Showing posts from September, 2020

Natural Connections

Living gratefully today, I savor the splendor of the morning sky with moon, clouds and stars. I also notice the leaves floating to the ground and rustling in the breeze.  The burden of our technological devices and the increasing presence of artificial intelligence remind me to pay attention to the connections that matter most. The direct connections with loved ones and Nature, not through an inanimate object. "The Social Dilemma" I wrote about yesterday can be countered with worthwhile connections, even in the midst of a pandemic that limits our ability to be together in the ways we most wish to be.  And let's not forget the connections we make with ourselves. Our very own beating hearts, enlightened minds, and expanding souls. As soon as I pick up a device like my phone, there is at least some interference between me and the best parts of me.  I won't be throwing my phone in the river anytime soon, but I am trying to be more mindful of how and when I use it. Every m

This Dilemma We Are In

Today I appreciate reminders to be grateful, and how that gratefulness can soften the edges of loss and discouragement. I am also grateful for the Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma."  It is disturbing and fascinating and even two weeks after watching it, I continue to absorb and consider what it had to say. It captures a true and growing concern.  Throughout most of human history, technological advances have been seen as positives and allowed us to be safer, healthier, and have more leisure time. Something has shifted significantly in the last twenty years, and technology, particularly the advent of social media, is no longer our friend.  In fact, it is more an enemy to our health and a time-suck for our leisure time, which also impacts our overall well-being. It is especially harmful to our youth, and a direct contributor to mental illness, body dysmorphia, depression, anxiety and more.  There are many notable tech experts, most who formerly worked for places like Goog

"Not Running Any Races"

Living gratefully today, I give thanks for my sense of taste and the pumpkin spice coffee it is helping me enjoy in this moment. I appreciate recent conversations with family and friends.  I called my mom over the weekend and as we began our conversation, I asked her how she was doing. Her reply was "Well, I'm not running any races, but pretty good." It made me smile. Mom hasn't been one to race through life, but she has done plenty of long-hauling.  I think of her pregnancies, her grief as a widow, and her writing and faith practices as some of the long hauls in her life. Some of the roads have been bumpy and exhausting, others smoother and fortifying, some plenty of both. But that is me putting emotions to my mother's life experiences.  Her thoughts and feelings were often a mystery to me. If asked now, her answer to any question can become a repeat, a ramble or a tangent. She can seem calm or agitated, coherent or not. She's not running any races, but she s

A Color Palette Like None Other

Living gratefully today, I am taking in what my five senses and a few moments of pause provide. And I am amazed.  I also give thanks for recovery connections in these trying times for us all.  There are many things I love about fall, and the colors of the season are high on the list. Just as I love the colors of spring and new life, I love the colors of fall, signifying the end of a cycle or an upcoming period of rest and dormancy.  Daylight lessens and the leaves stop making chlorophyll, which is what causes them to be green. Once that happens, the other pigments are revealed and we are treated to yellows, reds, and oranges. A picture can't fully capture Nature's splendor, but I did take these yesterday morning in an attempt to show a color palette like none other.  I won't dishonor these photos with filters and editing features on my camera to heighten the colors and make them pop more. I will let them be what they are. Real. True. Experienced by my husband Darcy and I as

The Right Fight (R.I.P. RBG)

Today I am grateful for the soothing sound of wind chimes that remind me of my sister Mary Jo. I give thanks for the wonderful legacy that Ruth Bader Ginsburg created for us in her lifetime.  History is made this morning when RBG becomes the first female to ever lie in state at the US Capitol. (Rosa Parks, as a private citizen, was the first female to “lie in honor” at the US Capitol in 2005.) It is fitting that this fine lady and lawyer is so honored. Her tireless efforts have helped so many women have opportunities for firsts in their lives, careers, and families too. She lived through the same obstacles in her own law school and early legal career that she then helped tear down. And I do mean tireless. She was known for long hours of work and family time and short hours of sleep.  President Bill Clinton appointed her in 1993, and she became only the second woman to reach the Supreme Court. I always respected her, but I only knew part of her story. As I have learned more, I appreciat

Sobering and Staying Sober

Today I am grateful for my health and the promise of a new day. They are true treasures to be honored.  First, the sobering facts:  The United States recently surpassed 200,000 known COVID-19 deaths. Our global community is closing in on the grim one-million-deaths milestone. I get a daily "5 Things" email newsletter from CNN. It gives me real news in small doses, which is about the only way I can handle it these days. Here are some clips from yesterday:  "The virus was compared to the SARS pandemic that killed 774 people in Asia in 2002 and 2003. To put that in perspective, since the first known US Covid-19 death on February 6, an average of more than 858 people have died in the United States from the disease every day -- an entire SARS pandemic every several hours." "To put it in another perspective, the total US coronavirus death toll is equivalent to one 9/11 attack every day for 66 days. The US coronavirus death toll is more than the number of Americans ki

A Fall 2 x 2

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the changing seasons and my five senses. The latter allow me to fully experience the former. Fall arrived yesterday. My favorite season is here. It arrived a bit loaded with trepidation in terms of the global pandemic and the tough fall being predicted. The next months will be telling in many ways. How bad will it get? How well will we come through the cooler temperatures and more indoor time?  I will continue to do what I can to be personally and socially responsible. I will exercise caution, wear my mask, keep my distance, and limit contact.   And I will fully embrace this lovely season for all that it offers. Sitting on our front patio in the early morning, here is part of my view: It seems fitting to multiply my gratitude for this season with a 2 x 2: I appreciate fall for: 1. The smells that present themselves:  the crisp air and the harvest are unique to this time of the year.  2. The colors that emerge: the yellow and red leaves already evid

Long Time, No See

Today I am grateful for safe travels and time with our son Sam over the weekend. I treasured the conversations, hugs, meals shared, and more. It was "long time, no see" since we dropped him off on August 12. A few things have transpired in his life and in ours here at home in recent weeks. Transitions were coming anyway, and then made more interesting because of the pandemic.  Letting go of my son has been an ongoing process that really started the day he was born. It is a beautiful and bittersweet process. And always one that is full of love.  "Long time, no see" certainly applies in many other ways. I have only seen my mom twice since February, both times through a screen and out of range to touch and connect more directly. In normal times, some of us would have made our way to Alaska to support our sister Aileen, newly diagnosed with cancer in March.  In normal times, there would have been graduations and other events to bring together our large family. Instead,

Penthouse of Existence

Today I am grateful for endorphins, meaningful conversations, trust, and resilience.  I am also grateful for these words and the reminders they offer:  "Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is a separate department of life, the penthouse of existence. But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades all realms of our being."   (Brother David Steindl-Rast) The penthouse of existence sounds like a nice place to live, but unattainable and certainly not sustainable. Both feet on the ground and senses in tune to current surroundings, inside ourselves and in the world around us, is a wonderful place to reside. And this state of existence is both attainable and sustainable.  To be fully alive is to have some sense of our mental, emotional, and spiritual realms, as well as our physical presence. Honestly, I can't get to these various realms by myself. I tend to get in my own way. I start thinking, doing, expecting, analyzing, regretting, pushing


Living gratefully today, I appreciate our dog Oliver and the many ways he is predictable as well as unpredictable. He brings me smiles daily.  The word blurry has been stirring around in my head, and now it wants to be heard, or rather read.  Blurry--what happens to my vision at times when my glasses fog up when wearing my masks. I have tried a variety of ways to help with this fogging, but nothing is totally effective. It can be frustrating, a cause for pause, and a reminder that in the whole scheme of things this is minor.  Blurry--what has happened to my memory these last months. More than it was already happening in my middle-aged, menopausal brain. Many details are forgotten, more memories vague or barely retrievable. I am left grateful that I can write things down.  Blurry--the line between what to do and what not to do in many instances in these Covid times. Should we go or not?  Am I doing enough to stay safe at work, and keep others safe?  Err on the side of caution and the ri

On Fire

Today I am grateful for a pleasant visit with friends I haven't sat down with in months. I am also grateful for wireless headphones.  The wildfires burning in the western United States have been devastating and far-reaching. I have family in both Colorado and Oregon. They are safe and haven't been directly impacted beyond the smoke and ash and poor air quality.  My sisters have lived in Colorado for nearly 40 years, and in Oregon for over 25 years . . . and they say they have never seen it this bad.  It has never been this close, leaving ash on their cars and forcing them indoors because of the respiratory danger.  A recent report says that over 4.6 million acres have burned in these recent fires. People have lost homes, livelihoods, and their lives. Some people have lost everything except what they were able to quickly grab as they evacuated in a rush.  It continues to be a tough and devastating year, insult added to injury, for so many people in so many ways. My country is on

Location, Location, Location

Today I am grateful for reruns of shows like "Mom" and "Sex in the City."  And I appreciate the recovery wisdom I see and hear from others on this shared path.  On my run yesterday, I took a tour past three locations that hold significant meanings and plenty of emotions for me. Here in our community, not too far down the road from our house, and within minutes of each other.  Location, location, location. The first has long been a source of strength, hope, and fellowship. The second a more recent focal point, and significant springboard to transformative work. These first two are chapters in my story.  The third is the stadium where our son Sam played three years of high school football. It is where we saw his team win "the last on the grass" his junior year and the "first on the turf" to begin his senior season. It is where his high school graduation would have been, given nice weather and normal times.  Yesterday marked a month since we dropped

Nature's Reserves

Living gratefully today, I savor the morning quiet and the meaningful connections in my life.  The pandemic delivered a real sucker punch to us all last spring, but it also booted more people outside in the early weeks and the months since. I have seen more walkers and bikers on local trails, more people along the riverfront in our community.   Fall and winter needn’t be different . . . embracing each season, embracing the natural world, brings a peace that surpasses whatever else is going on. Even if it is a fleeting peace and calm on certain days, that is far better than continuing to simply rush headlong into the chaos we likely all feel at times.  Fall happens to be my favorite season, and though the calendar hasn't made it official yet, our recent weather has. The daylight is getting shorter, the temperatures cooler, the sun's angle and intensity is shifting.  I captured these two pictures last evening on a bike ride: The rush of uncertainty, fear, and unknowns that the pa

Bouncing Back Within Pandemic Parameters

Today I am grateful for time with both of our grandsons over this past weekend and for the turn of weather towards fall, my favorite season.  Resilience is a wonderful human quality. We all have plenty of it, though we may not always acknowledge it or call it what it is. And everyone I know personally has shown an extra propensity for this "bouncing back from adversity" in the last few months.  We are here. We have made it through a very unprecedented and challenging time. We know more lies ahead, but we don't know exactly what. We have never known exactly what lies ahead, but in more stable times it feels like we know. Or at least the range of possibilities wasn't so wide and evolving.  Our resilience is reflected in what we have already adjusted to--a wide array of pandemic parameters. Our daily lives have changed, and yet stayed the same. Our comings and goings are altered, and yet we are able to get what we need and do what is necessary. We have been able to have

One. One by One. One at a Time. One.

Living gratefully today, I am savoring cooler air and the slower pace of a holiday.  We are celebrating Labor Day in the United States and I am thankful for each worker, one by one, that helped bring me my morning coffee, the electricity that worked when I flipped a switch, and the trail I walked on with our dog Oliver.  One worker at a time runs the economy. One day at a time runs my recovery from alcoholism. Any more than one day at a time and the fleeting gifts of peace and presence fly the coop.  This blog brings my thoughts on living gratefully one word at a time, one post at a time. A quiet nod today to post #2500. The milestone matters less. The ongoing writing matters most.  One stride at a time, this runner completes a short 3-miler, or one of the several marathons I have been blessed to both start and finish. "Forward is a pace" is one of my all-time favorite marathon route signs, and not a bad way to approach a day.  One fleeting moment of one hummingbird stopping

An Invitation to Prayer

Today I am grateful for the enjoyable backyard fire Darcy and I had last evening, and for the phone calls and texts that keep us connected to our son Sam, in his first weeks of college life. Mary Oliver is an amazing poet and one of my favorites. I continue to discover more of her words, including these:  Praying. It doesn't have to be the blue iris. It could be the weeds in the vacant lot, or a few small stones; just pay attention, then patch a few words together and don't try to make them elaborate, this isn't a contest but the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak.  (Word for the Day, from ) What a beautiful and accessible invitation to prayer. And to gratefulness. Whatever you call the higher source you pray to, I think we can agree that that source is not looking for a perfect prayer or the longest list or the biggest need. That source isn't even waiting for you to reach out, but is already there. The power in prayer i


Today I am grateful for today. This day, this 24 hours. It is all we get, and it is enough. Squander is not a word I hear often, or use in my writing much, but I came across it recently and it wanted to tell me a couple things. I listened and considered. It is defined as: to waste (something, especially money or time) in a reckless and foolish manner, allow an opportunity to pass or be lost. Generally seen as a negative, I propose that squander has a good side too. My life has been too much about getting things done, not wasting time, staying productive because it defined me and my worth.  Overdoing and overthinking devalued my sense of self and squelched self-care over the years. I got lost in rote actions and rigid routines. My emotional and spiritual health paid the price. Pain woke me up, but only after bringing me to my knees. Surrender to win. And then the pandemic came along. I have squandered more time in recent months playing word and dice games on my phone...but I have found

Deep Peace

Living gratefully today, I take a pause and breathe fresh air into my healthy lungs. Taking neither the air or my lungs for granted, I humbly move into my day.  This quote has been roaming around in my head for a few days:   Peace is letting go--returning to the silence that cannot enter the realm of words because it is too pure to be contained in words.   (Malidoma Patrice Some)   Peace was often elusive to me in my younger days. With recovery and regular practices, I came to know peace as a recognizable and achievable place I could reach. Yet, my overthinking and overdoing tendencies would still often crowd peace out. They still can, but at least I know what peace feels like and some proven ways to find it. The last few months have been a real test for all of us. . . there is so much beyond the usual things that undermine a sense of calm and serenity. The burdens are heavy, the worries many, the uncertainty a real test of our faith and resilience.  Deep peace is still possible. And e