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Showing posts from August, 2017

Peachy

Today I am grateful for the lamps that light the early mornings in our house. I am also grateful for the many ways my family and friends enrich my life.

A special happy birthday wish to my friend Dorothy. Many more my friend!

I am thinking especially of my sister Leonice today as she wraps up her sixth and final round of chemotherapy. I recall my last chemo treatment and the mixed emotions it brought. A cancer diagnosis and all that comes with it takes time to fully feel and comprehend. Lots of time.

Today's word is peachy. Wonderful. Fine. Excellent. It's a fun word to use, and I will sometimes make it my response when people ask how I am doing.

Chemo treatments don't tend to leave a person feeling peachy. Life's challenges may elicit a sarcastic "peachy" from me and others. Life can't always be wonderful. I am convinced that would be as dangerous for me as life always being dreadful would be.

But peachy is a nice word to use when light of heart and faci…

Obstinate

Today I am grateful for the people with positive energy who are in my life and share that energy. I am also grateful for early morning time to sit.

It's not that I am currently feeling obstinate, but it certainly has applied to me before and will again. Stubborn, unyielding, inflexible. Not much positive energy in that. When I am obstinate, my ego is flaring up, rational thoughts tend to get crowded out, and the Great Spirit is ignored.

The most obstinate time in my life was during my active drinking days, when I progressed in my alcoholism but continued to think I was controlling it and didn't need help. That stubbornness could have killed me.

My goal in recovery, and in daily living, is to be less and less obstinate and more and more willing. Progress is possible. Practice is needed.

Obstinance narrows the mind and heart. Grateful living brings me to a more open mind, heart, and soul, better able to keep nurturing this precious life we get to live and share with one another.

Nurtured

Today I am grateful for the technology that makes my job easier, but also always the face to face communication and connections that matter so much--at home, at work, among friends.

As I return back to the "A-Z" feelings list I am blogging about, I feel nurtured today. I had sustenance last evening that took the form of food, hanging out with others in recovery, and some sleep. I woke up to this writing time, and writing nurtures me in so many ways.

To nurture is to care for, to encourage growth and development. Our little grandson Aaron is being nurtured by his parents Arthur and Alyssa. New baby and new parents all need encouragement, and I appreciate that they have each other as well as Alyssa's mom Donna in these early days and weeks.

Nurturing takes on so many more meanings too. Am I nurturing the relationships I have with the people I live with? Are my husband, son, and dog feeling my warmth and encouragement?

Am I nurturing the many connections and relationships …

Speaking of Mesmerized

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Today I am grateful for safe travels to and from a visit with our new grandson Aaron and his parents. I am also grateful for each conversation I have with my friend Sheila, and especially the one we shared yesterday. 
In my most recent post, I wrote about feeling mesmerized. I was sure mesmerized by my time with Aaron. I took this picture yesterday as my husband Darcy held him. Babies are so precious, so fragile. So peaceful in their slumber.


I enjoyed holding him, listening to the little sounds he made and the variety of facial expressions he had. I never tire of holding a sleeping baby. It's good that there were others to get their turn holding him. It was nice to see our son Sam take his turn and sit there gently cradling his new nephew. 
Babies bring us to the here and now. Babies remind us of the wonder of life, and if we have our own children, of the time when they too were this tiny.
To find life mesmerizing is a good source of gratitude today. Thanks for your help with th…

Mesmerized

Today I am grateful for a good start to the new year at the school where I work, and all the positive energy there among staff and students. I am also grateful for rest in a warm bed.

As I pondered feeling words that start with "m", the word mesmerized came to mind. To be mesmerized is to be enthralled, captivated, transfixed. I talk about paying attention a lot in terms of what gratitude practice is about. Mesmerized is a deep level of attention.

I am mesmerized by nature. I am often on a run or walk when outside, so I am not fixed in one place, but I can still be fixed on the awe-inspiring sights, sounds, and smells of nature. I look forward to fall coming. It is my favorite season. Sitting for a time outside is a treat on busy days. I will strive to make time.

I am mesmerized by running. Stride by stride. Footfall by footfall. I definitely feel I am in flow when I am running, especially after I have been underway for a few minutes and have a rhythm down. This is why runni…

Lighthearted

Today I am grateful for the safe arrival of our grandson Aaron and the health of his parents Alyssa and Arthur.

I welcome this day and all of you I will cross paths with in it.

From kindhearted the other day to lighthearted today. There are many fun words to define light-hearted. Some I like are cheerful, carefree, playful, lively, and bouyant.

I like those words, but I have often found them hard to attain, especially in the first three decades of my life. Certainly, I had many fun times as a child, playing with my siblings and classmates. I felt carefree as I ran out to my spot in the outfield on the softball field.

But I was also weighted down with self-hatred and self-pity, fed by alcohol and alcoholism.

Today, feeling light of heart means I am not weighted down with worry, regret, fear, obligation.

I can only achieve that state in the present moment, and with faith in a power beyond myself. Grateful living is uplifting. Mindful gratitude brings a peace and ease that makes these ne…

Welcome!

Today I am grateful for good news and a new day.

The biggest WELCOME today is for our new grandson Aaron! He arrived earlier this morning and he is doing well along with his mom Alyssa and his dad Arthur. A big congratulations to the new parents and a big breath of relief.

Alyssa and Aaron had to be monitored closely and we so appreciate the medical help available to help keep them both safe through it all. Thank God baby and mom are doing well!

We look forward to meeting the newest member of our family. What a joy and a gift to have a growing family!

Welcome is a good word to ponder as I think about yesterday's A-Z word of "kindhearted." Welcome the new day. Welcome a newborn. Welcome new students. Welcome kind thoughts and actions.

Here is a post from Dr. Rick Hanson's website that fits nicely with kindheartedness as well:

be-benevolent

I welcome this day with thanksgiving and for the opportunities it presents to show kindness and benevolence.



Kindhearted

Today I am grateful for modern medicine and good health care. I am also grateful for the stars I could  view in the pre-dawn sky this morning.

After itchy and jaded, I need a word like kindhearted: caring, empathetic, patient, helpful, sympathetic. Aspiring to be kindhearted to myself and others each day is a good goal. Even thinking about the word kindhearted has a calming and quieting effect.

I was kindhearted to myself yesterday morning when I was short on time. It was either go for a short run or write a blog post. I chose the run because I knew my body and mind would probably benefit more from that, considering the day I had ahead of me.

Kindness comes from our soul, and I choose to look at it this way: I have an individual soul but I am also part of the collective soul of humanity and all living things. Kindhearted actions add good to that collective soul.

And this quote from Rumi wraps it up nicely:

"When you do things from your soul, the river itself moves through you.  Fre…

Jaded

Today I am grateful for the close encounter and eye contact I had with a young squirrel yesterday. It was a cool connection with another living being, even if they are pesky at times. I am also grateful
for recovery connections I made yesterday.

Yesterday's itchy is followed by today's jaded. Defined as exhausted, tired, bored, typically after having had too much of something, it isn't one of the more pleasant emotions. It sure is real though, and sometimes it is absolutely how I feel and how I need to feel at that time.

If feelings are gifts, we need to tune in to both the pleasant and unpleasant. When jaded dominates, it is telling me to stop, rest, focus back on what has gone well. Sometimes it is my job that leaves me jaded. Sometimes it is fear and worry about the general state of the planet and the people on it, or the specific state of someone I care about.

There is a real advantage to having decades of life experience and decades of gratitude practice. They both h…

Itchy

Today I am grateful for a good training run for Darcy and I yesterday and for the continued favorable weather. I am also grateful for what life's challenges and frustrations can teach me.

Today's word is itchy, a feeling that can apply in a couple of ways. Bug bites and dry skin can leave me feeling itchy. In those instances it is easy to scratch where it itches. But not too much. Putting some lotion on the dry skin or alcohol on the bug bites helps and keeps me from drawing blood, which only makes the discomfort worse and prolongs the healing.

There's another kind of itchy that is caused from within and doesn't respond to topical ointment. My friend Jill dubs it "itchy, scratchy" or "itchy, twitchy, and __________."  I'm sure you can figure out the third word that rhymes with the first two.

It certainly applies to me when I feel irritable and discontented. I am not pleasant to be around. And I am not pleasant in my own head, beating myself up b…

Healthy

Today I am grateful for bananas, cow's milk and almond milk, for cool sleeping weather, and for time on our front patio right here, right now.

Feeling healthy is something I try not to take for granted, and that I work every day to embrace and preserve. This morning I am busy and feeling a little rushed, but I took the time to come outside to compose this because I feel healthy sitting out in the fresh morning air.

I write in my gratitude journal each morning and it helps me start my day with a healthier mindset.

I strive to pause in prayer and meditation each morning as well, even if briefly. It makes all the difference.

Darcy and I have a long training run scheduled for tomorrow as we enter the final weeks before our marathon. I try to eat healthy, get a good protein base, and then start carb loading. I psych myself up mentally for the miles ahead as well. And I recall other long training runs and the satisfaction and endorphins that await as the miles build and then we finish a…

Grateful

Today I am grateful for mindful moments throughout my days, when I remember to take them. I am also grateful for the ways others push me to think more openly.

Maybe it seems a bit too likely, but I chose feeling grateful for the letter "g." I start each blog post saying I am grateful for one thing and then another. But I can honestly say there is nothing typical about feeling grateful day after day. It is an emotion that brings a freshness and an energy all its own each time it is fully experienced.

Sitting with feelings, once identified, can be productive time. Even sitting with perplexed bewilderment. Maybe sitting with it allows clarity to come through. Sitting with appreciation, living a grateful existence, is productive too.

One of the criticisms or concerns I sometimes hear about practicing gratitude is that it can make people complacent. What I experience is not complacent or passive. It is peaceful, yet motivating.

Starting with gratitude for what I have in the here…

Flummoxed

Today I am grateful for early morning quiet and the calm it brings. I am also grateful for the daily tools to do daily recovery work.

Flummoxed. Now there's a word for you. It is beyond frustrated or confused. It is bewildered. Perplexed. It's a baffling state of being that requires a word like flummoxed.

Okay, I admit that I picked this word partly because it is unusual and a little fun to say. But it also is a feeling I do know and understand at times.

Those times are usually when I am confronted with the concerning state of the world, or the ever-changing state of today's teens, or the influence of technology on our lives, or some other such large, hard to fully handle, topic.

Fortunately, it doesn't tend to last too long. Go to bed flummoxed and chances are it will be gone in the morning, replaced by a fresh outlook on a new day. That is if you aren't too flummoxed to sleep.
Lack of sleep confounds feeling flummoxed. So does thinking I can "figure it out&qu…

Exhilarated

Today I am grateful for being able to walk up and down stairs. Our house has four levels. I am also grateful for each one of those four levels and our entire house.

Fire up! Today's feeling is exhilarated. 

Feeling exhilarated is experienced viscerally for me. I experience it physically after a run, mentally when I am on a roll with some writing, emotionally when I make a sincere connection with another human, and spiritually when I pause in nature and let the awe roll over me.

Grateful living is exhilarating in and of itself, and it makes everything seem to come alive more. Being present in the current moment has a way of doing that. Mindful presence and the exhilaration of full attention and sensory focus on the here and now is what I strive for.

Some days I only seem to have fleeting moments of exhilaration. On other days I ride the energy throughout the day.  But it all starts with feeding that which we find most invigorating and healthy in our lives.

Go for a run. Write a poe…

Devoted

Today I am grateful for a pleasant Gopher to Badger half marathon experience yesterday and nice weather to run it in. I am also grateful for my physical capabilities. I don't ever want to take them for granted.

I landed on devoted for today's emotion. Loyal. Faithful. Steadfast. Constant. Committed. Dedicated.
Disciplined and determined; with less of an edge and more love. Like most emotional traits I hope fit me, I also know I often fall short of the description above as well.

Devoted wife, mother and stepmother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt. I try. But I also don't call as often as I could, or reach out often enough to family members who need a reach out, or stop myself from saying harsh things to those nearest and dearest to me.

Being human doesn't preclude me from being a devoted family member. I do my best, and I keep working on forgiveness of self and others. (Though what I usually need to forgive in others is more about me and my expectations than it is a…

Content

Today I am grateful for another sweet, ripe peach to enjoy this morning for breakfast. I am also grateful for the opportunities I have in my local community to connect with others in recovery, and the many benefits I get from those connections.

Feeling content about life is a true gift. I spent much of my earlier years in a state of discontent. A little worrier, a little starved for attention, a little stuck in a counterproductive train of thought.

Look up the definition of content and you will find things like "a state of peaceful happiness or satisfaction." Feeling satisfied in the present moment.

Being content isn't a constant state, for me or for anyone I know. But it is a state I can achieve and sustain more readily than I used to. And I have a growing repertoire, a toolkit if you will, of things that help me find and maintain contentment.

Connecting with people I care about, in person or via phones and other technology. Disciplined recovery practices. Running. Writ…

Bold

Today I am grateful for time on our patio this morning and for productive time at work yesterday.

From temporary apathy to bold affirmation. Daring. Brave. Courageous. Valiant. Confident. Willing to take risks. But this isn't a big and bold, it's a little boldness.

It starts with the bold move of looking at myself in the mirror and being able to make eye contact.

Then I get a little bolder and I hold eye contact while adding "You're okay."

A little bolder still and I am able to look myself straight in the eyes and say "I love you" and mean it.

A little boldness has gone a long way, has brought me a long way.

It beats the boldness, only temporary, that alcohol would give me.

It puts in its place the misplaced boldness of the alcoholism that held me in its grip and wanted me to keep saying "You dumb, ugly bitch."

Big and bold isn't my style. I leave that for the extroverts. Still, a healthy, mild version of being bold has served me well in r…

Apathetic

Today I am grateful for coffee, bananas, a new day.

Apathetic kicks off the A-Z feelings list. I have considered apathetic to be a feeling or trait to avoid, that I wouldn't want used to describe me. But I have also tried to keep an open mind. That same mind that is often prone to overthinking and over analyzing.

Maybe, just maybe, some apathy now and then can actually be a saving grace. We'll call it temporary apathy.  I'm too tired tonight, that post idea can wait until tomorrow. A little more dust in the corner won't hurt any of us. The clothes will still be there to wash in the morning.

Those feelings of fear, frustration, resentment, loss? I have to take a break from them because they are exhausting my head and heart. Maybe tomorrow or next week I can feel them and work through them a little.

Temporary apathy may just allow enough of a break to regroup and get back moving in the right direction. Sure, it can be a slippery slope. If "I couldn't care less&qu…

Feelings, Nothing More, Nothing Less

Today I am grateful for sobriety and the recovery wisdom others share with me. I am also grateful for
the feel of cool air on my warm skin after a run this morning.

On my run yesterday morning, I got an idea that it was time for another A-Z list. I was thinking about apathy, feeling apathetic. So let's go with an A-Z list about feelings.

As I thoughts about feelings, I thought of the old Morris Albert song "Feelings."  Feelings, nothing more than feelings. Feelings, wo, wo, wo, feelings.  A fairly successful single when it came out in 1974, it was a song about losing love that people loved to hate for its overly sappy sound. Nothing more than feelings, but nothing less.

Our feelings, our emotions are crucial. Identify them, rather than deny. Experience them rather than suppress. Emotional health is as important as physical, mental, and spiritual. They are interwoven.
It is actually healthy to know a range of emotions, to be able to name them for what they are, and to gi…

Unbridled Joy

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Today I am grateful for bike rides, perspectives and connections made, and for this little guy and his unbridled joy:

This is our grandson Leo and he spent a good portion of the weekend with us. The smile and energy he exudes in this picture captures what can be aptly described as unbridled joy. Toddlers are uninhibited in their curiosity. That is why they need to be watched closely, but it is also why they are so fun to be around. A bug, a different book, something to look at out the window can all be met with a curiosity that keeps things fresh.

Two-year olds have irrepressible get-up-and-go. When they slow down, you know they are truly tired or they are coming down with something. This energy wears off on others. Yes, it can wear grandpa and grandma out too, but in a good way.

So we enjoyed the time with Leo, witnessing his delight as he played at the park or sat next to our dog Oliver.

There is plenty of heaviness around, with news of cancer deaths and a friend's parent passi…

Waiting in Lines, Reflecting on Life

Today I am grateful for time with our grandson Leo and reading books to him. I am also grateful for this day ahead.

Yesterday, for the second day in a row, I stopped at a local store to pick up sympathy cards. It seems I have been stopping there for sympathy cards a lot in recent months, interspersed with cards for weddings, showers, new babies. A co-worker's sister died of cancer at age 53 and a church member's elderly brother passed away.

Both times I stopped, I was hoping to be in and out quickly, and both times I had to spend a little time waiting in line. It gave me time to pause, to consider the precious and fragile nature of life. To consider how many people I know who have suffered the loss of loved ones, health challenges, and other concerns in the last few months.

Mixed with that is the joy of weddings and new babies and growing families. Such is life.

Waiting in line for those brief moments brought things back into perspective for me. Life brings both joy and suffer…

Home

Today I am grateful for the smell of freshly cut grass this morning as I ran past the golf course we live near. I am also grateful for healthy flax seed to add to my dietary intake.

After many miles of travel and being away from our home for several days, I especially welcomed being back in our own space, our own bed, surrounded by our familiar stuff.

But I still appreciate these words from James Baldwin:

"Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition."  

I most often think of home as a place, yet I appreciate considering it as a condition; thoughts or emotions that I can carry with me wherever I am. I do like our physical home, the rooms we have, the outdoor space we can enjoy, and much more.

As I think about home as an irrevocable condition, I am most grateful for my recovery from alcoholism. It has brought me home in ways that nothing else could have. I was destroying myself with alcohol and alcoholic thinking. Recovery has made me comfortable in my own s…

Stream of Life

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Today I am grateful for the simple pleasure of eating peanut butter and jelly on toast. I am also grateful for the soothing sound of rain from inside my home with a roof, windows, and dry floors.

I came across this quote right as we were spending time on some beaches along the Oregon Coast:

"The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through  the world and dances in rhythmic measures."   (Rabindranath Tagore)


This is Neskowin Beach. Seeing the ocean and witnessing the tide, the sounds, the smells, the changing light as the day progresses, are all a real treat for me. I grew up and live in the Midwest. I only visit the ocean and that has only been a handful of times. The awe of nature is all around, but sometimes we notice it more when we go to places we don't often go.

As I walked along the beach, sometimes alone, sometimes with others, I pondered the stories behind the rocks and driftwood that washed ashore. I soaked up the sun and the calming n…

Lots of Miles, Smiles, and Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for safe travels to and from a very nice visit with my sister Leonice and sister-in-law Annie. I am also grateful to return to one of my favorite, favorite places--the Oregon Coast.

Darcy and I flew 3,000 miles round-trip to Oregon, and I drove 600 miles to drop Sam off and pick him back up at one of his favorite places--my family's farm in Iowa. So very grateful we were able to make this trip and for the safe travels all around.

I sure appreciated giving my sister Leonice the hug I have been waiting to give her since first hearing of her cancer diagnosis in April. She has completed four of six rounds of chemo and was doing well during our visit. She kept active and that was encouraging to me. It was also reminiscent of my own chemo days. When I was able to work, or exercise, or be out and about, I felt better and like I was going to be okay. That means a lot in the thick of cancer treatment.

Here the two of us are shortly after arriving at Neskowin Beach:

We a…