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“When you’re tired and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep, and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings” croons Bing Crosby in the holiday classic, White Christmas. Bing and Rosemary Clooney rendezvous in the lodge late one night, both unable to get any sleep. They share a midnight snack, while he serenades her, singing of his technique for getting some shut-eye when you just can’t seem to manage to fall asleep. This quiet little scene is somewhat unremarkable, surrounded by all the flashy musical numbers in White Christmas. But somehow it has always stuck with me. Whenever I lay awake in bed, sleep somehow eluding my weary eyes, I always think of good old Bing Crosby and eventually fall asleep counting my blessings.

Just a few nights ago, I slipped into bed, laying there, listening to the rhythmic breathing of my two roommates who were already deep in sleep, my mind started to wander. I began thinking about all the things I had on my to-do list for the next day, all of my upcoming deadlines, the bill I had forgotten to pay that day, and the stress began to accumulate. The longer I laid there the more stressed I was getting and the more frustrated I became at my inability to fall asleep. As all these negative thoughts were running through my mind, I suddenly remembered Mr. Crosby’s advice, stopping my negative thought train dead in its tracks.  So instead I started listing off some of my many blessings. In no time I was sleeping soundly. (Try it, it actually works, I swear!)

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving- a whole day devoted to reflecting on our blessings and giving thanks for all we have in life- I decided to share with you all some of the things that I’m most thankful for, the things that I think of late at night when I fall asleep counting my blessings.

I’m thankful for…

(in no particular order)

1) UCLA defeating USC in football last weekend. 38-28.

Finally. After five years of embarrassing defeat, UCLA has reclaimed their rightful place as #1 in LA. The win last Saturday in the big rivalry game against USC was the best graduation gift UCLA football could have given me. The first UCLA victory over USC (in football) that I have experienced during my four years as a Bruin. The energy in the student section was unbelievable, not even the pouring rain could ruin that perfect moment. Returning to Westwood with our heads held high, ready to celebrate and go burn some couches (couches were on fire in the streets that night, no joke), has to be one of the best feelings in my time at UCLA.

2) Friends that I feel I can be truly myself with.

I don’t have to be anyone but me when I’m around them; kooky, weird, moody, or sassy, whatever version of Katie that they get that day is accepted with open arms. I’m so lucky to have found them.

3) Living in LA/SoCal.

I take it for granted on a daily basis that I live in one of the most interesting, diverse, and beautiful places in the world. Sunshine and blue skies year round is definitely something to be thankful for.

4) My Mom.

We have a sign in our house that says “Home is where your mom is”.  For me, that saying is completely true. My mom makes our house feel like home, welcoming and warm, such a wonderful place to return to after a long quarter at school. Wherever we are, if I’m with my mom, I feel at home. So much of who I am today is from my mom, growing up under her watchful eye in our loving home, her training me to be a skilled shopper, fostering my creative side with countless arts and crafts projects. My personality, my sense of humor, my creativity, my style, all come from my mom.  We are cut from the same cloth. I am so thankful I have her in my life.

5) My Dad.

I am thankful for my Dad for so many reasons to limit it to a few lines is impossible. I can call my Dad from hundreds of miles away, crying about something stupid and he always knows the right thing to say, not making me feel silly or dumb for being so upset, but just listening, being understanding and somehow always knowing what to say to make me feel better. He doesn’t always make things easy for me, he makes me realize when I am doing something wrong, I can’t lie to myself with my Dad there to see right through me. Dependable and incredibly supportive, he is my go-to guy.

6)  Having a brother that I can call a friend.

Our brother-sister relationship has evolved as we’ve gotten older, and I no longer feel like I am playing just the annoying little sister role to his cool older brother role. Being each other’s allies at large family gatherings, watching dumb videos online, playing softball in the backyard; I can do anything and nothing with the big bro and have a good time. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about “real life” stuff, but we just get each other, real life stuff is boring in comparison to the random crap we spend most of our time together talking about. “Brothers don’t shake hands, brothers gotta hug.”

7) Having a tight-knit family that enjoys spending time with each other.

So many of my best memories are times spent with my family. I treasure every weekend home with the family, every family vacation, road trip, holiday celebration, and family get together when I get to spend quality time with the fam. Family is a priority in our household, and I am thankful for that.

8) Traveling abroad last summer.

This past summer I spent a month on travel study, traveling throughout Spain and Morocco while studying the history of Islamic Iberia. My first time traveling by myself without a friend or family member with me was an amazing experience. I made new friends, experienced so many new things, became immersed in a new culture, brushed up on my Spanish skills, discovered the wonderful world of tapas, and became so much more confident in myself as a self-sufficient, travel-savvy young lady. It was a truly life changing experience, and I am so thankful for having had the opportunity.

9) My education .

Growing up, it was a given that college was a part of my future. I was on the path toward my college degree since middle school; taking AP classes, saving money for my college fund, taking PSATs, SATs, prep classes, college visits.  But I never really understood the true value of my education until recently. As I look forward to graduating from UCLA this year, I have realized just how much my college education has shaped who I am, my goals, my aspirations, my personal strengths and weaknesses, and my passions. My education has truly been transformational. It has already granted me so many opportunities and blessings (see # 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, & 12) and will undoubtedly affect my future. This kind of transformational education is not a reality for many young scholars. Only 8% of children born into poverty will go on to graduate from college by the age of 24.

10) Having found my passion to guide my future career.

I came into college with no idea what I wanted to do or even what I really cared  about. If you asked me what I was passionate about three years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to come up with a legitimate answer for you. I have, after plenty of searching, found my niche in education. My passion for education, educational equity and quality, has become a guiding force in my life in the past year. I have been driven to learn more through the education studies department at UCLA, and take action through organizations like Teach for America, becoming a leader for a cause that I care about. I now know that education, either as a teacher or in policy, will be a part of my future. I am so thankful to have found what drives me, an issue that fires me up and a passion that will guide my future.

11) Having straight hair.

I am so lazy when it comes to doing my hair. I wake up, run a brush through it, and if I’m lucky throw a bobby pin or two in there. If I had curly or wavy hair I am almost positive I would look like a homeless person 98% of the time. Flat irons look like they suck to deal with.

12) Having a job with a company that I believe in, in an industry that I am passionate about.

This past year I quit my soul sucking job at a residence hall’s front desk and mail room and got a job with a company that I believe in, in a field that I am passionate about, and I couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity. I am inspired every day by their mission statement and the kind of transformational leaders that work for this company. Whereas at the front desk/mailroom I felt myself die a little bit inside each time I clocked in for another mindless shift, now when I start my work I feel alive- motivated, inspired, and challenged.

13) Not having food allergies.

I love food way too much to even fathom the idea of being limited by a food allergy. Gluten allergy, heeelll no, glutenous carbs are my main squeeze. Lactose intolerance would be intolerable- yogurt, cheese, froyo- I don’t think I could live without them.

14) This blog!

This blog has become my creative outlet, my hobby, and I am so thankful that I have people that support all my creative endeavors and people like you that read my nonsense. Everything I write and every picture I post comes right from my heart. It’s me on a page. Having the forum to express myself and my creativity has been completely life affirming. Thanks for putting up with all my nonsense.