A Heart Full Of Thanks: My 10 Top Blessings Of 2020

Thanksgiving is here!

My favorite food, my favorite people, my favorite holiday all wrapped up into one day and given to me in a pretty little bow! This Thanksgiving will look drastically different, smaller, and quieter than years’ past, but that doesn’t mean it will be a bad one–just different.

This has been a hard year for everyone, but I know we can still give thanks. We can count our blessings, we can remember the good things, we can share the highs and lows and in-betweens. We can be glad for what we have, sad for what we don’t, and still feel blessed.

I’m full of thanks this year.

Here is my list of my top 10 things I am thankful for:

  1. A well mind– I haven’t struggled with depression in over two years, and I cannot express just how huge of a blessing this is. It is a gift to pursue dreams, be happy, and laugh genuinely.
  2. A healthy body– A body that can stretch and dance and move and bounce and CLIMB.
  3. My climbing community– Truly the most welcome and inspiring community, I am thankful for strangers who turn into friends so quickly. They are kind and inclusive and just plain fun!
  4. My church community– The ones who keep me rooted in Christ and point me to what matters, the ones who love me deeply and fiercely and wonderfully.
  5. My family– My new roommates! They have welcomed me into their home, given me reason to laugh, and supported me every step of the way of my law school journey.
  6. Taylor Swift’s Folklore album– It’s a bop! The end.
  7. My pup Jack– The light of my life, the center of my world: he is small and cute and fluffy and scruffy and scrappy and the best thing that happened to me in 2020.
  8. Coffee– The fuel that gives me life!
  9. My job– I get paid to welcome people into the climbing community! I get paid to love people! I get paid to climb! (Ok, not really, but kind of).
  10. My education– Perhaps the most concrete evidence of God’s faithfulness in 2020, I am so thankful that I was able to return to school this year to pursue a law degree. Virtual learning has not been easy (and neither is law school in general), but it has been such a gift.

I encourage you to consider what you are thankful for this year.

Maybe you can’t come up with ten or even five things, but I bet you could find at least a few: maybe it is your health, your family, maybe it is your community, or favorite hobby.

And come Thanksgiving day, you can share what you are thankful for with whomever you may be celebrating the holiday with. You can sit around the table, eat, drink, and be merry, and remember the good things, remember the blessings.

Hello, 26: Takeaways During My 25th Year

Well I’ve (almost) made it another trip around the sun!

I turn 26 on August 31. Year 25 was a big one: I pursued attending law school (and got in!!), quit a job, started two new jobs, became a dog and plant mom, and experienced quarantine with this pandemic.

A lot of life happened this year, many good and not-so-good things, many highs and lows, many in-betweens. Overall, I am so grateful for every moment, because they have led me to where I am today.

Let’s review this year’s most memorable takeaways:

  • Don’t give up on yourself. Four years ago I dreamed of going to law school. In the years since, I struggled with very severe on-and-off depression. I didn’t think I had what it took to get into law school. But lo and behold, during Year 25, I pushed through, and was accepted! It feels amazing to say that and equally amazing to begin this law school journey.
  • Give yourself a break. Early on into Year 25, I quit my stable job of being a legal assistant and chose to work part-time as a nanny and part-time at the climbing gym. Everyone thought I was crazy, but this break was exactly what I needed to focus on both myself and law school. It was every bit rewarding and liberating and just what I needed.
  • Do things that make your heart happy. Climbing rocks, drinking coffee, eating tacos, all of these make my heart sing. Let’s do more of what makes us happy.
  • Puppy love is the best. Adopting Jack and being a dog mom has been the best thing ever. There’s no love like puppy love!
  • New things are scary, but they can also be fun. Starting law school this fall (next week!!) is terrifying to me. I have to re-learn how to study and prepare for class and take tests. But I am also excited! It should be a fun, hard journey.
  • It takes a village. Without my friends, family, church, climbing, and blogger community, I do not know where I’d be today! I have been blessed with the kindest folks and sweetest community, and they help me get by on the reg.

Year 25 was refining, challenging, stretching. It was eye-opening and humbling. I pressed into some hard moments and hard conversations. I took care of myself, I loved others, I spent time with Jesus.

I am thankful for all of the change I experienced in Year 25–job adjustments, career change, moving, and more. It was one heck of a year, and I can’t wait to see what Year 26 holds. Bring it on!!

How To Love Yourself: On Self-Care

My friend Rachel and I have a saying:

“Help me help you help me.” This phrase among us started as a joke, but in reality, it’s not the worst advice. Yes, it sounds selfish and manipulative.

But hey, let’s look further than that and get to the point: Self-care is important, and we should all partake in it often.

I am often preoccupied keeping up with every little person and thing but myself: my job, community, involvement, church, chores and house maintenance. It’s like the whole world completely absorbs me and I’m sucked in to-doing my life away.

But then I become over-exhausted and overwhelmed and fully aware I need Jesus and rest. I must get a grip on self-care before I take on the world.

Here are my top 10 self-care activities:

  1. Reading the Bible — spiritual rest is as important to me as physical rest. When I feel rundown and drained, I sit at the kitchen table with my Bible, pen in hand, expecting good things to come and peace to wash over me.
  2. Climbing — exercise can be a great stress-reliever for me. Whether I climb alone or with friends, it harnesses all of my energy and focus into one place, one sport, one mindset for a good hour or more.
  3. Phoning a friend — I’m a quality time and words of affirmation person, which can wither long-distance friendships. It’s always nice to phone a friend, someone I care about, and be fueled by their encouragement and verbal presence.
  4. Baking — similar to climbing, baking distracts me from my worries. It’s hands-on and demands attention, so I’m sucked into the world of measuring, mixing and making something tasty.
  5. Finding a dog — as hilarious as this trick seems, petting animals really soothes me. Cats give me anxiety, so the closest domestic animal is a dog. Sometimes I’ll go to my parents’ to give my brother’s dog Champ some well-deserved attention.
  6. Resting — even if I’m not asleep, it’s helpful for me to lie down or just sit still for a few moments, to clear my mind of my worries and tasks.
  7. Playing or listening to music — music has a way of letting me escape reality, it calms me and requires my presence.
  8. Walking — I’m not a runner, never have been and likely never will be. But walking slows me down and lets me engage in self-reflection. I’m typically down for a walk-and-talk quality time with dear friends to disengage from the real world for a bit.
  9. Taking a bath — sometimes I just feel dirty, so I grab my bubble bath, light a candle and start that hot water to rejuvenate my evening. It’s always nice to feel clean.
  10. Turning off my phone — I often need a break from the world: from Instagram photos and Facebook statuses, texts and calls. Time away from my phone renews my mind and lets me focus on what matters: the present.

I encourage you to care for yourself.

I don’t think we can fully help others until we help ourselves. We do not have the capacity to 110% love and give and go and do unless we ourselves are loved and have received. I don’t think it’s selfish to think this way, I call it self-preservation.

If we help ourselves, we can help others. If we give to ourselves, we can give to others. If we care for ourselves, we can care for others. So help me, help you, help me.