"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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Helping Out Against Breast Cancer

Today I am grateful for a healthier perspective lately when it comes to my job.

I am also grateful for Dr. Susan Love and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. Their efforts are commendable and where they are putting time, energy, and funds to work makes sense to me. I recently did another survey for the Health of Women Study. Read about it in this post from
May of 2015:

How to Make a Difference

It just takes minutes to sign up and then you can do questionnaires and surveys that are added to a growing database hopefully taking us closer to solving the riddle of cancer, specifically breast cancer. I have done several surveys since signing up and feel like I am doing my part to help this worthy cause.

You can also read about the Army of Women in the second link listed in the post link above. Both are open to women of a wide age range as well as both those who have and have not had breast cancer.

Anyone reading this can probably list several women and men they know who have had breast cancer. Maybe it is you.

Looking for a way to help out?  Consider signing up today.  And I thank those who are already in.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Laugh It Off

Today I am grateful for the simplicity of strength exercises like planks and push-ups. I am also grateful for the ease of email as a way to connect with others.

An email among friends yesterday was discussing laughter. At those times when I have felt down on myself and life, laughter is hard to hear. Even painful.

I know I am progressing and doing better when I can first smile, then laugh along, and
finally laugh at myself.

I can even learn to laugh something off before it takes hold in my magnifying mind. There is hope!

Today, I will look for opportunities to laugh it off. Or at least smile.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Thank you Lori!

Today I am grateful for the sunshine we were treated to on our last day of spring break.

I am also grateful for the friendly face joining me in the picture below.

That smile belongs to my hair stylist Lori. She has been my stylist for nearly 15 years. For the better part of the 10 years before moving here, I had bounced around from various stylists at the chain places. I promised myself when we moved that I would find a salon and a stylist I could get to know. I called a place within walking distance of our new home and inquired if any stylists were taking new clients. That's how I ended up with Lori. 

No regrets here. She gets my hair and what I like done with it. We became friends over the years, inquiring about our families and each other's hobbies. She asks about our running. I ask about her horse, whose name I can never remember. (It's Ozzie by the way.) Our conversations are pleasant and often insightful.

I have always enjoyed our time together as she cut and styled my hair. Lori is a compassionate soul and a genuine listener. She has a good sense of humor too. I especially appreciated her kindness when she offered to come to our house to shave my head when I was undergoing chemotherapy in September of 2008. She tells me that is a memory that has stayed with her as well.

And the cool thing is Lori has many more clients like me that she has made connections with here. Some whose hair she has cut far longer than mine.

Much has happened in both of our lives over these years. Lori has found new love and is
moving to another state.

You will be missed here Lori, but I am so happy for you! Never doubt the difference you have made and the lives you have touched. Thanks for everything!

Monday, March 28, 2016

An Anniversary and an Affirmation

Today I am grateful for time with family, including grandson Leo, and joyful music at Easter church services yesterday.

I am also grateful for this blog and the many ways it helps me. Yesterday marked the 4th anniversary of "Habitual Gratitude." 

I launched it with both excitement and caution on March 27, 2012 with my inaugural post. I entered new territory, raised my level of technology use and got more comfortable with the process. My blog is pretty basic in format, but I still remember the thrill of figuring things out like how to insert a picture or how to change a live link's title. 

No big deals. Not a flashy blog. But very meaningful to me. It has made me a better writer. It has given me a way to quench my previously unquenched desire to write often and beyond the journaling I was doing. It has helped me reach deeper levels of mindful gratitude, faith, and peace. 

And it has taught me much about humility and keeping my ego right-sized. 

I plan to continue this blog, but you may notice fewer posts and some shorter ones too. I still plan to post several days a week. 

I have other writing ideas and want to give them more of my time and attention.

As I pass this anniversary, I am very much affirmed of two things:

1) I am a writer.
2) Gratitude practice works.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

What to wear? What to wear?

Today I am grateful for good finds and bargains at our favorite running shoe store. I am also grateful for forgiveness.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it! I like to ponder the ideas of new life, transformations, and second chances on this day. 

You may be thinking my post title has to do with finding an outfit to wear to Easter services, but it doesn't. I am not really a dress-up sort of gal unless the occasion requires it. Today it is optional.
I will take the middle ground and wear something "nice."

This "What to wear?" is referring to running attire. We have been running long enough that we have the necessary items and can usually make pretty accurate choices related to the conditions we are about to run into. 

Rain is always a bit of a challenge though. A chilly rain even more so. That is what awaited us yesterday morning. You want to be protected from the rain but also not overdress. We have rain jackets with side vents so they worked really well. We started out in a light rain and started to get warm after the rain let up. We unzipped the side vents and stayed cool and comfortable to finish out our run. 

I felt a deep sense of gratitude for all this running gear we have. I was reminded of the closet full of seasonal clothes I have for work, leisure, and special events. I considered those who walk this planet with literally not much more than the clothes on their bodies at the time.

I paused to consider that a closet full of clothes is not a given and should be appreciated regularly.
It is that way with so much in life. Pause in this moment. See and feel and hear what really matters.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Buds to Blossoms, Patience to Rewards

Today I am grateful for my friend Jill and time for coffee together. I am also grateful for a good find in a bookshelf for my "office" space. 

Pella, Iowa, where Darcy and I were visiting earlier this week, has a famous Tulip Festival each year in early May. It would be nice to see all of those tulips in bloom, but I appreciated the quiet, non-crowded late March. We did see the potential in hundreds of early tulips getting started, like the ones in the first picture below.

We also saw some magnolia bushes like the one in this next picture. It won't be long before it abounds with white blossoms. After we traveled to Memphis, Tennessee in 2000 and appreciated seeing them there, Darcy looked for a heartier breed that could survive the cooler weather here. 

He found them and we planted two magnolia bushes at our first home in town. They were always the first thing to bloom each spring. We miss witnessing the blooming, but sometimes we can catch a glimpse if we happen to take our running route past our old house. 

Buds to blossoms. Patience to rewards. We may be surrounded by too much instant gratification in our society, but these pictures remind me that nature knows how to take time. We each know how to take time. We just have to be more mindful in practicing patience. That is a good goal for today.

I miss much when I am in a hurry. I say things I shouldn't when I stop being a patient listener.
I will work on pausing patiently today.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Traditional to Eclectic

Today I am grateful for bright sunshine, good wisdom from others in recovery, and for time to catch up with my friend Jenny.

It has been a nice week for our spring break. We enjoyed time with some of my family, and time to explore an Iowa community I had never visited before-Pella. Then we enjoyed a March snowstorm from our own living room and appreciate that the snow is disappearing quickly.

Darcy and I experienced both traditional and eclectic in Pella. From these two windmills, to the food we ate and the shops we perused. The first windmill is a working replica of a typical Dutch windmill. The second is an eclectic version we saw when we went running on Tuesday morning. 

We enjoyed the traditional Dutch letter pastry and also an eclectic platter of authentic Greek food. 
Who knew? Great Greek food in a Dutch community.  We were looking for some home decor for our updated kitchen area. We found both traditional and eclectic, sometimes within the same item.

I have my traditional approach to gratitude practice-writing daily in my journal. And I have some eclectic approaches. An A-Z list while I commute. A momentary pause on an early morning walk to take in the awe of the stars and moon.

Traditional and eclectic. Both have their place. Both are appreciated. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Behold Simplicity

Today I am grateful for a break from my job and for a celebration of our grandson Leo's first birthday.

I came across the word behold the other day. It is an archaic word that means the same as contemporary words like see, observe, view, witness, regard, contemplate.

Behold this moment. Witness it as it is unfolding.

Behold an updated kitchen. See the new and brighter color schemes. Regard a
fresh routine of eating breakfast sitting on new bar stools at our kitchen's bar.

Behold the view looking out our front picture window. Observe in ways we too
often fail to pause long enough to really see.

Behold the simplicity in downsizing. With work done in our kitchen, we configured some of the space differently and there is less clutter, more open space. I find that more calming and inviting.

Behold the simplicity of saying goodbye to my temperamental inkjet printer at work. Sure, it was
convenient, but it was also frustrating. We had a love-hate relationship for several years. It taught me
patience and acceptance. But now I am networked to two printers that aren't too far from my office, and I got to downsize my overly busy desk.

The printer's exit freed up some space. What I moved to that area then freed up my desk some more.
My desk is often full of piles and gets more cluttered as I go through a work day. I tidy up a bit before leaving, and then it starts all over again the next day.

Now, behold simplicity. If I can remain disciplined, I will have a more calming and inviting desk in my office too.  I appreciate the simplicity in moving a few things, throwing some things away, and finding a fresh approach to space.

I am also embracing simplicity by taking a blog break. I will be back late next week. I enjoy this blog and the writing I do for it, but it is always good to step away from time to time.

I am approaching four years of blogging and 1300 posts. Feel free to go back and peruse some of my earlier posts. That's my plan.  I know I will return with several new post ideas and renewed energy too.

Behold simplicity today. Contemplate the many gifts surrounding us all.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Wonder Beyond Words

Today I am grateful for my five senses, especially for my hearing this morning. I am also grateful
for time to converse with Darcy.

I have been writing a lot in my posts this week about presence and seizing the opportunities that come along in each moment and each day. It's important for me to focus on this idea of mindfulness and pausing and writing about it helps. I hope my words are of value to those reading as well.

So here is another quote to consider:

"To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe--to participate in the dance of life 
with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment 
from it--is a wonder beyond words."  (Joanna Macy)

When is the last time I thought about my functioning and healthy organ systems?  When was the last time I said "thank you lungs and kidneys?"

Our bodies are amazing machines. They are indeed a wonder beyond words. Today, as I breathe in and breathe out, I will thank this earthly vehicle I reside in for the good job it is doing.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Unencumbered by Nonsense

Today I am grateful for a more balanced pace to recent days and for thorough doctors.

I am also grateful that our son Sam has been cleared for activity after a knee injury in late December.

I have used a number of Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes in this blog. I would apologize for using another one, but there's nothing to apologize for. He had a way with words that is timeless. 
So here's another:

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could, some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." 

You can't saw sawdust. What's done is done. Nobody's perfect and most days aren't either. And that is just the way it is meant to be. Life can be messy. Take some risks and live life fully. Blunders and absurdities will be part of the scenery. But so will grace and beauty and love. Celebrate it all.

Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Apply ample patience and acceptance.

The new day mentioned above is now here. 
What will you do with it? 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Speak Up and Sing Out

Today I am grateful for rain to clean our streets and lawns. I am also grateful for keys and locks. 

Speak up and sing out. There are lots of ways we can give meaning to these words. Speak up when you have something to say. Speak up when you see injustice. Speak up when you want to thank someone. 

I am grateful for the voice I have found and the confidence I have gained in many arenas. It wasn't that way in my life for a long time, and I can thank gratitude practice for being one of the most important tools applied to improving my outlook on life and my efforts to live it well.

But what inspired this post was hearing Linda Ronstadt on the radio yesterday. I have satellite radio in my car and often listen to the 70's on 7. It's not unusual to hear a song from Ronstadt. She was a huge success that decade. Whenever I hear a song from her now though, I invariably think of how Parkinson's disease has silenced her voice. She can talk, but she can no longer sing out.

My brother-in-law Roger was silenced by Lewy Body Dementia. No more conversations or long walks with his wife, my sister Danita. People are silenced every day-by death, but also by shame, fear, despair. Let's help one another out. Speak up when silence needs to be broken. Sing out when joy strikes. And help others do the same. Make it safe to speak up and sing out. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sharing Pie on Pi Day

Today I am grateful for the variety of people I have met on my journey to recover from alcoholism. I am also grateful for laughter and honest sharing.

I was hanging out with some recovery friends last evening and we decided to celebrate "Pi Day" and recovery,  and life in general, by going out for a piece of pie.

It wasn't just "Pi Day" yesterday, it was "Rounded Pi Day." What is "Pi Day?"  Since the mathematically significant number of pi is 3.14, "Pi Day" is celebrated every March 14, 3/14.  But yesterday was even more special. If you round pi to the nearest 10 thousandth, you get 3.1416. That makes for 3/14/16, and thus "Rounded Pi Day." It only happens once a century.

I had forgotten what pi even means, but I like quirky little things like this. By the way, pi represents the ratio of circumference of a circle divided by its diameter.

"Rounded Pi Day" may explain why our local Perkins was out of several types of pie by the the time we got there. And after we ordered, our server had to come back and let us know that a couple more kinds had just run out since we ordered.

We didn't mind. We were talking, sharing, laughing. The pie was just a bonus. The real gift was our time together.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Little Leo turns 1!

Today I am grateful to be a parent, stepparent, and grandmother. I am also grateful for my job and how no two days are alike.

Today is our grandson Leo's first birthday. It is hard to believe that his first year has gone by already.
I appreciate the job his mom Emily is doing as a parent and that she is also working hard in her job to be able to provide for her son and pay bills. She is a devoted and loving mother and Leo is thriving.

I am partial, but this recent picture of Leo is just too darn cute! His new bib overalls, tag still on, that precious look on his face, and him standing on his own are all adorable to me.

He has been walking for a few weeks now.  I remember holding him for the first time in the hospital and how tiny he was. Babies are an amazing reminder of the wonders of life. Being grandparents has brought Darcy and I much joy. There have been stressful times in the last year too, but things have gone better than we anticipated.  Leo helps us remember priorities and to take time to enjoy this moment.

Happy Birthday Leo! Thank you for brightening our lives! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

An Alleluia in the Darkness

Today I am grateful for my friend Jill and our mutual trust and respect. I am also grateful for the beautiful weekend day we had weather-wise and otherwise yesterday.

This was yesterday's "Word for the Day" at www.gratefulness.org:

Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand
that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.
(Joan Chittister)

Chittister is a Benedictine nun, a prolific writer, and an advocate for women's rights around the world.

If you are a regular church-goer in many denominations, you haven't heard an "alleluia" since the start of Lent, a time of penitence.  It is one of the things I so enjoy about Easter Sunday service-the joyful alleluias in the hymns.

But one needn't be a church-goer to appreciate Chittister's words above and the sound of an 
"alleluia." Darkness deserves our focus and our appreciation as much as the sunlight does. Only with both do we learn the value of each. For me, I certainly find truth in my life experiences that the dark times taught me much and made it possible for me to step out into the sunlight more confidently.

It also seems fitting on this morning, as I sit on our front patio in the coming daylight. It is cloudy and daylight savings time is underway. Central standard time is now nearly 7:30 a.m. and the light is just arriving. The birds have been singing for a good while already though, bridging the darkness and the light.  

Have a good day, unless you've made other plans.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Weekend is Here!

Today I am grateful for the weekend, nice weather, and a kitchen we can use again.

Most of us our fans of the weekend. Those days when we get a break from the busy work week and
have some flexibility with our time. Those days we maybe get to sleep in a little and stay up later watching a movie.

I try to be a fan of each and every day. I don't dread one over the other. Sure I like Fridays and Saturdays, but as I have heard it said-Mondays are one-seventh of our lives. We might as well do our best to enjoy them too.

I was especially ready for this weekend though. Spring fever has set in for me, and at the school I work at. If any of you work in schools, you know what happens to energy levels when the weather gets warm and you're still a couple weeks away from spring break.

We also are able to use our kitchen again after several days of not having access to anything but the refrigerator and the necessities we had in boxes and such. It isn't entirely done, but we are sure happy with the transformed look and will appreciate when the final steps are complete.

Even though it was an inconvenience and frustrating at times this week, I thought many times how these were pretty minor obstacles in our day. I thought about the people who barely have a roof over their head and no running water or refrigeration. I can handle a little inconvenience.

The weekend is here and it begins as so many of ours do. Darcy and I will be heading out on a run date soon. The trails are clear, the sun is out, the temperature is comfortable.

I plan to soak it all up, pause from time to time, and soak some more. Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 11, 2016

From Readers to Zest and Zeal

Today I am grateful for time to sit quietly and for a run in the sunshine yesterday.

Let's wrap up the A-Z gratitude list I have been working on. By the way, how is your
list coming along?

R is for being able to read. And for all of you-my blog readers. Thanks!

S is for my son Sam. Being a mother is such a journey.

T is for talking in person. (Texts, emails, and phone calls all work,
          but face-to-face, when possible, is what I prefer.)

U is for the uplift that gratitude practice gives me.

V is for the variety of vegetables I enjoy eating. (Peas are my favorite.)

W is for the wisdom I hear from others in recovery. They trust and share
          openly and I learn and gain more hope.

X is for eXtra special memories I cherish. A picture, a thought, a voice
          can bring them to my mind's eye and my heart.

Y is for saying "yes to life!" when for so long I was stuck in self-hatred.

Z is for zest and zeal to bring into this day. Energy and optimism beat
           feeling depleted and pessimistic. And they are more fun.

Onward into this day! 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

From Health to Questions

Today I am grateful for the family pictures around our house. I am also grateful for fingertips that work on keyboards.

Back to that A-Z list I started yesterday:

H is for a return to physical health after having the flu.

I is for the ease of installing new printers to network with my work computer.

J is for my friend Jenny who has helped bring out the writer in me. I am keeping her and
          her family in my thoughts today as they hold her sister's funeral.

K is for our kitchen. It is currently undergoing some transformation and I miss the ease of using it.

L is for letting go of that which I can't control, which is pretty much everything beyond my
          own attitude and actions.

M is for music and how it adds to my day, especially on my commute.

N is for newness--in this day, in ideas I have, in the simplicity of a pause.

O is for the optimism created by mindful gratitude practice.

P is for the Prayer of St. Francis DeSales. Read about it here.

Q is for questions that have no real answers. They help me explore uncharted areas.

Whatever the day brings today, some quiet moments and ongoing gratitude for the opportunity to
live it as it unfolds should make for an interesting time. Onward!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Quicker Trip Through the Alphabet

Today I am grateful for friends, old and new. I am also grateful for a breezy, 70-degree day yesterday.

An A-Z gratitude list struck me as a good idea today. It always is. An easy way to give focus to gratitude practice; it can be done on a walk, while commuting, sitting in your favorite chair, or just about anywhere.

I won't get this trip through the alphabet done today, but I will get it started.

A for the milder air outdoors in recent days, and the fact that it is clean air.
         Also for warm applesauce.

B for bananas, my favorite fruit, and their easy convenience.
        Also for birds singing.

C for many people I care about and those who care about me too.

D for my husband Darcy and for my friend Deb-college roommate, softball
        teammate, and longtime friend. Happy Birthday to you today Deb!

E for quiet evenings and everything available for me to eat.

F for finding deeper levels of faith.

G for the continuing growth and gains garnered from gratitude practice.

What is on your gratitude list today?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Laying Low

Today I am grateful for the school our son Sam attends.  I am also grateful for familiar faces and friends in a crowd. 

I took this picture of our cockapoo Oliver the other day:

We were just about to leave on a few shopping errands and he seemed a little bummed that he wasn't coming. But yet, he was looking pretty relaxed and comfortable, just laying low. He does relinquish his seat on the recliner when one of us wants it, but you can clearly see this dog has his run of our house. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Oliver is being boarded for a few days because we are getting some work done in our kitchen. I have missed him in several different ways since he left. He's such a part of our family and our routine that it is different to be here without him. (Usually when we board him we are gone too.)

I miss our morning walks and his excited greeting when I get home from work. I miss his stretches, his playfulness, his predictability...where he sleeps, when he moves, what will bring him running.

Oliver quickly worked his way into our hearts when he first arrived and he's been there ever since.

See you soon Oliver!

Monday, March 7, 2016

More Attention, Less Destruction

Today I am grateful for the people in my life who inspire me in many different ways. I am also grateful for pushups and sit-ups to help keep my muscles and joints strong.

Here it is March 7 and Easter is three weeks away, so Lent is more than half over. I have been faithfully reading the "Fasting in Lent" writing from Christine Valters Painter that I blogged about on Ash Wednesday. Read it here.  Today the words that I will try to carry with me are "Instead my practice will become a beholding of each thing, each person, each moment."

It fits with my sister Leonice's thoughts on "more ta-da and less to do."  Behold the awe found right here, right now.

And together they fit with this quote from Rachel Carson:

"The more clearly we focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, 
the less taste we shall have for destruction."  

Rachel Carson, author and marine biologist, died from breast cancer at the age of 56 in 1964, just two years after her book Silent Spring was published. Though it wasn't public knowledge, she was in poor health for a good portion of the time she spent researching and writing the game-changing Silent Spring. Though she didn't live to see these things happen, her work and this book helped spark the environmental movement and led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970 along with the banning of the pesticide DDT in 1972.

Appreciating the gifts around us, in our natural world and the humans in it, not only brings us mindful gratitude individually. It also brings more collective care and concern to preserve these wonders, from rivers and streams to relationships and communities.

More attention, less destruction. More gratitude, less erosion of the spirit.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

More "Ta da!" and Less "To do"

Today I am grateful for a good run yesterday morning with Darcy and some productive shopping.

I am also grateful my sister Leonice shared this tidbit yesterday...her own creation: "more ta-da and less to do." I love it and I need it! Pause. Notice. Experience the joy of a sunrise or the way the moon looks on a clear night. Consider the way the light plays through the trees and into your living room.

Admire the stunning view on your commute that has become just part of the routine and barely noticed each day. Pull up some photos from a recent trip that gave you mountain or ocean views you don't regularly get to enjoy. Realize the complexity of electricity and energy made so simple with the flip of a switch.

"Ta-da" can take human form too. Appreciate the beautiful eyes of a loved one or the soothing sound of his or her voice. Awe can be inspired in both big and small ways. It all leads us to some humility and being able to integrate the peace and grace that exist in a moment.  

Experiencing and appreciating awe opens the door to a Higher Power or Great Spirit and reminds us that we are but a part of the universe and that means we only need to do our part. It helps to prioritize too. 

If you spend a whole day checking off things on your "to do" list, you are likely missing opportunities to pause and soak up some awe. I sometimes forget that I will be more productive if I pause and re-energize that if I just keep plowing headlong into the day. It has been proven to me time and time again, but I tend to be a slow learner.

Wonderful wisdom in your words Leonice. Thank you! And it can be backed up with scientific evidence if you are interested.  Read this article from the Greater Good Science Center, or this one, for more information.

Go experience some awe today! Bring on the "ta da!"  Some of the "to do" can wait.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Honoring Complexity

Today I am grateful for what living life with an open mind, even some of the time, can teach me. I am also grateful for a weekend away from my job.

I came across this quote a few weeks ago:

"Honor your own complexity." (Mark Gerzon)

I have been pondering it ever since. If I am anything, I am complex. In my own opinion anyway. I have known myself for fifty years and still feel like I have so much to learn. Layers have been removed. Walls have been deconstructed. My true self has emerged. But there is plenty more to learn.
Today I look forward to that learning. There was a time I was fearful of what I would find.

When I think of complex, I think of my thoughts, my self-perception. They were so muddled and self-defeating for so long. I am very grateful I view myself in a healthier light today, which leads to viewing others and the world with a more hopeful and encouraging lens as well.

I have a range of emotions that I more fully appreciate and more readily identify. My goals and dreams are many and they motivate me. I love many and feel loved by many.

There has been much self-acceptance applied and gained as well. What a gift acceptance is. What a gift life experience is. Through the new pair of glasses my gratitude practice has given me, I honor my own complexity instead of my previous approach of fighting it.

How can you honor your own complexity today? You are worthy and deserving. We all are. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Gently Falling

Today I am grateful for my morning coffee and walking with our dog Oliver. There is comfort in predictability and routine.

Yesterday there was a brief period of light snow while I was at work. It was gently and softly falling. It was soothing just to watch it. I paused for a minute or so and took in  the scene. It was enough to help me integrate that feeling of gently falling into my day.

Gently falling snow leads to gently falling blood pressure.  To pause at any point in my day is a good thing. To be able to do it at work where I tend to get wound tighter and tighter, is a really good thing.

This morning, I can recall that feeling I had yesterday as I watched that snow fall. There was peace in that moment and there is peace in this one. It can be that simple.

Gently falling to sleep or to a more calm state are also welcome happenings. It can make such a difference in the course of my day. Even if my course gets sidetracked, a short pause can bring me back.  It does work. I practice such things as I practice mindfulness and gratitude, and I realize that progress is possible.

Today I will carry the word "gentle" with me as I interact with others and with myself.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Light and Sparkles and Grace

Today I am grateful to know and feel a range of emotions. I am also grateful for a tension-relieving run after work yesterday.

On Tuesday, I blogged about a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, and about looking for light, sparkles, and grace. Here are some of the things I found over the next couple of days:

*an American flag gently blowing in the breeze
*the patterns made by some light snow on the roads and sidewalks
*our local community's four-lane bridge and the ease of traffic flow on it
*the open waters of the Mississippi River beckoning spring
*hearing Bette Midler's voice singing "The Rose"
*clouds giving way to blue sky
*the awe of the moon and stars shining in the pre-dawn sky
*the beauty of being able to put one foot in front of the other and
         get myself from point A to point B

Simple, yet profound. Basic, yet awe-inspiring. Paying attention has a way of bringing true sources of gratitude to the forefront.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Politically Active

Today I am grateful for the expansive morning sky and the humility it brings. I am also grateful for the opportunity to exercise my rights as an American citizen.

Yesterday was Super Tuesday and 13 states held presidential primaries or caucuses. Minnesota, where I reside, holds caucuses. I am familiar with caucuses, having grown up in Iowa and also teaching high school social studies there for ten years. I have participated in caucuses before, but I admit not every election cycle.

I felt compelled to go this year, to do my part, to participate in our electoral process. When I taught, I encouraged students to do their part and that each individual and his/her vote matter. I emphasized the importance of being an informed citizen. I prided myself on being one such citizen.

I do admit that after I left the social studies classroom, I also left behind a bit of that drive to stay informed.  But I do try to stay tuned in enough and I catch the morning headlines on NPR often as I drive to work.

It was fun to see the good turnout at our local caucus and to hear from a variety of people. I didn't stay for the entire evening, but I cast my vote and I listened and learned a few things. I appreciated the opportunity and that I had energy remaining at the end of the day to go back out and do this.

What other opportunities, political or other, can I appreciate and take part in today and each day?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dull or Illumined, Leaden or Sparkling

Today I am grateful for a return to my usual energy and I am grateful for the wisdom and grace others in addiction recovery share with me.

I appreciate this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of so many I like from him:

To the dull mind, all nature is leaden. To the illumined mind, the whole world 
burns and sparkles with light. 

What nature presents this time of year in my neighborhood can also be dull and leaden. Dirty snow. Gray trees. A lackluster view. I am craving green and new life. I appreciate that March has arrived and by later this month we will officially have spring and daylight savings time.

My sister Aileen and her husband John live in Anchorage, Alaska. They have broken records there this winter for stretches without snow, and for lack of snow overall. We have talked about that gray and dirty landscape that wears us out.  

If we patiently persist, we will be deeply rewarded. It will start small, with some fresh sprouts and new buds. It will gain momentum and soon that color we crave will appear. Soon, the smells will welcome and the views will energize.

My mind can be dull when tired or too busy overthinking. It becomes illumined when I pause and soak up the present moment. 

There is beauty in this day and every day. There is light and sparkles and grace. Just stop, look, listen.