Showing posts from September, 2019

For Love of the Game

Living gratefully today, I am thankful for our safe travels over the weekend and for weather that can be enjoyed, regardless of what it delivers. I watched a high school football game Friday night and a college football game on Saturday afternoon. For both, there was beautiful fall weather, the kind meant for football games. There were exciting plays and fireworks-some on the field and some off. There was turf and there was natural grass. Softball was my favorite sport to play, coach, and watch. But football has always been a favorite spectator sport for me as well. I grew up watching Sunday afternoon football, and many Friday nights over recent decades have been spent watching relatives play some football. My favorite player Friday night was my son Sam. (Obvious, I know.) On Saturday, my favorite was a little guy, probably about 4 years old, wearing an Adrian Peterson Vikings jersey and an NDSU Bison helmet (neither of the teams on the field). He was located near us, with what a

. . . then gratitude is never far away.

Today I am grateful for productive energy last evening. Some days I don't have that, and that's okay, but it was well-timed yesterday. I am also grateful for the time I got to spend shooting hoops with our grandson Leo, and FaceTiming with our grandson Aaron. The quote I have been sharing comes together in this post: "When forgiveness is your path, and love is your reason for being alive at all, and awakening is burning in your heart, then gratitude is never far away." (Jeff Foster) I have gotten much practice at looking for and finding gratefulness. I am reminded of the words "What we practice grows stronger." Actually, it doesn't take as much looking as it does just simple awareness. Pause. Right here, right now. Notice. Pay attention. Give thanks for what is present. My perception is better, my vision more focused. Not all of the time, more of the time. It continues to make a considerable difference in my daily life. There is a saying

And awakening is burning in your heart . . .

Living gratefully today, I noticed the crescent moon in the early morning sky, and I appreciated the street lights that offered our dog Oliver and I a sense of security as we walked. Today's quote excerpt is: "And awakening is burning in your heart . . ." As I considered what an awakening is, the word that surfaced was vulnerability. Experience, some of it the toughest of my life, has shown me that in my vulnerability is my greatest growth. The most inspired awakenings and the burning in my heart start a gentle flame. It kindles more love, more joy, more awe. It is never too late to awaken further, to start anew, to learn and move forward. Some emotions stay dormant until we are ready for them to emerge. We wouldn't be open to them otherwise. I was a shy child, but I was not quiet all the time. I made noise to get attention in my large family. Something went dormant then, but something else also awakened. It helped me survive my active drinking years and

And love is your reason for being alive at all . . .

Today I am grateful for a just-ripe pear, and for the road construction workers who make the roads we travel safer and smoother. "And love is your reason for being alive at all . . . "  It all sounds so cliche: Love conquers all. Love is patient, love is kind. Love wins. Love is the answer. But is it cliche or is it profound? I'm going with profound. I will throw in this little editorial aside here. I believe we have become too quick to throw the word "love" around and have diluted it. We can "love" posts on social media and say "Love ya!" as a frequent goodbye to family and friends alike. Let's not lose the meaning, the depth, the amazing grace in true love for another, for life, for ourselves. As I considered this post,  Love is the Answer , a song by England Dan and John Ford Coley from 1979, came to mind. Give it a listen. It says plenty. Love takes work, and time. It takes some pain too. How could we fully appreciate love

When forgiveness is your path . . .

Living gratefully today, I appreciate how my hand can hold a pen and carry it across a page, creating words.  I am thankful for a pleasant bike ride with Darcy in the cooler air yesterday. There is a lovely quote that will come together over the next days here, starting with this line: "When forgiveness is your path . . . " Isn't forgiveness always good to have on my daily path through life?  Yes. For me, it usually starts and ends with self-forgiveness. I have been tougher on myself than anyone else, by far. I know many of you reading this can relate to that. I am not deluded enough to think that the number I have done on myself hasn't also hurt others. When I am operating from self-hate, I don't make the best decisions or say the most compassionate things.  The emotional pain I have caused others, or at least contributed to, is where I also seek forgiveness. Forgive myself for my shortcomings. Forgive the Universe for not delivering in a timely manner

A Poetry Offering from Aileen

Today I am grateful for the cooler, less humid air that greets us this morning, and for the opportunity to do some writing. My sister Aileen is a writer, a wonderful and talented poet. With her permission, I am sharing one of her latest poems here: (I added the line breaks.) Delight  in tiny, specific, beautiful things a sliver of sunlight the whisper of cat whiskers feathering my face. Honor the overlooked  among the ordinary cloud scarves  draping the chests  of rusty Chugach mountains. Practice enchantment  in everyday endeavors take comfort in clean dishes drying after lunch.  Consider reverence  as a default setting  joining the birds in admiration  of what is.  There are many phrases within this poem that reach the core of my gratefulness, but my favorite guiding words are these:  "Practice enchantment in everyday endeavors." It is my daily mission really. Joy in the mundane. Enchantment in the everyday. I have had my first sip of morning co

A Little Resentment Stays Little

Today I am grateful for quiet, fresh coffee, counting cars with our grandson Leo, and for opportunities to lighten up on myself and my usual routine. In a couple of hours the other day, I had a few minor resentments crop up. And I do mean minor. How is it that the males who live in the same house I do seem to not know how to replace things that are empty... toilet paper rolls, soap in the shower, our dog Oliver's poop bag dispenser?  And how is it that these things tend to be timed poorly? Such as a morning when I am tired and running behind? Don't get me wrong, Darcy and I are pretty good about sharing the duties of maintaining our house and our family life. Sam does his part too, though sometimes not as soon as I wish he would. So, as these little resentments mounted, I turned to a tactic I know works when I remember to use it. A gratitude list surfaced: I have a husband, a son, a loving dog, a house, indoor plumbing...and the resentments just sort of dissolve. They di

Meeting Grief Where Grief Meets Us

Living gratefully today, I embrace the grief and healing that showed up last evening and this morning. I embrace the writing process that opens me up in ways that only writing can. I am grateful for the friends who joined me to discuss and explore grief and loss last evening. We spent meaningful time together, showing kind compassion to one another and ourselves. Gifts beyond measure. Meeting grief where it meets us, when it shows up, is an ongoing endeavor. Some days it is fresh and full of emotion. On other days, it takes more of a back seat. Yet, it is always part of our being, because it is always part of our lives. If we love and live fully, we will experience loss and grief fully too. Pen to paper. Quiet meditation. Songs coming through my headphones. These all help me tap into the grief, help bring it to the surface and shine some light on it. Roll with it when it comes. I trust that when I dive deep, I will be able to resurface with a new buoyancy. Grief can remain a b

True Representative

Living gratefully today, I give thanks for my five senses and how they allow me to experience a variety of emotions and make memories. Consider these words: "Be a true representative of the goodness in your heart,  and don't expect it to be easy or even noticed."   (Adyashanti) Adyashanti is an American-born spiritual teacher. I was not familiar with him, but as I checked out his website, I was intrigued and will look and listen further. ( ) News flash folks! Many of the best things in life are not easy, at least some of the time. That is how they earn their value--our struggles, our impatience, our hard lessons--often lead to the best connections with ourselves and others. And another news flash...Most other people are so busy living their own lives that they don't always notice what we are up to. They likely care, but likely won't acknowledge as often as we wish. We do the same to them. Yet one of the many benefits of living grat

Noticing Nature

Today I am deeply grateful for the unconditional love and support I get from recovery friends, and the privilege I have to give it back to them. I am also grateful for the support Darcy gives me in my daily recovery work. Yesterday I wrote about noticing nature, so I have been intentionally doing that since I wrote about it. I appreciated the little squirrel who climbed up to take a quick drink from our fountain as I sat a few feet away and the quick flit of a hummingbird at close range. I noticed: -the rain-swollen river I ran along and the sounds it created -the constantly evolving play of clouds, blue sky, daylight, sunlight -that the warmer humid air, warmer than I prefer, would in a few months be welcomed back      (Okay, let's be honest. I can live without humidity, but the warmth will be welcome.) -the expansive morning sky and the stars and moon -that I sometimes had two shadows of myself, because of street lights and moonlight       (How often do I miss even see

Flowers from Above

Today I am grateful for family visitors and recovery connections. I am also grateful for the beauty in this mix of flowers: The bouquet is from a recovery friend to celebrate my recent milestone anniversary. And the carnation was given to me by Sam on Friday night for parents' night at the football game. A picturesque range of colors and variety, pleasing to the eye and nose. Flowers from above. Not a divine delivery from the skies, rather a picture taken from a vantage point above the flowers.  It does raise two good reminders in my mind though. The first being that flowers, all of nature's creations, come from a source beyond human. We either help or hinder, admire or ignore. I choose to help nature by respecting and noticing it.  The second being that a simple change in vantage point can transform how we experience and feel about the world around us, about our own emotions within us.  I choose to thank Higher Power/Great Spirit for many daily gifts. I

Walking the Halls

Today I am grateful for laughter shared, perspective gained, friends connecting, family making time for one another. I am also grateful for the many steps I take in a day, often taking them for granted. I noticed them more this week as I recover from my latest marathon. In my job as a school counselor,  I walk the halls of our building several times a day . . . to greet and welcome, to assure and question, to assist and hold accountable, to act as a deterrent. I consider it an important part of my job, and the steps don't hurt me either. (Well, they may hurt a little when I am sore, but they still help.) Darcy and I finished our day yesterday by walking the halls of our son Sam’s high school. It was Open House night. Our last one. Mixed emotions. Some teachers are familiar to us, others we had never met. It was a nice way to see what Sam's days are like. We also see other parents, friendly and familiar, showing up in the same classes and in the stands at football games.

Rain Down

Living gratefully today, I appreciate umbrellas and common courtesy that many people naturally and regularly show. There is hope! I have rain on my brain and on my clothes and skin after taking our dog Oliver out for his morning walk.  We have had several rainy mornings of late. It started on Sunday when I started the Sioux Falls Marathon. Thankfully, it was an indoor start, but I ran the first three miles or so in a steady rain. I was grateful for the poncho I had packed and decided to wear.  I still got soaked, but less drenched than I would have. By the time Darcy and the other half-marathoners started, the rain had winded down. It would continue to drizzle and rain lightly, but that I can handle and actually kind of enjoy. It helps keep the hard-working body cooler too. I carried that poncho with me for the next 23 miles. At first, just in case I would need it again. Then, I wasn't able to part with it. It is one we each got at the rainy Brookings Marathon in May of 20

Stormy Weather

Today I am grateful for the safety of Darcy’s family and for the secure roof over my own family’s heads this morning. Thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the tornadoes overnight in Sioux Falls, SD. Darcy’s Mom and his sister and her family are all safe. We haven’t heard about serious injuries to others, and that is such a blessing too. There is widespread and significant property damage and power outages though. To be awakened in the middle of the night with such news is unsettling. To have the same storm system move through here a few hours later is unsettling. We just ran the streets and trails of Sioux Falls on Sunday. We lived and worked there, and still visit regularly. As daylight comes, the pictures will be even more telling. It saddens me. How quickly things can change. In an instant, the day you had planned can become something else entirely. Consider how many people that happened to as they woke up on the morning of September 11, 2001. Stormy weather.

Just Keep Going

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the effort it took to get to the finish line of marathon #17, and the people who helped me get there. The last miles of a marathon are always tough. That is a LONG run folks. My last couple marathons have brought those tougher miles sooner. My legs tighten up. It's hard to stride out. I need to walk more. I never doubted I would finish, but is my body trying to tell me something? For the first time since we started marathoning 15 years ago, I am considering strongly that my streak will end at this one, or there will at least be a year off. Half-marathons are far more reasonable in many ways, and 13.1 is nothing to scoff at. I thank my fellow runners who helped motivate me in various ways, especially Mike around mile 5 and Olivia from miles 20-23. Mike was running to raise awareness about his wife's rare form of dementia. Olivia was running her first marathon. My conversation with her over those 3 miles really helped get me close enoug

Worth Repeating: #17, a Marathon, and a Hat

Today I am grateful for family, friends, and the joy that running brings me. A special thanks to my friend Steve Foran and the conversation we shared yesterday. Thank you for being a faithful blog reader Steve and for reaching so many, including me, with your efforts to share what living gratefully can do in the workplace and beyond. The points of clarity that started with "All any of us have is today" also ends there. It is worth repeating. Point #1 and Point #17 are the same. I am also repeating the Sioux Falls Marathon, after running it in 2011, finishing side by side with my husband Darcy in the city where we got married and lived for two years before moving to Minnesota. I will be wearing the shirt I earned at the finish in 2011, a pink bracelet I have been wearing the last few months that says "I Choose Hope" on it, and the hat in the pictures below. My sisters and my nieces (Mary Jo's daughters) have the same bracelet. The words have faded. Like M

16. Life isn't always fair, but it's still precious.

Today I am grateful for perspective only gained in waking hours, and also that gained from the restful hours. I am grateful for grapes and avocados too. As I move through the "17 Points of Clarity" I am moving though a busy week, trying to rest and conserve my legs and energy for Sunday's marathon. Conserving energy is not my forte, so it is a stretch for me, but a good one. 16. Life isn't always fair, but it's still precious. I often reminded myself as I experienced the losses cancer handed me that there are far worse things to lose than hair and breasts. It rings truer and stronger in the months since my sister Mary Jo's death. It isn't fair that I face two diseases that kill people every day--cancer and alcoholism--and yet I am still here. Mary Jo, Janine, Deb, Lisa, and Rachel are not. Steve, Sean, Cathy, and Jenny are not. This isn't about shame or guilt. There is more than enough of that to go around. It is about pausing to acknowledge th

Just For Today, 24 Hours, ODAT

Living gratefully today, I fully appreciate the second and third chances life has given me. I give thanks for the hope that I feel as this day gets underway. Our son Sam starts his senior year of high school today. I am on emotional roller coaster ride like none before as a parent, and this ride will likely go on for the next couple of years. Hang on! I am so proud of you Sam and I love you dearly. Tomorrow I will return to the "17 Points of Clarity," but today I write about the other disease that is part of my life story--alcoholism. I mark another year of sobriety on this date, but more importantly I celebrate this day of recovery. "One day at a time"(ODAT) is anything but trite when talking about recovery from addiction. And it may sound simple, but it is not always easy. Some days, hours, moments are grueling, painful tests. Staying gratefully present helps each 24 hour segment go more smoothly. One drink was never enough. One day is, when I stay in it.

15. Children and pets are great teachers.

Today I am grateful for the rest I got last evening, and for the rest that comes with a quieter mind. Point of Clarity #15. Children and pets are great teachers. Sam was 6 years old and just finishing kindergarten when I was diagnosed with BC. We talked with him about what we felt he could understand and what it was important for him to hear, age appropriately. Mostly, we tried to keep a sense of normalcy for our family, but we also were realistic and wanted Sam and my stepchildren Arthur and Emily to know enough about what was going on. I would recommend this approach to anyone else faced with a frightening health issue. I believe it is far better to share true emotions and enough information to show our humanness and to squelch some of the fear and worry young children will generate in their own minds when we aren't offering comfort and security. Sam saw me go to work, go out for a run, make dinner, do the laundry. He and I still played catch. Things I always did. And he

14. My husband is a blessing in so many ways.

Living gratefully today, I am relishing an extra day off and the play of the clouds in the early morning sky. #14: My husband is a blessing in so many ways. Darcy and I had a solid and healthy marriage at the time of my BC diagnosis, and it only became stronger and healthier as he supported me through chemo, surgeries and recovery, difficult decisions, getting used to a "new normal" and a changed body. There are tender moments, some inside jokes, and heart-to-heart conversations that I will always treasure from that time. A cancer diagnosis can put a real strain on a marriage, and some couples grow apart for a variety of reasons. I am so grateful that Darcy is the kind of man with the right priorities. He summed it up when he continued to say through his words and actions "I just want you here. The decisions are yours and I support you." Darcy also has been supportive the last couple of years when my family has faced the challenges of Mom going to the nursin

Three Words . . . Keep Priorities Straight (#13)

Today I am grateful for my senses, especially my sense of hearing in this moment as I listen to music and to soothing water in our patio fountain. Point #13: "Three words . . . keep priorities straight." One of the shortest points in number of words packs one of the most significant daily suggestions. Believe me, overthinking is not one of my priorities. But it sometimes gets more energy and time than my true priorities. So I work on it, daily. Right thinking leads to right actions. Honoring my priorities brings me good energy and peace. Ignoring them in my futile attempts to manage unmanageables exhausts me and destroys any serenity I may have had. To help remind me of my priorities, I have had this little 2 x 3 inch frame at home for years. I have one on my desk at work too, minus the two fortune cookie quotes: Numbers 1-5 are recovery/faith, family, friends, running, and writing. Number 6 is my job. It starts with my recovery from alcoholism, because without t