When I graduated from college I lived abroad for a year in New Zealand. I worked for a youth hostel with an international staff and spent the year traveling to the most beautiful places on earth. It was a dream.
Being abroad is amazing, but parts are extremely hard. For me, by far, the most challenging day that I spent across the world was Thanksgiving. Being in a foreign country on an “American” holiday means that no one is celebrating it with you, which can be really lonely.
I made the decision that year to focus on what I was thankful for, rather than focusing on what was less than perfect. I was still lonely, and I still missed my family, but I spent the holiday focusing on the good that was all around me: I hiked, I saw the ocean, and I cooked new foods with friends from new countries. It was still a good day, even if it was also a hard one.
This year, that resolution to focus on the good feels more important than ever. 2016 has been an exhausting year, and it is easy to imagine a Thanksgiving scenario where mashed potatoes are flung across the table because one uncle makes a political comment that offends the other. As families, as friends, and as a country, we could all benefit by focusing on the good in our lives. The people we love, the places we call home, and the things in life that we are most thankful for. What if, instead of bringing our political baggage to the table, we brought gratitude for the people sitting around it?
This year, I am giving thanks to strong women. The 2016 election left me and many other women feeling tired, scared, and lost. As women, we have the ability to lift one another up, even if we too are struggling. It is as though we get stronger by helping each other, by empowering each other, and by loving each other. As a business owner, a sister, a friend, a daughter, and a citizen, I have felt that strength this year more than ever before.
Earlier this week, I was commissioned to create a painting with this quote in my Etsy shop, and I felt that it was the perfect quote to summarize how I am feeling heading into this holiday:
So, to all of the strong women that I know, that have raised me, and that have taught me how to be me: thank you. And Happy Thanksgiving.