Showing posts from May, 2019

An Intersection

Living gratefully today, I choose to appreciate the sour grapes of life, of the literal and figurative varieties. They remind me that if life and food were always sweet, we wouldn't be as healthy as we are with a variety of emotions and dietary intake. A quote to ponder today:  "We need to get out of our own way and let the beauty that is us  intersect with the beauty that is the entire world."  (Jon Kabat-Zinn)  Get out of my own way?  Oh how I struggle with that at times. I can be a fairly major obstacle for myself, and that means I impede those around me in ways too. I plow through intersections that I should have proceeded through with caution. We all do it, so let's not be too hard on ourselves or one another. But let's not sit in our over-sized egos and selfish thinking and wallow there either.  Let's smile and say hello. Let's laugh at ourselves. Let's appreciate the pesky bugs that this time of the year brings. Let's

A Meditation 3 x 3

Today I am grateful for cucumbers and peaches, fresh with the first, frozen with the second. I feel good eating vegetables and fruits. My body appreciates it. Today's post is a 3 x 3 on meditation. I have been an on-again, off-again meditator for years. I will have a good stretch, feel the benefits, then slowly slip away from it. It is of real value to me and I strive to incorporate it into my daily practices, much like living gratefully. In recent weeks, I have done just that. Not daily, but at least regular practice of meditation. Here are some of the ways it helps me. 1. Physical and mental benefits     a. an increased sense of calm     b. the feeling of restfulness it brings, regardless of the amount of sleep I have or have not gotten.     c. more mentally alert, less "foggy" 2. Emotional benefits    a. that same increased sense of calm and patience    b. more awareness of my emotions and their range    c. welcoming the feelings and moving through them

A Day Remembered, A Disease Never Forgotten

Today I am grateful for the doctors, technicians, and support crews who helped diagnose my breast cancer 11 years ago. I am also grateful for songs that hold special meaning for me. May 29, 2008. A day I have written about many times. A memory etched in my mind. A rundown parking lot now home to a HyVee grocery store. A stretch of road I traverse each day I go to and from work. My doctor's words coming through my phone, somewhat expected, still shocking.  This after an anxious couple days of waiting after a MR-guided biopsy of a "suspicious area" in my right breast. A biopsy that came a month after a "normal" mammogram. It's the stuff of stories and powerful writing. It feels different, much more sinister, today than it did some of these last eleven years. My diagnosis was Stage I, early stage, and surgeries showed no evidence of advancement of the disease. That could change though, like it did for my sister Mary Jo, who now is ravaged by and dying of me

Gathering Dust

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the early morning quiet and the ease I can find there. I am also grateful for a simple breakfast of cereal and banana. After two beautiful weather days to start the weekend, and many hours spent outside, a rainy Memorial Day had us inside doing some housecleaning yesterday. It had been quite some time since we had dusted certain areas. Not high on my list of enjoyable household chores, I have to be in the mood to dust. I like jobs where I can see progress. If you don't dust often, it fits that bill pretty well. Dust had gathered enough for noticeable improvement to be made by me and my duster.  Dust gathers fairly quickly, so I am glad I don't obsess about passing any white glove tests. Yet, dust can gather where it shouldn't. In my head. In my heart. Running around like a proverbial hamster on a wheel, only parts of my head and heart are used. Other crucial parts get dusty, lose their light, their shine. I had to fall off the whe

Take a moment to remember . . . 3:00 p.m. today

Today I am grateful to wake up in a democratic nation, feeling safe in my home and in my neighborhood. I am most thankful for all service men and women, past and present, who have served our nation valiantly and protected and preserved this democracy. I feel a little hesitant in this post, like I am one of those who remembers on Memorial Day, but not enough the other 364 days. Instead, let's focus on doing what we can when we can. Google told me this morning that there is a National Moment of Remembrance in the United States at 3:00 p.m. local time today. It's been around since 2000, but I thank Google for putting it in the forefront this morning, for everyday citizens like me. It simply asks us to pause at 3:00 p.m. for a moment of silence to remember and as an act of national unity. My country could sure use a unifying moment we can all agree on. Will you join me?  I am setting an alarm on my phone to remind my family and I. I think about the veterans in my immediate

Strong Reminders for a Strong Disease

Living gratefully today, I appreciate a good night's rest, sunshine, time to meditate, and a peaceful few minutes to sit outside and compose this post. And let me not forget to honor and acknowledge my daily recovery from alcoholism. Without it, I could and would lose every one I love and everything else worth having in life. In recent days I have heard about people way too young dying from their addictions. People who made attempts at sobriety, at recovery. The disease pulled them back in and eventually killed them. There are others who have recently relapsed. I have connections with many people in recovery. I hang out with several on a regular basis. They provide some of the lifeblood of my recovery efforts. I have spoken to alcoholics in the first days and weeks of their sobriety. I have sat next to friends who have long-term sobriety talking about their recent struggles and why they stay active in their recovery efforts. When you are connected with many in recovery, fro

Since 2008 . . .

Today I am grateful for a conversation with one of my spiritual advisors, and for taking a break last evening to watch "The Great Gatsby" with Sam and Darcy. My portion of the 40-plus years of cancer survivorship my three sisters and I have accumulated began in 2008. Eleven years later, I consider what I have been afforded the opportunity to experience. Here are a few blessings in my life since May of 2008: *My husband Darcy and I reached our 20th wedding anniversary last July. *Our son Sam went from finishing his kindergarten year to moving through elementary and middle school, and his third year of high school is winding down. *Sam went from a child to a young man now taller and bigger than both of his parents. He is a gentle-hearted being and I am proud of him daily. *I have gained wisdom and been granted grace in recovery from alcoholism, one day at a time. *I have experienced emotional highs and lows that have helped me transform and grow. *I have started a

40 Years of Survivorship

Living gratefully today, I appreciate some time outside this early morning and the gifts nature is presenting to me . . . sounds, smells, sights, the light touch of fresh air on skin.  I am also grateful to have woken up to a new day, even with some emotional heaviness I acknowledge the gift that this day is. As I think of my sister Mary Jo and the dying process, it heightens my awareness of the living process. Mary Jo is delving directly into the mysteries of death. I wish for her comfort and peace to replace the pain and fear. Her illness has given me reason to delve further into these mysteries of death myself, but from a much different perspective. Still, as a cancer patient myself, I have considered my mortality in ways I never would have if not for a diagnosis of breast cancer. Even as Mary Jo slips away, I still take my health for granted some of the time. I realized the other day, as I considered the years of cancer survivorship that my three sisters and I have between us

"Dust in the Wind" and Close Calls

Today I am grateful for safe travels for my husband Darcy and the time he got to spend with his son Arthur. I am also grateful for songs that help me process emotions, both those welcome and less welcome ones. My recent soundtrack has included two Kansas songs: Dust in the Wind and The Wall.  I heard "Dust in the Wind" on my way to work yesterday. I thought of my mom, my sister Mary Jo, my own existence. Kansas guitarist Kerry Livgren wrote the song after reading some Native American poetry and coming across the line "For all we are is dust in the wind." Here are some of the lyrics: I close my eyes only for a moment and the moment's gone All my dreams pass before my eyes a curiosity Now don't hang on Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky It slips away And all your money won't another minute buy Dust in the wind All we are is dust in the wind Dust in the wind Everything is dust in the wind This song sometimes strik

Keep Celebrating . . .

Living gratefully today, I pause to breathe in and breathe out. My lungs work. I have clean air to take in. I am blessed. I carried with me yesterday's idea of celebrating little moments as I moved through the last 24 hours.  Here are some things I noticed: *The comfort of one of my favorite sweatshirts. *The awe of moon glow in the early morning sky. *An avocado at prime ripeness. *The value of experience at my job, keeping me calm when others may not be. *Clarity of thought coming through during a meditative pause. *Our pesky dog Oliver. He follows me around because he loves me. *Savoring the first sip of morning coffee. *A warm bed and a roof over my head are luxuries. *Recovery wisdom shared with me by others is one of my greatest blessings. *Great Spirit/Higher Power shows up even when I forget to tune in. *Songs that touch my heart and bring necessary emotions to the surface. Into this day ahead, I move forward. Looking for more to celebrate, I will surely fin

Things to Celebrate

Living gratefully today, I appreciate safe travels to and from Iowa yesterday and time with my family. My niece Ellie graduated from high school yesterday afternoon. I was also able to take in her baccalaureate mass in the morning.  I joined my sister Ruth, Ellie's mom, and her family, as well as my sister Zita and her husband. I saw my brother Lee and his wife, had a brief visit with my mom, and was treated to a few minutes with my Aunt Helen as well. Familiar family faces bring comfort. Ellie graduated in the same gym I did 36 years ago.  Eleven of my siblings and numerous nieces and nephews also graduated from the same school. It is a sentimental journey for me to walk into that building, the place I began my teaching career over 30 years ago as well. With Sam's prom on Saturday, and watching live streaming of Ellie at the Iowa state track meet earlier in the weekend, it was nice to have these events and experiences of celebration. Emotions have been heavy, there a

Reflecting, Filling In

Today I am grateful for the friends I have made in the community we live in, including the recovery community here, and for the rain that held off during my son Sam's prom festivities. I also appreciate that Sam had an enjoyable and safe prom experience with his girlfriend Olivia and others they spent time with. I often get clarifying thoughts as well as treats from nature on my runs. Yesterday was no exception. The bilateral rhythm of my strides, the fresh air, the endorphins created. I gave thanks for timing that meant no rain as I covered the few miles I did. Here are some of yesterday's observations and insights: -Coming around a curve in the trail, I encountered a deer and we made eye contact for a few seconds before it scampered off into the trees. The deer called to mind the dear ones I was thinking about at the time, and how all creation is connected. -I saw two cardinals (or the same one twice). I thought of loved ones gone and going. I thought first of my fa

Doing the Best We Can

Living gratefully, I embrace the fresh air and coming daylight as I enjoy some outdoor time to start this day. I am also grateful for the love that I know exists in so many ways in my life. I always appreciate the quotes of Helen Keller. She didn't limit herself, she challenged her limits.  Here is one to consider: "When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought  in our life, or in the life of another." It is sometimes hard for me to give myself credit for doing the best I could at a given time. I bring my thoughts and emotions to each situation. Sometimes they help, sometimes they hinder, But in that moment, in that set of circumstances, I did the best I could. Mistakes happen, regret shows itself. Yet, so does transformation, deeper meaning, a more expansive gratefulness. If we don't try and fail, we also don't try and succeed. For whatever reason, dates stick and click in my mind. I realized that it was 10 years

Exist Loudly

Today I am grateful for the sights and sounds of an early morning thunderstorm. They match my emotions and they also remind me that like rain cleanses, tears do too. On our recent trip to Colorado, my niece Katie and I made a stop at one of the local coffee shops. The barista had a small tattoo on her arm. It read "Exist loudly." Exist loudly. Embrace the day and all it brings. Seize joy when it comes along. Embrace pain and console it until it eases. Run like the wind, or at least as your aging body allows. Take a deep breath of fresh air. Smile broadly. Laugh boisterously. Pause. Turn the volume up on a favorite song. Delve deeply into whatever feeling is emerging. Be honest, rigorously honest with self. See the wonder and curiosity in the face of a child. Watch the sun set. Exist loudly. Fully exist in the moment at hand. Loud in awe and in quiet. This loudness is about depth and genuineness. That's what came out this morning. Let's all go and exist loudl


Living gratefully today, I appreciate the functionality of things like shoelaces, buttons, snaps, and zippers. They serve an important, though simple, purpose. Shoelaces. I really don't spend much time thinking about them. I can't say I have ever written much about them. And yet, as a runner especially, I fully appreciate that they provide the support and comfortable fit for my running shoes. I have laced up thousands and thousands of time to go for a run. My fingers work the laces. My legs work the strides. Physical capabilities that are true blessings. And I recall the milestone of learning to tie my shoelaces as a child. That was a big deal. I was proud of myself and received congratulations for my achievement. Shoelaces serve a worthwhile purpose. They allow me to give purpose to my life through running. For that, I am grateful.

Flying Into the Sunset

Today I am grateful for the treasured family time I have had in recent days, safe travels, and to be a mom and stepmom. I flew to Colorado on Thursday night with several family members. I was traveling with two brothers, their wives, and my niece. Another niece and her two daughters would join us in Colorado. Our flight left Minneapolis just before 8:00 p.m. We got an amazing and an ongoing view of that evening's sunset. It's an opportunity I have never experienced before. Seats on the right side, time of day, time of year, and the weather conditions all conspired beautifully to bring my travel companions and I this true treat. I had a window seat and two strangers in my row. My brother and his wife were directly behind me and the rest of our contingent a few rows ahead of us. I did some writing, reflecting, and plenty of watching. I took in the view as I took in the mix of emotions about the trip ahead. My sister Mary Jo is now on hospice care. We knew this visit was als

Trees Are the Answer

Today I am grateful for family connections, love, and support. I am also grateful for my family tree. My husband Darcy and I were out for a run the other day and I noticed a bumper sticker on a parked car as we ran past it. It said "Trees are the answer." I agree in many ways. Environmentally speaking, they are certainly vital and restorative. Seasons are marked by trees. Shelter and shade are provided. This morning though, I am thinking more about trees of the family tree variety. As my sister Mary Jo declines with advanced cancer, she is finding her way to peace. Her family, my siblings and I, and our spouses and children, seek the same peace even as we head into unknown territory and also grieve in our own ways. My family tree has provided shelter from storms, shade when the heat gets too hot, a place to lean when a break and some rest are needed. And let's not forget, also a pleasant place to celebrate life's milestones and joys, and share some laughter and


Today I am grateful for the moments of clarity that have come in my renewed meditation practice in recent weeks. I am also grateful for my working arms and legs and the many steps I take each day. This "Word for the Day" at this morning was just what I needed: "A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day.  A string of such moments can change the course of your life." (Christopher K. Germer) A moment of self-compassion. Allow the tears to come. Surrender to the unknown. Derail the negative train of thought and return to a closer connection to Great Spirit. Take small steps. Writing in my gratitude journal. Taking a few minutes to meditate on lovingkindness. Turning my fear over to my Higher Power by humbly praying on my knees. It also includes the exercises I did this morning to help keep my aging joints healthy, and the nutritious breakfast I just took time to enjoy.  Self-compassion was a deep mystery to me f

28 and 11

Today I am grateful for my stepson Arthur and for our dog Oliver. I am grateful for the heart connections I have with many people (and a few pets) in my life, over the course of my life. Arthur celebrates his 28th birthday today, and Oliver also celebrates his 11th birthday. Two of the special guys in my life share a birthday. Happy Birthday to you both! I met Arthur when he was a few months shy of 7. We met Oliver when he was about two months old. Over the years, I have watched Arthur grow into a fine young man, and now a husband, father, registered dietician doing meaningful work. He is passionate about several things in his life and it starts with his own family. Sure, the Packers are high on his list too, but like his dad, my husband Darcy, family tops the list of priorities. I love that I see Darcy's strong loyalty and commitment to his children now reflected in how his children are as parents. And then there's Oliver. He came into our lives the same summer that canc

Parks and Lawns

Living gratefully, I enjoyed the beautiful weather and ample time outside this weekend. I also give thanks for my morning cup of coffee. The time outside included some time in the backyard and at a couple of neighborhood parks yesterday with our grandson Leo. We were also treated to a video of our grandson Aaron "helping" mow the lawn at their house across the miles. Sitting and watching Leo swing, and swing, and swing some more. Smiling at little Aaron pushing his toy mower. I relished those moments and they brought me a sense of calm and joy. I can conjure the images in my mind this morning and feel more of that calm joy. We got lots of sun. We got plenty of fresh air and exercise. We enjoyed the company of our son and his girlfriend too. I practiced presence and immersed myself in the moment at hand. It was energizing and invigorating. There is such value and benefit in simply paying full attention. I know I miss plenty in a day's time, getting caught up in my

The Trainee Does the Teaching

Today I am grateful for new running shoes and the fresh support they provide. I am also grateful for phones that connect me with loved ones across the miles. There is comfort in hearing their voices even when we can't be physically together. On a recent trip to the grocery store, I made a conscious choice to go to the checkout lane where the new trainee was. I wasn't in a big hurry and my mindset was calm. The young man needed to practice, and so did I. He needed to practice checking the various items I was purchasing and having to look up a couple less common items. His trainer is a veteran. I have seen her at this store for many years. She was calm, patient, and gave good directions. She was supportive and didn't rattle the young man. I appreciated witnessing this little training session. Even more, I embraced my own opportunity to practice patience and consider how I can be a little easier (or a lot easier) on myself when it comes to patience and acceptance. What

An Old Lady Sitting in the Sun

Living gratefully today, I embraced some painful emotions and moved through them. The practice of knowing my emotions in the moment is such meaningful practice. Last evening my husband Darcy and I went out for ice cream, after I had gotten a run in and we had enjoyed some time with our grandson Leo. The sun had finally come out late in the afternoon after a gray and dreary few days. Running and Gigi time, ice cream and sunshine all tend to elevate my mood. They bring energy and gratefulness. They bring perspective. As we sat partaking of our ice cream, I looked a couple of tables over and saw an elderly woman sitting looking into the sunshine. I thought of my mom.  She was sitting there alone. The person she was with had gone to get something.  I thought of my mom, alone, but not really alone. I have no idea what this woman may have been thinking or feeling in that moment. I do know what it brought to my mind and heart. She looked peaceful and present, simply taking in the expe

Keeping It Simple Today

Today I am grateful for the simplicity of creating words on a keyboard, and the complexity of human emotions. Sometimes I draft posts in advance. Sometimes I wake up with an idea. On other days, because of other factors like time and how I am feeling, I struggle a bit on what to write about. Those are the times I remind myself to just keep it simple. Any pause to focus on gratefulness is a pause spent well. This morning is one of those times. I am leaning into my own vulnerability this morning and working hard to tap into emotions that I don't always recognize and feel. It is more of that good work I was talking about yesterday and it is enough for now.

Empty Shell

Living gratefully today, I appreciate opportunities to transform and better know my own emotions. I am also grateful for the uncomplicated nature of the love I have for our dog Oliver. Transformation is a beautiful thing, an ongoing experience of becoming who we are. It is some of the hardest work that I do, and it is also some of the best work that I do. I couldn't have described it this way then, but as a child, a teen, a young adult, I felt like an empty shell. Not my physical self so much, though I didn't have a very good sense of that either, but my feeling heart, my spiritual soul, my thinking brain. This was a deeper emptiness than the immaturity of childhood, the natural growth process. I was stunted, held back. I started drinking at age 14, and drank alcohol to excess to try to fill the emptiness. It only left me more void, depleted. If I would have kept drinking, I would be dead or simply existing. It is one of the reasons I start each day grateful and with pr