Monday, November 21, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 21

I am thankful for my job.

Exactly three years ago today I was hired. Three years and 3 weeks ago we moved to Washington. If you do the math, you'll find that it only took me 3 weeks to find my job. This was right when the economy was crashing, companies were going under, and thousands of people were losing their jobs.

Granted, my job isn't exactly the type of job with a cushy salary and nice hours. 

I work with adolescents who have cognitive and behavioral challenges who live in a group home. You could call me a support staff, I suppose. I help administer meds, try and redirect maladaptive behaviors (sometimes successfully, other times not so much...), cook meals, clean, go out into the community, and whatever else the kids need. It's 24 hours care, so it'd be rare to go a week without getting called into work, or having to switch shifts, or staying late, or coming early, or work doubles (16hrs). And since the kids are in school 9 months out of the year, I'd typically work evenings ... in other words, I had no social life. Sometimes I'd get hit, kicked, bit, cursed at, or have my hair pulled. Sometimes I would be so emotionally drained that my only response was to cry. (Not a good idea, by the way).

But, I'd do it all again.

Why? Because of one neat chick who I got to meet three years ago.

Even though this one gal made me earn her trust, (see above for details), I've gotten to form the coolest relationship with her. And she has made the hugest impact on my life. No doubt have I benefited more than she has from our time together, though I'd like to think otherwise.

I'm only working one day a week because of school, but getting to see her is almost always a highlight of my week.

I wish I could post a picture of her beautiful face and tell you all sorts of fun stories, but I don't want to jeopardize my job. So you'll just have to trust me. She's pretty amazing.

30 days of gratitude - days 17-20

Geez, the last few days have gone by fast! 

day 17 - thankful that I got to catch up with some old friends
day 18 - thankful that my group project is over with
day 19,10 - thankful for a weekend off with TJ. It's a rare occasion to have a weekend off together. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 16

I am thankful for people who are passionate about what they do and work hard to motivate people around them. 

I am thankful that I get to interact with passionate people and be inspired by them on a daily basis. 

I am thankful that my nutella and toast almost tasted like a doughnut. 

I am thankful for public transportation. It's saved me hundreds of dollars in gas not to mention the cost of a parking permit.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 15

Today, I'm thankful for Tuesdays. 

Why, you ask? Here are the top 10 reasons why:
  1. I don't have class
  2. I get to grocery shop (seriously. I love grocery shopping)
  3. I don't have class
  4. I have time to make dinner (stir fry tonight)
  5. I don't have class
  6. I get to catch up on homework
  7. I don't have class
  8. I have time to organize and clean
  9. I don't have class
  10. I get extra cuddle time with my cats 
Yep. That's why I'm thankful for Tuesdays! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 14

I am thankful for my sister, Rachel.

The girl texted me this morning and told me she got a 99.5 on her English paper. To say I'm proud of her is an understatement. 

Rachel is one of the brightest people I know. She's also one of the most bull-headed and stubborn people I know. If she thinks something is pointless (say, most of high school) she won't give it the time of day. 

Last year Rachel chose to live with me and TJ. She stayed with us for 6 months. When she moved in with us, I was so excited, but a little nervous. Let's just say Rach and I didn't get along all that well growing up. It wasn't until right before TJ and I got married that we started having conversations and connecting. 

That short time Rachel lived with us wasn't always sunshine and rainbows, but overall it was good for our sisterly relationship. I got to see a side of Rach I didn't know existed. And she got to experience something resembling independence. And we had plenty of hilarious adventures.  She's got a fantastic sense of humor and great taste in t.v. shows and movies. 

The main reason she chose to move home was to pursue school. She applied, got accepted, but then had to face some frustrations during the process. She was very close to giving up on the idea of school, but she stuck with it. 

And today she aced her English paper. 

I have a lot to learn from Rachel. She has a giant heart for people. Especially for the unloved, unwanted, and cast aside. She stands up for people, even if it means risking her own reputation. She's outspoken, passionate, and won't back down.

She's using her powers for good. 

She will make an excellent social worker someday. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 13

Today I am thankful for my brother, Kevin.

This weekend he got to play Edmund in his school's play - The Chronicles of Narnia. My little brother has always be a bit theatrical. In a good way. He's got a kind heart, he's witty, and brilliant. He's pensive and insightful way beyond his years. He had to grow up with three very dramatic older sisters, so he's patient and understanding.

One of the hardest parts about being so far away from my family is missing him grow up. Every time I come home he's changed. His voice has gotten deeper, he's grown taller, become involved in new activities, and made new friends. He's not the little kid I remember when I moved away.

I'm thankful for Kevin because he brings a calming presence to my family. I'm thankful for the deep conversations we have. I'm thankful that he's been so kind to his crazy older sisters. And I'm thankful to have him as my brother.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 12

Today I am grateful for my sister, Elizabeth.

This morning, she landed in Cambodia to lead a team of volunteers to help girls who've been rescued from the brothels and sex trade.

Even though while we were growing up I was constantly annoyed by my nearly perfect older sister, I can't even express the amount of respect and admiration I have for my big sis now. She's an idealist and a dreamer. She sees good in people that no one else can see. She intelligent, articulate, and empathetic. She bikes everywhere she goes, even in the dead of a Wisconsin winter. She's ambitious, adventurous, and a great story teller.

You can check out her Cambodia blog here. She mentioned to me that she would be updating it during her stay in Cambodia. If you're the praying type, please keep her in your prayers.

30 days of gratitude - day 11

I guess it may seem obvious that since yesterday was Veteren's Day, I would be thankful for the veterans. 

I am. 

I don't come from a long line of family who have served in the military. In fact the only person who I know of was my Grampa's brother who served in WWII and was killed. I know that impacted my Grampa tremendously, and he never failed to show his love of country. 

Because this is an issue that hasn't hit close to home, I've had some difficulty connecting with this holiday. (Just being honest here...)

BUT, over the last year I've met people who've served in the military, or who've had brothers, dads, or husbands serve and I've had a tiny insight into the tremendous sacrifice that they've made. 

So I know I'm a day late, but thank you to those people who've chosen to make that sacrifice.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 10

Today, I'm thankful that both TJ and I got out of class early and got a chance to cross quite a few things off of our ever-growing checklist of things to do.

I'm thankful for hot chocolate. Good smelling candles. Cuddly cats. My esthetician. And a night at home without homework ... (not that I don't have homework, it's just that I'm choosing not to do it). 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 days of gratitude - days 6, 7, 8, and 9

Today I play catch up on my grateful days. You know why? Because this one is a big one. So big, I can barely write this without getting all emotional.

I am thankful I am learning how to be an Occupational Therapist. I'm feeling giddy just typing it. But more than just thankful to be in the program, I am thankful for the entire process ... everything from the decision to go back to school up until now. I've had some amazing experiences, met some remarkable people, made new friends, and climbed a few personal mountains. It's been a game changer.

A year ago I was taking a couple prerequisite courses, filling out my grad school application and studying for the GRE. 

Today, I got to learn about the therapeutic use of self, motor planning, and discussed ALS, MS, and Parkinson's Disease.

I'm doing it, guys. I'm here. I'm in the program. I am loving it. I belong here. I feel like I am meant to be an OT. I can't even tell you with words how much this experience has changed my life. 

I have struggled a lot in the past with my identity. I played softball my whole life and I decided to quit going into my sophomore year in college. Looking back, I see that it was most likely my fear of failure that led me to quit. After that, I had a really hard time finding anything I was passionate about. I was lost, insecure, and constantly morphing my interests depending on who I was hanging around. 

For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a passion for something. The whole experience of going back to school, putting myself out there for rejection, focusing all of my time, energy, and money on a goal has helped me find who I am. I am extremely passionate about Occupational Therapy, but I'm also passionate about cooking, and diy projects, and learning about style, and bodyrocking, and being a better friend, and being a better wife, and rediscovering what it means to follow God, not being afraid of failure anymore, and learning, oh learning, I love learning new things! That feeling I get when a new concept finally clicks, that is what gets me through 18 hours of studying over the weekend! I'm using my brain, thinking for myself, and finally feeling like I have something to say. 

Like I said, this was a big one for me. I don't even want to think about who I'd be if I hadn't decided to take that jump and go back to school. So much good has come from it. 

I know that someday, when I'm telling my life story to my grand kids, I'll look back on the years surrounding this experience as a pivotal point in the direction my life took. Though I don't know all the good that will come from it, my heart is already bursting with all the awesome that already has. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 5

I've never, ever, ever been so happy to get an 82% on a test.

I worked dang hard for that 82%. The best part is, I don't have to take the test again. For all of our tests we're required to get at least a 75% or we have to retake it. This was the first time I turned in a test and thought, "oh, I hope I passed...".

So today, I am thankful that I don't have to retake my neuro exam.

And for something non-school related: I'm thankful that  I got to have a coffee date with a good friend this morning. I haven't gotten to see her in months and it was great to catch up.

Also, I'm grateful that I have time to make dinner today. And that we have a new Trader Joe's. They sell tortillas that don't have partially hydrogenated oils. And their produce is great. And I'm thankful I can shop on Tuesday morning when it's not packed. Seriously, there were like 8 people in the store.

Monday, November 7, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 5

There's nothing like talking a walk with a good friend to get some drinking chocolate on crisp, fall day. Especially if it was after taking a neurology exam. I ashamed to admit this, but this was the first day I felt like I've gotten to experience fall. And I am so thankful I got that experience before all the leaves are off the trees and snow starts falling.

So today I'm thankful for fall, drinking chocolate, long walks, and good chats.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 4

It became apparent to me  very quickly what I was thankful for today.

I'm thankful for TJ. 
Tomorrow I have the hugest neurology exam ever. (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration) 

I told TJ I wouldn't be going to church this morning because I needed to study. He was totally supportive. 

I was studying at a coffee shop while he was at church and I realized I had forgotten my giant white board that comes in handy for studying stuff like this. I asked if he would stop home and get it for me, and he did. (I didn't even end up using it then)

Then, after I got home I ignored the pile of dishes and clutter gathering in our apartment and hauled up in our study room (I guess that's why we call it our study room). When he got home he did the dishes and de-cluttered the apartment. 

I was hungry, but didn't want to cook. We don't eat out very often, but he willingly went and got chinese for us, which, come to find out, is a very difficult task on a Sunday night in Spokane. 

Then what did he do after he got done eating? He continued to clean. 

And what's he doing now? Baking bread for the week. (2 months without store bread!)

And what's he going to do later? Quiz me from my study guide. 

Talk about a totally selfless guy I married. For reals. It's not like he couldn't be doing his own homework, or playing guitar, or whatever. Instead he chose to make my very stressful day a little less stressful.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 3

After studying neurology for 8 hours today, I can honestly say that I am so thankful for my brain. 

Our brains our amazing. They allow us to learn a new skill, think critically, move our bodies, talk, perceive with our seven senses, feel emotions, form new habits (for better or worse), keep our hearts beating and our viscera functioning, and contain all of our experiences and make us who we are. It's astounding and I'm completely awestruck and the complexity of this pliable, jelly-like, convoluted organ. 

And I'm thankful I've been given a chance to actually use my brain. I'll hopefully go in depth on that another time. But, the weirdest thing is knowing that my brain is working to learn about the brain. That's just trippy. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 2

Not sure yet how I'm going to make up the 2 days I'm behind. Maybe I'll go into December? Or maybe I'll just have a day where I'm extra- super-duper thankful and I'll make them up then. For now, I'm on grateful day number 2.

And today I am grateful for my work schedule. I have a classmate who has 3 jobs, a wife, a daughter, and a son on the way. The same amount of school work is expected of us. Class time, homework, group projects... and he somehow manages. In fact, he never even complains.

I'm thankful for my one, eight-hour shift a week. I'm thankful that's all I have to do. That I can still occasionally spend time with TJ, have a lazy night once in a while, and sometimes even get together with friends. All-in-all, it's not too shabby.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

30 days of gratitude - day 1

I know I'm a couple days behind, but I've decided to play along. Between classes and homework and more homework and the occasional cleaning, it's hard to take a breath to think about anything else. Hopefully this will force me to take a step out of my tiny world and reflect on what's all going on around help me open my eyes to what I can be thankful for.

I have two great friends, both named Bethany. One  has been a life-long friend who lives 1500 miles away. The other one is going through this crazy grad school program with me. Even though I've only known her 4 months, we just clicked. Instantly.

Today I got a sweet message from long-distance Bethany that totally made my day. I also got to have a deep, wonderful, much needed conversation over sparkling water with my grad-school Bethany. Both helped to lighten a particularly stressful day. 

So today, I am thankful for my Bethany friends!