Up, Up and Away

Today I am grateful for the peace of morning quiet and for my physical capabilities and energy.  As I recently mentioned, looking up at the sky when I step outside is one of my gratefulness practices. We can sky watch from indoors too, but we seem to get the fuller effect when the vastness isn't limited by a ceiling or roof. I can feel the presence of Higher Power and a more boundless energy when I stand as part of that vastness.  I took both of these pictures in recent weeks. This first picture was taken from inside a vehicle. That's my reflection you see in the mirror. I've never been in a hot air balloon, but they are sure intriguing to watch and colorful to see. Being afraid of heights, especially open air like these are, I don't know that I will pursue a hot air balloon ride. But I appreciated the view and floating color of this one.  It was close enough that we could see people in it. I wondered if they were veterans or out for the first time, or somewhere in betw

Tools for Living Gratefully

Building on ideas shared in my post on September 15,  It Takes More Than "An Attitude of Gratitude" , here are some more tools I have in my living gratefully toolkit. Tool implies that it takes effort. It does. It also implies that something is being built or created. It is. The effort is fruitful and the structure beautiful and stable.  1. Meditation practices. I try to do a daily guided meditation, usually in the 10-15 minute range.  Insight Timer  is a great free app that I use. I can search over 100,000 meditation tracks by teacher, length, topic.  This practice tunes me into my breath and body, and sets me up for less cluttered thinking.  2. Besides looking up to the sky when I step outside, I also tune into my senses. What am I smelling, hearing, seeing?  It's always a buffet of sensory delights and reminders of one kind or another. Sometimes on a walk I will tune in to one sense especially and really focus on what I can pick up. Our senses are amazing, even more wh

Revisiting a Post: September 17, 2015

Today I am grateful for this blog and how it has taught me to honor writing time regularly. And for all it has taught me about myself. Writing has a way of revealing us to ourselves.  This is a post I wrote six years ago today, on September 17, 2015. It is titled: Understanding What I Am  Here is a thought-provoking quote: "If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation."  (Jiddu Krishnamurti) If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you know I appreciate words that help me reflect and encapsulate what gratitude practice does for me. This quote does that. Gratitude practice has helped me see the good in myself and others much more readily. It helps me feel like I am enough, as is. The world around me is enough, as is. In this moment, in this day.  Less time spent chasing the illusion of perfection and things outside of myself means more time exploring and accepting who I am. Change does indeed occur th

It Takes More Than An "Attitude of Gratitude"

For years, I subscribed to the notion of an “attitude of gratitude.” I’ve since learned that an  attitude is an orientation or a way of thinking and that “having an attitude” doesn’t always  translate  to a behavior… It  seems that gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works – it’s not alive. BrenĂ© Brown, in her book The Gifts of Imperfection Brown's words echo my take on living gratefully. "Talk is cheap." "You can't just talk the talk. You need to walk the walk." "Actions speak louder than words." "Faith without works is dead." These phrases all exude what BrenĂ© Brown is capturing.   There is value in awareness and a shift in attitude, but those only hold if our actions also shift and new patterns of thoughts and behaviors emerge, hooking us in good ways.  For me, it did start with "an attitude of gratitude" thirty years ago. I was pretty stuck in self-pity and spinning my wheels in early sobriety. To s

Booya! Twenty Years in the Making

Booya: a simple meat stew cooked overnight, often served in big batches at public festivals Booyah: used to express joy, triumph, exuberance; especially over a well-played or victorious moment in sports Booya was not a word I was familiar with until 21 years ago. Our first late summer /early fall living in our current community we saw signs advertising some kind of soup fundraiser for our local fire department. My husband Darcy adapted a fun way of saying booyah that in recent years has become more annoying, but a sure sign of fall anyway :-)  We often said we should try it and sometimes saw the huge kettles outside a local church as they prepared and cooked the mystery concoction. But we never got around to it. It wasn’t held last year during the pandemic, and when we saw it advertised we decided this was the year to try it. It's the 80th annual and the proceeds go to the fire department's Relief Association.  Darcy was doing his other local volunteering Saturday morning, so I

At It Again

Today I am grateful for walks with my husband Darcy and for a new TV with a bigger screen. The previous smaller screen had become a strain on our eyes from certain seats in our family room. Eyesight. What an amazing sense and way to take in the world. I am grateful for eyes that work and glasses that offer refinement.  Later yesterday afternoon, I was sitting on our back patio doing some journaling. The temperature was ideal. The bugs weren’t out. Pen to paper, I was capturing thoughts, feelings, and events of the last couple weeks. This has been one of my faithful writing processes for over forty years. In this writing, just for me and just about life as I see and experience it, there is much value. Duly noting my story has always helped me more viscerally understand life and myself.  As I was at my writing, I was also once again mesmerized by the neighborhood squirrels and their antics. They were at it again too; scurrying, jumping, chasing, and even pausing. Pausing? It seems like t

Or or And?

Life is not about “or”—it is about “and.” It is magical and messy. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking. It is delight and disappointment. Grace and grief. Exquisite and excruciating, often at the same time. Kristi Nelson  Kristi Nelson is the Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living and the author of Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted . Both are wonderful resources to explore and return to often. These words resonate so deeply with me, and the last five especially so. I started practicing gratitude over 25 years ago, to quell the insistent self-pity that wanted me to drink again, or at least feel some relief from workaholic mode. It evolved into what I now refer to as living gratefully, a sense of gratefulness. It’s more of a mindset than a single practice. But the practices strengthen the mindset, the life perspective I try to bring to each day. Gratitude can come and go. Gratefulness stays, through thick and thin.  The default of s