Posts

Showing posts from September, 2016

Pick one and have a nice day!

Image
Today I am grateful for bananas and an early morning walk with our dog Oliver.

Chobani yogurt came through again with a simple yet sophisticated message for you and I:


My suggestion? Pick one to focus on today and proceed. Or go for all three. It's up to you. 
Stretch your body or mind or emotions. They all need it. 
Focus on breathing to stay present in the best place to find peace-this moment.
Smile. Spread some positivity outward and you'll feel more inward. 
Pick one and have a nice day🆙☮

Efficiency Appreciated

Today I am grateful for the efficient staff at our local medical clinic and that Sam's finger isn't broken.  I am also grateful for insurance.

I was looking for a relaxing evening yesterday; a bike ride after dinner, some time to write. Then, I picked my son Sam up from football practice. He thought he might have broken his finger. As I took a look and asked some questions, I thought it more likely to be badly jammed.

But I do err on the side of caution and would rather know for sure. He felt the same way. It is times like this that I sure appreciate having medical insurance and good coverage. Many don't have that, and I tend to take it for granted.

We called the clinic to see about an appointment. The first person we spoke with put us on the line with a triage nurse. Sam talked to her as she tried to rule out our need for the ER or something else. It was determined the clinic could help us, as it didn't seem to be badly broken or distorted.

Our appointment was just ov…

"Wild World"-"Heaven Knows"-"Stop! In the Name of Love"

Today I am grateful for Honeycrisp apples and the sound of leaves moving in the breeze.

Yesterday was one of those days that is best captured by some of the songs on my radio's playlist on the commute home from work. It started with Cat Steven's "Wild World."  Between post-debate news and analysis, some sad and unexpected news about a work acquaintance, and conversations that created more "stuff" to worry about and deal with, it indeed felt like a wild world.

But then Donna Summers' "Heaven Knows" came on. I have always liked this song and that helped lift me a little. So did the "heaven knows" reminder. God, a higher source of power, a Great Spirit-whatever you choose to call the power beyond human-has a hand in this wild world and can help tame it. I don't need to have the answers, I just need to do the legwork. Heaven knows. I don't need to waste energy trying to figure it out.

So I was already feeling a little more pep an…

A Simplified List

Today I am grateful for a warm, comfortable bed and waking up next to my husband Darcy.

As I carried the idea of sacred and sophisticated simplicity with me yesterday, I jotted down a few things I did that helped simplify my day. Some of these things I do regularly anyway, but appreciated them a bit more as I realized they help preserve my sanity day in and day out. Others I was more intentional about doing than I typically would be.

Here are some of those things:
-I left a bag of clothes in the car instead of hauling them to my office.  There was only an outside chance I would need them, and if I did, I could just go get them. (Formerly, I would have lugged them in "just in case.")

-As a commuting driver, on metro multi-lane roads, I know what lane it is best to be in when going through certain areas. Lanes that keep me moving, keep me safer, require less maneuvering.

-I concluded that a work question I had really wasn't one I needed to pursue. Sometimes it is okay to sa…

The Ultimate Sophistication

Today I am grateful for recovery from alcoholism and the people who support me in that recovery. I am also grateful for pizza, one of my favorite meals.

Consider these five words:
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo da Vinci
For someone who has spent too much time overcomplicating way too many relationships, situations, to-do lists, and such, even if just in my own mind, simplicity can be a tall order. 
The way I have previously defined it, sophistication leans toward complex and worldly. People who knew how to look and act in any and all situations were sophisticated, but I sure wasn't.

Another way to define sophisticated is knowledgeable. It took me some time, and trial and error, to realize that doing more isn't always better than doing less, that complicated isn't better than simple. In fact, for me, doing too much is a common pitfall. Overthinking and complicating things is a real energy drain.

Thank you Leonardo da Vinci. Your words are as …

Pruned and Cut Back...A Tree and Me

Image
Today I am grateful for a successful 20 + mile training run yesterday, our last before our next marathon. I am also grateful for the need for blankets as the air cools.

On our run yesterday, I had been pondering some of the week's happenings and doing some of my daily prayers in my head. (Prayers make it safer in there.) I was thinking about self-hatred and how I had spent the first half of my life living in it, the second half trying to overcome it, and that I am feeling content and blessed with my progress in that respect. 
A couple minutes later we ran past this tree:

I was just thinking about halves and here's another one in front of me. Half of a tree. It's been pruned and cut back to prevent it from interfering with the power lines. Just like me. Negative thoughts and feelings pruned. Ego cut to a right size. Allowing the Great Spirit or Higher Source to power me more effectively than my own will ever did by itself.

The tree is strong, sturdy, and continues to thrive…

Faith??

Today I am grateful for the people in my life who inspire the writer within me. I am also grateful for the faith I have today.

Faith came up in several ways in the last day; messages between old friends, an email, a morning reading. Two quotes came along too:

“Faith doesn’t wait until it understands; in that case it wouldn’t be faith.” (Vance Havner)
"Faith is the courageous confidence that trusts in the Source of all gifts." (David Steindl-Rast)
My efforts to find faith and bring it into my daily life have been some of the most important efforts I have made and continue to make. Effort that is well worth the returns. Faith can seem mysterious and hard to define, especially for an ego-driven individual like me who thinks I have to "figure it out."
If I keep trying to figure out faith, I won't find much of it. What I have been taught and shown by others, especially those in recovery from addiction, but also many others in my life, is that actions lead me to faith. Act…

No More Birthdays

Today I am grateful for my morning coffee and for life and health.

Today would have been the 65th birthday of my brother-in-law Roger. He died November 1, 2015, running out of birthdays after 64. Slowly taken to his death by the horrible disease of dementia (early onset, Lewy body).

In ways, he was gone before he was gone. In other ways, he was always present until he drew his last breath. And he is still here in ways. He lives on in those he loved and knew. He lives on in memories. And in the way he continues to inspire the rest of us to do things like go for a walk, hike up a mountainside, ride a bike, play a banjo, laugh. These are what my sister Aileen calls "doing a Roger."

I think mostly of my sister Danita, Roger's wife, today. A tough day to face for the first time after a loved one dies. No more birthdays. Life is not fair. Grieving is hard work.

We will all reach that point of no more birthdays. The question is what are you and I doing to live life fully today?

Jump at the Sun

Today  I am grateful for early morning quiet and for our local library and the access to
books it provides.

Jump at the sun? Sounds a little silly doesn't it?  Futile. Impossible. Why bother?
Here's why:  "Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at the sun.'  We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground."  Zora Neale Hurston
Try new things. Give it your best shot, whatever "it" is. Face your fear. Take a failure and turn it into a success next time. Believe in yourself and your abilities. 
Jumping into the blogosphere was one of my sun jumps over four years ago. It got my writing off the ground in many ways. It has made such a difference in how I see myself as I writer. 
Whatever your version of jumping at the sun is, I encourage and exhort you to go for it today. See where it takes you. 


Wholesome and Necessary

Today I am grateful for honesty shared in safe places and for songs that move me.
We typically don't like being told what to do, but if it's wholesome, why wouldn't we? Consider these words from biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson:
"It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the Earth and in the  contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility."
Turn again to the Earth. Become grounded. Remember our roots. Appreciate nature. These are all wholesome endeavors and they help keep me humble and my ego right-sized. As we near the fall equinox this week, I pause to take in the changes happening in the world outside the doors we have created.  
I also give thanks for those doors and a roof over my head, but I try to fully take in the sights, sounds, smells, and touches that await me when I step into the great outdoors.
Necessary?  I believe so. Lest, I forget where I come from and who is really in charge. Lest I forget to pause and …

Lurking and Skulking

Today I am grateful for morning air and quiet. I am also deeply grateful for my health and to be able-bodied.

Working in a school, and also being involved in our community in several ways and our son's activities, I know literally hundreds of people. Many are mere acquaintances, but there are still connections and recognition.

It's not unusual to hear of health concerns others have, cancer being one of them. Sometimes the news is hopeful and the prognosis good. Sometimes the news is dire and the hope in short supply.

Damn cancer! It is always lurking and skulking about. News in recent days has me thinking about and praying for more cancer patients. I don't know these latest ones personally, but it brings to the forefront of my mind my own lurking fear of cancer's return in my body or in someone close to me.

Damn cancer! Sometimes it claims another victim. At other times it throws someone a major curve ball, but they recover and return to a new normal.

I am very fortuna…

Radio Free Lisa

Today I am grateful for a nice evening for family pictures and for each of the other six people who were in the pictures.

Yesterday we did a "shorter" training run of 12 miles or so. I got an earlier start than Darcy and we had agreed to do solo runs anyway. Sometimes after a busy week, we each appreciate time to clear our own heads.

We have one arm-band radio, and Darcy used that. I know I could use my phone for music, but I am finding that I appreciate the quiet and it helps me be more aware of my surroundings and the thoughts going through my head. So it was "Radio Free Lisa" for a couple hours.

Similar to the goal of Radio Free Europe, information got through my mind that maybe wouldn't have otherwise. I would have missed some of the sounds of nature and a community coming to life on a Saturday morning.

Or the smile and wave I shared with a little girl who was standing by her parents in their driveway. She watched me approach across the street and then star…

Set in Motion

Today I am grateful for the high school our son Sam now attends and the dedicated and enthusiastic teachers we got to meet last night.

Speaking of dedicated and enthusiastic, I am dedicated to and enthusiastic about the practice of gratitude. These words from Sarah Ban Breathnach ring very true in my life:

"You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously  giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will  have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: The more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."
I am definitely not the same person I was when I started practicing gratitude, not two months ago, but two decades ago. The change in my thinking, perceptions, outlook on life, and where I put my energy have been profound. There is more to discover yet. I haven't arrived at some end point, and I look forward to more growth and learning. 
And that spiritual law isn't talking about getting more materia…

Cut Off

Today I am grateful for services like garbage and recycling curbside pickup. I am also grateful for the positive energy I feel from many people around me.

Yesterday morning on my commute, I was cut off by a pickup truck merging from an on-ramp. I was in the far left lane, and I suspect in the other driver's blind spot. Fortunately, I sensed it coming and slowed enough to avoid a collision. I gathered myself and honked the horn, but that other driver may or may not have heard it.

Getting cut off in traffic got me thinking. Life is full of close calls. On the highways and lots of other places. It is always good to check our blind spots-literal and figurative-so as to avoid unpleasant surprises, or worse.

I got busy with my day and went out for a run after I got home from work. Getting cut off came back to mind and I thought yet another random thought about cut offs.  Cut offs in running events mean the time you have to reach to qualify for the next round or be allowed to enter.

The…

Gentle Strength

Today I am grateful for time with our grandson Leo. He always spreads smiles. I am also grateful for
my husband Darcy and how we are sounding boards for one another.

Happy Birthday wishes to both my sister Leonice and my brother Neal! They were born on the same day seven years apart.

The following quote, from one of my favorite patron saints, gives us each plenty to consider. Thank you to my colleague and friend Linda for sharing it with me.

“There is nothing so strong as gentleness, and nothing so gentle as real strength.” St. Francis de Sales
Read more of my thoughts on St. Francis de Sales here in a post on my second blog Late Bloomer and Slow Learner. 
I get ideas in my head about what words mean and it sticks. We all do it. Our own life experiences and beliefs help define a word beyond what the dictionary says. But it is good to always keep an open mind.

New experiences. Other people and their perspectives. A lesson we didn't ask for but got anyway. These can all change the sign…

The Arrival of Fall

Today I am grateful for supportive friends in recovery and that our mutual care and concern is unconditional. I am also grateful for the changing seasons.

Fall is my favorite season and we have been getting a little taste of it more recently. A touch of chill in the morning. Humidity-laden air being replaced by cooler and drier air. Leaves and other foliage starting to change color.

I welcome these changes every year, but this year even moreso. We had a lot of heat and especially humidity this summer. It seemed like weeks on end with dew points in the 70's. If we got relief, it didn't last long. I would rather be too cold than too hot. It's easier to manage. Being too hot is exhausting and makes me irritable.

I am grateful for my working senses, especially touch and smell, which help me appreciate the transformations underway in nature.

As I welcome the arrival of fall, I will look for more signs and be grateful for them.

Little Things

Image
Today I am grateful for a refrigerator stocked with food, and for the police and fire protection in my community.

This was a recent quote on gratefulness.org:

"In the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed." Kahlil Gibran
And this was yesterday morning's sunrise, as seen from our driveway:

The picture doesn't quite do justice to the stunning colors and textured layers of clouds, but it captures some of it. How many mornings do I miss such displays because I am too busy or not paying attention?

This scene lasted only a few moments and then the color and light changed and we moved on. Many weekday mornings, I am in the midst of getting ready for work or already on my way to work as the sun is coming up. Depending on where I am in my commute, I can sometimes catch the sunrise.

It is much more enjoyable sitting in one place, such as my recliner in our living room or on one of the chairs on our front patio. Some days those opportunities are toug…

Don't be afraid.

Today I am grateful for a weekend at home and a nice visit with my friend Betsy yesterday.

The quote below flows right with the one I posted about yesterday:

"This is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." (Frederick Buechner)
Being seriously alive means having courage. And acceptance. And an open mind and heart. It means taking risks of the small variety each day. Pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and trying things I may fail at are not scary prospects like they used to be. At least, not as scary.

Today, on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., we are reminded of the terrible things that can happen. But the beautiful is here too. The coming daylight and sunrise. Time with a loved one. Being able to walk up and down stairs to do household chores.

Take some healthy risks today. Walk with faith and courage, and find some gratitude. Walk into the day. Don't be afraid.

A Serious Thing

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to sleep in and for the beautiful morning sky I am looking at.

Thoughts and prayers go out to those in northeast Iowa once again dealing with flooding, just a couple weeks after being hit hard with some of the worst flooding in years.

Today just happens to be American poet Mary Oliver's 81st birthday. Happy Birthday and thank you for your words. Here are some I just came across recently:

"It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world."
Mornings have always been my favorite time of the day. A morning person through and through, I definitely greet the start of the day with energy and freshness. And gratitude. We forget the blessing in being given another day. We take it for granted and forget to honor it. 

It is a serious thing to remember today as an opportunity, even in the midst of challenges like flooding, or illness, addiction, or discontent. Our world is broken in ways, and we humans are broken …

Targeted Exercises

Today I am grateful for a nice meal on an outdoor patio with Darcy last evening. I am also grateful for exercises that help keep my joints and core stronger.

Exercises targeted to certain body parts have really been helpful to me. I have several that I try to do two to three days a week, a set or two of each. Thank you to Runner's World magazine for providing suggestions for knee and hip exercises to help runners. My left hip and right knee can be achy and out of whack at times; but mountain climbers, squat jumps, and side leg raises have all made a difference in less pain and more stability.

It takes discipline, and some mornings I don't feel like doing them. But I always feel better after I do. Besides, the results are evident. Evident in the strength and stability and less pain post-run.

That is how the targeted exercise of habitual gratitude practice works too. It takes discipline and some days I don't feel like doing it. But I always feel better after I do, and strong…

Apples and More Apples

Today I am grateful for fresh produce and for a fresh morning to welcome a new day.

While visiting family this last weekend, my mom sent us back home with garden tomatoes and cucumbers. She enjoys being able to share. In fact, she practically insists. We are happy to oblige. The fresh-from-the-garden taste simply can't be matched.
When my brother called to see if we wanted some apples too, we again obliged. It was fun to go over to the farm I grew up on and help pick a couple boxes of apples from a loaded tree. A tree that has been there for decades, even though the area and buildings around have changed some.

We left some apples with my mom and then brought a bigger box home. I peeled dozens and dozens of apples the last couple of evenings. First, I made some apple crisp and then some applesauce.  I appreciate that my hands and fingers are still pretty adept at peeling. We learned many practical skills as we contributed to preparing our family meals growing up.

There is somethin…

My Dearest Alcoholic Mind

Today I am grateful for time with friends and family this weekend and a successful long training run for our upcoming marathon.

I am also deeply grateful for each day of sobriety and recovery that I get. On Sunday, I celebrated 27 years of continuous sobriety. It's an ongoing effort, thanks to a powerful and patient alcoholic mind.
Does the effort get easier? Maybe. But I can't and don't let my guard down, because that is just what my alcoholic mind wants me to do. That's the way back to a drink and despair. Daily work is required for a daily disease. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. Hope remains as long as I work at it.

Boundless appreciation to all who have supported me and continue to support me in my recovery. Whether in recovery themselves or not, so many have taught me so much.

I write a poem each year on my sobriety anniversary. Here is the newest:

My Dearest Alcoholic Mind
When I first got drunk And found escape I was trapped A downward spiral Gained speed M…

Stop wishing. Start doing.

Today I am grateful for the words that flow from my heart and head. I am also grateful for a holiday weekend to enjoy and family and friends I will see.

I have driven by this line on a sign for Anytime Fitness for several days now: "Stop wishing. Start doing." It stuck in my head and this post came out.

Stop wishing. Start doing. It certainly applies to exercise. I can't wish my way through a marathon. I actually have to do the legwork, literally, one step at a time and one mile at a time. A running or walking goal of any distance or time requires doing.

Stop wishing and start doing also applies to everything else in life. And if you will allow me a brief step up on to my soapbox, I would say what ails many in our society is a misunderstanding of how we get the good things in life. (We'll save discussion of what the good things in life actually are for another time.) Other than being entitled to basic necessities and fair treatment, which for many in the world would …

Possibility

Today I am grateful for the soothing sound of a clock ticking in the morning quiet and for the predictable nature of our dog Oliver.

I appreciate the words and poetry of Emily Dickinson in many ways.  Here is a quote of hers I just saw for the first time:

"I dwell in possibility."

The other evening I wanted to write but my heart wasn't in it. Mostly I was tired and needed to
just be done for the day.

I allowed myself to do just that--be done for the day. I knew the passion and motivation would return. It did the next morning, with many ideas in my head. 
Dwelling in possibility is what helped. Don't force what isn't there now. Believe in
possibility and give it time.

Yeah but, some will say, dwelling in negative possibilities can be detrimental. They sure can! That's why I try to avoid dwelling there, and that's why gratitude practice is so helpful.  And I think Emily Dickinson was referring to healthy and nurturing possibilities when she wrote the four w…

True Grit

Today I am grateful for my sense of smell and the coffee it is savoring right now. I am also grateful for comfortable couches.

I was intrigued by this article I read yesterday on the Greater Good Science Center's website:

"Grit Needs Passion, Not Fear"

It was written by Dr. Christine Carter. Whatever I read from her makes a lot of sense to me and I appreciate that.

The main point of this article is that grit has two parts to it. Too often we get hung up on the first part and end of frustrated and not having much fun.

This is the definition of grit from psychologist Angela Duckworth: perseverance and passion for long-term goals.  Carter's point is that too many of us persevere, work, push, push, lose the passion, and end up exhausted, anxious, and discouraged. The key to true grit is both parts. Persevering and persisting at a goal that we are passionate about.

By that definition, I have true grit when it comes to blogging and practicing gratitude. There are days I fee…