Showing posts from October, 2018

Costume or Real Life?

Today I am grateful for the pause I took this morning to watch "A Grateful Day" "and listen to a couple of songs that bring me peace. I am also grateful for my sister Danita and the relationship we have today. Happy Birthday Danita! Do some special things to celebrate special you :-) Happy Halloween to those of you who take part in it. We'll save the history lessons and commentary on commercialism for some other time. Let's keep it light and have a little fun today. The school I work at really gets into this day and there will be plenty of fun and costumes. I got the idea for my "costume" a few weeks ago and ordered a couple things. It's a simple costume, but it fits me and what I am about. Here are the key pieces: A t-shirt and a button. Pause. Breathe. I will try to live this mindful moment today, moment by moment. I hope to share pauses and some deep breaths with students and staff too. Simple costume with a significant reminder.

A Cup of Coffee and Reaching Incrementally

Today I am grateful for prayer as a source of comfort and strength, and for the variety of prayers I have incorporated into my mindfulness and meditation practices. I am also grateful for a cup of coffee to enjoy this morning. Let's just say I have gotten pretty used to some daily grind to help me face the daily grind. Gratefulness abounds, even when considering a simple cup of coffee. Here's a short list of gratitudes regarding my basic, no frills, morning coffee: *clean and convenient water to get a pot of coffee started *money that allowed me to purchase coffee grown and packaged by others *the percolator we like to use and electricity to power it *a mug from a friend to remind me of recovery and letting go *working arms to reach that mug on a higher shelf in our kitchen Working arms. As I considered them today, I was reminded of the weeks post-mastectomy when that wasn't the case. Just after surgery, I couldn't lift my arms much at all. As I healed, had

"Last on the Grass"

Today I am grateful for family visitors over the weekend and a beautiful walk at dusk last evening with Darcy. Thank you to my brother Lee and his wife Terri for coming to visit and being here for Sam's team's playoff game on Saturday night. It was a win for us and we are on to the section final game Friday night!  It was also a historic game on the field that has been home to Raiders football for over eighty years. It was the last game played on the grass. It is being replaced with turf. I thought about that as I soaked and scrubbed Sam's dirty uniform yesterday morning. There's something I can appreciate about real dirt on a football uniform. And there's also something I won't miss next year. Todd Field at McNamara Stadium started out as a limestone quarry and city dump. Part of the stone walls and seating were constructed as a WPA project in the 1930's. There was even a tunnel under the busy nearby highway for years, allowing safety for those coming

"It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive"

Today I am grateful that my sister Mary Jo got good news and that Darcy and I enjoyed some relaxing time with a backyard fire yesterday afternoon. After a scan on Thursday, Mary Jo heard the results yesterday and they were hopeful. The chemo made more progress on the cancer. She is taking a break from IV chemo and going on oral chemo for three months. Infusion chemo tends to be tougher on the body and this will give her a break in ways. There truly is no treatment break though when you have metastatic cancer. It's just encouraging to hear better news and know that there is more time to enjoy and take in the best things about life: family, friends, the upcoming holidays, the little gifts in each day. An approach we can all benefit from. You are in our thoughts and prayers daily Mary Jo, Clay, and family. I am a long-time fan of the lyrics and music of Bruce Springsteen and even saw him in concert at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa back in the early nineties. It was a great show.

Gentle Reminders

Today I am grateful for my hearing and the soothing comfort of the typical sounds we hear. I am also grateful for my recovery from alcoholism, day by day. As I considered the gentle disciplines and practices of mindfulness and living gratefully, I received some gentle reminders of my priorities. My overall health and well-being start with my recovery from alcoholism. Without that, I stand to lose everything else. I do daily work for my daily disease, but when things get hectic and the pace harried, I may be going through the motions and not applying the emotional commitment. So as I drove to work yesterday morning, striving to be mindfully present, I noticed the car in front of me had "whiskey plates" on it. These are license plates that Minnesotans convicted of drunk driving may be required to use for a time. Good reminder to me to not take sobriety for granted. I was a drunk driver. I survived and also didn't cause accidents involving others. For this, I am truly

Persevere with Gentle Discipline

Today I am grateful for time to sit outside and for the comfort of warm clothing and hot coffee.  I am especially thinking of my sister Mary Jo this morning. She has a scan today and will learn soon what the cancer in her body has been doing, or hopefully not doing. Thinking of you, sending prayers and positive energy Mary Jo. Fear and worry grip me at times. I can only imagine how they hold you in a vise. It has been a very busy week so far at work and home, early mornings and long days. Lots of good things, but exhausting.  I am treating myself to some slower, more reflective time this morning. It was fitting when this showed up as today's "Word for the Day" at : "When we persevere with the help of a gentle discipline,  we slowly come to hear the still, small voice and to feel the delicate breeze,  and so to come to know the presence of Love." (Henri Nouwen) Busy weeks and facing fears are each about perseverance. The gent

It's All Fun and Games

Today I am grateful for supportive co-workers and for the teamwork that helped my husband Darcy, our son Sam and I complete a task last evening. I also appreciated the response that my poem for my father got yesterday after I posted it. That poem helped me process the 20th anniversary of his death. Writing always helps me move through and clarify my emotions, both positive and challenging ones. To read and see how my words touched others means so much to me. Several family members talked about Dad's love of cards. We grew up playing cards and watching the adults play whenever they got together. What a good way to pass the time and share some laughter. The laughter and fun has always outweighed the competitive nature some may have, at least in my memory. We played some 500 and euchre the other day, in Dad's memory. He wasn't usually too boisterous when it came to playing, but he sure enjoyed it. He loved to bid and get the blinds and take chances. He wasn't a big r

How can it be twenty years already?

Today I am grateful for the 74 years of life on earth that my father had, and that the family that meant so much to him is thriving and growing today. I am also grateful for a new day ahead. Sometimes all it takes is closing the book on one day, resting, and awakening to a new set of hours. It was twenty years ago today that Dad woke up for his last morning of life. How can it be twenty years already? It is hard for me to wrap my head around that. I remember this anniversary every year, but it has hit me harder this year in ways. Maybe because I see Mom, a widow for these last twenty years, declining and getting more ready to let go of this earthly existence. Here is a picture of Dad as a young man. The date of the photo isn't known, but we figure he was in his late teens or early twenties here. What was he thinking and dreaming?  It's nice to see him dressed up, which he would do when an occasion called for it. I remember him best though in his striped overalls, his

It Bears Repeating

Today I am grateful for safe travels to and from Iowa this weekend, the family time together, a scenic walk on Saturday morning and run on Sunday morning. Conversations with my mom anymore include plenty of repeats. As her memory continues to fade and dementia symptoms worsen, she repeats herself frequently and has phrases, questions, and fixations that we hear often. It is a lesson in acceptance and patience, and sad and humbling to witness.  There are other aspects of a visit to my family that I welcome repeating. Time on the farm during my favorite season. Seeing people I don't get to see often. Playing cards. Going for walks and out for coffee. Food shared. The chance to spend time together reminiscing, catching up, laughing, eating. Creating new memories.  Another opportunity I fully appreciate repeating is to go for a run on the neighbor’s land that borders my family’s farm. It is a beautiful area with trees, ponds, and roads suitable for safe running. I went for

A Running Gratitude List

Today I am grateful for the beautiful day we had in our area yesterday and for a couple of pleasant walks with my husband Darcy. I am also grateful for video footage of our grandson Aaron as he masters the art of walking. Across the miles, video can be easily shared and bring us these special moments. A running gratitude list. Am I referring to the ongoing gratefulness I seek to give attention to each day? Or am I talking about a gratitude list about one of my loves-running?  Both I guess. On a recent run, here are some of the things I added to my running gratitude list, whichever way you look at it: *seeing a squirrel do what squirrels will do, "squirreling away" some food *hearing the sound of leaves beneath my feet *smelling corn ripe for harvest and air crisp as it can only be in the fall *feeling the cool air on my face as I picked up my pace *tasting refreshing water when I got home Five senses experiencing a beautiful fall day. It was more than enough to he

A Song and A Perspective: "Love is Alive"

Today I am grateful for time to appreciate this morning's sunrise, time off from work, and some morning energy from our grandson Leo. I heard the song "Love is Alive" by Gary Wright the other day, that same morning I was feeling a bit disillusioned and ungrateful. The song is from the 1975 album  Dream Weaver . Listen to  "Love is Alive"  here. The title track is one of my all-time favorite songs. They are the only two songs from Gary Wright that I really know, but I certainly appreciate both. The song helped me stem the negative tide in my head and it has stuck with me over the last couple of days. Love is alive in my life; even when I block it, ignore it, miss it, forget it, counter it with my stinking thinking. It is alive and well. Alive and well. In the home I share with my husband Darcy, our son Sam, and our dog Oliver. The meals shared, the laundry washed and folded, the laughter, and sometimes the yelling and forgiving. In my extended family among

Precious Plank

Today I am grateful for a pause to become aware of my breathing in and breathing out, and for healthy lungs. I am also grateful for my friend Sheila and our genuine and lasting connection. Today is Sheila's birthday. Happy birthday my friend! Older and wiser. This quote caught my attention first because it is a Hungarian proverb. That reminded me of my friend Tibor who recently passed away. He was from Hungary. Then, the words sunk in: "When the bridge is gone, the narrowest plank becomes precious."  (Hungarian proverb) It's an analogy I relate to in many ways. A goal of living gratefully is to not take the sturdy bridges of my life for granted, to care for them so they stay in good shape and don't become rickety and unstable. Yesterday morning, tired and somewhat disillusioned by the prospect of the day ahead, I felt one of these bridges start to sway a little. Regular gratitude practice is good day in and day out, but sometimes it doesn't

Putting into Practice

Today I am grateful for the financial resources our family has and the various forms of insurance we are able to carry. I am also grateful for a visit with my friend and retired co-worker Julie. This quote from Peace Pilgrim at  gave me a reminder that we already have what we need, we simply can let it shine through: "It isn't more light we need, it's putting into practice what light we already have. When we do that, wonderful things will happen within  our lives and within our world." Peace Pilgrim walked, she kept it simple. She walked over 25,000 miles in a 28-year period. She carried only a comb and toothbrush, and she walked a peace pilgrimage, touching and inspiring many others. Read more about her life at Walking and sharing was her light. She let her light shine, opening the door for others to let theirs shine as well. She didn't block her own light, and she tried to not be an obstacle to other

Solitude in the Snow

Today I am grateful for the family time we enjoyed together this weekend and for an afternoon nap. After a school field trip and family visitors over the last few days, I was seeking the solitude of a run. As an introvert, time to myself helps replenish and nourish me. Yesterday morning I cleaned the house and took care of laundry, noticing that snow had started to fall. I had gotten to experience the first snowfall of the season on our school trip to northern Minnesota last week, but this was the first of the season here at home. By the time I got a few groceries and changed into my running attire, I was itching to run and looked forward to being out in the snow. Taking my favorite stretch of trail through a wooded area with a corn field alongside as well, my destination was one of the top spots for me in our community's network of trails... a high bridge over the Vermillion River, near the falls. Great view anytime, spectacular amid a flurry of snowflakes. (Pardon the pu

"Life is a Beautiful Ride"

Today I am grateful for family time this weekend and for the relaxing fire we gathered around last evening, smores included. I also appreciate being able to go to the celebration of life for my friend Tibor. I was worried I would miss all of it because of the school field trip I was on, but I was able to go yesterday to a gathering, pay my respects, offer sympathy to his family, and talk with others touched by this kind-hearted soul. Tibor liked to ride his motorcycle. There were pictures of him on his cycle and at events like Sturgis. And there was this phrase evident: "Life is a beautiful ride." That fit Tibor and the way he approached life. Always ready with a warm hug, a joke, and his deeply spiritual presence. "Life is a beautiful ride." Living gratefully allows me to see and experience more of that beauty. In things like pushing our little grandson Aaron in his stroller for a couple of walks yesterday. Or watching our other grandson Leo run around our b

MBC Awareness Day 2018

Today I am grateful for safe travels, a good experience overall, and beautiful natural surroundings for the school trip I helped chaperone. I am also grateful for my fellow chaperones, students and their energy, snow, and warm layers of clothing. Add to that this morning time with our family. My stepson Arthur, his wife Alyssa, and son Aaron are here visiting. This is treasured time because they live several hours away. We went to Sam's football game last night, a cold October evening perfect for football. Sam's team won and is now 6-1, enjoying the best season the school has had in years. Many blessings, new memories. cherished time. Always lurking though, not far from the forefront of my mind, is the specter of metastatic breast cancer. Today is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. I have written numerous posts about BC and it's advanced version-MBC. Cancer that stays in the breast is not deadly. But when it leaves the breast and spreads to other areas of the bod

2000 MM

Today I am grateful for recovery wisdom and laughter shared by others, and for this blog; what it teaches me and how it helps me grow. This blog and the writing I do here is about expressing gratitude and about living gratefully in each day. From the first foot on the ground getting out of bed in the morning, to being able to see road signs and markings as I drive. From having ears that hear the laughter of loved ones, to the range of emotions I am blessed to feel. Another milestone has been reached for this blogger. When I hit the "publish" button in a few minutes, it will be post #2000. I am amazed and humbled by this. One post at a time. One day at a time. I like the visual of 2000 below. Like an odometer racks up a mile at a time, a blogger adds a post at a time. Some posts have flowed freely, others were a struggle. Some have surprised me in their intensity. Others were more mundane. They have all mattered on this journey of living gratefully. There is no

Simple, Not Always Easy

Today I am grateful for the entertainment of the Middle School Cabaret at my school on Saturday evening and for the bike ride Darcy and I enjoyed yesterday, amid the growing spectacle of fall color. Life, when trimmed back to basic needs, is simple. If we have food, water, shelter, contact with other humans and nature, we pretty much have what we need. For some, attaining these basic necessities is not an easy endeavor. They walk miles to gather water of questionable cleanliness. They rebuild a fragile shack after a hurricane or an earthquake toppled it. And for some, like me, fully appreciating the basic necessities is not an easy endeavor. I tend to take them for granted because I have pretty much always had them.  Living gratefully, pausing to notice, helps me come back to this clarity. I have all that I need and much more. I have so many blessings. To honor them, the best I can do is take good care of it all and pass on to others what I can. This passing on isn't just a

Something Marvelous

Today I am grateful for time to sit outside to begin my day, and for the coming daylight as I compose this post. I am posting for the second time today, something I rarely do. I am a creature of habit, but it feels good to step beyond the usual. Just like it felt good to step outside for the first time this morning when I took our dog Oliver for a walk earlier. We are now in the midst of my favorite season of the year. I love fall. I always have. The refreshing feel of cooler and drier air. The comfort of warm layers, and hats and gloves when needed. The smell of fallen leaves, and the sound they make as they rustle in the breeze. The colors that dot the landscape only at this time of the year. A walk with my sisters and a run with my husband yesterday were chances to be out in the day, in the fresh air. I crave the outdoors daily, and I honor that craving. It's a healthy one and I plan to keep feeding it. I appreciate experiencing nature through my five senses, all in good

Connections and Disconnections

Today I am grateful for being disconnected to one thing allowing me to connect to other things differently. I am also grateful for comfortable shoes. I am very appreciative this morning as well of my sisters Ruth and Zita and their visit Friday into Saturday. They drove up in time to see Sam's football game and despite some persistent mist, we enjoyed the game and watched them attain their fifth victory of the season. I am grateful our nephew Carson, Zita's son, could make it too and that we got to meet his girlfriend Megan for the first time. Zita, Ruth, and I have traveled many miles over the years to take in the various activities and events in our children's lives. It is one of the many ways we stay connected. Thanks for coming and I am grateful you had safe travels. The game was an away game at a school near the school I work at, so we also brought Zita and Ruth there to check it out. I have worked there for 18 years and it was the first time family besides my im

Passing Storms

Today I am grateful for cereal and milk, and for electricity. Yesterday was unusually warm and humid for early October. It was nearly 80 degrees and the moisture was thick in the air. I was ready to be done with this kind of weather weeks ago. Thankfully, it didn't last long. It did spark some storms that blew in quickly and blew out just as quickly. The wind came up and the temperatures plummeted in a hurry. By nightfall, it was already in the upper 50's, and by this morning it was in the upper 30's.  That amounted to a 40-degree drop in about 12 hours. We are used to varied and shifting weather in these parts, but this was a more extreme change than usual. The storm did some damage to tree limbs and made a mess of leaves, but nothing serious. Passing storms. Key word "passing." This too shall pass. Whatever "this" is, life fluctuates and flows. Key word "storms." Our lives will all have some. Some will come and go quickly, for other

Better Way, Just About

Today I am grateful for shoes, shoelaces, and fingers nimble enough to tie shoes and do other important tasks, like typing today's post. It's a week and a half out from our marathon. I am somewhat rested. I have returned to running and considering my next goal. It's a good time to revisit some other moments from the Fox Cities Marathon experience. I appreciated the enthusiastic cheer squad at Mile 9.  Who am I cheering for today? Who is cheering for me? I always have a cheerleader in my Higher Power/Great Spirit. Street names like "Just About Lane" and "Better Way" reminded me to consider this:  "Just about" means keep moving, the next spot you need to reach is just ahead. That is enough. The "better way" is living gratefully, focusing on what I do have, not continuously striving for more and missing the moments that matter. Another street name around Mile 12 was "Roger Street."  I thought of my brother-in-law Roger,

Stain Removers

Today I am grateful for working and reliable vehicles, and for moments in time that remind us of the precious and fragile nature of life. The other morning I soaked Sam's dirty football uniform, stained with dirt and grass. I have done this numerous times over the years, with baseball uniforms too. Sometimes it feels a little tedious, but I am usually happy with the results.And I pause to appreciate my son's healthy involvement in activities he enjoys. Add stain remover, soak, scrub. Repeat. Then throw in the washer and let automation take over the job. It occurred to me the other day that after years of doing this, the times are getting fewer. Not only because Sam is already a junior in high school, but also because our home field will be turf next year, as are many high school football fields already. Less dirt and grass, less soaking and scrubbing. I am grateful for indoor plumbing, hot water, a sink, and stain remover I can purchase. What about the stains on our hea

Keep Living the Gifts . . .

Today I am grateful for daily recovery from a daily disease, time at the park with our grandson Leo, and a weekend that felt like a weekend. It still went too fast, but it was rejuvenating. I am also grateful for my husband Darcy's support of my recovery and for his sermon yesterday at church, reminding us all to choose our words and actions carefully and kindly. I was in conversation with some other recovery folks the other day and we were talking about not taking sobriety and recovery for granted. They truly are tremendous gifts and so many other blessings in our lives stem from them. Keep living the gifts of . . . -today -sobriety and recovery -the present moment -health -supportive relationships -growing spirituality -strengthened families -self-acceptance -service to others There's nothing like a few recovering alcoholics talking about how grateful they are to have survived their drinking days and the days since. Gut-wrenching drinking stories and gut-wren