Showing posts from November, 2018

A Thank You for My Feet

Today I am grateful for the listeners in my life, their patience and acceptance. I am also grateful for snow to brighten the drab landscape of late fall. And I am grateful for my feet, taken for granted regularly by me and the rest of my body. Two feet. Ten toes. Two heels. Two arches. One bunion. They aren't pretty or perfect either, but they sure are handy for many of life's activities. Kicking up fresh snow in playful fashion in the early morning. Shoveling some of that same snow. Applying the brakes and accelerator in my car. Stability and balance. Helping scoot my office chair in and out. A thank you for my feet today. Heading into my day, one step at a time.

A Ring at a Time

Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy's safe travels on a recent business trip and for snow boots and snow shovels. One way to approach gratefulness is to look for it in activities that we do regularly. Giving thanks for teeth, toothpaste, and running water while we brush our teeth. Giving thanks for the washer and dryer, loved ones, and electricity while we fold the family's laundry. One of the things I do pretty much every day is put on my rings and take them off. All six of them. I am grateful for each of my fingers and for each of the rings and their meaning. Four are gifts from my husband. I never wore rings until Darcy proposed to me when I was 32. My rings include my engagement/wedding ring and two other diamonds. One is a chocolate diamond for a girl who loves chocolate. The other symbolizes family in more ways than one. There is a Black Hills gold ring from Darcy, a native South Dakotan, also signifying 10 years of recovery. Another ring was acquired for $1

Pause. Linger. Dawdle. Tarry.

Today I am grateful for the ability to get in and out of bed by myself, and for those who helped bring the milk I put on my cereal this morning to me. The word tarry has stuck on my mind the last couple of days. Living gratefully has to be intentional for me, and requires actions and thoughts that foster gratefulness. It is not drudgery though. Far from it. So I paused, lingered, dawdled, tarried, and created this list of appreciation: -shadows and light playing together -a bite of pizza -a large American flag waving in a moderate breeze -my feet on the ground, firm and stable -lingering over making my lunch and the conveniences that helped -pausing to appreciate what trust looks and feels like -a sip of coffee sweetened with a little almond milk -the beautiful sparkles created by streetlights, moonlight, and frost on leaves -sitting down and feeling relief for tired feet -a pleasant and lengthier-than-usual phone conversation with my sister -dawdling in a stretch pose

It Keeps You Runnin'

Today I am grateful for several ways to connect with loved ones across the miles. And for reminders that the person who gets in my way the most is me. I am a music lover and it's not unusual for a song to come to mind for one reason or another. The other day, on my 4th run in 4 days, it was the Doobie Brothers' song It Keeps You Runnin'.   I exercise for many reasons, and this weekend one reason was to try to keep pace with my eating. The eating won, but I still got my usual rewards--endorphins, a clearer head, a body thanking me in more ways than one, writing ideas, and that overall good feeling post-workout. I sang the refrain a few times as I made my way through my hour of one stride at a time. Then, yesterday it came on the radio on my commute to work. It   is from 1976 and was written by Michael McDonald. It is also, fittingly, part of the Forrest Gump movie soundtrack. If you listen to more than the refrain, it seems that it is also about someone running from th

Tarry a Little

Today I am grateful for electricity and lights that help me see my way around in the dark hours of the day. I am also grateful for my ability to read and the people who first taught me how. As I go back to work after a holiday and a few days off, heading into the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas that can be busier than usual, these words are welcome: "All this hurrying soon will be over. Only when we tarry do we touch the holy." (Rainer Maria Rilke) Actually, I am not one to get too caught up in all of the holiday hustle and bustle, or at least the parts that tend to stress people out. I enjoy some aspects of the season and make time for them. Doing some holiday baking with family recipes. Writing my annual holiday letter and getting it sent out via snail mail. Sitting in the warm glow of holiday lights and our tree. We keep gifts reasonable in both volume and cost. We try not to over-schedule ourselves and we try to keep our priorities straight. Like any

Sharing Gratitude Via Shared A-Z Lists

Today I am grateful for our local community and the downtown holiday events we have enjoyed the last few days. I am also grateful for the power in gratefulness shared among family and friends. In advance of Thanksgiving Day, two recovery friends and I were working our way through a shared A-Z list, thanks to a social media platform called Marco Polo. I started with the first letters of the alphabet, and then we each took turns until we had worked our way to Z. Being busy with the holiday and our own families, it took us a few days of back and forth. We laughed and smiled, we got all serious at times. Wisdom and hope were shared. We grew some gratefulness and continued our already-strong connections, these two friends and I. Good, quality fun and simply profound. I decided to branch out and do some more A-Z lists with others in recovery too, using texting as the avenue. I added in-person A-Z lists with my son Sam and then my husband Darcy, each time as we were going for a short ca

Giving Thanks for a Pleasant Day of Thanks

Today I am grateful for time off from work and the respite in that. I am also grateful for time on our front patio to start this day, chilly but enjoyable. It seems fitting to follow-up Thanksgiving Day with a gratitude list about it. Here goes. I am grateful for: -being able to run in our local "Gobble Gait" and help raise money for a good cause -the community we live in and the spirit of giving that is evident here -the ability to run and push myself, arms, legs, lungs, to a faster finishing time than last year -time with our grandson Leo and his mom Emily and being able to FaceTime with our other grandson         Aaron and his parents Arthur and Alyssa -Leo's pleasure in riding his bike around in circles in our garage, and then he and I playing a little         indoor baseball too -a delicious meal that all 5 of us helped prepare, but mostly Darcy, and that his turkey and gravy both         turned out very well -an evening walk with Darcy after a heavy m

Life Changing, Changing Lives

Today I am grateful for the bike ride Darcy and I were able to take and enjoy yesterday, despite the cold, clouds, snowflakes, hills. It was all those and sore body parts that made us appreciate it all the more. I am also grateful for the song "Kind and Generous" by Natalie Merchant, a fitting listen for today. Happy Thanksgiving fellow Americans! Happy day of giving thanks. That's a message for more than one day in more than one country. It makes more of a difference when it is an everyday effort on each day. Or at least an occasional effort on some days here and there. Please don’t wait until November or Thanksgiving Day. A life changing opportunity is lost in the waiting and resisting. Some days the practice may seem mundane. And on other days, the impact will be profound and the realization will be genuine. Today is a gift. The presents in the present are anything but minor. It’s beyond saying thank you to others who help us, or expressing gratitude for the thin

Love or hate? Gratitude or self-pity?

Today I am grateful for recliner time this morning, a walk with Darcy last evening, and for electricity which makes it so much easier to do so many things. A few days ago some recovery friends and I were talking about gratitude. It's a regular topic this time of the year, but also throughout the year. We were also talking about control issues. All people have some control issues. It's human nature. They are a slippery slope for people in recovery though, and can lead us back to drinking if we aren't careful. I control my attitude and actions, my own input and output. I don't control you or the outcomes. So I should spend my energy focusing on my own effort and attitude. I have a choice each day, each hour. Healthy thoughts and actions and seeking guidance from a trusted Great Spirit and trusted friends and family. The last year has brought new challenges. Being in my fifties has brought new challenges. These call for new levels of acceptance, tolerance, love. I

What if the world does tilt?

Today I am grateful for the glow of holiday lights in our home and sitting here enjoying them for a few moments with my husband Darcy and our grandson Leo. I am also grateful for my eyesight. Yesterday's post was about not taking things for granted, bowing before the mystery of the abundance we are graced to receive. But some days are the tough ones in our lives. Losses happen.           What if the world does tilt?                What good is living gratefully then?                     Does that negate the mystery of life? What good is living gratefully when the losses come? It allows moving through the loss with some dignity. It brings energy when we feel totally depleted by what life has handed us. It honors whoever or whatever was lost by acknowledging that they made a difference. Does loss negate the mystery of life? I believe it strengthens it, reminding us how precious and fragile life is. We don't tend to go looking for losses, but no one is immune to them.

Bow Before the Mystery

Today I am grateful for a replenishing weekend and being able to have phone conversations with all seven of my sisters over the weekend too. I am also grateful for sunshine and a good run yesterday. I practice gratitude daily, but this time of the year I read and hear more about it. People are discussing it and showing it. Any practice and expression of gratitude is better than none, but to limit it to a month or a day is unfortunate. It would be like exercising a day or a month a year. The benefits wouldn't amount to much. I know that I am not typical in my approach to this idea of gratitude, living gratefully. I also know that I am motivated and inspired to bring the idea of regular gratitude practice to those around me and those I can reach through other avenues such as this blog. One place to start this idea of mindful gratitude is to focus on what we haven't lost. We spend too much time and energy focusing on what we think we need or want, and end up overlooking what

Another Room, Another Ten

Today I am grateful for family time together last evening, a couple of short naps yesterday, phone conversations with several of my siblings and my mom, and the enjoyable show "Newsies" put on by a very talented group of cast, crew and directors at my school. Friday's post about ten things to be grateful for in a room in our home resonated with others. It was still on my mind yesterday morning when I set out to exercise indoors after a light snowfall kept me from heading outdoors for fear of icy conditions. So here's another ten for another room in our house--our laundry/exercise room: 1. The water heater and the comfort of a warm shower. 2. The boiler that helps heat our house on cold days. 3. The washer that cleans smelly workout clothes. 4. The dryer that makes the ironing board (also in this room) mostly unnecessary. 5. Racks and hangers to put clothes on for drying, saving energy, and helping clothes last longer. 6. The free Nordic Track I acquired yea

In this room . . .

Today I am grateful for the warm and stable house we live in, how we have made it into a home for our family, and for the tangible items of convenience and comfort here. Here's an easy gratitude practice to try. Step into a room in your home, pause, look around, use your 10 fingers to go through a gratitude list of things you appreciate in and about that room. Here's mine as I sit in our family room: -the family pictures that surround me -pictures of our dog Oliver and his actual presence on the floor near me -this computer and a good WiFi connection -the headphones that help me appreciate a good listen -my gratitude journal which has a place in this space when not in use -recovery books for reading and referencing -a comfortable recliner and couch I can enjoy -the TV that brings me football games and shows like "Mom" -morning peace and quiet I take time for in this room in particular -writing and writing inspiration that transpire in the chair I am sit

An Ongoing Challenge

Today I am grateful for pictures of people, now deceased, who have made a difference in my life. The pictures bring back the fondness and the connections. I am also grateful for our local garbage haulers. Consider this quote: "When we are no longer able to change a situation,  we are challenged to  change ourselves." (Viktor Frankl) Frankl couldn't change that he was a prisoner in WWII concentration camps. Deplorable conditions, constant fear and hunger, no escape but likely death. I have faced nothing near this level of challenge. Yet, we all face difficulties and it isn't a contest. Being human is a real series of trials and tribulation, a journey of joys and awe. There is little I can actually change. I often forget that and have to be reminded by several slaps from the hard knocks of life. But the little I can change makes all the difference. My effort, attitude, and actions. I have many ways each day, through proper focus of effort, an attitud

Running Mindlessly

Today I am grateful for clarity in my priorities and for time to converse with my husband Darcy this morning. I usually consider running to be a mindfulness activity. A time of moving meditation, reflection, writing inspiration. I needed to reconsider this idea on a recent run though. I was enjoying the exercise and fresh air, but my mind was racing from one thing to another. Another idea for a blog post. The plans for the day ahead. Work remnants and reminders. People on my mind for a variety of reasons and concerns. My runs save me because they help me clear my head of at least some of the clutter, but . . . It became more about a full mind than mindfulness. I was forgetting to just be in the moment, in the run. I wasn't fully taking in the present, the next stride and breath. Immersed in thought rather than my amazing feet, knees, lungs, heart. Watching the stretch of sidewalk or trail in front of me. Tuning in to sights, sounds, smells that I may otherwise miss. Emptying

The Blessings of Freedom

Today I am grateful for warm clothes on cold mornings and for kind gestures from my son Sam (helping make dinner) and husband Darcy (a head massage) after an exhausting work day yesterday. In honor of the celebration of Veteran's Day, I took time to consider some of the many blessings of freedom that I enjoy. Freedom others fought for, died for, and continue to protect today. Freedom is not a given. Many do not experience it to the degree that I get to. Some really never know it. With these freedoms come rights, and with rights come responsibilities. Let us not forget that. Here are some blessings of freedom I can list: -having the right to vote and being able to feel safe in going to our local polling place -traveling freely in my community, metro area, state, and country -being a woman with equal opportunities as men -feeling safe enough to go outside and enjoy nature -not having to worry about stepping on landmines -not fearing family members will be taken from me b

A Sunrise Over Sioux Falls

Today I am grateful for safe travels this weekend and a nice visit with Darcy's family. I am also grateful for mobility,  exercise, and sweat. A special thank you today to all veterans, past and present. I too often take your dedication and sacrifice for granted. I will strive to honor the blessings of freedom today. Sioux Falls has a special place in my heart and always will. It is where Darcy and I got married and lived for the first couple years of married life. We enjoy going back to visit his family, our long runs on the trail system, and many shopping and eating options. In the 18 years since we moved, we have also seen a lot of new growth and construction in Sioux Falls. It always amazes us at how quickly areas that were farm fields are now developed. That has pros and cons, but I will save that discussion for another time. I took a run Saturday, on a brisk morning with the wind chill near zero. I was given the opportunity to take in the sunrise on the edge of an e

Validated and Affirmed

Today I am grateful for the poems of Rumi and for warm milk on cereal. Yes, warm milk. In recent days I have had the blessing to have my living gratefully practices affirmed and validated by four different co-workers on four different occasions. Two of them were within minutes of each other. Validated. Affirmed. Genuinely. I need no further proof that living gratefully makes all the difference in my life. It has been proven over and over in these last two decades, in significant and minor ways. What I could use more of is ongoing inspiration to take this practice to a newer level, to keep seeking growth, and sharing insights. My co-workers each did me a big favor in their brief interaction with me. They let me know that my efforts to live gratefully have also impacted them, reminded them, inspired them. They shared their energy with me, the energy that living gratefully creates. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Validated. Affirmed. Inspired. Enthused. I will be taking a blog

"Fortune favors the bold."

Today I am grateful for a comfortable bed in which to rest, and for the pictures we have around our home, reminding me of the loved ones I cherish. "Fortune favors the bold"  This is another quote from Bohemian Rhapsody. Jim Beach, the band's manager, said it in a conversation among band members and promoters. Beach is a lawyer, turned rock band manager, and still manages Queen today. When we hear the word fortune, we may first think financial. Maybe that is what Beach meant, maybe not. I have a feeling he was talking about a wider sort of fortune, not just the financial kind. Consider the fortune that comes from living gratefully. Awe and wonder. Peace and serenity. Compassion and connection. Deepening faith and spirituality.  Energy and enthusiasm for life. It takes bold courage to just get out of bed and face a new set of hours some days. It takes boldness to look in the face of all the disillusioning negativity in the world and say "gratefulness wins w

Short on time, not gratitude

Today I am grateful for the feeling I have today about being a voting citizen and for the tasty combination of peanut butter and bananas. I am short on time this morning, but not on gratitude, so here's little start on that gratitude: Today I am grateful for: -the crisp morning air and breathing it in to connect me with nature and my Higher Power -the same can be said for seeing the light snow cover this morning -consistently working WiFi -a laugh with my husband Darcy -election results that I can appreciate -being able to greet my son Sam and wish him a good day -our dog Oliver There it is. A start on today's gratitude. Onward!

Waking Up and Awake

Today I am grateful for the democratic process I get to participate in today, and for the nice season-ending football banquet we enjoyed last evening. The other day, in conversation with some recovering friends, one was talking about waking up and another brought up the word awake. Thank you for two valuable reminders. Waking up is a source of gratitude in and of itself. Not everyone gets another day. Waking up with a day ahead, full of opportunity and awe, is a gift. Will I cherish it or spoil it? There is awake, and there is AWAKE. Am I fully awake and fully alive? That takes practice and pausing. It continues to be a work in progress in my life. Today is Election Day in the United States. Am I fully awake to the gifts our democracy brings? Am I fully awake to my responsibility as a citizen in a democratic system? I plan to vote. I plan to stay AWAKE today. How about you?

The Story and the Music of Queen

Today I am grateful for the daily opportunities I have to expand my recovery from alcoholism and my spiritual growth. I am also grateful for the people in recovery who share their wisdom and hope with me. Now, back to the movie we saw Saturday night. Darcy and I saw previews for  Bohemian Rhapsody this summer and knew it was one we would want to see. We grew up enjoying the music of Queen. We knew if nothing else we would enjoy the music. We got much more than great music though. It follows the band from their early days through their incredible performance at Live Aid in 1985. There is literally so much behind the music that we never know, and in being shown it we have a deeper connection to the music and the musicians. Freddie Mercury is the central figure, but I felt the movie did a good job of highlighting all band members, their relationships with one another, and those who supported them along the way. There were many lines in the movie that were poignant, humorous, fitting

20 Smiles

Today I am grateful for a good run yesterday morning and a pleasant day of yard work, a few errands, followed by a movie. More on the movie tomorrow. On one of my errands, a woman in front of me at the checkout was talking to the cashier and as they wrapped up she said something friendly like "have a good day and keep smiling."  She went on to tell us that her goal is to get twenty people to smile each day. The cashier and I both smiled and I said "Well, you just got two right here." She walked out and headed into the rest of her day. What a nice goal. What a simple way to make a difference. I finished my other errands, spreading some smiles on the way. Sincere smiles are easy, effective, a win-win. And they are universal. Regardless of the language we speak, the color of our skin, our religious affiliation, where we live on this planet; we all understand the meaning of and emotions that come with a smile. Our increasingly divided, less tolerant, and more judg

More than just a towel . . .

Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver and the morning walks he and I take together. I am also grateful for the variety of towels I have at my disposal. I was folding some laundry a little earlier and realized that towels would be a good topic for today's post. There are many reasons why and here are just a few: *we have hand, dish, bath, and paper towels that we use daily *a washer and dryer to get the cloth ones clean and fresh *not to mention indoor plumbing and detergent *garbage bags and garbage haulers to take away the paper towels *we have hot water to enjoy a shower before using a bath towel *I have hands and fingers that work, so I can dirty them and need a towel *when we wear out the towels we have, we have money to get more Pretty much any random item in our home could become the topic of a gratitude list. This one today also helped take my mind off of some thoughts that had already gotten enough of my energy. Add that to the list. A special shout out to

There's Today and There's Three Years Gone

Today I am grateful for the nice Halloween evening Darcy and I shared, the lovely weather, and a nice downtown event in our community. I feel tired this morning, from a lack of sleep and from a draining time at work. This is when I can find it harder to live gratefully, and when I most need the positive energy and healthy perspective it brings me. So I appreciate the habits I have that help me move through such times. And I return to what matters most. It's not my job. It's my family and friends, faith and recovery, running and writing. Today is the third anniversary of the death of my brother-in-law Roger, from early onset Lewy body dementia. My sister Danita, his wife, celebrated her birthday yesterday and marks this sad anniversary today. New babies are on the way in our family. My mom has advancing dementia. My sister Mary Jo has advanced cancer. This is how life goes. Read more about Roger and the precious and fragile nature of life in these two posts: A Wide Em