Giving Thanks

It's hard to start a post like this. I can't possibly name all the things I'm thankful for this year, and trying to do so just seems like I'm bound to forget something or someone important. But that's no excuse and tis the season of thanks so I'm going to do the best I can and try to limit it to ten. Here goes nothing.

10. Coffee and other such comforts

2013-10-24_0011Yup, that's a picture of granola. I was feeling desperate for a photo...

Things. I try not to be too materialistic but it's hard to live in this country and not be. #firstworldproblems I know. And I'll never hashtag in my blog ever again. I promise. But I am grateful to have the little things that make days better like coffee and seasonal creamers, hand-knit hats and scarves (thanks, Leney!), candles, new clothes, books, and video games. We are spoiled with so many things we don't really need, but I'm grateful that we are. If I feel like having some scones or chocolate chip cookies, I just go make them because the extra expense of chocolate chips is okay. Sidenote: we always have chocolate chip cookie ingredients. It was part of my wedding vow to Erik that bad days would be fixed with chocolate chip cookies and that wasn't a joke. We are pretty serious about the cookies. Anyway, all this to say I know everyone cannot afford to walk into the JMU bookstore and buy new hoodies (because the old ones are just not SOFT enough anymore!) that cost over $100 together. We can go out to dinner if we don't feel like cooking. We can buy those Christmas skins in our favorite video game (yay Christmas skins!). We can splurge sometimes. And that's really lucky.

9. Mornings

When I started working from home, I knew I had to set some rules for myself or else I'd do what I'm naturally inclined to do, which is sleep til 11 and browse Facebook til 12. So for a while, I would tell Erik to wake me up before he left for work at 7am. I figured that seemed fair. He starts his day, I start mine. Well, I sucked at that and Erik literally didn't have the time to deal with my slow wake ups (I know, I'm absurd), so now I wake up at 8. There's a big difference between 7 and 8. When I taught, I had to BE at work at 7. Oh my goodness, and I had my most difficult class first period. It's no wonder I walked through that year of my life as a zombie. When I was student teaching, I worked at a middle school that started at 8 and WOW the difference. Getting to school when the sun was up just seemed so much more reasonable to me. So now, I get out of bed at 8 (8:15?), make some coffee, and usually knock out a blog post before 10am. Ironically, I'm definitely not going to accomplish that today, but normally my posts are a few paragraphs and some pretty pictures. Today's a little more epic than that. All this to say, I really LIKE my mornings now. It's weird. I've never liked mornings. In college, my friend, Nicole, would try to drag me to sunrise yoga and I'd laugh hysterically because it was so absurd to voluntarily wake up before the sun. Okay, I still think that's absurd. But I get the morning thing now. I get how nice it feels to have accomplished things before 10am. I get it. And I'm thankful to have gained a few hours in my day :)

8. Blogging

I get to write off blogging as "work" now, which is awesome. I have always loved blogging, been doing it since high school. I realized quickly from my research last year into what made a successful photography business that many photographers were keeping a blog. It's a fantastic way to show off your work and personality to prospective clients. And for me? I've always loved writing and expressing myself that way, so it's a perfect fit. Now, blogging is how I start most of my days. My blog is more than business, I really share my whole life on here. I know that that keeps our distant family members connected and it's nice to hear from people who enjoy reading it and keeping up with us. Bottom line, blogging RULES.

7. Our health

Last year at this time, Erik was just beginning to reenter his daily life after a terrible collar bone break (three of them actually) that kept him incapacitated for about two months. Zeke was getting over a terrible bout with fleas. And I was losing my mind. You try defleaing an entire home (because yeah we give our furball access to everything, wise move), including your husband's enormous bajillion loads of dirty laundry pile that Zeke just loves sleeping in, all while Erik lays in bed being sad he can't use a fork. Last winter was also when I realized that I needed to stop complaining and do something about my daily headaches. I went to a chiropractor and now I don't wake up with a headache anymore! Chiropractors are magical. I highly recommend! Even Zeke fought off disease last year and is doing much better right now.

6. Zeke!

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Who wouldn't be grateful to have a sweet little critter to hang out with all day? I spend most of my time home alone. I'm not complaining, I kind of like it. And I'm not a uni-bomber, I just enjoy solitude. But sometimes it's nice to have someone to talk to and laugh at and Zeke is just great at both of those things. He's a wonderful listener and always willing to run up and down the hallway with me to get our blood moving and the energy pumping. When Erik comes home and has had a terrible day, I find Zeke. Zeke will lick his nose until he can't help but laugh and all is right again in the world. Zeke's been diagnosed with very serious diseases twice now and he keeps bouncing back. I'm very thankful that we still have him to brighten our days.

5. Our house

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We are so lucky. I don't know what the statistics are on how old people usually are when they buy their first house, but when you're 24 and you're house hunting, everyone thinks you're just absolutely adorable. People do seem to think I'm younger than I am though. Nobody can ever believe I'm married and I've learned I'm the sole reason Erik and I ever get carded. Thanks, mom and dad, for the good genes! Anyway, the thought goes through my brain every day, "I love my house." I really do. I'm such a homebody. I can happily be in my house for days without going stir crazy at all. It's the Cancer in me (the sign, not the sickness!). Especially now that I work at home, I really appreciate how lucky we are to have a place all our own. There's a special pride that comes with owning your own home. Sometimes Erik and I laugh at ourselves when we complain about how poorly the grass is growing or trash schedules or those darn kids walking through our yard! They're problems we're grateful to have. Well I am. Erik's the one talking about setting up bear traps in our yard ;-)

4. My growing business

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Last year I had five clients in October and it was my busiest month and I was thrilled to death. I had only started my business at the end of August, so I felt like things were happening so fast. Cue months of winter crickets that had me doubting a lot of things. Well, this October I had five sessions/weddings in one week and felt exactly the same as I did last year. Things are happening! They are! And I won't let anyone tell me otherwise! ;) But really. It's a blessing to meet with couples and talk about shooting their weddings next year or even the year after that. This past Spring, I shot my first wedding with James of 88 Love Stories and had never been so fired up to take beautiful pictures. I suddenly wanted to learn everything there was to learn about wedding photography. After spending my whole life casually anticipating and then sort of secretly dreading my career as a teacher, to finally know what I wanted to do and be EXCITED about it was the most incredible feeling. I'm grateful for all I've learned. I've come so far in a little over a year and I'm thankful every day that I get to do this.

3. My friends

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I've said it before on this blog. I don't make friends easily. I'm usually just kind of shy. It's not an unfriendly thing, but maybe some people interpret it that way. Over time, I've decided that's probably been a good thing. All the people I become friends with tend to become friends for life. My best friends have been in my life for a decade or more at this point. Some of them have moved very far away, but every time we get together, it's like time means nothing and we are just as close and comfortable as we ever were. This year, I've actually started making new photographer friends, which is so exciting to me! They inspire me with their creativity (seriously, these are some CRAZY talented people) and help me when I'm lost, which is often! I hope many of these relationships are just beginning and I can't wait to see what happens next.

2. My Family

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So cliche, but rightfully so. My parents are AMAZING. Seriously. All my life, I've known this (even during the hateful, angsty years of middle school) and known how lucky I am. Friends of mine would tell me they were jealous I had such wonderful parents. I just do. They're the most positive, generous people. They've always trusted me and supported me, putting me and my brothers' happiness above anything else. And my brothers? Well, they're a special breed of people. I'm incredibly thankful that Josh has finally come back into my life after a long, silly conflict that really tore me up, more than I would ever say out loud. And Cade. Well, Cade is the funniest person in the world and I'm always thankful for his fresh perspective and pure goodness as a human being.

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I'm really sorry I don't have a better photo of you, Candice. This is what happens when you let Erik pressure you into making a goofy face. Let this be a lesson.

I'm especially thankful for the "in law" side of my family. For one reason or another, the families of the guys I dated in high school and college never really liked me (what!? I know, so crazy! ;).) I was never too upset about it because I had a rocking family at home, but I always wondered what it would feel like if they did like me. Now, to feel so incredibly welcome and loved by these Heidenthal/Murray/Blackners (it's a mixed up group) is especially wonderful to me. I remember the first April Fools that Erik and I were dating and we pretended to be engaged. Katlyn was so excited, jumping up and down about finally having a sister, that we seriously felt bad disappointing her with our real boring boyfriend/girlfriend status. Erik and I have two seriously awesome families and we're so so lucky for it.

1. My husband

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Duh! There's nothing I'm more thankful for than Erik. I get to have him with me every day, supporting me and making me laugh til I cry. He lets me see every side of him, from the sweet and playful to the ranting and raving. There's no one in the world like him. He works SO much harder than people would guess and I know part of the reason he does is because of me. If he didn't work so hard I wouldn't have the freedom to put all my focus on building this photography business. But I'm most thankful to just be married to him and know that no matter what else changes in our lives, he'll always be there and he'll always have a magic trick to entertain me.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. I'll be eating pumpkin pie with the Heidenthal/Murray crew. Be sure to watch Facebook and the blog for my Small Business Saturday deal! Hint, if you've been putting off portraits for too long, stop it. Happy Thanksgiving!