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Rosh Hoshannah is here! The new year brings with it a time of reflection and commitment to improving our lives, improving our character, improving the world around us. It is a season of asking forgiveness for the times in the past year when we have failed in our efforts to be better people or failures to increase the health of the world around us. This is a time of celebrating possibilities that lie ahead of us and of embracing that which is holy and life enhancing. Today I bake the bread that we will enjoy with the apples and honey, symbolic of our hopes for a happy, sweet, healthy, and prosperous new year. Rosh Hoshannah reminds me that as long as I have breath in me, I have opportunity to renew my spirit, rejuvenate my energy, improve my character, and contribute to the mending of what is broken in this world (tikkun olam). So, on this, the eve of Rosh Hoshannah, I am grateful for endless opportunity to renew and improve in every way imaginable! L’Shana Tovah!

It’s late at night (oops…early morning) and there are few words left for me to say on this day other than I love to watch birds. I love to photograph birds. This is a mindful, restful hobby and I urge you to give it a try. I am grateful for the hobby of birding, or birdwatching as many say.

Good night and sweet dreams.

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It’s been a while since I posted here but that does not indicate a lack of gratitude. The reality is I have been swamped with work and have found it difficult to carve out time to blog on a regular schedule. Even so, I continue to live a grateful life and the result is that life continues to be full and vibrant as ever. Tonight I decided to take a few moments and reflect on what that means, to live a life of gratitude. Living thankfully does not mean that rain will never fall, nor does it mean that storm clouds will never interfere with our vision. It simply and profoundly means to me that I am grateful for life whatever life has in store for me. I am grateful for every breath I take, every flower or blade of grass I see, for every person who crosses my path. I am grateful for the lessons learned and those yet to be grasped. I am grateful for the lives and influences of those whom I have lost along the way and for those who have yet to enter my world. I find that living a life of gratitude opens up life to richness that cannot be measured. Last week as I walked along a path after a summer rain I was struck with the beauty of raindrops on leaves and grass along the trail. Even though rain can often created dreary days, there is beauty in the the notion that earth — and life — is being nurtured and thirsts quenched. After the rain colors are more vivid, aromas waft with more intensity, and even the sounds in the air resound with more clarity. Rains cleanse, refresh and renew. There’s a message in the rain, literally and figuratively. Yes, I am grateful for rain.

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The weather outside is frightful . . . and has been so for quite a while now. Waking up to sub-zero (fahrenheit) temperatures is getting old. But today is the first of March and spring will arrive soon. And when that happens memories of cold winter mornings will quickly fade. For now however, I slip into my faux-fur lined leather slippers, prop my warm feet up, sip my coffee, and meditate on the winter scene outside my window. Yes, I am truly grateful for warm, comfy slippers on a cold winter morning!

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The ubiquitous lightbulb is taken for granted by most of us. Our homes are lit at night by bulbs of many varieties and sometimes varying colors. We flip a switch and light illuminates our surroundings. When one bulb burns out we simply make a run to the nearest store or market and purchase another. Simple. Unless of course the electricity is out. Some of my clients are without electricity at the moment for reasons I’ll save for another post, and other than lack of heat in frigid weather, the loss of light is their biggest complaint. Something as simple a the light bulb has truly changed the world as it was known at the time of its invention. Light bulbs are everywhere: street lights, head lights, flashing emergency lights, lit signs, traffic lights, fluorescent lights, ceiling lights, lamps, etc. All lights I can think of use light bulbs.  I am indeed grateful for lightbulbs and how they illuminate our world.

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Fresh fruit at one’s fingertips year-round is a luxury I too often take for granted. Tonight however, as I was “fiddling” around with the camera and playing with shooting still lifes, it occurred to me how blessed I am to have fruit in my diet every day. Makes for healthy living. I am grateful for fresh fruit year-round.

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The garage is old and showing signs of ill repair. We will have to replace it within the next few years. More than needing a good paint job, there are enough gaps between wood slats in the siding for small rodents or song birds to get in. At times we wonder if a blizzard would pile enough snow on the roof to bring the whole thing down. Even so I still find this old garage to be very useful. We store garden tools and “garage stuff” here but my car fits inside, too. And on cold winter mornings it is nice not to have to scrape frost off the windshield, or sweep snow off the roof or hood of the car. I appreciate that I can drive to work sans twenty minutes of “prep time” making the car drivable. I am grateful for this old, dilapidated garage on cold, snowy mornings here in Cleveland, OH.

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Many of my photographs are taken at the North Chagrin Reservation in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. I have expressed gratitude for birds, trees, ponds, frogs, you name it, and most of my photos that illustrate gratitude are taken at this special place! Tonight I am grateful for the reservation itself. It is a place where one can go to stroll along paths through woods and fields. There I hear the cacophany of numerous bird species, each bird vying for attention or jockeying for position in the “pecking order.” I walk, listen, watch, touch and inhale the forest. It has become a sacred place for me to run to when I need a respite from the work that I do. Whether spring, summer, fall, or winter, the reservation compels me to be more mindful, to observe more closely, to listen more intently, and to watch more alertly. I am indeed grateful for the North Chagrin Reservation.

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Winter is a harsh time of year for me. Since childhood i perceived winter to be a “dead” season. Everything went into hibernation: plants, animals, color, warmth, all of life! I viewed the landscape as barren, transformed into a dull monochromatic palette. Grays and whites depressed me. And I dreaded snow once it came because I knew that I would not see the ground again until spring thaw. But as I’ve aged my perception has definitely shifted. The shift may be due to the fact that I have become more mindful as i’ve mellowed with the years. Now I walk the wooded paths, listen to the crunch of my boots on snow and ice, and watch for the flutter of wings as winter birds take up residence. This past week as I wandered my favorite trails, I noticed that the leafless forrest branches were alive with birds of varied species: titmice, nuthatches, sparrows, dark eyed juncos (see above photo), cardinals, finches, various types of woodpeckers, starlings, and even a hawk. As I stood still and listened, watched, and breathed deeply, I felt an enormous sense of gratitude to have come to this stage and age in life when even in winter I am aware of the vibrancy of life. The birds help. I am grateful for birds in winter.

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Mary, our youngest daughter, sent a self-care package to me on my birthday. Included was a box of Tulsi organic Sweet Rose tea, a tea that has quickly become my favorite. There is nothing more nurturing, comforting, or relaxing than sipping a cup of that Sweet Rose tea and reading poetry before retiring to bed at night. Ahhh. Sweet dreams. Sound sleep. I am grateful for Tulsi Sweet Rose tea and poetry just before bedtime.

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