"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

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sharing Gratitudes: A Guest Post by Steve Foran

Today I am grateful for the soothing sound of the fountain on our front patio and for the ability of my ears to hear it.  I am also grateful for Steve Foran, fellow believer in the power of gratitude practice.

Steve Foran was one of the first people I didn't know who commented on my blog. That was pivotal because I had reached beyond family and friends to people in other parts of the world. (I know, Canada isn't that far . . . but it is another country.) The Internet and sharing gratitude had connected us and we continue to grow that connection in this community of grateful beings. Effective kindling.

These were his words on May 14, 2012:

"Keep going and know that your blog is making a difference. 
Every single post counts. Thanks, Steve" 

These are Steve's words, four years later. Thank YOU Steve! Onward!

I started reading Lisa’s blog, Habitual Gratitude, back in 2012 and have read every post since. Lisa and I have not met. We’ve never spoken on the phone. Yet, I feel I know her almost as well as some of my friends.

We share a common interest having been touched by the power of gratitude, which kindled in both of us a need to expand the force of gratitude within the world. I realized very early in reading Lisa’s posts that the gratitudes of other people are critical to my own gratitude practice. In my work with organizations that want positive, engaged, productive people, I teach this as one of the three basic gratitude practices… listening to or reading the gratitudes of others. This practice is extremely powerful but it’s easily discounted and discarded.

As a reader of Habitual Gratitude, I’m sure there are times when you think about deleting the email without reading the post. While I’ve been tempted to delete it without reading (because I’m so busy or whatever), I’ve resisted and I have always read on… often with greater attention and focus to the message. For me, the desire to speed through things or skip over them is a sure sign I need gratitude more than ever.

Each of Lisa’s posts has something to help you with your gratitude practice. You can't be certain what the post will say to you or how it will impact you… it may trigger in you something you’ve taken for granted, it may open your eyes to a perspective that was otherwise invisible, it may tweak a memory that was long forgotten, it may reinforce something you’ve thought, or one of many other possibilities. So make sure you read every one of Lisa’s posts. And read every word in every post. 

I offer this challenge to you… a challenge you can do in appreciation to Lisa for her contribution to the world. Try this with someone in your day… 

Say, "I was reading this morning about a woman who was writing about what she was grateful for (you can add something specific if you want) and it made me think about my own life. I realized how fortunate I am (insert something you are grateful for).” Then pause briefly and ask them “What’s the best part of your day so far?"

Then listen to them and watch them. (NOTE: I ask "what’s the best part of your day" because asking what they are grateful for out-of-the-blue can come across awkward). Engage in the conversation and notice how the simple act of listening to each other’s gratitudes spirals your energy and attitude upward.

I am most grateful to Lisa for Habitual Gratitude and for sharing her blog platform with me. I hope you find lots to be grateful for today… and you share that gratitude with others!

Monday, May 23, 2016


Today I am grateful for pillows and cool breezes. I am also grateful for the people in my life who show me love and support in a myriad of ways.

I have always appreciated the following quote by Dr. Albert Schweitzer. In fact, I figured it had already shown up in one of my previous 1300 + posts, but a search said no it hadn't.  Even if it had, it is worth revisiting.

"Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light."

I appreciate all who have done the rekindling in my life. At times it may have been a random stranger with a simple gesture that made the difference. At other times, the other human being has been a near and dear friend or family member who has a knack to ignite my light just when I need to see more clearly.

Not only do I get to appreciate those who help keep my path lit, I also get to help others rekindle.
Being kind, considerate, and grateful can go a long way in helping our fellow humans. It is certainly a good place to start anyway.

Early on in these 1300 + posts, the flame of motivation would at times burn out for me. Sometimes a comment from someone else would be enough to spark my desire to keep writing. One of the earliest comments from someone I didn't personally know was one such spark. It came from Steve Foran. Four years later, Steve and I are sharing gratitudes and supporting one another's efforts.

More from Steve in a guest post tomorrow.  Have a good day! 

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Today I am grateful for a good training run yesterday with Darcy, for a nap, and for time with our grandson Leo.

Last night we got to have a sleepover with Leo. We see him regularly, but this was the first time he spent the night. 

We went for a walk, played in the backyard, did some reading, stacked blocks, went to the "choo-choo park" and more. At 15 months, he is really getting the hang of slides and he loves to climb stairs-both at our house and the park.

We enjoyed the nice evening and had the ulterior motive of wearing him out to improve the chances of him falling asleep and staying asleep. It worked well. After his bath, it was bedtime. We had to (or should I say got to) do a little rocking. The first attempt to put him down didn't work but the second one did. Grandpa had the right touch.

I was reminded of our son Sam's early years and the importance of bedtime routine. I loved that time as a mother. Reading to Sam right before bed was part of our routine for many years and was one of my favorites.

There is sweet comfort in putting a little one to sleep and hearing their even and calm breathing. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Winner in My Book

Today I am grateful for good music coming through good headphones and for smooth coffee.

I am also grateful that I could watch our niece Ellie run at the Iowa girls' state track meet yesterday. She ran the 100 meter dash in her state debut as a freshman and did a great job! I would have preferred to be there in person, but watching it streamed live online was more than I thought I would see. Good luck to you and your teammates today in your relay Ellie!

You are all winners in my book. 

So is my sister Aileen. She entered the same poetry contest I did. I thought she had a good shot. She's such a good poet! But alas, she wasn't a winner either. Her poem deserves to be published though and it is my pleasure to publish it here:

In Praise of Summer Fruit

Each raspberry
is its own
little world
of flavor,
red continents
clinging to
a core,
edible geography.

Every strawberry
has its own
of ridges
and valleys,
fruit geology.

Tiny rubies
on the currant bushes
as I mine
their depths,
scarlet lapidary.

This independent judge gives you a top prize Aileen. (Don't hold your breath for prize money though.)

Thank you Aileen and thank you nature! Suit up and show up for life today. Pay attention. You will
win some gratitude and peace. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Numerically Speaking, Self-Published

Today I am grateful for sunshine and warmer temperatures in recent days. I am also grateful that I can keep work things in perspective better than I ever used to.

I would like to share a poem with you today. It is titled "Numerically Speaking."  I wrote it for a contest sponsored by Common Good Books and Garrison Keillor. The contest theme was gratitude, so I was compelled to put pen to paper.

Truth be told, I knew this poem wasn't necessarily the kind of poem that Keillor would be drawn to.
I still enjoyed the process of writing, revising, and more of each. I still enjoyed the anticipation of deadlines and winner announcements.

It wasn't a winner in the contest, but I certainly don't regret the time and effort I put into it.
Maybe there is something in it that will touch you today. That is one of my goals as a writer.
Thanks for reading!

Here you go:

Numerically Speaking

Twenty years
Of diligence
One day at a time
Eleven journals filled
A line at a time
Hundreds of blog posts
Single post
By single post

All to achieve a more
Appreciative state
Moving from self-defeated
And depleted
To energized and engaged

Less at odds with the world
And myself
More even-keeled
In my approach
To being human

Much has been added
With simple effort
It amounts to pausing
And acknowledging
Enough is already here

There have been
Subtractions too
Limited self-pity
Fewer difficult days

Habitual practice
Of gratitude
Has changed
My angle on life
From negative
To positive

How could I know
The gratitude would grow

Multiplying awe
Dividing drudgery
Increasing patience
Decreasing despair
The sum now equals
Healthier perceptions
And the will to serve

But the numbers that really count—
This one day
This one moment
The solitary decimal point

That is where gratefulness
Can be counted on

April, 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Arrogant and ignorant, or simply present?

Today I am grateful for good rest after a full day. I am also grateful for the wisdom and simplicity of living one day at a time.

People in recovery from alcoholism and other addictions are often encouraged to live one day at a time. Or just an hour at a time when things may be particularly challenging.  It's really a good approach for all people at all times, regardless of circumstances. 

But I don't often think of it in the these terms: 

“How arrogant and ignorant of us to believe that we can do anything 
but live one day at a time!”

These words are from author Anne Wilson Schaef in her book Meditations For Women Who Do Too Much. It is a book of daily meditations and I have worked my way through it more than once over the years.  Over-doers and over-thinkers like me can find some direction, humor, and acceptance in this book.

Arrogant and ignorant though? Sounds kind of harsh. Truth hurts. Truth helps. 

And the truth lies in the awareness and simplicity of the present moment.