I Am Thankful For This Busy Life Of Mine

I Am Thankful For This Busy Life Of Mine

Thanksgiving Series: Part One
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Welcome to the first of four articles making up my mini-series on thankfulness. Now, I could try to convince you that skipping from Halloween to Christmas and completely overlooking the Thanksgiving season is awful, but I would be lying if I wasn't tempted to do so myself! I will just share the things in my life that I am thankful for! Beginning with this busy life of mine.

I am thankful for the days that all blur together when people ask what happened two weeks ago. I am thankful for restless nights because they were used to study. I am thankful for coffee dates with friends and impromptu conversations with strangers. I am thankful for days where every hour is planned out with church stuff, school events, and family functions.

This opportunity that college gives is so immense. I have the chance to not only study what I want to do for the rest of my life, but also have real-life experience in it. On top of that, I have met some incredible people - fellow students, mentors, professors - who have truly impacted my life.

I am thankful for those opportunities. I am thankful for all the rewards I am already recognizing as a result of my hard work. I am thankful that I get to be in such a beautiful place like Oregon. I am thankful for the time spent commuting so I can see all the beautiful leaves change color.

Too often we can get so caught up in our schedules that we miss out on the point. Instead of enjoying the things we are doing, we are overwhelmed by what the future holds. It is as if our lives are so busy that we have no time to actually live.

So instead of stressing about all that has to get done in two days, three weeks, or four months, I am going to try to enjoy each moment because these moments are what make up my life. When I look back at these years I will be able to remember the ups and downs; the fears and triumphs; the laughter and tears. And hopefully, I will not want to trade any of them for the world!

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What are you thankful for? Let me know in the comments below. Also, make sure to check out the next article in this Thanksgiving mini-series!

Cover Image Credit: Alexis Brown

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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To The High School Senior Nearing The End Of This Chapter, Feel Free To Look Back

Trust me, you're going to want to.

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Right now you can't wait to leave. You can't wait for that fresh start, new friends, independence… the list is never-ending. But coming from someone two years removed from high school, please take it all in. Take in those last goofy times in class. All those fun car rides in the middle of the night with your friends where you laugh so hard you cry. Spending all day long with the friends you've known your whole life… remember how it feels in your heart. Enjoy graduation and take lots of pictures. Remember to always remain in the moment during all of these events. Don't let anything ruin it for you. That carefree feeling you have right now and will continue to have this summer will pass whether you believe it or not. Adulthood crawls in quicker than you think…

You will be left with the memories of what was, never to see or speak to so many people you once genuinely had so much fun with. High school is such a unique experience and I believe many of us take it granted because it is a necessity. We look at it as a chore because of mundane things like it being boring and having to wake up so early. In the moment we fail to see how fun it actually was. It is often only afterward that we realize just what we really had in those 4 years. Admittedly, I never thought I missed much of anything about high school, and I especially never thought I would. But here I am, two years later and I'm just realizing how easy I had it. High school was hard, but when I say the real world is harder, please take my words to heart. I am a firm believer that high school, in general, is a massive bubble.

Not to say that the bubble is bad. But the bubble will break, and it's more jarring to some than others. So don't let it impact you in a negative way, be prepared for its impact and conquer it! My point is, know that high school is not supposed to be the best four years of your life, but it is a time of your life where most people have the least worries, and that is something you can't get back. Worries and stress are subjective, so of course, we all thought our lives were over multiple times in high school, but we shortly realized that was not the case.

Your last teenage years should be taken in stride. Don't wish them away for older age, enjoy them. You'll never get them back, so you might as well stay in the moment.

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