"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

Monday, August 31, 2015

In Simplest Form

Today I am grateful for the sound of crickets to confirm my ears are working. I am also grateful for the simple joy of awakening to a new day full of opportunities.

This was a recent "Word of the Day" on www.gratefulness.org

"Joy is the simplest form of gratitude."  (Karl Barth)

To find joy in the little things is certainly an easy street to more gratitude. But that doesn't mean it is always easy for us to do. Action, or perhaps inaction, is needed.

Pause. Pay attention. Listen. See. Feel. Taste. Smell. Joylets, as my sister Aileen has dubbed them, are all around.

Water flowing. Dawn rising. Cool breeze blowing. Fresh coffee. Joylets to start the day in grateful mindfulness.

Look for gratitude in its simplest form today and you are sure to find it. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 30, 1950

Today I am grateful for a good 18-mile training run yesterday. I am also grateful for the 48 years of marriage my parents shared.

My parents were married on August 30, 1950. My dad passed away in October of 1998. Today would have been their 65th wedding anniversary.

I often think of my parents on their anniversary and wonder what kind of marriage they shared. We had a glimpse into it, but really only the two people in it know their marriage. I recall playful teasing between the two of them. Strong support of one another, a solid work ethic, a lasting faith. They weren't overly affectionate around us, but I had the sense that there was genuine love and caring between them.

They went through many challenges and many joys side by side. They raised thirteen children together and kept a farm going to help support us all.

Today, what they started on August 30, 1950 is now an extended family numbering over 100 and still growing.  I appreciate my family today and the values that still get passed on from generation to generation.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

An Unanswered Question

Today I am grateful for peanut butter on toast and for the weekend.

"Life is an unanswered question, but let's still believe 
in the dignity and importance of that question."
(Tennessee Williams)

The unknowns in life are what help make it precious and fragile, to be honored and cared for. If we knew what was coming, we would either run from it or not appreciate it fully, or a combination of both.

Instead, I try to get up each day with some sense of wonder that I am here and alive, that I get to go exploring for more answers today. Answers to where peace is found. Answers to what my priorities are and where my time should be spent. Answers to how deeply love, faith, and gratitude can be felt.

We each have our own set of questions and pursuits. Hopes and dreams. We each deserve to have our lives, our selves treated as important and with dignity. That starts with how we treat ourselves. Then it turns to the people we choose to spend our time with and give our energy to. Healthy choices for ourselves tend to lead to healthier relationships with those around us.

And it continues further with how we treat anyone we encounter in our day, from co-workers to other customers at the store to other drivers on the road. With importance and dignity means we are leaving  a positive mark, contributing rather than contaminating. It's a good start.

If life is an unanswered question, joy is found in pursuit of answers, but also new questions.
Happy pursuing!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Keeping It Simple Revisited

Today I am grateful for good company, good conversation, and good food at a gathering my husband and I attended last evening. (Thank you to our hosts Beth and Tom!) I am also grateful for our son Sam and his healthy growth and development.

Keeping it simple is a theme I try to weave throughout my days, and is certainly one I have written about numerous times on this blog. It is a theme worth revisiting time and time again.

Today I can keep it simple by pausing and bringing myself back to the present moment when some part of me (usually my brain) wants to race off ahead. Being aware of my five senses in that pause can also help me regroup.

I can keep it simple by saying no and yes at appropriate times, to myself and others. Setting healthy boundaries is sometimes done by declining something. At other times it is done by embracing an opportunity. If I kick myself after saying a "yes" when I really wanted to say a "no, " or vice versa, I can learn from that and remember it next time. That will lead me to a healthier response then.

I can keep it simple by remembering that I have help and support. It is a lonely and exhausting place to be in when I think I have to do it all. Having faith in a higher source of power helps. Asking others for their input and help is also beneficial. And the benefits go both ways.

Keeping it simple. How will you revisit this theme today?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How about a 2 x 4?

Today I am grateful for planks and push-ups to keep my body strong. I am also grateful for time to sit for a few minutes this morning.

What do I mean by a 2 x 4? First, let me tell you what I don't mean. I don't mean that imaginary piece of wood we sometimes figuratively bonk ourselves and others upside the head with. I can take life too seriously and give myself (and I am sure those around me) a headache with that kind of 2 x 4. Lighten up. Loosen up. Be kind and gentle with self and others.

The 2 x 4 I am talking about is a gratitude practice. Two things/people I am grateful for and 4 reasons why for each.

1. My husband Darcy
a. We laugh together.
b. He understands when I need time to myself.
c. He supports my recovery from alcoholism.
d. He accepts my body as it is; scars, flaws and all.

2. Early mornings
a. My energy is more focused.
b. The quiet is calming.
c. The coffee is always good.
d. I get to start my day with some writing.

This kind of 2 x 4 (which is greater than 8 by the way), is a good way to start the day. Try one yourself, or use any combination you would like-3 x 3, 4 x 2, 1 x 5, 2 x 2.  You get the idea.

Try some gratitude synergy today.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Only in the Present-A Reminder from Abraham Maslow

Today I am grateful for reminders of what I can control (my own attitude and actions) and what I can't (everything and everyone else). I am also grateful for legs and arms that work.

Abraham Maslow was one of the founders of humanistic psychology and is well-known for his "Maslow's hierarchy of needs."  The hierarchy starts with our most basic human needs for survival and is topped off by self-actualization.  I appreciated studying his work when I was taking various college courses.

My journey to self-actualization continues, but I can see it from here at least. I am very grateful that my physical needs, my need for safety and security, as well as love, belonging, and acceptance are solid. To became all that I can be is still unfolding, but I appreciate each day's opportunities.

In this quote below, Maslow sums up what that daily opportunity means:

"I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. 
The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness."

Here and now. Fully present. Mindfulness makes for a good moment, which leads to a good hour, which leads to a good day. Am I there 100% of the time?  No. I never will be. But I am inspired and motivated to work to be there more often. Not only does my mental wellness benefit, my overall wellness does.

Here and now. Fully present. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Flowing Pen

Today I am grateful for the energy of middle school students and for the support I have for my recovery.

I have been a writer for the better part of four decades. Putting pen to paper, creating a flow between heart and mind. I do more of my composing on the computer and on my phone than I used to. 

I realized the other day, as I was putting pen to paper in my journal, that I need that "old-fashioned" form of writing. Writing seems to lose a little of it's positive power for me when I go too long without holding a pen in my hand.

From my heart and soul, through my pen, flow genuine thoughts and feelings.

I will try to honor what works for me. I hope you do the same.

Pen in hand. Gratitude in my heart.