Thursday, November 28, 2013

What I AM Thankful For in 2013.

I looked back at last year's post for inspiration. Many of the sentiments I wrote about then still hold true. Yes, lots have changed in my life, personally, professionally, spiritually, and even how I look at the Hobby. It is a sign that as I get older, and my priorities change, I realize that I am still fortunate for the life I've led and for all the things that there are to look forward to. I learned a very hard lesson recently that life is too short and that the ride could end at a moment's notice. My daughter likes to say "YOLO," a lot. I have come to realize that life isn't about just doing something crazy because you might never do it again (hence the meaning...You Only Live Once). It means that you have to take life as it comes and make your choices based on the situation. Make the best (or most...or both) of it with what you have, whether you have a lot, or not so much. I have had the opportunity to be on both sides of that spectrum. It's great when you have all or most of what you need. It truly is disheartening when you don't and have to scrape by. But through it all, I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that have come my way. And hopefully, just hopefully, the best is still yet to come.

(Before I continue, I know it is, or at least has already started, so Happy Hanukkah to everyone in the Jewish community and of Jewish faith).

By the time this post comes online, my family and I will be on our way to Indiana to join my wife's family as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. One of the challenges of these holidays is that there will be times where we can't be with both sides. Last year was a rare exception as both families shared Thanksgiving within driving distance. This time, not so much. While I know my family will have a wonderful dinner, I am looking forward to what my in-laws are preparing for as well.

Anyway, I can rattle on and on about how tough it is nowadays, but everyone already has an idea. For all the bad news out there (and it seems there is plenty), there is so much for me personally to be thankful for.

I am thankful that I have a wonderful family that gives me a reason to be alive. My wife and I have been together for 15 wonderful years, and I look forward to many more with her. Do we fight? Of course. All couples do. Have there been breakdowns? Yes, during our times of struggle. But though we may have had our share of disagreements, somehow the good times we've had together outweigh all the negativity. As both of us have gotten older, and as we still talk about how it would be nice if we went to this place, or if we had this car, or whatever, we still have our moments where we laugh at ourselves and wonder out loud what the heck we were thinking back then. While those dreams of travelling to exotic locales have been put off to the side for now, at least we will always have St. Louis. We finally were able to bring the kids along this time, and what an adventure just to get down there. For now, we just have to keep going with what we have. As with many who took this vow of marriage, I promised to be with her for richer or poorer, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I loved her then, and I love her more so now.

I am thankful for being the father of two beautiful children who I love with all my heart. I am truly grateful to have them in my life. Both are growing up to be fine individuals. And as the years go by, our children are developing way too fast. They are both figuring themselves out now and after visiting with their teachers earlier this week, I can breathe a bit easier knowing that they are at least heading in the right direction. It is just a matter of maintaining that focus and scheduling whatever time they have so that they can balance school time and their other activities. In my heart, they will always be my little babies. It's hard not to look at them and see them when they were five years younger, or even ten years. But my wife and I couldn't be happier with how they've grown to love us and each other (as pre-adolescents and teenagers do). The rules of raising them have changed. We just have to figure what those rules are as we go along. Both their mom and I still have a lot of work to do raising them, but it is something that I would never exchange.

I am thankful to have a family to lean on when times are hard. My parents, who have been my support when I have nobody to turn to when I'm having troubles and give me good advice whether I ask or not. My siblings, who keep me grounded as a person (based on whatever they're doing in their lives). When we're all together, there is just that warmth that comes with remembering who we were, the people we've become, and just enjoying each other's company. The sibling rivalries, fights, teasings, and all that comes with it still are there. But it makes for good conversation. The laughter that comes with it at times is much louder as the stories of our lives become wilder (or at least for my younger sibs). But we still have our moments, and when we get together, it is always fun (like finally camping out in Sublette with my brother and his family, my sister and her family, et. al).

I am thankful for my wife's family. They help keep my wife in check and make sure that she's doing well. Although we don't get to spend as much time with her side of the family as we'd like (everyone is busy it seems), it makes the times when all can get together much more special. When we're with them, I tend to stay back a bit. I'm more there to see my wife and children have fun. It may feel like I'm just there for the ride, but I know where I stand, and am more than happy to be a part of this family too.

I am thankful for the opportunities I've been given to broaden my horizons professionally. In 2013, working with a temp agency, I have been able to work for two very different companies. One was for a small business that is continuing to grow (Star Creations Inc), and the other, where I presently work, a very large corporation whose influence has spread worldwide (United Stationers). Though both jobs I have taken are way out of my comfort zone, I am grateful for the experiences. In fourteen years at DPI, although I had worked in a wide variety of roles, I still felt like I wasn't doing enough. What a epiphany it was when I arrived at these two places to see that there was so much more to do and that there were industries out there that I never thought about (I can assure you that I will never look at framed art at Target the same way again). I still miss the people I've worked with over the years and continue to think about them. I wish them well and pray that they have adjusted in their new lives outside of DPI.

I am thankful for having a roof over my family's head. Yes, I have to admit it's been rough at times, both financially and physically (and by this, I mean our house is old, and there has been a lot of work that needed to be done with it). Somehow we are able to scrape through another month. I've had a lot of sleepless nights, especially when I was unemployed. But through it all, I am grateful that my family still has a place to call home.

I am thankful that we have food on our table. We try not to eat out, although at times with our children's schedules it has become a necessity at times. We've had to cut back on many luxury items (seafood, steaks), but we still try to have a sense of normalcy when it comes to cooking at home, whether it's my wife cooking or me taking a turn. I'm not saying that we've had to totally give up on good food (I've tried my hand at cooking a wide variety of foods since being home more. Some were hits...others, not so much), but as long as we have the basics (milk, bread, eggs), and we're never out of pasta, I'm happy.

The final thing I am for which I am thankful, for all intents and purposes, is the reason I am able to keep sane through all the things going on in my life. It is something that many understand, but few will admit relating to it. Many people, no matter what their situation, have at least one. And often times, use it for the same reasons I do. For the goals this one thing accomplishes is not just to give joy to my life, but to give it an escape. An outlet if you will, to a time where I didn't have stress, or have much to worry. This one thing is the reason why I write this humble little blog. I give thanks to the Hobby. Because with everything going on in the world today, second to my family, it is the one thing that gives me comfort. Yes, I know that if Sitemeter is to believed, my readership is down. But I never wrote for others. I wrote it more for me. The idea of writing this blog was more for me to learn and appreciate the Hobby, and learn more about the game of baseball. I recently came to the reality that there will be a time the faces of the game will completely change. There are players who are coming up that were born after I graduated high school. Soon, there will be players who will be my children's age. There are so few players left in the game who are older than me, and most of my childhood heroes are now being considered for enshrinement into Baseball's Hall of Fame. It's funny to look at a set from 1985 set and realize that none of the players are active anymore. Heck, even the 1988 Topps Turn Back the Clock card from "Twenty-Five Years Ago" is now (as of 2013) "Fifty Years Ago." Looking back at the names in Topps Magazine from the early 1990's, many of the names of the rising stars (not the prospects) have become legends. There will be a time where I will really have to think to continue collecting or if I should stop. I can say this is not the time to stop.

If this sounds like I'm whining at the same time that I'm being grateful, I apologize as that was not the intent of my writing. There are many people out there who are struggling and somehow surviving on less than what we have. To them I pray that things will get better. It will take some work, but it will get better.

If there is one thing I have forgotten to do above, it's to say thank you to those who have read my blog, left comments, accepted me into this crazy community, and have added to my card collection since I started this blog. Thank you for adding me to your blogrolls and welcoming me into your online lives. I will do my best to fill this blog with information about the Hobby and the cards that we all enjoy. After all, 2014 Topps Series I won't be out until February, and I don't plan on leaving this site hanging until then.

On behalf of my family, may you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Please stay safe if you are travelling this year.


JayBee Anama

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