Showing posts from July, 2017

Changed Forever

Today I am grateful for the lines in my journals that somehow help guide my thoughts. I am also  grateful for vehicles in good working order and money to pay for gas for them.  In the final installment of breaking down a wonderful quote, we get to the dividends, the real meat of it all. Gratitude practice and an open mind and heart work magic on us fragile and flawed human beings. "Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life . . . and the world."  Sarah Ban Breathnach One might think that after 22 years of daily gratitude journaling and five years of habitually blogging about the topic, that the pace of change has slowed for me. It hasn't. Maybe because I started from such a deep hole of self-pity and self-centered thinking. (Whether I am thinking good or ill of myself, lots of time spent thinking about little ole' me is self-centered.)  When I s

Transcendent Moments of Awe

Today I am grateful for a good visit to the vet for Oliver and for the kind and gentle approach used by the vet and staff where we go. I am also grateful for the feel of raindrops on my skin.  Here is part three of the quote dissection and interpretation that is underway:  "Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life . . . and the world."  Sarah Ban Breathnach Transcendent moments of awe can be as simple as realizing that my son's facial features are all his, but also parts of his father and I. Or the wave of gratitude that hits my skin as I feel a cooling breeze and give thanks for my sense of touch. Maybe it can be as routine as watching another sunrise sitting on our front patio. The same patio and the same sun, on a new day in a new way. It makes all the difference. There is nothing routine about a sunrise when one is really paying attention

Encountering Everyday Epiphanies

Today I am grateful for what writing poetry has allowed me to give to myself and also share with others. I am also grateful for an easy morning run to work my muscles after a long training run on Saturday.  I appreciated the time Darcy and I spent at my friend Claire's 80th birthday party yesterday. She has touched many lives and I am grateful to be one of them. She wears her age well--because she starts from the inside with heart, soul, and an energetic spirit.  Back to breaking down this quote:  "Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life . . . and the world."  Sarah Ban Breathnach To encounter epiphanies, I need to slow myself and my thinking down, even momentarily, or I miss the message in the moment. No, I don't spend my day moment by moment receiving one epiphany after another. Still, when I can be still, I get the awakening that comes

Breaking Down a Quote

Today I am grateful for a good training run yesterday morning with Darcy, for time with our grandson Leo, and for my friend Claire. We try to never forget how fortunate we are to be able to run, cover the distances we do, and also share in this passion for staying fit and challenging ourselves with marathons. Leo's energy and playful smile warm my heart. Claire turns 80 today. We met through breast cancer support group and I am so thankful we did. She has such spirit! Happy Birthday Claire! I am also grateful for words and the way they carry so much meaning. They can be mixed and matched and placed in countless combinations that provoke food for thought. Here is a quote that says so much it really needs to be broken down: "Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life . . . and the world."  Sarah Ban Breathnach Gratitude bestows reverence. Appreciation

The Next Breath

Today I am grateful for a comfortable bed and pillows for rest. I am also grateful for the insights of our son Sam and that he shares them. "It is enough to be grateful for the next breath."   Br. David Steindl-Rast In busy times, days with full schedules, and the way I tend to expect much of myself, these words are like a salve applied to the spinning parts of my overactive mind. A salve to reduce friction and slow the rotation, allowing me to return more fully to the present. Admittedly, on some days the reprieve is short and the spinning ramps up again, but even a short reprieve is better than none. Gratitude is really about perspective and perception, and it is surprising how a few moments of mindful gratitude can reel in a runaway brain and bring me back to heart and soul. Brother David is one of my favorite writers and proponents of the virtue of gratefulness. He has done much to advance the simple practice of simply noticing the world around us in this moment

Nora McInerny-"It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)"

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to share my breast cancer experiences with someone newly diagnosed. I am also grateful for rain that we needed. Tuesday I wrote about Nora McInerny's podcast "Terrible, Thanks for Asking." In one of the first podcasts I listened to, McInerny called Anne Lamott "her patron saint."  I knew I would like her work after hearing that. I haven't been disappointed. Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors and McInerny does in fact have a similar style. Real feelings. Real messy. Real pain and poignancy. Real funny. Her memoir It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)  is worth the read. It weaves stories of her upbringing and early adult years with the defining events of a miscarriage, and her father and her husband both dying of cancer, all within a few weeks. Grief is something that we all face, sooner or later. The more we live life and the longer we live it, losses will occur. They can't be avoided. Wh

Pause and Say "Ah"

Today I am grateful for conversations with my friends Julie and Sheila yesterday, and for the beauty of the fog-laden sunrise this morning. In the light of that sunrise, literally and figuratively, this quote from   was especially fitting as I scrolled through my email inbox just now: When before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain, you pause and exclaim,  "Ah," you are participating in divinity."  Ancient Hindu Text Participating in divinity, or rushing headlong into my day and the long list of what I think I need to get done?  It should be an easy call. Yet, my brain tries to pull me from a divine view and back into ramped up thinking.  So I pause, and I practice. I pause and appreciate the filtered sun through the low fog and the top branches of the pine tree across the street. I pause again and feel the rhythm of my breathing. I pause again. "Ah," the beauty of nature is stunning and awesome. And I get to be here to n

Looking for a Podcast? Try "Terrible, Thanks for Asking"

Today I am grateful for the ease of finding online images to use in lessons/presentations I am preparing for next school year. I am also grateful for the connections I have with others in recovery and how we laugh and commiserate. Add podcasts to my gratitude list too. Podcasts were pretty new to me a few months ago when my friend Kelly suggested   "Terrible, Thanks for Asking."   Podcasts are simply audio files that can be downloaded off of the internet and listened to at your convenience on any number of devices. They often are a series with episodes and seasons just like television shows. So I gave a listen to a couple of episodes of "Terrible, Thanks for Asking" and I really appreciated them. I have now listened to many of the episodes from season 1 and some of the mini-episodes as well. I look forward to season 2. This podcast is a creation of writer Nora McInerny, who hails from the Twin Cities area. McInerny had a miscarriage, and watched both her husba

Packed and Unpacked

Today I am grateful for safe travels this weekend and for the productive and successful time we had moving my mother-in-law Marlene. I am thinking today of several people currently facing cancer treatment, decisions, and results; especially Leonice, Eric, Pam, Jessie, and Katie. Back to Marlene and her move. She has known for years that her home would be replaced by a major road construction project in her community of Sioux Falls, SD. The process picked up about a year ago with meetings and paperwork, and this spring she started looking for a new place. Real estate moves quickly in Sioux Falls, and she was lucky to find a nice place that is a good fit in a desirable location. It will work well for her, with the ability to stay on one level for everything she needs. The lower level will give us pleasant space to stay in when we come to visit. Darcy, Sam, and I, along with his sister and her family, were able to get everything moved. Marlene had packed much of it up already, ma

Shine On! (According to the Upanishads)

Today I am grateful for 4-wheeled vehicles and their convenience. I am also grateful for ears that can hear the various sounds coming from those vehicles as they pass by or as I drive. Consider this quote: As the Sun shines upon my heart,  so may my heart shine upon others! The Upanishads I was not familiar with the  Upanishads  and erroneously thought they were a group of people. They are actually ancient writings.  According to Wikipedia: The Upanishads are a collection of ancient Sanskrit texts that contain some of the central philosophical concepts of Hinduism, some of which are shared with Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. I consider myself an eclectic spiritual being and though I was raised and currently practice Christian denominations, I draw faith and spirituality from many sources. Really, most religions have more similarities than differences anyway, in my opinion. It comes down to respect and reverence shown to others and the earth. In some faiths, that also in

Daily Work for Daily Gratitude

Today I am grateful for the morning light and the way it welcomes us all to a new day. I am also grateful for the work of Brother David Steindl-Rast. Today is Brother David's 91st birthday. Find our more about him at . I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that recovery from alcoholism requires daily work. "Daily work for a daily disease" is a phrase I both like and dislike. Sometimes I don't want to put in the effort and do the things that help me stay sober and sane. Experience is the best teacher though, and I know I am a better contributor and less of a contaminator when I do the daily work. And please know that on many days this effort is invigorating for me, not drudgery. It became more joyful and less laborious when I started to include regular gratitude practice after five years of sobriety. Slow learner here. Daily work for daily gratitude helps me with my daily disease of alcoholism. All things worth having require some eff

One Husband and Two Sisters

Today I am grateful for the morning critters I have viewed from our back patio. This morning that included a squirrel, a rabbit, and a fox. I am also grateful for a productive day at work yesterday. I appreciate the words and writing of so many people. Some I know personally, others I don't. The three I am mentioning today I do happen to know pretty well. My husband Darcy is a deacon in our church and gives sermons every few months. He just did one this last Sunday. He studies the Gospel reading, does some research, incorporates his own experiences, and does a really nice job sharing a relatable message. A couple things he focused on Sunday included how we approach our email inboxes at work can either heighten or lessen our stress. And also pausing to "let go and let God" is time spent well. Amen to both. Thanks Darcy! The other two writers I want to give a shout out and a thank you to are my sisters Danita and Aileen. We keep in regular email contact and I really a

Bless the Beasts and the Children

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver and the way he just naturally stretches before we go for a walk. I appreciate this and other lessons from our four-legged friends. Bless the beasts and the children. They give me good doses of gratitude. Yesterday afternoon, Darcy and I had the opportunity to take our grandson Leo to one of our local parks to play. I appreciate that we have so many options right here in town. We put him in the stroller and walked to one a few blocks away. He hadn't been to this one before, so it was new territory to explore. It was fun to watch him run from one thing to another. It was a blessing to hear his laughter and see the joy on his face from the simple pleasure of play. Then there is Oliver. He has been with us for nine years now. He often wants to play and sometimes gets a willing participant. At other times, he is thwarted in his enthusiasm, but we still get a chuckle and some good vibes from watching the little guy. Bless the beasts an

Standing in the Sky

Today I am grateful for the peace in silence and for the enjoyment of a good burger after a run. The quote below really hit me yesterday morning, right before we headed out for a long training run. "Look at your feet. You are standing in the sky. When we think of the sky, we tend to look up,  but  the sky actually begins at the earth."   (Diane Ackerman) I had truly never thought about it this way, but it makes sense. Where the ground or soil ends is where the earth's atmosphere begins. We are surrounded mainly by nitrogen and oxygen, with smaller amounts of other gases like carbon dioxide and argon. There is no need to leave the ground to reach the atmosphere. It surrounds us and we gratefully breathe in what we need. I find this humbling and a good reminder of the small role that we as humans really have in the whole scheme of the universe. That still leaves me plenty for which to be thankful; including the success of that long run Darcy and I did yest

Come Alive

Today I am grateful for a cooler morning breeze and for reminders of the peace found in acceptance. I appreciated all the birthday wishes via phone calls, cards, text messages, emails, and Facebook. It was a pleasant day. "Better older than deader" continues to be my approach to birthdays. Consider these words: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go out and do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." (Howard Thurman) Writing helps me come alive. Recovery and running do too. Talking with interesting people (in other words EVERYBODY I get the opportunity to talk to) also expands my experience and the livelihood that comes with paying attention, real attention. As I pondered turning 52 and having another birthday, I thought about those who will have no more birthdays, those who have died in the last year. Some lived long lives, others far too short. But we all started the same way; coming alive

A Variety of Hangovers

Today I am grateful for morning coffee and peace and quiet on my front porch. I am also grateful for the gift of daily recovery from alcoholism and those who support me in this effort. I am thinking especially of those who are suffering from active alcoholism or who are early in sobriety. Finding hope and some light in the darkness can be tough, but it is possible. It is more than possible, it is waiting for you. Know that I am here holding a light for you all. After doing a quick search of my 1600 + posts on this blog, I was surprised that "hangovers" only showed up 13 times before. They showed up often in my drinking days. I don't miss these alcohol-induced hangovers at all. There are other types of hangovers though. I have an emotional hangover after a full weekend and family time together that I looked forward to for months. The time together included a lot of fun and was overall pleasant and appreciated. The hangover comes in with the letdown of it now being ov

Family Ties

Today I am grateful for the time with family over the last several days; the walks, conversations, celebrations, food shared, love extended. I am especially grateful for my mom and my siblings and the relationships we maintain.  Congratulations to our niece Kiane and her husband Brad and wishing the newlyweds all the best! Their wedding day was beautiful in so many ways and the gorgeous weather was a special gift for them and all of us. Our sister Leonice and our brother Morry weren't able to join us, but we know you were with us in spirit. That meant seven of the sisters and four of the brothers gathered together. We more fully appreciate such times as the years go by.  There were many emotions that I encountered during our time together, and many surrounded the fact that aging is impacting all of us. Our own, and that of others. There are so many blessings I witnessed, and our family continues to grow and thrive. Yet, there was an underlying sadness and concern in th