Showing posts from December, 2012

It Took Me a Long Time to Get Here

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy, our strong marriage, and a date night last night. It took me a long time to get here. Not to this last day of 2012, rather to the place where I am comfortable, and dare I say confident, in my own skin. I'm both a slow learner and a late bloomer.But that was the only way I could get here. Shortcuts, fewer or different challenges, less stubbornness--all of those may have brought me to a different place, and I prefer to be right here, right now. The years do seem to go faster, but I try to stay in the day and I appreciate each year I get. I am remembering those who died in 2012. For some it was a gift to go peacefully and it was their time.For others, it was a tragic, terrible twist of fate and it doesn't seem fair that it was their time. I don't live in fear of death, but I don't live recklessly either. Life is too precious. Getting here also means a deeper humility. My ego wants to take the bulk of the credit, but I cannot.


Today I am grateful for sunshine and sledding. I am also grateful for two songs with similar titles: "Reflections" by Diana Ross and the Supremes and "Reflections of My Life" by The Marmalade. Both are from the late 1960's/early 1970's. I have always liked both and find myself listening to them on YouTube. They were on my mind today as I did some reflecting on the year that is winding down. Reflecting tends to lead to randomness, so bear with me. I am reminded of the late 1980's TV series China Beach (with Dana Delaney and Marg Helgenberger among others) that used "Reflections" for it's opening. I followed that show and I have rarely followed any show on TV. That opening song hooked me. "Reflections of the way life used to be. Reflections of the love you took from me."  I got sober in 1989. I could have been singing those words to alcohol. Neither song has uplifting lyrics. "Reflections of My Life" has the lin

A Dove Promise

Today I am grateful for time with other people in recovery from alcoholism. I am also grateful for a nap yesterday afternoon. They are always a treat. I was doing some cleaning out of my writing "stuff" yesterday. I have less space and more "stuff" than ever when it comes to all of my writing endeavors. Things get cluttered and need to be organized again. I have binders, books, and drawers for certain things, but they still get messy, just like some of my writing goals. During this minor cleaning out I came across a little piece of note paper on which I had written down these words from the inside of a Dove Promise chocolate bar: "The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate." Love, Dove Two of my favorite things are chocolate and words. These words ring true and tell me to keep practicing gratitude. For the little things. Daily.

Able-Bodied and Alive

Today I am grateful for an enjoyable movie in "Parental Guidance." I am also grateful that my day yesterday gave me one reminder after another how fortunate I am to be able-bodied, alive, and living life fully. I started my morning at the Y with my husband. I cranked up the treadmill speed and got the heart rate up. I definitely felt able-bodied and alive. That planted a seed I carried with me through the day. Mundane events like doing the laundry, washing sheets, and making beds meant several trips up and down the stairs. I was reminded how these are regular jobs for me, and they require physical capabilities. What about those who would love to be able to go up and down stairs and make their own beds but can't because of physical limitations? Next it was time to help my son clean his room. It was in need of some de-cluttering, dusting, and finding more storage space. Lifting, leaning, getting on my knees to store stuff under the bed, moving shelves and such all kep

"A Glad Awakening"

Today I am grateful for Wii Sports fun with my son, and for exercise that keeps endorphins flowing. I am also grateful for my sobriety and the support I get from many in my efforts to continue in recovery. Now that my A-Z days are done, for the time being anyway, I am going to switch focus to what I have been reading lately. I just finished "Betty: A Glad Awakening." It is from 1987 and is Betty Ford's story of her own recovery from alcoholism and prescription drug abuse, then the story of the creation and opening of the Betty Ford Center for addiction treatment. I am a big fan of Betty Ford for several reasons. She redefined First Lady during her time in the White House. Just months after becoming First Lady, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. In 1975, breast cancer was still discussed in hushed tones. Betty Ford went public with her own personal challenges and in so doing, helped raise awareness about BC and helped bring it out of the close

Zeal and Zest for Life

Today I am grateful for a relaxing Christmas Day and the simple pleasures of watching two of my holiday favorites: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." I am also grateful for the simple pleasures of my son helping make breakfast on Christmas morning and enjoying a cozy fire in our fireplace. I have enjoyed going through the alphabet and picking words from each letter to give me focus for my gratitude discussion for the day. Like yesterday, I couldn't settle on just one "z" word, so today I close out the 26 days with zest and zeal . Zest -keen enjoyment, relish, gusto Zeal -eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something Three pursuits come to my mind immediately as I write these two definitions: recovery, running, and writing. I thoroughly enjoy all three, though each present their challenges. And that only serves to enhance the zest and zeal. They require commitment, patience, persistence, but I never se

Yule, Yardage, and Yesteryear

Today I am grateful for the family Christmas celebrations we have already had and the simple pleasure of playing games like "Apples to Apples" and euchre together. I am grateful for the quiet and relaxing Christmas day that awaits. Our Christmas Day is usually quiet and we like it that way. Good food and a nap await. (Sam woke us up at 4:30 to let us know Santa had been here.) As I wind down my travels through our alphabet, I had several "y" words that I felt like writing about, so it's a hodge-podge of randomness that will follow. Yule was an obvious choice for today, as yule refers to Christmas and here we are at December 25. Yuletide greetings to those of you who celebrate this day. I keep my expectations low and focus on family time. I can't help but think of the devastated families in Newtown, CT who are facing a Christmas that must be so very difficult. And of anyone who is facing a Christmas without a loved one-because they are serving in the mi


Today I am grateful for family time and our holiday celebration with our immediate family. I am also grateful for the A-Z gratitude list I did as I exercised this morning, and the story my friend Dorothy shared yesterday about her own A-Z gratitude list experience. (It may find it's way into another blog post.) I knew there weren't many "x" words in the dictionary, but I was still surprised to find less than 75 filling less than two pages.  My choices were limited, but X-rays was the obvious choice for me. X-rays have played more of a role in my life the last few years. I started with a baseline mammogram in my mid-30's before I got pregnant. Before I hit 40, breast cancer hit my sister. So at 39 I began my yearly mammograms, nervous each time. I was called back once in the next couple of years. That was scary, but most call-backs come out fine, and that was the case. At 42, I got the all-clear on my April mammogram, but my doctor and the radiologist suggested a

Weather Watching

Today I am grateful for the changing seasons and the varying temperatures where I live. There are things to like about each time of the year. (And things to help make the things I dislike about each time of year bearable.) I am also grateful for the interest and respect I have for weather and watching it unfold. That interest definitely runs in my family, with a couple of my brothers being particularly notorious for their weather watching. Then I married Darcy and he fit right in. Ask either one of us what the forecast is, especially if a storm is coming, and we'll be able to get you up to speed. I think growing up on a farm gave us a fuller appreciation of all sides of the weather. We saw it across open fields. We spent time out in it daily. It has become easier and more accurate to follow weather with the technology available. That is both good and bad. Many of you may understand the disappointment that comes with a projected snowstorm that moves too far north or south, or

Filling a Void

Today I am grateful for the Hastings Breast Cancer Support Group and my friends there. I am also grateful for my co-workers and the friends I count among them. Void jumped out at me as I moved through words that start with a "v" in my dictionary. Void-not occupied, vacant, containing nothing, being without The word void first takes me to the thought of the void in my life that I used to fill with alcohol. That void wasn't as much a vacancy as a being without. I was without self-esteem or emotional health. I was without a clear identity. Add alcohol and the dis-ease becomes bearable for a time. In early recovery, the void remained and I didn't do what I needed to do, so instead of alcohol, I started filling the void with work. Way too much work. Not that workaholic is a clinical term, but I can tell you I was one. Now I try to do what I need to do and the void has been filled with healthier things like faith, direction, confidence, trust, openmindedness, willingn


Today I am grateful for a walk in the fresh, cold morning air, and for Oliver by my side on that walk. For the letter "u" I chose a word that I have always thought was fun to say--ubiquitous. Say it a few times, it grows on you. It means existing or being everywhere at the same time, constantly encountered, widespread. When I hear ubiquitous, the first thing that often comes to mind is the presence of the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness, especially during the month of October. It's everywhere from NFL players' uniforms to garbage receptacles. But I believe we need fewer pink ribbons and more action. Which leads me right into another plug for joining Dr. Susan Love's Army of Women AND signing up for the Health of Women study. They are two related but different initiatives to help pick up the pace and type of research being done to solve the mysteries of breast cancer. Let's make the pink ribbon less ubiquitous and the number of participants in resea

Seeking Tranquil Times

Today I am grateful for resiliency, on a personal level and that which I see exhibited by others, young and old. Gratitude is a producer of resiliency in my opinion. I am also grateful that my journey through the alphabet has me coming across wonderful words I don't think about or use often. One such word is today's tranquil. Tranquil-free from agitation of mind or spirit, free from disturbance or turmoil, unvarying in aspect; steady, stable That is a lofty definition, a lofty goal to aspire to. But it is a good one. It is one I am slowly learning more about and experiencing in growing doses. But it is also a stark reminder about those suffering today, particularly the families in Newtown, CT and that entire community. Tranquil times will be hard to come by for many grieving people for many days, weeks, and months to come. But if a moment of tranquility comes along, it will mean a lot. Let us not forget, either, the many helpers, both those professionally trained and th

An Anniversary and a Multitude of "S" Words

Today I am grateful for the simple pleasure of making Christmas cut-out cookies with my son using my Grandma's recipe. I am also grateful for this tradition, the other holiday traditions we carry out each year, and for new ones we create. It is hard not to think about the people of Newtown, CT. They are certainly in my prayers. I am limiting my news time because it is just too disturbing, too unsettling. I am breaking from my pattern and not choosing just one "S" word today. I am choosing several. I had considered calling the post "A Slew of S Words" but quickly disgarded the idea. Slew not only means "many" but is also the past-tense of slain. Like the innocent victims in Newtown. Today, December 17, is the fourth anniversary of my third surgery to address my breast cancer--bilateral mastectomies. Here are some "s" words as I mark this anniversary. Surgery.Symmetry.Scars. Sacrifice. Sadness. Smooth sailing. It took time to get to that

A Robust Approach to Life

Today I am grateful for my family and their safety and for roadways that are now clear of last weekend's snow. I am also grateful for the robust approach to life that I have.  Robust -having or showing vigor, strength, or firmness. I have always had a robust physical nature, leading a very active life in physical terms and rarely being sick or slowed down. I started out with a couple of hospital stays at ages 4 and 5, but until cancer came along at 42, the only other time I was in the hospital was when Sam was born. I feel strong and healthy today and for that I am very thankful. But when it comes to the other areas of my life-mental, emotional, and spiritual-I was not always living vigorously and robustly. I was suffering from low self-esteem, active alcoholism, self-pity, and my emotional growth was stunted for a number of reasons. My thoughts were not very productive, my feelings were often bottled up, and my faith was lacking. I am a late bloomer and a slow learner, but

From Quest to Questions

Today I am grateful I was able to come home and hug my son yesterday. I am also grateful that my quest for spiritual growth continues. That is the word I had chosen for today: quest. Pursuit or search. I was going to write about my quest to learn more about myself and to explore deeper faith. I was going to write about how my quest for daily gratitude has given me a fuller life. And then I heard the horrific news from Newtown, Connecticut. My heart aches as I think about the parents who rushed to the school in search of their children. The huge relief the ones who found their children alive and well must have felt. And the incomprehensible pain and grief the ones who lost a child are waking up to today. There are many questions that law enforcement officials are trying to answer. Questions that frightened children have for their parents. Questions about broader social issues like gun control and the availability of mental health treatment. And any thought of gratitude seems tou

This Little Piggy

Today I am grateful for motherhood and the lessons it teaches me. I am also grateful for a job that keeps me motivated-at least in the hours I am at work. I opened the dictionary to pick out a "P" word and the page I turned to had pig at the top. It sort of jumped out at me. Maybe I still had lard on my mind. The farm girl in me knew I would have a few things to say about the swine I was familiar with growing up. Here are a few of my recollections: *I saw baby pigs being born and recall a whole litter feeding at once. Sometimes a sow (adult female) had 10-12 little pigs suckling all at the same time. I saw some amazing things on the farm and the miracle of birth was one. *We tried to ride pigs without much success. It's tough. There's nothing to hang on to and they sure don't like it if you grab their ears. *I was a tomboy and enjoyed helping with farm chores. One of my favorites was helping my Dad make the "swill" that was fed to the pigs. I c


Today I am grateful for early morning quiet and the playful quirks of our dog Oliver. Open-mindedness is the word I have chosen for today. It is a challenging word for me. It is a word I aspire to but often don't live up to as well as I would like. Open-mindedness means being receptive to arguments or ideas. I too often, especially with people like those I live with, tend to think that my way is the best way. I close my mind to other ideas because "why bother?" Mine's the best. Granted, we aren't talking about earth-shattering things most of the time-laundry, doing the dishes, cleaning the house, etc. But I definitely have work to do in this area. In my teens and early twenties, which also coincides with the years I drank alcohol to excess, I was very closed-minded in ways. I thought my life was tough, unfair, and that I was pretty much a loser who would amount to nothing. I stayed stuck there, added alcohol, and ended up with an excess of self-pity and fals


Today I am grateful for the other bloggers I follow and read. They inform and inspire. I am also grateful for our warm, comfortable bed. I am over halfway through the alphabet on my trip through the dictionary. I came across nuzzle in my search and knew that was my "n" word of choice right away. To nuzzle is to lie close or snug, nestle, to rub or push gently against something. The word immediately elicited this cherished memory. I breastfed my son Sam and found it to be a wonderful experience and a great way for the two of us to get off to a good start together. It is the ultimate parent-child bonding. I continued to breastfeed Sam for about eight months. I absolutely loved the times in those first weeks and months after he had fed and would fall asleep on my chest, just a little, warm bundle nuzzling against me. I especially recall this memory sitting in the recliner in our living room in our old house. I would often fall asleep with him for a while. Those times wer

Just a Few Mementos

Today I am grateful for safe travels to and from Iowa and for the chance to see family members I don't see often. We stayed an extra day there because of the foot of snow we got here. I am also grateful for the chance to record some more family memories as my Mom and I talked over the weekend. I missed blogging yesterday, but the word I had already selected fits well with the weekend I had. That word is memento. It simply means a souvenir or reminder. I have a vast array of mementos, but I like to broaden my definition of memento out to include more than just physical items. Memories are also souvenirs and reminders of the decades I have lived. And of course, the two often go hand in hand. The physical item sparks the memory or the memory starts a search for the item. The mementos I treasure the most typically evoke pleasant memories, but I also deeply value ones that may mark difficult times. Pleasant or difficult, they are all part of my story or the stories of those near

Lard Anyone?

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy and for our marriage. I am also grateful for a bike ride in early December. I am taking a break from the deeper, more intensely meaningful words today and have chosen lard as my "L" word.  Lard-a soft white solid or semisolid fat obtained by rendering fatty tissue of the hog. To think about lard for me to is to think about my early years. We used lard and mom rendered her own. I recall a silver canister that always had a supply of lard in it. We used it for baking and frying. If a recipe called for shortening, lard was our version. A small amount on the frying pan was the starting point for frying eggs. (Though I later decided I liked eggs fried in a little butter better.) It worked and it was one of many examples of making good use of everything you had. I remember the smell when mom rendered lard after a hog had been butchered. It was a fine line between a pleasant smell and an unpleasant one. What was left behind after the r

Kinetic Energy

Today I am grateful for recovery tools, like patience and tolerance, that help me approach my day on a more even keel. I am also grateful for the smell of brewing coffee. The "k" word I chose on this trip though the alphabet is kinetic. Active. Lively. Dynamic. Energizing. Those are words I would like used to describe me. Some random thoughts on kinetic today, as my brain is in random mode. Active. I have always been very physically active and have rarely been slowed by injury or health issues. My worst post-chemo days and the first hours and days after my three BC surgeries were challenging for a number of reasons, but one was certainly that I couldn't be my usual active self. It impacted me emotionally and mentally in ways I wouldn't have anticipated. But those hours and days have allowed a fuller appreciation of my physical capabilities and I take them for granted less than I used to. Lively. I love a lively conversation. There are several people, who s

Juggling Life

Today I am grateful for sweat, endorphins, and moving meditation as I exercised this morning on the Nordic Track. The word of the day is juggle. To juggle is to hold or balance precariously, to handle or deal with usually several things at one time so as to satisfy often competing requirements. The more roles a person has, the more juggling, but sometimes one role helps balance out another.I am a wife, mother/stepmother, recovering alcoholic, writer, friend, sister, daughter, cancer patient, school counselor, colleague to name a few. I cherish all of my roles and take energy from each that I can give to another. Some days it may be the job that drains me and the runner that revives me. Other days, the family roles may both zap and inspire me. Giving time to my recovery and to writing on a daily basis gives me the perspective and the direction to "juggle" all the other roles. I think sometimes I, and many others, can fall into the trap of juggling too much. The precario

Irritable as Indicator

Today I am grateful for stability in my family and for the health that we have. I can put that stability to the the test when I get irritable. Irritable-capable of being irritated, easily exasperated or excited. The potential for irritability exists in each of us. It is part of our humanness. I was prone to being irritable when I was actively drinking. I spent too much time, especially in my mind, wanting to get drunk or recovering from being drunk. I cursed myself as a weak fool. Darn right I was irritable! Today, I am prone to being irritable particularly when I am tired, but also when fear takes over and everything becomes important and everything becomes a threat to the precarious balance my controlling mind has contrived. It is the tired irritable that makes me unpleasant to be around and often harsh of tongue. I guess one way to look at it is that my level of irritability can be my inner compass. Am I tired and needing to keep my mouth shut and get some rest? Is there a

On The Horizon

Today I am grateful for a phone conversation with my friend Sheila and for a walk with my husband Darcy. I am also grateful for the many beautiful and awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets I have seen on the horizon over the span of my life. Horizon for my discussion today being given these two definitions: 1) the apparent junction of earth and sky and 2) range of perception or experience. My traveling hasn't been extensive, but I have seen sunrises and sunsets near mountains and oceans. Still, I have to say that my most memorable views of the natural horizon have come close to home, close to the familiar. That is when I notice the play of light, the sun through the trees as the seasons change, the view out of a certain window. That is when I feel peace and ease surrounded by house, home, family and truly appreciate Mother Nature's spectacle unfolding. I do still hope to see more sunrises and sunsets on more travels though. Horizon as it encompasses the range of my perceptio

Gleaning from Life

Today I am grateful for a nice day yesterday, taking in a little holiday shopping and seeing a great movie in "Lincoln."  I am also grateful for the promise this day, and every day, holds. Part of that promise is the chance to learn each day. Learn more about who I am, about what life is really about. That fits today's word: glean . I have always liked this word and even look for opportunities to use it because I like how it sounds and I appreciate what it means. To glean is to gather information or material bit by bit, to pick over in search of relevant material. That doesn't sound like all that glamorous of a definition, but each day I glean something from is a day worth living. Gleaning can refer to picking up grain left behind by reapers. How much do I leave behind each day when I am not paying attention? The relevant material and information I glean ranges from more love and forgiveness, more grieving and letting go, more acceptance and patience, more inspira

One of a Kind Fingerprints

Today I am grateful for the laptop computer that allows me to do this blog easily. I am also grateful for a cold glass of milk to go with my pre-run peanut butter and toast. The word I have chosen from among many "f" words (smile) is fingerprint. There are many things about each and every one of us that make us unique, make us one of a kind. Our fingerprints are one of them. Thankfully, the only time I have been fingerprinted was for background checks to attain teaching/counseling licensure. It amazes me that no two people out of the billions on the planet have the exact same set of fingerprints. Even the same person's fingerprints change slightly. That alone tells me there is power far beyond human power around us. I am blessed today to feel comfortable in my own skin, to embrace my uniqueness. But it takes time to get here. It took me more time than it takes some, because I stunted my emotional growth for years while I struggled with my drinking and low self-wort