Showing posts from March, 2020

Episodic Anger

Today I am grateful for all the health care workers who are helping in many different capacities at this time. I am also grateful for governors, mayors, and others at the state and local level who are working so hard for the citizens they represent. "Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again . . ."  And write about you. I am grateful for the range of emotions I am feeling. It is some begrudging gratitude today, but the feelings remind me I am alive. Anger is bubbling, as it has from time to time over the last weeks. Overall, I have felt resilience and shown compassion for self and others. Episodic anger comes and goes though too. A normal and healthy emotion in this unsettling and often untethered time. Am I handling it reasonably and gently?  Not always. Episodic: occurring, appearing, or changing at usually irregular intervals : OCCASIONAL. Recent episodes have included: *Anger at these circumstances that have heavily altered our day-to-

Exponential Gratitude

Living gratefully, I appreciate a new day in this unprecedented time. People die each day from many diseases and accidents. This day is not a given, it's a gift. I am grateful for my job as we begin a new, also unprecedented, phase of this school year. As the number of cases of COVID-19 grows exponentially in the U.S. and other places around the world, and the death toll rises, it becomes more difficult to consider all the possibilities the next weeks and months may hold for us all. Today's "Word for the Day" at brings perspective: It is when we are confronted with...poignant reminders of mortality that we  become most aware of the strangeness and wonder of our brief life on Earth. (Kathleen Basford)  Then I remember. There is always some good, a sense of gratefulness, to lean into and build from. Gratitude can also grow exponentially.  Here are some gratitudes I noted in the last 24 hours: *Garage fun with the family on a rain

Anxious, Bored, or Irritable? Just Breathe

Today I am grateful for a game of Phase 10 and laughter shared with my husband and son, and for new episodes of "Grace and Frankie" to enjoy and bring more laughter. Laughter releases endorphins and increases oxygen flow. It releases stress, which also helps keep our immune systems stronger. What are your go-to laughter sources?  Keep tapping into them. Like laughter, meditation and mindful breathing can calm us down and release tension and anxiety that may have accumulated. It's safe to say that we have all accumulated tension and anxiety in the midst of this pandemic. It can look different in each of us. Some people become anxious, worried, and quite distracted. Some flit from one activity to another, but still feel bored. Nothing seems to work to take their mind off the worries and concerns. And then some, like me, get irritable. I am more likely to avoid my emotions and become even more of a doer than I usually am. I don't run out of things to do, I run ou

Eight Days, Eight Months, Eight Years Ago

Living gratefully today, I appreciate that "we're all in this together" shows itself in many heartening ways during these trying times. I am grateful for the Zoom app and how it helped me connect with colleagues and also a couple of different gratefulness communities yesterday. Eight days ago things were getting really interesting as the pace of the pandemic concerns picked up where I live. At midnight tonight, my state of Minnesota begins a two-week "stay at home" order. Much has changed in 8 days, and much has stayed the same. Eight months ago, my husband Darcy, our son Sam and I were traveling back from a visit to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Fall brought some other college visits and Sam's decision to attend Dordt University. How will that look by late July this year? Eight years ago today, March 27, 2012, I pressed the publish button for the very first post on this blog. Today when I hit "publish" it will be post number 2385. That

Daily Questions

Today I am grateful for a phone conversation with my brother Morry on his birthday, and for a game of Yahtzee with my boys. These helped ground me in these unsettling times. I am also grateful, and give a big thumbs up, to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and his team, and all statewide leaders who have worked tirelessly these last weeks. Governor Walz is clear and concise in his explanation of decisions and the rationale for them. Minnesota will have a "stay home" order in place from tomorrow night at 11:59 p.m. until April 10 at 5:00 p.m. Many of us have already been limiting our travel and contact with the public. This tightens the restrictions further, slows more businesses and interactions, and asks for everyone's cooperation. The goal is to buy time for our state to get better prepared with more hospital beds and medical supplies to better serve the ones who will become most seriously ill with COVID-19 over the next weeks and months. This is all being done in

A Pre-Pandemic Post from Five Years Ago: Yes, It's About Manure

Today I am grateful for effective meditation time this morning, and for my emotions. All of them are teachers and guides. I am grateful for the people in my life with whom I can let down my guard, including myself. Another "Happy Birthday" wish for my brother Morry today, and well-wishes to all reading this. I decided to revisit pre-pandemic times and was looking at posts from this date in previous years. I landed on one from five years ago. An excerpt from my post titled  Spreading Manure  from March 25, 2015: There are plenty of analogies and metaphors about life when discussing manure. If manure is never cleared out, it becomes a rotting, heaping pile of major stink. It works better to reduce the pile and spread it out so air can get to it. Spread it out and let nature take its course and turn it to nutrients for the soil. That is what I must do with my fears, worries, bouts of self-pity. Reduce the pile. Spread it out so air and faith can get in and heal. Help

"I just run!"

Today I am grateful for my family and the newest members of it, our grandsons Leo and Aaron. I am grateful for my sisters and brothers, and a special shout out to my sister Ruth on her birthday today and my brother Morry on his birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday you two! Find some new and fun ways to celebrate a special day in these uncertain times. I pray for those most seriously impacted by the COVID-19 virus and the medical workers caring for them. I also offer a prayer of thanks to scientists, inventors, and researchers working so hard in so many ways to help directly with this global pandemic. We spent some time with our grandson Leo yesterday, and see Aaron regularly on FaceTime. Our plans to see him in person changed recently, like so many other peoples' plans for things they were looking forward to. It helps me keep perspective to see these vibrant young guys in the ways we can. My friend Anne has a daycare right down the street from us. Darcy and I went for a walk y

Where did 18 and 19 go? Zoom and a Tree

Living gratefully today, I appreciate electricity, running water, a roof over our heads, working heat, and food in the refrigerator. When some of the more profound gratitudes are lost in the turmoil, I can still return to giving thanks for the basics, really they are luxuries, that my family and I have. The gratitude hasn't stopped flowing, but it is changing courses in this uncharted time. In my distraction, I spaced off finishing off my list of 19 gratitudes to counter COVID-19.... officially anyway. So let's make it official today. #18  ZOOM The video conferencing and online meeting app that has been used by many businesses in recent years, but is now allowing family and friends, church groups and recovery groups, and many more to stay connected across the miles and across the restrictions in place because of the global pandemic. My six sisters and I gathered in our inaugural Zoom meeting yesterday and it worked!  That was the first gratitude. We all figured it out a

Disrupted and Interrupted

Today I am grateful for chalk art on our local trails, for sunshine and a run, for phone conversations I have had in recent days. I am grateful to have who and what I do have in my life at this current time. It has all been so distracting. So much is disrupted, normal life interrupted by the turn of events, the fast pace of change, the limits placed on us, the powerlessness we feel. This is the first global pandemic of our lifetimes, and hopefully the last. Let's be kind and gentle with one another and ourselves as we each individually try to weather our own emotional turmoil. And as we collectively support one another through the upheaval that is impacting each and every one of us. Individual stories are happening, but so are global stories. It is important to honor both in ourselves and one another. Thank you chalk artists Amy and Libby. I don't know you, but I appreciate the messages you left for all of us who are using a certain stretch of trail in our community. Than

Of Sinks and Spring

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the ways that we and others can continue "business as usual."  I am also grateful for the sound of wind chimes. Wind chimes amid winds of change. "Social distancing" and "flattening the curve" have become overnight sensations in the world of commonly-used phrases. How can we each do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19?  How can we be most responsible about our "social distancing" while still staying connected and sane, and getting some things done? Life goes on. It goes on like it did during other difficult times in our nation's and world's history. It allows the important cogs in the wheels of civilization to keep moving. In turn, that allows humans to see some hope, sense some lightness at heavy times. We had some plans for putting in a new kitchen sink and bathroom vanity well underway before this last week. Products ordered, installment appointments made.  Do we keep them or not?

Numbers 13 - 17 (As Concerns Grow, So Can Gratitude)

Living gratefully today, I paused to appreciate the sounds that soothe: birds singing in the rainy mist and garbage trucks in our neighborhood on a typical Thursday. It is good to latch on to some typical things in these times of atypical happenings. Gratefulness allows us to do the same. Grasp and hold stability in unstable times. 13. MUSIC-- Favorite songs that never fail to lift my spirits and help me tap into whatever range of emotions may need to be sorted through. 14. TEXT MESSAGES/PHONE CONVERSATIONS -- From and with friends and family I trust and feel comfortable with, bringing a sense of being grounded and cared about. 15. PERSPECTIVE VIA PASSWORDS -- Yesterday it was frustration with passwords as I shift from one work computer to a new one, and as we have had the need to access information we don't access often.  A little roadblock like that, compared to what some people are facing, begs me to "Keep it in perspective Lisa!" 16. OUR DOG OLIVER -- He is

Gratitudes 9 - 12

Today I am grateful for ongoing appreciation for what is here today, even though there is also much fear and uncertainty here as well. And so we keep moving through 19 gratitudes to bolster us as we face the COVID-19 pandemic: 9. BIRD SONG--The sun comes up and the birds sing. There is comfort in both. 10. SMILES--We shared some yesterday afternoon with fellow walkers and runners, from a safe 6-feet plus. 11. OUR SON SAM--He and his friends are finding ways to enjoy sunshine, exercise, and some fun while keeping "social distancing" in mind. 12. OATMEAL--A simple, filling, and nutritious breakfast. Keep the gratitude flowing. Onward, with kindness and shared humanity.

Numbers 5-8 (19 Gratitudes to Counter COVID-19)

Living gratefully today, I can breathe deeply to calm myself and I can lean more deeply into the faith that I know is there. I am grateful for quiet meditation time to help me start my day with less mental turmoil and more mindful presence. To yesterday's routine, cashiers/stockers, sunshine, and recovery, today I add these gratitudes to help counter the growing changes, fears, and unknowns as COVID-19 brings a wider impact to all: 5. The forms of TECHNOLOGY that allow for connections and learning to take place when "social distancing" is called for to help slow the spread of the virus. This will help us help each other and also hopefully ward off some of the loneliness and fear. 6. LAUGHTER to help lighten the tension we are all feeling and to remind us of our humanity. This is not laughter at someone else's expense or the nervous laughter of denial. This is genuine laughter. 7. CHOCOLATE as a comfort food. It is one of my favorites and I have some on hand. I

19 Gratitudes to Counter COVID-19 Concerns

Today I am grateful for routines and sunshine. There is no escaping the fears and upheavals that have entered all of our lives as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds. COVID-19 gets its name from Coronavirus Disease 2019. We should each be taking it seriously, acting prudently, and doing our part to help in the ways we can. It has been crazy, uncharted territory we have found ourselves in. For those of us living in the U.S., it has really just been the last few days that have opened our eyes wide to the potential for many sick people, weeks of shutdowns, unknown economic impacts, normalcy thrown out the window in many ways we usually take for granted. What can we do to manage in such uncertain times? What can we do to keep ourselves healthy and grounded so we can be of help to others, or have a better chance of recovering if we catch the virus? We can breathe, rest, stay hydrated, exercise, be grateful. Grateful? At a time like this? Yes. Gratefulness can keep us grounded, keep u

Layers of Impact and Concern

Today I am grateful for the beautiful moon and the sparkling frost on grass that greeted Oliver and I on our morning walk just now. I am grateful for "just now" too, a good place to be in unsettling and uncertain times. I captured this "aerial view" of a frozen puddle yesterday morning. It caught my eye and mind as I walked and talked on the phone with my sister about the unfolding news and reality of the global coronavirus pandemic. "Aerial view" means I stood with my hands above my head over this 2 x 3 foot area and took a picture with my phone. I was first struck, and heartened, by the intricate frozen layers of ice and the look of a spider web that came to mind. Nature's magic and awe, appreciated by humans like me. It was worthy of a pause and a picture. A few hours later, it was just a murky pool of dirty run-off. Then what emerged is the analogy of the layers of impact and concern that our current times present to us all. From canceled l

Unprecedented Times Need True Presence

Today I am grateful for family, friends, and faith. I am also grateful for my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual capabilities. These gratitudes are my sources of strength; the connections, love, light, practices, and habits that help energize me and keep priorities straight. In this unprecedented and unsettling time we are facing with Coronavirus and all that it is impacting, these become even more important. There are global concerns, and national, community, family, individual ones too. Things are evolving rapidly in recent days and there is a sense of powerlessness that comes with all the uncertainty. True presence and staying in today are always wise guides, even more so in times like these. Consider this quote from Howard Thurman: In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart  giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair. It is a challenge to be still and quiet when so much information is coming at us an

Keep Tools Sharp

Living gratefully today, I am noticing new faith and clarity, and the simple comforts that surround me in our home. This was my post one year ago today, March 12, 2019: 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 Arthur's wife Alyssa -the opportu

More on Inaction

Today I am grateful for the valued work of self-awareness and for the amazing beauty of fresh snow on trees this morning. "Stillness is liberating. It frees me from the chains I tend to bind myself up in. To learn to truly rest physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, stillness must be embraced. Slow down and do nothing. Words worth repeating and considering further. I prided myself on understanding mind-body connections and being tapped into my own. In reality, I was pretty clueless much of the time. The mind-body connection is only part of the story. It's really more of a thought-feeling-body connection. I could identify my thoughts, and they were often not serving me well. I wasn't able to stop them, so they would keep spinning and harming. What was neglected amid all of that thinking was what I was feeling. The emotions are always there, whether or not there is conscious awareness of them. This is where I got tripped up, for decades really. I am lear

Inaction is an Action

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the word game "Wordscapes" to give me some good brain exercise. I am also grateful for the opportunities presenting themselves to me this week in a variety of ways. It's time to revisit my word for the year: Stillness. It has surfaced fairly regularly as I try to keep an open mind and heart to it. Even that is progress for me. Stillness. Just saying the word, out loud or to myself, carries significance and is helpful. Putting my hand on my heart and saying "Be still and know that God is here" fuels faith in Great Spirit. So the other day when a friend was talking about that to-do list that never gets done, about the constant doing, I could sure empathize. Painfully so. Less doing, more being. This is the power of stillness. A pause here. A moment of clarity there. Realizations that "this can wait" or "this isn't even necessary now" are liberating thoughts. Stillness is liberating. It frees me

Hope or Regret?

Today I am grateful for the first bike ride of the season and some patio time yesterday. I am also grateful for my longtime friend Deb and our continued connection. Happy Birthday Deb! I spent time with some recovery friends yesterday and they left me with plenty of food for thought. Here are some tidbits that came out as the meaning of “hope” was tossed around: *Hope is a good 4-letter word. *Hope gives us strength to try new things. *There is no hope in drinking, there is in sobriety. Because of conversations I had with several friends and family members over the weekend, I was staring down a mix of emotions about cancer and alcoholism and what they have done to me and to plenty of people I care about. Regret surfaced. It has a way of doing that. Regret about what I did or didn't do and say. Regret about wasted time. Regret is futile. What's done is done. Enter hope. Hope pulls me from the past and brings me to the present, where I can take right actions. Hope

Smiles and Beginnings, Revisited

Today I am grateful for new pursuits with old hobbies, and for recovery from alcoholism and the good friends I share the journey with. With yesterday's post fresh in my mind, Darcy and I headed out for a run shortly after. We shared some smiles early in the run as we referenced certain body parts that factor in to our running. Smiles over some jokes and references that only spouses married over 20 years and with hundreds of runs shared can fully appreciate. Smiles. Barely a few hundred yards out our door, I noticed an eagle. We paused and took in the majestic bird perching high in a neighbor's tree. We have gotten used to seeing eagles now, but to see this one in our own neighborhood is less common. A little further down the trail, we saw an eagle soaring low in the sky. It was likely the same eagle, first perched, then soaring. Our run began with some smiles and an eagle spotting. The day was off to a good start. There were more smiles, other beginnings. I had phone conv

Smile and Begin

Living gratefully today, I am savoring fresh coffee, recliner time next to my husband Darcy, and the view of the coming daylight and sunrise. I took my car in for an oil change later yesterday afternoon, tired from a busy week but looking forward to the weekend. Taking a seat in the waiting area with a late afternoon cup of coffee, I noticed these coasters as I looked for a spot to put my cup down: There was a third one in this Mother Teresa coaster collection too. Mother Teresa, now St. Teresa of Calcutta, has left behind many wonderful quotes that extend the reach of her legacy. Simple service to the suffering and a few words strung artfully together compose the story of her life.  Smiles are a simple service we can provide one another and ourselves. Smiles are universal, free, contagious. They are even physiologically good for us--releasing more endorphins and reducing the stress hormone known as cortisol.  Let us begin. That is all. Get up, pause in gratefulness, d

Three Months Left

Living gratefully today, I say thank you for trained professionals who help us in many areas of life. I also give thanks for our son Sam and this journey of being his mom. Tonight is the end of an era--the last parent-teacher conferences for Sam. We haven't missed a single conference date over the years, from elementary classrooms to middle and high school gymnasiums and Commons. We always enjoy talking to teachers who get to see our child in different ways and with a different lens than his parents do. And we appreciate at least meeting and chatting briefly with these wonderful folks who have dedicated their careers to reaching and teaching young people. Sam has been blessed with many outstanding teachers over the years. They have helped solidify his strengths and goals, and the importance of flexibility and an open mind as well. Three months from today, June 5, 2020, Sam and his classmates graduate from high school. That's a far more significant ending. I'm ready, a

Darkness Deserves Gratitude

Today I am grateful for friendly people, light switches in familiar places, working electricity, and this quote: "Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand  t hat all growth does not take place in the sunlight.' (Joan Chittister) Darkness deserves gratitude. Some of the most difficult and trying times in my life have yielded the most expansive transformations. Alcoholism could have killed me. I could have killed myself. Cancer could have killed me years ago.  It has not all been smooth sailing. I still need daily work for my daily disease, for my human frailties and shortcomings. But I have survived darkness in many ways. My alleluia points have been very painful and also very profound. Because of them, I am not the person I was. I am healthier and more whole.  Darkness deserves gratitude. Without it, we don't gain the perspective that brings those alleluia points. Without it, we aren't amazed and awed by w

Living With Ease

Today I am grateful for my recovery friends and what we genuinely share, in good times and tough ones. I am also grateful for headphones and ear plugs that can help me go within. This morning I did a loving-kindness guided meditation. I do better with guided meditations, as I tend to wander off less. If I wander, I simply return to my breathing and the phrases used. The meditation today included these phrases: *May you be safe.     *May you be peaceful.      *May you be healthy.      *May you live with ease. It starts by considering someone (or a pet) that you have an uncomplicated relationship with, that you love unconditionally.  It then brings those same phrases to yourself, to others in your community, to all humans, to all animals, plants, and living things. It can even suggest bringing that loving-kindness to a relationship where there is currently troubled emotions or resentments. *May you be safe.     *May you be peaceful.      *May you be healthy.      *May you live wi


Living gratefully today, I give thanks for the glorious weekend weather, my legs that carried me on several walks, and for the sense of touch that connects me with the world around me. This was a recent "Word for the Day" quote on : The more alert we become to the blessing that flows into us through everything we touch,  the more our own touch will bring blessing. (Br. David Steindl-Rast)  The touch of my fingers on the pen and paper of my daily gratitude journal, and the touch of those same fingertips on the keyboard of my computer as I compose this post are direct connections to gratefulness. There is so much more. The feel of the sweatshirt I put on in the early morning chill. I have clothes, plenty of them, for all seasons. For comfort, safety, and my personal style. I may have trouble picking what to wear some of the time, but only because I have too much to pick from.  The warm water that flows as I wash my hands. I have clean

The Truth Marches On . . .

Living gratefully today, I appreciate mild weather, laughter via a middle school play production, and the overall good health and wellbeing of my family and I. As I thought about the arrival of March today the song "Battle Hymn of the Republic" came to mind and the line "His Truth is marching on . . . "   Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics to this patriotic song in 1861, the story being told that several of the verses came together as she lay in bed in the early morning. So she wouldn't forget them, she got up to write them down in the dark with a stub of a pencil. I like writing stories like that. I like lines that inspire: "the truth marches on."  In these times of concern, division, viruses, elections, fraud, mistrust, climate change, and more, the truth remains. There is far more good in the world, and in each of us. Some days it is harder to find the good, to focus on it. We all fall prey to discouragement and waning hope. Maybe we need to sit