The last few days have been wonderful. (The George Straight/Reba/LeeAnn Concert was AMAZING!) Unfortunately, they've been a bit sad too.. I had to say goodbye to a lot of people, that I wish I could take with me. But - I WILL be back, so its possible to stay positive. The past few days have given me so much to be thankful for, and made me so aware of the many wonderful gifts in life that are so often overlooked. And although words will never be enough, here are a few thanks:
My parents. For being supportive despite my biggest dreams, and being there for me without having to be asked twice.
My friends. They accept me regardless of my many faults, and are helpful even without being asked. And they keep me laughing during the roughest of times.
My jobs. I have been blessed to work for and with some of the most phenomenal people I have ever met. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity would not be possible if it were not for them giving me the opportunity to work, giving me their support, and being overall positive and inspiring influences.
My "little brother." He is a constant reminder of what should be important in this life, an inspiration to be better, and the highlight of my week.
UNF (professors & staff). If it weren't for the university, and all of the people that work hard to make it what it is, there wouldn't be any opportunity (or as much motivation) at all for me to do this.
My grandparents. Without them, and their ceaseless wisdom and caring, I would not be where I am today.
Wranglers. I don't really need to explain this one. Those who know, appreciate them the same as I do.
And lastly, I think I owe some thanks to God. There have been moments in my life this past year, where, if it weren't for the grace of Him, myself and those close to me would be living a very different life right now.
I have been home for 1 day, and I already know that these two weeks are going to be... straining... but they will fly by. I had to force myself to get out of my comfy bed and out of the quiet house - so, in preparation for all the walking I will be doing in Germany, I walked to the bank, the pharmacy, and the grocery store rather than drive. And I have to say, I'm proud of myself because walking outside in 80 degree weather in semi-downtown Orlando isn't necessarily "fun". But it was worth it, despite all the crazy drivers and people staring, because apparently you just DONT walk anywhere here unless you're a certain type of person.
Being aware of how apparently "strange" it was for me to be walking, I walked with my head down, keeping to myself. But, I realized that walking with my head down I missed a lot of things. Everytime I looked up, I noticed something new about a place I had just walked by. This beautiful house around the corner from my parents' sits on a large corner lot and Ive walked, driven, and run by this house so many times, but today I noticed these beautiful rose bushes in the back - covered with pink, white, and red roses that were small but beautiful! Ah, to just open your eyes. [Oh, and here's a hint: smile at people, they either stop looking at you or give a friendlier response than if you were to just disregard them. Brightens your day and theirs (Thanks Alice!).]
Also new today, I am the proud owner of my very first credit card! Now most people my age have had one for a couple of years already, but to those of you who know me - this is a big deal. Lets all pray that it doesn't go to my head. :)