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Showing posts from 2021

Heart of Gold: 23 Years on the 23rd

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Living gratefully today, I appreciate time with my husband Darcy’s family and that our dog Oliver is with us for this visit.  I give thanks for both of my parents and the start in life they gave my siblings and me.  My dad died suddenly twenty-three years ago today. It was a Friday morning and he was at my brother’s farm, our family’s home place, helping with the fall harvest. There was no reviving him. A heart attack took him quickly. When my mom got there, coming from the funeral dinner she was working at, his body was in the ambulance already.  I remember Mom saying that he was still warm. Somehow I appreciate that she had the opportunity to feel his physical warmth one last time before it sank in that her husband of 48 years was gone in the earthly sense. I had last seen my dad in mid-August, just a few weeks after he and Mom had walked me down the “aisle” at my wedding.  I next saw him at the family viewing prior to the start of his public wake on that Sunday afternoon, in the cas

Compelled to Post

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer. Join us as we RISE together to help uplift women in need.  (National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.)  October was rolling along for me, busy with life. Unlike most Octobers, I hadn't felt compelled to write about breast cancer. Last weekend, my husband Darcy and I were out for a bike ride in a neighboring community and our route happened to be the route of a fundraiser for a Komen 3-day walk team. Their walk was winding down, but they had done some chalk drawings on the trail that caught my eye. There was a mixed bag. From "Feck cancer" to "Cancer is harder." (referencing walking 60 miles is easier than dealing with a diagnosis.) There was also "No one fights alone."  These I can embrace and appreciate. The "We love boobs" and "Save the boobies" and pictures like this one below, they rankle me a bit. That's my shado

The Rustling Within

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Living gratefully today, I appreciate the feel of my feet on the ground and of muscles stretching and relaxing. I give thanks for the day ahead, starting with this moment.  My husband Darcy and I took some time on Sunday to enjoy the beautiful and mild weather. We loaded up our bikes and headed for a trail route we have been meaning to do. From there, we headed to a state park we had never been to and took an enjoyable walk, taking in the fall color.  As we walked, I was attracted to this sound:  Leaves rustling in the breeze. Fall leaves sound different than summer leaves. I believe this is a stand of birch trees, but knowing the type of tree isn't necessary to knowing the pleasure of the sound. Nature is for enjoying as much as it is for identifying.  The rustling within this bunch of trees provided a soothing sound to me. The rustling within me isn't always soothing, but it is always beckoning me to keep listening and transforming. 

Ode to Raking and Dancing, Playing and Silliness

Today I am grateful for family time and new local excursions this weekend. I also appreciate that gratefulness helps open me to playfulness. I have been listening to a couple podcasts lately that spent some time talking about the importance of play for adults. If it's so good for kids, why do we lose so much of that idea as we "grow up?" So I took a little time yesterday morning to play.  It started with some raking of leaves, a task I have always found enjoyable. Twenty minutes and I had two leaf bags full, after raking the old-fashioned way but with a better, more ergonomic tool than that of my childhood. As I raked, I thought of my childhood, and also that of our kids and grandkids and making piles to jump in.  That task was done and I stepped into the garage. There was a song on the radio (yes, the radio, not my phone). It took me back to the 80's. Darcy was gone, so one stall was empty.The door was closed. I would be my only witness. Yep, I danced a little then a

Whispers and Knocks

Our inner wisdom is persistent, but quiet. It will always whisper,  but it will never stop knocking at your door.  Vironika Tugaleva If my inner wisdom hadn’t been persistent, I might be dead. Sounds dramatic, but is it? It had to be something good in me that kept the ugly active alcoholism from finishing me off one night in a depressed blackout. And in the decades since, I may have stayed stuck in ruts even longer than I did.  And quiet? It may have helped if the wisdom had made a little more noise. But then again, the mean clatter already going on would have needed a pretty high volume to drown it out. Quiet is better. More gentle. Perhaps a little subversive even, in the best way.  Even though I stopped drinking, I continue to be an alcoholic. Alcoholism is as much about thinking as it is about drinking. I am a slow learner, so my inner wisdom has really shown true perseverance. I ignored it, denied it, lied to it, scoffed at it. It persisted and came through. Sometimes in very subt

Starve or Feast?

What happens to one happens to us all. We can starve together or feast together. Robin Wall Kimmerer Are we starving or feasting right now?  The cynic in me says we are feasting on misinformation and excuses. If it’s someone else’s problem or someone else’s fault; we are off the hook. We can be self-righteous in our judgment and complacency. That same cynic, and worried school counselor, also says that we are starving for true connections to other people and the world around us.  The skeptic in me wonders what Planet Earth will look and feel like in the next decades. Can our environment be saved? Will we do what we need to do, individually and collectively, to save it and ourselves? But there's a hopeful optimist within me too, fueled by the generous energy and grace created when I live gratefully. If I feed the present moment with even a little attention and awe, I will contribute to the feast of goodness that has always been here, even if the news and social media cover less of i

Running in the Dark

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Today I am grateful for our dog Oliver and how he sometimes snuggles with me, and for daily hugs that my husband Darcy and I share.  I prefer to run in the mornings, and will run in the dark at that time of the day. And I can usually summon the energy after work if I really want to get out there. I don't often run after we've eaten dinner and it's starting to get dark out though. Yesterday was a gray and blustery day and the temperature is turning cooler. It feels like fall.  I was determined to run when I got home from work, but I also had other commitments. I surprised myself by feeling energized enough to run as it closed in on 7:00 p.m. and darkness.I donned my running attire and added the reflective vest I wear for safety when it's either too early or too late for sunlight.  I concentrated on my steps more than usual--to avoid tripping on anything. I also heard more sounds and experienced the night air differently. My senses focused their energies there because the

Exquisite Privilege

Word for the Day  "Life, what an exquisite privilege."  Katie Rubinstein   When I apply this lens, this idea of life as exquisite privilege, here are some of the things I notice: *Looking at a "Blessed" sign in our family room and being struck not by the word itself, but the fact that I could see it, that I can see anything.  *Driving home from work on a lovely fall day and experiencing the windows down, cool breeze, oldies music. Feeling and hearing . . . amazing senses I use throughout my day.  *To be on the receiving end of a smile. From someone else. And sometimes even from myself in the mirror.  *Having a closet full of clothes, some for each season and plenty of variety of occasions.  *Warm water and pleasant smelling soap for washing my hands.  *Access to trusted medical care just minutes from my home.  *Reading words I wrote at painful times, knowing that I made it through, the poignancy of struggle . . .  *The crescent moon in the night sky.  *Laughter and

Leaves and Their Destinations

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Today I am grateful for a pleasant afternoon excursion to St. Paul with my husband Darcy yesterday and for the many sensory delights of this time of the year--sights, sounds, smells and more.  Fall is for falling. Autumn is for leaves to accept their fate and humans to accept the darker and colder days ahead. I was out for a run yesterday and first was enjoying the sound of leaves under my feet. Then, I started noticing leaves still making their descent.  What would it be like to take a gentle trip to a new home after hanging out on high for a few months? To know, instinctively, that this is the moment to surrender, let go?  Each leaf takes that journey alone and each has a landing place a little different from the next.  As leaves on the human tree, let us remember what we have in common and honor that we each have a right to our own solitary journey to be directed by something bigger than all of us, not by misguided power and greed.  Colorful foliage can teach us about Nature's b

Funnel

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Funnel: a tube or pipe that is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, used for guiding liquid or powder into a small opening. (Oxford Languages)  As often happens on a run, seemingly random thoughts come into my head and I start mulling them over. Next thing I know, I have the start of a poem. This past Sunday, as I went for a short run near my brothers' farm in Iowa, I was thinking about the priorities in my life and how other things were getting in their way. How can I pare down "all of this" to "just this" and honor my priorities? The visual of a funnel emerged.  When I get overly busy, when work commitments drain hours and energy, I find less time to write and read. Exercise is almost always an honored priority, but it also takes a hit some days. Because we can't get more hours in a day, what I focus on is how I start my day and also conserving energy so I am left with some later in the day. This is more challenging for me now as I recover from surger

Mum’s The Word

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Today I am grateful for the people that I get to work with and the students I am getting to know this year. I am also grateful for words. They are a constant source of intrigue for me.  Mum is a multifaceted word. It means silent, quiet, unspeaking. Mum's the word. Silence is golden much of the time, but most assuredly golden when I am in "let me tell you my opinion" mode.  Trust me Lisa, if people want your opinion, they will ask. This is especially true of the people with whom you share a residence, but also in many other locales. Unspeaking is underrated in today's world.  Mum can also refer to one's mother, especially if you are British. Mum, mom, potato, potato. Either way, I am thinking about my mom now. What is it like in your aging body with failing eyes and ears?  What's it like to have a failing mind? Do you have a different sense of time at age 90, with days blurring together? Either way, have a good day Mom!  And then there's the flowering mum.

A Brew Cycle

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Living gratefully today, I savor the sights and sounds my senses bring to me.   This morning I took a mindful approach to something I do pretty automatically every morning: making a pot of coffee. The sound of water filling the reservoir. The feel of a filter as it's placed in the basket. The smell of coffee from the can. My eyes telling me when to stop pouring. The chugging and gurgling sounds of a brew cycle. The warmth from the pot as I stood near and inhaled the newly brewed coffee aroma.  Fresh coffee smoothly pouring into a favorite mug. The feel of my fingers grasping the handle. Steam lifting and rolling from the cup. The first sips, almost hot on my lips and in my mouth.  And then I started thinking about the origins of my coffee. It started on a plant. Beans were harvested. Nature and humans played their roles, as did machines. I savored another sip, considering the route and roads taken to get this coffee to the store where we bought it.     Another sip enjoyed. Another

Old Haunts

Today I am grateful for safe travels and time with my siblings and extended family over the weekend, and for my husband Darcy doing the driving.  Sometimes when I travel to the area where I grew up, I don’t even think about the bar that was my old haunt. This past weekend, while Darcy put gas in our vehicle and then put it through the car wash, I could look down the street and see that bar. It will remain nameless here, but it has the same name it had back in the day.  It was good to have the reminder of my drinking days, and of the importance of my recovery days. Beer was 35 cents a tap at that bar in the late 1980’s. I drank there before I was of legal age. I can still tell you the numbers to a couple songs on the jukebox back then: #148-Billy Squier's "My Kinda Lover" and #119- Autograph's "Turn Up the Radio."  My drinking career was relatively short. It spanned ten years, but I drank a lot in those years. My consumption easily surpassed my spending. In h

Existential Gratitude

Today I am grateful for "good enough" stepping in to push overdoing and perfectionism out of the way. It is liberating and I have more to learn about it.  I also continue to learn more about the richness of gratefulness and concepts like  Tragic Optimism  that I write about earlier this week. I encourage you to read the Atlantic article "The Opposite of Toxic Positivity" linked in that post, or re-read it.   The article also includes reference to and a quote from Kristi Nelson, Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living , one of my favorite websites for reading and practices surrounding gratefulness.  I especially like what she says about the human tendency to forget previous suffering and get complacent in our present circumstances. It is one of the reasons I need to make grateful living practices part of my daily routine. The term "existential gratitude" is also mentioned in the article and is similar to tragic optimism. It means being grateful

Tragic Optimism

Tragic optimism: the search for meaning during the inevitable tragedies of human existence.  This phrase was coined by psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl and is discussed in this mid-August article from The Atlantic:   The Opposite of Toxic Positivity The summary of the article reads:  Countless books have been written on the “power of gratitude” and the importance of counting your blessings, but that sentiment may feel like cold comfort during the coronavirus pandemic, when blessings have often seemed scant. Refusing to look at life’s darkness and avoiding uncomfortable experiences can be detrimental to mental health. This “toxic positivity” is ultimately a denial of reality. Telling someone to “stay positive” in the middle of a global crisis is missing out on an opportunity for growth, not to mention likely to backfire and only make them feel worse. As the gratitude researcher Robert Emmons of UC Davis writes, “To deny that life has its share of disappointments, frustr

Invisible or Unseen?

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Today I am grateful for shared conversation and quiet as my family and I enjoyed a backyard fire last evening, and the meal prepared by my son Sam and appreciated by each of us.  As I joined a few others in watching this video the other evening, it inspired this poem:  I encourage you to watch the video, titled "We are all Human--Be Kind." It is under 8 minutes long. I caution that neither you nor I let ourselves off the hook either. Whether you have ignored a homeless person or crossed the street to avoid someone who looked unstable--I have done both--it is really in our day-to-day connections that we do the most harm.  Is there a family member, friend, colleague, or student I ignore when it is convenient for me? When I don't have the energy? Is there a situation I avoid because I feel shame, fear, or because I don't know what to do? Do I take the easy way out?  These are all tough questions, and rigorous honesty reveals that I have fallen short when it comes to rem

Steeped in Gratefulness

Word for the Day  The more we are steeped in gratefulness,  the more it absorbs  us until we start to radiate it from within. Tim Roberts  Steeped: surrounded or filled with a quality or influence. Gratefulness: acknowledgment of having received something good from another. That is how Oxford and Merriam-Webster define these words. I would rather be steeped in peace and gratefulness than stress and discontent. I would rather be steeped in awe than cynicism.   It's not a constant though. Each day tends to have ups and downs. My emotions and thoughts will sometimes soothe me and sometimes agitate me. Either way, they are to be honored and heard.  Don't let Merriam-Webster's definition of "something good from another" limit you. I don't believe that is referring only to other people. For me, another can be Higher Power or Mother Nature in an all-encompassing sense. It can also mean our dog Oliver or the tall grass swaying in the breeze or the faucet that brought

Up, Up and Away

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Today I am grateful for the peace of morning quiet and for my physical capabilities and energy.  As I recently mentioned, looking up at the sky when I step outside is one of my gratefulness practices. We can sky watch from indoors too, but we seem to get the fuller effect when the vastness isn't limited by a ceiling or roof. I can feel the presence of Higher Power and a more boundless energy when I stand as part of that vastness.  I took both of these pictures in recent weeks. This first picture was taken from inside a vehicle. That's my reflection you see in the mirror. I've never been in a hot air balloon, but they are sure intriguing to watch and colorful to see. Being afraid of heights, especially open air like these are, I don't know that I will pursue a hot air balloon ride. But I appreciated the view and floating color of this one.  It was close enough that we could see people in it. I wondered if they were veterans or out for the first time, or somewhere in betw

Tools for Living Gratefully

Building on ideas shared in my post on September 15,  It Takes More Than "An Attitude of Gratitude" , here are some more tools I have in my living gratefully toolkit. Tool implies that it takes effort. It does. It also implies that something is being built or created. It is. The effort is fruitful and the structure beautiful and stable.  1. Meditation practices. I try to do a daily guided meditation, usually in the 10-15 minute range.  Insight Timer  is a great free app that I use. I can search over 100,000 meditation tracks by teacher, length, topic.  This practice tunes me into my breath and body, and sets me up for less cluttered thinking.  2. Besides looking up to the sky when I step outside, I also tune into my senses. What am I smelling, hearing, seeing?  It's always a buffet of sensory delights and reminders of one kind or another. Sometimes on a walk I will tune in to one sense especially and really focus on what I can pick up. Our senses are amazing, even more wh

Revisiting a Post: September 17, 2015

Today I am grateful for this blog and how it has taught me to honor writing time regularly. And for all it has taught me about myself. Writing has a way of revealing us to ourselves.  This is a post I wrote six years ago today, on September 17, 2015. It is titled: Understanding What I Am  Here is a thought-provoking quote: "If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation."  (Jiddu Krishnamurti) If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you know I appreciate words that help me reflect and encapsulate what gratitude practice does for me. This quote does that. Gratitude practice has helped me see the good in myself and others much more readily. It helps me feel like I am enough, as is. The world around me is enough, as is. In this moment, in this day.  Less time spent chasing the illusion of perfection and things outside of myself means more time exploring and accepting who I am. Change does indeed occur th

It Takes More Than An "Attitude of Gratitude"

For years, I subscribed to the notion of an “attitude of gratitude.” I’ve since learned that an  attitude is an orientation or a way of thinking and that “having an attitude” doesn’t always  translate  to a behavior… It  seems that gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works – it’s not alive. Brené Brown, in her book The Gifts of Imperfection Brown's words echo my take on living gratefully. "Talk is cheap." "You can't just talk the talk. You need to walk the walk." "Actions speak louder than words." "Faith without works is dead." These phrases all exude what Brené Brown is capturing.   There is value in awareness and a shift in attitude, but those only hold if our actions also shift and new patterns of thoughts and behaviors emerge, hooking us in good ways.  For me, it did start with "an attitude of gratitude" thirty years ago. I was pretty stuck in self-pity and spinning my wheels in early sobriety. To s

Booya! Twenty Years in the Making

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Booya: a simple meat stew cooked overnight, often served in big batches at public festivals Booyah: used to express joy, triumph, exuberance; especially over a well-played or victorious moment in sports Booya was not a word I was familiar with until 21 years ago. Our first late summer /early fall living in our current community we saw signs advertising some kind of soup fundraiser for our local fire department. My husband Darcy adapted a fun way of saying booyah that in recent years has become more annoying, but a sure sign of fall anyway :-)  We often said we should try it and sometimes saw the huge kettles outside a local church as they prepared and cooked the mystery concoction. But we never got around to it. It wasn’t held last year during the pandemic, and when we saw it advertised we decided this was the year to try it. It's the 80th annual and the proceeds go to the fire department's Relief Association.  Darcy was doing his other local volunteering Saturday morning, so I

At It Again

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Today I am grateful for walks with my husband Darcy and for a new TV with a bigger screen. The previous smaller screen had become a strain on our eyes from certain seats in our family room. Eyesight. What an amazing sense and way to take in the world. I am grateful for eyes that work and glasses that offer refinement.  Later yesterday afternoon, I was sitting on our back patio doing some journaling. The temperature was ideal. The bugs weren’t out. Pen to paper, I was capturing thoughts, feelings, and events of the last couple weeks. This has been one of my faithful writing processes for over forty years. In this writing, just for me and just about life as I see and experience it, there is much value. Duly noting my story has always helped me more viscerally understand life and myself.  As I was at my writing, I was also once again mesmerized by the neighborhood squirrels and their antics. They were at it again too; scurrying, jumping, chasing, and even pausing. Pausing? It seems like t

Or or And?

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Life is not about “or”—it is about “and.” It is magical and messy. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking. It is delight and disappointment. Grace and grief. Exquisite and excruciating, often at the same time. Kristi Nelson  Kristi Nelson is the Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living and the author of Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted . Both are wonderful resources to explore and return to often. These words resonate so deeply with me, and the last five especially so. I started practicing gratitude over 25 years ago, to quell the insistent self-pity that wanted me to drink again, or at least feel some relief from workaholic mode. It evolved into what I now refer to as living gratefully, a sense of gratefulness. It’s more of a mindset than a single practice. But the practices strengthen the mindset, the life perspective I try to bring to each day. Gratitude can come and go. Gratefulness stays, through thick and thin.  The default of s

Perseverance and Preservation, Memories and Mementos

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Living gratefully today, I am enjoying the writing of others and cherished memories that warm my heart.  Two years ago this morning I ran my 17th and final marathon. At least I have no plans to run another one, and neither do my hips. Maybe a half-marathon, but for now my long runs are a pleasant 60-75 minutes. I want to be one of those old ladies in her seventies who is still putting in a couple miles a couple times a week and has some muscle tone. Preservation is now as important as perseverance.  I hadn't come to this full realization yet on September 8, 2019, but even if I had my smile would still be as wide. When it comes to my life's highlight reel, each of the 17 marathon finish lines I crossed, three of them next to my husband Darcy, would be on there. The whole marathon experience from first training runs to crossing that line on race day are memories I savor, tough miles and all. The medals are nice, but the most important mementos I am wearing in this photo are the p

A Few Details and One Haiku: Noosa's Finest Yoghurt

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Today I am grateful for time to rest, relax, read. I appreciate my current view: sunlight streaming through tree leaves and branches, then playing off the dew-laden grass. The little details of a moment make it richer, anchor me to the here and now more securely.  So when I noticed this detail on the Noosa yoghurt carton I was eating from, it caught my attention and brought a smile: There's plenty of creative packaging out there, but I hadn't noticed anything like this before. Curious about the makers of this yoghurt, which I find quite tasty and enjoyable, I did a little research.  The company was started by Australia native Koel Thomae and fourth generation Colorado dairy farmer Rob Graves.  The idea was inspired by the yoghurt Thomae enjoyed while visiting back in Australia, near the beach town of Noosa. The first tubs hit the farmer's market circuit in 2010, and the company grew quickly from there. It is headquartered in Bellvue, Colorado, not far from my family also li

Dead Serious, Serious Fun

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Living gratefully today, I appreciate the cooler weather, slower pace to recent days, and daily recovery from alcoholism. I composed this poem this morning, considering the crucial work of daily recovery for the daily disease of alcoholism and addiction. Alcoholism is very cunning and powerful. It wants us to forget how deeply destructive it is and encourages us to escape in a few drinks. Conniving and convincing, it wraps itself in our thoughts and starts a downward spiral. It kills an estimated three million people worldwide each year.  Unless. Unless we grab on to the lifeboat offered, sometimes many times before we ever surrender and climb in. Before we learn that daily surrender is necessary. And so is hard work. Our own work.  Dead serious work indeed. Unlike the utter loneliness and despair of active alcoholism though, active recovery brings serious fun and amazing connections. With others. With a patient and kind Higher Power.  Liberation looks and feels like shared laughter, c

Of Rocks and Sporadic Posts

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Living gratefully today, I appreciate Zoom calls with my sisters, my Insight Timer meditation app, and the meals my husband Darcy and I have shared with our son Sam in the last months.  A quick note before I dive into this post. In the next several weeks, my blog posts will be more sporadic. I'll be here and I'll be posting, but not as regularly as usual. I am freeing up time for other endeavors.  Sam heads to his sophomore year of college and on-campus living today, after COVID significantly impacted his freshman year. He has been home since late last November; transferred schools, took online classes, worked a job the last few months.  He is ready and so are we. We want him to experience a more normal college year. We will miss him, and so will our dog Oliver. But he will be 20 miles away instead of 200. That feels so different, and tempers my motherly emotions this morning.  My family is one of my rocks. They are here for me. I am here for them. It's not all sunshine and

Make Room

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"Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet.  Every positive thought we pass between us makes room for more light.” John Lewis Make room. For kindness, flexibility, tolerance. Make room and take time to care for Nature and all of our natural resources. I am sitting on our covered patio on a rainy morning complete with some thunder and lightning. Droughts and torrential rains aren't new, but the depth and breadth of them grow more ominous each year. The thunder is telling us to wake up. Wake up humans, before it is too late. So I do what I can to care for all of Creation. I could do more, but I won't ever give up and say it is someone else's problem or that my little contribution won't matter. It does and it will!  It starts by appreciating what Nature shows us. Last evening, this is what it showed me. Grass waving in a cooler breeze and evening light. This morning, this same grass is heavy with rain and reflecting a different light:  It makes room f

Unaccepted Self

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“For it is the unaccepted self that stands in my way—and will continue to do so as long as it is not accepted,” wrote the Christian monk, Thomas Merton. I did a quick search and it told me the word acceptance is mentioned in over 200 of my posts here on "Habitual Gratitude."  No surprise. It's crucial to daily focus and calm, as well as to my emotional sobriety.  That same search tells me this is the first post that uses the word unaccepted. It's just the way I chose to phrase it. Acceptance always recommended, but it helps to know what is unaccepted, what gets in my way, clouds my judgment, skews my response.   Thank you Thomas Merton, for your wisdom. And thank you mirror for telling me where the unaccepted can be found . . . within. I am no longer my own worst enemy (not as harshly anyway) and I am learning that comfort is healthier when I create my own instead of looking elsewhere for it.  Many years of acceptance, and lack thereof, showed me my unaccepted self an

The Practice of Gratitude: A Guest Post From My Sister Danita

Today I am grateful for our grandson Aaron as he turns 4 today. Happy Birthday! We love you! And I am grateful for this guest post from my sister Danita. Read on . . .  The Practice of Gratitude: A Guest Post From My Sister Danita  My sister Danita and I like to call ourselves “the bookend sisters.”  She led the parade of eight sisters and is also “big sister” to four of the five brothers. I am the youngest girl, coming along thirteen years after Danita. By the time I was old enough to register much memory, she was pretty much out of the house. Today, I treasure that recent years and shared life experiences have brought us closer than we ever were in our younger, less vintaged days.  It is also quite fitting that Danita is writing a guest post for a blog she helped name and inspire. Back in March 2012, I was ready to leap into the blogosphere but hesitant to actually jump, unsure which way to go, and waffling on what to call my newest endeavor. Late that month, Danita used the term “ha

Head in the Clouds

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Living gratefully today, I appreciate the cool air and the need for long pants and shirt as I sit outside. I love the cozy feeling after months of heat and humidity. I am also grateful for clouds and their wisdom when I take the time to notice.  As I dove into the "Nourishing Our Nature" practice through A Network for Grateful Living ,  the second day's practice was titled "Lose Yourself in the Clouds." It included  Gavin Pretor-Pinney's TED Talk "Cloudy with a chance of joy"  It is a delightful look at clouds and what they bring to our lives. I tend to pay attention to the sky daily, as a clue to weather and a source of light. Also as a source of faith and spiritual energy. But if you are like me, it is often a quick glance or short pause. I don't usually take the time to find a comfortable spot and just do some cloud-gazing for a few moments. Pretor-Pinney reminds us all that even though they can have negative connotations, there's a reas

What was the question?

Today I am grateful for the energy of students as a new school year gets underway, for people who listen, and for questions.  Questions. Life is full of them. More questions than answers. Tough, easy, rhetorical, unanswerable; questions come in all shapes and sizes.  I remember the moment my husband popped the question as he proposed to me 23 years ago. I remember the many questions I got answered by What To Expect When You’re Expecting  when I was pregnant with our son. I smile at the sometimes unending questions from our grandsons.  In my education career, questions are part of the gig. As a classroom teacher, it was questions posed to students for discussion or on a test, or the lighter fare of the current events game we played on many Fridays. As a counselor, it is more about open-ended questions and listening to others as they answer some of their own questions.  Then there are the questions we ask ourselves. Many of mine have been repetitive and seemingly difficult. The kind that

The Deer and I

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  WORD FOR THE DAY We are nature and we are it all the time, no matter how far away or how close we perceive it to be at each moment. Fabiana Fondevila Readers here know that I love Nature. The changing seasons. Whatever the weather brings. Colors of life and transformation. I feel connected to Nature, and there find a source of faith. But in my complex human nature, I create mental and emotional obstacles and I hold back. I miss some of Nature's deepest energy.  In more recent times, those obstacles have been dismantled, at least partially. There is awe and mystery. There is a more rich connection.  That is what I experienced this weekend in one of my favorite places, near the farm in my family.  On a morning run, I paused when I saw a doe and fawn ahead. We shared a moment before they dashed off. This poem came: The Deer and I We shared the  magnificent sun,  air, stillness. Sorry to disturb  your peace and quiet. Know you  added to mine. Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  On a