"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, February 27, 2017

Circling Back

Today I am grateful for a conversation with my friend Sheila and for time to work on my poetry and other writing pursuits. I am also grateful for the wisdom and experience shared by others in recovery.

Many destinations, many routes to get there. That is life. I have choices about where I want to go and how to get there. I have messed up often, gotten lost more than a few times, took longer than I had hoped at other times.

I have found new roads and helped build some too. I have had faith to know which way to go when I came to a fork in the road. I have had smooth travels on beautiful stretches of road after rough miles on rocky and treacherous terrain.

For nearly 5 years, my life's travels have played out and been chronicled on this blog. A few months ago I said I was going to cut back on posts and maybe circle back around to some of the 1500 + previous posts.

I have cut back a little (mainly on Saturday mornings when a run is typically on the schedule) and I have also put more time in to my second blog Late Bloomer and Slow Learner. I have many dreams and goals when it comes to my writing. Like daily gratitude practice, daily writing helps me focus. What that daily writing looks like is always evolving and may mean another day less of this blog so I can put more time elsewhere.

Regardless of how often I blog about gratitude, I practice it daily. That is what counts.

It is time to do more circling back to the earlier days of this blog and see what I have learned along the way, to see what has been taught to me by others and by the habitual practice itself.

Circling back to important life lessons and finding clarity in the actions that sustain us day-to-day is never wasted time. What will we each find when we do some circling back?  Let's go find out.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Today I am grateful for the soothing tick-tock of the clock I am listening to as I sit and watch the sunrise from my recliner. I am also grateful for visitors, blueberries, and laughter. 

We enjoyed our visit with my sister Leonice and sister-in-law Annie yesterday. They were enroute from the airport here down to family in Iowa. Thanks for swinging our way! It is always great to see you. 

Then we were enroute to a couple of shopping stops before heading to the middle school theater production at my school. The production was "Alice @Wonderland" and was entertaining and comical. Thank you to all who made it possible by participating and sharing their talents. 

These were physical destinations. Where am I enroute to in terms of my mental, emotional, and spiritual destinations? 

That is a larger question and one that I pursue daily with the help of healthy habits like writing, practicing gratitude, taking time to pause, prioritizing, setting goals, keeping expectations reasonable, and more. More would include seeking plenty of acceptance and also asking my Higher Power/Great Spirit for guidance. (When I try too hard to run the show it can get ugly and tense and peace goes out the window.)

Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual places aren't each separate destinations really, just different modes of transportation to help us reach the places we hope to reach. Isn't it nice to have different ways to get where we hope to go? Wearing out one avenue while ignoring others limits our view, while using all modes gives us more scenery to enjoy along the way.

Simply being enroute to the next minute and next hour helps slow me down and enjoy today's journey more. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Gratitude Waits Patiently

Today I am grateful for opportunities to walk and talk with some colleagues yesterday. I am also grateful for school spirit and the Great Spirit I have faith in day to day.

Yesterday I implored "Can it be this simple?" The idea of practicing gratitude and the ripple effect it can have?  I believe so.

There is more good news about making gratefulness a habit of our minds, hearts, and souls; gratitude never walks away from us. We may walk away from it, but it waits patiently. This is captured nicely in the following quote:

"While we cry ourselves to sleep, gratitude waits patiently to console and reassure us; there is a 
landscape larger than the one we see."  (Sarah Ban Breathnach)

A landscape larger than the one we see. That is what I want to keep my eyes and heart open to--a larger landscape, a wider and less self-centered perspective. Self-pity gives me tunnel vision and a negative perception. I start to see everything through a dark and despairing lens, and I spiral downward. Self-pity is to be avoided if I want to stay sober, have energy, be a kind and loving wife and mother, contribute to the world in productive ways.

And I know no better way to keep self-pity at bay than to practice gratitude. If I have a little bout of self-pity, and we all do from time to time, I know that tomorrow is a new day. Even that the next hour brings new opportunity and the very next moment can bring some peace if I pause and consider what I have to be grateful for right here and right now.

Yes, it can be that simple. Not always easy, but simple. Gratitude waits patiently and never lets me down when I seek it. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Can it be this simple?

Today I am grateful for professionals who adeptly share their expertise. I am also grateful for the continuous source of hope and energy I get from practicing gratitude.

I find myself discouraged at times. Discouraged about personal goals that sometimes seem unattainable. Discouraged and jaded by my job in a field that is as challenging as it is rewarding.
Discouraged about the future of our country, our society, our culture; especially with some of the trends that are carrying us along.

The feeling of discouragement doesn't linger for long. Sometimes I vent to people I trust. Sometimes I go for a run. Sometimes I eat a pint of ice cream. Always, I write. Always, I practice gratitude. Even on days when I may not feel very grateful.

More and more, as I listen to news and hear others talk about their discouragement, I think to myself this "What if?": "What if everyone simply focused on being kind and respectful to each person they encountered in their day? What if that lessened the negativity floating around and getting absorbed by too many of us? What if it could be this simple?"

Too many people have become disillusioned and disengaged. In their own lives, wider communities, and the global community. They erroneously believe their one voice, one vote, one contribution isn't enough to matter, to make a difference. So they do nothing and feel worse in the process.

Every person matters. Every positive effort makes a difference and then some. And while we are it, let's not forget this crucial piece: One of the people we most need to be kind and respectful to is OURSELVES.

Gratitude practice helps create a culture of kindness and respect at the true grassroots level--with each of us individually. And it then empowers and engages us to contribute to the larger stream of life in positive ways. Less negativity. Less divisiveness. Less discouragement.

Can it be this simple? I believe it can be. Let's find out by trying.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Home: The Place

Today I am grateful for wisdom and experience gained that helps me keep my job in perspective. I am also grateful for the moon visible through a light fog this morning as I walked Oliver. 

Yesterday I wrote about going back home to where I grew up and the people there. Today, it's about the place home is. Here are some of the many things about this place and area that I appreciate:

*The farm sounds and smells.

*Young lambs to intrigue little visitors.

*Seeing the sun rise and set across the countryside. It's a different view of the horizon 
than what is seen in the city.

*A beautiful February weekend to invite us to sit outside.

*The quiet that can be experienced on the farm that just isn't going to happen where we live.

*More stars visible in the night sky.

*Kolaches, cinnamon rolls and omelet breakfasts.

*The familiar roads taking us to familiar places.

Familiar and friendly places and people are true blessings. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Home: The People

Today I am grateful for safe travels, beautiful February weather, and time with numerous family members over the weekend. I am also grateful for time with my friend Betsy and other friends yesterday. 

I appreciate when I go "home" to where I grew up. I enjoy spending time with family, being out on the farm, and getting away from my job and my own home. I love our house, but when I am here sooner or later all the things that need to be done start pulling on me. 

Time away, back to the area where I grew up, is always rejuvenating. First, because of the people.
Here are some of the reasons why people at home matter:

*Seeing nieces and nephews now with their own growing families. They have grown up to be some wonderful contributors to their own families and wider communities. 

*Always a little reminiscing seems to go on. 

*Everyone brings food and there is plenty to eat and enjoy sharing.

*Being with Mom to help celebrate her 86th birthday.

*To see the family resemblances in each generation.

*Laughter and smiles are fairly frequent.

*No one has been disowned or banished. That says a lot when this group now numbers over 100.
All are welcome. 

*Getting to spend time in conversation with Mom and her sister Helen.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Truth and Reasoning

Today I am grateful for a chance to walk and talk with my friend Dorothy yesterday afternoon. I am also grateful for my ability to hear the music I most enjoy.

Wellness Week winds down at school today with this theme: "Balance--Truth and reasoning are mindfulness in action."

The truth is, balance is something I do well on some days. Not so much on other days. Wellness is overall health in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms. Balance means action in each of these areas. I definitely have practices that compliment one another across the four realms. Running, writing, and gratitude practice are all good examples.

But some days I tilt off balance because I don't take time for one area, or I simply overextend myself.
Even if for good reasons, overdoing is overdoing and leads to lack of balance. Lack of balance is lack of peace. Lack of peace is lack of mindfulness.

So I seek progress not perfection. Practice makes progress possible. Today, I will seek my truth and be reasonable with my expectations of self and others. Mindfulness in action isn't always about action. Sometimes it is about no action. Pauses. Presence.

I will be taking a blog break for a few days. Enjoy your weekend!