"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

Friday, October 20, 2017

Some Time to Savor

Today I am grateful for beautiful weather that made yard work enjoyable yesterday. I am also grateful for the various conversations I had with friends and family.

Darcy and I both successfully completed the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, October 1, 2017. Then, after literally hitting the ground running for 26. 2 miles, we figuratively hit the ground running in our lives over the next weeks. Football games. Weekend travels. Work demands. A chipped tooth.
A new computer system. A school field trip. A lot of busyness and a different kind of running.

Frankly, I was resentful that the pace of our lives wasn't allowing us to relish in and savor the pace of our marathon and the exhilaration and satisfaction that come with reaching a goal we worked months to achieve.

Then, this week pictures taken along the marathon course showed up in our email and we purchased a  couple pictures of each of us to download. Here are mine:


They arrived at the same time that some relief from all of the demands in our busy days also subsided a bit. Big work commitments done for now. Family and work travels brought us safely back home. 

So I am doing some post-marathon savoring that I had to put on hold. The pictures bring back the memories and the emotions. The hill I was climbing somewhere in the last miles. The fist pump that I felt from head to toe as I crossed the finish line, exhausted but full of gratitude. 

Gratitude for my physical capabilities. Gratitude for those who supported me along the route, both familiar faces and random spectators. Gratitude for Darcy's health after a setback last year. 

Gratefulness in the profound reminder that every step counts, that each moment is a gift. 

I will be back early next week, writing away, after taking a break over the weekend. Go do some 
savoring yourselves. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thirsty?

Today I am grateful for time off from work and nice weather to do some yard work. I am also grateful for those who helped bring my simple breakfast of cereal, milk, flax seed, and banana to me.

I have numerous blog drafts that I have started in recent months. I will hear or read a quote and think it makes a good post topic, and then other ideas come up and more drafts happen. Some get finished and published. Others languish in the "drafts" folder for a time.

In the next weeks, I am going to give some time to these drafts and bring them to fruition. Here's a good one to start with. It is inspired by this quote from Br. David Steindl-Rast:

"Gratefulness is that fullness of life for which we are all thirsting." 

These words evoke thoughts of what it meant to be a thirsty alcoholic. There were times when I was physically thirsty for a cold drink, but it was usually emotional thirst that I drank at. And that is an exercise in futility. The empty promises of alcohol, and the isolation created, never quenched my thirst. In fact, they often made me thirstier.

Those of you who already know my story also know that a turning point in my recovery from alcoholism and a key practice in my ongoing sobriety is the practice of gratitude. Living gratefully in this infinite succession of moments that make up a day. Finding gratefulness whenever I pause and pay attention. 

These feed my soul and satisfy my thirst for living fully. Gratefulness is far more effective than alcohol ever was. The side effects of living gratefully are healthy. The side effects of drinking too much alcohol were anything but healthy to my body and the rest of me.

I am grateful I have healthy ways to quench my thirst today.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Infinite Succession of Presents

Today I am grateful for a nice visit with my sister Zita and that she was able to attend Sam's football game. I am also grateful for the medical insurance and available care that we have.

Yesterday's "Word for the Day" at www.gratefulness.org was this:

"We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession 
of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that 
is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
(Howard Zinn)

I like this quote for many reasons. I had never really considered the future like this, simply the next moment to experience and appreciate. I paid attention to that in small ways yesterday. I noticed the pre-dawn moon and stars more than I do some mornings. Enjoying the favorite parts of songs like Steve Winwood's "While You See a Chance" and Chicago's "Feelin' Stronger Every Day."  I went in to work later than usual after taking Sam to the dentist, and I enjoyed the lighter traffic on my commute.

The infinite succession of presents provided many gifts.

There is also plenty of hope in these words. There is plenty of bad around us, but I believe the good wins out. And it has a much better chance of winning when we pay more attention to it.

And it offers direction for my day ahead. Live now as human beings should live. Being kind and tolerant of ourselves and one another. Being grateful for this day and the tiny bits of future that will unfold moment by moment. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Broken

Today I am grateful for co-workers who help me in so many ways and who are true team players. I am also grateful for reminders of the precious gift of today.

Special happy birthday greetings to my friend Sheila. Enjoy your day! I am so grateful we were put on the planet within the same year and in the same area so our paths could cross.

A couple of things have been broken around our house in recent days. The shower is broken. The part that turns the shower on anyway. We still have a bathtub and water, and hot water at that. So it could be much worse. I am inconvenienced because I prefer showers. You want inconvenienced? Walk a few miles every day to get dirty water to haul back to your family, hoping you won't all get sick from it.

Sam's filling on a chipped tooth is also broken. It got chipped in football. It was an easy fix, but needs to be re-fixed. I am inconvenienced as I have to take him to the dentist and be late for work. He is inconvenienced because he needs to get up earlier. Inconvenienced or blessed?  I have a healthy son whose biggest medical issue of late is a chipped tooth that didn't hit a nerve or need a root canal. I have a job that will still be there when I go in late.

And then I think about the broken hearts and dreams of the victims of the northern California wildfires. Over 40 people have died in the fires, and well over 5, 500 homes and other structures have been destroyed.

Prayers go out to all impacted by these fires and those working hard to contain them.

My little broken inconveniences are put in perspective real quick when I consider the bigger picture.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pondering Life

Today I am grateful for time with our grandson Aaron and his parents Arthur and Alyssa. I am also grateful for safe travels to and from that visit and vehicles in good working order.

Aaron is almost two months old now and is thriving. I hadn't seen him since he was just days old, and the changes are significant. Infants grow and learn so much in these early weeks and months. He is able to hold his head up some on his own, he eats well and knows how to let his parents know when he is hungry or needs a diaper change.

And he is ever observant. When he isn't sleeping, he is taking in his surroundings. The faces of people caring for him and loving him. The colors and sounds going on around him. The shapes and designs of toys and little animals dangling from his playmat. He kicks his arms and legs and never stops taking in his environment.

This picture captures the little observer and ponderer that he is:


Though he can't yet tell us with words what is on his mind, his facial expressions and the sounds he emits can tell us all we need to know.  And one thing he always tells me when I spend time with him is how amazing this world around us really is. Pause. Stop. Pay attention. Listen. Notice.

When I do those things, like Aaron, I notice so much more. The gratefulness finds me. I don't need to go looking for it. I just need to observe, ponder, and pass it on. Thanks again for this important lesson Aaron. You are a good teacher.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Silver Linings, and Yellow and Red Ones Too

Today I am grateful for safe travels and gorgeous weather this week, and for a good night's sleep back in my own bed.

I spent Wednesday through Friday on a field trip with forty-eight 7th graders and four colleagues who helped chaperone.  A big thank you to CeCe, Kelly, Aaron, and Trevor for helping make the trip a success and fun as well.

We had some challenges during the trip, but together we moved through them and stepped up in the ways that were needed. We came home exhausted, but appreciative of the silver linings of such a trip:

-absolutely stunning weather and fall beauty as our classrooms and offices for a couple of days
-reminders of the different energy and personalities that come out of our students when away from
      the typical educational setting
-laughter shared at various times, to save our sanity and strengthen the cohesion we felt
-our own opportunity to have a different perspective on our jobs

The silver lining of being out in nature can't be beat. The colors were vibrant. The sound of leaves rustling under our feet and swaying gently over our heads in the breeze had a calming effect just when it was needed.

Yellow was the dominant color by this time, but the reds were still exiting. Silver linings included the reds and yellows too:


It is a relief in many ways to be back home, to have all of the planning and the actual trip behind us for this year. But I will carry the silver linings, and the reds and yellows too, with me in gratitude over the next days. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

An Ongoing Gratitude List

Today I am grateful for marriage and motherhood and all that they each teach me and give me.

That gratitude list I started in yesterday's post? I decided that it might be a good idea to keep adding to it as my day went along.  So I did. I started more of a list on a piece of paper that I carried around in my pocket.

Here are some things on that list:

1. Indoor plumbing that made it easy for me to get ready for my day.
      -It's a luxury but I don't often think of it that way.

2. The stars in the morning sky and the awe they inspire in me.
      -The expansive sky and the stars in it also remind me of my human place.

3. Advancements in radiation and other cancer treatments.
     -I am thinking about my sister Leonice, who has started 25 radiation treatments this week.

4. A safe commute to and from work.
     -I drive 50 miles a day on average, and I appreciate arriving safely.

5. A meal with my family.
    - We try to eat together whenever we can. It is time together that I value and cherish. It was
       even nicer that someone else made the meal. (Thanks Darcy!)

Carrying gratitude throughout the day was helpful. It ebbed and flowed, but I gave it more time and energy than I do on many days, and it helped.

I will be taking a blog break over the next couple of days and plan to be back over the weekend.

And then this morning's "Word for the Day" at www.gratefulness.org showed up and seems like the perfect ending to this post:

"As I express my gratitude, I become more deeply aware of it. And the 
greater my awareness, the greater my need to express it."   
(Br. David Steindl-Rast)