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Gratitude is a word that self-help experts and life coaches promote as a mantra. The overly common use of words can sometimes diminish their impact, yet “gratitude” seems to escape this trap for me.

At this moment, I am sitting in my car waiting for my son Jack’s soccer game to begin. It is a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in Minnesota. The leaves are changing, creating the most terrific fire of color everywhere the eye can see.

I am ashamed to admit that soccer commitments and pure laziness on my behalf led to missing church today. Perhaps a reflection on the blessings in my life will help to remediate my sin. I will present a list of the things for which I am grateful.

Family is foremost on my list. My immediate nuclear family includes my husband, Jeff, and our four sons — Tommy, Jack, Henry and Paul. October 10, 2016, will be our 18th wedding anniversary. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for having this wonderful man and our four children in my life. While I can get crabby sometimes and resent what I perceive as being the only one in the family to keep the proverbial show on the road, I love these boys and my husband desperately. Their lives, their joy, and their safety matter more to me than anything else in this world.

Family also includes my parents, my brother, and my niece and nephew. I am so fortunate to have had the wonderful loving childhood that I did. My parents have always supported and believed in me – even when I wasn’t so sure myself. Since my dad’s tragic strokes five years ago following emergency brain surgery, my parents have continued to teach me the importance of love, dedication and family. My mom is now devoting her life entirely to caring for my dad. What an example of the importance of the marriage vows. My parents set a high bar for my husband and me! In addition to life lessons, my parents gave me the greatest gift in the world when they gave me my brother, Peter. Back in 1974, there weren’t car seats like there are now. My parents placed Peter in my 3 1/2 year old arms to carry him home in the car from the hospital. We have been thick as thieves since that moment. Peter will always be my best friend in life. Finally, Peter’s children Mackenzie and Matthew, are as dear to me as my own children. As we say in our family, I could gobble them up.

Gratitude also extends to the friends I have made over my life. I am not the center of the attention, have a million friends type. I tend to be more reserved and careful in who I choose into my inner circle. Once a friend has entered this world, though, I am fiercely loyal. My longest term friend is Debbie – my best friend since the age of 3. Without divulging how long ago that was (and thanks to Botox and fillers you shouldn’t be able to guess!), suffice it to say that after several decades, I would pick Debbie again as my dearest friend. I love you, girlfriend! Jennifer, Angela, and Kelly are my partners in crime in this world of parenting. I hope we are always available to each other.

Beyond the people in my life, I am so grateful for the good health that I have. While there are always things I would like to improve upon, I marvel at how healthy I have always been. As a physician, I know not to take this for granted. The gift of good health is one that should be remembered every day. With God’s blessing, I hope to continue to enjoy good health for years to come.

Now for the perhaps mundane but equally valuable things in my life. I am grateful to be an American. I am grateful for the house over my head, and the food on my table. I am grateful for the wonderful educational opportunities I have had throughout my life that have led me to my fantastic career and medical practice at Associated Skin Care Specialists. I am grateful for great wine and wonderful cheese. I truly appreciate the educational opportunities afforded my children through their Catholic education.

My list of blessings could continue for ages. Thank you God for all these gifts, and may You continue to bless me and my loved ones forever.

Jane Lisko, MD Dr. Lisko is a board-certified dermatologist. She has practiced at Associated Skin Care Specialists, PA in Eden Prairie, MN, and Fridley, MN, since 2001. Dr. Lisko specializes in skin cancer diagnosis and surgery, cosmetic dermatology, and laser surgery. She is married to Dr. Jeff Lisko, a gastroenterologist. Together they have four sons. When not working or spending time with her family, Dr. Lisko enjoys traveling, reading, exercising on her Peloton bike, and playing golf (poorly but with a smile!)

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