Shoveling Through

Today I am grateful for my physical and mental capabilities, a much-needed nap yesterday afternoon, and the job I get to go to today.

We have had a pattern of bitterly cold weather for a few days, a brief warming which then brings snow, and a plunge back to the cold. That has given me opportunities to bundle up and be grateful for my warm clothing and boots. It has also given me the chance to get out and shovel snow.

I enjoy shoveling snow. I always have. It is partly because I like clean driveways and sidewalks, and that means less wet mess brought inside. But it is in large part because I appreciate being outside in the elements and being physically able to do the task at hand. I also enjoy tasks where I can easily see the progress I am making.

I wrote about this in an essay titled "The Philosophy of Shoveling the Driveway" which made it into The Des Moines Register in February of 2011. Read it in this post from February of 2013.

Sometimes snow is light and easy to shovel.…

Skol Vikings!

Today I am grateful for the courageous efforts and sacrifices made by Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many others in the move to bring racial equality to this country. I am also grateful for the values our parents instilled in my siblings and I when it came to the worth and dignity of all living things.

Besides honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. today, many of us are also honoring the Minnesota Vikings after their amazing playoff win yesterday, literally as time ran out at the end of the game. It was great to have the opportunity to get to the game with Darcy. It was the first playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium and it was historical.

We aren't the most die-hard fans, but we are Vikings fans and we are proud of our local team, relishing being in the stadium for the crazy finish, and hoping for a first-ever home team playing in the Super Bowl.

I have always enjoyed watching pro football. Sunday afternoons and I go way back to players like Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw, Walter Payton and…

The Irony of Memory

Today I am grateful for a slower-paced perspective on my day and a wrestling tournament yesterday. It allowed me to better experience the minutes and hours, and to be kinder and gentler to myself and those around me. Thank you Darcy for doing the driving too.

I am also grateful for each conversation I have with my mom. I had a phone conversation with her Friday afternoon that was longer than our conversations typically are. I appreciated that. There is heightened awareness for me that each conversation could be our last one.

This is truly the case with any conversation with anyone, but more in the forefront with Mom. She is nearly 87 and her health, hearing, and memory are declining. As sometimes happens, she couldn’t remember what she had said minutes earlier, but with clarity that could be trusted, she told of her high school days.

She had seen the obituary of a classmate. The second one who had died recently. She went on to talk about her own pride in having gone to and completed h…

Parents Night

Today I am grateful for the reassuring sound of our hot water heat coming on and for the ease in which I can go up and down steps. 
I am also grateful today for the wrestling program our son Sam has been part of since he was in the 6th grade. He is now a sophomore and on the Junior Varsity squad. Last evening was parents night, so we were acknowledged and introduced. 
Here's a picture of Darcy, Sam, and I from  last night:

Sam is closing in on his 16th birthday, getting a full-fledged license, more freedom and more choices. It is an emotional time for his parents, I think especially his mama. I love being a mom, I appreciate the approach Darcy and I partner on, I love Sam for the person he is and the person he is becoming. These are pivotal years for child and parents. And they are passing quickly. I savor moments like this one above. 
That's my emotional rant for now. In closing, a big thank you to the Hastings wrestling program, especially the coaches who impress us with wh…

Sharing It Forward

Today I am grateful for the soft light of lamps in the early mornings and for those who make the ease of electricity possible in our homes and elsewhere.

I took the idea of sharing gratitude forward, from my most recent post, into my day yesterday. Just taking it with me helped me to be more present and aware of what I had to be grateful for. It also gave me opportunities to put gratitude in action.

Smiles, good mornings, a helping hand with a task, a thank you to a stranger who held a door were all part of my day. So were laughs shared with my department colleagues and chocolates shared by one of them too. And a conversation with a young woman pursuing her own career in school counseling reminding me of why I pursued it and what twenty years of experience have taught me.

A random song on the radio connected me with a dear friend who is often in my thoughts and prayers. A visit to the podiatrist gave me the chance to assist an elderly woman in a wheelchair. Later, as I drove away from…

Accidentally Paying It Forward

Today I am grateful for a run after work yesterday with Darcy, and for a car to wash and a nearby car wash.

With the warmer weather, it's a good time to get one coat of grime and grit off the car before the next round comes. I was determined to get my car washed yesterday because I was tired of the dirty windows. I appreciated the remaining energy I summoned, even after a full day.

We have a coin-operated car wash less than a mile from us, so I went there. I was loaded with enough quarters and a few extras. I set the extras on a ledge near where I needed them. This car wash is cleaner and warmer than many, so I enjoyed the process of seeing the deeper blue color return to my car.

When I got home I realized I had left 4 quarters on the ledge. Oh well, the next person who came in probably appreciated them. I can live without the four quarters. It raised thoughts though of those who have no money, no car to wash, no home to return to. Whenever I can pause in my day to notice what I d…

Peaceful River or Raging Rapids

Today I am grateful for a January "heat wave" locally and for the conversations I had with my friend Sheila yesterday.

The other day some recovery friends and I were talking about peaceful rivers vs. riding the rapids of life. We are talking about the peace or chaos we create in our own minds--the place where our disease truly rests. The alcohol is gone, but the "ism" is still there.

The "ism" is impacted by the circumstances and events of our lives, which may or may not be chaotic at the time, but more impacted by our thought processes. Left to their own devices, our alcoholic minds are adept at obsessing, overthinking, magnifying the negative and the fear, and becoming quite self-centered.

Such thinking crowds out sane and rational thoughts. Such thinking destroys the peace we strive for and instead creates the treacherous rapids of a racing mind. We used to quiet that mind with our drink or substance of choice.

In recovery, our job is to quiet the mind…