"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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Be Still. Be Quiet.

Today I am grateful for a solitary run in the coming daylight. I am also grateful for what silence and stillness teach me when I give them a chance.

Life has been busy. Work has been especially so. Family activities keep us on the move. It is dangerous territory for me. I end up overly tired, over thinking everything that needs to get done, and losing any sense of calm and serenity I may have had. Not surprisingly, I also become an unpleasant person to be around at times. My poor family feels the brunt of that when it happens. So the first lesson of stillness and quiet for me is to keep my mouth shut when what may come out is not kind or necessary.

Yesterday morning I took five minutes to sit out on our front porch and enjoy some coffee. I had the time. I made the time. I needed that time. I lose focus when I get spun up in the busy times. I forget to pause and be grateful. I forget that what really matters is here and now. I forget that my job is just that-a job. My job is not at the top of my priority list, nor should it be. But when I take care of my priorities-family, friends, faith/recovery, running, and writing, my job seems to go more smoothly.

That five minutes yesterday was a start in bringing me back to more serenity, to more solid ground. It was the reminder and the action I needed. More such pausing, stillness, and quiet will be part of my day today. My morning run was a good start.

Be still. Be quiet. Be grateful.

Friday, October 24, 2014

I Couldn't Do It

Today I am grateful for the therapeutic value of ice cream and for our dog Oliver. I am also grateful for my husband Darcy and our marriage.

Remember those worn out gloves I blogged about last week? (Read the post here.) Remember my plan to give them a proper send-off in St. Louis? I couldn't do it. They went to St. Louis with us, they covered the 26.2 miles with me, and they made it back home. The picture below shows them with my newest marathon medal:


It was a chilly marathon morning. The gloves helped pre-race and also through the first couple of miles. By Mile 3 my hands were getting warm. I decided to toss them at Mile 4 (4 being significant as my sobriety date-September 4). But as I thought about it, and as Mile 4 came and went, I decided that I needed to keep the gloves. They carried too much sentimental value to me. They hold too much good energy.

So for the next 20-plus miles I alternated between carrying them and keeping them in a pocket in my shorts. I thought about family, friends, previous marathons, the joy running brings me. I thought about my, our, good fortune to have our health and be able to run. I washed them and will now retire them from use. They will become part of our running archives.

Those archives include medals, race bibs, results, paperwork, and more. Also included are many memories, shared experiences with my husband Darcy and other family members, and an ample supply of gratitude. These gloves don't take up much physical space, but they do take up considerable positive mental, emotional, and spiritual space.

When it comes to your personal archives, literal or symbolic, what are you thinking about today?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Foundation in Faith

Today I am grateful for our church community and the nice service last evening for confirmation and baptism. I am also grateful for the demeanor and sense of humor of the presiding bishop.

Our son Sam got confirmed last night. He has been attending classes over the last couple of years and was one of five confirmands. Sam is also in his second year of active involvement in the youth group our church has in partnership with a neighboring church. (It's a pretty cool thing . . . two different denominations sharing a youth group.) Prior to youth group, Sam went to Sunday school as well.

He has had good teachers; people who care about young people and their faith development. He has a good foundation in a religion and from there the starter kit for what I hope is a faith of his own. I am grateful for those who have taught and supported Sam's faith formation over the last years.

I am thinking of the foundation in faith that my parents helped set for me and my siblings. I didn't appreciate it too much when I was growing up, or even have a very good personal understanding of it. But I can look back on it now and be thankful for it because it helped me get where I am today. Strong in faith.

My dad died sixteen years ago today. I always remember that day on this date and I always think of him. I miss him and I wish so much that Sam could have known him. In many ways, they are at least linked by me. I got a foundation in faith from my parents and I have tried to pass it on to Sam.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fellow Runners

Today I am grateful for the safety of my nephew Scott who was uninjured in a tractor rollover. And I am grateful for my fellow runners who supported me in various ways on Sunday.

How quickly things can change in our lives. Scott could have been seriously injured or worse. Life is precious. Life is fragile.

My favorite and most supportive fellow runner is my husband Darcy. But in an event like a marathon, strangers offer support in a variety of ways. I want to thank the thousands of half-marathoners who joined us for the first 10 miles or so of Sunday's marathon. They helped carry me along and they hid the hills from view.

I also want to thank the two women who were the 4:45 pacers. (Pacers hold signs with a finish time on it. If you want to run that time, stick with those pacers.) I typically don't run with a pace group, though I do like to keep certain ones in my view if I have a goal. On Sunday, I caught up with the 4:45 pacers at Mile 19 and chatted and ran with them the next mile. After a porta-pot pit stop at Mile 20, I decided to try to catch back up with these two. By Mile 21 I had caught up, and then I went on ahead, finishing just under 4:45 at 4:43. Those two women, nameless to me, helped me through a couple of tough miles.

Then at Mile 22 I talked briefly with a woman who was running her first marathon. Her oldest daughter had made a New Year's resolution to do a marathon, so she decided to join her. Her words at Mile 22 were something along the lines of "4 miles left, we can do four miles."  After you have already completed 22, four does seem possible, even if legs and other body parts are feeling exhausted. We've come this far. We can do this.

At Mile 24 there was a cheer squad and a woman running just in front of me did a little dance move and got the cheer squad and the rest of us fired up. It was just what I needed. I don't know where she summoned the energy, but I am glad she did.

Fellow runners helped me on Sunday. Fellow travelers on the road of life help me each day. Today I will try to be kind and gentle with my fellow travelers and myself.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fueled by Gratitude

Today I am grateful for another pleasant marathon experience and for time with my stepson Arthur and his wife Alyssa. I am also grateful for safe travels as we covered 1200 miles over 4 days. 

I was fueled by gratitude in many different ways as I covered 26.2 miles of roadway for the St. Louis Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. Just getting to the starting line, physically able to pursue this ongoing goal is what starts the gratitude flowing. To be joined at the starting line, and at the start of many training runs over many months, by my husband Darcy provides plenty more gratitude. Here is a picture of us before the run Sunday, and a chance to see the new running attire I mentioned in a previous blog post:


We didn't look as fresh a few hours later, but we were both happy with our runs and our times. We ran together for the first 16 miles or so, enjoying the atmosphere and the ideal weather and running conditions. The last ten miles, I found other sources of support from fellow runners. More on that tomorrow.

It wasn't surprising that a road tour of St. Louis would include a brewery. We passed Anheuser-Busch not once but twice. I'm sure the smell of beer on our way by may have made some other runners thirsty. It just made me more grateful as I pondered the role of sobriety and recovery in my life's journey and as a factor in my overall health.

An effort I make during the marathons I run is to thank the many volunteers along the way. St. Louis had an impressive number at aid stations, directing traffic and keeping us safe, cheering us on. It gives me a little boost each time I can say "Thanks for your help" or "Good morning."

I was definitely fueled by gratitude on Sunday. More importantly, I try to keep the fire of gratitude burning every day. This blog stokes the fire. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Deeply.

Today I am grateful for phone conversations yesterday with my friends Jill and Jenny. They each went with me to chemotherapy treatment six years ago. That's a good friend. I appreciate the deep and meaningful conversations we can have.

Both Jill and Jenny are true friends. Kindred spirits of mine. Add to that list my friend Sheila who happens to be celebrating a birthday today. Happy  ___th Sheila!  I am deeply blessed to have all three of these women in my life. They have helped bring out the best in me, and for that I am so grateful.

I am feeling deeply blessed today as we prepare for marathon weekend. Feeling anything deeply is a gift. Yes, sometimes that means feeling pain. But without the pain, how would we ever fully appreciate the joy?

The many miles in my previous 11 marathons have brought deep feelings . . . some physical, others mental, emotional, and spiritual. Especially in the later miles when a person needs to dig deep to keep going. Those same miles have brought some physical pain. That can hardly be avoided. But the endorphins, the spectators, the city we get to see, all take the edge off the pain and add to the joy.

What do you feel deeply today? What are feeling deeply blessed for today?

I will be taking a blog break for a few days. I plan to be busy living life deeply and fully. I wish the same for you.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celebrating Life

Today I am grateful for time away from work and my friends at our local breast cancer support group.

I wore my Seattle Marathon shirt yesterday. That was marathon #11 last December. I like wearing my marathon shirts because they are reminders to celebrate life and gratitude. It's not about ego for me, and if someone else perceives it that way, I hope they read this. I am deeply blessed to be alive, to be able to run, to be able-bodied and alive. I don't run fast and I don't win age groups, but I live my dream and share it with my husband Darcy.

I could have died drunk in my late teens. I could have had a different cancer diagnosis six years ago. I am here, alive, and happy to be! I am mindful of this day as a gift.

What do you think of when you hear "celebration of life?"  If you are like me, one of the first things that comes to mind is a funeral being called "a celebration of life." That's a comforting and appropriate thing to call it, but let's not reserve celebrating life for only those times. Shouldn't we be celebrating life every day?

That's my goal. Gratitude practice helps me reach my goal.

This was the quote in my gratitude journal today:

"The days come and go, but they say nothing. And if we do not use the gifts they bring, they carry them as silently away."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gratefulness gives voice and meaning to my days. Onward!