Today is Thanksgiving. Social media is serving up heaps of turkey cartoons, Black Friday nonsense and a very interesting phenomenon of listing something you're thankful for each day in November. I always look at these trends curiously and try to put myself in that mindset: what would I say? Driving home yesterday, the local radio blared "Motorin'" by Sister Christian and I welled up with tears remembering the first time driving into wine country from the Golden Gate, Eve grinning from the passenger seat DJ position, marking just the beginning of a life-changing trip that would land us here a mere year later.

So as I thought about what I'm grateful for, what I'm thankful for, it occurred to me that it would be easier to come up with a list of what I'm not thankful for. I am simply, overwhelmingly thankful for every single thing, and I surprise myself everyday with the amount of gratitude I have. So here is my Thanksgiving wisdom.

1.) I cannot be grateful for the mind-blowing beauty and stress-free land of Tahoe without being thankful for the road it took to get here. It's easy to idolize where I am. I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and I am reminded of that every minute. It has never stopped feeling like being on vacation, but I got to this point by realizing what I didn't want in my life. I didn't want to see my husband once a week. I didn't want to be a full time teacher. I didn't want to live just for the weekends and fill them with binge drinking and taking care of other people's problems. And although it was hard (really really hard), I would've never gotten to this point of absolute bliss without figuring out what life I didn't want, and having the courage and faith to trust that there was a better way to live. Trust me, there's a better way to live and it can start anywhere you choose. You just have to get off the road if you don't like the one you're on.

2.) Stuff doesn't make you happy. Being away from my family is tough. But it has also put so much in perspective that I always knew, but never really practiced. Everyone says this but I don't think they believe it. That's why Target provides some sort of empty happiness and why I used to be addicted to going at least once a week to buy crap I didn't need, because I subconsciously believed that it would better my life. I needed a new cardigan so I could look fresh on Monday. I needed better blush so I would impress my friends with my rosy cheeks and we'd have that moment of, "Wow Sarah you look divine!" And I'd be like, "Oh this, no, Really?" Until I needed another "hit" of some crap I didn't need to receive affirmation from the mirror or someone else and it never ends. Ever. I have the same cardigan in five color patterns if you don't believe me.
It's not happy, it's temporary.
And although my dad and I have this fabulous tradition of Christmas Eve shopping, I don't miss the stuff. I miss watching baseball games with him on Sundays, farm Saturday mornings and the smell of my grandma making pancakes. You can't buy that. I've tried.
Instead of presents this year, for Christmas we're giving our family a memory. An experience. Something that provides belly laughs and photos to put on the mantle. Because when we fly back to Tahoe on New Years, I want to remember a moment instead of having to tuck something away in my suitcase. And I never ever want to do anything else.

3.) Gratitude is about being in love with this very moment, and taking care of that moment if you're not in love.
I'm reading this book called "The Power of Now" by Eckart Tolle and it is changing my world view rapidly.
He talks about how he has absolutely no use for the past or the future and only interested in now. Many thoughts came to my mind when I read this: Where do grown up things like buying a house, building a successful financial portfolio (I only hear grown ups talk about this on TV. I have no idea what it is), paying down your debt, how do those things exist when you only focus on now?

When you focus on the past and the future, you forget about what you're creating: now. You can invent whatever you want in the future and recreate what actually happened in your past, but the best part about life is now. Right now. If you want a house, put it out in to the universe and keep on living your life. You'll be surprised what happens when you stop worrying about having the illusion of control and start ripping life right now.
(And being an adult is just like a Halloween costume. It's just an act. A funny dance. I live in a place that focuses on playing outside, all ages, all year round. It rules.)

4.) You can't be grateful for your own life when you're too busy making fun of people at Walmart in their rubber ducky pajamas.
Drama is created by people who aren't focused on meaningful goals and drama can be defined as judging others by their appearance, behavior, car, house, or other arbitrary nonsense. But if you have time to judge others on those things, it means you aren't focused on your own. Looking inward takes patience and a lot of strength but the less you focus on others and the more you focus on loving and accepting yourself, the less others will matter. And when you criticize others, you're really just telling the universe what you're afraid of becoming. You're uncovering your own insecurities and building up walls between you and who you perceive as someone "icky" or "dumb" because you're afraid to  be perceived that way. And as tie-dyed as it sounds, radiate love and it'll come back to you, like a really smart boomerang.

So instead of saving November for thankful month, be unbelievably thankful everyday of your life: for the bad and the good, the icky people and the ones you love, the dog that bites you and the guinea pig that greets you with squeaks every morning. All of it has contributed to this beautiful life we all have the pleasure of living. We are breathing. We get to walk around and talk and hear and chew and run and ski and breathe. A miracle every day, everywhere and it could end any minute.

And now my 8 Thankful Things:
1.) I am thankful for both of my jobs that allow financial security and barely any resemblance of stress.
2.) I am grateful for my amazing family that has been nothing but supportive of this giant move we've made.
3.) I am thankful for my dad, the smartest man I know, that loves me unconditionally and genuinely wants the best for me.
4.) I am grateful for my amazing hus-friend, life partner, cooking buddy, adventurer, that offers an infinite amount of support, love and belly laughs daily.
5.) I am thankful for my dear little guinea pig who gets so excited when I walk by his cage. Always.
6.) I am grateful for my mountain family who have helped our transition from midwest to west coast in a million different ways.
7.) I am thankful for our west shore apartment that provides insane views of the lake daily.
8.) I am grateful for my commute that feels like driving to vacation.

This video made me feel feelings. Watch it all. Happy Day of Thanks, guys.

A lesson in thankfulness