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Showing posts from June, 2021

Remembering a Life and Death

Today I am grateful for the walk Darcy and I just took, and for fragrant flowers on a muggy morning.  As I prepare to travel to Iowa for my aunt's funeral, I have once again considered living and dying from a more thoughtful perspective in my own middle age, and after losing my first sibling two years ago.  When someone we know dies, it's pretty natural to think first about how we knew her or him and how they impacted our lives. We might then think of those closest to this person, the ones who will miss them the most. There are usually a handful or people most directly impacted by a death, the ones who feel the gaping hole where their loved one once was.  With Aunt Norma Jean's death, I pondered another level of loss, grief, life impact. What is the collective difference someone has made in the world over their lifetime, whether that lifetime lasted mere days, many years or several decades? Hearing others speak yesterday at a remembrance service for her, I listened to some

Musings on Muffled

Living gratefully today, I noticed the moon in the morning sky and then paused for the sunrise too. Both keep me in a humble place of receiving. The word muffled is on my mind, and in my ears, today. I have hearing issues and also earwax issues. At least the earwax issues have fixes that can help. They require some patience though. In the meantime, I wake up some mornings with muffled hearing. Muffled: not loud because of being obstructed in some way; muted.   Muffled hearing is a real lesson in many things. Listening and proximity are always key, but especially when you can't hear well. Taking the time to move closer to a sound or the person speaking first seemed like an inconvenience, a reminder of my fragility. It became a deeper tuning in, an opportunity to use my other senses to help me out more. Muffled: not loud because of being obstructed in some way; muted.   What else has been muffled in my life, over my lifetime?  Plenty. Alcohol was an obstruction. Emotional inhibitions

Timely Teacher: Sarah Blondin

Today I am grateful for rain,  a walk with friends, good finds while shopping. And my gratefulness runs deep when I consider the timely teachers who somehow arrive in my life when they are meant to teach me the most. This has happened over the course of decades. I have sometimes recognized the teachers right away, and other times could only identify them later.  Actual classroom have been included, but more often than not the lessons were learned in a myriad of places with a vast array of teaching tools put to use by these timely teachers. Then there is Nature, a teacher most extraordinary. Nature was one of my first teachers and remains a steadfast mentor today.  Today I mention by name one of my newest teachers--Sarah Blondin. I discovered her on Insight Timer, a wonderful and resourceful meditation app. Her offerings on Insight Timer caught my attention and then her soothing style, paced approach, and gracious wisdom kept me coming back to her talks and meditations. You can read mor

The Stuff of Life and Death

Today I am grateful for peach preserves on toast, for our dog Oliver's recent haircut, for the opportunity of a new perspective at work by moving offices.  The stuff of life includes death. Today, I grieve the death of my aunt Norma Jean. The stuff of life. Picking up peach preserves at the store because they sounded good and I hadn't had that kind in awhile. How much fresher and younger Oliver looks after a trip to the groomer. Moving from the office I have had at work for 15 years or so, to one literally just a few feet away, but appreciating the motivation to downsize, and the freshness it will bring to the next school year.  After spending hours over recent weeks going through old files and other resources, shredding and recycling some, and taking a few trips from my old office to my new one, I officially took the last of my stuff to my new locale yesterday. My new space needs some organizing, and I will be putting some finishing touches on decor over the summer, but the bu

Burning the Evidence

Today I am grateful for saws, fire pits, and time. I am also appreciative of my sense of touch as I feel the warm humidity in this morning's air.  On Sunday, we got some much-needed rain and a little wind from a passing thunderstorm. We discovered the next morning that a branch had come off one of the ash trees in the backyard. The tree is near a power line and another branch was still dangling precariously, so we contacted the local power company. They came and took down a couple more branches, but the clean up was left to us. Yesterday became our clean-up day. Our son Sam did a bulk of chopping and sawing and then I took it from there, getting a fire going in the fire pit and feeding it for the next three hours, with some help from Darcy. There was more sawing to be done too.  These are jobs I don't mind doing, especially when I don't feel rushed. I had time yesterday and appreciated watching the fire, my physical capabilities as I did the work, and seeing the pile of bru

Slippery

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the former co-workers I enjoyed seeing and visiting with last evening at another co-worker's retirement party. Yes, the years have gone by quickly, but also with much meaning.  In my last post, I referenced the slippery thoughts that can get alcoholics in trouble. We use the term slip to refer to a relapse, a return to our drug of choice. Recovering people, the ones I hang out with anyway, have some catchy lines to help keep us on track:  *If you don’t want to slip, don’t go where it’s slippery.  *SLIP Sobriety Lost It’s Priority  *Don’t ever forget your last drunk.  *The further you are from your last drink, the closer you are to your next one.  We have a daily disease, and a patient one. I appreciate these one-liners. In fact, if I find them irritating or a little too catchy, I have probably wandered onto the slippery slope of stinking thinking.  Most of the time I am safer in bars and liquor stores than I am in my own head, but I frequent th

Observant

Today I am grateful for my sense of smell. It picked up yesterday's rain, this morning's coffee, and the fragrant lotion I put on my hands.  I heard the word observant the other day. Heard it in a new and clarifying way. Like when a fresh perspective is reached. First hearing it from a fellow recovery friend, I considered it in terms of being observant of the disease of alcoholism. Noticing when a slippery thought creeps in, or when my acceptance is low and my expectations high. Best to be observant of a disease that kills every day.  I love it when words grab our attention and pave a deeper path of meaning. Sure, it's just a word. But words matter.  One of the definitions of observant is “quick to notice things.” The key word here for me is notice, not quick. Pause and look around, look within. Observe. Feel.  A couple of things I observed yesterday in a short span of being observant: *raindrops rolling across a windshield, with a will of their own  *seeing the words “simp

Happy Father's Day

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Today I am grateful for a beautiful sunrise view from a new spot in our home, for the hope of rain today, and for the sound of my sister Mary Jo's wind chimes near our front door. And on this Father's Day, I am especially grateful for my husband Darcy and for my own father Arthur.  Meeting Darcy in November 1997, he became and remains one of my life-changers. Nearly 24 years later, here he is with his three children Emily, Sam, and Arthur:    And here are the three "kids"--now 26, 30, and 19:     Darcy is a wonderful and steadfast father, always willing to listen, ready to offer support and suggestions. He is often one step ahead of the rest of us when it comes to taking care of the business that needs tending; whether it be vehicles, insurance, housing, a bill to pay, a date to get on the calendar, and so much more.  Time together and across the miles means the world to Darcy. He loves being a father to these three, and now a grandfather to Leo and Aaron. He makes a

Side by Side x 3

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Living gratefully today, I appreciate cooler air, a breeze, and all the sounds I am able to hear. I am noticing the scampering of our neighborhood squirrels as they get busy with their day. Side by side is revealing itself as a blog topic today in three different ways. The first one is a boisterous Happy Anniversary to my brother Morry and his wife Chris on their 45th wedding anniversary. Have a special day! Morry was the first of my siblings to get married. I was not quite 11 years old. I remember a lot of blue in dresses and tuxedos :-)  It is also Juneteenth. Our newest national holiday marks the date in 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, that enslaved African Americans in Texas finally learned that they had been freed. It also celebrates African American culture. I had never even heard of Juneteenth until the last few years, and I have a degree in Social Science and taught high school social studies for ten years. There's an example of white-centere

A Fitting Flower

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Today I am grateful for safe travels by air and roadways as my family gathered in Iowa for several days. I appreciate the pace of our days together, the numerous conversations, sometimes one-on-one and sometimes several of us gathered round. I say thank you for this time, after the limits and restrictions of the previous year, to be together in the same space, in the familiar territory of our upbringing. That familiar territory has changed in many ways, and also stayed the same. Just like all of us. On one of our walks, near the farm my parents lived on beginning in 1981, and where my brother currently lives, I captured this picture: This dandelion is ready to send parachutes-official name pappi-out into the world, far and wide. Who doesn’t recall a childhood summer day, picking a few of these, and giving them some help with a puff of our own breath? Some consider dandelions pesky, but to me they are always a perky and bright early flower after the cold and brown-grays of the winter. 

The Continuation of An Era

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Today I am grateful for the cardinal that joined me for a few strides of my run earlier today. I also so appreciate all the students, faculty and staff, and parents in the school community in which I work. We were able to have a really meaningful year, however odd and grueling it was at times.  When grieving, it helps me to keep writing and keep doing what feeds my body and soul. Running is key to that nourishment.  Here's the writing that came out as I considered my last marathon: Miles of Grief  Each stride  laden with grief, the fresh kind . . .  sister died of  the same disease  that laid me flat. And the stale kind,  long buried and  unrecognizable . . .  decades of gut level  unworthiness,  emotionally stunted. The last miles of my final marathon  were as painful to  my soul as to my body.  And as liberating.   LV June 5-7, 2021 And here are my feet in my freshest pair of running shoes, my reliable Brooks Ariel, size 11, model 20:  The era of marathons may be over for me, but

The End of an Era

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Living gratefully today, I say thank you to the Universe for two legs to run on, good running shoes in my Brooks Ariel model, and all that I have learned and let go of as I have moved a stride and a mile at a time over thousands of miles.  I started running when I was 12 or 13. It has contributed to my overall wellness in so many ways since then. At times, it was the only healthy thing I was doing.  I started running marathons when I was 39, when Darcy and I, my sister Ruth, and my niece Katie and her husband Danny ran the Chicago Marathon on October 10, 2004. I kept running them until marathon #17, the Sioux Falls Marathon, on September 8, 2019. There is a rich and joy-filled journey I took on each of these 17 marathons. There was joy in just getting to the starting line in Chicago. Joy as I passed each mile marker. Joy as I saw the 26-mile marker and rounded the corner, tears in my eyes, to the sight of that first finish line. The joy was buried under grief as I took to the starting

Siblings and Cousins

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Today I am grateful for the many miles of safe travels my family had this weekend. So grateful for the time together that those travels made possible.  We were gathered in Sioux Falls for the graduation party of our niece Jordyn. Congrats Jordyn and all the best in your future endeavors!   With the pandemic limitations for over a year, it has been a long time since we were able to be together, all of us. That includes my mother-in-law Marlene, Dana and Mitch (Jordyn's parents) and her sister Maycee.  And it was also an opportunity for our own family to be together. That means so much to Darcy and I. Arthur, Alyssa, Aaron, Emily, Leo, and Sam. Here are the siblings: Emily, Sam, and Arthur.  Proud of our children and their families. Proud of the parents that Emily and Arthur and Alyssa are. They are moving further into adulthood with their visions and dreams right along with the busy day-to-day lives they have.  And here are the cousins, Leo and Aaron:    This was treasured time toge

Well-intentioned Words

Today I am grateful for naps, air conditioning, forgiveness.  This is a repeat of the quote I used in a post the other day.    "A loving silence often has far more power to heal and  to connect than the most well-intentioned words."  (Rachel Naomi Remen) That post focused on the first part of the quote. Today, I turn my attention and writing to the second part.  Well-intentioned words. I like to think I choose words well both when I write and speak, but there are certainly many times I fail, and a loving silence or blank page would have been the best choice. Regrets. Remorse. Wishful thinking. Do-overs.  Silence can fail to convey what we might want it to convey, but it has the distinct advantage of also limiting the potential damage.  It is safe to say my tongue has been more hurtful than my silence.  With words come expectations or our own meaning that may be misunderstood. We think others will interpret what we said or wrote in similar fashion. They may not. Words can get

Revisiting a Loving Silence

Living gratefully today, I offer appreciation for the energy that is around me and within me.   Here is my post from April 24, 2019, with a quote that I came across again recently: Today I am grateful for sweat and endorphins, for their cleansing and energizing properties. I am also grateful for the written word. Consider these words:  "A loving silence often has far more power to heal and  to connect than the most well-intentioned words."  (Rachel Naomi Remen) I practiced a loving silence as I sat with my mom the other day. For so long, I had many thoughts, and honestly plenty of judgments too, as I watched or listened to Mom. Now, the best I can do, should do, is love and accept her. I have always loved her. She's my mom. But this loving silence is newer, more meaningful, unconditional. I practice loving silence as I think about my sister Mary Jo, across the miles. And across the chasm of cancer. I pause, pray for her, send energy to her. She deals with nausea, pain, re