IMG_3587This past year has been a ridiculous whirlwind, and despite all our setbacks, health problems, and roadblocks, John and I have SO much to be thankful for.  Just this past weekend, in honor of Thanksgiving, John and I joined some of our closest friends for a “Friendsgiving” extravaganza.  Twenty of us rented a giant cabin in Big Bear, hauled copious amounts of food and beverages up to the house, and had one of the best and most fun Thanksgivings we’ve ever had.  The company was wonderful, the food outstanding, and the weather chilly.  We couldn’t have hoped for anything more!

Still on cloud nine from such a great weekend, I’m going to start off my thankfulness list with what is most important – our friends and family.   Since moving to California, we have made the most amazing friends!  They are friends that don’t mind when I bring over bags of health supplies and food just for a hang out session.  They don’t hate on me for the fact that I haven’t been able to drink in almost a year, and they don’t mind when I join them out to dinner with my own smoothie.  My girlfriends are the ones that I vent to when I feel sick, talk to when I need support, and celebrate with when I get good news.  Looking back on our arrival to San Diego just over a year and a half ago, I would have never imagined that we’d be surrounded by such an incredible group of people that I’d be so honored to call my friends today.

Additionally, we are so thankful for all our friends and family back home and around the country.  The support we have felt throughout my sickness has been overwhelming.  People that I haven’t talked to in years text me to see how I’m feeling.  So many of you have been there on multiple occasions when I’ve called crying on bad days.  I’ve needed so much support and encouragement, and I am so thankful that all of you kept me going through even the darkest of times.

1508651_580699798687_562480191_nMy fiancé John is also someone I am hugely thankful for.  I could not ask for a better man to have as my life partner.  Caring, thoughtful, nurturing, and understanding, John has been with me every single step of the way from day one.  Despite how difficult this year has been on the both of us, our relationship is stronger than ever.  We did not falter despite all we’ve been through, but instead, we’ve experienced the exact opposite.  I don’t know how John does it, to be honest.  I could have never spent the last eleven months seeing him in pain every day.  On top of seeing someone he loves suffer, he also endlessly took care of me, kept up with work, picked up chores and errands I couldn’t handle, and spent hours rubbing my back and encouraging me to eat my food.  There were meals where we’d sit face-to-face where John would encourage me to eat each and every bite – those meals would take hours, yet his patience never failed.  I could not be more grateful to be blessed with such an amazing companion, best friend, lover, and life partner.

I’m thankful for my health.  Yes, this year hasn’t been the easiest, but I’m convinced that by the time I’m done with this, I’m going to feel like a million bucks.  I mean, come on, I’ve eaten nothing but lean protein and vegetables for nearly a year – I’ve got to start becoming Superwoman at some point, right? ;)  But in all seriousness, without my GI issues I wouldn’t have gotten a chance 10516636_595500512937_8470665272314328398_nto learn so much about myself – I now am aware of my emotions and feelings, can tell when particular foods make me more uncomfortable, and can (kind of) meditate (it’s a work in progress).  A few weeks ago, when a lot of my pain subsided, I woke up one morning with the sound of my own heartbeat in my ears.  It’s that level of awareness that I’m thankful for – the fact that I’m so in tune with my own body, I listen to it as it speaks to me.  I’m also incredibly thankful that I’ve made it this far.  I’ve never worked so hard at anything else in my entire life, and in turn, I have never been so proud of myself.  What a wonderful reason to be grateful!

I’m blown away every day by the team of doctors I have working with me.  They aren’t like many traditional doctors, they actually care about me.  And for that, I am most thankful.  My naturopath and I can joke around like old friends.  She’s been there for me to text at odd hours, teared up when I’ve cried to her, and celebrated my wins.  My hypnotist hugs me after our sessions, as she knows how emotional this whole process has been for me.  My hydrotherapist and I joke around that after I’m better, we’ll have to start hanging out over wine because we’ll miss seeing each other.  My nutritionist is realistic with me and incredibly honest.  She’s not only a wealth of knowledge, but I like that she gives it to me straight.  She’s always been up front with me about my situation, treatment, and progress, which is the greatest help to me.  I couldn’t be more grateful for the team of brilliant people I’m blessed to be working with on a daily basis.

10400209_508156371297_5536748_nI’m thankful for my cat, Boots, who has been my companion from the moment I saw him at the animal shelter nearly six years ago.  When you’re sick in bed, I’m convinced that there’s nothing better than a pet companion.  On my sickest of days, Boots wouldn’t leave my side.  He’d sleep next to me, keeping me warm, sit on the couch next to me as I struggled to eat my food meal after meal, and follow me into the bathroom, sitting patiently and quietly at my feet every time.  If he somehow missed following me into the bathroom, within moments he’d be scratching at the door, meowing to come in to sit at my feet.  That little munchkin was there when I needed a furry tissue to cry into, an ear to listen to my woes and frustrations, and a companion to sit by me as I struggled to eat my food.  I’m beyond thankful for the little soul that lives within my cat.

I’m also proud and grateful at how much we’ve been able to accomplish this year, despite all that we’ve been through.  Looking through the goal sheets that John and I made on January 1 of this year, there is very little that hasn’t been accomplished.  Little did we know at the start of this year how ridiculous it would actually become, but regardless, we still busted our asses and worked exceptionally hard to do all that we’ve done.  I’m so proud of us and thankful for our hard work and motivation.

10360243_299480450219498_7047227056100179747_nAnd lastly, I’m thankful for my sense of humor.  The ability to see the hilarity of ridiculous situations and laugh.  I’ve always loved laughing, but I’m thankful now for my lack of shame along with my humor.  Instead of being embarrassed, I laugh at the fact that I need to bring a huge bag of “provisions” wherever I go.  I laugh at the amount of time I currently spend in the bathroom.  I laugh when Boots chases his tail, or our friends come over, or John makes a silly joke.  Laughter is the best medicine, and I’m so thankful that despite being incredibly low at times over this past year, I’ve never lost my sense of humor or ability to see light in a dark situation.

Although Thanksgiving gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect on our thanksgivings, it’s important to remember your blessings year-round.  Each day I reflect on what I’m thankful for in my life.  One of my favorite quotes is: It is not happy people that are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?  Let me know in the comments below!

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