The Thankful Project Day 9: Study Abroad

Though I am still trying to compile all my amazing memories and experiences from studying abroad down to one story, or one way to simply describe it all, I am so incredibly grateful for studying abroad.

The things I learned abroad go so far beyond the classroom, I’m not even sure we can see the building anymore.

I learned so much about myself while studying abroad – my work ethic, my personality, who I’m becoming as a person. It’s hard to pinpoint when I started realizing this, but then, we are always changing.

I met some of the most amazing people while studying abroad. I came home with a group of friends that are so amazing; they are undeniably friends for life. These people are so wonderful. They supported me, and I them, while abroad – struggling with studying, homesickness, heartsickness, etc. I love them with all my heart and wish they could be with me always.

I also saw things while abroad that I never thought I’d get to see. We went to Venice, Monte Carlo, Amsterdam, London, and so many places that I am so glad I got to see. It will probably be a long time before I see any of those places again.

Ireland is also an amazing place to live. It is so different from any place I’ve ever visited, let alone lived before. And I am very grateful to have gotten the chance to live in a place like that.

All in all, while it was difficult to transition back from being abroad for so long, I am so very grateful to have had all of these experiences. I have grown, loved more, learned more, and lived more than I ever thought possible. These experiences from abroad have helped me to know myself better so very much.

I wouldn’t trade any of them (literally) for the world.

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The Thankful Project Day 8: Gym

I hate writing this. Because honestly? Who could ever possibly be thankful for the gym? And why would I be thankful for the gym?

I don’t really like going. I don’t like sweating my ass off watching all the body builder guys strut around and occasionally lifting a weight. I don’t like looking at all the skinny girls elliptical for a half hour and then being able to call it good. I just don’t like it.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t be grateful for it.

I’m grateful for the gym simply because it is a place where I can go and for one hour (or 90 minutes), I get to just be alone with my thoughts. And, exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy.

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I can leave the gym feeling invigorated (if not a little sore). I feel better. Even when I’m exhausted, and don’t feel like going to the gym, I push myself to go and it makes me feel more energetic. It brightens up the rest of the day.

Plus, getting stronger and getting in shape isn’t too bad either.

Working out also helps my mental health, which also keeps me happier and more energetic throughout the day.

So, even though I really do hate the gym, I’m pretty darn thankful for it.

The Thankful Project Day 7: Smoothies

Smoothies are a quick and easy way to start off your day (or get a healthy sweet fix during the day). They can vary in flavor, color, and size, and are such a sweet cool summer treat to have.

I start most days with a smoothie for breakfast. It takes about 5 minutes to make, and with an insulated cup, I can sip it for over an hour (I make my smoothies really thick). Sure, it gets a little monotonous starting every day the same way, but couldn’t that be said for all the people who start every day with two scrambled eggs and wheat toast? At least mine is a protein packed, 2 fruit serving cup of cold goodness.

Most days, I just do a good old fashioned mixed berry smoothie, but some days, I’ll do a nice tropical flavored one. Here are a few good smoothie recipes:

1. Mixed Berry Smoothie

8 oz. of your personal choice of milk (I do almond milk).
2 scoops of protein powder (or a tablespoon or two of your favorite nut butter).
1 banana.
1/2-3/4 cup of frozen mixed berries – no sugar added.
Ice to make as thick or runny as you’d like.
Optional: 1/4 cup fresh berries

2. Tropical Smoothie

8 oz. of your choice of milk.
2 scoops protein powder (or a tablespoon of nut butter).
1 banana.
1/2 cup of frozen peaches.
1/2 cup of frozen mangos, etc. (Usually the market sells a bag of frozen tropical fruit).
2 frozen strawberries.
Ice.

3. Green Smoothie

6 oz. of water.
1/2 cup kale.
1 banana.
1/2 cup pineapple.
1/2 teaspoon ginger.
1/2 green apple.
(I’ll usually do this one cold, but not frozen – more like a juice.)

4. Strawberry Blueberry Smoothie

4 oz. of your favorite milk.
1 container of plain greek yogurt.
1 banana.
1/2 cup frozen or fresh strawberries.
1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries.
Ice.
Optional: 1/2 avocado.
(This one smoothes your skin).

Honestly, you could add literally anything that sounds good together to a smoothie and sip it right up! To keep it healthy, though, definitely look for frozen fruit without added sugar, and keep that need for protein powder and milk to a minimum. What keeps you full is the whole smoothie put together, not just a few components of it.

I’m also super thankful for smoothies because they help me keep my cravings in check. When I’m trying to lose weight, or keep a stricter and healthier diet, starting my day off with a smoothie helps keep my notorious sweet tooth in check.

And during these warm summer months, I get to start my day off with a fresh and cool smoothie.

DElicious!

The Thankful Project Day 6: Planners

To step away for a day from the ultimately cheesy sounding thankful posts, I’m just going to dedicate this post to planners.

Yes, those things that organize your day and tell you what to do.

I use my planner for everything. I write down my work schedule (even though it’s a normal work schedule), I write down when I’m going to the gym, when my appointments are, and to be honest, it reminds me what date it is.

It makes the days look way more conquerable, and like anything is possible. And it’s true. When you write something down, not only does it make you remember it more, but it gives you a sense of purpose. That’s why to-do lists are such a big deal for some people.

A planner is like a giant to-do list that is portable and easily viewable. And, for those of you who are super creative, there is such a thing as a bullet journal now.

And these things are even cooler. All you need are super fun pens (which are sometimes even cooler than planners), and the will to decorate your own planner. It sounds like more work than it’s worth, but it’s actually pretty relaxing, and you have a completely customizable planner all for yourself.

And, to allow the cheesiness to come back in for just a second, planners help me when my depression gets extremely bad. They help me see that my day isn’t as busy as it feels like it is. It makes hours seem less daunting. Planners overall help me feel more in check and organized.

And that’s why I’m so thankful for planners.

What are you thankful for?

Thankful Project Day 4: Country Music

Some people don’t like country music very much. So this post might not get too much love. But I am so thankful for country music.

In country music, they don’t scream about sleeping with b*tches or rap about shawty’s ass. It’s just guitar, lyrics about drinking beer with friends and falling in love with the perfect girl. It’s soft drums and concerts full of happy people and cowboy boots. In other words, I think it’s quite wonderful.

Country music never fails to make me happy. It’s my music of choice when I’m sad or down about something. It makes me feel like I’m better than what I believe I am. Country music made me believe in the power of music therapy.

If you don’t what music therapy is, here’s a quick synopsis: a patient can find an activity that includes any genre of music (singing, dancing, learning an instrument, sitting quietly and listening), and that activity triggers their brain to be happier and more productive – the more you do it, the stronger the triggers get. Patients can then move from that to another activity (without music), and use the strength of the triggers to be happier, more productive, more vocal, more communicative, etc. Music therapy has tremendous success in patients with depression, anxiety, dementia, Parkinson’s, Autism, etc.

And country music is my genre of choice.

When I get in my car after a bad day, or a day of knowing I’m not going to feel 100%, and I turn on country music, singing softly along, I start to feel better. And I can carry that mood with me throughout the day. I’ll probably be humming at some point, maybe muttering lyrics under my breath, but I feel better.

Country music is so many things. It’s joyful, it’s sad, it’s a party, it’s patriotic, it’s beautiful. 

And no, not everyone agrees with that statement. But I don’t care.

Music has the ability to heal people.

So maybe this isn’t a thank you to country music, but instead to music in general. Music has the power to make people feel something more complex than what they currently feel. It brings people together. It makes people feel wonderful. It makes people happier. And isn’t that what we all want? 

30 Days Of Gratefulness

I edit for a site called Read Unwritten. And we’ve had a ton of pieces lately concerning being grateful for the little things, and putting down your phone to appreciate life without needing social media or anything like that. And it really got me thinking…

We all have so much to be grateful for.

So, I’ve decided to start a project: for the next 30 days, I’m going to write about 30 different things that I’m grateful for.

By doing this, it will help me take a little time each day to focus on what’s important to me, what’s important in my life. It will also help me focus a little less on the trivial, and more on the important things.

I’m calling this The Thankful Project – 30 days of being thankful for all the great things in my life — the people, the places, the moments, the memories, the things.

So, You’ve Had A Bad Day…

I had a bad day today. Just a plain old fashioned bad day.

And my first instinct was to blame it on my meds not working right. On my depression and anxiety acting up. On my Celiac Disease. On my various aching joints and genetic back issues. On anything but the fact that I just simply had a really bad day. 

I couldn’t tell you what went wrong. I couldn’t tell you why I came home from work and the gym feeling like a failure or just plain shitty. I couldn’t tell you why I got out of the shower and just started to cry. Because there was no rhyme or reason.

Still, as I sat on my bed and cried into my hands, I couldn’t help but want to blame it on something in my life that’s gone wrong. I wanted to curse my medicine bottles for not being enough. I wanted to ask why my depression makes me feel this way. I wanted to reach for a donut just to give Celiac Disease the finger. I wanted to make my back curve the way it’s supposed to and give voice to my aching knees and wail.

Honestly? I just wanted to cry and scream and curse and yell.

So where is the line?

When is it a bad day and not anything else acting up? When is it just my fault? When is it not me hating my body or my body hating me? When is it just an off day? When do I call it and say ‘yep, I might’ve just started the day off on the wrong foot?’

And it’s days like this that make me wonder:

When does it get easier?

When do I get to stop hating walking through the pastry sections in markets? When do I get to stop fearing having children because of this horrific genetic makeup I’d bring them into? When does depression stop trailing behind me like an abandoned dog I once dropped a piece of bread for?

When do I get to feel like I won?

It’s days like this that make me wish I journaled so that just maybe I could track down an answer or see a pattern to all the madness around me.

And maybe that’s the point, right?

Everyone has days like this. Even people without depression, Celiac Disease, etc. Even people who seem perfect on the outside sometimes just go home to cry or vent or scream.

It’s all madness.

Everything around us is chaos. That’s life.

Bad days happen. And it isn’t always for a reason. And it might not get easier; it might get harder, it might stay the same. And maybe every bad day will have me reaching for a journal I don’t have just to see if my body has turned on me further. Maybe every bad day will have me wondering about why I am built and made up the way I am.

But you’re dealt your cards, and you learn to live with them. You learn to bet on them. You learn to bet on yourself.

Make Me A Priority, Please.

About six months ago, I wrote this article about why I’m tired of making my friends priorities in my life when I’m not one in their’s. And this is something I’m still struggling with.

Why? I’ll tell you.

When someone texts me first, I’m guaranteed to answer you within the hour. Partially because I hate seeing the red 1 on phone signaling an unread notification and also because I’m polite. Unless I’m at work, you’re getting an answer to your text message. But either way, you’re going to hear back from me.

We’re millennials. We always have our phones. Whether they’re in our pockets, on the desk beside us, in our bags, on our minds. We’re constantly snapping our friends, commenting on memes on Facebook. There is no way messages are going unseen, unnoticed unless you’re really trying. 

At least have the decency to say no.

It makes me feel like I am not worthy of your friendship. It makes me feel like I’m not worthy of anything. Am I not worthy of your friendship? Am I not worthy of a courtesy text back? Do you know how bad it makes me feel about myself when I never hear from you?

It’s taken me long enough to figure out how to like myself at all. I don’t need you making me feel like I can’t love myself. Like I’m not worth it or like I’m not worthy of someone caring about me as much as I care about them.

I shouldn’t have to put more effort into my relationships than everyone else. I shouldn’t have to wait for text messages about plans or feel shitty when you cancel last minute. I shouldn’t have to contemplate whether or not I should text you just to say okay fine nevermind, forget it. 

Just try, please try to make me feel like a priority too. Please try to make me feel worthy of your friendship, of our relationship, of myself. Please just try to make me feel worth it – life, love, etc.

I’m tired of ranting about this to other friends. I’m tired of trying to understand why you never answer or why you never want to see me. I’m tired of making excuses for your bad behavior and your last minute cancelled plans. I’m just tired.

So I’m done.

In all the time it took me to realize this, I finally started to like myself again. I’m done ranting about this, hating myself, getting angry about never hearing from you. I’m just done.

I think this blogpost is a goodbye. It’s a see you later – but I won’t be the one making the plans.