Showing posts from April, 2020

Slow Burn

Living gratefully today, I welcome the range of emotions that a typical day often brings. The range is safer than it used to be and I am more stable emotionally than I used to be. Balance as blessing. The idea of slow burn has surfaced in both my thoughts and emotions several times in recent weeks. I have ongoing anger on slow burn--mostly directed at cancer and COVID-19 pandemic circumstances. The burn has boiled up a couple of times and one I handled better than the other. Venting with a trusted friend went better than denial of exhaustion that then turned into "bitchy tired." This slow burn hasn't been extinguished and probably won't be anytime soon. Better to be directed at circumstances outside of me than shortcomings within me. That "not good enough" slow burn has become a more gentle and controlled fire. Worthiness warms me instead of harsh self-criticism blistering me. We had some trees trimmed a couple of weeks ago and were left with a sizable

Filling In

Today I am grateful for fried eggs and toast; a tried, true, and timeless breakfast, and for my other morning go-to--bananas. Filling in. It is happening all around us in nature. The leaves on the trees, the green grass in our lawns, the ground cover in wooded areas are all filling in as spring advances. Blooms and blossoms are beginning to show themselves more and more. I especially appreciate a stretch of trail less than a mile from our house that runs along the Vermillion River for a nice stretch. It is one of my favorite places to witness the changing of the seasons. Transformation is in full swing right now, and if I go a few days without running or biking that stretch, the change is significant. Green has filled in above me on the trees and below me on the ground. The stark landscape of late fall through early spring is replaced with lush and lively growth. The river becomes less visible, the sound of water more muffled. I feel embraced by my surroundings and it heartens me

"Be the Light MN"

Today I am grateful for the time that I get to spend with our son Sam. The pandemic has changed what this time together looks and feels like, but it has also given us more of it. For the last four Monday nights, Sam, Darcy and I have headed to Todd Field at McNamara Stadium at 8:20 p.m. We sit in the truck and take in the lighted field that holds many good memories of football. Sam's team was "Last on the Grass" his junior year and "First on the Turf" this past fall. But the new turf is quiet this spring, no lacrosse games here. No track meets, softball and baseball games, or tennis matches up the road at the high school. Our new Monday night tradition is part of "Be the Light MN" to honor seniors and also all those missing out on their spring sports seasons. The movement began in Texas on March 24 and has spread to many states and hundreds of schools. Here, the lights are on for 20 minutes, for the Class of 2020. I think about the devastating

"99 Blessings"

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the various ways I can still connect with the people in my life. I give thanks for warm air, bike rides, and chance meetings. The six blessings in the video Blessings  that I focused on last week come from the book pictured below. I wrote a post about Br. David and the book for my other blog, titled "Late Bloomer and Slow Learner," now dormant. Read the post here:   Brother David Steindl-Rast: Benedictine Monk and Gratitude Guru , from November 23, 2016. It will explain these pictures. This morning, I wrote the following poem to add to the flow of blessings: Blessings In the face of a  pandemic loaded with  angst and uncertainties,  blessings persist. Continuing to make  themselves known,  the way blessings do when we slow down  and attend to a moment.  The hum of a refrigerator stocked with food,  nourishment available. Buds on trees, new  blades of grass, blossoms emerging, all beckoning  a

Let Us Dance

Today I am grateful for "Holly Holy," "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," and "Layla" on this morning's playlist. I am grateful also for lots of fresh air and sunshine for the taking in recent days. The "Word for the Day" at yesterday was: We did not ask for this room or this music; we were invited in. Therefore, because the dark  surrounds us, let us turn our faces toward the light. Let us endure hardship to be  grateful  f or plenty...We did not ask for this room or this music. But because we are here, let us dance. (Stephen King) I did ask for the music on my personal playlist this morning. Search and you find when it comes to songs you want to hear. None of us asked for the soundtrack of a pandemic though. It's really more like lack of a soundtrack. The usual sounds of garage doors opening and vehicles leaving for the day, of crowded school hallways between classes, of our grandsons' voices in th

Blessings: Departures

Living gratefully today, I notice both the exhaustion and exhilaration of a work week Friday. The last of the  Blessings  is a fitting one. Source of all blessings, you bless us with DEPARTURES --for they are a necessary part of our journey, necessary for arriving. May I be always ready to take leave, always aware that every arrival is a prelude to departure, every birth a step toward dying, and may I thus taste the blessing of being fully present where I am. I can't arrive at new places without departing from old ones. I can't die if I was never born. Sounds simplistic. Is anything but. The physical departures are easier to grasp. The emotional arrivals and departures have been more defining on my stumbling and humbling human path. This morning I am also thinking of my sister Mary Jo. A year ago she was departing from her physical existence, her body succumbing to metastatic breast cancer. I saw her for the last time in mid-May. We said our goodbyes. I departed the roo

Blessings: Memory

Today I give thanks for the love that I receive and that which I am able to give. I also appreciate the bike ride I took last evening, ending as the sun was going down on what had been a beautiful weather day. Today's blessing is MEMORY. Listen and watch  Blessings  here. It's worth repeating. Source of all blessings, you bless us with MEMORY-- that sacred ingathering of the past into the present that allows us to recognize faces, learn poems by heart, find our way back when we are lost, and bring forth old and new from its nearly inexhaustible store. May I know what to forgive and forget and what to retain and treasure, keeping in mind the smallest kindness shown to me and spreading its ripples for a long time.  I am thinking, and feeling, this morning the loss of not being able to see the faces, in person, of people who matter in my life; family members, recovery friends, colleagues. Seeing them on a screen is not the same. It is memory though, that allows me to conjure

Blessings: Change

Living gratefully today, I give thanks for the human spirit, individual and collective, that finds new strength in challenging times. I am also grateful for the birds that keep singing to me, to all of us, to the neighborhood. Today's  Blessing  is CHANGE. Source of all blessings, you bless us with CHANGE-- in the seasons of the year, from snow to greening, flowering, fruiting, and harvest, in the seasons of life, from childhood to youth, full ripeness, and  saging. All living things keep changing. May I welcome change as a sacred opportunity to grow and savor in each unrepeatable moment's fleetingness what IS beyond change. I have always treasured and enjoyed the changing seasons. It is one of the things I like about living where I live. We have four seasons and they are ever-evolving. We have extremes, but they only serve to deepen our appreciation of the picture-perfect days that come along, of the beauty that comes in the transforming times. The seasons of nature cy

Blessings: Imprecision

Today I am grateful for an early morning run and the comfort of my footfalls--left, right, left, right. The next blessing from the video  Blessings  is IMPRECISION: SOURCE OF ALL BLESSINGS, you bless us with imprecision--with all that is approximate, vague, close but not quite; all that leaves room for the more specific, more precise, room for the imagination. May I know when to be exact and when to move freely and blessed in the space so generously provided by all that is not perfectly defined, giving full scope to our dreams and to our creativity.  I thought first about my handwriting; how messy and scrawling it is. Yet, the words come out, they are formed and take on meaning. Mostly legible, they are captured for whatever purpose I had initially made the scrawls. Good enough. Good enough. Beautiful words to the ears of those of us with ramped up expectations of ourselves. Difficult words too. I struggle to accept good enough. Yet, when I do, I am liberated. And I am also re

Back to the Grind

Living gratefully today, I appreciate hearing the voices of my grandsons. They make me smile and gain perspective back about what matters most. Monday morning. Back to the grind of the work week, which my husband Darcy, son Sam, and I now share under one roof. It's a new grind, this pandemic grind. I would take the old grind of getting into my car for my commute and roaming the halls of my school, greeting students and colleagues with a smile and hello. The old grind of another meeting, another face-to-face with a struggling student. I would welcome the return to normalcy, but I know that is going to take some time. Our efforts to stay home and social distance are making a difference and are the right thing to do, as I watched the U.S. death toll hit another grim milestone overnight. . . 40,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. So we grind out our days and support one another when we hit rough patches, as we all have and will. As Darcy and I ran the other morning, this poem ca

Blessings: Humility

Today I am grateful for a quiet house, to help quiet my heart and mind. I am also grateful for the lessons in humility that have made such a difference in my life. Humility is the next blessing in the video  Blessings : Humility: Source of all blessings, you bless us with humility--that down-to-earth quality that has nothing in common with humiliation but makes us stand tall and acknowledge both the humus that feeds us and the stars to which we aspire. May I learn to practice and to honor in others this sparkling humility, which is the dignity that we, as human beings, cannot afford to lose. The blessings in the video are from Brother David Steindl-Rast's book 99 Blessings . This book is meant for anyone and everyone, regardless of faith background. He writes "Blessings are life-giving only as long as we pass them on."  He wrote the blessings to first reflect the gift they are, and then ends with a resolution to share it with others. Humility is something I have s

Blessings: Breath

Living gratefully today, I am savoring the smell of bacon cooking and also a slower start to my morning after a couple of jam-packed ones. The 6-minute video Blessings that I shared yesterday focuses on six blessings. They are each worthy of their own post. Breath Source of all blessings, you bless us with breath— In and out, in and out, ever-renewing us, ever anew, making us one with all who breathe the same air. May this blessing overflow into a shared gratefulness, so that with one breath I may praise and  celebrate life. Between breaths as I exercised yesterday, I realized the progress that I have made with my hip. The  physical therapist I worked with said it would take 8-10 weeks for the more noticeable results.  Breathing through the targeted exercises for those weeks, I breathed in the progress, less pain, and more strength yesterday. As I also seek more self-compassion, I find it in the simplicity of my own breathing. The rhythmic in and out are comforting. Sometimes,

Blessings Run Deep

Today I am grateful for our working washer and dryer, refrigerator, stove, and other appliances. They help make staying at home comfortable and efficient. Consider pausing for the next six minutes, or at some point today when you need a break, and watch  Blessings . It is described here: Experience the serenity of six blessings for everyday life in our new meditative film, "Blessings." Read by Br. David Steindl-Rast, "a man whose humble teachings," filmmaker Doug Menuez writes, "have helped millions to navigate the uncertainty and suffering bound up with being alive." Allow yourself to be reminded of the sacredness of every moment and to live from the great fullness of your heart. " Navigate the uncertainty and suffering bound up with being alive. " Living gratefully, from the wisdom of one of this era's noted spokespersons on the topic, doesn't ask us to shirk doubt and pain, but rather work our way through it, learning as we


Today I am grateful for our various technological devices; allowing my husband Darcy, son Sam, and I to do the work, writing, news-gathering, item ordering, and connecting with others that these devices conveniently allow us to do. Cracked. There are days when my resilience cracks and needs a break. There are days when my strength cracks and vulnerability allows for deeper learning and humility. There are days in these pandemic times when I feel cracked all over, and others when I feel renewed by the healing grace of the cracks that may reshape me, but don't break me. And then there are days when my cracked winter hands are front and center, screaming for attention and some lotion. So this is yesterday's poem for my poem-a-day challenge: Cracked Hands and fingertips cracked and chapped, raw and inflamed, brought on by the dry air  and cold winter weather. This year compounded by  the need to wash hands, sanitize with harsh liquid, and repeat many


Living gratefully today, I appreciate the morning quiet and what shows itself to me in this time. I also give thanks for this blog and what it teaches me as a writer and as a transforming individual. As I have done for 23 previous century marks, I note that today will be post number 2400, and the 24th century mark reached since I began blogging eight years ago. That’s a lot of posts! Persistence and perseverance have brought me to this milestone. One word at a time, one post at a time. There have been days where the words flowed freely from sources previously untapped, other days when they were pulled forth with unwilling effort, and everything in between. Such is the life of a writer and a woman in her mid-life muck and mire. Persistence and perseverance, a moment, hour, and a day at a time will also get us through this pandemic and worrisome economic times. The number 24 holds significant meaning to me. The hours in a day. The age I was when I began sobriety. Writing and livi

A Pandemic Birthday: Do What Love Does

Living gratefully today, I appreciate my husband Darcy and the many blessings he brings to our marriage and family. Today is his birthday! At his suggestion, we watched Easter services yesterday from the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry gave the sermon. In it, he used the words “Do what love does.” That is what Darcy does. He does what love does; as a man, husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, and more. It may look like different things at times, but it is love at the core. It may even frustrate his wife at times, or put us at odds in a discussion, but it is love at the core. Dedicated, determined, deep love. Thank you for that. Happy Birthday Darcy! You are the first in our immediate family to have a birthday in these pandemic times. The celebration will be different and limited in ways, as most everything is as we stay hunkered down during the COVID-19 crisis. I think we all long for the times, just weeks ago really, and all the year

Easter Blooms

Today I am grateful for the pleasant weather of the last couple of days, and the hope of Easter, even in the midst of a pandemic. Especially in the midst of a pandemic. It is a different Easter for sure, but we are still finding ways to celebrate and honor the day, see family, attend church services, share a meal. My husband Darcy and I took the opportunity of a beautiful day yesterday to go to the local Catholic church and walk the "Way of the Cross" on a hillside near the church. It was a comforting way to mark this Holy Week. Thank you to the local Eagle Scout and others who made the space what it is. We did some yard clean-up and had a fire in our fire pit the other day, another source of comfort. As I walked around our yard, I saw plenty of green shoots taking off. Including these tulips: There is hope in this early growth, even with a snowstorm bearing down on us today. Those tulips will bloom and summer days will be here before we know it. At least there a

The Bench: Now Here

Today I am grateful for my reliable morning gifts: the coming daylight, coffee, a walk with our dog Oliver. I am also grateful for my working five senses, and this touching video that reminds me how significant they are as gifts in my life: The Bench My senses allow me to experience the current moment, in rich fullness. When I take the time to pause and pay attention. Yesterday's poem for the poem-a-day challenge fits nicely here: From Nowhere to Now Here  Nowhere to go  finds me now here, lamenting what I cannot do, has me forgetting what I can. Now here, I savor the way my pen flows  across the page. Now here, I relish  in the quirks of our  beloved cockapoo. Now here, feeling my feet grounded and stable beneath me. Now here. LV Now here, I begin this day with gratefulness and energy. Have a good day!

Curve Flattening

Today I am grateful for lamplight that is just right, and for a comfortable table/chair combination for our computer desk. I am grateful for the many meaningful connections I have with other people in my life. A poem-a-day for the month of April continues to nudge this poet to be disciplined, curious, and spontaneous. The pandemic is showing up more often than not. Writing about it somehow helps make enough sense of it all to help me proceed. Speaking of making sense, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz continues to make a lot of sense out of our state's efforts to flatten the curve, prepare our health care system to handle the cases of COVID-19 that are coming, and address the growing economic concerns. We also have medical facilities, such as Mayo Clinic and the U of M, and supplies manufacturers (such as 3M and Medtronic) that are not only helping our state but our country as well. Thank you Governor Walz and all! We are proud Minnesotans! This is yesterday's poem for Day 8

The Moon Also Rises

Today I am grateful for patio time with my husband, and the busy birds singing away in our quiet neighborhood. I heard mention of the super moon on the news last evening, then another mention from our neighbor as she walked by. A super moon is a little bigger and a little brighter than your average full moon because it is closer to the Earth at that point as it orbits. We were treated to clearing skies and a gorgeous late afternoon and evening, so we could also be treated to this moon rising: There was a super moon last month too, on March 9. The world that moon shone on a month ago is the same world that last night's moon rose through. It's an amazing sight, the moon and stars in the vast sky. I feel humbled by it all, by my own insignificance.  And I feel the hope and faith of a power far beyond human that can help bring us through this. Nature is a calming and soothing force to me always, and is especially appreciated in these uncertain times.   The pictur

Reaching Capacity

Living gratefully, I consider the role of healthy practices in a time where so much has become uncertain and untethered. I honor my body with exercise, my heart and mind with written word. My soul is nourished by both. Speaking of writing, here is yesterday's installment for my "poem-a-day" challenge: Reaching Capacity  Mass respirator production , fenced-off playgrounds,  overloaded ICU’s,  empty streets, schools,   and store shelves. Our capacity for resilience is being put to a grueling test. A twilight zone, darkness falling, death toll rising, limits tightening and  lengthening.  Our capacity for hope stretched thin . . . bending but not breaking. Our capacity for compassion  and humanity boundless. LV I woke up this morning with fear nearing capacity. With quiet meditation, tapping into the real fear that is really here, I found some release. I found faith, compassion, hope for humanity.

Where the Beloved Lives

Today I am grateful for the comforting sounds of my husband and our dog breathing peacefully in their sleep. Finding peace is always important, and especially so now. Going back to find a pre-pandemic post from this date, what I discovered was this draft that I started on April 6, 2019. I often throw a quote or thought into a draft, sometimes returning to it in the coming days, sometimes not. I have dozens of drafts awaiting their chance. All that I had put in the draft was this quote: "Thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives."  (Rumi) Beloved. What a nice moniker for Universe, Great Spirit, Higher Power, God, Allah. A year ago none of us had any idea that a pandemic would come sweeping across the globe and uproot our sense of normalcy. None of us knew that within a few short weeks everything we took for granted in terms of freedom and daily life would suddenly look and feel so very different. The upheaval is about so much more than fear

As I Sit And Wonder . . .

Living gratefully, I am enjoying this moment of quiet and a Palm Sunday sunrise in my warm and comfortable home, wearing one of my favorite warm and comfortable sweatshirts. Palm Sunday. The beginning of Holy Week. This will not be like any other Holy Week I recall. These times are not like any that have come before in our lifetimes. As I sit and wonder what news will come down the pike this week, what the pandemic numbers will do each day, who will face the biggest challenges to their health this week, I am heavy with worry and fear. As I sit and wonder what the rest of Sam's senior year will hold, and not hold, what graduation may possibly look like and what it likely won't look like, I am heavy with sadness and disappointment. As I sit and wonder what the immediate future holds for us all, for our health, our jobs, our bank accounts, I wonder what the distant future will look like as we get through this. I am heavy with trepidation. As I sit and wonder, I consider

A Big Cancer Thing

Today I am grateful for a Zoom meeting bringing old friends together last evening. We share our early history and the decades between. Now, we share the challenges and blessings of the pandemic times we are in. Thank you all for your familiar and friendly faces and the sharing across the miles. My sister Aileen wrote the first poem below a few days ago, just days after a confirmed diagnosis of follicular lymphoma. The good news is that it is slow-growing and treatable. The bad news is that it is cancer. In the midst of a global pandemic. I am hopeful for a good prognosis and worried on many levels. A Little Cancer Thing In the swirl of a global pandemic economic meltdown lock-down red alert! red alert! hesitant to mention this little cancer thing my body hosting icky cells can't social distance from myself or quarantine my insides. Only wish this little cancer thing wasn't true. A.H. 3/20 But it is true. Sister #5 now faces cancer. Yet another case of this damn dis

Chain Link Fence and "Benediction"

Living gratefully today, I say thank you for food, clothing, and shelter. These basic needs have always been met for me, and feel even more important and comforting in these uncertain times. My husband Darcy and I went for a bike ride last evening. We have been doing pretty well with getting fresh air and exercise as we "stay at home."  It makes such a difference in how we are doing, not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. Fresh air and exercise help my wellness in all four areas. We stopped at one of my favorite spots, the high bridge over the Vermillion River. It is an old railroad bridge converted to a pedestrian/bike bridge, spanning about 25 yards and situated eight stories above the river. I love to observe the changing seasons from this vantage point. Last night, this is what I observed and then captured with my camera: It really struck me. We are in gray and uncertain times, but spring green will come. We are "fenced

A Poem to Kick Off National Poetry Month, And a Challenge for All

Today I am grateful for each and every poem I have ever written. Those unfinished and forgotten, as well as those that I carry with me still. I am grateful for the healing power of poetry and any kind of writing. Today kicks off National Poetry Month, celebrated each April since 1996. The winning poster design below includes the words: "Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you." These are the words of U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.  Listen to her read "Remember" here.  Harjo is the 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate and the first Native American to hold the position. There are many ways to celebrate this month, and I will share some of them here as the weeks go by.  I am taking on this challenge personally:  WRITE A POEM EACH DAY FOR THE NEXT 30 DAYS. Will you join me? It's all very informal and no one will be checking in on you, unless you want them to. If you have never written a poem before, consider that these troubled times may be calling you to star