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Smirnoff, Phillips, Camel, Marlboro, and Other Garbage

Today I am grateful for the beautiful weekend weather, plenty of sunshine, time with my friend Dorothy, and a bike ride with Darcy.

I decided to go up and down our street yesterday afternoon to pick up some of the garbage I had been seeing, in honor of Earth Day, the sunshine, my physical capabilities.  Among my finds were an empty little Smirnoff vodka container, two larger Phillips vodka plastic bottles, a Camel cigarette pack, and a Marlboro one too.

Add to that several plastic straws (one of the worst offenders to little critters), crushed pop cans, styrofoam and plastic cups, and more. It was both surprising and sad to see what others had littered.

Maybe some of it was innocent garbage. It blew out of a receptacle on a windy trash day, or fell out of a car accidentally.

But I am guessing most of it was guilty garbage. People being lazy, irresponsible, selfish, careless.

It all reminded me that we each need to do our part, and with billions of us on the planet, each of us does sti…

Wendell Berry and Earth Day 2018

Today I am grateful for planet Earth and the joy I get from being outside in our natural world. I appreciate the beautiful day we had yesterday and the promise of new life and green that is now imminent.

Today is Earth Day 2018. It began in 1970 in the United States, thanks to the efforts of many, including Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. In 1990, it went global. Today, millions of people around the globe take part in activities to mark the day and to continue actions to help preserve our planet.

In ways, we have come a long way since 1970, with creation of the EPA and the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Yet, in ways we continue to do significant harm to our fragile home and rush blindly forward in the name of progress.

So Wendell Berry's words are very fitting today:

"The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope."
Berry, now in his 80&…

Gulp, Just Breathe

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver and the morning routine he and I share. I am also grateful for warmer weather, melting snow, and running in just shorts and a t-shirt.

As I tried to focus on sipping life yesterday, moment by moment, I found myself gulping from time to time. Too often I end up shorting myself on time to get ready and get out the door for my commute to work. It's not like I get up late. I just have too many other things I do: writing, exercise, emails, walking our dog, maybe some laundry.

Yesterday was one of those mornings. By the time I backed my car out of the driveway, I was gulping, wondering if I would get to work on time for the meeting I facilitate most Thursday mornings. Not too far down the road, I chastised myself for already forgetting to "sip it up."  Then I quickly forgave myself, took a deep and calming breath, and settled in for a more pleasant commute.

A similar pattern played out several times as the day went on; regarding work situ…

Sip It Up

Today I am grateful for opposable thumbs that make so many things possible and easier to do. I am also grateful for smooth-flowing pens.

As I drove to work yesterday morning, I saw this on the license plate of a car I passed: Sip it up. I'm sure there are days that I would miss this, concentrating on other things. Yesterday, I saw it and was intrigued.

I wondered why this vehicle owner has this particular plate. I don't know. I won't know. But I do have some random thoughts of my own:

-Do these people like brewery tours?  Microbreweries have sprung up in lots of places and are quite popular. Part of me laments that I missed this part of the "fun of drinking." Then I remember that pretty much any fun I had while drinking was overshadowed by the problems it caused.

-Speaking of drinking, sip wasn't usually in my vocabulary. Usually I was gulping.

-But I can sip up the day, rather than gulp it up. Slow down. Relish. Savor. Sip.

A random license plate yesterday h…

Watching My Tone

Today I am grateful for an important conversation with an old friend and the reminder of the seriousness of active addiction. I am also grateful for the sunshine that we could relish in yesterday, even as a chance of snow returns today.

I wrote about setting the tone the other day; for a trip, for a day. Setting the tone includes watching my tone. My tone of voice, inflection, expression. I can have a biting tongue, reserved mostly for my family. Those we love the dearest also get the brunt of our ugliness. It's not that ugly that often, but it's certainly still something for me to be tuned into.

And I try to be aware of my tone as I interact with students, parents, colleagues in my work setting. The art of communication includes so much regarding inflection, volume, emphasis. (I fear we are losing this art as we lose face to face communication for more device to device communication. But that's for another discussion.)

A soft, patient, and gentle tone can go a long way in…

A Little Training Goes a Long Way

Today I am grateful for my five senses and how they help me experience and savor the little things in life. I am also grateful for clear skies and stars this morning after several gray days.

We have an option at work to participate in CPR and AED training, and some various dates to pick from. With plenty of snow on the ground and cold temperatures, I figured staying after school yesterday was as good of a time as any.

I can't tell you how long it has been since I had either of these trainings. Several years ago for sure. So long ago that the CPR procedure has changed and AEDs are more readily available in many places. I have walked past some for so many years that I don't even see them.

Within 45 minutes, I felt like I had some idea of what to do if I witnessed someone collapse or came upon someone who was non-responsive. I am out and about a lot. I work in a school that has around 1,000 people in and out on a given day. I have loved ones at home and that I visit. You never kn…

Cleanse the Spirit

Today I am grateful for a reconnecting conversation with my friend Linda. I am also grateful for a little indoor game of "catch" with our energetic grandson Leo yesterday.

And another one worth mentioning is my deep gratitude for sobriety, for recovery from alcoholism. I cannot afford to ever take sobriety for granted, to take recovery lightly. Sobriety is just a beginning. Not drinking tends to be the difficult part early in recovery. Living life on life's terms is the more challenging, ongoing effort.

In a recent conversation with some others in recovery, the phrase "cleanse the spirit" came up. I have been physically sober, alcohol-free, for many years now. If I have a craving for alcohol, it comes and goes quickly. But I still suffer from alcoholism as a spiritual malady. Spiritual maladies need spiritual healing.

That is the recovery journey I remain on. Deepening my faith in and my connection to a Great Spirit, a power greater than myself. It's both a…