This 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.
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.
After 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.
When 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:
- 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.
- In light of the natural disasters, such as wildfire and floods, my home and my cabin remain in tact.
- In light of the violence in our country, around the world, and even in my own community, my family is safe.
- In light of an aunt being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, my immediate family remains comparatively healthy.
- 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.
- 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!
Admittedly, 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 www.gaylemirwin.com.