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How to Handle Not Being Thankful on Thanksgiving

How to Handle Not Being Thankful on Thanksgiving

Tis’ the season for being grateful and giving thanks.  Extended families gather to share a traditional meal.  We remember the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.  Perhaps your family goes around the room giving each person a chance to share what they are most appreciative of this year.  But, what do you do if you don’t feel thankful during the Thanksgiving season?  What do you do when you feel like dwelling on what you wish you had instead of what you do?


Own Your Feelings

If you are taking the time to read this, you have probably not had an easy year, or an easy life for that matter.  Or, perhaps, you’re hoping to find something that you can use to help a loved one or friend.  Working in healthcare for so many years, I have seen many people struggle with terrible losses, being victims of horrific crimes, receiving terminal medical diagnoses and losing hope that things can get better.

The first step in dealing with the “Thanksgiving Blues” is to acknowledge that what you are feeling is real.  Someone may have hurt you in a way that has left deep wounds or scars.  You may be missing someone who had their life cut short due to no fault of their own.  You may be the brunt of cruel jokes, bullying, or being looked over on a routine basis.

One of the reasons why what happens to us can knock us down so hard is because we think our “earthly existence” is all we get.  We don’t realize, don’t understand, or forget that we have an afterlife to consider also, a “heavenly existence.”  Sometime God uses difficulty in our lives to touch the lives of others.  Personally, I have struggled with and overcome depression.  Over the years, God has often opened the door for me to discuss my experience with others.  Knowing that God is always with me and willing to comfort me, and that His purposes are greater than my own, makes even the toughest days more tolerable.

Psalm 23:4
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Decide to Look on the Bright Side

Even when life is not going our way, and we feel like we’ve either lost or are losing control, we still have power.  We have the power to decide how we will feel.  We also have the power to decide what we will do next.

Our feelings are meant to help us identify danger and to guide our responses to life.  If you’re walking alone in a high crime area, and you feel a sense of danger, it’s probably time to get out of there as quickly as possible.  If you’re feeling sad or lonely, it’s time to spend time around people who can lift your mood.

So, when you’re not feeling thankful, you can make some decisions about that feeling too.  First, feelings come and go and whatever you’re feeling now is likely to pass.  Second, even if you the right to be bummed, decide not to let the experience keep steeling from you.  You’ve already lost something, take action to put an end to the bleeding.  Third, decide that the feeling is a warning sign and it’s now time to change direction.

As a former critical care nurse, I have seen individuals who might not get their next breath.  I’ve seen people who rarely enjoyed a moment without pain.  And I’ve known clients who could not relax without heavy sedation.  Most of us are not dealing with issues so profound.  We have plenty of things we can focus on and choose to be thankful for those things.  If you need help getting started, look at the Gratitude Journal Prompt.  It has 30 great ideas to get you going.

Be Someone’s Reason for Thanks

Whether you realize it or not, you are very special and have something wonderful to give to others.  It may be something simple like a warm smile, a hug, or just being there for them.  There are a handful of people in my life that would make my day if they showed that they cared.  A call, an impromptu visit, or a hand-written card would mean the world to me.

Stop thinking about yourself and your own troubles for a little while and be someone’s reason for thanks today!  In addition to people you see on a regular basis; consider reaching out to someone from your past.  Also, think about being there for someone you don’t even know.  There are many ways to volunteer and help others in need.  Anything from working in a soup kitchen, to mentoring young boys and girls, to babysitting can work.  Be creative and find a way to change your focus from receiving to giving.

Win the Battle

If you believe in God, you automatically become a solider in the Lord’s army.  That may sound like a children’s hymn from years ago, but it has a great deal of truth in it.  There is an invisible, spiritual battle going on around us all the time.  And the only way to win the battle is to arrive prepared and then kick some spiritual behind.

(Ephesians. 6:11-12)
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

Here is an excellent link to a discussion of the Armor of God if you would like to read more about it.  The Armor is described as having the following parts:

None of us learns to battle the enemy overnight; it takes time and practice to do it well.  The enemy wants you to be miserable and to become paralyzed by bad circumstances.  But God wants you to be victorious.  He will provide all the tools you need in order to succeed!

Reflection Questions

  1. What types of things are causing you to feel less than thankful during this Thanksgiving season?
  2. Do you need to put a stop to the bleeding and decide to move in a new direction?
  3. What can you do today that will cause someone to be thankful for you?

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

E-Books, Personal Learning, and Organic Food Choices

Episode 6:  Show Notes

This three-part episode focuses primarily on our intellectual health.  First, we will take a look at the explosion of e-books and how we can use them wisely.  Second, we will be discussing organic food choices (and whether or not they’re worth your money).  Third, we will be exploring the importance of continuing education and how you can keep learning in a way that meets your personal needs.

Part 1: The E-Book Explosion

Many of you are already familiar with e-books and may be using them regularly.  But in case anyone could use a little explanation, let’s start by discussing what e-books are and how they are used.

E-books are electronic books.  They are a digital format of a text-based publication that previously you would have only been able to find in a hardcover or paperback version.  E-books are able to be read on an e-reader.  Common e-readers are the Kindle, Nook, various tablets or a personal computer.  In addition to text, e-books may contain images or graphics but are usually mostly text-based. I’ve included a link in the show notes where you can read more about the history of e-books if you want to know more.

Benefits of E-Books

Whether you are a die-hard print book lover or someone who embraces the digital versions of books, it’s OK.  You are entitled to read whatever type of book you prefer.  At this point in my life, I read both digital and print versions depending on which I have access to at a reasonable price.  Because we have seen such an explosion of electronic books, I think it’s important for us to first consider the benefits of using them.  Then we will discuss how to choose your books wisely and not end up a load of digital garbage!  I’m including a link in the show notes to a list of 30 benefits of e-books from E publishers weekly.  I’m going to focus on the 5 that jumped out the most for me.

  1. Faster to Produce than Paper Books.

    That means current topics can get into book format faster.  Get books into the readers hands faster.

  2. Cheaper to Buy.

    I’m most familiar with the Amazon Kindle reader.  So I’m going to use them as my example.  Policies change all the time, but these were the guidelines on Nov 18, 2016 when I took a look.  When an author publishes an e-book to Amazon Kindle, they have a choice of getting either a 35% royalty or a 70% royalty.  A royalty is the sum of money the author receives for each book sale.  Naturally, most people would want the 70% royalty.  But, here’s the catch.  In order to get the 70%, you have to price your book between $2.99 & 9.99.  Financially speaking, 70% of lots of books sold, could end up being much more money than 35% of higher priced books that only a few people buy.

    Those authors who choose the 35% royalty option are somewhat guided by the size of the e-book.  For books under 3 megabytes you can charge as little as 99 cents but can also go as high as $200.  The advantage of 99-cent books is to get your information out there and to get your name known.  It’s not about making a profit, it’s about information dissemination and name recognition.  On the other hand, if you have a much longer book and already are well known, you can charge more and improve your profits.  Ultimately, you can find some really great information out there for under $10.

  3. E-Books are Portable.

    This one is great for vacation and other trips you might take.  Some people like to start and finish one book at a time.  Others, like me, read about a dozen at a time and often continue to use books for reference after I’m done reading them.  On my e-reader, I can bring tons of books with me and not be limited to what I can fit in my suitcase or carry-on bag.

  4. Easy to Search.

    This one is very cool.  Say, you remember reading something about using vinegar for more than cooking.  But, you can’t remember where you read that.  No need to flip through 100 pages on a frantic search, just type vinegar into the search box and Voila – up comes a list of all the places this word occurs in the entire book.  Very useful!

  5. Can be Hyper-linked.

    There are times when an author wants to be able to send a reader to a place they can learn more about a subject.  With digital books, you can hyper-link a word and if the reader clicks on it, it will take them to additional information.  This could be a list, a graphic, or even a downloadable resource.  Another very useful tool!

Choosing E-Books Wisely

As good as e-books have the potential to be, unfortunately, there is a great deal of garbage floating out there as well.  So, how do you know if that 99 -cent book is worth your time or not?  There are 2 primary ways to figure this out.


First, you need to read the reviews provided by other readers.  Now, on the one hand, anyone can say whatever they want here.  So, you’ll always have those who complain about everything.  You’ll also have those people who always look at things in a positive light.  What you’re looking for is an overall feel from the reviews.  Are there enough reviews to give you a good idea of what readers thought?

Verified Purchases

Two things to look for specifically are was the review from someone with a verified purchase.  This means, they bought the book from that company, so the company is verifying that they actually purchased the book.


The second thing to look at is whether any top reviewers left feedback.  There are some people who are well known for providing honest feedback and their reviews have actually earned them the status of a top reviewers.  Sometimes authors will provide free copies of their books to top reviewers, hoping for an honest and good review.  So, if it is not a verified purchase, take a look to see if it is someone who likely received a free copy.


Second, many times the authors provide a sample.  Take a look at the quality of writing that the author provides.  I have read things that were so bad; it was obvious that they never hired an editor.  Some people (myself included) don’t see our own mistakes.  So, it’s vital that you have someone else (preferably a paid editor) review your work.  It can be very annoying to read work that has way too many errors.

Dr. Terri’s Heath Tip & Challenge of the Week

Our next topic came from the request of one of my show listeners, Chaz.  He asked whether purchasing organic foods were worth the extra money.

Organic Food Choices

According to the Mayo Clinic (link provided in the show notes).

“The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat.  Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.  Farmers who grow organic produce don’t use conventional methods to fertilize and control weeds.  Examples of organic farming practices include using natural fertilizers to feed soil and plants, and using crop rotation or mulch to manage weeds.”


The Mayo Clinic reports that through their research, organically grown foods are probably not more nutritious.  However, they do reduce your ingestion of pesticides and food additives used in the growing process.  And they are also more beneficial for the environment.

Cost Factor

A big deterrent to choosing organic foods is that they typically cost more than do their conventional counterparts.  Higher prices are due, in part, to more-expensive farming practices.

Also, because organic fruits and vegetables aren’t treated with waxes or preservatives, they may spoil faster.

Lastly, some organic produce may look less than perfect — odd shapes, varying colors or smaller sizes.

What’s a Consumer to do?

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to post a link to Jillian Michaels Blog Post entitle   MYTH: Only Rich People Can Afford to Eat Organic. 

In this article, Jillian discusses the clean 15 and the dirty dozen.  If money is tight, the clean 15 are ok to buy non-organic.  Because of the way they are grown, we often peel off and don’t eat the outer layers.  On the other hand, the dirty dozen are priorities to choose organic since we do eat the outer parts/skin.  Here are the lists.

  • Clean 15:  Asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, mango, onions, pineapple, sweet onions, sweet peas, sweet potatoes, watermelons.
  • Dirty Dozen:  Apples, celery, bell peppers, cherries, grapes, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, spinach, and strawberries.


Take a look at your food purchases.  Have you steered clear of buying organic foods because they were too expensive?  If so, consider adding just the dirty dozen to your organic purchasing list.  (Thank you Chaz, for suggesting this topic!)

Part 2: Personal Learning & Continuing Education

And now for our final topic of today’s podcast, personal learning and continuing education.

I haven’t had a chance to discuss this before, but I strongly believe that we need to address all parts of our life to be truly healthy.  Many times people focus on just one or two.  They are exercise and nutrition fanatics, yet are emotionally a hot mess.  Or they are very grounded spiritually, but they are obese and neglect their physical health needs.

Intellectual Health

Today, I want to focus a little more on intellectual health.  Most of us were required to attend school up until a certain age.  Depending on how old you are, that age might be different.  But, some people stopped as soon as they could.  Others went on to college and earned one or more college degrees.  And then there are a few of you, who may be considered the “perpetual student” who craves higher education so much, that you continually go on for another degree.

Regardless of which of those 3 categories you fall into.  I believe that we all need to be lifelong learners and establish intellectual wellness.  It doesn’t always have to be in an academic environment.  But we need to keep learning.

The Illinois State University provided a list of 8 simple ways you can increase your intellectual wellness.  The link is provided in the show notes.  Listen to this list and ask yourself how many of these things you have done in the last year.

  • Read for Fun
  • Debate an Issue with a Friend
  • Improve your Studying or Learning Skills
  • Learn a Foreign Language
  • Play a Game
  • Play a Musical Instrument
  • Journal Frequently
  • Do Crossword Puzzles or  Sudoku

There are certainly plenty of learning and intellectual stimulating options for us to choose from.  I would like to introduce you to a concept called “Designing Your Own Online Curriculum.”  This is a type of learning that you design on your own.  You don’t sign up for a degree or certificate program – your goal is just to learn, not earn a degree, or credential.

How to Design your own Online Curriculum.

  1. Choose a topic you want to learn more about.
  2. Start searching for free content.
    1. Websites
    2. Library books
    3. YouTube videos
    4. Blog posts.
    5. Podcasts.
    6. Freemiums.
    7. Webinars.
    8. Facebook Groups & More
  3. Inexpensive Learning Materials
    1. Books
    2. Membership Sites (Skillshare example)
    3. Webinars
  4. Higher Priced Learning Options
    1. Coursera – courses from reputable universities
    2. Personal coaches
    3. Online Academies & More

Resources in this Episode

A History of E-Books

30 Benefits of E-books

Nutrition and Healthy Eating – Mayo Clinic

MYTH: Only Rich People Can Afford to Eat Organic

Eight Simple Way to Increase your Intellectual Wellness

Reflection Questions

  1.  What are your thoughts about e-books?  Do you currently use them?  Would you like to learn how to start?  Do you prefer paper versions of books?
  2. Have you ever purchased organic foods?  Do you have any plans to start?
  3. What topic would you like to learn more about?  Can I help you design your own curriculum and get started today?

Ways to Connect with Me:

Subscribe, rate, and review “Breaking Thru Health Barriers with Dr. Terri Wenner” in iTunes so you never miss an episode. Always feel free to drop use the contact form on my website to send me your comments and questions.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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