Today I am grateful for early morning quiet today, a lovely run in the sunshine yesterday, and a nice birthday for Sam.

As I pondered my first "v" word-visceral-a second word came to mind-VERTEBRAE. They are two words that not only share a first letter. They share an important role in the lives of humans. They help us feel deeply, to move and be moved.

I am a physical being, a runner, active, trying not to take my health and physical capabilities for granted. But I must admit I hadn't thought directly about my vertebrae in a long time. A more formal definition of vertebrae goes like this: each of the series of small bones forming the backbone, having several projections for articulation and muscle attachment, and a hole through which the spinal cord passes. There's a reason why we use phrases like "they were the backbone of the team, the family, our business." Our backbone is vitally important and contains vital components of our central nervous system.

Without my actual backbone, this series of vertebra, I would miss so much. The joy of running, putting one foot in front of the other. The sensation of a hug given to or received from someone I care about. Laying down in a warm bed, exhausted after a long day. Getting up out of that same bed, rested and ready to begin a new day. Walking along a trail on an early spring day, enjoying the smell of new grass emerging.  The list is endless. The opportunities for gratefulness are endless.

My figurative backbone keeps me strong and fit in the spiritual, mental, and emotional realms. A series of small actions like prayer on my knees, writing in my gratitude journal, reaching out to others in recovery, pausing in the midst of a busy day, and giving myself quiet time on my commute are all vertebra on the other backbone of my life.

I will protect both sets of vertebrae by honoring the precious and fragile nature of life, by giving thanks for all that is possible because of the amazing human body, mind, heart, soul, and spirit.