"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

Monday, February 29, 2016

Give It A Rest

Today I am grateful for phone conversations and an afternoon nap yesterday. I am also grateful for a surprise visit from my friend Betsy.

Though feeling considerably better, the virus that took hold in me hasn't made a complete exit, so I continue to make rest a priority. That is not always something I am good at. I push myself and fill my days from early in the morning until running out of gas somewhere in the evening. And that pace certainly could have made me vulnerable to viral attack.

My body said "enough" and I literally was limited by my energy level. That makes it much easier to prioritize. Do I have to get anything else done before I rest? When you aren't feeling good, the answer is quicker to come. Stop pushing. Start resting.

I have gone to bed earlier and slept in a little. I have taken more naps. I have kept my expectations reasonable and low. It has all helped me provide better self-care. Give it a rest Lisa. Give it a rest.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Glorious Late February Day

Today I am grateful for nature in many forms and I am also grateful for the comfort food of goulash.

We had a weather treat yesterday. The temperature pushed near 60 degrees. The sun shone. The snow melted.

We haven't had a tough winter this year at all, but it still wears on a person. So I took delight in driving with the car windows open a bit. I appreciated sitting on our back patio enjoying some time with Darcy. We opened windows in our house and gave thanks for the freshness we could smell.

I went for my first run in a week, after being sick with the flu, in capris and short sleeves.  Though decidedly sluggish and still recovering, it sure felt good to have fresh air on more than my face.

Later in the afternoon, Sam and I took to our side street and played a little catch with a football. Several others walked, ran, and even biked past in the short time we were out there. It was simply a glorious late February day and I am glad we got to enjoy it.

Today was my dad's birthday. I always think of him on his birthday. I miss him and I am most saddened that my son Sam never got to have some conversations with him. But I think about the many ways his legacy lives on--in my siblings and I, and in our children.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Slippers

Today I am grateful for rest, recliners, and comfortable slippers.

I continue to feel better other than a persistent cough. I have renewed respect for people who deal with chronic health conditions. A few days of feeling sick and not my usual energetic self and I was so ready to move on and get back to 100%. Some people don't have that option. They have the option of making the best of difficult and uncomfortable symptoms. Daily efforts can lead to some daily peace.

I was sitting in my recliner last evening, appreciating the rest and quiet after a tough week. I wondered what I might want to blog about today and I looked down at the slippers on my feet. There you have it. Today's blog topic.

Darcy and I actually both have the same slippers right now. We found 2 pairs on clearance and got them for $8 a pair. We love a good deal! They are men's slippers, which tend to fit my big feet better anyway, and be more supportive. Besides, I am not one of those who likes fluff and pretty stuff on my slippers or most other articles in my wardrobe either.

I did take a permanent marker and put a heart on each of my slippers so we could tell our pairs apart. That's the extent of the fluff.

I have never been a real fan of going barefoot, indoors or out. In the cooler months especially, my feet need socks and slippers to feel cozy and warm. In the summer, I tend to give the slippers a rest, but not for long.

I am grateful for my slippers. Grateful that I can slip them on when I get up in the morning and make my way around a quiet house. Grateful when I get home from a work day that I can take off my shoes, shoes that have literally put miles on, and ease into those welcoming slippers again.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Observing, Not Claiming

Today I am grateful for the opportunities my job gives me. I am also grateful for cough drops.

Following is a quote I saw recently:

Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don't claim them. 
Feel the artistry moving through and be silent.
(Jalaluddin Rumi)

Observe the wonders. Each and every day, life is loaded with wonders. Air to breathe. Electricity. 
Sunshine. Traffic laws. Pause. Look. Listen. You may be surprised at what you notice, and to notice is to acknowledge with appreciation.

Don't claim them. Those wonders that abound aren't happening because of me, they are happening for me and for you. They are part of a bigger picture of amazing life. They are part of the work of power sources well beyond those human.

Feel the artistry and be silent. There is artistry in human movement. There is artistry in the play of light through a window. There is artistry in the flow of cars and trucks on the crowded freeways of early mornings.

Observe. Feel. Silence. It's a good start to mindful gratitude. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Incrementally

Today I am grateful for progress in terms of overcoming the flu and also in terms of understanding how gratitude practice works.

Though I felt better in some ways yesterday, the area where my flu bug started-my throat and upper respiratory area-continued to scream at me when I needed to cough. Ouch! I was hoping that it was exiting the way it entered, but it is taking it's sweet old time. Patience needed by the patient.

So I plod along reminding myself that rest is best and that my job is important, but not that important.

I am incrementally feeling better. Usually recovery from illness is a process. I can't just flip a switch and everything is better.

Recovery from alcoholism is the same way. I continue to make incremental progress, amazed at how far I have come, a day at a time, an hour at a time.

Even gratitude practice is about incremental progress. I couldn't go from a negative mindset, full of self-pity and demeaning thoughts of my flawed life, to a positive mindset, just like that. I had to take it slow and learn that negative could be replaced with positive and that my default mode of thinking could follow suit. I had to learn that daily actions lead to new habits and healthier habits lead to more nurturing perspectives.

Incrementally speaking, life is good today.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Influenza A

Today I am grateful for be feeling better and grateful for the perspective that being sick puts on many things I tend to take for granted.

It started with a sore throat, body aches, and the chills Saturday evening. By Sunday morning, I knew something was up and I was very low on energy.  Sam and I made the drive back home from our travels to Iowa and I went in to urgent care. It was determined that I had a case of Influenza A. Since it was still early on after becoming symptomatic, I was prescribed Tamiflu.

I stayed home from work on Monday and continued to feel as sick as I have felt in a long time. In fact, I would have to say I haven't felt this overall malaise since post-chemo treatment days. I felt quite a bit better Tuesday and went to work. But then my back started to bother me. I probably slept on too many different beds and couches in recent days and the old back has gotten a little more temperamental on me.

So I slowly am feeling better and my energy is returning, but a painful dry cough and tweaked back remain my challenges.

It sure makes me miss the days where I feel my usual self physically. Strong, energetic, flexible. In other words, most days of my life.

It sure makes me grateful for many things too:  plenty of accrued sick time, insurance, a supportive and helpful husband and son, medication that has helped, and a desire to get back to 100% so I can fully appreciate what that feels like again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Matriarch's 85th

Today I am grateful for family time, safe travels for all this weekend, and more memories shared.

On Saturday, my mom celebrated her 85th birthday. Numerous children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren gathered to honor her and help her mark the occasion. She got several phone calls and her younger sister stopped in for a visit.

I enjoyed hearing some more stories from her youth and some more family history. And I must say it was kind of fun to put Mom on Facebook. My sister Zita posted a younger Mom and with my sister Leonice's photo, I posted a current one just taken of the birthday girl on her day. 

We read Mom some of the comments and told her about "likes." I think it all was beyond her non-techy experience, but we appreciated a chance to highlight this mother of 13, mother-in-law, grandma, great-grandma, sister and aunt. She probably would never use the word to describe herself, but she is indeed a matriarch to quite a brood.

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Toast to Toast

Today I am grateful for laughter in a meeting with colleagues. I am also grateful for pizza, ice cream,
and toast.

Toast. What a simple pleasure. You put a piece or two of bread in the toaster, give it a couple minutes, gather butter or peanut butter, jelly or not. Soon, you have hot toasted bread to top with your favorite choices.

I prefer toast that is medium-toasted. Not too light, not too dark. And it is imperative to get the butter or peanut butter on the bread while it is still hot. That is where the deliciousness comes in. Melted butter or peanut butter makes or breaks my toast. Cold toast won't do.

I sure do sound picky. I am spoiled I guess.

How fortunate to have bread, a toaster, electricity . . .

I will be taking a blog break until early next week. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Leo, Oliver, and Some More Music: A 3 x 3

Today I am grateful for the many gifts I see when I pause long enough to notice. I am grateful for the ways that gratitude practice makes progress possible in my life.

Here is an easy way to practice gratitude. List 3 items, people, experiences, or any combination thereof. Then put 3 reasons you are grateful for each. The list grows quickly and the gratitude adds up.

So here is a recent 3 x 3 for me:

1. Our grandson Leo-his interest in our dog Oliver, his smile, his toddling first walking steps

2. Our dog Oliver-his playful nature, morning walks together, how each member of the family loves him a little bit differently

3. More musical favorites-John Cougar Mellencamp, Asia, and Steve Winwood

Create your own 3 x 3 today. (Or 2 x 2, or 4 x 4. It all works!)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Closing Reflections

Today I am grateful for the chance to spend time with our grandson Leo this morning and to be of help to my stepdaughter Emily. I am also grateful for the simplicity of cereal for breakfast.

Having spent the last few weeks remembering some of my favorite songs and sounds from some of my favorite musical artists, it seems fitting to officially wrap up my A-Z gratitude list with some closing reflections.

*Working ears and sense of hearing are gifts that I cherish and will protect.

*From deep pain can come beautiful words and music. The same can come
from deep joy.

*Songs spark memories and bring back special moments and days.

*We give songs our own meanings stemming from the circumstances and
emotions in our lives at the time, but it is nice to learn the meaning the writers
had. The Internet makes it easy to do that today.

It seems only fitting to close with two songs about reflecting. A short version of Reflections from Diana Ross and the Supremes can be heard/seen here. It was the theme song from the critically acclaimed television show "China Beach" from the late 1980's. The show's setting was the Vietnam War. Reflections of My Life from Marmalade in 1970 can be heard/seen here. I have always liked listening to and watching this version, which pays tribute to Vietnam veterans.

Today, I reflect on all who have worked hard to first help us gain freedom and then to protect and
preserve it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Some Sister Input Leads to Zoot and Zeppelin

Today I am grateful for daily lessons on daily recovery from alcoholism and the people who help teach me and show me these lessons.

As I thought ahead to the letter "Z", I realized I was struggling to come up with musical material. It was easy to think of ZZ Top, but the songs of these "bearded boys" are simply on the fringes of my interest.  I do agree "every girl's crazy about a sharp-dressed man" though, and I appreciate that the same 3 men have comprised the band for over 40 years. Kudos to Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard for their longevity and cohesiveness. Incidentally, of the three, Beard is usually not bearded.

Whenever I think of the letter Z on my gratitude lists, my sister Zita comes to mind. When I think about those who influenced the music I listened to, my sister Ruth also comes to mind. I decided to ask the two of them if they had any "Z" ideas or to share.

Ruth quickly came up with a "Z" in Led Zeppelin. Ruth led the way for me into the rock arena, though today she is more of a country fan. Stairway to Heaven, Kashmir, Immigrant Song and Whole Lotta Love hearken from Led Zeppelin's early heavy rock days. All My Love and Fool in the Rain are less heavy.

Zita weighed in after doing some research herself. I appreciate what she discovered. There was an Australian band called Zoot from the late 1960's. Zita found interesting tidbits about the band neither of us had heard of before. Two members of the band are known to us. Beeb Birtles founded the Little River Band. Zita's favorite song from LRB was Lady. You probably won't be surprised to hear that mine was Lonesome Loser.

The second member of Zoot we know is none other than Rick Springfield. He sure was a cutie!
Zita likes his Jessie's Girl and I would give a nod to Love Somebody. For those of you from our part of the world, Zita also gave mention of Chip's Ballroom. That may spark some memories for some of you. For others, maybe it was Matter's Ballroom.

A big thanks to Zita and Ruth for their musical input and influence, and for being the sisters who had to put up with me the most. I am grateful for the love, laughter, and support we share today.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Yes, You Can Be a Beacon and Light Up Some Lives

Today I am grateful for the simplicity of fried eggs and for a nice early morning walk with our dog Oliver in milder temperatures.

There are a couple of songs from "Y" artists that come to my mind today. Owner of a Lonely Heart (my theme song on some sad, drunken nights) from the group Yes and Yvonne Elliman's If I Can't Have You. 

But I am putting my focus today on two songs that start with the letter "Y" and the word "You."
I previously wrote a blog post, early in my blogging career, about Donna Fargo's You Can't Be a Beacon If Your Light Don't Shine.  Read it here.

You Light Up My Life by Debby Boone from the 1977 movie also comes to mind. It was a huge hit for Boone, and one that I really liked. Sure, it may fit the "sappy" label a little, but it still touches me.

The life lessons in both songs continue to motivate my efforts to practice gratitude. Between trying to be a beacon for others and giving thanks to those who bring light to my life, I am one grateful, music-loving writer today.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

eXcluded and xoxoxo

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy and our marriage, and also my brother Artie. Happy Birthday Artie!

I admit that the closest I could come to something musical for the letter X was Olivia Newton John's Xanudu from the movie of the same name. But earlier in the alphabet, as I wrote and then heard more songs on my commute in particular, I realized I had eXcluded some singers, songwriters, and musicians I really enjoy listening to.

So here is a list of some of them:

*Boston   *Blondie   *Billy Joel   *Bad Company   *Aerosmith   *Kansas   *Heart
*Guess Who   *Survivor   *Bonnie Tyler   *Foreigner   *Diana Ross   *Prince
*The Doobie Brothers   *The Beatles    *Donna Summer 

Since it happens to be Valentine's Day, I can throw in some xoxoxo for my very own Mr. Valentine, but also for the many people I know love me, in spite of my quirks and flaws. Including myself. Love of self may be something you have had your whole life. That wasn't my story. Thankfully, it is now.         

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Wright's Weaver and Some Willie and Waylon

Today I am grateful for the view out our picture window on a beautiful but brisk morning. I am also grateful to see our grandson Leo take some of his first solo steps last evening.

On the short list of my favorite songs already as we have toured A-Z are Layla, I Can See Clearly Now, Summer Rain, and Bridge Over Troubled Water. Add Gary Wright's Dream Weaver.  I was 10 years old when the song came out in 1975. I was in my head by then; dreaming dreams, some good, some not. Maybe that is why the song struck me then. I think there was also a sense of hope . . .

"Driver take away my worries of today and leave tomorrow behind. I believe you can get me through the night. I believe we can reach the morning light . . . Cross the highways of fantasy. Help me to forget today's pain." 

A frequently played album on our console stereo's turntable back in the mid-to-late 1970's was The Outlaws, featuring Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser. I listened from beginning to end and knew every song.



It is hard to nail down a favorite track or two from the album, but I would have to go with Good Hearted Woman and Suspicious Minds.

I wonder how much Waylon Jennings thought of fate-like giving up his seat to a sick J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, on a plane that later crashed; killing Richardson, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly and their pilot in 1959. Our lives are full of twists of fate. Further confirming the idea that life is both precious and fragile.

Which makes it fitting to close out "W" with one more meaningful song-We May Never Pass This Way Again by Seals and Crofts.  Listen to it here and then go life live today. It is all we get. Go forth, gratefully. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Van Halen, Vicki, and Vickie

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to roller skate with middle school students yesterday. I am also grateful for food in our refrigerator and money in our bank account.

"V" is for Van Halen, another one of those rock groups that defined my youth. But I must say that my favorite song is one that digressed a bit from their usual. That song is 1992's Right Now.

We could stop at the title; a great reminder to pause in the moment. The song gives the listener many other things to consider though.

A couple of other "V" artists that come to mind are Vicki Lawrence and her song The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia and Vickie Sue Robinson's Turn the Beat Around.

Right now I am feeling ready for the day, a moment at a time. If needed, if I get sidetracked I can pause and turn the beat back around to a healthier one. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

U2 and Under Pressure

Today I am grateful for time to reflect on fasting and different ways of fasting.  I am also grateful for our kitchen and working appliances.

The band U2 quickly came to mind when I reached today's letter. My husband Darcy and I saw U2 in concert in 2001 at the Target Center in Minneapolis. A little Internet search reminds me that it was their Elevation tour and tells me the date was May 1. We were trying to get pregnant and we were doing some things we figured we wouldn't be able to afford or have time for once a baby came along (which Sam did in early 2002).

The concert was a little disappointing, not because of U2, but more because of our upper deck seats. But they have been far from disappointing in the many songs they have given me to enjoy.

The list of some of my favorites from U2 include:

All I Want Is You  
One  
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For  
Pride (In the Name of Love)  
With or Without You
Sunday Bloody Sunday

A song from Queen and David Bowie, with the title of Under Pressure, is one I wish to acknowledge here as well.  What a great collaboration! Listen to it here.

I like the song and I like the reminder to consider where pressure may be building in my life and what I can and should do about that. Pausing to be mindfully grateful in this moment is always a pressure release and helps me see solutions more readily.

Are you putting yourself under pressure? Is it helpful or a hindrance? Take a mindful pause before proceeding.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Some Good Advice on Fasting

Today I am grateful for the simplicity of taking a moment at a time. I am also grateful for my husband Darcy and our marriage.

I am taking a break from my A-Z gratitude list to write about something on many peoples' minds today: fasting. The Christian season of Lent begins today with Ash Wednesday. Many religions have fasting as part of their belief system, such as Muslims and the month of Ramadan.

Growing up Catholic myself, Lent was about fasting and giving up something. I have continued to do a Lenten sacrifice some years, but also attempt to add something positive, not just take away something. So when my friend Dorothy sent the words below in an email, I really appreciated what I read:

Fasting in Lent

The kind of fast drawing me this season isn’t leaving behind of treats like chocolate or other pleasures.  This season I am being invited to fast from things like “ego-grasping” and noticing when I so desperately want to be in control, and then yielding myself to a greater wisdom than my own.

I am called to fast from being strong and always trying to hold it all together, and instead embrace the profound grace that comes through my vulnerability and tenderness, to allow a great softening this season. 

I am called to fast from anxiety and the endless torrent of thoughts which rise up in my mind to paralyze me with fear of the future, and enter into the radical trust in the abundance at the heart of things, rather than scarcity. 

I am called to fast from speed and rushing through my life, causing me to miss the grace shimmering right here in this holy pause.

I am called to fast from multitasking and the destructive energy of inattentiveness to any one thing, so that I get many things done, but none of them well, and none of them nourishing to me. Instead my practice will become a beholding of each thing, each person, each moment.

I am called to fast from endless list-making and too many deadlines, and enter into the quiet and listen for what is ripening and unfolding, what is ready to be born.

I am called to fast from certainty and trust in the great mystery of things.
And then perhaps, I will arrive at Easter and realize those things from which I have fasted I no longer need to take back on again. I will experience a different kind of rising.

-Christine Valters Paintner

When I read something I really like, I am always curious about the author. Read more about Christine Valters Paintner here.

Such a thought-provoking piece. I will be reading it regularly in the coming weeks, to help me internalize some of the thoughts and turn them into actions.

Less "ego-grasping" and more profound grace. Less scarcity, more abundance. Less destruction, more nourishment. 


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Brrr . . . It's a Three Dog Night

Today I am grateful for my sister Zita (Happy Birthday Zita!) and for all of my siblings.

The band Three Dog Night has a unique name, reportedly referring to indigenous Australians and sleeping with dogs to stay warm. If it was cold it was a two dog night, but the coldest nights were a three dog night. Regardless of their name, I enjoy their music. Out in the Country and Easy To Be Hard would have to be my favorites of their many hits.

Where I live, last night was definitely a three dog night. Thankfully, I live in a house with working heat and have enough winter attire to keep me warm when I need to venture outside.

The letter "T" is loaded with some other great artists. Toto. Tina Turner. Tom Petty. Todd Rundgren.

I also need to mention Time is on My Side from the Rolling Stones and Takin' Me Back from Cheap Trick. Listen to this last song here.  Chalk it up as another one of those somewhat sad, dark songs I was drawn to.

Taking me back. That is just what an old song does for me. It takes me back to memories-some good, some difficult. Some great, some just mundane.

But how nice to have memories to go back to. How nice to be able to retrieve those memories from our brains. How sad when dementia, or an accident, or cancer, takes that ability away.

There is much to be grateful for today. I will take that thought with me throughout the day.

Monday, February 8, 2016

B.S.

Today I am grateful for a warm parka on a cold and brisk morning. I am also grateful for a new and affordable exercise bike.

With my blog focus in recent weeks being on music, I have had ample time to be reminded of songs and musicians that mean something to me. No BS here. Music has made a real difference in my life. I guess you could say my life has its own soundtrack. All of our lives do.

And on my soundtrack you will definitely find Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and Billy Squier. Coincidentally, all share the same initials of B.S. Bruce and Bob add to my list of favorite running songs with Born to Run and Against the Wind. The Boss' Glory Days, I'm Goin' Down and Thunder Road along with Seger's Old Time Rock and Roll and Still the Same rank as some of my favorites from these prolific hit-makers.

Billy Squier's My Kinda Lover was #148 on the jukebox in the local bar I frequented in my drinking days. Surprising what we remember isn't it? Other favorites of mine from this B.S. were Everybody Wants You, Lonely is the Night, and Nobody Knows.

The duo Seals and Crofts deserve a mention here too, and another song in my "Top 5" if I had such a list-Summer Rain by Johnny Rivers.

Another area of no BS in my life: when I regularly practice gratitude, I am more at peace and I do better in my day.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Raised on Radio and Running

Today I am grateful for an enjoyable and entertaining dinner theater experience last evening with Darcy. I am also grateful for the conveniences of our local community.

I was literally raised on radio, and I am proud of it! None of this music on demand, any song, any time you want it, instantly. We had limited options and a thrill when a favorite song came on. It was random and unexpected, increasing our appreciation. Instant gratification takes some of the fun out of it somehow.

I remember how cool it was when on a clear night we might be able to get WLS out of Chicago on our little kitchen radio. That's the radio where we listened intently for school delays or closings and also enjoyed songs together as we washed and wiped many dishes on many days.

Raised on Radio is also an album and song released by Journey in 1986, but the version I like more is the 1984 song Raised on Radio by the Ravyns.

One time I really enjoy the randomness of songs on the radio is when I am out running. I wear an armband radio when I run solo, and it can be downright inspiring at times when a certain song comes on to fit my mood and/or stride.  I grew up running and listening to the radio and those were two of my healthier choices in my youth. They remain good choices for me today.

Speaking of running, Running on Empty by Jackson Browne is a favorite running and life song for me. Other "R" songs and artists worth a mention include the Rolling Stones and Ruby Tuesday, Rainbow and their song Stone Cold, and The Clash's Rock the Casbah. 

What are some of your memories of being raised on radio?


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Queen

Today I am grateful for an outdoor run this morning and the opportunity to welcome the coming daylight. I am also grateful for the music of the band Queen.

To write about Queen when I got to "Q" was a no-brainier for me. I grew up with Queen and one of their biggest hits was Bohemian Rhapsody. Thanks to the movie "Wayne's World," many children of the '90's know the song, but they can't claim it like those of us who grew up in the '70's can. It was released for the first time in 1975 and regained popularity in 1992 with "Wayne's World."

If I had to pick my favorite Queen song, I would go with Play the Game, but We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions, You're My Best Friend, Somebody to Love, and Killer Queen come to mind as well as Bohemian Rhapsody of course.

In fact, in the picture below, the 45 LP on the far left is Play the Game.

I dug these out of storage a few days ago as I take this trip through musical memories. I couldn't find the green 45 I got for my 12th birthday though-ELO's Telephone Line. If you are curious, the other 45's in the picture are Foreigner's Blue Morning, Blue Day, My Fair Share from Seals and Crofts, and Games People Play from the Alan Parsons Project. The 8-track tape is Nazareth.

A recent picture, but many past memories.

Thank you Freddie Mercury and the rest of Queen for some unique rock songs.

Do you have a music archives of your own? What is in it?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Two Photographs and a Peace Train

Today I am grateful for pen and paper and for the ease of eating bananas and clementines.

It just so happens that Photograph is the title of not one, but two songs I really like. The first is Ringo Starr's Photograph and can be heard here. The second is the Def Leppard song that can be heard here. The first was released in 1973, the second early in 1983, the year I graduated from high school.

I am grateful for both versions of Photograph, but also the hundreds and thousands of photographs taken over the course of my life. Many are in photo albums that go back to my childhood. Even with digital prints easily stored on phones and computers, I still get real prints made from time to time. I don't quite like or trust everything being stored on some device. A photograph can't fully be appreciated until it is held in one's hands or looked at in a frame. In my opinion anyway.

Growing up, we didn't have many photographs taken. There is only one of me as a young baby, and it's not a close-up. I recall one of our family photo albums that has what must be annual pictures, probably around the holidays because I remember being in coats and boots, and there's an additional sibling in each photo. We can tell who the baby is by counting the other kids. I am grateful for those pictures, but it is why I haven't skimped on pictures of my own family.

Then there is the song Peace Train by Cat Stevens. It carries a message as valuable today as it did when it was released in 1971. There's room for us all on the peace train-regardless of skin color, religious leanings, political viewpoints, sexual orientation, and any other differences that can either divide us or bring us together with love and tolerance.

Peace Train was also on the sound track of the wonderful movie "Remember the Titans." Here is a clip from the movie.

Where do you need peace in your life today? Where can you bring peace to others?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

One Hit Wonders

Today I am grateful for the beauty of today's early morning moon and for easy access to clean and safe water.

I have been enjoying this musical journey through the alphabet and hope you have too. I also have enjoyed many one hit wonders. From the 1970's, songs like Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks, Sky High by Jigsaw, and Magic by Pilot come to mind. There's another one from 1990 that has always remained a favorite of mine. I even had a single cassette of it back in the day. That song was Joey by Concrete Blond.

With the ease of the Internet at my fingertips now, I have been researching some of the songs and artists I am writing about. I found out that Joey was written by lead singer Johnette Napolitano and is about being in love with an alcoholic. The alcoholic she was writing about died of liver failure in 2002.

Listen to Joey and see the video, depicting an anguished lone drinker, here.

The song resonated with me in my early sobriety. It still resonates today. And leaves me feeling a deep sense of gratitude to have made my way into recovery, with the help of caring and concerned friends and family. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Snow and Leo

Today I am grateful for flexibility from others and myself. I am also grateful for opportunity and ability to shovel snow.

I am taking a break today from my musical alphabet. The weather yesterday gave us an opportunity to help my stepdaughter Emily out and get to spend time with our grandson Leo. I had the enjoyment of sharing a nap with 10-month old Leo.

He slept longer than I did, but because he was sleeping on my shoulder and grandmas don't want to risk waking a sleeping baby, I sat quietly longer than I usually do. Watching the snow outside from the safety of my recliner was appreciated. Seeing this face when he woke up was even more appreciated:


We ended up shoveling snow four times to keep up with the 10-12 inches we got. Shoveling snow always brings me a good dose of gratitude. I am able-bodied and alive. I can shovel snow. I can pause and enjoy the fresh air and snow on the trees. I am blessed. We all are. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Night Ranger and Nilsson

Today I am grateful for the strength and wisdom of others in recovery from alcoholism and what they teach me. I am also grateful for the peace that can be found in a simple pause.

When I think of the rock group Night Ranger, the first song that comes to mind is Sister Christian. Add to that list songs like Goodbye, When You Close Your Eyes, Sentimental Street, Sing Me Away, and Four in the Morning. Songs can transport us back in time and where Sister Christian takes me is to college softball days. We had plenty of fun cheering for each other from the bench, on long bus rides, and in the midst of games and practices.

On an interesting side note, Sister Christian was written and sung by drummer Kelly Keagy for his sister Christy. Goodbye was written by bassist and lead singer Jack Blades, in memory of his brother who died of a drug overdose.

Harry Nilsson's song Without You was the first song on a greatest hits album we had when I was growing up. I am sure I wore the grooves out playing it over and over. It's another one of those painful, despairing sorts of songs that appealed to me in my confused and insecure youth.  Today it is a reminder to me of healing and moving forward.

What songs transport you to different times? What songs help you heal? Take a listen to some of them today. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

M & M's

Today I am grateful for Sam's involvement in our church's youth group and for the joy that writing brings me.

Alliteration must be on my mind, because as I pondered "M" artists and songs I came up with Melissa Manchester and Maureen McGovern. These are a couple of blasts from the past. Come to find out with a little research that Melissa was discovered by Barry Manilow and sang back up for Bette Midler. Among Manchester's hits was a song titled Midnight Blue. Bringing up Barry Manilow reminds me of his hit Mandy.

Don't Cry Out Loud and Looking Through the Eyes of Love are two of my favorites from Manchester. Through the Eyes of Love was the love theme from the 1978 movie "Ice Castles." Can I just say what a cutie Robbie Benson was? For a flashback, check this out. For even more of a flashback, try this one.

McGovern's big hit The Morning After was from the 1972 movie "The Poseidon Adventure." Bette Midler had a big hit with another movie song-Wind Beneath My Wings-from the 1988 movie "Beaches"  "Beaches" is a favorite movie of mine. But my favorite song from the Divine Miss M is The Rose. 

I was confused in thinking that Maureen McGovern also sang Torn Between Two Lovers. Alas, I was mistaken. But wouldn't you know, it was sung by Mary MacGregor.

All of these M's have made me hungry for some M & M's. I am grateful for all of the music and all of the chocolate I enjoy.