"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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Turn an Annoyance into Gratitude

Today I am grateful for my family and what living with others teaches me about love and tolerance. I am also grateful for a house and belongings to share with my family.

So how does one turn an annoyance into gratitude? I can't guarantee this will always work, but when I remember to use this technique, I stop the annoyance train, jump off and head back to the gratitude train. It's one of those things that is simple, but not easy.

When someone in my family is doing something I find frustrating or annoying, my first instinct is to get self-righteously angry and tell them why they should do things my way, how my way makes more sense, is more efficient, whatever. In other words, my ego kicks in. But when I can hold in my first instinct, I allow my second instinct, gratitude, to kick in and defuse the annoyance. 

Anyone in my family of origin or family currently living with me is well aware of my control issues. They surround household chores like laundry and dishes among other things. On a bad day, when I find myself annoyed by balled up socks in the laundry, I let my son know about it in a harsh tone (instinct #1).  On a good day, I keep my mouth shut and think instead about how fortunate I am to have a son, that he is healthy, that we have a good relationship, that he is in my life (instinct #2). You get the idea. On a bad day, my husband will hear about it if he didn't load the dishwasher to my standards. On a good day, I am grateful my husband is loading the dishwasher, that we have a marriage, family, and home to share, that we love one another. You get the idea.

It works.It really does. And it is the little things that matter.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Off Buttons

Today I am grateful for our first post-marathon run to work out the stiffness and soreness.
I am also grateful for off buttons.

With current technology, we are so plugged in to constant information that it can be overwhelming. And so often the news is bad, sad, tragic, bizarre, eye-catching headlines that are disturbing. Terrible news like a workplace shooting in Minneapolis that left 6 dead, including the gunman who turned the gun on himself after turning it on others to the Connecticut father who shot his own son in a strange set of circumstances.

I can just turn it off, literally and figuratively. I can choose what I read and listen to. I get that news carriers are trying to grab people's attention and that we have a morbid curiosity, but more positive news being reported seems like a good idea.

In lieu of that, I will look for my own good news. I will practice gratitude and share my appreciation with others.

Friday, September 28, 2012

"Forward is a Pace"

Today I am grateful for a healthy perspective on my job, keeping it #6 on my list after my true priorities. I am also grateful for my warm bed with my sleeping husband beside me.

I wanted to share one more reflection form the Omaha Marathon experience. My favorite sign along the route came between miles 21 and 22. The sign was held by a woman and simply said "Forward is a pace." It was just what I needed at that point. My legs were getting tight, not to mention tired and heavy. Just keep moving. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I thanked her on Sunday and said I liked the sign. I thank her again today because it inspires far beyond the marathon.

Too often we want the quick fix or the easy route in life situations. Our society and the advertising we are inundated with certainly tout progress as easier, faster, more convenient. I beg to differ. Sometimes the slower pace is needed to figure out which fork in the road to take. Sometimes simply moving forward is enough. Even standing still but facing in the right direction can be enough at challenging times. 

The easy way or the quickest route doesn't always teach us the right lessons or help us build the persistence and stamina we need for the long haul of life. Speed is over-rated when it comes to many things.

Thanks for a good reminder in the late miles of a marathon and a good reminder for this event called life.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Midwestern Realism

Today I am grateful for my favorite sweatshirt on a cool morning. I am also grateful for the beautiful fall colors and fresh air I enjoyed on a bike ride last evening.

I am a Midwestern farm girl, so I fully appreciate the work ethic and practical attitude I saw growing up. I also saw it on the streets of Omaha Sunday. I always enjoy reading the signs that fan supporters hold up along the course. I was struck by the humor and realism in the ones I saw last weekend. Thanks Omaha for giving us some of the best signs to read.

One of my favorites was around mile 3. It said "You are NOT almost there." I chuckled because you will hear many people shout "You're almost there" from the sidelines. But when it is at mile 13 of a marathon, believe me it doesn't feel really encouraging. Maybe around mile 25 "You're almost there" works, but not much earlier. So I appreciated the humor there.

Near the top of the biggest hill on the course, around mile 8, a man was holding a sign that said something like "Saddest parade line ever."  Darcy and I both got a laugh out of that one.

A couple others I recall along the way were "Stop reading this sign and keep running" and "I bet this sounded like a good idea four months ago."

Not fluff. Realism with a touch of humor. I'm saving my favorite sign, which I saw between miles 21 and 22, for tomorrow's post.

Where are you at on your course of practicing gratitude? Journaling? A-Z gratitude list on today's commute? 3 x 3 or 4 x 4?  Take the action. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Let-down and Lifted Up

Today I am grateful for a working washer and dryer. I am also grateful for Oliver and his quirky little habits when it's just the two of us in the early mornings.

I am struggling this morning with the post-marathon let-down that always happens to me. I am physically tired and emotionally keyed up, which wears me out even more. But I am also still reveling in the accomplishment of completing 26.2 miles. I enjoyed running the streets of Omaha. I thought about my friend Terrie. Terrie lived in Omaha and was one of my spiritual guides in my recovery from alcoholism. She died in late 2003, twenty years sober, from a brain tumor. Her wisdom continues to inspire me today.

The gratitude I feel at being able to run post-cancer, being physically capable of grueling training runs, and to simply be alive is heightened for me today as well. Some die of cancer. Some have side effects or chronic pain that would make running difficult.

So my let-down becomes a lifting up as I focus on the gifts running has given me, and the gifts of continued living of life on life's terms.

That's the beauty of gratitude. It pulls me up when I sink down into even a little self-pity.

It works. It really does.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

#10 Is In The Books

Today I am grateful to have support in my recovery from alcoholism. I am grateful to not feel lonely, isolated, and hopeless anymore.

I also appreciate the safe travels to and from the Omaha Marathon this weekend and for my mother-in-law Marlene's help. I am happy to report that Darcy and I both finished Marathon #10. My profile picture now is the two of us ready to leave the hotel to head to the start area, with some extra layers on as it was in the 30's. It was a beautiful day weather-wise.

I am reveling in the accomplishment, but dealing with the let-down that always comes too, after looking forward to and working for something for months. But there are many things to talk about as I reflect on this latest marathon.

For starters, we ran with some amazing people. You think we're crazy??  One woman we ran with had run well over 100 marathons, including one on each continent. You think that's crazy?? Another woman was running, I believe she said, her 219th marathon. Crazy??  She had plenty to talk about. Wow! She said she's been told she should write a book about her experiences. I say: "Write the book. I'll buy it."

And the only way we ended up talking to these folks was by getting out there and joining in. Our goal was to finish and we did. Both of us are finding motivation in this marathon for our next marathon. Motivation to train harder. Motivation to shed a few pounds.

Motivation like the motivation I employ daily to keep practicing an attitude of gratitude.

Practicing gratitude is not a sprint race either. Daily work for daily dividends. Have a good day!

Friday, September 21, 2012

26.2

Today I am grateful for the Valentine Vessel of Gratitude. We emptied it last night, reading what had been put in over the last weeks and starting a new batch of appreciation.

I am also grateful to be just around the corner from marathon #10. Each marathon we have done has been memorable for it's own reasons. The Chicago Marathon will always hold a special place in my heart because it was our first. What I had dreamed of doing at 19, I finally got around to at 39. I covered 26.2 miles. I am not a crier, but when I saw the 26-mile marker and then turned the corner and saw the finish line, I was overcome with emotion.

The Kansas City Marathon will also hold an extra special place in my heart. We ran it on October 17, 2009, ten months to the day since my mastectomies. Darcy and I had started several marathons side by side by then, and gone up to 20 miles together. But after going through breast cancer treatment and surgeries, and having to drop out of the Twin Cities Marathon the previous fall because I was going through chemo, we decided that our goal in KC would be to finish together. It was a very fitting goal for us after what I had been through as a cancder patient and what he had been through as my spouse and key support. Kansas City was a wonderful marathon weekend experience overall, capped off by our side-by-side finish.

After my first marathon, I got hooked on that exhilirating feeling that only comes after finishing 26.2 miles. There's no doubt about it; those last few miles are tough and one step at a time takes on new meaning. But I keep going back for more. And I feel deeply blessed to be able to do so.

Marathon weekend means a blog break. I look forward to telling you about Omaha when I return next week.

One step at a time, 26.2 miles can be covered, and so can any goal you have. Start today.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

13.1

Today I am grateful for the breast cancer support group I attend and the inspiring women I see there.
I am also grateful for the inspiration provided by good memories.

One such good memory took place on May 17, 2009. I ran the Apple Blossom Half-Marathon (13.1 miles in case you are wondering) that makes it's way through apple orchard country near where we live. It wasn't my first half-marathon, nor my last. But it was the first one after my breast cancer surgeries and treatment. Exactly five months to the day since my mastectomies. My first public run as a flat-chested double amputee.

I felt so good to be out there, but a little self-conscious too. I had on a pink shirt and a hat with a pink ribbon on it just to offer a silent explanation to anyone who took notice. I wasn't yet at the place of self-acceptance that I am now at. I was energized and overwhelmed with emotions. . .especially around mile 12, when a wave of anger hit me. Anger at what cancer had done to me and taken from me. But it was quickly replaced by a huge surge of gratitude and peace . . . to be healthy and running, to be alive. I will never forget that half-marathon. Here is a poem I wrote two weeks before I ran it:

Unfettered

Arms pumping
Legs churning
Endorphin onslaught
Clear head
Exhilirated spirit

Flat-chested
And free
Running free
Cancer-free

Unfettered

Past experiences
Past pains
Past fears
Past chains
Surrounding
My view of
My physical self

Faced
And cut loose
Unfettered

The breadth
And depth
Of this new
Freedom
Has permeated
My post-cancer
Body
And soul

Finally
Unfettered

 
At the 13.1 miles in a full marathon, we have reached the halfway point. It is a good psychological boost for me to reach that point and think "it's all downhill from here" in terms of each step past the halfway point is that much closer to the finish. But I still conserve my energy because a lot of road lies ahead.

One step at a time. We get there.

 
 
 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

10K

Today I am grateful for the healthy relationships I have in my life and for the warmth of my favorite sweatshirts.

Today I am up to the 10K mark of a marathon. By now I am into the run and rhythm and the crowd at the start has started to spread out. Darcy and I use the "Galloway method" when we do marathons. Every mile or so we walk for 30-45 seconds. This technique has made a huge difference in how we feel on long runs. We have avoided injury and been able to be moving fairly well the next day. It also allows us to enjoy the marathon experience more because we still have a little in the tank the last few miles so they aren't totally miserable.

The Galloway method is named for Jeff Galloway, marathoner and coach. If you are interested in starting to run, or want to run distances you can't yet fathom, I would encourage this method. Some who are just starting out may run 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes, or any combination thereof and build from there. I am thankful for the wisdom in this method.

But that first 10,000 meters or 6.2 miles is still early in a marathon too. I try not to go out too fast. It can be tempting with the crowd and excitement. Six miles in I have usually hit a groove and settled in, but I am still cautious with my energy as well.

One step at a time, one mile at a time, and then I am at 20 miles. Twenty miles is a psychological milestone for me and it is then that I get to say it's "just a 10K now."  That puts it in a doable perspective for me.

One step at a time, I head into my day. Have a good one!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

5K

Today I am grateful for the parents I had conversations with last night at my school's Back to School Night. I am also grateful for the marathon experience I have gained since 2004.

As our 10th marathon draws nearer, my excitement builds. A goal we have worked hard for is within our reach. Running through the streets of a city is a great way to experience it. What will we see in Omaha? What will the weather be like? What will our run be like?

I have anticipation of the best kind in the days leading up to a marathon. I don't get scared or worried, or just a little if I do. And I have large amounts of gratitude. That Darcy and I share this passion. That our training went well. That we are both healthy and able to do this. That this will be my 5th marathon post-cancer. Large amounts of gratitude.

A 5K is 3.1 miles or 5,000 meters. In a marathon, it is the start when you feel fresh and energized. The crowd of runners moving around before the race begins. Elbow to elbow we get underway. Darcy and I start toward the back of the pack. (Run is a better term than race for us.)  It is fun to look in front of us and see a moving mass of runners. Our first marathon, Chicago in October, 2004, had nearly 40,000 runners at the start. It took us 11 minutes to get to the starting line. Wow!  Brookings, SD in May of 2008, just weeks before my cancer diagnosis, had less than 200 marathoners. And everything in between. I love the variety of marathons and places we have chosen.

When I started running road races, I usually did 5Ks. Short and sweet. Over in 20 minutes. But there is something to be said for endurance and persistence.

Regardless of the distance, it's one step at a time. One day at a time.

Monday, September 17, 2012

GIMR

Today I am grateful for . . . this blog and how it pushes me to keep looking at gratitude in fresh ways. I am also grateful for the rain we are getting this morning.

My friend and I had a conversation the other morning that not only changed my day but gave me another good tool for my spiritual tool box. Practicing faith and expanding my spiritual health takes time and practice. A full toolbox with effective tools helps. Here's the latest addition--GIMR.

GIMR = God Is My Refuge. My friend shared that after reading it in a recovery-related meditation book. The words struck a strong chord with her . . . as words will sometimes do when we are open and willing. So she wrote GIMR in a couple places on her wrist and inside her thumb so she would better remember the words as she went through her day. She was amazed at how well it worked. Less frustration and resentment, more peace and calm.

God is my refuge. Without faith, the world would be a lonely, scary place for me. And when it does get lonely and scary, as it will for all of us at times, faith sustains me if I reach for it.

So I tried it. When I got to work that morning, I put GIMR on my inner wrist on my left hand. It was subtle but prominent enough to remind me several times throughout the day what I should and should not give my energy to. Around lunch time that day, my more open mind let these additional GIMR thoughts in: Gratitude Is My Redemption. Grace Is My Reward.  Wow! Pretty incredible what can come through when the channels are open and not just broadcasting static.

Gratitude is my redemption. When I get sucked into negativity or self-pity, when I am disappointed and expecting too much, a dose of gratitude brings me back to positive perceptions. From there, I can climb out of the pit I created for myself.

Grace is my reward. Grace: a gift freely given. The gift of humility and feeling like I belong in the stream of life.

GIMR keeps giving.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Relish Tray

Today I am grateful for my step-son Arthur and his new fiance Alyssa. The excitement and happiness is contagious.  I am grateful for a good, solitary run this morning. I appreciate the time to myself.

I also appreciated the message I carried through my day yesterday: Relish life.

Here is a sampling of the things I put on my figurative relish tray thoughout the day, making for a nice, fortifying meal at day's end:

-the smell of breakfast as I prepared it for my family
-making beds with clean sheets
-a fresh breeze coming across the field at Sam's football game
-my step-son and his girlfriend Alyssa becoming engaged
-a nap
-sitting on our front porch talking to Darcy
-the beautiful colors of dusk and sunset
-Oliver's excitement upon our return home
-writing inspiration and time to put pen to paper
-pre-marathon anticipation

To move beyond just survival to relishing life starts with awareness. Be aware today.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

From Survival Mode to Relish Mode

Today I am grateful for the colors of fall that were evident on our run yesterday. I am also grateful to have lessons in acceptance present themselves regularly. I have much to learn.

In an email from my sister Danita earlier this week, she said:

"I did not know how I loved these things until I got well enough to get past just survival and move into relishing my life."

The "these things" she was referring to were simple things in her house, her life. The survival she mentioned was the kind of survival many of us can relate to, but that remains individual and personal. Growing up. Overcoming the obstacles, big and small, that life has presented us. Growing into our true selves.

I observe what seems like many people just "surviving." Racing through life taking care of obligations and leaving little room to enjoy, to relish day-to-day gifts. Does this describe anyone you know? Does it descibe you?

It was the word relish that really sparked some thought and further investigation for me. It's a great word when talking about gratitude and I thank my sister for putting it in my head.

"Pleasurable appreciation of anything" was one of the definitions of relish that I came across. I love that. What a wonderful, concise way to define what practicing an attitude of gratitude is really about.

When I take the time to notice the gifts in my life, big and small, human and non-human, I move from survival mode to relish mode.

My plan for today: relish it! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

One Thing to Never Forget

Today I am grateful Sam is enjoying his football experience and grateful for a nice evening to enjoy a game.

I am also grateful to bring you the last line of Ten Things to Always Remember . . . and One Thing to Never Forget.  Don't ever forget how very special you are. Thank you Collin McCarty for a wonderful quote that provoked much thought and provided ample gratitude blog fodder.

Don't ever forget how very special you are. I first thought about the special people in my life and what  a blessing they are to me. Practicing daily gratitude often includes my appreciation for them and all they bring to my life. They are gifts and I don't want to take them for granted. Being consciously grateful for them and expressing that helps keep me aware of how fortunate I am to know them.

My second thought was how I truly feel that I am a special person with special gifts. We all are. I never really felt that in my early years. I was loved and cared for, but with such a big family none of us got the attention we really needed, especially emotionally. Working on recovery from alcoholism and striving to practice gratitude on a daily basis has changed how I perceive myself and the world around me--for the better.

Consider telling the special people in your life how much they mean to you. In word or deed.

Consider telling yourself you are worthy and lovable.

Gratitude. It works. It really does.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Here We Are At #10 . . .

Today I am grateful for spiritual tools that help give me acceptance and openmindedness when I practice them. I only control my attitude and actions. I am grateful to remember that as I head into my day today.

I have reached line 10 from Ten Things to Always Remember . . .and One Thing to Never Forget.

That line is "Wish upon a star." There's a cynic in me that has never really cared for that line. Wish upon a star and then wait for something to happen? No thanks! I would rather get moving toward whatever goal it is.

Lighten up Lisa. Any good goal really starts with a wish doesn't it? Dream. Visualize. Think about what it is I want to do and the steps I need to get there. Then get started with one step at a time. I think of my first venture into running marathons. I dreamed about it for years, but when my niece brought it up at a family gathering, the gears started turning, the visuals rolling, and now my dream was a goal-run the Chicago Marathon in October of 2004. Now I am days away from my 10th marathon-the Omaha Marathon on September 23.

Read more about my niece's intervention here in an April post:

http://habitualgratitude.blogspot.com/2012/04/from-runner-to-marathoner.html

Start with the wish, the dream, and then get busy. That is where the learning and growing and pushing come in . . . not the dream stage but the action stage.

I recall this quote from my early years: "If you believe it, you can achieve it." I like it because it is packed with hope. And I do agree, believing I can is crucial to achieving whatever it is I hope to achieve. Belief doesn't grow if I just sit there thinking about my goal. Belief grows when I take actions and necessary steps. In marathon terms, many, many steps, one at a time.

Go ahead. Wish upon a star. Then chase it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Take an Action

Today I am grateful for the wisdom shared between my recovery email connections and for clarity about complex ideas like ego vs. self-esteem. I am also grateful for the rain that is falling as I write this.

I appreciated the many gestures I observed yesterday regarding the 11th anniversary of 9/11. The huge flag flying from a fire truck by our local fire station. A moment of silence and a prayer. Flags at half-staff. News and television coverage.

People took action to mark the day and remember those who died and those who put their own lives on the line to help. It is important that we never forget how that day changed our nation and never forget the individual sacrifices made.

Gratitude is simply about taking an action too. I will continue to say that practicing gratitude is work, but it is the best work I do and the dividends are great. Gratitude letter #11 went out earlier this week. I just did an A-Z gratitude list as I walked Oliver in the rain this morning. Writing daily in my gratitude journal. Telling people thank you, even for the little things.

Take an action. Practice gratitude. Spread the blessings and appreciation around.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Take a Seat

Today I am grateful for the many messengers who send wisdom my way on a daily basis.

I am also grateful my husband and I could attend my son's middle school open house last night. He is a 5th grader at a 5-8 Middle School, so it was our first time with this format.

I got to take a seat as a parent. The school I work at has an open house with a similar format: follow your child's schedule, go from class to class, meet the teachers, see the rooms. I like the approach and think it works well and gives parents the flavor of their child's school day.

After so many years on the teacher or counselor side, (I taught high school social studies for 10 years and just began my 15th year as a school counselor) it was nice to take that seat, pressure off, and just listen.

Taking a seat allows a different view and a new perspective, and that is a good thing.

Gratitude also brings different views and new perspectives.

What a deal!  Have a good day unless you've made other plans.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Mixed Messages of "Be Strong"

Today I am grateful for the fun and spectacle of small town parades. I am also grateful for the feel of a book in my hands.

Line 9 from "Ten Things to Always Remember . . ."  is simply "Be strong."

My random thoughts start with what I have seen play out time and time again, in my own life as well as the lives of others. We have strength we don't know we have until we need it. When faced with tragedy, grief, injury, fear, pain, and so many other challenges, I have seen people pull from reserves of strength they never knew they had.

Part of that strength is simply doing the next right thing, doing what is in front of us. When I was going through chemotherapy, people would ask how I did it, how I could hold it together. I just did. For my young son and the rest of my family and friends.For myself. Plugging through my day even when I felt pretty sick helped me stay focused and confident that I would get better.

But that leads my random thoughts to the flip side of "Be strong." Sometimes we need to show our human weaknesses and vulnerability. That takes a different kind of strength but it is so important. No one can be all things to all people all of the time. Sometimes the vulnerability can come in front of just a few. But at other times a more public display of vilnerability tells the rest of the people around you that it's okay to need help, it's okay to be scared. When I went out in public with a nearly-bald head while going through chemo I probably made some people uncomfortable, myself included at times, but I also felt stronger for facing my cancer as directly as I could.

I am working on being strong enough to show my vulnerability.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

On a Movie and Marriage

Today I am grateful for the feel of fall in the air and for a "date night" with my husband.

Thanks to my stepdaughter being home to hang out with our son, Darcy and I were able to go out to dinner and then to the movie "Hope Springs."  Our dates are more often a morning run together, so this was nice.

The movie was about a couple, married 31 years, who had definitely lost the excitement in their marriage. They went to intensive couples counseling halfway across the country after the wife came across the counselor's book in a bookstore and cashed in a CD to pay for the trip.

It had some humorous moments, some poignant ones, and some good acting with people like Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carrell.

I walked away thinking how grateful I am for the marriage Darcy and I have. But also realizing the lessons the movie gets across. Good, healthy relationships don't just happen. They take work. And they continue to evolve as the people in the relationship grow and evolve.

And the lesson that taking the people in your life for granted for too long may just cause you to lose them. Whether it's marriage, other family members, or friendships, time and commitment are needed, but well worth it.

This movie had a happy ending, but only after the work and evolving were well underway.

Notice the people in your life today. What gifts they are! 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Have Courage

Today I am grateful for time with my friend Dorothy. Time with her always means laughter and clarity. Thanks Dorothy!

I am also grateful to be able to witness some of the huge undertaking of the new Hastings bridge construction. It is fun to watch the progress and marvel at how it is done.

Line 8 of the quote I am taking piece by piece is simply "Have courage."

I believe we all have more courage than we realize. When we need it, if we face the difficult situation with faith, the courage seems to come. I think about surgery mornings when I was going through breast cancer treatment. Especially my first surgery. I had no idea what to expect with anesthesia and I knew this surgery would give us vital information about the cancer in my right breast. I was full of fear. Fear can be paralyzing. Courage is what mobolizes us and allows us to move through the fear.

Someone once pointed out the obvious; if we didn't have fear, we wouldn't need courage. Fear is normal and we all have it. Denying it does more harm than good.

What I find helpful when seeking courage are these two things:

1. Faith and trust in my Higher Power ends up providing everything I need in that moment or day.

2. Other people model courage for me by the way they live their lives. They teach me it is possible day-to-day and during a crisis.

Courage is defined as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear. The fear may not be removed entirely, but courage knocks it down to a manageable.

I am thankful for the understanding of courage I have today.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Trust Your Gut

Today I am grateful for an awareness of my senses as I begin this new day. The sound of running water. The smell of fresh air. The taste of a banana.

Line 7 from the "Ten Things to Always Remember" quote is: Within you are so many answers.

The first thing that comes to my mind with that line is "trust your gut." I am grateful today that I do trust my gut. Life experience, learning from mistakes, feeling painful emotions have all been part of what it took to get me to trust myself and to know what is best for me when decisions come along.

Those decisions can be simple, daily ones or they can be more significant life decisions. Decisions like saying "yes" when my husband proposed. Or like choosing not to have reconstruction after my mastectomies. Those decisions have both worked out well.

I guess it really comes down to "believe in yourself."  Thank you to all those people in my life over the years who have helped me do just that. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

You'll make it through . . .

Today I am grateful for family, friends, and faith. I am also grateful for my job, car, and home.

Line 6: You'll make it through whatever comes along.

Random thoughts on these words:

*We all have more strength and courage than we think we do.

*There are always silver linings. We just don't get to know them in advance.

*Faith makes all things possible.

*Gratitude and faith go hand in hand. One gives you more of the other and vice versa.

*Gratitude doesn't make light of struggles, it makes the struggles lighter.

Today is a good day to practice both faith and gratitude.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Count your blessings, not your troubles

Today I am grateful for a good first day of school for my son and stepdaughter. I'm also grateful for the local writing group I attended last night. It feels good to honor my passion to write by spending time with others who share that passion.

Line 5 of "Ten Things to Always Remember..." is Count your blessings, not your troubles.

I used to be prone to focusing on the troubles. It made for a bleak outlook.

Gratitude never says it will help me avoid troubles, but it does say it will help keep those troubles from overwhelming me. Even focusing on just a couple of good things amidst challenging times can give me much-needed breathing space.

Gratitude doesn't protect me from life's challenges, it helps me keep them in perspective. Those challenges usually end up teaching me valuable lessons. I would miss those lessons if I was all caught up in self-pity.

What I focus on and give my energy to, in my thought life and elsewhere, are where my emotions stem from. I would rather they stem from a place of feeling blessed, not a place of feeling cursed.

Have a good day! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

8,401

Today I am grateful for a new stretch of trail in our community that now takes us safely off a busy county road for running and biking. I am also grateful to be sober and in recovery from alcoholism, with plenty of supportive people in my life, starting with my husband.

If my calculations are correct, including leap years, I have been sober for 8,401 days, beginning on September 4, 1989. That's a few 24-hours strung together-but it's really just about today. One day at a time. That's all I get. That's all any of us, alcoholic or not, get. 

I could not have possibly imagined 23 years ago that I would be where I am today. And by where I am today I mean comfortable in my own skin, content with who I see looking back at me in the mirror.

In my drinking days, I was always at dis-ease (unless I had had enough to drink, then I was okay, but just for a short time), and I avoided mirrors. When I did look in a mirror, I would say "You dumb, ugly bitch."  I meant it and I felt it to my core.

I had tried quitting many times before September of 1989, one time I even made it 464 days. But I was trying to do it on my own, counting days but certainly not adding up anything close to peace and serenity. Not surprisingly, I started drinking again and drank for three more years.

In the weeks prior to September 4, 1989, a couple people intervened in my life to give me important messages regarding their concern for my drinking. Thanks Leonice and Sarah! On September 3, my Higher Power intervened and I finally understood that I needed help outside of myself. Since then, my Higher Power and many wonderful human supporters have helped me live one day at a time without a drink. I have learned so much from so many.

I am deeply humbled and grateful beyond measure.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Take the days one at a time

Today I am grateful for time at the Minnesota State Fair with thousands of other fair-goers, including my brother and sister-in-law, Neal and Charlene. I am glad we could connect with them for awhile. I went with patience and acceptance and that sure helped as we walked through huge crowds.

I am also grateful for the wisdom in line 4 of the quote I am breaking down line by line: Take the days one at a time. I have written on this before and will write on it again because it is so vitally important to a life of gratitude and happiness. If I am regretting what has already happened in the course of my yesterdays, or worrying over what may come in my tomorrows, it's a pretty safe bet I am missing the gifts of today.

A day at the great Minnesota get-together was enough for me, but taking this "One day at time" attitude with me helped. I was open to the experience and enjoyed observing the people and places. (I'm not a fan of large crowds or heat.) I did get tired, but I was able to stay in a good place because I was able to stay present, not wish we hadn't come or wish we could leave right now. I kept my energy where it belonged-here and now.

That is the wisdom of taking life one day at a time. I don't waste my energy in the past or future, I keep it here and now.

Like gratitude, staying in today takes practice. But they piggyback off of each other. If I am grateful for what I have right now, I stay focused on this moment. If I stay focused on this moment, I am more likely to notice the blessings that surround me.

More on one day at a time tomorrow, but just for today, have a good day!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Your life can be what you want it to be . . .

Today I am grateful for a pleasant (yes pleasant!) 20-mile run yesterday morning, our last long training run before Omaha. I am also grateful for my Brooks Ariel running shoe that has worked so well for me for years. I got a new pair yesterday and will break them in a little before the marathon.

Back to line 3 of the "Ten Things to Always Remember . . ." quote: Your life can be what you want it to be.

Hope abounds in this line, but underlying that is the call to action. I can start by setting goals and dreaming about those goals. But if I don't take action and work hard, nothing will come to fruition.

In my coaching days, the athletes I worked with often heard me say "Hard work always pays off." I also believe that working hard and striving for goals is the real way to self-esteem. (I do have to be careful not to overdo it, so hard work needs to come with balance and rest.)

It is concerning how many messages our culture and the rampant media send about "quick fixes" like 6-minute abs and wonder pills to help you lose weight. There's a growing sense of entitlement that things should be better, faster, easier. That spells big trouble in my opinion. It takes the responsibility for my destiny and spreads it around too much. It enables mediocrity.

Ultimately, I am the only one who controls my attitude and actions. I am fortunate to have many supportive friends and family around me, but I take each step on my runs and I type each word on this blog. And it feels good. It keeps me coming back for more.

Life truly is what you make it. If you let life happen to you, if you play the victim, I hope that you consider some changes. Dream. Work. Take healing actions. Believe in yourself.

I am so grateful today for those in my life who have taught me to believe in myself. It has made all the difference.