Happy Hump Day everyone!
With the holidays inching closer and closer (and faster and faster! Why does the holiday season always feel like it's 2 days long?!), I decided that an appropriate topic for today would be Thanksgiving. I honestly don't even know where to begin. I am so overwhelmed with humbleness, thankfulness and appreciation this holiday season, it's unbelievable. For those of you who don't know, in October, my family and I had a scare. My father was unexpectedly admitted into the hospital at the beginning of the month. He originally went to the doctor after being hospitalized multiple times in Punta Cana DAYS prior...it was a good thing, otherwise, we would've certainly lost him. It difficult for me to grasp that he almost left us. It drives me crazy knowing that he saw the light...God had him for a second and my Dad walked the other way. He's alive. He's recovering. His story is truly 100% amazing...he's a miracle!
With a life threatening event like this happening so close to Christmas (ironically, my Dad's birthday is on December 25! What a lucky Christmas baby!!!), it's hit me pretty hard on how lucky I am (and how lucky my family is too!). It's been really wonderful being able to acknowledge all of the amazing things that have happened this year and it's also amazing that I have evolved in such a way that I can empathize with other human beings on this planet. This year, Donald Trump was elected our President. Am I mad? No! Acceptance of things we cannot change is key in life. I am thankful for this knowledge. This year, the U.S. Government has chosen to get involved with Native American land and environmental issues. My fellow human beings are being shot at. They're peacefully protesting and they're dying. Getting their arms blown off. Having limbs amputated, all because they're standing up for what they believe in. This year, those people won't have a normal Thanksgiving. Our brothers and sisters are doing without this year at Standing Rock...yet millions of human beings throughout the US and elsewhere are selfishly thinking about themselves. Thinking about Christmas gifts. Thinking of material objects that will never quite fulfill their hearts. Thinking about killing people. Thinking about violence and terror. Thinking about anything but THANKSgiving...
I am going to share images...and with those images, I'm going to share why it coincides with my Thankfulness.
I don't normally put myself on blast like this, but I'm going to today. How else are we to relate to one another? How else do we develop empathy and sympathy for other human beings, unless we share our heart-to-heart stories? These stories bond us together as a community, and well, I don't think it could hurt! Community over competition is something I've also been working on this year. It's the best way to be!
I can't even lie, 2016 has been incredibly difficult for me. I started going to counseling in January and finished (proudly!) in 9 sessions. I've probably caught up on all the tears I've never cried throughout my life. I've felt more feelings in the past 10 months than I have in my whole existence. 2016, although it's been more difficult than anything, has shown me that I CAN change. I CAN be what I want to be. I CAN. I listened to my counselor. I WANTED to learn. I WANTED to get better. I WANT to strive to be the best Whitney that I can be. I am thankful for my willingness to reach out for help. I am thankful that I realize that as a sign of strength, rather than weakness.
What are YOU thankful for this year?
Thankful that this woman gave me this awesome life to live and thankful that she gave me a little brother too!
Jason, my Fiance!
Thankful I met this guy 4 years ago on my brother's (and his dog, Porter's) birthday! Thankful he never makes me feel alone. Love you, babe!
My baby brother...
Thankful he's in my life. He works too damn hard and is hardly around, but I'm proud of him. He's a Dad now and a good one at that! Love you, TJB!
Jean has been my second mother since I was about 3 years old. Her son, Nate, and I used to sell kool-aid together as kids. We were inseperable. She's been nothing but supportive of myself and my family. I truly couldn't have asked for a better second family!
Aunt D, Aunt T (Woosie), Kerri!
A shout out to my Dad's side of the family for being SO helpful (especially during the last few months...things have been tough, but they've made it EASY). Aunt D was there for my Dad's open heart, Aunt T helped me gather important items for my Dad's homecoming and my cousin Kerri has been there every step of the way, while her Dad (Uncle Dave) was going through throat cancer removal. SO THANKFUL FOR YOU ALL.
Dan & Todd
These two have been a part of my life for a VERY long time. Todd is like my brother and I'm thankful for him immensely. Dan always has a tendency to put a smile on my face. Thankful they will always be there for me!
Lesley & CJ
These two. Gosh. Love these two and am SO thankful they're in my life. I met Les at Starbucks almost 5 years ago and we've been inseparable ever since. They both have always been so good to me. I love you guys!
I am thankful that Jason's mother gave Jason life. I really don't know where I'd be without him, so I'm definitely thankful for her. Love you, Ma!
Grace | Ryan | Photography
This year has been a lot of networking work. In the middle of the summer, Grace (her and I went to MIDDLE school together) linked up and I shot her wedding in Canton, OH. I ended up meeting a great friend of hers who lived in Columbus and we ended up collaborating in the art world! Thankful for Grace, as we still keep in contact and have strengthened our relationship!
I AM SO SO SO SO THANKFUL for my ability and drive to ride a MOTORCYCLE. It's literally the most amazing feeling (other than skydiving, of course!)...I can't describe it! Thankful that Jason purchased Lucy and was persistent on me learning how to ride!!!
This year, I finally grew the balls to quit my job at Starbucks. I took the plunge and started my own business. Although I disliked my JOB at Starbucks, I met some really really amazing people through that job and I will be forever thankful for my relationships that I've built with those people. Thankful for my opportunity there. I'd also like to point out that everything happens for a reason- in January, I had skin cancer removed off of my face. It was a pricey procedure and I am so glad that I had such great insurance at the time. Thankful for my experience. Even the Cancer.
On top of the world!
The year of 2016 has been ups and downs for sure. This image is from my last day at Starbucks. I got to climb to the top of the Key Bank building in downtown Columbus and get to see the whole city. This photo reminds me that each new adventure needs to be viewed from above. The whole picture is more beautiful than the tiny picture!
Modeling...I do it on the side!
This summer, Sam and I (pictured above) got to travel to see our very talented photographer friend Kevin and his wife Lindsy. Sam and I model for Kevin and try to make it to see him at least once a year. Thankful for my ability to travel and thankful for my confidence in being photographed!
Jason upgraded my ring this year. Enough said! Thankful for this beaut!
I live in a city in which the sunsets are SO rad. There's enough water around the city that you can catch a great sunset from pretty much wherever you are. I am thankful to have landed in Columbus and have come to appreciate it so much!
The Litas is a group of ladies who share a passion for riding motorcycles. I joined this group around April of this year and am so glad I did! I've met some really amazing ladies and have gone on some rad adventures. Hoping to have my big motorcycle by spring so we can do "Babes Ride Out"!!!!
Butts and Trucks
Finally got to make a dream come true this year due to a lot of courageous and awesome women! (and Jason and Gina, great friends of ours who donated the use of their old vintage truck!) I've had this dream since I graduated college and it's come alive!!!!!!
FINALLY got to conquer another dream of mine...jumping out of a perfectly great airplane. I will never be able to explain this feeling to anyone...other than for those of you who've seen the Grand Canyon! Multiply that adrenaline and disbelief times 150. AMAZING. I'll do it once each year. It's THAT good!
Thankful for this lady right here. She's an awesome friend, officiant, mom, wife and yoga babe. She's been there for me. She's been real. She's passed my name around like hot cakes. So lucky to have popped up on your door years ago! Love you lady, I am thankful for you!
I met Dante through Grace (above) summer of 2016. He is an incredibly talented DJ and he's a great friend. He's reliable and educated. He and I organized an artist event in October, so we spent a lot of time together organizing and getting to know one another. Lucky to have someone so great in my life!
This image is specifically from a road trip that we took a few months back for a Steelers game. Jason hates driving, but drove for me. He also dedicated one whole day on vacation to do what I wanted...so we went to the beach and had some cocktails. This image is from the morning that he declared "mine"....we were just waking up, still in bed and laughing about something. I rolled over and grabbed my phone to take this! Love you, JAM!
I am so thankful to live in a place in which I can experience all types of weather! (Except hurricanes and earthquakes....those can stay away...) Of course, I'd prefer to live somewhere warm where I can ride all of the time, but I still like my seasons. Ohio makes me happy!
This image was taken literally 3 days before his heart attack (which thankfully happened while he was in the hospital and under intensive care...) This guy was having heart attacks in Punta Cana and none of them killed him...TEAM DAD. So proud of him...and SO SO SO SO THANKFUL he's here!!!!!
Nick and Josh are like brothers to me and were there every step of the way while my Dad was in the hospital. I can't even start to thank them enough for everything they did for me and my family. They would drop everything at the drop of a hat for me and I am so appreicative of them. They've been so good to me. Always.
I found my wedding dress...
...the day my Dad had another heart attack after his bypass surgery. This isn't THE dress, but it's a photo from the day that my Mom and I were out and about shopping. That day was an emotional whirlwind. One minute I'm extremely happy because of my find...the next? "Who gives a shit about this damn dress, my Dad NEEDS us." We definitely were speeding. The poor people at the Bridal place were probably like "What in the hell?!"...we just left. Thankful I felt these emotions. Thankful for the dress. Thankful for my Dad being alive and able to see me in it!
Izzy was my brother and I's first responsibility. She hated both of us. It's probably because we tortured her. Izzy passed away while my Dad was in the hospital. She was 18 years old, grumpy and never liked her back touched. She was a frail old lady. Thankful for her in my life. Thankful for the memories!
Brit | Bristol | Marlin | Finny
LOOK AT THESE HAMS. I tell ya, I'm thankful for these 4. They put a smile on my face every time I see them! Thankful for my beautiful little niece and her happy little attitude! Thankful Marlin is protective of her and thankful that my guy, Finny is protective of all of you as a bunch! <3
Nathan Paul Hershberger.
This guy has been in my life since I was a baby. There are no words to express my thankfulness for him...so I'll just leave it at that. I love you, NPH. Thank you for always being my friend!
Dad's going home!
Thankful that my Dad got to come home. Thankful for his doctors. Thankful for his nurses. Thankful for his Karma. Thankful to know how Karma works. I'm so proud of you, Dad!!!!!!!!!
Even when we have bad days, the sun still shines. Thankful.
Last month, I was sitting in my house and I heard a loud THUD. Ran outside and immediately saw two humans sprinting (like they were up to no good...) and then a car SLAMMED into the mortar of our house. Two kids stole a car and ran it into our house. They missed our gas line by 3 feet and our back yard fence by a foot and a half. Thankful that it wasn't worse than what it was!
I don't know where I got this gift, but I feel damn lucky for it! I love my job and I feel like I'm decent at it. I am so thankful and lucky to be doing what I love and making money doing it!
Tattoos | Cigarettes
November 10, 2015 I quit smoking cigarettes. Instead of spending money on nicotine, I decided I was going to spend that money on tattoos. It's a good thing I haven't spend the whole $1,900 on tattoos. I feel like I'd have a sleeve by now! I've been adding to my leg (WHICH IS GORGEOUS BY THE WAY) and I made the plunge in 2016 to tattoo my arm. I have a bonsai tree on my bicep and then this tattoo right below my elbow crease. I'm not saying I'm going to expand anywhere else on that arm, but I was exhausted with placing tattoos where everyone else wanted them. I love them and their placement! AND i love being nicotine-free!!!!! Thankful!!!!
Oh little Miss Remi, I miss you dearly. Thankful that I got to be a part of her life...this past year, my brother's dog, Remi, got shot right through her lungs. One of my brother's neighbors obviously didn't want her around anymore, so he certainly aimed to kill. They tried to fix her, but it was going to be $5,000 and there was a very small chance of her living. My brother made the executive decision to put his best friend to sleep...No one should ever have to do that when their dog is less than 2 years old. I'm thankful that I got to spend time with her and love her as my own. I'm thankful Tyler got to love her. I'm thankful she got to meet Bristol.
Thankful for my ability to exercise. It's a lot easier now that I'm a non-smoker!
Leaves and Bikes!
Thankful for my limbs that allow me to be one with the road.
Through good and bad, he's always got a smile on his face. I love this guy so much and am SO thankful for him!!!! My best friend <3
Brent and Ashley
Jason's brother Brent and his girlfriend, Ashley! Thankful that they're here....thankful to be learning from family and thankful that we're all healthy and happy!
Thankful for this little lady being in our lives, along with her Momma! Cara and Kennedy are an important part of our lives...Thankful for them!
Whenever I feel like being an idiot, I know I can do it in front of her! So thankful for Sam. She's been in my life 6 years now and I don't think she's going anywhere. Thanks for always being a great friend, Sam!
The little things...
Sometimes the little things in life are more beautiful than the big picture. I'm thankful that I can now pay attention to the small things in life and appreciate them!
Also thankful for Miss Katie. When I'm being an idiot, she grounds me. When she's being an idiot, I ground her. She's been there for me through my therapy and for the past 6 years as well! I appreciate you, woman!
Growth | BFF Tattoos
Counseling has made me grow a TON. I decided to display that through a bonsai tattoo on my arm. Sam got a cactus (she's from Texas..it makes sense!). We couldn't wait to share our matching plant tattoos! Thankful for growth, for my tattoo artist (Natalie) and for Sam's giggles through her tattoo too!
My brother from another mother...Just kidding. We're cousins.
Josh and I have been closer our entire lives. I spent many many many summers with him and his brothers at Vacation Bible School.
One thing that I will always remember and have engraved in my brain is this moment I'm about to explain right now....(I have to preface this with the fact that Josh is a super huge smart-ass and sarcastic as hell. I love this about him.)
While my Dad was in open-heart surgery, we were sitting in the waiting room. I was exhausted. I didn't sleep much the night before (maybe an hour...) and I think he could see it in my face. At one point, he scooted a little bit closer to me and grabbed my hand. He held it there for a long while. He looked at me and said "I love you, cuz."
If there is anything I'll ever remember about this guy, it's the fact that although he's got a tough exterior, he's got a heart of gold. He'd do anything for the people he loves and I am so lucky to be able to call him family. I love you, JTB!