"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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Don't Just Sit There

Today I am grateful for the refrigerator in our kitchen and the food in it. I cleaned it out the other day and it gave me time to consider the gift of ease and convenience it is and we are fortunate to have it.

I am also grateful for my husband Darcy and our marriage. We continue to grow together in our union, and also to grow as individuals.

I consider this quote as I appreciate our marriage, and the other loving relationships I have in my life:

"Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; 
remade all the time, made new."
(Ursula K. Le Guin)

"Don't just sit there, do something." Today is a new day. Like anything else, love will get stale if left unattended. Healthy relationships aren't effortless. Let the people I love be reminded of that love. Let my words and actions both speak to our connection and commitment. 

Showing genuine gratitude to someone is showing them love. I too often take the people closest to me for granted. A grateful mindset and approach to each day help remind me to say thank you both out loud and in my heart. Forgiveness and tolerance are more possible with a grateful perspective.
And let's face it, we need both of these at times with those we love. Especially with those we love. 

At times, love also means "don't just do something, sit there." Sometimes the best way to show love is to simply be fully present for another person, whatever that may mean. In these times of multitasking, full schedules, and social media, our full attention has become even more meaningful.

How can I give my full presence to others today? 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Slide!

Today I am grateful for time spent with our grandson Leo and the ways he reminds me of life's simple joys.

Like the joy of going down slides. We watched him last evening for awhile so his mom Emily could go exercise. Though it wasn't the nicest day out, Darcy and Sam headed with him to the park a block away. I joined them after I cleaned up dinner dishes.

Leo has been especially excited to go down slides lately. "Slide!" This park has four of them and he gave them all a ride or two. And with the smaller ones, a climb up. Slides. One of life's simple pleasures. A joy ride, seen through the eyes of a toddler.

It was fun to spend a little time at the park. The cool mist didn't dampen Leo's enthusiasm. It will be a fun summer taking him to our many parks in town and trying out the various slides and other playground offerings.

It was a sentimental journey too. Uncle Sam is good with his little nephew and I love to watch them interact. It doesn't seem so long ago that we were with Sam at this same park, playing ball or going on the merry-go-round.

Life's joy rides take many forms. Each day has joy and joylets to offer. Let's all look for joy today.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Remain Seated

Today I am grateful for the time to simply remain seated and soak up the present. I am also grateful for my friend Betsy, the time we spent together yesterday, and our shared conversation.

Yesterday was the kind of day you hope for when you have spring break. After a solid four days of gray skies to go with the gray landscape, yesterday was clear, no wind, highs in the comfortable sixties. It was the kind of day that beckoned me back outside when I had to go in for some reason.

It was the kind of day that suggested to me to remain seated. Enjoy it. Soak it up. So I listened.

I enjoyed a nice visit and walking around downtown and along the riverfront with Betsy.

I participated in a lovely time of sitting down in the sunshine on our front patio, listening to the birds and watching the golfers head out to the course across the street.

Remaining seated, cozy in the warm sunshine, I closed my eyes and rested them, along with all of me, for a few minutes.

I got our bikes ready to roll for the first time since last fall. Darcy and I had a nice first-of-the-season ride and stopped for ice cream.

This morning, the clouds are back. Sitting here taking it in, those clouds contributed to some beautiful colors in the sunrise.

How can I contribute today? Remaining seated for a bit longer this morning has put me in a calm mindset. That will help me contribute more, contaminate less. And when needed, I will pause, take a seat, and take in the moment I am in. Such a simple action can truly bring me back to a grounded and more even keel.

Simple actions. Complex rewards. I hope you experience both today.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Just Sitting Here

Today I am grateful for a nice breakfast and conversation with my friend Liz yesterday. We never run out of things to talk about. I am also grateful for laughter shared among recovery friends. There is hope and energy in that laughter.

This morning, I am just sitting here in my recliner. Looking out our front window enjoying the colors of the sunrise on the first clear morning we have had after several cloudy and dreary days.

Our dog Oliver is sitting near my feet, just being his usual self. My son Sam just sat down on the couch in front of the window. Soon, I will leave with him to drop him off at school. My husband Darcy, set to begin his work day, just swung through to mention a couple of things.

Just sitting here, I slowed down enough to notice and appreciate three key living beings in my life: Oliver, Sam, Darcy. The gratitude they inspire in me is boundless, though I sometimes forget to appreciate them.

Just sitting here, I took the time to watch the changing light, to absorb the peaceful feeling the sunrise and early morning mist combine to bring to me. The gratitude nature inspires in me is boundless, though I sometimes forget to appreciate it.

Just sitting here, because I can. I have time off from work this week, giving me more opportunities to pause and take in a moment. Breathe it in. Experience it. And I feel better. I slow down my thoughts and my pace.

I realize that just sitting here like this is a gift in itself. One I can carve out time for each and every day. The gratitude these pauses inspire in me is boundless. Let me not forget to appreciate at least a few of them every day.

Sit down. Take a moment. What do you notice?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Five Years!

Today I am grateful for time off from work and a different routine if I choose. I am also grateful for the energy in "thank you, thank you, thank you."  Once is good. Three times carries more potency.

Today marks the fifth anniversary of "Habitual Gratitude."  It is hard to believe that I have been diligently committed to this blog for that long already. It is also hard to believe what I have gained and learned since starting. I went back to each yearly anniversary post and pulled out some thoughts:

March, 2013
It has also given me a regular channel to which I can pour my writing energy. Before I started this blog, I always wanted to write regularly, but I was not always able to make that happen. On too many days, I would end up frustrated because I hadn't been able to honor my desire to write. My day had gotten swallowed up by other commitments. Now, I almost daily give time to this blog and the writer in me is more at peace because of the regular opportunity to compose and share.

March, 2014
What do I know today? Gratitude is always possible and there is always value in reflecting on sources of gratitude in our lives on a regular basis. I choose to do it daily, but even weekly or a couple times a week is helpful. Any focus on gratitude is a step in the right direction, a step to change one's perception of self and surrounding world. 

March 2015
The process of habitually noting how gratefulness looks in simple, daily ways has deepened my own sense of what mindful appreciation is all about. What I didn't anticipate is how it would further bring out the writer in me. Practice doesn't make perfect, but practice does make better. In blogging and in observing and internalizing gratitude.

March, 2016
As I pass this anniversary, I am very much affirmed of two things:
1) I am a writer.
2) Gratitude practice works.

And I add these thoughts in March, 2017:

1) Real writers really write. Write on Lisa, write on. That's all.
2) Humility and right-sized ego are key benefits of gratitude practice.
3) Never doubt that gratitude shared is gratitude multiplied. Even if with just one other person.
Even if just within your own heart, soul, and mind. Especially in these cases.

Thank you to all who support this blog, read it, comment on it, take it to heart. Gratefulness goes deep to my core. It is my heart and soul as a writer and as a human being on a spiritual path. For all of you, and for all of this, I am deeply grateful.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Way In or the Way Out?

Today I am grateful for a good run yesterday morning and getting back to some stretches of trail we hadn't been on for months. I am also grateful for time to talk with others in recovery.

As Darcy and I ran yesterday, early in our run the conversation yielded an analogy that is today's blog topic. It had to do with finding your way in, or your way out as the case may be, of a structure, a room, a tent.

What if the structure is a problem I am stuck in?  If I remain in the room surrounded by the problem, it is pretty difficult to find a solution, to even consider anything but the problem and keep spinning it over and over in my mind. The way out requires finding a door and exiting the area. Only then do I get some healthy perspective and the realization that there are solutions, there are ways to get unstuck.

What if I am outside the structure and the solution is inside?  If I am trying too hard to figure something out, I get tunnel vision. Tunnel vision makes it difficult to find the handle on the door that I need to turn to get in to the solution focus.

The way out of the problem and the way in to the solution become one and the same. Opening my mind, asking for help, and pausing to really take a mindful look around are the keys to finding the right focus, the way out of the problem and into the solution. The way to see a door and turn the knob.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Watch Your Step

Today I am grateful for the blueberry pancakes Sam made for dinner last night and for the power of gratitude practice done regularly.

This seems like an appropriate post today as we head into a rainy morning and also as we wrap up a winter that included ice, snow, and mud as well.

It is the most recent "Gratitude Flow" column I write for the local newspaper. 

Watch Your Step

          It's the time of year where both ice and mud can lead to treacherous and messy steps. Ice requires slowing down and being cautious. It also requires our full attention. Full attention—that is what I try to give to each moment, or each hour. It helps us experience life on a deeper level; not just passing our days but participating in them as well.
         Giving anything our full attention can seem like a challenge in our world today, with so many things pulling us in different directions. Ice reminds us of our priorities—taking the next step safely if we are on foot, or turning the next corner slowly if we are driving. Salt and sand can make it safer to move on ice, but speed is still not recommended. Pausing to practice gratitude during our day is like slowing down on ice. We are reminded of our priorities and we give more attention to what is right in front of us.
         Mud offers different challenges. It can really weigh a person down, make things slippery, and be a mess to clean up. Not to mention that we can get stuck in it. Mud can usually be avoided by taking a different route or accommodated for by wearing boots. Self-pity and self-defeating thoughts are like mud. They catch us in a negative thought pattern and mire us in the muck of ungrateful feelings. Ingratitude can be avoided by keeping up a steady stream of appreciation for the gifts in our daily lives. Gifts as basic as morning coffee or a banana to eat. Gifts as profound as waking up to a new day and being able to get out of bed.
         We can’t avoid all of life’s slippery slopes and messy times, but we can make choices that put us in a better position to stay upright, limit physical and emotional injuries, and come out the other side still feeling hopeful and able to find gratitude.
         When I think of watching my step, a couple other ideas come to mind. If you were fortunate enough to grow up on a farm, like I was, watching your step went with the territory when you left the house yard for the cow yard. Having to watch our step and sometimes landing where we didn't want to was far outweighed by the more pleasant and interesting things we got to witness and learn about as farm kids. The fresh air and open spaces to explore and run in, when not icy or muddy, were wonderful blessings of farm life.
         Watching your step as you walk, run, skate, ski or take part in any other physical activity is just good common sense. Even so, falls and trips can happen. It's part of life and being active. It's worth the risk. Consider what other healthy choices in your life are worth the risks and the work required. Pursue them patiently.
Watching your step is also about slowing down to notice what is happening around us and in our minds and hearts. It is a gratitude practice in and of itself. As I take a step, I think about these facts: my legs and feet work with minimal pain or discomfort; I have shoes to wear and they are of good quality to protect my feet and the rest of my body; I can see where I am going and enjoy the indoor and outdoor scenery; and I feel safe and secure where I walk as opposed to worrying about criminals, terrorists, or getting caught in the crossfire between warring factions. Many people around the world don’t have shoes to wear, don’t feel safe when they step outside, may be malnourished and unable to walk far. It puts things in perspective for me really quickly.
You will probably still catch me complaining about the ice and mud, or other types of troubles and messes that life sends our way from time to time. But I guarantee you that I complain less when I practice gratitude more. And I easily find things to be grateful for when I do something as basic as watching my step. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stomping Grounds

Today I am grateful for the phone conversations I had last evening with my sister Zita and my Aunt Helen. I am also grateful that Darcy and I understand each other the way we do.

Last week we took a couple days away and ended up in my old "stomping grounds." We drove through Brooklyn, Iowa. I had lived and worked there as a teacher and coach 25 years ago. I was struck by several things. First of all, how could 25 years have passed so quickly?

Secondly, much was the same, much had changed. And my memories had faded. We located the two places I lived while there, though the second one wasn't as easy to find as the first one was. We drove past the school I taught at and explored town a little before stopping at the new Casey's store and heading out of town.

I have driven back through Brooklyn several times since I left. I appreciate each time and the perspective I get.

As I was thinking about stomping grounds though, the word stomping kept getting my attention.
It sounds a little more gentle when used in the phrase "stomping grounds," but typically stomping doesn't seem too mild. It seems more of a harsh and pounding approach.

It made me consider this: Do I stomp through too many of my days, literally and figuratively? Rushing around expecting too much of myself? Pounding out steps to get from point A to point B without enjoying the gifts and observations in each step?

Today I will strive for less stomping, and a more gentle pace. I encourage you to do the same.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bragging or Building?

Today I am grateful for the gratitudes shared by others. They always give me more to think about. I am also grateful for the thought-provoking words of other people, even when I may disagree with them. Perhaps especially when I disagree with them.

A comment made to someone and then shared in a gratitude group I am part of really got me thinking over the last few days. I have been turning it over in my head and heart, and I passed it by my husband and son to get different perspectives. I arrived back at the truth I started with. Let me explain.

The comment that got it rolling was someone stating that they felt sharing gratitudes was like bragging and amounted to putting others down. Am I bragging when I share gratitudes?
I certainly don't think so.

And I don't think others are bragging when I read their lists of reasons to be grateful. I usually think things along the line of "thanks for the reminders" or "how wonderful that between us all we can pause and find so many different things to be thankful for" or "there's such energy in these words."

If someone else's gratitudes don't sit well with me, I am the one who needs to look in the mirror. I am the one who needs to work on my own ingratitude.

I find sharing gratitudes to be the opposite of bragging. It is very humbling. I did nothing to earn the fresh air and oxygen I breathe in day in and day out. I didn't create the beauty and awe of nature and the five senses I can use to fully experience that beauty and awe. I didn't do the work that makes it possible for me to simply turn a faucet on and get clean water, hot or cold. And yet these are significant gifts in my daily life. I had little to do with many things for which I have tremendous gratitude.

On the other hand, I work daily to build the grateful mindset I have and that is important to acknowledge. Many gifts freely given. Many gifts intentionally sought out and recognized.

Maybe the person talking about bragging was referring to material things. Sure, material items show up on my gratitude list, but they don't dominate it. People, experiences, nature, health, food, running, writing, music--they more frequently make my list than a nicer, newer item tends to.

Gratitude practice isn't about what you have, it's about how you look at what you have.

Practicing gratitude isn't arrogant. It is grace in action. But it isn't always easy. It takes time and effort. This is a picture of my stack of gratitude journals I have been working regularly to fill over the last twenty-two years. Line by line. Day by day. The one in front is my current journal. Writing in it is one of the first things I do every morning.



I have run 14 marathons. Huge gratitude in each one. Step by step.  Mile by mile. I have been sober for over 10, 000 days. Immeasurable appreciation for recovery and the support of others and a compassionate Great Spirit. An hour at a time. A day at a time.

Day by day, building a better perception of self and surrounding world. Made possible by choosing to look for the daily gifts in life and taking actions to acknowledge them.  Effort goes with the territory of living a life of contribution. The dividends cannot be counted, but they can be felt and embraced.

The truth I started with? Gratitude practice is grace-filled and it works. It isn't bragging, it is building a better life. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Aspire to be Educated

Today I am grateful for a nice wrestling banquet and recognition evening for this season for our son Sam and his teammates last night. I am grateful to the coaches, managers, teammates, and other parents who all help make our school's wrestling program outstanding.

I am also grateful for affordable student loans. Last week we spent a night in West Des Moines, Iowa.
When I went for a run the next morning in the area around the hotel, I ended up running past a building that houses my student loan company. It is now called Iowa Student Loan/Aspire.

As I ran past, I considered the value of my formal education in my professional career, and how it has also helped me grow personally. I fully appreciate that low-interest student loans helped make both my undergraduate and graduate degrees possible.

About the time I got my loans paid off for my 4-year degree, I began my master's program. We continue to pay on the loans for my graduate degree, but it is slowly working it's way down. More than worth it in so many respects.

Formal education matters, as do affordable ways of paying for it. Informal education matters too.
Today, I aspire to educated in the ways of gratitude, love, tolerance, and compassion for those around me, the world around me, and myself.

Monday, March 20, 2017

More People Watching

Today I am grateful for safe travels and some enjoyable time away last week. I am also grateful for recovery from alcoholism, a day at a time.

I appreciate the break from blogging because it gives me some perspective on the writing process and the time commitment it is. The time away also typically gives me several ideas for posts when I return. This time was no different.

We spent some time in different communities, on a couple university campuses, and in a variety of eating establishments. All of these provided opportunities for some people watching.

Here were some of my random thoughts as I observed:

*The stories behind the faces are all unique and deserve to be honored and heard. Let's honor each other with our attention and our compassion.

*There are common and universal human expressions, but a great variety of facial features to reflect similar emotions. Another reason to pay attention.

*It is fairly evident when a couple clearly knows each other versus a couple just getting to know each other. Body language, proximity, and the way the two are interacting give away their level of comfort, or lack of, with one another.

*Technology can be a block or wall, but also a way to bring people together. I still prefer face to face communication and being in the same room as the people I am connecting with when possible.

*Smiles-talk about a universal expression-serve as builders and a show of human dignity.
Share some today. 

*Watch someone who is trying to sell something compared to someone who is trying to buy something. It is an interesting dynamic.

*No matter where you are, it is often easy to tell the locals apart from the visitors.

*Another common human ground-the joy in kids playing on a playground.  It is so simple and real.
Let's hang on to that joy as we age. The playgrounds may change, but the joy can still be deep.

*When people watching, if we choose to look for similarities we will find them. And they will be  more unifying than divisive. Our world could use some unifying.

I wrote from a little different observation point in this People Watching post from August of 2014.

Today for me, people watching means being aware of others and contributing to our shared humanity and doing my best to avoid contaminating it. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Begin at Gratitude

Today I am grateful for songs that always stir my soul when I hear them. And I am grateful for a different routine this week. It shakes things up in good ways.

On Sunday, my sister Danita and I were talking about gratitude and how it sometimes is given a pollyannish meaning. This can turn people away from gratitude, believing someone who is always grateful is glossing over and denying the tough times and burying the difficult emotions. That they aren't being realistic and that their happiness isn't genuine.

We both disagree with these ideas and they have proven to be false in our own lives. As we talked, she said she looks at it this way: gratitude is not the end point, it is the starting point. Begin at gratitude. More will be seen, heard, felt, and experienced in helpful ways when gratefulness is where we start our day or this moment.

Daily practice of gratitude helps the negative emotions lose power. If we only focus on negative, we get stuck. The negative emotions expand and have all the power. But when the negative emotions are diminished or given a break, even a brief one, patterns can be broken. We are then better able to look at all of our emotions, feel them, process them, and carry on in a different and healthier manner than we did when we were mired in the muck.

Gratitude practice doesn't make us immune to tough times and it doesn't buffer us from pain. It allows us to handle both much better though.

Denying all positive emotions only perpetuates and feeds the negative mindset. Embracing positive emotions, like gratitude, helps us gain new perspective and fresh ways of looking at things. We get unstuck and move forward.

Begin at gratitude. You won't be sorry.

I will be taking a blog break for a few days. Keep the gratitude flowing!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Look who is 2!

Today I am grateful for the friends I have in recovery and how we celebrate and live this recovery together. I am also grateful for our grandson Leo. 

Today is Leo's second birthday! We celebrated with him and his mom Emily last evening. The picture below is a little blurry, but I really like his little boy face smiling back at us. Cheez-its, some juice, and the pig magnets he likes to play with from off the refrigerator accompany him.



We appreciate that we see him regularly and have literally watched him grow up. He has an inquisitive and stubborn personality that may challenge his mom at times, but that his grandpa and grandma find endearing. He is comfortable in our home and with us and that means a lot to us. 

Emily is a good mother and a caring, loving one looking out for her child's best interests. Leo is blessed to have many family members, both on his mom's side and dad's side, who care about him and are involved in his life. 

And we are the fortunate ones to be treated to his expanding vocabulary, charming smiles, and requests to go outside or read more books. It is hard to believe he is already two. It doesn't seem possible. But he is, and we celebrate with him today! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Day Full of Riches

Today I am grateful for the beauty and quietude of a snowfall and to be physically able to shovel it.

Each day is a day full of riches, if we are paying attention and taking note. I was doing just that yesterday and here are some of the things I noted:
  • extended time to talk with Sam as he and I drove a couple of hours together
  • appreciating his thoughts and ideas on things pertinent to his life
  • noticing the countryside as we traveled through southeast MN and into northeast Iowa
  • time to visit with my mom and just being with her for a time
  • homemade cinnamon rolls
  • safe travels on a 300-mile round trip 
  • sunshine in advance of a snowstorm
  • an opportunity to get a run in on clear roads and trails before it started to snow
  • the way the store Trader Joe's is set up and items we like there, especially their coffee
  • phone conversations with my sisters Aileen and Danita
  • the phrase "Real writers really write."  That makes me a real writer!
  • the idea of "maximum alertness" as another way to consider the idea of paying attention
  • patience 
  • good music on the radio
  • several poems to recite to an audience of three--me, myself, and I
  • a nice meal with just Darcy and I
Today is a new day. More riches await. With maximum alertness, I will receive more of those riches.
I wish the same for you. Have a good day! 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mobile Appreciation

Today I am grateful for a good run yesterday in the chilly March air, and for a group effort to clean the house and make, share, and clean up after a nice meal.

Mobile appreciation carries several meanings for me. I first think of gratitude on the go. Walking and running are moving meditation, mindfulness, and gratitude practice all at the same time. I can do an A-Z list while I run, or say some prayers for others as I walk. I can absorb nature's awe and beauty as I move along, stride by stride. Part of my appreciation is for the body I have that allows this kind of mobility.

I can do all of these same methods of mobile appreciation as I commute to work or take other driving jaunts. Nature can still be appreciated out the windows. Add the sound of music on the radio and gratefulness for a car that works well, money to put gas in it, safe roads to travel.

Mobile appreciation also refers to my mobile phone. I try not to misuse my phone, and to keep things in balance, but I certainly give thanks for the ease of communication it provides, and also the writing space and storage it provides, in the palm of my hand.

Mobile appreciation reminds me to take gratefulness with me throughout my day. I start my morning with it and that is helpful. But there are many more hours in a day, and to take it with me is even more helpful. In simple pauses throughout the day. In intentional efforts to share with others. In a little note jotted on a random piece of paper. Simple efforts keep me moving in the right direction, gratefully.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Freeing Vulnerability

Today I am grateful for every poem I have ever written. I am also grateful for each person who listened to me as I read some of my poems this week.

A special thank you to my friends Claire and Dorothy and Harvey. They came to our local open mic poetry reading last evening to hear me and three others read some of our words, our stories, struggles, and emotions.

It is a vulnerable thing to do: share your heartfelt poetry in a public setting. We were a small group last evening, but it is still a push to put myself out there like that. I find it to be a freeing vulnerability.

Vulnerability gets a bad rap much of the time. It is likened to weakness or putting ourselves in danger. That is only one definition. I prefer the meaning that encompasses being open and willing to learn and grow. This is the kind of vulnerability I feel when I read my poetry to others. This week that was everyone from my husband, to co-workers, my son, and those in attendance last evening.

This is the vulnerability that is freeing and invigorating. I feel most alive at some of my most vulnerable moments. It takes courage to open ourselves up like this, but it makes all the difference between living life fully or only partially.

I choose living fully today. I choose a freeing openness. I choose healthy vulnerability.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Often Overlooked

Today I am grateful for my friend Deb. Happy birthday to you today my friend! I am also grateful for paper towels.

And I am grateful for the often overlooked luxury of nice chairs to sit in, and the climate controlled environments in which I do a lot of my sitting.

There are the matching recliners in our living room. I enjoy sitting in mine and watching the sunrise on weekend mornings. And I appreciate sharing coffee and conversation with Darcy, even if briefly, on weekday mornings. I am glad we have kept the recliner that we had when Sam was a baby. I cherish the memories of falling asleep with him on my chest as an infant. That recliner is relegated to the basement now, and is a little worse for wear, but it is a chair with some history.

I appreciate the chairs around our dining room table and the many family meals we have shared there over the years. Most recently, those meals are sometimes made more lively with the presence of our grandson Leo.  Several times a week, Darcy, Sam and I sit down to a meal together, with pesky little Oliver begging for scraps, and providing entertainment too.

The chair at my desk at work is nothing extravagant and has been around for a few years, but it works for me as I am working. Most days I don't spend too much time sitting at work, as my colleagues can attest. I appreciate the varied nature of my job and that I am physically capable of being up and around a lot.

Although I appreciate sitting indoors in comfort, away from the elements, my favorite place to sit is outside on our front patio. I appreciate the chairs there and Darcy for keeping it such an inviting space. I am looking forward to warmer weather and time to share with others in those front patio chairs.

Chairs are often overlooked. Not today.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Unlikely Packages

Today I am grateful or the HPAAC writing group I was able to attend last evening and for the growing and thriving art community we have here.  I am also grateful for the ongoing lessons taught to me as I practice habitual gratitude.

It all starts with an open mind. An open mind requires a pause, then allows a multitude of possibilities in that a closed mind misses. Possibilities that can come in the most unlikely packages.

Packages like an ingrown toenail. Painful nuisances or cause for gratitude? How about both? A recent ingrown toenail on the big toe of my right foot got my attention with redness and throbbing discomfort. Not pleasant. Initially, I was crabby about the flare up and that it might interfere with my running.

I headed to urgent care hoping for a quick fix-like the last time it had flared up. No such luck-the doctor wanted to start me on antibiotics and get me in to my podiatrist in the next few days. Time for a more permanent fix.

Three days later I was sitting in the podiatrist's office. We consulted and he quickly and adeptly removed a portion of the problematic toenail. Sure, it's been a bit of a hassle remembering to take antibiotics, soaking my toe a couple times a day for a few days, changing bandages, and more.

But interwoven with all of that is the gratitude that the pain was minimal after the first couple days of the flare-up, that I only missed a couple days of exercise, that it wasn't worse.

Yes, the old "could have been worse"  argument is an effective gratitude barometer. This ingrown toenail was a blip, not a hurdle.

This morning I had another unlikely package. I typically will have my coffee in one of three mugs that I like to use. Two were gifts from good friends, and I got the third one on a trip with my sisters.

This morning I just happened to grab a different one. It is part of a matching pair of mugs that we got when we first moved here 17 years ago. We got them with a gift certificate we got in a welcome package we received. The place we bought them at was torn down a couple years ago and replaced by new construction. We are still here enjoying our mugs and thankful for our community.

I guess there was a reason why I grabbed that mug this morning. Have a good day!