You are currently viewing Celebrating Joy and Gratitude

Celebrating Joy and Gratitude

Yesterday marked a day of pumpkin spice and heartfelt gatherings as we expressed thanks for all the blessings in our lives. While many were expressing their gratitude on-line, I decided to enjoy the blessings in front of me for the day.

Today, amidst the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, I will joyfully leave others to the shopping and reflect on the the blessings for which I am grateful.

black dog and owner

Why Gratitude Matters:

Research shows that cultivating a habit of gratitude can lead to increased happiness and reduced feelings of depression, even for those already facing mental health challenges It’s not just a mindset; it actually changes our brains. here are some fascinating gratitude facts:

Practicing gratitude is fuel for satisfaction:

Gratitude practice appears to help you feel more satisfied in life and can boost your self-esteem, according to peer-reviewed research.

It’s good for brain, body, relationships and mood:

“Simple practices like maintaining a gratitude journal (which research has shown to reduce stress, improve sleep quality and build emotional awareness), complimenting the self, or sending small tokens and thank you notes can make us feel a lot better and enhance our mood immediately.”

It takes time, but the effects are long-lasting:
“Individuals in the gratitude group reported better mental health than the others four weeks after the writing activities, and this difference in mental health became even larger 12 weeks after the writing activities.”

Gratitude Habits

One of the ways they recommend practicing gratitude is via a journal. I will admit that I have never been very good at keeping a journal. It is a practice I have started and stopped many times. I often do reflect on things that bring me joy though. Being out in nature is one of the ways I find time to reflect. I am the most grateful for the ability and privilege to do this job.

What Brings me Joy

In the midst of this season of thanks, I want to share the things that bring me immense gratitude each day.

1. Helping Animals: In my heart as a child I knew that I had to somehow work with animals.  I always seemed to understand animals more than people.  With dogs in particular, they provided me with a quiet acceptance and nurturing that this shy girl longed for.  I was deeply moved by commercials showcasing dogs in need and could look into their souls and knew that i needed to be part of the solution. Now, as a photographer, I have the privilege to contribute to their well-being by capturing their essence, fundraising, and supporting shelter events. Knowing that one of my images led to a dog finding its forever home fills my heart with indescribable joy.

tan and white dog with caregiver

2. My Family, Friends, and Furbabies: Life’s joys are meant to be shared. From a supportive family who allowed me to have a dog despite my mothers fears, to friends who’ve been there in good times and bad. Family and friends who enabled me to travel to new an exotic places. Then the dogs who’ve comforted me through thick and thin and taught me lessons I needed to learn when working with rescue animals.

– I am grateful for the love and connections that enrich my life.

3. My creative spirit! A camera was a magical tool I came across as a child. The camera in my hand provided my with a way to communicate my feeling when I could not express the words myself.  Not only was I shy, but I also stuttered as a child.  The camera was my way of  expressing what I found joyful. As i continue to learn to create in new and different ways with my camera, I am also able to utilize skills I have learned to create hand rendered custom creations for my clients as well.

4. You! To all those who follow my blog and support my endeavors, whether through purchases or simply by being here, your presence means the world to me. Your trust and connection inspire me to keep sharing my musings and photography.

As we navigate this season of gratitude, I invite you to share what makes you feel #blessed. Let’s celebrate joy and gratitude together!

P.S. Remember, whenever you’re ready, I’m here to capture the essence of your pet. It would be my absolute pleasure to be your pet’s Photographer when you need me!

Book your session now



The stunning Salem is only around 10 months old and was found as a stray in the city. Salem has done well meeting new doggie friends but would be best in a home without cats. She would love a yard to run and play in! Long walks or on hiking adventures make her very happy. She might be shy at first but it doesn’t take her long to warm up and ask for a back rub. 

Please contact Friends of Second Chance.

Friends of Second Chance Canine Adoption Shelter
6660 E. Seneca Turnpike
Jamesville, NY 13078

Capture your journey with your pet. Nancy Kieffer is a pet and nature photographer serving  Central New York, the Adirondacks and Beyond.  Capture how you share your life with your pet! It may be a vacation adventure or curled up on the couch. Travel assignments welcomed.