"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, December 15, 2017

Brake Lights

Today I am grateful for a good speaker to remind us of the vital roles of failure and confusion in learning life lessons. I am also grateful for the range of emotions I give myself permission to feel.

Working my way from the headlights to the interior lights of vehicles, and of my human self, it became obvious that brake lights would be next on this little writing trip. Who knew our vehicles carried so much wisdom?

Brake lights help keep me safe in my car as I travel with hundreds of other vehicles on the freeways of our metropolitan area. They warn me to slow down and determine the cause of the brake lights. It could be to go around emergency vehicles on the shoulder of the road, or a minor back up at a busy time of the day.

If the brake lights stretch in front of me for quite a ways, I know it is more significant and if able I could exit and try a different route. If a detour isn't possible, I come to some level of acceptance. It is what it is. Stuck in traffic is stuck in traffic. Just breathe and go with it. I'll get there when I get there.

Then there are the brake lights of my mind. The ones that help me maintain some level of sanity and reasonableness. I sometimes miss the cues that are more subtle than a car's bright brake lights flashing on in front of me.

But eventually I arrive at "slow down Lisa."  There could be a crash of expectations and lack of time ahead. There could be a spin out of too much fear and worry being applied instead of the brakes of acceptance and prayer.

Brake lights keep us safe on the roads and in our own minds. Apply as needed. Sooner rather than later to avoid a crash of metal or emotions.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Interior Lights

Today I am grateful for a run outside last evening in the fresh and brisk air, and for the lotion that helps my dry hands feel better.

Yesterday it was a car's headlights I was appreciating. Today, it is the interior lights. It is nice to open a car door in the early morning and be able to see where to put my school bag, purse, phone, and water bottle as I get situated for my commute.

And it sure is nice to see the well-lit instrument panel as I navigate out of my driveway and down the road. Speed, temperature, and music controls are all visible and helpful. The interior lights of a car are a given until they don't work or come on. I am thankful for them.

Then there are the interior lights of me, as a human. What lights and inspires my body, heart, soul, and mind?  Running does in many ways. Endorphins and serotonin light my engines so to speak and give me a boost. Writing lights the way to clarity of thought, which hopefully leads to more positive and less selfish actions.

The light of faith and spiritual hope comes through as well, in big and small ways. Pausing in gratitude. Saying a prayer for someone. Humbly asking the Great Spirit for guidance. These all light the path in front of me, at least enough to start me on my way.  And that is really all that I need.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Today I am grateful for helpful medical care personnel who really stepped up yesterday to make what could have been a frustrating situation into a smooth one. I am also grateful for the way my husband Darcy and I share household chores.

I was thinking about the many light features that our vehicles have and how much I take them for granted. Let's start with headlights.  They lead the way for us and our vehicles as we head out into the dark hours of the winter months. It's the time of year I may need headlights both on my morning commute and evening commute some days.

Just think if our cars didn't have headlights. We wouldn't be cruising along at highway speeds with our fellow travelers nearly as seamlessly as we do with headlights.

They forge a path and make sure it is clear for us. They allow us time to adjust to obstacles or situations if needed. Driving without them would be dangerous and quite risky.

But we still need to pay close attention to the road ahead and all of our surroundings.

There it is. Today's reminder to live gratefully. Pay attention and notice what is in front of you.

I am grateful for headlights and for the light of gratefulness in my day when I pause for it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Rejection Turned to Acceptance

Today I am grateful for early morning quiet to set a good tone for the day ahead, and for exuberant laughter and a funny story from my friend Jill.

My last several posts have been more about the light side of life's fluctuations between dark and light. It's time for a trip to dark places. Dark places like my mind. . . a pretty dark place for a pretty long time when I was in my teens and 20’s, actively alcoholic and in early recovery. It can still get pretty dark at times. It just doesn't last as long. 

This quote hits home on this topic: 

As long as we’re rejecting ourselves and causing harm to our bodies and minds, 
there’s no point in talking about loving and accepting others. 
(Thich Nhat Hanh)

Those words encapsulate my active alcoholism. Negative, self-loathing messages repeated and reinforced. Drinking to the point of passing out and/or blacking out. The total opposite of self-acceptance. Escapism at its best and worst. 

It has been a long journey to a place of self-acceptance. The work and the transformation continue. 
One of the keys to getting to a better place, to being comfortable in my own skin, was and is getting the unconditional love and support of others in recovery. 

I used to think I had to love myself before I could love others. I no longer believe that. The love of others is what has allowed me to be able to love and accept myself. Gratitude practice is an important part of this effort in loving. Pausing to appreciate this moment and those who support me in so many ways brings me peace. I am not alone. I have others with whom to celebrate the light and face the dark.  

For these wonderful and compassionate people in my life, I am deeply grateful. 

Monday, December 11, 2017


Today I am grateful for safe travels over the weekend, and for the convenience of take and bake pizza.

We are also grateful for the enjoyable time with our grandson Aaron and his parents this weekend. He will soon be 4 months old. He has started to roll over and is busy exploring his world in all the ways he can. 

He was bright-eyed and content Sunday morning, dressed in his Green Bay Packer attire, ready to cheer the Pack on with the ultimate fan-his dad Arthur. His mom Alyssa is holding him in this picture. 

Such bright eyes to greet the day, the people smiling back at him, the world around him. Living gratefully helps me wake up more bright-eyed too. Simply opening my eyes with a sense of surprise, because that is what it really can be when I live gratefully, helps me see so much more. 

Lack of appreciation and wonder dull my view and narrow it too. Today I will strive for a bright-eyed view of all that I am blessed to see and participate in. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Old Sun, New View

Today I am grateful for a feeling of coziness in my house, and for the forgiveness of my husband and son when I vent loudly.

I got to check out our brand new health clinic in town yesterday for a routine appointment. It has been open for about a month. A nice looking building inside and out, it sits on the west edge of town. It has two floors and I was in the waiting area on the second floor.

This was my view as I waited:

That time between daylight, dusk, and darkness. Between light and dark. This old sun never stops treating us to spectacular and one-of-a-kind sunsets each day. Different vantage points. Different skies. Different seasons. They all lend themselves to awe.

The sun, our sun, is just 4.5 billion years old. That's 4,500,000,000. I'm a mere 52. Ten decimal points to my two. That is a humbling thought.

A thought that causes me to pause and consider the fleeting nature of our days. To pause and relish in this present moment. To live and love gratefully.

I will be taking a blog break over the weekend. See you back next week. Have a good day!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

This Red Light Means Go

Today I am grateful for a warm house and a warm car. I am also grateful for family and friends to whom I can send holiday greetings.

Here's a light I appreciate seeing every morning at home. I often have this coffee brewing pretty early, before many of you reading this are up.

The light in the picture looks less red than it really is. In this case a red light is good. It means the coffee is ready and I can start drinking it.

We have tried various coffee pots and landed on using a percolator years ago. We like the way it creates our coffee drinking experience and taste. Darcy and I both like the fact that it is a bit of a throwback to earlier times as well. Not to mention that it is better for the environment than some coffee pots. The only waste it creates are coffee grounds.

Sometimes when I am starting the coffee, or cleaning the pot, I pause and consider that I am fortunate to have coffee, clean water, electricity, a husband to bring a fresh cup to.

I look forward to the sound and smell of the coffee percolating each morning. It is part of my daily routine, going hand in hand with writing.

I wasn't always a coffee drinker, but I sure am now. Life's simple pleasures.