It’s that time again… Thanksgiving!! It’s actually my favorite time of year what with the autumn air and all of the leaves turning beautiful shades of oranges before the winter chill kills them entirely. It’s the month of my wedding anniversary, birthday and the day that I get to eat all kinds of delicious food without too much guilt, and a day to just be grateful. What could be better! Sure, we could talk about Christopher Columbus, pilgrims and the genocide of countless Native American people who already inhabited this country that we now call home, but what fun is that? For me, Thanksgiving is about going over the previous year and realizing what all you have to be thankful for. It’s kind of sad that we need one day a year to remind us to be thankful and that day is now shrouded in Black Friday sales that completely get in the way of sitting down at a table with loved ones, reciting your blessings – But I digress.

As I have been thinking over this past year, I have so many things to be thankful for. The most recent thing would be, my newfound health! I can’t remember feeling this good and each day only gets that much better. The other would be my amazing family and friends that I love like a fat kid loves cake. Mmmmm caaaake… Sorry, where was I?? Oh yeah, thankfulness! Another one, having the freedom and ability to do what I love each and every day! Sure I don’t make any money at it, hence the gratitude for being able to do it each day.

One thing that popped into my mind this morning as I was thinking on how to direct this post, was my gratitude for the shedding of old ways and habits that kept me rooted in pain and negativity. For a while there I always saw the lack of peace in my life as being subject to the outward circumstances that were going on around me, as if I had no choice in my life of which way anything went. Maybe it was because I felt so out of control inside of myself, or maybe just a few times I was being a big baby, blaming everything else for my lack of peace instead of looking inward. If there is only one thing (and there are many) that this past year alone has taught me, it would be that peace comes from within and we either choose it or we don’t. If there is dysfunction in your life and you feel chaotic and stressed out by the “negativity around you,” I’m here to tell you, it is a choice. Most of the times we make it unconsciously, by surrounding ourselves with people who live their lives rooted in drama. Even though their drama isn’t our choice, the decision to be around them and effectively close ourselves off to having peace, is.

In reflection of the past few years, I can honestly say that I am completely content with where my life is at this very moment and I couldn’t be more thankful. For one, I am finally healthy and after these past few years of not being so, this is an incredible gift! I am surrounded by people that I love and that show that same love for my little family. I have a husband who makes me laugh all of the time, is my best friend and loves me probably way more than I am deserving of, and two precious children who make this life a magnificent experience, even though I do want to choke them every now and then. Don’t worry, I don’t — And that is something they are undoubtedly thankful for. See, we all have something!

What I am most grateful for this year though, is the ability to let go – Something I was unable to effectively do, last year, but was fervently seeking to get there. It took a while and a lot of work on my part, but I’m finally at that place of solace and man let me tell you… Just the freedom of mind that lives directly on the other side of letting go, is one well worth the effort in trying so hard for!

I do quite a bit of introspection on a daily basis because, well, what else have I to do? One thing I noticed is – There is a process to progress. All of those blockades in the road to my progress which at the time felt like mountainous boulders closing in, now just seem like simple bumps in the road. There were many days where I was unsure that this day would ever come. I was surer of the fact that it wouldn’t and this grief, along with my negative thoughts perpetuating it, would be a permanent fixture to my life. Luckily, I made it through it all to finally see brighter days, but the journey was much more difficult than I had ever expected. Anytime you have to take a close look at yourself, be prepared for a trip that you will often not enjoy and wind up feeling really guilty about who you’ve been as a person, throughout the process. It’s a daunting task, but certainly worth it.

In looking back now, I see that these bumps in the road were only meant as a redirection to our progress, in order to build us. To make us stronger, wiser and to test our perseverance and resilience. For my husband and me, it did just that! We came out on the other side of it, both stronger individually and as a couple than we ever were before. There was a shedding of skin for old ideals, and a tearing away of the cobwebs of attachments. We turned our focus inward to ourselves and our own relationship and as we did this, our hearts began to mend. Our marriage grew stronger, the foundation that set us up for either success or failure, became reinforced into a solid, impenetrable structure. As I think on all that I have to be thankful for, this area is the one most amazing to me. We grew from a situation that we thought would destroy us inside. We received the gift of a blessed marriage, blessed relationships, blessed home, blessed children, blessed family and a blessed life – All from the weight of a problem that we could not solve and heavily burdened hearts. I can’t help but be grateful to these bumps in the road that molded us into the unshakeable mountains that we are today and for the peace we now have firmly within our grasp.

This Thanksgiving I find myself in a perpetual state of gratitude, there’s just so much to look back on and see positive change. I am thankful for an undeniably strong marriage that has weathered the storms and come out on the other side, transformed. I am thankful for my crazy kids and equally crazy family. I am thankful for getting to do what I love to do and for the newfound health, to enjoy it all! I am blessed beyond measure, pressed down and shaken together!

May we all have the full experience of this day of gratitude and realize within it, our very own reasons to be thankful!