Why I Give Thanks Every Day



Yesterday, for Thanksgiving, many of my friends posted notes of gratitude on social media. If you were with your family, you might have shared what you were all thankful for this year.

That was the first thing I did when I woke up, and it’s something I’ve been doing pretty much everyday for almost three years now as part of my bucket list goals.

I wanted to make gratitude a daily practice because I have a tendency to be a bit pessimistic. At least, that’s what my friends call me because I’m rarely over the moon jumping with joy at every new development.

I prefer to call myself a realist. I have a solid understanding of the fact that things might not work out and I definitely don’t believe the universe is just waiting to reward you for thinking positively.

However, I can’t deny that I’ve seen the power of being thankful in my own life. Over the last couple years, I’ve chosen to express my gratitude daily by praying. Every morning (or before bed if I forget), I thank God for waking me up, giving me strength and allowing me to see a new day. This is the minimum: a sort of stock list to which I add things like family, my apartment, my job, etc. Sometimes, I get really specific which is when the magic happens.

Once you switch your mindset to recognizing all the things you do have, instead of what you wish you did, it’s much harder to complain. Things like health insurance, being able to eat well or the ability to pay my rent on time every month without issue – which I take for granted – are luxuries for other people. And acknowledging that has been powerful for me.

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Most days I feel lucky. I know how many people don’t wake up everyday. Just thinking about my dad, who passed away from ALS just over a year ago, and how he suffered in those last few months makes me realize that my life is pretty fucking comfy. I don’t know what it’s like to be wheelchair-bound or to be too weak to move around or dependent on someone else.

It’s easy to feel angry and like life is unfair when you lose a loved one. But thinking about all the things I still had, including my own life, made it a little bit easier to deal with. I realized I wasn’t the first person to go through this situation, and that some people didn’t have either parent.

I’ve never truly gotten over my dad’s passing, but choosing to value and appreciate the time I had with him, instead of fixating on his absence and feeling like a victim has made all the difference.

None of this is to say you’ll never have bad days. A couple weeks ago, I sat on the floor and cried because of how much I missed my dad. There are days when I am whinier than a baby and I rant to anyone who will listen about how much this thing or the other sucks. There are days when it feels like a black cloud has set up residence in the airspace above me. Sometimes, I even worry that I’m prone to depression.

But I’ve seen a strong correlation between those black moods and forgetting to give thanks for a couple of days. Being thankful is what keeps me grounded. It’s much harder to be depressed when you realized how blessed you are. And the thing that always saves me is stepping back and taking stock of what I am grateful for – it’s realizing that nothing is ever truly that bad.

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter who you thank – God, the Universe, your fairy godmother. Just the act of pausing and appreciating makes a huge difference.

Today, I’m thankful for the opportunity to have another day to have an impact on the world; for my family; for the fact that I am able to travel and pursue my passions; for my health; for my home; and for my freedom. None of it is perfect – my apartment is ridiculously tiny and sometimes this country feels so terrifyingly hostile – but it’s something.

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Travel Photos: Washington, D.C.

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Thanks to everyone who chimed in last month with suggestions on my travel dilemma! I ended up choosing Washington, D.C to spend a long weekend with my Mom, and I’m finally getting the chance now to share a few photos.

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Friday Photo Inspiration (vol. 5)

Sometimes I insist that I’m not a people person because to be honest, other people can be pretty annoying. But deep down, I’ve always been fascinated by other people’s lives.

It’s one of the reasons I love traveling and why I’m usually drawn to stories from other cultures. While it’s always interesting to discover the ways in which we can be different – like the food we eat or the way we view marriage, for example – the real pleasure is discovering similarities, the things that make us all human no matter where we come from.

This week’s inspiration is all about people and the ways in which they can be beautiful, or vulnerable, or alike or sometimes, completely different from everything we know.

Photo: Jack Garofalo/Paris Match via Getty Images

I love the the colors, and not to mention the sick afros, in this photo of two Harlem women taken in 1970. It was part of a photo series by Jack Garofalo for Paris Match magazine on the neighborhood after residents searching for a better quality of life moved out in droves – you can see the full set in this retrospective on Mashable.

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All About Cherry Blossoms


You can live in NYC for years and never come across even a half of the gems the city has to offer. Thanks to a tip from a friend (hi Ashley!), I spent last weekend basking in a sea of pink and exploring one of those gems: Randall’s Island Park, which hosted a cherry blossom festival on Saturday.

I’ve been blabbing about cherry blossoms for over a month now and was glad to have a chance to catch them before the season ended, since I missed the ones in D.C. and the festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

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A Few Good Reads {April 2015}

Welcome to May and the promise of warmer weather! I’ll be spending the next two days indulging in blossoms, sun and good company to recalibrate after a difficult week. Here’s some weekend reading for the quiet moments.

Palm trees

Photo: via FleurDeMode

– When you live in a city, you generally accept that you’re sacrificing ready access to nature in its truest form. Thankfully, in Manhattan, there are parks every few blocks to make things a little less depressing. But the truth is: trees and all their benefits (cleaner air, serenity, etc) are a luxury, that like income, is unequally distributed. See for yourself.

– Is there such a thing as too much reading? As an avid reader — of books, articles and words in all their forms — I sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of material there is to consume. I had to make space for this article, though, that examines how we process and retain information when we are reading thousands and thousands of words a day.

– I couldn’t help but share and discuss poet Saeed Jones’ powerful essay on being a writer of color with all my close creative friends. It’s worth a read for everyone, regardless of what you look like.

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Travel Dilemma: Chicago vs. D.C?

I’m planning a little getaway soon and am trying to decide between D.C. and Chicago. I’ve never been to either place, but both sound like they have just enough to see on a quiet long weekend. So I’ve been trying to cure my indecisiveness by trolling Instagram all evening for photos of the two cities:

If I make it to D.C., I’ll have missed the cherry blossoms, which peaked this weekend. But paddle-boating across the Tidal Pond sounds like a good consolation prize..

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A Few Good Reads {March 2015}

I took a break from regularly scheduled photo inspiration this weekend to share some recommended reading from around the Internet this month. Enjoy the links below when you have a moment of quiet this weekend!

Brother Orange

Photo: Qingqing Chen / BuzzFeed

– Have you heard about Brother Orange? It’s one of the craziest, most random stories I’ve come across in a while. Basically, a guy loses his cell phone and manages to track it all the way to China, where he gets swept up into a life-changing adventure and bromance. Go check it out at Buzzfeed!

– WNYC did a great multimedia feature on “Being 12.” Their adorable Tumblr round-up took me right back to my 12-year-old days, complete with the ambitions, angst and awkwardness.

– Here’s what America looked like 50 years ago (via The Atlantic). A couple of the images look like they could have been taken today.

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Talking Whiskey with Kings County Distillery


Whiskey has been having a moment lately. From recent reports of record sales to the proliferation of whiskey-themed bars across the country, it seems like people just can’t get enough.

When I first noticed that some of my friends, including quite a few women, were huge fans of the spirit, I kind of rolled my eyes and wondered if this was the newest fad, like pumpkin spice lattes or avocado on everything.

I just didn’t get what the fuss was about. For years, I thought of whiskey as an old man’s drink. I could tolerate shots of vodka or tequila or rum, but whiskey was the one thing I couldn’t stomach. To me, the taste was like a cross between furniture polish and burnt rubber, and I hated how it overwhelmed any cocktail.

But if everyone was so crazy about whiskey, I figured I had to be missing something. So I decided to find out more about the spirit, and what better way to do that than to stop by Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn for a tour of the facility and tasting of their products? The distillery, which specializes in bourbon, moonshine and a special chocolate whiskey blend, was founded five years ago by Colin Spoelman and David Haskell. And while it wasn’t quite in my backyard, the short train ride to Dumbo was perfect for a weekend excursion.

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Friday Photo Inspiration (vol. 4)

This week’s photo inspiration is inspired by the natural world, and the ways we find our place in it. Hope you enjoy!

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Photo: Emma Y. Young

Though it’s a seemingly simple vignette without much action, this photograph kept pulling me back in – partly because of the abundance of the trees, which seem to envelop the man, and also because of the anonymity. The banana leaves, the worker’s tanned skin, and the slow pace suggested by the photo remind me of being back home in Jamaica, but truly, this could be a scene from any number of places. And that mystery intrigues me.

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Life on Instagram Isn’t Always Real

Photo: @satiregram

As a blogger and someone who reads a lot of style, travel and lifestyle blogs, I’m keenly aware of the way that people romanticize their online personalities.

On the most basic level, this actually makes sense. After all, no-one wants to share or see a photo of you when you’re in a depressed funk and at your worst or when you just woke up (looking nothing like Beyonce). It’s kind of like how they say ‘dress for the job you want, not the one you have.’ Why not Instagram the life you want?

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