"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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Thank you SARK for These Words

Today I am grateful for the daily recovery from alcoholism that is available to me if I choose it. I am also grateful for my husband Darcy and the many ways we understand each other.

This quote got me thinking the other day:

"And so, I kept writing, and slowly began to like what I wrote, and if I didn't like it, 
I accepted it. As the pile of journals grew higher, I grew more confident.
My journal became a place I felt experienced." 
(SARK, from her book Living Juicy: Daily Morsels for Your Creative Soul)

SARK is the pen name of author and artist Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy. Read a little about her. Pick up one of her numerous books and have some fun. I found the one above at our local library's book sale. I love when books get recycled like this. 

I especially appreciate the last line in the quote above. Early on in my life, there weren't many places I felt comfortable or experienced. I was full of insecurity and inhibitions. Pen to paper quickly became a saving grace for me in many ways. Journaling, putting my thoughts down and releasing them from my troubled mind, did immense good then and still can today.

My pile of journals stacks pretty high now too. Life experiences are chronicled in them, but from them stems a confidence and a courage that eventually spread to other areas of my life.

Today, I am comfortable in my journals, but also in myself. Thanks SARK and all who have inspired and motivated me over the years! 

It starts with the simple action of forming words and recording them. Use a cloth-covered journal or your laptop, your phone, or whatever works for you. I encourage you to start if you haven't and continue if you have. 

I will be taking a break from blogging for a few days. Enjoy these next days, moment by moment, hour by hour.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Made in the Shade

Today I am grateful for the glasses I wear and the ways they help me see my surroundings more fully. I am also grateful for city utilities that make our lives easier and cleaner.

Yesterday our church had an outdoor service, followed by a picnic lunch. It had been very hot and humid on Saturday, but we were treated to cooler and drier air as we sat in the shade on an acreage where one of our priests lives. Thank you to our hosts Bob and Phyllis!

We were in part celebrating the recent ordination of our two newest priests, Beth and Mary, who were celebrants for the first time since ordination.

It seems we were also celebrating our congregation, small but steady, and the lovely backdrop only an outdoor service can provide. The sky was deep blue, the trees vibrant green, the airplanes nearly silent as they crossed the wide blue yonder. The wind gracefully swayed the soybeans in a nearby field, got the wind chimes chiming, kept the bugs away, and provided what I like to describe as a luscious cooling breeze.

At times the wind grew stronger and offered challenges to those trying to manage aspects of the service, including my husband, one of our deacons.

Aren't many things in life like a breeze can be?  A blessing at times, a challenge at others?  I am not a huge fan of organized church services, but when I look for blessings and listen for joy and insight, I always seem to find them.  It's just easier finding them outside, in nature, which always makes me feel closer to the Great Spirit.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Inconceivable Good of Smiles

Today I am grateful for a good training run yesterday, despite the heat and humidity. And I am grateful for regular connections with others in recovery.

Recently I wrote a post about too much hate and not enough kindness, compassion, and tolerance. Let's add smiles to that list. Less hate. More smiles.

"What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles,
to be sure; but scattered along life's pathway, the good they
do is inconceivable."

As Joseph Addison writes above, smiles can do so much good. They can break down barriers. Smiles come in a universal language. 

They can create forgiveness and fun in an instant. Think about the last time you had an irrepressible smile. I shared one the other day at the dinner table with my family. I don't recall the circumstances, but I recall the emotion: love, pure and simple.

Our grandson Leo has infectious smiles. It is pretty much impossible to not reciprocate.

And how about the toothy grins of my friend Jill and I in this selfie:

I am not a big fan of selfies, but I am a fan of more smiles 😊😀😎😍

Friday, June 24, 2016

Oh Deer!

Today I am grateful for time with recovery friends and the wisdom they share. I am also grateful for the soothing sound of water in fountains.

The natural creatures just keep putting on a show in our neighborhood. Last night, I had just put my car in the garage and stepped out on to our driveway. At that moment, a deer came over a knoll across the street and continued to run right past our house and on down the trail and grassy area.

We have lived in this house for over 10 years and I have never seen a deer this close to our home. We do live near a golf course with wooded areas, so seeing a deer isn't shocking.

What struck me last evening was the timing. If I had stepped out a minute earlier or later, I would have missed the show, the graceful strides of the deer. I would have missed yet another reminder of the awe and beauty of nature.

I am grateful for good timing and working eyesight in this moment. But I am also grateful for those moments when good timing meant I didn't have to see something difficult or was kept safe in a close call I may not even have known about.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A True Scavenger

Today I am grateful for the lessons in patience and persistence that continue to come my way. I am also grateful for humbling reminders of my small place in a large world.

Yesterday morning it was a bee on our front porch. Yesterday afternoon it was this on the
roof of our garage:

This is a turkey vulture, in the neighborhood to feed on carrion-in this case a dead squirrel. I am sure I miss the coming and going of plenty of creatures in or near our yard, but this bird was hard to miss, especially perched where it was.

It is not a pretty songbird, but it serves an important purpose. I read a little about it and learned it is called different names in different parts of the country and world. Also, we would only expect to see it here in the summer, it has few if any predators, and in the U.S. it is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Turkey vultures also have keen eyesight and sense of smell. We are looking for different things, but this vulture will find more food and I will find more to appreciate with eyes open and senses engaged.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Bee at Work

Today I am grateful for the ordination ceremony we attended last evening, the beautiful cathedral it took place in, and the people who have committed to being of further service to the Episcopal Church.

Congratulations especially to Mary and Beth, two women from our home parish who were ordained as priests last evening. Thank you for your ongoing service!

I also appreciate the busy bee who joined me on our front patio just a few minutes ago. It was here to do what bees do-gather pollen and nectar from some flowers. It likely will return to the colony it resides in and help feed others. As it goes about the business of gathering food, it also does the important work of pollinating.

Pollination helps with the vital process of reproduction. That bee was doing what it does naturally, and the pollen gets dispersed almost as an afterthought. Nature has an amazing and intricate way of taking care of the business it needs to.

What a wonderful reminder to me this morning to respect all of nature and to do my part today.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

There Are No Guarantees, But . . .

Today I am grateful for the joy our dog Oliver displays when he frolics in the backyard grass. I am also grateful for good reading material.

In recent posts I have talked about everything from strength training and 5-day cleanses, to the spiritual work of ego deflation. All stem from and contribute to my gratitude practice as well.

Healthy habits don't guarantee a longer life. There are no such guarantees. But healthy habits bring balance, energy, and more peaceful days.

Living life as "each day is a gift unto itself" works for me. I don't know how many days I will get, so I might as well live fully in this one.

Some take the approach that since there are no guarantees, why not live it up and be risky? Living it up might be unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking, overeating, too many hours on Netflix. Anything that leads to imbalance arguably is unhealthy. We all have this imbalance from time to time, but if it becomes my usual state, it also becomes slippery and dangerous.

I would rather choose to live out this idea: There are no guarantees that the healthy habits I do each day will give me more days to live, but they will certainly help me live more each day.