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Tag Archives: 365 gratitude project

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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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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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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When we bought this house about two and a half years ago, we knew that improvements would have to be made along the way. For instance, the furnace was 32 years old at the time of purchase and, we discovered, quite cantankerous. We made it hobble through two winters however, and always counted our blessings that we never had to go more than two days without heat. Although living in Cleveland, OH on the shores of a really big lake (!), two days of no heat can be quite “icy”. Repairs were frequent. In fact we called in the professionals three times thus far this season alone to keep the old furnace working. And we are just now moving into the harsh winter weather common to this part of the world. By all appearances, that old furnace was nigh-on next to dead!

Without too much discussion (actually, we have discussed the old furnace and its impending demise since we purchased the house) we finally “bit the bullet” and bought a new one. Sal’s Heating and Cooling installed the new furnace yesterday! So on this first day of the year 2015, we now have a reliable, efficient furnace to keep our home warm as the temps plunge into the teens and below (fahrenheit for all my friends living outside the USA). It appears we purchased the furnace in the nick of time! I am grateful for our new furnace and the warmth it provides.

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Pets have been a part of my life most of my life. Whether cat or dog or hamster or lizard, each has a personality that becomes part of the family dynamics. Each animal we adopted exhibited traits we found to be annoying, adorable, aloof, contented, playful, grumpy, mischievous, and the list goes on. But as with any family member, we loved them and they were simply family.

Seven or s0 years ago I lost my beloved “Possum,” an 18-year-old Russian Blue. About four years later, Pele, a Norwegian Forrest mix, also left this world. For a while it seemed too difficult to welcome another pet into our home. I could not bear the thought of experiencing yet again the grief that the loss of a pet brings. But we were lonesome. One day my daughter who was trying to help a friend find a home for the pet she had to give up, posted a picture of this cat–the spitting image of our Possum. I commented that if we lived closer (we are in Cleveland, daughter and cat in Chicago), I would love to take the cat. It was just a passing comment on a Facebook photograph. That is all. Nothing more.

Soon afterwards, however, I received private messages from both my daughters in Chicago. They took me seriously and 1901220_10202469274505985_3860315167920632641_nwere hell-bent on getting the cat to Cleveland. And sure enough, a week or two later, my youngest daughter and her family show up at our door with cat in tow! Since then Willy has brought us nothing but joy. His name started out as Willard but was soon shortened to Willy and then quickly morphed into Willy-Nilly-Wonka. He has stolen our hearts. I did not think I could own another cat after losing Possum and Pele. But after two and a half years, we were ready to expand our family and welcome a cat once again into our lives. I am grateful for the love and joy that pets bring to our lives and especially grateful for our Willy-Nilly-Wonka!

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We take so many things in life for granted; a trite but true statement. Our refrigerator went on the blink this past week. It simply stopped working sometime during the night Tuesday/Wednesday. I noticed it when I went to get my morning yogurt and discovered it was room temperature and tasted. . .funny. So while I was at work my husband called an appliance company to come repair the thing. And as is often the case, no one could make it that day but we were put on the schedule for the next available appointment; Thursday afternoon. Thankfully we live in a cold climate, so we salvaged what we could by putting the frozen food in the trunk of the car that sits in the driveway most of the time. The rest of what could be saved was placed in a cooler on our back porch. We made do. Unfortunately when the repairman (yes, it was a “he”) took a look at the now empty refrigerator, he discovered the controls were broken. How? We do not know.  But thanks to modern technology, the nice repairman ordered the part that very moment via his handy dandy “notebook.” He told us the replacement part would arrive late Friday afternoon, but since he does not work on weekends, we would have to wait till Monday for the fridge to be repaired. But hey, we are campers–sorta. We are managing well despite the irritation of an occasional urge for something from our makeshift refrigeration setup late at night. To satisfy the urge, one of us has to bundle up, go outside and rummage through a car trunk to find the “necessary” food item. All of this has helped me recognize how much we take modern conveniences for granted. Today it is the refrigerator. Another day it may be electricity, or gas, or a bed to sleep in, or even food on the table. I have clients who have had to do without the things I have just listed, as well as no refrigerator. That is another whole story, though. For now, I am grateful for our refrigerator and the convenience it affords us.

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Despite the fact that the day was dampish cold and dreary,  the urge to go to the woods was overpowering. So even though I was still wearing a knee immobilizer and using a crutch (the result of a slip on the ice a couple of weeks ago), I packed up my camera and persuaded my husband to drive me out to a nearby nature reservation; my favorite retreat. I had no illusions. This was not a photography outing even though my camera hung by my side. I simply needed to connect with the natural world after being sequestered inside for weeks as I healed. But for me, the most healing places to be are in the woods. Here I walked slowly and softly. Listening. Breathing. Noticing. Soaking the experience intIMGP5014o every part of me that I could. Despite the terrible lighting and photographic conditions, I shot a few frames “just because.” Mostly, however, I simply chose to “be.” Even though physically unable to wander from the beaten path deep into the woods (something I am wont to do, much to Richard’s chagrin), just being in these wonderful woods fed my soul and renewed my spirit. I am grateful for this walk in the dreary woods. I am renewed.

 

 

This is a sad day in our country’s history.  Most of us remember 9/11 and can replay the events of the day in slow motion.  At times we still shake our heads in disbelief at the enormity of the happenings of that day, and how it shattered our world.  Today, ten years later, we still pause and remember.  Our hearts still ache for those we lost and the world that no longer is.  We grieve again. Grief is a part of all of our lives. We don’t like the dull ache that seems to go on for a very long time after the acute anguish passes, but grief is also a harbinger of healing.  People are drawn together in community; creative minds begin to figure out ways to be better and do better; we acknowledge the loss and those we lose and their importance to us in our everyday lives. Life is not the same after a worldwide catastrophe such as 9/11, nor is it the same for those who suffer losses on a smaller scale in more personal ways.  Loss is loss for whoever experiences it. Today we pause and remember 9/11 and grieve again but not as acutely as on that day. Now we have stories of survival, inspiration, heroism, new beginnings and new directions that were all spawned from that horrific event. Today there are also people~family, friends, acquaintances~who suffer personal losses of which the world is oblivious, but for which those experiencing the loss grieve.  Grief has a purpose. Grief allows us to express our deepest love, regrets, pain and sorrow so that we can move on.  At its best, grief has the power to inspire us and motivate us to be better than what we have been, to pursue that for which we hope, and to make a spiritual space for what we have lost. Today I am grateful for grief expressed and healing begun.

Today was one of those dampish, coldish days where all you want to do is hibernate. So that is what I did! The past six weeks were filled with intensive activity as we prepared to move and I continued my studies. I’ve had several “melt downs” along the way, and moments when I just wanted to throw in the towel and walk away. I’ve written enough about the details of the move, but for anyone who has repeatedly gone through this process of relocating, you know how tiring it is. Today marks one week since I joined my husband here in to our new apartment. Boxes still wait to be unpacked, yet for the most part we’ve got the place to a livable situation.But today felt like a “do nothing” day. So rather than working to empty more boxes or fixing the place up, I sat down with my books and read and slept. Pele, my Norwegian Forest cat, sat on my lap or on my shoulder and we both snoozed on and off for most of the day. We rested. I did not play music or listen to the radio, and intentionally kept phone-talk to a minimum. I hopped on the computer a little bit to catch up with blogs or to check mail, then as quickly as I hopped on, I hopped off. I am a firm believer in taking time from the frantic busyness of life to rest and recuperate. Today’s quiet stillness was food for my soul as well as rest for my body. I’ll do some more reading for my class ~ if I feel like it ~ and tomorrow morning I’ll post a discussion to the course-room, but that is about it. Tomorrow afternoon I will jump back into the swing of unpacking and getting the apartment in order (there is really not much left to do) but for the remainder of this evening, I will stay mellow, relaxed, lethargic. I will rest. I am grateful for times when we are able to rest from life’s crazyness.

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