Wanderlust Wendy

Season of Gratitude

Yet another Turkey Day abroad! Unlike previous years, this is the first time that I didn’t get the day off. It’s strange to have to work right through the holiday, and went about the day as any other. Fortunately, since I do work for an American company with a good number of expats, the office unofficially organized a Thanksgiving meal at an “new American” restaurant, Madison, last night.

The menu was pretty legit, and even though it wasn’t home cooked, and portions were small (it was all-you-can eat, but the waiters brought out the food at a painstakingly slow speed – so very UNAmerican), it was nevertheless delicious. I didn’t want to be THAT person who took a photo of every course, but the sweet potato dish not only looked good, but was amazing! Compare to last year, where I didn’t know anyone, and the only thing American I had was a Carl’s Jr. burger, this was a huge step up.

Thanksgiving isn’t just about food, as what my tutor kid may have thought. I asked her tonight if she knows about Thanksgiving, and she said – yes, it’s when people get together and eat a lot of food. I took the opportunity to teach her about gratitude, and we wrote a list of things she is thankful for. I should practice what I preach, so here it is, top 5 things that I am most grateful for at this moment in time:

  • Family (especially mom) – My mom and I skyped earlier. Holidays are the hardest for the nomad amongst us. I am so immensely thankful for a family who puts up with my globetrotting lifestyle. My mom would send me a care package every month if I let her (she was famous for her care packages during my Peace Corps days).
  • Friends who are like family – I am so, so lucky to have really, really good friends in this world, literally. Friends who fly across oceans to see me, or put up with my ever-changing time zones and scheduling Skype dates via iCals. Friends who write novel-length emails, or send post cards just because. Sometimes I just don’t know how I got so lucky, especially given how much I move around. I simply count my blessings.
  • Internet (Facetime, Skype, Gchat, Email, Blog, etc.) – I am not sure if this comes up on people’s list of things to be thankful for, since we seem to take this technological advancement for granted these days. But, without the Internet and everything else that came with it, I don’t think my mom would be as sane as she is today given me and my sister’s appetite to live in foreign lands, nor would my friends and I manage to keep in such close contacts across time zones.
  • Pinterest – This is an extension of the last one, but I am so grateful for whomever came up with this idea. Even living in a place like China, I managed to make pumkin chocolate cookies. The last batch is in the oven as we speak. I never thought I would go to the distance to make pumkin puree from scratch, but I suppose when you are homesick enough, you would do anything to satisfy a yearning. Pinterest makes various random ideas much easier to manage. On Saturday, I have another Thanksgiving gathering to attend, and I think I will attempt at crockpot mac n’ chesse. Cheese is a highly sought after commodity around here, so I hope it turns out and would please the crowd!
  • Yoga – Ever since the summer of 2012, when I discovered Yoga to the People in New York, I’ve taken my yoga practice to a whole new level. I continued my practice after moving to Shanghai, but my studio was mediocre at best. A few weeks ago, I joined a new studio, Red Door Yoga, and it’s been incredible. Red Door is a studio focused mostly on Ashtanga yoga, and it’s a series of set movements and poses. It’s fast-moving, so it’s a good workout, but it’s also a form of meditation because I always know exactly which pose to get to next, and thus I don’t really need to think about anything. It forces me to focus as I hold various poses and subsequently provides the same result as meditation. I feel I’ve truly grasped the meaning of mind, body, spirit with this practice. I’ve never felt better!

I can go on, and on, and on about all the things that I am grateful for, but I am committed to reflecting these things on a regular basis, and not just once a year on Thanksgiving. I believe in karma, and what you give out to the world will come back to you. With such belief, gratitude is a must.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and I hope this is not only the season of gratitude for you, but the year, and a lifetime of gratitude.

I will end with an incredible conversation with my 7-year-old tutor girl tonight:

Me: So, it’s Thanksgiving day, what are you thankful for?
Kid: Money
Me: Where does money come from?
Kid: Chairman Mao

She was dead serious. The interpretation of this conversation is another post for another day. For now, let’s eat.