January 24, 2021
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Giving thanks

By: George Malkemus
November 29, 2019

The fires and power outages are over for now.  The destruction for the past few years is still a shock but seems to be our future in Sonoma Country and throughout the state. My heart goes out to the families who have lost their homes and years of memories.   Many are still homeless, looking for a place to live.  Many are in the process of rebuilding and many have left the area.  Recently some have joyfully moved back into their rebuilt homes from the 2017 fires. My mother-in-law Mary lost her house on Fountain Grove Ridge.  She was lucky to survive, being rescued and escaping only with her purse and her cat Meeko.  She was happy to have lived with my wife Mary Alice and I until her passing last Jan.  Sadly, this will be our first Thanksgiving without her smiling face.

Life must continue onward, even when it is difficult.  There is only so much that we can control. Life is unpredictable. Health changes as well as natural disasters can cause shocking stress.  Forced to adapt, we must endure, though difficult, and be thankful for what we do have.  

Thanksgiving is a time for family, giving thanks and refection.   Thanks, and giving, two important words to live by.  I am from the ‘Boomer Generation’ that has only seen continual material improvement in life since WWII.  Now is the time for some inward reflection on what is really important in our lives.  Family and friends come to mind.  The value of the quality of life and good health should replace the importance of acquiring material possessions.  Let us take time to appreciate what we have.  There is a limit to the stress we as humans can press on mother earth, with more and more people and only a limited number of resources.  Our continued expansion and consumer mentality need to be adjusted to a more centered lifestyle and satisfaction with the now.

Our digital age connection allows us to see the poverty, destruction and terror, as well as the beauty, joy and love throughout our world in an instant. The constant speed of change can lead to stress.  And our incredible speeding busyness can consume our precious time.  So, let us take a few moments to slow down and glaze at the beauty around us and enjoy the moment. 

The holidays are always a balance between stress and joy.  There is so much more to do and you have to be merry while doing it all.  Work does not stop and in many cases gets busier, having to finish everything before the end of the year, plus shopping, trees, decorating, lights, wrapping, parties, church, cards and holiday letters.  Doing it all while staying merry with a joyful smile on your face.                   

Ironically, the holiday season should be the most spiritual of times.  It should be a time of forgiveness, accepting and taking the pressure off yourself and others.  It should be a time of self-reflection, a spiritual time of inner peace, and communion with God, earth, the universe and everything.   It should be a time for what is important: family and friends, cherishing the moment and living the day.

The holidays can be particularly stressful for the many people who are alone for the holidays, and for the many, who are barely making ends meet, or without work or without a home.  Giving to those in need can be the most rewarding time spent during the holidays and throughout the year.  Joining a service club, like the Rotary or 20/30 club is one rewarding way to give back to the community and help throughout the world.

I am a member of the Rotary Club of Rancho Cotati.  During my younger years, I was active in the 20/30 Club.  Both service clubs give back to the community.   Rotary is an amazing organization, dedicated to positive peaceful change throughout the world.  

For the holidays, Rotary helps the local fire and police force give presents to needy children in Cotati and Rohnert Park. Via a fire truck, Santa Claus visits their homes and his helpers give presents from Santa’s bag.  The excitement, the smiles and high fives from the children are touching.  

I have much to be thankful for and feel particularly lucky in my life.  I have a wonderful family. I want to thank my wife Mary Alice and my family for their continued love and support. We will have Thanksgiving at our home with four generations of family, including my 93-year-old father Gene, and his great grandsons twins 4-year-old Ocean and Arthur.  I am especially happy to have a third grandson this year, 3-month-old Rowan Wilder.

I am thankful for being a cancer survivor, healthy and cancer free for over thirteen years after having colorectal surgery on Dec. 6, 2006.  I have many patients who have become friends over the years and who have been supportive during stressful times.  I want to thank my dedicated staff for their hard work in helping me serve our patients in a warm, caring atmosphere.  I have a rewarding dental practice, which allows me to help people enjoy good health.

I also want to thank the passionate, dedicated people at the Community Voice for giving me the opportunity to give back my knowledge of health through these bi-weekly articles.  I have been enjoying writing since the beginning of 2006. Writing for an ongoing paper has its stressful deadline moments, and I admire the people at the Voice for their ability to come up with an interesting weekly paper.

Please keep a positive attitude during these turbulent times.  Smile laugh and be joyful throughout the day.  We can consciously pick our own attitude every day.  So, begin each day with a refreshing, positive, uplifting attitude.  Your happy radiance can become contagious to others.  And their joyous response can reflect back onto you.  I try to be chipper every day; some days are more difficult than others, so I make a conscious decision every morning when I wake up to be happy, positive and cheerful. Most days I ride my bicycle to work on the paths along the creek between Cotati and Rohnert Park.  For the last few years, I have been singing ‘Oh What A Beautiful Morning’ as I ride, which puts me in a cheerful, positive mood before work.  ‘Everything is going by way!’  My father has always said, “What a beautiful day!  Isn’t it great to be alive!”  We only have one go around, so let us cherish each moment.

Have A Great Holiday Season!  And take a moment to ‘Give Thanks.’

Enjoy Life and Keep Smiling!

George Malkemus has a Family and Cosmetic Dental Practice in Rohnert Park at 2 Padre Parkway, Suite 200. Call 585-8595, or email info@  Visit Dr. Malkemus’ Web site at