Tis the season, after all, to express my gratitude, and so here it goes: a post that is in no way intended to be humble-braggy, or clichéd-cheesy, or over-the-top. I'm just insanely fortunate and the more I stop to reflect on that, the warmer-fuzzier I feel. 

I am thankful, first and foremost, for my family. My amazing, insane, quirky and close-knit family. I'm thankful that we are us. Our shenanigans, inside jokes, supportiveness and complete, bone-deep appreciation for each other have never felt more important or valuable to me than this year. I've taken my family for granted for so long, because I just figured everyone had families like replete with love and care that it was almost an afterthought. This year, I know that's not the case, and I am so grateful that I have a family I always have chosen and will always choose over just about everyone else in the world. 

I'm thankful for my grandma. Grandma Lo has always secretly been my favorite, partially because of her appreciation for the American Girl dolls of my childhood, and partially because she just seems like what a grandma should be. My Grandpa Leo passed away on the night of Thanksgiving last year, and this year has been hard for Grandma Lo without him. It has, however, brought the best of her extended family together to surround her in his absence. Whether it was Friday afternoon wine after work, Sunday Funday with the best aunts and cousins, or field trips, hosting, and adventures, I've built such a close, loving relationship with her this year.

I am thankful for a job that has completely changed my outlook on professional satisfaction. This time last year, I was enjoying three weeks of funemployment and "detoxing" from a job that truly was toxic for me. Fast-forward, and I have a job that I am really good at, that couldn't be more suited to my weird blend of strengths or force me to overcome my weaknesses more effectively. I have a boss who appreciates me and what I contribute, and shares my sense of humor to an almost-eerie T. Recently, I was surprised with a new position, one that puts me years ahead of where I thought I'd be on the career path, and it is so humbling and encouraging that people high-up in the company believe in me and what I can do. I wake up every day completely content with my job...which I never thought would be the case. It is so intensely satisfying. 

I am thankful to have surrounded myself with a network of friends up here in the Cities and all over the country who are just about the greatest. I really needed my friends this year as I floundered through grieving a relationship, getting back on my feet, and becoming my own person again, and my friends were there for me through every step of the process. They listened to me weep over margaritas, distracted me when I got down in the dumps, and applauded every step forward I took, no matter how small or insignificant. They make me laugh, they let me cry, they force me to try harder and they let me be myself. They are the best reflection of who I am and want to keep being. 

Most importantly, I am thankful for the person I am becoming. 2014 has been a tumultuous year for me and for my sense of self. I started the year being systematically broken down by someone whose role in my life should have been to build me up, and as a result, I grew more and more directionless. I questioned my worth, my integrity, and just about every aspect of my personality that I had ever thought was right or good or positive. It was unhealthy in every way. 

Now, I'm getting back to a place where I can see myself through clear eyes. I am not perfect. There are a lot of aspects of who I am that could be improved, and I like to think I'm working on those as I go along. But I am a fundamentally good, warm, vibrant, worthy person, and what I have to offer is not to be scoffed at, beaten down or stifled to suit someone else's perception of how I should be. I'm re-developing my tenacity, my bullheaded optimism, and my unbridled excitement about life and its myriad delights. I have stopped feeling shame for loving what I love, I'm done apologizing for being myself, and I'm rediscovering the strength of character that will keep me from ever letting another person convince me I'm worthless.

To steal an utterly ubiquitous Camus quote, "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." On Thanksgiving 2014, amidst everything else I have to appreciate, every blessing I'm counting (and counting again, like any good accountant), I am thankful to my core for my rediscovery of that invincible summer, of my invincible spirit. Here's to you and yours...may we all remember to appreciate the best in others, in our circumstances, and in ourselves this year.