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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving, Giving Thanks

What better thought for this wonderful Thursday than giving thanks! Diana and I each came up with a list of 10 things we are especially thankful for this year. There are so many things besides the ones we have listed, but these have been on our hearts and minds. I hope this is just a source of inspiration and happiness to your day. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Spread the grace and love!

1) Music

I love music for the instruments I play for endless hours, the songs that I freely sing and dance to, and the sounds that give me chills as I meditate. Just writing about this waters my eyes. Anyway, you can quote Plato on this: 
"Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything."  
And you can quote me on this: 
"Music is a language; it perfectly speaks without verbal effort, and bridges our thoughts and emotions more perfectly than words ever can." 

  2006                                                                                                                         2016

2) Faith

I chose faith over Christianity, Jesus, or prayer because all those things are empty without faith. Faith is the most universal of them all, applicable to any religion. To me, faith is loving when I'm hurting, persisting when I'm weary, and asking to be filled again when empty. I would be lost without faith.

3) Friendships

Friendships are relationships. I'm thankful for all the precious, generous bonds I have with each of my friends. I'm so grateful to be molded and loved by you all. Special thank you to Diana for believing and inspiring me on the daily, Amanda for always loving and taking care of me even on the worst day I lived on this planet, and Tabitha for never failing to making me laugh when I feel like shit. You guys rock my world.

4) Privilege

I was born in America. I am the only child of a middle-class family. I've never had to skip a meal because my family couldn't afford it. My parents pay for me to do the things I love. I can drive. I have grown up in a cross-cultural lifestyle. I've had an education for the past 11 years of my life. I'm going to college. I'm going to have a job. Hopefully, I will meet someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. BUT a part of privilege is also recognizing that it isn't an entitlement. I didn't do anything to deserve these things. They are blessings. 

5) Memories

My memory jar that is pictured below is emptied and refilled every year. I write down my favorite memories because when I look back at them 10 years from now, I'll be able to remember things that I would forget otherwise. I'm just very conscientious of the fact that life is too short to forget all the good days when the heart is racing, the laughs are uncontrollable, the tears stream with joy, and the hugs mean more than words. Life is a collection of memories.

6) Dreams

I love dreaming, but it's also scary. There are so many what-ifs. But I'm thankful that I can dare to dream because I have faith. I know dreams can become reality.

7) Clothes

"The clothes that protect us, that make us laugh, that serve as a uniform, that help us assert our identity or aspirations, that we wear to remember someone--in all of these are encoded the stories of our lives." -Worn Stories by Emily Spivack (my favorite book)

8) Guidance

Especially grateful for my parents, teachers, and mentors who have guided and supported me. It is scary to think that I won't be living with my parents in 8 months. 

9) Growth

I am so much of who I am now because of the many things that this captures. My co-hosting of Curiosity Quest in NY was the beginning of my interest in broadcast journalism and the beginning of my true love for piano. I am so grateful to have grown so much because of an experience from 4th grade. The beautiful opportunities in life happen for a reason. 

10) Happiness

In the end, this is it. Why do we want to be loved? Why do we want money? Why do we want to help others? Why do we want to go to a great college? WHY? Happiness. But seriously...you don't need all those things to be happy. Happiness can be found when we live in the moment and appreciate the smallest things.
"Surround yourself with the things that inspire you and let go of the obsessions that want to take over your mind. It is a daily struggle sometimes and hard work, but happiness begins with your own attitude and how you look at the world." -The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Hi everyone! :) 'Tis Diana. Here are just 10 out of many things I'm thankful for:

1) Imagination

Human stories carved into thousand-year-old traditions; wisps of culture in wisps of incense smoke; buildings sagging beneath the weight of their own history...this world is full of so many colorful tales stitched into tapestries of culture and imagination, and I am so thankful to be able to bathe in their unapologetic richness.

Throwback to my post on my China trip. Haven't read it yet? Want to read it again? Click here! 

2) Choice

I am the most indecisive person ever. But I am so lucky to be able to choose: what to wear, what to eat, what to do, who to be.

3) Art

As an aspiring photographer, musician, and writer, art seeps into the marrow of my bones. I am so thankful to not only be able to do art myself, but to be able to enjoy art in all of its capricious glory.

One of the photos in my Hydrangea Queen series, where I tried to create a Pre-Raphaelite story feel with modern elements for juxtaposition. 

4) Medicine

My autoimmune disease coupled with their necessary ER visits have rendered me another one of the billions who must thank medicine for their lives. I have so much respect and gratitude for those who dedicate their lives to making these magical things.

5) Nature

This earth is sliced with canyons and stomped with caves. I look up outside and there are trees with their leaves lipstick-red, trees with branches skeleton-bare, so how can I not be grateful for a world full of so many majestic and incomprehensible, natural phenomena?

Photo I took at Laguna Beach

6) Love

Love hurts. It’s true. But to love--all sorts of love, for animals, family, and lovers too--is the sort of feeling that warms the tips of your fingers and the arteries of your heart. I am lucky to love without fear.

7) Food

Banana nutella crepes. Enough said. (And of course rice and the little things, too. Yum yum yum. Now I’m hungry.)

Birthday pie!! :D
Eat pizza after mental breakdowns with Doro, ya feel?

8) Technology

I am typing this on a computer, I called my dad today with my phone, I can skype my best friend in college via the Internet. Technology, for all its faults, has helped me connect and learn. (And s/o to Google and Wikipedia for all the homework help! :P)

9) Space

I remember the first time I went outside at 2 a.m., tired of typing essays. I looked up, and though there aren’t too many stars visible here, the stars I could see were so...unabashed. They instantly reminded me of how small I was, and how glad I am to be so small. I know I’m romanticizing space, but I don’t think it’s wrong to romanticize something so ancient yet defiant--after all, what other thing clings on to the sky long after it’s dead?

When you love space, you make a conceptual photo with you standing in space! :D

10) Understanding

For all the people who stood by me after mental breakdowns, who never gave up on me though I gave up on myself, who gave me love when I felt only capable of hate--thank you. Thank you for understanding the fragility of the human soul, and thank you for making me stronger in spite of it.

Thank you to all of our readers! Though we'd keep writing and photographing no matter what, it's always heartwarming to know that our words and photos are reaching--and maybe inspiring--others.

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