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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

Finding Gratitude During Difficult Times

November 19th, 2020

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, which is always a time to reflect on what we are grateful for.

I know for many of you, like myself, this holiday will not feel the same. My wife and I traditionally enjoy multiple large family gatherings with our adult children and grandkids, but this year will be much quieter. It’s a mix of disappointment and reality. I know many of you are feeling this same frustration at a time when you normally reconnect with loved ones, rekindle traditions and build new memories.   

This can make it harder to find gratitude, but one thing I think I have learned from the pandemic is that bad times can be surprisingly informative and make you appreciate what you have.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I love reading fiction, especially thrillers, and watching movies. I often find myself quoting lines that I find pertinent and meaningful and I thought you might like this one, from one of my favorite movies.

“You’ll have bad times but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”

                                                                                     – Good Will Hunting

With that in mind, here is some of the good stuff:

I am grateful for everyone at Michigan Medicine who has worked so tirelessly throughout this pandemic who, now, due to a resurgence will have to pick themselves up and do it again. Your resilience is inspiring.

I appreciate the way we have treated each other with respect, dignity and kindness throughout this turbulent year. We came together to meet the needs of our patients, their families and each other despite the divisiveness occurring across the country.

I am indebted to technologies like Zoom and Google Meet, which have kept us connected on many different levels, and I thank the employees who worked so hard to get those tools in our hands and keep them deployed every day.

I am also grateful for the many resources here within Michigan Medicine and the greater U-M community which we can all lean on.  I feel like a week – perhaps even a day – doesn’t go by that one of our departments doesn’t reach out to our community with another way to support our employees. A few holiday-related resources come to mind:

Story of my Holiday Dec. 4 OHEI Program

How to have a safe holiday season during pandemic Health Blog  

Feeling helpless during pandemic? 26 things you can do to help Headlines article

Although I will miss big family fun, I am grateful for my wife and my “bubble” during this pandemic. So embrace your bubble, small as it may be, and the bubbles we create here at work. That is where you will find the sincerest moments of gratitude.   

What are you grateful for? Please share with us in the discussion box below.


  • I am grateful that Michigan Medicine has a strong communications team led by Rose Glenn. Her team has elevated our ability to message our values, both within and outside of this amazing organization.

    • Donna, I agree. Communicating our Mission, Vision and Values is very valuable and I am grateful not only to Rose’s team, but to all the employees who reach out to me and others to share how they live our values. When we share our stories It helps us all understand how, when we respect each other and the roles we play in our shared purpose, we are better together. We have a lot to be grateful for!

  • Thank you, Marschall. Beautifully said!
    I’ve also become more aware of nature— I’ve taken more time to enjoy sunrises and sunsets, the changing seasons, the many quiet and lush spots right around us here in Michigan.
    There’s hope on the horizon, thanks to science, and there’s great courage and generosity as shown by our health care workers. I’m truly grateful to them.
    I’m thankful for my lab and my wonderful colleagues. We’ve built new friendships during this pandemic, which is an unexpected gift. And very grateful to you, Marshall, for all you do and for your calm and positive style in this hyperbolic world.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

    • Nature, science, your wonderful colleagues, and most importantly, that hope you see on the horizon – I do like your list of things you are grateful for, Huda. It’s been hard for many to have such a positive outlook as we move ahead during these quieter, smaller, sometimes lonely, holiday celebrations, but your hopefulness is inspiring to me, and I am sure you lift up others each day. Thank you for your bright spirit.

  • Counting all my blessings, naming them one by one! Every dear friend and all my family including my 100 year old Aunt Anne and my newest 8 month old niece are on that list. Counting my work at UM high on the list too. Good work to do with smart, kind people every day makes it easy to concentrate on what we can do. Thankful for a beautiful state with changing seasons. Thankful for excellent healthcare benefits. Thankful for a good wage. Thankful for plenty to eat. Thankful for a loving God who has a plan. Thankful for small kindnesses and a smile or fun background of a co-worker on Zoom. Thank you for asking. Take care!

    • Carolyn, you have a wonderful list of things you are grateful for. I can really relate with your comment about “good work with smart, kind people every day,” and I believe many others at U-M would list this as a blessing too. When we surround ourselves with smart, thoughtful people doing purposeful work it can make the most difficult times more manageable and I try to remind myself of that everyday. We should all remember that we are not alone in this pandemic. I hope you and your family, including your wise Aunt Anne and your young niece, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

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