"In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy." Brother David Steindl-Rast

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Things I Take For Granted: #3 Food to Eat

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy and our marriage. I am also grateful for the variety of food I get to eat.

Air to breathe life. Water to sustain life. Food to nurture life. Day in and day out, I have these available to me. How blessed I am. How blessed most of us reading this are.

I love to eat. I love food. I especially like bananas, peanut butter, pizza and ice cream, but I get plenty of variety. I have never gone hungry in my life. I eat so I can run. I run so I can eat.

There is so much focus on material things in our culture today. More stuff. Bigger stuff. Expensive stuff. But it is still just stuff. Sometimes I feel we are trying to feed our psyches and our souls with the wrong stuff. Feeding our bodies healthy food is a good start in feeding the rest of our selves.

I have made efforts the last couple of years to be a more mindful eater. To slow down and take my time. To consider in gratitude the efforts of others who helped make the food in front of me possible. To consider how I am nurturing my physical body so my mental, emotional, and spiritual selves can have energy too.

I am not very good at this mindful eating, but I try. Every time I am able to pause and consider what I have to be grateful for, it is time well spent. Progress, not perfection.

Today I will pause in appreciation of the food before me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Things I Take For Granted: #2 Clean Water

Today I am grateful for a good run on a windy fall day. I am also grateful for my job and the students and adults I have the privilege of working with and getting to know.

Yesterday's air to breathe is followed closely by another necessity we can't go without for long: clean water to drink.

How easy and convenient it is for me to get some water when I am thirsty. I can have it cold or hot. I rarely worry about the safety of the water I drink, or wonder if it will make me sick. I can go to any number of faucets in my home, or drinking fountains at work, and quench my thirst. I can go to the refrigerator for cold water or use my stove or microwave to prepare some hot water.

I don't have to put much thought into where my water supply is, and the most energy I use getting my water is going down the hall at work to refill my water bottle 3-4 times a day. If you have similar ease in accessing water, we are the lucky ones. Statistics I found said that 1 in 9 people in the world don't have access to safe and clean drinking water. One in five deaths among children under the age is five is from a water-related disease.

Millions and millions of people have a daily struggle to find safe water to drink. I consider myself busy and have plenty on my to-do list. What if several hours of my day went to finding and hauling water for my family? This is the reality for millions around the world, particularly women.

Considering such facts brings me more humbly to the faucet. It also brings me more humbly to the day ahead.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Things I Take For Granted: #1 Oxygen

Today I am grateful for a return to a healthier perspective and some balance. I am also grateful for air to breathe.

There are many things I take for granted each day. Keeping a gratitude journal, writing these blog posts, and trying to actively practice gratitude and be mindful all help me see more of these things for what they are-true gifts of life.

When talking about gifts of life, the obvious one to start with is oxygen; air to breathe to sustain our lives. Today I am grateful for the oxygen and clean air that surround me. It makes me think of many things, such as:

*I am grateful I quit smoking.
*I try to do my part to protect our clean air supply by being a responsible
consumer and recycler.
*Prayers go out to those with health problems that necessitate an extra oxygen supply.
*I appreciate the fresh air of the various seasons; from winter's nostril-stinging cold to
summer's balmy humidity. I prefer spring's smell of new life and fall's crispness.
*It reminds me that, like the oxygen I can't see, I am missing other gifts in my life when my
overdoing and overthinking make me blind.

Considering the gift of oxygen helps me consider the other gifts of today. Breathe in. Breathe out. Life. Love. Opportunities.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Painfully Aware

Today I am grateful for several phone conversations with friends and sisters over the weekend. I am also grateful for the simple wisdom of starting the day with the question "Am I present?"

Lisa reporting for duty for the day ahead. Suit up and show up. Even when staying buried under the covers seems like a better option. My sister Danita suits up and shows up. I can too. She is painfully aware of a disease called Lewy body dementia.

Her husband Roger has this form of dementia. He continues to decline and lose ground against a horrible disease. It is not rare, but many people haven't heard of it. I hadn't until Roger's diagnosis a couple of years ago, but over 1.3 million people in the U.S. have the diagnosis. Symptoms can closely resemble Alzheimer's and Parkinson's so LBD is probably underdiagnosed. Like the general population, many doctors and other medical personnel are not familiar with it.

Check out a post I wrote last October here.  Or read more about it at the Lewy Body Dementia Association website at http://www.lbda.org

Purple is the color for LBD awareness and October is Lewy Body Dementia Awareness Month. I wear a purple bracelet every day to remind me of Roger and Danita and everyone else dealing with this terribly difficult diagnosis.

I am grateful for the support and programs available to Roger as a patient and
Danita as a caregiver.

Those who are familiar with Lewy body dementia have a painful awareness of it, but awareness needs to begin somewhere. We can only move forward in helping those who have LBD or love someone who does by increasing awareness which leads to increased action and advocacy.

I encourage you to read up on this form of dementia, to put on some purple, to say some prayers, to help others learn about LBD.

It all reminds me to not take this day or my health for granted.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Beautiful Fall

Today I am grateful for the beautiful fall day yesterday and for the physical capabilities to do yard work.

Actually, we have been having a very nice fall. It has been pleasant and sunny on many days. The drawback is that we are behind on moisture, but the plus is that it's been easy to get out and about. The temperatures have been mild, the fall colors striking and lasting. Not like some years when there's barely any color and then some brisk windy days to carry the leaves away.

I not only enjoy the colors of the leaves on trees, but the various colors that come out on all plants and vegetation. I like the changing light as the days get shorter and the sun plays differently into the windows of our house as the trees become more bare.

I so appreciate the cooler and drier air, the crispness of the early morning as I head out to walk Oliver or go for a run. The sound of leaves rustling as I walk or run through them, or as a breeze gently pulls them along, are also welcome sounds of fall.

Fall has always been my favorite season. This fall has been a real treat in the weather department. It's been busy and full in the life department. All the more reason to slow down and enjoy the beauty of a lovely day in autumn.

Slow down. I can't slow down the seasons, but I can slow myself down to enjoy them.
That's my plan today. How about you?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Be Still. Be Quiet.

Today I am grateful for a solitary run in the coming daylight. I am also grateful for what silence and stillness teach me when I give them a chance.

Life has been busy. Work has been especially so. Family activities keep us on the move. It is dangerous territory for me. I end up overly tired, over thinking everything that needs to get done, and losing any sense of calm and serenity I may have had. Not surprisingly, I also become an unpleasant person to be around at times. My poor family feels the brunt of that when it happens. So the first lesson of stillness and quiet for me is to keep my mouth shut when what may come out is not kind or necessary.

Yesterday morning I took five minutes to sit out on our front porch and enjoy some coffee. I had the time. I made the time. I needed that time. I lose focus when I get spun up in the busy times. I forget to pause and be grateful. I forget that what really matters is here and now. I forget that my job is just that-a job. My job is not at the top of my priority list, nor should it be. But when I take care of my priorities-family, friends, faith/recovery, running, and writing, my job seems to go more smoothly.

That five minutes yesterday was a start in bringing me back to more serenity, to more solid ground. It was the reminder and the action I needed. More such pausing, stillness, and quiet will be part of my day today. My morning run was a good start.

Be still. Be quiet. Be grateful.

Friday, October 24, 2014

I Couldn't Do It

Today I am grateful for the therapeutic value of ice cream and for our dog Oliver. I am also grateful for my husband Darcy and our marriage.

Remember those worn out gloves I blogged about last week? (Read the post here.) Remember my plan to give them a proper send-off in St. Louis? I couldn't do it. They went to St. Louis with us, they covered the 26.2 miles with me, and they made it back home. The picture below shows them with my newest marathon medal:

It was a chilly marathon morning. The gloves helped pre-race and also through the first couple of miles. By Mile 3 my hands were getting warm. I decided to toss them at Mile 4 (4 being significant as my sobriety date-September 4). But as I thought about it, and as Mile 4 came and went, I decided that I needed to keep the gloves. They carried too much sentimental value to me. They hold too much good energy.

So for the next 20-plus miles I alternated between carrying them and keeping them in a pocket in my shorts. I thought about family, friends, previous marathons, the joy running brings me. I thought about my, our, good fortune to have our health and be able to run. I washed them and will now retire them from use. They will become part of our running archives.

Those archives include medals, race bibs, results, paperwork, and more. Also included are many memories, shared experiences with my husband Darcy and other family members, and an ample supply of gratitude. These gloves don't take up much physical space, but they do take up considerable positive mental, emotional, and spiritual space.

When it comes to your personal archives, literal or symbolic, what are you thinking about today?