Showing posts from October, 2019

Closing the Gap

Today I am grateful for my siblings and my extended family. I am also grateful for the way grace shows itself in the world. The idea of "closing the gap" first came to me as I thought about my sister Danita. It is her birthday today. She is the oldest of the eight sisters, and the second oldest of thirteen siblings in our family. I am the baby sister and #11. We have dubbed ourselves the "bookend sisters" and tasked ourselves with upholding our sisterhood. Danita has me by over ten years. Growing up, that age gap was significant. In ways, we really didn't grow up together. But that gap of years has closed as we have gotten older. I have more of a connection with Danita than I ever have. Happy Birthday to you! With "closing the gap" on my mind, I headed out for a bike ride as dusk neared last evening. These other gaps occurred to me: -The gap between Darcy's bike and mine. He upgraded this year and it's my turn next. My bike is sufficie

When I step into my house . . .

Living gratefully today, I embrace the opportunity to tune into the breath in my body, to tune in to the sense of security and comfort I feel in our home. The day is barely underway and here I am talking about getting home from work. I'm not trying to get ahead of myself, just giving myself something to look forward to. When I step into my house after work, I am grateful for... -our dog Oliver, always happy to see me -the usual places to put my usual work stuff -a couple of snack options at the ready -the ability to go up and down stairs -an attached garage -a sense of security, both with location and with locks -a welcome shift in my energy -opportunities to be fully in my roles of wife, mother, runner, writer What are you grateful for when you step into your house after being gone? 

Today I am grateful for . . .

Living gratefully means keep it simple, pause, soak up a moment. Living gratefully is a choice and an ongoing intention. Here's an easy action to start this day and week--a gratitude list. Today I am grateful for: -a warm bed and pillows for comfort -feet that are stable and socks and shoes to put on them -the wonder and ease of electricity -the smell of clean clothes -a few minutes of quiet prayer and meditation -being able to move my body in exercise -reminders of recovery as a priority in my day, my life -FRESH air -acknowledging that this late bloomer and slow learner has plenty of blooming and         learning to do yet, and the hope and excitement I feel about that Maybe this is the week you start a gratitude journal (or pick it back up), or do an A-Z gratitude list on your commute, or pause at a busy time to just breathe and give thanks for a couple of things right here, right now. Maybe today is a day to find some gratefulness and share it. Be intentional.

Season Over

Living gratefully today, I appreciate family and friends in a multitude of ways. In my heart, and in my day-to-day life. My heart is aching this morning for my son Sam. His senior football season ended with a loss last evening. His high school playing career is over. I just soaked and scrubbed his uniform for the last time. Tears were shed last night by young men and their parents. Tears that show it all matters. Playing the game, yes. But being part of a team, the friendships, the traditions; that all mattered far more. I am very thankful for this experience for him and for the fine young men and coaches he has played football with, and for, over the last ten years. The future plans include more football, but this era is over. He and his buddies made new memories last night, even while their days as football teammates came to a close. Earlier last week, Sam's team won their first playoff game in impressive fashion and closed out their playing days on their home field wit

Cluttered, Then a Cleared Cornfield

Living gratefully today, I appreciate my sense of hearing and favorite, meaningful songs I can hear. I am also fully appreciating the smoothness of this morning's first cup of coffee, coffee and conversation with a friend after work, and the enjoyment of a meal together with Darcy and Sam last evening.   Yesterday morning I was feeling cluttered... in thought and action. Heading out the door feeling rushed, cutting it too close to get to a meeting. I do this to myself too many mornings. Trying to do too much, just one more little task. Overdoing. Traffic seemed surprisingly cluttered for that early. Stoplights were working against me. I was working against me. My emotions were fragile. There was some ongoing grief, and also the muck and mire of this midlife and menopausal morass I continue to work through. A few minutes of meditation soon after I got up eventually came to fruition as I drove to work. Release. I felt the feelings. First the tougher ones, then the gentler ones.

Talking Table Tops

Today I am grateful for warm clothes and a victory to continue the season for Sam and his football team. On our recent travels, I saw two random table top tokens that caught my eye. The first was this painted rock outside a restaurant where Darcy and I were eating. Was it left there to be seen by random people like me or accidentally abandoned? Either way, it got a chuckle from me and a reminder to lighten up. Thanks to whoever left it there. The second one was a fall blossom on a green table, fittingly at Titletown adjacent to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI.  Nice touch with the Packers colors. Whether or not you are a Packers fan, or even a football fan for that matter, there is much to appreciate about Titletown. It is now a regular stop for us when we visit, regardless of time of year. Free fun in the great outdoors, shared by people who may be strangers to one another but aren't strangers to the unifying nature of a true hometown team like the Green Bay Packers.

Swing Me Away

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the safe travels, new places to see, nice weather, and family time we enjoyed this weekend. We especially enjoyed time with our grandson Aaron and his parents Arthur and Alyssa. It had been a couple months since we had seen them, and Aaron's vocabulary has grown extensively. It is such a fun time when little ones are picking up many new words and are able to call you by name. Papa and GiGi got to spend Sunday with Aaron, and it was a picturesque fall day. We went to the park in the morning as the clouds cleared and the sun came out. Aaron likes to swing, as you can see on his face in this picture: The joys of a playground swing and the simplicity in it too. It was wonderful to share this time with Aaron, some Puppy Dog Pals episodes, reading numerous books together, more time outside, and a little game of hide and seek around their basement. It was a pleasant weekend together with family, and away from our busy jobs. Both Darcy and I a

Have a Seat Right Here

Today I am grateful for family visitors, the opportunity to sleep in, and a glorious fall day to take at my own pace. Lately, I am trying to break up my routine in little ways, jarring the complacency and dislodging the stuck.  I find myself appreciating the refreshing surge in seeing things differently, in taking a moment to just take a moment. The other day I wrote about taking a seat elsewhere. Today, I am just focusing on having a seat more often. On many days, I try to see how many steps I can rack up on my little pocket pedometer. In itself, that is not a harmful thing, but for an overdoer and overthinker like me, it can get to be too much. Exhaustion, physical and mental, can set in. I push myself, and my aging body, too much at times. (It is progress for me to even put that in writing.) My mind gets caught up in negative thought loops and next thing I know I am on the wrong end of the continuum between reasonable and unreasonable, sane and not so sane. Here are some ins

Honor Thy Run

Today I am grateful for the run that Darcy and I got in yesterday afternoon, and for recovery tools that not only help me maintain sobriety but also some sense of peace and sanity. It has been a very full and hectic last week, between work commitments, family activities, and more. They have been good things, but they have also left me exhausted. When I got home from work yesterday, I was determined to get a run in, but I was also lagging in energy and lacking in time. Darcy felt the same way. It helped that we pushed one another out the door, figuratively speaking. We ran together, a well-worn loop that we have done many times. We shared some conversation, and also some time in our own heads and bodies, letting the busy day unwind out of us, stride by stride, breath by breath. It could have gone either way. Choosing to get out there and run or not. It is so important to make time for what matters and for our healthy outlets. Running is definitely one of those for me. Honor thy

Take a Seat Elsewhere . . .

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the comfort of the sofa I am sitting on and the lamp that is providing a gentle but effective light. I am also grateful for the mobility of laptop computers. I can become such a creature of habit, slipping into default mode and following my typical routine. Or I can mix it up a little and a simple shift can lead to a more significant shift. This morning, that simple shift is in the form of having a seat somewhere different. I often sit at the desk where our computer is and do my writing there. Today, I grabbed this mobile laptop and took a seat on the sofa across the room, giving me a new perspective on my writing and on my start to the day. I am near some family pictures and our most recent marathon and half marathon pictures and medals. Pausing to look closer, to hold a medal in my hand and feel it there, the remnants of the energy that helped me earn the medal remain. I felt the metallic coolness, reliving the moment of relief and exhilar

A Chance Conversation

Today I am grateful for safe travels over the weekend, cold weather attire, and the opportunities my husband Darcy and I have to support our son Sam in his college decision-making process. In our travels this weekend, my early Sunday morning provided a chance conversation with a woman. She said good morning and I returned the greeting. She was wearing a chemo cap. I don’t always strike up conversations with people in chemo caps, but her warm greeting was an invitation and I took it. I took it for Mary Jo, for Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, for the memory on my mind as I got up. The last Sunday I woke up at this same hotel in this same Iowa college town was June 16 of this year, the morning Mary Jo died. By the time the call came in, we were on the road. But when she drew her last breath, I was at this same hotel. The woman with the chemo cap, Linda, and I spoke for a few minutes; about cancer treatment, about what brought us here to this town from other states. She has S

An Early Start to MBC Awareness Day 2019

Today I am grateful for the personal journey of meditation and healing, and how going inward helps me find more compassion for self and others. October 13 each year since 2009 has been set aside as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. It’s at least something in a month awash in pink. It’s not nearly enough for the disease that many people can’t define and that 40,000 still die from each year. Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, most often the lungs, bones, and brain, and for which there is no cure. But at least it is something. I am not stepping into activist role this year like I sometimes do. I am actively grieving the death of my sister Mary Jo from MBC on June 16 of this year. She was two months shy of her 62nd birthday. It is different for me this year when one of those 40,000 deaths is someone near and dear to me.  The grief is fresh and raw. The memory of my last visit with Mary Jo lingers. The images in my mind that m

Every Now and Then

Living gratefully today, I give thanks for the food I had for breakfast and for the stars in the early morning sky. Consider these words from Shakti Gawain: "Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it's  important to pause every now and then to appreciate all  that we have, on every level."  Gawain, an author and pioneer in the self-help movement, died last November after surgery complications. She had been suffering from Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia for years. She definitely had her troubles and challenges. We all do. What are yours today? Naming them allows us to move forward and keep living. Unnamed, we tend to flounder in our trials and tribulations.  Some of mine have been self-imposed, others circumstantial, still others having to do with overall health. It's not a contest and I am not a victim. I did make an effort yesterday and this morning to pause and appreciate a few things, including: -an eagle soar

Sisters: The Midwest Contingent

Today I am grateful for safe travels in the rain yesterday, and time to be with family and see some friends in my old neck of the woods.  I am grateful for the time I spent visiting and sitting with my mom. Two of the people I spent time with yesterday were my sisters Zita and Ruth. The three of us make up the Midwest contingent of the Holthaus sisters. The other five ended up moving out of state and out of the region; landing in Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. Zita, Ruth, and I are the closest in age. When Zita was a senior in high school, Ruth was a sophomore, and I was a freshman. I remember riding to school, the three of us, in Grandpa's sizable Oldsmobile 98, a.k.a. "The Banana."  I remember a few "disagreements" in those growing up years. Since then, though, we have been there for one another in the ways that sisters are. We've shown up for each other's kids events and activities. We've traveled together to see the rest of the sister contin

Never Before

Living gratefully I embrace the day ahead, knowing it will offer gifts as well as challenges. I embrace the opportunity to practice presence. Never before . . . have I stopped at the bridge I stopped at last evening on a bike ride. It was nearing dusk before I left; cloudy, chilly, the light and colors changing. My kind of fall evening. Riding to one of my favorite spots, a high bridge over the Vermillion River, I paused as I often do. The scene is always stunning to me. Turning my bike around, I headed home. Less than a mile from home is another bridge, much lower, across the same river. I have run and biked past it many, many times. But never before have I stopped my bike, hung on to the fence there, and watched the river flow beneath, enjoying a moment of presence. Why the heck not? Good question. I am always on my way somewhere. Sometimes I can just be on my way to being still. Never before . . . have I written a poem for National Poem Day. Thanks to my sister Zita for clue

Be Still, My Beating Heart

Living gratefully today, I embrace the fall weather and coolness, the transforming colors. "Be still, my beating heart." is a phrase that goes back a few centuries, and has typically been used in the context of romantic love.  How about giving it a different spin, a new beat? "Be still" starts with presence. Full attention in this moment. Pause with lovingkindness and notice what is. Experience it instead of missing it.  Even a few moments of this in my day can be surprisingly calming and clarifying. "My beating heart."  My literal and figurative lifeblood flow from here. I remind myself that my heart, and my emotions, are the center of my existence in ways different from my brain. My brain may be the control center of my physical and thought lives, but without genuine emotion, what does it matter? Be still. Pausing to feel, to fully experience, the beat of one's own heart, is a good way to start, or restart, a day.

Blowin’ in the Wind

Today I am grateful for a comfortable bed, warm blankets, and my husband Darcy beside me. I am also grateful for the wisdom others share with me. On our recent weekend travels, I got up early Sunday morning and did some writing and then went for a run. The hotel we stayed at is very close to the school we were visiting, and also a roadside trail leading from campus back into the town. It was a breezy and chilly morning and it was still dark. The maroon and gold school colors were displayed, alternating, on a series of flags along the trail. I didn't want to venture too far in the dark, and also there was a little rain on the way, so I ran back and forth over about a half-mile stretch, passing these flags blowing in the breeze. Not surprisingly, as I ran, these words from Bob Dylan came into my head: “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind...” I wasn't only getting physical exercise on that run, I was also getting some spiritua