Showing posts from July, 2021


“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” Elizabeth Gilbert  Today I am grateful for words and their endless intriguing combinations.  The sentence above is definitely thought provoking.  Some of the thoughts I am having now as I ponder this: Why did it take so long for me to find some of mine?  How many more are buried within?  I would have capitalized Universe, as it is one of the words I use to refer to  Higher Power and to the greater good that exists in our world.  Does this universe do more laughing, crying, or head-shaking as it watches  us bumble around?  What are some of your thoughts as you consider Elizabeth Gilbert’s words?  I encourage you to do some writing of your own on this question, or on your  current gratitude list. Maybe it will lead you to some jewels.  Have a good day and week! I will be taking a blog break until early next week.  Onward, one day at time, one hour at a time!

Accidental Learning

WORD FOR THE DAY Each day I move toward that which I do not understand.  The result is a continuous accidental learning which constantly shapes my life. Yo-Yo Ma Gifted cellist Yo-Yo Ma shares these words with us today through A Network for Grateful Living's "Word for the Day."  The website also has a "Question of the Day" and today's is: DAILY QUESTION, JULY 25 What happens when you allow yourself to risk stepping  i nto the unknown with a grateful heart? Sign up for these and other grateful living practices  here . Accidental learning and stepping into the unknown. Sounds a little risky to me. Or is it? Arguably, these endeavors are less risky than me trying to run the show, manage outcomes, set myself and others up with unreasonable expectations. I always fall short in numerous ways when that is my course of action. Moving courageously and vulnerably toward that which I don't yet know or understand is an act of faith. With faith, I am never alone. Ove

Even After the Bloom . . .

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the vulnerability and trust it takes to share honestly from one's heart. I have been both the speaker and the listener from this tenuous and beautiful place.   Blooming flowers strike me as both beautiful and tenuous as well. I have been noticing them more this week. At midsummer, various things are happening. Bursting forth with glorious color. Attracting bees, butterflies, hummingbirds. Calling our attention visually and with rich scents. Some last mere hours or days, others for weeks. Some bloom once a year, others less, and some more often.  I have often referred to myself as a late bloomer, in loving fashion. But that wasn't always how I felt. I carried plenty of doubt, impatience, and fear about many things. I lamented what may never happen in my life. Along the way, I missed some of the blooming already happening.  It seems I am also a slow learner. That used to be one of the ways I would judge myself. How many times do you need to f

Wearing The World

Today I am grateful for good music coming from my phone right now and for our local waste management workers. They just picked up our yard waste, then our recyclables, and will be along soon to take care of the garbage receptacle. Thursday morning is garbage truck procession time.  I recently heard the phrase “Wear the world as a loose garment.” It was from a fellow recovering person and speaks to a challenge many of us know, alcoholic or not, and that is hanging on to sh** that does nothing but burden us. We all do it. That's why acceptance is key and letting go is crucial.  "Wearing the world like a loose garment" is a tactile connection to my overthinking mind. Loose garments are comfortable and don't restrict movement. They let my skin breathe and air flow through. Tight clothing binds me and makes me itchy, bitchy, and twitchy as the hours go on. My thoughts can also be either comforting or limiting. The phrase got me curious about two things. Where did it origin

How Enchanting

Today I am grateful for hindsight and foresight that sometimes blend nicely with the sight in front of me in this moment. Such a blend tends to realize deeper emotions, a more expansive flow of gratefulness.  This current moment includes the sight of changing skies as the sun approaches the horizon. And also blossoms on a variety of flowers; some freshly bursting forth and others past their prime. It seems the sun and flowers also have hindsight and foresight. There's good vision in this quote from Diane Ackerman as well:  We can’t enchant the world, which makes its own magic;  but we can enchant ourselves by paying deep attention. So many amazing things go on around me. Nature is one of my best teachers. I try to sit up straight in my desk and be a good student with it every day. I love the seasons changing, coming and going. The patience required is a key lesson. So many amazing things go on inside me. Blood flows. Oxygen circulates. Emotions bubble. Thoughts percolate. Love flow

An Imposing Presence

Today I am grateful for our local community and the ways we have taken in the gifts and events it has to offer over the last few days. It feels good to be out and about. I shared this poem about my favorite tree, along with a photo, yesterday via Instagram and Facebook. It is about a mile from our house, on what is also my favorite stretch of trail.  Welcome Imposition  The tree is expansive, commanding more space  than others nearby.  It has seen more history  than all of us.  An imposing presence— lofty and leaf-filled, majestic and mystic, ready, resilient.  A welcome imposition.  LV When I leave my house and run past the tree from this direction, it looks like the imposing figure I wrote about. When I am heading back home, the tree blends in and is much less noticeable. My amateur video skills tried to capture that here: And my writer's mind gets to thinking about perspective, perception, good sides and bad sides. Life is about how we see it. How we see it starts with our eyes,

Consider the Flowers

Today I am grateful for pen and paper. It is still the writing format closest to my heart and most helpful to my emotional processing.  I appreciated this recent post titled  "You're Already There"  on my sister Danita's blog "Aging Wrinkles and Wonders." I encourage you to read it and to sign up to receive her next posts by email.  This question stayed with me:  "How often do I hurry to get to where I think I want to be and trample on the beauty of the moment?"  Yep. I have been known to do some hurrying and trampling. I would like to think my efforts to live gratefully have led to less hurrying, more observing, less trampling, more honoring. I'm pretty sure they have. But I am also pretty sure I still catch myself at a frenetic pace doing some damage at least a few times a week, or a day, depending on how friendly of terms my mind and I are on at the time.  I love sitting outside in the early mornings and sometimes in the evenings too. The wa

Big or Small, Connections Matter

Living gratefully today, I connect with the stillness within through meditation and the stillness of the early morning by pausing and observing my surroundings via my senses. This day and I begin our connections.  As I came up the hill near our house last evening, returning from a bike ride, I exchanged friendly hellos and smiles with a young woman walking alone and with a small group walking further up the trail. I don't know anyone's name. I know the young woman lives up the street a few blocks. We see each other regularly. The other group included adults, kids, and a dog.  I had just been thinking, as I biked, how much better this summer feels compared to last summer. COVID and other concerns remain, for sure. But there is freedom and a shared sense of fortitude that we made it through the last 17 months. We are connected by this experience, whether we personally know one another or not.  When we couldn't connect in usual ways and with some of the people we know best, we

Tunnel Vision, In a Good Way

Today I am grateful for an old daily meditation book I had put away and will now revive. And I am grateful for my friend Terrie, a recovery connection, who gave me the book in 1996.  Tunnel vision is often seen as a negative. That is definitely fitting when talking about the loss of peripheral vision, a true medical condition. How much would I miss if my field of vision were limited?  How much DO I miss when I have that other kind of tunnel vision? So focused on one thing, usually something out of my control anyway, that I miss everything else. I have spent plenty of time over the years limiting myself via tunnel vision. But there is also a good kind of tunnel vision. Clarity for a purpose and energy immersed in it. It is a beautiful thing. I find it in my writing, on a run, engaged in conversation with another person, in a task at work; and in many other endeavors. More regular meditation practice has increased this helpful type of vision and focus.  Then there is this kind of tunnel

Music on the Run: A Poem

Living gratefully, I give thanks for the time I had with my dear friend Jenny yesterday. Heartfelt conversation and a nice walk were treats.  I also give thanks, in advance, for the run I will soon be taking this Saturday morning. I have headed out for hundreds of Saturday morning runs. They have not only been physical activity, but also mental, emotional, and spiritual.  The strides come easier some days than others, but they always carry me to a better place in one way or another. This poem came to me on a run the other day:  Music on the Run I used to prefer  music piped in  through my ears  to calm my thinking  and help me  keep pace. Now I choose  a quiet mind  and open heart,  inviting new  music and words  at their own pace.  LV It reflects how both my running and I have evolved. I run free of any headphones or other technology, other than my simple pedometer and basic running watch. It is in part for safety reasons, and also for sacred reasons--welcoming Nature, fresh thoughts,

"These Mornings" by Richard Wehrman

Living gratefully today, I am savoring the morning's first cup of coffee and the soothing sound of the fountain on our patio.  I also savored the poem "These Mornings"   by Richard Wehrman for a second time, after reading it yesterday when it arrived in my email. I encourage you to pause right now, click the link, and read it yourself.  What did you think?  I am a morning person. I love the early time of day and appreciate summer when I get to more fully experience the break of dawn and the coming light. The seasons come and go, the light changes; I change, or not. And the mornings keep coming, with their new possibilities and fresh batch of hope.  I am a morning person through and through. Richard Wehrman captures the beauty and joy of this time of day so well. These lines especially resonated with me: Beauty flows fresh . . .  All around me the treasures of the soul have gathered as beings . . . This! This! This!  Mornings are when I tend to have more mental and emotion

It's About Time

Today I am grateful for the refreshing feel of cooler and less humid air this morning. I am also grateful for my ongoing relationship with time and how I understand it.  Like our excursion over the weekend exploring local areas, last evening we stopped at a couple places that we have passed dozens of times over the last twenty years: the falls of the Cannon River in Cannon Falls and the "Dairy Inn" drive-in. It's about time we took the time to stop. We are usually on our way to or from Iowa when we pass through, so we have other travel goals. Last night, our only agenda was to check out these places. Here is a picture of the falls: They are minor compared to Vermillion Falls in our community and some of the other falls in the area, but they are worth the stop. Worth the time to listen and look. The ice cream at the Dairy Inn was worth it too.  Birthdays are about time. How we got here. How we feel about the time behind us and the potential time in front of us. How we are

Freedom, Liberation, and Such

Living gratefully today, I am noticing the many ways electricity makes my life easier. Thank you to all who make electricity possible. Yesterday’s “Word for the Day” at was: Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice. Thich Nhat Hanh I encourage you to sign up for this daily email quote too at A Network for Grateful Living (website above). On the heels of my nation’s Independence Day, I consider my individual freedom and what has liberated me from my own constraints. Having not known the chains and restrictions of a dictatorship or the limited freedom of opportunity that women in some countries face, I have known the toughest limitations of all, especially emotionally. The ones I have placed on myself, that life circumstances put me in position to cultivate (or should I say foment)? Daily practice indeed makes a difference. Cultivate, nurture, water, feed. Physical activity, meditation and reflection time, living

Strange x 2, Bridges x 2

Today I am grateful for a cooling breeze on a warm morning and for my country, my homeland, these United States of America.  Last year's 4th of July was in the shadow of COVID-19 and racial unrest. This year, the pandemic isn't as dark and there has been justice delivered in the murder of George Floyd. Division and unrest remain though, and have evolved in ways I never saw coming.  Six months ago, on January 6, our nation faced an attack like none other. At about the same time, COVID-19 vaccines were just becoming available.  Today, there are conspiracy theories and unused vaccines to fuel our concerns in these still strange times. Our national flag has become an unlikely point of contention and confusion.  Strange times two. Last July 4 and this one feel very different from each other in ways, and yet very similar in that they are the two strangest ones I have known in my lifetime.  Love wins, and I love my country. I love that my husband Darcy and I put on 150 miles yesterday

Hugs, Hope, and a Cardinal

Today I am grateful for the day I shared with family members, my aunt's Franciscan sisters, and many others who honored the life of Sr. Norma Jean Holthaus on Wednesday. I am grateful for safe travels that brought us all to and from her funeral and burial. Add to my gratitude list hugs, hope, and a cardinal.    The hugs of recent months, after so many months when they were so limited, have felt powerfully human and connecting.  I appreciated sharing hugs with cousins, some who I hadn't seen for years.  The hope was palpable too. In the energy of songs, readings, and the stories of Sr. Norma Jean that were shared. You made such a difference Norma Jean, and the hope you helped create will continue to spread and heal others.  The Reverend John Haugen gave a beautiful homily at her funeral mass. They knew each other for over forty years, and I could hear in his voice the genuine love, admiration, respect, and connection they shared. Here are some of his words: “We are people of hop