Showing posts from 2015

Disillusioned by . . . Dedicated to . . .

Today I am grateful for my son Sam's levelheaded perspective, and for my husband Darcy's sense of humor in dealing with his uptight wife at times.

Year's end is often a time many of us look back on the last year. Reflecting on 2015 leaves me feeling disillusioned by many things:

*people I know dying (I think especially of my brother-in-law Roger who died young-at age 64-after a horrible illness diminished him over years.  My Aunt Marie died in her nineties, a full life behind her.)
*mixed emotions, and a wide range of them, about a job I have been at for over 15 years
*health issues for many I care about, of the physical and mental varieties
*my mom's failing health
*how cunning addiction is and how it tries to pull people I know and care about back in to the disease
*the speed at which days, weeks, months, and now an entire year have gone by
*the letting go of goals/dreams because there simply wasn't time or energy to pursue them

Yes, there are things about 2015 t…

Strong Words from Albert Einstein

Today I am grateful for my free Nordic Track machine and the workout it provides. I am also grateful for time with my friends from breast cancer support group last evening as part of a focus group.

As I further consider how the age of information and our ever-advancing technology are both helping and hindering us, I can't help but wonder if the hindering will lead to some real issues. This quote from Albert Einstein contains strong language, but considering that he said it decades ago, and considering what we are seeing in human interactions today, the physicist may have been on to something: "I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.  The world will have a generation of idiots."
If you research this quote, you will find numerous references indicating that there is no evidence that Einstein ever said this. This is an example of one of my concerns. How much time and energy go into making information easily accessible and then others refuting it, deb…

Speaking of TMI

Today I am grateful for the physical ability to shovel snow and for the mental ability to practice gratitude.

Speaking of TMI, I had my first colonoscopy yesterday. I turned 50 in July and it has been on my to-do list since. It's a recommended screening procedure I wasn't necessarily looking forward to, but was certainly willing to follow-through on because it is effective and telling.  I am happy to report the prep was manageable and the test results were normal. I appreciate all those who helped with this less-than-glamorous procedure. I very much appreciate the good results. It's a relief and an empowering bit of self-care.

As I sat in the waiting area, my procedure behind schedule, I did some reading. A couple patients came and went. One was clearly a pregnant woman and the man with her, probably going for an ultrasound. Exciting territory. There was a woman sitting there when I first arrived. She had on a chemo cap and was drinking contrast-a clear indication she was …


Today I am grateful for another enjoyable movie in "Joy" and also for clean drinking water. It is one of those things I most often take for granted.

TMI. Too much information. It usually refers to personal or private information that someone shares too often or with too many people. It is easy to do with the technology we have.  A quick post on Facebook or other social media and we can have TMI.  I appreciate social media in ways, but I also wonder what it has done to boundaries. And I wonder how much time it sucks away from more important pursuits.

TMI. Too much information in the age of information. We have so much data so easily accessible to us via the technology that has become commonplace.  In many ways, this information drives our wider world, including the economy. And to the varying degrees we allow it, it drives our own individual lives as well.

I could find many statistics for you, but they are almost beyond my comprehension. I came across a term new to me as I d…

Afflicted and Addicted

Today I am grateful for time with other recovering alcoholics and the wisdom they share. I am also grateful for more time with our grandson Leo.

We watched him for several hours yesterday and enjoyed his cheerful nature. I especially enjoyed when he sat quietly on my lap as we read a couple of farm sound books together.

I heard more words at the church service I attended last Sunday that really stuck with me. The words were spoken by my sister-in-law Elaine as she read the prayers of petition. Those words were "afflicted and addicted." The afflicted and addicted certainly need prayers.

We all experience affliction; defined as something that causes pain and suffering. Ailment. Illness. Disorder. Handicap. Trouble. Misery. Hardship. Misfortune. Adversity. Sorrow. To name our afflictions, to step out of denial and address them, that is where hope and healing are. But it takes time and effort. And deep honesty.

Addiction is an affliction, a serious and sometimes deadly one. Merr…

Traditions New and Old

Today I am grateful for early morning quiet, more family time, and some entertaining movies viewed at the theater in recent days.

Our first Christmas as grandparents included some time with Leo and his parents. As usual, he stole the show. Not surprising with a grin like this:

Between his various families. Leo could be buried in toys and clothes. But I like to think of it as having lots of people who love him. The stuff doesn't matter as much as time together and witnessing his healthy growth and development. And being reminded of how incredible life looks through the eyes of a child, living only in the present moment.

Being grandparents on the holidays is a new tradition for us. One that we look forward to continuing.

An older tradition we have is to hit some movies over the holidays. Actually go to the theater and watch on the big screen. We don't get to many movies during the year, but I've been to three this week.  They were all entertaining and enjoyable in their own …

A Meaningful Pace

Today I am grateful for a peaceful Christmas morning and time with family.

I have a long tradition of doing a holiday letter, starting during my mid-twenties and well before meeting and marrying Darcy. I never run out of things to say and like to try creative approaches like themes and acrostics. This year's letter seemed a little flat, but it has been a challenging year for me emotionally for a variety of reasons.  Tradition is important and I enjoy composing the letter and sharing it with family and friends.

Sadly, Christmas letters from others seem to be fewer each year. Everyone feels the time constraints and something has to give. I get it. But I would still love to hear from others about what the last year has brought to and taken from their lives. A picture only says so much.
I digress though. The point I wanted to make is that when I address envelopes to mail holiday greetings, I still write each address on each envelope by hand with my pen. I know I could save time by usi…

Adventurous or Slippery?

Today I am grateful for time with Darcy, sitting in our recliners, enjoying a cup of coffee. I am also grateful to be able to afford gifts and groceries at this holiday time.

The other morning we had a little dusting of snow on the ground. I went for a run early, in the dark, cautious with my steps. I quickly noticed that someone on a bicycle had been out earlier than I was. The single bike trail left behind by this mystery biker zig-zagged across the paved path in our neighborhood. Sometimes it veered off the path to the adjacent grass. At other times, I could see skid marks.

I wondered if this cyclist was out enjoying the fresh snow and an adventurous ride just for the fun of it or if it was a necessary trip in slippery conditions. Adventurous or slippery?

I wondered about my own life. Am I adventurous enough in the opportunities I pursue and the healthy risks I take?  Do I avoid slippery slopes like worry, fear, and overdoing?

The holidays can provide opportunities for some adventu…

Less Wrapped, More Rapt (a.k.a. Joyfully Inquisitive)

Today I am grateful for my working sense of hearing and the many songs I love. I am also grateful for time shared with my friend Liz and her 17-month old granddaughter Victoria-who I would describe as joyfully inquisitive.

Let us all strive to be a little more joyfully inquisitive. I appreciate our grandson Leo showing me how to do this as well.

"Less wrapped, more rapt" is an original line I am pretty proud of.  It first came out of this writing self in 2010 for the essay referenced in yesterday's post. I thought it was a pretty clever use of words. But more importantly, I need to apply it in my daily life. It can be a more sane approach to the holidays too.

It seems that most people I know get caught up in the flurry of holiday activities at least to some degree. Some enjoy it and revel in it. Others get exhausted and depressed, but put on a happy face because they feel like they need to. Some enjoy finding gifts for others and giving them. Others feel that finding and…

Presence as Present: Revised

Today I am grateful for time with my friend Dorothy yesterday and for a walk through a labyrinth looking for and finding some faith.

At my great-nephew Arthur's baptism on Sunday, the priest gave a sermon I really appreciated. It could be summed up as "make your presence a present."  Don't get too caught up in what should be done and forget what really matters. Pay attention to who and what are right in front of you, right at this moment.

It reminds me of a quote by Sue Atchley Ebaugh:

"The greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention to one another's existence."
I also write about this quote in this post from August of 2012.

Rapt attention. It doesn't cost a dime, but it pays handsomely in strengthened connections and healthier relationships.

Rapt attention. A true gift. Less wrapped, more rapt.

12 Things 1200 Posts Have Taught Me

Today I am grateful for safe travels and time with my family to celebrate a baptism and Christmas. 

Today is post #1200 on "Habitual Gratitude." I pondered what that means to me and came up with these 12 things learned from 1200 posts:

1. Gratitude shared is gratitude multiplied.

2. If life is what you make it, mindful gratefulness helps make it more and better in
the ways that truly matter-more peaceful and better perceptions. 
3. Gratitude and self-pity cannot coexist. I firmly believe that, but I can't 
convince you of it. Only you can do that, with your own actions and effort. 
That is the only way it works.

4. Write with readers in mind but try to keep ego out of it.

5. Gratitude is always possible, which means writing about gratitude is always possible.

6. Habitual is a word that often gets a bad rap (i.e. habitual offender, habitual user), 
but healthy habits are worth repeating habitually. (Besides, I like the fact that 
my sister Danita gave me the idea for my blog title.)


Guest Post: A Flood of Gratitude

Today I am grateful for a good report from my dermatologist and for almond bark. How is that for random?

I am also very grateful that my sister Zita has written a guest blog post for "Habitual Gratitude." I am the youngest of 8 girls in my family, so all my sisters led the way for me. (My three older brothers helped pave the way too.) Zita is just 3 years older than me so she was someone I was definitely keeping my eye on as I moved through my teen years. Thankfully, she's always been pretty even-keeled. 
She did lead the way in a way I wish she never had to though. She was the first sister diagnosed with breast cancer. She handled it with strength and grace. Little did we know then that my sister Mary Jo and I would also face that diagnosis.

Thanks Zita for your wonderful message below and for taking the leap into the blogosphere. Writing runs in our family and that is a good thing. I will be back next week as I am taking a blog break over the weekend. 

Flood of Gratitud…

Not Less of a Woman, Just a Woman Less Her Breasts

Today I am grateful for the Hastings Breast Cancer Support Group, my friends there, and the newcomer we supported last evening.

I hadn't been able to make it to support group for months. I am glad I went last evening. Like any support group, we are more there for the new person than we are for ourselves. To see someone newly diagnosed, awaiting chemotherapy and many unknowns, helps me keep things in perspective.
I hope we helped her.

It is hard for me to grasp that it has already been seven years since I had bilateral mastectomies. Seven years ago today. I woke up with breasts that morning and went to sleep without them that night. It is hard to describe what that felt like both physically and emotionally.

When I woke up from surgery that day I did something that was very important to my healing, grieving, and accepting. I took a look at my chest, my new flat terrain. I didn't avoid it, I faced it. That has made a big difference as I moved forward from December 17, 2008.

I had…

The Big A

Today I am grateful for working heat and our dog Oliver. I am also grateful for a variety of "a" words that give me direction in life.
The landmark in the picture below is visible near my sister Danita's home. She has lived near this "Big A" for over 30 years. 

It is near Hughes Stadium, the football stadium for Colorado State University, home of the Rams. Before 1957, CSU was known as Colorado Agriculture and Mechanical College, or Colorado A & M for short. Teams were referred to as the Aggies. According to historical accounts, this "Big A" was first whitewashed onto this hillside in 1924.

It serves as a good reminder to me every time I see it. The first "Big A" that comes to my mind is ALCOHOLISM. Alcoholism and other addictions impact my life and the lives of many people I care about. One of my deepest gratitudes is to be on the recovery side of my disease of alcoholism. Just for today. I can take actions and focus my attitude on the r…

Wind-driven rain

Today I am grateful for our home, with all the quirks and flaws that come with it. I am also grateful to not only be alive, but to feel alive.

Yesterday there was plenty of wind-driven rain to greet me on my various outings. It could have easily been wind-driven snow this time of the year, but it's been a mild late fall. Either form of precipitation, when combined with a brisk wind, tends to be less than pleasant. 
I first stepped into the elements when I took Oliver for his first walk of the day. We kept it short but both of us still returned wet and cold. 
Then there was the trip across the parking lot and into school when I arrived at work. My hands were full, and the rain and stiff breeze continued. Thankfully, I had a hood and a brisk pace.
And that was after driving in the wind-driven rain from start to finish on my commute. Driving in the dark and rain has become more difficult for my aging eyes. It was two hands on the wheel and total concentration.
I could complain about …


Today I am grateful for holiday traditions and old family recipes. I am also grateful for my friends, old and new.

As my sisters and I navigated through two major airports and the surrounding areas last week on our travels, I was most appreciative of good signage. These places are huge and present many options as far as which direction to go. Without signs, it would be confusing and stressful. Thanks to the multitude of signs, we made our way from gates, to baggage claim, to ground transportation all pretty easily.

On my way to work after these travels and with signs on my mind, I realized that there was a new sign at the exit I take off the interstate to get to my job. Apparently the road at that exit got a name and number change. It was a bit disconcerting at first. Then I relaxed. It's not the name or number that matters, it's the road itself. That still takes me where I need to go. Things change, including road names and numbers. Go with the flow.

And then there are more p…

Inviting and Letting

Today I am grateful for my son Sam's help yesterday with some grocery shopping and cookie baking, and the conversations we shared as we helped one another. I am also grateful I got to see our grandson Leo crawling. The curious little one is on the move!

I am also grateful for a phone conversation with my sister Aileen and that my husband Darcy is feeling better as he recovers from being sick.

This Pema Chodron quote was the "Word for the Day" on yesterday:

"Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. Why? Because it is all we ever have." 

Then, when I got yesterday's mail, Aileen had sent me a card with this quote on it:

"Life is kind of beautiful if you just let it come to you."  (from the play "You Can't Take It With You")

This after my closing words in yesterday's post were "It all starts with an open mind and heart."

Is someone trying to tell me something? Apparently.

Go with it Lisa. Too…

Sharing the Simple and the Profound

Today I am grateful for the many steps I am able to take each day-walking, running, stairs. I am also grateful for the time I spent with my sisters earlier this week, and the conversations shared.

My sister Danita shared some of the moments from Roger's last days and his final breaths. Profound sharing. And we walked in the park below, which is near their home. She later told us that this was the last place Roger ever biked. He fell, was helped by others and able to get home, but he never got on his bike again. Damn dementia!

In the sharing, Danita is doing the grieving that is so very important. In the sharing, we get to literally and figuratively walk with her through some of it. Some of it is hers and hers alone. It has to be.
From profound sharing to simple sharing. More of those connections with fellow humans. I had to make a stop at the post office after work yesterday to mail a package. I was well-prepared with what I needed, including bringing along a "Sharpie" p…


Today I am grateful for safe travels to and from Colorado and for my travel companions-my sisters Zita and Ruth.

We went to Colorado to spend time with our sister Danita, whose husband Roger died on November 1. We also got to connect with our sisters Ann and Mary Jo, our brother-in-law Clay, as well as our nephew, nieces, and their families. It was important to connect in person. It was important to be with Danita and be able to talk about Roger's last days, but also his earlier days and his lasting imprint on those closest to him.

Below is a picture of the six sisters who were together earlier this week:

Connections come in so many ways. Danita connects with Roger by taking banjo lessons. We connected with Roger by walking in one of their favorite parks. We honored Roger's memory with a game of "zilch."

And then there are the broader connections. My sisters and I were browsing in one of the many fun shops in Old Town Fort Collins on Tuesday. A young woman, clearly m…

Taking a Break

Today I am grateful for running coach Jeff Galloway and his run-walk-run method.

Taking a break. That is what I will do on my run this morning. Every mile or so I will walk for 45 seconds. Giving my muscles a short break and a lower risk of injury. It is called "the Galloway method" and it works. The Galloway in "Galloway method" refers to Jeff Galloway.

The 1972 Olympian has gone on to become an author and coach, reaching many runners like Darcy and I. His book, Galloway's Book on Running, is a bestseller and sets out the run-walk-run method that has enabled many people to not only start running, but to go on to train for and complete distance events they never thought possible. And many do this without injury, without even much pain and stiffness.

Check out his website at

I didn't need to be convinced to start running. I needed to be convinced to stop. Competitive with myself and setting high expectations too, I had a ha…

Mysteries of Life

Today I am grateful for the mysteries of life-both those I can wrap my head around and those that seem unanswerable.

After reading the quote I used in yesterday's post, I pondered the mysteries of life a few times during the day. I started with ones that my non-scientific brain is awed and confused by:
-How does electricity really work?
-How do cellular phones work?
-How do all of these wireless connections actually operate?
-How can a computer that is barely a pound or two be capable of so much?

Those aren't mysteries to everyone, but they are to me. I do appreciate all of the above and the conveniences they provide. But it all scares me a little bit too. Computers are smarter/faster than people. Is this a good thing?

Which brings me to another mystery of life I was considering.  Our brains. Computers may be smarter and faster in ways, but they typically can't move themselves. We can. An instant message from my brain to my arms and legs and I am off and running. Literally…

Rushing Headlong?

Today I am grateful for good music and for my husband Darcy.

This was today's "Word for the Day" at

"Something precious is lost if we rush headlong into the details of life without pausing  for a moment to pay homage to the mystery of life and the gift of another day." (Kent Nerburn)
Okay, let's be honest here. I rush headlong too often. If not physically, then mentally for sure. It doesn't sound like much fun to rush headlong, so why am I and so many others prone to it? Because of expectations of ourselves, because of expectations others have of us, because we want to get things right, because our world has become a very busy place.

Pausing to pay homage takes just a moment. I try to do that when I write in my gratitude journal each morning and when I start my day with a few set prayers. The challenge comes as the rest of the day unfolds. The pauses, the gratefulness, the prayers need to continue throughout. They are self-righting m…

Randomly Random

Today I am grateful for being able-bodied and alive and I am grateful for warm milk on cereal.

Today's post consists of random thoughts flowing from a random brain...
*It's easy to forget how nice a smooth commute to work is, until you have one that is anything but smooth. I will spend the winter months appreciating every decent commute I get.
*There is always more to learn, no matter what the topic or context. Most of the time I find that encouraging, not discouraging.
*I don't miss hangovers. But I try not to forget how they felt.

*Ever since I lost my hair during chemo, in the winter months I find simple comfort in wearing my favorite hooded sweatshirt, with the hood up, around the house.

*December 1, 2015: Our brother-in-law Roger died one month ago.  Our nephew Brennan turned
16. Life is full of such dichotomies.

The best I can strive for is to live fully and thankfully today. That is enough.

Sparkling Sunshine

Today I am grateful for Leo's smiles and giggles and for a safe morning commute yesterday in treacherous driving conditions.

I also appreciate safe travels to visit Arthur and Alyssa over the weekend and the time we got to spend with them as well as Alyssa's parents. 
Add to that the nice meal Sam prepared for us and cleaned up after on Sunday evening as part of a school assignment. Good job Sam and the lemon chicken breasts and steamed asparagus were tasty!

I am not the sort of gal who likes sparkly things in my wardrobe and accessories. The exception would be the diamond rings my husband Darcy has given me. Otherwise I keep it mostly basic and rarely flashy. 
But sparkling sunshine, that I do go out of my way for. Sparkles like these:

It was a cold Saturday morning run, but the beautiful snow, frost, and sunshine combination made it worth bundling up and putting one foot in front of the other. It made it worth the pause to get my phone out, take a glove off, and take a coupl…

Moment in Time

Today I am grateful for rest, writing inspiration, and enjoying watching the Iowa Hawkeye football team win their 12th straight game. Go Hawks!

Since Arthur's close call the other night, I have pondered how many close calls we all have. A matter of seconds or minutes, inches or feet, can make all the difference in situations that can either turn out really good or really bad.
Yesterday I was on the way into our local health care clinic with my son Sam. He had a really sore throat and slight temperature, so we thought it best to get a strep test (thankfully negative). As we walked toward the entrance, I noticed a man on the sidewalk to my left. He slowed, appeared unsteady and put his arms out to his sides.

I was already moving toward him, asking him if he needed help, and was able to help break his fall and steady him against a tree. Sam and I held him up as a couple just arriving got out of their van. The man came to help us and the woman went inside the clinic to get help and a …

Gobble, Gobble

Today I am grateful for an opportunity to both get a run in and help out a worthy community organization yesterday morning. I am also grateful for a friendly little game of Yahtzee with Darcy and Sam.

I always think of my dad when we play Yahtzee. It was a game he really enjoyed and we played it often when I went home to visit.

I was also, not surprisingly, thinking about turkeys and "gobble, gobble."

The run we did is called "Gobble Gait" and conditions were balmy compared to last year. It was well below-zero with a brisk wind last year. Yesterday it was still warm enough to rain. The organizers were able to announce before the run that they had surpassed the $1,000,000 fundraising mark this year, after starting small about 18 years ago. The event benefits our local family service. Great job to all who help carry out this wonderful Thanksgiving morning tradition!

The rain turned to snow and the snow gobbled up the grass in our yard as Darcy and I enjoyed a little …

The Greatest Surprise

Today I am grateful for so many family members and friends who have nurtured little old me in so many ways over the years.

A recent "Word for the Day" at was from one of my favorite writers on the topic of gratitude-Brother David Steindl-Rast. Here it is:

"The greatest surprise is that there is anything at all--that we are here." 

It seemed like a fitting quote to use on a day like Thanksgiving. Or on any day really. Being present in a body that we didn't create ourselves, though we have something to do with the maintenance of our earthly vehicle. An amazing body that has hundreds and thousands of working parts we were given just because we were born human.
To awaken, open my eyes and see. To command my legs to move over to the side of the bed and help get me up and they do. These are incredible feats of engineering and design. Shouldn't that surprise me at least some of the time?

And then there is the greatest surprise of life itself. …

Persistence Pays-In Exact Proportion

Today I am grateful for a warm enough morning to enjoy our front patio and a cup of coffee with my husband Darcy.  I am also grateful for a nice conversation with my son Sam.

This quote below makes me smile, both on my face and in my heart. Years with no results? I can't say I have ever experienced that. Persistence and perseverance are results in and of themselves.
"Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result,  one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul."  (Simone Weil)
I know discouragement. I know "why bother?" and "does it really matter?" But I also know flooding of the soul with such a deep sense of awakening, a deep sense of grace. My soul. The human soul.
If I hadn't gained a healthier perception of myself, if I hadn't known a little peace from my self-defeating thoughts, maybe I would have given up. But it didn't take long into my gratitude practice, which I began in earnest 20…

Heart to Hand

Today I am grateful for the wisdom I hear from others in recovery. I am also grateful to be a writer.

I have been doing less pen to paper writing for blog drafts and column ideas in recent months. I have the Blogger app on my phone and a free app that allows me to word process some document drafts on my phone as well.

Part of me appreciates the time I save. But another part of me is saddened by this trend. Writing saved my life in my younger years. It allowed toxic emotions a way out before they did me in or I did myself in. Pen to paper. Taking the physical action of writing with pen in hand on the paper in front of me gives more credibility to what comes out, and gives more freedom when released from my mind. Heart to hand.

Writing continues to enhance my life and help me embrace it more. In recent years, there has been more keyboarding on a computer or finger-pecking on my phone. It is not pen to paper, but it is still heart to hand.

I do look for ways to keep the pen in hand. I ha…

Putting Out Fires or Starting Them?

Today I am grateful for the soothing quiet of early morning and for time with our grandson Leo over the weekend.

I was pondering the idea of "putting out fires" recently as I thought about the busy pace of my job. Some days it does seem like it is about putting out fires, one after the other. The kind of fires you don't want to let burn, the kind that are best contained when small. The fires may have to do with students, parents, teachers, or any combination thereof.

But then I thought about how educating our young is supposed to be about starting fires. Fires of curiosity and motivation. Fires that need to be nurtured and protected until there is enough fuel to keep them burning strong on their own.

It seems a bit contradictory, all this talk of fires. But it really is the stuff of life. Positive or negative. Productive or nonproductive. Helpful or hindering. Warming us up or causing us to run from the heat.

Which kind of fire will I feed today?