Showing posts from 2017


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.

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 opport

Modem Lights

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 i


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 a

This Little Candle

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 w

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 con

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.

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

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

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&#

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 bec

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 dri

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

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 action


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

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


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

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.

This Red Light Means Go

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

Cause to Pause: Reflector Strips

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

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 eff

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 f

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

More Connections

Today I am grateful for oatmeal and a good night's sleep. I was going to title today's post "Connections," but with well over 1700 posts on this blog, I wanted to make sure I hadn't already used that title. I appreciate how easy it is to search for that possibility, and it did indeed yield a previous post from December 11, 2015. Read it  here .  It is a fitting one about a visit to Colorado following the death of my brother-in-law Roger. In that post I also wrote about a quick connection with a random fellow human. They happen daily and we get more from them if we pay attention to the interaction. After yesterday's post about interconnectedness, I was more in tune to some of the ways I was connecting with others and my surrounding world in the hours that followed. Here are some of the ways: -the stars in the sky and my place on earth, and how we are all part of a wider universe -my feet touching the ground, floor, trail, tile, etc. with each footfal


Today I am grateful for the comfort of soft light and for the connections I have with others in so many different ways. At an event last evening, I was reminded of the many ways we are interconnected as humans on a shared path at this time in history. In ways both minor and profound. I share common ground with others in a myriad of ways, yet remain my own ever-evolving self. Fellow cancer patients and survivors. Those recovering from alcoholism and other addictions. Shared upbringings. Farmer's daughters. Sisters. Friends. Co-workers. Teammates. Writers. Runners. Commuters. Shoppers. Humans in tune with nature and other living things. We are interdependent, complementary of one another when we honor our togetherness as well as our individuality. When we pause to respect our own journey, we acknowledge and extend respect to our fellow travelers as well. Some of the connections are fleeting, others are lifelong. Some change us tremendously, others simply offer comfort. All of

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

Today I am grateful for a bike ride on a windy but pleasant late November afternoon. I am also grateful for the convenience of microwave ovens. On that Sunday morning run I mentioned yesterday, I was in new territory and discovered an underpass. As a runner and a biker, I really appreciate these underpasses, taking me beneath busy roads and potential hazards. I was in picture-taking mode, so I captured these two below of the underpass tunnel. I often make links between my physical surroundings and my mental and emotional state. Exercising outdoors is my preferred location, and can really bring clarity to my thoughts and feelings at times. Along with writing inspiration. Tunnel vision. I tend to get it often when I turn my thinking inward and crowd out reason and guidance from others and the Great Spirit. As I ran through this tunnel, the lights threw odd shadows. It gave the impression of me chasing myself. Isn't that what happens with tunnel vision? If I would have stop

Sunrises and Softball Diamonds

Today I am grateful for safe travels to visit Darcy's family, for the pleasant weather we have been having, and for good insurance coverage for ourselves, our vehicles, and our home. I took this picture as I ran early yesterday morning in Sioux Falls. The promising colors of sunrise beckoned me as I decided which way to run. Not a bad way to choose a course for a run, and for a day: nature’s beauty and a sense of purpose.  The backdrop for the sunrise was a softball complex not far from my mother-in-law’s new place. Fitting for me, former softball player and coach, and my nieces and sister-in-law too, also softball players. My  niece  currently plays college  softball and we shared some conversation about that over the weekend. Sunrises and softball diamonds. I have enjoyed many of each over the years. The dominant thoughts I had as I ran yesterday are good for me to recall as I head into my day today: -If not for recovery from alcoholism, my sunrises and days on s

Two Legs, Three Wheels, Four Legs

Today I am grateful for beautiful weather to enjoy as we celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, and for connections with family members via various modes of communication. Legs and wheels are on my gratitude list today, as is gratitude shared by others in recovery. Two legs that carried hundreds of us through the downtown and along the river of our community for a Thanksgiving tradition known as "Gobble Gait." It's a run/walk fundraiser for our local food shelf and family service. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the event and we were happy to be part of it. All three of us ran it, including Sam with some of his wrestling teammates. The three wheels are on the tricyle that our grandson Leo was riding yesterday afternoon. It's a new trike with an old-fashioned look, reminding me of the one we had when I was growing up. We enjoyed the sunshine and pleasant temperatures as he peddled down the trail, heeding my caution of "not too fast." And then the


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

Dust in the Wind, Frost on Leaves

Today I am grateful for sleeping in and then being able to sit and watch daylight arrive. I am also grateful I saw a recovery friend last evening that I don't see often, affirming for both of us the importance of this idea of living gratefully. I appreciated the way the streetlights played on the frosty leaves and grass this morning as I walked our dog Oliver. There were momentary sparkles and glints, fleeting but worth seeing. It fit right in with the post I had already started for today, focused on these words from the Kansas song "Dust in the Wind." I heard it recently and these lines stayed behind to brew in my brain: "Dust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind. Now, don't hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky. It slips away, and all your money won't another minute buy."  Hopeless or hopeful words? They can be taken either way. Just like the moments that comprise our days. Drudgery or opportunity? Grind or grace? Fleeti

More Reasons to Seek Balance

Today I am grateful for the song "Amazing Grace" and the several beautiful versions I can choose to listen to. I am also grateful for the way my fingers feel on keyboard keys as I compose words. This article from CURE Today , a publication I mentioned in a post last week, was worth the read. There is so much information out there about links to cancer, what may cause it, what can prevent it, possible cures. If you are seeking to substantiate or refute one of these many claims, you can probably find some evidence for your case. This article looks at some common myths about cancer, yet leaves us hanging a little. How much of a factor, if at all, is sugar in contributing to cancer's growth? Do cell phones cause brain cancer? Good questions with no clear answers yet. But if you are looking for some convincing research findings, there is plenty to back up this statement: obesity and inactivity are clearly linked to various kinds of cancer. Too much sugar can increase obe

Running in Circles

Today I am grateful for a Monday morning in a short work week. I am also grateful for clementines. I appreciate that these cuties are back in season and available at stores. The other morning on my run, I hit a cul de sac at the end of a newer housing development. I decided to do a few circles around the cul de sac to add a couple minutes to my run before heading home. It was kind of soothing to do the little loop. I considered the difference between literally running in circles, which I don't often do, and figuratively running in circles, which I am quite adept at. At least my mind has gotten much practice in it. I have done far too much of this circular formation in my thought processes over my lifetime; regarding relationships, my job, writing goals, recovery, just little ole' me, and more. I can start with a healthy perspective and expectations. Then I get overly busy and lose perspective via a never-ending list of what I think needs to be done. Running in circles.

Lucy, Dixie, and Gertie

Today I am grateful for the stars visible in this morning's clear sky. I am also grateful for the comforting glow of lights from our holiday decorations, and for a phone conversation with my brother and his wife. So who are Lucy, Dixie, and Gertie? I don't personally know Lucy and Dixie. They were just random dogs with their owners on the trail as I went for my run yesterday morning. Their owners, women I also didn't know, out getting exercise on a sunny and chilly morning, used their dogs' names as I ran by them. Random dogs and people, all of us sharing the trail and the return of sunshine after plenty of cloudy and dreary days this week. Random connections like this can bring concrete reminders of our small part in the larger whole, of the simple kindness in a smile and a pleasant greeting as we pass one another. No big deal, but also no harm done. The world could do with more simple kindnesses, less harm done. I do personally know Gertie. She's my mom. I c

A Substitute, Not a Replacement

Today I am grateful for brown sugar and oatmeal, and for my comfy slippers. Yesterday's flat is today's perky. Another reason I chose to not have breast reconstruction following bilateral mastectomy is that nothing was going to replace what nature gave me and cancer took away. Our real breasts are full of real nerves, fatty tissue, lobes, blood vessels, lymph nodes, ligaments and more. They are attached to our chest wall and the pectoral muscle. Even the best surgeons and cutting edge reconstruction techniques can't match the look and feel of the real deal, nor mend all the damage done with removal. Granted, I didn't think I had a perfect pair to begin with, and at age 43 they were already starting to show their age. As I finalized my decision to not have reconstruction, I also looked into prosthetics. I wanted to have the semblance of breasts available to me, and they have fit the bill. I do appreciate that I can wear them and that they have allowed me to keep my

Flat, But Not Flatlined

Today I am grateful for my health and that in cancer terms I currently can be described as NED (no evidence of disease). I am also grateful for self-acceptance of this scarred body of mine. I get a publication titled Cure . It is focused on cancer and is free to cancer patients. I have been receiving it for years and appreciate how informative and readable it is. It doesn't focus on one kind of cancer or one aspect of the disease. I can read about cutting edge research as well as personal stories from patients and caregivers. Check it out at cure . A recent special issue on breast cancer carried the cover headline of "Flat, But Not Flattened." Needless to say, it caught my eye. I always am interested to read about women like me who have opted to not have reconstruction following mastectomy. I have several ways to refer to my new chest terrain following bilateral mastectomy. "The area formerly known as my breasts." and "strange vacancy"

Who? Me?

Today I am grateful for the hope that comes when people share their pain and their joy with one another. I am also grateful for lamplight. As I exercised this morning, I considered this quote from Carl Jung: "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."  It reminds me of this saying too: "When we have one finger pointing at someone else, we have three fingers pointing back at us. I am the only person I can change, and that can be a tough job. Other people help though, sometimes by being a confidant and hearing me out as I process my own thoughts and feelings and reach some clarity. (Thank you to all my confidants.)  And at other times, people help me in the way that Carl Jung speaks of here. They may be strangers or people I know quite well. They help me reflect on things like being judgmental, self-righteous anger, self-pity, perfectionism, selfishness,  and more. They reflect back to me those things t

A Remedy When Feeling Uninspired

Today I am grateful for the effectiveness of healthy habits. They work under all conditions. I am also grateful for a mild morning. That mild morning, by November standards, has allowed me to sit outside on our front patio for a few minutes. The writer within was feeling uninspired, even with several post drafts started and more ideas too. Some days it is like this. Not sure where to go with my writing thoughts. Not sure what is pulling me the strongest. When feeling uninspired, nature is always an effective remedy for me. I stepped out to walk Oliver and appreciated that though damp, it isn't icy. A forty degree morning in mid-November invites more time outside. I listened for the early morning sounds and mostly heard traffic, but I also heard the quiet. Listen to the quiet. Listen to the silence and what it says. The sky view is limited on this cloudy and drizzly morning, but even just looking up and feeling the vastness of the space above me is helpful. It brings me some h

A Date in Common

Today I am grateful for an enjoyable bike ride yesterday afternoon, and for the fellow recovering people I can reach out to when I need some clarity and redirection. Literally, they are at my fingertips via text messages. Today my sister Leonice will have her 25th and last round of radiation. That will wrap up the active treatment of her endometrial cancer. It started in May with the first of six rounds of chemotherapy. I knew that my last round of chemo had happened around this time in 2008, and upon further investigation, my hunch was confirmed. We share an end date to our cancer treatment-- November 13. We share conversations and we share some common ground only those who have lived in Cancerland can share. We may have some similar feelings about it all, and know some similar fears for sure. But we have each had to take our own single, solitary cancer journey as well. Just like our sisters Zita and Mary Jo. Just like I was the one sitting in that chemo chair nine years ago ge

Drinking History

Today I am grateful for a good run and a clean garage topping my "done list" yesterday. I am also grateful for those who have served in our military, past and present, to protect and preserve our freedoms. Today, and every day, I am grateful for the opportunity to be sober and live a life of recovery. There are a couple of sayings among recovering people that are good for me to remember: "Never forget your last drunk." "The further you get away from your last drunk, the closer you get to your next one." Cautions worth heeding. Alcoholism is a subtle and patient disease, and I have a healthy fear of complacency. It is also a daily disease. Recovery needs daily effort. There is nothing worth drinking over.  I feel well-grounded in my recovery and have healthy habits that are ingrained in my life. I am very grateful for this, because I also still have an alcoholic mind that lies in wait if I let up on recovery. I call it "my dearest alco

Playful Pup

Today I am grateful for work perspective gained from years of experience. I am also grateful for the challenges my job presents. I learn and grow from them. This morning I am also grateful for our dog Oliver. He is nine years old and a senior citizen, but we still often call him pup, Mr. Pup, or Oliver Valentine if he's being naughty. He's a playful little cockapoo and this morning he wanted to play.  He likes his chew toy, which somewhere along the line we started calling his "teddy bear." Here he is this morning with it: It's a little tattered and he's ready for a new one. But we aren't ready for a new pup, so we hope Oliver has several good years left in him. I like to say that we grew up together, Oliver and my post-cancer self. He came into our lives just weeks after my cancer diagnosis in 2008. He has been a treasure ever since. He reminds me to stretch after sitting for awhile. To let the people I love know that I love them, even when th

Early Morning Exercise

Today I am grateful for a hat and gloves to wear on a chilly morning, and for the various exercises in the various realms of wellness (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) that help me maintain some sense of balance. I started my day with early morning physical exercise. And when I say early morning, some of you may consider it the middle of the night yet, but I have always been one who can literally roll out of bed and head out on a run or other exercise. I stayed indoors this morning. The sweat and endorphins both got flowing. It was physical exercise, but it also helps me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It clears my head, gives me time for prayer and reflection, reminds me of my priorities. If I go into the exercise with swirling thoughts, I come out with more clarity and perspective. It boosts my mood and it elevates the sense of living gratefully that I am trying to cultivate. It is good for my body, mind, heart, and soul. I always feel better when I am done.

Twenty Years and Running . . .

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy, our lives together, our growing family, and the role of fate on the day we met, twenty years ago today. I am also grateful for my friend Sheila and the two conversations we shared yesterday. This post , written five years ago today, tells the story of how we met. It's a good story for me to read now, to refresh my memory of that day, a day that changed my life forever. And of a man and a marriage that have fulfilled me in so many ways over the last twenty years. It took me years into adulthood to love myself, much less feel lovable and attractive to the opposite sex. About the time I had come to a healthy level of self-acceptance, and some acceptance about whether or not I would ever meet the right man, is about the time I met Darcy. Has it been a 20-year honeymoon? Let's be honest. Marriage is hard work some days. Any healthy relationship takes effort, compromise, respect, forgiveness, and much more. But I can honestly say that D

Unceasing Eloquence

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

Pedaling and Peddling

Today I am grateful for my thumbs and all that they make it possible for me to do with my hands. I am also grateful for the opportunity I have to be a sober and recovering person today. Yesterday afternoon, my husband Darcy and I went for a bike ride. It was brisk, chilly, windy, and hilly at times, but we both were glad we were out there pedaling. We have bikes that work, legs that work, and each other. Many blessings to pedal about. I also heard some words of wisdom from a fellow recovering person yesterday, as I often do. He spoke about "peddling b.s." It made me chuckle. Peddling b.s. is what happens to my thoughts when I forget to be grateful, when fear and ego grow, and the power source greater than myself gets crowded out. Plenty of b.s. starts getting peddled through my overactive and perfectionistic brain. Energy gets misdirected and actions become misguided. On the other hand, or foot as the case may be, pedaling my bicycle and peddling gratitude bring clarity

52 South

Today I am grateful for safe travels to a family funeral and for a warm and comfortable bed in which to rest. I attended my Aunt Jenny's funeral on Friday and appreciated that I was able to be there. Jenny was my dad's sister. She had been ill with Parkinson's for many years, and she and her family suffered in that time. She died at age 87, and I believe she now knows peace. I wish for peace for her husband of 64 years, my Uncle Nilus, and for their six children and their families. It was good to see members of my own family and my extended family, as cousins gathered to pay respects. I am thinking especially of Sister Norma Jean, my dad's youngest sister and now the only surviving member of her immediate family. She has said goodbye to both parents and all six of her siblings. It gives me pause to think about the nature of life, the wisdom of life, the full range of feelings that life brings if we truly live it. I hadn't written a poem in months. Sometimes th