Thankfulness: A Holiday Season I Was Dreading Turns Into Something Spectacular

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Warning: This entry is going to be a little more off the cuff than usual.

I’ll admit, I haven’t been on my best feeling lately. Somewhere between a recurring knee injury, the pressures of fitting into a new job, the inactivity from spending more time than I’d like inside, and the upcoming holiday season, I found myself not really looking forward to the end of the year. Settling into a new life on the other side of the country, I wouldn’t have a Christmas tree or decorations and for the first time in 10 months, a sense of homesickness started to set in. I wasn’t trying to lament, I love where I am, I just felt the growing pains of settling in were coming at a time that many people spend together.

And then something unexpected and almost magical happened.

Although I already had plans to spend Thanksgiving with some incredible friends that I’ve made here, a small piece of me still longed for a familiar face from home, something to make the holiday season feel complete. That’s where my best friend stepped in. Knowing that it was going to be cold, and being in a new city, Rodrigo, who i’ve been friends with since middle school, made the decision to fly over and spend Thanksgiving weekend in Seattle. It was an immense joy in a time where even the smallest gestures were appreciated and his is huge. For me, it’s something that means the world to get to spend it with familiar faces in my new home and I’m planning on making the most of it.

My family in Miami have never been unwavering in their support for my dreams and ambitions and throughout the year they have always given me the courage and strength to press on when I’d needed it most. My mom continues to send me cakes, jams and homemade baked goods from home, my dad and I still watch our soccer games together every Sunday, on a 6 hour time delay from Italy, and I don’t mind waking up at 6 am so that we could cheer together, my sister and I share Instagrams and I show her all the quirky stuff I find, and my brother and I are in a constant kitchen competition always trying to one up each other and provide some creative inspiration. I miss my room, my own shower, my own bed, but I know that time is going to come eventually, and slowly but surely, I’ll create my own home here.

I know that everyone says this: but I really do have the most incredible friends in the world. My friends back in Miami have been my pillar to lean on, giving me all the love and support to push forward. My new friends here in Seattle, who I’ve only known for a few months but who have crafted some unforgettable memories in the little time we’ve spent together. I’m thankful for the people I get to spend every weekend with, who have made Seattle feel more like home everyday and my climbing and hiking partners who share the same goals, ambitions, and who immediately adopted me into an incredible community.

Then there’s the people I haven’t met but who still have made a lasting impression and an unbreakable bond. The hikers, climbers, adventurers, explorers, travelers and fellow bloggers who I met through Twitter and elsewhere continue to astonish, inspire, and support me. There’s too many to name individually, but i’m grateful for being in a community with amazing people, some who became my hiking partners, others who went as far as to send me a pair of tent poles when mine were destroyed in a windstorm. In the next year I’m looking forward to venturing out and finally meeting some of these incredible individuals.

When I step back and I look at what the last year has been for me, I’m left astonished by the transformation that has occurred in the last 10 months. A year ago I told my family I was moving across the country because I had ambitions higher than sea level. I wanted to be a better climber, I wanted to ski, I wanted to be an alpinist, I wanted to play more on snow. This entire year has had its extreme highs and its had the days where all I wanted was to throw in the towel and go back to a comfortable life again. This past week, I got to meet one of my climbing heroes: BASE jumper, alpinist, and ice climber Tim Emmett who produced one of the most inspiring talks I’d ever heard. With the inspiration still pumping through my veins, this weekend I realized a dream by signing up for my first ice climbing clinic in January, and buying a year long ski pass. When I left Miami, I’d never dreamed that i’d be able to accomplish so much in one year, and connect with amazing people along the way. In looking at the way I viewed myself before, and the way I see myself now, I’ve come to this singular resolution: You’re always stronger than you think you are.

Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. Whether I’ve met you or not, despite the distance, despite the frustrations, despite what it took to get year, you all have played a part into making this experience extraordinary. I’m wishing everyone a spectacular holiday week full of good friends and good family and I cannot be more thrilled for whats about to come.

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