"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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Keep Remembering

Today I am grateful for a clean garage and a good run yesterday in the early morning solitude. I am also grateful for my dad.

Every October 23, I remember my dad. He died on October 23, 1998. It is hard to believe that is already 18 years ago.

I keep remembering so as to honor his life and legacy. I keep remembering to help pass on that legacy.

Some things I miss when I think of Dad:
-his striped bib overalls and the jokes he played on grandkids with the pockets in them
-his dry sense of humor and how he called our local paper, The Ossian Bee,"the stinger"
-the way he took chances on high bids in card games and relished in it when things went his way

Some things I continue to pass along, in his memory:
-the work ethic he managed to balance with taking time for things like church and visiting family
-keeping up on current events and being an informed citizen
-making sure ice cream gets enjoyed regularly(tough job but somebody's got to do it)

-that Dad died before my son Sam was born and they never got to talk about farming
-not calling Mom and Dad that Thursday night, 10/22/98 (I thought about it but decided to wait until the weekend, Dad died the next morning)

To keep remembering loved ones is to keep the love alive, and the memories fresh.

Friday, October 21, 2016

New Eyes

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver and his predictable presence around our house. I am also grateful for my eyesight and the glasses that improve it even more.

Consider this:
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes
 but in having new eyes."
Marcel Proust

There is not much that we individually have control of in the world around us. Just our own attitude and actions. We do shape our own perceptions. We decide what we are going to focus on, what we are going to let roll off, what we are going to give energy to.

I was stuck in the rut of self-pity for years. I saw the negative in my own life's circumstances and I focused on the negatives I saw in myself. My mind's eye dulled the beauty and grace around me, while amplifying the pain I felt. The landscape of my life got uglier, I drank more, I hated myself more.

When I quit drinking and then eventually started practicing gratitude, I discovered a wonderful world that had been hidden from my view. I didn't go to different places on the planet, I went to different places in my mind. Safer, friendlier places. I got a new pair of glasses, thanks to daily recovery from alcoholism and daily gratitude practice. 

What a journey it has become! What amazing discoveries have come into view!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

More Reprieves to Appreciate

Today I am grateful for the sunrise I am enjoying from my recliner, and I am grateful to be part of our local breast cancer support group.

Earlier this month I wrote about reprieves. I am thinking about them again this morning. I am enjoying a couple days off from work after a very busy stretch. It is a much-needed break and one I have been looking forward to. Keeping reasonable expectations for this time off will be key to me enjoying it and getting rejuvenated.

I was reminded at last night's breast cancer support group meeting that I am deeply blessed to have the years of reprieve from cancer surgeries and treatment that I have had. I don't want to take my health for granted and I want to stay vigilant about what is going on in my body. Cancer is cunning and mysterious. It can return 2 years later, 5 years later, 12 years later, or with the woman I met last night, 17 years later.

I am thinking about my sister Danita and her grief process as the first anniversary of her husband Roger's death nears. Grief doesn't grant full reprieves it seems, but cherished memories can help.

Then there is the ongoing reprieve from my overactive brain. Too much thinking = too little peace.
To start my day with gratitude practice helps calm my mind and slow it down. It's a good start anyway.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Short but Sweet

Today I am grateful for my sense of smell and how it helps me appreciate the changing seasons.

I am also grateful to my sister Zita and the nice visit we have had. She came up yesterday afternoon to watch Sam play football, and we appreciate her taking the time. We were treated to a wonderful weather afternoon, a pretty exciting game, and a victory for Sam's team.

It was the final game of his freshman season and they got to play it on the varsity field in our community's historic stadium.  It was an added treat to have nearby parking, stadium seating, and a working scoreboard.

It was nice having Zita visit, as a visitor always helps take my mind off the work and home "stuff" that might weigh on me otherwise.  A little break from all of that can go a long way.

After an enjoyable game, we enjoyed some pleasant eating, a favorite pastime with visitors.

It was a nice evening and we appreciate the driving you did and the time you took Zita. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Strong and Steady

Today I am grateful for early morning quiet, supportive friends in recovery, and my healthy body. 

This is a photo I took before the Mankato Marathon started on Sunday. The starting line is barely visible up ahead. A sea of people all with a story.

Here are some things that made up my story over the next 26.2 miles:

*Running the first couple miles with a woman named Megan and discovering we had a 
few things in common. 
*A supporter along the route before we hit double digit miles saying I looked "strong and steady." 
I drew on that in the last few miles when strong and steady take on a whole new meaning.
*Seeing a man wearing a "50 States" shirt (for people who are well on their way or already have run a marathon in all 50 states). I congratulated him and asked him how many marathons he had done. His answer? 277! That's strong and steady.
*Thanking every volunteer I could along the way. Sharing gratitude is energizing. 
*Seeing 3 women spectating, each holding a coffee cup from a local convenience store. I asked "Where's my coffee?" as I ran past. They laughed and one said "You're in great spirits."  That boosted me, and I got another boost when I saw them again a few miles later.
*Two other spectators who were supporting a couple runners who were behind me were at numerous places along the course waiting for their friends, but they became my unofficial cheerleaders. I saw them at least 8-10 times. No names. Just some camaraderie shared on a marathon course. 
*Being inspired by the corn fields and farm smells along the way.

Many things and many people helped carry me through the miles. All of them blessings. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Different Run

Today I am grateful for successful completion of marathon #14 for me, and for the many volunteers and support people who made the Mankato Marathon a well-run (pun intended) event.

This marathon was already setting up to be a different run. We had an exciting trip to look forward to last year along with our marathon weekend-a trip to Maine to run Mount Desert Island. Whatever we did this year would need to be closer to home, and somewhat low key. 

Darcy and I both had some nagging body aches and pains this year. He had more recent heel pain, and my right knee and a bunion on my right foot needed more frequent icing. Menopause has made an appearance for me, and for both of us it was mentally more challenging to stay motivated. Still our 20-mile training runs went well. 

Then, Darcy got sick on Friday; body aches and fever. Though he felt better Saturday morning, he got worse as the day went on. A trip to urgent care ruled out strep and the flu, and he thought he might try the 10K. Sunday morning he ruled that out too.

So it was a lonely wait at the start for me and the run just didn't feel the same. Even though Darcy and I hadn't planned to run the whole way together, it was different not having him out on the course too. I know how disappointed he was. I would feel the same way.

It was a tough run both physically and mentally for me, but I made it. I was thankful to see Darcy and Sam greeting me just before the finish. And so grateful to cross that finish line!

More on the experience of 26.2 miles, a step at a time, tomorrow.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

North and South

Today I am grateful for the beauty of fall, for a good school trip with 60 seventh graders, and for my fellow chaperones: Kathy, Kelly, Tim, and Trevor. 

The only full day of our 3-day, 2-night trip was a picture-perfect fall day in northern Minnesota on Thursday. This scene welcomed us in the morning,

And this one, viewed from a 60-foot high tower, helped us bid adieu to the ending daylight.

The trip was both exhausting and invigorating. Thank you to the staff and instructors at Deep Portage. It was a nice break from the regular workday, and what a classroom we had. I love fall and I appreciated getting paid to be outside for a couple of days.

Today we head to southern Minnesota for our 14th marathon tomorrow. The starting line of the Mankato Marathon awaits us. It hasn't been the smoothest year in terms of how our bodies and our minds are feeling about this run, but Darcy and I are both as ready as we can be.

Our last long training runs went well, and we are so grateful to be able to continue running this distance. It is a great way to see a city, and Mankato will provide some beautiful fall scenery. There will be some hills, but what's a marathon, and life, without a few of those?

We will proceed as always--simply one step at a time.