Gratitude

I had just finished typing this and put in a bunch of pictures and then it all got erased... I hate those moments. But now I get to type it again, and hopefully It will be better! 

So Thanksgiving is just around the corner! And I will be at a long 11 days of work in the wilderness which I am both a bit nervous for but mostly excited! 

Thanksgiving holds a very special place in my heart for a few reasons. One of them is obviously the amazing food, but there is a lot more to it then just stuffing yourself with food. 

First reason: Family, and Tradition. My mother absolutely loves throwing dinner parties, whether its Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or just a random dinner party for different occasions my mom is always wanting to host a dinner party at our house. My most memorable thanksgivings are memories of cooking immense amounts of food and cleaning the house more then we normally would, and then opening the front door to let the crowd pour in. I enjoyed the moments that our house was bustling full of people and the roar of voices could almost be heard from outside of the walls. And of course with Thanksgiving comes food and the tradition of eating tons of Turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy and pie. Just thinking about all of the delicious food makes my mouth water. 

 
 

Second Reason: Wilderness. You never know how good you have it until everything you have is taken away. In 2011 I was sent to wilderness from October 5th until December 14th or 15th. I was there for 72 days in the West Desert of Utah. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me. You can read more about my experience here .  There is so much I took for granted. I was born into a family that never had to worry about money or food or a roof over our heads, and I never realized how truly blessed and lucky I was until all I had was a sleeping bag and a tarp to sleep under at night. I guess you can say I acted like a spoiled brat sometimes when I was younger, I thought that I deserved whatever I wanted without really having to work for it or earn it. Even though my parents didn't give me everything I wanted because even they knew better, I still had the attitude of "gimme, gimme, gimme, mine, mine, mine". 

And then one day I had nothing. Everything that was mine, everything that I thought mattered was gone. No phone, no TV, no movies, no electronic devices of any kind, no Facebook, no gmail, no phone calls, no cars, no clothes, no makeup, no shoes, no deodorant, no toilets, no baths, no showers, no beds, no blankets, no pets, no music, no school, no friends, no escape from yourself. No soft carpet under my feet, no sensation of grass tickling my toes, no air conditioning, no heating, no bug spray, no warm cozy feeling of wrapping yourself in a blanket to watch a movie on the couch, no ability to just walk out the door to get away from someone, nothing. But yet even with what appeared to be nothing, I had everything. I just had to learn to appreciate all that I had once taken for granted, I had to learn how to be happy with very little, I had to learn how to be happy with myself, without being distracted by the millions of things that go on in our day to day lives (like texting, emails, phone calls, school, homework, work, driving.) All I had was time, time to think, and time to be thankful.

Wilderness was a wake up call, on many levels, and I discovered so much to be grateful for.

I am grateful for my family. I used to despise my parents, I told them once I wish they were dead. I can not imagine a world without my Mom and Dad, without them being there for me and loving me even when I was a jerk to them I wouldn't be here typing this blog post, I wouldn't be alive. My parents mean the world to me, and I am so thankful that they had the courage to do something hard and send me away. Of course they still annoy me, and of course I can still back talk and be super sassy, but I will never take them for granted again. 

I am grateful for everyone who supports me. Friends and people who I may not even really know that well who support me through life, or social media like supporting my photography or my blog. It means a lot to me to feel like people care, and to feel like I am actually being heard, because all I want is to be able to help other people--thats what fulfills me. Thank you so much to all my true friends, who have been there through all the amazing times and stuck around for the lowest of the lows. Thank you for the shoulders to cry on and the people I vent to, you were there when I needed it. Thank you for caring.

I am grateful for the ability to express myself, whether that be through art, writing, blogging, singing, fashion, or photography. We are so lucky to live in the era we live in now, one that is more free and equal for everyone to express there ideas and thoughts then ever before. I am grateful for the people who made it possible to blog and to create websites like this one. I am very grateful for the people who are open minded and understanding and non-judgmental in this world. Thank you for everyone who loves without conditions and does not care what you look like, where you're from or what you believe but is kind to everyone no matter what. 

I am grateful for my faith. I left my faith behind for a few years and I abandoned the thought of God really caring about me until I got sent to wilderness. I had used God as my scapegoat, he was to blame for all my problems, he was the one that let it all happen--so I thought. But I realized that I was just angry at myself and blaming everyone I could other then the girl who stared back at me in the mirror. It took me a long time to regain my full testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, but my conversion process really started in the heart of the desert while I was in wilderness and I became fully converted in my time living in Montana attending high-school. I love my faith, it strengthens me and uplifts me. Of course religion isn't for everyone, and that's fine. Faith does not make you a good person, Actions do. No matter what you believe in, we are all humans and we all deserve respect. Thank you to the people who do not make fun of me, and thank you to those of you of other faiths for respecting my faith and my beliefs, I try to do the same.

I am grateful for my dog. Dogs are better then people and I love my dog Kiara more then most people I know. See, dogs don't judge you, they love you despite all your flaws and constant mistakes, they don't see the color of your skin, or hair or eyes, they don't see your religion or spirituality, they don't care if you are rich or poor. Dogs will love you without hesitation, all you have to do is love them back. 

I am grateful for wilderness. I am so thankful for programs such as Outback of Red Cliff Ascent for offering a place for teenagers to heal and recover of what ever they are struggling with. For me I was overcoming a depression and a co-dependent and unhealthy relationship and learning to love myself. For others it may be addiction, anger issues, depression, anxiety or family problems. No matter what the reasoning, Wilderness is a restart button on life. Its a chance to come face to face with yourself in a way that you could never do before. Its a chance to rediscover your dreams, a chance to create real goals for your life, a chance to forgive yourself and others, and a chance to change. Wilderness saved my life and many lives of the people I have met along my journey. One Day I hope to become a therapist and help kids even more to overcome their struggles, and maybe even open up my own wilderness program one day.

Because Its Thanksgiving I must end with how grateful I am for food. In all seriousness, food is amazing and God gave us taste buds for a reason. For most of my early teenage years beginning around the age of 13 I became anorexic and bulimic. I wouldn't eat hardly anything and if I did I would throw it up and flush it down the toilet. I've struggled with body image issues since around the age of 13, and even still to this day. But I've learned that my size doesn't determine my worth. And I am so thankful for everyone who helped me learn to love myself and who showed me love no matter what I looked like and what size or weight I was. Like I said earlier, We only have one life, there is only so much food you can eat before we die. Might as well eat whatever the heck you want as long as you aren't hurting yourself or others. Food is a gift, and we take it for granted so easily, especially here in the US. Because we don't have to work for our food, we have an over abundance of food. In wilderness we have a food bag, nothing special. Just good old dried food, yummy. So on Thanksgiving when we were surprised with turkey, pie, potatoes, ice cream and whip cream I was in heaven. I had never been so thankful for meat and food in my entire life, and I stuffed myself so full I was about to burst but yet I wanted to eat more. It was disgustingly amazing.

Remember what really matters to you this Thanksgiving. You only have one life, live it the best you can, be grateful for all that you have, because you never know if one day you will end up with nothing.

Thank you for reading and supporting me.

 

Love Always,

Arianna 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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