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Showing posts from October, 2017

Awareness, Advocacy, Action: Keep them all growing . . .

Today I am grateful for exercise and endorphins, bananas and oatmeal.

My thoughts and prayers go out to my Uncle Nilus and his six children and their families. Aunt Jenny, my dad's sister, passed away Sunday evening at age 87. Rest in peace Aunt Jenny.

Happy birthday to my sister Danita today and Happy Halloween to all.

It is the last day of October and I haven't written a word on this blog this month about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Part of that had to do with it being a busy month in many other ways. Part of it had to do with feeling like taking a break from all the discussion and hype surrounding Pinktober.

If any day in this month of awareness needed to be hyped more, it is October 13. This is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. The 40,000 breast cancer deaths a year, pretty much unchanged over the last 2 decades, are deaths from metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Cancer within the breast is not fatal, except maybe to the breast it is in. MBC is cancer that spreads fr…

A Celebratory Gathering and a Strong Team

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Today I am grateful for our visitors this weekend and their safe travels. It was nice to spend time with people we don't get to see often.

Yesterday, our grandson Aaron was baptized at our church. It was a nice gathering and a celebration of new beginnings. Attended by a variety of family and friends, from great-grandparents to Aaron's cousin and our other grandson Leo, this weekend was the first time many met the newest member of our family.

Here he is with his parents Arthur and Alyssa and his godparents Emily and Sam, near the baptismal font holding the water used in his baptism:


Aaron won't remember his baptism, but the rest of us will. It's a formal sacrament, but I also appreciate the broader meaning behind it. Let's help this infant grow into a young person and then an adult who is a contributor and an asset to the groups, teams, and communities to which he belongs.
And then I am reminded of my own circle of support and the many family and friends who suppor…

Through the ears, into the heart and soul

Today I am grateful for the beauty of our first snowfall on the trees, and that it didn't cause travel difficulties in our area. I am also grateful for all five of my senses, especially my hearing this morning.

Some mornings as I do my gratitude journaling and blog post composing, I play some music on the computer and use Sam's hand-me-down broken Beats headphones to fully immerse myself in the listening experience. The only thing broken on these headphones is part of the headpiece. The sound is great.

But this isn't a plug for Sony, this is a plug for the joy of music. I can't sing worth a darn, so I usually reserve singing along to songs when I am alone. I am really good at listening to music though, and from a young age I have been a music lover. In my early years, I sat next to one of the speakers on our big console stereo and played my older siblings' albums.

Then I got my own vinyl. Then I got my license and eventually my own car. The car is still my favorite…

Saving Graces

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver and his unconditional love. I am also grateful for my friends Sheila and Jill and the conversations we had yesterday. It is such a gift to have friends who listen and with whom I share mutual respect and trust.

A minor incident yesterday morning had me thinking about the idea of "saving grace" yesterday. Our computer charger cord sometimes falls behind our desk and it is a pain to get it back to where it should be. Yesterday morning I was switching the charger from my work computer to our home computer and the cord slipped off the desk.

I admit a swear word emitted from me. I was in a hurry and not happy to be taking the time to get underneath the desk and wrangle the cord back up. It is also harder for me to get in to small spaces these days, my joints protest more. I got under the desk and took a look. There were other cords, but not the one I was looking for.

I got back up and looked behind the desk. The charger cord was caught up in…

Hormonal Imbalances

Today I am grateful for morning quiet and coffee. I am also grateful for the reminders of life's precious and fragile nature.

So....from time to time I may mention menopausal symptoms and hormones that feel a bit out of whack at the least, and raging at the most. I searched and had actually only used those words in six of my 1700 + posts. I had expected that number to be more.

My husband Darcy and some of my sisters and friends have certainly heard it more than six times in the last few years. My body and I discuss it with one another regularly. We don't always know what to make of it and we don't always see it eye to eye.

Sparing you all the details, suffice it to say that my early 50's have brought a new level of hormones that are anything but level. Sleep disruptions, irregular periods, fluctuations in emotions that can be wide and change quickly, joint stiffness, muscle aches. These are some of the highlights of this time in my life.

But I can certainly still find …

Connections-in-Goodness

Today I am grateful for laughter shared with my husband Darcy. I am also grateful for the gift of recovery today. It is a gift available to me if I take simple actions and seek help beyond myself.

I am thinking especially today of two people who died in recent days because of their addictions. Thoughts and prayers to their families and friends.

Like recovery fuels me each day I seek it, this quote fueled me yesterday:

"Recipients of our appreciation are apt to express their own gratitude to others, lengthening the unending, golden chain of connections-in-goodness that stretches across the world."  (Mary Ford-Grabowsky)

Beautiful and true words. Gratitude shared is gratitude multiplied. I carried this with me yesterday and noticed a few things.
*I had dropped some earrings the other day and thought I had retrieved them all. But the pair I wanted to wear was missing one. I looked again in the area, and then saw it, caught on a part of our bed frame. Quickly found. The words &qu…

Fallscapes

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Today I am grateful for the conversations I have with other alcoholics and addicts, both those recovering and those not there yet. They help remind me of my own truth, and of the nature of our malady. 
I am also grateful for the beauty of fall that is surrounding us in recent weeks. I always enjoy going back to my family's farm in Iowa, but fall is my favorite time to go back. I get weary of the heat and humidity of summer and look forward to fall. I love the greens of spring and summer, but always welcome the range of color that fall brings. I especially like cloudy fall days. It just seems to fit.
Here are two pictures I took as I paused on my run Sunday morning, both within minutes of the farm.



I appreciate the neighbors who allow us access to the area in the first picture. They bought this land when my parents bought ours, in 1981. Over the years, we have watched the trees they planted grow bigger, the lone pond they started become two, the roads and trails we can walk and ru…

A Walk with Mom, Memories of Dad

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Today I am grateful for safe travels and family time this weekend. I am also grateful for the hope that abides in the present moment when I am in tune to it.
We visited my family in Iowa this weekend and spent time with my mom.  I have gotten used to going to visit her in the nursing home, and she has adjusted to the routine. We all agree that she is where she needs to be.
I am grateful for the care she receives and also that she is just a couple miles from the two farms where she has lived the last 65+ years. Most weekends, she spends a few hours out at the farm she called home from 1981 until May of this year. 

I picked her up from the nursing home and took her out to the farm on Saturday afternoon. It was a mild day and dry, do we took a little walk around the yard. She likes to look at the various plants, trees, and flowers around the yard. She checks out the garden as it winds down for this growing season. It was a few minutes I appreciated with her, and my brother and son joined us…

Some Time to Savor

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Today I am grateful for beautiful weather that made yard work enjoyable yesterday. I am also grateful for the various conversations I had with friends and family.

Darcy and I both successfully completed the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, October 1, 2017. Then, after literally hitting the ground running for 26. 2 miles, we figuratively hit the ground running in our lives over the next weeks. Football games. Weekend travels. Work demands. A chipped tooth.
A new computer system. A school field trip. A lot of busyness and a different kind of running.

Frankly, I was resentful that the pace of our lives wasn't allowing us to relish in and savor the pace of our marathon and the exhilaration and satisfaction that come with reaching a goal we worked months to achieve.

Then, this week pictures taken along the marathon course showed up in our email and we purchased a  couple pictures of each of us to download. Here are mine:


They arrived at the same time that some relief from all of the dem…

Thirsty?

Today I am grateful for time off from work and nice weather to do some yard work. I am also grateful for those who helped bring my simple breakfast of cereal, milk, flax seed, and banana to me.

I have numerous blog drafts that I have started in recent months. I will hear or read a quote and think it makes a good post topic, and then other ideas come up and more drafts happen. Some get finished and published. Others languish in the "drafts" folder for a time.

In the next weeks, I am going to give some time to these drafts and bring them to fruition. Here's a good one to start with. It is inspired by this quote from Br. David Steindl-Rast:

"Gratefulness is that fullness of life for which we are all thirsting." 
These words evoke thoughts of what it meant to be a thirsty alcoholic. There were times when I was physically thirsty for a cold drink, but it was usually emotional thirst that I drank at. And that is an exercise in futility. The empty promises of alcohol, …

Infinite Succession of Presents

Today I am grateful for a nice visit with my sister Zita and that she was able to attend Sam's football game. I am also grateful for the medical insurance and available care that we have.

Yesterday's "Word for the Day" at www.gratefulness.org was this:

"We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession  of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that  is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." (Howard Zinn)
I like this quote for many reasons. I had never really considered the future like this, simply the next moment to experience and appreciate. I paid attention to that in small ways yesterday. I noticed the pre-dawn moon and stars more than I do some mornings. Enjoying the favorite parts of songs like Steve Winwood's "While You See a Chance" and Chicago's "Feelin' Stronger Every Day."  I went in to work later than usual after taking Sa…

Broken

Today I am grateful for co-workers who help me in so many ways and who are true team players. I am also grateful for reminders of the precious gift of today.

Special happy birthday greetings to my friend Sheila. Enjoy your day! I am so grateful we were put on the planet within the same year and in the same area so our paths could cross.

A couple of things have been broken around our house in recent days. The shower is broken. The part that turns the shower on anyway. We still have a bathtub and water, and hot water at that. So it could be much worse. I am inconvenienced because I prefer showers. You want inconvenienced? Walk a few miles every day to get dirty water to haul back to your family, hoping you won't all get sick from it.

Sam's filling on a chipped tooth is also broken. It got chipped in football. It was an easy fix, but needs to be re-fixed. I am inconvenienced as I have to take him to the dentist and be late for work. He is inconvenienced because he needs to get up…

Pondering Life

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Today I am grateful for time with our grandson Aaron and his parents Arthur and Alyssa. I am also grateful for safe travels to and from that visit and vehicles in good working order.

Aaron is almost two months old now and is thriving. I hadn't seen him since he was just days old, and the changes are significant. Infants grow and learn so much in these early weeks and months. He is able to hold his head up some on his own, he eats well and knows how to let his parents know when he is hungry or needs a diaper change.

And he is ever observant. When he isn't sleeping, he is taking in his surroundings. The faces of people caring for him and loving him. The colors and sounds going on around him. The shapes and designs of toys and little animals dangling from his playmat. He kicks his arms and legs and never stops taking in his environment.

This picture captures the little observer and ponderer that he is:


Though he can't yet tell us with words what is on his mind, his facial ex…

Silver Linings, and Yellow and Red Ones Too

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Today I am grateful for safe travels and gorgeous weather this week, and for a good night's sleep back in my own bed.

I spent Wednesday through Friday on a field trip with forty-eight 7th graders and four colleagues who helped chaperone.  A big thank you to CeCe, Kelly, Aaron, and Trevor for helping make the trip a success and fun as well.

We had some challenges during the trip, but together we moved through them and stepped up in the ways that were needed. We came home exhausted, but appreciative of the silver linings of such a trip:

-absolutely stunning weather and fall beauty as our classrooms and offices for a couple of days
-reminders of the different energy and personalities that come out of our students when away from
      the typical educational setting
-laughter shared at various times, to save our sanity and strengthen the cohesion we felt
-our own opportunity to have a different perspective on our jobs

The silver lining of being out in nature can't be beat. The col…

An Ongoing Gratitude List

Today I am grateful for marriage and motherhood and all that they each teach me and give me.

That gratitude list I started in yesterday's post? I decided that it might be a good idea to keep adding to it as my day went along.  So I did. I started more of a list on a piece of paper that I carried around in my pocket.

Here are some things on that list:

1. Indoor plumbing that made it easy for me to get ready for my day.
      -It's a luxury but I don't often think of it that way.

2. The stars in the morning sky and the awe they inspire in me.
      -The expansive sky and the stars in it also remind me of my human place.

3. Advancements in radiation and other cancer treatments.
     -I am thinking about my sister Leonice, who has started 25 radiation treatments this week.

4. A safe commute to and from work.
     -I drive 50 miles a day on average, and I appreciate arriving safely.

5. A meal with my family.
    - We try to eat together whenever we can. It is time together that…

Too Busy in My Brain

Today I am grateful for several ways to stay warm, both indoors and outdoors. I am also grateful for the reminders to stay present in the moment.

I am coming off of a stretch of being too busy in my brain, but the slope remains slippery because of  two more significant work demands in the next week. I can only gain perspective when I stop spinning, when I start pausing mindfully, breathing, and taking one thing at a time.

That can be a tall order for me when I feel crunched for time, weighted down by things that need to get done. Resentments, fear, and my self-centered ego can all flare up. They don't help, they hinder.

So the mindful practice of gratitude becomes even more crucial. When I am too busy in my brain, I take myself and pretty much everything too seriously. Pausing, being quiet, focusing on the gratitude found in a simple breath I am able to take, or in the beauty of fall colors, or a laugh shared, can all help.

I wrote a post titled A Tool for the Trouble Behind My Ey…

Afforded a New View

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Today I am grateful for daily recovery for the daily disease of alcoholism. I am also grateful for others in recovery who help me find my way back to some sense of sanity and serenity when I drift away from them.

I ran yesterday, on a stunningly beautiful fall morning, with blue skies and sunshine helping the vibrant colors come out more fully. I think it helped that my attitude and outlook were also improved, much like the clouds clearing and the sun coming out.

My brain, also known as my dearest alcoholic mind, had been running on too much selfishness, ego, and fear for days, and in some respects, weeks. It's subtle and creeping, but next thing I know I am overthinking and overdoing pretty much day in and day out. It ain't fun and it ain't pretty.

Before yesterday's run, some other happenings had helped me get some perspective back. A conversation with my friend Sheila on Friday morning and another with my husband Darcy on Saturday evening were both helpful. Ranting …

Raining Down Positive or Negative?

Today I am grateful for a nice evening out with Darcy last evening and healthy conversation. I am also grateful that the sun appeared before the end of the day, after a couple of cloudy, dreary, and wet days.

Rain came down over the last several miles of last Sunday's marathon. It rained down as I drove to and from work, and tried to get Oliver out for walks without getting us both too wet. It came down during the Homecoming football game Friday night and for the second half of Sam's JV game yesterday.

There were wet clothes, shoes, muddy football attire, and an attitude of my own at times that was soaked with frustration, exhaustion, and growing resentments about certain circumstances and certain people. One of those people is always me.

And then the sun came out later in the day yesterday. I got some rest. Darcy and I had a nice evening out, including a pleasant walk along the river. Slowly, I regained perspective on my job and on some other things going on in my life.

Then,…

Working Concessions, Making Concessions

Today I am grateful for rain gear and fried eggs. I am grateful of the reminders to appreciate the simple things in life.

Last evening, Darcy and I had the opportunity to work concessions at the Homecoming football game. We try to work a football game each season, supporting the wrestling club and Sam's involvement in that sport as well.  Despite a rainy and wet night, there was a good crowd and a victory for our team was a bonus.

We don't work concessions often, so it was a nice change of pace, and we enjoyed meeting and working with some parents we didn't know. It was also fun to watch and observe. Our world has changed in so many ways since I was buying concessions at games in my youth.

It was heartening to see the innocence of a young child, excited to get some treats, encouraged by their parents to make selections, and then do their own asking and paying, followed by a thank you.
It brought a chuckle to see kids digging wet and crumpled dollars out of deep pockets so …

Our Morning Walks

Today I am grateful for food in our refrigerator and for a roof over our heads. I am also grateful for our dog Oliver and the morning walks we share.

There is something to be said for routine, especially when those routines are healthy and contribute to balance in my days. Routines like going to bed and getting up at consistent times, regular exercise, writing in my gratitude journal, reaching out to others in recovery.

And add to that list the routine of my early morning walks with our dog Oliver. Most mornings, he and I head out somewhere between 5:00 and 5:30 for a walk that is less than 10 minutes. But we enjoy the fresh air and the time together. He takes care of his business and I enjoy the quiet and take in my surroundings.

The days are getting cooler and I need to put on some layers. I appreciate that I have plenty of layers available to me. The scents of fall are in the air. I give thanks for my sense of smell. My legs, continuing to recover from Sunday's marathon, enjoy …

Recovering

Today I am grateful for the gratitudes shared by others and for forgiveness-mine to give and receive.

People have asked me how my recovery from the marathon is going and some have noted that I seem to be moving pretty well. The Galloway method we use (walking of 30-45 seconds each mile of a long run) really works. Thank you Jeff Galloway!

It makes the marathon itself more manageable and it makes the days after far less painful. Marathon recovery is going well. I may even take a nice and easy run this afternoon to loosen up.

And how about recovering from alcoholism? That is going well too. It's a daily deal to deal with this daily disease.  It remains a priority and my early morning practices-including prayer, meditation, and gratitude practice-are vital to this ongoing process.

My job is demanding much time lately, as are family obligations. I am grateful for both, but they are also my slippery slopes. If I slide into overdoing and overthinking, recovery becomes precarious. Maybe …

"Thank you random spectator!"

Today I am grateful for clean conditions and antiseptics. They are needed when toenails have to come off. I am also grateful for the music of Tom Petty. He and the Heartbreakers have so many songs I have appreciated over the years. R.I.P. Tom Petty.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those impacted by the appalling and tragic events in Las Vegas on Sunday night, especially those who are grieving the loss of a loved one and those who were injured.

I remain grateful for the many, many spectators who lined the marathon course and cheered on those of us running in Sunday's Twin Cities Marathon. Of the 15 marathons I have run, the Chicago Marathon and the Twin Cities Marathon are the best for crowd support in my opinion. Thank you Twin Cities!

The sign I wrote about yesterday-"Remember your reasons"-can be applied to much more than why a person chooses to train for and run a marathon. I was reminded of the significance of these words last evening as I talked with some o…

"Remember Your Reasons"

Today I am grateful for another good marathon experience and that Darcy and I both finished in a healthy state. Tired, but healthy. I am also grateful for the great Twin Cities Marathon spectators lining many miles of the course.

A special thanks to my co-workers Dick, Pete, and Kelly who I saw out on the course. Familiar faces on the sidelines mean so much over the miles of a marathon.

There were many spectators with many signs, but the one I ended up appreciating the most was in the latter miles of the run. I was running along Summit Avenue heading toward the finish at the State Capitol, somewhere around mile 23. The sign had just these three short words:  "Remember your reasons." I thanked the sign holder as I ran past and said that was a perfect sign for that point on the course.

Exhausted. In pain. Just wanting to be done so I could rest a little. This was just the reminder I needed to help me dig a little deeper and keep going.

"Remember your reasons." Runnin…