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Showing posts from May, 2017

Peeling Away

Today I am grateful for the energy gained when I pause to meditate. I am also grateful for my favorite  fruit--bananas.

Simple, easy bananas. Peel and enjoy. I have eaten thousands of bananas and often don't even think about it. Today, I thought about what else I sometimes need to peel away besides the skin of bananas.

Some days I need to peel away negative and obsessive thoughts that have taken hold and are cluttering my mind. They often have to do with my job, especially this time of the year, but can stem from many sources including family, friends, recovery, writing pursuits.

Pause and peel away the thoughts that are getting in the way of peace and serenity. Easier said than done. Yet, I am making progress. The recent book discussion with co-workers and more meditation practice have helped me do some more mental exercises that allow me to stop the runaway train sooner.

Some days I need to peel away the obstructions that seem to be in front of my eyes and blocking my heart. The…

Nine Years

Today I am grateful for reminders to stay present and for my son Sam. I am also deeply grateful to be nine years out from first hearing the words "You have cancer."

Yesterday marked that ninth anniversary: May 29, 2008. As I wrote about last year, I was a few hours into my day yesterday before I recalled the significance of the date. Yet, cancer has left an indelible mark on me and many people I care about.

Nine thoughts and gratitudes on nine years of living as a breast cancer survivor:

1. How many women never got nine years?  Appreciate today Lisa.

2. How could nine years go so fast? Slow down today Lisa.

3. My physical scars are part of me. I honor them with a hand on my heart.

4. Emotional healing for me happened long ago. And yet still continues.

5. Fear will come and go. Don't let it linger Lisa. Have faith.

6. The love and support of my husband Darcy have helped me in
so many ways. Thank you dear!

7. My goal of being able to keep running, and without pain, continu…

The Soothing Sioux

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Today I am grateful for safe travels, the fun opportunity to be part of a surprise party, and also the time to meet new people who matter in the lives of people who matter to me.
On Saturday, Darcy and I went for a run in Sioux Falls, SD while there to visit his family. Sioux Falls will always have a special place in our hearts. We got married there and lived there for the first two years of our marriage. Darcy's family still lives there and we appreciate getting back to see them. We also appreciate watching the ever-evolving city of Sioux Falls and the surrounding area.
It is a booming place, continuing to grow and change. But I love the fact that it is rooted in and grounded by this:

These are the falls that give Sioux Falls its name. You can take them in when visiting Falls Park near downtown. You can also take them in like we most often do; as we run past on the great trail system the city is fortunate to have and we are fortunate to get to enjoy.
The sound of water is soothi…

"I don't know."

Today I am grateful for old songs, new insights, this day, and the moments that will comprise it.

In a brief exchange with a neighbor yesterday morning as I walked Oliver, I answered her question about garbage pickup with "I don't know." It was the correct answer because I truly didn't know. I walked away and thought to myself, it was easy to say "I don't know" in those circumstances. Even at that, it felt good and comfortable.

What about bigger questions about more significant things than garbage? Am I able to say "I don't know" and accept that?  Or do I try too hard? Do I let ego come up with a response, even an erroneous one?

There is freedom in "I don't know."  Along with honesty and ego deflation, I would also add motivation.

Will I ever publish a book?  I don't know. But I do know that I will keep writing, every day.

Take an "I don't know" and turn it into some action, and maybe an answer down the roa…

Little Guy, Big Energy

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Today I am grateful for time with our grandson Leo and a bike ride at dusk last evening.

On that bike ride, a deer and I crossed paths and spent a few seconds looking at each other from just a few feet away. I was reminded of the awe of all creation. Then the deer darted off through the trees and I continued down the trail. I also appreciated the fragrant smell of various spring blossoms on my short bike ride.

Then there's this little guy. Our grandson Leo. He and his mom Emily were over last evening too. Leo and I spent some time together running around the backyard, walking Oliver, and going down the slide at the neighborhood park.


He brings such a precious energy to all he does. His curiosity and wonder remind me that there is much to notice and be grateful for right here, right now.

Thank you Leo! Have a good day all! 

Open to Receiving

Today I am grateful for the daily reminders I get that I am but one small part of a larger, greater whole. I am also grateful for my five senses, especially hearing and taste this morning.

As I continue to practice new meditations in the mornings, I am left feeling more aware and open. Open to receiving. Receiving energy and clarity. Receiving grace and direction. Receiving support and encouragement.

Open to receiving is a good starting point to each day, each new moment, each new task. Sometimes the clarity is tough, the emotions raw. Sometimes I feel unworthy or undeserving of support offered.
My rational mind knows this is my humanness showing. I try to accept and move on.

Returning to open-mindedness and an open heart is aided by quiet and by seeking gratitude. I find it in the birds I hear singing. In the soft sounds of my husband's breathing as he sleeps. In the first sips of freshly-brewed coffee. In the wise and kind words of my sister and a friend in two emails awaiting m…

Right In Front and Within

Today I am grateful for the connections I have with other women and men in recovery from alcoholism and other addictions.

I am also grateful for the joylet last evening of watching our grandson Leo chase bubbles around our backyard.

Joylets come and go throughout each day of our lives. I miss many of them, but like Leo caught a few bubbles last evening, I catch at least a few moments of joy each day. And on some days, it is a steady stream.

On those days, I am present in the here and now, I am paying attention to the riches right in front of me and within me. When I do that, I am so much more likely to notice each of you and your gifts as well.

Thank you Guri Mehta for this spot-on quote:
Grateful living is important in the world because in our constant pursuit  of more and better we can easily lose sight of the riches  that lay right in front of us and within us. 

May we each find moments to pause today. Moments to notice what is right in front and within. And then may we say some genui…

Perspectives

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Today I am grateful for safe travels, time with my mom in her new home, conversation with my niece Katie, and a half-marathon in the light rain yesterday.

I am grateful for the many conversations, in person, on the phone, and via text messages, that have helped me process many thoughts and feelings in recent weeks. Thank you to all who have listened.

It is helpful for me to talk through things. Along with writing, it is most effective in helping me work through my own perspectives on life as it unfolds. And life has been unfolding in ways unforeseen lately.

I took this first picture at Mom's house on Saturday morning. It shows the empty space where her glider rocker was for many years. It also goes right through the hall and into her bedroom, the room she slept in for 36 years, alone since Dad died in 1998.

It was a new perspective for me. Seeing the chair gone. Seeing the bed that she won't be sleeping in anymore. Friday night and Saturday, I saw Mom in her new room at the Os…

Live Stream Some Acceptance

Today I am grateful for good vision insurance and a venting conversation with my friend Jill.

Live stream is carrying a couple meanings for me today. I appreciate that I can watch my niece compete at the Iowa state high school track meet from across the miles. She ran very well yesterday and will compete in the Class 2A finals of the 100 meter dash tomorrow. Way to go Ellie! Good luck to you and your distance medley relay teammates today too.
I needed to live stream some acceptance yesterday too. I had an appointment at the eye doctor later in the afternoon. It took much longer than I thought it would. My eyes were a little funky from drops and dilation. I missed seeing the live stream of Ellie running one of her events too. I was frustrated and disappointed, and already emotionally exhausted from a week of many emotions.

I had choices. I could keep spiraling downward or try to pull myself back to the present. Pulling doesn't sound very peaceful, but sometimes that is what is need…

Kind Attention

Today I am grateful for the kindness and compassion others have shown me in recent weeks. I am also grateful for a phone conversation with my mom and a text from my sister.

Life is about connections with others. I am blessed with many strong and meaningful connections.

I came across TEDx Shauna Shapiro: The Power of Mindfulness in one of the email newsletters I get. This one was from Dr. Rick Hanson. Thank you Dr. Shapiro and Dr. Hanson.

I encourage you to watch and listen to this 13-minute video and see what you take away.

Here are some of the things I gleaned from my first two views/listens:

*What we practice grows stronger.

*Shame doesn't work. It shuts down the parts of our brain needed for change.

*Mindfulness works.

*Mindfulness is intentionally paying attention with kindness.

*Kind attention takes practice. Lots of practice.

*Transformation is possible.

*If I practice mindfulness, without judging myself, my ability to be mindful gets
stronger.

If you listen to the end, perha…

Chemo Sisters

Today I am grateful for cleansing tears, caring friends, and compassionate dogs. I am also grateful for the advances in cancer treatment and chemotherapy options, as well as medications that can help reduce side effects of chemo.

Later this morning my sister Leonice begins chemotherapy to treat the endometrial cancer she has been diagnosed with. She becomes the fourth sister in my family to undergo chemo.

Growing up the youngest of the eight sisters in our family of 13 children, there were certainly ways I wanted to be like my older sisters. But none of us wanted to share this cancer sh**!

Zita had chemotherapy in 2004 for breast cancer, I had it in 2008 for breast cancer, and Mary Jo underwent chemo in 2010 for lung cancer. Enough already. This club doesn't need more members.

I have been in Leonice's shoes. The night before chemo starts and so many unknowns in this new territory of cancer land. Many of those unknowns and questions will be faced today and in the coming weeks. …

In Her Shoes

Today I am grateful for laughter and hope among recovery friends. I am also grateful for my siblings and others who will be helping my mom move into the nursing home today.

I have been doing more meditation practice in recent weeks, thanks to a book study and fellow mindfulness seekers. The practices I have done have brought me peace and calm when I am able to do them. This at a time when my emotions have been anything but peaceful and calm much of the time.

My mom woke up today knowing that she would be sleeping in a new bed tonight, that she would be leaving the home she has known for 36 years. It has to be a difficult spot to be in, this time of transition. Not just any transition, but transition late in life, when it can be even more difficult.

It is in her best interest and the right thing to be happening. It is emotional for her children, grandchildren and others. But mainly for her. Like the rest of us, she is probably wondering what the next weeks and months will be like. As s…

Walking By Your Side

Today I am grateful for a cooling breeze on a warm day, a challenging but satisfying bike ride with Darcy yesterday, and a nice Mother's Day.

We wound down yesterday with a walk together. Darcy, Sam, our dog Oliver, and I walked in the early evening. It isn't often that we all share a walk and talk. It was a nice Mother's Day gift for me.
The weather was warm, the breeze helpful, and the look on Oliver's face and the spring in his step seemed to be saying "Cool! We are all walking together."

It wasn't a long walk. We talked about random things and laughed at Oliver. I thought about how quickly the years have gone since I became Sam's mom. From stroller walks, to beginner bicycle rides, to a treat on a special day; our walks together have been many.

I appreciate that Sam is a good sport and joins in for these requests, even when his teen mind maybe wishes he were elsewhere. I thought about the simple pleasure, comfort, and gratitude I could feel in a …

An Emotional Mother's Day

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Today I am grateful for my mom and the opportunity to be a mom and stepmom. I have learned much from my mom and from being a mom. Lessons you can only learn by experiencing them.

I am also grateful for the little squirrel that just ventured on to our front porch where I am sitting, reminding me of the mothers of all creatures.

I am especially thinking of my mom on this Mother's Day, two days before she moves into the nursing home in our hometown. I so appreciate that she was able to make this decision herself and that there is quality care nearby. I am surprised by the myriad emotions I am feeling, and I know other family members are experiencing as well. They range from relief to sadness and many more.

I am thinking of my friend Sheila who is just weeks away from her eldest daughter graduating from high school and just weeks out from the death of her youngest daughter. What a range of emotions she must be feeling.

And I close, so very thankful to be a mom and stepmom myself. Here…

Let There Be Cake!

Today I am grateful for my workplace and the people I share it with. I appreciate the good company, good food, and good evening shared with colleagues and spouses last evening.

I am also grateful for my sweet tooth.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I like my sweets, especially chocolate and ice cream. I have always had a sweet tooth. Not always the healthiest, but I can easily justify it for several reasons. Better to get my sugar in some cake than in some alcohol. (Those in early sobriety are encouraged to have sweets around to help them through cravings.)

I put on many steps each day, and many miles on some days, between my walking and running. I earn a treat or two.

Okay, truth be told, yesterday I had more than a treat or two. Somebody said "let there be cake" and there was. There was cake as a thank you from a co-worker and her daughter who is graduating this year. There was cake for another co-worker to celebrate the successful completion of her degree program. And …

Quiet Places

Today I am grateful for cereal and warm milk. I am also grateful for rest in a comfortable bed with my husband Darcy beside me.

I was talking with my friend Dorothy the other evening. She used the words "quiet places" and they stuck with me.

Quiet places can be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.  Quiet places are nourishing. They can be experienced through any or all of our senses. Quiet places can be touched in our hearts, souls, and minds.

Some of my favorite quiet places don't require lack of sound. The sounds of nature and day-to-day living are comforting to me. Good quiet places for me are free of the negative and constant train of thoughts that can sometimes derail me.

Pauses. Daily recovery work. Exercise. Writing. Prayers. Talking and sharing with others. Gratitude practice. All of these help quiet my thoughts.

Here's hoping we can all find at least a little peace in some of our own quiet places today.


1,600 Ways

Today I am grateful for the spectrum of emotions I can feel and identify. That wasn't always the case.
I am also grateful for birds that greet each day with song. It's an appropriate welcome.

I am thinking of my mom and my 12 siblings as Mom prepares to transition to a nursing home in the next week. I am thinking of so many others on the receiving end of my ongoing thoughts and prayers.

In the midst of busy times and a lot of emotions swirling about, I cruised right past post #1600 on "Habitual Gratitude." I have made a tradition of marking every 100 posts. Technically, today is post #1604, so I am a little late this time around. Not that I am a technical sort. (Just ask my sisters about my nickname growing up.)

When I looked, I realized that post #1600 was titled "Bolstered by Gratitude." That title alone does an adequate job of summarizing what this blog does for me. Writing about gratitude regularly, and giving my heart and mind this daily outlet, indeed…

19,988

Today I am grateful for the extended family I saw this weekend and the conversations we shared. Some I hadn't seen for many years. We commented that we wish it weren't funerals that tend to bring us together these days, but the key word here is together.

I am especially grateful to have seen my cousin Julie and the rest of her family. Julie and I grew up together, partied together, graduated the same year from neighboring high schools, wrote hilarious letters to each other, and laughed a lot; among other things. And then we saw less and less of each other and fell out of contact in recent years. We have pledged to not let that happen again.

The occasion that brought us together was the celebration of life for Julie's sister Cathy. Cathy died on March 19, a few months shy of her 55th birthday. Too young. Too early.

Lisa, a friend of Cathy's and her husband Kurt, gave a very fitting and heartfelt tribute. She captured the spirit of Cathy and honored the mark she left on …

The Good Revealed

Today I am grateful for phones that connect me across the miles with people I care about. I am also grateful for our kitchen and the food we can prepare there.
And for these words from Emily Dickinson:

Hope inspires the good to reveal itself.
As I watch the beautiful sunrise this morning, I feel hopeful. I am also exhausted. More emotionally and mentally than physically and spiritually.
My sister's recent cancer diagnosis and pending treatment, my cousin's memorial service, my mom getting closer to a move to the nursing home, my friend's grief and pain, a newly sober alcoholic's raw cravings. . . these are some of the things in my realm of experience lately.
But I have taken the time to exercise, meditate, practice gratitude. Those choices have allowed some hope to remain and grow, have allowed the good to be revealed. The good is I am not alone and I am loved. 
We get up each day and can make it through with faith and the love and support of others. Today I will reveal…

Permission to Practice

Today I am grateful for a walk and conversation with my friend Jenny, a relaxing head rub from my husband Darcy, and the opportunity to practice meditation.

Birthday wishes to the eldest of my siblings, Linus, who celebrates today!

A big thank you also goes out to my friend and co-worker Kelly for pulling together a book discussion group focused on Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World." I appreciate all who have come to our first two meetings.

The book gives many ideas and provides audio meditation tracks that we have listened to as a group, and that I have tried on my own at home a few times as well.

Though I have a number of healthy practices to incorporate mindfulness and gratitude into my daily life, I have always struggled with the breathing and meditation techniques. Struggling to find the time. Struggling to quiet my mind enough to gain new awareness. Struggling for consistency.

This book and our shared discussions and practice are allowing …

Bolstered by Gratitude

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to witness a beautiful sunrise and also for the conversation I had with my sister Leonice yesterday.

Buffeted by challenges. Buffered by faith. Bolstered by gratitude. If I keep building the buffers of faith and gratitude in my daily life, I can weather the buffeting that comes.  I believe this. I have experienced it.

Daily habits and practice are the best ways I know to bolster faith and gratitude. The way my mind works, it would quickly push both of these healthy and healing thoughts out and replace them with incessant negative ones.

And so I bolster. Strengthen. Fortify. Renew. Boost.

Prayer on my knees. Pen to paper with two gratitudes each morning in my gratitude journal. This blog. Quiet time on my commutes. Mindful walks. Tuning into my senses. New meditation practices.
A squeeze of my "gratitude" rock before bed as I consider the best part of my day.

These and more serve to boost and bolster my belief that today can be a good d…

Buffered by Faith

Today I am grateful for the strength that can be drawn from faith. I am also grateful for my mom, my brothers and sisters, and my extended family.

Yesterday I wrote about being buffeted by life's winds. The breezes and gales of life can really lash and batter at times. Yet, we can be buffered by faith in minor and significant ways as well. Faith can meet the most difficult of challenges and shore us up.

Buffered: shielded, protected, cushioned, insulated. Buffered doesn't mean we will avoid and avert the buffeting, it means we will survive it. We may come out a little tattered, a little worn, but we will also come out surviving and moving forward.

I believe in faith, and that is all I need to start. Belief in compassion, hope, and support beyond my limited human capacity. Help for others, help for myself. For the taking if I but seek it out.

There is solace in faith. Sometimes it is the only solace. It is enough.

Buffeted by Winds

Today I am grateful for safe travels and a pleasant visit with family this weekend.

We celebrated at a bridal shower for my niece Kiane on Saturday. Her and her fiancé Brad get married two months from today. Exciting times for them!

Exciting times for some, painfully difficult times for others. That is the way life is. And with the large family I have, there is usually some of both going on. Add in friends, co-workers, recovery connections, and others I care about, and there is more of the same. Joys to celebrate. Heartbreaks to endure.

As I ran in a stiff and chilly wind yesterday morning, the word buffeted came to mind. Battered. Pounded. Lashed. It's a fitting word when it comes to wind, and also to tough times in life. I am thinking of those I know who are being buffeted by much more than wind lately. Profound loss. Large fears. Significant pain. Uncertainty. Health concerns. And more.

I ran into that wind and felt it on my face and pushing against my strides. But I ran on. I …