"In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy." Brother David Steindl-Rast

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Breaking Down a Quote

Today I am grateful for a good training run yesterday morning with Darcy, for time with our grandson Leo, and for my friend Claire.

We try to never forget how fortunate we are to be able to run, cover the distances we do, and also share in this passion for staying fit and challenging ourselves with marathons. Leo's energy and playful smile warm my heart. Claire turns 80 today. We met through breast cancer support group and I am so thankful we did. She has such spirit! Happy Birthday Claire!

I am also grateful for words and the way they carry so much meaning. They can be mixed and matched and placed in countless combinations that provoke food for thought.

Here is a quote that says so much it really needs to be broken down:

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life . . . and the world." 
Sarah Ban Breathnach

Gratitude bestows reverence. Appreciation grants deep respect. That which we pause and give our full attention to is more fully understood as a gift to be treasured. A sense of respect allows better treatment and more compassion. . . whether it be a person, place, or thing.

The reverence bestowed by gratefulness creates a kinder, gentler approach and we all benefit.

Start there. Just for today. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Next Breath

Today I am grateful for a comfortable bed and pillows for rest. I am also grateful for the insights of our son Sam and that he shares them.

"It is enough to be grateful for the next breath."  Br. David Steindl-Rast

In busy times, days with full schedules, and the way I tend to expect much of myself, these words are like a salve applied to the spinning parts of my overactive mind. A salve to reduce friction and slow the rotation, allowing me to return more fully to the present.

Admittedly, on some days the reprieve is short and the spinning ramps up again, but even a short reprieve is better than none. Gratitude is really about perspective and perception, and it is surprising how a few moments of mindful gratitude can reel in a runaway brain and bring me back to heart and soul.

Brother David is one of my favorite writers and proponents of the virtue of gratefulness. He has done much to advance the simple practice of simply noticing the world around us in this moment. I have numerous posts that include the words of Brother David. Are You Awake? is one from the early months of this blog.

If I can spend a few of my waking moments each day fully appreciating the breath of life, I can have a good day. If I can do that every hour, it is an even better day.

Fully awake. Fully appreciating this breath that carries me forward to the next.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nora McInerny-"It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)"

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to share my breast cancer experiences with someone newly diagnosed. I am also grateful for rain that we needed.

Tuesday I wrote about Nora McInerny's podcast "Terrible, Thanks for Asking." In one of the first podcasts I listened to, McInerny called Anne Lamott "her patron saint."  I knew I would like her work after hearing that. I haven't been disappointed.

Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors and McInerny does in fact have a similar style. Real feelings. Real messy. Real pain and poignancy. Real funny. Her memoir It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) is worth the read. It weaves stories of her upbringing and early adult years with the defining events of a miscarriage, and her father and her husband both dying of cancer, all within a few weeks.

Grief is something that we all face, sooner or later. The more we live life and the longer we live it, losses will occur. They can't be avoided. When it comes to how to handle grieving, there are many suggestions and words of advice, but it still comes down to an individual process taken uniquely by each person going through it.

There is no set timeline. No final wrap-up and move on. There is the facing of painful emotions and the sharing of joyful memories. Nora McInerny writes very well about all of it, and quickly pulled me in as a reader.

I feel deeply, so I appreciate books, podcasts, conversations, and other experiences that bring a range of emotions. It all makes me feel alive and helps me further explore my life and myself. Thank you Nora McInerny! Your book aided in my exploration.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pause and Say "Ah"

Today I am grateful for conversations with my friends Julie and Sheila yesterday, and for the beauty of the fog-laden sunrise this morning.

In the light of that sunrise, literally and figuratively, this quote from www.gratefulness.org  was especially fitting as I scrolled through my email inbox just now:

When before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain, you pause and exclaim, 
"Ah," you are participating in divinity." 
Ancient Hindu Text

Participating in divinity, or rushing headlong into my day and the long list of what I think I need to get done?  It should be an easy call. Yet, my brain tries to pull me from a divine view and back into ramped up thinking. 

So I pause, and I practice. I pause and appreciate the filtered sun through the low fog and the top branches of the pine tree across the street. I pause again and feel the rhythm of my breathing. I pause again. "Ah," the beauty of nature is stunning and awesome. And I get to be here to not only witness it, but to experience it.

Pause and say "Ah" a few times today. I plan to. Back to Nora McInerny's writing tomorrow. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Looking for a Podcast? Try "Terrible, Thanks for Asking"

Today I am grateful for the ease of finding online images to use in lessons/presentations I am preparing for next school year. I am also grateful for the connections I have with others in recovery and how we laugh and commiserate.

Add podcasts to my gratitude list too. Podcasts were pretty new to me a few months ago when my friend Kelly suggested  "Terrible, Thanks for Asking."  Podcasts are simply audio files that can be downloaded off of the internet and listened to at your convenience on any number of devices. They often are a series with episodes and seasons just like television shows.

So I gave a listen to a couple of episodes of "Terrible, Thanks for Asking" and I really appreciated them. I have now listened to many of the episodes from season 1 and some of the mini-episodes as well. I look forward to season 2. This podcast is a creation of writer Nora McInerny, who hails from the Twin Cities area.

McInerny had a miscarriage, and watched both her husband and her father die of cancer, all within a matter of weeks back in 2014. The premise of her podcast is to talk about the tough stuff, to not say the obligatory "fine" when someone asks us how we are doing. (Unless, of course, we are fine.)

From the website, here are the words describing TTFA:

You know how every day someone asks “how are you?” And even if you’re totally dying inside, you just say “fine,” so everyone can go about their day? This show is the opposite of that. Hosted by author (It's Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too)) and notable widow (her words) Nora McInerny, this is a funny/sad/uncomfortable podcast about talking honestly about our pain, our awkwardness, and our humanness, which is not an actual word.

Her approach is compassionate, genuine, and runs the range of emotions. She has a comfortable style imbued with wonderful humor. In other words, my kind of material. Pain, loss, and grief are part of our human existence. Let's talk about them and shine light on them so we can keep living and have some hope and healing. That's this podcast in a nutshell. 

I encourage you to give a listen to TTFA. More tomorrow on Nora McInerny's book. Thanks for the suggestion Kelly!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Packed and Unpacked

Today I am grateful for safe travels this weekend and for the productive and successful time we had moving my mother-in-law Marlene.

I am thinking today of several people currently facing cancer treatment, decisions, and results; especially Leonice, Eric, Pam, Jessie, and Katie.

Back to Marlene and her move. She has known for years that her home would be replaced by a major road construction project in her community of Sioux Falls, SD. The process picked up about a year ago with meetings and paperwork, and this spring she started looking for a new place.

Real estate moves quickly in Sioux Falls, and she was lucky to find a nice place that is a good fit in a desirable location. It will work well for her, with the ability to stay on one level for everything she needs. The lower level will give us pleasant space to stay in when we come to visit.

Darcy, Sam, and I, along with his sister and her family, were able to get everything moved. Marlene had packed much of it up already, making things go more quickly. It was hard work and I used muscles that don't get used when I run. But I am grateful we could all pitch in, and Marlene was most appreciative too.

I wouldn't want to be moving someone every weekend, but it is fun and exciting when you get to do it from time to time. We were a good moving team and even got to enjoy our first night in the new place on Saturday night.

I am grateful for family and for the physical capabilities that were put to use this weekend, as well as the laughter and the time together. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Shine On! (According to the Upanishads)

Today I am grateful for 4-wheeled vehicles and their convenience. I am also grateful for ears that can hear the various sounds coming from those vehicles as they pass by or as I drive.

Consider this quote:
As the Sun shines upon my heart, 
so may my heart shine upon others!
The Upanishads

I was not familiar with the Upanishads and erroneously thought they were a group of people. They are actually ancient writings. According to Wikipedia: The Upanishads are a collection of ancient Sanskrit texts that contain some of the central philosophical concepts of Hinduism, some of which are shared with Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

I consider myself an eclectic spiritual being and though I was raised and currently practice Christian denominations, I draw faith and spirituality from many sources. Really, most religions have more similarities than differences anyway, in my opinion. It comes down to respect and reverence shown to others and the earth. In some faiths, that also includes reverence to a certain god.  

The Higher Power or Great Spirit I refer to personally is like the Sun in many ways. Encompassing much more than me. Giving off light and life to those who put themselves in its path. So a spiritual path, and a path of contribution and good, comes from both seeking light and giving off light. 

I can do that by being around others who light the way, lighten my burdens, lighten the mood when needed, even as I try to do the same. I can do that by practicing gratitude, being a good listener, seeking to be of service.  

There are many ways to shine on. Go do some shining today! 

I will be taking a blog break and be back early next week. Have a good day, moment by moment.