30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 22: Holidays

In the month of November, I’m meditating on my gratitude for something different each day.

Thanksgiving already?! It’s simultaneously exciting and frightening that it’s already turkey day. It’s a sort of halfway point between the start of what I consider “the holidays.”

And, really, Is there a better time of year than the holidays? Pffft. No! (If you said yes, you should probably leave this post now.) For me, October through the new year is a magical time. It’s full of creativity, family, friends, and traditions. If I’m lucky, it starts to cool down. This is the time of year where my entire family turns into a band of psychotic elves. You know those people who put up Christmas decorations on November 1st? Ya, we’re those people and absolutely proud of it.

I’m thankful to have such a strong holiday tradition. For years, we’ve put up several trees and bedecked the house with wreaths, nutrcrackers, and oversized Christmas balls. I love it. I’m grateful that when I was a kid, my parents would rent a cherry picker to string lights up on the palm trees. I love that for a few years we had a real15 ft fir; one year it was so big that I was able to actually walk into the tree.

I’m thankful for well-wrapped presents with hand tied bows, tinsel, gingerbread cookies, Santa hats; my favorite Christmas movies like Elf, The Polar Express, and The Grinch; gatherings with family and friends; Noche Buena filled with lechon, congris, countless cousins, and piña colada; a month and a half of holiday songs; and the excitement I had as a kid waiting to hear reindeer on the roof and that I can now watch my own kid do the same.

As for today, Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that I have my family and friends to spend it with. My belly is full, and I’m off to decorate a tree.


How to Say Thank You in 30 Languages

Thank You 30 Ways from Hyperfluent on Vimeo.

In honor of Thanksgiving, here’s how to say “Thank You” in 30 languages. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Eva and I had so much fun working on this. We’re amazed by how many people shot videos and sent in videos from around the world last night. We’re still getting videos sent in, which we’ll use for next year. I say it in Arabic, Jessie in Hebrew, and Aidan closes out the video. Fun!

30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 21: Tech

In the month of November, I’m meditating on my gratitude for something different each day.

Sometimes I take for granted how amazing the innovations around me are. Eva and I asked some friends to send video clips of themselves saying a phrase in different languages. We received 30 video clips from around the world shot on webcams, iPhones, and digital cameras, sometimes within minutes of asking. Within a hours, with no video editing experience, we were able to throw those clips together and even add some accompanying music courtesy of creative commons licensing. A few years ago that would have never been possible, at least not with such efficiency.

Let me break it down: You can turn your phone around, record a video, and beam it across the world. It’s like the Jetsons! How marvelous! (For real, marvel at it people.)

This website is built on wordpress, which is open-source software. My car can talk to me and I to it. I can stream any music I want on my phone, anywhere in the world without interruption, courtesy of Spotify. I work without an office with my laptop or smartphone; and because of social media and code libraries available on the web, I have a job.

There is so much awesome stuff being built to make our lives easier. It’s unreal.

I’m unbelievably blessed to have access to all these technologies. So, today I thank all the engineers, developers, designers, dreamers, and anyone who makes their work possible, because without them, you wouldn’t even be reading this.

30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 17: Family

In the month of November, I’m meditating on my gratitude for something different each day.

I’m thankful for my wild and hilarious sisters; for my crafty, creative, and awesomely geeky (yay!) nephew; my fantastically witty niece; my parents, who of course will get their individual posts, but deserve a mention here, too; my aunt who played countless hours of te cojo (like Cuban hide and seek) with me as a kid; for my abuela who always was sure to have arroz con pollo waiting for me; for my countless cousins, young and old, who make every gathering memorable; and for the family members that I have lost, for whom I am thankful to have had a chance to know.

Today, I’m thankful for family.

30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 16: Medicine

In the month of November, I’m meditating on my gratitude for something different each day.

I woke up this morning with chills and aches, promptly crawling back into bed after dropping Aidan off at school. I figure this is the perfect opportunity to be thankful for medicine. I don’t just mean pharmaceuticals, but the entire field of medicine.

Without medicine, my abuela would have passed a few weeks ago, albeit at the ripe old age of 102. Instead, she just celebrated her 103rd birthday. My mother, who just turned 70 a few days before my abuela, would not be here either.

While our healthcare system is often expensive and imperfect, I know that we’re still blessed to have access to the quality of care and treatments. I hope that reform will make it even more accessible. In the meantime, I’m thankful that my son has all his vaccines and that he doesn’t have to worry about smallpox or polio. I’m thankful that what might be lethal in another part of the world, like infection or diarrhea, is usually treated with a trip to the doctor or pharmacy. I can’t fathom losing someone I love to something that seems so simple to me. The hope, of course, is that some day no one else will be able to fathom it either.

30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 11: Thrills

In the month of November, I’m meditating on my gratitude for something different each day.

Today, I’m thankful for one of the best things in life: thrills. First off, I love the word thrill. It’s so versatile. It’s both verb and noun that covers experiencing or causing someone to experience “a sharp feeling of excitement“, the intense feeling of excitement, and the actual thing that thrills you. (Thrill also means to tingle, throb, vibrate, or tremble. Do with that as you will.)

Such a fun word. Anyhow, on to what I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for the thrills I get from:
roller-coasters with really steep drops and lots of loops;
hitting a target, especially because I’m so uncoordinated;
climbing to the top of a silk and looking down;
going somewhere I’ve never been;
figuring out a buggy chunk of code;
solving a puzzle;
seeing a shooting star;
watching someone I love accomplish something great;
witnessing an extraordinary circus arts performance;
a hot red dress;
whatever puts the wind on my face;
conquering a fear;
trying something new;
swinging up high;
watching fireworks;
jumping in the waves;
and discovering how flexible limits really are.

30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 10: Culture

In the month of November, I’m meditating on my gratitude for something different each day.

Being Cuban-American, I get to enjoy two cultures in one. While it can be hard to reconcile the two sometimes, I wouldn’t trade being bi-cultural for anything. It really has shaped who I am and how I live my life. I love sharing it with friends and instilling it in Aidan. I’m really lucky, because I get to claim two languages, two histories, two catalogs of music, two ways of celebrating several holidays… you get the picture. Below, I break down a few random things I’m thankful for about both.

On the Cuban side, I’m thankful for:

loud, absolutely humongous family;
long lifespans, which means more time to enjoy my loved ones (and if I’m lucky, to enjoy my life);
the really strong personalities;
the value placed on hard work while still putting family first;
the food (ZOMFG the food!!!);
noche buena, which is when most of us celebrate Christmas;
the warmth of Latin culture;
the music;
being part of a larger common cultural group (being Cuban means being Latina);
Cuban coffee;
Sabado Gigante, violetas, dominos;
the glorification of curves;
and of course, the beautifully seductive language of Spanish (which we totally butcher in Miami and mix with English to create Spanglish.)

On the American side:
Fourth of July (stereotypical, I know, but how can you not love it?!);
a certain “we can do anything” mentality;
an extremely diverse and expressive language, argued by some to have the most words of any living language in the world;
a really diverse landscape to explore;
Disney (yes, I said it. Deal with it.);
BBQ in all its iterations throughout the U.S.;
Thanksgiving (duh!);
diaspora of other groups (I can get a taste of nearly any ethnic group somewhere in the US, which I friggin’ love!);
my freedoms;
classic American style;
baseball, football, basketball (I’m not a diehard fan, but there’s something about it…);
and last, but not least, the truly American musical genre known as Jazz.

Background images: unknown & Aaron Escobar

30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 9: Travel

In the month of November, I’m meditating on my gratitude for something different each day.

Falling asleep as I depart one city and waking up as I land in another, I know it’s a privilege that some don’t ever get. In fact, something like 95% of the world’s population have never flown before. Can you believe how lucky I am? That out of all the people in the world, I’ve been on a plane? Not only once, but I’ve been flying since before I can remember.

Travel is a priority for me, and out of all the people I’m closest to, sometimes I feel like I travel the least. I want to see so much more, I swear I want to devour the world. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who want the same things, but it can make me forget how privileged I really am. So today, I give thanks for where I have been and where I have yet to go.

I’m thankful for:
the sense of adventure that travel brings;
the anticipation in planning and leading up to a journey:
the perspective gained by leaving daily life behind (or even bringing it with me on the road);
the awareness;
the tolerance I develop and am shown;
the confidence that comes from pushing beyond my comfort zone;
the incomparable shared experiences with my travelmates, but also with people I don’t know who have been where I have been;
the occasional friendships made;
the love that grows for this life and this earth with every trip I take;
the unexpected, the bizarre, and the rarely horrible yet hilarious mishaps;
the memories, which are rarely the ones I expect to take with me;
and that there is so much more to discover.

P.S. No, that’s not a painting in the picture above. That’s a photograph from a drive I took this summer. Again, how lucky am I?!

30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 8: Senses

In the month of November, I’m meditating on my gratitude for something different each day.

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Senses via Bits of Beauty

Most of us take them for granted, so today I want to devote some time to each sense. How we experience the world is completely dependent on them.


Oh, taste! How boring would eating be without the ability to taste anything? I’m thankful that I can taste the salty goodness of parmesan fries, the bittersweet of really quality chocolate, and the juicy sourness of a plum. I’ve only recently discovered that the good savory taste in cheese and meat is called Umami, which happens to be one of my favorite tastes!


I’m thankful that I can smell lavender, vanilla, and violets; fresh laundry; that newborn baby scent; wine, garlic, rosemary, thyme, onions, and grilled meat; the smokey smell on my clothes after an evening near a campfire; rain; Christmas tree; cinnamon and pumpkin spice; my mom’s perfume; salty air and suntan lotion; cologne and skin; the falling autumn leaves; orange blossoms; and Cuban coffee.


I complain about how bad my eyesight sucks without my warbys or contacts, but I really should be grateful. Every. Single. Damn. Day. Because without those contacts or glasses, I can’t really see faces, and that makes me realize how lucky I am to get the chance to see all the amazing things I have seen. I’m thankful that I get to see Aidan’s happy face and Lola’s big ears. I’m blessed to have eyes that witnessed absolutely surreal landscapes and gorgeous sunsets. I’m thankful that I can see this screen, right now.


I think touch might be the sense we’re most aware of because we know what it feels like to be numb. I think we can all agree that being numb is only desirable for childbirth and major surgeries. I actually met someone who had numbness in his hands from an accident; he had to be extra aware not to hurt himself because he had no way of telling if he was doing damage to his hands. After that conversation, I’ll take some pain any day. Beyond keeping me safe, I’m thankful for the delicious feelings like cashmere blankets and fur throws on my skin. I’m grateful to feel cool air, warm sunshine, hugs, tickles, my hair down my back when I unpin it, that deep stretch in a good yoga class, the spine tingle I get when I’m scared or from someone breathing on my neck, orgasms (because who the hell isn’t thankful for those?) and sand between my toes.


I’m thankful I can hear Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, violins, the life-altering gong in Kundalini class, rainfall, baby giggles, my name, heartbeats, ocean waves, conversations, the rolling R in Spanish, the rhythm of Italian, wind blowing through bamboo, wind chimes, crickets, and whispers in my ear.

background images: (from top left) jamesongravity, stolte-sawa, bitsofbeauty, mllefrancesca, stevendepolo