Showing posts from February, 2020

Leap Day Comes Back Around

Today I am grateful for this Universe we live in, for the Earth's revolution  around  our life-giving Sun every 365 1/4 days. We are humble tiny parts in a vast whole we cannot even fathom.  I have been writing this blog for nearly 8 years, but this is only the second Leap Day I have encountered in that time, so I thought I would go back and see if and what I wrote on the last Leap Day. This is most of that day's post:  February 29, 2016  Though feeling considerably better, the virus that took hold in me hasn't made a complete exit, so I continue to make rest a priority. That is not always something I am good at. I push myself and fill my days from early in the morning until running out of gas somewhere in the evening. And that pace certainly could have made me vulnerable to viral attack. My body said "enough" and I literally was limited by my energy level. That makes it much easier to prioritize. Do I have to get anything else done before I rest?

Breathe In This Special Day

Today I am grateful for the opportunities that being a gratefulness gathering host have brought into my life. I appreciate speaking with others about my experience and theirs around this idea of living gratefully. I grow from each of these conversations. Breathe, just breathe. So short and simple. So hard for me to remember when I most need to remember. Practice makes progress possible. That includes practicing mindful breathing. It can bring a presence to the moment at hand and the day ahead, and help me let go of "stuff" that is a burden and would slow me down today if I kept hanging on to it. Let go or be dragged. Physically slowed, mentally stalled, emotionally stuck, spiritually empty.  These happen when the "stuff" stays. They disappear when I surrender and find myself fully focused on now and the hours ahead. When I open to what the Universe and Great Spirit offer to me. Here is a breathing mediation I have found helpful. I encourage you to try it. It i

Old Reliable

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the power of emotional healing and the simplicity of taking a drink of clean water. There is a clock that hangs on the wall in the house my parents and now my brother have lived in for nearly forty years. The clock moved with us from the home we all consider our true "home place" and where my other brother and his wife have lived since we moved from there when I was 15. The clock was a gift to my parents from another brother and his wife. It is a battery-operated chiming clock that sounds at every hour and half-hour. At the hour, it chimes for the hour. Eight chimes for eight o'clock. It is over forty years old and has remained reliable all these years. It has hung on the same wall, serving as a reminder of what was, what and who have passed, and what is today. Moment by moment. It is the same clock that woke me up from my Sunday afternoon naps as I slept off yet another hangover as a teenager, and that got me thinking to take a

Keep Going

Today I am grateful for safe travels, the many ways I enjoyed time with family in recent days, and especially the little ways I spent time with my mom. I am grateful she seemed more content, less agitated. Witnessing that sense of peace in her offered a good buffer to the growing confusion and declining recognition Mom has. One of the numerous family members who gathered to help Mom celebrate her birthday was her younger sister Helen. Helen is approaching 84, and aging well from what I can see. She joined my siblings and I, along with Mom, later on Sunday afternoon after the "party" was over. Someone commented to her that she hadn't changed since the last time they had seen each other, and the question asked was along the lines of "How do you do it?"  Helen's response was "I get up each day and keep going." Thank you for that simple wisdom Aunt Helen! Getting up is easier on some days than others.  Keeping going sometimes seems effortless,

"Take the bad with the good"

Today I am grateful for family and friends. Sure, that goes without saying. But, it's still good to say it, write it, feel it. Yesterday afternoon after work, I was sitting at our computer and my son Sam was laying on the couch a few feet away. Our dog Oliver jumped up on Sam and started loving him up, as these two like to do. Oliver was licking Sam's face and I said something about "doesn't his breath smell?" Sam said "Yeah, but you have to take the bad with the good." "Take the bad with the good." Life and living gratefully help me do that, hopefully at least some of the time and with some humble grace too. We can't avoid disappointments, frustrations, losses, challenges, changes.  Energy spent in denial or emotionally stuck becomes wasted energy. Looking for silver linings, lessons learned, progress made all help pull the benefits out of what felt nothing like beneficial at the time. Some friends and I were in a conversation last

Happy 89th Mom!

Today I am grateful for the reminders to be present and not take myself or life too seriously all the time. I am also grateful for my mom and the many lives she has touched.  My mom turns 89 years old today. She was born on February 20, 1931 and named Gertrude Helen.  This week's blogging is about pictures I guess, so here are a couple more. The first one is Mom, around age six. I can really see my young face in her young face.  The second picture was taken on my 54th birthday last July at my nephew's wedding. Mom with  the "baby girl" of her eight daughters. I have two younger brothers too, along with three older ones.  Needless to say, there are plenty of people around to wish Mom a happy birthday. Her sons and daughters, daughters-in law and sons-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, siblings, in-laws, extended family, friends, neighbors. Her life has touched and been touched by so many others in her nearly nine decades of living.  I am thi

Kickapoo: From Here to There

Living gratefully today, I appreciate meditation time and where it takes me. I also give thanks for the walls and windows of our stable home. This weekend, we stayed in a cabin very near the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. Though I had heard the word "kickapoo" before, I could tell you little about it. We chose to watch a video available in our cabin, titled "The Kickapoo Valley Reserve: From Here to There." Watching it brings more meaning to the place and space, as well as our time there. Kickapoo is believed to be an Algonquin word meaning "from here to there." It's a fitting name for the river that winds through this area for about 125 miles before feeding into the Wisconsin River not far from where it feeds into the Mississippi River. Settlers had lived in the area since the mid-1800's, displacing the Native Americans of the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) Nation who had lived there for many centuries. Flooding was a recurring problem and a dam was begun i

Simply Getting Away

Today I am grateful for safe travels and time away this weekend. I am also grateful for the physical capabilities that allowed us to take in a new area on foot. It was nice to just drive a reasonable distance; no complicated travel arrangements, no need to leave at a certain time to make a certain timeline. Thanks for doing all the driving Darcy. I do appreciate it! It was nice to see a new area and have new experiences. Darcy and I had some time to ourselves, enjoyed the scenery of southwestern Wisconsin and the solitude of a quiet stay in a comfortable cabin. Less noise, little to no hustle and bustle, fewer distractions. We did some snowshoeing and hiking and were treated to ideal weather and sunshine. We played Zilch, Phase 10, and Yahtzee and watched an old movie on a DVD player. We hadn't used one of those in years. We enjoyed the warmth and ambience of a fireplace, and the quiet and nighttime darkness you only get away from suburbia. The accommodations were simple, o

Dear Mr. Valentine

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the love I have in my life and in my own heart. A special thank you today to my husband Darcy. If you are paying attention to such things, you know today is Valentine's Day. It's also a Friday in February of 2020. And it's a fresh day that we each get to have. Expect less and accept more and it will likely be a good day with some joy, or at least joylets, in it. I recently read Mary Louise Parker's book Dear Mr. You . Parker is an actress and was in one of my favorite movies--"Fried Green Tomatoes."  This was her first book, published in 2015, and it was recommended to me by a friend. She wrote letters to some of the men who had an impact on her life. Some she knew well and others left their mark in a short time. Well-written tributes to males who had made a difference, sometimes painfully, sometimes profoundly. I aspire to getting my first book out there in my 50's, just like Mary Louise Parker did. Thank you fo

There's More Where That Came From

Living gratefully today, I give thanks for my fingers and toes. They may be smaller body parts, but they do a lot for me and the rest of my body. I also appreciate the garbage haulers who always get the job done, regardless of the weather on any given pick-up day. Here is the bulk of my post from February 13, 2018:  Coming off a tough year in 2017 that saw much pain and many challenges for people I care about, and also brought me some job-related stress as well as minor, but noticeable, physical health issues, JOY is a good reminder, a good focus. Some random thoughts on JOY: *"Don't squeeze the joy out." Each day, each hour provides joy for the taking. Notice it. * Joylets, as my sister Aileen calls them, can be as simple as the smell of fresh air or seeing the stars in the sky. *The joy in forgiveness is real. Whether forgiving others, being forgiven by them, or forgiving ourselves, there is joy in the unburdening and the compassion needed to forgive. *The

Traveling Lighter . . .

Today I am grateful for the meditation time I make for myself, at least on some days, and what I gain in that time of awareness and "being."  I am also grateful for warm socks for my feet. Traveling lighter is what is on my mind this morning, in several ways. Traveling lighter to and from work . . . I just got a new school bag--the one I had was too big for my purposes. In this digital age, I often only bring my computer back and forth from work, my lunch bag, and my purse. My new bag is a backpack/hand bag and I really like it. My lunch bag often fits in there, as do the necessary items from my purse. On many days, I am not grabbing several bags, just one. That makes it easier and less frustrating getting out the door at home in the morning and out the door of my office in the afternoon. Traveling lighter with the physical stuff that needs to go to and from work, but also the mental baggage I am not bringing home. Caring less in healthy ways. Productive and fairly f

A Winter's Night

Today I am grateful for the synergy created when I get to hang out with other recovering alcoholics. I am also grateful for wisdom that finds me when I need it.  That winter's day I wrote about yesterday included a winter's night too. Day always gives way to night, and night to day. The flow of life. I find comfort and peace in that flow. There are many things I appreciate about the various times of day. This is what awaited me Monday morning, after a fresh snowfall the day before and some overnight freezing fog. Stunning beauty that reminds me that something far more powerful than human is at work in the world. I find comfort and peace in that as well.  The sound of the snow and crunch underfoot. The warm bed and heated house I had just left. The heart strings attached to the two guys still sleeping upstairs and the little guy walking beside me on our morning walk. A winter's night gave way to faith, hope, and love in the early morning. It was a good st

A Winter's Day

Living gratefully today, I am paying attention to my muscles and joints and giving them some rest. I am also appreciating the ease of warm and clean running water. It's heading toward mid-February and the days are getting longer and lighter. It hasn't been a tough winter in terms of weather, especially compared to what we had last year. Here's a winter day that played out in a 24-hour period over the weekend: -clear roads and trails and sunshine greeted me mid-afternoon Saturday as I went for a run -the forecast was calling for a snowstorm, so I wanted to get a run in on clean roads -over night the snow arrived, and by 8:00 a.m. Sunday I was shoveling a few inches off the driveway -then the heaviest snow hit for a couple hours and it was fun to watch it out the window and         also to take a walk out in it, I have always liked walking out in snow, it's peaceful -more shoveling--but I like that job and appreciate being physically able to do it

Peeling Carrots

Today I am grateful for my farm upbringing and what it taught me about the natural world and my place in it. The resulting respect for and love of nature have been ongoing gifts. I am grateful for all of my siblings, as we grew up together on the farm, and a special mention to my sister Zita who is celebrating her birthday today. Happy Birthday Zita! We were pretty self sufficient on the farm. We had our own eggs and milk, butchered chickens, raised pigs and beef to sell and for meat for our own table. We had a large garden; eating fresh produce, but also canning, freezing, and storing more so we could enjoy it year-round. Everyone pitched in to do our part. Maybe it was gathering the eggs, or picking the ripe strawberries, or carrying milk to the milk house. Or we were in the house helping with some aspect of the meal preparation. It seemed we were always preparing a meal or cleaning up after one. Especially Mom, but she had plenty of helpers. The other morning I was peeling a

Vistas via Gratitude

Today I am grateful for the extensive writing I have done over the last four decades. It has become a treasure to me. I am also grateful for the peace of silent snow falling. Here is my post from six years ago today, February 7, 2014: Vista  caught my eye as I perused the "v" section of the dictionary. It is defined as 1) a distant view and 2) an extensive mental view. 1) Some of my favorite vistas include: the view of my community from the hill I come down each day from the north as I drive home from work, the hilly countryside of the farm I return to when visiting my family, and the sight of a marathon's finish line when it finally comes into view. Other amazing vistas that I have only been treated to once or a handful of times include places like: Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Denali National Park and the glaciers of Prince William Sound in Alaska, and the Oregon Coast.  I am grateful to be able to travel to these places near and far, and I am grate

A Singular Place

Living gratefully today, I am noticing how tired I am and should pace myself accordingly. I am grateful for the joys of being a parent. Yesterday was National Signing Day for high school athletes earning scholarships and committing to play a collegiate sport. Our son Sam participated at his high school, in a nice little ceremony, joined by the AD, his head coach, and a teammate also signing for a different school. There were a good number of students and adults there to take it in, as were Darcy, Emily, and I.  Arthur planned to be there, but his family got sick. Thankfully, they are starting to feel better. Both athletes spoke a few words as well as the AD and head coach, and then they signed, though the official paperwork had already been taken care of. I was most touched by one of their teammates who spoke at the end, when questions were welcome. He simply wanted to thank Sam and his teammate for welcoming him to the team last year and for being so helpful to him and a good

Then Go On the Offensive

Today I am grateful for my sense of smell and the pleasant scents of crisp morning air and steaming fresh coffee. I ended yesterday's post with these words: "Retreat first. Retreat inward to find my writer's heart and soul, a little lost in these last years. Retreat first. To tap back into the reasons I write at all. Retreat first. Then, write on." Write on. Go on the offensive. Take more forays into the world of revising previous work. Continue the ongoing campaign to reach publishing. Surrender ego and impatience, but not my goals. Those goals can seem daunting at times. Improbable. Still... little steps bring me closer. If anyone knows the discipline of one day at a time, one stride at a time, one word at a time, it is me. Some days it will roll. Some days it will be like a rock, stuck in place. And some days the flow will rock and roll and it will be amazing. Goals take time. I have really been moving toward this one for most of my life, since I began wr

Retreat First

Living gratefully today, I notice the stillness of the morning and lean into it for energy. I also appreciate the many songs from John Denver that I like. I had the opportunity to attend a writer's retreat this weekend and it was a wonderful experience. It has been something I have wanted to pursue, and things fell into place after my friend Liz suggested this one. Thanks Liz! I joined a small community of fellow writers for the weekend, Liz being the only one I knew. It included plenty of my own time to write or do whatever I chose. It also included a couple of group times, meals shared if chosen, one-on-ones with the facilitator and a random fellow writer. There was concentrated time to get into a flow of writing and revising, of being fully immersed. Something that doesn't happen often for me.  I thoroughly appreciated it all, and feel affirmed with fresh momentum. The trick will be to keep it building. In each interaction with other writers, I gleaned something. The