Shaky Flakes

Today I am grateful for overnight oatmeal as a quick and healthy breakfast and for the opportunities I get each day to make a difference in the lives of students, colleagues, and parents.

Yesterday I carried with me the idea of existing in a "more tender, shaky kind of place" as suggested by Pema Chodron. It brought me increased awareness, one of the most valuable rewards of pausing mindfully. It brought more compassion to my demeanor and approach.

I noticed the tender and shaky sound of a bird singing in late winter. They sound more confident in the spring. I paid attention to the icy walkways under my feet. My steps were more deliberate and slow. I am not one to tempt fate.

As the day went on, I had several opportunities to witness and be sensitive to a wide range of feelings other people were expressing and exhibiting. Feelings, in their raw and real state, are some of life's biggest gifts and teachers.

And then I went for a run outside after work, just as some snowfl…

A Tender, Shaky Kind of Place

Today I am grateful for the women in our local breast cancer support group and my comfort level with them. I am also grateful that Darcy is making my breakfast this morning.

This is a link to a post about Pema Chodron from April of 2015. In it, I write about old habits and fears and working to replace them, ideas in one of Chodron's books. It comes down to openminded kindness really. Toward others, ourselves, the environment that surrounds us. This is a reminder that I need daily. Staying mindfully present with an open heart are the keys to experiencing life fully.

She furthers these suggestions in this quote:

"Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live."
Gray areas for black and white thinkers, for all-or-nothing sorts of brain…

Big City

Today I am grateful for songs that come through my ears but reach my whole body. I am also grateful for letting go and resting instead of continuing to push.

You saw "Big City" coming didn't you, after Monday's "Bright Lights" post? New York City is by far the largest city in the United States, with over 8.5 million residents. The entire metropolitan area around NYC has over 20 million people, with roughly 1 in 16 Americans living in this urban area.

The mind-boggling part is that neither NYC or the metro area hit the list of the 10 largest cities in the world. Tokyo, Japan tops that list with over 24 million people, and 34 million in its metropolitan area.  I will stick to my small community and appreciate being just a short distance from wide open farm land.

One of the most captivating things to me during my brief visit to New York City was the view of the skyline. Here is Lower Manhattan from our ferry as we headed to Ellis Island on Saturday:

The number…

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today I am grateful for my working limbs and senses. And I am especially grateful for my mom today as she celebrates her 87th birthday.

Happy Birthday Mom!

This card fits. Understated, not about the glitz and glam. Flowers and green, two things you have always appreciated tending and viewing. 
As I ponder these working limbs and senses of mine, I consider how yours are on the decline. Your arthritic hands get more gnarled and bent. Your balance gets more questionable. Your eyes and ears still work, but nothing like they used to.
Happy Birthday Mom. How does it feel to be 87?  How does it feel to celebrate your first birthday in the nursing home? Mixed emotions? That is what I am feeling for you from my vantage point as your youngest daughter and #11 of 13.
Happy Birthday Mom! Your brood of 13 has expanded to a family that numbers will over 100 now. You have many well wishes coming your way on this day. I am grateful for your general overall health and that your new home is near your …

Bright Lights

Today I am grateful for safe travels and the chance to experience New York City for the first time. I am also grateful for my fellow chaperones and the students who helped me see things through different perspectives.

A special thank you to our lead teacher Judy and all the work she puts in to plan and lead this trip, and to my fellow chaperones Kelley, Ben, Mallory, Jess, and Mitch.

New York City and the surrounding area is an amazing place and has so much to see and take in. It was overwhelming at times, and one thing that struck me was the light. Lots of light. The lights of the skyline from the 86th floor observation deck at the Empire State Building on our first night, with One World Trade Center in the middle:

Or some of the multitude of bright and flashing lights that make Times Square both a beacon and a trap for travelers, shoppers, and locals and visitors alike who want to experience the true hustle and bustle of NYC:

From my window seat on our return flight last evening, I …

Twenty Years of Valentine's Days

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy, our love, our marriage, our lives together. I am also grateful for the ways I have been able to move from self-hatred to self-love.

Last year's post Mr. Valentine summed up things pretty well regarding my thoughts and feelings toward my Valentine. And Happy Valentine's Day was my first  February 14 post on Habitual Gratitude five years ago.

Today's post is about Darcy and I marking twenty years of Valentine's Days together with a little stroll down memory lane to the first Valentine's Day that we shared, back in 1998.

We met in early November of 1997, while living two hours apart and in two different states. Before long, we were spending our weekends together. It just so happened that Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday that year, so we got to spend it together. We got dressed up and went out to eat at a nice Italian place in Sioux Falls.

I wore a new outfit that Darcy gave me, and we both wore the smiles and glow of new…


Today I am grateful for our grandsons and the perspective they give us. I am also grateful for the REST I had last night. I stopped and went to bed earlier than usual, and it helped.

Like my friend Betsy and her focus word of REST, JOY is the word my friend Jill brought to a recent conversation.

In coming off of a tough year in 2017 that saw much pain and many challenges for people I care about, and also brought me some job-related stress as well as minor, but noticeable, physical health issues, JOY is a good reminder, a good focus.

Some random thoughts on JOY:

*"Don't squeeze the joy out." Each day, each hour provides joy for the taking. Notice it.

* Joylets, as my sister Aileen calls them, can be as simple as the smell of fresh air or seeing the stars in the sky.

*The joy in forgiveness is real. Whether forgiving others, being forgiven by them, or forgiving ourselves, there is joy in the unburdening and the compassion needed to forgive.

*The joy in a bite of chocolate.…