"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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Teeter totter

Today I am grateful that although Sam hurt his finger in a football game yesterday, that nothing is broken and it isn't serious. I am also grateful for the lamps in our house and the warm light they provide.

I teetered between extremes yesterday. Overwhelmed at times. Gratefully serene at others. 

I took my list of 5 things to be grateful for and did new lists a few times throughout the day. It brought me back to center.

And the word teeter couldn't help but bring a smile to my face as I couldn't help but think of the teeter totter we had growing up. We had plenty of fun with it, and also a few bruised backsides and a few fights to be sure. It was simply a long plank over a piece of piping, as my childhood mind recalls it.

Simple, but plenty of fun. That was when life's ups and downs were about playing. As we get older, life's ups and downs become something else and aren't always fun.

Yet, gratefulness keeps both the highs and lows in perspective.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Teetering

Today I am grateful for my recovery from alcoholism and those who support me in my daily efforts.

I am also grateful for a sense of balance.  At least today I recognize how balance feels and I have a desire to reside there more. Peace and balance reside HERE.

This morning, however, I am not feeling very balanced. I feel more like I am teetering.

I sense an unsteadiness. I am swaying back and forth between a healthy perspective and an unhealthy one.

Right here, right now, five things I am grateful for are:

1. early morning quiet
2. fresh coffee
3. our dog Oliver
4. cooler morning air
5. being able to walk

There. Less teetering. More stability. Onward!




Monday, September 28, 2015

Peace Resides HERE

Today I am grateful for a nice evening and clear skies to observe the lunar eclipse yesterday. I am also grateful for my physical capabilities.

I want to send a special "Happy Anniversary!" out to my sister Zita and her husband Randy who are celebrating 30 years today! Wishing you thirty more :-)

In the frenzied pace of recent weeks I have lost hold of peace many times. The only way to return to peace is to be in the present moment. That is the only place peace can reside. Right here. Right now.

Peace is lost when I forget to let go of the weight of yesterday and/or I start piling on tomorrow's weight yet today. My job has felt especially weighty lately. Priorities need to be recalibrated.

A simple pause. A breathing in and a breathing out of precious air. Eyes open to the beauty all around. Ears hearing what is making a sound right now, not yesterday, not tomorrow. Right now.
The water in the fountain. An engine in the distance.

And the incredible lunar eclipse-supermoon-blood moon I could sit and watch on a beautiful evening.

Peace resides HERE. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pigskin

Today I am grateful for safe travels and a chance to see parts of our state I haven't seen before.

We enjoyed our visit yesterday with my stepson Arthur and his wife Alyssa. It was a pretty drive and the weather was gorgeous.

It was nice to see where they live and work, walk around some of their community, and later share a good meal topped off with a stop at Cherry Berry for some frozen yogurt. I also appreciated getting to meet their cats, Triscuit and Licorice. 

Our time together also included Arthur and Sam tossing the pigskin around while Alyssa, Darcy, and I enjoyed sitting in the shade. 

The brothers always try to play some catch whenever they get together. Football is one of the ways they connect. 

Here they are as they wrapped things up:


Big brother and little brother who is not so little anymore. The simple pleasures of fresh air, football, and time together.  Thanks Arthur and Alyssa!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Linger

Today I am grateful for a backyard fire and for a break from work.

On my way home from work yesterday I heard the song "Linger."  It is by the group The Cranberries and is from the mid-1990's. The song was never a huge favorite of mine, and I can't believe it is 20 yeas old already. It was the title I lingered over more though.

Linger. Stay. Remain. Wait.

They all sound good if it means I am taking the time to slow down.

Linger over a cup of coffee.  Linger over a backyard fire with my husband and son. Linger over a view of the setting sun. Linger over enjoying our front-porch fountain. Linger over leaving a warm and cozy bed. Linger over a conversation.

Take time to linger today. Appreciate it for what it is.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Recommended Reading: Aging Troubles and Treasures

Today I am grateful for morning quiet and a winding down of the work week.

I have mentioned before that I am the youngest of 8 sisters (with 2 of my 5 brothers younger than me). This is one sisterhood I am very proud to be part of. Every one of my sisters has taught me important things about life and shown me the way. 

Today I am especially proud of my oldest sister Danita. She has recently launched her own blog titled "Aging Troubles and Treasures." Danita is going through a profoundly difficult and heart wrenching time. Her husband Roger continues to decline as Lewy Body Dementia claims more and more of him.
Yet, she moves forward each day, finding joy in the simple things, and facing a wide range of  emotions with grace and dignity.

Here are some painfully poignant words from a recent post of hers:

In the “Roger and Me Story” the villain is Lewy Body Dementia(LBD). Roger is declining and LBD is relentless. I am not a hero in this story either. I am scared, tired, and defeated.  Grief is the story line that I follow with my tears, and I know how this story ends. Sometimes the dialogue is so painful and beautiful that every cell in my body reacts.  Roger no longer understands death and he does not understand that he is dying.  Dementia has given him this one gift.  We talk about heaven as a place where he will go and he will be able to bike and hike again.  I tell him that he will get to order all his favorite foods, and watch all his favorite movies with lots of popcorn. Yesterday I asked him if he was ready to go to heaven soon and he shook his head no. I asked him why and he said “Because I know people here.”

Being my oldest sister, there are over 12 years between Danita and I in age. It wasn't until more recently that we have gotten to know one another better. We share some of the same goals and challenges. I am so very grateful I have this opportunity to know her, and therefore myself, better.

You can find Danita's blog here. I encourage you to read it, to take in the clarity and the grief she writes about. I am so proud of you for taking the leap of faith into the blogosphere. There is much growth and healing that can happen between our hearts, souls, and minds and the pen and paper or keyboard. Thanks for allowing us to be a witness to your journey.

Write on sister!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Experience Counts

Today I am grateful for my job and other opportunities to be of service to others.

Experience: insights and awareness garnered from involvement and participation in events and happenings. Life is full of experiences that allow us the opportunity to gain experience. Our jobs are one place this can certainly be true. I appreciate the years I have been first a teacher and now a school counselor. After ten years of teaching, I am now in my 18th year as a school counselor.

As a classroom teacher I had some control over the events in my room during class periods. Not total control for sure, but some level of predictability. That is not the case in the counseling office. No two days are alike.  That both invigorates and exhausts me.  And then there are the days that take us to "Are you kidding me?" status.  One thing after another. One situation after another. One follow-up after another. We had a day like that yesterday. In the end, things were handled well and communication was good. That is the best we can hope for.

Experience has taught me that those kind of days come along, at work, at home, and in other areas of our lives. They present some challenges, but also opportunities for commiseration, humor, and liberal application of acceptance and faith.

Experience counts. Today I will pay attention to the moments and hours as I experience them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Simple Joy

Today I am grateful for time with our grandson Leo and his mom Emily last evening.  I am also grateful that I feel respected by colleagues.

Here is a picture of Leo that Grandma Lisa just has to share:


Some of you may have seen it already, as my husband Darcy already posted it on Facebook and so did Emily.

It bears repeating though. This look of simple and pure joy. This delight in the present moment and the attention being given.

I am the one who got him to smile for this picture, but I am the one left smiling.

Spread some smiles today!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

WGD Video

Today I am grateful for the taste of real bacon and the sound of some of my favorite songs.

I may have sounded a little harsh yesterday regarding World Gratitude Day (WGD). I didn't mean to. I just struggle with "a day for this, a day for that" to raise awareness. But that is exactly where awareness can start. Someone hears or sees something that resonates with them. They reflect on it, ponder making some changes, and find themselves inspired to do just that-make some changes.

That is the best we can hope for. Learn more about ourselves, keep doing what works, try to change what isn't working, or simply let go of it.

I did come across this good video when I was looking into World Gratitude Day. Consider pausing for 5 minutes and taking in the insights you will hear and see.

The Gratitude Project

Some of the things I picked up with this viewing:
-I am grateful for my breath.
-Let go and allow it.
-A regular gratitude practice is good for my health in many ways.

Give it a quiet viewing and see what comes through.

Monday, September 21, 2015

World Gratitude Day?

Today I am grateful for a sense of peace and for our ideal marathon training run yesterday.

After a challenging 20-mile training run a couple weeks ago in the heat and humidity, my husband Darcy and I are both also very grateful for the ideal conditions we had yesterday. We were quite happy with the run, enjoyed the cool air and early morning scenery, and chalked it up as a great run to have under our belts just four weeks out from our marathon. 

Here is a little scenery shot I paused to take along our route as the sun came up: 



Switching gears now, did you know that today, September 21, is World Gratitude Day? It has been designated as such by the United Nations since 1977 and began in 1965 (a good year I might add). It reportedly began in Hawaii thanks to meditation guru Sri Chinmoy. He was the director of the UN Meditation Group at the time and suggested the idea as a holiday to unify people around the world. As I researched Chinmoy a little, I also found out he was someone who enjoyed running and encouraged physical activity as an avenue to spiritual enlightenment. I can relate to that!

I like this idea. A holiday that unifies. That is even a challenge for many at the level of their own family, much less globally. 

But I had never heard of World Gratitude Day before this weekend when I happened across it while reading other blogs. There wasn't a ton of information and activities to be found, but I did see these colorful graphics:




I appreciate the efforts, and if even a handful of people who weren't giving gratitude a try before today start doing so because of something they see regarding WGD, then it is worth it.

I am more a fan of daily practice though. If I only practiced gratitude every September 21 and every November for Thanksgiving, pardon my language, but I would be screwed.  

It takes time and effort to go from the levels of self-pity I used to wallow in to the levels of peace and gratitude I can sometimes reach.  Daily effort.

If you have considered starting a gratitude practice, but haven't done so yet, today would be a great day to launch your efforts. It works. It really does. Happy "World Gratitude Day" and have a good day! 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Series of Breakdowns

Today I am grateful for conversations with others in recovery from alcoholism/addiction. I am also grateful for a walk with Darcy and Oliver and a little football throwing with Sam.

The "Word for the Day" at www.gratefulness.org for yesterday was:

"Catastrophe is the essence of the spiritual path, a series of breakdowns allowing us to discover the threads that weave all of life into a whole cloth."
(Roshi Joan Halifax)

Catastrophes come in big and small packages. Some are obvious. Some are not. Some are universal, others are very individual and private. They each have a similar result though.

They break us down, make us vulnerable, help us see more clearly, bring gifts into focus, shatter illusions. They become those threads that can weave a beautiful cloth if we are willing to feel all the feelings and willing to ask for help from other humans and higher sources.

And there is no such thing as a catastrophe contest. At least there shouldn't be. Wearing catastrophes as a badge of honor could get old and heavy. Minimizing catastrophes because they aren't as big as someone else's only keeps us stuck in another way.

Drinking alcohol was catastrophic to me in many ways. So was looking in the mirror at the height of my self-hatred. Inhibiting the writer within was another kind of catastrophe. Cancer too has left a mark in many ways. But each of these has ended up adding some colorful and vibrant threads to the cloth of my life as well.  My toughest times defined me and pushed me to learn more about the precious and fragile nature of life. 

That is truly a beautiful thread woven throughout my days now-the present of the presence. 

A series of breakdowns, major and minor, have helped build me into the person I am today-a person I love and respect. That's a long way from the catastrophic thinking that used to plague me. 


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Unplugging

Today I am grateful for a clear and cool morning and the time to sit and watch the sun come up.

I appreciated the perspective I regained this week thanks to forgetting my work laptop in my office Thursday when I left for the day. Just having that distance between us-my work computer and I-was a good detaching. (It was right where I left it when I got to work Friday, but I was at a different place.)

That feeling stuck with me and I thought of the days before laptops and cell phones and 24/7 accessibility. There are certainly things I appreciate about modern conveniences-I typed part of the draft of this post on my phone while I waited for my son Sam after his football game. 

But one thing I don't care for is the way these modern conveniences make some things too easy, which can make some other things too hard. It is too easy to get caught up in checking one more email, looking at a couple more Facebook posts, responding now so I won't forget...

Which can make it too hard, for me anyway, to unwind, unplug, relax, just breathe, take in all of my surroundings instead of just a screen.

"Everything in moderation" remains a good guide. We all probably know people who are plugged in excessively and obsessively. If they don't literally look bug-eyed, their brains may be feeling and acting so.

I don't want to be one of those people. I will do some intentional unplugging today and encourage you to do the same. Unplug from devices, plug into the beauty and awe of the present moment. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Working Windshield Wipers

Today I am grateful for a working vehicle and efficient windshield wipers on that vehicle. I am also grateful for some divine intervention.

Over time, windshield wipers lose some of their effectiveness and leave streaks, or areas where the rain, or snow, or washer fluid aren't quite cleaned off. Residue. A dirty windshield can cloud our vision when we are driving. It can even become dangerous.

What about life's residue? Worries, lack of sleep, overdoing, overbooked, to-do piles that seem to propagate rather than diminish. They cloud my vision and weigh me down. They endanger my health and serenity.

Sometimes a car just needs new windshield wipers. They aren't that expensive and they are pretty easy to replace.

Sometimes we just need a new perspective. It needn't take much time or effort. In fact, trying easier can be helpful.

The windshield wipers for my life are things like pausing, saying no, humility, accepting my limitations, being grateful, not judging others or myself, more acceptance, more pausing.

And that divine intervention? It came via me forgetting to bring my work laptop home. No access to work email or documents I may have wanted to work on. I was too tired to be productive anyway, but just knowing that laptop wasn't even in the house was a little freedom.

I will look for other freedoms today as I see my life unfold more clearly through the working windshield wipers of gratitude.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Understanding What I Am

Today I am grateful for my working senses and limbs, and for a fixed and working light switch. (Thanks to the electrician who made quick and inexpensive work of fixing the problem.)

Here is a thought-provoking quote:

"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a 
transformation." (Jiddu Krishnamurti)

If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you know I appreciate words that help me reflect and encapsulate what gratitude practice does for me. This quote does that.

Gratitude practice has helped me see the good in myself and others much more readily. It helps me feel like I am enough, as is. The world around me is enough, as is. In this moment, in this day. 

Less time spent chasing the illusion of perfection and things outside of myself means more time exploring and accepting who I am. Change does indeed occur then. My energy becomes more about feeling worthy, living fully, and trying easier. It becomes less about holding back in unworthiness, stunting my own growth, and trying too hard.

Understanding who I am today starts with: I am a grateful person, comfortable in my own skin, knowing more peace than before, and looking forward to today's opportunities. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

R and B: Soul, Heart, Mind

Today I am grateful for rest and morning coffee. I also appreciate my sister's reminder to do a gratitude list. I just did an A-Z list as I walked Oliver.

You might think I am talking about music genres when you first see the title of today's post. Actually, I wanted to wrap up my musings on rare and beautiful country. My body is mine alone. My acceptance of that body-flaws, scars and all-is mine alone.

What about my soul, heart, and mind though?

My soul allows me to continue an amazing journey to increasing faith, spirituality, mindfulness.
Soul expansion will continue as long as I do the legwork and ask for help from my Higher Power, God, Great Spirit. All those names work for me. I hope you have at least one that works for you.

My heart takes ongoing lessons in what love really is, and how to express that love with kindness and compassion to others and to myself.

My mind can be my worst enemy or my best friend. It is far friendlier when my body, soul, and heart remind it of what is most important in life. It is far friendlier when enjoying a slower pace of thought, not the frenzied pace that gets me spun up.

When I trust myself and the higher forces at work in our lives, I feel grace and humility. I am in awe of the rare and beautiful country I reside in and am surrounded by.

Talk about a good starting point for some mindful gratitude today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"Hold on Loosely" to this "One"

Today I am grateful for our grandson Leo and his healthy growth and development as he turned 6 months old yesterday. I am also grateful for the chance to meet Sam's teachers last evening.

The thought of rare and beautiful country within and without remains on my mind. I return to that which I know best, but also know least-the country within me. Much is left unexplored, yet I have reached a comfort level with this country within over my five decades of living. Body. Heart. Soul. Mind.

My body is scarred and missing parts, courtesy of surgeries to address cancer that had taken up residence in my right breast. There are signs of aging that grow more numerous. Yet, there are also endless capabilities this body can perform. Arms that can carry, legs and back that can lift. Stairs I can climb, miles I can run, rooms I can clean. And the list goes on . . .

On a recent run, I had my radio on and enjoyed some NPR, but also some good tunes. I hadn't worn my radio in weeks. It was a solo run, a beautiful morning, and I was in the flow of the run. A couple of my favorite songs came on the radio during my run, and stayed after my run with a message for me.

"Hold on Loosely" is one of my favorites from the band .38 Special, from the early 1980's. Listen to it here. It always requires a volume move to louder.  The other song I heard was one of my favorites from U2, the song "One."  Listen to it here. Some of the words strike me in each song, but so does the flow and tempo of the music. It fits a run.

But it was their titles that left a lasting mark after that recent run. It was a good run, a good few moments in time when I was one with my body, my soul, nature that surrounded me. I appreciated the moment. I held on loosely so as to not squeeze the joy out. One moment. Followed by another and another. If I find joy in even some of the moments, it is a good day.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Rare and Beautiful Life

Today I am grateful for a phone conversation with my friend Sheila and for both of us continuing in healthy survivorship since our breast cancer diagnoses.

I am also grateful for my siblings and a special "Happy Birthday" wish to my sister Leonice and my brother Neal. (They aren't twins, but they do share a birthday.)

Yesterday's post about "rare and beautiful country" stayed with me throughout my day. I went to our church services, which I only tend to do every few weeks. I enjoyed the time to slow down as well as the upbeat hymns used when we have contemporary services.

As prayers were read, the refugee crisis in Europe came up, as did the wildfires out west.  There are 19 million refugees in the world today, with over 42,000 new refugees joining that number daily. That 42,000 is nearly twice the size of the community I live in, fleeing civil war and other strife each day. Syria alone has had 4 million people flee the country since 2011.

Over 8 million acres have been burned in the wildfires this year, with 5 firefighters being killed in the line of duty, and hundreds and hundreds of structures being destroyed.

There aren't too many things that seem beautiful about refugees fleeing and wildfires burning. But I think the beauty of humanity comes out in such times. People helping people. And the rare, precious, and fragile nature of life itself become even more meaningful.

In recent days I have also watched part of Ken Burns' "Civil War" series, some coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and read local news about a man who apparently murdered his wife and three teen children before taking his own life.

Heavy stuff. Very heavy, disheartening, frightening. But very much that stark and pointed reminder of the gift of life we get today.

What will I do with that gift? What will you do with it? Let's try to add to the stream of positive, to help stem the tide of negative.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Rare and Beautiful Country

Today I am grateful for the geese I can hear as they fly over, starting their journey south. I am also grateful for peace, recognizing it and seeking it.

This quote recently crossed my path and sort of parked itself in my mind and heart:

"It began in mystery and it will end in mystery, but what rare and 
beautiful country lies in between."
(Diane Ackerman)

Profound and thought-provoking words. She doesn't say what "it" is, but it sounds like "it" is life and the meaning of life. To call it all "rare and beautiful country," to consider each fellow being as "rare and beautiful," gives us a kind and loving perspective that our overly busy, overly competitive, overly superficial social and cultural ways of today too often miss.

Life can be frightening, challenging, exhausting at times. But without those times, how would or could we ever appreciate the days of new energy and peace? 

If I spend less time trying to figure out the mystery and more time enjoying the journey through rare and beautiful country, my life will be richer, filled with simple joys. And those who cross my path today will feel it and see it and be more likely to pass more of the same along.

What rare and beautiful country lies ahead in the next few hours? Pay attention and we will see many amazing and heartening things. 


Saturday, September 12, 2015

From Nowhere to Now Here

Today I am grateful for the view this morning as I sit in my recliner and look out our front window.
I am also grateful for my sister-in-law Dana and wish her "Happy Birthday!" today.

I appreciate that my husband Darcy and Dana, his only sibling, are close and have always been good support for one another.

Yesterday I was trying to focus on going nowhere from time to time. Stepping back now and then to pause. I did it a few times in my day. Going nowhere leaves me here and now, in my physical body, in my heart, soul, and mind.

I recalled something I heard and saw years ago from a motivational speaker and presenter. Take the word nowhere. When you go nowhere in the right sense, in the mindfully present sense, you end up "now here."

From nowhere to now here. Same letters, different place.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Going Nowhere

Today I am grateful for morning air cool enough to need long sleeves and long pants. I am also grateful for the peace and mindfulness that can be found in a simple pause.

The "Word of the Day" at www.gratefulness.org a few days ago was:

"Going nowhere . . . isn't about turning your back on the world; it's about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply."
(Leonard Cohen)

I don't know about you, but there are hours and days I seem all wrapped up in going somewhere and doing something. Too wrapped up. Sure, things need to get done. But not every waking minute. Sometimes what is more important is what is not happening.

Take a minute or two a few times today and step away. Go nowhere and do nothing. You may be surprised at the clarity and energy that arrive.



Thursday, September 10, 2015

Eighth Grade Already?

Today I am grateful for my son and my job.

Our son Sam started 8th grade yesterday. Here he is in the "first day of school" picture we take every year.


Is that my baby? How could he be growing up so fast?  It is with mixed emotions that each school year comes, just like each birthday. Bittersweet. He is doing well. He is his own person. He has self-awareness and a level of ease and confidence I didn't have at 13. Yet, he has much to learn and some challenging years lie ahead. We will be here for you bud!

As Sam was just returning to school, my school is in week 3 already and we had our "Back to School Night" last night. I appreciate the opportunity to meet new parents and see ones I have known for years.

When it comes down to it, we all care about our children tremendously. I am grateful to be both a parent and a professional who gets to interact with other people's kids regularly. Both opportunities enrich my life.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Planes and Buffalo

Today I am grateful for a nice bike ride last evening and the energy to move in the right direction.

That tough stretch of trail I blogged about yesterday offered some bonuses. As we ran near the airport, we got to see one plane take off nearby and another come in for a landing right over us. I didn't grow up anywhere near an airport, and I flew for the first time at age 30. Planes and airports still impress me. 

Before we made it out to the airport, we went past some grazing buffalo just off the trail at the Great Plains Zoo. Not an everyday sighting either.  

Planes and plains buffalo. Those were just a couple things I noticed as we covered one mile at a time.  

What will I notice today, one moment at a time?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Tough Stretch

Today I am grateful for safe travels over the weekend, time with Darcy's family, and for friends with whom to celebrate recovery.

Darcy and I did a long training run in Sioux Falls on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, the excessive humidity didn't take leave of the area until Sunday night. It led to challenging conditions for the first 20-miler of our marathon training season. We love the SF trail system and the well-placed amenities like bathrooms and drinking fountains. It was that heat and humidity we didn't appreciate much, along with those bikers who don't find it necessary to say "on your left" when approaching behind us. (A big thanks to the many who did say it though.)

The picture below was taken about 11 miles into our run. It was near mile marker 13 on the Sioux Falls trail system. For those of you familiar with SF, we were heading out to the airport area. It's the most remote stretch, and for us Sunday it was a tough stretch. A couple miles down the trail, we headed back in to the city and got a little relief from a breeze.

Long runs and life sometimes have tough stretches. Keep plugging along. Persist. Do the next right thing. Ask for help and allow it. Be grateful. Usually sooner than later, there is a positive shift in perspective and new energy.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Enduring, Endearing, Embracing

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy's ongoing support of my recovery from alcoholism. I am deeply humbled and grateful for all I have learned on this recovery trek.

Today marks 26 years of sobriety for me. I am reminded "Don't get so many years that you forget the days." Today is all I get. It is all any of us get. And it is precious.

I have endured challenging times in the last 26 years. Some had everything to do with alcoholism, others had little to do with it. I have endured complacent times in my recovery. I have endured my own alcoholic mind, more enemy than friend. But it is easier to endure one day or one hour at a time, and with ample support surrounding me.

I have endearing friendships and relationships with others in recovery and I am so grateful for each and every one. I have endearing support of my husband Darcy and others in my life. I have a source of faith I trust and rely on. I hope you know how much you all teach me and the many ways you help me. You have my deepest appreciation.

I continue to embrace the opportunity and grace of recovery. Some days it is a full embrace, other days it is only a partial one. But I keep it close, within arm's reach. Within my heart and soul.

Like my recovery, I embrace gratitude. Two deadly diseases-cancer and alcoholism-are part of my story. They are woven throughout. The simple fact is that either one could have killed me like it kills others each day. I am here. Alive. That is a profound moment to embrace.

I will be taking a blog break until early next week. Enjoy the Labor Day weekend!

Onward!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Swine on the Mind

Today I am grateful for updated technology and for old memories.

The updated technology means our ten-year old TV has been replaced. These new flat screen TV's are sure a lot lighter. Old memories have to do with this picture:


I took this picture in the "Miracle of Birth" Center, one of the most popular attractions at the Minnesota State Fair. If you time it right, you can witness a live animal birth. I got to witness some of those growing up on a farm. I recall seeing calves and piglets enter the world. I especially liked the cute little piggies like the ones in the picture above.

I appreciated growing up on a farm for many reasons. Witnessing the "circle of life" so to speak was one of the things I remember. It was matter of fact in ways, amazing in others.

The picture above shows a litter of 14. I wonder if the one piglet eating is getting an early start, or finally getting his/her turn. I love their sleeping arrangements. It just makes me smile.

I wrote another post about pigs in a post here from December of 2012 if you care to read more.

Swine on the mind. Smile on the face. Have a good day!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Random Thoughts from the State Fair

Today I am grateful for a good fair experience yesterday and enjoyable family time together. I am also grateful for this morning's rain shower.

Yesterday our son Sam had his first opportunity to have a 4-H project judged at the Minnesota State Fair. His tractor project got a blue ribbon and he got to share his interest with others who have similar ones. Here he is, after a bit of grumbling, graciously allowing his mom to take a picture:



Darcy, Sam, and I went to the fair together and enjoyed our time there. After Sam's judging was done, we were able to do things like:

*tour a tiny house (It didn't take long but was fun to see.)
*look at a "bagnado" and be reminded to use fewer plastic bags
*eat a variety of fair food (And feel good about the deals we got with our coupon book.)
*check out numerous implement and truck dealers and see the wheels of Sam's dream future turning
*wander through various livestock barns, enjoying the atmosphere and odor (Yes, really!)
*people watch (We are an interesting and varied species.)
*get our traditional $2 milk with free refills
*swing through the ever-popular "Miracle of Birth" center (More on that tomorrow.)

We all agree that our time at the fair was pleasant and Sam is grateful he had the 4-H experience he did. He is already thinking about next year's project. I like that in a young mind.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Just One More

Today I am grateful for people to whom I can vent and feel safe in doing so. I am also grateful for the chance to explore new technology and applications (new to me anyway).

Some of my recovery friends were discussing overthinking and overdoing recently. That resonates with me because I have been there and done that, and I continue to do so. That is why my disease requires daily work, and why habitual gratitude practice is so helpful. It creates pauses in the overthinking and overdoing. And it helps me prioritize what I need to do, which means less spinning.

The discussion inspired this poem:

Just One More
Just one more                          
Drink
Pill
Hit
Bite
Fix

Destructive
Shaming
Deadly

Just one more
Task
Chore
To-do
Should

Just as
Destructive
Shaming
Deadly

There are
Many ways
To feed
Addiction—
The beast
That is never
Satisfied

Most are
Frowned upon
Some are culturally
Sanctioned

They all
Stem from
Fear
Ego
Control
Lack of faith

And they all
Kill

Whether they
Kill
Todays joy
Or our
Very selves                  

LV 8/30/15

Right-sized ego. Faith with which to face the fear. Letting go of what I can't control and focusing on what I can-simply my own attitude and actions. These are the things that will help me find today's joy. Onward!