My Season of Gratitude

One year, 100+ job applications, a trip to Paris, three half marathons, over 20,000 miles in the driver’s seat, a climb up Angels Landing, two moves, 30+ novels read, dozens of trips to the shore, countless hours spent reflecting… and here I am.

You may think after such a year that surely I’ve made some sort of life-changing breakthrough, but on the contrary.

Instead, I was simply reminded of something I already knew but wasn’t putting into practice: do what makes you happy and do it every day. That’s it.

And I think that’s all I was ever supposed to learn. But now I know that will always be enough. It will be enough for me, for you, for those who love you and for anyone you meet along the way.

Not knowing what’s next can be stressful, but it can also be one of life’s greatest teachers. In the year after I quit my job (and seemingly everything I’d worked for), I learned to trust myself, I learned I can live on very little, and I learned that happiness was all my family and friends ever wanted for me anyways.

Looking Ahead

I didn’t spend as much time writing as I would have liked throughout the last year, but I’ve decided to move forward, rather than dwelling on the past for the sake of putting pen to paper. It was a stressful, sometimes dark, time, and it didn’t always bring out the best in me. And honestly, I don’t know that I’ll ever have the words for what an emotional roller coaster it was.

But one thing I have yet to feel is even a tinge of regret. And that’s how I know I made the right decision.

It may have been my most challenging season in life thus far, but it also had the most profound impact on the trajectory of my life, and for that, I’m grateful.

So for now, I’ll leave you with the quotes that got me through days when I didn’t have the words myself. I would often spend time reading them over and over again, adding to my list as I saw fit. Words hold more power than we ever seem to give them credit for, so I hope they help you through whatever season you’re in, and if not, may you pass them along to someone who may be desperate to hear them today.

Note to Self: Remember to Love These Days the Same as Any Other

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” —Claude Monet

"Be ready. Be seated. See what courage sounds like. See how brave it is to reveal yourself in this way." —Abraham Vergheu 

"Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself." —Miles Davis 

"I'm driven by the hope that I haven't made my best work yet." —Paula Scher 

"Did you think you would never reach the point toward which you were constantly heading?" —Montaigne 

"I'm done with thinking that I will 'arrive someday' and that arrival will somehow fuel my completion. I'm already here." —Hannah Brencher

"It gets loud in a world that insists on significance. Master the silence of knowing that it's something you already have." —Darling Magazine 

"I am slowly learning what it means to be human. What it means to make mistakes and learn from them. What it means to be both happy and sad at the same time. I am slowly learning how to do the damn work. How to stop running from what is heavy and uncomfortable in my life. How to take the easy route less and less. How to grow myself, how to be a better person. But most of all, I am slowly learning how to just be, in this moment. How to exist. How to understand that I cannot control life, that I can only experience it in both its light and its dark stages. I am slowly learning how to laugh and cry and feel through it all, how to welcome the confusion and the joy that comes with loving, and living, and breaking. I am slowly learning how to accept where I am. I am slowly learning how to simply believe in the person I am becoming." —Bianca Sparacino  

"Life is lived in the first twenty years and the remainder is just reflection." —Graham Greene

"In our twenties, when there is still so much time ahead of us, time that seems ample for a hundred indecisions, for a hundred visions and revisions - we draw a card, and we must decide right then and there whether to keep that card and discard the next, or discard the first card and keep the second. And before we know it, the deck has been played out and the decisions we have just made will shape our lives for decades to come." —Amor Towles 

"I do not remember how I answered the question. I remember only that in answering the question, I began to question it all." —Erin Loechner

"In a world of reinventions, it's never too late." —Sam Smith 

"You will become a graveyard of all the women you once were before you rise one morning embraced by your own skin. You will swallow a thousand names before you taste the meaning held within your own." —Pavana 

"Your ability to pivot when something is or is not working will make or break you." —Alaina Kaczmarski 

"The trick is: less comfort, more courage." —Alison Malee

"Sometimes it's hard to see the difference between change and compromise, between sacrificing something you want with something you want a little bit more." —Erin Loechner 

"I don't like the hurricanes, but I do respect the fact that the ocean does as it pleases and all we can do is get out of its way. It puts us in our place." —Erick Dent

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." —C.S. Lewis

"But the answer is not to lower the expectation we have created. The answer, I believe, is to live up to the expectation we have been created for." —Erin Loechner

"I've got the world to go." —Atticus

"Perhaps if I make myself write I shall find out what is wrong with me." —Dodie Smith

"The word detour sounds better than the word interruption, so I find myself redefining the setbacks in my life as detours, as little more than simple changes of plans." —Erin Loechner

"We're all lonely for something we don't know we're lonely for. How else to explain the curious feeling that goes around feeling like missing somebody we've never even met." —David Foster Wallace 

"We all have two lives. The second one starts when we realize we only have one." —Tom Hiddleston

“I hope you never forget to punctuate your life with appropriate pauses. For it’s the pauses in a sentence that add weight to the words that follow.”

"There is only today, with holes in our pockets and time spilling out." —Erin Loechner

"There is in you something that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself." —Howard Thurman

"I have the affliction of being most in love with the beginnings of things, when the amount of beautiful possibility that exists is just overwhelming." —IYFTE

"See the good. Be the good. Trust the wait." 

"I ache to be a deep leader who is not afraid of what sits within her." —Hannah Brencher

"We are never more than one grateful thought away from peace of heart." —David Steindl-Rast

"When it's hard and you are doubtful, give more." —Francis Chan

"It was a beautiful, momentous time this era we'd stumbled into in which we became the information we sought. We created the inspiration we so desired." —Erin Loechner

"Sometimes the scary things are beautiful as well. And the more beauty you find in them the less scary they'll become." —Atticus

"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think on these things." —Philippians 4:8

"Taking risks will never be any easier than it is right now." —Aimee Lagos

"One day I will find the right words and they will be simple." —Jock Kerouac

"Never mistake activity for achievement." —John Wooden

"But people are not oceans. You cannot know them by their surface." —Beau Taplin

"I think every individual should strive to attain wisdom, to be a philosopher, not just people who happen to have studied philosophy. That's nothing. Formal education is nothing in itself... I think that the most important thing is the desire to know and to understand, and that's something people can do for themselves outside of educational establishments." —Nadya Tolokinnikova

"To find real and lasting fulfillment, we have to ask ourselves the big question: What is really missing?" —Kathleen Breaux 

"The world's perception of you exists only in memories. Give them new ones." —Atticus

"You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discovered it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone. This is why art is important. Art world not be important if life were not important, and life is important." —James Baldwin

"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." —Nelson Mandela 

"There is not enough time in life to worry about there being enough time in life." —Atticus

"My dad always told me, 'Go out there... and whatever you do, I don't care if you're successful or not, just have an interesting life. Just be happy to put your pants on in the morning.' I believe I am doing that." —Leonardo DiCaprio 

"Sometimes we confuse difficult times with bad times." —Erin Loechner 

“Go and find what it is that inspires you. Go and find what it is that you love. And go do that until it hurts. Don’t quit and don’t give up. The reward is just around the corner. And in times of doubt or times of joy, listen for that still, small voice. Know that God has been there from the beginning and he will be there until the end.” —Chip & Joanna Gaines

"So to anyone that is still stuck in the storm, I promise you there is as beach that you will eventually wash up on. It'll happen in the blink of an eye, when you're so busy trying to keep yourself afloat, and then suddenly, you'll be in paradise." —IYFTE

"When we feel lost or uncertain or blocked from our own truth, it helps to remember that darkness and confusion, too, are part of the path." —Rolf Gates 

"I spent the next few years climbing again, peeking behind me to see how far I'd come and looking ahead to see how much longer it might take. The reality of mountain climbing is that if the stars are your goal, you'll be seeking forever." —Erin Loechner

"Art takes time - Monet grew his gardens before he painted them." —Atticus

"This contradiction, and this tension... it never goes away. And if you think that achieving something, if you think that solving something, if you think a career or a relationship will quiet that voice, it will not. If you think that happiness means total peace, you will never be happy. Peace comes from the acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace. It will always be in conflict. If you accept that, everything gets a lot better." —Joss Whedon

"We often hold the keys to our own cages." —Erin Loechner

“Nothing about my life is lucky. Nothing. A lot of grace, a lot of blessings, a lot of Devine order, but I don’t believe in luck. For me, luck is preparation meeting the moment of opportunity.” —Oprah

“It’s not about finding the place I’m meant to be rooted but what I’m learning about the world while I’m getting there.” —Caitlin Paige Brown