Showing posts from February, 2021


Today I am grateful for a good run yesterday and the steadily increasing daylight time each week.  My parent’s birthdays were close together. Mom’s is Feb. 20 and Dad’s was February 28. He was born in 1924 and died in 1998. Every February 28 I remember my dad. I think of him many other days too, but 22 years since he died, it’s less often than it was. His birthday is always a day that I think more deeply about his life, his impact, his death.  Being in Iowa last weekend, and on the farm, I felt a closeness to my father and his spirit. He loved the farm life and he loved family. These provided the key backdrops of his life. He liked to read the newspaper and keep up on current events, celebrate holidays, play cards, and much more. Family and farming underpinned his values.  He would have enjoyed this scene last Saturday. He didn't speak of Nature the way Mom did, but he spent ample time out in it and influenced by it. He would have appreciated this photo:  A beef cow in the foregrou

A Real Shot in the Arm

Today I am grateful to have received my first vaccine dose last evening, and I thank my husband Darcy for driving and accompanying me.  I went to a community vaccination site at the Minneapolis Convention Center, where on average 8,000 people or more are vaccinated each day of operation. And what an operation. Joining a line at 5:15 p.m., I became part of what felt like a big worm slowly weaving its way to a real shot in the arm. A big worm taking on a little virus that just happens to have had a huge impact and devastating toll on our state, nation, world. Add it to the list of surreal experiences in the last year. Mostly educators, some people talked, and I even briefly saw a colleague of mine. But we were mostly meandering along quietly, behind our masks, on our phones or reading books.  I wasn't really nervous until I got to the room with the 60 or so tables where people were administering shots. Nervous because I had to sit and wait a few extra minutes while the computer at my

A Keener Eye

Living gratefully today, taking time to do quiet meditation, I am restoring focus in what has been a busy week. I appreciate headphones and warm blankets. And this quote: “Gratefulness allows us . . . to nurture a keener eye that no longer rushes  past the small everyday moments that make up a larger part of our lives.”  Guri Mehta  Rushing past?  Who, me?  I think I have made progress in slowing down, but it is an ongoing area of improvement for me. Practice makes progress possible. Just reading these words above is helpful. Keener eye. Small everyday moments. Our lives.  Seeing the light from a lamp. Taking in the simplicity of tying my shoes with fingers that are nimble enough to do so. Acknowledging that truly living my life is more about being present in this moment, not reliving the past or fearfully pondering the future. Another ongoing area of improvement for me is to give myself more realistic expectations, to not push myself so relentlessly. I can do that in a small way right


Today I am grateful for time with family, laughter, warmer weather, my job, the comforting tick of a clock in the morning quiet.  Waking up in Iowa Saturday morning, it was still dark. That's not unusual for me. I'm an early riser. Dawn was approaching though, so I bundled up and headed out to greet the day. And the day greeted me back with some stunning beauty, an awesome welcome to the day.  It was still quite cold, but a warm-up was coming, creating some low-lying fog. I walked around the farmyard and down the road a bit, taking in one of my favorite times of day in one of my favorite places.  Pictures can't fully do justice, but here's a couple that give an idea of the breathtaking morning it was:  I was thinking about my mom that morning, her 90th birthday. She loved to walk these same places in the early morning for nearly forty years. In ways, she was with me on this walk too.  It was stunning to watch the sunrise unfold, the light to change, the fog to roll away

Love, Land, and Labor

 Everything that is good in the world comes from love, land, and labor. VAN JONES

A New Nonagenarian: Happy 90th Mom! (A Day Early)

Today I am grateful for the good energy that comes out of a shared space and discussion of gratefulness. Even when the shared space is virtual, the connection is real.  Tomorrow my mom joins the ranks of other nonagenarians--those who have reached the milestone of 90 years of age. That's a lot of living. I found this card to help mark the occasion:  The hours she spent in labor and delivery for her 13 children. The minutes each of us were born. The hours she spent tending her gardens. The days we enjoyed the fruits and vegetables of that labor as fresh produce made it to our large table. The days and months that added up to 48 years of marriage to Dad before his sudden death. The decades of watching her family grow.  That's a lot of living. A lot of giving. Much love, nurturing, feeding, tending, washing, walking, writing.  Your pace is slow now Mom, and your mind getting more jumbled, but your legacy is strong. Immeasurable really. It lives on in all of us.   I plan to sit wit

Silence Enables

Living gratefully today, I give thanks for the muscles, bones, tendons, and joints that help my body move. I pause for a moment, feet on the ground, to feel the stability of this body. In this post from Monday , I wrote about "silence is violence" regarding racism, discrimination, and stereotypes that limit and prejudge.  As soon as I hit publish on that post, more thoughts came to me about silence and when it is harmful. For people who look like me, reading and talking about white silence may not be easy or something we think we need to look at. We do. But there are also other examples of the deafening silence that enables and causes damage. Ones that we probably have each known, directly or indirectly.  The alcoholic. The abuser. The misogynist.  Their actions, words, lashing out, turning inward all allowed to continue because those around them choose to be silent.  The silence may very well stem from fear, denial, lack of understanding, apathy, hopelessness. Not knowing wh

Loud and Clear

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the old music I love to listen to and the ears that can hear it. Recent listens include Holly Holy by Neil Diamond and The Weight by The Band. (The Band always makes me smile--that's confidence and/or simplicity. What should we call ourselves? How about The Band?)  Yesterday I got some awesome and comforting messages loud and clear. Comfort in these uneasy times, and faith to help me through my days. Early in the morning, it was 15 below zero on the thermometer. Daylight was growing as the sun came up. Out of the blue, loud and clear, I heard a bird singing. It surprised me, on such a frigid morning in mid-February. My untrained ear believes it was a cardinal. I love cardinals and the lore that accompanies them. A loved one letting me know I have guardian angels. A sign of hope and good luck. I'll take either or both. COVID-19 continues it's destruction and the lack of available vaccines has so many of us waiting.  As an educator in M

"Silence is Violence"

Today I am grateful for sunshine, games like Yahtzee and Go Fish! and time with our grandsons--in person and over FaceTime. As I continue reading and reflecting on Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor , I continue to feel discomfort but also growing awareness. I wrote in a  recent post about bristling at some of the points raised in the book.  Have I directly committed acts of racism? Not on purpose, and hopefully not at all. I am coming to understand how I have white privilege though. I worry about my son when he leaves the house, like any mom does. But I don't have the added layers of worrying about who might target him because of his race and what bad things could transpire because of that.  When I need medical or legal/financial/tax services, I have never worried that my race would work against me. When I learned about my nation's heritage, I learned that whites made it what it is. These are just some example of white privilege

Ice,Ice Baby

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the love I have in my life. From others, from the Universe, and from myself.   Special birthday wishes to my brother Artie today!  Happy Birthday and enjoy your day :-)  Today is Valentine's Day. I like to consider this day to be about love in a broader sense than romantic love, but I sure do love my guy Darcy. And we spent some time yesterday in and out of the frigid air enjoying our local community . . . coffee and a sandwich at the coffee shop, wall art by a local artist purchased at a downtown shop, and a brewery stop which included beer for Darcy and kombucha for me. There was frustration with glasses, hats, masks, and the fogging and unfogging. But we were thankful for the fresh air and felt comfortable in our brief indoor stops in places with socially distant tables and mask expectations. A year ago, we were hearing about COVID in the U.S., but we had no idea what was coming. It's stunning to stop and consider for a moment what the l

Book Group: Me and White Supremacy

Today I am grateful for opportunities to take a look at the hard stuff of life and gain new understanding and insights.  I am about halfway through a book that several of my coworkers and I are examining and discussing through a book study. The book is titled Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, authored by Layla F. Saad. Layla Saad talks about her book in this video from an Audible interview. After George Floyd was killed and there was so much visible pain and anger playing out in the news, I knew I wanted to learn more and do more to help end systemic racism. And I felt pretty helpless and fairly ignorant.  I read. I listened. I went to my first peaceful demonstration and walked in a small Black Lives Matter event in my local community. I delved deeper than I had before, and what I found was difficult but necessary.  Having previously read about and discussed white fragility, white privilege was newer to me and something that I didn'

Heavy Stillness

Today I am grateful for recovery connections just when I need them, and a Higher Power always available to me. It just takes an open heart and mind on my part, a.k.a. willingness.  Heavy and stillness aren't typically words I use together. If I have, it might have been to describe a foggy morning.  More recently, I heard it in one of my guided meditations. Heavy stillness. A deeper sense of being, existing fully in this moment. I find comfort, and acknowledge progress, in my practice to become more fully and readily present. It all sounds pretty heady and not very pragmatic. Yes on both counts. Pragmatism will only take me so far. Deeper spirituality is boundless.  After taking myself too damn seriously for decades, after relentlessly pushing my own overthinking and overdoing agenda for so long, more self-compassion and fewer unrealistic expectations go a long way in bringing me to a healthier sense of self. It starts in that heavy stillness. Breathing. Sensing. Grounding. Noticing

Seasonal Rhythms

Today I am grateful for informative and interesting reading and listening material that challenges me to further my understanding and actions.  I am also grateful for all of my siblings across the miles and a special wish today to my sister Zita on her birthday. Happy Birthday and have a special day! Many quotes have been coming my way lately that start the thought process brewing. They sometimes affirm and validate a long-held value in my life. They sometimes capture what was floating around in fragments and help me make more connections. This one does some of both: Finding our seasonal rhythms fosters a space for gratefulness to be an integral part of our life. (Mike Martin)  I think first of the seasons of Nature. It is one of the things I love about where I live. The changes from one season to the next are some of my favorite times, and because none stick around too long, I usually get just tired enough of one before the next starts emerging. The light is growing now in each day an

Supporting Local: Froth & Cork

Today I am grateful for my parka and balaclava hat as we endure the coldest temperatures we have had so far this season. We've had a fairly mild winter here, but this morning's air is the kind that makes the eyes water and then eyelid edges start to ice over.  I am also grateful for many local businesses that have been creative and resilient in weathering the pandemic and serving their patrons. One of my favorites is Froth & Cork, a new coffee and wine shop that had one tough set of circumstances as they prepared to launch their new endeavor. (I'll leave the wine  Cork to others and focus on the coffee  Froth.)  That opening unfortunately coincided with the beginning of the pandemic and the  Stay Safe MN  initiative which included closing schools and businesses for several weeks. We went to their open house in early February and were excited not only for a local coffee shop in the downtown area again, but also their ideas for shared work space.  They opened on March 16

P.A.U.S.E. at 5:10 p.m.

Living gratefully today, I give thanks for my sense of taste and the breakfast we just enjoyed together.  I heard this acronym years ago from a recovery friend: P.A.U.S.E. P ractice A wareness U ntil S pirit E merges. For me this also reads: Get out of your own way Lisa. Let Higher Power/Great Spirit/Friend guide.  I shared a new twist on the acronym with some colleagues yesterday: P ractice A wareness U ntil S omething I am grateful for E merges. It usually doesn't take long for several things to show up and next thing I know there's a gratitude list and some humility and peace right here. Either way, looking for guidance or gratitude, an actual pause is really the key. It starts with a pause and happens in a moment.  Like this moment: I took this picture at 5:10 p.m. yesterday afternoon, out snowshoeing. Thirteen minutes before the sun was due to set. On Winter Solstice back on December 21, the sun set at 4:34 p.m. locally.  From 4:34 to 5:23. That's a chunk of added ligh

Full of It

Today I am grateful for the predictable morning sounds of our house and the living beings in it. They bring comfort and warmth.  Helen Keller faced so many challenges in her life after losing her abilities to see and hear before the age of two. I can't imagine not having those two amazing avenues to take in the world around me and participate in it.  She also had tremendous resilience, grace, and teachers. She was a great teacher, leaving us so much wisdom in the life she lived and the words she wrote. Here are some:  "Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it."   The past year has brought much suffering to our world and to each of us. It's not a contest. Some bear heavier burdens and grieve deeper losses, but we all are carrying the weight and sorrow of the COVID-19 pandemic. And yet each day we get up, get out of bed, begin our day. We smile and greet one another. Even with masks on, the smile shows in our eyes. We go to work,

Replicating and Mutating

Today I am grateful for the amazing scientists and researchers who bring us such helpful information about COVID-19 and who are working so hard to make vaccines readily available. The information they bring isn't always easy to hear or welcome, but I am a realist. I would rather know what we are up against than put my head in the sand in denial.   Dr. Anthony Fauci is one such doctor. He calls it like he sees it and he speaks to us non-scientific sorts in language that we can understand. He is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and has been since 1984, only becoming a household name since COVID came on the scene a year ago.   Here is something he said in a January 22 White House Briefing: " . . . because as long as the virus is out there replicating, viruses don't mutate unless they replicate. And if you can suppress that by a very good vaccine campaign, then you can actually avoid this deleterious effect that you might get from the mu

100,000 Miles

Living gratefully today, I appreciate my feet and how they offer stability physically and mindfully.  This last Friday, as I drove home from work, my car crossed the milestone of 100,000 miles. I missed the moment of course. After keeping an eye in recent weeks, and then knowing it would be Friday afternoon, I still missed it. I am not the most freshly focused on Friday afternoons during a work week.  Oh well. No big deal to miss that digital number shift from 99999 to 100000. A bigger deal to consider the miles my car and I have traveled together. We bought this car--a 2015 deep blue Chrysler 200--new and with less than 20 miles on it in the summer of 2015. Also a big deal to give thanks for the comfort, safety features, reliability, and the good track record it has. I didn't give this car a name like I sometimes do, but there have been many times I talked to it like I would a friend. That car knows some of my secrets, and some of my favorite songs.  The most common trip for my ca