Thanks Giving, Giving Thanks

The best part of Thanksgiving has got to be cold turkey sandwiches the next day, with cranberry sauce and stuffing (yes, that’s bread within the bread, an explosion of carbohydrates that never fails to make me happy). Or maybe it’s lying around, dog-like, after eating a big meal, with no expectations beyond passive digestion.

A close second, however, is the chance to stop, get off the merry-g0-round of life, and spend some time being grateful for what we have. Every year around this time I like to write down what I am  thankful for (actually, I do it several times a week but it always feels extra special during the Thanksgiving holidays.) I’ve posted two blogs with similar themes in the past (2009 and 2011), and it’s interesting to go back and read what I’ve written. If you are not in the practice of keeping a journal, or writing down on ocassion what you are grateful for, I highly recommend it.

Here is this year’s list, this week, this day:

I’m thankful to be safe. Of course, that’s a relative term.

We all know that any of us could die tonight, but hills oct 13compared to most of the people in the world, and compared to some earlier periods in my life, I feel safe and secure and am full of gratitude for that. I have two primary things to thank for that: Jim, and my little farm, which is nestled in the hills of Southern Wisconsin. Frank Lloyd Wright once said “Nothing picks you up in its arms and so gently, almost lovingly, cradles you as do these southwestern Wisconsin hills.” That’s how I feel here— cradled.



 sunset wormshead 11-13I’m thankful to do what I love. I spent many years doing other things, including working as a statistical typist, a cashier, a counselor in a youth advocate program, and for one ridiculous and poorly considered evening, a Go Go girl. Seriously. “Doing what I love” does not mean that every day is a day spent skipping through daisies with Golden Retriever puppies. My work has plenty of challenges and difficulties, as does everyone else’s. I do my complaining to my friends, not here on the blog, and we all know that life has a way of making things difficult sometimes. But I know that I am lucky, really really lucky, to have found a niche that fits and that pushes me, nurtures me and allows me to be who I am. Joseph Campbell said: “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” Here Here. Extra bonus: Sometimes I get to travel to amazing places, like Worm’s Head in western Wales at sunset.

I’m thankful that I’m healthy. Of course, I’d rather be stronger, and have lungs that worked better, and a back that didn’t complain so much, but really… I know that several of this blog’s readers have serious physical challenges, and I am aware that many of my friends and family are battling scary and sometimes life-threatening illnesses. They say that you never appreciate your health until you lose it, but I try every day to thank my feet and my eyes and my fingers for supporting me in what I do. Have you thanked your body lately for working so hard for you? No? It’s about time… (I’ll spare you a photo of my feet. Another thing for you to be thankful for.)

No surprise to anyone, I’m thankful to Willie and Tootsie and Nellie and Polly and Lady Godiva willie close up 11-27-13and all the sheep for all that they give me. I can not imagine a life without animals, I would be beyond bereft. Thank you Willie for the joy and love of life that radiates out of you when you are happy. Thank you Tootsie for keeping my chest warm at night when I lie on the couch and watch television. (Only high level educational programs, of course.) Thank you kitties for allowing me to still have cats, and to savor your crazy intense cat eyes, and impossibly soft fur and for eliminating rats out of my barn. Thank you Lady Godiva for bringing an entirely different umwelt onto the farm; that of a hoofed, herd-living prey animal. Thank you for providing us meat through your lambs, and wool from your elegant body.


Last, but never least to me, I’m grateful for food. So many people are starvingapples or barely getting by in the world today. It is a great tragedy that this is true in my own country right now, and is inexcusable in my opinion. This holiday season I hope to be volunteering at Second Harvest, which provides healthy food for the many people in need in today’s society. And here I am, luxuriating in organic, local food that I can enjoy every day. And I do, I do. I’ll be making both a pumpkin pie and an apple pie for the family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Lucky, lucky me.




And you? Write down what you are grateful for, it is a wonderful exercise, even if life is extra difficult right now, it is healing to focus for a time on what IS right. I’ll love reading what you write as the holiday goes on…




  1. Sue Brown says

    Here in the UK our Turkey Day is Christmas Day… but I am now looking forward to those sandwiches with the stuffing and cranberry sauce… Mmmm! And a minor but very satisfying celebration of the fact that Christmas is over for another year…. YESSSS!

  2. Kat says

    So many things to be thankful for it’s hard to even know where to start although having read that first sentence clearly I must start with the abundance in my life. I’m thankful that even with the death of the heat pump I still have alternatives that keep us warm and that the weather has remained mild and that in time we’ll be able to replace the heat pump with another.

    I’m thankful that it was my coccyx that broke when I fell and not a limb, back, or neck. Transitions between positions are quite painful but I can still do most things though I know Ranger is disappointed that right now a moderate walking pace is all that I can manage. Painful as it is there are much more limiting injuries and I’m grateful not to be coping with one.

    Thankful for my family, both my amazing children and the saint that married me. Grateful that they put up with our psycho bitch from hell and work so hard to help her improve. And grateful that she is improving slowly but steadily. Maybe someday she will be the awesome dog she should have been. And grateful for all that she teaches me and all that I’ve learned in my quest to help her. You’re a wild ride Finna but on those occasions when we get where we were trying to go, there’s no satisfaction quite like it.
    And especially thankful for Ranger. You’re everything a dog should be, Ranger, and the joy you bring to everyone fills me with happiness. Listening to the seniors laugh at your antics when we took you to senior daycare last week brought smiles to everyone, therapy dog teams, staff, and especially me. You’re a good dog.

    Thankful for all my opportunities to do the things I’m passionate about and all the incredible fellow travelers I meet. Together we’re making the world a better place. And thankful for my friends who keep me sane and hold me up when I need it.

  3. Beth with the Corgis says

    I am, for the 8th year in a row, eternally thankful to my rheumatologist and the miracles of modern pharmaceuticals for giving me my life back; my class of drugs started life as an utterly failed cancer treatment, so it just goes to show that being an abject failure at one venture might be an open doorway to a smashing success in another.

    I am thankful (and still stunned. over a decade later) that my wonderful husband gave up all he knew to come across an ocean and be with me.

    I’m thankful for some dear old friends that I have had since school days. I don’t see them as often as I would like, but every time I do it’s as if we never were apart.

    I am thankful that my parents are still active and relatively healthy in their 7th decade.

    I am thankful that by pure luck I happened upon this little spot of land to perch a house upon; against all probability it perfectly marries two different aspects of my personality— I’m in the city and at the edge of the woods, both at the same time. Which reminds me— I’m thankful we had finished raking and were safely inside when that bear took down our bird feeders.

    I truly do not like my job, which is unfortunate and something that must change, one way or another. But in the meantime, I am thankful that it’s steady and affords me the ability to do the other things I love.

    And last but not least, I am thankful for my furry houseful. I can not even imagine a life without animals. I’ve had all sorts of pets for as long as I can remember. I’m thankful that my mother tolerated the revolving procession of salamanders, gerbils, fish, rabbits, parakeets, finches, and of course the ever-present dogs. I adore the group I have now (wish the cat would stop scratching the dogs’s eyes though!). And I am thankful for their breeder, who carefully produced such happy, sound, sane, good-tempered and well-socialized creatures. They lay on top of me when I’m sick, make me laugh with their silly games when I’m sad, and get me outside for long walks in all sorts of weather, day and night. I don’t think of dogs as furry kids, but they are my FAMILY and they fill a very important space in my life.

  4. Marjorie says

    I’m giving a BIG THANKS today for my dog’s MRI coming back clear of anything scary and a big thanks for the vet hospital calling to tell me they over charged me by $650.00 WhooHoo! What a roller coaster it has been. Right now the most beautiful sound in the world is that of my dogs crunching and munching on their biscuits….Oh GOD, thank you!!!!!

  5. lin says

    I am thankful for my husband, who is my best friend.

    I am thankful for my family, for my parents who are still here, still sharp, still such great role models for me.

    Thankful for my job. Things could be better, but my workplace is still interesting, my colleagues supportive.

    Thankful for my home, shabby as it sometimes appears. Roof is sound, floors are solid, windows still in place. And the heater works fine!

    Thankful for my city and my neighborhood, where I can walk a dog around late at night and early in the morning — with caution but without fear.

    Thankful for my body. Knees are creaky, joints hurt a little more, but for a late-model year, it really runs fine.

    Thanks for BuddyCat for bringing the joys of furriness back into the house.

  6. Claudia says

    so many things… my health. My dear Ginger, who was the light of my life for 8 glorious years. Crewman Hiccup, all 13 lbs of her, who was Ginger’s sidekick and now is mine.

    but mainly, I’m thankful for being alive at all. The odds of being alive were astronomically against us from the beginning. I did the math once, and it blew my mind:

    From the billions and billions of possible combinations of your mother’s and father’s egg and sperm – YOU were the one created. That’s like winning the greatest cosmic lottery right at the moment of our conception. Any other sperm (your father produces about 500 million of them every day of his life) and any other egg (your Mom had about 2 million in her life) would have produced a different person – that’s a genetic fact. I did the math once and I concluded that the odds of being alive are 55 Quintillion to one. Yay!

    Tomorrow, I’ll be grateful for life, and as I dig into my turkey I’ll send a silent apology to those 55 Quintillion unborn siblings of mine…

  7. kait roe says

    I am thankful for many things, not the least of which is the image in my head right now of you as a go go dancer! I love it. Thank you for sharing your love of all the critters of the world, and the world itself – even its messy bits.

  8. Eileen says

    Thank you for those lovely thoughts, and thank you for writing your blog throughout the years. It is informative, inspirational, and often just what I need. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Jim, your furry family and all your blog readers.

  9. LisaW says

    I am grateful for the opportunity to take a moment and think about what I’m grateful for.

    I’m thankful that I could manage to plan and implement a surprise birthday party for my ninety-year-old mother and navigate the dissonance that divides our family and invite her friends old and new to celebrate a woman who really deserves to be celebrated and is also hard to surprise (and surprised she was)! I’m grateful we could celebrate with her.

    I’m thankful for living in a place I love and for being able to do work I love (although being self-employed, I wish I paid myself a little more).

    I’m thankful for the man and two dogs that are still asleep upstairs snuggled under the duvet snoring in harmony.

    I’m thankful I could be home enough to help my dog with her physical and mental challenges over the past two years. It’s been a rough road at times and we’re still traveling, but we all have learned so much and who knew this little bearded, Buddha-belly of a dog would open up such a new world.

    Thanks to all the dogs I have had over the years who have allowed me to see what I needed to see and learn what I didn’t know. They have all been so different and so wonderful it has been an honor to share a life with them.

    Last but not least, I am thankful for my friends – some I have known since third grade and some only a few years, but their friendship keeps me strong and grounded.

  10. Marcia in NorCal says

    You guys (generically speaking) are amazing. And wonderful. And you are all on MY list of “things for which I am grateful.” You are inspiring and entertaining. I am thankful for Tricia and her farm and all the adventures she shares with us (I’ve been to those Wisconsin hills by the way, and yes, “cradled” is a very apt description). I too am fortunate to have an incredibly supportive husband, and a sound roof over my head, and enough of everything I need. I too am fortunate to have found a bit of a niche — a small one, but it allows me to feel that I have some small value in the world, that I make a bit of a difference in the lives of a few people and animals, and that is a feeling very nice indeed. Sometimes I wish for more … and then I watch the news and am grateful to simply not have to worry about my world washing away in a tidal wave or a typhoon, or being blown up around me at any moment and for no good reason. Blessings need not be dramatic in order to be real. Tricia and the rest of you pretty much remind me of that every week.

  11. Margaret McLaughlin says

    I’m thankful for prednisone, which has bought Lia extra time–2 months since she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, & she’s still here, chasing tennis balls. And for Nina, my promising baby. And the old lady, Elly, still going strong at 14. (She’s going to be on a calendar this year!) & the cats, Bramble & Nettle.
    My house, which was bought & rehabbed with the help of a wonderful local organization that helps low-income people become homeowners, with a mortgage I can afford.
    My job, which I love, & which pays the bills. & the termination 7 weeks ago of the Dementor (AKA the co-worker from hell) which has enabled me to love it again.
    My church small group, which functions as the family I don’t have.
    My shoulder replacement. Still have pain, but I can work.
    The opportunity to raise service dogs–something I’ve wanted to do since I was little.
    Being able to use operant conditioning to communicate with other species–including humans with Alzheimer’s, who function like another species sometimes, but can still be reached.

  12. says

    I am thankful for my family, who include my fiancé, two miniature schnauzers, and our families throughout several states. I am thankful for being able to plan our wedding and still have energy left over. I am also thankful that I have an opportunity to do such a great thing as spreading the word about you, your booklets, and other aspects of dog friendly, positive method dog training. I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend my time. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  13. Frances says

    I am thankful for safety, for financial security, for my house and car, for being warm and fed and able to spend my time doing just as I please (it still feels like a small miracle every single day!). I am thankful that my health is OK, and so is that of my family and friends, and of all my animals. I am thankful for my dogs and cats, who fill every minute my life with warmth, and companionship, and stop me becoming completely selfish. And I am thankful for the internet which connects me to like-minded people all over the world, and is like getting a bundle of letters, journals and books through the post everyday!

    And I too shall carry the image of you as a reluctant Go-Go dancer through the day…

  14. Trisha says

    So it’s Friday morning, and I’m reading over what you have all written. Just reading it makes me happy and even more grateful to be alive. Thank you all so much for your contributions; what a wonderful world it is that we can each sit in our own little realms and have a conversation, regardless of the miles between us.

    To Kat: I also broke my coccyx (who decided how to spell that word anyway?), and it is extremely painful. I know we’re all supposed to be focused on giving thanks now, but I can’t resist a complaint: Not fair that we have tail bones but no tails. I truly truly wish I had my own tail. I could cover my nose with it when it’s cold, throw it up in the air and stalk out of the room if I’m irritated, and wag it so hard my entire body goes back and forth when Jim comes home. But I digress… sorry about your injury. And I hope that your psycho bitch, some how, some way, knows how lucky she is to have you.

    To Claudia: What an amazing perspective! 55 quintillion to one that each one of us is US, and is here, and was born in the first place? Not to mention still alive? What a gift you have given us all! I will never forget this perspective, and I can tell you right now that is will add to my life immeasurably.

    To LisaW: Congratulations on pulling off such a memorable birthday party! And some unsolicited advice: Pay yourself more. Really. Truly. Figure out a way to do it. I underpaid myself for many, many years until I finally met with a business advisor who said: “That’s lovely that you are subsidizing others at the expense of your future and those that you love.” Oh. Got it. I still don’t make huge amounts of money, but I was reasonably successful at getting out the common trap of woman in business (“I am simply not good enough to deserve….”). It takes some serious work, but it is worth it. Because, well, so are you.

    To Marcia: I love your comment that blessings don’t have to be dramatic to be real. So very true, and so easy to forget in this super-charged atmosphere we find ourselves living in.

    To Elizabeth: And I am thankful for people like you who support my work and give me so many reinforcements. Thank you so much, she said, getting all gooey and wagging from the shoulders back.

    To Frances, re Go Go dancing: Someday I’ll truly amuse you all by posting a photo of me in one of my other lives, as a fashion model. I wasn’t very good and never would have made it past runway modeling for local department stores (short, stocky peasant legs not being the height of runway fashion), but I was young and skinny and had a mane of bleached blond hair. Oh my, another world, another life. Time to go now… gotta get the straw out of my hair and the mud off my boots before I venture off the farm.

  15. Wanda says

    I have so many things I am thankful for I almost don’t know where to begin or end. Aside from my wonderful husband and family, Irish terrier, Quinn, and cavalier puppy mill survivor, Jewel, I am so very thankful I get to foster dogs for a rescue. Number 36 is at my feet, waiting for me to toss his tennis ball. (I have NEVER seen a min pin so crazy about chasing a little ball and bringing it back for more!) And I am thankful for Internet access so I can read Tricia’s blog and have access to all kinds of things! (If you haven’t seen the sheep herding you tube video, Google ‘Bored Sheepherders’ and be amazed! It’s not new, but it was to me and I crack up every time I view it.)

  16. Harriet Irwin says

    Trisha, I am thankful for the earth, its diversity, all the critters that are around, for darkness, light, cold,warmth, my dog, and for you who introduced me to dog “training” a long time ago. Thanks, my friend. H

  17. Maryk says

    I am thankful for quite a lot this year.

    I am thankful for my husband, Ray, who after 30 years of marriage, is still my best friend.

    I am eternally thankful for my husband’s doctors, who performed life-saving emergency open-heart surgery on him this summer. While his 11-day hospitalization (9 days in ICU) was frightening, his recovery has been nothing short of amazing and he is now back to the job he loves. His nurses and therapists are also miracle workers. God bless them all.

    I am thankful for a job that I like that also provides us with good health insurance, which we sorely needed this summer.

    And I am thankful for my Gracie, my little blue corgi, who makes my heart smile with her antics, comforts me when I am upset, and keeps my back warm on cold nights. Who else would sleep on my head for 3 days after I return from my too-frequent business trips? The sound of her arrooos while carrying a tennis ball in her mouth will make even the stiffest person laugh. Out loud.

  18. Claudia says

    Trish – yeah, something, ain’t it? It kinda opened my eyes.

    Since we scientists like to back up our claims with real data, here is the math (turns out I mis-remembered the original number by a factor of 1o, but what are a few quints in the face of eternity, eh?):

    In order to calculate the probability that one particular sperm meets one particular egg, we have to multiply your Dad’s lifetime production of sperm with your Mom’s lifetime production of eggs. Here goes:

    1) Dad:
    According to various textbooks and websites I consulted, an adult male produces anywhere from 50 to 700 million sperm cells PER DAY. I averaged all the numbers I found, and got a more conservative number, 150 million. Let’s assume steady production from age 14 (puberty), till oh, maybe 60 years old.
    That’s an output of 150 million sperm cells per day for 60 years. 60 years is 21840 days. Times 150 million is 3 trillion, 276 billion. That’s 468 times the current population of the earth. Imagine 468 planet Earths, all lined up in a row and each one populated with 7 billion people. Each one eager to swim up the fallopian tubes to meet your Mom. Or just imagine the National Dept. That’s how many sperm cells your father has loosed upon the world.

    2) Mom
    Your Mom is much more reasonable than your dad. In fact, she only ever produced about 2 million primordial oocytes (that’s her eggs before they ripen and ovulate) in her ovaries. These began developing when she herself was in her mother’s womb. By the time she hit puberty, most had shriveled up, and only about 500 or so lucky ones ever got ovulated, and only ONE of those (you!) got to meet your Dad somewhere in her fallopian tube.

    3) the math:
    That’s 3 trillion, 276 billion sperm times 2 million eggs. Equals 6 quintillion, 552 quadrillion. Let’s round it up to 6.5 quintillion. It goes million, billion, trillion, quadrillion, quintillion. A quintillion is a one with 18 zeros. I asked a mathematician. He had to look it up.

    those are the odds of being conceived – once your Dad and your Mom decided to — y’know. Of course, those are just two random humans out of, oh, however many billion humans there were at the time of your conception. If we included the odds of that particular woman meeting that particular man…oy vey, let’s not go there!

    So..whenever I feel down or sorry for myself, such as when my dog Ginger died, I think on those 6.5 quintillion siblings of mine (or hers) who never got a crack at life, just because their sperm was a bit too slow or got hung up in the cervix or got confused and turned around in the uterus or ended up on the bed sheet (or doggie bed) instead or swam up the wrong fallopian tube, or never even got past the epididymis and got reabsorbed by dad’s body instead or because the egg they had a date with would have been the next in line or sat at the wrong end of the ovary or missed the entrance to the fallopian tube and shriveled up in Mom’s abdominal cavity instead.

    You see, mathematics has an answer to most things, even the miracle of life :)

  19. Claudia says

    oops – it’s supposed to say from age 14 to age 74 (Charlie Chaplin became a dad at that age), for 60 years of production :)

  20. LisaW says

    Thanks, Trisha, I will heed your words of wisdom gathered the hard way.

    A digression but I wanted to share my total agreement about tails. There have been many times I have longed for a tail. But the time I wished hardest for a tail was several years ago. We had loaded some stuff and the dogs into the car to go off exploring and camping. We were in new terrain and couldn’t find any suitable places to set up camp (we always went into places that were almost impassable with a vehicle). Anyway, it got to be late, and we decided to sleep in the car and start again the next morning. As soon as we all settled in, I started feeling stinging bites. No-see-ums had invaded the car, and I spent the entire night trying not to scream. We closed the car up tight, which made it suffocatingly hot. At first I imagined being under water and then I envisioned a long, lion’s tail with that nice poof on the end that would sweep back and forth over all of us and keep the #*&@$ bugs from biting. It didn’t make the night go by faster, but it kept me sane imagining my beautiful tail working as it was meant to.

    The dogs seemed ok the next morning, but the humans looked like they had chicken pox :-0

  21. Robin Jackson says

    I am grateful for creatures who value both kindness and honesty. Since this includes my parents, my brothers, my children, and my dogs, it’s fair to say I have a lot to be grateful for. :)

  22. Mireille says

    I am thankful for my two healthy, happy husky gentleman. Being able to observer their grace and zest for life, In the meantime, I am also grateful for finally having found a dog trainer (We are doing an training weekend right now in the Belgian Ardennes) who knows about Sibes and can tell me and hubby what we are doing right and what we could do better. I truly hope this will help make walks more agreeable and less of a rope-pulling contest.
    Thankful for the log fire I am sitting next to. Thankful to my hubby for his infinite patience with my dog-obsession. Thankful for the fact I found two people at work with whome I can talk about my ambitions and dreams and who are willing to heko me achieve what I want. Thankful for my co-worker who understands me, likes me, helps me and calms me down ;-).

    And thankful that the building work on the house and garden is – almost – DONE!

  23. says

    Hi all,
    I’ve been away from the computer for about a week or so and enjoyed every minute of it. But now I’m back and I’m adding my two cents.
    At Claudia,
    Thanks for the perspective on conception. My fiancé and I are taking Natural Family Planning classes in preparation for our marriage, which is less than a month away now, and I am stunned by the design of our bodies, both male and female. I love learning about this stuff and I love knowing so much about how my own body works… it’s amazing!
    I’m thankful for my fiancé, the love of my life that I thought would never come to love me. I’m happy and contented in a way I can’t describe when ever he’s around. I just can’t wait to marry him. I mean yeah, I’m excited for the wedding day, but it’s our life together afterward I can’t wait to start.
    I’m thankful for my family who loves me, my parents, my brothers and my twin sister, whom I love most in the world.
    I’m thankful I can still see as much as I can. I’ve been living under the cloud of glocoma related eye issues for 2 years now and the possibility of losing my sight is very real. I’m happy I wake up each morning able to see the red light from the clock beside my bed.
    I’m thankful for a job that I like very much, and which allows me to rent an apartment that is safe, clean and warm. I’m thankful that I have a home to live in and that I know is mine.
    i’m thankful to have enough food to eat and clothes to wear.
    I’m of course thankful to all of my dogs, the ones who are gone and the ones who are still here. I’m thankful Marlin opened a new world for me, and also to him for making it look so easy. I’m thankful to Torpedo for making my life interesting for 6 years and i’m so thankful that he is happy in his home. I’m thankful to Seamus for making me happy each day and for making me laugh.
    I’m thankful for a working body. My twin sister has a hurt foot and just found out this morning that she can’t work until her restrictions are lifted. She’s really bummed because she loves her job and doesn’t want to be away for long, so I’m thankful for my own two working feet.
    I’m thankful for Tricia and the other readers and commenters here. All of you provide such a nice break from the work in my day and you all have made me laugh and cry with your stories and comments over the years.
    Last, but never least, I’m thankful for God, to have someone in my life who loves me more than anyone on this earth could love me. he never said it would be easy, but he is with us in every moment of our suffering and joy and I’m so glad to know that
    I hope you all in the US had a wonderful Thanks Giving..

  24. Mateus says

    I’m thankful to be where I’m jut right now!

    “When have we not preferred some going round
    To going straight to where we are?” (Auden, 1939).

    Happy thanksgiving Trishia!

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