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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Meandering thankfulness and lessons in painting

 

The year thus far has been…insane. A whirlwind. Life-changing. Fun. Sad.

If you were to paint on a canvas a storyboard of my year thus far….I’m pretty sure a finger painting by a blind toddler would suffice. A cacophonic jumble of colors, no coherent destination or path. A swirl of crazy; some splotches of fists pounded in fury against the canvas.

During this time of year meant for reflection and thanks, my knee-jerk reaction is…I’m not sure what to be thankful for. I’m 27. Divorced. Unemployed. This definitely isn’t where I saw my future self. Even a year ago.

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And yet, as much as it isn’t the path I foresaw, I am thankful for the hurdles. I wouldn’t change my decisions, nor the decisions others made that are out of my control. Cheesy romance movies typically have some line about “I wouldn’t change anything, because everything lead me to this.” Well…good for you, Ryan Gosling. Your blind optimism as you stand in a white t-shirt in the rain is radiant with justified faith. (BTW, RG, if you’re reading this…you can say that to me any day.) But me? I don’t know the destination of my journey. I don’t know what color the blind toddler will choose next. But I know the finished painting will be worth it. Perhaps it is my own blind optimism.

Maybe each canvas is its own year. Maybe each color is its own person, its own experience. Maybe some colors don’t continue on to the next year. Maybe you start off bold with a color and expect great things and even the blind toddler can “see” as he moves into the next canvas that something is amiss. That something about the interaction of that color just doesn’t work. So he learns, sets the color aside, and moves on. He may have had great hopes for that color and its part in the ultimate design, but he saw that it didn’t work and learned from the design on the canvas how to better move forward with the next one.

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Maybe all of these canvases of years are pieces of the bigger composite. The summer months you spent when you were two splashing in the pool are the blues on that year’s canvas that make up the glint in the eye of the bigger mosaic. The turmoil of broken hearts and lost love are the reds on the canvases and the rouge in your cheeks.

The actions, decisions, times of love and times of loss. The people. The jobs and the moments spent fervently searching for jobs. They’re all colors. They’re all specks on the canvas that tell our story.

So this is the mosaic of my life. And it may not be pretty right now. But I know the outcome will be stunning.

And for that I am thankful.

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