"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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Simple, But Not Easy

Today I am grateful for the reserves of gratitude I can draw on when my daily supply runs a little low. I am also grateful for the father my husband Darcy is to all three of his children.

Gratitude practice really is simple, but that doesn't mean it is always easy. Today is one of those days where it feels harder to find the gratitude. I am thinking of loved ones facing difficult circumstances. I am thinking of the deadly and destructive disease of addiction. I am thinking of cancer patients in active treatment. I am thinking of senseless tragedies like the ferry disaster in South Korea. I am thinking of people searching for answers to difficult questions.

I am thinking that life isn't always fair and it doesn't always make sense. I am also feeling a little tired, a little drained. I am feeling a little anxious about some concerns I have. Some are related to my job, others are regarding people I care about.

All that being said, gratitude is still possible. Faith is still available. Gratitude is always possible. Faith is always in stock. It is just good to acknowledge that some days it is easier to find than others.

I appreciate that my daily gratitude practice allows me to build up a supply of gratitude and create an outlook on life that is generally positive. So on days like this, when I feel tapped out, I can draw on those reserves.

Gratitude and faith take work. But it is the best work that I do. What is your best work?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

She Did Dance Again

Today I am grateful for clean windows and fresh air. I am grateful to those who share their recovery wisdom, courage, and strength with me.

I wanted to follow up on one more Boston Marathon bombing victim that I blogged about last year. Her name is Adrianne Haslet-Davis. Read my April 26, 2013 post here. She is a ballroom dancer and a dance instructor. She didn't let the anger and the grief get the best of her. Her goal was to dance again and she has. Our attitude and outlook can't change a circumstance like a serious injury or illness, but it can sure change how we handle that circumstance. Adrianne Haslet-Davis clearly has benefitted from the attitude and outlook she applied after a horrible split second changed her life.

Here is another recent interview with Haslet-Davis. I commend her strength, courage, hard work and hope. I commend her advocacy for amputees.

And here on YouTube is a TED talk by Hugh Herr. Herr never viewed his body as broken after losing both feet in a rock climbing accident in 1982. Rather he saw technology as broken. He works at MIT's Media Lab Biomechatronics group. The talk includes some amazing science. At the end of the talk, Haslet-Davis dances with Christian Lightner in her first performance since the bombings. Amazing. Inspiring. I am grateful for this science and the advances being made to help people like Haslet-Davis, Iraqi war veterans and many others.

Our lives can change in an instant. Or they can stay the same day after day, week after week. There is so much we can't control, but crucial things that we can.  Like our attitude and actions.  Mine are better when I stay focused on gratitude, when I stay focused on the present.

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Blown Together"

Today I am grateful for safe travels over the weekend, nice weather, enjoyable family time, and a couple of good runs with Darcy.

The 118th running of the Boston Marathon gets underway in the next few hours. The Boston Marathon is a prestigious and storied event. This year, one year since the April 15, 2013 bombings that killed three, made 16 others amputees, and injured over 260, there are more emotions and more eyes on Boylston Street and all around Boston. I appreciate the 36,000 runners and the anticipated one million spectators. I will be tracking what I can via computer and TV.

I am a faithful reader of the magazine Runner's World. I pretty much read it cover to cover every month. The most recent issue was full of stories about Boston. Incredible stories like Roseann Sdoia and her rescuers. Roseann lost her lower right leg in the second blast. She may have lost her life if not for the actions of Shores Salter, Shana Cottone, and Mike Materia; a college student, a cop, and a firefighter. Four complete strangers, brought together in an instant of violent tragedy, now with a bond they could have found no other way. It is a story of losing and finding. Read the full article, appropriately titled "Blown Together" here.

It is a story that really struck a chord with me. For many reasons. We never know the plans in store for us on a given day, and how quickly what we know so well can be lost. But when we lose, we also somehow often gain. We find the strength we need and give strength to one another. I have found that to be the case in my life too, though I have never faced the horror of what these four saw and experienced last April 15. With faith and hope, and trust in a power beyond ourselves, we can get through the toughest of times. We can learn the most valuable of lessons.

There will be many stories, many emotions, many steps taken one at a time by many runners today in Boston, but also around the world. That is the stuff of life.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Awakenings

Today I am grateful for the women in my local cancer support group, especially the three women I met for the first time last night. They are all in active treatment and they are in my thoughts and prayers. I am also grateful for the awakenings that have come my way over my lifetime, big and small.

With Easter just around the corner and spring emerging, awakenings are evident and being discussed.

Here are some of my random thoughts on the idea of awakenings:

*They are really about second chances we give ourselves and others. If we awaken to a part of ourselves we had been denying or fearful of, or not confident enough in, we have new goals and sometimes a new road, or at least a wider path to travel. If we awaken to a part of someone we know and care about, by accepting them as they are, or realizing this is their way of shining, then we get to share in their journey too.

*I often think first about my own personal awakenings. There have been so many. I think back to my painful teens and early twenties, and my excessive drinking. First awakening to the fact that I had a problem, then awakening to the need for help and seeking that help. The awakenings have been endless since then. Accepting myself. Living life on life's terms. A growing faith and spirituality. Awakening to the many blessings I have, starting with this day.

*A cancer diagnosis, treatment, and surgeries awakened fear, but also hope. It also helped awaken the essayist in me that was beneath the poet I had always been. And it awakened a new level of self-acceptance, starting with a flat chest and a new normal post-treatment.

*Gratitude practice provides a daily opportunity to awaken to life's riches, starting with the most basic of needs like air to breathe, food to eat, shelter to protect. But it only grows from there and includes things like fingers and eyes that work as I type this entry.

Awakening is both literal and symbolic. It is about paying attention. It is also about action. An awakening is a getting up, a noticing, a validation. It requires effort, but can be as simple as opening one's eyes.

That's it for random thoughts from Lisa today. I hope that you will consider the awakenings that come your way today. I will do the same. I will be taking a blog break until early next week. Have a nice Easter!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Energy

Today I am grateful for pizza. I am also grateful for the communication my husband Darcy and I have with one another.

My energy level has been on my mind lately, in a good way. I have been pleased with the amount of sustainable energy I have had in recent weeks. I attribute it first to the 12 or so pounds that I have lost and to the way I am choosing to nourish myself--less sugar and other refined foods, more whole foods, less calorie intake, more mindful eating.

I am a morning person, so I usually wake up ready to roll. I don't need to wait for my energy to wake up, it wakes up with me. I tend to be on the go much of the day too; physically moving, mentally working. I haven't hit that early afternoon wall as much lately, and I have noticed a faster pace when I run and more motivation to keep exercising. For all of these things, I am grateful.

I also try to be aware of the energy of those around me. Some people give me energy, others zap it. I try to make more connections with the former and keep my interactions with the latter brief.  

It also occurs to me that I can't really store up energy from today to use tomorrow. I might as well use up today's supply, rest up and give the supply time to recover, then welcome another day.

Gratitude and faith are energizers for me. Daily practice of gratitude brings me far more energy than it takes for me to journal, blog, and such.

It all starts with my health--physical and all aspects. Today I appreciate my health and the energy I have to begin my day. Have a good day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Crucify is a Strong Word

Today I am grateful for two ears and one heart to help me listen to others and myself. I am also grateful for a mind that stays open more than it used to, so I can learn more.

With Easter coming up, the words crucify and crucifixion are more prevalent than at other times of the year. There is much religious significance surrounding Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. But our priest's sermon Sunday at my church got me thinking about modern day crucifying.

Do I crucify others with my judgment and harsh words? Do I crucify others by treating them as different or invisible? Do I crucify myself for being less than perfect? Do I crucify myself because "I should know better?" Mortify. Torment. Persecute. Crucify. They are all strong words and strong actions, but we choose them. If I am doing any of these things to others or myself, even if on a small scale, why? (And is there such a thing as small scale in this arena?)

Though we can point to ways the human race has made progress in accepting one another, we can also point to just as many examples of how our intolerance still leads to injustice and hate. Or maybe it's greed that leads to the injustice. Either way, it is wrong.

Strong words call for strong deterrents. It is not my place to judge others, but I do it. We all do it. Let's help each other out. More acceptance. More patience. More gratitude for each other in our glorious uniqueness. Take a stand. Don't join in with the gossip, bad-mouthing, complaining. Walk away if needed. It can happen among friends, in the workplace, with relatives. But gratitude can happen in all of those places too. When I am grateful, I am much kinder and gentler with myself and others. Less crucifying likely.

When I look for the the good in the world, in others, and in myself, I find it. It is there. It is here. It is all around. And when I focus on the good and positive, I am more likely to love, less likely to hate. More likely to glorify. Less likely to crucify.

Are you with me? Let's look for and share the good. Let's share gratitude.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Glorious or Terminal?

Today I am grateful for the nice day we enjoyed yesterday; not weather-wise, pace-wise. I am also grateful for my ability to read.

There is one more nugget from Gilda Radner's book It's Always Something that I would like to share. This quote is a powerful one:

"While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die--whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness." 

Glorious uniqueness. We all have it. It should be celebrated, but too often it is ignored or buried. The way I laugh. The quirky way I put my clothes in the drawer or closet. The predictability of a response I am likely to give to a certain question. The scars on my body and the stories that go with them. All of this and much more comprise my glorious uniqueness. I embrace it more than I used to. Gratitude practice has helped me see this uniqueness as a positive in myself and others.

I agree with Gilda, as long as there is life in me, my spirit, creativity, and my unique traits are all gifts to be shared. Part of my job as a human is to allow others to share their gifts too, to make it safe and comfortable for them to do so.

This idea of glorious uniqueness is a far cry from a different kind of uniqueness--terminal.Terminal uniqueness is indeed deadly, as the name implies. I first learned about it from my friend Terrie. For a person in recovery from alcoholism or addiction, terminal uniqueness might sound like this: "Nobody understands me. Nobody has gone through what I have. Nobody knows my pain. Nobody cares."

It is deadly because it keeps someone from seeking help, from surrendering, from reaching out. It keeps an alcoholic drinking and an addict using. Some will die from terminal uniqueness. I was taught to look for the similarities I had with other alcoholics, not to focus on the differences. That opened doors that led to the help I needed.

When it comes to uniqueness, I'll take the glorious kind. Celebrate your own uniqueness today, and appreciate the uniqueness of others.