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When we feel gratitude, we give ourselves the gift of concentrating on what's important, and when we share our gratitude, it helps others feel gratitude, and also share it. I am a believer in the ripple affect. This particular story reminds me of those angels that we sometimes meet along our way, the ones that lift us up when we need it most. Thank you so much Susie for this poignant story to start our gratitude column.

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The man I'm about to tell you about is no ordinary man. He was born and still lives in Fort Bragg. We first met while I was working, and unlike most people who offered me advice, he gave me a tool he thought would get the job done. Not long after, I lost the car I had owned for forty years. He asked me whether I had a driver's license, and I think he might have asked me if I wanted a car. Next thing I know, he's driving up in a red '89 "Jimmy" GMC truck. Unsure of the outcome, I got inside. We went to the dealer, he paid for the car and we talked about me paying him back. The amount he suggested was better than anything I could have asked for. Six months into our agreement, I had a problem making the payment, to which he responded: "Don't worry, pay me when you can." The car is now mine!

Please tell does one EVER finish saying thank you to someone like this?

Susie De castro, Fort Bragg

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Next is a story of my own, going back to growing up in New Jersey.

If you asked me what I was most grateful for in my life, I'm sure I would say my son, Jaden. Yet in order for Jaden to be there it first had to be me and his dad, Kevin. In order for Kevin and I to embrace each other there was a myriad of people and experiences that had to happen first; most notably our parents. Now I could go on for quite a while in this way going back to the dawn of time, but instead I will go back to high school, Morris Catholic High School in Denville, New Jersey, to be exact. I was a sophomore, sitting in Mr Rabbit's history class. Everyone loved Mr. Rabbit, he was generally the funny and laid back teacher. He was the teacher that allowed us to bend rules a bit. Anyway, I recall sitting close to the window, in my high school uniform, baby blue shirt short sleeve shirt untucked, navy blue pleated skirt, etc…you get it. I recall Mr. Rabbit was assigning us our subjects for a research paper about the 1960's. He was sitting back in his chair, in his laid back way, looking back towards me...... "Bernadette, you'll be doing your paper on" …… a long moment of silence as he looks through his papers, "Bob Dylan." I remember not knowing anything about him except to my sixteen-year-old-mind he was old. "Ok" I said, as I thought to myself, "Wasn't he some country singer?" Many hours of research and listening to his music followed as I educated myself on his activism and his minimalist yet wise lyrics. It felt like I found a long lost piece of myself in his music, and I knew it would lead me home. He had the ability to place words together in such a way that you felt like they were created to be said together. Songs like "Blowin in the Wind," "Masters of War" and "Shelter from the Storm" were cornerstones for me. These days I think I would say "Freewheelin Bob Dylan" and "Planet Waves" were my favorite albums. Sometimes, no one could say it better than Dylan. I wanted to live in a place that still contained people fighting the good fight, a place that still honored people who revered the natural world, our first home, a place full of artists, writers, and musicians. Bob Dylan helped me discover my ideals and therefore find home. His role in my life sparked me on to so many more moments and people in line with these ideals that in turn led me here to Anderson Valley. Thank you, Bob. But I must give credit where credit is due, Mr. Rabbit, wherever you are (probably still in New Jersey) thank you so very much. Sure, I probably would have found out who Bob Dylan was eventually without Mr Rabbit, but like so many things in life, timing is everything.

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PLEASE send your own story of Gratitude for a person, place, experience, etc.. It's through actions like this we strengthen our beloved community. Send your article to:

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