And a very merry Thanksgiving to you!

Thanksgiving in our household is something of a haze. To be honest, I don’t remember a really good Thanksgiving that sparked the love I have for this season when I was younger. I do remember the delicious food…

Scratch that. There was one where the sisters and I were falling apart in every sense of the phrase – mentally, physically, emotionally – and trying to pick each other back up. Where Toni had more than her share of vino at dinner, and our family let go, laughed, cried, played games and grew into us.

That’s what sparked my love of Thanksgiving.

This sums up the infamous Thanksgiving!

This year there is SO MUCH I have to be thankful for.

It’s been the year of love. Not only did my soul sister Ashely and her handsome hubby welcome the most precious miracle into the world,

Baby

Baby Emma Grace

But my other, long-time, ride-to-die love and bestie since high school, Kim, said “I do” to the most amazing, warm-hearted man, Greg.

Thanksgiving for me has always been a reminder of the little things we take for granted. It is really easy in our everyday hustle and bustle to get lost in the stress, the annoyances, and lose sight of the big picture. For me, Thanksgiving is a time to remember the silver lining. To take those annoyances and find a reason to be thankful for them. For my Thanksgiving post, I tried to see some of my daily stresses as daily blessings, to be thankful for everything.

I am thankful for the bills I pay every month. These bills mean I have a job so that I can pay those bills. These bills also mean I have a roof, at times leaky, but still a roof over my head that shelters me. A home that Cody and I have built and will continue to build. Through harsh winters, stupid springs and much much more.

Paying bills with pizzazz!

The savings account that I have built up over the years is dwindling because of this year’s upcoming nuptials. This means I am going to marry one of the sweetest men I have ever met, a man that has more strength and determination than most.  I’ll save the rest for my speech. 😉

I just had to! HA!

The increase in hourly work weeks, more time sending emails and less time lazing on the couch or spending time with friends and family means I am in a field that is growing and thriving. That I have the ability to put in extra hours and have the opportunity to build up an amazing company. I have a job – period!  I am able to contribute to our household more now than I ever have before. Being able to help Cody with the day-to-day means more to me than anything.

Cody and my busy weekend schedules mean we have some of the most amazing friends that are there to support and pick us up when we are at our worst and celebrate when we are at our best.

If we were sitting around a table, this is the time where I would lift my glass and propose a toast to all the silver linings! Try and look at the tough stuff this Thanksgiving weekend and make it into a positive, find your silver linings exercise.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Jacqui

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Gratitude

I guess the sisters have all shocked you at one point or another, so I really have nothing to lose…here it goes….

Christmas is NOT my favourite holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore all the family time, delicious food, time off work to unwind, joy in the children’s shrieks and giggles…

But what trumps Christmas for me in terms of ranking holidays, is Thanksgiving – it will always be my very favourite of the days we celebrate.

There is something about the simplicity of this holiday that melts my heart, slows me down, brings me back to my centre.

Thanksgiving day – weekend, in my family, really – filled with family gatherings, where we simply set aside the time spend with the ones we cherish dearly, in gratefulness and reflection for all we are blessed with has always been the one I look most forward to every year.

Last year, for no specific reason I can think of, the day spent at Jacqui’s with most of the family I got to thinking (scary thought, I know) of how full I was that day.

Last year's 30lb bird

Last year’s 30lb bird

And while yes, I have been known to be able to pack back my fair share of food in atrocious amounts, in this instance, I do not mean the physical sense.

I mean spiritually, emotionally, and even mentally. Full.

I was so full. Full of love, full of happy, full of peace, full of hope. Just so full. And I loved just how full and satisfied I felt.

I decided then that the focus for my years ahead on this earth would be to consciously be grateful, thankful, and satisfied with whatever present I was faced with.

SO, so much easier said than done, let me tell you. While I do feel I have been so much fuller throughout this year, I know I have most definitely struggled – some days more than others – to keep a perspective of gratitude for whatever the present moment presented to me.

Yet, I still feel full. Thankfully.

With my most favourite holiday just around the corner, I was happy when our editor-in-chief, Julia, suggested we dedicate this week to mark its approach. In tradition and honor of this wonderful day, I am most grateful for:

Love: the ability to give it, and to recieve it. The people I am proud to say I love and even prouder to say love me. I’m thankful for the handsome man who loves my heart – especially on days when I’m not sure why, even the wild and crazy parts, the babies he’s blessed me with in the non-traditional sense – my beautiful step-children and yes, even my fur-babies, and the home he’s helped me build for us.

So thankful for this love

So thankful for this love

Love in the sisterly sense, my inspiring sisters by blood (I will never tire of saying “I don’t know what I would do without you”), the ones through marriage (Kim), the ones we’ve adopted, and the ones through kindred spirits that I find in my closest girlfriends.

This love <3

This love ❤

I’m thankful for the love in the smile of a stranger on the street on the days I so desperately need it. I’m thankful for the people that will never know just how much I truly love them – my ridiculous nieces and nephew. I’m thankful for the love of my parents, the one I was born into and the one I’ve grown to appreciate. So, so thankful for love.

These faces <3

These faces ❤

Ability: I’m thankful that I can. That I can run, that I can breathe, that I can sing (even if not well), that I can see, that I can work. I’m thankful that I can drive, that I can walk, that I can vote. I’m thankful that I can say I’m healthy, that I can buy and afford healthy food, that I have – for the most part – the freedom to choose my own path. I’m thankful I can love, laugh, feel and express without fear.

Ability to take this in

Ability to take this in

Growth: I’m so very thankful for the lessons I’ve been faced with that have allowed me to grow. I’m most thankful for the hard ones I’ve already been able to get out of the way – the ones I’ve watched many loved ones older than me struggle to grasp and still haven’t arrived at. I’m thankful for these lessons that have resulted in growth because it pushes me to grow more – it keeps me thirsty to uncover the next adventure that will show me another true part about myself, that will bring me closer to understanding my purpose and my place.

Always.

Always.

Grace: so incredibly humbled in thankfulness for the grace of God and his love. Thankful that I know in my heart, even when my brain fights me on it, that I am not alone, never without purpose, never without his love, shelter and protection. I’m thankful for the path he’s chosen for me, the faith he’s instilled in me and the sacrifice he’s made for me.

Gratitude makes the heart full

Gratitude makes the heart full

I’m thankful for grace in the human sense – the forgiveness that has been extended to me, especially when I didn’t exactly deserve any of it. Grace that’s come in the chances people have taken on me, and the grace that has come from them overlooking my shortcomings. I make it a regular occurrence to make an ass of myself, and I’m always so grateful when grace is granted instead of making me live it down.

I hope this year, as you gather with your loved ones and share in a feast, that you take the time to really reflect – not on the material possessions and earthly accomplishments – but on the parts of your life that touch your heart daily, that you take for granted, the ones you sometimes forget to recognize your gratitude for, the moments with people that matter that we are often so busy we forget to take note. Revel in your lives in whatever the present moment offers you. Breathe, focus your mind on the abundance that we all have and see how full you can make yourself feel.

From our family to yours

From our family to yours

I wish you a happy, incredibly filling Thanksgiving.

~ Toni

Thankful is as thankful does

I’m definitely a Christmas person – the lights, the sounds, the smells, the music, the family, the gifts, the love, the snow – LOVE it all – but Thanksgiving holds a special place in my heart.

There are very few moments in our regular day-to-day where we get to stop and really think about all that we have and then express explicit gratitude for it. Really, our days are (at least for me) tackled at a get-up-don’t-stop-keep-going-’til-you-drop pace, where there’s little time for rest, let alone reflection and then the expression of thankfulness.

But this season, this time when the trees turn and the air cools and the layers of clothing start piling up, is anointed with this beautiful gift of making time to be thankful. 

In our home, the home that Ben and I have been building together for over 8 years, thankfulness has sometimes been really hard to grasp. There was our first year of marriage, where Ben was unemployed and I had the worst job ever (went home in tears every night) and we lived in our crappy first apartment and had no money. Instead of wallowing, we forced ourselves to come up with one thing each to be thankful for every day the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Those fourteen things lit up our tiny one-bedroom like nobody’s business.

There was the year that we lost our baby, our Charlie. The year where nothing seemed to lift us. The year that sucked huge hairy balls of crap. The one where counting the blessings we had here, and not in heaven, was damn near impossible.

And then there have been years where blessings have overflowed, where the number of things to be thankful for was sky-high and singing in church choirs about praising God and going to the apple orchard and making pie and getting together as a family seemed like things we could do forever. Those are the times where Thanksgiving feels like it shouldn’t be just a season, but a year-round, daily activity.

This year, like every other, has its own marks of sorrow, its own trials, its own triumphs, its own heaps of blessings. It’s a year where we’re finally settling into our family of five. It’s a year where we are working hard on our marriage, harder than we’ve ever had to work before. It’s a year where we’re making big changes (another blog post for another time!) and hoping like hell (praying like maniacs!) that we’re making the right changes. It’s a year where my list of what to be thankful for feels more thoughtful than it ever has.

So, in my pause of reflection, here’s what I’m thankful for most this year:

1. Ben – Father of our children, lover of my heart, fighter for our family, breadwinner monetarily, strongman in all things, I’m thankful that he’s the one I’m walking this path with.

He's a handsome devil...and sometimes just a devil...

He’s a handsome devil…and sometimes just a devil…

2. The babies – No one makes me crazier, loves me more, lets me love them more, teaches me more, forces me to grow more, and makes me sit in awe more than the three nutters I call mine.

Crazy in love

Crazy in love

3. My sisters – No, this isn’t a plug for the blog, but seriously? My sisters? Without them, I don’t know what I’d do. And this year, I feel like I’m calling on all of the favours for all of the things. I’m asking for nannying help, I’m leaning for babysitting, I’m demanding workout buddies, I’m talking their ears off, I’m handing over babies for them to hold while I let my arms rest – all of the things.

Maybe we should take another one...where we're not wet...

Maybe we should take another one…where we’re not wet…

 

Who else would push your kids and their kid and all of your kids' baggage up the biggest hill and STILL love you?

Who else would push your kids and their kid and all of your kids’ baggage up the biggest hill and STILL love you?

4. My moms – Who else can say, “Not only do I talk to my mom every day, but I love my mother-in-law like a second mother”? Not many people that I know. Lucky doesn’t even begin to cover the love I get from my mothers.

My mom loving my babies...and ME

My mom loving my babies…and ME

She lets me wake her up at stupid o'clock and STILL loves me!

She lets me wake her up at stupid o’clock and STILL loves me!

5. Soul-friends – The moms at school pick-up/drop-off, the moms at bible study, the women who listen to me rant and rave and brag and are nothing but supportive, even though I probably come off as a complete nut.

Any time women come together with a collective intention, it's a powerful thing. Whether it's sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens. - Phylicia Rashad

“Any time women come together with a collective intention, it’s a powerful thing. Whether it’s sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.” – Phylicia Rashad

6. Time – For finding myself, for running, for learning, for thinking, for everything – I feel like I’ve stolen more time for myself than I ever have and the proof is in the distance I can run (12.84 KM!), the fitness I have, the peace that I feel, and the depression I’m actively keeping at bay.

Me, the road, my breath, my thoughts, my meditation, my time

Me, the road, my breath, my thoughts, my meditation, my time

7. God’s love – I know that everything that I’ve listed here, everything that I’m thankful for every day, everything that I am, and where I am and where I’m going is all because of Him. THANK YOU.

DSCF2145

This year has not been our easiest, our most blessed, or our hardest, most awful. But this year, like all the rest, the thankfulness is found in what we have and where we are right now, not in what we don’t have or where we didn’t make it.

To you and yours, a happiest and most grateful of Thanksgiving seasons. I hope it’s filled with love, light, and turkey. (Mmmm, turkey).

~ Julia