Showing posts from May, 2020

Friendly Hellos Still Apply

Today I am grateful for writing and how it helps me process the mix of thoughts and emotions going on in my own life, the lives of those closest to me, and in our local and global communities. Here is my post from five years ago today, titled  "A Friendly Hello" I was out doing errands yesterday and stopped at the post office. As I was about to go in the door, a woman I didn't know came out, held the door for me with a smile. I said "thank you" and she replied with a "have a nice day."  I appreciated that brief interaction and it was something I likely would have done too if I had been the one coming out with someone else going in. In today's society, we are busy, frazzled, connected to our technology. It would seem we would be well-connected to one another; considering that we can communicate instantly in a variety of ways. It would seem, but it doesn't feel like the reality. The reality, to me, feels like we are getting more disconnecte

First Day, Last Day

Living gratefully today, I paid attention to the squirrel who greeted me in our yard a few minutes ago, reminding me of the interconnectedness of all living things. I offer peace and prayers for the injustice, pain, anger, violence, and unrest that have unfolded across the Twin Cities in recent days. I continue to give thanks to all who have helped our son Sam have a very meaningful and successful  educational and athletic experience through Hastings Schools. Today is officially Sam’s last day of high school. He should be going to school, garbed in the senior’s traditional USA gear, enjoying one last day of senior privileges, hanging with his buddies, savoring the youthful elation of the most significant milestone so far in his young life. Instead, it will look and feel quite different, marred by pandemic safeguards and restrictions. We understand why it has to be this way, and support the school’s efforts, but we also need to feel the loss and unfairness that is here too. Life

Breathe and Blessings

Today I am grateful for Sam giving a speech to Darcy and I last evening that he had earlier in the day given for his teacher and classmates in one of his last high school classes. I remain deeply grateful for recovery, a daily gift it would be dangerous for me to take for granted. I am also grateful for goofiness. When family and friends think of me, I don't think goofy is a word that probably tops their list. It doesn't top my own, or even crack the top 10. Maybe I should work on that. Here is a feeble attempt: And here’s the story.  My dear friend Jill gave me this sleep mask years ago, as I navigated the stress and anxiety of a cancer diagnosis, surgeries, and treatment. Just breathe Lisa, just breathe. I don’t wear it for sleep, but I do keep it in a place I see daily, if I am paying attention. Yesterday, as we chatted on Marco Polo with another friend, I decided to don the mask and act a little silly. I even checked to see if it could double as a face mask. It


Living gratefully today, I appreciate what I continue to learn about healthy boundaries, both those I set with myself and with others. Day 7 of A Network for Grateful Living's "Little Things" practice was "Practice Gratitude." It posed this question: "Can you feel grateful for something that you might not have noticed as gratitude-worthy before?" The various ways I practice gratitude and live gratefully have shown me appreciation for the most mundane, the seemingly insignificant, the obvious, the hidden, in raw emotions--both the painful and the joyful ones. Yet, the idea of gratefulness can always lead to new discoveries, more depth, new insights. As warm and humid air returns to Minnesota, so do mosquitoes. Are mosquitoes gratitude-worthy? If fish, bats, and frogs could speak of gratitude, they would give thanks for mosquitoes as food. I wouldn't have guessed that many mosquitoes feed on nectar, not blood. They help pollinate and cr

Sweet Territory

Today I am grateful for safe travels, time with our grandson Aaron and his parents Arthur and Alyssa, and a little school tour with Darcy and Sam as Sam winds down his high school days. I am also grateful for my "baby" brother Lee and all of my siblings. Lee hits the milestone of 50 years old today. Happy Birthday and have a special day! Day 5 of the "Little Things"practice through was REST. Consider these words: "What if we woke up in the morning and were so grateful for the  sweet territory of silence and sleep?"  (Lynne Twist) I am often already ahead of myself before I get out of bed. Pause. Give thanks for the rest and sleep I just enjoyed. It's a thought, a feeling, to savor. And the words "sweet territory" really struck me. The stillness within becomes sweeter territory when I accept myself as I am, and life as it is in this moment.  Sweet territory as I ran past fragrant lilacs and other blooms

Day 2: Connect With This Moment

Today I am grateful for the sights and sounds that calm me and keep me present. Right now that includes gentle clouds and flowing water. The "Little Things" practice, Day 2, was Connect With This Moment. Here are some of my observations as I did that: *the play of clouds and sun, clouds covering the sun, the sun emerging again *waking up next to my husband and being assured by his breathing *three white-tailed deer scampering away across a field after I startled them       coming around a corner on my run *pausing to feel my feet on the floor and wiggle my toes..."here I am, grounded" *feeling the warm comfort of my hand on my heart during meditation *relishing in a spoonful of ice cream at a perfect softness/melted level The little things. Pause to notice some today. Consider writing them down. Drawing them. Talking about them to someone else. Or just fully experience the moment. That's all. I will be taking a blog break over the weekend. See you

Celebrating the Little Things: Day 1-Breathe

Today I am grateful for my ongoing recovery from alcoholism and the conversations I have with others in recovery. They bring reminders and clarity that I so often need. The Little Things, a practice from, is now underway for the next seven days. The focus for Day 1 was "Breathe." This truly is where it all starts, and where it all ends. If my awareness can start with a breath, and return to a breath, inhaling and exhaling slowly, I am at least pausing for a brief moment and paying kind attention to the life-giving oxygen flow and our amazing respiratory systems. In these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, a largely respiratory illness, we are reminded of the importance of healthy lungs and the ability to breathe. Something we do thousands of times a day without even thinking about it, until we are given a reason to think about it, or an illness that takes the ease of breathing from us. I think of my sister Mary Jo, who had lung cancer and then

Learn To Be Still

Today I am grateful for my physical body and what it allows me to not only do but also feel. I am grateful for all who are working most closely with the pandemic care and decisions that happen daily. And I am grateful for my friend Jill and her sharing the Eagles' song "Learn To Be Still" a few days ago. Stillness is my focus word for the year. Practice makes progress possible. Practicing stillness in the midst of the mess of pandemic circumstances can be difficult. Her reminder and the song were well-timed. The title is enough, but listening to the whole song  is a good idea too. Learn to be still. Be still. Stillness. I don't always welcome what comes in the stillness. Yet, if it is coming through it is for a reason. An open mind and heart guide me to the reason, the value of the pain or challenge. At other times, I fully embrace what comes in the stillness. A comforting sound. A gift from nature; like the pair of robins I just observed playfully flitting abou

Going Forth in New Ways

Today I am grateful for the needed rain we received over the weekend, and for the lazier day it created for me yesterday.  I also really appreciate the weekly Zoom gathering my sisters and I have. I rarely use the word lazy to describe a day I have. The word almost makes me cringe a little. Like a lazy day is a bad thing. A lazy day, or some lazy hours at least, can be real gift. I think I need to explore this intention more. Yesterday was graduation day for many high schools. Some postponed events. Others proceeded with commencement ceremonies like none we have seen before.  I checked in on Facebook and texts, and later watched a YouTube video, to see what was playing out in northeast Iowa at some of the local high schools. A rainy morning gave way to a drier, though still breezy, afternoon. Our great-nephew pulled up on a tractor to receive his diploma at his school. My alma mater held a ceremony at the football field for the 40 graduates and their parents. Post-graduation gath

Today is May 17

Living gratefully today, I appreciate rain gear, indoor plumbing, and good take-out food. Some random gratitudes there. A random post here. A couple weeks ago, utility workers marked some flags in our yard and painted this on the street right by our house as they prepare for some upcoming work. That number 17 showing up again, as it has in many ways regarding my cancer story.  So I looked back on a couple recent posts from May 17. This is a portion of my post from one year ago: Doing the Best We Can, May 17. 2019 For whatever reason, dates stick and click in my mind. I realized that it was 10 years ago today, May 17, 2009, that I ran my first half marathon post-cancer diagnosis. It was five months to the day since my mastectomies. My body, mind, heart, and soul did the best they could and we were damn proud of ourselves. I ran unfettered. I ran healthy. I ran into the new normal I was creating as my hair grew back and my scars healed.  My sister Mary Jo has done the b

A Sacred Bond

Today I am grateful for bacon and eggs for breakfast and supportive messages from recovery friends to start the day. I am also grateful for these words from Robin Wall Kimmerer: WORD FOR THE DAY (for 5/15/20 at ) Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and  celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond. They offer a nice continuation of my post from yesterday, about pausing in the stillness of the outdoors. To be. To experience nature's offerings. I walked around, listened, took in, appreciated: This bird house that Sam made for a 4-H project a few years ago is perched on our mailbox post. It has been nothing but decorative in previous years. A couple weeks ago we noticed a pair of birds building a nest in it. We are enjoying watching the process. I can't name the bird, but I will work to figur

Being Out In it, Or Being In It

Today I am grateful for comfortable socks and my feet to put those socks on. I am also grateful for milder morning temperatures today after a few chilly starts. Those milder temperatures made it more inviting for me to do one of my favorite things . . . sit on our front patio in the early morning. I hear the birds and our fountain. I see street lights and cloudy skies. I feel the dampness and a slight chill, but also the warmth of my sweatshirt and other layers. I love being outside. I especially love this time of the day. The early mornings when the world around me is slowly welcoming the hours ahead. Nature knows a good pace. I can't always say the same for myself and the way I approach my days. Simply sitting quietly and noticing, attending, focusing on nothing but now; this is very important time.  I realize that as much as I enjoy being outside, there are plenty of times when I am just out in it. Still busy in my head, still multi-tasking, still counting steps. Lacking

Not There Yet, But . . .

Today I am grateful for satisfaction in simple jobs like sweeping floors, and for our dog Oliver's fresh look after a grooming appointment yesterday. I'm jealous. I could sure use a haircut myself. Most of us are in the same boat. Because I don't trust myself, or anyone else in our house, with the delicate job of trimming bangs, I am trying to grow them out. The last time I did that was . . . waiting . . . never! There was a time I did let my bangs grow out, but I was starting from scratch then. Had my head shaved two weeks after my first chemo treatment. That was late September of 2008. Months later, I had bangs again and a little curl to the hair that was coming in. I wore a wig to work and some other public outings for several months, and also wore hats and chemo caps some of the time. The wig always came off when I got home. I was so happy to put my wig away and start sporting my new do again by the summer of 2009. Family pictures from my nephew's wedding fore

A Bend in the River

Today I am grateful for the camera on my phone and the pictures it takes and saves, easy for me to access and share at any time. I am also grateful for some quiet meditation time this morning. I captured these two pictures a few days ago, out on an early morning bike ride. I stopped at a bend in the river, pondering the way they meander and make many turns. As do our lives, sometimes of our own volition and sometimes by circumstances beyond our control. This river is the Vermillion, a local river that feeds into the mighty Mississippi a couple miles downstream from this spot. This spring there has been limited flooding, so the river is more peaceful and calm. I listened to it and the birds that morning, comforted by both. The pandemic we are living in, however, has flooded our lives with disruption and uncertainty. Some days equate to struggling to keep our heads above water, to not be pulled under by the strong current of fear and worry. Pausing at a bend in the river,

Clear or Dusty?

Living gratefully, I took in the simple pleasures of celebrating Mother's Day with my son Sam and husband Darcy. It was nice to see my stepchildren too; Emily in person, Arthur on screen. It was a nicely-paced and pleasant day yesterday, aside from the cloudy and chilly weather. I called my mom early in the day. We are both morning people, so it's a good time to connect. She often makes comments about her failing memory. Yesterday, she said it in a new way that struck me. She said "Sometimes my memory is pretty clear and sometimes it's dusty." I feel that way in my peri-menopausal fifties, and it seems to be compounded the last couple of months by the stress and strain of pandemic circumstances. My brain is pretty mushy some days and I'm not clicking on all cylinders. I play word games on my phone to help keep my mind sharp. I fear dementia as I watch and hear what it is doing to my mom. Mom can sometimes still pull out a memory from the past and share

Motherhood on Mother’s Day

Today I am grateful for my mom, Gertie, and to be a mom to Sam and stepmom to Arthur and Emily. I am grateful to those who have mothered me in ways I needed over the various stages of my life. Motherhood has brought a richness to my life that I deeply appreciate. My stepchildren gave me a good start on parenting before Darcy and I welcomed our own child, Sam, into the world in early 2002. I sit here today, watching pictures of my baby on a digital photo frame. They are from the last year, so the baby is a young man in these pictures. The frame was supposed to be out for his grad party in a few weeks, but we brought it out early. We are celebrating Sam's senior year in the ways we can, knowing there will be significant ways we can't. That includes the prom that didn't happen last night. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a pall over so much, a stall on normal. Yet, Sam and his classmates will be done with high school on May 29, three short weeks away. Pandemic or not, this

The End of an Era, Compounded by COVID

Living gratefully today, I appreciate my abilities to read and write; that I was taught them at a young age and have used them constructively throughout my life. They are privileges and treasures. Speaking of reading and writing, yesterday was a sad milestone in our community. Our local newspaper, the Hastings Star Gazette,  printed its final edition: May 7, 2020, Volume 166, No. 40. "A News and Information Source for 158 Years" has bit the dust. 158 years. It started in 1852 and now it has to end in 2020. Like many newspapers, this one has struggled in recent years. Compounded by COVID-19, we learned a few weeks ago that it would be going out of print. It's been a good weekly paper and we were proud subscribers for 20 years. I was also a columnist with the paper for a few years, with a monthly column titled "Gratitude Flow" which ran from late 2012 to early 2018. Below are my first column, and one from April of 2014 that highlights the beauty of our won

There's Arthur, and There's Oliver

Today I am grateful for my stepson Arthur and for our cockapoo Oliver, what they have shown me over the years, how they have enriched my life. They are such blessings. They each have a birthday today. Happy 29th to Arthur! Happy 12th to Oliver! They aren't big buds themselves. Arthur and his wife Alyssa are cat people. Oliver came into our lives a year before Arthur headed off to college and his own life. They are a couple of important guys in my life though. It's a "Throwback Thursday" so a couple of throwback pictures are appropriate. Arthur in his senior year: At 29, Arthur is first a husband to Alyssa, a father to Aaron, and "cat dad" to Licorice and Triscuit. He is also a fanatic and font of information when it comes to his beloved Green Bay Packers. He is a registered dietitian with a background in community wellness, currently working as wellness director for a large banking system.  I met him when he was six. A lot has happened and cha

B +, Be Positive, and a Winning Combo

Today I am grateful for graham crackers and frosting, birds that visit our patio, and the peace in brief pauses. Today's birthday wish goes out to my brother-in-law Clay. Happy Birthday Clay and have a special day!  I am thinking of you on this first birthday without Mary Jo, this grieving time you are in. After donating blood a couple of weeks ago, I found out my blood type. I knew it at one time, and I am sure I have it noted somewhere, but it had slipped my mind. (Like many things have in my fifties.) Too many letters and signs to keep straight. It didn't register when I got the email a couple days ago, but it did when my husband, son, and I talked about it briefly yesterday. Isn't it fitting that my type is B+?  Be positive. Some would say I am known for my optimism and efforts to live gratefully. (They don't live in my head, but still . . .)  B+ is also less common than other types. Fitting with my lifelong struggle with "terminal uniqueness." B+.

Living Gratefully Today . . .

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the recovery connections that are vital to my sanity and serenity. Daily work for a daily disease, alcoholism, also means regular contact with some pretty amazing and courageous people. I have dozens and dozens of draft ideas for posts, and I came across this one that I had started almost exactly a year ago. I don't know what sparked it at that time, but here in italics are the words from that draft: Living gratefully today . . . These aren't just words. They aren't fluff. They are deeply meaningful and they have transformed my life.  I am not glossing over pain and difficulty. I am embracing the opportunity in them. Just as I embrace the opportunity in joy and serenity. "What we practice grows stronger." I will find what I am looking for. What do I want to find? "What we practice grows stronger."  I used to practice self-pity and also push myself relentlessly. "Flaying myself with expectations"

Revisiting Aliveness

Today I am grateful that I still have a lot to learn about myself and life, and that I understand and accept this in new ways. Today's birthday wishes go out to my eldest brother Linus. Happy Birthday Linus! Enjoy your day! I wrote about being alive and aliveness yesterday, and then today decided to go back and see what I had written on May 4 in previous years. I didn't post on May 4 last year, so I kept going back and found this post from two years ago, titled "What Makes Me Come Alive?" It was good to reread it and frame it in the circumstances we are in today. Coming alive feels even more meaningful and necessary. Here it is in its entirety: Today I am grateful for my sense of hearing and the music I can enjoy because of it. I am also grateful for two gatherings I attended yesterday. One was a funeral for a friend. The other was a staff recognition dinner for my school. It all fits nicely with Everyday Gratitude Day 6: Don't Ask What the World Needs

The Beauty in a Place

Living gratefully today, I appreciate each of my five senses and how they are allowing me to experience the early morning outdoors. I am grateful for my family, and a special birthday wish today to our daughter-in-law Alyssa. Happy Birthday Alyssa and enjoy the day! I hear the birds, see the sky's color ahead of the sunrise, smell the remains of a neighbor's evening fire, feel the chill in the air, taste the mix of fresh air as I breathe it in. Beautiful reminders of how alive I am, how alive the world around me is. These reminders feel good as the circumstances and limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic grind on into another week. My emotions, the collective emotions of those around me, carry both a heaviness and a hope. So I go to the beauty in a moment such as this. The beauty in a place such as this. It doesn't need to be captured in a photo or written word. It only needs to be experienced. As I went for my early morning run yesterday, I considered this as I took

Not Feeling It Today

Today I am grateful for coffee at an ideal temperature and my new Yeti tumbler that keeps it that way. Too bad life can't be kept at an ideal temperature. Too bad my temperament isn't always ideal. Too bad. Too real. So when I read today's "Word for the Day" at , I scoffed a bit: When gratitude is the ground on which we stand, we can be satisfied  with life exactly as it is and relax into the unknown. (Sage Cohen)  Not feeling it today. That is okay. This is life.  Standing on gratitude? For what? Life exactly as it is? Who wants this?  Who asked for it?  Relax into the unknown? That's a little terrifying at times. There is so much uncertainty.  And yet, the gratefulness is still here, stabilizing the ground beneath my feet and my aching heart, even in this moment of disdain. Especially in this moment of disdain.  Even since I started composing this post, I did relax a little. The disdain and scoffing subsided