Being thankful for the present...

Another Thanksgiving come and gone...

and so many reasons to be thankful.

Today Matt & I had the chance to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Normally we spend it with his mother and cook, stuff our faces, drink lots of wine, and pass out at her house. Unfortunately, due to the storm, our yearly plans were changed and off Matt & I went to join in my family's yearly tradition. 

Firstly, it starts with several people coming over...roughly 30 or so. But the best part is seeing my stepbrothers and their wives, my nieces, my nephew, and my parents (just to name a few). I always enjoy spending time with all of them, even though free time to include Matt is always limited. 

But being surrounded by love, laughter, joy, and all the food we could scarf down? I wouldn't trade those moments for anything in the world. Hanging out with Scott, Matt, and my father on the deck listening to "Family Guy: Live in Vegas"...normal dinner hijinx with my Uncle Mark...watching Matty's "Rock C-3PO" video he made (and Lexi and I wanting to post that on YouTube)...even hearing Karen (my sister-in-law) tell her youngest one, Maggie, to give "Uncle Matt" a kiss goodbye. 

And in these moments, I contemplated the meaning of "thankful."

I have thought about the notion of being thankful more and more recently. In the past, I thought I was thankful for the right reasons (and right people). It would take a holiday to remind me the reasons I had to be grateful for all that I had. But now, more than ever, I feel grateful every single day for my life. And that's the best way to be thankful, when you feel that feeling each day for the people in your life, for the roof over your head, food on your table, and the love and kindness surrounding you. 

Maybe it's the holiday spirit, maybe it's the Christmas mix I spent time making for my iTunes (that is now playing through my surround sound), or maybe all of the tasty wine I had with dinner...but I just can't help but want to smile and be happy that this is the turn my life took. That this is where I am, rather than where I might have been. With an extended family filled with love and kindness, a man who always wants to share his love and life with me, a blossoming career that keeps getting better with each step I take, and the greatest friends in the world.

This is truly the best life ever.

~ Jenny Rockstar


The Power of Hope

As I sit here with Matt in his mother's house (because our house is going on day 6 with no power), I can't help but feel grateful for everything in my life at this moment. There are so many people who have lost everything they own...and then some. 

While Sandy barreled through our state (and the ones neighboring us), the NJ I grew up in has forever changed. The piers at Seaside are gone, a place where I spent much time with my family, friends, current and past loves. I can't even go back to those special spots...they're scattered all up and down the coastline.

On Thursday, when Matt & I had ventured out to check on Matt's mother in Point Pleasant, we were greeted by the sight of National Guard trucks standing guard at Bayhead (and patrolling parts of Point Pleasant), people emptying their lives into garbage bags at the curb, and the feeling of hopelessness. Homes were destroyed, entire towns washed away, the geography of our "backyard" changed within a matter of hours. We even went to Point Pleasant Beach, where I saw the Tiki Bar, a source of most of our summer fun, missing the entire back half that is now strewn all along the coast. Needless to say, my heart truly broke in those moments.

We've all tried to stay strong...and yet we reach our breaking points. I've seen many break down and cry (myself included). It's a war zone, in a community that used to bring nothing but joy and fill up summers and summers worth of childhood memories. 

Yet despite all of it, I'm going to smile. I smile for the sense of community I see as we help one another. I smile for every hug I have been able to give and receive. I smile for every person I have been able to encounter. I smile for appreciating the simple things, like light, heat, a comfy bed, hot coffee. I smile knowing that I've been in touch with several of my friends and loved ones, putting them (and myself) at ease just with a simple text, tweet, FB update, phone call. I smile, because being angry, sad, and depressed just can't be anymore. We can't be hurting one another, lashing out at each other, trying to see who has it worse. We've all suffered, we're all hurting, we're all human, and we should all be grateful when we hear the positive things. Those little positives are what have helped me get through days with at least a smile or two.

I've cried (and probably will continue to), but I'm stronger. We're stronger than this. We will rebuild. We will bounce back in time. We will learn from this and return with a vengeance! Everything is replaceable. It may not be the same as we remember, but we can come close. And why? 

Because as East Coasters, we're superheroes. 

~ Jenny Rockstar