I treat Thanksgiving as a time to reflect on the last 11 months of the year

I can’t tell you how to see Thanksgiving or how you should spend it. But I can tell you how I see one of the craziest times of the year. I don’t focus on the newest sales or worry about which stores to hit come Black Friday madness. I don’t even think about what I’m going to wear to the family dinner. With all the holiday propaganda that is shoved into our faces, we can’t help but be affected by the subliminal messages, some good, some bad. On the good side, we are told to be grateful. But all of us have different things to be grateful for. Let me tell you about the downs in my life this year.

My nearly 4 year relationship ended. Won’t go into details, but it was a difficult time for me.

Two people that I knew (one a really good friend) passed away this year. They were both around my age. I’m 29 years old.

I lost my job due a company merge.

Now let me tell you about the ups in my life this year.

I held a small gathering called Rooster Teeth Las Vegas in May and I made friends with even more RT community members.

Months later, I was fortunate enough to volunteer for the Rooster Teeth convention called RTX, and I witnessed such an amazing display of camaraderie, friendship, and leadership with the staff and fellow volunteers that I worked with for those three days.

Thanks to the presence I keep on social media, I made some fantastic friends. We interacted with each other for a good portion of a year, but we did not actually meet until DragonCon 2013. I will be friends with these people for the rest of my life. They made me forget my depression and see myself in a new light.

I may have lost my job, but I am focusing on what I really want to do with my life now. I am taking charge of my life and doing all I can to get into the video game industry. Just by networking and keeping tabs on the industry, I’ve made many connections, and I am so grateful to have met them.

Being a geeky woman, I’ve learned that women who enjoy the nerdier things of life were being harassed and bullied for being who they are. I was able to create a very special project this year. I collaborated with people from all over the world to create a video that shows men who love geeky women as they are and geeky women expressing their thanks for that special support and encouragement. The Thank You Project is one of the best projects I have ever done.

In order to gain experience in the field, I’m now working as a writer on a very cool project called Fallout: Lonestar. This would not have been possible if I did not go to DragonCon. Thanks Twitter friends!

I watched Ender’s Game with my mother. This is the first time I have ever watched a movie on the big screen with just my mother. I can’t even explain how unique and awesome this experience was.

I had the most amazing birthday this year. It reminded me that I should feel that I am special and that I should be happy. I smiled so much during my birthday this year that I forgot I was ever sad earlier in the year.

I managed to raise over 1K for the Extra Life charity.

I am also currently working on a cool project called the Mass Effect Cast Cosplay Project for PAX East 2014 with Karissa Barrows that will feature the voice actors from the Mass Effect series. This project is partnered with St Jude’s.

So based on the lists above and when I add in my family, friends, and loved ones, I can say with confidence that I am a very lucky person. No year is perfect. There’s going to be crap that you experience every year, and there’s going to be awesome things that happen every year. That’s life. When it’s going tough and you can’t think straight and you can’t see through the tears, hang in there. It will get better. Focus on the good things and take charge and go out to find your happiness. Life will not work around you. When you really sit down and think about what you have going for you, it makes all the negative seem that much more insignificant.

This year, I’m going to think about the positive list above and I’m going to take that with me into the new year. Lists like these should serve as a daily reminder not an annual one. I suggest you make your own list and you do the same. So be thankful, be safe, and I will see you guys after I stuff myself full of turkey and mash potatoes.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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