This post by Gayle M. Irwin
Thanksgiving is behind us here in the United States, but reflectively I wanted to pen a few thoughts on what I’m thankful for this year — there is indeed much in my life for which to be grateful:
- Writing articles honoring Vietnam veterans – I’ve interviewed and written about 12 veterans and have a few more assigned to me for the coming few months. This long-term project has been very enlightening, educational, and humbling. Never again will I take Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day for granted or view them as “just another holiday.”
- Writing articles in general – My work appears in three different magazines and two different newspapers this year; although I had more articles last year in those publications plus another newspaper, taking on the Vietnam project added to the repertoire so I stayed busy and had several bylines in the various publications – and “Cody’s Cabin…” appeared as part of the children’s section of the local paper this fall, an endeavor by the paper in conjunction with our local school district and library – that’s been REALLY COOL to have and use in the school visits I’ve done!
- School speaking – Today I’m visiting two first grade classes at a local elementary school and teaching the kids about writing nonfiction animal stories; I love being called upon to instill knowledge upon young minds and hearts, whether that’s educating them about pets or about writing. Sometimes the classes are challenging, especially in the behavior department, but many times, especially this school year, the visits have been fun and inspiring.
- My family – I still have both of my parents whom I can visit and share fun adventures (like last year, traveling the southwestern US with my dad), and I have a faithful, loving husband who also loves and cares for our pets and encourages me in my writing career.
- My “day job” – I work with a wonderful group of ladies and together we help women in our community who experience an unplanned pregnancy, providing them with resources to help them carry their babies to term and either become parents or make an adoption plan; our services include medical care, parenting classes, community resources/referrals, and connections to licensed adoption agencies. Each staff member and volunteer is filled with grace and compassion – so wonderful to be around vs. a negative, back-stabbing environment, which I’ve experienced in my life.
- Surviving the flight day from hell! On Friday, Nov. 20, I was returning to Casper with a work colleague after spending three days in Rochester, NY training on the new medical records programs our clinic plans to implement in January. Our flight plan was straight-forward, but didn’t happen that way; we ended up getting into Casper around 1 am, nearly 12 hours after we first entered the Rochester airport, and upon encountering a flat tire on her car, it was another 1 ½ hours before I crawled into my bed at home. So many negatives occurred that day/night, but the positives were we were both safe and we got home. Oh, and my lost luggage showed up around 3 pm on Saturday, Nov. 21!
- My pets – What can I say? I love and appreciate my two dogs and two cats! Their presence in my life brings me joy, comfort, and companionship. And, I love being involved with pet rescue, helping other animals get to their forever homes, and have a place to be warm, fed, and loved until they do get that special home.
- My friends – Whether near or far, in person or virtual, each person I’m honored to call friend means a great deal to me. And that includes this wonderful group of people who are also great writers!
Gratitude – something this world needs a bit more of, looking at blessings in our lives and not “what I don’t have.” Life is challenging, there is no doubt about that, and some people I know face great challenges, whether at home, at work, in their families, or their own personal lives. I remember these people in my prayers and always hope they come through their respective challenges stronger, better people. Reading a book called “A Complaint-Free World” this fall and keeping a Gratitude Journal these past few months has certainly changed my perspective quite a bit, and I hope my attitude eventually turns around a bit more as well. Like most people, I’m still “a work in progress” but I hope I’m improving little by little … in many aspects of my life.
I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, for fun (to southern Utah with my husband and dogs one weekend in October and the next weekend being with my parents in Montana) and for work (the trip to Rochester). I fully admit, I AM EXHAUSTED! I don’t have many writing assignments in December so I took Thanksgiving (and will take most of December) to accomplish two things: (1) work on book marketing strategies and (2) REST! I need a lot of both! I have five books that I’ve written and published during the past seven years, and I need to spend more time marketing them. They are helpful and uplifting, and more people need to know about them. And, I need significant “down-time.” Day job is going to be very busy in December as we train our staff on electronic medical records, and the “other job” (writing/marketing) is going to take a significant amount of energy as I do book events prior to Christmas and anticipate making more online sales. So, Thanksgiving was spent with time at home resting and marketing …. and preparing for December’s onslaught. I greatly enjoyed this Thanksgiving holiday for the rest, recuperation, and rejuvenation that took place!
How about you? What are you thankful for as we enter into this wonderful season of the year? As December dawns, I wish you all many blessings!
Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspirational dog books for children and adults: Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including The Dog Did What?, released August 2014. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.