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Showing posts from 2018

Some Humor and Some Seriousness

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Today I am grateful for rest and perspective only gained with some patience and an open mind and heart.

Yesterday I was exhausted on several levels. Physically, from running 26.2 miles on Sunday. Mentally, for the same reason. Emotionally, because I was feeling a range of emotions from the experience itself and post-run. Spiritually, because grace and gratitude get tested by large questions like "why and why not?"

Today, after more rest and time to let everything about this latest marathon soak in and settle, I am back to grace and gratitude. Deeply appreciating that Darcy and I made it to the start line together, and each of us finished on our own terms. Our health and our marriage are priorities in our lives and we honor them both with our shared marathon experiences.

I went out too fast in the early miles and paid for it in the later miles. Experienced or not, it's easy to get caught up in the fresh air, the endorphins, the crowds of people. I never doubted I would fi…

Running and Walking with Heart: Marathons and Cancers #6

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Today I am grateful for shelter from storms, literally and figuratively. I am also grateful for all the gifts and experiences running has brought to my life.

I am thinking of my dear friend Sheila, her husband Dave, and their friends and family who will be doing the "Out of the Darkness" walk tomorrow morning for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They will be walking in memory of their daughter Carli who died by suicide on April 4, 2017. I am walking with you in spirit Sheila and carrying you in my heart as I do every day.

Breast cancer is also part of the shared history and enduring friendship Sheila and I have. She is a BC survivor too; facing her diagnosis, surgeries, and treatment in 2011. When Darcy and I ran the Sioux Falls Marathon on 9/11/2011, emotions ran high. I was thinking of Sheila, of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, of running the streets of the city where Darcy and I got married and lived for two years. We also met our future daughter-in-law Alyss…

Rain, Wind, and Hills: Marathons and Cancers #5

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Today I am grateful for a good night's rest and a safe and comfortable home to have it in. I am also grateful for the writing process and the reflecting I am doing this week.

In 2010, Darcy and I ran the Fargo Marathon, again finishing side by side. We started out in rain and finished in windy and warm conditions as we ran into the Fargo Dome. It was a spring marathon and we decided to take the fall off from marathoning that year. Unfortunately, cancer didn't take it off.   Mary Jo was diagnosed with a primary lung cancer in June and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Part of her lower right lung was removed and doctors were optimistic. The chemo was added insurance.

By the time 2012 rolled around, I was a little nervous. There had been cancer diagnoses among my sisters and I in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010. A pattern was developing. Thankfully, 2012 came and went cancer-free, as did the next several years. Years of survivorship added up, as did ongoing gratitude.

Darcy and I d…

Marathons and Cancers #4

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Today I am grateful for the inquisitive nature of young children, from toddlers to teens. I am also grateful for the writing process and how it helps me.

I thought about these words after I composed them for my post yesterday:

"Nothing would replace my God-given pair, so I might as well use the pairs I was left with--my arms and legs, my eyes, ears, lungs."

There is substantial gratitude in those words. One can live a full life minus breasts. I am not less of a woman, just a woman less her breasts. I am fortunate the cancer in my body was in my breast and not a vital organ. That doesn't minimize the loss, it keeps it in perspective.

As we considered which marathon to run in the fall of 2009, Kansas City caught our eye for two reasons. One was that it was within driving distance. The other factor was the clincher for me. It was scheduled for October 17. The number 17 had gained significance in my cancer journey. My first surgery, a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy, had …

Marathons and Cancers #3

Today I am grateful for the peace in silence and for cooler temperatures and needed precipitation.

After the WhistleStop Marathon, Darcy and I decided to continue marathoning. In 2006, we decided to keep it local and run the Twin Cities Marathon in October. Cancer decided to make another appearance too.

This time, it was my sister Mary Jo, diagnosed with breast cancer in August. By the time we ran Marathon #3, she was done with surgery and taking oral medication for treatment. The sense of security initially smashed with Zita's diagnosis was further smashed. Who would be next?

Somewhere in this time I also had an abnormal mammogram. It isn't entirely unusual to get called back for another look after a mammogram, but it hadn't happened to me before. I got the all-clear relief, and also continued motivation to stay healthy and active.

The Twin Cities Marathon was my fastest to that point, and still is. I trained hard and ran hard, cramping up and having to walk a full mile …

Marathons and Cancers #2

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Today I am grateful for the opportunity to be a wife, parent, grandparent, sister, daughter, aunt, friend.
Each of these roles and more enrich my life and teach me so much.

After the Chicago Marathon, I was hooked. I wanted to keep running marathons, and so did Darcy. With Sam being a toddler, we decided to each run different ones the next year. Darcy ran the Des Moines Marathon and I ran the WhistleStop in Ashland, WI.

My sister Zita, recovered from treatment and moving on from her cancer diagnosis, set her sights on finishing this one. Her prognosis was good, and the rest of the sisters went about doing the follow-up we felt we needed to do. I had had a baseline mammogram at 35, before I got pregnant. Now, I would do a yearly mammogram and I also got better at self-exams. Breast cancer was now a part of our family history, but so is running.

My sister Ruth also decided to join us there for her second one, and two friends and high school classmates, Beth and Melissa, signed on as we…

Marathons and Cancers: Post #1

Today I am grateful for enjoyable family time last evening, including a game of Phase 10. I am also grateful for the anticipation of our next marathon.

This year's marathon week is here. Next Sunday morning, Darcy and I will be heading to the starting line of another 26.2 journey. That in itself is a deep blessing.

Cancer has been on my mind a lot lately, and during many of the previous marathons I have run. As I focus my blog posts this week on the marathon experience, several are inexorably woven with the cancer that has impacted my family and I head on.

Our first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2004. I have told the story often of my niece Katie and her husband Danny getting the ball rolling on the idea of running Chicago. It was their anniversary celebration plan. It was a lifelong dream of mine, still unrealized.

Things fell into place. Katie and Danny, their friend Kate, Darcy and I, and my sisters Ruth and Zita were making plans and starting training that spring. I was…

Can you hear that?

Today I am grateful for our son Sam's school and his dedicated and enthusiastic teachers we met last evening. I am also grateful that Sam is a hard-working and conscientious student.

Happy Birthday wishes to my sister Leonice and my brother Neal. They aren't twins, they just share a birthday. When you have a lot of children, coincidences like that can happen. Enjoy your day you two!

One of my regular avenues of channeling gratitude is through my five senses. Try it. Pick one and focus on what it is bringing you in this moment, or maybe what it brought you at your most recent meal or on a walk you took.

Our working senses are something we often take for granted. I know I do. My sense of hearing is one I have been focused on the last few days. Can you hear that?

Here are some of the sounds I have appreciated lately:

-Our dog Oliver eating, and the jingle of his collar as we take our walks.

-The audible stop our new dryer gives us so I can save some wrinkles.

-The quiet of early …

Clearing Away the Day's Debris

Today I am grateful for time with our grandson Leo and for a bike ride in the cooler part of the day.

The phrase "the day's debris" from yesterday's post resurfaced yesterday afternoon on my commute home from work. I was tired from broken sleep, getting up earlier than usual, and a full day at work, complete with plenty of interactions that drained me.

Draining doesn't mean they were negative interactions, but in the role of helper and communicator, draining goes with the territory. Many good things happened and new connections were made. Some parts of the day fed frustration and increased stress though.

So the day's debris was cluttering my mind as I drove home. One of my mindfulness practices is to begin the first few minutes of both ends of my commute in silence. No radio on. Just the quiet car, some road noise, and the sound of the breeze if the windows are open.

That quiet after a full day and mind swirl is a good start on clearing away the day's deb…

Content with Life's Contents?

Today I am grateful for my working limbs and the run that my husband Darcy and I shared after work yesterday. Running is such a good way to release the day's debris.

As I considered the word contentment yesterday, I thought about the other use of the word "content."  The items inside something. The contents of a container, a box, a life.

Am I content with the contents of my life? That can be a loaded question and the "yes" I give to that question now might be a "not so sure"at some point today. Rare would be the person who always answers that question yes. I do know what keeps me leaning more toward the yes response more of the time: living gratefully, seeking to discover the gratefulness here for the picking.

The smile on a child's face. The breeze on a warm day. Our grandson on video across the miles. Good running shoes. Fresh tomatoes. Conversation about the day and a writing assignment shared by our son. Our dog Oliver's ongoing excitement…

Contentment

Today I am grateful for recovery friends and their genuine honesty. I am also grateful for the young people I get to work with and the energy they have.

Last evening, a close recovery friend and I were talking about being content with life, how we actually know what that feels like. We found contentment after being at dis-ease for years, and drinking to dull the sharp and painful edges of our feelings and thoughts.

We have known contentment and lost it, time and again, in recovery. It is the nature of our disease. The good news is we know where to find it back, how to return to some peace and serenity.

Being content with our lives and ourselves are gifts beyond measure, gifts that once seemed impossible to understand or attain.

Getting physically sober was just the first step in finding contentment. Wreckage needed to be cleared away. Emotions needed to be fully felt. Consequences needed to be faced. A new life, free of dangerous thinking and drinking, needed to be built.

Daily, we ge…

The Bunny Thing To Do

Today I am grateful for the continuing pleasant weather and time to enjoy being out in it. I am also grateful for the taste and texture of grapes.

A week ago today, some family members and I were putting on hundreds of miles for our return trip home after a visit to Colorado. One of the moments collected on that visit involved a few minutes with a young rabbit.

The little bunny was at the sculpture park, enjoying a meal of greenery near one of the sculptures. The park is set up with plenty of green and natural space, so the bunny had plenty of options. I watched the little one munch away for five minutes or so. The bunny did his/her thing, nonplussed by me or others who made their way past.

I was tempted to take a picture, but reminded myself to just be. In. The. Moment. Like the bunny. Doing what comes naturally. Breathe. Take in my surroundings. Feel nature.

The young rabbit eventually scampered away into the taller grass, and I rejoined my family.

I am visualizing that bunny in my …

Complicated, Yet Simple

Today I am grateful for the beautiful early September weather we are being treated to, and ample time outside to enjoy it. I am also grateful for a successful long training run yesterday, our last before our next marathon.

On that long training run, as Darcy and I conversed, he used the phrase "complicated, yet simple." He was referencing me, his wife of twenty years. I don't even remember what we were talking about at that time, but I know we shared a laugh about it. The phrase stuck with me as the miles racked up.

I am indeed complicated, yet simple. So is much of life. I tend to add the complications, with my overactive thought processes. Nature, pauses, gratefulness and the like tend to help return me to the simplicity and peace.

Nature is complicated, yet simple. I am in awe of the connections and processes that bring us the beauty of all seasons, the growth and pruning that occur on a timeline directed by Mother Nature.  It is good to ponder the complex system that…

Amore

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Today I am grateful for rest and mobility.

I am very grateful that my sister Mary Jo received good news yesterday. The chemo is having an impact on her cancer and she will continue with two more treatments, one of which she had yesterday. Then they will take another scan and see where things are at. Such is the approach with metastatic breast cancer. Incremental hope and progress. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers Mary Jo and Clay as you move through these next difficult days post-chemo.

On our recent trip, I came across the word "amore" in two places. One was the sculpture below at Benson Sculpture Park, aptly named "Amore" with the frog creating a heart with its "hands". The other was home decor at our Airbnb.



Amore is Italian for love. Love is all you need. Love is all there is. I definitely felt the love and support of family as we gathered last weekend. I am blessed to feel it each day from my own family and friends, from a loving Great Spirit,…

The Comfort of Experience

Today I am grateful for the beautiful moon in the morning sky and my job and dedicated colleagues.

Last evening was our annual Back to School Night. Parents come for meetings and to go through their child's schedule and meet teachers. It is a nice evening; a good way to welcome new families ad welcome back returning families.

It is one of the many times I appreciate my 18 years of experience at this school. From as basic as I know where pretty much every room is so I can help others find it, to having confidence to speak frankly to parents in my role as their son or daughter's counselor.

I know who to ask for help on most questions, and where to find what is needed. Yet, appreciate that each year is new, people leave and arrive, and there's always more to learn.

Exchanging pleasantries with parents I have seen for years as their various children have moved through, and meeting brand new parents who are just learning about our wonderful school, are highlights of last eveni…

Loaded

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Today I am grateful for my brother-in-law Bob and the driving he did on our recent travels. It is nice to be the passenger. Thanks Bob! And for the time I got to spend with my older brother Morry, something we haven't had enough of over the years. Thanks Morry!

And thanks to my sister Ruth, always a reliable and pleasant travel companion. Thanks Ruth!

I also appreciate the rainbow I enjoyed for several minutes on my drive yesterday morning, and for the reminder that I am part of a much larger world, an amazing universe.

My sister Mary Jo had a scan yesterday and has a doctor appointment tomorrow where she will hear the results. Talk about loaded with emotions. Anxious must be one of many. I know it is for me, and I am just one of her support people. Waiting is so hard. The time is loaded with the weight of wondering, the burden of upcoming decisions.

I took this picture Sunday evening, with Mary Jo and Morry nearby. Mary Jo was sitting down near the garage where we had gathered to…

29 Years Young

Today I am grateful for safe travels over the weekend and the gift of time with family I don't get to see very often. It was meaningful and special time together.

More on my travels and that family time coming soon. Today is a day to celebrate recovery. It is the anniversary of the day my own recovery from alcoholism began in 1989. A day of deep gratitude and thoughtful reflection. It is a day that may never have come if not for friends, family, recovery connections, and the grace and guidance of a loving Great Spirit.

My sincere thank you to all who make my daily recovery a road I want to keep traveling.

I am thinking about 29 years young today. If I hadn't gotten sober, I wouldn't be feeling 53, but much older probably, if I was even still alive. The healthy body, mind, and spirit I have most days would have been further shattered over the years.

I would be an empty, unhealthy shell. Instead, I am continuing to grow and learn, to recover and construct a better life than …

Never forget . . .

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy and our support of one another across many realms of life. I am also grateful for friends who listen to me and offer support.

I am thinking of my parents today, on the anniversary of their marriage 68 years ago. They shared 48 years together before Dad died. What a family they began on August 30, 1950. Thank you for so much Mom and Dad!

Recovering alcoholics are advised to "never forget your last drunk."  You are less likely to repeat it then. Thanks to a blackout, I lost some of the memory of my last drunk, and in ways that is a blessing. But I did not lose the visceral memory of my despair, guilt, torment, utter hopelessness. I don't dwell on it, yet I recall it enough to stay motivated in recovery. There is nothing worth drinking over.

I will never forget waking up from bilateral mastectomies on December 17, 2008 and looking down at my flat chest and bandaged incisions. Feeling the new emptiness, that strange vacancy. Scars he…

Entry Point

Today I am grateful for the unique clouds and light in this morning's sky and for street lights to help me see my way as I walk our dog Oliver.

Consider these words from Kabir, a 15th century Indian poset and mystic:

"Wherever you are is the entry point." 
The entry point of a new day comes with eyes opening and feet hitting the floor. If I keep my eyes open and feel my feet strike the ground beneath me, I will stay fairly well grounded in the moment and whatever it is I happen to be doing.

The entry point I usually use at school takes me through the middle school hallway, so I start my work day greeting colleagues and students who have arrived early. My entry point into my office area takes me past most of the other offices before I reach my own. More greetings and the freshness of a new day. We know that a few hours later we may be feeling anything but fresh.

There are distracting entry points to be cautious of as well. My phone and computers I use for home and work req…

Weaving New Patterns

Today I am grateful for changing weather and for recovery friends. We hold one another accountable and we lift one another up.

Consider this quote:

"Loss makes artists of us all as we weave new patterns in the fabric of our lives."  (Greta W. Crosby) 
These are such beautiful and true words, and painful too. The losses can be sudden, gut-wrenching, tragic. They can be slow declines to an inevitable end. Loss takes many forms, but carries the common thread of changing the ones going through it. The larger question is how it changes us.
What do we do when we suffer a loss? Do we fill the void and how? Does something or someone else come along? We become a different person, but is it for the better or the worse? These are heavy questions, and ones that take time to unfold.

Most of us don't seek loss. It tends to find us sooner or later. Living in constant fear of it is limiting, and we would miss so much. Denying it could ever happen also holds us back, as we tend to take pe…

Reflections of a Breast Cancer Patient

Today I am grateful for oatmeal and sweet peaches and the many people who helped bring them to me for breakfast today.

Yesterday morning, early in my run, I passed a walker I know. She has moved from our neighborhood, but she's a BC survivor like me. She was already getting treatment when I was diagnosed 10 years ago. I remember seeing her walk by our house, more slowly than now, and with a chemo cap. She's 10 years younger than I am, so was just in her early 30's at diagnosis. She and her family were also in the "Voices of Hope" DVDs.

She was walking briskly, with a healthy pace and stature yesterday, as I strode by with my own healthy pace. We exchanged greetings and a few words and then continued on. I spent much of my run reflecting on this brief interaction, on our shared and individual stories. Ten years post-diagnosis, we are healthy and spending time enjoying nature, our community, our families. We are so blessed.

My sister Mary Jo is living the day-to-da…

A Colorful Assortment

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Today I am grateful for a return to our son Sam's football action with a scrimmage yesterday. It's a sport I have always enjoyed watching. I am also grateful for my friend Betsy's movie recommendation for "Like Father." Darcy and I both enjoyed it. Thanks Betsy!

My efforts to keep the art of letter writing alive go in fits and starts. I have been on a good streak over the summer, sending out numerous cards and notes to several different people. I am reaching out to family members and friends, or others who did a kind deed worth acknowledging. It may be a note of support, a simple hello, a congratulations on a milestone. Or just a thank you, a sharing of gratitude.

Simple acts and short notes with profound impact on me as the writer. I hope the same for the recipient. Putting some good energy out into the universe means it is there for all of us. This action uplifts me emotionally and spiritually, even when I may have been feeling down, distracted, or challenged b…

Happy Birthday Aaron!

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Today I am grateful for our grandsons Aaron and Leo, and their parents. I am grateful for the joys of being a grandparent and sharing in that with my husband Darcy.

Happy 1st Birthday to Aaron, and best wishes to your mom and dad Alyssa and Arthur! It is a special day for them as well. One year old--Wow! We wish we could see you more, and we cherish the time we spend with you. You are such an active, thriving and curious little guy.

This is a fitting birthday greeting, as Arthur likes to refer to him as "little man."


Children are blessings in so many ways, and when you watch your own stepchildren become parents, it is another set of blessings. Enjoy these precious early years and keep up the good work, the hard work, of parenting Arthur, Alyssa, and Emily too.

Aaron and his cousin Leo bless me with these reminders and wisdom:

1. Be right here, right now. This is the only place life is fully lived. The present.

2. Always be curious and explore the world around you. You will …

1965 Doubly Meaningful

Today I am grateful for my sense of touch and the feel of cool air on my skin. I am also grateful for the way it feels to write on paper with a smooth pen. It flows and my writer's heart is content.

A few days ago I noticed my post number here on this blog was approaching 1965, and it made me think of my birth year. Today's post will be post # 1965 when I hit publish in a few minutes. It brought some random numbers and thoughts to my mind.

*19 was the drinking age in Iowa when I was that age, and I remember thinking it was pretty nice to be able to drink "legally" finally. Legally and normally are two very different things.
*65 is a common age to retire. Will I be ready and able to retire then?  Darcy and I talk about this upcoming time in our lives some, and certainly are doing some financial planning for it, but that's enough for now.
*1 day at time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time. It's a healthy, more sustainable way to approach life, and seek gr…

Veggie Burgers

Today I am grateful for my co-workers, both new and veterans I have known for years. I am also grateful for veggie burgers.

I am blessed to work with so many wonderful people and I look forward to the energy that will arrive with new students today.

People have come and gone where I work. It happens at every school, every workplace. Retirements, moving away, taking a different job elsewhere; these reasons and others mean I have had to say goodbye to some people I would have rather kept as colleagues longer.

New school years always bring this fact home. I am fortunate to have made the meaningful connections I have.

I have had a very full last few days, most of it good. Knowing it would be busy, I cut myself some slack in little ways and it helped. Yesterday was a day that was good to get behind me with work-related commitments and meetings. It will remain busy at work, but I will have more time to get some of the things done that I couldn't in recent days.

I was pretty much fried …

Next Message Please

Today I am grateful for cooler air and less humidity. I am also grateful for the other women in recovery who share their wisdom with me.

"The next message you need is always right where you are."   Ram Dass

I considered these words and the many ways I get messages. Voice mails, text messages, emails, other forms of social media I use to connect with friends and family like Facebook, Marco Polo and Voxer. They are easy ways to communicate and connect, but I am pretty sure Ram Dass wasn't talking about any of these avenues.

He was likely talking about the wider messages, the ones sent by the Universe if you will. In fact, too many messages and modes of delivery via technology can impede the true messages, block them from getting through.

Living gratefully is a sure way to be open to and more likely to notice these bigger communications sent by a more powerful force than a keyboard or phone. I often call this force the Great Spirit. Mine does seem to have good timing and pro…

Hard Miles?

Today I am grateful for safe travels to and from Iowa and a nice visit with my mom and other family members. I especially appreciated the time with my Aunt Helen.

On Saturday, Darcy and I did our longest training run of the season, a 20-miler. It's likely the only 20-miler I will do before our marathon five weeks from now. In ways, it was "easier" than the half I did last weekend. My pace per mile was 11:37 instead of just over 9:00. That makes a significant difference. My hamstring felt better too. This run wasn't full of hard miles, and even the last few miles weren't as tough as they sometimes can be.

As a runner, regardless of the distance, I have found the toughest miles tend to be the third of four quarters. It applied in track races too. The third 200 in an 800. The third lap in a mile. Miles 14-20 in a marathon. I think because it's not close enough to be confident the finish is doable, but it's far enough in to be feeling the distance already cov…

Sponge as Toy and Metaphor

Today I am grateful for a smooth training run yesterday and for genuine laughter.

Our grandson Leo was over the other day while his mom got a few things done at home. Papa was still working, so Leo helped me clean up in the kitchen and get dinner started. I brought a chair over to the sink so he could stand on it while I washed a few things. He got interested in the sponge/scrubber I was using.

Pretty soon, he wanted to keep filling it with water and squeezing it out. He had some fun and tried a variety of techniques. It gave me a chance to get dinner started and also a chance to remember how interesting everything is to a three-year-old. It is unfortunate that we tend to grow out of that natural curiosity and wonder. We get jaded and busy.

Living gratefully, pausing and practicing gratitude intentionally each day, keeps the curiosity and wonder alive, regardless of age.

Sponges are such good metaphors for life as well. Our brains and hearts in particular. Human brains have an amazing…

Heart-rest

Today I am grateful for my favorite coffee mugs and the fresh coffee that goes in them. I am also grateful for our dog Oliver and the morning time the two of us share.

I heard the word heart-rest the other day. What a nice word. I like to look up words in the dictionary, even if I know the meaning. It brings more depth of understanding and gives my writer's mind more fodder to compose with. Heart-rest isn't a word you will come across in most dictionaries. It's more defined by each individual.

It isn't the resting heart rate of physical exercise. It is the peace and calm that are needed when a difficult time is past, or still unfolding. It is the rejuvenation that is required when heavy emotions have been playing out and processing over time. It is a break from thoughts that may be troubling or full of fear and worry.

It is a pause, a sigh, a deep breath in and out. It can be a stroll in early morning, or a few minutes sitting and doing nothing. It is listening to my …

Hello!

Today I am grateful for a fresh haircut, a stylist I am comfortable with, and friendly greetings from others.

Birthday wishes today to my friend and fellow writer Jenny!

Thoughts, prayers, and good energy to my sister Mary Jo as she undergoes another round of chemo today.

The other day as I drove down a street in our neighborhood, a man out walking waved as I and others drove by. His gesture was not overly friendly in a fake way, just a "hello neighbor, it's a nice day" sort of way. Our world, local and global, could use more neighborliness.

That same day, I noticed the squirrels on our patio, a typical sighting. One was sort of saying a brazen "hi" and a “nanner-nanner, you can’t catch me" too. Pesky and they make a mess in our plants sometimes, but in general they provide me more entertainment than anything.

And in recent days there have been genuine "hellos!" as I greet co-workers I haven’t seen over the summer, or new colleagues I am just mee…

In a Twinkling

Today I am grateful for a nice visit with my friend Betsy and for the peace that can only be found in early morning darkness and quiet.

Special birthday wishes today to my sister Mary Jo and sister-in-law Terri! Hope you both have special days.

"In a twinkling" is not a phrase I hear often, but I heard it last night and it got me thinking. Life's most profound moments happen in a twinkling. In an instant, a mere moment.

The moment a child is born.

The instant someone breathes their last breath.

The twinkling eyes of loved ones expressing their love.

The tears welling up when a powerful feeling catches us off guard.

The last step as the finish line is crossed.

A bug bite or a blood draw.

Tragedy can strike in a twinkling, but joy bursts forth in a twinkling too.

Gratitude and grace are experienced in a twinkling.

Pause today, in a twinkling here and there, and notice what is there in that mere moment.

A Couple More Questions . . .

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver's return to health and for the pleasant scents of various soaps and lotions.

A special congratulations and best wishes to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Dana and Mitch, on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary today!

I enjoyed Nancy's Point summer blog challenge enough to tackle a couple more of her questions:

What is your biggest Cancer Land pet peeve today, right now, this minute?

The use of all the battle language. Fight harder. Lost her battle. It implies that if you just try hard enough, fight well enough, you can beat cancer. Oh, if it was only that simple. Cancer is a very wily foe. Let's aim everything we have at it, not at painting a rosy (and pink) picture that ends up a dishonor in many ways.

What one piece of advice would you offer to a new blogger? 

Don't wait to get it all figured out before you start, otherwise you may never start. Start and learn as you go. Be proud of what you learn and figure out yo…

A Blogger's Challenge from Nancy's Point

Today I am grateful for the colorful flowers in our backyard, and my husband Darcy who takes care of the yard and so much more for us.

I am also grateful for other bloggers I enjoy reading and learning from. Nancy's Point is one of the first blogs I started reading regularly. I have appreciated her candid posts about many different aspects of breast cancer, grief, and other varied topics. I encourage you to check out her blog. Whether or not you have had breast cancer yourself, it's a sure bet she will give you something to think about. Thank you Nancy!

She gave me something to think about and then write about with her recent
Summer Blogging Challenge.

It may end up leading to more than one post here, but we'll start with these two questions:

1. How long have you been blogging?  

I started blogging in late March of 2012. It is hard to believe it has been well over six years since then. It was a real leap of faith for me when I started, after months of pondering it, and readi…

Humility, On the Run

Today I am grateful for morning quiet after a restful night, a good run yesterday, and the anniversary of my last drunk today.

Humility and gratitude go hand in hand. Humility to me means knowing and remembering my place in the world. I am neither more than or less than, I am. Living gratefully is a good daily reminder of this place called the present.

The half-marathon Darcy and I ran yesterday presented opportunities to delve into this idea of humility:

*Striking up a conversation with a fellow runner through some of the early and middle miles of the race. She was running for a young man in his twenties who died of an enlarged heart earlier this year. I spoke to her of my sister Mary Jo's cancer and how a walk around the block for her on a post-chemo day is as meaningful as our 13 miles. I was able to watch this woman finish for her friend.

*A woman and her son who I kept seeing at various places along the route. They were cheering on someone in my vicinity. We got to joking the…

Whiskey Plates and a Vise Grip Message

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Today I am grateful for a nice lunch with my friend Julie and fresh garden produce from my friend Judy. They are connections through my job and I appreciate them both.

On my way to work yesterday I was following a car with "whiskey plates." Minnesota law requires drivers with DWI-related offenses to have these plates on their vehicle, usually for a year. They got dubbed "whiskey plates" because they start with the letter "W." They are white plates with black letters and numbers, so they are easier to spot.

I am sure there are times I miss such plates on a vehicle I am following, but yesterday I first noticed the aggressive nature of the driver before I noticed the plates. Was there a connection? Maybe, maybe not.  But there was a connection to gratitude for me. I never got a DWI, though I could have. I could have killed someone else or myself, but I am here today. I was given another chance many times. I try not to take that for granted.

I still fear drun…

The little things?

Today I am grateful for the sunlight welcoming a new day and for fresh, sweet peaches to enjoy.

Chew on these words today:

"The little things? The little moments? They aren't little."  Jon Kabat-Zinn
Kabat-Zinn is a leader in the mindfulness movement, specifically Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) which he helped pioneer in the 1980's.

The little things and little moments enjoyed since I digested Kabat-Zinn's words yesterday:

-birdsong -cool air to refresh warm skin -the sound of water flowing -a good idea coming to mind -eating sweet raspberries and oatmeal -music and lyrics of a song lifting me up
-soothing decor in buildings where we go for appointments
-when brief but unpleasant medical procedures are over
-breathing and strides coming together nicely on a run
-the moon's beautiful color in the early morning sky, just a sliver but brilliant nonetheless
-the sun's equally beautiful and brilliant color as it rose
-the voice of a dear friend throu…

Sing a Song

Today I am grateful for my job and the variety each day brings. I am also grateful for a cool morning and some time to sit and enjoy it outdoors.

Sing a song. I enjoy singing songs I like, but not around anyone else. I wouldn't want to subject them to that. When I am driving solo, or home alone, I have been known to belt out some good stuff. Haven't we all?  If you haven't, you should try it. It's liberating.

I can't help myself. Some songs, and the accompanying emotional energy, just seem to require singing along. Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy" is one such song. It's good from start to finish and I have enjoyed it for the the 47 years it has been around.

Here's the official video.  My favorite lines include "Peace, remember peace is how we make it. Here within your reach. If you're big enough to take it." 

Big enough to take peace? One needs to be open and willing to find and receive peace. Amen to that!

It don't com…

What can I do?

Today I am grateful for genuine friends and genuine conversations. I am also grateful for the laughter heard among recovering people. Laughter is a beautiful sound among those who have known and know much pain.

This is today's quote at gratefulness.org

"I wake up in the morning asking myself, what can I do today, how can I help the world today?" Julia Butterfly Hill 
Julia Butterfly Hill is an environmental activist and author. I encourage you to read more about her.
For today, I focus on her words above. I wish I woke up with this thought each day. Some days I do. Other days, I wake up, or come to from a night of menopause-induced disrupted sleep, and my brain has already hit the ground running before my feet even do. 
And when that is the case, my thoughts are too often self-centered rather than considering how I can contribute to the wider world in the next hours. The good news is that a slow-down, a pause, an intentional moment of catching myself and my thoughts, and …

35 Years Ago This Month

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Today I am grateful for safe travels, veterinary care, phone conversations. And I am especially grateful for an enjoyable visit with old friends.

I really appreciated the opportunity to spend time with my friends Zoe and Deb this weekend, and the men in their lives. The occasion was Zoe’s daughter’s wedding. Congratulations and best wishes Brittany and Luke!

Here are the three of us Saturday, at a beautiful outdoor venue on a beautiful day:



Zoe, Deb, and I met 35 years ago this month, as freshmen at Waldorf College. We were softball teammates for two years, and roommates/neighbors on the same dorm floor our sophomore year. Waldorf was a junior college at the time, so we each went in different directions after those two years.

Those were pivotal years in my life and in my drinking. Deb and Zoe both were the kind of genuine friends who shared their genuine concerns about my excessive drinking. I am forever grateful to each of them.

There have been marriages, children, divorces, remarria…

A Slower Pace, In Real Time

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver and how he is part of our family. I am also grateful for movies that are predictable but still entertaining.

As Darcy and I get set to head out for a long training run this morning, I am thinking about pace. Along Savannah’s waterfront on a sultry night last weekend, something became quite apparent to me. I walk fast. Sometimes too fast. What’s the hurry Lisa?

Darcy and I were sitting down taking a break and suddenly I noticed that the people....individuals, couples, and groups, were moving past us at a pace unfamiliar to me and many of my Midwestern counterparts. A steady, but unhurried pace. A pace that stirred less heat and humidity up.

I think it was more than the heat though. It was a real time lesson for me, the hurrier and scurrier. Our pace is a choice, though it can easily become habit too. The more acceptable pace in the South seems to be unhurried. Why push the pace when you don’t need to? Maybe it was the time of day. We slow down nat…

Just Observing, All Shapes and Sizes

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Today I am grateful for a slower-paced morning to begin this day, and for the passing clouds that are also moving slowly past as I observe them.

I like to think that my gratitude practice, my efforts to live gratefully, have made me a more keen observer of the world around me. And a more keen recipient of the gifts that come.

On our recent trip, I noted these and other tidbits as I observed and took in my surroundings:

-common courtesy is becoming more uncommon...no, I don’t really care to hear your loud
phone conversation
-we miss a lot when we aren’t looking...that video may pass the time, but people watching at an airport beats any video as far as I'm concerned
-seeing clouds from above instead of below is pretty amazing
-the uncertainty after a flight gets cancelled (it all worked out, but was a good reminder of what we do and do not control)
-regardless of political leanings, seeing our nation’s capitol is always riveting
-seeing the Pentagon and other sites on foot, even tho…

20/20 and Sea to Shining Sea

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Today I am grateful for safe travels for my family to various places, for a special anniversary trip, and for a washer and dryer to accommodate laundry needs from farm to beach.

Darcy and I returned to Savannah to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We were married July 30, 1998, a few months after he proposed to me in Forsyth Park in historic Savannah. We always wanted to get back there, and it only took us twenty years. It was a wonderful trip and a great way to mark 20 years.

How about 20 random memories and gratitudes to help mark our 20th:

1. Our first kiss, on the deck of my friend Terrie's house on West Lake Okoboji.
Fittingly, across the lake from where we had met a few weeks prior.
2. Our first home together, in Sioux Falls. It was Darcy's, then it was ours, then we moved. But it holds the fond memories of our first weeks and months together.
3. Our first home in our current community. We lived there 5 years and that is where Sam was a baby, and now our current h…

July Birthdays and Silver Linings

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Today I am grateful for a bike ride with Darcy in the cool air this morning, and for a pleasant visit with my friends Candy and Claire yesterday.

This is Candy and Claire with me in the picture below. We have a few years of living experience between us and nearly ten years of friendship. Three women who would most likely have not crossed paths in any other way than the way we did.


Life is funny that way. It puts people in our lives and provides connections that help comfort and heal. There has been more laughter than tears in our times together over these years, but it is the serious topic of breast cancer that provided our first meeting. We met at the local breast cancer support group. 
Candy and Claire now co-facilitate the group. I get there less often these days, but we remain friends, BC buddies. We share grief and loss in support group and beyond. Claire's brother Gene, also a friend of mine, passed away this spring. Candy's mom died a few weeks ago. 
They listen as I ta…