"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, December 6, 2016

A 3 x 3 of the Medical Variety

Today I am grateful for medical technology and for family and friends.

One of the gratitude practices I sometimes use is what I call "doing a 3 x 3."  It is simply naming three things I am grateful for and then giving three reasons why for each. It is indeed an easy way to multiply gratitude. I encourage you to try it. Write it down or just say it. Use any number combination you choose.

Here is one I started yesterday as I nervously waited for Darcy to come out of a medical procedure:

1. Good signage at the medical facility we were at
-guiding us to where he needed to start and the next steps
-to help me walk off some worry and know where to return
-to more easily find our car when it was time to go home

2. Kind people
-nurses who kept me informed and with Darcy when I could be
-a woman to share conversation with instead of sitting in my own fear
-the doctor who was straightforward but considerate with his words

3. Medical technology
-a scope allowing a look at a concern and yielding ample information
-a TV screen in the waiting area keeping me updated on Darcy's status
-that same scope giving us a real picture of the real reason for Darcy's recurring pneumonia

Go ahead. Multiply some of your own gratitude today. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Prayers as Brain Activity

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy and our marriage. I am also grateful for some phone conversations with friends and family this weekend.

My goal is to begin each day with some quiet time. I say some prayers I have committed to memory. Prayers that hold much meaning to me and that help me get centered for the day ahead. I also will pray for others.

The list is long. Those who have had or are currently dealing with cancer. Those in active addiction and those working hard to recover. Anyone who needs special prayers; maybe they have suffered a significant loss, maybe they are facing surgery or health problems, maybe they are struggling with a decision.

I will often do these prayers on my knees. It is a more humble and open way for me to ask for help and seek compassion. But I also often do them as I am exercising. Moving meditation. Usually at least a couple times a week, I will pray for everyone in my large family.

I name them individually. Some of them I rarely see and can't say that I know that well, but they are family and that means we have a special connection. Our family now numbers over 100, so there is always someone in need of special prayers of intention.

Admittedly, some days I am in a more prayerful mindset than other days. Just like some days my gratitude flows easily and other days it has to hurdle some obstacles in the stream of life. Even on those tougher flow days, taking the actions makes all the difference. I am able to proceed as a productive contributor to my own day and the day of those around me.

These prayers help me get out of myself. My own head can be a dangerous place when all it is thinking about is me. These prayers put me in a grateful mindset. I have people praying for me and people I can pray for. Just like I believe gratitude shared creates positive energy between people, I also believe prayers prayed create positive energy between those praying and those being prayed for.

This is a true gift of daily recovery and regular gratitude practice. I don't get mired in the muck of self-pity so deeply that I isolate and spin my wheels and become of no use to the world.

I consider prayers to be healthy brain activity.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Be prepared . . . in the days ahead

Today I am grateful for the beautiful snowfall and to be able to walk in it and enjoy the peace.

Today's post is inspired by another fortune cookie quote. I broke the cookie open and read the line, the went for a walk in the snow. Moving meditation to see what thoughts would come.

Here is the fortune:

"Be prepared to accept a wondrous opportunity in the days ahead!" 

Here are some of my random thoughts about it:

*"Be prepared to accept . . . " is a philosophy I try to apply every day. Accept life on life's terms. Accept results that are out of my hands. Accept that others have their own choices and beliefs.

* ". . . a wondrous opportunity" could be as simple as being at the right place at the right time to be able to offer assistance to someone in need, even if it is just carrying something for them or holding a door open. Any opportunity to be helpful and considerate is a wondrous thing.

* ". . . in the days ahead!" To best prepare for the days ahead, live in today. If I do that, I have better direction and more energy when each new day arrives.  

And I was struck by the exclamation point. I didn't add that. It was part of the fortune. Am I approaching today with fear-filled, energy-zapping questions? Or am I approaching it as a chance to see and experience the awe this day can bring if I simply pay attention? 

I choose the latter!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Lotion

Today I am grateful for lotion, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes. I am also grateful for clean water to help me use and benefit from these products.

As I put on some lotion last night, this morning's blog post took shape. I use lotion daily, and this time of the year it can be several times a day. For something I use and appreciate every day, I knew it hadn't shown up in this blog much, if at all.

A search revealed exactly one post, from three years ago, that even mentions lotion. Here is that post, titled "Painful Reminders" if you care to read it. Nearly 1500 posts, and I mention lotion, a product I use daily, only once until today. Gratitude practice only requires paying attention. Apparently, I haven't been paying much attention when it comes to lotion.

Each day, I apply lotion to my face and hands. The face lotion is a special one and a little more expensive. It's one of the personal care products I splurge on. It seems to help keep me looking a "youthful" 51.  (Along with drinking lots of water, and good, clean living.)

The lotion I use on my hands is more run-of-the-mill. I have tried many kinds and use it several times a day this time of year with the cold weather and dry air. I am grateful for the relief it brings, and I also appreciate the various scents. I have lotion in my purse and in my office, so I have a variety of scents to savor.

Lotion. Simple. Common. Appreciated.

I will appreciate and savor the lotion I use today and look for other simple, common gratitudes.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Gray and Rainy Days vs. Endorphins

Today I am grateful for attire and shoes that allow me to run in pretty much any weather conditions and I am also grateful for the music of Neil Diamond.

We have been having gray and wet weather the last few days. Couple that with the shorter daylight and it can be depleting to the body, mind, heart, and soul. It could be worse--it could be colder, snowy, icy. It might be more treacherous running in that.

It can still be hard to muster the desire to go for a run after work when it is drizzling, chilly, and the daylight is already fading. That is the decision I faced a couple days this week. Run or not run?

I was a little frustrated by the fact that my commute on these days was mostly dry until I got close to home. Come on! But I changed, laced up, and headed out. Monday's run was sluggish but I still felt better for doing it. As always.

Yesterday's run was one of those that keeps me running. It was raining a little, but I had the right gear on, and it was a few degrees above freezing, so I wasn't worried about ice. I hit a stretch of trail and could see the trees reflected in the water on the trail. Bare trees settling in for a long winter's nap are still beautiful.

The stress of the work day and worries about loved ones subsided with each stride. My head cleared and my heart lightened. Writing ideas began to populate my mind.

Physical exercise with mental, spiritual, and emotional benefits, courtesy of endorphins. Endorphins are free and very effective.

Gray/rainy days vs. endorphins . . . and the winner is . . . endorphins! And me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Real Generosity

Today I am grateful for Sam's involvement in wrestling and for the strong program we have here. I am also grateful to coffee growers.

The other day I wrote about generous attention and giving it to the present. This quote furthers
that idea:
"Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present." 
(Albert Camus)

I hadn't really thought about it that way before. By giving our attention to now, we are better preparing for and creating the kind of future we want.

Mindfulness keeps our priorities straight, our passions strong, our relationships healthy.

Mindful presence, for me made more possible through regular gratitude practice, makes it more likely for me to have the energy and focus to not only do what needs to be done, but also keep pursuing my long-term goals and dreams.

I will seek a generous dose of ongoing presence today. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Feeding the Right Fire

Today I am grateful for the soft glow of Christmas tree lights and for our dog Oliver and the predictable ways he has.

Though I regularly practice and write about gratitude, there are days and moments when I am tired and discouraged and I wonder if it all matters. "It" being lots of things like my writing pursuits, gratitude practice, daily work on recovery from alcoholism. It's part of being human and for me it is usually short-lived. I believe it is important to acknowledge these lows and call them out. That seems to help them subside rather than deepen.

On a recent run, or moving meditation as it is for me as well, I threw out a question in my head, hoping for a little clarity. It came in the form of this line--keep feeding the right fire Lisa.

Feeding the right fire is to keep running and writing, to keep practicing gratitude and recovery, to love those nearest and dearest to me to the best of my ability. Stoking the flames of this fire warms my heart and soul.

When I am busy feeding the right fire, I am not as tempted to add fresh fuel to the heavy and jagged logs of the fire of my past. The fire of active drinking and daily self-deprecation. The fire of "less than and never good enough."  That fire is just waiting for the right spark to start itself again and I won't give it the satisfaction.

I will keep feeding the right fire, even when I am a little or a lot tired and discouraged. The right fire throws off the right light to help me find my way back to more energy and optimism.