"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, April 27, 2015

I Have a Confession

Today I am grateful for time with family yesterday and for good salads to make and share.

A special thank you to my sister Zita and my mom for making the trip up to visit us yesterday. It was really good to see you and we are glad you got to meet the newest addition to our family-Leo.

I have a confession to make. To myself. To anyone who read yesterday's post. Moving meditation is a good practice for me, but it is also a bit of a trap when I am not careful.

I love to be efficient with my time. I am busy and always have many things I hope to accomplish in a day's time. It doesn't hurt to be an effective manager of time, but I have to use caution. Yesterday morning part of my motivation for moving meditation was to save time. I wanted to go for a run at some point, the dog needed to go out, I needed my prayer and meditation time. Let's combine all three Lisa instead of doing them each separately.

That's my confession. That's what I mean when I say I am making progress with meditation practice, but that I still have much room for improvement. How effectively was I meditating? That's debatable. I am not being too hard on myself though. It didn't hurt me or anyone else to combine my efforts. And better to do some meditation than none. Better to make the effort than to just say "what's the use?"

All or nothing thinking has done a number on me over the years. I am trying to recover from it still. Meditation, even practiced with mixed motives, is still meditation. It still helps bring me some peaceful presence and better awareness and listening. And each of those things are great antidotes to that all or nothing business.

Have a good day!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Running Meditation

Today I am grateful for the fresh air of this beautiful morning. I am also grateful for the healthier thoughts that are present in my mind when I am present in the moment.

This morning I woke up with some soreness in my legs from yesterday's run. Our dog Oliver needed to go out. The daylight was just arriving. It was a good morning for some moving meditation. Most mornings I try to practice some humility by praying on my knees. But moving meditation works too.

The steady footfalls of my feet, the birds singing, the changing light, and Oliver's predictable behavior all served to bring peace to my mind and energy to my body. As I run, I say some of the prayers I typically say. And I pray for others. I always pray for those I know or know of who are current or ongoing cancer patients. I pray for those suffering from alcoholism and other addictions. I pray for family members and others who are facing challenges of any kind.

It's a long list when I am done. It gives me perspective. What I like about running and doing such prayer and meditation is that it feels like the energy of my run, of each footfall, is going out to those people who may need it today.

I added an A-Z gratitude list to finish my run. It began with A for air to breathe and concluded with Z for my sister Zita who is coming to visit with our mom today.

Meditation used to be such a mystery to me. I am at least making progress. If I define meditation as putting my mind in an open and receptive place, aware and ready to listen, then there are many ways I can reach that place. Running meditatively is one.

How do you reach that place?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Raindrops Rolling

Today I am grateful for sound sleep for a few hours last night. I am also grateful for the awareness that even when I don't feel very grateful practicing gratitude can still be a helpful pursuit.

I am emotionally tired this morning and weighed down by some worries and concerns surrounding both family and work. But I also have many things I am looking forward to as well.

Yesterday I got to see my good friend Jill for a short visit. Our schedules don't allow the regular time together we used to have and I miss that. I enjoyed our conversation yesterday though, and her reminder to me as I left to "just breathe." Read a post about that here.

It stems from a time in the midst of chemotherapy treatment when Jill and I were meeting at our usual spot. It was one of those heavy days for me. When I rolled into the parking lot she was already there. Her windows were down and Anna Nalick's "Just Breathe" was playing on the radio. Just breathe Lisa. Just breathe. It has been a good reminder for me ever since.

So I left my visit with Jill yesterday on a cloudy and gray day. It had been sprinkling on and off, but nothing much. A couple hours later my son Sam and I got in the car to head to his baseball practice. That is when it decided to start raining more. We ended up waiting in the parking lot for a while and they had no practice.

While he was out in the rain with his coach and teammates for a bit, I sat in the car. Initially I was frustrated that I hadn't thought to grab a book or magazine to look at or my journal to write in. (I am one to ALWAYS be doing something while waiting.)  Then I remembered Jill's reminder to just breathe. I didn't need to be doing anything at that moment other than breathing in and breathing out, winding down from a busy week.

For a few minutes I listened to and watched the raindrops hitting the car windows and rolling off. It was relaxing. It was a break that was helpful. It calmed my thoughts and brought some acceptance.

Raindrops rolling. Gratitude rolling.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Let It Be . . . Here I Go Again . . . Maybe I'm Amazed

Today I am grateful for ears to hear with and eyes to see with. I am also grateful for the multitude of songs I have loved over the years.

The inspiration for today's post came from random songs I heard on the radio yesterday. One while I was driving, the other two while I was out running. I thought about linking to YouTube videos of each song, but I decided to skip that part. If you know any or all of the songs, you can recall them in your mind, maybe start singing some lyrics, and enjoy an internal moment instead of an external one. That in itself is something to be grateful for.

"Let It Be" by the Beatles came on my car radio while I was driving home from work. That is one of my favorite songs from the "Fab 4." It was a fitting song. Busy day-let it be. Personalities and pressures at work-let it be. More to do than time to do it-let it be.

Let it be. Gratitude practice. Pause. Notice the gifts.

It was a beautiful day for a run yesterday, the best weather day of the week, so although I was tired I got myself going (and Oliver for part of the run too). I was enjoying the release, the perfect running temperature, the calm winds, the time to myself, the music coming from my armband radio.

When Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" came on, I broke out in a smile. I know I am using old technology when it comes to my armband radio, but there's the fun-I get pleasantly surprised by favorite songs I didn't know were coming because it wasn't a playlist I created. "Here I Go Again" was definitely a favorite of mine in the late '80's, and it used to be one of my drinking songs. Here I go again. Down into the depths of self-pity, the loss of control, down into the bottle or can. Down.

As I entered into recovery, for some reason this song became more of a hopeful tune. Here I go again. On the right road. Looking for the positives and finding them. Here I go again into a new day with new hope and energy. I am still going.

Late in my run, Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" came on. I love the pace and power of this song. But there's no maybe about it. I am truly amazed. Profoundly amazed. Steadfast gratitude practice has brought amazing clarity, amazing grace.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sunshine

Today I am grateful for my son Sam and the opportunity to be his mom. I am also grateful for my favorite sweatshirt.

After several cloudy, cold, windy days in succession, complete with some snow, we welcomed the sun back to our neck of the woods yesterday. It was still chilly, but the brilliant sunshine gave me hope that the warmth will soon follow. Soon is a relative term, but it is safe to say that in the coming months I will write about extreme heat and humidity and wish for a cooler day like the ones we have been having.

The Sun is a most interesting and amazing marvel when you think about it. It's another one of those things we take for granted. We wouldn't be here without it, but how often do we pause in gratitude for it?

Here are some interesting Sun facts:
*One million Earths would fit inside the Sun.
*The Sun is middle-aged at about 4.6 billion years. It has enough hydrogen left to
burn for about another 5 billion years.
*It takes 8 minutes for light from the sun to reach the Earth. But that energy took millions of years to get from the Sun's core to its surface.
*The Sun is an almost perfect sphere which is pretty incredible for something that size.

What amazes me is how scientists have figured out this information. It is so humbling to consider my individual place and space in this vast universe. Humbling, but gratifying. We may be small and are only here for a short period of time, but we are not insignificant. We make a difference in one another's lives. We make a difference in our own lives.

What wonderful opportunties we have today to add to life's significance. To make a difference. Thanks for making a difference in my life.  Onward!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Getting Pelted

Today I am grateful for simple messages with profound implications. I am also grateful for a run in some wind-driven snow yesterday.

Yesterday I heard someone scoffing at "one day at a time."  It was just a passing comment and not directed at me. In hearing it, however, I had a surge of gratitude that I don't feel that way. I'm not a scoffer. I try to live it. Simple message with profound implications. Simple idea. Harder to do. But it can be done. Mindfulness, via gratitude practice, helps make it possible to leave yesterday's regrets and tomorrow's worries in their place and give my energy to today.

About that wind-driven snow. We have had a fairly decent spring, but not this week. It has been unseasonably cold and windy. And it was snowing on and off yesterday. Darcy and I headed out for a run in the midst of intermittent snow squalls. At one point we were heading straight into the wind and getting pelted with a snow and sleet mix. It wasn't fun, but yet it was. We looked at each other, laughed a little, and forged on. Soon it was better, though a couple more rounds of the mess would hit us before we got home. By the time we wrapped up our run, not much over 30 minutes, it almost looked like the sun was going to come out.

Sometimes when life pelts us with unpleasant feelings and situations, it passes quickly and we can be grateful for that. At other times, life pelts us with an ongoing challenge and it wears us down. I think of others I know being pelted with the struggles of a loved one with dementia, a serious eating disorder, ongoing cancer treatment, relationship concerns, financial strain, and more. It is tougher to find gratitude in such an onslaught, but it is still possible.

We can help one another with messages of support and gratitude. We can buffer the pelting we ourselves may face today by starting out in a grateful mindset. That will make us less likely to pelt others and more likely to be helpful. It's worth a try isn't it?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Journey of a Thousand Posts

Today I am grateful for daily recovery and living. I am also grateful for this blog as I hit the milestone of 1000 posts.

The journey of a thousand blog posts begins with one post. That was just over three years ago. I am amazed that I have reached this blogging milestone feeling the way I feel and so very grateful to be learning what I am learning. I have no intention of slowing down.

I am learning that the layers of mindfulness and gratitude are truly endless. I will never perfect this practice and that is the point-to simply continue to practice.

A quote I really appreciate is this one, attributed to James C. Penney:

"Only the disciplined are free." 

Discipline. That is what it takes to compose and publish blog pieces about gratefulness and practicing it in my daily life. To be habitual about this, or anything healthy and sacred, takes discipline. The freedom has especially come in via the energy this practice and the writing involved create. And also the freedom I feel as a writer who believes in her writing more than ever before. 

This idea of discipline and freedom is not new. Pythagoras spoke of it 2500 years ago with his words: 
"No man is free who cannot command himself."  

Being a person in recovery from alcoholism, these words carry wider appeal for me. There is freedom in recovery opposite the bondage that came with active drinking. I don't believe I command myself, however. I have help from others and a Higher Power. I do the footwork.

My friend Terrie did me a huge favor over twenty years ago when she encouraged me to try being more grateful for what I do have to help offset the mire of self-pity that I was fond of wallowing in. There was always an excuse to drink, always an excuse to berate myself and my life, when the lens I was looking through was cloudy with perfectionism, self-hatred, and negativity.

A thousand posts have brought me clarity. I am deeply blessed and today is a gift. A thousand posts have given me a daily outlet that has liberated the writer within. The writing and the gratefulness have fortified me in so many ways. A post at a time. A day at a time. Thank you to all who inspire me to keep on keeping on!