Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

I Am Grateful For…

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With a little over two weeks until Thanksgiving, I am reminded about the importance of gratitude. I have decided to start the month by thinking about what I am grateful for every day. When I think about one new thing that I am grateful for every day, I am reminded about how lucky I am and I feel a boost of optimism in my daily life. I have expanded this reflection into a daily discussion with my boyfriend, which has been very enjoyable to reflect and think about everything that we love about each other. While many of our thoughts are personal, the effects have been so powerful, and I wanted to share the experience with you!

Source: thechineseconquest.com

Source: thechineseconquest.com

This post is an invitation to say “I am grateful for…” every day until Thanksgiving. And better yet, it is a challenge to think this way throughout the year. Where to start? Think about your health, your family, your friends, your job, your daily conveniences, your hobbies, your guilty pleasures…and you will easily create a list. Try discussing what you are grateful for with your loved ones. You will be amazed by the joy, healing, and memories you will experience!

For more inspiration, check out my previous post, Attitude of Gratitude!

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What Makes the Fall Season So Special in the United States?

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Meeting people from around the world, I have noticed that they are often surprised by how much Americans love the fall season. To many people (at least in the northern hemisphere), fall means the end of summer and the beginning of winter. In the United States, fall is arguably the best season of the year. Why?

1. Throughout the fall season, tree leaves change colors for some of the most beautiful natural views of the year. Along with the brightly colored trees, the air is crisp and sweet, making it very inviting for you to go outside and explore.

Source: Picstar

Source: Picstar

2. Fall flavors are warm and comforting. In the United States, you will find pumpkin-flavored everything. Pumpkin pie is typically a family favorite, but you will find pumpkin-flavored coffee, pastries, and more! Apple flavor is also popular. The flavors of Thanksgiving are some of the most memorable, including turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Source: bpkwesthartford.com

Source: bpkwesthartford.com

3. Fall activities bring your family and friends together. Apple picking is a great way to get outside with your loved ones and pick apples that you can eat right off the tree or use in recipes, such as apple crisp or apple pie. Common in the Midwest and Northeastern United States is visiting cider mills, which serve fresh apple cider, homemade donuts and pastries. They also often have farm animals and outdoor activities for you to enjoy while eating your treats. Carving pumpkins is another fall favorite, as you can make a jack-o-lantern to decorate your porch and you can bake the pumpkin seeds for a nice snack!

My favorite cider mill in my hometown, Rochester, Michigan!

My favorite cider mill in my hometown, Rochester, Michigan!

4. Halloween (October 31 every year) provides the perfect opportunity to disguise yourself as your favorite character or silly costume that is guaranteed to make your loved ones laugh. Along with wearing costumes, you can eat your favorite candies with little remorse, visit haunted houses, experience hayrides, and go to Halloween parties. Children also have the opportunity to go trick-or-treating, where they visit their neighbors and ask for candy while dressed up in adorable costumes.

One of my favorite personal pumpkin carvings!

One of my favorite Halloween pumpkin carvings!

5. American football, played in the fall, has more spirit than any other sport in the United States. You will see football spirit at all levels, from middle and high school to college to professional football. Americans enjoy tailgating before football games, which involves eating barbeque food, drinking beer, playing games such as cornhole, and cheering for your favorite team. The spirit exists every weekend and has created tremendous rivalries across the United States. I have had an interesting experience with football having moved throughout the Midwest and now to the Southern United States – my loyalties have shifted, but I will always root for my alma mater (University of Michigan) first!

University of Michigan Football Stadium - holds the largest crowd (over 114,000 people) in the United States!

University of Michigan Football Stadium – holds the largest crowd (over 114,000 people) in the United States!

I hope this gives you a taste of all the special qualities of fall in the United States. Just writing about it makes me grateful that fall is here. I would be grateful to hear why fall is (or is not) your favorite season and how it compares to other seasons throughout the world!

International Thanksgiving

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When I first started volunteering as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher with international students, I realized I had the exciting opportunity to not only teach them English, but also United States customs. At the same time, I was able to learn about the students’ native languages and customs (ranging from Chinese to Japanese to Spanish to Arabic).

When Thanksgiving came around, I wanted to teach my students about Thanksgiving because of its significance in the United States. I also wanted to learn about international holiday customs, so I decided to plan an international Thanksgiving potluck. I invited the students over for dinner, where each student brought a favorite dish from his/her home country. 283199_10151332017879524_1675504135_n Everyone who attended explained his/her favorite dish, its significance to his/her home country, and how he/she would celebrate holidays with family and friends. It was an enlightening experience to not only learn about each other’s differences, but also to learn about the many similarities we experienced across borders. I became inspired to think globally any time I celebrate a holiday. I also realized that while our customs and the meanings of holidays may differ throughout the world, we are all united by our love for family, friends, good food, and quality time together. 283269_10151332017904524_85080305_nInspired to have an international Thanksgiving? One great idea is to invite your friends over for “friendsgiving” and have them bring a dish that represents their heritage. I also found this article with international recipes to give you ideas: 10 International Dishes for Thanksgiving. Below is one of my favorite points from the article:

“America is a country of immigrants, so it’s only fitting that we include international dishes in our national day of thanks. Doing so will not only enhance the standard Thanksgiving menu, it’ll help you learn about other cultures. Or just give you an excuse to eat pasta on Turkey Day. Either way, you win!”

I hope this post reminds you of the inspirNational mindset to think global and act local.  I would love hear stories about how you celebrate international Thanksgiving, both in the United States and abroad (in the comments section below). Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Attitude of Gratitude

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Source: Natural Solutions Magazine

Source: Natural Solutions Magazine

‘Tis the season to be grateful. Or I like to think of it as the time of year to remember that we should be grateful every day. An attitude of gratitude has helped me stay optimistic throughout my life, see the good in others, appreciate the small things, and make the most of each day.

I realize, though, that it is challenging to always have this attitude, so I began to research how to be grateful.

Oprah’s November 2014 Magazine featured an insightful exercise to help us cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Below is an image of the exercise that I found on the Silver Threading blog (it’s a fun exercise to try!):

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In addition, Jamelle Sanders wrote an inspiring article with Powerful Lessons in Gratitude. She explains how gratitude leads to success, keeps us humble, and helps us find more meaning in life.

Applying these concepts to my life, I realize more and more each day that I should be grateful. With Thanksgiving just four days away (can you believe it?), I am reminded to reflect on all the changes that have occurred over the past year. I am grateful to have time to notice these changes and how I have grown as a person. I am grateful for my loving family and friends, who have been supportive every step of the way. I am grateful for my boyfriend, who has helped me learn about love, relationships, and how special it is to be able to experience the adventures of life while growing with another person. I am grateful for the opportunity to work in sustainability consulting, where I have been exposed to several industries and learned how companies can have a positive impact on their employees, the community and the environment. I am grateful for the flexibility to have work/life balance, which has helped me practice new skills outside of the office, such as yoga and cooking. I am grateful for the ability to travel and find ways to make it affordable, which has encouraged me to learn about the world and apply lessons in my daily life. Last, but not least, I am grateful for this blog, which has enabled me to pause and reflect on my own life, capture thoughts from those who inspire me, and (hopefully) inspire others as well. Thank you for supporting my blog by reading this post!

As we approach Thanksgiving, it is important for us to take a step back and think about everything that brings us joy and makes us who we are today. What are you grateful for? How can you have an attitude of gratitude this year?

Favorite Ways to Spend Fall in Cleveland

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Fall is one of the best ways to experience any Midwestern United States city, especially Cleveland. Leaves are changing colors. Moderate temperatures mean you can spend time outside with a cool breeze and a light jacket. Three exciting sports seasons overlap: the end of baseball season, the heart of football season, and the beginning of basketball season. Cider and donuts are available at apple orchards, grocery stores, and cider mills (which I have quickly learned is a “Michigan thing.”) Pumpkin and apple flavors cover our plates. And some may say, the highlights are celebrating  Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Edgewater Park View of Downtown Cleveland

Edgewater Park View of Downtown Cleveland

Now that I have spent two falls in Cleveland, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite activities to do in and around Cleveland in the fall:

  • Go on a Segway Tour of Downtown Cleveland. This is a fun way to learn about Cleveland’s architecture and history while riding a segway.
  • Tailgate a Browns game. The Muni Lot has some of the craziest tailgates I have ever seen, with kegs and grills coming out of pick-up trucks and dance parties in school buses. Cleveland sports fans are some of the most spirited fans- and the spirit is contagious! Don’t tell my Detroit roots that I am slowly cheering for Cleveland now that I live downtown and am surrounded by all the major sports stadiums!
Browns Season Opener Tailgate

Browns Season Opener Tailgate

  • Shop for fall produce at West Side Market. The late harvest lends some of the best local produce of the year. The market makes it fun for you to find the ingredients for your favorite fall recipes and you can buy decorative gourds or pumpkins for carving festivities!
  • Go hiking through the Cleveland Metroparks or parks in the suburbs. I love to jog through Edgewater Park and have enjoyed hiking through Liberty Park near Aurora, Ohio.
Hiking through Liberty Park

Hiking through Liberty Park

  • Need more than hiking? Another great way to be in nature during the fall is to volunteer at local parks. During my company’s fall retreat, we spent an afternoon volunteering at a park clean-up with the Western Reserve  Historical Society and Thriving Communities Institute in the Buckeye Neighborhood.
  • Dress up in a Halloween costume and go dancing in the Warehouse District. Each year the best venues vary, but the regular favorites tend to be Velvet Dog, Barley House, and Dive Bar. Dancing is always fun, but there’s nothing better than being silly while in disguise and watching others do the same.
  • Go on a brewery tour at Great Lakes Brewery. I have toured the brewery with family and friends four times throughout the year, and I have decided that fall is my favorite time, particularly when the brewery is making Christmas Ale. The aura of cinnamon spice is delicious and makes the brewery experience come to life.
  • On the topic of beer, try pumpkin ales at the breweries on West 25th in Ohio City, especially during Cleveland Beer Week in October. I was not a beer fan until I moved to Cleveland, but the pumpkin ales at Nano Brew, Town Hall, Market Garden, and Bier Market quickly made that change.
  • Pick apples at Eddy’s Fruit Farm and explore the grounds of Patterson Fruit Farm. For the city dwellers, this is a great escape from the busy city life and helps you appreciate the scenery in Ohio’s countryside.
  • Tour Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, which was the home of F.A. Sieberling, who created The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in 1898. The home was built between 1912-1915 and was one of the finest examples of the American Country Estate Movement. It includes five historic buildings and eight historic gardens on 70 acres. Learn more about the history of the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens here.
Touring the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Touring the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

  • Go wine tasting at the vineyards of Geneva on the Lake. It is an hour outside of Downtown Cleveland, but totally worth the drive. Each winery has its own unique personality and the hosts will teach you about wine production and what types of wine will be best for your palate.
Geneva on the Lake

Geneva on the Lake

  • Take your bike to Peninsula, Ohio to ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train out to your distance of choice and bike back on the towpath past Szlay’s farm shop for hot butter-dipped corn. You could also run through the Maize Maze and wrap up the trip with a Winking Lizard beer when you get back to Peninsula! [Thank you to one of my favorite Clevelanders, Victoria Lowery, for the idea!]

Every weekend I learn about new exciting events and opportunities in and around Cleveland. Clevelanders, please comment with any of your favorite events that I should add to the list. Everyone, let me know if you would ever like to visit Cleveland. I would be happy to give you a tour.

Hopefully I have captured something interesting for everyone in Cleveland, whether you’re an adventurer, a sports enthusiast, a beer fan, a nature lover, a dancer, or a historian. Making the most of any of these experiences relates to the inspirNational mindset, which I aspire to have and encourage others (no matter where you live or travel!) to have every day. Learn more about the inspirNational mindset in my post, How to Live Like a Traveler Every Day.