While in October I reflected on lessons I learned during a very intense month, this November I decided to take a look around and appreciate what I have.
As much as I like to write, I’ve never been good at keeping a journal. Since the age of about 9 when I got my first journal as a gift, I don’t think I’ve managed to write more than three consecutive days in a row. However, Oprah says that a “gratitude journal” – writing down what you’re thankful for each night – is a good practice to get into for your overall mental health.
I know I could never stick with a daily commitment, so instead, I’m rolling all of my gratitude into one post this month. Here’s what I’m thankful for most days:
A supportive family.
Even though my parents are more homebodies than travelers, they’ve mostly been supportive of my wanderlust. They’ve never made me feel guilty for missing holidays or other special occasions, and while I know they’re concerned about me, they (usually) don’t burden me with their worries about my safety and finances. My dad frequently gives me rides to and from the airport, and most importantly, they’ve always watched my dog while I travel, which is obviously a huge help and relief.
A home base.
I’ve owned a condo in Boston for about 10 years now, and I love it. It’s cozy and packed with my souvenirs from all over the world, and even all these years later, I’m always happy to walk in the door. I deeply appreciate having a warm, dry, safe place to lay my head at night. While being a freelancer with a mortgage in an expensive U.S. city is not always easy, I know it’s a good investment and also that I could never be fully remote.
A group of friends who understand me.
My lifestyle is rather unconventional. When I’m home in Boston, I’m typically working a lot in order to fund my travels. When I’m not home, I’m traveling to far-flung places. There’s not a lot of in between. Luckily I have very forgiving friends who know I might be a little slow to return texts and emails, and I might not make every birthday get together. But I greatly appreciate their presence in my life, and I do try my best to nurture these relationships.
A flexible and rewarding career.
My career had some ups and downs this year – after six years of freelancing, I briefly took a full-time job, but it ended up not being a fit. Luckily, though, I’ve ended the year on my feet by doing some contract work and picking back up with my nonprofit clients. Communications isn’t the most high-paying or in-demand profession, but overall, it’s given me the opportunity to do challenging work that supports good causes. And I’ve been able to maintain a relatively flexible schedule, which has allowed me to travel more than other Americans.
A U.S. passport
The U.S. is far from perfect socially or politically, but as a citizen, I have a “strong” passport, meaning there are few places in the world I’m not allowed to go, and most visas are inexpensive and easy to secure. Also, the U.S. dollar is relatively strong in relation to other economies, so my tourist dollars can usually be stretched pretty far. On a basic level, as a woman (and an unmarried woman), I can generally travel freely by myself around my city, state and country – in many places, women still don’t have that right.
A healthy body and mind
Until I ran into some health challenges a few years ago, I never really understood how much your health really controls all other aspects of your life. When I was ill, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t travel, I couldn’t socialize – it was a pretty dark time. And in the U.S., being unwell can also be very expensive (see I said we weren’t perfect). Luckily I’ve rebounded and for the most part am able to control my issues, I have decent health insurance, I have the time and resources for self care, and I don’t take any of that for granted.
All the beauty that’s around me
As someone who works full time, my travels are limited. So over the past few years, instead of letting other bloggers give me FOMO, I really make an effort to slow down, look around and appreciate the beauty that’s around me instead of running through the day. When I’m not working, I’m always looking for opportunities to see, do and try new things, or look at old places in a new way. This month, for example, I spent a night in Falmouth, Massachusetts, at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in order to get out of the city explore Cape Cod during the off season. And over Thanksgiving I went with my parents to a new Indian restaurant near our home.
What I Did This Month
I had a busy month as a Boston blogger. I attended two very fun and informative receptions to learn about what Ski Utah and Ski Vermont have to offer cold-loving adventurers like myself – both states are high on my list to visit in 2020.
I also got to attend two very different artistic performances. First I spent a wonderful evening at Boston Symphony as a guest of Leipzig Tourism. Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Leipzig’s orchestra, was in town for a special concert series, celebrating the long-standing relationship between Gewandhausorchester and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
On the flirtier end of the spectrum, I spent an entertaining evening at at Boston Center for the Arts seeing a special sneak performance of Follies for Boston (presented by The Boston She Party), which featured “live jazz and cheeky dancers.”
What I Wrote This Month
My two posts this month were of very different places that are both increasing in popularity: Mexico City, where I spent a fantastic long weekend a few months ago, and Easton, Pennsylvania, which is a few minutes away from where I grew up, and where I now spend a lot of time when I’m visiting family.
I plan to have a quiet December followed by a busy January – I’ll be making weekend trips to New Jersey to see my family, New York City for a travel writer conference and then Minneapolis to visit friends.