Thursday, November 28, 2013

What Means The Most

Another Thanksgiving has come around and after the meal we just had at home I am stuffed. Aside from having a completely full stomach (that pumpkin cheesecake my mom made was impossible to resist!), I feel amazing. Each year I'm reminded of just how lucky I am, and this year is no different. 

I am so unbelievably blessed. I'm made aware practically every day by my mother just how blessed we are. And it's amazing how quickly I forget. So honestly, thank goodness for Thanksgiving because I think we all need a little reminding sometimes of just how good we have it. 

In my family, tradition has us going around the table each Thanksgiving sharing with our loved ones what we are thankful for. For the most part, what we're thankful for is pretty generic. Family, friends, our health, you get the gist. 

What I tend to overlook most often is how important my family is to me. I am not the best at keeping in touch, although I'm trying harder nowadays. I'm known to jump the gun when it comes to having arguments, and I'll be the first to reopen old wounds. It's not something I'm proud of, but I know I'm not the first to say that the ones we hurt the most are the ones we love the most. And that's because they'll always love you, no matter what.

That being said, this Thanksgiving what I'm most thankful for is my family. The past few years haven't been the easiest on us. I've learned more from my family about love, loss, and life in the past two years than I've learned in my whole twenty years. I am so impressed by the strength of my mother, so thankful to have a role model like her. Everyone says I'm her mini me, but I can only hope to turn out to be half the woman she is. My father and my brother are two hard-working men who, when it comes down to it, will do anything for their family. It's something I truly admire. I am fortunate enough to have two amazing grandfathers who are far too good to me, and a remarkably close extended family to always turn to. 

I'm also incredibly lucky to have such remarkable friends in my life. I've learned in the past year especially that who you surround yourself with is a part of what defines you. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I've found the people to keep close and I have to say I've never been happier. From what I've heard, your 20s aren't so easy so I'm glad I have people who love me to learn with me along the way. 

With Thanksgiving over, 2013 is officially coming to a close. I know there's still a month left, but I think I can safely say that this has been a life-changing year. I'm thankful that I finally feel like I'm steering myself in a direction that will bring me success in life. Success has so many definitions depending on who you are, but I hope that happiness will come with whatever success ends up meaning for me. On another note, the past two years have been the hardest years of my life. I'm thankful that this year has been a year of learning. I've learned so much about myself, and I have never felt more secure with who I am and what I want.

I'll be the first to admit that I fall prey to materialistic tendencies. Call me a princess, a diva, or whatever you wish. I think it's fantastic that people are out there who could care less about the new Kate Spade Beau Bag, but I will be coveting that bag until I finally have the money to splurge on it. That being said, what means the most at the end of every day are not how many pairs of designer jeans you have, or how full your shoe closet is (although a girl really can never have too many shoes...), what means the most is that you're surrounded by people you love. Because as far as I'm concerned, a life without love isn't a life at all. And that's really what I'm thankful for, that in a world that at times feels consumed by superficiality and hate, I live a life that blesses me every day with love.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What to Wear: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is TOMORROW. Where did the year go? I'm in shock. This morning was fantastic because I woke up to e-mails from J. Crew and the Factory surprising me with a sale. I know they have promotions all the time, but whenever I see a 50% in an e-mail, you have my attention. 

Everybody has their Thanksgiving traditions. It's one of my favorite holidays. My family comes up from Massachusetts, there's a ton of great food, and I just love it. A lot of families I know have very different ideas of what Thanksgiving looks like. Some people start the feast at three, others wait until six. Some make it fancy, some keep it casual. That being said, I thought it would be a fun idea to make a post with a few, relatively cheap Thanksgiving outfit options.

A J. Crew (Factory) Holiday

I saw this skirt while browsing the J. Crew Factory website this morning and fell in love. It's not something I would normally wear but I wanted to put together an outfit just to see if I could make it work with my style.The jade color of the sweater works really well and compliments the caramel like color of the skirt without clashing. I love the ruffles on the collar of the shirt, and finished it off with a statement necklace, a cute little clutch (that bow!), and simple flats. Perfect for a Thanksgiving gathering that's a little more formal!

Comfy and Cozy

Jeans are really, really hard for me to justify splurging on. I don't know why, they just are. I'm content with Gap. These jeans I found from Topshop for only $80, they look so flattering.You can never go wrong with a cable knit sweater and this one from Vineyard Vines is simple, yet elegant. The perfect outfit for just hanging out with the family. The scarf is a splurge from Burberry, and I can only hope that one day I'll be the proud owner of one. I thought this red one really complimented the outfit and the boots (only $130!) bring the whole outfit together. Don't forget some cozy socks and you're set for the family tag football game or, if your family is like mine, Christmas cards!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Take Me Back...

As finals approach and stress levels start to soar, I can’t help but think of how much I’d like to get away. If I could just hop on a plane and go wherever I wanted to, it would make me so so so happy. This past summer I finally fulfilled my dream of going to Europe. It was the quickest two weeks of my life, and maybe the most wonderful.

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Gustave Flaubert

I have a slight obsession with quotes, and while writing this post I went to look up quotes about travelling. Nothing quite summed it up like the quote above. I had the amazing opportunity to visit cities like Amsterdam, Munich, Paris, Venice, and London while I was abroad. My trip was nearly four months ago and so quick, yet I feel like I remember so much. Wine tasting in Italy, exploring Amsterdam, a gondola ride in Venice, taking a cable car to the top of Mount Pilatus in Switzerland, and my personal favorite, spending a  night out in Paris wandering aimlessly until 4am—I had never felt so alive, and at the same time I had never felt more insignficant.

You might think feeling insignficant would make one depressed, but there’s something to be said for traveling somewhere new. In a new environment, with a new language and new customs, you feel out of place—a feeling I am not accustomed to having lived in the same small town for the majority of my life. Going to Europe terrified me; leaving Boston to fly out to Amsterdam, even with my best friend at my side, was nerve-wracking. But I know neither of us would trade our experience for the world.

I realized it when I was on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, overlooking beautiful Paris at midnight. In the short amount of time I had up there, I had a new understanding of the world. Every time I experience a new place of some kind of significance I do my best to really take it all in. There really are no words to explain how happy I was that night. I think the thing that made me feel so small while I was abroad was my really coming to understand that the world is huge—there is so much to see. And when you’re in a new place, as a tourist it’s your job to take in the sights, get just a glimpse of a city’s culture before you have to leave. Appreciate what a place that isn't “home” has to offer, even if leaving home scares you.

When I was sitting in Heathrow at the end of our trip, writing my post cards to family members (some of which I have yet to send…), I nearly started crying. Sure, some of the days on the trip were hard—like when the air conditioning on our bus busted and we spent a few hours at a repair shop in the middle of I’m still not even sure what country. For the most part though, I felt like a completely new me. There are so many hard things in life—school,  relationships, jobs, you name it—but if I lived every day like I lived when I was in Europe, if I felt every day like I felt in Europe, then nothing could break me. The best lesson I’ve learned in my twenty years is just how small I am, that in the grand scheme of things, what’s really going to matter is how I lived. What’s really going to matter are the lives I touched and the people I loved. I’ve learned from traveling what no teacher, no textbook, no one could really teach me. What makes this world go round are the dynamics between all the nobodies of the world, making an impact on a stranger, a friend, a family member. This is going to sound so epically lame, but what I really learned from my time in Europe is that everyone wants essentially the same thing. Everywhere I’ve visited, I’ve seen some kind of expression of love. In some places, it’s more obvious and in others you really have to look for it, but it’s there. And if that isn’t a comforting thought, I don’t know what is.