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‘Tis the Season for Gratitude!

friday harbor marina Happy Thanksgiving week to you and yours! Libby here, new San Juan Island resident and blogger. Hopefully you’ve already seen my blog about experiencing the off-season here for the first time! I’m continuing that series this week with a few thoughts on Thanksgiving 2013 – my first Thanksgiving away from Florida and my family. I have been in a constant state of homesickness since the big move (roughly six weeks ago now!), but of course, my first holiday brings it out in force. It was wonderful to grow up wearing shorts and flip-flops to Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s hard to imagine my family gathering around my grandmother’s table without me, enjoying all of her made-from-scratch seasonal delights – homemade crescent rolls, savory stuffing, and a sweet potato casserole that literally melts in your mouth. But I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and magazine articles encouraging me to focus on what’s right in front of me instead of what I might be missing, and I’ve decided to jump on that bandwagon with some things I’m grateful for this year.

First and foremost, I am grateful for my health. Spending the last three summers on San Juan Island has only made it easier to adopt a healthier lifestyle – I spend a lot of time outdoors, surrounded by natural beauty and breathing in fresh ocean air, I walk more than I drive, and I have access to a whole plethora of organic, locally grown foods, from produce to meat to cheese. Fast food restaurants are absolutely forbidden here, so that one was easy to cut out! The farmer’s market, which still happens a few times a month even in the dead of winter, is a wonderful resource for greens galore, cheese, milk, jams, spices, and so much more. Eating healthier is easy here with a bit of careful planning and bargain hunting!

I am grateful to have some of the world’s most amazing wildlife in my backyard. I moved here for the orcas, and to this day, seeing them in their natural habitat, completely wild and free, is a thrill beyond anything else I’ve ever experienced. I fell in love with these magnificent cetaceans before I could talk, and I’ve always known that my life’s work had to put me in close proximity to them. San Juan Island has always been the place I dreamed of living, and all the struggles I’ve been through this year, from a divorce to more than a few financial downfalls, were worth it in the end – I get to live here far sooner than I ever anticipated. To share my home with orcas is something that I know for sure will never, ever get old. As a bonus, I also see the graceful black-tailed deer, the friendly river otter, the curious harbor seal, and the majestic bald eagle on any given day!

I am grateful to be doing what I love. San Juan Island is a great place to start going after your dream job – there’s no shortage of friendly, open, and enormously talented people here that are always willing to network with you and reference your skills. In the high season, I am so blessed to work on one of the local whale-watching boats, sharing my passion for orcas with gobs of guests every day. Now, in the off season, I am writing for the inns as well as for the San Juan Journal, which puts my college degree to good use and allows me the freedom to share my love for this place with readers near and far. I am incredibly grateful to be exercising both of my passions.

Finally, I am grateful for the circle of friends that I have already begun to develop. My coworkers here at the inns have been endlessly welcoming, accommodating and patient with me as I learn the ropes. I already feel like part of the team. And I’ve even found a couple of great girlfriends to pass the winter nights with! My family may be far away, but they are always with me in spirit. I’m so thankful for the new “family” I am cultivating here, in my favorite place. The people of San Juan Island – from the kind gentleman who helped guide my car off the ferry the first time to the barista who greeted me by name after just a few visits – are truly the embodiment of the holiday spirit, all year round. Please feel free to come visit us at the inns and see for yourself. Happy holidays to you and yours, wherever you may be!

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