"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, January 23, 2017

Jelly

Today I am grateful for the way my new Isotoner gloves feel and that they were half-priced. I am also grateful for my husband Darcy and the nice meal he made for us last evening.

Like comfortable gloves, JELLY is a simple pleasure in my book. I have always been a fan of jelly, on toast in particular. Growing up, I was not a fan of peanut butter, so it was usually butter on toast and then whatever jam or jelly was available. Sometimes it was homemade, but often store bought.

I would have to give the nod to grape jelly as my go-to, but I like raspberry and strawberry too. I will try anything from marmalades to jalapeƱo. I also like the squeeze bottles they come in now, making it easier to apply.

Somewhere in my adult years, I warmed up to peanut butter. Now when I have jelly on toast, it usually starts with a layer of peanut butter that has to go on when the toast is hot so it can get a little melty. (Is that a word? Turns out it is.)

Life's simple pleasures. Jelly. Gloves. Coffee. Little joylets to help me maintain a grateful mindset.

Have a good day! Unless you've made other plans.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Kibosh

Today I am grateful for forgiveness-from others and myself. I am also grateful for the few pounds I have taken off in recent weeks after adding them post-marathon, and Darcy's support and similar efforts along these lines.

I return to my Z-A gratitude list today with the fun word KIBOSH. Stop. End. Put the kibosh on it. Actually, scholars are unsure of the true origin of the word, though known use of it dates back to the 1830's.

Put the kibosh on self-pity. That is what gratitude practice allows me to do to my former default mode.

Putting the kibosh on drinking starts by "putting the plug in the jug," but for people like me requires much more than the absence of alcohol.

This week I had my annual check-up with my oncologist. We discussed some leg muscle pain I have been having on and off and agreed that I would put the kibosh on taking the medication I have taken for 8 years. The kibosh may not last, but it will be on for at least a month, to see if I notice any changes.

Tamoxifen is drug designed to put the kibosh on roaming cancer cells that like estrogen. It is meant for women like me who had estrogen-positive cancer, and it can also be taken prophylactically for those at high risk. I am grateful for this medication and the the proven record it has. I have mixed feelings about putting the kibosh on taking it, but appreciate that I have tolerated it well for 8 years.

It has helped me put the kibosh on the fear that can rise concerning a recurrence or metastasis of cancer. Faith and mindful gratitude are good ways to calm that fear as well.

What do you need to put the kibosh on today?  Start small if needed. Onward!

Friday, January 20, 2017

One Day or 10,000 Days?

Today I am grateful for my five senses and the milder temperatures we have been having.

Today and every day I am grateful for and committed to sobriety and to my recovery from alcoholism. I am taking a break today from my Z-A list to mark a milestone.

Some friends in recovery use a sobriety calculator app for their phones. It tells them how many days and months they've been sober. I pulled it up on my phone a few weeks ago and realized I was nearing 10,000 days sober. I thought that was kind of cool. I almost forgot about it and then checked again yesterday, realizing today is day 10,000.  One minute at a time. One hour at a time. One day at a time.

I hesitated to bring it up. You will hear differing opinions about marking sobriety. All any of us have is today, whether a recovering alcoholic or a "normie." My favorite line regarding this is the caution "Don't get so many years that you forget the days." I strive to live in today, not yesterday or tomorrow.

But it is worth noting and celebrating, and it tells others, especially those new in sobriety, that ongoing sobriety is possible. One day at a time. With help from others and a Great Spirit as each individual wishes to define his or her idea of a Higher Power.

I say yes to today, as I said yes to each of the last 10,000 days. Knowing that without sobriety and recovery, I would not be living the full and rich life I am living. Knowing that if I had continued drinking for another day, 100, 1,000 or 10,000 more, I may not have survived.

Some of those 10,000 days have been amazing and incredible, others have been very difficult and full of despair, most have been mundane. I appreciate every single one of them. Amazing grace.

A special thank you to all the people who have supported my daily recovery in so many different ways over these last 10,000 days. It could not have happened without you. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Listen

Today I am grateful for my oncologist and his patience in our medication discussion yesterday.  I am also grateful to have seen a friendly and familiar face, that of a nurse, who was such a kind and caring support in those first appointments I had after my cancer diagnosis.

LISTEN is today's word. I appreciate the medical professionals who listened to me yesterday and so many more over the years. I appreciate being heard. Who doesn't? Being heard requires two (or more) people taking the time for the task at hand: the speaker who is choosing his/her words and the listener(s) who are giving full attention to the speaker.

Listening is a crucial skill in any human interaction, starting with those closest to us but including anyone we encounter in a day. It is about respect, but so much more, including safety-emotional and physical. I fear listening skills are being eroded by our fast-paced days, the technology that pulls our attention away, the less and less face-to-face communication.

So I strive personally and professionally to be a good listener, in my physical stature as well as my mental focus. We all know what it feels like when someone is really listening to us. That's my goal.

A couple of phrases I often repeat on this topic are:

"Listen to what silence may teach us." 

"There's a reason why we have 2 ears and one mouth. So we can listen twice as much as we talk."

I try to apply these ongoing and incorporate them in to my interactions.

I also remember to listen to myself and trust what is coming through. Listen up! Today has much to offer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Magnify

Today I am grateful for the sound of ice and snow crunching under my boots as I walked our dog just now. I am also grateful for co-workers who help me in so many ways, and make my job more enjoyable.

MAGNIFY. There's a word to ponder. To make larger. See more clearly. Look at a definition for magnify and you will find words like boost, enhance, amplify, maximize, intensify. These all describe what I try to do with gratefulness in my daily life. Enhance the positive. Amplify the beauty and awe that is right here.

Our own minds are the magnifying glasses we apply to our life and the circumstances we are in.
So I need to continue to ask myself questions such as these:

What am I choosing to magnify?
Blessings or curses?
Gratitude or misery?
Self-care or self-pity?

How I answer these questions determines my perception of self and surrounding world. The answers matter a great deal.

I also give thanks for lenses, microscopes, and other equipment that magnifies what doctors and others are looking at. Such magnification finds problems sooner and addresses concerns more effectively to help people live longer and better lives.

Today the positives and daily gifts around us will be magnified if we focus on them. Will you join me?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Nigredo

Today I am grateful for forgiveness from others and for myself. I am also grateful for the friends I have in recovery and how we can laugh together.

Today's word is NIGREDO. It is not a word I was familiar with, until last week when it was shared with me. Jera, who is with our local arts center and is facilitating the poetry readings I have attended, brought it to my attention. I am grateful she did, because the meaning it carries certainly resonates with me.

A quick look on Wikipedia tells me that, in psychology, nigredo has become a metaphor for "the dark night of the soul, when the individual confronts the shadow within." It originated as a term in alchemy, which was early chemistry. It means blackness, decomposition.

Psychiatrist Carl Jung and others of his time compared the alchemist idea of nigredo to the human ego; how stemming from our darkest times and deepest despair can come light and growth. And how at least some of our problems of our own making, thanks to oversized or undersized ego.

I relate to this idea. With the disease of alcoholism, I had to face the darkness in my life, hit bottom, roll around in deep despair at times, and feel intense emotional pain before I started climbing out. Only with the help of a Great Spirit and others did I start that climb and make it.

That darkness can and does return at times, but it stays for far shorter periods of time, and the way out is more manageable. Such darkness is part of being human, I think. It helps us appreciate the light, the hope, the energy that comes when it is lifted.

If darkness is too much a part of your life and thoughts, please reach out and seek help.

Practicing gratitude is a wonderful source of light for me, including lighting the way out of a dark time or dark thoughts.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Oxygen

Today I am grateful for time to sit and enjoy the sunrise, and for the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many others who have advanced equality in the United States and elsewhere.

But there is still much to be done, and we each have our own part in that. It starts with how we treat those we encounter throughout our day, and continues with what we say to others and to our children.
Kindness and compassion connect us. Fear and judging divide us.

To do our part each day requires more than intentional thoughts and actions, it also requires OXYGEN. I have a clean and free supply of oxygen at my disposal every minute of every day. It is vital and life-giving and yet I often don't even consider the importance it has to me, to all of us.

Consider those with health conditions that make breathing difficult. They need help getting enough oxygen to survive. Consider also those who live in areas with air pollution that may be making them sick or causing diseases. Clean, free oxygen I can get just by breathing is not something to be taken lightly. It is something to be deeply grateful for.  Pause. Breathe in and breathe out. Give thanks.

The words of author Natalie Goldberg seem very fitting:

"We should notice that we are already supported at every moment. There is the earth 
below our feet and there is the air, filling our lungs and emptying them. We should begin 
from this when we need support." 

Oxygen is indeed our life support. Pause. Breathe in. Breathe out. Give thanks.