A Thankful Heart

Black Friday.

What comes to your mind when you hear those two words? Maybe you shudder in fear of the long lines, earlier start times, crowded store aisles, and complete and total chaos. Or maybe you’re perusing the Black Friday ads as we speak, making a list of the stores you want to visit, what times they open, and hitting the gym in preparation to carry 2390 bags all day.

Current news suggests most people fall in the second category and are ready to head out for those Thanksgiving sales this week. (No, the news didn’t include the hitting the gym part – that will come in the New Year, and is expected to last approximately for the month of January.)

black friday ecard

Black Friday shopping has evolved into much more than just the day after Thanksgiving. Now, stores are opening at midnight, 8 pm, 6 pm, and even 4 pm. Yes, you read that correctly … 4 pm! According to this Washington Post article, the majority of people still plan to shop on Black Friday, but almost 20% are heading out on Thanksgiving Day. For those who are braving the crowds on Thanksgiving, almost 50% of people are going out at 5pm or earlier.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Thanksgiving where you give thanks for what you do have, not run out and buy everything in the store!?

I actually do enjoy some Black Friday shopping – it can be fun to wake up early and look for good deals with friends or family members. I just think that opening stores at 4pm on Thanksgiving takes things a little too far, and the focus doesn’t become on having a thankful heart anymore. Instead, the focus is on more, more, more, and what people think they need to be happy.

To keep our focus on being thankful, I thought I would share with you a few ways to cultivate a grateful attitude today!

1. Spend time with someone you love. Go to your parents’ house for dinner, meet a friend for coffee, visit your great uncle in his nursing home, plan a workout with a friend, you get the idea. Call a friend or family member and make plans to catch up today! Sometimes the best times are those when you’re not doing anything – sitting around with your family laughing, enjoying lazy Saturday mornings, lingering over that cup of coffee, reminiscing about old stories. Those are the best times in my opinion because they allow you to focus on the people.

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With my sister

2. Look through old pictures. Whenever I spend time looking through photo albums or even looking at older pictures on the computer, it always makes me feel happy to remember fun times, funny stories, or peaceful memories. So pull out those old photo albums in your attic and go back in time for a little while. Warning: this may also cause you to clean out your attic while you’re there. But that’s okay, it leads us to the next idea!

3. Clean out something in your house  – your attic, closet, clothes, or all of the above! Whenever I clean out my closet or go through my clothes, I am always surprised by how many clothing items or pairs of shoes I’ve shoved under the bed or in the bottom of my closet. We live in a very blessed country, and just stopping to look at what you actually have is a good reminder that we have a lot more than we think we do. If you do take the time to clean out your closet, take the things you never wear or don’t fit and donate them to a local shelter or charity. You’ll be helping someone out AND your closet will be much more organized!

4. If you don’t clean out a room in your house, try one in your friend’s house! Chances are, you’ll like some things you find. I don’t know about you, but that would make me more thankful. Smile

5. Spend your time volunteering at a local food shelter, charity, school, or church. Lots of local organizations fill and send shoeboxes to send to countries in need this time of year. If you don’t have time or aren’t sure where to volunteer around you, you can fill a shoebox online through Samaritan’s Purse. I spent some time looking at their website this morning, and it’s awesome how you can fill it online. They let you select whether you would like to send a shoebox to a box or girl, the age range (2-4, 5-9, or 9 and above), and choose which items you would like to send in your shoebox. If you are interested in purchasing a shoebox to send to someone in need, check out this opportunity here: Operation Christmas Child.

shoeboxtime

(Photo credit)

You can also volunteer your time at a homeless shelter or food shelter nearby. Giving your time and serving those in need is a great reminder of how blessed we truly are this holiday season and always. Plus, whenever you give to others, whether that is through your time, money, or something else, the rewards you receive are always greater!

6. Keep your focus on the good things that are happening this holiday season. Don’t focus on the guy that cut you off in the parking lot, or the long line you had to wait in at the grocery store. Let your focus be on the customer that let you go ahead of them in line, or the unexpected Christmas card you received in the mail. The more positive thoughts you let in your head, the less room you have for negative ones!

7. Make some Christmas cookies. That’s always a reason to be thankful. Specifically, these cookies:

Known as buckeyes, these melt-in-your-mouth cookies are always a staple in my house during the Christmas season. I will share the recipe with you all soon!

8. Write it down! Studies show that writing things down will commit them to your memory more than trying to remember them on your own or saying something out loud. In the morning when you wake up, try to list as many things as you are thankful for in one minute. This can be a quick, refreshing way to start your day! You can also try this at the end of the day; make a list of what made you smile that day or what you are thankful for that week. Writing things down will enforce in your memory how blessed we are, and how grateful each of us should be each day.

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Let’s Chat!

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Race Recap – Across the Bay 10K

Last Sunday I joined over 20,000 other runners to run across the Bay Bridge. It was the first time a run has been held across the Bay Bridge, so it was exciting to participate in their inaugural event!

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I picked up my shirt and race number the day before. I love the design of this shirt!

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 I headed up bright and early on Sunday morning before the race. Coffee and a banana served as a quick breakfast in the car on the way! Usually I eat more than that before a race, but it was too early to think about that.

We parked nearby and took a bus across the Bridge since we were starting on the other side. I thought this part of the morning would be chaotic, but it wasn’t at all! They had more than enough buses for all of the runners, and staggered our start times so we weren’t all running at once. I lined up with many other runners behind the start line, and only waited for a few minutes before beginning. It was just long enough to snap some pictures, use the bathroom, and throw off my fleece jacket to donate.

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The first two miles of the run were a gradual uphill climb. It didn’t feel that steep to run up since it was so gradual; mile 2 was still my favorite though since we started to run downhill at that point. The course continued on a downhill slant for the next couple of miles, before tapering off and staying pretty even for most of the duration of the race.

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I do wear a Garmin watch when running, tracking my pace, distance, and total time. I try not to look down at it too often, I try to just run and look at my mile splits later to see how I did. If I were to look down at my watch every few minutes or even seconds to make sure my pace was consistent, that would take the fun out of running for me. The point of running for me is that I’m not thinking about it; my best runs are always the ones where I get out there and think about everything but running the whole time. If I start thinking about how fast (or slow) I’m going, how much longer I have left, how cold it is, etc. I lose my motivation a whole lot faster. So the moral of that story is I don’t look at my watch much when running!

I did glance down around mile 1.5 just to see how far we had gone. Alright, I can do this. Three songs later, my watch still said 1.5 miles! Well, I’m either running in circles or my watch isn’t working. I tried to restart it, but it didn’t seem to be working so I just ignored it and kept going! Even though I don’t look at my watch too much, I still like knowing that I can look down every so often to check my pace. Since I couldn’t see my pace, I had no idea if I was running 5 minute miles or walking (OK, so I’m pretty sure I wasn’t running 5 minute miles even without having my watch to verify that…) but I still had no idea of my pace.

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Obviously I was going so fast they couldn’t track my pace….

I actually liked this though because the focus was only on running then; not my pace, not my time, not how many miles I had left. It felt refreshing to run across the bridge with so many others, looking out at the beautiful scenery, and just enjoying being on a run.

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My official time was 56:34. I’m ok with that, especially because I didn’t train and have barely run this fall. The school year has kept me busy and it’s been hard for me to find time (or energy!) to work out since going back to school. 11-15-14 057

This was probably one of my favorite races to date! Running across the bridge was such a different course than most races, so the time seemed to go by faster. Looking out over the water, seeing reflections of the sun glistening over the surface, was beautiful and definitely made the run more enjoyable.

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After the run, they had lots of tents and venues set up where you could purchase food, clothing items, and drinks. I stayed for awhile, talking to family and friends that I saw. Of course lots of pictures were taken!!

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You can sign up to get on the wait list for next year’s Across the Bay 10K here: Race sign-up. The official date has not been announced yet, so that is the only downside to pre-registering now. I already signed up the day after and am already looking forward to next year!

Let’s Chat!

Did you complete the Bay Bridge run?? If so, I’d love to hear your take on the race! Feel free to share in the comments section below.

If you didn’t participate, what’s one race you’re looking forward to next?