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Gratitude: An Ode To The Weirdest Thanksgiving Ever.

Gratitude: An Ode To The Weirdest Thanksgiving Ever.

It’s 6:07 pm and 91 degrees outside. Beads of sweat bubble up at every pore, as they’ve been doing since the moment I landed in Montezuma, Costa Rica.

My knee caps are sweating. I’m standing barefoot and braless in the grungy bathroom of a grungy hostel, attempting to wash all seven of my underwear in a tiny bucket set inside the grungy sink. I’m using the dwindling bar of lavender castile soap I’ve hauled around since I left for Indonesia more than three months ago.

There is a particular lizard who likes to watch me pee, not to be confused with the one who likes to watch me shower. This lizard is standing guard on the wall next to me, wondering what I’m up to as I slosh panties around in cold, soapy reclaimed rain water.

Once I finish this tedious chore, one I’ve completed 13 times since flying away from LAX and all things comfortable, and once the panties are hanging from every rusted metal bunk bed frame I can find, I will attempt a DIY pedicure under a single swinging lightbulb. I gathered supplies from the two-aisle farmacia in town, located a 20 minute walk away down a muddy road, as a special treat. A special Thanksgiving treat. Because I need it. Because this is the weirdest Thanksgiving ever. 

© 2015 Gail Jessen (Why am I bothering to © my underwear? Who is going to steal this photo?)

© 2015 Gail Jessen (Why am I bothering to © my underwear? Who is going to steal this photo?)

I hope a fresh pedicure will lift my spirits. © 2015 Gail Jessen

I hope a fresh pedicure will lift my spirits. © 2015 Gail Jessen

The only reason I left SE Asia, and definitely the only reason I’d be found in Montezuma, is to attend a travel writer’s workshop hosted by Christine Gilbert of Almost Famous. She was named the National Geographic Traveler of the Year in 2014 and runs a successful online empire. I’ve been looking forward to this event and to learning from her for months now. I constructed my whole Central American itinerary around it. The workshop was set to begin on Sunday. On Wednesday I received an email saying it was cancelled. Just like that.

My brother was meeting me in Costa Rica after the workshop. He also cancelled. My friend was then meeting me in Nicaragua to visit her family and travel around the country. You guessed it, also cancelled. I'm now scrambling to re-book expensive, last-minute onward travel plans and sort out my next move. It’s been a long 48 hours.

Even though I’m miserable in Montezuma and grossed out by the army of fire ants crawling all over every surface in the hostel’s communal kitchen, I’m staying through Sunday because I’ve committed to teach English classes to Costa Rican adults. I take volunteer commitments seriously and, to be fair, my classes are the one thing I’m enjoying these days. 

It's in this moment that I'm pausing to express gratitude. Because let's get real, I still have quite a lot to be grateful for. It's fascinating to observe how my perspective has shifted over the course of this travel experience. My baseline for happiness is lowered considerably (that's a good thing) and it takes far less to make me smile than it once did in my real life back home. 

On this 2015 Thanksgiving, in no particular order, I am grateful for...

…my courage to leave a salary, a career, and an entire industry for no other reason than it no longer fed my soul. 

…the waves crashing so loudly at night that when I sleep with my windows open, it sounds like a roaring thunder storm. 

…running water and an indoor flushing toilet, even if I do share a bathroom right now with three people and we have to throw our toilet paper in the trash can next to it. 

…my inner circle of women who are committed to personal growth. We constantly have conversations about raising our own vibration and that of everyone around us. 

…my clients. I’ve had the privilege of working with 30+ engaged, powerful people over the past year. As I launch my January group coaching cohort, I’m excited to meet a whole new batch of engaged, powerful people. 

…my cool head and logical responses in any given crisis situation.

…a minimalist lifestyle. I could ditch 50% of my 46L pack and still be more than fine. 

…my willingness to be uncomfortable and surprise myself. I thought I’d never make it to SE Asia because I was so afraid of the humidity. Now I just can’t wait to get back there. 

…my family. 

…every romantic relationship that ended amicably, painfully, abruptly, slowly, sweetly, and left a flood of lessons in its wake.

…my body that is learning to heal itself. I’m grateful because I know my travels will put my Hashimoto’s in remission and bring my adrenals back from the brink of failure.

...the lifelong dream I'm living. I'm traveling the world indefinitely. Even on the shittiest of days, I'm still out here doing it. And that doing is the thing. I'm doing it. 

Love,
gail

 

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