Thankful for: Opportunity
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not only because it’s one of my favorite meals, but because of the sentiment behind it. I've always been a hopeless romantic, a sentimental soul, and beyond appreciative of the life I have. While I adore the idea of having a single day to be thankful, I'd like to think I am thankful everyday. In honor of such an important holiday, each day this week I’ll be sharing something that I am thankful for, starting with today.
Today I am thankful for knowing what opportunity is.
Throughout my childhood I was allowed to dream. Growing up we always had rabbits, three of them at a time, and my father bred them every year around Easter time. There was a runt once, a female, that we hand-fed with a medicine dropper several times a day until she was nursed back to health. I named her Lucky, and she was my very own adorable doll. I used to put Lucky in my hot pink Barbie corvette and have her wear a big, floppy, purple Barbie hat (if you ask politely, I just might post a photo). I was allowed to constantly redecorate my bedroom (the start of my creative journey, indeed), and I vividly remember being around seven years old and trying to push my twin-sized bed across the carpet so that it was positioned just perfectly under the window. My parents never tried to stop me, and I was always told “Jackie, if you can do it, then do it, just be careful please”. And so I would push and pull, until my bedroom was exactly as I wanted it. I was so determined, in fact, that my father would sometimes step in and give me a hand, knowing that a 7 year old really couldn’t really move a fully-stocked dresser across the room, on carpet no less. Thank you, Dad!
In high-school I was encouraged to pursue art, which I excelled at and loved. I was given the opportunity to attend college level drawing classes during both junior and senior year of high school. That was when I discovered I did noto want to be a fine artist, and instead began to research interior design as a future college area of study.
When I started dating my summer crush (now husband) at the age of 16, I was given sound advice and got to hear some increadibly heart-warming stories about my own parents when they were 16 and dating. Fact: my parents started dating when in high school, when my mother was the captain of the cheer squad, and my dad was the captain of football. Adorable, right? They know a thing or two about young love that lasts a lifetime.
After high school I decided to go to a small private college in Boston to study interior design. My parents and boyfriend drove me up to move in, they unpacked my things with me, took me out to dinner, and left with tears in their eyes. My mom cried the entire 4+ hour ride back to New York, and yes, my boyfriend (now husband) was with her in the back seat. When I realized that Boston did not have my heart, and that interior design wasn’t what I wanted my profession to be, I was encouraged to do what I felt I needed to do. I decided to move back home after freshman year, and my parents bought me a queen sized bed as a “welcome home” gift - best. gift. ever! My mom cried when I told her I was coming back to New York, tears of complete relief and joy. I realized that year, the year of being away, how hard it was for my parents to be as supportive as they were – and how much of an opportunity they granted me by allowing me to explore life, without any pressure from them, and to come to my own decisions about what I wanted from life.
As an adult I have managed to find myself with a husband who gives me opportunities every day. The same boy I was dating at 16, who supported me as I went away to school, came home, and who has been by my side through this crazy life we lead. 'Honey – can I use some of my extra cash to buy a paper cutter?' Of course. 'Honey – Could you go to your parent’s house without me tonight, I have a few orders I need to finish up?' Sure, I’ll bring you some leftover empanadas. (May I add here that I am also thankful for the opportunity to have my in-laws empanadas? They are to die for!)
Some days I wish I had more – more money, more time to work on designs, a husband that cleaned the bathroom exactly the way I want the bathroom cleaned (can I get an amen?!), a bigger house, a smaller waist. And so on, and so on. But the truth is that I have been given the opportunity to make each and every one of those things happen. And making it happen through my own hard work and intention is so much more gratifying than being handed anything. I have been given the opportunity to work as hard as I want on my business, to spend as much (or as little) time as I can with my friends and family, to take an afternoon off and bleach the bathroom (because I actually kind of enjoy that), and to change directions if that’s what I want to do.
Today I am thankful for being given the opportunity to work hard at the things that I am passionate about. For never being told that I couldn’t, shouldn’t, or can’t; and for always having a safe place to land when I need it the most.