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Showing posts from April, 2016

A Theme Emerged, Then Was Replaced

Today I am grateful for a relaxing backyard fire last evening and the opportunity to play a little catch with a football in that same backyard with my son Sam.

The quiet from Thursday's commute home was replaced by loud music, sunshine, and windows down (at least partially) on my Friday afternoon commute. As I listened to the random songs coming along, as I flipped through satellite radio channels, a theme emerged.

It was a fitting theme for a Friday afternoon in ways. Already Gone by the Eagles. In God's Country by U2. Dizzy by Tommy Roe. The former drinker in me briefly fell back to the mindset I had on many Friday evenings in my drinking days.

To be already gone was my goal. "Pure brewed in God's country" was the slogan for the Old Style we drank because it was cheap and available. And dizzy bedspins would develop on some nights (more like early morning) when I tried to lay down.

The visit back in time was brief, then appropriately replaced by a grateful minds…

Quieting . . . Counting . . . Sweating

Today I am grateful for the birds singing and the clouds clearing after a few dreary, chilly, and wet days. I am also grateful for laughter.

The last week has been exhausting and emotional at work, which of course trickles over into the hours outside of work. I have reminded myself to be kind and gentle to all, myself included. It can start with quiet for me.

Usually I give myself ten minutes or so at the beginning of both my commute to and from work when I keep it quiet. No radio. No songs or news. Just quiet and road noise. It calms me. Yesterday, the quiet was feeling especially comforting, so I kept it that way for my entire commute of thirty minutes.

It helped. When I arrived home, it was raining and a run outside wasn't an appealing idea at all. But I had the urge to get some sweat going. I headed down to our home "gym"- an old Nordic Track machine we got free, my trusty old jump rope, our new exercise bike, all of which I am very grateful to have.

Often when I exe…

Steve Foran's Daily Gratitudes

Today I am grateful for laughter and the healing properties it possesses. I am also grateful for candles lit and glowing, to bring remembrance and peace and for Steve Foran.

Steve Foran was one of my first blog readers and remains one of the most faithful. I've never met him, though in ways I feel like I know him. We share a common idea that gratitude transforms lives, families, workplaces and the world.

We both would agree that gratitude shared is gratitude multiplied and that gratitude is always possible.
Steve focuses more on gratitude in the workplace. I focus on gratitude more in our personal, daily lives. But they are really one and the same. Focusing on gratitude in one area of our day or life helps brings it to the other areas and moments. And we become more energized, more flexible, more calm-whether as a co-worker, a spouse, a parent, or fellow humans crossing paths with one another.

I have written some other posts about Steve Foran. Check a couple of them out here (from…

Routine

Today I am grateful for the school community I work in, which also happens to be a faith community.
I am also grateful for the routines of daily life and work that help bring calm.

Special prayers continue for the family, friends, and classmates of one of our students. He died last Thursday, just weeks before his 16th birthday. His funeral was yesterday.

It is so very sad. The days have been emotional and draining, but the support has been there within
the literal and figurative spaces of our school community.

And today there is a return to some sense of routine for me personally and for our students. It is good for me to be blogging this morning, taking Oliver for a walk, writing in my gratitude journal. Those actions are a regular part of my routine.

It will also be good to have a regular school day for those who need to return to business as usual.

Routines bring order, direction, and a sense of peace to our days. I appreciate this all the more after several days of anything but ro…

Letting it Be

Today I am grateful for sweat and tears. I am also grateful for our amazing natural world.

I came across both of these quotes recently, and they belong together:

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."  (Lao Tzu)
"For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is to let it rain." (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
We can learn so much from nature and remembering our humble human contributions  to the whole scheme of things. 
As the old saying goes: "You can't fool Mother Nature." Nor can you control or rush or
force or push Mother Nature, or anyone else for that matter. Sometimes we uppity humans
think we can though and we end up frustrated and exhausted.
Rushing headlong through my day or keeping a frenetic pace used to be a familiar approach for me. It was indeed futile and very draining. 
I am trying to follow the lessons shown to me by nature and people more serene than I.

Let it rain. Pause. Breathe in the sacred simplicity.

We Belong

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Today I am grateful for a great concert from Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo on Friday night at a local venue. I am also grateful for the school community I work in.

After a difficult and emotional day at work on Friday, part of me wasn't up to going to a concert. But it is exactly what I needed to do. Pat Benatar's songs were my coming of age songs. I love the fact that her and Neil Giraldo have been creating music together for 38 years and been married for 34. They are a wonderful duo. Her voice. His guitar. Wow!

Their current tour is the "We Live for Love" tour:


They, of course, performed the song "We Live For Love" along with most of my favorites. They opened with "All Fired Up," included the moving "Hell is for Children" as they do in each show, gave a tasteful tribute to the late Prince, did a couple of songs acoustically, and wrapped up with "Heartbreaker."
One of my favorite songs is "We Belong." The words "…

Purple Rain Falling

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Today I am grateful for the chance to see my friend Betsy and for the music Prince created over his lifetime.

Prince died yesterday at the age of 57. As fans traveled to his Paisley Park estate in Chanhassen, Minnesota, the rain and sun were intermittent. And then this happened:


A rainbow over Paisley Park seemed fitting in so many ways. He was not only a musical legend, he was a local Minnesotan and locals came out in droves to pay their respects. Whether you cared for his music or not, he was influential and interesting and left a tremendous legacy.

His music from the 1980's and the movie "Purple Rain" are my favorites, including:
                                                          "Purple Rain"
                                                          "I Would Die 4 U"
                                                          "Let's Go Crazy"
                                                          "Raspberry Beret"
 …

I would rather . . .

Today I am grateful for my hearing and the enjoyment of listening to good music. I am also grateful for time to visit with my sisters in BC survivorhood Claire and Candy.

I have a few quotes I have gathered in the little notebook I keep in my purse. They show up in posts fairly regularly. I have collected quotes as long as I have been writing. I have them in notebooks, on random pieces of paper, framed on the wall, and more.
I so appreciate the words of others, especially when they really strike a chord,  like this quote did:
"I would rather be able to appreciate things I can not have than to  have things I am not able to appreciate." (Elbert Hubbard)
Today I will appreciate what I have to use for comfort and basic needs, the people who love me (and tolerate me when I am not acting lovable), and each of my five senses, all in good working order.

And I will appreciate the things I dream of but don't yet have-like a bigger kitchen, a master suite with walk-in closet, a trip o…

Police Presence

Today I am grateful for my family and the home we share. I am also grateful for reminders to pause in the midst of my day.

Yesterday morning as I made my usual commute to work, I was on the multi-lane, metro freeway portion of my trip. I spotted brake lights on the car ahead of me as I simultaneously spotted the highway patrol car in the median. 
My natural instinct is to slow down when I see law enforcement vehicles, even if I am not speeding. They make for effective speed deterrents just by their presence.  It could also have something to do with the fact that I have gotten a "couple" speeding tickets over the years.

I have learned to slow down my driving, the pace I carry through the day, the thoughts in my head.
These are all things that help me get to the present, the here and now. And this is the best place to be, the easiest place to find gratitude.

I appreciate the police presence that fosters public safety. I appreciate the mindful presence that
fosters peace.

Finishers

Today I am grateful for warm milk on my cereal and for the things I have been able to both start and finish in my life.

Though she faced many hours on the course and issues with her prosthetic limb, Adrianne Haslet-Davis has a Boston Marathon finisher's medal to wear. She was cheered home by hundreds of spectators who waited into the evening to see her finish.  Here is the story from a local Boston news channel, and it includes video of Haslet-Davis finishing nearly 10 hours after starting.

Patrick Downes is another Boston Marathon bombing survivor and amputee like Haslet-Davis. They both set out to run the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston yesterday on their prosthetic limbs. Downes became the first bombing victim to finish the marathon course entirely on foot.

Downes' wife Jessica Kensky also lost a leg in the bombing. Her and Patrick hand-cycled the marathon in 2014 and he also hand-cycled it in 2015. Setbacks and continuing surgeries kept Kensky from running, but she was…

Have a good run Adrianne!

Today I am grateful for great weather this weekend and for family time in our backyard.

Today is the 120th running of the storied Boston Marathon and the third running of it since the terrible bombings in 2013. Adrianne Haslet-Davis was one of the victims of the bombing. She survived, but lost her left foot below the knee. If you read what she has said post-bombings, she prefers to be known not as a victim but as a survivor. That sums up her approach to life as well.

That is an approach I appreciate, and in my own ways also live by. I am not a victim of alcoholism or breast cancer. They are part of my story, significant parts, but what a beautiful thing that life goes on.

Haslet-Davis, a professional ballroom dancer and dance instructor, dances and runs on a prosthetic limb. She speaks around the country and she is running to raise money for the Limbs for Life Foundation. This organization provides prosthetics for those unable to get their own.

Read her recent Glamour Magazine intervi…

The Eagle Has Landed

Today I am grateful for gorgeous weather and time to enjoy it. I am also grateful for my son Sam and his insights and thought processes.

I am also grateful for the 10-mile run Darcy and I put in yesterday. On our route, we headed out of town on a trail that takes us to a park along the bluffs of the Mississippi. Talk about open spaces! We haven't built up our mileage enough to get the river view from the bluffs yet, but we will.

We were, however, treated to an eagle sighting on our route. It is not an uncommon sight anymore, but the fact that it was close to us, flew closer, and then glided to a landing in the nearby field was a treat. They are majestic and graceful creatures.

I will admit that once it landed I tried for a photo opp. I was having a hard time getting my camera ready on my phone and the eagle flew away. Serves me right. Some things aren't meant to be captured on camera. Rather, just pause and enjoy.

Just pause and enjoy.

Open Spaces

Today I am grateful for our son Sam and the life lessons we learn together. I am also grateful for the open spaces in my life.

I was thinking about open spaces this morning and here are some of the random thoughts that came:

*walking out our door early in the morning to walk our dog Oliver and stepping into
wide open space and sky is invigorating to me

*having a nice day to give our middle school students a chance to run and play
in an open green space is appreciated by young and old alike

*living near a golf course means we are granted more open space than some neighborhoods
and I like that about our neighborhood

*late fall and through the winter, bare trees and dormant plants mean more open space
and different views, but now I am ready for leaves and new growth to fill those open spaces

*I need open spaces in my head to let fresh ideas take hold and spread, and in my heart to let forgiveness and compassion clear out anger and selfishness

Open spaces help us open up. I am grateful fo…

A Morning Person

Today I am grateful for all the sounds I am hearing as I sit on our front porch. I am also grateful to be a morning person.

Morning person. That is me, through and through. My husband Darcy likes to say I "catapult out of bed" each day. Not exactly. But most mornings I do get up with energy and anticipation.

The weather has turned milder and I am able to enjoy a few minutes with a cup of coffee, the singing birds, and the fresh air from our front patio. I am also enjoying composing these words and giving my writing and gratitude practice some time and attention to start my day.

Besides the birds singing, I hear the traffic on the nearby road heading into and out of town. I am not the only morning person. Some on the road already may be there grudgingly, others may be like me, ready and willing to head into the day. Either way, the day comes. Might as well look forward to the possibilities and be grateful to get another fresh day.

My other favorite morning sound isn't a s…

A Birthday Rhyme for My Love

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy. I am also grateful for the
many steps my body is able to take every day.

Happy birthday to Darcy!  I am going to have some fun
with this little rhyme I composed just for him:

Today my husband Darcy turns fifty-one
There will be birthday kisses, wishes, and cake before the day is done

We found you a gift you wanted dear
And had it delivered right here

But you are the one who is a gift to us
My gratitude for you could fill a bus

Father, provider, grandfather, husband, a true partner to me
Running buddy, confidant, forgiver of flaws, able to just "let it be"

Yes, you are quite predictable in ways
But you never cease to lighten and brighten our days

Happy birthday older and wiser one
Wishing you many more--a long run

I love you. Enjoy your day!

Posting Habitually = 1300 Posts + Much More

Today I am grateful for this blog and the many gifts and graces that practicing gratitude and living gratefully have given me.

Yesterday marked post #1300 for "Habitual Gratitude."  I wouldn't necessarily be counting the posts if the blog program didn't do it for me, but I have started a tradition of marking every 100 posts.

My blog's name was inspired by my sister Danita. She used "habitual gratitude" in an email and it was the click of inspiration in my head and heart that allowed me to name my blog and begin posting after much contemplation and some amount of fear. Thanks Danita!

I had already made gratitude a habit long before this blog, however. It started with a gratitude journal given to me by my friend Terrie. I was a reluctant grateful person at first, and still can be on some days, but it was the start of something life-changing. Thanks Terrie!

There have been so many people who have shown up in my gratitude journal and in the 1300 posts on th…

Old Friends, New Time Together

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Today I am grateful for our comfortable bed in our comfortable house.

I am also grateful for safe travels and the chance to see my friends Deb and Zoe on the happy occasion of Deb's daughter's wedding. 
Deb, Zoe, and I were classmates, softball teammates, and dorm floor mates at Waldorf College a mere 30 years ago. 
Here we are at the wedding on Saturday with the mother of the bride in the middle.

Looking good for our age if I don't say so myself. Much has happened in each of our lives over these years. Some of it disheartening and difficult. Some of it joyful and affirming. We don't see each other as often as we'd like, but we stay connected and that means so much to me.
Being back in Forest City, Zoe and I took a little tour of campus and town. Much has changed and much hasn't. It was inevitable that thoughts of my drinking days would come up. Deb and Zoe were two of the first people who confronted me about my drinking. Confronted me with care and concern. Fo…

From Walls to Bridges

Today I am grateful for time with my friends Jill and Dorothy yesterday, and the insightful conversations we had. I am also grateful for my husband Darcy and the run we will
take together soon.

Here is some food for thought:

"Walls turned sideways are bridges." (Angela Davis)
How often in life does this play out? A wall is approached, confronted, faced. It crumbles quickly or is dismantled a brick at a time. New perspective is gained, and routes not even visible before now are viable options.
It usually takes tremendous effort and substantial time to tear a wall down and turn it into a bridge.
There are times, however, when we can scale the wall quickly or we realize it didn't even exist in the first place. That usually follows much pain and frustration and is sparked by a willingness to change.
Which ever way allows us around, over, or through the walls in our lives, it is more than worth it. Wow! What a view and what opportunities open up. The old wall is now a new brid…

Participant, Coach, Spectator

Today I am grateful for the time to savor a cup of coffee and a view of the sunrise. I am also grateful for our son Sam's choice to give track a try this spring.

Yesterday was Sam's team's first meet. It was just a time trials meet, and it was a bit chilly and wet, but I appreciated being out there. Sam ran one 400 meters and was pleased with how it went. It was fun for me to see him out there. If it had been up to me, he would have been in track as early as he could-5th grade. We didn't push, though we encouraged, and as an 8th grader he decided on his own to give it a try.

His motives for being out for track are different from mine. He is doing it to get back in shape after an injury and to improve his overall athleticism. I took it far more seriously and it was about competing and pushing myself.

I spent four years in high school as a track participant. I coached it for five years when I was just out of college. I have only been to a handful of track meets since the…

Do you hear them?

Today I am grateful for sidewalks, roads, and bridges to help us get around.  I am also grateful for the many ways I can regularly connect with others in recovery.

Do you hear them? The birds singing that is. I didn't hear many this morning when I walked Oliver. It is chilly and rainy, but they've been out and about providing music for a few weeks now.  Am I taking the time to pause and listen? Are you?

I used to tell myself I was too busy to pause. Not anymore. If I am too busy, that is when I especially need to make time to pause and regroup.

Whether it is to hear the birds, breathe in and out, or taking a look around at that moment and acknowledging a couple of things to be grateful for, a pause can make all the difference.

A recovery friend made a really insightful point the other day regarding birds and other non-human creatures and critters. They know how to just be. They sing, bark, eat, sleep. They aren't busy trying to be perfect or win anything. We humans could l…

The Feature of Featured Posts

Today I am grateful for recovery connections that help keep me on the right path. I am also grateful for early morning quiet and the awe of stars in the pre-dawn sky.

When you visit Habitual Gratitude now you will see a new feature on the top right-hand
side of the post page. It is called "Featured Post."  I will be using it to pull out some of my many previous posts that I want to highlight and give readers a chance to see again
or read for the first time.

If I don't post on some days, you can check out the featured post. I will change it periodically.  Of course, you can always go back in the archives and look at any post you want as well, it just takes a few more steps.

It was an easy gadget to add, but since I am not much of a gadget person, I was proud of myself nonetheless for being able to figure it out.

My current featured post is titled "Two Diseases That Kill."

Amnestic Experience

Today I am grateful for the chance to see our niece Maycee play college softball yesterday and to see her family too.  I am also grateful to have survived my drinking days.

I was recently previewing a video for possible use in our prevention efforts with teens at the school I work at. It was titled "Top Ten Reasons Not To Drink Alcohol." It is a catchy approach and may reach students.
It has already reached me with a reminder. The video used the term "amnestic experience." Blackouts. Memory loss. Caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
I don't ever recall hearing the term amnestic experience before, but I sure know what it is. I had many, many episodes of blacking out in my 10-year drinking career. They led to mental torture the next day. They kept telling me I wasn't a normal drinker and that I needed help. Gratefully, others helped me see I needed that help and I got to it. I keep getting to it daily.
I am still here. I could have died or killed someone …

Buffeted

Today I am grateful for spiritual growth and for the little jokes Darcy and I share between us.

Yesterday there was a bit of a breeze blowing in our area. We heard it howling before we got out of bed in the morning. We saw evidence of it in branches down and patio furniture strewn. 
And I was buffeted by it as I went for my run. It was a wacky weather morning. Besides the wind blowing, there was snow flying and sun shining, sometimes at the same time.
Was it unpleasant? Not really, though my uncovered face might have answered that differently. 
Was there joy? For sure. The wind buffeted, but the gratitude shored me up. When my heart and mind are open, there is profound joy in doing and being.

Holly Holy

Today I am grateful to hear the sounds of our dog Oliver eating and coffee brewing. I also
appreciate hearing good music.

Last week when I saw my friend Jenny, we talked about her sister Susan who died from cancer at age 63 earlier this year. Jenny said Susan liked music a lot. When I asked her what artists, she mentioned Neil Diamond. I told her I was a big fan of him as well.

Then, Jenny asked me what songs of his I liked. Holly Holy was the one that came to mind. That just happened to be a favorite of Susan's too, and Jenny had found comfort in listening to it.The next day, I listened to Holly Holy a couple times and have listened to it a few times since.

I never knew Susan, but I know Jenny, and I know this song connects us all in some way, a way deeper than can be put in to words.

Listen to it here. See the lyrics and the pondering face of Neil Diamond. I love the way the tempo builds and changes. I appreciate the spiritual nature and gospel music inspiration in it. Then list…

Grace-Given

Today I am grateful for a morning cup of coffee shared with my husband Darcy. I am also grateful for the love I have for words and getting them out of my head and on to paper and screen.

I also appreciate the words of others, such as this quote from Patricia Campbell Carlson:

"Grief and gratitude are kindred souls, each pointing to the beauty of what is  transient and given to us by grace." 
Five months ago today, my brother-in-law Roger died. He had been ill with Lewy Body Dementia for several years. I think about my sister Danita every day and the process of grief she has been going through, not just these last five months but the days, weeks, months, and years prior. 
Yet, even as Roger got more sick and less himself, losing capacities while his loved ones could only watch, there were also new levels of grace and new ways that Roger reached those around him.
The beauty of life is realizing everything is grace-given. Including the bike ride I did yesterday after work. I was …