Showing posts from August, 2018

Never forget . . .

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy and our support of one another across many realms of life. I am also grateful for friends who listen to me and offer support. I am thinking of my parents today, on the anniversary of their marriage 68 years ago. They shared 48 years together before Dad died. What a family they began on August 30, 1950. Thank you for so much Mom and Dad! Recovering alcoholics are advised to "never forget your last drunk."  You are less likely to repeat it then. Thanks to a blackout, I lost some of the memory of my last drunk, and in ways that is a blessing. But I did not lose the visceral memory of my despair, guilt, torment, utter hopelessness. I don't dwell on it, yet I recall it enough to stay motivated in recovery. There is nothing worth drinking over. I will never forget waking up from bilateral mastectomies on December 17, 2008 and looking down at my flat chest and bandaged incisions. Feeling the new emptiness, that strange vacancy. Scar

Entry Point

Today I am grateful for the unique clouds and light in this morning's sky and for street lights to help me see my way as I walk our dog Oliver. Consider these words from Kabir, a 15th century Indian poset and mystic: "Wherever you are is the entry point."  The entry point of a new day comes with eyes opening and feet hitting the floor. If I keep my eyes open and feel my feet strike the ground beneath me, I will stay fairly well grounded in the moment and whatever it is I happen to be doing. The entry point I usually use at school takes me through the middle school hallway, so I start my work day greeting colleagues and students who have arrived early. My entry point into my office area takes me past most of the other offices before I reach my own. More greetings and the freshness of a new day. We know that a few hours later we may be feeling anything but fresh. There are distracting entry points to be cautious of as well. My phone and computers I use for home a

Weaving New Patterns

Today I am grateful for changing weather and for recovery friends. We hold one another accountable and we lift one another up. Consider this quote: "Loss makes artists of us all as we weave new patterns in the fabric of our lives."  (Greta W. Crosby)  These are such beautiful and true words, and painful too. The losses can be sudden, gut-wrenching, tragic. They can be slow declines to an inevitable end. Loss takes many forms, but carries the common thread of changing the ones going through it. The larger question is how it changes us. What do we do when we suffer a loss? Do we fill the void and how? Does something or someone else come along? We become a different person, but is it for the better or the worse? These are heavy questions, and ones that take time to unfold. Most of us don't seek loss. It tends to find us sooner or later. Living in constant fear of it is limiting, and we would miss so much. Denying it could ever happen also holds us back, a

Reflections of a Breast Cancer Patient

Today I am grateful for oatmeal and sweet peaches and the many people who helped bring them to me for breakfast today. Yesterday morning, early in my run, I passed a walker I know. She has moved from our neighborhood, but she's a BC survivor like me. She was already getting treatment when I was diagnosed 10 years ago. I remember seeing her walk by our house, more slowly than now, and with a chemo cap. She's 10 years younger than I am, so was just in her early 30's at diagnosis. She and her family were also in the "Voices of Hope" DVDs. She was walking briskly, with a healthy pace and stature yesterday, as I strode by with my own healthy pace. We exchanged greetings and a few words and then continued on. I spent much of my run reflecting on this brief interaction, on our shared and individual stories. Ten years post-diagnosis, we are healthy and spending time enjoying nature, our community, our families. We are so blessed. My sister Mary Jo is living the day-

A Colorful Assortment

Today I am grateful for a return to our son Sam's football action with a scrimmage yesterday. It's a sport I have always enjoyed watching. I am also grateful for my friend Betsy's movie recommendation for "Like Father." Darcy and I both enjoyed it. Thanks Betsy! My efforts to keep the art of letter writing alive go in fits and starts. I have been on a good streak over the summer, sending out numerous cards and notes to several different people. I am reaching out to family members and friends, or others who did a kind deed worth acknowledging. It may be a note of support, a simple hello, a congratulations on a milestone. Or just a thank you, a sharing of gratitude. Simple acts and short notes with profound impact on me as the writer. I hope the same for the recipient. Putting some good energy out into the universe means it is there for all of us. This action uplifts me emotionally and spiritually, even when I may have been feeling down, distracted, or challenge

Happy Birthday Aaron!

Today I am grateful for our grandsons Aaron and Leo, and their parents. I am grateful for the joys of being a grandparent and sharing in that with my husband Darcy. Happy 1st Birthday to Aaron, and best wishes to your mom and dad Alyssa and Arthur! It is a special day for them as well. One year old--Wow! We wish we could see you more, and we cherish the time we spend with you. You are such an active, thriving and curious little guy. This is a fitting birthday greeting, as Arthur likes to refer to him as "little man." Children are blessings in so many ways, and when you watch your own stepchildren become parents, it is another set of blessings. Enjoy these precious early years and keep up the good work, the hard work, of parenting Arthur, Alyssa, and Emily too. Aaron and his cousin Leo bless me with these reminders and wisdom: 1. Be right here, right now. This is the only place life is fully lived. The present. 2. Always be curious and explore the world around y

1965 Doubly Meaningful

Today I am grateful for my sense of touch and the feel of cool air on my skin. I am also grateful for the way it feels to write on paper with a smooth pen. It flows and my writer's heart is content. A few days ago I noticed my post number here on this blog was approaching 1965, and it made me think of my birth year. Today's post will be post # 1965 when I hit publish in a few minutes. It brought some random numbers and thoughts to my mind. *19 was the drinking age in Iowa when I was that age, and I remember thinking it was pretty nice to be able to drink "legally" finally. Legally and normally are two very different things. *65 is a common age to retire. Will I be ready and able to retire then?  Darcy and I talk about this upcoming time in our lives some, and certainly are doing some financial planning for it, but that's enough for now. *1 day at time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time. It's a healthy, more sustainable way to approach life, and se

Veggie Burgers

Today I am grateful for my co-workers, both new and veterans I have known for years. I am also grateful for veggie burgers. I am blessed to work with so many wonderful people and I look forward to the energy that will arrive with new students today. People have come and gone where I work. It happens at every school, every workplace. Retirements, moving away, taking a different job elsewhere; these reasons and others mean I have had to say goodbye to some people I would have rather kept as colleagues longer. New school years always bring this fact home. I am fortunate to have made the meaningful connections I have. I have had a very full last few days, most of it good. Knowing it would be busy, I cut myself some slack in little ways and it helped. Yesterday was a day that was good to get behind me with work-related commitments and meetings. It will remain busy at work, but I will have more time to get some of the things done that I couldn't in recent days. I was pretty muc

Next Message Please

Today I am grateful for cooler air and less humidity. I am also grateful for the other women in recovery who share their wisdom with me. "The next message you need is always right where you are."   Ram Dass I considered these words and the many ways I get messages. Voice mails, text messages, emails, other forms of social media I use to connect with friends and family like Facebook, Marco Polo and Voxer. They are easy ways to communicate and connect, but I am pretty sure Ram Dass wasn't talking about any of these avenues. He was likely talking about the wider messages, the ones sent by the Universe if you will. In fact, too many messages and modes of delivery via technology can impede the true messages, block them from getting through. Living gratefully is a sure way to be open to and more likely to notice these bigger communications sent by a more powerful force than a keyboard or phone. I often call this force the Great Spirit. Mine does seem to have good timing

Hard Miles?

Today I am grateful for safe travels to and from Iowa and a nice visit with my mom and other family members. I especially appreciated the time with my Aunt Helen. On Saturday, Darcy and I did our longest training run of the season, a 20-miler. It's likely the only 20-miler I will do before our marathon five weeks from now. In ways, it was "easier" than the half I did last weekend. My pace per mile was 11:37 instead of just over 9:00. That makes a significant difference. My hamstring felt better too. This run wasn't full of hard miles, and even the last few miles weren't as tough as they sometimes can be. As a runner, regardless of the distance, I have found the toughest miles tend to be the third of four quarters. It applied in track races too. The third 200 in an 800. The third lap in a mile. Miles 14-20 in a marathon. I think because it's not close enough to be confident the finish is doable, but it's far enough in to be feeling the distance already

Sponge as Toy and Metaphor

Today I am grateful for a smooth training run yesterday and for genuine laughter. Our grandson Leo was over the other day while his mom got a few things done at home. Papa was still working, so Leo helped me clean up in the kitchen and get dinner started. I brought a chair over to the sink so he could stand on it while I washed a few things. He got interested in the sponge/scrubber I was using. Pretty soon, he wanted to keep filling it with water and squeezing it out. He had some fun and tried a variety of techniques. It gave me a chance to get dinner started and also a chance to remember how interesting everything is to a three-year-old. It is unfortunate that we tend to grow out of that natural curiosity and wonder. We get jaded and busy. Living gratefully, pausing and practicing gratitude intentionally each day, keeps the curiosity and wonder alive, regardless of age. Sponges are such good metaphors for life as well. Our brains and hearts in particular. Human brains have an


Today I am grateful for my favorite coffee mugs and the fresh coffee that goes in them. I am also grateful for our dog Oliver and the morning time the two of us share. I heard the word heart-rest the other day. What a nice word. I like to look up words in the dictionary, even if I know the meaning. It brings more depth of understanding and gives my writer's mind more fodder to compose with. Heart-rest isn't a word you will come across in most dictionaries. It's more defined by each individual. It isn't the resting heart rate of physical exercise. It is the peace and calm that are needed when a difficult time is past, or still unfolding. It is the rejuvenation that is required when heavy emotions have been playing out and processing over time. It is a break from thoughts that may be troubling or full of fear and worry. It is a pause, a sigh, a deep breath in and out. It can be a stroll in early morning, or a few minutes sitting and doing nothing. It is listening to


Today I am grateful for a fresh haircut, a stylist I am comfortable with, and friendly greetings from others. Birthday wishes today to my friend and fellow writer Jenny! Thoughts, prayers, and good energy to my sister Mary Jo as she undergoes another round of chemo today. The other day as I drove down a street in our neighborhood, a man out walking waved as I and others drove by. His gesture was not overly friendly in a fake way, just a "hello neighbor, it's a nice day" sort of way. Our world, local and global, could use more neighborliness. That same day, I noticed the squirrels on our patio, a typical sighting. One was sort of saying a brazen "hi" and a “nanner-nanner, you can’t catch me" too. Pesky and they make a mess in our plants sometimes, but in general they provide me more entertainment than anything. And in recent days there have been genuine "hellos!" as I greet co-workers I haven’t seen over the summer, or new colleagues I am

In a Twinkling

Today I am grateful for a nice visit with my friend Betsy and for the peace that can only be found in early morning darkness and quiet. Special birthday wishes today to my sister Mary Jo and sister-in-law Terri! Hope you both have special days. "In a twinkling" is not a phrase I hear often, but I heard it last night and it got me thinking. Life's most profound moments happen in a twinkling. In an instant, a mere moment. The moment a child is born. The instant someone breathes their last breath. The twinkling eyes of loved ones expressing their love. The tears welling up when a powerful feeling catches us off guard. The last step as the finish line is crossed. A bug bite or a blood draw. Tragedy can strike in a twinkling, but joy bursts forth in a twinkling too. Gratitude and grace are experienced in a twinkling. Pause today, in a twinkling here and there, and notice what is there in that mere moment.

A Couple More Questions . . .

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver's return to health and for the pleasant scents of various soaps and lotions. A special congratulations and best wishes to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Dana and Mitch, on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary today! I enjoyed Nancy's Point summer blog challenge enough to tackle a couple more of her questions: What is your biggest Cancer Land pet peeve today, right now, this minute? The use of all the battle language. Fight harder. Lost her battle. It implies that if you just try hard enough, fight well enough, you can beat cancer. Oh, if it was only that simple. Cancer is a very wily foe. Let's aim everything we have at it, not at painting a rosy (and pink) picture that ends up a dishonor in many ways. What one piece of advice would you offer to a new blogger?  Don't wait to get it all figured out before you start, otherwise you may never start. Start and learn as you go. Be proud of what you learn and

A Blogger's Challenge from Nancy's Point

Today I am grateful for the colorful flowers in our backyard, and my husband Darcy who takes care of the yard and so much more for us. I am also grateful for other bloggers I enjoy reading and learning from.  Nancy's Point  is one of the first blogs I started reading regularly. I have appreciated her candid posts about many different aspects of breast cancer, grief, and other varied topics. I encourage you to check out her blog. Whether or not you have had breast cancer yourself, it's a sure bet she will give you something to think about. Thank you Nancy! She gave me something to think about and then write about with her recent Summer Blogging Challenge . It may end up leading to more than one post here, but we'll start with these two questions: 1. How long have you been blogging?   I started blogging in late March of 2012. It is hard to believe it has been well over six years since then. It was a real leap of faith for me when I started, after months of ponderin

Humility, On the Run

Today I am grateful for morning quiet after a restful night, a good run yesterday, and the anniversary of my last drunk today. Humility and gratitude go hand in hand. Humility to me means knowing and remembering my place in the world. I am neither more than or less than, I am. Living gratefully is a good daily reminder of this place called the present. The half-marathon Darcy and I ran yesterday presented opportunities to delve into this idea of humility: *Striking up a conversation with a fellow runner through some of the early and middle miles of the race. She was running for a young man in his twenties who died of an enlarged heart earlier this year. I spoke to her of my sister Mary Jo's cancer and how a walk around the block for her on a post-chemo day is as meaningful as our 13 miles. I was able to watch this woman finish for her friend. *A woman and her son who I kept seeing at various places along the route. They were cheering on someone in my vicinity. We got to jok

Whiskey Plates and a Vise Grip Message

Today I am grateful for a nice lunch with my friend Julie and fresh garden produce from my friend Judy. They are connections through my job and I appreciate them both. On my way to work yesterday I was following a car with "whiskey plates." Minnesota law requires drivers with DWI-related offenses to have these plates on their vehicle, usually for a year. They got dubbed "whiskey plates" because they start with the letter "W." They are white plates with black letters and numbers, so they are easier to spot. I am sure there are times I miss such plates on a vehicle I am following, but yesterday I first noticed the aggressive nature of the driver before I noticed the plates. Was there a connection? Maybe, maybe not.  But there was a connection to gratitude for me. I never got a DWI, though I could have. I could have killed someone else or myself, but I am here today. I was given another chance many times. I try not to take that for granted. I still fear

The little things?

Today I am grateful for the sunlight welcoming a new day and for fresh, sweet peaches to enjoy. Chew on these words today: "The little things? The little moments? They aren't little."  Jon Kabat-Zinn Kabat-Zinn is a leader in the mindfulness movement, specifically Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) which he helped pioneer in the 1980's. The little things and little moments enjoyed since I digested Kabat-Zinn's words yesterday: -birdsong -cool air to refresh warm skin -the sound of water flowing -a good idea coming to mind -eating sweet raspberries and oatmeal -music and lyrics of a song lifting me up -soothing decor in buildings where we go for appointments -when brief but unpleasant medical procedures are over -breathing and strides coming together nicely on a run -the moon's beautiful color in the early morning sky, just a sliver but brilliant nonetheless -the sun's equally beautiful and brilliant color as it rose

Sing a Song

Today I am grateful for my job and the variety each day brings. I am also grateful for a cool morning and some time to sit and enjoy it outdoors. Sing a song. I enjoy singing songs I like, but not around anyone else. I wouldn't want to subject them to that. When I am driving solo, or home alone, I have been known to belt out some good stuff. Haven't we all?  If you haven't, you should try it. It's liberating. I can't help myself. Some songs, and the accompanying emotional energy, just seem to require singing along. Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy" is one such song. It's good from start to finish and I have enjoyed it for the the 47 years it has been around. Here's the official video.   My favorite lines include " Peace, remember peace is how we make it. Here within your reach. If you're big enough to take it."  Big enough to take peace? One needs to be open and willing to find and receive peace. Amen to that! It do

What can I do?

Today I am grateful for genuine friends and genuine conversations. I am also grateful for the laughter heard among recovering people. Laughter is a beautiful sound among those who have known and know much pain. This is today's quote at "I wake up in the morning asking myself, what can I do today, how can I help the world today?" Julia Butterfly Hill  Julia Butterfly Hill is an environmental activist and author. I encourage you to read more about her. For today, I focus on her words above. I wish I woke up with this thought each day. Some days I do. Other days, I wake up, or come to from a night of menopause-induced disrupted sleep, and my brain has already hit the ground running before my feet even do.  And when that is the case, my thoughts are too often self-centered rather than considering how I can contribute to the wider world in the next hours. The good news is that a slow-down, a pause, an intentional moment of catching mysel

35 Years Ago This Month

Today I am grateful for safe travels, veterinary care, phone conversations. And I am especially grateful for an enjoyable visit with old friends. I really appreciated the opportunity to spend time with my friends Zoe and Deb this weekend, and the men in their lives. The occasion was Zoe’s daughter’s wedding. Congratulations and best wishes Brittany and Luke! Here are the three of us Saturday, at a beautiful outdoor venue on a beautiful day: Zoe, Deb, and I met 35 years ago this month, as freshmen at Waldorf College. We were softball teammates for two years, and roommates/neighbors on the same dorm floor our sophomore year. Waldorf was a junior college at the time, so we each went in different directions after those two years. Those were pivotal years in my life and in my drinking. Deb and Zoe both were the kind of genuine friends who shared their genuine concerns about my excessive drinking. I am forever grateful to each of them. There have been marriages, children, divor

A Slower Pace, In Real Time

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver and how he is part of our family. I am also grateful for movies that are predictable but still entertaining. As Darcy and I get set to head out for a long training run this morning, I am thinking about pace. Along Savannah’s waterfront on a sultry night last weekend, something became quite apparent to me. I walk fast. Sometimes too fast. What’s the hurry Lisa? Darcy and I were sitting down taking a break and suddenly I noticed that the people....individuals, couples, and groups, were moving past us at a pace unfamiliar to me and many of my Midwestern counterparts. A steady, but unhurried pace. A pace that stirred less heat and humidity up. I think it was more than the heat though. It was a real time lesson for me, the hurrier and scurrier. Our pace is a choice, though it can easily become habit too. The more acceptable pace in the South seems to be unhurried. Why push the pace when you don’t need to? Maybe it was the time of day. We slow dow

Just Observing, All Shapes and Sizes

Today I am grateful for a slower-paced morning to begin this day, and for the passing clouds that are also moving slowly past as I observe them. I like to think that my gratitude practice, my efforts to live gratefully, have made me a more keen observer of the world around me. And a more keen recipient of the gifts that come. On our recent trip, I noted these and other tidbits as I observed and took in my surroundings: -common courtesy is becoming more, I don’t really care to hear your loud phone conversation -we miss a lot when we aren’t looking...that video may pass the time, but people watching at an airport beats any video as far as I'm concerned -seeing clouds from above instead of below is pretty amazing -the uncertainty after a flight gets cancelled (it all worked out, but was a good reminder of what we do and do not control) -regardless of political leanings, seeing our nation’s capitol is always riveting -seeing the Pentagon and other sites on foo

20/20 and Sea to Shining Sea

Today I am grateful for safe travels for my family to various places, for a special anniversary trip, and for a washer and dryer to accommodate laundry needs from farm to beach. Darcy and I returned to Savannah to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We were married July 30, 1998, a few months after he proposed to me in Forsyth Park in historic Savannah. We always wanted to get back there, and it only took us twenty years. It was a wonderful trip and a great way to mark 20 years. How about 20 random memories and gratitudes to help mark our 20th: 1. Our first kiss, on the deck of my friend Terrie's house on West Lake Okoboji. Fittingly, across the lake from where we had met a few weeks prior. 2. Our first home together, in Sioux Falls. It was Darcy's, then it was ours, then we moved. But it holds the fond memories of our first weeks and months together. 3. Our first home in our current community. We lived there 5 years and that is where Sam was a baby, and now our c