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Being thankful in 2020

This year is rough, no question about it. But Thanksgiving is the time to be appreciative of all that we have. It is also the season to look within ourselves and think about spreading kindness. To this end, I work on publicly being grateful on my Facebook posts for the little and big things of life.
Nov. 1: I am grateful for a new day that is a new beginning. Somehow dawn makes everything fresh and new again. Having seen people with so little, it might be that I am more appreciative this year, but the sunrise in the fog was amazing.
Nov. 2: I am grateful for beauty in nature. Especially mornings that happen an hour later today, even if the dogs insist that I am late to check out said beauty. (They really don’t get the whole daylight savings time thing.)
Nov. 3: I am grateful that I share my life with animals. From the chameleon that bit me yesterday to the pups that make sure I get up on time, I love them all. Yes, even the cats that knock everything down so that the dogs can chew it up and vomit at 4 a.m.
Nov. 4: I’m grateful for freedom. Freedom to say what I believe. Even to believe in my Beliefs is not a given in all places. Freedom to take photos of public places. Freedom to vote in a real election.
Nov. 5: I am grateful for coffee. First thing in the morning, the staff has it ready to go. Even if animal care draws me in before I get a cup, I can smell the heavenly scent on the way to my office. Coffee with friends. Coffee from Africa. I am grateful for the many forms of coffee. Recently, coffee from a client to say thank you. I’m very grateful for Two thank yous in two days. I wish it could take the sting of the ungrateful that I have seen, but it helps to remind me I should be grateful.
Nov. 6 Nov 9: I am grateful for falconry. It makes me practice patience, meet new friends and forces me out into the sun and rain and ticks and chiggers. Well, maybe not so grateful for chiggers.
Nov. 7: I am grateful for friends. Friends that I go walking with. Friends that join us for dinner. Writing friends. Friends that walk my path and therefore help raise my child. Friends that are in my exam rooms. Friends that draw and end up in my books. Friends that understand how hard it can be to be on our side of that exam table. Friends from the military that I can pick up as though it hasn’t been years. Friends that lift me up and keep me on a good path. Friends that are there when I need them. Friends in multiple time zones and continents.
Nov. 8: I am grateful for sunny fall days and a bit of down time. I am Guardian Animal. I take shifts at the Animal ER. I coach other businesses. I write and speak. And a few other things, but for an hour today, after an educational meeting, deadline met, taking a red-tailed hawk x-rays so he will be ready for release, a friend and I sat in the sun. Focus is an American kestrel. I’m grateful for her too.
Nov. 9: I am grateful for Internet friends. I can chat with new friends from Africa. An artist veterinarian friend can make a sketch for me. I can experience new cultures with an artist friend in Sri Lanka. I can keep touch with college friends who have scattered.
Nov. 10: I am grateful for my staff. They, by in large, are dedicated, hardworking folks who genuinely care about the animals and their chauffeurs. They also care about me and help me with the things that my knee injuries keep me from doing. I also appreciate the ER staff who will be over staffed for me and work hard not to have scents and chemicals that cause me to have an asthmatic attack. Blessed to have two sets of professionals working with me.
Nov. 11: I am grateful for my time at U.S. Coast Guard Academy and my time in the U.S. Coast Guard. I grew up with good people. These people I could call today and we could chat for hours or I could ask them for anything. These are my people and I am theirs. I guess I broke glass ceilings, but I do know I had an amazing time and learned a lot of things about life
Nov. 12: I don’t talk about them often, but I am grateful for my family. My husband of 38 years puts up with quite a few of my adventures. My child is a sophomore at Wooster and if the rambling chat last night is any indication, she is doing pretty well as an independent human. I like them both. Even more than the dogs. Well, sometimes.
Nov. 13: I am grateful for the comradery of my colleagues. Through phone calls, Facebook, email and WhatsApp, I can discuss cases, give and receive advice and even mentor younger veterinarians. My experiences have taught me much that I am now proud to be able to pass on information and knowledge at the same time that I can get updates on my complex cases or issues.
Nov. 14: I am grateful for my clients. They have kind words to say when they visit. Sometimes, they bring things to share. They always listen and heed my advice and experience. Their pets are the best! Not all of the pets, of course. But I think most of the clients genuinely care about me and my staff and realize that we are doing the best that we can do also. And the vast majority of the pets love me, too.
Nov. 15: I am grateful for being grateful. I started this exercise several years ago. The negativity on Facebook was getting to me. I decided that I would try to spread my own little bit of positive energy into the universe. I have seen others do the same, but I think the change, as all good change always is, is within me. Gratitude is beneficial.
Nov. 16: I am grateful for my knowledge. Because of my experience, continuous learning and good college experience, I was able to easily handle three serious emergencies today in addition to the normal routine cases. I love using that knowledge in teaching both clients and staff. I am grateful to have made a difference in the lives of animals who had life threatening emergencies and then go homey!
Nov. 17: I am grateful for plants. The multitude of varieties bring joy in flowers, food and nature. We have seasons so that fall leaves allow for beauty in the moment. A little wisp of a leaf can start a whole plant. I love to garden and grow things and eat fresh fruit or vegetables from the garden. Pineapple in Africa was wonderful enough to be a memory worth going back for.
Nov. 18: I am grateful for my writing. I am able to teach to a broader audience. I am able to process feelings and cases that are tough. I am able to promote gratitude as a way of life. I am grateful for my ability to listen and guide folks. Some just need to be heard. Some need a nudge. Sometimes a wakeup call is justified. I guess that wisdom goes with that listening skill. I’m grateful to have learned some of that also.
Nov. 19: I am grateful for science. Even if I have to study to enter a new realm of science. Science make sense. Dogs make sense. Cats and people not so much.
Nov. 20: I am grateful for all the technology that allows me to save more lives. Blood chemistry machines allow me to have advanced blood work results today. Digital radiographs allow me to take fewer views and see more. Ultrasound allows me to see inside that enlarged spleen to determine why it is not normal. Monitors allow me to know more about what is going on inside a pet to stop problems before they are a problem. I am reminded of this today when Moses has a few issues in his blood results. We got a new sample, ran new blood tests, talked to his mom, got radiographs and then an ultrasound. She said her friend’s dog almost died during anesthesia, because they didn’t do blood work to know that he had cancer before surgery. Grateful to be able to easily explain why that is very unlikely here.
Nov. 21: I am grateful for what I can do. Sure, my knees hurt when I walked today around the park, but I can walk. There are some that cannot. A wise man recently told me: “Every minute every day take as a gift, because there may not be another moment. Your eyes, you should see as a gift. You may not see tomorrow. Walking is a gift. Tomorrow your legs may not work. If you have a sound brain, that is a gift. You should use it. Another day you may not be able to. Everything now is a gift. You should use it while you have it.” This man was blind, living in a harsh world and still could appreciate life more than most.
Nov. 22: I am grateful for family, friends, pets and food on this Thanksgiving. I am also grateful for this day which make me look for the big and small things of which I am grateful. Greg Bell says to ask what is working well for you. I have many things, because I practice looking for things. My best friend puts it this way: “This topic is always an interesting and thought-provoking article, and this one is no exception. It’s good to mention that being appreciative is what this season is all about, and that internalizing it is helpful to us. I hope the article helps readers to look within themselves and to internalize your thoughts. We can certainly use more kindness in this world.”
We certainly can. Be grateful. Be kind.

MJ Wixsom, DVM MS is a best-selling Amazon author who practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. GuardianAnimal.com 606-928-6566.