Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving with Michael

          This year's Thanksgiving was much different from last years. Instead of exploring new places and having epic adventures, I had a fairly quiet Thanksgiving here in Elkhart. It might not sound exciting, but it has been a really good holiday. Some friends from church asked if I would dog sit their dog Michael. I was happy to agree since I have had a lack of animal interaction in my life and thus I moved a mile down the road for the past week. Michael is a Portuguese Water Dog (like the Obamas have) and is quite the guy! I might be more of a cat person, but Michael won my heart as we spent time snuggling and playing together. As funny as it might seem, I am so thankful for this time with Michael as it gave me some good reminders.
          First, Michael reminded me not to be so serious and take time to play everyday. Like most dogs, Michael likes attention and likes getting out of the house. He was not too thrilled that I was writing a paper for most of break and would come stick his nose on my computer and convince me that it was time to take a break. We would then proceed outside for a walk. Walking is such a simple thing, but Michael just loves it! He got so excited everytime we went out. I realize as I have been studying and working so much, I have not taken the time to just be outside and relax. Taking a walk doesn't take up too much time, but it gives a person so much. I loved seeing the world through Michael's eyes and taking the time to (figuratively) smell the roses.
          On Thanksgiving day, I was furiously working on writing a paper. I had no plans to go outside all day, but in the early afternoon, Michael came and interrupted me. I decided I would play with him in the back yard for just a few minutes as a break to myself. Little had I realized that it had snowed. But out we went, into the snow. Now normally, I hate snow. But Michael was so excited. He didn't mind the white stuff coming down or the cold. I chased him around and we both experienced moments of complete joy as we ran through the snow laughing. (Well, I laughed, Michael just ran). Then, Michael attempted to catch some snowflakes in his mouth. He looked just so cute. During the course of the semester, I have forgotten about the small joys in life. While living in Croatia last year, I usually noticed small joys. I took the time to go on walks and see the world with fresh eyes because I was in a new place. But here, I have been too busy. Watching Michael gave me the opportunity to rediscover small joys. I got to play in the snow, as well as spend time snuggling with Michael inside giving him tummy rubs (he loves tummy rubs)!
          Thanksgiving evening, I had three friends over to celebrate the holiday. We had an amazing dinner of tofurkey (yes, I made my omnivore friends go vegan with me) and other delicious food and then we played games together. It was so nice and I felt so grown-up as I hosted my first holiday meal. I celebrated with my family the next day at my aunt and uncle's house in Goshen. My parents and brother Ryan came up and we had a nice afternoon eating and playing games. Saturday was work like usual and today was spent finishing my paper. Michael's owners came back tonight, so I am once again back in my apartment.
          The next couple of weeks are crazy as I finish up my semester. There is so much to do, but I feel refreshed. I am just really thankful for where I am. I have the amazing opportunity to study subjects that I am passionate about and be in a community that accepts me for who I am. I have a job that I genuinely like with coworkers who are becoming good friends. I have a family who loves me and lives (relatively) nearby so I can spend time with them in person. I am thankful to be busy, but also thankful for the small moments of joy that life offers. Looking back on the past year, I am so thankful for the places I have been and the experiences I had. I feel so lucky to have been where I have been, but also so glad to be where I am now. I don't think that everyone can say that.
Michael, playing in the snow.

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