sharing your love, mostly with yourself

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On this day last year, sitting across from me at the Thanksgiving dinner table in the dimly lit restaurant on the second floor of Soho House in Toronto, my dad asked me what I was most grateful for that year. My response was immediate and all-too-obvious. My gratitude lay in not a thing or experience, but instead a single person – and feelings of love for said person – who was proudly sitting by my side, at the same intimate dinner table.

What a difference a year makes.

I anticipate my dad asking me that very same question tonight. My heart weighs heavy expecting it. But I too would be able to answer immediately and confidently. I am most grateful for my ability to make decisions for myself, no matter the weight they hold. These drastic, life changing decisions, derived from nothing more than hearing my intuition, accepting it and acting accordingly based on that alone. I’m not hindered by guilt, manipulation or other negative methods one use to try to force you in doing something for them. Instead, I trust what I need for myself and act accordingly. If we don’t value ourselves first and foremost, and if we don’t draw boundaries, we’ll never live a free life. Freedom. Is there anything greater than?

As this wild ride called life unfolds before our eyes, we must always feel a sense of control to remain afloat. Control stems from independence. Financial independence. Not putting oneself in situations that one doesn’t want to be in. Not depending on another for our happiness, livelihood or anything of the sort. It’s having no expectations in anyone, just doing you and perhaps having them join in by your side when it works for you both. It’s living an honest, authentic life and dealing with the outcomes of the decisions you make, whether they be mistakes or otherwise down the road.

I’m grateful for the human heart, soul, spirit, and most of all mind – the ability to feel so very deeply on all accounts. The fact that someone can do something so kind and unexpected for you that you just cry of happiness in a state of shock and awe of the gesture. The knowingness that you actually deserve these things to happen because you give them in other ways by just being you, the prize that you are.

I love love. Being in it. Trying to understand it. Not understanding it at all, but fucking rolling with it because, fuck, that shit feels good, down to the flushed cheeks and pitter patter above your lung cavity. I love the ability to love others in the different forms that love appear. For friends. For more than friends. For family members. For seeing who they are, flaws, scars and all and loving them knowing all that. I sometimes think I feel too much. Empathize to much. I’ve always viewed it as both a blessing and curse. But I now see it as a blessing. Its become one of my favourite traits.

I love the physiological feelings that happen in my body that stem from the passion of what I do day in and day out. Writing. Opening up. Sharing. Yoga. Spending time with others. But this year, the love I feel most strong about, finally, is one for myself. That was always a struggle, no doubt, but I feel genuinely happy with where I’m currently at in life and my gratitude is not lost.

Breath. Waking up in the morning. Smiling. Family. Additions to the family. Catching myself smiling. Being smitten. Owning it. Being real. Doing what I love. Friends, old and new. Lost and still here. I’m grateful for stories I’ve read. New people who’ve came into my life, because, serendipity. I’m grateful for the stories I’ve created. Moments shared. Being in the moment and savouring every second of it.

Before we lose ourselves in the food, feasting and the flowing of the hard stuff; before we lose sight of the value of a day like today and turn on the Jays game 4, reflect. Reflect for but a moment. Ask yourself honestly, and without any judgment, what you are most grateful for in your life as you know it. Let that shit sink in. Acknowledge it. And when the going gets tough play that shit out in your head.

Things are up and down, but with each new year, new day, and new season, comes new experiences. Comes growth. How so very lucky we are. Though my once-love and other half will no longer be sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table with my dad and I this year, I feel a sense of peace. Of being able to move forward and move on in the healthiest way possible. To not get caught up in wondering and worrying but just valuing that things play out how they’re meant to.

I long for my mom to be sitting with us at the table, but I can smile over a fall-leaf and candle-clad table knowing that she’d be so goddamn proud of how I’ve handled my life as an independent. How i’ve handled my decisions by putting my well being first. That makes me smile. Life changes as we grow up but if we don’t own it and realize how far we’ve come, we’ll never get to enjoy it like we goddamn can. Be grateful. Be kind.

Happy thanksgiving from mine to yours. Oh and go Jays go!

– Jen

Photo cred.

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