Posts

Showing posts from September, 2013

About those Miracles

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy and our marriage as it grows and evolves. I am also grateful for the unique individual our son Sam is becoming.

Yesterday I ended my post with this quote: "Don't quit before the miracle happens."

I first heard those words from someone working on recovery from alcoholism. They weren't talking about a big miracle. They weren't talking about being cured. They were talking about miracles like not taking a drink today. Miracles like picking up the phone and reaching out instead of isolating. Miracles like being able to look in the mirror and not turn away in disgust.

Miracles like quitting smoking after praying for the strength to do so for a full year. Miracles like being comfortable in my own skin. Miracles.

Quick fixes don't often happen and if they do, they don't often last. I work daily on my daily disease of alcoholism. I have many tools to use and I try to keep them in good working order. I also rely on others …

"Try A Little Gratitude"

Today I am grateful for a good training run yesterday morning and the "pleasure" of nature's power as we watched my son's football game in a wind-driven, cold rain. (Actually, what I really appreciated was getting back home, into dry clothes and warm again.)

I am also grateful for the poetry I have written and the healing and growth it has brought. But I so appreciate the poetry of others, especially my sister Aileen. She has a knack for taking an idea and putting it to poetry in a way that is often pointed and stark, but also alive in a way that only she can create. She is my kind of a poet. Recently she was pondering "has anyone ever been injured practicing gratitude?" 

Here is a little jewel of a poem that came out of that musing:

Try A Little Gratitude

It couldn't hurt
could it?
No one has been injured
practicing gratitude,
have never heard
"I tore my anterior
appreciation muscle
from overuse."

Thank you Aileen! You helped validate an important t…

A Collection of Scars

Today I am grateful for good music and working ears to listen to it. I am also grateful for time with recovery friends yesterday and good reminders to keep working on faith and growth.

It may sound a little strange, but I am grateful for my scars too. They are a part of me. The scar from my most recent surgery is healing nicely. It is the latest addition to my collection of scars, some gained through accidents and fun, some gained through tough times and tough decisions.

One of the accident/fun ones includes the scar across the bridge of my nose, gained when I was a sophomore in high school, playing basketball. I went for a loose ball and collided with an opponent doing the same thing. Others include the several on my knees, gained from bike falls on gravel or from not quite knowing how to slide properly in softball. They have mostly faded now. But they are still noticeable and the memories still appreciated.

This latest scar is only about 3 inches long and is in my lower right abdome…

Next: The Great Outdoors

Today I am grateful for a comfortable bed and my husband Darcy to wake up next to. I am also grateful for the changing seasons.

Yesterday I talked about the great people I was surrounded by Monday through Wednesday on an environmental field trip with 7th graders. We were also surrounded by great weather and natural beauty that I just soaked up and kept soaking up.

The first thing I appreciated was, as we moved north, seeing fewer and fewer structures, billboards and on-off ramps. Those gave way to more trees and open spaces.

The view shown on the Deep Portage website here is from the top of a 55-foot tower that we got to climb to the top of near dusk. The fall colors haven't arrived yet, and will be
short-lived when they do, so our view was more green, but it was still stunning. You can see for over 20 miles and each direction you turn gives you a different view. Even though I get a little nervous with heights, I knew it would be worth it to get to the top, and it was.

That towe…

First: The Great People

Today I am grateful for safe travels with the 7th grade students from my school, to and from Deep Portage in northern Minnesota, and for a good experience for the students from start to finish.

I am also grateful to be back home with my own family.

I had the opportunity to work with and get to know some great people in the last few days. Their greatness comes simply from their genuineness, individual diversity, and enthusiasm.

The first group would be those seventh graders. I am just getting to know these students and their personalities, their strengths and their difficulties. A trip like this, three days and two nights, gives them the opportunity to see one another and the adults around them in ways different from what they see in school. These young people were spirited and curious, but they were well-behaved and they reminded me what it is that I like about working with middle school students.

We got plenty of fresh air and exercise together, shared several meals, and got to shar…

Keeping Record

Image
Today I am grateful for a chance to see my stepdaughter Emily and for fresh produce from a local garden stand. I was happy to put away the two items in the picture below the other day. The green notebook includes information about my cancer diagnosis and pretty much all of the appointments I have had since that journey began over five years ago. Early on, I wrote many questions and I also wrote some of the answers I was hearing because I knew I wouldn't be able to retain it all myself. Today, I still have a few questions for my oncologist every time I see her. I am grateful for this green notebook because I am the kind of person who likes to keep important information accessible. I had the notebook out to reference some things as I went through my recent month of health-related happenings. The lighter green folder is the latest addition to my personal approach to keeping medical records. It's all the stuff that came out of my Aug. 12-Sept. 12 month-long medical odyssey. You …

Just Plain Pleasant

Today I am grateful for my family and friends, and the ways we stay connected, big and small. I am also grateful for the other blogs that I follow, on a variety of topics.

Yesterday was one of those days that was just plain pleasant. After that nice morning run with Darcy, my sister and her boyfriend and my brother, his wife and their son came to visit and watch Sam play football. I appreciated that they made the trip and it was perfect football-viewing weather. Sam's team won, so we all got to see a victory and, let's face it, that makes it a little more pleasant.

After the game, we had a nice lunch at a local restaurant. We sat outside on their patio, overlooking the Mississippi River, in plain view of our old bridge, soon to be gone, and our new bridge, soon to be completed. The food and the conversation were pleasant.

My sister and her boyfriend hit the road, and the rest of us headed back to our house. The boys had time to hang out and the adults enjoyed sitting on our …

Random Gratitude

Today I am grateful for blankets and snuggling. I am also grateful for a chance to share gratitude at work.

This morning I am tired, but not tapped out, just feeling sort of random.

So here are some random points of gratitude for today:

*I appreciate the cooler weather, the need for sweatshirts, and a nice walk with
Darcy last evening.
*I am grateful that fall is showing itself. It is my favorite season.
*I am grateful for a long-standing job and co-workers I have known for many years. It's nice to have a comfort level like that with people you work with.
*I am grateful for the recliner in our living room and the relaxing mode it tends to put me in.
*I appreciate going to our local grocery store, running into a few people I know, being excited about saving $40 with coupons, and being physically able to bag and load/unload my own groceries.
*I am so grateful to be back running and that this morning I could start increasing my mileage again.
*I always feel fortunate when I can be …

Look with Favor on Reality

Today I am grateful for sweat and endorphins. I am also grateful for phones and texting which make it easy for me to connect with people I care about.

I gained another great gratitude phrase earlier this week. I was at a training with some students and our trainer shared a story and these words:  "Look with favor on reality."  The story is his, so I won't go into too much of it, but he heard those words from two WWII veterans. That is telling. They are powerful words indeed.

Look with favor on reality. Denying reality doesn't work. It's still there, with all of the positives and challenges that any of us living life have. Some days are diamonds, some days are stones, but they are all gifts.

Look with favor on reality. When doing so, a person tends to automatically start honing in on what is going well, rather than the "yeah, buts" and "if onlys." The former energizes us, the latter zaps our strength and our spirit.

Look with favor on reality.…

Back on the Run

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver and how he reminds me to lighten up. I am also grateful for a working computer.

Yesterday was a good day. I got to do two of my favorite things. After not running for two weeks, I took my first post-surgery run yesterday morning. It felt great to be out there. I only went for twenty minutes and kept it at an easy pace, but I sure enjoyed it and I appreciated that everything felt okay. It is a challenge for me when I can't run. I rely on the release, the endorphins, the time outside, and the time to myself that running gives me. It is in my blood and I don't like to go without this physical nourishment.

As I ran down the first half-mile of trail after leaving our house, I recalled other times when I have taken memorable "recovery" runs.  Five years ago right now, I was between my first and second rounds of chemo. I always kept walking during chemo, but would have to take days off from running. When I did run, it not only helped …

Tapped Out

Today I am grateful for a nice venue to watch a football game in last night and for some more rain overnight.

I am groggy and tired this morning. I was tossing around a few ideas for blog posts, but frankly, some of them required more energy and time than I can muster this morning. That's okay. We all feel tapped out at times. I need to honor that and respect my own resources.

Tapped out. Life has a way of doing that to us. Watching the news can tap me out. Flooding victims returning to wrecked homes. D.C. shooting victims identified. Heavy news.

Tapped out. Care and concern for others can drain me too. Illness, addiction, upcoming appointments, and other "stuff."

My own expectations of myself can exhaust me at times. My sister calls it excessive responsibility. I call it bad for my health and peace of mind.

This morning, I am recognizing that I am uninspired. It happens. I'm human.

But I'm still grateful for this blog, for this day. I am grateful I can pause to …

Hummingbirds

Today I am grateful for the parents and students I work with. I am also grateful for birds, especially hummingbirds today.

Hummingbirds are very intriguing to me. Sometimes we are treated to sightings on our front porch. They are usually such fleeting moments, but each is a blessing. The other night I was sitting outside on one of our first cooler evenings. A hummingbird showed up to feed on the flowering plant that wasn't more than two feet from me. I marveled at the little creature. Before it flew off again, it came a little bit closer to me, as if to say hello. Okay, I get it. You want your own blog post. Here you go.

Hummingbirds are fascinating.They are the smallest species of bird.They can fly forward, backwards, and sideways, and they can stop in mid-air. Their wings beat 60-200 times a second, creating the humming sound that gave them their name. They can fly as fast as 60 mph. They have a very high metabolism and need to eat almost constantly when they are in flight. It…

The Words and Music of Linda Ronstadt

Today I am grateful for the energy and leadership of focused teens and an effective trainer. I am also grateful for the brisk morning air and a brisk walk to go with it.

Last Friday, Linda Ronstadt was the "Person of the Week" on ABC Nightly News, interviewed by Diane Sawyer. I grew up listening to her music on albums, playing them on the turntable in our console stereo. (Albums and console stereos--anyone under the age of thirty probably can't conjure up an image of either.) 

Linda Ronstadt was a huge music star in the 1970's. She had eight consecutive platinum-selling albums and won 11 Grammy awards over the course of her career. The album I listened to over and over was her "Greatest Hits" album from 1976. One of my favorite songs was "Love is a Rose." Listen to the song and see the album cover here.

Some of her final words in the interview with Sawyer were these:
"I can walk and I can talk. It's a good day."

Ronstadt, age 67, r…

Socks and Self-Pity

Today I am grateful for much-needed rain overnight and for old songs that I can listen to whenever I want, thanks to YouTube.

Yesterday I slipped into a little self-pity. It was likely a combination of being tired, not getting my usual endorphin fix over the last few days, and possibly being premenstrual. I will occasionally take a foray back to territory that used to be so familiar to me. The slippery slope of self-pity. It's like trading in the good pair of glasses that gratitude gives me for an old pair with smudges and cracks and an outdated prescription. I don't see very well and I start to lament on my poor set of circumstances-I'm not getting what I want. I've had to deal with things other people haven't. I'm not getting the attention I think I should. Why doesn't anybody care? What's the use? Why work so hard all the time?

I start comparing my insides to other people's outsides. Never a good idea. I always come up way short. (And wrong of c…

Of Floods and Fires

Today I am grateful that my family in Colorado is safe. I am also grateful that people have faith and courage and a willingness to help others.

I have been watching news footage of the terrible flooding in Colorado, including this on YouTube.I have visited Colorado many times over the last thirty years, and I have been through the Big Thompson Canyon numerous times. Those trips were usually on sunny days with blue skies, and the Big Thompson River was picturesque and sedate. Nothing like the video footage we are seeing on the news. We were usually on our way to Estes Park or Rocky Mountain National Park, which I consider some of the most beautiful scenery I have been blessed to set eyes on.

Two of my sisters moved out to Colorado in 1981. At one time, four of my sisters lived there. Three still do. Though they didn't take a direct hit from the flooding themselves, it is still impacting them, the communities they live in and many people they know. One of my sisters and I talked las…

What a Month!

Today I am grateful for the perspective that my life experience offers me. I am also grateful for a clean pathology report from surgery.

One month ago yesterday, August 12, I had my annual physical. That started a string of appointments and procedures over the next three weeks. Read about that here. One week ago yesterday I had exploratory surgery in my lower right abdomen. What was potentially a hernia ended up being a lymphocele.

I am recovering well from surgery and my energy is returning to a more typical level for me. I see my surgeon for a follow-up appointment next week. Running will have to wait awhile yet, but I am walking and moving well.

Along the way, two different areas of my body were being looked at. One of the procedures I had was a biopsy. It ended up showing no concerns. The wait was brief then, and I wasn't too concerned. But it was a relief to get the word that area #1 of my body was fine and wouldn't need to be further addressed. Clearly something was g…

A Turtle, a Butterfly, and "Live with Joy"

Today I am grateful for a clean house and some time to write. I am also grateful for my friend Jill.

Jill gave me a gift last week that is not only cute, it is loaded with reminders that I need. It's a little turtle about an inch long. In the turtle's shell, small but visible, is a butterfly and the words "Live with joy."

The turtle reminds me to slow down. Slower and steadier is a better approach than "running around like a chicken with it's head cut off" or "spinning off the face of the earth." These last two quotes accurately describe me when I start to overthink and overdo. It's not a pretty sight. I need the turtle. I need to slow down, breathe, just breathe.

The butterfly symbolizes any number of things. To me it means transformation, change, renewal, rebirth. There are so many ways this has applied to my life in big and small ways. Over all 48 years of my life. There's a reason the butterfly is on the turtle though. Change and t…

Moving Meditation

Today I am grateful for rest and for a nice evening to watch a football game last night. (Go White Knights!)

Moving meditation. Prayer and mindfulness on the move. I recommend giving it a try if you haven't. Taking a gratitude walk is a form of moving meditation; tuning in to the sights and sounds, the footfalls, the air, the world around you. In other words, the stuff we miss when our heads are too full.

I grew up Catholic and had plenty of prayer time on my knees with folded hands. I balked at that some as I grew older. And today I believe you can pray anywhere, at anytime, in any fashion you choose. The keys are an open heart and mind, and an intent to connect with a power beyond yourself. But I came back to my knees for prayer because I found out it helped me gain some humility, which tends to be a crucial component of productive prayer and meditation.

So most mornings, I do some praying on my knees. Today, I took my prayers to the trail as I walked our dog. I am an active pe…

Pain in Perspective

Today I am grateful for my job and my co-workers. I am also grateful for my son Sam's teachers and the energy they put into what they do.

As I recover from surgery, I have been thinking about pain. I have actually had limited pain with this surgery and the days since. I am walking comfortably. The incision area is healing, and though I can feel it,I wouldn't call it painful. It itches and twinges, but to me those are signs of healing. I only needed pain medication for a day. I have been able to sleep fairly comfortably. For all of this, I am truly grateful.

I am not at my usual activity level and I miss running, but I am mobile and pretty much
pain-free. I try to keep it in perspective. There are people who deal with chronic pain who have far more physical challenges than what I face now. How difficult and draining it must be to deal with significant physical symptoms day after day. I have nothing to complain about.

But there's also painful thinking. I probably suffer fro…

TGIF

Today I am grateful for time to sit on our patio earlier in the day yesterday, and then in our recliners later in the day, enjoying a cool breeze and the company of my husband. I am also grateful for recovery wisdom shared by others.

You may be wondering about today's post title: TGIF. No, I'm not confused about what day of the week it is. I know it's Monday. I don't mind Mondays. They are one-seventh of our lives, so we shouldn't be so tough on them. I do like Fridays, but that's not what this TGIF is about.

This TGIF was seen on a sign outside a church in my area. TGIF: Thank God I'm forgiven. I am grateful for the role of forgiveness in my life. Others have forgiven me and continue to forgive me. My husband Darcy tops that list because I need his forgiveness more than anyone else's. Other than myself, I am toughest on him.

It reminds me of this little prayer: "Lord, make no one's life worse off for having crossed my path today." If I ke…

An Early Morning 3 x 3

Today I am grateful for habitual gratitude practice. It allows me to wake up looking for things to be grateful for, even when troubled thoughts occupy my mind.

In fact, gratitude helps crowd out troubled thoughts, or at the least shrink them down to a manageable size. I woke up with work and health concerns on my mind. I would rather they didn't invade my day today, so this morning I am doing a 3 x 3. It's a gratitude strategy that anyone can use at anytime. Read more about it here or here.  You can write it, say it, think it, share it, or any combination thereof.

Here's mine. Today I am grateful for:

*my five senses
-I felt the cool breeze this morning
-I heard the rustling of leaves in the trees
-I saw the daylight arrive

* our dog Oliver
-the way he stretches his body each morning before our walk
-his excitement to head out the door with me
-his way of walking/prancing/trotting down the trail

*mobility
-getting out of bed without pain
-walking further than I did yest…

Note to Self: My Amazing Body

Today I am grateful for rest and healing and that I was able to go off pain medication last evening. I prefer to not stay on it long, for a variety of reasons.

I literally did write a note to myself titled "Amazing." I wrote it as a pep talk in anticipation of my surgery. I have always been one to put in writing what is on my mind. Then, I can carry it with me and continue to revisit the words. "My amazing body" was the recurring line throughout these few paragraphs. I carried the note with me in the days leading up to surgery and read the words several times a day.

My body truly is amazing. Not because it is slim, trim, and perfectly shaped; rather because it isn't. It's mine and it has served me well for over 48 years. It has carried me through pregnancy and giving birth to Sam, breastfeeding him, 10 full marathons so far, three cancer surgeries, four rounds of chemo. It has basically given me far more good days than tough ones. We have a good relations…

Patience

Today I am grateful that my surgery went well, and for the anesthesia option that has me feeling better post-surgery than I would be feeling if I had had general anesthesia.

I am also grateful for the medical personnel who helped me from the time I arrived at the surgery center until I left the center about 6 hours later.

Patience is on my mind today. It was on my mind yesterday as I waited for surgery. Memories of my previous surgeries came back to me, with gratitude for the healing that took place then and the health I have enjoyed in the last five years. But some of the memories I could do without. The IV going in. The surgical gowns. The OR. That helpless feeling of being a patient, definitely not in charge of your day.

Patience is needed over the next few days and weeks as I heal and get my energy back. Patience to slow down and take it easy. Something that doesn't come too naturally for this active, always-on-the-go-doing-something person. But if I learned anything as a can…

Running Into Surgery

Today I am grateful for people who care and reach out. I am also grateful, in advance, for the medical team that will be helping me today before, during, and after my surgery.

Yesterday it was celebration. Today it is a bit of trepidation. Hernia surgery awaits later this morning.I am ready, feeling positive and strong, but there's always some fear for me in such circumstan-ces. First, I want to wake up from the anesthesia. Second, I want to hear that everything was taken care of and went smoothly. Face fear with faith. That's my plan. And prayers are appreciated.

The last time I had surgery was my bilateral mastectomies almost five years ago. With that surgery, I knew months in advance what was coming. This time around, surgery came along in a short time frame. Both time frames have their advantages and disadvantages.

It's like running into surgery compared to walking in. Speaking of running, yesterday morning there were three runners I met/passed as I walked Oliver. Th…

24 Years of 24 Hours at a Time

Today I am grateful for my son Sam as he begins 6th grade and I am grateful for traditions like chocolate chip waffles.

I am also grateful for daily recovery from alcoholism and the many wonderful people I have gotten to know as part of this journey.

Today marks 24 years of sobriety for me. Twenty-four years of trying to take life twenty-four hours at a time. To throw in another 24, I began this recovery journey at age 24. I feel so deeply blessed and fortunate to be on this path. I didn't get on the right track by myself and I don't stay on the right track alone. I have many people who teach me, encourage me, show me the way. A heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you, regardless of how many twenty-four hours we have known one another.

Here's the secret that isn't a secret. Alcoholism or not. Addiction or not. Living life one day at a time is the way to serenity, to presence, to mindfulness. Here and now is all any of us truly have. Are you paying attention? A…

Clotheslined

Today I am grateful for a couple nights of sleeping with the windows open, after a stretch of oppressive heat. I am also grateful for phone conversations and perspective.

When I think of clotheslined, I think of my childhood clotheslines and literally being clotheslined. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt, but my siblings and I all probably had a run-in with our clotheslines at least a few times. Most people think of sports now when they hear "clotheslined" and think of cheap shots to the neck area that take someone down.

But how about being clotheslined in the figurative sense; caught off guard and being knocked down by circumstances? In a recent 3-week stretch I had 9 medical-related appointments and procedures. Two different areas were being looked at. One checked out fine. The other has me scheduled for surgery. I will spare you the details and also mention that I feel very fortunate that what I am dealing with is manageable. It's a setback, but hopefully a temporar…

Clotheslines

Today I am grateful for safe travels to and from Iowa, time with family, that my stepdaughter Emily is off to a good start at college, and I am grateful for memories of clotheslines.

I was thinking about clotheslines this weekend when I was at my mom's. She still uses outdoor clotheslines, and had hung a few things out to dry. I sometimes help out with that when I am there. I visited the farm I grew up on this weekend too, and though the clotheslines of my childhood are gone, I can still see the memories.

No fabric softener can beat the authentic fresh smell of clothes and laundry dried in the outdoor air. If you have ever laid down to sleep on sheets dried on the line, you know what I am talking about. With a large family, we were always doing laundry when I was growing up and hung the wash outside almost year-round. I remember frozen clothes being brought in to finish drying on the lines we had in the basement, or in the dryer.

We did laundry on M-W-F and took turns doing she…