Giving Thanks for This Year

As an American, I love Thanksgiving. It’s the most quintessentially American holiday – we started it, and I like that we make it a priority, as a nation, to set time aside to give thanks for all we have.

And this year, I can’t help but think of all that I’m thankful for. It’s been a hell of a year (with a month still to go!), but I know I’ll look back on this year as a pivotal year in my life.

So, without further ado, here’s what I’m thankful for (not in priority order – more in the order of the year):

  • I’m thankful I had the chance to go to Re:Think Decision Making in Seattle in March. It’s probably not lost on my close friends that I went to a workshop on decision making the week before I decided to leave my job. I’m thankful that while I was there, I got to spend an incredible weekend with a close friend. I’m thankful that it was a reminder of how much I needed to nurture my soul.
  • I’m thankful that I have the most incredible and supportive group of friends and family. I’ll never, ever, forget calling my mom the night before I resigned for one final “Hey mom, I just want you to know what I’m doing tomorrow.” And she replied with “Sweetheart, I trust you and I’m here for whatever you need.” Then, when I decided to take a trip around the world, again, the most incredible group of people came to support me. Not least – the group of friends who took care of my house (through a hurricane, no less) while I was gone.
  • I’m thankful for the damn raccoons. It’s an incredibly long story, but soon after I bought my house, I had raccoons get into the attic. It was an expensive problem to fix, and really hard to deal with at the time. I never thought I’d be able to look back and be grateful for it, but life is odd sometimes. The incident with the raccoons taught me the importance of saving, and of having savings in reserve – so I developed the discipline of saving and living on less than I made. Which would have meant I had the savings in reserve to have the freedom to quit my job and travel. In so many ways, I’m so grateful I’ve had the chance to learn from all the times things didn’t go quite right. Taking each one of those and putting them together has been, I think, the process called “adulting.”
  • I’m thankful for the people I met along the way! From people I know well (my family and friends) to new friends made on the journey, it was such a blessing to rekindle friendships and make new ones! Each person who has been in my path has taught me something valuable.The people I met on the trip were amazing, but I’m also so thankful I had an awesome group to come home to. I met so many people who were like “I’d never go home if I didn’t have to go make more money!” And I was “I’m SO excited to go home and see my friends!” I can’t ever say how grateful I am that I had so many compelling reasons to come home.
  • I’m thankful I’m American. I visited countries with incredible cultures, but I’m so glad that I’m American. I realized at a more visceral level how many countries have racial and/or religious pre-requisites to be “part” of them. And the amazing thing about the US is that we don’t. You have to be born here, or you can come here legally and go through the naturalization process.But the second you get your citizenship, that’s the end of it. You’re American. Regardless of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever. You are American. I realized this year how rare that is, and I’m so grateful to be an American.Not to mention – I’m grateful for my American passport. It opened so many doors around the world, so easily, and I also met people who showed me how rare that is. It took Brazil (a few years ago) to show me even a taste of what people in many countries go through to travel. And if I had to do that for each country along the way… there would have been far fewer countries visited.
  • I’m so thankful for Holly and my mom coming to meet me on the trip! Holly was just the friend I needed the week Hurricane Irma looked like it was about to take out my house, and it was so fun to spend a week with her! And my mom meeting me in Italy – just a dream come true, for both of us.
  • I’m so thankful for God’s protection. If I had any doubts about God before this, I can say that they’re pretty well dispensed with. The number of times I was in a tight spot, and somehow made it through – I don’t believe there’s a human explanation for it. Because if we’re being honest, I did some rather unwise things (like the ferry from Jordan to Egypt), but each time something happened, there was someone or something to help me get through. Meeting Sammy and Daniel on that crazy ferry ride – that night, I feel like God sent me those two people. The random guy in the airport in Delhi who saw that I was alone and a bit lost, who stopped to make calls on my behalf to get my ride sorted out. The friends I met in the Philippines, who were my introduction to how awesome the trip would be. The girls on the bus from Sharm to Cairo who stopped me from getting off in the wrong place in the middle of Cairo. So many things, in so many different ways, that helped me get where I needed to go, and safely.
  • Last, but not least (at least for this post – there are many other things that didn’t make the list!) – I’m so happy for dreams that come true. I’ve wanted to do this for so many years (decades), and the fact that I got to is still just mind-boggling. And to finish my “World Wonder” tour, when I thought all hope was lost for meeting that dream. There are so many dreams that have come true this year, and I am so thankful I got a chance to live them.

So on this day devoted to giving thanks, I’m just in awe of how incredibly thankful I am for this year. It’s been one for the record books!


  • Deborah Avellano

    So beautifully written! I’m so grateful so many “angels” showed up along your incredible journey. I’m so grateful you and your mom had this precious backpacking tour throughout Italy. I remember the sense of profound gratitude to be an American that followed a backpacking trip in my 20s as well as being happy to come home. May the blessings continue throughout the holidays, Amanda! ❤️

  • Marcelo

    Thank you for sharing your fantastic travel adventures. How did you manage to have your picture taken so many times without anyone else on it. Most of the selfies I’ve seen have lots of people around. Also, how many days did you spend on Egypt (I haven’t finished reading your blog yet, in case you say it there.)

    Good luck on your travels.

    • Amanda Plewes

      Thanks for reading! I used a GoPro camera + a GoPro 3-way selfie stick. It’s bendable so you can get better angles without the selfie stick itself, and the GoPro has a wide-angle lens, so you can get pretty close to whatever you’re trying to get in the picture and still get it in the picture. That’s how I managed so many without others in them!

      And I spent about 2 weeks in Egypt – one was just chilling at an all-inclusive in Sharm-el-Sheikh.

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