31 Days of Gratitude: Day 30

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Day 30: What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for? I would have to say the talent or skill that I have that I am most grateful for is the ability to write. But not just writing, I love to edit things – or what I like to call “word smithing.”

I think my love for words started early on, before I could really even write. It started with my love for reading. I was the kid who would be up until midnight reading a book instead of watching TV or playing video games. I LOVE to read. Unfortunately, I feel like I don’t do it enough or nearly as much as I used to, but there is something to be said for the feeling you get when you are completely wrapped up in a book. Basically obsessed with a book, not able to put it down and when you have to be pulled away from it, all you can think about is the next time you can sit down and pick the book back up again. I think that reading and writing naturally go hand-in-hand.

Growing up, I had big dreams of writing for my high school newspaper – I wanted to be a journalist. So, I took the AP English class that was taught by our broody Varsity basketball coach – man was he scary! BUT, if you took his english class as a Sophomore, you were guaranteed a spot on the school newspaper your Junior year. So, I did it. I remember my Dad coming home from back to school night and saying to me that Mr. Kendall seemed like a really tough teacher, and that I would probably learn the most from him out of any other teacher I would encounter in high school. My Dad was right. I strongly believe that Mr. Kendall instilled in me a lot of the perspective I still have today when I think about the audience I’m writing for, whether I’m addressing the who, what, when, where and how? and am I being clear and concise? I use all of those skills every day at work, and I learned those while sitting in Mr. Kendall’s class every day for 3 years.

I wrote for the school paper during my Junior and Senior years in high school, and then again in college. It’s interesting how my love for writing evolved. In junior high I wanted to be a novelist, then it morphed into realizing that I needed to pick a paying job so I wanted to be a journalists, but then I thought about how journalists are always traveling and chasing stories and that maybe that wasn’t necessarily the route I wanted to take in the long run. When it was time to decide on a major, I chose communications. When I looked at the course curriculum it still addressed a lot of the areas that I loved, media studies, editing etc.

I’ve been lucky enough to work most of my career in the communications field in one capacity or another, and this year I decided to start the blog. I don’t have a niche per say – but I’m hoping that eventually something evolves. Also on my list of ambitious plans is to write a children’s book. Not a lot of people know this, but it’s something I’m very interested in doing, and something I’ve been exploring with my artist brother Dustin. I’m hoping to start sharing short stories from that endeavor sometime in the coming year.

Needless to say, writing is not just important to me, but it is an outlet for me and it’s a way that I have been able to express myself and also make a living! For all of that I’m grateful and hope that all of my readers enjoy it as well!

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31 Days of Gratitude: Day 25

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Day 25: What moment this week are you most grateful for? I would have to say that the moment I am most grateful for this past week would have to be the time I got to spend with Mariana (8) and Ava (4) – my nieces. We had a “girls day” on Friday the 23rd and went to San Francisco for the day.

We took the train over – which was super cool to them (even though I do it every single day), and then we had lunch at Mel’s Diner. Ava excitedly ordered hot chocolate with her pancakes and Mariana ordered a grilled cheese sandwich (her uncle would be proud) that came in a super cool old school car. We then walked over to Macy’s at Union Square to see the puppies and kittens in the windows – it was hard to walk away that’s for sure! Once I pried the girls away from the animals we walked over to Union Square to check out the the huge Christmas tree and take a few photos.

This was my first adventure to the city with two kids – and one stroller. I was a little worried, but it’s amazing how quickly my nanny knowledge kicked right back in! I guess you never lose that type of skill! It was pouring rain that morning so I was praying to the rain gods that they would take a little break long enough for us to get some fun in. We were lucky! It started to rain fairly hard on our way to the Ferry Building (they wanted to see the Ferry’s come in an out of the dock and check out the Bay Bridge), but the rain won and we ended up taking shelter in a Peet’s (near my office) until it was safe to leave.

All in all we had a fantastic day out, and I would have to say it’s the moment this week that I’m most grateful for – though there were a lot with the holiday etc., but this one was special. And, I probably started a new tradition 🙂

Happy Holidays!

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31 Days of Gratitude: Day 6

What in nature are you grateful for?

The beach! The beach holds a special place in my heart because it’s my Mom’s FAVORITE place to go, and in turn it has become one of my fondest memories of my childhood, and also my favorite place to visit.

When we were younger (myself and my two younger brothers), we would often take day trips with my parents to Santa Cruz. We would spend the day at the beach, maybe hang out on the boardwalk until the sun went down! I was so little when we would do this, and don’t remember specifics of those trips, but I have that nostalgic feeling of having spent a lot of time there when I think about it now as an adult. Ironically enough, it is still one of my favorite day trips to take – and I know that my brother who now has two little girls does the same with his family. I think back on those times and they just seem so much simpler then. Dad wasn’t sick yet, mom was there to wipe our tears and give us the hugs we needed to make everything all better (and it actually DID make everything all better), and a day at the beach was just that. A day to hang out, run wild through the water and just be a kid.

Another instance of my life when the beach played a significant role was while I was in junior high school. On Wednesdays all of the kids got out of school a couple of hours earlier than the rest of the week, so my mom would pack up our 1989 Suburban and pick us all up to head out to Half Moon Bay to Redondo Beach. I mean, who had a mom as cool as mine back then? Absolutely no one! We would listen to the Beatles, or Counting Crows, sometimes even Blues Traveler and cruise over the San Mateo Bridge, and then through the mountains and dip into Half Moon Bay, with a couple of hours of daylight to spare. Our wiener/dachshund mix pup Cleo would run across my brothers’ laps back and forth with complete delight as soon as the truck hit the gravel road that led to our regular beach. She would get so excited, needed the windows down so she could smell the salt air, and she would be whining with excitement. Makes me smile just thinking about it. Cleo was also the first to take the hike down to the beach where she would diligently wait for us all to join her.

Once we were settled on the beach mom would head out on the hunt for sea glass. I would sit on the blanket and do my homework (probably not shocking to some of you), and the boys would dig in the sand or play in the water – we would occasionally join mom in searching for those little gems in the sand – and if any of us were in the water (and by “in the water” I mean maybe up to our knees) Cleo would run up and down the beach barking her head off. She was a little protective to say the least.

Once the sun was beginning to set we would pack up, clean ourselves up (sand everywhere!) and stop at Burger King before heading back through the mountain and into the East Bay. I can’t remember exactly how long we did these weekly jaunts to Half Moon Bay, but it is a great childhood memory that’s for sure!

While these are happy child hood memories, it’s also been a comforting place for me when times weren’t all that great. I know we all find ourselves in situations or relationships that aren’t right for us, and sometimes we let ourselves marinate in that bad situation for just a little too long. A handful of years ago I found myself in that exact situation. The beach was often my place to hide out when I needed to get away. Not only was the drive therapeutic, but so was physically being there. It helped me clear my mind and almost reset my feelings and emotions. The beach was also the place where I decided that the turmoil I was going through in that relationship would end. I wouldn’t give it one more chance, or time for him to change. That was it and I couldn’t keep letting myself be emotionally and verbally abused. I made a promise to myself on the beach one day, by myself that I was going to put an end to the chaos. A couple of short weeks later I had ended my relationship and moved out of the place I shared with my boyfriend of 5 years. If I hadn’t had that time to sit quietly and reflect, I don’t know when I would have made the smartest and bravest decision I’ve made ever in my life.

The beach helps you reset your thoughts. It brings life down to what it is really about – we are the sand, the waves are life and sometimes those waves hit us a little harder than others, sometimes the tide is out and life is boring, and sometimes the storm is raging and you can barely take a breath. Either way, this the one thing in nature that I have most gratitude for. It truly is nature’s gift. Now, who is coming with me to the beach!? 🙂