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Showing posts from March, 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…

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 l…

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 t…

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 th…

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…

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 fi…

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

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 sound…

Bragging or Building?

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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 s…

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 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 gettin…

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 a…

Look who is 2!

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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 …

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 togetherappreciating his thoughts and ideas on things pertinent to his lifenoticing the countryside as we traveled through southeast MN and into northeast Iowatime to visit with my mom and just being with her for a timehomemade cinnamon rollssafe travels on a 300-mile round trip sunshine in advance of a snowstorman opportunity to get a run in on clear roads and trails before it started to snowthe way the store Trader Joe's is set up and items we like there, especially their coffeephone conversations with my sisters Aileen and Danitathe phrase "Real writers really write."  That makes me a real writer!the idea of "maximum alertness" as another way to…

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…

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 …

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 an…

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.