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What Are You Thankful For?

I was thinking recently about gratitude. My friend Laurie, who is also an expat from the states (originally from San Francisco) and lives around the corner from me in Hannover, Germany, gave me the idea for this post so I owe the whole gratitude idea to her. You see recently, she held an event for ladies who  live in Hannover (but are from another country) to get together for dinner and networking – I even met a few decor8 readers which was a lovely surprise! It was such a special evening to be with ladies from all parts of the globe — Brazil, America, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands… but in addition to having friendly chats and exchanging information about our new culture, language, lifestyle — Laurie gave us each a piece of paper and spoke for a moment about gratitude. What was the paper for? Well I’ll get to that.

Sunday Suppers

Laurie (who is a change management consultant who works for high profile companies) told us that when people normally relocate it is easy for them, especially when grouped together with others who have relocated as well, to start complaining and conversations can quickly become quite negative as a result. This is one reason why I’ve not yet joined a local expat group — I’ve heard that people in these groups can be big whiners and that’s just not my style. I believe that the more you complain, the more negativity you invite into your life and the more your complaints turn into reality. I also believe that complainers receive less help – people usually want to help those whom they like and complainers tend to have fewer friends. What do you think?

Now back to this inspiring dinner party with Laurie…

She tactfully explained to our group that it’s best to concentrate on what we have in our new culture, versus the things we may miss, and then she asked us to write down what we are thankful for… what do we have currently in our life that we love? Specifically, she asked us what we love about living in our new city. My list covered both sides of my index card and I quickly filled it, which told me something instantly — that I found a great spot to live and work!

The other ladies didn’t realize it (I was discreet), but I took notice of who had to really sit there and think about things to list vs. those who quickly listed their favorite things. I wondered if the ones who quickly wrote their list vs. those who had to really think about what they were thankful have a happier expat experience because they are naturally seeing the good things? Or? It also made think that perhaps by making regular mental notes (and from time to time making them on paper, too) that we all should remind ourselves what we are currently thankful for, what we love about our life, our personality, our home, our city, our job, those close to us… I think being thankful makes us less prone to negative thinking and gives life more meaning. We shouldn’t have to suffer an extreme hardship before we start to appreciate what we have, right?

And so, since yesterday was Turkey Day in America and many of you still have bellies full of pumpkin pie, perhaps it is a nice time to reflect on what you have currently that makes you feel grateful. What Are You Thankful For? I’d love to see some of your lists, would you mind sharing with me in the comments section below? I think writing a list publicly reinforces our feelings and also encourages others to look on the bright side and be more thankful too. Care to participate? I will join you with my list in the comments section below… You may also answer this question publicly on your blog and then leave a link to your blog post in the comments below – it’s up to you.

I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts! :)

(image: Sunday Suppers, a supper club I’m dying to attend someday in Brooklyn that also has a new blog!)

Posted by decor8 in real talk on November 26, 2010

Your comments...

  1. Casa e Cose commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 1:25pm

    Such a nice post! And more over i live in Barcelona but im swedish. I will defenatly start doing a list like that cuase i feel i sometimes can be negative and unsure of why i should live here and not back home. And i can complain…but i can also be positive. Positive things are for me: the mix of different nationalities that i meet everyday from friends to my sons school buddies. The climate: i will for sure have summer ( and that i dont have in sweden ). skiing is only 1.5 hour away. I work close to my sons school and home: i can walk!!!! oh im allready looking at this a lot more positive! Thanks! And have a lovely thanksgiving!

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  2. Cristina commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 1:34pm

    Lovely post! I keep a gratitude journal, and every night before falling asleep I write at least 5 things I’m grateful for that day. I love it, it helps me focus on positive things, even when I’ve had one of those days…
    Today, I’m grateful for being able for the internet, and being able to connect with so many wonderful people all over the world.
    Have a great day :)
    Cristina´s last blog post ..Why connecting creates beauty

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  3. Cindy commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 1:36pm

    I posted my list last night: http://prettyneatdesigns.blogspot.com/2010/11/thankful-for.html

    I also keep a gratitude journal by my bed and write a few things down each night. I divide the page into three categories: me, others, world. It helps to drift off thinking about what I am grateful for instead of all the stuff I have to do the next day.
    Cindy´s last blog post ..Thankful for

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  4. Julia commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:00pm

    This year has been fantastic with the birth of my daughter and the purchase of our apartment, but I’m also thankful for things that are always around, like quality blogs written by very considerate authors ;-)

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  5. luisa commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:10pm

    yes i agree that being grateful does make a difference and i realized that thinking of what i’m grateful for before going to bed makes me happy. i can really recommend it to everyone (and i actually do) :-)

    i’ve posted my current list on my blog this morning.

    http://happyserendipity.com/things-that-make-my-heart-jump/what-im-thankful-for

    have a nice first advent weekend.
    luisa´s last blog post ..What I’m thankful for

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  6. Geneve Hoffman commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:16pm

    Great post Holly! Your post struck a chord for me. I have been studying buddhism and meditation lately (informally mostly just for fun!) and it has really made me stop and think before I act and speak. And what I noticed right away once I really started being present in every moment, was how a lot (most) other people do not do this and constantly complain. If everyone was not living in either the past (complaining about what they did or didn’t do) or in the future (complaining about what they don’t have or what they want tomorrow) and instead enjoyed the exact present moment, we would all be a lot happier! Now that sounds like a complaint from me (doh!)…so onward to what I am thankful for.

    I’m thankful for my crazy 3 year old daughter who amazes me every day; for my loving husband; for my nutso families (haha); for my incredible career and colleagues at my studio (you know who you are ladies!!); and for being healthy and loving to learn everyday. And for learning how to take moments one at a time…

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  7. pandora commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:17pm

    I’m a portuguese girl living in Spain…I know, I don’t have an ocean between me and home, but still, I miss some things in my country…I miss the people the most!
    I’m thakful for many things, but mostly I’m thankful for my mother. Today I’m an independent, strong, creative woman,that one day decided to change her whole life and live miles away from home. If I’m that woman, I owe it to my beautiful mother!
    Kisses from the Basque Country!
    Paula
    pandora´s last blog post ..please please please let me get what I want…

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  8. Sally@DivineDistractions commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:20pm

    I share your beliefs about posiivity and how it’s the great influencer. This is a lovely exercise and one that i try to go through on a daily basis. I know you felt much joy when you were done and your appreciation of all the experiences in your life will set the stage for more and more joy. I’m passing this post on to a Canadian friend of mine who is very involved in several expat groups. She also shares your posiive attitude and I know she’ll appreciate this activity. Glad you’re happy!

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  9. Donna Gallant commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:21pm

    I am thankful for my family, friends, and house that I live in. I am thankful for the city that I live in, the clients I have for my business, bloggers, people who reach out to others, God, facebook, the internet, my career, and excellent health. I am thankful for the life experiences that have guided me to new places and a better way of thinking. I am thankful for the everyday reminders that I am beyond blessed. I am thankful for my workout buddy who I am about to go meet for an early morning, unseasonably cold workout. I could go on and on but it’s time for me to go out and get moving!

    Love your blog!

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  10. Mariella commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:22pm

    I am thankful for:

    1. my great family, all of it
    2. my wonderful life abroad (even if yes, I have also been a complainer and I found it’s right this does attract more negativity)
    3. my friends, old ones and new ones
    4. the privilege I have had to travel the world and living in different countries
    5. my dreams, because they always lead me into new roads
    6. having found a person who helps me taking care of my child like my own mom would do and loves him so much
    7.my choices because they led me to where I am now
    8.my weaknesses because they make me human
    9. my strength because it helps me to rely on myself when I have a hard time
    10. I am thankful for all the love I receive and I give, because that’s what keeps me alive.

    And finally thank you Holly for making me think about this
    Mariella´s last blog post ..Zed Eye

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  11. Claudia commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:27pm

    Sometimes is not easy to remember why you should be Thankful. Particularly if you live in a different country and a big part of who you are (family,culture, language, food, familiar surroundings, etc) are missing. I feel the same way. I am originally from El Salvador and have been living in the US for the last 18 years. I was able to buy my a small house 2 years ago and I love it. It’s my first house too. I’ve been working on it ever since and slowly the house is becoming me. Who I am as a person, my culture, my language, my family, and many other things are represented in my house. I am thankful that I can embrace and portrait who I am in my house and for my beautiful tiny house.

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  12. ChristinaInAustralia commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:27pm

    I’m also an expat, but living in Australia, and I’ve come to a similar conclusion about the whingeing side of epat life: there’s too little time in life to spend complaining about what’s not there, what’s not the way it was at home etc. My solution’s to make the best of both worlds: I’m grateful for what I see here, and for what I learn (including the lessons the Australian sun teaches my geraniums!), but I also retain things that are important to me: Nikolaus, Christmas Eve and Easter German Style, say. I must say I’m glad that I can travel backwards and forwards — to think of those who came here 200 years ago, knowing they were here to stay for good, never to return to loved people & places sends shivers up my spine.

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  13. Valentina commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:48pm

    In my country we don’t celebrate thanksgiving, but as I read so many american blogs have been thinking a lot about what I’m thankful for. It’s a very big list!
    I’m thankful for living with the man I love, I’m thankful for being loved, for having great and suportive friends, for having a job that pay my bills and also gives me time to write and create, what I really love. I’m thankful for my incredible family, for my little nephews and nieces, and for my boyfriend’s family, whom are part of my family too.
    I could go on and on, I just love to be thankful. And I’m thankful for not being afraid to thank everybody.
    I’m also thankful for finding your blog a few years ago, because it has been a big inspiration and gave me the courage to start my own. Happy thanksgiving!
    Valentina´s last blog post ..Cosas bellas

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  14. Sanda commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 2:51pm

    I loved you post!!!I am also an expat ,living in Lisbon .I made my paper version list immediately after reading your post and here I will leave few lines of it…

    *grate new friendships I made here, people I can count on in every moment
    *lovely kids that were born here
    *being loved and love
    *pretty city I dreamed about living in
    *finding and doing things I love
    *my home
    Thank you for ‘making’ us think about it, it is really important from time to time to stop and make some kind of balance, a point where we stand..:-)

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  15. Ariana commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 3:40pm

    I totally agree with your perspective on being positive. It is always so frustrating to me to encounter people with mostly gripes about their place in life. We get to make choices! I am extremely thankful to be living in Germany, and I have a mile-long list of all of the things I love about being here. Last night, we were unable to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, but it was the first night of the Christmas markets, and we had such a wonderful sense of community and belonging as we spent time with everyone in the market square, drinking gluhwwein and listening to our children singing Christmas songs. I am so thankful to live in a place that is full of tradition, and that I can participate this year.
    Ariana´s last blog post ..The Most Nostalgic Day of the Year

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  16. notabilia commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 3:55pm

    I am thankful for many, many, many things. My health and my family, of course. But what I am most thankful for *right now* are the new people that have been introduced to me in my *three weeks* blogging and Tweeting. (I’ll probably write more about this in my personal journal; that’s all I feel comfortable sharing here.)

    Thanks for creating a space for this, Holly!
    notabilia´s last blog post ..Kaya Toast for Breakfast

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  17. Crissy Perham commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 4:02pm

    I read your blog everyday, so I am thankful for that! :-) But I wanted to tell you that everyday this month I have posted on my FB page one thing I am thankful for. At first I had comments from my (negative) friends…Are you going to do this every day? I also had comments from my other (positive) friends…Oh! What a great idea! I’m going to do it too! I’m a “fill the index card up quickly” kinda girl, too. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Keep up the great work! Thanks for sharing!

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  18. georgina commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 4:19pm

    I like Cindy’s idea of the categories – but knowing me, i’d probably spend too much time prevaricating about which category to choose! I have kept a gratitude journal on and off (mostly off!) and found it very beneficial – am going to find it and start again – it’s so much better to focus on the good things (large and small) – and all too easy to do the other thing! Belatedly, a Happy Thanksgiving to all.
    georgina´s last blog post ..Thomas the Tank Engine Bed Review

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  19. lis commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 4:28pm

    I can’t help putting my hand up to speak up for those of us who aren’t as quick to communicate our feelings, who may need to time to formulate thoughts and ideas like writing a list of things we are grateful for. I just don’t think it’s fair to say someone who wrote down their list a tad slower is a negative complainer. I just wanted to say that, as a bit of a slow poke myself – who is grateful for alot of things on a daily basis, but can imagine in a spontaneous group setting where self conscious feelings also emerge that I would be stalling trying to find the right words. Give us a chance Holly!

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  20. Meli commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 4:33pm

    I’m thankful for my 2 wonderful kids, because of them I’m stronger. I’m thankful for my job. I’m thankful for what I have

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  21. Jessie commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 4:39pm

    I am grateful for the same things on Thanksgiving that I’m grateful for – and that I acknowledge – every single day for my family – namely our health, our happiness, and our safety. And the gift of laughter!

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  22. indian yarn commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 4:47pm

    to make the long story short – Everything – Yes, Everything.. i was once new to US as you were in germany. It might sound odd – We say Thanks at the table everyday – it is just a way of life in the family that I grew up in. We didn’t have turkey – it was just Roti and a vegetable and a dal,
    indian yarn´s last blog post ..there is the saree- and then the half saree

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  23. Laura Gaskill commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 4:58pm

    Hello there! I have not been through such a big move as many of you, but I did move from California to the North East two years ago and it was also a big change for me! I know it can be easy to complain, thinking about all of the good things and people I am missing back in the SF Bay Area, but I agree that it is SO important to appreciate what is right before our very eyes right NOW, whatever that may be.

    For me, that is my beautiful new baby, being able to enjoy gorgeous fall foliage (which I had nothing like back home), my husband and his sweet family who are so kind to me and have really taken me in to the fold, so to speak, the house we were able to purchase here (that we would never be able to afford in CA…), nature walks, white Christmases, the opportunity I have to take design courses at RISD which is something I have dreamed about…I could go on but I’ve already rambled enough!

    Happy Thanksgiving Holly!! xo Laura
    Laura Gaskill´s last blog post ..Happy Long Weekend Gratitude

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  24. Alyssa commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 5:01pm

    Holly this is a beautiful post and so appropriate for the holiday season. I am from the US & will be relocating to Canada. I know that’s not a major cultural change but still…there are going to be things I will miss. I’m going to keep this idea in mind & remember what I’m thankful for.

    Happy Holidays!

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  25. kaylovesvintage commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 5:36pm

    after 12 years in the Netherlands , I did join the expat bookgroup this summer and I tell is wonderful, so never say no
    kaylovesvintage´s last blog post ..Gingiber

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  26. Ellen commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 6:16pm

    I’m so thankful I found your blog a couple of months ago and I’m reading it every day now. It’s really inspiring to me. I’m a Dutch girl living in Los Angeles and I totally LOVE it here. I’m so thankful I can live here with my (dutch) husband and beautiful daughter. Even I miss my friends and family back in Holland, I made a lot of new friends in my new home country ! Your Home is were your heart is…….. My new moto is: think + live + be +

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  27. corinne commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 6:18pm

    great idea Holly ! I’m not an expat since I’m Swiss and live in Switzerland but I’m surrounded with expats since i leave in Geneva and my children go to the international school ….
    I luckily had the choice to stop working last April, just after turning 50 and this is like re-birth, meaning, I’m enjoying life even more than before.
    Little thinghts, e.g. have coffee with a friend, going for a walk, deciding last minute to go downtown, visit a museum or visit my family 1:30 from my home makes my life a permanent “holiday” and on top of that my husband is happy for my happiness…. what else can we ask ??
    Both my children also noticed the difference betweeen a working and non working mum :) :)
    Merci la Vie ! and i wish that to each of us even so I know, it’s not possible for every one :(
    Byt the way, thank you so much for your blog which i visit almost everyday !
    Take care,

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  28. Bieb commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 6:26pm

    Great subject and I am thankful you are sharing it with us. Lately I have had a lot of woman- things, girlfriend-outings, and I am thankful for my great girlfriends and also for the woman-power we can share together being close friends (or not). The bonding is special….
    You rock !!!!
    Yay…!

    And thankful for health, food & water, family, dog, nice coffee an dcould go on….

    wishing you a lot of angels!
    Bieb´s last blog post ..Scribbels for kids

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  29. Heather commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 6:38pm

    I’m immensely thankful for my husband. I’m thankful for my family, especially for knowing the loved ones who are no longer with me. I’m very thankful for my health. I’m thankful for the opportunities and good fortunes that life has presented me. I’m thankful for my talents and resources that I have to express them. I’ll be pulling out the old Christmas LPs this weekend. One of my favorite songs is “Count Your Blessings” from Ray Conniff: “And when we’re worried and we can’t sleep/We’ll count our blessings instead of sheep.” And I do.

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  30. Amy commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 6:48pm

    Your post struck a chord. I am the trailing spouse of a US foreign service officer. I try to make the best of things and embrace things in my host country, though sometimes that can be difficult. It also helps to seek other other expats not from my home country – American wives always win at complaining – no matter the country we are in!

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  31. Tracy Kunzler commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 7:22pm

    What a lovely post and dinner! I think women in the US have so much to be thankful for – more freedoms, more options and choices, more respect, better health care – the list goes on. Personally, I am so grateful for my husband, sons, beloved dog, home, great health, friends, creativity, color, nature, living at the beach, laughter, second chances, Trader Joe’s, THIS BLOG, I could go on and on. LIFE IS GOOD!
    Tracy Kunzler´s last blog post ..Retriever 8 x 10 Personalized Art Print

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  32. Traveling Mama commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 7:27pm

    I love this so much, Holly. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy reading your blog so much! I just wrote my own list yesterday and posted it here: http://travelingmama.net/?p=6836

    It’s funny the things that living abroad has made me thankful for. While in Morocco I came to be thankful for things that I had taken for granted previously. I think living abroad has made me a more positive person… every country has it’s shortcomings, but each also has things that are so precious and worth celebrating as well!
    Traveling Mama´s last blog post ..a spirit of gratitude

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  33. Cheryl commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 7:34pm

    I think you are so right.
    It’s also true even if you live in the States. Complaining does nurture negativity and that is never good no matter where you live.
    I made a short list just the other day here:
    http://notevenclosetoempty.blogspot.com/2010/11/sunset-being-grateful-and-occasionally.html
    I often need to be reminded to be grateful and will write list throughout the year. It really does help!
    Thank you!

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  34. Nathalie commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 7:46pm

    OK, OK I agree that negativity attracts negativity and vice versa but, as someone once said “:There is nothing more boring than another person’s happiness” …
    Nathalie´s last blog post ..Interior Designers

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  35. Jacilyn commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 8:03pm

    Such a great post! I’m a big believer in what goes around comes around. So if you think positive you will get positive.

    Right now I’m so very thankful that they caught my Dad’s cancer early and he is recovering nicely. And also thankful that the rest of my family has their good health.

    Take Care,

    Jacilyn
    Jacilyn´s last blog post ..autumn collage

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  36. Pat langley commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 8:23pm

    I am most thankful for a positive outlook on life, making everything I do a joy. I recently read Eckhart Tolle’s books, “A New Earth”, and “The Power of Now”. He speaks about how we should live in the present moment. It isn’t always easy to do, but well worth the effort. I am thankful for friends and family, and unconditional love.
    Pat langley´s last blog post ..Peace

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  37. Eva commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 8:42pm

    1~my lovely frineds for putting up with me .. i love them to bits !
    2~the fact for some reason when i dress as i do with the weirdest clothes possible how accepting they are ..:)
    3~my family for sticking out the harder times
    4~iceskating
    5~laughter
    6~the fuzzy feeling christmas songs give me … and how long i can listen to them ..
    7~my house for not leaving us this year .. with the recession
    8~my lovely nan , to whom i love to bits aussi

    xx

    http://dazietuesdays.blogspot.com
    Eva´s last blog post ..Christmas DIY list

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  38. the cape on the corner commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 8:53pm

    what a great post. i’ve actually been doing a series on my blog called thankful thursdays, every thurs in november leading to thanksgiving. i really wanted to focus on the little positive things that i was thankful for each week. things like not having to parallel park, and getting out of work early yet being paid for all day.

    here’s the latest one:

    http://thecapeonthecorner.blogspot.com/2010/11/thankful-thursday-numero-quattro-el-fin.html

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  39. Nat commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 9:23pm

    I think we’re all grateful for our family and majority are happy in their situations, so I will not write about that.

    But what I am grateful for are the opportunities that life has presented me with. Opportunities to grow, to learn and to contribute. For me, there’s nothing worse than being bored, and for the last little while I definitely have not been bored.

    I’m grateful for intellectually stimulating work, for my blog = my creative outlet, for people in my life who support my need to grow and for those who share my desire to contribute.

    And I’m grateful for my husband, who supports me in all of it :)

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  40. Amanda commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 9:24pm

    I posted my list over on my blog.
    http://amandalockrow.blogspot.com/
    I totally agree with you Holly, it is so much better to focus on what we love and everything we are thankful for, rather than complaining about what we don’t.
    Amanda´s last blog post ..What Im Thankful For

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  41. Gem commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 9:27pm

    Wow, what a great article to start the weekend on! Everyday there’s something new to be grateful for, but my constant gratitude goes towards…
    1) My beautiful son.
    2) The support of my friends and family
    3) Everyone who’s taken part in the ‘MOVEMBER’ campaign this month; we’ve been given the wonderful news that my Dad has beaten testicular cancer this week and hopefully the money raised by Movemeber will go towards saving many many more lives.
    4) Having the opportunity to work in the design and handmade industries and the encouraging response I’ve recieved in the 2 weeks since opening yolki.etsy.com
    5) The courage and self-worth I’ve discovered this year.

    Gem.x

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  42. Vanessa commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 9:27pm

    What a great, meaningful post. I am just coming down from a heated debate with a family member back home (I am an expat as well) who has a habit of only highlighting what she considers the ‘bad’ about my new home country. I find myself in defense mode far more often than I like. Your post about gratitude and being thankful couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only does it make dealing with my family member easier, as I am still grateful she is in my life despite our differences, it reminds me to be mindful of why I chose to live abroad and all the joy it has brought me. I am inspired to get together with other expat friends and do the same type of dinner, as an injection of positivity would no doubt do us a lot of good. Many, many thanks for your post and Happy Thanksgiving!

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  43. Sandrine commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 9:59pm

    Hello,It is my turn to thank you for such an inspiring post.I am also an “expat” living in Australia and can relate to your post so much.
    It is quite obvious to see the “missing” or what I can not have, but such a great discipline to look at the full glass instead!
    So today I am grateful for your post reminding me to look at the full glass again:)
    For a loving husbad and children.
    For us being healthy and growing and learning together everyday…
    For the beach and beautiful nature that suround us here.
    For always meeting inspiring and great people along the way!
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Sandrine x
    Sandrine´s last blog post ..What a day!

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  44. decor8 commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 10:24pm

    @Lis – I said, “I wondered if the ones who quickly wrote their list vs. those who had to really think about what they were thankful have a happier expat experience because they are naturally seeing the good things? Or?” This is a question, not a statement. I wasn’t making any statement at all by saying this, just an observation of something and then, wondering about it… Just so you know!

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  45. decor8 commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 10:26pm

    @Crissy Perham – I write what I am thankful for regularly in my journal, it’s something that I keep for myself and that I don’t share so publicly as lots of the things I am thankful for I may not be inclined to tell others~ :)

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  46. Adèle Young commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 10:26pm

    This is a great post Holly, and I appreciate your positive attitude about living abroad. I’m a South African living in Chicago, and I am here by means of a divorce. My ex-husband is married to someone from Chicago, and with his new family he is devoted to staying. I made the commitment to have my kids grow up knowing their dad, and having a relationship with him. (I know that if it weren’t for them I would have been on a plane back to SA in a heart beat to be close to my entire family.) I adopted Chicago as my new home, and even though I don’t love everything about it (winters!!!) I knew that the best thing to do is to look on the bright side and make the most of it. The wonderful thing is that it’s challenged me to grow as a person more than I ever would have. I’ve thrown myself into a career in interior design, have made the best friends ever, and have adopted a mindset of finding happiness in the everyday things. I don’t believe a place can make you happy – it’s what you make of your immediate situation. It is so easy to complain, but once you start focusing on the blessings in your life you realize how toxic a negative state of mind can be. To me, a positive outlook on life is the most wonderful character trait a person can have. It inspires those around you.

    Thanks for the inspiration you bring to all of us with this blog post.

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  47. Lila commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 10:42pm

    Just like Jacilyn says it so well :: “I’m a big believer in what goes around comes around. So if you think positive you will get positive’.
    Although I can get really negative sometimes when it comes to my own country. The funny thing is I am French but after living for many years in California, I feel like being more an expat in my own country than we we used to live…! Strange feeling.
    But back to your main subject : I am thankful for trusting my instinct and following my path slowly but hopefully surely. I am very thankful for the past experiences ( good and bad) whom lead me to who I am now. I am thankful for not thinking and always acting the way I should but the way I feel is in harmony with myself. At almost 40 years old, I am thankful to think that the little girl still within me is not too disappointed of whom she wanted to be.

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  48. Nathalie commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 10:43pm

    I’m a belgian living in Mexico City, so as you I’m an expat. I’m thankful for not having problems of money at the end of the month not like a lot people here. I’m thankful for having the opportunity to know a lot of interesting people from different country. I’m thankful for the possibility to visit a lot of beautiful place here in Mexico. I’m thankful for not having health problems in my family. And finally I’m thankful for having a hobby that give me a lot of satisfaction (quilting).
    And please, as you are in Germany near my country, go to Brussels to eat real belgian waffles and by a big “speculoos” at Dandoy (rue au beurre) near the Grand’place, they are delicious ! ;-)

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  49. Lynn Minney commented
    November 26th, 2010 at 11:36pm

    I am thankful for your blog and this post! I wrote a post on my blog about how life has a way of bringing things into perspective for you. I am so thankful for my talents and the opportunities and challenges I’ve faced starting by business this year.

    Check out my blog post…
    http://lynnminneydesign.wordpress.com/2010/11/26/so-what-are-you-thankful-for/
    Lynn Minney´s last blog post ..Recycled Ivory Cream Wool Batik Brooch Pin

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  50. Penny Patten commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 1:14am

    I’m Thankful for my job’s-even though it doesn’t leave much time for other things. As well as my family, and my love,(Honey Man).
    Penny Patten´s last blog post ..Calendars

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  51. Jes commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 1:17am

    I am so glad you wrote this. I have been one of those negative/whiny people for the past two years since I moved to Arizona from California. Sure it’s not another country, but things are very different here than they are in the state “next door.” I guess I need to rethink my outlook on things and be grateful for what I have and not lament on what I don’t.

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  52. Elizabeth commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 2:29am

    This is quite inspirational… but I’d like to just say we should be forgiving with certain expats who may take more time thinking about things to be grateful for. Some of them may have given up more than they were prepared to for various reasons. :)

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  53. Nancy Jean commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 3:07am

    Dear Holly, what a lovely post!

    Perspective is everything.
    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized my happiness is closely related to my attitude.
    As I sit here wondering which of all my blessings I could share with you, perhaps the gift of thankfulness is the one that has had the most impact on my life — given me a peace that I hadn’t had before.
    Also, I’ve taken to counting my blessings when I can’t sleep — it works much better than counting sheep!
    Thanks for the constant inspiration!
    xo
    Nancy Jean

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  54. Lara commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 4:02am

    Today..November 26th I am thankful for these three things:

    1) a husband who still makes my toes tingly
    2) kids who craft with me at the kitchen island and make a big mess
    3) a fire in the fireplace and two hilariously entertaining dogs snoozing in front of it
    4) my Kelly Rae Roberts E-book that is giving me wings this weekend to take the “next steps” in my creative life and business
    5) left-over pumpkin pie

    Such a treat, each post…Holly–you have a gift!
    Lara
    p.s. do you do the American thing for Thanksgiving in Germany?

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  55. Lovelyfreckles commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 4:32am

    I am grateful for you & your blog! Your positivity has inspired me constantly for the last 2 years; so being a stay-at-home mummy I’m grateful for blogs as beautiful & inviting as yours :)

    I’m grateful that I live in a peaceful country where I am blessed abundantly in every way.

    I’m grateful for freedom; colour; sunshine; dancing; family. But most of all I am grateful for love… Because love is always my answer when I feel negative.

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  56. Kitty @ lavender playground commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 4:48am

    I wrote a little posts about what I was thankful for on my blog, then I read your post, it’s so great to read about what other people are thankful for!
    Kitty @ lavender playground´s last blog post ..Give thanks

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  57. riye commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 4:50am

    Thanks for this post, Holly. I come from a family that is unfortunately, extremely negative and pessimistic. Most of the time we just try to get over ourselves and keep quiet–if its not going to improve things, why say it? However we’ve had a hard couple of years and lately when we have any kind of holiday or dinner get together we thank everybody that helped with the food and but we also thank each other for being here. My mom wasn’t sure she’d be here for Christmas this year and she is! So that is the number one thing on my list. :-)

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  58. Leigh commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 5:14am

    I’m also an expat, but living abroad in Cambodia. I was invited to a pot-luck Thanksgiving dinner with about 20 people. Sitting at the table and looking around was magical; I realize just how blessed I am to have a great support system so far from home.

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  59. Shones commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 6:07am

    Fantastic post! My husband recently returned from a mission trip to a remote part of Kenya. While there he met 20+ orphans who eat a mere two cups of corn per day. In stark contrast, we have so much food in our fridge right now, I actually have to take things out to make room. I’m thankful that those kids still had an incredible sense of awe and love for God and for each other — they did not complain and they were so well-behaved (i saw proof of this in video). We have SO MUCH to be thankful for and I just can’t say enough about how God has blessed us.

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  60. Sumi commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 8:19am

    I loved this post.Though I am not an ex-pat I still could relate to this and I totally agree with your statement about people not willing to get involved with helping people who constantly whine and complain.
    Your post inspired me to write my very own, so thank you for that.I am lurker by the way.:-)

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  61. Sumi commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 8:20am

    I am A lurker.Grammatical correction..
    Sumi´s last blog post ..Being Thankful

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  62. Lisa Pocklington commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 9:11am

    Beautifully put Holly, I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment & like many others here I keep a daily gratitude journal. It has transformed my outlook
    http://lisapocklington.blogspot.com/2010/11/giving-thanks-gratitude-is-new-black.html
    Currently I am grateful that France has a great medical system, for my wonderful friends & loved ones, for my new business venture and to be a featured contributor in December’s Livingetc
    Here’s to appreciating the good things in life!
    Lisa x

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  63. Linda commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 10:34am

    I am thankful to you Holly. I will be moving to live overseas in a few weeks, and I have never even been overseas before. I am naturally a bit nervous and this post helped me feel that I can look for the positives in my situation. And I also like your tip to not mix with negative people. thanks.

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  64. Frau Mayer commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 1:18pm

    Well, that’s wonderful of her to hold such an inspirational party. However, let me put my 2 cents in, if possible. “She tactfully explained to our group that it’s best to concentrate on what we have in our new culture, versus the things we may miss, and then she asked us to write down what we are thankful for”
    Of course I understand she meant all the things expats must be missing about their countries – but there’s something they can miss in the middle of their new culture, too.
    There can be loads of things on the surface – all those beautiful cafes, buildings, parks and such. Snow, Weihnachtsmarkt, Bratuwrst – you name it. They all belong to the German culture for sure. However, one can never get behind that if he doesn’t speak the language of the country, be it Germany, Kasachstan or Trinidad and Tobago. Not a single cenitmeter. It will be missed. And this is where we get to this “think positive and be grateful for what you have” point.

    As I’ve already said, Germans are natural complainers. Complaining belongs to being German. This is a part of the culture one can’t just ignore. Take a look at this: http://www.deutsche-leidkultur.de/ and you’ll know what I mean.

    Every time I meet that “everything’s wonderful/think positive” approach, I have to smile and think it would never work here. It’s a wonderful one, there’s a lot of sense to it, the moment I’m writing it I’m staring right at my Wish Jar – but I still know the people around me and the way they think.

    Sorry, just had to add this to the long list of gratefuls :)

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  65. eileen commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 2:17pm

    I’m thankful for COBRA Insurance and my wonderful family and boyfriend. All helped me get through a recent diagnosis of breast cancer. I’m also thankful for getting back to at least seasonal work for the time being and looking forward to a MUCH better 2011.
    eileen

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  66. jan : daisy janie commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 2:38pm

    Such an interesting insight from your observation! Makes you go, “hmmm.”

    I am thankful for an abundance of love, laughter, comfort and consistency in my life from my husband and son; for dear friends who understand the mutual give & take in life; for 2 loyal & crazy dogs who are as entertaining as they are protective; for the aptitude and attitude that allows me to fly high in a business that marries my passion for design/making with my passion for eco-friendly living; for simple beauty right outside my front door; for sunshine on my shoulders.
    jan : daisy janie´s last blog post ..on being thankful

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  67. mosey commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 3:46pm

    This is a great post! I’m a former expat (brit-american who lived in Israel for 3 yeas) and had some very challenging moments while abroad. You are so right though about keeping the positive thinking and the complaints to a minimum. I have to remind myself of that daily.
    Back in Brooklyn, what I’m thankful for:
    1. My caring parents who flew to NY to be with me on thanksgiving
    2. My amazing husband who reminds me every day how crazy he is about me.
    3. My job that pays! I actually quite like my job and I’m so thankful I was able to continue it after my move to NYC
    4. My dog (who is so intuitive she’s practically my therapist:)
    mosey´s last blog post ..neo space dress

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  68. Yvonne commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 3:51pm

    Oh Holly, how good to see you finally settled in and love things here and can fill out pages with things you are thankful for. I reread your email from your start in Hannover one of these last days when I cleaned my old computer where you sounded somehow different. I could understand Thorsten and your feelings so well then about all the regulations and the nasty old people and the driver’s licence and german lesson requirements and such. Having been an expat I experienced some of these although we always had a soft landing due to the fact that we were relocating with the back up of a large company with all its benefits and help. I also remember your comment on me my home back in Mexico about my positiveness of relocating. You were so right and maybe that was a lot due to the fact that I stayed away from expat communities, namely the German ones who compared everything with their home country or Americans who were lost because they missed macaroni and cheese prefab packs in Istanbul or cronbread sausage ugliness in Mexico… I settled in within a few weeks in Istanbul and Mexico. I started learning the language before even going there and went on with it when I was there. (The children and I are already learning Korean over here). And I read some of the national literature to get to know about how they tick. It was the best thing because I got into contact easily with the people in the streets and in the shops. It must be even easier for you with Thorsten being a German so you always had that German environment. Most of the expat people I happened know who felt not good abroad stayed within their own culture when in another country, ate only their typical food from their country, had their cabel TV, not local news on the radio, in the newspaper etc., they met with other foreigners and peeople from their country and not with locals and did not learn the language.
    I am thankful for having had the opportunity to live abroad and dive into another culture. And if everything calms hopefully down there in Korea, We will start another adventure next spring and I am sure I will be meeting a lot of Germans and Americans over there who will complain about al lot of things… But sometimes I think that keeps them together if they have nothing else that inspires them and makes them happy… like the old men sitting in the pub complaining about politics.

    And for two years now I am writing y gratitude journal daily since wonderful Ali Edwards inspired me to do so.
    Have a great Thanksgiving!
    Yvonne

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  69. Kim commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 3:57pm

    I love your post!!
    I’m a firm believer in negativity breeds negativity. I love the Thanksgiving season as a conscious moment to remember how blessed we are, and take a deep breath before the scramble of the December holidays begin. I have much to be grateful for (even though I’m capable of whining from time to time…)
    My little family, the warm cozy bed I sit in as I write this, our puppy, and an attitude of tolerance top my list this morning.
    xo
    Kim´s last blog post ..The Magic Wardrobe

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  70. Kristin Johnsen commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 5:21pm

    I am thankful for many things this year – they found thyroid cancer on a routine test in September, and seems as if surgery took all the bad stuff and left me with most of my body parts! I’m thankful that we got the bird feeders up in our yard with all the right feed before our big Thanksgiving cold cold cold snap! I’m thankful for the arts community that is alive on the web, that lead me to this great blog site from Kelli Rae’s blog, that I can take a course on the web to help me expand my art sense and feel I’m part of a community without ever being in the same location – and for all the pretty things that so many of you blog about and show us – it’s fun to visit so many people and places while sitting in front of my new big screen Mac!

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  71. mia commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 6:17pm

    My two cents… it’s kind of easy to find something to be grateful for when one actually has something like that. I don’t think anyone would purposely choose to be whiny if they didn’t have a reason to. Anyway, I agree that it’s best not to burden other people with one’s complaints, but I don’t quite like the lack of compassion for those who live a tough life as if they somehow were the cause of their own problems. Sometimes life throws all kinds of c**p at you and for no reason at all. Even when you don’t deserve it.
    Yes, a Pollyanna outlook on life would probably help, but it’s easier said than done. Not everybody is strong enough and it takes time to get into that mindset.
    If complainers have fewer friends is probably because people who are lucky enough to live a happy life can’t be bothered with other people’s sufferings, but if they tried to be more sympathetic, the whiners would maybe have a reason less to whine and one more to be grateful.
    Just saying… ;)

    P.S. Love your blog. I always read it.

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  72. Michele commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 8:55pm

    I started a book club in Dallas TX to promoted Canadian authors by inviting my Canadians expat friends. After the first meeting it came out loud and clear that my 2 American friends (Sally and Susan) weren’t as welcome as I thought they would. Been a sponsor of the Canadians expat Meetup group it was incredibly challenge by which action to take. I made the decision to restrict the group to only Canadians because I realized that was the best way for me to inspiring the group to learn to be grateful and to appreciate their adoptive country. It has been an incredible experience for me to realize the needs of the women and the many opportunities I have to “clarify” comments and opinions I witness throughout the year. In February I’m going global and will have a Canadian author to talk about her mom who was a famous journalist with an open invitation. I’m incredibly grateful for Sally and Susan support and friendship. (@Sally #8)

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  73. Winnie commented
    November 27th, 2010 at 9:44pm

    I’m extremely grateful for the chance to leave Barcelona behind and to move on to a much, much better place.

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  74. Arielle commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 12:01am

    Wow! Some phenomenal ideas have been shared here. This week I have had the lyrics to a children’s song running through my mind – that “a thankful heart is a happy heart!”

    I am thankful for supportive family, amazing friends who stay in touch no matter how far I go, the opportunity to go to school, and believe it or not, real estate agents (Carson Real Estate in particular). :)

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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  75. Jennifer commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 4:54am

    What a lovely idea! I posted my list on my site:
    http://gemmifer-jennifer.blogspot.com/2010/11/gratitude.html
    Enjoy your holiday season!
    Jennifer´s last blog post ..Gratitude

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  76. Karena commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 5:47am

    So much, my family, dear friends, and so many I have met through the world of blogging. Thankful for each and every new day!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  77. Lily @ Birch + Bird commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 8:40am

    What a great post Holly! Although I’m not an ex-pat, my mom is a Californian living in Canada for 33 years and she’s always taught me the importance of thinking positive and surrounding yourself with a support system, even if you don’t have family around. She has been part of a W.O.W. (Women of the World) group for years. I am so thankful for the strong family support that I do have nearby, especially with 3 kids! I’m also thankful for a loving, hard working husband, healthy children and friends that love me for who I am, quirks and all! Thank you for giving us all the chance to write down and validate what we’re thankful for :)
    Lily @ Birch + Bird´s last blog post ..Gifts for the Men in Your Life

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  78. Chiara commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 11:17am

    Such a lovely and inspiring post. I recently moved out my parents’ house, and learning to live on my own. I’m grateful for the fact that I can still visit my family on a weekly basis. I’m grateful for living in a pulsing and creativily inspiring city. I’m grateful for my education. I’m grateful for living near a beautiful park. I’m grateful to have found friends in this new city. I’m grateful for the oppurtunity to cook whatever I want and try new things.

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  79. chantel commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 12:24pm

    First of all, I’d like to say I agree with Mia. It is easy to be grateful when your life is going well. I have had a difficult year and a half that I truly believe I did not bring on to myself. Sometimes life throws you a lot of crap all at the same time and you have to somehow get through it. I did my utmost to remain positive and optimistic while getting through this. It was at times, very exhausting. Because of this situation I didn’t socialise as much- I didn’t want to whine to my friends. I didn’t want to lie to them and pretend everything was fine. However, through out all of this I was always grateful for having my husband, my parents and my in laws by my side. My life turned around for the better and I can say safely say that it is A LOT easier to be grateful when life is going well. I’d rather not have gone through the awful year before hand, but I believe that I still gained from that experience. I feel like I can get through anything now!
    So, I am grateful for my supportive husband and family. I’m grateful that I can breathe easy. I’m grateful for living in Melbourne ( it’s such a great city!) and I’m grateful that even through all the crap – chocolate still tastes great!

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  80. andrea commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 1:57pm

    I`m from Brazil, and I love decor 8 blog. I`m grateful for the lovely things that happening in my life now a days, especially stay together with the person that I love so much. We are having good moments. Thanks for our creativily that inspire our sauces (barbecue, mango, dry tomate – make at farm at wood stove) and creat our new busines – CAFFAR.
    Thanks God!
    God bless of all.

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  81. decor8 commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 3:15pm

    @Mia @Chantel – I really value and appreciate your honesty. I agree with you, it’s always easy to be grateful when our life is going well. My childhood was very hard, very challenging, my parents divorced when I was 18, and I never saw my father again. My mother never reads my blog and doesn’t have an interest really in my life though she loves me, she is emotionally very distant. My grandmother, a close friend to me, died a few weeks before I moved to Germany last year and my heart broke and I still feel sad over it if I allow myself to “go there” in my head… and think about my family, having no siblings, my aunt whom I loved died of cancer at age 40, both sets of grandparents being dead — the whole glue that held my family together is gone. I only have my husband and his family over here in Germany, which is one of the major reasons that we relocated — I reasoned that if my own parents are more interested in their new families and spouses, and have left me behind, then I need to move forward in my life and do what I need to do to make progress in my life and have family happiness.

    I’ve had a lot to struggle with in my life – in my fact my list of negative things far outweigh the positive things I’ve been blessed with — but still, I am so, so grateful for what I do have, what I worked hard to get, and I am most grateful for my positive outlook and natural “happy” ways that I’ve had since I was a child. Each year in my report card, in grade school, the teachers always wrote, “Holly is a very happy child”. I was, and still am, very happy though I can’t say it has to do with having an amazing life that goes extraordinarily well – it’s inside of me, I have this light that never burns out and I do all I can to keep it burning and when it starts to flicker, I find something to do with my life that increases the flame once again so that I can keep putting one foot before the other.

    But yeah, if I sat around and really thought about my life — well, it’s rather depressing when it comes to my family on my side… there were many nights in the not so distant past that I cried a lot of the absence of my father and the emotional absence of my mother. In fact, when I relocated from Germany to Boston, she didn’t even have me over for a goodbye dinner, didn’t throw a little party for me, nothing. She is much more keen on her husband and his life and family. Is that okay? No, it hurts me to the core but at the same time, I just keep looking for the good things in life and I work to keep my spirits high.

    I’m saying all of this because some people are quick to assume that those of us who have success were just handed it – or we have this amazingly connected network of friends (I do not) or this great supportive family (on my side, no — on my husband’s side they are supportive in some ways but have no interest in my career goals) but in some cases it’s just not as amazing as it seems on the outside. We all battle with things that cause us pain — I have learned that complaining, whining, throwing darts at others, being dishonest, being fake, glossing over problems, being ungrateful — all of these more “common” characteristics that are easy to fall prey to are not for me because they just make the problems I have worse and the pain in some areas deepen. I have complained here and there in the past to personal friends through email, on the phone, but then I walked away feeling worse so I gave up that way of thinking. Sure, sometimes my friends and I get together and vent and then we usually laugh and say “end vent” and smile and that’s it for a few months, then we’ll get together and vent again. But do I do this daily or weekly, with friends or in my own head or with my husband? No way, it would consume me and I’d be pretty overwhelmed and be unable to accomplish what I do. Negative thinking slows me down.

    I guess it all comes down to how we choose to manage our stress. I personally have the power to control my emotions, I can wake up and decide to have a bad day or a really good one. For the most part, I decided to choose the good days. Why not? You only live once.

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  82. Geneve Hoffman commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 3:34pm

    wow–this post really took off! amazing honesty displayed…i read all the posts and had one further thought. if you have a broken arm (or insert any bad thing that happens/situation) and you complain or be negative–it doesn’t change the fact that you still have the broken arm. my dad (who is of German descent) always used to tell me that “life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.” truer words never spoke.

    have a great week everyone!

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  83. Millie commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 7:58pm

    I am thankful for the baby kicks I can feel from the inside and the toddler kicks I can feel from the outside. I am thankful for my sweet, attentive, brilliant husband who I love living life with. I am thankful for my city that I have known all my life… with its combination of urban grit and Southern charm. I am thankful for tomatoes and basil fresh from the garden. I am thankful for the pizza place around the corner. I am thankful for LIFE… all of it, messy though it may be.

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  84. Nenaghgal commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 9:31pm

    Expat American living in Ireland – I’m all for positivity. I love living in Ireland – and seldom think about Ameria except for things like Thanksgiving – and specific American holidays. Love the idea of writing things to be grateful for before falling asleep – such a good way to close the day – loads of great comments here and blogs – look forward to going through them all.

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  85. Genelle commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 10:08pm

    Lovely post! I’m especially thankful for my parents and my husband! My father had his prosthetic knee replaced on the 24th and it was a huge success (the doctors were unsure of what they were going to find when they operated because he has been trying to heal a broken femur on the same leg…). I was also grateful to be able to spend hours with him and my mom, post-surgery. They keep me grounded and remind me of who I really am not who I think I’ve become.
    Genelle´s last blog post ..Gift Wrap Kit

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  86. Dana @ House*Tweaking commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 10:57pm

    I shared my thankful list {big and small things made the cut} on my blog. Below is the link if you’re interested…you may be…I mentioned BYW ;)

    http://www.housetweaking.com/2010/11/25/my-thankful-list-the-tileshowroom-winner/

    So thankful for blog{ger}s like you{rs}!
    Dana @ House*Tweaking´s last blog post ..My Thankful List &amp The TILEShowroom Winner

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  87. Marian commented
    November 29th, 2010 at 1:11am

    I’m Scottish living in Montana. I have made wonderful friends here in the U.S. and try to enjoy life as much as possible – My Mantra is – This Ain’t No Dress Rehersal.
    Here’s what I’m thankful for today:
    The Joy Of Reading, The Fun of Trading (Vintage/Antiques), The Urge to Travel, The Comfort of a Happy Home and the Glorious Serendipity of Being Alive.

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  88. Catherine Bayar commented
    November 29th, 2010 at 2:56am

    As an American in Istanbul long term, I know what it’s like to long for what you don’t have, what’s familiar. But after an extremely difficult 2 years, I’m grateful to know I’m not alone when I read the above comments and your post. The trick about gratitude is to feel it when times are toughest, and remember to focus on all you have, not what you don’t. I’m thankful for your reminder!
    Catherine Bayar´s last blog post ..Putting our lives on video- East meets West

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  89. Jennifer commented
    November 29th, 2010 at 6:05am

    great post!
    upon reflection, i think what i am most grateful for, is my husband’s and my equally ridiculous senses of humor and pensions for silliness. makes life a little more fun!
    case in point…
    http://www.yummyandcompany.com/
    cheers!

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  90. Jennifer commented
    November 29th, 2010 at 6:35am

    ha! pension=penchant! i’m a dork!
    Jennifer´s last blog post ..Inspiration does a body good

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  91. Leanne Ambrogio commented
    November 29th, 2010 at 10:28am

    Hi Holly
    There is so much to be thankful for and as you say there are always the bad things that have happened or may be happening but we must focus on the positive. I am thankful for my beautiful family, my wonderful friends, our lovely home, the summer that is just beginning here in Australia, the great blogs I follow that give me inspiration and my lovely blog followers who leave me such lovely comments that make me smile.
    Leanne
    x
    Leanne Ambrogio´s last blog post ..Friday Favourites

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  92. Jenni commented
    November 29th, 2010 at 11:28am

    I am thankful for those people who have helped me trough this hard year,
    I am thankful for every hug and smile and phone call and invite, they were needed so badly. I am thankful for those people, who make my job and volunteer work possible. I am thankful for the opportunity to live alone, and I’m thankful I was able to get know my brother again earlier this year. Of course, to be healthy again, and that my godfather is finally recovering from his illness. I am thankful for having this life.

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  93. Martina commented
    November 29th, 2010 at 12:39pm

    Hi there!
    I just had a cup of my favourite tea (PG-tips, not so easy to get in Germany) and a slice of my favourite cake (poppy seed anyone?), which my husband bought this morning, all fresh and sticky and sweet. There’s 20 cm of snow outside, but in here it’s warm and cosy. – What more should I wish for? I’m happy and grateful for all the small things. Every day anew.
    Have a lovely day all of you!

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  94. ChristineRT commented
    November 29th, 2010 at 12:50pm

    Dear Holly, I have been reading you’re post and most of the comments. Even though positivism is a very nice way of life which I agree on, you can’t overlook hardship. it’s a difficult issue to understand the syndrome of expat and third culture kids or TCK without mentioning the political refugees…. It is good to be positive but I have moved from countries to countries some I was able to found a lot of things that matched my personality, others where I had major culture shock and had a difficult time to even think strait. I have quite a few expat friends who told me the same. There is a time when the culture shock is so intense that it takes time to find your ground again and to even feel positive. Of course you will always come across people that cannot adapt and cannot see anything better past their own culture, have attitudes etc…
    I am agreeing with lis too. It would take me time to fill out a list. I have experienced a burn out and since then I tend to remember things after I need the information. Very annoying!

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  95. Kate commented
    November 29th, 2010 at 7:35pm

    This definitely resonated with me as I’m coming to the end of my experience living abroad and holidays bring up all sorts of emotions about where you are in life. I guess different people process things differently, but I did find that other expats could be overwhelmingly negative at times. There is a place for “constructive negativity” because, after all, drawing some lines seems important when you’re immersing yourself in something new and deciding what the best of both worlds could be. To me, when I saw negativity taking over it looked more like a self-defense mechanism than anything else. I found that recognizing when criticisms stopped being constructive and start detracting from the enjoyment of life was so key. There will always be good and bad days wherever you are. Being far from home conveniently allows you to scapegoat your environment. In the end, focusing on the positive while confronting, isolating and minimizing the negative (i.e. a bad isolated event, not a bad day, week, month, year…) helped me so much. I hope you continue to enjoy and live this new life fully! I always look forward to your down-to-earth observations and affirmations
    Kate´s last blog post ..Homesickness

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  96. Desha Peacock commented
    November 29th, 2010 at 10:56pm

    Holly, you rock. I feel like I’m really getting to know your essensce. I think we should all be more polyanna-ish. here’s my post-

    http://thedeshashow.blogspot.com/2010/11/whats-wrong-with-miss-polyanna.html

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  97. Ester commented
    November 29th, 2010 at 11:47pm

    Hi Holly,

    Very interesting what you are writing about complainers. Especially that they do not receive a help. I know only that I did not complain in my work- so everybody thought that I do not have enough?)) A colleague of mine complained all the time and she received a help from our boss, that a part of her work was relocated to me! It was a horrible month of October, I was sick and tired of it. But I can tell you, this opened my eyes. I am not complaining, this was a great lesson.

    Gratitude journal! What a nice idea! Sometimes I just count in the evening how many things happened and for what I can be grateful. Perhaps in the written form it is nicer ?

    I am an expat living in the 3rd country since I moved from Slovakia, but I do not see myself as an expat. I do not integrate myself to the community of expats, or to the people coming from the same country. I just live my live…as I would live anywhere, where I live is my home :)
    I am grateful for everything, but really for everything. I am experiencing some days hard situations in my work, so much stress, and I am grateful also for this, because I know what I want, this stress helped me to my hobbies, to creativity, that I need to create to balance the stress. I am grateful for situations in which first I cried, but they opened me a new way of seeing and arriving to the destination which would not come without this negative experience. I am grateful because I have a feeling that everything is going to the right direction, and every negative thing helped me to something positive…perhaps this things should not be qualified anymore as negative? :)

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  98. Chloe commented
    November 30th, 2010 at 6:36am

    I had just written a post today about what I am thankful for and then tonight I come across your post! Here’s mine: http://mochieroo.com/blog/2010/11/29/this-is-how-i-work/

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  99. Nolwenn commented
    November 30th, 2010 at 2:41pm

    I think it’s a great idea to meet expats from other countries and be thankful for the good things in the foreign country! How did you find this community Holly? I’d love to participate too! :)
    I’ve been active in a French forum for expats in Germany but I slowly stopped participating much. I also never attended any French expat meetings here in Hannover because of how people reacted in the forum (only whining, complaining and criticising Germany and the Germans). Although I am really lucky and happy to live here, I have to admit that the “exercise” of writing down everything I love in this city or what I am thankful for would be quite difficult. I never celebrated Thanksgiving, so I’ve never really thought about what I am thankful for. Moreover, I always associated “being thankful” with religion (I don’t know why, probably comes from my education) and I have no religion.
    Now that I really think about it, I think I’m mistaken and that being thankful has nothing to do with religion, but rather with a positive way of seeing life. So I’m thankful for having read this specific blog entry, Holly, and for having realised that I probably have many other things to be thankful for. Although I have my share of bad things, I also have good ones. I think I’ll make a “I am thankful for… journal”, just to keep focusing on good things.

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  100. Frau Mayer commented
    November 30th, 2010 at 4:37pm

    “Very interesting what you are writing about complainers. Especially that they do not receive a help. I know only that I did not complain in my work- so everybody thought that I do not have enough?)) A colleague of mine complained all the time and she received a help from our boss, that a part of her work was relocated to me! It was a horrible month of October, I was sick and tired of it. But I can tell you, this opened my eyes. I am not complaining, this was a great lesson.”
    @Esther
    Could you please tell what exactly you learned? Thank you!

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  101. diana strinati baur commented
    November 30th, 2010 at 4:49pm

    Oh, Holly.

    There is so much, isn’t there. So much good and deep and precious to be thankful for. So much, in fact, that if we can just chuck aside for two seconds the fear and stress and frustration in our lives and listen for a moment, we will hear the sound of a door opening. Behind that door is all the beauty and joy.

    Life, expat or not, can be challenging. And there are hard years, very hard years, on both sides of the ocean. I have been away from the USA for over 16 years now. It would be easy to focus on the little black hole that has been present in my soul since I have left. And there have been years that I (with the unyielding support of frustrated but well meaning expat friends) have excavated that black hole like it was a cancerous construction site.

    But those years are long over. Now sometimes I have to search hard to find it at all – it’s gotten so small.

    Life is like a diamond, and each facet reflects a different side oneself. There is so much that I have learned and experienced and absorbed by being outside of the infamous comfort zone. So much about how other people suffer and still live and experience joy. So much about how there is no real security in the world except for the knowledge that you can pick yourself up and keep going tomorrow if you have to. So much about the kindness of strangers. I could write a book about the kindness of strangers.

    I live what few people get to dream about. I have bought an old property in a foreign country and restored it. I have learned more about construction, design, simplification, frugality, trust, despair, joy, honesty, deception and success than I ever could have learned otherwise. Easy? No. Affirming? Yes. This project alone has put me on a collision course with my limited view of the world. It’s busted me open and made me see that the suffering part of the process is as much a gift as the pleasing part. That everything happens for a reason. I am thankful, more than thankful, to be able to have had the run that I have had so far.

    Holly, you know I adore everything that you are doing. I know you work like a mad woman – and that you go out there and bite off life. I come to you for inspiration – for fresh air – and to remind myself that it can be done, what ever “it” is. So I am thankful for you.

    Stay well, dear Holly.
    diana strinati baur´s last blog post ..a simply beautiful italian encounter

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  102. Sigrid commented
    December 1st, 2010 at 3:07am

    “I believe that the more you complain, the more negativity you invite into your life and the more your complaints turn into reality. I also believe that complainers receive less help – people usually want to help those whom they like and complainers tend to have fewer friends.”

    This was an important statement you made. I realized this a few years ago when the person I most enjoyed working with wasn’t complaining like me, but being positive ~ I wanted to be more like her, and made it a point to be so. Being happy is hard work sometimes, but important to work at because of the positive things it brings to our lives. Thank you for keeping it positive, and keeping it real.
    Sigrid´s last blog post ..strange things are happening

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  103. tracy commented
    December 1st, 2010 at 2:03pm

    I have made a different experience.

    I never had a good life, very hard lonely childhood, even harder and horribly last six years. Yet, I never complained about my childhood, my childhoodfriends did who had it ten times better, I on the other hand concentrated on the positive things in life to survive. From a very young age it didn’t make sense to me to concentrate on the bad things but to concentrate on the good things. You are faced with the bad, if you want to or not, so don’t give it more space than possible.

    Only the closest persons in my life know about the bad situations of the last six years – whining is not helping. I again concentrated on the good things and tried to move on, every single day. It is exhausting but there is no other way.

    Did happiness come into my life – no.
    And I was faced with that even harder by my close friends. I tried to be happy with what I have – focuse on the good – try again and again – but they once made clear that they know how bad the last years have been for me. And I had to admit.

    I think the real trick is that you can take good care of yourself. And pure luck. And then be grateful for what you have.
    (Being grateful also means if you can realize that others are not so lucky.)

    Did happiness come into my life?
    No, but I will try on.

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  104. Meghan commented
    December 1st, 2010 at 6:39pm

    I know I am a little late on this one but I stumbled across this post and it struck a chord so I had to comment. I am a South African living in London and today we were snowed in. All my trains were cancelled and I slipped on the ice at least 3 times trying to get into work. Particles of ice got under my scarf and dripped all the way down my back, adding to my general misery. I. was. not. pleased. I cursed this country and everyone in it all the way to work (on foot and bus *shudder* 2 hours later) and really wished I could be anywhere but here. Reading this has made me realise how many others are in the same situation! It made me sit down and think about the positives here – the Christmas lights put up all around London twinkling in the snow, the real buzz and urgency of this city, the beautiful Victorian houses I walk past on my journey to work, the fact that I have lived here for almost 6 years and I still find weird and wonderful things to do on the weekend – I could go on! So thank you Holly, you made my day with this post.
    P.S – I still have to get home in this weather so I am hoping the positives will counteract the negative thoughts I am sure to encounter!

    Meghan

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  105. Edward commented
    December 2nd, 2010 at 12:45am

    I am so thankful everyday good or bad days. All are blessings from
    family, work, friends..W ords are not enough how thankful i am.
    You have a great blog, very touching. :)

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  106. Glenda Childers commented
    December 4th, 2010 at 9:58pm

    I just moved one month ago from Seattle to Chicago. I love this idea of focussing on what I love about my new city. While I am lonely and miss my friends, we are loving exploring new place . . . the Jewish bakery in our neighborhood, the Polish buffet we found, the Christmas market, today’s snow . . . Thanks for the great idea, Holly.

    I do take time to feel the real loss I am experiencing, but the positive focus really helps.

    Fondly,
    Glenda
    Glenda Childers´s last blog post ..Facebook Status November 27

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  107. Lisa commented
    December 8th, 2010 at 3:06am

    Holly,

    I come to this post a little late, but just wanted to say that I agree with you completely. Whilst it can sometimes be hard living abroad, there is no gain to be had from allowing ourselves to wallow in negativity. I allow myself a minute of bad thoughts, and then pull myself togther and move on.

    Remembering what we have to be thankful for is so important. And as you say, we don’t all have a beautiful background; for all of us there is pain/hardship/sadness that we can draw upon. The key must be to take lifes lessons and find happiness in those things in life which bring us joy. However small.

    I have been an expat now for 3 years, and wrote about it, and what I am grateful for on my blog; http://thingsilikeblog.com/2010/11/living-abroad/

    Keep up the great work Holly. Blogs such as yours bring daily happiness.

    L x

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  108. Ester commented
    December 11th, 2010 at 11:53pm

    Re: Frau Mayer
    That how important visibility is. I think this was a lesson :)

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