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Showing posts from April, 2013

Heaping Measures

Today I am grateful for my job and the connections I have made there. I am also grateful for another warm day. It was great to run in just shorts and a t-shirt yesterday.

My daily gratitude journal is full of quotes surrounding the word gratitude. Below is one I came across in early April. It is a nice extension of my post Sunday about gifts or entitlements.

"I am thankful for small mercies. I compared notes with one of my friends who expects everything of the universe, and is disappointed when anything is less than the best, and I found that I begin at the other extreme, expecting nothing, and am always full of thanks for moderate good . . . If we will take the good we find . . . we shall have heaping measures." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

If we will take the good we find. That is what gratitude practice asks of us. Take the good. Notice the gifts. It also tells me to watch my expectations. If I expect too much, I will be disappointed.

I have been a big fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson…

Glorious

Today I am grateful for the recovery connections that I have. I am also grateful for the beginnings of green across our landscape.

It was a glorious weather weekend. Finally. The previous two Sundays had been rainy and gray, with some snow thrown in. Last Monday it started to snow in the afternoon and Tuesday we woke to several inches of  insulting wet snow. And it was April 23. So when I say it was a glorious weather weekend, I mean it was a long-awaited, overdue, most welcome, much-needed glorious weather weekend. It was windy yesterday, but it was actually a warm wind. We haven't had a warm wind around here in months.

Some of the words used to define glorious include delightful, wonderful, completely enjoyable. Yep! That about covers it. My skin says it is grateful too for the doses of Vitamin D it got over the weekend.

Weather is one of those things that most of us pay at least some attention to. There is much I love about the weather where I live, but winter weather into lat…

Gift or Entitlement?

Today I am grateful for the fresh air and sunshine we enjoyed yesterday . . . from a morning run, to yard work, to grilling brats and eating outside. I am also grateful for patience. There's room for improvement but it's better than it was.

Practicing gratitude helps ensure that I don't take many significant gifts for granted, at least not all of the time. It is easy to take things for granted. Do you know anyone who takes their blessings for granted, who doesn't appreciate what they have because they believe they are simply entitled to it? Sure, we all know people like that. We are all that person at times. But the less I take things for granted, the more blessed I feel.

It is easy to take our ability to walk, talk, eat, breathe, and see for granted. Sadly, too often it is only when someone loses one of these abilities that the full realization of the gift that it was hits.

An accident, illness, someone's own choices, or someone else's choices takes away an a…

Gratitude Walk

Today I am grateful for rest--to renew my body and spirit. I am also grateful for daily hugs with my son.

I had one of those days yesterday where I didn't feel very grateful and I didn't want to feel grateful. I wanted to feel sorry for myself and be cynical. What's the use? Who cares? I'll spare you the details, but I believe the Tamoxifen I take for breast cancer treatment deepens my PMS symptoms and I can have a day like I did yesterday. Lacking energy, lacking hope, lacking perspective. It's a physical and emotional combination and it's not fun.

Thankfully, I recognize it for what it is, ride it out, and try to keep my mouth shut more. This morning I decided that I needed a gratitude walk when I took Oliver out. Here are some of the things I am grateful for:

*The coming daylight is one of my favorite times of day; the moon glow was fading and the pink skies welcoming the sun were growing.
*My legs and feet and their ability to carry me; I simply put my shoe…

To Dance Again

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy's safe travels this week. I am also grateful for the feel of new carpet under my feet and the warming temperatures outside.

"To dance again" could, figuratively speaking, be referring to Minnesotans being ready to dance again as it appears spring may actually be here to stay. We are supposed to see temperatures in the 70's this weekend. We will also see plenty of untanned arms and legs. We will not be self-conscious about it because we will be busy reveling in the outdoors. And we will be grateful for those arms and legs.

For Boston bombing victim Adrianne Haslet-Davis "to dance again" literally is her hope, her plan. Despite losing her left foot five inches below the knee, she intends to get back to her passion-ballroom dancing and being a dance instructor. Though not a runner either, she has given herself another goal-run the Boston Marathon.

I find her story and her outlook to be heartening. You can view her inte…

Gratitudinal Adjustment

Today I am grateful for simple pleasures like playing catch in the backyard with my son (the snow is almost gone again) and Culver's frozen custard. I am also grateful for my sister Aileen-her writings and her words of wisdom inspire me.

She has also added another derivative to our gratitude word list: Gratitudinal adjustment.

She joins my sisters Danita and Leonice and their contributions: Gratituding and Gratitudeness

The reason practicing gratitude is so valuable to me is that it keeps me from slipping into self-pity. Self-pity used to be my default mode. Poor Lisa. Life is tough. No one understands. What's the use? The eighteen years I have practiced gratitude have been about putting self-pity in its place. But it is a process, not a task that is ever fully completed. I still have slips, going to the dark side of my thoughts.

Insert a gratitudinal adjustment. Whatever has me down or frustrated can be offset by the many things that are going well, the many blessings that …

Amazing Nature

Today I am grateful for the footfalls that carried Oliver and I on our morning walk. I am also grateful for the high intensity training workout that my niece Katie sent me. It is an intense 12 minutes, but my body says "thank you" after it recovers.

I know I was complaining a little yesterday about our weather, but I still find plenty of reasons to appreciate it. Yesterday morning brought one such reason. The roads were mostly clear and wet, so the commute to work wasn't bad. I appreciate that. But what I appreciated more was the absolute spectacle I got to enjoy on that commute. The snow-laden trees were as picturesque as it gets. Absolutely stunning. Amazing nature. A picture could not do it justice. Such beauty is only fully appreciated when one is part of the landscape.

Sure, I would have rather been walking down the trail near our house enjoying the view, compared to driving to work enjoying the view. But the key is I was enjoying the view.

By my afternoon commute…

Are You Kidding Me? (a.k.a. Acceptance)

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Today I am grateful for my friend Betsy and her testament to the effectiveness of gratitude practice as a positive perception builder. I am grateful for the beauty of the snow on the trees.

Here is what it looked like out our front door last evening at about 7:00:


And the snow was just starting to accumulate. I don't recall a snowier or colder April in my years on the planet. It does bring to mind that phrase heard often lately around here-"Are you kidding me?"No. It's real snow. And it's real old. But what can you do? Accept it. Appreciate that it is delaying the arrival of Minnesota's state bird-the mosquito.

Acceptance. Required daily. Large doses and small. Apply acceptance to the weather and pretty much everything else. Unless it's those two things you and I each have control over in our individual realms--our own attitude and actions.

I'll take an attitude of gratitude and actions that support that attitude.

The snow? We got several inches. I a…

A Different Kind of Bridge

Today I am gateful for my husband Darcy, our marriage, and the difference he makes in my life. I am also grateful for a good cup of coffee.

A couple days ago, it was a "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Today's topic is a new bridge over the Mississippi River in the community where I live. It will  be a 4-lane marvel when completed, replacing the most heavily travelled 2-lane bridge in Minnesota. The current bridge is over 60 years old. The project began in October of 2010. There have been setbacks like flooding and a state government shutdown, and plenty of patience required. But I have enjoyed witnessing the progress. You can read more about that here.

It was fortifying last week-as tragic events were unfolding in our nation-to witness a milestone in the construction of this bridge. It gave me hope and provided some positive news amidst a lot of negative news. The concrete for the road deck on the 545-foot mainspan of the bridge was poured in one day.It took 210 truckloads …

Fortified

Today I am grateful for yesterday's glorious sunshine and a good run with Darcy. I am also grateful that I never run out of words and ideas for this blog. "Habitual Gratitude"--the blog and the efforts to practice it--fortify me daily. Here are the various definitions of fortify, according to Merriam-Webster:

a: to strengthen and secure (as a town) by forts and batteries
b: to give physical strength, courage, or endurance to <fortified by a hearty meal>
c: to add mental or moral strength, to encourage <fortified by prayer> d: to add material to for strengthening or enriching <fortified milk>

Gratitude strengthens my personal structure-heart, soul, and mind. It is a good defense against oppressors like self-pity, anger, and fear.

Gratitude contributes to my physical endurance. It gives me energy rather than zapping it. I don't have an endless supply of energy but I apply what I get more productively and positively, in both thoughts and actions.

Grat…

"Bridge Over Troubled Water"

Today I am grateful for sunshine, grateful for the talent shared by students at my school, and grateful that the people of the Boston area could rest easier last night after the second bombing suspect was captured.

I am also grateful for one of my all-time favorite songs-"Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel. You can listen to it and see the lyrics here or below.

The song was written by Paul Simon in the summer of 1969 and released in January of 1970. It was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks that year, and won Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

The song has always been a favorite of mine. I think it struck a chord with me when I was five in 1970 and has stuck with me ever since. Art Garfunkel's voice and the emotions I hear in it are always moving to me. I think about the others in my life who have been my "bridge over troubled water." At other times, I think about how I have been and hope to continue to be that bridge f…

It's Been that Kind of a Week

Today I am grateful for my favorite jeans, a warm bed, and our dog Oliver.

It's been the kind of week where there have been heads shaking, tears falling, and fears mounting. It started with the bombs in Boston. Then the threatening letters laced with ricin that targeted President Obama and Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker. And Wednesday evening it was the tragic explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas. There are several fatalities, many injured, and extensive property damage. To the people of Boston and the people of West, Texas-we are pulling for you.

And then there's the weather. It was more snow for winter-weary Minnesotans and Illinois flooding that created car-eating sinkholes, along with severe weather more typical of this time of the year.

Bitter ironies-like bombs exploding in Boston and then fertilizers similar to those used in the Oklahoma City bombing exploding in Texas. Humorous ironies-conducting a tornado drill in the middle of a snowstorm.

It's been unse…

Taking the Actions

Today I am grateful for the people I have met through my breast cancer experiences. They are definite silver linings in the dark cloud of cancer. I am also grateful for more mindful eating.

Today I am thinking about the actions required to make gratitude practice really pay off. I can't just think about being grateful. I need to take actions that promote gratitude in my own life and pass it on to others.

I continue my daily gratitude journal. I now include prayer requests in what I write down. That allows me to personally think about people I may be especially concerned about that day-upcoming surgery, awaiting test results, mental health concerns, future plans, and so on. But it also allows me to get out of myself and find a better perspective. Most days my concerns are very minor in comparison to the people I am praying for. Perspective.

I just sent out gratitude letters #22 and #23. I encouraged my niece, recipient of letter #22, to now write a letter herself to give to someo…

War Zones and MBC

Today I am grateful for words of wisdom I hear from fellow recovering alcoholics. I am also grateful for a bike ride last evening, even if it was short.

My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Our psyche as a nation has taken another hit, literally and figuratively. The city of Boston, the running community, the people who will now forever be connected by this senseless act of violence, are all reeling and asking questions.

I ended my post yesterday talking about finding gratitude to lead us back to hope. Did we find some? Yes. I must again applaud the rescue workers and bystanders who immediately rushed to help victims, not concerned for their own safety, only wanting to help. I am grateful for their selfless acts of courage. The many stories of family and friends who had moments or hours of terror as they waited to hear word that their loved ones were okay. Those who were near the blasts but uninjured. A spirit of patriotism and sym…

The "It Could Be Worse" Angle

Today I am grateful for twenty minutes of moving meditation and endorphin production on my Nordic Track. I am also grateful for the faith that helps me face fears.

I started this post before the sad and disturbing news of explosions near the finish line of the revered Boston Marathon. Deaths, severed limbs, a storied race shattered. My thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of the three people who died, and to the many victims, some suffering critical injuries.

As marathoners ourselves, my husband and I watched the news coverage stunned and on the verge of tears. I can't imagine what went through the minds of those who were standing there cheering on runners one second and suffering devastating injuries the next. I can't imagine what went through the minds of runners, exhausted and exhilirated as they neared the finish, who then saw and felt these explosions and the horrible aftermath.

I commend the medical and emergency personnel who were helping victims in a matter of…

Footfalls, Full Response, and Fostering Gratitude

Today I am grateful for the newest addition to my extended family-a healthy son born to my nephew and his wife. I am also grateful for phone conversations I was able to have yesterday.

One more blog post about 99 Blessings. After the bookcame out, a contest to write the 100th blessing was announced on the website www.gratefulness.org.

Here is the description of the website on the "About Us" page:

A Network for Grateful Living (ANG*L) provides education and support for the practice of grateful living as a global ethic, inspired by the teachings of Br. David Steindl-Rast and colleagues. Gratefulness-the full response to a given moment and all it contains-is a universal practice that fosters personal transformation, cross-cultural understanding, interfaith dialogue, intergenerational respect, nonviolent conflict resolution, and ecological sustainability.

What a wonderful description and what a wonderful definition of gratefulness that is included. But can gratitude really fos…

Imprecision, Yawning, and More

Today I am grateful for friends in recovery-to have coffee with, to bowl with, to shop with. I am also grateful for a nice family outing to see my school's production of the musical "Grease." It was well-done and entertaining.

Friday's blessing from 99 Blessings by Brother David Steindl-Rast about imprecision got me thinking. There are many things on which I can and should be okay with imprecision. I'm not perfect. Neither is anyone else or this world we live in. But precision is also a good thing when it is reasonable and rational. I never thought I would be shoveling snow for three days in a row in April, but that's the kind of weather we are having. Wednesday through Friday, I did some shoveling each day. I appreciate being physically able to do the shoveling, and I also appreciate it is an area I can showcase precision. I like a clear driveway. The whole driveway. And I like to get the shoveling done early in the day if possible. Precision via thoroughnes…

Birthday Wishes for a Special Man

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy; his health, his steadfastness, his humor, his presence in my life and the lives of many others. I am grateful for this special man on this special day-his 48th birthday. Happy birthday Darcy!

Darcy has many roles in his life; spouse, father, son, brother, friend, companion, running partner, and provider are key ones that come to mind. I am sitting at our kitchen table composing this post as he sits across from me getting some of our bills paid. He pays the bills, I do more of the laundry. We'll head out for a run together a little later this morning. (In spite of the snow on the ground. Darcy cannot recall another one of his birthdays where there was snow on the ground.) We have a solid partnership and a strong marriage and I don't want to take him or our lives together for granted.

Now, don't go thinking life and marriage is always peachy for the two of us. We have differing opinions and approaches to many things. We argue. Life t…

99 Blessings

Today I am grateful for Oliver (our cockapoo) and the joy he brings our family. I am also grateful for the words and writings of Brother David Steindl-Rast.

If his name looks familiar, it may be because his quote is at the top of my blog: "In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy."  There's a reason that quote is there. It is at the heart of what "Habitual Gratitude" is about. Happiness is not elusive, it's right in front of us and within us, if we look through a lens of gratefulness.

I have referred to Brother David in posts including these two from October, 2012: Are You Awake? and Worth the Risk?  I recently enjoyed his latest book, titled 99 Blessings.
The book is a compilation of 99 blessings written by Brother David over a three-month period, writing one a day on as he says "whatever happened to come to my mind, from insects to the Internet, from friendship to fresh linen.&quo…

Can Cynicism and Gratitude Coexist?

Today I am grateful for pen and paper to record my thoughts, feelings, and ideas. I am also grateful for perspective gained.

Winter has me tapped out this year. There is plenty of commiserating going on regarding the topic. Spring sports teams wonder if they will ever get outdoors. Gardeners wonder how long before they get to dig in the dirt. Farmers wonder what this means for this year's growing season. Last year we barely had a winter and March was unseasonably mild. This year, it's mid-April and there's more snow on the way. Really?

I have a case of weather cynicism. Here's a very fitting definition of the type of cynicism I am talking about: an attitude of scornful or jaded negativity. I am also suffering bouts of cynicism about my job. That comes with the time of year. School years and the energy that ebbs and flows with each year are cyclical. It's not unusual to be tired and skeptical in April compared to how I might feel in late August.

There's cynicis…

"Voices of Hope" Revisited (And Winter Too)

Today I am grateful for my physical capabilities which allow me to do things like shovel snow and walk our dog. I am also grateful for a chance to revisit the "Voices of Hope" DVD project.

I want to thank my blogosphere friend Nancy for her wonderful post last week about "Voices of Hope" on her blog "Nancy's Point." Check it out here.  Also check out my post from last October when the second DVD "Family and Friends" premiered. You can find that post right here. I continue to be both humbled and proud to be part of this project. There will soon be a website for VOH. I will let you know when it goes live.

My own cancer experiences, my concerns for others, my frustration about "pink ribbon fatigue" and so much more about the realm of cancer are never too far from my mind. I don't want to forget how fortunate I am to have my health, and to not take it for granted. I don't want to forget that there is still much work to be done.

"It Is What It Is"

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Today I am grateful for Oliver and the way he stretches before we head out for our morning walk. I am grateful for the reminder to stay loose and limber-literally and figuratively- and not take myself or life too seriously.

The saying below also allows me to stay loose and limber in my attitude. This is a simply-framed saying that I gave my husband Darcy several years ago when job stuff was weighing on him. (He says it was late 2005, and we'll go with that because his memory is much better than mine.) I don't know where I first heard this or what it's origin is, but to me it means acceptance-I can't change this, but I can accept and move on. I don't take it to mean resignation, giving up, or feeling hopeless. I think of it more as allowing myself to let go of what I can't change before it drives me crazy. I think that is how Darcy sees it too.

If you can't see them, the top and bottom borders are alternating smiles and frowns. Seemed fitting.

When Darcy ch…

Gratituding and Gratitudeness

Today I am grateful that my stepson Arthur was matched for grad school and a dietetics internship. I am also grateful we could get our bikes out for the first ride of spring yesterday.

I want to thank my two sisters for providing my blog topic for today. Together they created two new variations on the word "gratitude." Leonice used the term "gratituding" in a recent email, and Danita used "gratitudeness."  Thanks you two!

So we have:
gratitude-a noun, the state of being grateful
grateful-an adjective-expressing gratitude, appreciative of benefits received
And these variations:
gratefulness-noun
gratefully-adverb

Now let's add these unofficial definitions:
gratituding-verb-the act of practicing, expressing, and/or sharing gratitude
gratitudeness-noun-a fun combination of gratitude and gratefulness

Consider it gratitude with an attitude. What I love about gratituding is that it implies action. I can't just think about being grateful. I need to take act…

The Sounds of ABBA

Today I am grateful for phone conversations and text messages with people I care about. I am also grateful for the music of ABBA.

What's not to like about ABBA's music? They are the kind of songs that just beg you to sing along, that just energize you by listening to them. We caught one of their many hits on the radio when we were driving yesterday. It was "The Winner Takes It All."  I have many favorites among their songs, but if I could only pick one I guess it would have to be "Waterloo." 

I have some memories stemming from a couple other ABBA tunes. "Dancing Queen" was from 1976 I think. That was the era of the skating party back in my little Iowa town. With less than 1,000 people, the skating rink on the east edge of town was a draw. We would go to skating parties throughout our upper elementary days. You could bring your own 45's to play and my sister Ruth had purchased "Dancing Queen." (If you don't know what 45's wer…

And the Cup Says . . . Think of Me as Half Full

Today I am grateful for rest and good books to read. I'm grateful for my five senses and the way I can take in the seasonal weather with them.

Last week on our travels, we stayed at a hotel with a nice pool, a good breakfast, and fun-to-read cups. The cups for hot beverages said something like "Cover me up, I'm getting cold."  Catchy. The cold beverage cups waxed philosophical with this line: "Think of me as half full . . ."

Is the glass half empty or half full? Overused cliche or not, I do like the philosophy of life the half full glass represents. It fits nicely with gratitude, allowing us to appreciate what we have so we know some joy in our lives, rather than the energy-sucking endeavor of always wanting more.

But all of us apply this philosophy differently at various times. Recent Minnesota weather is a good example of this. When we got our first snow late last fall it was beautiful and it was exciting to me. I hadn't seen snow for months, we had h…

Parenthood

Today I am grateful for the beauty of the setting sun, catching a glimpse of the first robins of spring, and the opportunity to be a mother and a stepmother.

Parenthood is quite a training ground for vulnerability and faith. It is hard work and easy joy all at the same time.

My stepson Arthur is a month away from finishing his undergraduate degree, days away from finding out if and where he gets a dietetics internship, and just over three months away from getting married to his fiance Alyssa. Big things are happening in his life, and these are exciting times. He works hard and is career-driven. The next year will bring changes and challenges. How will he (and the two of them) emerge from these significant transitions?

My stepdaughter Emily has less than two months of high school left. She is working two jobs, enjoying her last high school band events, getting both excited and a little anxious about life after high school. How will she do when she heads off to college?

They both set a…

Rest, Quiet, Nourishment

Today I am grateful for my physical capabilities and a run with Darcy after work yesterday. I am also grateful for what I am continuing to learn about prayer and meditation.

My colleague Germ, who did the Lenten word series, has decided to continue the "word-of-the-week" discussions. Yesterday's word was "awareness." 

We talked about becoming more aware of what we need; what our bodies, minds, and souls need. It can be a real challenge in our fast-paced, technology-driven culture to have awareness of the right kind. We are saturated with "stuff" and bombarded with plenty of useless (or at least unneccessary) information, and sometimes that pulls us away from being aware of our own thoughts and feelings.

It takes practice to gain self-awareness. Morning prayers on my knees, quiet time on my commute, moving meditation like running, and keeping a gratitude journal are some of my awareness-raising activities.

What do my body, mind, and soul need? Rest. …

Robin Roberts: A Heartfelt Thank You

Today I am grateful for my job. I am grateful for the rewards and challenges that come with it, and for the paycheck.

This last Sunday, Robin Roberts was on the cover of Parade Magazine. I don't always pick up the quick read, but when I saw her on the cover, I definitely wanted to see what the article, titled "A Heartfelt Thank You," was about. I have followed her story enough to appreciate where she is coming from and that she has likely helped many others with her candor and her courage. The Good Morning America anchor recently returned to work after months of treatment, including a bone marrow transplant, for a serious blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

Roberts was treated for breast cancer in 2007. The chemotherapy she had at that time likely caused or contributed to the development of MDS. That's the downside of cancer treatment. It can lead to further complications. Her mother also passed away during these last few months. Talk about a doubl…

What's Your Alleluia?

Today I am grateful for sunshine and recovery from alcoholism. I am grateful for the people who support me in that recovery. They are many.

I also appreciate additional soul-stirring sounds I noticed yesterday. They included: the way our dog Oliver sighs when he settles in for a rest and hearing Adele sing "Rolling in the Deep" while I was out running. She can sure belt it out!

I have one more thought about soul-stirring sounds and the "Alleluia Chorus" I heard on Sunday at church. It got me thinking about the word "alleluia" which basically means a song of praise.

My alleluia is this: I have had two diseases that kill people every day. I am a recovering alcoholic since 1989 and a breast cancer patient since 2008, with no evidence of disease (NED).  I am walking, talking, running, writing, living, loving, laughing. That's my alleluia and it brings profound gratitude.

I may not use my vocal cords to sing that song of praise often, but the rest of me i…

Sounds that Stir the Soul

Today I am grateful for a fire in the fireplace on a chilly Easter. I am also grateful for ears that work and a soul I recognize today as my own.

I was raised Catholic. Though I say this with some level of guilt, I would guess I am not alone; Holy Week was drudgery for me when I was young. There were a lot of church services and they all seemed long and sad. The Stations of the Cross were part of Lent too, and I recall them being long and sorrowful as well. Then Easter would arrive. I looked forward to Easter services. In part, I was probably already sugared-up, so that helped. Easter Sunday services were shorter than anything else I had attended since and including Palm Sunday. That helped too. But I also always looked forward to the uplifting hymns that we got to sing after all the mournful ones of Holy Week. Those Easter hymns stirred my soul as a child, and they still stir my soul today.

"I Am the Bread of Life" is one of those common Easter hymns. It is also a song that…