"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 21, 2017

Jaded

Today I am grateful for the close encounter and eye contact I had with a young squirrel yesterday. It was a cool connection with another living being, even if they are pesky at times. I am also grateful
for recovery connections I made yesterday.

Yesterday's itchy is followed by today's jaded. Defined as exhausted, tired, bored, typically after having had too much of something, it isn't one of the more pleasant emotions. It sure is real though, and sometimes it is absolutely how I feel and how I need to feel at that time.

If feelings are gifts, we need to tune in to both the pleasant and unpleasant. When jaded dominates, it is telling me to stop, rest, focus back on what has gone well. Sometimes it is my job that leaves me jaded. Sometimes it is fear and worry about the general state of the planet and the people on it, or the specific state of someone I care about.

There is a real advantage to having decades of life experience and decades of gratitude practice. They both help me see through the exhaustion, the hopelessness, the frustration, and wake up with new energy and renewed hope.

As I start a busy work week, I am focusing on the present and the many wonderful people I work with. There will be moments of feeling jaded no doubt, but perhaps the right focus will make those moments shorter.

Clouds will likely prevent a good view of today's eclipse in my part of the world, but grateful living can clear the jaded clouds out of my mind and heart.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Itchy

Today I am grateful for a good training run for Darcy and I yesterday and for the continued favorable weather. I am also grateful for what life's challenges and frustrations can teach me.

Today's word is itchy, a feeling that can apply in a couple of ways. Bug bites and dry skin can leave me feeling itchy. In those instances it is easy to scratch where it itches. But not too much. Putting some lotion on the dry skin or alcohol on the bug bites helps and keeps me from drawing blood, which only makes the discomfort worse and prolongs the healing.

There's another kind of itchy that is caused from within and doesn't respond to topical ointment. My friend Jill dubs it "itchy, scratchy" or "itchy, twitchy, and __________."  I'm sure you can figure out the third word that rhymes with the first two.

It certainly applies to me when I feel irritable and discontented. I am not pleasant to be around. And I am not pleasant in my own head, beating myself up because "I know better than to act that way." I can compound the irritation by fueling it, or I can ease it by letting go and moving forward.

Feeling itchy, in both ways, makes me human and helps me feel alive. Feeling alive means experiencing the gamut of emotions and pain. Itchy can be minor on that continuum, but still a good teacher.

When the source of the itch is exterior, it tends to leave more quickly. When the source of the discontent rests in my mind, heart, and soul, then I need to redouble my efforts to live gratefully, practice forgiveness, pray to my Higher Power, and talk it out with someone I trust.

When you are itching from the inside, what brings healthy relief?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Healthy

Today I am grateful for bananas, cow's milk and almond milk, for cool sleeping weather, and for time on our front patio right here, right now.

Feeling healthy is something I try not to take for granted, and that I work every day to embrace and preserve. This morning I am busy and feeling a little rushed, but I took the time to come outside to compose this because I feel healthy sitting out in the fresh morning air.

I write in my gratitude journal each morning and it helps me start my day with a healthier mindset.

I strive to pause in prayer and meditation each morning as well, even if briefly. It makes all the difference.

Darcy and I have a long training run scheduled for tomorrow as we enter the final weeks before our marathon. I try to eat healthy, get a good protein base, and then start carb loading. I psych myself up mentally for the miles ahead as well. And I recall other long training runs and the satisfaction and endorphins that await as the miles build and then we finish and can rest.

Two diseases that take lives every day are part of my experience. Cancer and alcoholism. They are my daily motivators to be healthy. And not just of body, but also of mind, heart, and soul. Overall health encompasses physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components.

I am blessed to have numerous practices in my routine to help in each of these areas. I don't always adhere to them as well as I should, but I do pretty well. It leaves me feeling healthy and it is key to grateful living.

These are some of my keys to feeling healthy. What are some of yours?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Grateful

Today I am grateful for mindful moments throughout my days, when I remember to take them. I am also grateful for the ways others push me to think more openly.

Maybe it seems a bit too likely, but I chose feeling grateful for the letter "g." I start each blog post saying I am grateful for one thing and then another. But I can honestly say there is nothing typical about feeling grateful day after day. It is an emotion that brings a freshness and an energy all its own each time it is fully experienced.

Sitting with feelings, once identified, can be productive time. Even sitting with perplexed bewilderment. Maybe sitting with it allows clarity to come through. Sitting with appreciation, living a grateful existence, is productive too.

One of the criticisms or concerns I sometimes hear about practicing gratitude is that it can make people complacent. What I experience is not complacent or passive. It is peaceful, yet motivating.

Starting with gratitude for what I have in the here and now is just that--a good start. I believe that when I do that, I show more respect and kindness to all around me; both human and other. With that as a catalyst, I move forward. Hopefully my efforts help preserve the good that is already here, while also creating more to contribute, more to offer.

When I embrace grateful living, I am embracing what Brother David Steindl-Rast refers to as "the great fullness of life." That is the opposite of complacency.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Flummoxed

Today I am grateful for early morning quiet and the calm it brings. I am also grateful for the daily tools to do daily recovery work.

Flummoxed. Now there's a word for you. It is beyond frustrated or confused. It is bewildered. Perplexed. It's a baffling state of being that requires a word like flummoxed.

Okay, I admit that I picked this word partly because it is unusual and a little fun to say. But it also is a feeling I do know and understand at times.

Those times are usually when I am confronted with the concerning state of the world, or the ever-changing state of today's teens, or the influence of technology on our lives, or some other such large, hard to fully handle, topic.

Fortunately, it doesn't tend to last too long. Go to bed flummoxed and chances are it will be gone in the morning, replaced by a fresh outlook on a new day. That is if you aren't too flummoxed to sleep.
Lack of sleep confounds feeling flummoxed. So does thinking I can "figure it out" with sheer brain power.

On the other hand, gratitude and quiet together with patience and acceptance tend to send the flummoxed feeling away.

Feeling flummoxed? Try some mindfulness and gratefulness and then get some rest.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Exhilarated

Today I am grateful for being able to walk up and down stairs. Our house has four levels. I am also grateful for each one of those four levels and our entire house.

Fire up! Today's feeling is exhilarated. 

Feeling exhilarated is experienced viscerally for me. I experience it physically after a run, mentally when I am on a roll with some writing, emotionally when I make a sincere connection with another human, and spiritually when I pause in nature and let the awe roll over me.

Grateful living is exhilarating in and of itself, and it makes everything seem to come alive more. Being present in the current moment has a way of doing that. Mindful presence and the exhilaration of full attention and sensory focus on the here and now is what I strive for.

Some days I only seem to have fleeting moments of exhilaration. On other days I ride the energy throughout the day.  But it all starts with feeding that which we find most invigorating and healthy in our lives.

Go for a run. Write a poem. Send a handwritten thank you. Read a good book. Laugh with a friend.
Stop and look up at the sky. Tackle that work project you are almost done with. Sew. Garden. Pull some weeds, literally or figuratively. Go for a bike ride. Smile.

Have an exhilarating day, in big and small ways. It all matters!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Devoted

Today I am grateful for a pleasant Gopher to Badger half marathon experience yesterday and nice weather to run it in. I am also grateful for my physical capabilities. I don't ever want to take them for granted.

I landed on devoted for today's emotion. Loyal. Faithful. Steadfast. Constant. Committed. Dedicated.
Disciplined and determined; with less of an edge and more love. Like most emotional traits I hope fit me, I also know I often fall short of the description above as well.

Devoted wife, mother and stepmother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt. I try. But I also don't call as often as I could, or reach out often enough to family members who need a reach out, or stop myself from saying harsh things to those nearest and dearest to me.

Being human doesn't preclude me from being a devoted family member. I do my best, and I keep working on forgiveness of self and others. (Though what I usually need to forgive in others is more about me and my expectations than it is about them.)

Devoted friend, listener, and supporter. I feel good about the kind of friend I have been and continue to be to many people in my life. Some of them are the very ones who taught me how to be a good friend, showed me the way. Being a dedicated and steadfast friend takes time and effort, and it is a profound way of giving and sharing.

Devoted runner, writer, recovering person. I find it easier to be loyal and faithful to endeavors that enrich my life so much.

And put grateful living at the top of that list. Devoted to finding the gifts in today. Devoted to creating an upward spiral in my thinking rather than a downward spiral. Devoted to gratefulness as a mindset.