everything I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday — there's no pressure of giving gifts (I'm not a fan of presents), it's only a couple of days away from my birthday, all my family (or friends, if I'm not at home) get together, and I find that it's the perfect time for me to reflect. I remember my childhood, before food became something that was feared:

Chinese American Thanksgiving

I remember one time in middle school being furious that we had a Thanksgiving dinner of solely Chinese food. I just wanted to be a normal American kid — was that so hard?

I remember the all our family gathering at our long dining hall table, with its gilded golden tablecloth. The table was laden with everything under the sun: Chinese stir-fried greens with garlic, ham, salmon, stir-fried pork, a whole turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, sautéed green beans, mashed potatoes, desserts my sister had made... the medley of Chinese and American mirroring my life.

And I remember during college, all the struggles I had. This year, I'm grateful for so, so much. Looking back and seeing how far I've come over the past few years:

I remember coming home my freshman year of college for Thanksgiving because I missed my family so much. I had unintentionally lost weight as a result of eating vegan and gluten free in my school dining hall (their meat was sketchy) and 2 hour swim practices on top of yoga and running twice a week. I prided myself on eating the least at the Thanksgiving table and on crushing it at a 2.5 hour practice the next morning. Looking back, it was a good Thanksgiving, but was filled with orthorexic behavior.

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I remember visiting New York my sophomore year for the first time and feeling alive in the new city. We indulged in homemade smores and donuts and all that NYC had to offer, but I was fine. Why wouldn't I be fine?

Thanksgiving 2014 — Dough Doughnuts in NYC

Thanksgiving 2014 — Dough Doughnuts in NYC

I remember visiting New York again my junior year, somewhere in the throes of struggling with an eating disorder, mood disorders, and depression. I had recently adopted a Paleo way of eating to cope, and my friends were so accommodating. For the first, I felt that maybe, I would be fine.

Thanksgiving 2015 — byCHLOE Quinoa Taco Bowls in NYC

Thanksgiving 2015 — byCHLOE Quinoa Taco Bowls in NYC

I stayed in Boston my senior year, began the day with yoga, and thought to myself that I was blessed to be here, to be healthy, and to feel comfortable in my own skin. We had friends over and wine and for that moment, I was present.

Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

This Thanksgiving, I woke up after almost 12 hours of sleep feeling like I was on top of the world. I cleaned my kitchen, went to an awesome Yoga Sculpt class at CorePower, walked home in the sunshine, made myself food, and am now working at a coffee shop. All this time, I keep thinking to myself, I have never felt more alive. These couple of months, I've felt happy. Full-filled. At peace with my body. Thriving from being alone but also finding joy in connecting and spending time with people I value.

Thanksgiving 2017 — the view on the walk home from yoga

Thanksgiving 2017 — the view on the walk home from yoga

This Thanksgiving, I want to thank you.

Thank you to my family, who, through tears and smiles, always support me.

Thank you to my friends, who tell me that I inspire them and who inspire me in turn.

Thank you to all my readers and followers, who have stuck with me this long. You don't know how much your comments have helped me some days and how important you've been in my journey.

I'm grateful for this body I live in and for the work it does — through the long work days, through intense boxing sessions and hot yoga sessions, through walking and running and just living.

I'm grateful to have a job I truly enjoy and side hustles I'm passionate about.

I'm grateful to be alive.

Happy Thanksgiving, and have a beautiful time with friends, family, and food!