Well, this week officially marks my "return to normal." We got back from China last week, then had to fly right back up north for a wedding in my family. We came back to Dallas yesterday and made our big "return to boot camp" this morning, which is step one of "return to normal." However, I technically have a marathon on the calendar this weekend (Rock and Roll San Antonio), and I have to go to Pennsylvania for work, so it won't really be a "normal" week. But some normalcy is better than none. I spent time yesterday uploading all our pictures from the trip to snapfish and I am shocked by how many we took. I think the total number is over 1000! I need to work on a "highlights" album, as well as pulling some favorites to share here.
Since it's Monday and my brain is still way behind, I'm doing Friend-Making Monday again. If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!
Ten Reasons To Be Thankful
1. My sweet husband. After weeks of traveling around China, encountering all kinds of different cultural things, struggling with language barriers, and more, I still can't get enough of him. I wish we could spend every second of every day together sometimes. I feel like we're such a good team. He's a good sport about my huge list of sights I want to hit in some cities, and he balances me out when I get too stressed about trying to explain that we want the taxi to take us to a certain temple -- he's more inclined to just go for the ride. I'm so lucky to have found him, and I'm also so lucky I held out for the right guy, rather than getting hitched to the first guy I thought I loved and felt marginally compatible with...
2. My family. Being with them this weekend for my brother's wedding reminded me how much fun they are. Of my 6 brothers, now 5 are married and they have all picked amazing and fun women (and they are all stunningly beautiful, which makes the "amazing and fun" part maybe more surprising). I have nieces and nephews that think I'm the bomb for no apparent reason. And even better, we all get along well, I have the best time when I'm with them, and I can't imagine being born into a better bunch! I've also been fortunate to marry into a great family. I enjoy going to visit my in-laws and love spending time with them.
3. My job. Lots of lawyers end up not liking their jobs. Big firms will show you the money, but at the expense of your life. Small firms don't have the money, and the work is kind of for the brain-dead (largely, obviously, there are exceptions). Although it took me about a decade of practicing, I finally found the perfect balance by working for a company -- the money is good, the work is challenging and interesting, my co-workers are great, and the hours are wonderful -- the main issue with the hours is that I like the job so much, I could happily just keep on working!
4. My health. I was going down a very unhealthy path for a long time (see above about your life at a big firm). Too much alcohol and unhealthy food, too many dinners at my desk, too many all-nighters, too little exercise, too few "extra-curricular" activities. But finally in 2004, I started running regularly with co-workers, training for my first marathon that year. And then in 2007, I added cross-training and weights several days per week, which made a huge difference in my running and in my body shape. And then finally in 2008, I worked on cleaning up my diet. That brought it all together and I would say I became a much healthier person. But aside from all that, I'm also blessed with good genes and good luck. Not much cancer or other disease in my family, no obesity with my siblings or parents, good luck in avoiding any major accidents.
5. Tied into that, my running buddies. I've had a wonderful group of friends with whom I've run several days per week for many years now. They are frequently the reason I get up at an ungodly early hour to go run. We frequently have similar goals, and even when someone is taking a season off from racing, it's a fun enough group, that person usually joins in anyway. I feel like I've been through so much with this group -- a couple people have moved away, which stinks, but our group has been through job changes, weddings, divorces, deaths in the family, having kids, deciding not to have kids, job losses, injuries, etc. It is amazing how important people become to you when you spend hours talking each week without any distractions. I'm so lucky to have this group, and I know the two guys who have moved away miss it a lot.
6. The opportunity to see the world. This is a bit related to things like my husband, my job, and my health, but I love to travel. Without those few things, it would be different -- I'm glad all three of those work well for me to get to indulge my love of travel. I think it's so important to be a citizen of the world, to learn about what's out there, to get out of this US bubble, or the English-speaking bubble, or even the first-world bubble. I've long loved to travel, beginning with that first trip to Europe in high school, but now I'm finally really getting to see the world. I'm so glad my husband is game for unusual trips, and I'm so glad I have a job with vacation time (though of course I'd love more!), and I'm so glad I'm healthy enough to travel. I should also mention that I'm glad my husband is on board with making some tough financial decisions to make sure that our world travel dreams happen -- sometimes not spending money on what we want in the moment to make sure we can take a big trip every year.
7. Living where I live. Between a trip home to the great white north in the last few days, and the devastation the superstorm, I'm so happy to live in Dallas. We're fortunate here to have very few natural disasters, and what I consider to be perfect weather for a vast majority of the year. It makes me so happy to be warm -- having to bundle up this past week at home just reminded me how miserable that makes me. It's fine for a week, but I'm so glad we don't have to deal with it often here. While it is hot in the summer, I meet my running buddies at 5:15 in the morning, and it's manageable to be outside and active at that time and in those temps. On a smaller level, I love our house. It's just enough space for the two of us. It's new construction, which means very little upkeep. It's a condo, so it means no outside maintenance. It is a good fit for us, and every month, it gets closer and closer to being all ours.
8. My friends. This should be much higher on the list, but I'm not really putting the list in order of priority. Part of what makes me happy to live in Dallas, despite being so far away from my wonderful family, is having a bunch of friends that I love. We both have godchildren here in Dallas, and it makes me think friends are the family we choose. We have a fun bunch to spend time with, so many common interests.
9. Technology. Is it bad to say I'm thankful for my iphone? Last year at Christmas, we ran out of gas along a highway in Wisconsin. What would we have done before cell phones? Walked I guess, or taken a chance on trying to flag someone down. But with the phone, we were able to call for help and tell them exactly where we were. When we were lost in Chongqing China last week, we were able to turn on data roaming and pull up a map to show our exact position, rather than trying desperately to find someone who spoke some English or spending hours lost. Plus, it lets me stay in touch with my family, it let me manage to make sure no complete crisis arose at work while I was gone, etc. Beyond the iphone, wow, I love having a DVR...
10. My accumulation. I definitely have a bad habit of holding on to things, but at the same time, I am fairly frugal (the whole thing about not spending needless money so we can travel) and I am happy with the material possessions we've amassed. I look around my living room -- a beautiful silk rug I bought in Thailand, an 8-panel oriental screen I bought through an art dealer, a couch, chair, table and armoire I spent days selecting with my mom in town many years ago, a dining room set I inherited from my parents, the hutch that is now filled with beautiful things we got for our wedding, pictures on the wall documenting our travels. I do need to purge more, but I'm glad we're at a comfortable level.