Sunday, November 25, 2012

So Thankful

We all make different choices in life, and while no one path is better than another, I'm grateful for the life I've led, not always what I envisioned, not always easy, not always socially acceptable, but always rewarding in the ways I've come to value most. At 45, I don't have a spouse or children, don't own a house or have much of a retirement account, don't have a big title or salary or even a benefits package, but I've traveled to 19 countries, resided in 12 U.S. cities, worked in a pub outside of London, served in the Peace Corps, run two marathons and five half marathons, completed five triathlons (sprint distance), hiked and snowshoed in more national and state parks than I can count, climbed three fourteeners (peaks above 14,000 feet) (two in one day), soaked in three of Colorado's natural hot springs as well as one in southern Bolivia, earned my MBA and MFA, edited a magazine for stroke survivors and their caregivers, and taught some form of writing to hospitalized children, homeless youth and now college students. I've witnessed an active volcano, stood atop Machu Picchu, wandered through ancient ruins, saw original artworks in museums around the world, and encountered in their natural habitat a variety of wildlife including monkeys, sloth, an anteater, toucans, anaconda, pink dolphins, llamas, alpaca, capybara, flamingoes, whales, big horn sheep, moose, elk, and a mountain goat. I've mourned the loss of a friend to a drunk driver and another to ovarian cancer and the brother of a friend to suicide and from these tragedies I've learned that life is short and must be lived fully and I've done just that. I've lost my hair and journeyed to acceptance and I've written a 300+-page manuscript about it and through the experience have found my purpose in life: to create a world where it's ok to be hairless. And best of all is that I've experienced much of this with you, my friends and family, and these adventures not only shaped who I am today but have bonded us in ways that cannot be broken by distance or even time. And so during this season of gratitude, I am thankful for the gift of life and for you, the people who make it worth living.