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Let's Not Be . . . Too Hard On Each Other

Living gratefully today, I so respect and appreciate the amazing work of the scientists developing effective COVID-19 vaccines and now the production and distribution systems that are working hard to make them available to millions of higher risk people soon.  Today's post takes the "let's not be too hard on ourselves" beyond our personal spheres. Let's not be too hard on each other. Crises like a global pandemic, racial unrest, and political tensions tend to bring out both the best and the worst in all of us.  It has been easy to find targets for the judgment and disdain that is an undercurrent in my thoughts and feelings these last months. Easy, but not helpful. For me, it's all about the energy. Practicing gratitude, living gratefully, is so healthy and helpful for me because it generates good energy. Frustration and self-righteous anger drain energy. There may be times I need to speak up or speak out, but more often I just need to focus on my own attitude

Let's Not Be . . . Too Hard On Ourselves

Today I am grateful for the grace of life that shows itself in many ways, starting with a pause of acknowledgement. I am grateful for recent family connections that took place in person, on the phone, in a Zoom meeting.  Times have been unsettling and challenging for us all in recent months. I have been emotional, reactive, exhausted, and anxious alternating with resilient, faithful, grateful, and flexible. You can make your own list, but I bet we have some crossover between our lists. I have been judgmental, put on a few pounds, procrastinated. I have isolated -- by choice, not just because of restrictions. Harsh words have come out of my mouth, usually directed at those closest to me. Selfishness looks and feels a little different in the middle of a pandemic, but throw some of that on my pile too.  It has not been a likable and inviting set of circumstances that we find our families, communities, states, nations, and world in these days. And I have not felt very likable at times. The

Go . . .

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Living gratefully today, I am seeing Thanksgiving in a new light, in a new time.  It is not an easy time, or one anyone invited or sought. Yet, there is light and plenty of it. There is gratefulness to be found and multiplied.  In the United States, tomorrow is our Thanksgiving holiday. Canada celebrates the holiday on the second Monday in October. Brazil joins the U.S. in honoring the holiday on the fourth Thursday in November.  COVID-19 doesn't care who is celebrating what on any given day. It is, as Dr. Michael Osterholm says, simply looking for more wood to burn. It doesn't stop at borders or avoid certain populations.  I like to think of our efforts at prevention and mitigation as little fire breaks, helping put out a hot spot before it jumps and joins another one. Can we each do our part?  I seem to have sidetracked from my STOP. LOOK. GO. theme. Not really.  STOP: Cultivate presence. LOOK: Cultivate perspective. GO: Cultivate possibility. (Read more at  https://gratefuln

Look

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Today I am grateful for our son Sam's safe arrival home from college. That arrival is about more than a smooth drive over the two-hundred mile stretch last evening. Semester one of freshman year is almost in the books, pardon the pun. After pausing to STOP , now I need to take a moment to LOOK. Look at what is really there in front of me that I may usually just walk right by. Look at what is within me emotionally and cognitively at this time. Lean into an emotion instead of denying it. Let a thought go instead of spinning it into a knot.  To look with fresh eyes and full attention is the key to shifting perspective. I don't need a perspective shift when I am reasonable, rational, and pleasantly immersed in the task or experience at hand. I need a perspective shift when denial and knots have shut me off, when the lightness of a moment has been buried in expectations and ego. So I paused and looked at our new Christmas tree and the mellow lights throughout. We downsized to a smal

Stop.

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Today I am grateful for quiet meditation time to begin the day, and for genuine and acknowledged emotions.  Undoubtedly, this week of Thanksgiving feels different this year, and will be different in many ways. If I were to focus on what I can't do or have because of the pandemic, or how abnormal some things are right now, I would feel pretty deflated.  Yet, I have so much to look forward to this week, today, this moment. Maybe I should rephrase that. I have so much to fully experience moment-by-moment. Sure, I have things I am anticipating with excitement, but I also have my healthy breathing and clean air right here, right now.  This article,  Cultivating a Practice: Grateful Living as a Way of Life  by Kristi Nelson, Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living, lays out the simple, yet profound, practice of "Stop, Look, Go" shared by Brother David Steindl-Rast. I will use the next three posts leading up to Thanksgiving to focus on each of these three words. STOP

Earth Tones

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Today I am grateful for timing . . . when it comes to things like a new mattress delivery and the hard work of healing. I continue to applaud the many frontline workers who go back day after day to jobs that must be so very draining and emotional, and yet you continue to offer heartfelt care and comfort to the people you are all helping.  Words that have been floating around in my head in recent weeks are ones like dire and bleak. The COVID-19 pandemic is raging, worse than ever, and the runaway train it has become will not come to a screeching halt for a long time. People will suffer and die. The holidays will come and go. What will early 2021 look like?  We don't know.  We can somewhat safely say what today will look like. It will look like how I choose to frame it. Doom and gloom, or a day that can be appreciated in ways big and small? Darcy and I went for a bike ride yesterday, a treat for late November. With no snow on the ground, the landscape is also bleak, muted with grays

There is Publish, Then There is Published

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Today I am grateful for the life-saving and life-giving force that writing has been in my life.  For over forty years, I have put many pens to many pages, many keyboard taps to many screens. Some of it has been nothing but drivel needing release. Some of it has been pure flow from heart and soul. Most of it has been somewhere in between.  All of it has brought me here today, deeply grateful to be a writer.  A poet at heart, collaborating with my dear friend Jenny as we both recovered physically and emotionally from our breast cancer surgeries and treatment, opened doors to longer writings like the essays that mark these blog posts.  That collaboration with Jenny led to opinion pieces in newspapers, a local newspaper column, and starting this blog, among other endeavors. I have hit "publish" hundreds and hundreds of times here.  Continuing to dream of publishing a book, I have started many ideas and several working drafts. It is so very fitting that it was another collaboratio