Showing posts from July, 2020


Today I am grateful for my husband Darcy and our marriage. We celebrated our 22nd anniversary with an enjoyable day trip yesterday. I am also grateful for the safe travels and the beautiful countryside. Nature's beauty is a constant. My gratitude practice is a constant. The word that is coming to me this morning though is sporadic. Sporadic is defined as occurring at irregular intervals, scattered or isolated.  My emotions have been a sporadic range in these last months. I guess it's good that the despairing ones--fear, worry, trepidation, grief, confusion, resignation, and the like aren't constants. And I will take what I can of resilience, strength, gratefulness, hopeful, and inspired when they come.  I treasure the joy that scatters itself in the simple things. Playing a little football with one grandson and hearing the voice of the other. A shared meal with my husband and son. Writing motivations and aspirations that are bringing me to new territory. Connections with my

Collective Energy Wasted

Today I am grateful for word games on my phone that give me a little break and also keep my brain sharp. I am also grateful that I can read and that it came easily to me.  Though I sure appreciate reading ability, I pick and choose what I do read. Now more than ever. We are bombarded with articles, updates, editorials, statistics, and more from several different sources, updated moment by moment. I want to stay informed, but I also see it as my civic duty and being socially responsible. I have always thought that, but the sense of duty is intensified in the COVID-19 pandemic. Less partisan, more fact-based reading gives me the nuts and bolts I need to know as far as next steps for my family and I. That is where it starts for me. But there's also my job and other interests and pursuits in my life that are heavily impacted by the pandemic. So much is heavily impacted.  And then there is the divisive bickering, lack of civility, and wide chasms further widening that are all painfully

A Runner to the Core

Today I am grateful for the working vehicles our family has, and for comfortable chairs to sit in, both indoors and outdoors, at our house.  Recently, I am focusing on BEING more fully, so I am not just defining myself by what I am DOING.  I was being a runner yesterday morning, and as Angel Kyodo Williams reminds us , I dropped my center of gravity from my head to my belly. I can cover miles on my feet and waste much of it in spinning in my head. It's still a run and fresh air, but it's not the same as running with awareness of my body, emotions, and surroundings.  Runners need a strong physical core to have good form and to run for longevity. At our physical core though is also the core of our being. I have been a runner to the core my whole life. If you ask me who and what I am, a runner is one of the first few things that comes out of my mouth.  Running and BEING means I feel the strides and notice the arm swings. I fall into the left-right rhythm and it helps me sort my fe

To Our Possible Surprise

Living gratefully today, I give thanks for the technology that brings my six sisters and I together across five states. I appreciate the lasting friendships in my life, including my friends Sara and Liz. They both celebrate birthdays today. Happy Birthday! This quote is worth a read, then a re-read, and another one:  A practice of gratitude is not about dismissing sadness, anger, fear, or confusion. Rather, it  offers  us the opportunity to see that we often experience multiple feelings at once; to welcome  joy into the same places where we hold grief; to turn our attention to what is quietly  growing and breathing day by day, which, to our possible surprise, includes ourselves. (Kristin Lin)                                       Kristin Lin is an author and an editor with the On Being project. Described on their website as:  On Being, as it has evolved, takes up the great questions of meaning in 21st-century lives and at the intersection of spiritual inquiry, science, social healing,

Consider our National Mottoes and Our Personal Ones

Today I am grateful for my eyes and the range of colors they are able to see, my ears and the range of sounds they are able to hear. "E pluribus unum" popped into my head this morning. Don't ask me why. It just did. That is how inspiration flows. "E pluribus unum" is part of our national heritage and has been around since the 13 colonies. It is Latin for "out of many, one." One nation out of 13 diverse colonies.  It was our traditional national motto, though never officially, and is still visible in many places. In 1956, we did get an official motto. Know what that is?  They are both here, along with Thomas Jefferson.  I am not making any political or religious statements, though I am fully aware that people may make assumptions or pick apart any number of things I am referencing here. I am just a lifelong U.S. citizen who lately has found it harder to say I am proud to be an American.  This disheartens me. It also motivates me to make a difference in

Good Morning

Today I am grateful for my hands and feet, fingers and toes, and all that they make it possible for me to do in a day. I appreciate the muscles, joints, and bones that help me move freely. Good morning. I have said that thousands and thousands of times, especially at work as I walk the halls of school before the day starts. Greeting students and my colleagues with a hello and a smile. I missed that this spring when we went to online learning. I wonder what the fall and the start of the school year will bring. I say it to my husband, son, and dog most mornings too.  Good morning Lisa. How often do I greet myself warmly to start the day?  More than I used to, but I still need prompts and practice. Prayer and meditation present opportunities to practice and feel the benefits of this simple gesture. A good teacher has been Dr. Shauna Shapiro and her Ted Talk  The Power of Mindfulness: What You Practice Grows Stronger .  I summarize it in this post from May, 2017. I sometimes put my hand on

Prayerful Presence: Right Here, Right Now

Today I am grateful for last evening's fire in our fire pit and this morning's need for a sweatshirt. They are both signs of the cool weather I love. I don't want to hasten the days along, but this is the time in summer I really start looking forward to fall weather. Don't hasten the days. Don't overproduce and under-experience today. Prayerful presence can help me stay right here, right now. I grew up praying like a good Catholic girl is taught to pray--before meals, in church on my knees. when we started out on a car trip; times like that. Often, it seemed more like a chore than a calming activity.  Still, I picked up some comfort from the practice and certainly saw my parents, Mom especially, model the power of prayer. My troubled teens and early adulthood found me on again/off again concerning practicing prayer in my life. It was intense emotional pain and the need for surrender that figuratively and literally brought me to my knees. The last thirty years or so,

Middle Ground

Living gratefully today, I just appreciated the soothing footfalls of a walk, side by side with Darcy and our dog Oliver. Oliver likes to walk between "Mom and Dad" as we call ourselves. My day started with some frustration. Just a variation on the usual-I have this, this, and this to do before I head to work. I was frustrated with the post draft I had been working on for today. Instead of pushing through that frustration in the wrong way-I'll get this darn post done and published and go on about my day-I made the decision to abandon that post for now and embrace the walk with my husband and our dog on a beautiful and crisp mid-July morning.  Did I mention that before I got stuck in my writing, that I had also spent some time meditating? What good did that do if I ended up perplexed shortly after?  Well . . . I think that quiet time was what made it easier for me walk away from my computer and walk onto the trail across the street.  Pauses, quiet, connecting with Great Sp

Nancy's Point 2020 Blog Challenge

Today I am grateful for this blog, what blogging has and continues to teach me, and the other bloggers that I have come to know and read. Of all the spheres of life I reside in, the blogosphere is one of my favorites.  One of those bloggers is Nancy at Nancy's Point .  We have never met, but we have been friends on these pages for years. I appreciate Nancy's genuine and honest writing and the thought-provoking questions she poses. I have even had a couple of guest posts on her blog.  Speaking of that, when you read this Nancy, let me know if you would be interested in writing a guest post here on "Habitual Gratitude."  Each year she puts out a group of questions to other bloggers for a fun "blog challenge." Here are this year's questions and my responses to them.  THANK YOU Nancy for all you bring to your readers and to the topics of breast cancer, grief, and life in these times. Write on! 2020 Blog Challenge Questions: 1. Who are you? Tell us whatever y

Clean Cycle

Today I am grateful for the practice of quieting my mind. A little quiet goes a long way. It is often fleeting, but fleeting is a start. A little reset goes a long way. I had a good cry yesterday. My first one in quite awhile. Just like I am still learning to quiet my mind, I am also learning to release pain, fear, grief, worry through the cleansing action of a good cry. It's also likely that the hormonal roller coaster of peri-menopause primed the pump for some sobbing. However it got here, I am just glad it arrived and the tears flowed. Cleansing tears. Good for the heart and soul, mind and body. Cleansing tears to release so many mixed emotions going on in my life regarding Sam heading off to college, a new school year around the corner and what that will look like with the pandemic, fears for loved ones, grief over what we can't do and the time we have lost away from family and friends, and more.  I felt better after, and then did some cleaning tasks that needed to be done.

A Detour or Routed Differently

Living gratefully today, I embrace the depth and clarity of emotions I am able to feel and identify. Practice makes progress possible, and meditation is one of my practices in this area.  There are a couple of city streets that have been under construction in recent weeks in our community, on stretches of road we take regularly.  If needed, detours are brief, or we just change our route. It's nice to be familiar with our neighborhoods and community. As I ran yesterday morning, fresh off a few rounds of one of the word games I play on my phone, I had words and letters on my mind. I realized that detour and routed have the same letters in them. The footfalls added up, as I ran past some of my spiritual landmarks here in town. Physical buildings where some of my own spiritual work gets a boost, thanks to the people and presence I experience in those spaces.  I wondered about the contrast between a detour and being routed differently.  A detour typically takes us to the same route we w


Today I am grateful for the brightness of the planet Venus in the early morning sky, and a nice walk with Darcy in the early morning air.  Today is July 17. It's a date etched in my memory now, and that I recall each year in one way or another. Twelve years ago today I had my first surgery for breast cancer--a sentinel node biopsy and lumpectomy. It was overall successful, but wily cancer wasn't entirely gone.  This anniversary feels different this year, after the last months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been unfolding. Mortality feels different. Everything is more tenuous. I think about my sister Mary Jo, dead for over a year now. And Kelly Preston, one of the latest victims of breast cancer.  And the many tens of thousands who have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. and around the world since the year began. Everything is more tenuous.  Tenuous. But still tethered. We are tied together as humans, as part of a natural world. We are secured by forces far beyond our own power. We c

No Record Kept

Living gratefully today, I appreciate cooler air. There is almost a chill to it this morning, and we haven't had that in a long time. Many of you already know this, but I like to write things down. I am good at keeping record. Give me a year and a month and I can pull out a journal that will likely have at least a couple entries from that time. I can refresh my memory on what was going on personally and also pick up on some historical facts that made their way on paper. Some will be significant, some quite insignificant.  I have logged training runs on a calendar in marathon training seasons, noted birthdays and sobriety birthdays for many people. I have written down two gratitudes each morning, rarely missing, for over two decades. Yep, I like to record stuff. And in the recording, the writing, there is processing and honoring and impact. It can become a slippery slope for me though. I can get a little obsessive about tracking things. One example: I often carry a pedometer in my p

All This Talk . . . Of Margins

I am grateful today for a phone conversation with my friend Jenny, and for clarity. Clarity comes and goes in these trying times, but I appreciate any I can get.  All this talk, all this writing about being marginalized brings me back to where I started. I am not part of a group that has been regularly marginalized, some for centuries. I know the toll and the pain of the smaller ways I have been made to feel less important, the ways I have minimized someone else’s existence. I am not excusing or minimizing what has been done to me and by me, but I want to widen the scope. My writing leads me to clarity and to furthering my understanding of a new concept my head and heart are trying to wrap themselves around. Until recently, I had never directly written about marginalization. Only in recent years have I heard the concept of white fragility and pondered it. Only in the last months have I took a look at white privilege and what it has meant for the generations that came before me, my gene

Butterflies, Birds, Blooms, and Bugs

Today I am grateful for meditation practices I am giving a try, and for being able to feel grounded and stable, at least some of the time, in the middle of much uncertainty. This uncertainty, primarily brought on by the covid-19 pandemic and all that continues to evolve in recent months, is not a comfortable place. It is also a place that cannot be avoided. To avoid it is to deny reality, to bury painful emotions, to seek solace in unhealthy ways.  Any hope to feel grounded and stable on a regular basis does require presence though. Continuing to lament the losses and disappointments that have already happened would only have me stuck in yesterday. Worrying and fretting about all the what ifs and potential difficulties would have me ahead of myself in tomorrow. To stay in today is a practice, and not always an easy one. I practiced it yesterday morning as Darcy and I took a nice bike ride on one of our favorite stretches of local trail. I tuned in more fully to our surroundings; notici

Rainbows to Begin and End

Living gratefully today, I appreciate updated technology and the ease it brings to daily tasks. I give thanks for, finally, some cooler and less humid air that is more than just a brief tease. My day yesterday started and finished with the sighting of spectacular rainbows. I started my run after some rain had already come through, but just a few minutes into my run, it started raining again. I kept running, knowing it wasn't likely to last long.  I got pretty drenched from head to toe, my running shirt stuck to my body. My glasses, even with a hat on, got splattered and had to come off. My shoes started sloshing. Thankfully, my eyesight is good enough to run without my glasses, and my wet shoes wouldn't cause a problem because I wasn't doing a 20-miler. More like a 6 or 7-miler.  And I felt pretty darn good. I soaked up the rain in more ways than one. A couple of times, as steady raindrops fell, the early morning sun came through the trees, treating me to a delightful pictu

Ants Marching On

Today I am grateful for the wonders of the natural world and the enjoyment I get out of my first cup of coffee each day.  Tiny wonders of the natural world include thousands of insects. I am not fond of them all, and some of them frighten me a little and gross me out some too. They are worth observing though, especially the ones who don’t bite or sting.  Our grandson Leo, now 5, was spending the day with us yesterday and wanted to “feed the ants.” Appreciating some relief from the oppressive heat and humidity, we welcomed the opportunity to sit outside after some rain had moved through earlier in the day.  Armed with pieces of tortilla chip as bait, he placed some on our sidewalk and Leo and GiGi each pulled up a chair to watch the show. It was entertaining and absorbing, and it was right here, right now. Soon, there were lots of ants around, showing teamwork as they scurried about. Marching here and there. We wondered how they knew the food was there, how they told their buddies to ge

Being the Marginalizer

Living gratefully today, I appreciate clean drinking water and the ease of indoor plumbing. I give thanks to those people who help guide me to my true self. In writing about feeling marginalized, it became clear to me that I have also been the marginalizer at times. It’s safe to say we all have been. How have I marginalized others?  How have I made others feel less significant, unimportant?  How have I pushed others to the periphery of what ever group we were in at the time? By having my own agenda and forcing it into the discussion. By not fully listening to who is speaking. Maybe because I am too busy formulating my own thoughts, or because I am already judging what they are saying. Full attention, 100% listening, is one of the best gifts we can give another person, in any circumstance.  Whether it is someone we know very well, or that we just met, kind and compassionate listening will create a connection in this moment. What is being said will be felt as much as it is heard. I don’t

The Pain of Being Marginalized

Today I am grateful for the beautiful early morning sky and birdsong that are greeting me now. Last week I wrote a post about being marginalized. It included these words: Let’s each ponder this in our hearts as we consider our own life experiences. Where and how have I been marginalized? Give it some time. It may mean going to some difficult places, pulling up some unpleasant and uncomfortable pain. Pain that is rooted in someone else or a group minimizing our existence, our feelings, our humanity. Go there. Sit there. See what you find. We have all been marginalized at one time or another.  I sat with it, gave it time. How have I been marginalized? As a little girl who was more a tomboy and athlete than a dress up and be pretty sort. As a young woman who didn’t wear makeup, had short hair, lacking confidence on the one hand, a little defiant on the other. I was both proud to not be a girlie-girl and wishing I could be more of one.  I was overlooked in my “plain Jane” approach. One of

Double Nickels = Ten Gratitudes

Today I am grateful for the list below.  I just turned 55, double nickels. Two nickels equals a dime, and a dime is a nice find. It’s also a good reminder to consider ten things I am grateful for: 1. The conversation I had with my Aunt Norma Jean last week. She is my dad’s only surviving sibling and we share careers in school counseling. She is in her mid-80’s. We agreed that it is better to be surprised by our own age than to feel burdened by it. 2. The freedom of Bluetooth head phones. No cords. Liberating...and easier to dance a little if so inclined. I still don’t understand how they work, but I don’t need to.  3. The concentrated time Darcy and I had with our grandson Aaron and his parents Arthur and Alyssa over the weekend. We haven’t had that kind of time with them since late 2019, thanks to these complicated times we find ourselves in. We appreciate the time we get with our grandson Leo and his mom Emily as well.  4. Our front and back patios and the time Darcy puts in to keep

The Storm

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the feel of the early morning heat and humidity on my skin.  I don’t like it, but I give thanks for it. It reminds me of my working senses and that I am here to experience this heat wave.  This balmy stretch is supposed to last for days, but sooner or later it’s likely a storm front will move through and bring in some cooler and drier air. Then, I can appreciate that and savor the feel of coolness on my skin. I look forward to that. So today’s “Word for the Day” at is fitting: “When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the  same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”  (Haruki Murakami)  As the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our communities, nation, and our world, how will we emerge collectively from this? That remains to be seen, but it clearly has forever changed our world and each of us in some ways already. How about the personal storms we each face in our lives? I think about some of my toughe

2020’s Halfway Point/Burdened AND Bolstered

Today I am grateful for the health that my family and I have, and the health care available to us should it be needed. I am grateful for all the doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers, scientists, epidemiologists, first responders, and so many others who continue to work so hard to help those with COVID-19 and to help bring this pandemic to a manageable place.  Today is July 1. The halfway point of the year. 2020 has already been one heck of a year, and there’s half of it left yet. I don’t know if I feel more discouraged or shocked or resigned. I do know that resilience and gratitude and humility are hanging around to help pull me along.  If I think back to January 1, 2020, I am shocked at how quickly things changed. The year began with me reflecting on “How could it be 2020 already?” and focusing on the excitement and bittersweet aspects of Sam’s senior year. That seems a distant memory as we reeled from the sudden and very significant changes to our lives, work, and school that ca