Thanksgiving is tomorrow here in the United States and with it a forced gluttony of turkey, stuffing and pie. It’s also a time when many of us feel a little nostalgic and thankful for our lives, regardless of any great burdens we have had to bear. Last year I began a tradition on this site of looking back at the past year and sharing some travel moments for which I am truly thankful, a feature I’d like to continue this year. These are my moments, but what are you thankful for this year?
1. Losing my job – If your read my site at least regularly, then you’re probably already tired of hearing about this, but you’ll have to suffer through it one last time. Sorry. Earlier this year I lost my job, the one I routinely described as soul sucking and devoid of any intellectual challenge. It was comfortable though which is why being forced out was one of the best things to ever happen to me. It made me reflect on my priorities in life and take stock of what’s important. Since then I joined the wonderful team of people at TBEX, the Travel Blog Exchange where I get to do something I love; work on behalf of travel bloggers around the world. It’s a great industry and something I love dearly and to be able to do this as a career is humbling and incredibly satisfying.
2. Iceland – I’m usually very hard to surprise, I tend to guess things way too accurately for a gift giver to get any sort of enjoyment out of the experience. This year though my partner managed to surprise me in a major way when, for my birthday, we went on a four-day trip to Iceland. I had wanted to visit this tiny country for a long time and the much ballyhooed experience was all that I thought it would be and more. I’m a sucker for a nice landscape which is something Iceland excels at. The beauty and sheer drama of the island nation is everywhere, from downtown Reykjavik to the icy waterfalls of the north. Sure, I saw a lot in four days but I can’t wait to return and see what new adventures this great destination has in store.
3. Cape Town – I never actually thought I would make it to South Africa this year. Yes, I thought it might be a possibility but it was just too exciting to believe. And I don’t think I ever did believe it, not until I found myself walking out of the airport in Cape Town. What transpired next was a dream week in one of the best cities in the world. I saw it all, from Table Mountain to my favorite Cape Point and everything else in between. I met amazing people and forged friendships that will last a lifetime. I also developed a new urban love and I daresay that Cape Town has wedged itself firmly in my heart as it has done for millions of people before me. I know I’m lucky and I’m immensely grateful for the unique opportunity to explore the Mother City for myself and to learn, not be told, why it is so very remarkable.
4. France – I’ve been a Francophile since forever and I even lived in Paris for a summer while in high school. In spite of this love of all things French though, I had never actually left Paris. I know, it’s strange and bizarre but that is the road along which life took me. This year that changed when I was invited to several regions in France for a brief but very thorough introduction to the rest of the country. La Rochelle, Angouleme, Toulouse, Arles, Avignon were just some of the cities I visited and got to know a little bit better. At the risk of sounding ungrateful though, it only rekindled that love of France and I find myself thinking wistfully about new regions of this great country I want to explore.
5. Family – This has been a very hard year for me and my partner, no doubt there. Losing a job is a hard thing emotionally and the ramifications are a hard thing financially. This creates stress and tension in every facet of life. But through out it all my partner made it clear that he wanted me to do whatever would make me happy and that we would make it work. That’s a rare statement in life and without it I’d probably be at yet another soul sucking job instead of doing what I truly love. There’s nothing else I am more thankful for than that and I just hope to be able to repay him one day in equal amounts of love and generosity.
What are you thankful for this year?