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“Let us be thankful for the fools; but for them the rest of us could not succeed.”
– Mark Twain  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 4 April 2018  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Business Briefs   None Community Calendar  
None Did You Know?   None FFPD Column   None FFPD News   None From the Publisher  
None Health and Wellness   None Letters to the Editor   None Marks Meanderings   None Monkey Business  
None News Briefs   None News From D 49   None People on the Plains   None Pet Care  
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Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In
Janice Tollini

  Perspectives Column
  Finding gratitude
  By Janice Tollini

   Janice Tollini has worked in the health care industry as a clinical psychologist for 15 years. She is now a Talent Management Consultant, and is completing additional graduate training in industrial/organizational psychology. In 2017, she will become certified as an executive coach through the World Coaching Institute. Check out Janice’s website at

   Any of you who lived in the area at the time will recall the fire that swept through Black Forest four years ago this June. While I was not living in Black Forest at the time, my horse was boarded just off of Burgess and Volmer roads. My horse had been safely evacuated before I was even aware of the fire.
   With the help of other boarders who owned horse trailers and a few other equestrians in the area, the barn owner, Nicole Ackerman, did a fabulous job of safely evacuating the 36 horses that lived at her stables. Penrose Event Center housed many of the equine evacuees of the fire, in addition to a few sheep and goats. People donated food, water, fly spray, hay and other essential items to the horses and their owners. One exceptionally kind woman came out of retirement as an equine masseuse and offered massage to the horses. It was a time of fear for many, grief and loss for others. What I recall most clearly was the sense of community, the kindness and generosity of others and my own sense of gratitude.
   The week of June 11, Black Forest residents posted pictures and news clips from 2013 on Facebook, many commenting on how horrific and destructive the fire had been. The recent posts on Facebook, of course, reminded me of this time, but most apparent to me was the enduring sense of gratitude. The majority of the posts were continued expressions of thanks to the firefighters and first responders who battled the flames or led residents to safety. There were comments of relief that, despite the loss of their homes, their loved ones were unharmed. There was a palpable sense of gratitude for all that had not been lost and for the love and support that was so freely given at that time.
   Many of you may be thinking that an article on gratitude may be more appropriate for Thanksgiving, but I would argue that my times of greatest gratitude have come after considerable pain and loss. I would say that the recent reflections on the fire in 2013 support that. When I think to my own parade of tragedies in recent years, I find myself experiencing intense gratitude not only for the many wonderful friends who comforted and supported me, but for the good things in my life right now. In writing this, I find myself wanting to reach out and offer thanks to each person, but they know who they are. I have the urge to list the things I am grateful for, but this is more about the process of finding gratitude, not the specifics of my own.
   How does one find gratitude in the darkest hour? I am not suggesting that gratitude flows easily when times are hard. That sort of Pollyanna cheerleading is offensive, at best. What I am suggesting is that it is through our greatest pain that we can best experience gratitude. I say this fully recognizing that finding things to be grateful for during such times can seem impossible. However, once found, this sense of appreciation can be our salvation when we face life’s inevitable challenges.
   Gratitude is like anything else that is good for us; it requires conscious effort. And like any muscle, the more you exercise it the stronger it becomes. It can begin with simply setting aside a specific time every day to identify the positives in your life.
   Here are some questions to help you cultivate positivity and find your gratitude. What made you smile today? Who are three people who love you? What good things have happened in the past week? What is one trial or negative experience you survived that made you stronger? What good changes have occurred in your life in the past year?
   Making time for gratitude every day can have a cumulative effect in that it reorients your perception so you become increasingly aware of the good things in your life. Positive thoughts and feelings tend to escape our notice, unless they are of the most extreme variety. Noting and celebrating the little things in life is a good way to begin cultivating positive emotions.
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  Chopped chicken salad with creamy peanut dressing

   This salad is worth trying!
   *Note: the peanuts and peanut butter can be swapped out for almonds and almond butter or sunflower seeds and sun butter, if you prefer.
   Servings: 4
   For the chopped chicken salad
  • 2 cups roasted chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 small head green cabbage, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Asian pear, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup jicama, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, roasted, salted, and chopped

   For the creamy peanut dressing
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
  • 3 Anaheim chili peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup water

  1. In a large bowl combine all of the salad ingredients.
  2. Place all of the dressing ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix until well combined. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

   Nutritional Analysis
   367 calories, 24g fat, 19g carbohydrate, 10g sugar, 177mg sodium, 6g fiber, and 23g protein.
   Courtesy of and posted by David Corder, CPT on his health and wellness newsletter for Perfect Fit Wellness Center
Chopped chicken salad with creamy peanut dressing
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