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Showing posts from December, 2017

Limitless

Today I am grateful for safe travels to and from Sam's wrestling tournament and that he got his first-ever varsity match. It was a 3-1 victory. I am grateful for FaceTime connections with our grandson Aaron. I am also grateful for the local eating establishments we enjoy in our community and each and every conversation I get to have with fellow BC patients. 

If you were among family and friends who received our holiday greetings this year, this is a repeat, but fitting for the last day of 2017. A poem that sums up the past year, more rife with sadness and difficulties than some years, but still plenty of hope and energy to move us into 2018.

Limitless
Gifts can be limitless in daily life; if our eyes, minds, and hearts
are open and we slow down long enough to notice.
Challenges can also be limitless, those we take on voluntarily and those doled out by life.
Gifts can be challenging, and challenges can bring gifts. It starts and ends with our intake and outlook.
The challenge in our daily g…

Never Before, Never Again

Today I am grateful for time to walk and peruse in climate controlled environs with my husband Darcy, and that he also did the driving yesterday. I am also grateful for the perspective my son Sam has on things ranging from eating to wrestling.

This quote caught my eye and my grateful heart recently:

"This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before." (Maya Angelou)
The same quote was highlighted in this post from nearly two years ago.  It is such a profound quote though, that it is worthy of a revisit and further writing contemplation.

December 30, 2017 A.D. will never occur again. The 24 hours, 1440 minutes, and 86,400 seconds that comprise this day will pass by only once. So what?  or  SO, WHAT will I make of it?

We have a choice every day, every waking minute really. I have spent many days of my life absorbed in worries, fears, selfish thinking, unreasonable expectations. I have wasted a lot of moments there. Living gratefully gives me an opportunity to change my …

Modem Lights

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Today I am grateful for a visit with my brother, sister-in-law, niece, her husband and their little daughter Romi. It was our first chance to meet Romi and what a happy, curious one she is. I am also grateful for my sister's recipes and a visit with my friend Betsy and her daughter.

A couple days ago I was glad to see all of these lights lit up on our modem:


Especially the last green light, which is for our internet connection. We were without internet for three days. In the whole scheme of things, it wasn't too rough until Darcy needed to go back to work in his home office. Oh how we have come to rely on access to technology.  Sometimes it is a little frightening to me how much business, both personal and job, is conducted over internet and wireless connections. 
In ways, it was nice to have limited access to internet on our computer. It led me to make other decisions on what to do with my time. With our phones, I was able to get done those things that were most important to …

Sundogs

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Today I am grateful for phone conversations and blog comments that remind me that my writing endeavors make a difference. I am also grateful for laughs shared with Darcy at an entertaining movie.

On Tuesday, this was my view mid-morning:


One of a pair of sundogs. A visual treat that we don't see often. My memory says we usually see them when it is bitterly cold. Compensation for the bone-chilling temperatures I guess. A little research tells me that they can happen anytime, anywhere. They involve ice crystals, come in pairs, are in the halo family, and are also called parhelions.  They tend to form when the sun is closer to the horizon. 
I do like to get a little additional information on things I don't fully understand. But that doesn't mean I think I will come to a full understanding. I just like to keep learning. And relearning. 
I also like to just keep enjoying what nature provides us. The cold goes through me more harshly as I get older, but I still appreciate the ch…

This Little Candle

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Today I am grateful for warm clothes to put on to take Oliver out on bitterly cold mornings and for the joy on faces of little kids at an indoor playground.

We enjoyed our holiday weekend and the time with family. I appreciate good travel weather and the chance to catch up with our niece Brittany. I am thankful to my sister Zita and her husband Randy for hosting our large gathering on Saturday. It is always meaningful to me to spend time with my siblings and their families, and I appreciate that Mom was feeling up to the event as well.

I also give thanks for FaceTime which allowed us to connect with one grandson and the time we spent with our other grandson in person. Our own immediate family is spread out more and growing, but doing well overall. I enjoyed a game of Yahtzee and later a game of Phase 10 with my boys on a quiet holiday all cozy and well-fed in our well-heated home. I give thanks for phone conversations with siblings across the miles.

The gratitude flowed in many ways …

On Again, Off Again

Today I am grateful for the daily challenge and charge of staying present and living gratefully. Practice makes progress possible.

I am also grateful for coffee to pour and share with my husband Darcy. Life's simple pleasures and most meaningful relationships together.

On again, off again sums up today's thoughts on light and dark. On again, off again can be troublesome and frustrating when it comes to things like relationships, rain at softball games, and Wi-Fi or internet connections

However, it is pretty much the flow of things when it comes to nature's light and dark. On again, off again. Day, night. Summer, winter. Birth, death.

When it comes to our own human light and dark, we control the on/off switch only some. Life will bring us much that we don't ask for or expect or wish to happen. Some of those are destined to become our greatest gifts while others become our most tremendous challenges.

Yet, some of the light and dark in our lives is within our control, our…

Winter Solstice

Today I am grateful for my friends in the Hastings Breast Cancer Support Group and the years of survivorship that we have among us. I am also grateful for the changing seasons.

Today is the winter solstice. The shortest day of the year for those of us north of the equator is here.
Our planet Earth revolves around the run on a titled axis, so this time of the year we get less exposure to the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, while the Southern Hemisphere gets more.

Just to ponder the magnitude of Earth, the sun, our solar system. Just to consider how this spinning and orbiting all work. These alone remind me of our humble insignificance in it all, but also of our significant role in the time we get to exist in human form. How can I make a difference today?

I have always enjoyed the changing seasons. I appreciate living where we get the full gamut of weather. I can say that I am ready for the light to start building back up again.

Nature's light will grow in the coming months. How can…

The Extremes of Addiction

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver and his love for us. I am also grateful for early morning quiet and meditation time.

As I continue to think about and write about the ways darkness and light are part of our lives, addiction and recovery certainly comes into my heart and mind.

Alcoholism and other addictions take us to extremes. It may start with the lightness of intoxication. The escape. The sensations of body and mind that appeal to us and then trap us. The darkness follows. It may be the darkness of blacking out or passing out. Or the darkness of our tortured thinking and repeated failed attempts to quit, to do better, to be stronger.

For some, the darkness of addiction leads to death. Often a premature death. It stops me short when I think about the many times I could have died; driving drunk, alcohol poisoning, or other ways we are vulnerable to dangers and poor choices when using.

Only by grace did I survive and find recovery. Only by grace have I continued to learn about t…

Close Your Eyes and Listen

Today I am grateful for the stars in the sky and the sparkle of frost on the ground. I am grateful for the eyes to see both and the reminder of my place between the two-the expansive sky and the stable ground.

I am also grateful for the opportunities to listen. I would like to think I am a good listener for others-family, friends, fellow recovering alcoholics. It's an important part of my profession. Listening to students, parents, colleagues. Where I have felt less proficient is in listening to myself.

Years of drowning my own voice in alcohol and feeling unworthy have not been undone overnight. That effort continues today, but practice makes progress possible.

This quote is fitting:

"Listen to your life . . . touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the  last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace."  (Frederick Buechner)

Sometimes the best way to listen is in the dark, with eyes closed. There are fewer distraction…

Flashlight, Phone-Style

Today I am grateful for a neighborhood holiday gathering and the chance to meet some new people. I am also grateful for the flashlight on my phone.

There is a convenience and a sense of security in that flashlight on my phone. I pretty much always know where my phone is, so I pretty much always have a source of light available if needed. That is, of course, as long as I keep the phone's battery charged.

I am getting better also at remembering that the flashlight is there, readily available. I am of the generation that remembers a different kind of flashlight, and those still serve their purpose too.

An analogy begs to be drawn here. I have a light source available to me at all times in the form of faith. I am not speaking of religion here, I am speaking of spirituality, of a belief in a power beyond human, beyond me. I have been calling this power Great Spirit lately. It fits.

The Great Spirit never leaves me. I sometimes leave it. Sort of like forgetting to keep my phone's ba…

The Lights of an Operating Room

Today I am grateful for a nice evening out with my boys and for the blessings of life that come daily.

Today is the ninth anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy and it calls to mind the memory of operating room lights. Or lack of memory as the case may be.

Operating rooms have bright overhead lights like you don’t see anywhere else. It’s a good place for very efficient lighting because very important work is being done. Part of me would like the opportunity to be an awake observer in the OR, but for now the extent of my experience has been being the one who is getting most of the attention with none of the memory.

I have had four surgeries and two surgical procedures that have had me either being wheeled into the OR or walking there myself. Those overhead lights have been my last recollection most of my pre-op trips.

Nine years ago, December 17 was a Wednesday. It was the third surgery to address the cancer in my right breast. It could be said the first two surgeries failed because th…

The Dark and Bright Sides of Confusion

Today I am grateful for good medical care available to us and for health insurance. I am also grateful
for my boys--Darcy, Sam, and Oliver.

The speaker I heard Thursday evening made a very valid point about the state of confusion. It is where learning starts. It is in our confusion that we seek answers, that we continue to try.  As he made the point with his audience the other night, we adults were once confused by simple tasks like tying our shoes and zipping zippers.

I don't know about you, but there has been plenty of confusion for me as I first got used to a new phone or laptop. We wouldn't want to dwell in confusion all the time, but it serves a crucial purpose.
It motivates us to figure things out and try different ways.  It clarifies what our purpose or goal really is and how hard we are willing to work to get there.

One place in my life that is a good example of confusion reigning and then some sense of order arriving is in my recovery from alcoholism. In my drinking d…

Brake Lights

Today I am grateful for a good speaker to remind us of the vital roles of failure and confusion in learning life lessons. I am also grateful for the range of emotions I give myself permission to feel.

Working my way from the headlights to the interior lights of vehicles, and of my human self, it became obvious that brake lights would be next on this little writing trip. Who knew our vehicles carried so much wisdom?

Brake lights help keep me safe in my car as I travel with hundreds of other vehicles on the freeways of our metropolitan area. They warn me to slow down and determine the cause of the brake lights. It could be to go around emergency vehicles on the shoulder of the road, or a minor back up at a busy time of the day.

If the brake lights stretch in front of me for quite a ways, I know it is more significant and if able I could exit and try a different route. If a detour isn't possible, I come to some level of acceptance. It is what it is. Stuck in traffic is stuck in traff…

Interior Lights

Today I am grateful for a run outside last evening in the fresh and brisk air, and for the lotion that helps my dry hands feel better.

Yesterday it was a car's headlights I was appreciating. Today, it is the interior lights. It is nice to open a car door in the early morning and be able to see where to put my school bag, purse, phone, and water bottle as I get situated for my commute.

And it sure is nice to see the well-lit instrument panel as I navigate out of my driveway and down the road. Speed, temperature, and music controls are all visible and helpful. The interior lights of a car are a given until they don't work or come on. I am thankful for them.

Then there are the interior lights of me, as a human. What lights and inspires my body, heart, soul, and mind?  Running does in many ways. Endorphins and serotonin light my engines so to speak and give me a boost. Writing lights the way to clarity of thought, which hopefully leads to more positive and less selfish actions.

Th…

Headlights

Today I am grateful for helpful medical care personnel who really stepped up yesterday to make what could have been a frustrating situation into a smooth one. I am also grateful for the way my husband Darcy and I share household chores.

I was thinking about the many light features that our vehicles have and how much I take them for granted. Let's start with headlights.  They lead the way for us and our vehicles as we head out into the dark hours of the winter months. It's the time of year I may need headlights both on my morning commute and evening commute some days.

Just think if our cars didn't have headlights. We wouldn't be cruising along at highway speeds with our fellow travelers nearly as seamlessly as we do with headlights.

They forge a path and make sure it is clear for us. They allow us time to adjust to obstacles or situations if needed. Driving without them would be dangerous and quite risky.

But we still need to pay close attention to the road ahead and al…

Rejection Turned to Acceptance

Today I am grateful for early morning quiet to set a good tone for the day ahead, and for exuberant laughter and a funny story from my friend Jill.

My last several posts have been more about the light side of life's fluctuations between dark and light. It's time for a trip to dark places. Dark places like my mind. . . a pretty dark place for a pretty long time when I was in my teens and 20’s, actively alcoholic and in early recovery. It can still get pretty dark at times. It just doesn't last as long. 

This quote hits home on this topic: 
As long as we’re rejecting ourselves and causing harm to our bodies and minds,  there’s no point in talking about loving and accepting others.  (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Those words encapsulate my active alcoholism. Negative, self-loathing messages repeated and reinforced. Drinking to the point of passing out and/or blacking out. The total opposite of self-acceptance. Escapism at its best and worst. 

It has been a long journey to a place of self-accepta…

Bright-Eyed

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Today I am grateful for safe travels over the weekend, and for the convenience of take and bake pizza.
We are also grateful for the enjoyable time with our grandson Aaron and his parents this weekend. He will soon be 4 months old. He has started to roll over and is busy exploring his world in all the ways he can. 
He was bright-eyed and content Sunday morning, dressed in his Green Bay Packer attire, ready to cheer the Pack on with the ultimate fan-his dad Arthur. His mom Alyssa is holding him in this picture. 

Such bright eyes to greet the day, the people smiling back at him, the world around him. Living gratefully helps me wake up more bright-eyed too. Simply opening my eyes with a sense of surprise, because that is what it really can be when I live gratefully, helps me see so much more. 
Lack of appreciation and wonder dull my view and narrow it too. Today I will strive for a bright-eyed view of all that I am blessed to see and participate in.

Old Sun, New View

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Today I am grateful for a feeling of coziness in my house, and for the forgiveness of my husband and son when I vent loudly.

I got to check out our brand new health clinic in town yesterday for a routine appointment. It has been open for about a month. A nice looking building inside and out, it sits on the west edge of town. It has two floors and I was in the waiting area on the second floor.

This was my view as I waited:


That time between daylight, dusk, and darkness. Between light and dark. This old sun never stops treating us to spectacular and one-of-a-kind sunsets each day. Different vantage points. Different skies. Different seasons. They all lend themselves to awe.

The sun, our sun, is just 4.5 billion years old. That's 4,500,000,000. I'm a mere 52. Ten decimal points to my two. That is a humbling thought.

A thought that causes me to pause and consider the fleeting nature of our days. To pause and relish in this present moment. To live and love gratefully.

I will be tak…

This Red Light Means Go

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Today I am grateful for a warm house and a warm car. I am also grateful for family and friends to whom I can send holiday greetings.

Here's a light I appreciate seeing every morning at home. I often have this coffee brewing pretty early, before many of you reading this are up.



The light in the picture looks less red than it really is. In this case a red light is good. It means the coffee is ready and I can start drinking it.

We have tried various coffee pots and landed on using a percolator years ago. We like the way it creates our coffee drinking experience and taste. Darcy and I both like the fact that it is a bit of a throwback to earlier times as well. Not to mention that it is better for the environment than some coffee pots. The only waste it creates are coffee grounds.

Sometimes when I am starting the coffee, or cleaning the pot, I pause and consider that I am fortunate to have coffee, clean water, electricity, a husband to bring a fresh cup to.

I look forward to the sound …

Cause to Pause: Reflector Strips

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Today I am grateful for anti-lock brakes and traction control on icy mornings. I am also grateful for the honest sharing of other women in recovery.

This is the time of year that I will sometimes start an A-Z blog series, or as I did last year, a Z-A one. This year I have a different inspiration hitting me. Dark and light. They are so symbolic in emotional, mental, and spiritual terms. And they are also physical. As the physical light grows shorter and shorter each day until the winter solstice, darkness closes in literally.

There has been darkness in other ways this year. Pain. Suffering. Addiction. Loss. Suicide. Cancer. Death. If not for light, hope would be hard to come by. Getting out of bed would be more of a challenge. So I pledge to use these last weeks of this challenging year of 2017 to blog about the dark and the light, about how they play off of each other and are necessary. What about dark and light will cause me to pause?

Light can come with the flip of a switch for a la…

Treasure Hunting Made Easy

Today I am grateful for conversation with my husband Darcy yesterday, sitting on our back patio enjoying a fire in our fire pit. I am also grateful for time with fellow recovering people over the last couple of days.

Yesterday I was listening to a conversation about treasure hunting, referring to some newly acquired property and some of the antique finds that had already been discovered there. Treasure hunting in old farm dumps. I can relate.

I can also relate to the idea of living gratefully as a version of treasure hunting. Treasure hunting made easy. Or at least easier.

Our brains get trained to look for what we tell it to look for. "We" being our mental and emotional selves, both strong influences on the rest of us. I have been in training for over 20 years, training to live gratefully, to look for what I already have. To notice, pay attention, pause.

Living gratefully can indeed make treasure hunting easy. Easy is a relative term though. Easy doesn't mean effortless…

Little Amazing Things

Today I am grateful for a well-timed nap for me yesterday afternoon and for the athletic trainer available to all athletes at Sam's wrestling matches.

The nap gave me a better perspective on the remaining hours of my day, after I had gotten just a wee bit "itchy, scratchy."  The trainer provides good direction and suggestions beyond what concerned parents can.

I was thinking about those things I take for granted after I wrote my post on Friday. I then had the opportunity to be a chaperone for my school's choir as they performed at the Mall of America. I saw some little, or should I say huge, amazing things there.

It started with the reflection of a jet in the glass windows of the mall entrance we were using. Amazing eyes to see. Amazing reflection. Amazing jet propulsion.

As I sat in a busy area of the mall a little while later, observing, people-watching, I was intrigued.
Intrigued by the many faces and voices, body shapes and sizes passing by. I could see family re…

For Granted or for Gratitude

Today I am grateful for songs that make me think and feel. I am also grateful for all of the things I often take for granted on any given day.

We pretty much all do it. Take things for granted. Take people in our lives for granted. It is part of our human condition. We tend to get used to what we have and want more or different. Living gratefully challenges this part of our nature. And it is a good challenge.

Living gratefully on a daily basis changes the way we perceive ourselves, those close to us, the world around us. Therein lies the profound power in living gratefully. We are surprised more often, humbled in a grace-filled way more often. It tends to leave us more satisfied and more likely to care for and respect what we have.

It doesn't take long at all to create a list of some things I take for granted most days:

-electricity
-access to clean and temperature-controlled water
-food to eat
-legs and arms that work
-my five senses
-cars in the garage and money for gas

I try no…