"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

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Persistence Pays-In Exact Proportion

Today I am grateful for a warm enough morning to enjoy our front patio and a cup of coffee with my husband Darcy.  I am also grateful for a nice conversation with my son Sam.

This quote below makes me smile, both on my face and in my heart. Years with no results? I can't say I have ever experienced that. Persistence and perseverance are results in and of themselves.

"Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, 
one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul." 
(Simone Weil)

I know discouragement. I know "why bother?" and "does it really matter?" But I also know flooding of the soul with such a deep sense of awakening, a deep sense of grace. My soul. The human soul.

If I hadn't gained a healthier perception of myself, if I hadn't known a little peace from my self-defeating thoughts, maybe I would have given up. But it didn't take long into my gratitude practice, which I began in earnest 20 years ago, for me to know it was making a difference. 

I am not flooded with gratitude every day. Who is? But I know frequent and consistent positive upticks in my outlook on life when I persist in my gratitude practice. And by practice I mean awareness of the gifts in my life. Sometimes that translates into writing a thank you or giving a gift to someone, but day in and day out it is mostly about paying attention. 

The light is brighter on some days, but it is always there. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Heart to Hand

Today I am grateful for the wisdom I hear from others in recovery. I am also grateful to be a writer.

I have been doing less pen to paper writing for blog drafts and column ideas in recent months. I have the Blogger app on my phone and a free app that allows me to word process some document drafts on my phone as well.

Part of me appreciates the time I save. But another part of me is saddened by this trend. Writing saved my life in my younger years. It allowed toxic emotions a way out before they did me in or I did myself in. Pen to paper. Taking the physical action of writing with pen in hand on the paper in front of me gives more credibility to what comes out, and gives more freedom when released from my mind. Heart to hand.

Writing continues to enhance my life and help me embrace it more. In recent years, there has been more keyboarding on a computer or finger-pecking on my phone. It is not pen to paper, but it is still heart to hand.

I do look for ways to keep the pen in hand. I have a little book in my purse with a pen attached. I put ideas in when I think of them. Some days, I carry a piece of paper in my pocket. An idea has sprouted and I try to nourish it throughout the coming hours and days. It keeps my writing self close at hand, even in the midst of a busy day.

Whether pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, the vital part is heart to hand.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Putting Out Fires or Starting Them?

Today I am grateful for the soothing quiet of early morning and for time with our grandson Leo over the weekend.

I was pondering the idea of "putting out fires" recently as I thought about the busy pace of my job. Some days it does seem like it is about putting out fires, one after the other. The kind of fires you don't want to let burn, the kind that are best contained when small. The fires may have to do with students, parents, teachers, or any combination thereof.

But then I thought about how educating our young is supposed to be about starting fires. Fires of curiosity and motivation. Fires that need to be nurtured and protected until there is enough fuel to keep them burning strong on their own.

It seems a bit contradictory, all this talk of fires. But it really is the stuff of life. Positive or negative. Productive or nonproductive. Helpful or hindering. Warming us up or causing us to run from the heat.

Which kind of fire will I feed today?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Seasons Change, Ice Forms

Today I am grateful to have a house to clean, and for the way that house feels with the soft glow of our Christmas tree lights and other holiday decorations.

We have had a really pleasant fall, with mild temperatures. Though some of the Midwest got dumped on with significant snow to start the weekend, we missed it. I am okay with that that for now, though I do enjoy snow when I don't have to drive in it.

Both Darcy and I appreciated clear trails and roads on our run yesterday morning. It was colder and more layers were required, but it was manageable. We got to see some of nature's interesting creations that form when seasons change.

The picture below is along the shores of the Mississippi River. I stopped to take it during our run. 

It took more than cold to create these icicles. It took wind to produce the waves that lapped up against the branch. It seemed fitting that these icicles look like a row of teeth, because that wind did have a bite to it.

The sting of the cold was lessened as I thought about running beside Darcy, of our health, the time together, the clothes we could afford that helped keep us warm. Seasons change, but there is gratitude to be found in each. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sleeping In

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to sleep in and for a warm bed and my husband Darcy next to me.

I am also grateful that our son Sam enjoyed his 8th grade trip to an environmental learning center in southern Minnesota. He was gone for three days and two nights. Though a young man of few words, he had a good time and has answered all of my questions so far. Thank you to all the adults who helped make the trip possible and helped carry it out. (I know what that takes.)

I am guessing that Sam will not be the only one sleeping in this morning after that trip.

During the week, I typically will get six to seven hours of sleep a night. I can manage on that fairly well, though I know more would be better. By Friday night of a work week, I am usually wiped out. I was dozing off in the recliner by 7:30 last night. I was trying to start a blog post, but the dozing kept winning.  I went to bed and didn't get up for good until almost 6:00 a.m.

For a variety of reasons, I haven't slept straight through the night for years. One reason is all the water I drink. A more recent development is the lovely sleep disruption associated with menopause. But I can fall back to sleep, usually pretty easily.

Sleeping in until six may not sound like much to some of you, but it truly is sleeping in for me. I feel rested and that is important to my health and frame of mind.  Just like gratitude practice.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Run at Dusk

Today I am grateful for the people I work most closely with-my department. And I am grateful for the nice visit with our recent department retiree Mary Jo.

I was determined to go for a run yesterday after work. The weather had turned colder and it was windy, but I couldn't wait to get out there. Running is my escape, my release. It is my grounding, my connection to nature. Running and sanity go together for me. So do running and gratitude, running and endorphins, running and head clearing.

I got a later start on my run than I anticipated, so some of it was in the dark. Before it got dark though, I was treated to a beautiful sunset. There was clearing on the horizon and the sunset was a vibrant red. It was worth it.

Stride by stride, I ran off the stress and strain of the day. I enjoyed running with Oliver for the first mile or so. Then, I enjoyed running with my radio and some good music.

A run at any time is a blessing in my life. A run at dusk was a treat last evening.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Getting on with Life

Today I am grateful for my sense of touch and feeling the wind and colder air on my skin as I walked our dog Oliver this morning. I am grateful for morning quiet.

I have felt thwarted, off-beat, drained, and discouraged in recent days. But I still got up each morning and proceeded to do my best. I proceeded to apply gratitude to my circumstances and found energy to pick myself up. I felt better at times, worse at others. But I got on with life. That is my plan for today as well.

Getting on with life can be as simple as making the adjustment to colder temperatures outside by putting on a hat and gloves. Getting on with life minus my breasts took some time to adjust to, but it now falls into this simple category most of the time too.

Or it can be so very difficult. . . I think each day about my sister Danita and how she must now get on with life after her husband Roger's death. I think about those reeling from the terrorist attacks in Paris and what getting on with life might feel like to them. I think about the drunk alcoholic who promised themselves one more time that last time would be the last time, but it wasn't.

Getting on with life. It's the best I can hope for. Simple or difficult, it is still full of hope and opportunity. Gratitude practice provides me more of both.