Giving Thanks

Given that it is the week of Thanksgiving, it only seemed appropriate to make this the theme of this week’s Friday Feature. Thanksgiving, for me, has never been a favorite among the holidays. Of course, everybody loves Christmas and New Year’s Eve, while Halloween is my personal favorite. Still, Thanksgiving is a great holiday because it is a beautiful reminder to take the time to give thanks and feel the feelings of gratitude for everything you love and appreciate about your life. This got me thinking about some of my favorite music about gratitude, so I thought it could be fun to share a few of my favorite songs about gratitude, as well as showing off a few Thanksgiving-themed makeup looks I came up with.

According to one of my favorite books, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, gratitude is one of the most powerful tools we can use for attracting the things that we want into our lives.  The book says that by feeling the feelings of gratitude we are emitting a frequency of already having the things that we want and the Universe receives that frequency and sends us back more of that same feeling and more reasons to have that same feeling. The thing that I find so fascinating about gratitude, though, is the fact that it can come in so many different forms. It is so easy to take for granted and often comes in hindsight instead of as an immediate reaction to whatever the action is that would cause the gratitude. This selection of songs about gratitude is kind of based on that whole concept.

“Thank U” by Alanis Morissette

“Thank U” was written by Alanis Morissette after a trip she had taken to India in the small amount of time she took off after the release of her massively successful US debut, “Jagged Little Pill.” Alanis has said in interviews that “Thank U” is a song about her intense feelings of gratitude for this trip to India, which she has often said changed her life and her view of the world. My personal impression of the song has always been that it is about finding some sort of spiritual enlightenment, which is an experience that I am definitely familiar with and makes this a song that I can relate to on a very deep level.

“Thank You” by Dido

“Thank You” is a song written by Dido in tribute to her boyfriend at the time it was written. This is essentially a song about being grateful for a person in your life who makes all of the day-to-day stresses and dramas of just living life seem meaningless. It is about having someone in your life who makes every day wonderful just by being in your life; Somebody who, as the song says, makes every day the best day of your life. It is a beautiful concept and a song that I absolutely love, although unfortunately not one that I have a whole lot of way to relate to.

“To Zion” by Lauryn Hill

“To Zion” is a song written by Lauryn Hill and is featured on her incredible, yet sole, solo album, “The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.” This song is absolutely gorgeous and I think is one of the most powerful declarations of gratitude I have ever heard in music. The “Zion” referenced in the title of the song is not actually in reference to the Hebrew name for a spiritual place, (often Jerusalem,) nor for the Kabbalistic concept of Tzion, the spiritual point from which reality is born or revealed, (although that is definitely another aspect of the song.) The “Zion” in the title is actually the name of her son. This song is about the feeling of gratitude for her child and the transformation she went through from individual to parent. Clearly, not having any children myself, this is not something I can really understand fully but the song is an amazing expression of what I would imagine it to be.

“Fighter” by Christina Aguilera

“Lessons Learned” by Carrie Underwood

I lumped these two songs together because they are kind of birds of the same feather, but taking very different perspectives on the same idea. “Fighter” is an aggressive, powerful song about being hurt and being grateful for the opportunity that gives you to come back fighting. Essentially, it is about being grateful for the strength that one gains from rising to the occasion when faced with hurt and negativity. “Lessons Learned,” on the other hand, is also about being hurt but is much more about being grateful for the lessons that you learn from the experience. It is a beautiful song, written by Diane Warren, about growing and learning from the experiences of moving on. It is about being grateful for the opportunity to move forward a stronger person, as opposed to being bitter or sad.

“Kind & Generous” by Natalie Merchant

“Kind & Generous” is one of my very favorite songs about gratitude. It is a very simple, outright song, repeating simply several times throughout “Thank you” over an incessantly catchy chorus of “na na na na na na na.” The lyrics are very simply about feeling gratitude for somebody’s kindness, generosity and general being there for you. This is a song that I have often dedicated to my mother, although there are several different people in my life who I would also dedicate this song to. It is a beautiful track and, like I said, is one of my very favorite songs on the topic of gratitude.

“Thank You For The Music” by ABBA

“Thank You For The Music” is actually a song that the songwriters of ABBA, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, wrote with the initial intention of including in a musical they were writing, called “The Girl With The Golden Hair,” (which is referenced in the song.) This song has always held a really special place in my heart since I first became familiar with it. In many ways, I have always felt like this song was the story of my life. I mean, I don’t think I have ever been accused of being a bore and have a tendency to be pretty funny, unlike the protagonist of the song, but I spent the majority of my life feeling like the only thing I was any good at and the only thing I really felt any genuine passion towards was music. It always came as second nature to me to always be singing and dancing and always felt a very strong, real connection with others through music. As I got older and started going out into the world, and actually started singing in public and performing in whatever small ways I could find, I couldn’t imagine a greater joy than that which I got from performing. While I don’t really do any performing anymore, music is still the thing that I am the most grateful for in life.

For my first bit of Thanksgiving-themed makeup, I decided to get a little experimental. For this look, I took inspiration from Cranberries and Cranberry Sauce, a common Thanksgiving tradition for many American families. For this look, I used my regular base of Revlon Colorstay Foundation in Natural Beige and Clinique Quick Correct Concealer in Light Medium, set with Coty Airspun Loose Powder in Translucent. I contoured and highlighted with the Sedona Lace Contour & Blush palette, and lightly applied MAC Passionate eye shadow as a blush low on the apples of the cheeks. On the lips, I used L’oreal HiP lipstick in the shade Driven, a deep, reddish berry shade, kind of like the color of cranberries. Lastly, for the eyes, I only used the Tarte for True Blood palette. I started by thoroughly blending a combination of Werewolf, a matte chocolate brown, and Stake, a medium matte gray, through the crease and slightly down onto the upper portion of the lid. I also blended this combination fairly liberally half way across the lower lash line. Then, I laid down the shade V, a deep, shimmery cranberry red shade, all over the lid, blending into the crease color slightly. Then, I used Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil in Crash, a shimmery plum shade, on the water line and patted Glamour Me, a shimmery deep purple/plum color, from the True Blood palette over it for an added shimmer. I also used this shade to line the upper lash line. The last step was to use The Light, a sheer, shimmery white-gold, as a highlight on the brow bone and the inner tear duct and a couple of coats of Tarte Lights, Cameras, Lashes! mascara in Black. After the fact, I felt like this was perhaps too dark, or too much red, but I think this eye look would look amazing with a nude lip and just some bronzer or something on the cheeks instead.

or my second Thanksgiving-inspired look, I decided to do something a little more in the way of traditional fall shades. Same foundation, concealer and powder as above but I did not contour with this look. Instead, for the cheeks, I just lightly dusted the Stila Make Me Blush palette over the apples of the cheeks for a soft coral flush to the cheeks. On the lips, I used L’oreal Infallible Le Rouge in Opulent Organza, a light peachy brown. On the eyes, I began by placing Stila Matte eye shadow in Champara, a rich, warm-toned, medium brown, through the crease and blending upward. I then placed Stila Matte eye shadow in Nanda Devi, a deep, dark, cooler-toned brown, directly in the crease to add a bit of depth, blended thoroughly through the crease but not upward at all. Then I placed the shade Charmer, a shimmery orange-copper shade from the Tarte for True Blood palette, on the inner and outer portion of the lid and Dawn, a sheer, shimmery yellow-gold, in the center of the lid, blended into the Charmer shade. The last step was to use that same Stila Matte shadow in Nanda Devi to line the upper and lower lash lines, highlight again with The Light and lay on a couple of layers of L’oreal Voluminous False Fiber Mascara in Black Brown on the top and bottom lashes. This was a much more subtle look and one that I thought would work really well for spending Thanksgiving with perhaps more conservative family members, (unless, like me, you are a guy… in which case, well… they’re probably not going to be pleased with you either way.)

My third and final Thanksgiving-themed makeup look was very much inspired by those little Turkey drawings you’ll see from children all the time, or even the turkeys cut out of construction paper or something. They always have three primary colors in them; bright yellow, bright orange and a deep brown. I also just wanted to mention, you may notice something different about this look; it was one of those extremely rare cases where I did not shave. I was sick all week and didn’t have to go out on this day, (it was Thanksgiving, after all,) so I just didn’t feel like doing it. Because of this, I decided that with this look I would go a bit more natural on the skin. I only used Covergirl CG Aqua Smoothers in Natural Beige and Clinique Quick Correct Concealer in Light Medium, as well as my Coty Airspun Loose Powder in Translucent. All I did on the cheeks was a small amount of highlighting with Stila Illuminating Powder in Rose Gold, just over the tops of the cheekbones and placed Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Wonder, (a soft, shimmery golden peach,) on the apples of the cheeks. To match up with the cheeks, I used Revlon ColorBurst lipstick in Peach, which is a very similar medium peach shade with a nice amount of natural sheen. On the eyes I first applied Sugarpill pressed shadow in Butter Cupcake, a bright matte yellow, on the inner portion of the lid. Next, making sure to blend really well, I added Sugarpill pressed shadow in Flamepoint, a bright matte orange, over the remainder of the lid. Next I applied Stila Matte eye shadow in Nanda Devi on the very outer corner of the lid and into the crease and used Stila Matte eye shadow in Illimani to blend that color out a bit and warm it up some. I used the two shadows in the same way on the lower lash line. I, once again, used The Light to highlight the inner corner and the brow bone. I lined the upper and lower waterlines with Clinique Quickliner For Eyes in Black Brown, and created a winged line on the upper lash line using L’oreal HiP Color Truth Cream Liner in Black. The last step for this look was, once again, a ton of L’oreal Voluminous False Fiber Mascara in Black Brown on the upper and lower lashes for some added drama. This was definitely my favorite of the three Thanksgiving-themed looks.

I guess the only thing left to do is say a bit about what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. There is tons that I feel thankful for this year but above all else, I have to say what I have said every year since I have managed to genuinely feel this way; as arrogant or indulgent as it may sound, I am most thankful for the person that I am. I am grateful for having the strength, the confidence and the clarity of sight that I do. I have always said, even before I really meant it, is that there is nothing more important in this life than being able to be certain of who you are and to be genuinely proud of it. So, more than anything else in life, that is what I am thankful for. I wish the same for each and every one of you. I also wish you all some great deals for Black Friday, (although I know it is basically over now,) because I know I got some! We’ll talk about those in the very near future, though. In the meantime, I wish you all a beautiful holiday weekend and a beautiful life!



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