Showing posts from March, 2019

Loose Garments

Today I am grateful for the beauty of the waning crescent moon in the early morning sky and for some recliner time to start my day viewing the sunrise. Yesterday I mentioned the wisdom others in recovery share with me. One of those pieces of wisdom recently shared was the line about "wearing the world as a loose garment."  A little research yielded that the full phrase is "Wear the world as a loose garment, which touches us in a few places and there lightly." It is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Don't hang on too tightly. Don't try too hard. More acceptance. Fewer expectations. Let go of what I can't control; most everything besides my own attitude and actions. Embrace vulnerability and spirituality. Let go some more. Be open to humility and grace. Continue accepting more and expecting less. Lighten up. Unburden. Stop beating the heck out of yourself. Cease the relentless overdoing and overthinking. Those are the typical thoughts, and good

The Honesty of Recovering People

Living gratefully today, I realize the tremendous wisdom and grace that is shared with me by others in recovery from alcoholism. After several days immersed in the impact of cancer, it was important for me to sit with some of my friends in recovery and be reminded of the priority it needs to be in my life. Daily work for a daily disease. Cancer and alcoholism have left their mark on me and many others. Yet, I don't consider myself a victim of either. They are two of the cards I was dealt, and are inexorably woven into the fabric of my life's experience. I didn't ask for or welcome either, but accepting them as part of my reality has been and continues to be necessary. One of my friends mentioned being a "recovering perfectionist." Most alcoholics and addicts I know struggle with perfectionism in one form or another.  In our active drinking, it always provided excuses and self-loathing that we sought to soothe with alcohol. In recovery, it can have us spinnin

Sorting and Blooming

Today I am grateful for the safe travels my sister Zita and I had to and from Colorado and for the meaningful and enjoyable time we had there with family. My sisters Mary Jo, Danita, and Ann live there and we were able to see our three nieces and our nephew and extended family as well. Mary Jo's metastatic breast cancer did not respond to the most recent treatment regimen. Of the three used since her diagnosis of MBC a year ago, only one slowed the cancer. That was IV chemo and it was the toughest on her and her body. Her options are running out and the disease is progressing. It sucks. It's hard to witness. There is bone pain, nausea, extreme fatigue, a raspy cough. The ravages of cancer are not pretty. And yet we laughed, we shared memories, we saw new things. We had some nitty-gritty conversations on some nitty-gritty topics that come up when a loved one is faced with a terminal illness. We reminisced. We ate too much. We walked. But Mary Jo didn't eat much becau


Today I am grateful for my job and also the imminent break from it. I am grateful for the words and music of songs that bring meaningful emotions and thoughts of others. Vulnerability. That's a loaded word and often misunderstood. It can refer to in a levee vulnerable to breaking, or a military's front line about to surrender. But it can also refer to strength of the best kind. The kind that allows us to reveal our true selves and genuine nature, making it safe for others to do the same. Vulnerability is part of the human condition, to be acknowledged and validated more than ignored and denied. Sources of vulnerability in my life include my own cancer diagnosis and the diagnoses of my sisters and others I care about. And the disease of alcoholism I wake up with each day, which can be arrested but not cured. Marriage and motherhood certainly make me vulnerable. The relationships I have with family and friends, at both their solid and their messy times, expose

Revealed and Redeemed

Living gratefully, I am noticing the comforting sounds of morning. Coffee brewing. Our dog Oliver eating. The quiet. I went for a run yesterday afternoon, along roads and sidewalks more clear than they have been in many weeks. Garbage, small debris, rock and sand that have been revealed in the recent melting became more noticeable to me as I watched my step in sloppy areas. The flow of water down streets and into storm sewers, through ditches and across fields, also caught my attention, as did these thoughts: We all have debris and garbage that is revealed in the seasons of our lives. Regrets. Remorse. Resentments. Dim and dark experiences and times. Spring rains clean things up, as do the street sweepers and the volunteers. There is redemption that plays out in the natural environment. How is redemption revealed in our individual human environments? Forgiveness. Transformation. Grace. Vulnerability. Vulnerability. On my spiritual path, and in the most significant growth pe

More Will Be Revealed

Today I am grateful for the arrival of spring and more daylight. I am also grateful for electricity and the ease of making a pot of coffee to share. As the snow and ice have been receding in recent days, more of the roadways, trails, sidewalks, and open spaces are being revealed. We see earth and dirt and last year's grass and leaves. More will be revealed and then this year's new grass and leaves will spring forth. More will be revealed. That phrase also captures my spiritual life. It has endless potential for new growth and deepening. If I have an open mind and heart, more will be revealed to help guide me, to remind me that I am never alone, that I don't have to "figure it out." I just need to live, a moment at a time, a day at a time, striving to pay attention and do the next right thing. Striving to add to the positive stream of life, to help, not hinder. Like the snow and ice recede to reveal the ever-changing landscape, as my ego and resistance rece

"God with skin on."

Living gratefully, I notice the presence of a Great Spirit in my own spiritual practices and in the faces and faith of others. The daily work I try to do for my daily disease of alcoholism is made "easier" because of the people who share their recovery wisdom and grace with me, who share their laughter and their tears with me. I see both their joy and pain in their faces and hear it in their voices. It is such humble grace and a true gift to know people on this level, on this common ground of addiction and recovery, of hope and new beginnings. My growth as a human with an increasing understanding of humility, in the good sense, are keys to knowing some peace and serenity in my days. I am my worst enemy, my biggest obstacle. Always have been and probably always will be. Call it ego, call it self-centeredness. Call it what it is-forgetting to seek the support of a Higher Power. I like the line "I need God with skin on." That is what I have among my recovery fr

The Joy in Stairs and Brooms

Today I am grateful for the family time we shared this weekend and especially for time with both of our grandsons Aaron and Leo. I included a picture of Leo in a recent post. Here is our younger grandson Aaron. He is almost 19 months old and is a little guy on the move. He had fun both indoors and out, with two-legged animals and a four-legged one too. He particularly liked his many trips up and the down the stairs in our multi-level house, with an adult always in close proximity. His stairs skills don't quite match his speed and enthusiasm just yet. Most of all, he enjoyed getting his hands on some of our brooms. Pushing some around in the garage and pushing this one around our kitchen. What a look (and sound to match) of thrill and excitement each time he closed back in on that broom. It was fun to participate with him and also witness his joy. Pardon the pun, but our grandsons sweep us off our feet with reminders to find fun in the simple things and take time to


Today I am grateful for my siblings; seven sisters and five brothers. And I am grateful for socks. Socks. How often do I think about socks? Not very. Maybe briefly when I am putting them on and taking them off, or when they get wet, my feet are cold, or the too-frequent hole in the big toe develops. Otherwise, I pretty much take my drawer full of socks for granted. Socks are simple, colorful, short, long, thick, thin. In the part of the world I live in, with a few dollars, anyone can buy socks to pretty much fit any need they may have. I am most particular about my running socks, but I do appreciate any quality sock that also fits well. Then there are the feet to put the socks on, the legs to go with the feet. The upper body and arms, and a brain too, that allow me to move forward with my feet, socks or no socks. The simplicity of socks. The layers of gratefulness they evoke. I will be taking a blog break over the weekend. Have a good one!

4 Already!?

Living gratefully, I appreciate the journey that my husband Darcy and I are on as Papa and Gigi to our two grandsons, Leo and Aaron. Happy Birthday today Leo! Four years old already! Here are two pictures of Papa and Leo. The first is just hours after Leo was born. The second is last evening when we took the birthday boy out for dinner. It is such joy to be a grandparent and get to spend time with the boys when we are able. Leo is a talker and a little character. It's never a dull moment with him. I love his energy. We look forward to when we can get back outside regularly and play in the backyard or at the park. Or go for a bike ride. Both Leo and Aaron remind us of the gifts that family brings. And they remind us of what is important. Stay in the moment and be sure to play some each and every day! Have a special day Leo!

Sacred Mystery

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to share and discuss with others this idea and practice of living gratefully. Thank you to all who joined me at last evening's Rivertown Gratefulness Gathering. You made it meaningful and energizing. I also appreciate the following words from Michael Mahoney, which fit so nicely with how I am feeling and what I am thinking about this morning: "There are many things to be grateful "for" but, as I ripen with the seasons of life,  the many reasons blend into a sacred mystery. And, most deeply, I realize that living gratefully is its own blessing."  The words "ripen with the seasons of life" bring a smile. Ripening sounds more palatable than getting older. But either way, another day to live is a gift.  Sacred mystery. So much of life is a sacred mystery.  The word sacred if often heard in religious terms. The meaning here, to me, is spiritual and implies great respect and reverence for life and

The Tool of Gratitude

Living gratefully, I am feeling a gentle kindness and compassion toward myself that is sometimes lacking and limited. This allows me to better see opportunities to be kind and compassionate to others. Thank you to my sister Aileen for today's blog topic. She sent an email with "the tool of gratitude" in the subject line. She went on to share this wisdom --"like any tool, it doesn't work unless I pick it up" and then several things on her own gratitude list for the day. I appreciate both the impact of and the simplicity in this tool. So I picked it up and started this list of gratitudes: -knowing my way around our house in the dark, so I don't wake others -the others in my house-husband Darcy, son Sam, dog Oliver -then being able to easily switch on a lamp and light the way -giving thought to the rest of our family and looking forward to seeing them soon -this includes our two grandsons Leo and Aaron -and my stepchildren Emily and Arthur and Ar

Sincere, Active, and Constructive Hope

Today I am grateful for my siblings and the wisdom and grace they share with me. I am also grateful for my husband Darcy and our marriage. Living gratefully is not only an energizing endeavor, it is a hopeful one. Maria Popova provides these words on hope: "There is nothing more difficult yet more gratifying in our society  than living  with sincere, active, constructive  hope for the  human spirit." Hope is a choice. It is not an empty promise or glossing over of pain and difficulty. It is saying it is possible to move forward, to keep accepting. To acknowledge the difficulties and grief that come, and the joy and awe that can be recaptured. I think of my sister Mary Jo and her family each day. She has metastatic breast cancer. Today, she has a scan and a follow-up appointment later in the week. I am sending her energy and hope. I am sending the wider world hope too. My part is a small part of a larger whole, but it makes a difference. It helps me contribu

A Rabbit and a Connection

Living gratefully, I am noticing yet another winter wonderland and snowy trees no artist or photographer can fully capture. I may be tired of the snow, but not of the awe and beauty it can bring. I am also appreciating the recovery friends I have and how they help keep me grounded. Yesterday morning in the pre-dawn light, I noticed a rabbit near our house, trying to reach a low lying leaf on a bush. It got a nibble, paused, moved a little, paused again, and then hopped away. Just enough of a connection to remind me how we, this rabbit and I, are both part of our neighborhood and the larger world. Living things sharing space and some mutual respect. The snow has made it difficult for the rabbit to get around, and humans too. It is March now, so even with a significant blanket of snow, the rabbits are more active. They don't actually hibernate, but we tend to see less of them in the winter. They are like humans that way too. Rabbits like dawn and dusk and are out and about more

Harmony or Discord?

Today I am grateful for opportunities to discuss important topics like suicide prevention with students and parents. I am also grateful for the milder temperatures today. (At this point, anything nearing 32 degrees feels mild.) After writing yesterday's post, I continued to ponder the idea of being a composer, of creating the music and lyrics of our lives.  "Is there harmony or discord?" is a question to keep asking. It can refer to harmony or discord in my own heart and mind, in my relationships with others, in my participation as a human on the planet. I don't think of the specifics of music much, I just enjoy it. But I realized yesterday that music plays a note at a time. Don't rush it. Don't fast forward or put it on high speed, or the beauty of the music is lost. It gets all jumbled together, there's no clarity. The same is true of life, of the opportunities in each day. Allow the music to play out a note at a time. The tune will come together

Both Composition and Composer

Living gratefully in this moment, I laughed a little at myself and my supposed to-do list for the day. It brought me back to the present and savoring a sip of coffee and a bite of peanut butter and jelly on toast. A recent "Word for the Day" at  reads: "We are all at once both a composition and a composer.  We have the ability not only to compose the future of our own lives, but to help compose the future of everyone around us and the communities in which we live."  (Maya Angelou) The future is built in how we live the present. Is the way I am living my life creating some beautiful music or too much loud racket? I do plenty of writing, but not songs. The song of my life is being written a day at a time. How I choose to live today is impacting the lives of those around me too. Notes and lyrics are added each day. Is there harmony or discord?  Some of each. Each new day, however, allows me to do some revising. Progress not pe

Yesterday's Carrots are Today's Tomatoes

Today I am grateful for the fresh air on this morning's walk with our dog Oliver. And for Oliver and the many ways he adds to our family.  Yesterday I wrote about mindfully peeling carrots. Today, I am chuckling a little about the tomatoes  I enjoyed. Actually, I was chuckling about the packaging they came in. Not to promote any brand in particular, I do appreciate this company's sense of humor.  From the "Let us out!" to the "Please don't refrigerate. It's too cold in there!"  The message on the flip side was especially appreciated. "Enjoy the fruits of our labor." Thank you to all who helped grow and harvest these tomatoes and then get them to our local store, which then allowed me to bring them home for my family and I.  What will the fruits of my labor be today? The gentle ripening of some kindnesses shared and peace experienced? Or the slow rotting of overthinking and unreasonable expectations? I have a choice. W

Peeling Carrots

Today I am grateful for time with friends old and new, and for the opportunities to see genuine gratitude and humility expressed by genuine humans. Yesterday morning as I peeled some carrots to take for lunch, I decided to focus on being present for the task. Mindful presence can be a tall order for me, especially as I get ready to head into a busy day. Yet, I can decide to bring myself right here, right now. I appreciated that I was taking some time for a healthy snack. I got absorbed in the mundane task, a peel at a time. I embraced the skill level that I attained growing up peeling carrots and other vegetables from the garden on our farm as I helped prepare meals for our large family. I have good speed and dexterity and a decent peeler to use. It became an exercise in pausing and being grateful. I enjoyed some of those carrots as I took a few minutes to grab lunch in my busy work day. I don't always slow down like I should when I eat at work. I did a little better job of i

Accept, Even Embrace

Living gratefully today, I am feeling a depth of emotion that stems from love of family and of life. These are two tremendous gifts and I will strive to honor them today. Speaking of depth of emotions, consider these words: "By learning to accept and even embrace the inevitable sorrows of life,  we can experience a more  enduring sense of happiness."   (Sharon Salzberg) Embrace life's sorrows as a path to enduring happiness?  It may sound counterintuitive, but it really isn't. Fully feeling the sadness, losses, and grief that will come our way is not an easy task, but it beats denial, lack of acceptance, and an unwillingness to forgive. Holding and experiencing the pain as we move through it is what then allows us to better release it and open back up to joy.  Embrace doesn't mean we seek the sorrows.  Still, when they come, and they inevitably do, it can help us be open to the learning and growing that will happen. And to be open to the idea t

Gasping and Grasping, Whatever It Takes

Today I am grateful for sunshine and a run outside yesterday, and for recovery connections that bring me laughter and important reminders. Our intense winter of recent weeks has made it really difficult many days for me to do one of my favorite things-go for a run outside. I manage to get a workout in with what I have available indoors, and I tend to get plenty of walking steps in at work and my regular daily routine. But a run outside is my haven. Fresh air. Nature and whatever it is delivering that day. Scenery to take in with my senses. Head clearing clarity that just can't happen as well when inside. It was sunny and there was even some melting going on yesterday. We had more snow on Friday, so most running surfaces were still snow-covered or treacherous. I was determined though, so I checked out a local church parking lot and decided there was enough pavement showing. I laced up, bundled up, and took off.  I was gasping for air at first, but in a good way. Breathin

March In

Living gratefully, I took in the beauty of the waning crescent moon in the early morning sky just now. I also savored the sweetness of the blueberries I am enjoying as part of my breakfast. Today is March 1 and I am hopefully and happily marching into a new month. February was a relentless dose of winter for many of us. The snowiest February of my lifetime. As someone who typically enjoys shoveling, I was even getting tired of it. And my body agreed, developing some aches and pains from the repetitive motion and frequency. It is sinking in slowly that I am aging physically. Yet, there is plenty of gratitude for the capabilities I have and the working limbs that allow me to keep shoveling, getting fresh air and exercise. March is typically our snowiest month. I hope not this year. But March also brings the season of spring, at least on the calendar. It brings more daylight hours and the promise of warmer days and greenery to come. There is snow forecast for our area today. Go f