"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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Iowa: 75% Vowels, 100% Awesome

Today I am grateful for rhubarb crisp and friends I trust.  I am also grateful to be a native Iowan.

The words that make up the title of today's post were first seen by me on my nephew Carson's t-shirt when I was visiting home a few weeks ago. 

I hadn't seen that one before, but you have to admit it's clever, whether or not you have Iowa blood.

The biggest contingent of my family remains in Iowa, in the area my siblings and I grew up in. It's an area we get to visit several times a year. Our son Sam loves being out on the farm and Darcy and I appreciate the good company, card-playing, fresh running routes, and much more.

Though I may be partial, the part of Iowa I hail from, northeast Iowa, is the most scenic in the state in my opinion. If you think Iowa is all flat terrain, you obviously haven't been to our part of the state. Rolling hills, thanks to ancient glaciation, give us stunning views and challenging runs. I wouldn't trade either.

Would I wear this sentiment on a t-shirt? You bet I would! As a native Iowan and a resident of the state for 33 years, I can close with "You can take the girl out of Iowa, but you can't take Iowa out of the girl."  Not this girl anyway. My Iowa roots run deep and strong and I am grateful for them. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

I Almost Forgot

Today I am grateful for the flowers in bloom in our backyard and for the recovery friends I got to spend time with on Saturday. I am also grateful for my husband Darcy and his efforts as a deacon in our church, including the good sermon on faith that he gave yesterday.

A special thank you on this Memorial Day to all who fought for our freedom and those who continue to work to protect and preserve it.

It was eight years ago yesterday, on a Thurs. afternoon, that my doctor delivered the words "you have cancer."  It was a phone call I took in the parking lot of a rundown strip mall after she agreed it would be a good idea for me to pull over.

I almost forgot this anniversary date this year. Not really almost forgot, because I doubt I will, but thought of it less. That parking lot is now a new grocery store. And me? I get to be here too, living a full and rich life.

I have so much gratitude to be healthy and able-bodied, to have no evidence of disease (NED). I don't want to forget that, nor should I. 

I don't want to take my health or my freedom for granted. For me, that means at times I need to consider the worst case scenarios-cancer returning,  terrorists attacking nearby, losing a loved one. 

Going there, even briefly, brings me more fully back here to the present, to mindful gratitude.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Turn Up the Radio

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy and our marriage and for being able to hear birds sing and many other sounds.

Yesterday on my way home from work I heard the song "Turn Up the Radio" by Autograph. That song takes me back to my drinking days and one of the bars I did some of that drinking in (actually quite a bit of that drinking). I won't name it here-to protect the innocent and the guilty-but some of you reading this will likely know which one I am talking about.

The song came out in 1984, the year I turned 19, which coincidentally was the legal drinking age in Iowa at the time. We had some songs we played regularly on the juke box in this bar, and "Turn Up the Radio" was tune #139 if I recall correctly. It was a good way to get the evening rolling.

From time to time, an old drinking song will take me back in ways I don't go back in very often. Yesterday was one of those times. It was Friday afternoon before a long weekend. The week was too interesting at work. The school year is almost over. It was our seniors' last day. I was already primed when the song came on the radio.

I rode the emotions, but only for a short time. They don't hold the power and pull they used to. They ran out of steam quickly. Replaced by deep gratitude for recovery and sobriety.

Friday, May 27, 2016

DO Repeat This

Today I am grateful for laughter shared with colleagues and with my husband and son. I am also grateful for patio time this morning.

Yesterday morning I planned to go for a run before work. Preferring not to run in rain, I ended up with a shorter time to run. I decided to do some speed work. 

Now, mind you, the speed work I do at age 50 is a bit different than what I did at 15 or 25. It's important to keep this body guessing in ways and to shake up my metabolism. I can run for many miles, but sometimes it is more important to increase the intensity and shorten the mileage.

So I warmed up for a few minutes and then did some hill repeats. We have plenty of hill options nearby, and I like to use a spot where there are 2 hills. I run up one, jog back down it and am ready to run up the the next one.

I appreciate pushing this earthly vehicle of mine, this earthly vehicle that has hung in there for me quite well.

Some things are NOT worth repeating. But hills for training are worth repeating. So is gratitude practice. I am always in training to further deepen and strengthen my level of gratitude and the peace it can bring.

DO repeat what is healthy for you. I will DO the same. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Daily Gratitudes

Today I am grateful for the ten fingers and ten toes that I have.  I am also grateful for the cooler morning air after a warm day yesterday.

I appreciated Steve Foran's guest post yesterday and the insights within it. Like Steve, I have learned that if I am feeling too harried and hurried to pause for a little gratitude, then that is exactly the time that I need it most. That is also why I have woven practices like journaling and blogging in to my days. I keep refilling the tank so I don't run out of gas, so to speak.

Inspiration and direction come in many forms and Steve's work has inspired me to do more reading of other people's gratitude sharing as well.  Here is a link to Steve's "Daily Gratitudes" website. It is a great place to write and share some of your own gratitudes and also read those listed by others. It all adds to the positive stream of life, and reminds me that gratitude abounds if we just pause, pay attention, and look around and within.

Here is what I shared on "Daily Gratitudes" just a few minutes ago:

Today I am grateful for:
-every game of catch I get to play with my son Sam, last night it was football
-this gratitude-sharing community
-the co-workers who I also consider friends and confidants


Some days I may just read other's contributions. Some days I will add my own. Both further deepen my sense that there is good in the world and within me. And that allows me to go out and better serve that world as a fully contributing human.  Thanks for providing this forum Steve!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sharing Gratitudes: A Guest Post by Steve Foran

Today I am grateful for the soothing sound of the fountain on our front patio and for the ability of my ears to hear it.  I am also grateful for Steve Foran, fellow believer in the power of gratitude practice.

Steve Foran was one of the first people I didn't know who commented on my blog. That was pivotal because I had reached beyond family and friends to people in other parts of the world. (I know, Canada isn't that far . . . but it is another country.) The Internet and sharing gratitude had connected us and we continue to grow that connection in this community of grateful beings. Effective kindling.


These were his words on May 14, 2012:

"Keep going and know that your blog is making a difference. 
Every single post counts. Thanks, Steve" 

These are Steve's words, four years later. Thank YOU Steve! Onward!

I started reading Lisa’s blog, Habitual Gratitude, back in 2012 and have read every post since. Lisa and I have not met. We’ve never spoken on the phone. Yet, I feel I know her almost as well as some of my friends.

We share a common interest having been touched by the power of gratitude, which kindled in both of us a need to expand the force of gratitude within the world. I realized very early in reading Lisa’s posts that the gratitudes of other people are critical to my own gratitude practice. In my work with organizations that want positive, engaged, productive people, I teach this as one of the three basic gratitude practices… listening to or reading the gratitudes of others. This practice is extremely powerful but it’s easily discounted and discarded.

As a reader of Habitual Gratitude, I’m sure there are times when you think about deleting the email without reading the post. While I’ve been tempted to delete it without reading (because I’m so busy or whatever), I’ve resisted and I have always read on… often with greater attention and focus to the message. For me, the desire to speed through things or skip over them is a sure sign I need gratitude more than ever.

Each of Lisa’s posts has something to help you with your gratitude practice. You can't be certain what the post will say to you or how it will impact you… it may trigger in you something you’ve taken for granted, it may open your eyes to a perspective that was otherwise invisible, it may tweak a memory that was long forgotten, it may reinforce something you’ve thought, or one of many other possibilities. So make sure you read every one of Lisa’s posts. And read every word in every post. 

I offer this challenge to you… a challenge you can do in appreciation to Lisa for her contribution to the world. Try this with someone in your day… 

Say, "I was reading this morning about a woman who was writing about what she was grateful for (you can add something specific if you want) and it made me think about my own life. I realized how fortunate I am (insert something you are grateful for).” Then pause briefly and ask them “What’s the best part of your day so far?"

Then listen to them and watch them. (NOTE: I ask "what’s the best part of your day" because asking what they are grateful for out-of-the-blue can come across awkward). Engage in the conversation and notice how the simple act of listening to each other’s gratitudes spirals your energy and attitude upward.

I am most grateful to Lisa for Habitual Gratitude and for sharing her blog platform with me. I hope you find lots to be grateful for today… and you share that gratitude with others!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rekindle

Today I am grateful for pillows and cool breezes. I am also grateful for the people in my life who show me love and support in a myriad of ways.

I have always appreciated the following quote by Dr. Albert Schweitzer. In fact, I figured it had already shown up in one of my previous 1300 + posts, but a search said no it hadn't.  Even if it had, it is worth revisiting.

"Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light."

I appreciate all who have done the rekindling in my life. At times it may have been a random stranger with a simple gesture that made the difference. At other times, the other human being has been a near and dear friend or family member who has a knack to ignite my light just when I need to see more clearly.

Not only do I get to appreciate those who help keep my path lit, I also get to help others rekindle.
Being kind, considerate, and grateful can go a long way in helping our fellow humans. It is certainly a good place to start anyway.

Early on in these 1300 + posts, the flame of motivation would at times burn out for me. Sometimes a comment from someone else would be enough to spark my desire to keep writing. One of the earliest comments from someone I didn't personally know was one such spark. It came from Steve Foran. Four years later, Steve and I are sharing gratitudes and supporting one another's efforts.

More from Steve in a guest post tomorrow.  Have a good day! 





Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sleepover

Today I am grateful for a good training run yesterday with Darcy, for a nap, and for time with our grandson Leo.

Last night we got to have a sleepover with Leo. We see him regularly, but this was the first time he spent the night. 

We went for a walk, played in the backyard, did some reading, stacked blocks, went to the "choo-choo park" and more. At 15 months, he is really getting the hang of slides and he loves to climb stairs-both at our house and the park.

We enjoyed the nice evening and had the ulterior motive of wearing him out to improve the chances of him falling asleep and staying asleep. It worked well. After his bath, it was bedtime. We had to (or should I say got to) do a little rocking. The first attempt to put him down didn't work but the second one did. Grandpa had the right touch.

I was reminded of our son Sam's early years and the importance of bedtime routine. I loved that time as a mother. Reading to Sam right before bed was part of our routine for many years and was one of my favorites.

There is sweet comfort in putting a little one to sleep and hearing their even and calm breathing. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Winner in My Book

Today I am grateful for good music coming through good headphones and for smooth coffee.

I am also grateful that I could watch our niece Ellie run at the Iowa girls' state track meet yesterday. She ran the 100 meter dash in her state debut as a freshman and did a great job! I would have preferred to be there in person, but watching it streamed live online was more than I thought I would see. Good luck to you and your teammates today in your relay Ellie!

You are all winners in my book. 

So is my sister Aileen. She entered the same poetry contest I did. I thought she had a good shot. She's such a good poet! But alas, she wasn't a winner either. Her poem deserves to be published though and it is my pleasure to publish it here:

In Praise of Summer Fruit

Each raspberry
is its own
little world
of flavor,
red continents
clinging to
a core,
edible geography.

Every strawberry
has its own
landscape
of ridges
and valleys,
fruit geology.

Tiny rubies
sparkle
on the currant bushes
as I mine
their depths,
scarlet lapidary.


This independent judge gives you a top prize Aileen. (Don't hold your breath for prize money though.)

Thank you Aileen and thank you nature! Suit up and show up for life today. Pay attention. You will
win some gratitude and peace. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Numerically Speaking, Self-Published

Today I am grateful for sunshine and warmer temperatures in recent days. I am also grateful that I can keep work things in perspective better than I ever used to.

I would like to share a poem with you today. It is titled "Numerically Speaking."  I wrote it for a contest sponsored by Common Good Books and Garrison Keillor. The contest theme was gratitude, so I was compelled to put pen to paper.

Truth be told, I knew this poem wasn't necessarily the kind of poem that Keillor would be drawn to.
I still enjoyed the process of writing, revising, and more of each. I still enjoyed the anticipation of deadlines and winner announcements.

It wasn't a winner in the contest, but I certainly don't regret the time and effort I put into it.
Maybe there is something in it that will touch you today. That is one of my goals as a writer.
Thanks for reading!

Here you go:

Numerically Speaking

Twenty years
Of diligence
One day at a time
Eleven journals filled
A line at a time
Hundreds of blog posts
Published
Single post
By single post

All to achieve a more
Appreciative state
Moving from self-defeated
And depleted
To energized and engaged

Less at odds with the world
And myself
More even-keeled
In my approach
To being human

Much has been added
With simple effort
It amounts to pausing
And acknowledging
Enough is already here

There have been
Subtractions too
Limited self-pity
Fewer difficult days

Habitual practice
Of gratitude
Has changed
My angle on life
From negative
To positive

How could I know
The gratitude would grow
Exponentially

Multiplying awe
Dividing drudgery
Increasing patience
Decreasing despair
The sum now equals
Healthier perceptions
And the will to serve

But the numbers that really count—
This one day
This one moment
The solitary decimal point

That is where gratefulness
Can be counted on

April, 2016