Thankful everyday, 21,055 times

It's currently 3AM as I start this blog post on Thanksgiving Day, in London, and I have been spending the last several hours reflecting, reminiscing and thinking. Every day of every year, I have so much to be grateful for and I do my best to show just how genuinely appreciative I am for everything I have been blessed with and that has happened in my life. This year is absolutely no different.

But actually, it completely is.

Of any 12-month period, I think I grew the most, learned the most, discovered and explored the most and was able to invest my time most in myself and the people I love in this past period. From last Thanksgiving to today, so much has happened that I cannot begin to imagine how I can ever be thankful enough. But I try and do my best. Most of all, I hope the people I love most know just how thankful I am to have them in and a part of my life every single day and just how much of a difference each has made in my life.

The best way I know how to show my appreciation to my family and friends was to both let them know personally, a continual process that never stops, and to put together some of the Moments That Matter to me in a timeline to give them a well-deserved shoutout. To put this together, I scrolled through more than 21,055 photos and videos from November 2014 in Google Photos, stopping to look at various photos, think about the memories that were created and how I grew, tried something new or did something bold in that particular moment.

There is a lot that I am thankful for that was not included above, or, because there just is no photo that exists of the moment. For example, all the late-night monument walks or magical snow days I have had in DC with people I care so much about is not shown, but mean just as much to me. And, on an even higher level, the conversations and the laughter I have enjoyed this past year just cannot be represented in any way, but the words that were said, lasted and backed up in my mind may be my favorite memories of all, even more so than the photos automatically saved to Google Photos.

From DC to Los Angeles, Atlanta to Phoenix, Dallas and Memphis to San Francisco and the parts of Europe I have been lucky enough to explore this semester, a lot of memories have been made this past year. There have been several times in the past months where I have talked about how uniquely different this year has been for me and the different type of focus, mindset and outlook I have had this year.

I have always talked about people being the most important part of my life, of any organization and of any vision and I genuinely spend a lot of my time thinking about the people that play a crucial role in my life, more so than I spend time thinking about how technology can simplify life for all of us when pushed out of the way or of the friendly skies, or even singing Taylor Swift. This year, that could not have been more true and the one absolute thing I am thankful for this Thanksgiving: the people I love. I could not mean that more when I say that.

The people in my life are the only thing that I care enough about losing.

So, to the people in my life, pictured or not pictured, who I know personally or only through Google+ or Twitter, thank you. Thank you for making me feel alive. Thank you for making me feel so loved. Thank you for letting me be crazy and insane and passionate. And thank you for contributing all that you are and all the energy you have to me and to this world.

To everyone I love, wherever you are in this world, have a very happy Thanksgiving and holiday season. I hope you are celebrating, enjoying and reminiscing next to people you love as much as I love you and I hope we get to be united again, or meet, so soon.

From London, with so much love.

<3 Ian Tang

My new digital home

Since elementary school, I have wanted to create and have my own website. Back then, the main reason was because I always thought it'd be cool to say that I had a website. In fact, I built a website to distribute study guides I created. But, every time I began building something more personal, I got stuck on what content should go on the website.

Over the years, what I have come to realize is that, while I have not gotten more interesting, I wanted a website, if for nothing else but, for myself. It might sound selfish, but, in actuality, it's similar to the reason I created a mission statement at the start of my Freshmen year of college. I wanted to have a place to remind myself who I am and who I am not, as well as who I want to become. Like my mission statement, I wanted to visually outline and focus myself on what I care about. Sharing all this with the world not only allows people to understand me better, but also to hold me accountable.

So today, I am so happy to announce iantang.com, something that I have been working on for the past several months to hopefully achieve what I described above. It still has some rough edges, but I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you'd like to see more of. There is still so much I want to do with this, so I'm just getting started.

Always about #MomentsThatMatter.
Whether you're on desktop or mobile, or something in between, the Moments page is what you're presented with first. It's an edge-to-edge display of hand-selected photos I've captured of some special moments, people and places. While this selection includes photos I've shared elsewhere, I've chosen to highlight these select few. I have always been captivated by photography and the stories they tell, so the meaning behind the photos and the reason I've selected them are just as important as the photos themselves.

Bringing everything together, beautifully.
iantang.com will also serve as the central place for everything in my life, from personal announcements, like this post, to anything I do professionally. It's why you can also access my website at iantanghub.com. In this sense, my blog (e.g. Thoughts), Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as other social platforms where amazing people and communities have accepted and welcomed me, become the spokes to the hub, my website. It is my goal to bake and integrate social content from all the networks I support right into the website, but my commitment, engagement and presence on social destinations will not change. Originally, I had a separate Spokes page that showed social content, but because I felt the experience could be much better integrated, I'm still experimenting with other ways of having everything right on the site.

The things that define me, defined.
A central part of the website, and something I loved creating, is the values section. It's an overview of the 8 values that are important to me and that were carefully considered when I wrote out my mission statement. On my website, I spell out exactly what each value means to me and how I strive to live according to that value every day. You'll also soon be able to see brands that I support alongside my values and mission statement because I believe where we lend our support financially also says a lot about who we are as individuals.

Let's connect.
Along with my website, I am also making public an email where people can personally contact me: inquiries@iantang.com. Say hello and let me know if you'd like to work on something great together.

From sea to shining sea

If there is anything I have learned in the past 15 years since coming to America in 2000, it is that America is beautiful. Today, I will be dipping my toes in the Atlantic Ocean as I spend Fourth of July with my parents in Jacksonville, FL this year. I can't help but think that exactly one year ago, my breath was being taken away, in much the same way, by the Pacific Ocean at

#CampEmeraldBay

, and for everything in between, I am endlessly grateful.

Looking out into the Atlantic Ocean (Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville, FL)

America is great because it is so vast. It's not only vast in landscapes, but also vast in ideas and in diversity of its People.

Each city that I have had the chance to visit in the past year has been so absolutely different, each so absolutely gorgeous, energizing and vibrant in their own ways. Yet, what is more noticeable is all the things that weave us together as Americans and the common story, aspirations, hope and Dream we all share, whether born here or not.

America is not perfect and we have made mistakes, many of them. In fact, the manner in which we became such a vast Nation is not one of our best moments. But, as Emily Mortimer (MacKenzie McHale) says in Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom,"America is the only country on the planet, that since its birth, has said over and over and over that we can do better. It's part of our DNA."

People around the world look to America when they need a leader, a Nation that has a moral compass to stand up for the fundamental rights of all People and a Nation that recognizes the values it was created for. There's a lot to easily be cynical about, but it is the moments where America acts uniquely that we so often forget about how great our home is. From creating some of the brightest minds and promoting creativity to taking action on some of the world's hardest problems, America still remains both a force for good and a beacon of hope for much of the world. We are not in that position because we are perfect—we are in that position because we can so honestly, openly and vigorously have the tough conversations publicly, while still remaining one Nation.

A lot of people compare America with China nowadays. They talk about the Chinese government working so efficiently, a comparison that scares me. Efficiency is not what we want and was not what our Founding Fathers intended for. That's also not how democracy works, even if the world is moving faster now. For all the gridlock we have, we should also keep in mind that this Nation was built on the notion that there is no one right way and that all ideas should be put on the table, to be considered and discussed by the American People.

So, this Fourth of July, while you celebrate with friends, good food and amazing fireworks, also take a moment to reflect on all the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans and all the responsibilities so many of us, so often, shy away from. Reflect on how different we each are as Americans, but also everything that makes us One Nation. Reflect on all the mistakes we have made, how We the People can all work together to make this Nation better and all that we can be proud of and celebrate.

And so...

I pledge allegiance, to the Flag, of the United States of America,

And to the Republic, for which it stands.

One Nation, under God.

Indivisible. With Liberty and Justice for all.

Cross-posted on Google+: 

https://plus.google.com/+iantang/posts/e8qxXWySz7z