Gayle_CHS booktable34This post by Gayle M. Irwin

On Saturday, I participated in the annual Community Appreciation event hosted by the Casper Humane Society (CHS). I joined about 20 other vendors in the CHS’s parking lot as we attempted to sell our wares. Jewelry, candles, clothing, household do-dads, gardening gadgets, and my books of course! graced the area. The shelter staff gave tours of the facility and promoted pet adoption, and food stuffs could be purchased for a minimal price. All this to thank the community for its support of a pet sheltering organization that has been part of the Casper, Wyoming area for nearly 60 years, and to remind residents that the group still needs support as it houses and cares for nearly 45 dogs and puppies and close to 90 cats and kittens. With Wyoming’s economy in the toilet due to the energy bust last year, not only are dogs and cats in need of new homes, but smaller animals like guinea pigs have also been taken in by the CHS, awaiting compassionate, loving human companions.

dog adoption

As most of you know, pet rescue is one of my passions, if not my highest one. I participated last year in the Community Appreciation event and was happy to do so again this year. Although I didn’t sell a truck load of books, I experienced decent sales, and was happy to sell several of the new Pawprints on my Heart books published last month by Sundown Press – having a new product is always a positive, especially when seeing readers and buyers of previous works. And, of course, the title of this short story collection was appropriate for this particular audience.

doeAfter the event, I joined my husband and our dog Mary at our cabin. The property is only 20 minutes from our home in town, so it’s an easy, fairly fast drive, even though I go from 5,200 feet in elevation to more than 8,000. Greg grilled our dinner and then I sat under some lodgepole pines and soaked in the quiet (the CHS event had music all day, so combined with talking to many people, the solace of Casper Mountain and our wooded acreage was very much welcomed!). I observed several mule deer during the course of the evening, including a doe with twins. Later, a large-racked buck (I saw at least 4 points on each side) sauntered through, and earlier, just prior to my arrival, a yearling doe greeted me on our access road (she’s the only one I got a picture of – the camera was in the car as I drove in but not beside me under the lodgepole; I’ll need to remember to have that with me no matter where I’m at on the property!).

As I watched the deer graze then sashay away, as I listened to the stillness of the woodland, and as I reflected upon a week that turned out to be a bit trying and tiring, I expressed appreciation to the Creator for many things, including the ability to help the CHS (I will be donating a percentage of my book sales back to the organization); the opportunity to engage new readers; the solace of my forested sanctuary; and the beauty in simplicity and nature, such as those fawns with their mamma and the majesty of the 4-point buck.

bird on branchWhen we are bombarded by difficulties, there are various pathways to choose, including anger, bitterness, and depression. Those are the easy roads. The toughest, yet most rewarding, I believe is to, instead, choose gratitude and forgiveness. There is always something for which to express, or at least reflect upon, appreciation. Here are some of the things for which I’m grateful this week:

  1. In light of the death of a friend’s father, I’m grateful to have been able to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday a few weeks ago, and I’m also grateful that, though my mother was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago, she is doing wonderfully well, having lost more than 30 pounds and kept her sugar levels in good control.
  2. In light of the natural disasters, such as wildfire and floods, my home and my cabin remain in tact.
  3. In light of the violence in our country, around the world, and even in my own community, my family is safe.
  4. In light of an aunt being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, my immediate family remains comparatively healthy.
  5. In light of the distressing economic situation in Wyoming, I have a job, my freelance writing career remains strong, and my husband has work relatively often. We live paycheck to paycheck, but, for now, we indeed have paychecks.
  6. In light of so many homeless people, my family is not, and should the political climate remain unhealthy and unsteady and the economy in Wyoming continue to tank to where Greg and I significantly lose income and therefore, our house, we are blessed with land and a small cabin which are completely paid for and in which we can reside if necessary.

I have many blessings, and I am grateful!

butterfly on trunkAdmittedly, I am prone to negativity and depression, envy and fear. After attending a very inspiring conference last week, I am re-filled, re-energized, and re-focused. I purchased a book by one of the speakers, renowned leadership guru John Maxwell; the book is called “Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters.” I’ve purposed myself to live that way, to not let negativity and worry consume me. I vow to live a more confident, purpose-filled life, and to be grateful for what I do have and not focus on what I don’t have. And, if I can change some of the “what I don’t haves,” through application, instruction, and inspiration, I will strive to do so. But, in the meantime, I commit to remember my blessings and to focus on my purpose and my passion, and anticipate seeing what amazing roads may lie behind the horizon.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

What are you grateful for today?



Gayle M. Irwin is an author and freelance writer who enjoys helping pet rescue organizations. She has written seven inspirational dog books for children and adults, and she is a contributing writer to six Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She is also a contributor to Memories from Maple Street: Pawprints on My Heart, published last month by Sundown Press. Additionally, she writes for a variety of magazines and newspapers and speaks in schools, at libraries, and for faith-based organizations. Learn more at

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15 thoughts on “Appreciation

  1. I’m glad you mentioned how grateful you are to still have your father with you (and your mother). I have a slide show of family photos that act as my screen saver. As I sat down at the computer, a photo of my dad, his friend Robert, and me at a restaurant appeared on the screen. It really hit home how much I miss him. That mountain cabin of yours… it’s your own version of Walden’s Pond. Definitely a good place to meditate.


    1. I often think of my cabin site as similar to Walden’s Pond — just without water! LOL Thanks, Mike, for your comments — yes, being with my parents is a treasure for I know one day I will not have that blessing, in this life anyway. I have a gratitude journal, and I plan to start using it regularly. Thanks again for the read and shared thoughts!


  2. We all have so much wonder and beauty in our lives. It is good to be reminded to appreciate and honor that. You expressed it beautifully. Challenges are always there, the way to deal with them, appreciation.
    I wish you well and many more blessings. Maxwell is a good one. Thank you for the reminder of what a wonderful world we have. Doris


    1. Doris, I so appreciate your attitude and kind words. Knowing you is one of my treasures in life — I only wish we could see each other more than once a year. But, even for that I am grateful. Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration as well as your friendship! Blessings back, my friend!


  3. Inspiring post, Gayle! I especially like the way you not only spoke of taking care of abandoned and abused animals and being part of an organization that helps all animals to being grateful and appreciative for what you have. In the last few years, amid depression and mania until I am now even, that’s what I held on to – all my blessings and the many things I had to be thankful for. Thank you for reminding me to give thanks every day!


    1. Linda, I admire you for your forthrightness in dealing with and talking about your struggles; not everyone is that brave. Thank you for being an inspiration to many, including me, and I also appreciation your kind words and encouragement. Continued blessings to you!


  4. A great post to remind us we have choices, always, in how we handle/react to our stresses. So easy to let certain things pull us down, but whether to stay down or find a way up, that is a choice I think. There is always a blessing to remember or contemplate or thank God for. You seem to remember that well.


    1. Thank you, Neva, for your thoughts and for your kind words. I don’t remember as well as I should, but I’m endeavoring to improve. 🙂 I appreciate your friendship, kindness, and encouragement!


  5. A very positive post, Gayle. You live a beautiful part of the country. Here’s to hoping Wyoming can turn their economy around and diversify it. No state should be dependent on only one source of revenue. (This has happened to my home state of OK.)


  6. I’m grateful to still have both my parents as well. That I still have them when I’m nearing 53 is not a gift that is lost on me.


  7. Lovely post, Gayle! You have much to be thankful for and you’re right, it’s all about what we choose to do and believe. I’m grateful for my wonderful cousins in Vancouver who opened their home to me and made me feel so welcome. I am grateful they are all healthy and happy and I can’t wait to see them again.


  8. Great post. So important to count your blessings and keep a positive attitude. Sounds like you have lots to be grateful for, including your animals. Nice that you could help the Humane Society.
    Our area recently had a “Clear the Shelters” weekend, where you could get a pet for free, instead of paying $150 or more. (Was very successful.) The “rescue” groups here charge up to $400, which I think is ridiculous. Do your groups charge those kinds of prices?

    We just adopted a little “dust mop” a couple of weeks ago. Sweetest little thing, pretty well-mannered. Need to work on calming her down when she’s around other people and dogs. I’d love to use her as a “reading” therapy dog–the kids would love her.


  9. I’ve just returned home from a 3 day return trip to go to a family funeral. I’m grateful for the fact that I got to know the husband of my husband’s cousin – even a little- because he was such a lovely person.


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