"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, September 28, 2016

"Wild World"-"Heaven Knows"-"Stop! In the Name of Love"

Today I am grateful for Honeycrisp apples and the sound of leaves moving in the breeze.

Yesterday was one of those days that is best captured by some of the songs on my radio's playlist on the commute home from work. It started with Cat Steven's "Wild World."  Between post-debate news and analysis, some sad and unexpected news about a work acquaintance, and conversations that created more "stuff" to worry about and deal with, it indeed felt like a wild world.

But then Donna Summers' "Heaven Knows" came on. I have always liked this song and that helped lift me a little. So did the "heaven knows" reminder. God, a higher source of power, a Great Spirit-whatever you choose to call the power beyond human-has a hand in this wild world and can help tame it. I don't need to have the answers, I just need to do the legwork. Heaven knows. I don't need to waste energy trying to figure it out.

So I was already feeling a little more pep and a little less pessimism when Diana Ross and the Supremes hit the airwaves with "Stop! In the Name of Love." This song begs to be sung out loud. It also happens to be one of the very few songs I have sung while playing karaoke. A few recovery friends and I gave it a whirl many years ago and I still smile about it.

By the time I got home and headed out for a run, my faith in the world had been restored. For that, I am so grateful.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Simplified List

Today I am grateful for a warm, comfortable bed and waking up next to my husband Darcy.

As I carried the idea of sacred and sophisticated simplicity with me yesterday, I jotted down a few things I did that helped simplify my day. Some of these things I do regularly anyway, but appreciated them a bit more as I realized they help preserve my sanity day in and day out. Others I was more intentional about doing than I typically would be.

Here are some of those things:
-I left a bag of clothes in the car instead of hauling them to my office.  There was only an outside chance I would need them, and if I did, I could just go get them. (Formerly, I would have lugged them in "just in case.")

-As a commuting driver, on metro multi-lane roads, I know what lane it is best to be in when going through certain areas. Lanes that keep me moving, keep me safer, require less maneuvering.

-I concluded that a work question I had really wasn't one I needed to pursue. Sometimes it is okay to say "Not my problem!" and move on to the things that are definitely mine to take care of.

-Taking the time to put more paper in the copier, not because I needed more, but rather because I have been that person in a hurry who tries to make a few copies and runs put of paper at an inopportune time. I could help prevent that from happening to a co-worker, at least for a while.

-I slowed down and sat down for my lunch. Some days I eat on the run because I am "too busy."
Yesterday, I savored the simple smoothness of my Greek yogurt instead of snarfing it down in a hurry.

Sacred and sophisticated simplicity. I took the day in stride and even had some extra energy.
Pausing. Paying attention. Slowing down. Simplifying. They work, if I work them. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Ultimate Sophistication

Today I am grateful for recovery from alcoholism and the people who support me in that recovery. I am also grateful for pizza, one of my favorite meals.

Consider these five words:
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Leonardo da Vinci

For someone who has spent too much time overcomplicating way too many relationships, situations, to-do lists, and such, even if just in my own mind, simplicity can be a tall order. 

The way I have previously defined it, sophistication leans toward complex and worldly. People who knew how to look and act in any and all situations were sophisticated, but I sure wasn't.

Another way to define sophisticated is knowledgeable. It took me some time, and trial and error, to realize that doing more isn't always better than doing less, that complicated isn't better than simple. In fact, for me, doing too much is a common pitfall. Overthinking and complicating things is a real energy drain.

Thank you Leonardo da Vinci. Your words are as applicable today, maybe moreso, than they were when you wrote them 500 years ago.

Today, my goal is simplicity. Sacred simplicity.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pruned and Cut Back...A Tree and Me

Today I am grateful for a successful 20 + mile training run yesterday, our last before our next marathon. I am also grateful for the need for blankets as the air cools.

On our run yesterday, I had been pondering some of the week's happenings and doing some of my daily prayers in my head. (Prayers make it safer in there.) I was thinking about self-hatred and how I had spent the first half of my life living in it, the second half trying to overcome it, and that I am feeling content and blessed with my progress in that respect. 

A couple minutes later we ran past this tree:


I was just thinking about halves and here's another one in front of me. Half of a tree. It's been pruned and cut back to prevent it from interfering with the power lines. Just like me. Negative thoughts and feelings pruned. Ego cut to a right size. Allowing the Great Spirit or Higher Source to power me more effectively than my own will ever did by itself.

The tree is strong, sturdy, and continues to thrive. The pruning and the cutting back were necessary. I feel the same way about myself. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Faith??

Today I am grateful for the people in my life who inspire the writer within me. I am also grateful for the faith I have today.

Faith came up in several ways in the last day; messages between old friends, an email, a morning reading. Two quotes came along too:

“Faith doesn’t wait until it understands; in that case it wouldn’t be faith.”
(Vance Havner)

"Faith is the courageous confidence that trusts in the Source of all gifts."
(David Steindl-Rast)

My efforts to find faith and bring it into my daily life have been some of the most important efforts I have made and continue to make. Effort that is well worth the returns. Faith can seem mysterious and hard to define, especially for an ego-driven individual like me who thinks I have to "figure it out."

If I keep trying to figure out faith, I won't find much of it. What I have been taught and shown by others, especially those in recovery from addiction, but also many others in my life, is that actions lead me to faith. Actions like prayer, gratitude practice, reaching out to others for support, pausing to appreciate that it all starts with breathing. 

The Source of all gifts is always there, always available. I just need to let my walls down to allow faith to bring that courageous confidence to help me proceed with the day and do the next right thing, leaving the results up to others more qualified. 

Faith is a leap, but it can also be a walk in nature, appreciating the beauty and what our five senses can take in. Faith is a leap, but it is also accepting that I will be given the strength to handle whatever comes my way today, both negative and positive. Faith is a leap and mindful gratitude creates a parachute to allow me to slow down and notice the Source and other forms of faith.

Faith?? Faith is a leap. Take it. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

No More Birthdays

Today I am grateful for my morning coffee and for life and health.

Today would have been the 65th birthday of my brother-in-law Roger. He died November 1, 2015, running out of birthdays after 64. Slowly taken to his death by the horrible disease of dementia (early onset, Lewy body).

In ways, he was gone before he was gone. In other ways, he was always present until he drew his last breath. And he is still here in ways. He lives on in those he loved and knew. He lives on in memories. And in the way he continues to inspire the rest of us to do things like go for a walk, hike up a mountainside, ride a bike, play a banjo, laugh. These are what my sister Aileen calls "doing a Roger."

I think mostly of my sister Danita, Roger's wife, today. A tough day to face for the first time after a loved one dies. No more birthdays. Life is not fair. Grieving is hard work.

We will all reach that point of no more birthdays. The question is what are you and I doing to live life fully today?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Jump at the Sun

Today  I am grateful for early morning quiet and for our local library and the access to
books it provides.

Jump at the sun? Sounds a little silly doesn't it?  Futile. Impossible. Why bother?
Here's why: 
"Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at the sun.' 
We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground." 
Zora Neale Hurston

Try new things. Give it your best shot, whatever "it" is. Face your fear. Take a failure and turn it into a success next time. Believe in yourself and your abilities. 

Jumping into the blogosphere was one of my sun jumps over four years ago. It got my writing off the ground in many ways. It has made such a difference in how I see myself as I writer. 

Whatever your version of jumping at the sun is, I encourage and exhort you to go for it today. See where it takes you.