I’ve been a vocal and active non-participant in Thanksgiving festivities since high school. As a historian, it pains me to celebrate a gathering of people that likely never existed, to celebrate the beginning of a racist culture in our country. I’ve been successful in avoiding the coma-inducing meals since 2011, when I moved to California, away from any family, due to the fact that my husband shares me level of apathy and sometimes disgust regarding holidays as a whole.
But this year we were invited to a Friendsgiving. Expecting me to shoot down the idea immediately, I assume, Zack brought home the invitation, which I politely, almost excitedly, accepted, and began planning what I would contribute (initially I was thinking a cinnamon cranberry goat cheese cheesecake, but upon looking over the menu, I decided on a charcuterie board). This year, I’m going to try. I’m going to try not to talk about the historical inaccuracy of this blasted holiday. I’m going to try not to judge everyone for being “thankful” on this socially sanctioned day but not living up to it tomorrow. I’m going to try not to worry about how much sugar is in the sweet potatoes (people! they are delicious on their own! Stop putting so much butter and sugar in your already sweet potatoes for crying out loud! Let your food taste like it’s meant to by nature, a little bit!) This year, I’m going to celebrate new friends, and truly reflect on the things i’m thankful for from the past year.
This year, I’m thankful for my husband, without whom I would be an entirely different person. He opened up the door to so many things for me, first by helping me to escape the life I had begun to lead and helping me to start fresh in California. He got me into the gym, and he could have never known how I’d have taken that and run with it. In the span of just 2015 alone, I competed in my first figure show, and am about to compete in my first powerlifting meet as well. Without this start, and without his continued support and encouragement, this blog would never exist, and the same can be said for so many, many other pieces of my life. It’s crazy just how much this thing, this lifting of weight, has transformed my life as a whole, changed me as a person. He, quite literally, lifts me up and allows me to be whoever and whatever I want to be, and that I would never be able to be without him. He’s my favorite spotter, because I know he won’t let me die, but he will also fight against every urge in his body to save me until it’s absolutely necessary to place his hands on the bar.
This year, I am thankful to have followed through on my promise to myself to finish my master’s degree, and to the advisor who pushed me and expertly guided me through each challenge that my research presented me with. Ultimately, I was proud of my final product, and of the information that my research provided, but even more than the research itself, I am proud to be able to tell my students that I not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, as I encourage them to prioritize their education. My thirst for knowledge, for information, feels like it’s been validated now that I can say definitively that I have completed my master’s program, and it should come as no surprise that, as we walked to the car after having defended my research, I turned to my husband and asked, “so what will I study next?”
This year, I am thankful to have finally gotten my first teaching contract, after two years of searching and substitute teaching. I couldn’t have ever guessed how amazing my first year would be. The school is an absolutely perfect fit for me- alternative education is where my passion lies, and I can’t imagine working in a traditional school. I am thankful every single day when I show up to my classroom and my students are there, trusting me to help them learn, trusting me to listen when they speak. It touches my heart every time a student comes in just to chat during a break, or brings me Oreos from Mexico they thought I’d want to try. It touches me when they hand me a sticky note with a song title on it that they think I might like. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with every one of my students, each and every day, and truly, I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t get to build the relationships with them that I have the unique privilege of having.
This year, I am thankful for my capable and adaptable body, upon which I can run any number of n=1 experiments. I’ve put this body through quite a lot this year, and I am eternally grateful for the tolerance and adaptability that it has shown through it all. I’ve sustained no lasting injuries, and learned an astounding number of things about how my body functions, how it grows, how it responds to various stimuli. Abs or no abs, cutting, bulking, competing, this organic machine is an incredible feat of nature, and of my own design. Never take your body for granted- treat it well, you get just one, so be thankful for the things it can do every single day.
This year, I am, perhaps more than anything, thankful for you, my readers. I began this blog 11 months ago, and watching the readership grow each month is nothing short of amazing to me. I wake up to messages from strangers who find me a trustworthy and respectable source of information, asking for help, sharing funny stories, sharing their successes, thanking me for a piece I wrote that resonated with them, that changed their mindset… I am astonished, every time. How many times can I turn to my husband, heart bursting, tears in my eyes, barely able to catch my breath, and say “I can’t believe they care at all what I say, but I am so, so grateful that they do.” Thank you. Thank you for sharing your struggles and successes with me, and for sharing mine with me. Thank you for encouraging me to continue writing after the initial purpose of the blog, as a prep log leading up to my March contest, had passed. Thank you for trusting me. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings, in terms of this space.