happiness. You have to know, like a toddler learning to walk, that there’s a high likelihood of you falling on your face when you let go of that couch. The toddler may not have known that the first time, but as an adult you’ve let go enough that you know the consequences. It’s ingrained in you.

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I’m thankful for the mindset and courage that lets me seek happiness, all the while knowing I need to work on the mindset that lets me see the happiness in the day to day. Most of all, this year I’m thankful for the dear friends and family who put up with me. Who chose to love me and live this adventure with me. My mosaic is brighter because of you. In each day, in each moment, you teach me the true meaning of love. Of grace and happiness. In my most thrashing of toddler-esque fits, as I’m fighting and pushing to make things better, you stick with me and show me grace. You stand beside me and know me. You let me know that I am loved and known in those moments. When I let go of the proverbial couch and take a step forward without falling, it’s you who I celebrate with. When I fall a couple steps later, it’s you who helps me get up and keep going. It’s you, your love, that covers me in happiness this Thanksgiving.

You make the adventure worthwhile. Thank you.

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Let the good things grow

So…after a couple hard months of the beginning of the year trying to get on track, things have been steadily arching in the right direction. The hard work, the determination, the belief of better things…

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The job came first. I had been applying to places right and left. Locally, out of state, you name it. Katie had been trying to get me to apply in Sacramento, but I just couldn’t bring myself to apply to a city I’d never even been to. Anyway. I applied to a job in Chicago using the AIA Careers Center website and when uploading my portfolio and resume it asked if I would like to keep them public for other employers to see. I thought, “Why not?” A couple days later, the new firm called me saying “The partners would like to meet you. Would  you like to come in?” This firm does substantial work, but flies under the radar, so I spent the weekend researching them and making a game plan. I went in, pitched myself and what I have to offer, and pitched what I thought they needed. By 8:30 the next morning, they were asking me what I wanted in my offer letter. Sweet baby Jesus that was an awesome feeling.

The convention and events surrounding it was another great experience. Not only did my lodging end up being pretty amazing, but I had an awesome time volunteering and attending the convention. There will be more discussed on this at www.L-2-Design.com when I have a chance to write about it (hopefully this weekend), but it was so great to meet architecture friends I had made over twitter and experience the city of Chicago after not having been to the Windy City in awhile. Also, while there, I won airfare and hotel stay for next year’s convention as a part of a Tweet Up contest! (And my mom think’s twitter is silly, but it just saved me over $1k!!) The Saturday or Sunday of convention, I noticed that AIA National was running a question on twitter asking who would be attending the Tweet Up and why they were looking forward to it – the winning answer chosen at random would win the airfare and hotel. I responded, and my response won!

And last, but definitely not least, I found out this morning that I passed my Structures test! This was wonderful news because I honest to goodness thought I failed this test. There were fill in the blank questions that I knew required multiple formulas and I felt like I had just as much of a chance creating the right answer as a child with Tourette’s mashing the keyboard. But it’s passed and behind me. Now I just have to pass the last two!

So…all in all, things are looking up. There are still times where I worry about my future, or focus on trying to solidify an overall plan, but I think in general I’m having an easier time letting go of the reins and trusting that it will all work out. It doesn’t mean I don’t work my tail off every chance I’m given, but I’m not screaming too loudly on the rollercoaster of life (unless it’s for fun at a concert). I’m focusing one at a time. And letting the pile of good things grow.

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Merry Christmas: The journey to the light

I’ve struggled the last week or two with whether or not to write this post. I didn’t want to only share negative, selfish thoughts surrounding a most blessed of holidays. But this is about my journey, so I’m sharing.

I’ve run the gamut of emotions this holiday season. After the last several years of my life spending this holiday with someone, it is underwhelming to spend it alone.

I LOVE Christmas. I love the holidays spent with those you love, doing things, making memories, decorating, relaxing. I’m a giver. I love finding the perfect gift for someone and seeing their face light up when they receive it. But I have no special someone to share these moments with this year, so it all seems very sad. It’s not that I feel the need to have someone to make things special in my life. It’s not a body count. I’m certain that spending your days with the wrong person, especially holidays, is probably just as bad, but you get what I mean. It is its own brand of suck known only to those who’ve spent holidays alone. *raises glass of alcohol to all the singles reading this*

I’ve never wanted a holiday season over with more than I do this year.

I’ve spent many a night wondering where my path is taking me. Feeling surrounded by darkness in the moments where families are busy brightening their homes with Christmas lights and holiday cheer. Wondering the plan God has for me.

I realized tonight as I listened to the sermon of the Christmas Eve service that Mary must have had similar concerns about her path and her plan. How the months leading up to Jesus’s birth, that night when no inn would take them, her son, the Son of God, being born in a barn among the animals, must have been wrought with dark moments and questioning thoughts. She must have wondered who was she to have this burden, how would her life change, what would lie ahead.

But she kept her faith. Even in the darkest of moments, she kept her faith. And she was rewarded with the ultimate Light. A light that continues to shine in each and every one of us, even in the darkest of our moments.

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And so in the moments of uncertainty, I am reminded to look to Him. In the sadness, loneliness, questions of the future…He is there. In the moments where I wonder my path, where I wish for someone to share these days with…I am reminded I am so blessed. I may not have a him in my life right now, but I have HIM.

In my darkest of days, He is the light. He shines through me. And that is enough.

For His birth, His death, His love…I am amazingly and wonderfully blessed.

Merry Christmas.

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Count your blessings

This past couple days I had a nice reminder of the good great friends and family I have in my life.

On Friday morning, I wasn’t feeling too great as I got to work, but counted it off as not having yet had breakfast. Later that day a coworker texted to check on me to make sure everything was ok. He had noticed me seeming a bit off and just wanted to check in. While I felt bad that I was broadcasting any other feeling than happiness, it was such a happy surprise to know that I have close friends to check on me, even when I’m not asking for help outright. One of the many reasons I call them my “Schmidt family”. I will admit, he might be on heightened alert because his wife is now in the midst of pregnancy with their first child. Dare I say he might be getting attuned to changing facial expressions of women when uncomfortable. ;) I’m so excited to see them start this journey together and this small gesture to a friend shows me even more how great of a dad he will be to their little girl.

Evidently the pangs early Friday might have been a stomach bug settling in, because by Sunday I was down for the count. Fever, vomiting, aches, the works. Well…the vomiting came later, but still. So I texted my dad early in the day to ask him to come play superdad and bring me some “comfort food” by the way of sprite and grilled cheese and tomato soup, as well as to provide some manual labor to do some chores around the house that I was planning on doing that day: remove the window aircon, lay down the insulation in the attic, etc. He showed up, lacking cape (or perhaps it was invisible) but superdad nonetheless. There’s no longer a draft and the temperature in the apartment has been much better since the insulation got fixed. I made some lunch, and slowly ate it as we sat and chatted about the housing market and life in general.

After revisiting lunch (thankfully I had spent some of the previous day cleaning the toilet), I was granted another small blessing in the form of my wonderful landlords. Or I guess their son…and his love for applesauce. They were kind enough to give me some – with a moderate radius being kept for germ reasons – that night when I was finally starting to feel okay enough to try and eat again. Oh the small joys of plain applesauce. Thanks, O-man!

During parts of this weekend, I lamented my singlehood, just wanting someone to do a load of laundry, or the dishes, or lay down the insulation, or cuddle me while I was completely down for the count. It would have been easy to get stuck in that low spot, but I (surprisingly) didn’t. Perhaps I was too delirious with fever. Who knows.

While my dad and my friends cannot necessarily do some of that list, I feel so blessed to know that there’s some chores on that list they are willing and ready to take to hand. Sometimes just saying you’re there is enough. Sometimes all it takes is climbing a ladder to brighten a girl’s day.

Many blessings. Many thanks.

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