There are so many beautiful reasons I have to be happy.
With Thanksgiving just passing, and the holiday spirit I’m completely in, I’ve been thinking about things that I have in my life that I’m thankful for. Here’s some, to name a few:
Obviously I’m thankful for my family. I am lucky to have two parents, five siblings, five niblings (it’s a word, look it up), several aunts and uncles, and countless cousins. I am not extremely close to the major of my family, but I am close to a number of them. I consider my family the most dysfunctional one out there, but I mean who doesn’t? I still can’t help but love us for what we are, anyway. On both sides of my family, the matriarchs are the ones with power. I never met my paternal grandfather, and my mom’s dad isn’t as social as he used to be when we were little, so I’ve looked up to my parents’ moms my entire life.
When Nanny, my mom’s mom, passed away, her side of the family slowly but surely broke apart. It was bound to happen: Nan was what kept us all together. I wished that never happened, because some of my favorite times were when the huge Byrne Clan came out to play, but it is what it is. In the end, we’re still family, and at least to me, that means something. I wouldn’t give it up for the world, no matter how petty or childish anyone acts up. My dad’s side is pretty spread out across the east coast and Germany; so for the most part, I’m thankful for the small unit I have. I am probably most grateful for my small circle of cousins that get together every once in a while; it’s all I really need to remind me that I’m not alone in this.
Okay, so let me start by saying I am not the most open person. (Both of my parents can vouch for this.) I definitely come off very cold and guarded. I’m not a terrible person—I swear—I just don’t like to let people know certain information about me unless I feel like I can trust them. Trust is a very fragile thing for me, so I’ve learned to make people earn it. This doesn’t mean I’m completely friendless; I am just very selective. Most of my siblings will be open and talk to just about anyone, and I just can’t be that way. I babble, so I try to keep from being that way until someone gets to know me. Which, to me at least, many people have.
I have some of the best people as close friends. People that have broke down that barrier, have seen me cry, and have heard my most inner thoughts. I laugh more than most people do, and I apologize for that awkward sound that comes out of my mouth but is apparently so contagious. I am so grateful for the wonderful people in my life who have stood by me, fought with me, and experienced life with me, no matter how long. I’ve had friends who were short lived, or ones I’ve lost just from losing touch—and I still check up on them, just to make sure they are doing well. I care very deeply about those that I let in, and I’m so happy to have found those people. They make me laugh and push me out of my comfort zone and make me want to be a better person.
As weird as it sounds, I am totally thankful for my hair. It took me a really, really long time to accept the mop I was born with, and it wasn’t until these last few years that I could say I love my stupid curls. I guess I never really appreciated them until I bleached my hair, ruined it, and cried about it for what felt like forever. I waited less than two whole days before dyed it again—to the closest color that I could to my natural color.
Slowly but surely, my hair started to grow, and go back to being curly. I started to take really good care of it; I started to really love and appreciate my hair. When I come across pictures from my childhood, it is nuts to see the different stages it went through. It has gone through a lot in a short twenty-one years. I still don’t know what color it really is (my mom calls it strawberry blonde), but it is the one thing that I think sets me apart from everyone that I know—I still have yet to meet someone that has the same hair color as me—and I like that. Don’t get me wrong, I have more bad hair days than good ones, but when I have a good hair day, I smile a little brighter than usual.
I mean, who wouldn’t be thankful for their four-legged family members? My eight-year-old Labrador Retriever, Lady, quickly won all of our hearts when we first adopted her, a little over four years ago. She is literally the sweetest animal I’ve ever known, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my dog! She really only ever wants to be fed, let out, or pet. That’s it. She loves the attention she gets—especially from my dad—and eagerly welcomes it. She’s also a frequent napper; when she’s not being loved on, she’s sleeping somewhere. I seriously don’t know what I’ll do when she’s no longer around.
As for the other family dog, Luna is part German Shepherd, part wild beast, and completely out of her mind. She’s only a little over five months old, and we’ve had her since she was five weeks old. Her puppy mentality still takes me by shock when she jumps up on my bed and runs in circles like a maniac. She has so much energy, and by the time I get home, I have close to none left. I feel so bad for her that none of us really run around with her all the time like she needs, but we do give her plenty of attention and loving, just like with my little ol’ Lady Jane. I’ve just about always had dogs around me my whole life, so I couldn’t imagine life without one. I may be most thankful for being a dog person, they just make me such a happier person.
Okay, so this topic is super duper vague, but I can’t help it. Music has always been a huge part of my life, as it is to possibly everyone ever. It’s what keeps me moving, keeps me level, makes me feel every emotion. I am particularly grateful for artists Ed Sheeran, Adele, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Sara Bareilles. Those guys have made me feel more in their music alone than actual humans in real life have. All five artists write their own music, put their whole life out there for people to hear it and relate to it and love it and feel something (if not everything), and I can’t help but admire that. That’s what I’ve always wanted my writing to do, and they are such inspirations for me.
Albums like 25, +, and The Blessed Unrest have crept their way into my heart and somehow managed to break it and fix it over and over again. Songs like Gypsy and The Last Time make me think and rethink about life and what I want to do with mine and what can I do to help others. The impact music has on me has always been so profound that I don’t even understand it sometimes, and I could go on and on about those artists—and music in general—but I’m afraid I have to move on to the next point.
There are so many movies out there, more than enough that you could watch four different ones a day for your entire life, and you wouldn’t have even touched half of them. I am not going to lie, as much as I love to watch all kinds of movies, I always find myself coming back to specific ones: the ones that make me laugh until I can barely breathe, cry until I can’t see the screen in front of me, the ones that make me really think about life. Netflix really comes in clutch for any of those kinds of movies. I particularly always loved Disney movies. There is just something so beautiful about them; they bring back the nostalgia of childhood and innocence, and come on, the songs are stuck in my head for weeks after that! I might have even watched Anastasia, Big Daddy, and Dirty Dancing enough times to quote the entire films.
Rom-coms are my absolute favorite. I don’t care about how super predictable they are, or the cheesy things the characters say that you can’t help but yell at the TV, “No one ever actually says that!” or “Stop being so dramatic!” My eyes are still glued; no matter how many times a guy stops the girl at the airport, after realizing she was the one all along, I will still watch as if I didn’t see it coming. No matter how many times the shy heroine gets pushed by her funny best friend into her crush, I can’t look away. The pure entertainment brings joy to my life, and I’m a stupid romantic. And since real life isn’t that way, the only way that I can get my dosage of these ridiculous ideals of love is through film, TV, books, and musicals.
My love for books didn’t really start until seventh grade, when my mom got me Shadow Kiss from the Vampire Academy series for Christmas. I was so confused while reading it, but I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in two days, and then I found out that it was a third installment, so I purchased the first two. I finished the two in less than a week, and I was hooked on reading. Just like movies, books allowed me to enter thousands of different worlds, and I loved every second of it. I learned new things with every turn of a page, and characters left an impact on me as well as the main character of the stories. I’ve read hundreds of books, and each one has left a mark on me. I never cared for reading until that one book, and after that, I was pretty sure that’s all it would take for anyone to fall in love with words. Maybe not as much as me, but love it regardless.
Similarly to books and movies, musicals have done a lot for me. Not only have they entertained me for years, but they have also created a huge impact on my life. Granted, no one breaks out in song when emotions run high, but I sure as hell wish they did. Life would be better that way. Some of the shows that took over my life at one point or another are Wicked, Waitress, Hamilton, Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Cats, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. They’re composed of the two things that make up a huge part of me—story and song—and I guess that’s why I love them so much. I have learned a lot from all of these shows, and they keep my head spinning with new thoughts and theories, and I love that.
I have bonded with a lot of amazing people over my love of the theatre, even though basically all of them can sing, dance, and/or act. Some of those people became my closest of friends…even if they always bring drama to the table. (They just can’t help it! Those darn drama kids.) I may not have any actual musical talent, but let me just tell you, a show goes down every once in a while in my bedroom, hairbrush in hand, ready to bust out a ballad. I swear, I’d kill it on Lip Sync Battle.
The Roof Over My Head
This is a thing most people take for granted. I’ve never really thought of the place I live in as a home, even though I do hold many ties with where I am. I live in my grandmother’s house of more than fifty years, so everywhere I turn is another picture of family members I’ve never met, or me and my siblings growing up. I sat in the same spot where my grandfather used to in the kitchen, played in the same backyard my father did when he was a child. I love that there is so much history in that little yellow house, that I have this piece of my family that I’ve never known, and my grandfather that I never got to meet. I am so grateful for having a house to live in, with people that love me, in a town that raised me.
The Bed I Get to Sleep In
Another thing most people take for granted is where they get to sleep at night. I will never be one of those people, but really only because I love sleep maybe a little too much. I also love knowing that I have somewhere to crash after an adventurous day or busy day at work, and that gives me some piece of mind. It is the place I let the dogs lay in with me, even though I know I’m not supposed to, and it’s where I basically do all of my reading, writing, and binging of Netflix, so my bed is pretty essential. I can’t help but appreciate it.