Showing posts from August, 2020

By Name

Today I am grateful for gentle rain and umbrellas.  On the trails of our community on my run yesterday morning, two people greeted me by name. I reciprocated with one, and the other was on her bike and out of range quickly. It struck me, the community connections we make. One is a neighbor, one we know through our church.  I was thinking about getting to know students by name at school. I take pride in getting to know new student names each year. This year there are added challenges... limited face recognition with masks on. Quiet and uncluttered hallways to limit congregating of students. Key factors and times when I usually interact informally with students, getting to know them and their names. It will take longer this year, and add to this my menopausal memory issues compounded by “pandemic mush brain” and I will do my best.  I will do my best. A day at a time. And as I work to get names down, I remember the value in a simple, cheerful greeting.  Whatever lies ahead today, I will d

A Pint’s Worth of Perspective

Living gratefully today, I give thanks for cooler, less humid air and a pleasant visit in that outdoor air with a couple friends last evening.  Years ago, I traded in pints of alcohol for pints (or more) of ice cream. I love my sweets. A thousand calories in a pint of ice cream aren’t good for me, but they aren’t as costly to me as a thousand calories of alcohol were in my drinking days.  I never cared about the calories in what I was drinking. . . I only cared about the alcohol in the beer or whatever else I had in front of me. That was the key ingredient: alcohol as numbing agent. Sure, you say. Good way to rationalize and justify eating fattening ice cream. Sure, you’re right. This rationalizing and justifying doesn’t give me a hangover though. And it doesn’t cause blackouts. It has even been known to calm me down and send me off to a more peaceful slumber.  I use ice cream to celebrate and commiserate. I used alcohol for the same reasons, and many more, but it wasn’t long before al


Today I am grateful for a comfortable bed and pillows, and for a light rain to cool me and the air this morning. Consider these words from Nimo: We arrive empty handed, and leave empty handed.  So then, how do we want to spend the time in between? The time in between. A day at a time, a moment at a time. It is always a good idea to approach life this way, but tougher in the actual practice. Lately, life has allowed me a chance to practice this out of necessity.  Family and work circumstances and the usual chores and goals of daily life have required extra energy in this time of Covid and overall unrest and uncertainty. There is little time or energy left to squander in yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s worries.  I begin today empty-handed. A clean slate. Not fully rested, but at least partially. I turn those empty hands palm up and open them to the possibilities ahead. 

Freedom of Speech

Living gratefully today, I say thank you to my heart and lungs for working effectively to get oxygen to the rest of me.  I also give thanks for the United States constitution, a remarkable and flexible document that has worked well and weathered much since being written and signed in 1787 and going into effect the next year.  It has been over 20 years since, as a classroom teacher, I taught about this and the history of our nation. What will be taught 200 years from now about what we are currently living through?  The Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments, were added in 1791 and are invaluable. Our system of checks and balances between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches have helped us utilize and interpret the words within the Constitution all these years. It is not a perfect document and we are not a perfect nation, but let's not forget our resilient history. And this all leads me to my own interpretation of things this morning. We have had dark times in our natio

Better Moments Within

Today I am grateful for reserves to tap into when needed. Reserves of gratitude, resilience, faith. And love. Always love.  The last days have been a real challenge for me personally and professionally. The emotions have been many and varied, the worries the same. There has been good news amid the challenges too, and happy times like our grandson Aaron's third birthday.  Much is weighted with a heaviness that isn't going anywhere but can still be surrendered, prayed on, acted upon. Forgiveness and healing are ongoing. Faith and a sense of gratefulness hold me steady. I have tired of the word unprecedented to describe our current times, and yet I can't think of a better one to use. Unmatched. Unparalleled. Striking.  It is always wise to take life a day at a time, and now we know why. Things change rapidly. Test results come in. Social media comments go out. An old fear subsides, only to be replaced by a new one.  The burdens are palpable, and both individual and collective.

Rest In Stillness

 Living gratefully today, I say thank you to long-time friends in recovery and how they understand me and our disease.  As I listened to a brief meditation recently, the words that remained with me were "rest in stillness."  Stillness is my word for the year, and it was good to get a reminder to consider it again. I sometimes forget. Okay, I often forget. The forgetfulness lasts for shorter periods of time though. Practice makes progress possible. Even with recent events, elevated anxiety and emotions, diminished energy, I am remembering sooner. Remembering to relish the quiet. To sit for a moment. Pause and take a deep breath. Place my hand on my heart and feel the warmth and love within. Rest in stillness. Mowing the lawn isn't typically a quiet or restful activity. I mowed yesterday. Sam is our usual mower, but now Darcy and I get to take it on. He mowed last week, so I took my turn this week. I have always enjoyed mowing, but it was bittersweet this time.  I thought o


Today I am grateful for feeling my seat in the chair I am sitting in and my feet on the ground beneath me. Both help to bring me to the present moment. The present doesn't require as much energy as worrying about the future and regretting the past. The present doesn't ask as much or take as much... it says just pay attention and do the next right/obvious/necessary thing. That's all.  Leftovers have been on my mind. When it comes to meals, leftovers are a wonderful thing in my book. The next meal taken care of, or someone's quick lunch ready to go. Our son Sam was often the one who took care of leftovers in the fridge. Eating them as his bedtime snack or after his workouts.  We miss Sam in many ways, but he is off to a good start. We are staying connected and that means the world to me. The leftovers sitting in the fridge are a reminder that he is gone, that he won't be finishing those.   There are many reminders that he is gone. And just as many hopeful signs that h

All Else Aside . . .

Today I am grateful for supportive colleagues and many with whom I have meaningful connections. I also appreciate the stars in the vast sky and the humility looking up at them brings me. This day marks the official start of my twenty-first year as a counselor at my current school, and my thirty-third in education. It is sure to be a year like none other before it. We couldn't have imagined the changes since a year ago. We are most assuredly a resilient bunch, my colleagues and I. All of us are . . . you too.  What will be reflecting on a year from now?  Who knows.  I have a rather mangled mess of feelings, fears, concerns, opinions, ideas, emotions, worries. I don't have my usual level of excitement, and yet it has been good to see familiar faces, classrooms, offices, and hallways again.  What I won't see much of are smiles on the faces of students. I will miss that. There will undoubtedly be some beneath my mask and face shield, shining through my trepidation. The energy o

A Breeze Coming Off The River

Today I am grateful for gentle breezes and the peace in presence, when I take a moment to notice it.  My Saturday morning runs have been going well and I am pushing my mileage up slowly. My left hip is feeling better, my running form more efficient. I am comfortable with my goal of running my own half-marathon before winter sets in, proud of my diligence with targeted exercises.  I was already enjoying the run this Saturday when I made it to a stretch just past our local lock and dam. On one side of the trail is the rocky slope down to the Mississippi. On the other side is the greener and softer slope down to a marsh and lake area. It is a great place to take in whatever the weather is at the time. And usually a great place to catch a breeze. It was a cool breeze the other day, and a fairly brisk one. The waters of the Mighty Mississippi were sloshing at the rocks and rolling in small waves. There was a hint of fall in the air. I love that. I didn't necessarily like where my though

Of Cardinals, Butterflies, and Mary Jo

Living gratefully today, I honor the process of grieving and the lessons only learned through loss. Those lessons make all the difference in how I live day to day.  Yesterday would have been my sister Mary Jo's 63rd birthday. She didn't make it to 62, dying of metastatic  breast cancer last June. In recent days, she has been on my mind and heart more than usual. And I was given many reminders of her continued presence, her spirit living on. There were several cardinal sightings, including a female cardinal that landed in our yard briefly, then sat on our fence for a bit too. It was less than 20 feet away. I think of loved ones when I see cardinals, and it is Mary Jo and Dad that come to mind first.  Butterflies are more numerous in our yard this time of the year, but pausing to notice them and watch their activity for a short while brings a smile and some clarity. Life and death are our biggest transformations.  I don't know fully what I believe about where we go and what w


Today I am grateful for clean water, exercise and endorphins, safe travels, and motherhood.  Our son Sam is moved into his dorm room, waking up there for the second morning. We are here, at home, waking up to a different feel in the house for our second morning. It is really hard and also good in so many ways to drop your kid off at college, help him move in, then drive away.  And that's all I have to say about that right now.  These pictures say a bit themselves though. My sister Leonice sent me them recently, after she had come across them. Sam is probably about one, and we are at my Mom's house, out at the farm. It just happens to be one of his favorite places.  The joy of independence and attention in the glider rocker. The perplexed look of "what next?"  Sam at one isn't too different than Sam at 18. Joy in independence and beginning life at college and away from home. And the puzzling and perplexing layers of what is to come in terms of homesickness, footbal


Living gratefully today, I am noticing the outline of trees against the backdrop of early morning clear skies. My feet on the rug beneath me help me feel grounded and stable.  This is a wonderful quote recently on :  WORD FOR THE DAY It’s in that convergence of spiritual people becoming active and active people  becoming spiritual that the hope of humanity now rests. VAN JONES As we wake up to a world fraught with pandemic concerns, the sorrows of ongoing injustice and racism, and the tension of political divisions, we also wake up to a world brimming with hope.  Many emotions are converging in my heart on both a personal level and a professional level. We prepare to take our son Sam to college, leave him there to begin life's next chapter, and come home to our empty nest to begin our next chapter.  My colleagues and I do what we can to prepare for an upcoming school year that will be like none other before it.  I find calm in the words of Van Jones. I know tod

Farm Fresh

Today I am grateful for laughter and venting and people in my life to share both with.  In the last week I have enjoyed squash, cucumbers, onions, peppers, kohlrabi, and tomatoes that were just hours off the vine or pulled from the ground. This in thanks to family members and also local farm stands. Farm fresh. I didn’t know what a treat farm fresh was growing up. It’s what I knew. Eggs, milk, lettuce, strawberries, raspberries, beans, asparagus, chicken and much more were all enjoyed about as fresh as you could get them. New potatoes and creamed peas remain an absolute favorite, and something I will never fully experience as I did when I was a child. A treasured culinary memory.   The smell of freshly-cut hay or grass and clean sheets billowing in the breeze as they hung on the clotheslines are cherished sensory moments in my mind too.  I smile as I recall other aspects of farm fresh living that didn't smell as sweet as hay or fresh strawberries or blooming gladiolas. They are app


Today I am grateful for trees trimmed by others that help afford me a refreshed view. I am also grateful for phone conversations with my dear friend Jenny and two of my sisters.  Circles. They are evident in many ways and symbolic of much. I am looking at the round shape of the planters on our patio and the plant life springing from them, and noticing the circular top of my coffee mug as I appreciate another sip.  I ponder the meaning of circles without end, the strength of circles, the circle of life.  The other day, our grandson Leo and I were running in circles playing football and trying to toss a bag through a round hole on a cornhole board. I took special notice of my wedding ring as Darcy and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary.  The first circle or chapter of our son Sam's life is closing as another is beginning. His childhood and time at home is nearly over. We have been key in this first circle and will take a lesser role in the next ones. But each will intertwi

Shelves Restocked

Living gratefully today, I am noticing the various types of vehicles in our neighborhood this morning. It is garbage and recycle day. Workers at the golf course across the street are doing some tree trimming and the early morning golfers are arriving. I can hear and much is normal about the start to this day. Both are reassuring to me. In the last few days I had made stops at more than one store, looking for a couple of items that I didn't think would be out of stock. In recent months we have gotten used to empty shelves, limits on some purchases, and the like as many ramifications of the pandemic trickle down. After frustration in my first attempts, I was treated yesterday to a single stop and the few items I was seeking were all available.  Shelves restocked in stores at the same time that I am emptying shelves and file drawers in my office at school. We are advised to keep our desks cleared to make for easier cleaning, and in my mind less that could be susceptible to contaminati

New Stretch

Today I am grateful for my fingertips on computer keyboard and for clouds at play in the early morning sky.  We are a few days into a new stretch known as the month of August. My husband Darcy, son Sam, and I are a few days away from a new stretch in our lives. Sam is heading off to freshman year of college and we are heading into that time known as empty-nesters. Sam is ready and we are ready, but like all new stretches, none of us knows exactly how it will go and how we will feel about it. There is more uncertainty and worry because we are also in this new stretch of local, state, national, and international history known as the COVID-19 pandemic. It's a stretch we would rather not have to travel, but here we are and the road ahead is fraught with all kinds of new . . . some welcome, some unwelcome.  I was out for a bike ride last evening and briefly enjoyed a new stretch of roadway, or I should say a freshly resurfaced stretch of roadway. It was smooth and the bike tires glided