Remember to be thankful

by Symptom Advice on December 12, 2011

Even in tough times, Petaluma residents find plenty of reasons to give thanks at Thanksgiving Published: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 3:00 a.m. Last Modified: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 9:48 p.m.

Though the world we live in is filled with turmoil and hardships, there are still many things for which to be thankful. As Americans gather around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving, a handful of Petaluma residents, with hearts full of gratitude, offered to share Thanksgiving stories and what they are most thankful for this year.

Ray Johnson

“Though the past is filled with endless memories of gratitude, I am always filled with the potential acts and thoughts of kindness that each new Thanksgiving brings,” said Johnson,” a retired telecommunications executive who ran for City Council in 2010. “my mother will enjoy her 101st Thanksgiving in near perfect health and my wife is in perfect health.”

Johnson has lived in Petaluma for 26 years and has served with Meals on Wheels, on the board of directors of the Cinnabar Theater and on the city’s Site Plan and Architectural Review Committee.

“I am in the midst of terminal cancer, and we firmly believe that we will be thankful for many more Thanksgivings to share our attitudes that give endless joy to all those we love and even those we have yet to love,” he said. “Make everyday Thanks “giving.”

Lydia Zipp

“I am grateful to be alive,” said Zipp, founder of the Women’s Cancer Awareness Group. “I am grateful to have supportive family and friends and live in a community that supports people who are passionate about helping others.

A Petaluma native, Zipp is a survivor of stage four ovarian cancer. in remission for nine years, Zipp has made it her goal in life to help other women dealing with cancer.

“I am grateful for the WCAG as an outlet for women to share information and encouragement with each other,” she said. “Every time someone listens to a survivor share their story, people are learning about symptoms that can save a woman’s life. I am grateful to have known so many brave women and I am baffled about why so many of them have passed away and I am still here — we all had the same diagnosis. all I know for sure is God has a perfect plan and I don’t understand it, but I am extremely grateful that I get to be of service and let someone who is suffering know that they are not alone.”

Dave Pokorny

“When I was asked to write something about what I’m thankful for, my first thought was, I need to be funny,” said Dave Pokorny, a Petaluma comedian and host of the monthly West Side Stories community storytelling. “As time wore on and the deadline got closer, all the funny stuff I was writing didn’t feel right. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was really funny, but the story about when I wore a pink tutu to play in a tackle football game seemed to be a story to be told on stage and not read in a newspaper. I reevaluated and decided, I’d make you, the reader come out and see me tell that story live on stage. I’ll be thankful for that.

“however, that didn’t solve my problem of what to write about … I could write about how thankful I am that I have a wonderful and supportive wife (Juliet) or how thankful I am that we have the best two kids on the planet (Alexis and Miranda). I could also say I’m thankful that we’ll get to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, sisters and their families. I could also say as we head toward a new year I’m thankful that we’re all healthy and have a roof over our heads and great neighbors.

“maybe I should mention how thankful I am that this community has welcomed the Pokornys in and supported us, and as a side note I’ll bring up how thankful we feel to live in Petaluma, the perfect blend of city and country. I suppose I could write about how in these hard economic times, I have a good solid position at a job I enjoy at Petaluma’s Whole Foods and how thankful I work with such a great group of people.

“I really am thankful for all of these things, but what I’m most thankful for is extremely difficult to put into words. It’s a feeling, a feeling of warmth I get in my heart when I walk into my house. The feeling of love, happiness, memories, support, commitment and safety. I’m thankful I feel that everyday. That’s what I’m thankful for.”

Grant Garl

“I am now learning to be thankful in trials as they have built perseverance in me and my loved ones,” said Grant Garl, co-owner of Fit ‘N’ Furry pet resort. “Like working out in a gym, strength comes through resistance and some pain.”

Garl’s life took a completely different direction a few years ago after losing his job. but instead of being defeated, he used it to start a brand new chapter in life.

“I lost my job five years ago and then started a small business, Fit ‘N’ Furry Pet Resort, in the worst downturn I have seen in my 60 years,” said Garl. “we came close to losing our house and our dear son-in-law spent a year in Iraq during the most unstable time of that war. Friends and neighbors have been unemployed, some for years, experiencing setbacks from which they may never recover.”

Garl added that he has learned it’s life’s unexpected hardships that get us to grow and help us become who we were meant to be.

“Difficulties challenge us in life,” said Garl. “The world’s economic problems, war, unemployment, homelessness, governmental crises and social unrest have become all too worrisome. I am now learning to be thankful in trials as they have built perseverance in me and my loved ones. being thankful in the midst of crummy things while they are occurring, I believe, has given me a grateful heart allowing God to use difficult challenges to build character in me, I am thankful for it all!”

Arlene Miller

“I am thankful for my beautiful, creative, kind daughter, Shelley, and my handsome, compassionate, intelligent son, Jake.” said Miller, a Petaluma author.

Miller is a Petaluma Junior High School English teacher who is author of “The best little Grammar Book Ever!” while her book has met with much success since its release, she remains the most grateful for her children.

“Thank you for making my life incredible,” said Miller. “I didn’t know either of you 25 years ago, and you have changed my life.”

Amy Appleton

“When I first moved to Petaluma, I had the absolute luck to become the neighbor of George Wylie Jr., born on the L Ranch to Irish-born immigrants,” said Amy Appleton, coordinator of the Committee on the Shelterless’ Home Sharing Program.

“we welcomed the neighbors, and with friends visiting abroad from England, we had a truly magnificent Thanksgiving feast. It was the first Thanksgiving that I hosted. It couldn’t have been more traditional. our friends from England had never experienced an American Thanksgiving, so that was special, also.”

Cheryl Aronson

“I never though I’d say it: Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday — by default,” said Aronson, founder of Moxieville Press and the Petaluma Craft Mafia. “It’s not about pastel beribboned Easter baskets and the hunt for the golden egg, or the credit card depleting Christmas hustle and bustle. I appreciate that this buttery delicious holiday gives us permission to slow down, reflect upon the past year, counting both blessings hardships as we check in with gathered friends and family who are going through their own. I guess it’s the glitz that gets stripped away, leaving the raw authenticity and the comfort friends and food that is so nourishing that I greatly appreciate.”

Aronson said that with times so tough for many, being grateful for what you have is ever more important.

“just being able to eat or pay the PG&E bill for the heat it brings is a luxury for many,” said Aronson. “Gratefulness and appreciation were on all of my gal pals’ minds last week at our girl’s night outing. we had shared our losses and gains over the past year. One friend’s husband had just found a great job after having been out of work for months, leaving her to support her and their 2-year old. Another had just bought a fabulous home in the west county after years of renting. As all of us sat around, grateful to be basking in the warmth of each others company, we agreed that when the heartaches come, when things seem impossible and the world unjust, being authentic and true to yourself is what shapes our experiences and molds our strength and character.”

She added that she’s thankful for her friends, her husband and her family.

“our shared losses have been difficult, but it has also knit us closer together,” said Aronson. “I’m thankful for my the loving friends that I call ‘family.’ my family has shrunk over the years. I lost my best friend, my mother too soon in 2007 and that void will never be filled. however, a good friend told me recently that it’s our friends who become our family as we go through life. She’s right. this has certainly been my experience and I am grateful for the loving friends that fill my life with laughter, music and with how they enrich my days. may everyone’s holiday be blessed.”

(Contact Yovanna Bieberich at )

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