The Gate of Heaven

Pausing in this moment, I appreciate my senses of hearing, smell, and touch. Hear the quiet. Smell the coffee. Touch our dog's warm coat.

Speaking of gaits and gateways more gates came to mind, as did this beautiful quote:

“At the center of our being is a point of pure truth. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with  the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody. I have no program for this seeing.  It is given. The gate of heaven is everywhere."  (Thomas Merton)
When I first heard this quote, I found it to be deeply profound. It is where living gratefully can take us. If we truly pause, truly consider what is around us and within us, it is amazing and humbling. The gate of heaven is everywhere.

I don't so much consider heaven a place or location, but rather a perception and an experience. We don't even need to work at opening the gate. It is already open, just waiting for us to open our eyes and hearts.

It may look grand and magnificent at times, but it is just as evi…

Gait as Gateway

Living gratefully today, I appreciate clean clothes, yogurt, and stocking caps.

As part of my physical therapy appointment last week, I ran on a treadmill while the PT videotaped me from a few different angles. The gait analysis clearly showed the quad-dependent runner I am, just like this picture from the 2014 St. Louis Rock 'n Roll Marathon shows when you look in the lower right corner:

Now that is a screaming quad! It was the late miles, so other parts were screaming too, but not that obviously. After my gait analysis last week though, my arm position and a bit of a forward lean became more noticeable to me. My PT recommended I focus on engaging my spine and shortening my stride, and she gave me some more exercises to strengthen my hips, and the sleepers--my hamstrings and glutes.

I mentioned to the physical therapist that I sometimes wondered if my mastectomies and flat chest had had any impact on my running form. It now is apparent that they had, but with a more emotional th…

Snowshoes, Puzzles, and Cardinals

Today I am grateful for family, sunshine, blue skies, snowshoes, and jigsaw puzzles.

Happy Birthday wishes today to my mother-in-law Marlene and our niece Maycee!

With fresh snow earlier in the week, we were able to get our new snowshoes out a couple of times. We can go to a nearby golf course to use them and that is a nice convenience. Yesterday afternoon it was bright with clear blue skies and little wind.

We first followed the path put down by someone else across pristine open space and took in the replenishing fresh air and sunshine. Then we forged our own way for a time as well. Both my husband Darcy and I would put this excursion as a highlight of our day. Our physical capabilities allowed us this exercise that became as mentally cleansing and spiritually renewing as it was physical.

Our grandson Leo joined us a couple hours later and he and I set to the work and fun of putting a new puzzle together. He dismantled the 100-piece one we finished over the holidays and we got busy o…

Love or Hate?

Today I am grateful for the values my parents taught my siblings and I, and to Martin Luther King, Jr. for his courage, contributions, peaceful efforts, words of wisdom, sacrifices, and so much more.
I grew up in rural Iowa, surrounded by very little diversity in terms of race and religion. Still, my parents imparted the lessons that all life has value, that everyone deserves dignity. We lacked for some of the comforting words it would have been helpful to hear, but we also didn't hear hateful words directed at us or at certain groups or situations. 
Mom and Dad did us a significant service in this way. Our upbringing may not have been worldly, but we learned some universal lessons. My siblings and I have wide and varied views on many things, and some topics are better left off the table at family gatherings. Yet, somehow we walked out of our childhoods with fairly open minds and less judgment when it comes to differences among our fellow humans. 
Martin Luther King, Jr. was assa…

And Keep Stretching...

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the guided meditations and reflective writing that help me start my day with more reasonable expectations. I am also grateful for old movies. I enjoyed "Ice Castles" last evening.

Yesterday I wrote: “There is such a mind-body connection in each of us and I am stretching to reunite threads that had been disconnected . . . Stretching it out physically is just the beginning. There is much more to stretch in the mental, emotional, and spiritual realms of our lives.”

I am repeating the words here as much for myself as for anyone else. The new or refreshed physical exercises I am doing in recent weeks coincide with some of my efforts to stretch myself spiritually, and to engage healthy thoughts and emotions that are more readily available to me.

Not only are muscles and neural pathways awakening in me, so are healthier emotions. I am even finding some for the first time. Emotions directed at my former worst enemy--the woman in the mirror. Emot…

Stretch It Out

Today I am grateful for the freshness of a new snowfall and how it changes the light indoors and out.
I am also grateful for the comedic and other contributions from Betty White over the last 80 years.

Wishing a Happy Birthday today to my sister Ann! Have a special day!

I have been doing some physical therapy for my left hip and many good things have already come from the process that started with an X-Ray and MRI, appointments with a doctor, and now several PT appointments with two different physical therapists.

What we know now is that I have some arthritis in my left hip and a tight IT band on my left leg as well. I also have learned that I am a quad-dependent runner and have been under-utilizing and under-engaging my hamstrings and glutes.

None of this is surprising, but it sure is insightful. And helpful. It's another way I got stuck and complacent in recent years and it caught up to me. Now, I have a regimen of several exercises to strengthen what needs strengthening, make m…

But Not Careless

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the lights I can turn on with ease, and the rooms of our comfortable home that those lights illuminate.

As I wrote on Wednesday: "Caring less, in healthy fashion, is an exercise in energy conservation. At this stage in my life, I need that."  Caring less helps me prioritize, which helps me find more peace. More peace, less exhaustion. Less exhaustion, less carelessness.

Inattentive, remiss, negligent, causing harm... these all help define carelessness. As I typed them, they also defined what happens when I forget mindful gratitude. I miss and ignore the daily gifts that surround me. I am more negligent of other people's feelings and my own. I cause harm to my spiritual health, and overall health.

As a society and culture, I think we are becoming careless in ways. Careless about our environment. Careless about our driving and walking as we sneak a peak at our devices, or as we rush from one "must" or "need" to ano…