An Exercise in Gratitude and Intimacy

The new year is almost here! While it is important to be thankful in all circumstances, all year round, it can be so easy to lose sight of the good in our lives because of how busy we are, especially during the holiday season. One one hand, holidays like Thanksgiving can be a great reminder to be thankful, but other times, we get wrapped up in preparing meals or hosting parties. It’s times like these where we need to be deliberate about our gratitude.

Almost a year ago, my boyfriend told me that he wanted to share with me more. This resulted in a daily activity that we have been faithfully doing together. He suggested that at the end of every day, we tell each other one thing that made us happy. It could be something as small as having nice weather, or something as big as celebrating a milestone. To further the impact of the tradition, I suggested that we write down what made each other happy each day, and at the end of the year, we would read them to each other.

The nice thing about this activity is that it can be done both alone or with someone else, whether it be a significant other, friend, family member, or whoever you want. If you choose to do this activity with someone else, it will surely get you talking, and by the end of the year, you’ll learn more about what brings them the most joy in their life and what is truly important to them. This is a great way to both draw closer to somebody and make you more aware about what makes you happy personally. Sometimes, life gets so busy that we forget to do things we love and look at the positives. Try this out and see if it helps you be a little more grateful and happier in the midst of wherever you may be.


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The Silver Lining in Missing Others

When I was in Maine just the other week, I really wanted to try a certain warm beverage. It sounded intriguing, the café sounded like my idea of the perfect afternoon hangout, and I would be able to relax for the first time in a few days. Literally every obstacle got in my way, preventing me from trying this drink, from people to weather. When I finally forced this dream to become a reality, I ended up disliking the drink and didn’t get to sit down for ten minutes before being called by my family to meet them somewhere else. Have you ever set out to accomplish your dream, but when you finally attained it, it wasn’t all you thought it would be, even if it was something as small as trying a hot beverage?

For the longest time, I wanted to leave the state of Pennsylvania to live elsewhere, especially a warmer area. This year, I am finally getting to live out my dream of living somewhere warmer for an extended period of time and the best part is, I don’t know anyone there! I have always loved meeting new people and connecting with them on a deeper level, which is my primary reason for studying languages. I was just as excited as the first time I moved away for college, and when I was getting ready to study abroad, but I was also just as sad to leave the ones I love behind.

Homesickness is completely natural to experience, especially when you have great memories tied to the place you are leaving. However, it was not my home I was missing, but rather the people and memories that went along with it. No matter how many times I’ve had to leave the area I grew up in for an extended period of time, I never fully got over missing the special people in my life.

The first couple of weeks are always the hardest. You have a lot of free time to yourself to think, since you don’t have the responsibilities of schoolwork to keep you distracted. You may be in the process of meeting new people, but things don’t tend to get easier until you have some established friendships. During this time, I thought a lot about everyone I had left behind. I am only going to be away for a year, and that year will fly by. I don’t want to spend it thinking of how much I miss everybody all the time. That’s when it hit me:

The reason why I’m feeling this way is because I have such special people in my life. If I didn’t have wonderful people surrounding me, I would not be experiencing such homesickness for them.

Finding a silver lining requires a change of thought. It’s all a matter of being grateful that you are so blessed to have these people in your life. Yes, missing others is totally okay and completely normal, but realize the ‘why‘ behind your feelings. You will be brought to a whole new level of comfort that will help you ease the pain of missing others.

Thank you to all the amazing people in my life that may be reading this! You have definitely left an impact.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Spain

You don’t need to be in the United States to have a thankful heart, nor does only one day have to be set aside for being thankful. I was surprised to hear that Spain doesn’t have their own version of Thanksgiving, even on another day of the year. However, it really isn’t the day itself that matters, but rather the sentiment behind it. Being thankful is something you have the power to do wherever you are in the world.

This was my first Thanksgiving that I didn’t celebrate at home. It didn’t feel like Thanksgiving without the meal, the Macy’s parade, and being with my family, but this year I experienced a new kind of Thanksgiving. Yesterday, my program took us out to Tony Roma’s, where we ate a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner of salad, nachos, ribs, french fries, and carrot cake. It may not have been traditional food, but it was still delicious! Today, I got to go out with my friends to an Italian restaurant called Gino’s. We sat around talking, laughing, and having a good time.  I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend my Thanksgiving away from home.

I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made here, for my program that has taken good care of us, for this opportunity to be abroad and travel around Europe, and I’m very thankful for everyone that is waiting for me back home that I’ll get to see in a few weeks. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!