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Showing posts from November, 2017

More Connections

Today I am grateful for oatmeal and a good night's sleep.

I was going to title today's post "Connections," but with well over 1700 posts on this blog, I wanted to make sure I hadn't already used that title. I appreciate how easy it is to search for that possibility, and it did indeed yield a previous post from December 11, 2015. Read it here.  It is a fitting one about a visit to Colorado following the death of my brother-in-law Roger.

In that post I also wrote about a quick connection with a random fellow human. They happen daily and we get more from them if we pay attention to the interaction.

After yesterday's post about interconnectedness, I was more in tune to some of the ways I was connecting with others and my surrounding world in the hours that followed.

Here are some of the ways:

-the stars in the sky and my place on earth, and how we are all part of a wider universe
-my feet touching the ground, floor, trail, tile, etc. with each footfall
-how dark …

Interconnected

Today I am grateful for the comfort of soft light and for the connections I have with others in so many different ways.

At an event last evening, I was reminded of the many ways we are interconnected as humans on a shared path at this time in history. In ways both minor and profound. I share common ground with others in a myriad of ways, yet remain my own ever-evolving self.

Fellow cancer patients and survivors. Those recovering from alcoholism and other addictions. Shared upbringings. Farmer's daughters. Sisters. Friends. Co-workers. Teammates. Writers. Runners. Commuters. Shoppers. Humans in tune with nature and other living things.

We are interdependent, complementary of one another when we honor our togetherness as well as our individuality. When we pause to respect our own journey, we acknowledge and extend respect to our fellow travelers as well.

Some of the connections are fleeting, others are lifelong. Some change us tremendously, others simply offer comfort. All of these …

Tunnel Vision, or a Light at the End of the Tunnel?

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Today I am grateful for a bike ride on a windy but pleasant late November afternoon. I am also grateful for the convenience of microwave ovens.

On that Sunday morning run I mentioned yesterday, I was in new territory and discovered an underpass. As a runner and a biker, I really appreciate these underpasses, taking me beneath busy roads and potential hazards.

I was in picture-taking mode, so I captured these two below of the underpass tunnel. I often make links between my physical surroundings and my mental and emotional state. Exercising outdoors is my preferred location, and can really bring clarity to my thoughts and feelings at times. Along with writing inspiration.

Tunnel vision. I tend to get it often when I turn my thinking inward and crowd out reason and guidance from others and the Great Spirit. As I ran through this tunnel, the lights threw odd shadows. It gave the impression of me chasing myself. Isn't that what happens with tunnel vision?


If I would have stopped, the s…

Sunrises and Softball Diamonds

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Today I am grateful for safe travels to visit Darcy's family, for the pleasant weather we have been having, and for good insurance coverage for ourselves, our vehicles, and our home.
I took this picture as I ran early yesterday morning in Sioux Falls. The promising colors of sunrise beckoned me as I decided which way to run. Not a bad way to choose a course for a run, and for a day: nature’s beauty and a sense of purpose. 

The backdrop for the sunrise was a softball complex not far from my mother-in-law’s new place. Fitting for me, former softball player and coach, and my nieces and sister-in-law too, also softball players. My niece currently plays college softball and we shared some conversation about that over the weekend.

Sunrises and softball diamonds. I have enjoyed many of each over the years. The dominant thoughts I had as I ran yesterday are good for me to recall as I head into my day today:

-If not for recovery from alcoholism, my sunrises and days on softball diamonds woul…

Two Legs, Three Wheels, Four Legs

Today I am grateful for beautiful weather to enjoy as we celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, and for connections with family members via various modes of communication.

Legs and wheels are on my gratitude list today, as is gratitude shared by others in recovery.

Two legs that carried hundreds of us through the downtown and along the river of our community for a Thanksgiving tradition known as "Gobble Gait." It's a run/walk fundraiser for our local food shelf and family service. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the event and we were happy to be part of it. All three of us ran it, including Sam with some of his wrestling teammates.

The three wheels are on the tricyle that our grandson Leo was riding yesterday afternoon. It's a new trike with an old-fashioned look, reminding me of the one we had when I was growing up. We enjoyed the sunshine and pleasant temperatures as he peddled down the trail, heeding my caution of "not too fast."

And then there'…

Wholeheartedly

Today I am grateful for what living gratefully has taught me and brought to me. I am grateful for the holiday of Thanksgiving today in the U.S. It is my favorite holiday. 
A holiday that focuses on giving thanks is right up my alley, but living gratefully is part of my daily plan. It needs to be if I want to reap the full benefits of it. And those benefits are summed up by a healthier perspective and a less self-centered approach to life. 
The benefits also include improved overall wellness, because living gratefully helps brings physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. There's plenty of scientific research to back up those claims if you need that kind of evidence. My life experience over the last two decades has been proof positive for me.
To close the post and open up some thoughts about this day, here are two quotes from my favorite gratitude guy, Brother David Steindl-Rast:

"Love wholeheartedly, be surprised, give thanks and praise-then you will discover  the full…

Dust in the Wind, Frost on Leaves

Today I am grateful for sleeping in and then being able to sit and watch daylight arrive. I am also grateful I saw a recovery friend last evening that I don't see often, affirming for both of us the importance of this idea of living gratefully.

I appreciated the way the streetlights played on the frosty leaves and grass this morning as I walked our dog Oliver. There were momentary sparkles and glints, fleeting but worth seeing.

It fit right in with the post I had already started for today, focused on these words from the Kansas song "Dust in the Wind." I heard it recently and these lines stayed behind to brew in my brain:

"Dust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind. Now, don't hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky. It slips away, and all your money won't another minute buy." 
Hopeless or hopeful words? They can be taken either way. Just like the moments that comprise our days. Drudgery or opportunity? Grind or grace? Fleeting or fulf…

More Reasons to Seek Balance

Today I am grateful for the song "Amazing Grace" and the several beautiful versions I can choose to listen to. I am also grateful for the way my fingers feel on keyboard keys as I compose words.

This article from CURE Today, a publication I mentioned in a post last week, was worth the read. There is so much information out there about links to cancer, what may cause it, what can prevent it, possible cures. If you are seeking to substantiate or refute one of these many claims, you can probably find some evidence for your case.

This article looks at some common myths about cancer, yet leaves us hanging a little. How much of a factor, if at all, is sugar in contributing to cancer's growth? Do cell phones cause brain cancer? Good questions with no clear answers yet.

But if you are looking for some convincing research findings, there is plenty to back up this statement: obesity and inactivity are clearly linked to various kinds of cancer. Too much sugar can increase obesity. T…

Running in Circles

Today I am grateful for a Monday morning in a short work week. I am also grateful for clementines. I appreciate that these cuties are back in season and available at stores.

The other morning on my run, I hit a cul de sac at the end of a newer housing development. I decided to do a few circles around the cul de sac to add a couple minutes to my run before heading home. It was kind of soothing to do the little loop.

I considered the difference between literally running in circles, which I don't often do, and figuratively running in circles, which I am quite adept at. At least my mind has gotten much practice in it.

I have done far too much of this circular formation in my thought processes over my lifetime; regarding relationships, my job, writing goals, recovery, just little ole' me, and more. I can start with a healthy perspective and expectations. Then I get overly busy and lose perspective via a never-ending list of what I think needs to be done. Running in circles.

The cul…

Lucy, Dixie, and Gertie

Today I am grateful for the stars visible in this morning's clear sky. I am also grateful for the comforting glow of lights from our holiday decorations, and for a phone conversation with my brother and his wife.

So who are Lucy, Dixie, and Gertie? I don't personally know Lucy and Dixie. They were just random dogs with their owners on the trail as I went for my run yesterday morning. Their owners, women I also didn't know, out getting exercise on a sunny and chilly morning, used their dogs' names as I ran by them.

Random dogs and people, all of us sharing the trail and the return of sunshine after plenty of cloudy and dreary days this week. Random connections like this can bring concrete reminders of our small part in the larger whole, of the simple kindness in a smile and a pleasant greeting as we pass one another. No big deal, but also no harm done. The world could do with more simple kindnesses, less harm done.

I do personally know Gertie. She's my mom. I called…

A Substitute, Not a Replacement

Today I am grateful for brown sugar and oatmeal, and for my comfy slippers.

Yesterday's flat is today's perky. Another reason I chose to not have breast reconstruction following bilateral mastectomy is that nothing was going to replace what nature gave me and cancer took away.

Our real breasts are full of real nerves, fatty tissue, lobes, blood vessels, lymph nodes, ligaments and more. They are attached to our chest wall and the pectoral muscle. Even the best surgeons and cutting edge reconstruction techniques can't match the look and feel of the real deal, nor mend all the damage done with removal. Granted, I didn't think I had a perfect pair to begin with, and at age 43 they were already starting to show their age.

As I finalized my decision to not have reconstruction, I also looked into prosthetics. I wanted to have the semblance of breasts available to me, and they have fit the bill. I do appreciate that I can wear them and that they have allowed me to keep my usua…

Flat, But Not Flatlined

Today I am grateful for my health and that in cancer terms I currently can be described as NED (no evidence of disease). I am also grateful for self-acceptance of this scarred body of mine.

I get a publication titled Cure. It is focused on cancer and is free to cancer patients. I have been receiving it for years and appreciate how informative and readable it is. It doesn't focus on one kind of cancer or one aspect of the disease. I can read about cutting edge research as well as personal stories from patients and caregivers. Check it out at cure today.com.

A recent special issue on breast cancer carried the cover headline of "Flat, But Not Flattened." Needless to say, it caught my eye. I always am interested to read about women like me who have opted to not have reconstruction following mastectomy.

I have several ways to refer to my new chest terrain following bilateral mastectomy. "The area formerly known as my breasts." and "strange vacancy" are two…

Who? Me?

Today I am grateful for the hope that comes when people share their pain and their joy with one another. I am also grateful for lamplight.

As I exercised this morning, I considered this quote from Carl Jung:
"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." 
It reminds me of this saying too:

"When we have one finger pointing at someone else, we have three fingers pointing back at us.
I am the only person I can change, and that can be a tough job. Other people help though, sometimes by being a confidant and hearing me out as I process my own thoughts and feelings and reach some clarity. (Thank you to all my confidants.) 
And at other times, people help me in the way that Carl Jung speaks of here. They may be strangers or people I know quite well. They help me reflect on things like being judgmental, self-righteous anger, self-pity, perfectionism, selfishness,  and more. They reflect back to me those things that I continually need to …

A Remedy When Feeling Uninspired

Today I am grateful for the effectiveness of healthy habits. They work under all conditions. I am also grateful for a mild morning.

That mild morning, by November standards, has allowed me to sit outside on our front patio for a few minutes. The writer within was feeling uninspired, even with several post drafts started and more ideas too. Some days it is like this. Not sure where to go with my writing thoughts. Not sure what is pulling me the strongest.

When feeling uninspired, nature is always an effective remedy for me. I stepped out to walk Oliver and appreciated that though damp, it isn't icy. A forty degree morning in mid-November invites more time outside. I listened for the early morning sounds and mostly heard traffic, but I also heard the quiet. Listen to the quiet. Listen to the silence and what it says.

The sky view is limited on this cloudy and drizzly morning, but even just looking up and feeling the vastness of the space above me is helpful. It brings me some humili…

A Date in Common

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Today I am grateful for an enjoyable bike ride yesterday afternoon, and for the fellow recovering people I can reach out to when I need some clarity and redirection. Literally, they are at my fingertips via text messages.

Today my sister Leonice will have her 25th and last round of radiation. That will wrap up the active treatment of her endometrial cancer. It started in May with the first of six rounds of chemotherapy. I knew that my last round of chemo had happened around this time in 2008, and upon further investigation, my hunch was confirmed. We share an end date to our cancer treatment--
November 13.

We share conversations and we share some common ground only those who have lived in Cancerland can share. We may have some similar feelings about it all, and know some similar fears for sure.

But we have each had to take our own single, solitary cancer journey as well. Just like our sisters Zita and Mary Jo. Just like I was the one sitting in that chemo chair nine years ago getting…

Drinking History

Today I am grateful for a good run and a clean garage topping my "done list" yesterday. I am also grateful for those who have served in our military, past and present, to protect and preserve our freedoms.

Today, and every day, I am grateful for the opportunity to be sober and live a life of recovery.

There are a couple of sayings among recovering people that are good for me to remember:

"Never forget your last drunk."
"The further you get away from your last drunk, the closer you get to your next one."
Cautions worth heeding. Alcoholism is a subtle and patient disease, and I have a healthy fear of complacency. It is also a daily disease. Recovery needs daily effort. There is nothing worth drinking over. 
I feel well-grounded in my recovery and have healthy habits that are ingrained in my life. I am very grateful for this, because I also still have an alcoholic mind that lies in wait if I let up on recovery. I call it "my dearest alcoholic mind."

Playful Pup

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Today I am grateful for work perspective gained from years of experience. I am also grateful for the challenges my job presents. I learn and grow from them.

This morning I am also grateful for our dog Oliver. He is nine years old and a senior citizen, but we still often call him pup, Mr. Pup, or Oliver Valentine if he's being naughty. He's a playful little cockapoo and this morning he wanted to play.  He likes his chew toy, which somewhere along the line we started calling his "teddy bear."

Here he is this morning with it:


It's a little tattered and he's ready for a new one. But we aren't ready for a new pup, so we hope Oliver has several good years left in him. I like to say that we grew up together, Oliver and my post-cancer self. He came into our lives just weeks after my cancer diagnosis in 2008. He has been a treasure ever since.

He reminds me to stretch after sitting for awhile. To let the people I love know that I love them, even when they may hav…

Early Morning Exercise

Today I am grateful for a hat and gloves to wear on a chilly morning, and for the various exercises in the various realms of wellness (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) that help me maintain some sense of balance.

I started my day with early morning physical exercise. And when I say early morning, some of you may consider it the middle of the night yet, but I have always been one who can literally roll out of bed and head out on a run or other exercise.

I stayed indoors this morning. The sweat and endorphins both got flowing. It was physical exercise, but it also helps me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It clears my head, gives me time for prayer and reflection, reminds me of my priorities.

If I go into the exercise with swirling thoughts, I come out with more clarity and perspective. It boosts my mood and it elevates the sense of living gratefully that I am trying to cultivate. It is good for my body, mind, heart, and soul. I always feel better when I am done.

All o…

Twenty Years and Running . . .

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy, our lives together, our growing family, and the role of fate on the day we met, twenty years ago today. I am also grateful for my friend Sheila and the two conversations we shared yesterday.

This post, written five years ago today, tells the story of how we met. It's a good story for me to read now, to refresh my memory of that day, a day that changed my life forever. And of a man and a marriage that have fulfilled me in so many ways over the last twenty years.

It took me years into adulthood to love myself, much less feel lovable and attractive to the opposite sex. About the time I had come to a healthy level of self-acceptance, and some acceptance about whether or not I would ever meet the right man, is about the time I met Darcy.

Has it been a 20-year honeymoon? Let's be honest. Marriage is hard work some days. Any healthy relationship takes effort, compromise, respect, forgiveness, and much more. But I can honestly say that Darcy an…

Unceasing Eloquence

Today I am grateful for the smell of fresh, chilly fall air. I am also grateful for peanut butter.

As I considered this brief quote:

"Silence is unceasing eloquence."  Ramana Maharshi
I got these random thoughts:
*A friend and I were recently talking about the challenges of marriage and how if  we could just learn to keep our mouths shut more often it would be helpful. 
*I am guessing both of our husbands would agree.
*The silence of nature speaks for itself. 
*Some things are definitely better left unsaid.
*We will tend to learn more from our own silence than our own speaking.
*That is especially true if we are really listening to others or to the silence.
*Typically, apologies aren't needed for something I didn't say.
*Seeking silence in my own mind is crucial for me. The "peddling b.s."  I wrote about yesterday is more ugly than eloquent.
*Writing can be silent but still say a ton.
And then my random thoughts ran out and I headed into my day. Have a good …

Pedaling and Peddling

Today I am grateful for my thumbs and all that they make it possible for me to do with my hands. I am also grateful for the opportunity I have to be a sober and recovering person today.

Yesterday afternoon, my husband Darcy and I went for a bike ride. It was brisk, chilly, windy, and hilly at times, but we both were glad we were out there pedaling. We have bikes that work, legs that work, and each other. Many blessings to pedal about.

I also heard some words of wisdom from a fellow recovering person yesterday, as I often do. He spoke about "peddling b.s." It made me chuckle. Peddling b.s. is what happens to my thoughts when I forget to be grateful, when fear and ego grow, and the power source greater than myself gets crowded out.

Plenty of b.s. starts getting peddled through my overactive and perfectionistic brain. Energy gets misdirected and actions become misguided. On the other hand, or foot as the case may be, pedaling my bicycle and peddling gratitude bring clarity of t…

52 South

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Today I am grateful for safe travels to a family funeral and for a warm and comfortable bed in which to rest.

I attended my Aunt Jenny's funeral on Friday and appreciated that I was able to be there. Jenny was my dad's sister. She had been ill with Parkinson's for many years, and she and her family suffered in that time. She died at age 87, and I believe she now knows peace. I wish for peace for her husband of 64 years, my Uncle Nilus, and for their six children and their families.

It was good to see members of my own family and my extended family, as cousins gathered to pay respects. I am thinking especially of Sister Norma Jean, my dad's youngest sister and now the only surviving member of her immediate family. She has said goodbye to both parents and all six of her siblings. It gives me pause to think about the nature of life, the wisdom of life, the full range of feelings that life brings if we truly live it.

I hadn't written a poem in months. Sometimes that is…

Its Own Blessing

Today I am grateful for the mystery and awe of the moon and stars in the early morning sky. I am also grateful for the various sounds I could hear as I paused on this morning's walk with our dog Oliver.

Consider these words:

"There are many things to be grateful "for" but, as I ripen with the seasons of life, the many reasons blend into a sacred mystery. And, most deeply, I realize that living gratefully is its own blessing." (Michael Mahoney)

Ripening with the seasons of life is itself a gift. I consider that this morning as I read about the early death of a fellow blogger from metastatic breast cancer. Acknowledging the many sacred mysteries in this life requires an open mind and heart, and a daily leap of faith. I consider that as I work to keep my ego right-sized and my motives unselfish. 
Then, I consider the richness that 22 years of active gratitude practice has added to the moments, hours, days, weeks, months, and years over that time. Living gratefully is…