Monday, December 31, 2007

Monday, 31 December 2007 - Endings and beginnings

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for endings and beginnings.

I share May Sarton's reflection because it mirrors my own feelings about the year about to end and the one about to begin.

The last day of what has been an uneasy and painful year for me. I look forward to dawn tomorrow and, as the days get longer, to begin to feel my way into renascence. It is not strange though it is mysterious that our "New Year" comes at the darkest time in the seasonal cycle. When there is personal darkness, when there is pain to be overcome, when we are forced to renew ourselves against all the odds, the psychic energy required simply to survive has tremendous force, as great as that of a bulb pushing up through icy ground in spring, so after the overcoming, there is extra energy, a flood of energy that can go into creation. ~May Sarton

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday, 30 December 2007 - A winter hike

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a winter hike.

What luck!
All is right for a winter hike.
Not a long, strenuous trek, mind you.
Despite clear blue skies and bright sun,
Cold temperatures and chilly breezes
Still prevail outdoors.
Plus, the days, though slightly longer now,
Still turn to shadow early in the foothills.
So, I embark on a regular hike,
One that requires sturdy boots
And a backpack
And extra clothing, just in case.
I park my ordinary suburban life
At the trailhead
And step into the wilderness,
Ready to navigate the mountainous territory
Along a steep snow and icepacked trail
Shaded by tall firs and fluffy pines.
Nothing too strenuous this afternoon
Since I only have a few hours.
Just a casual hike that will lead me
To quiet places,
Where I can shake off the dust
Of cabin fever,
Clear my lungs of
Stale, indoor air,
And hear my heart beat
One more time.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday, 29 December 2007 - A touch of Robert Frost

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a touch of Robert Frost, one of my favorite American poets.

Dust of Snow by Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday, 28 December 2007 - A better weather day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a better weather day.

Winter either bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail. ~Proverb

The weather is improving. A slight breeze has replaced the North Wind. Although the temperature still hovers in the teens, the air definitely feels warmer. Just in time for me run a few errands: visit the library, check out the fabric boutique's sale, and buy freshly-made chicken and gouda sausages at the meat market

Yes, S, T and I are looking forward to warmer days. Based on the latest forecast, we could be rock climbing or bouldering late next week. I can't wait.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday, 27 December 2007 - One lap around the park

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one lap around the park.

The latest weather report: 10 degrees F, -4 degrees F if you factor in the wind chill. Probably colder in the "Rocky Mountain foothills where we live.

Still, T wants to go for a walk. I postpone the outing for as long as I can. Although my blood has thickened considerably during the past few months, I don't relish the exposure or walking on icy pavement.

Well, T's persistence finally pays off. Out we go for our afternoon walk. I'm wearing my warmest gear including a fleece muffler wrapped around my nose and lower face. Yup. It's that cold.

OK, T. Here we go. Just one lap around the park. That's all I can endure this afternoon.

Every mile is two in winter. ~George Herbert

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Amen.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday, 26 December 2007 - A little warmth

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a little warmth.

O, wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

It is so cold today! Even though the thermostat is set at 58 degrees F to conserve energy, the furnace is working overtime. I am doing whatever I can to warm up the house. And that means cooking.

On the stove sits a large pot of Irish oatmeal, simmering on low heat so it thickens slowly. My version of Italian macaroni and cheese bakes in a hot oven. When it's done, I'll bake a large focaccio. We'll eat the casserole and focaccio for an early dinner.

Finally, I'm writing and knitting in my studio where a little space heater takes the chill out of the air.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tuesday, 25 December 2007 - The true spirit of Christmas

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the true spirit of Christmas. S, T and I wish everyone the blessings and joys of this holiday season.


And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
~Dr. Seuss

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Monday, 24 December 2007 - Ordinary December days

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for ordinary December days.

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we'll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.
~ May Sarton, December Moon

A baby's birth. A father's death.
A birthday. An anniversary. A memorial service.
A jazz concert. A football game. A trip to the airport.
A tight deadline. An invitation. A haircut appointment.
A lost set of keys. A broken digital camera. A new watch battery.
A skein of silk yarn. A yard of wool fabric. A designer sewing pattern.
An extra blanket on the bed. A cozy hat and scarf. A pair of waterproof boots.
A sink of dirty dishes. A sprig of fresh basil. An extra dash of cinnamon.
A walk around the park. An hour on the boulders. A hike into the canyon.
A glass of homemade Irish cream. A mug of Irish coffee. A sip of hot green tea.
A raging snowstorm. A bitter cold night. An icy sidewalk.

That's my December ... so far.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday, 23 December 2007 - Children

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for children.

Childhood is a short season. ~Helen Hayes

Just the other day, I realized that that nearly all the children in the neighborhood are in middle or high school. When did they grow up? When did they discover their own lives?

When we walk to the park, several young men and young women still run to us to pet T. But, they no longer ring the doorbell after school, asking if T can come out to play. They no longer hang out with S and I when we work in the front yard or garage.

I miss them. Young people are gifts. The more I interact with them, the more I believe that the world will be in good hands when the next generation inherits the Earth.

And, sadly, I accept this hard truth: as children grow older, so do we.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday, 22 December 2007 - A good day for writing

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a good day for writing. My musings won't pay the bills but I'm compelled to write ... a curse, I suppose.

And though I ebb in worth, I'll flow in thanks. ~John Taylor

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday, 21 December 2007 - Winter's official arrival

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for winter's official arrival.

'Tis not the season of
the leaf whose
fragile body’s broken veins
disintegrate in
gusts of winds while
winter blows a frosty coat that
caps the barren land.
~Lucille Younger

According to the calendar, winter is officially here. Given our recent spate of cold weather, all I can say is "It's about time!"

Actually, T and I feel Winter's arrival during our noontime walk around the park. During the first lap, we enjoy the sunshine, clear blue skies and unseasonable warmth. But, as we turn the corner for lap #2, we suddenly detect Winter's presence.

The evidence includes the North wind's wild bluster, the sudden temperature drop, the blowing snow. I shiver and wish I had worn a hat. Lucky T. The abrupt weather change doesn't bother him at all. His dense coat keeps him warm and dry as we circle the park one more time.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday, 20 December 2007 - Completed projects

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for completed projects.

Out of the strain of the doing,
Into the peace of the done.
~Julia Woodruff, Gone

I think I'm done with business stuff for a few days. Now, I can finally concentrate on personal ones. Like making Christmas gifts.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday, 19 December 2007 - Inspiration and patience

Dear God:


Today, I am thankful for inspiration and patience - enough of each so I can finish writing a series of boring press releases for a client that drives me nuts.


For this blessing, I am grateful.


Amen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday, 18 December 2007 - Happy Birthday, T

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for T as we celebrate his 11th birthday.

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really. ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

We begin the celebration in grand style with an early morning walk to the park with a detour through the snow crusted alley. During our first lap around the park, I let T sniff at will and walk at a leisurely pace. During the remaining laps, however, I make him walk faster so we get some exercise.

Anyway, T's more spoiled than usual today. His gifts include an Oakland Raiders fleece blanket, special food treats and lots of hugs and kisses.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday, 17 December 2007 - Warmer weather

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for warmer weather.

During winter, the weather governs many of our activities. Too cold, windy or icy and we're confined to home. Warmer weather means we take T for longer walks, I run my errands as scheduled, and we anticipate our next climbing and hiking adventure.

Well, today, warmer temperatures reigned. A good thing, too. M, our Air Force Academy cadet, finished his last final exam (chemistry) this morning. S picked him up around 1 PM and brought him back so he could eat lunch with us and relax for a few hours. At 3:30 PM, they left for the airport.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday, 16 December 2007 - A sewing project + Harry Potter

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a sewing project and Harry Potter.

It's a non-writing, creative day for me - time to work on a few sewing projects. While I sew (or knit or make jewelry), I listen to audio books. Usually fiction. This afternoon, it's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince read by multi-talented British actor, Stephen Fry.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday, 15 December 2007 - A good movie

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a good movie.

It's too cold to go out except to take T for his daily walks. So, I'm glad I perused the library's DVD section earlier this week. Winter is the best time for for S and I to watch the latest movies - well, maybe not the latest releases since we're a few years behind. Our favorites so far: Babel, Crash and The Good Shepard.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday, 14 December 2007 - 21 years and counting

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my husband, S, as we celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. Yes, that's 21 years of riding mile after unpredictable mile on life's perpetual roller coaster.

Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. ~Simone Signoret

A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time. ~Anne Taylor Fleming

So what do I love best about my husband?

First, S is bright and witty. He can make me laugh out loud even when I don't feel like smiling.

Second, he tolerates my creative whims and fancies, never complaining when I do things like:
- buying another plant, sewing pattern, yard of fabric or skein of yarn or
- insisting that we eat organically grown, locally-produced food or
- recycling anything that is recyclable or
- deciding to write a 50,000 word novel in November when I should be cleaning out the closets and making Christmas gifts.

Third, he never takes it personally when I'm testy during our athletic pursuits - I can be rather "in your face" while attempting difficult rock climbing or bouldering moves or scrambling down an unstable scree field with a heavy pack on my back.

Finally, he's been the best dad to our canine sons - first, Y and now, T.

For this blessing, I am truly grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday, 13 December 2007 - Three years and counting

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for three years of My Grateful Journal.

How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.

December is here before it's June.

My goodness how the time has flewn.

How did it get so late so soon?

~Dr. Seuss

Truly, it seems like only yesterday that I put fingers to keyboard and began to write this journal. Days turned into weeks, then months, then years. For me, three years is a long time to do anything.

Life continues to challenge me with its unpredictability and surprise me with its gifts. Of course, I like the gifts the best, especially those disguised as comments from readers.

So, off I go again, ready to begin a fourth year. My heart, full of gratitude and anticipation, directs me to travel the road marked Uncertainty towards a place called Destiny. I've heard rumors that my name will be written in the stars above my next resting place - my clue that I have arrived.

No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear;

But, grateful, take the good I find,

The best of now and here.

~John Greenleaf Whittier

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday, 12 December 2007 - Three timely quotes

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for three timely quotes.

An affirmation:
All the windows of my heart I open to the day.
~John Greenleaf Whittier

A warning:
Don't ever save anything for a special occasion.
Being alive is the special occasion.

~Author Unknown

A truth:
We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.
~Japanese Proverb

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday, 11 December 2007 - A sunny morning

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a sunny morning.

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains! ~John Muir

The winter sun visits for a few glorious hours this morning - just long enough for T and I to finish our longer than usual walk and for me to dream about rock climbing.

With afternoon's arrival, the weather changes. The temperature drops quickly. Dark clouds sweep across the sky, obscuring the sun's radiant face, ushering in another snow storm.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday, 10 December 2007 - Enough

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for having enough.

If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.
~Lao-Tzu (Stephen Mitchell, translator)

Every morning, I check various online bulletin boards for requests for assistance. I give when I can and pray that others will stand in the gap when I can't. During these lean times, others may think it strange that I do this. But, to me, there's always something I can do or give.

Having enough is a relative state of mind. Despite my own challenges, I still find excess in my life - too many of this, too much of that. So, sharing the excess seems a natural thing to do.

Right now, I truly crave a simpler, more elegant and ordered life. Achieving such a life will shape my journey from this day forth.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday, 9 December 2007 - A winter wonderland

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a winter wonderland.

It's absolutely amazing - last night's storm transformed our ordinary neighborhood into a magical world of snow, ice and icicles that rivals the Sugarplum Fairy's enchanted dreamland. I don't think I'll ever tire of Colorado's wintry landscapes. I may complain about shoveling snow from the driveway and sidewalk, but I will never deny how much I enjoy winter's eye candy.

T and I walk to the park on crunchy snow packed sidewalks and streets. While T strides confidently, I move more cautiously, taking extra care to avoid icy patches. Although I slip on the ice at least once each winter, I don't want to tumble today. I'm wearing my warmest fleece jacket, hat and gloves and favorite Teva boots - adequate protection since there's virtually no wind.

As we turn into the park, I "ooh" and "aah" at the scene before me - winter at its best - an early and much appreciated white Christmas. We pause in front of the pine and fir trees that line the west and southwest borders. Each tree is heavily flocked with snow, every branch and needle encased in ice and decorated with a generous dusting of fragile snowflakes. As we walk eastward, I notice that the air is glittery, the result of air moisture freezing in the bitter cold temperature.

For just a minute, I imagine that T and I are walking in a real live snow globe. If we're lucky, we might even meet The Nutcracker's Clara as she twirls and leaps across the winter landscape.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Saturday, 08 December 2007 - A reason to be in Colorado Springs

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a reason to be in Colorado Springs.

I'm beginning to believe that the reason we're still living in Colorado Springs is to provide a safe and comfortable home away from home for our Air Force Academy cadet, M, during his freshman year. I guess that it helps that he's an exceptional young man - intelligent, sensible, down to earth, gracious - just like his dad (in the 1970s, S and M's dad were roommates and worked in the West Los Angeles Peace Corps recruiting office).

For me, our accessibility helps me justify why we're still here. And, the fact that others turn to us for assistance helps mitigate my personal struggles over my writing and work.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday, 07 December 2007 - Cookie dough

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for cookie dough.

I never thought I'd be happy to see four tubs of premade cookie dough, but I am. The local middle school sold the dough during their fall fundraiser. I bought mine from three young ladies who live in the neighborhood. Last year, I didn't purchase any because the product contained trans-fat. I guess the manufacturer wised up this year because the items are now trans-fat-free.

Our Air Force Academy cadet visits regularly on weekends. I enjoy cooking for him - he's not a picky eater and appreciates every home cooked meal. My one challenge is dessert - something we rarely eat ever since I lost my sweet tooth. That's where the cookie dough comes in. I'll be able to bake a few dozen cookies quickly - no fuss, no muss - a real convenience especially since he rarely gives us more than a few hours' notice when he's been granted leave for the weekend (the Academy's fault, not his).

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday, 06 December 2007 - Unexpected gift

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an unexpected gift. I now have proof that someone other than God hears my prayers.

Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks. ~Samuel Johnson

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wednesday, 05 December 2007 - 1,187,931,929 words

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for 1,187,931,929 words.

A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. ~Charles Peguy

One more posting about November's National Novel Writing Month challenge...

The official results are in. Globally, 15,333 people completed the 50,000 word challenge by the November 30 deadline.

Other notable statistics:
- Official total worldwide wordcount: 1,187,931,929
- Top region: Seattle, WA with 16,757,473 total words - must be all that coffee and caffeine!
- My region, Colorado Springs, CO: 81st place with 2,995,715 total words

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tuesday, 04 December 2007 - The public library

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the public library.

The richest person in the world - in fact all the riches in the world - couldn't provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library. ~Malcolm Forbes

Medicine for the soul. ~Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes

Nutrimentum spiritus (food for the soul). ~Berlin Royal Library, inscription

The library branch I patronize recently reopened after a major renovation restored and modernized the historic building. The renovations did not alter the building's character so I still enter a turn of the century structure each time I visit.

I'm really glad it's back in business. The library is located on the westside where I run most of my errands. I stop in once a week to return what's due and to "shop."

I love to explore the premises. I slowly walk up and down each aisle, scanning the long wooden shelves for the books, books on CD and DVDs that appeal to me. Since I'm currently obsessed with novel writing, I'm reading more fiction than nonfiction.

After I've filled my large bookbag, I stroll to the checkout counter. While the clerk processes the items, I anticipate the adventures I'll have reading, watching and listening to my finds.

And, in case you're wondering, I never play video games for one very simple reason: in my opinion, books are better.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Monday, 03 December 2007 - A walk in the park

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a walk in the park.

S just left about an hour ago for a business luncheon. Now, T keeps nagging me for a walk. I guess that I will finish what I am doing and get ready to take him to the park for another outing.

The weather is strange today. In the morning, warm temperatures and clear skies prevailed. About fifteen minutes ago, the clouds moved in. The gentle, southerly breeze intensified, evolving into periodic wind gusts. Since I get cold easily, I debate whether or not to wear a jacket. Standing in our fenced backyard, I can't tell if the wind chill will be uncomfortable once I'm out in the open space. I opt to leave the jacket at home - turns out to be a good decision.

Okay, T. Let me put your choke collar around your neck. Good boy. Sorry I'm taking so long. All right, I think I have everything. Let's go.

To me, we're simply taking a walk in the park and getting some exercise. T, on the other hand, relishes the opportunity to leave the house and visit the fascinating world that lies just beyond his fenced yard. His swagger and enthusiastic sniffing reveal much about how he approaches his daily walks. To him, the familiar stroll to the neighborhood park is always the adventure of a lifetime.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday, 02 December 2007 - Sunlight and wind

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for sunlight and wind.

There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy of wind. ~Annie Dillard

That's what we have today: sunlight and wind.

Despite the fact that S and I are still tired from our last climbing adventure, we decide to visit Ute Valley Park and play on the boulders for a few hours. Surely, the sunlight and wind are our allies today. The the sunlight will energize our bodies as we undergo intense tests of physical strength while the wind will feed our passion for climbing and deepen our relationship with the rocks.

Yes, it's silly to stay at home and watch football when we could be outdoors climbing on boulders.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Saturday, 01 December 2007 - A story to tell

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a story to tell.

If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

Tonight, about a dozen participants gathered to celebrate the official end of National Novel Writing Month 2007. Each attendee had successfully finished the 50,000 word challenge. We met for an eclectic potluck meal and proper introductions since most of us knew each other only by our online usernames.

Finally, it was time for the main event. Each author was given the opportunity to read aloud a two-page excerpt from his or her novel. I was a little nervous - reading from my first novel felt more intimidating than reciting one of my poems. Like the other writers, I proudly read the excerpt and graciously accepted the audience's applause.

50,000 words. Seems like a lot of words to write especially when I'm staring at a blank page one. But, 50,000+ words later, I know two things that I did not know before:

1. 50,000 words are insufficient to tell the whole story.
2. 50,000 words are sufficient to convince me that I have a story to tell.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday, 30 November 2007 - Fresh basil leaves

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for fresh basil leaves straight from my indoor herb garden.

A week before autumn's first hard freeze, I decided to bring the potted basil plants indoors for the winter along with the scented geraniums. At first, I wasn't sure that basil would thrive past October since they're considered annuals. To my surprise, they're doing quite well. After a few weeks, the plants acclimated to their winter home in the lower family room where they sit in front of the west facing sliding glass door and bask in the afternoon sunshine.

I am thrilled to have a fresh herb to use in my cold weather culinary creations. I harvest a handful of basil whenever I cook, adding the fragrant leaves to favorite savory dishes.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday, 29 November 2007 - Nine deer

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for nine deer.

S, T and I are tired after completing our truly last climbing adventure this month. This time, we climbd five minutes from home at the Ute Valley bouldering area.

It's just after 4 PM. The sun has already set behind Pikes Peak. As S turns into the neighborhood, we see them immediately on the north side of the street: a herd of nine deer wandering from front yard to front yard in search of dinner.

I'm awed at the sight of the nine deer, but shouldn't be. I tend to forget that, in the Rocky Mountain foothills, the deer and other wild creatures are our neighbors. Their visits, especially during the colder winter and spring months when food is scarce, are reminders that we humans are the real intruders. The deer, coyotes, racoons, bears, mountain lions, foxes, rabbits, eagles, snakes and other wild fauna were here first.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday, 28 November 2007 - Great customer service

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for great customer service.

Rule #1: Use your good judgment in all situations.
There will be no additional rules.
~Nordstrom's Employee Handbook

When I worked in human resources, the above quote - real or not - circulated widely. Those were the good old days when management vigorously promoted employee empowerment. Recently, after talking to friends who still work in Corporate America, I realized that employee empowerment is passe. So, this week, I was pleased to discover that in one company, employee empowerment is still alive and kicking.

The gentleman I dealt with on Monday did not work for Nordstrom's. But, in the spirit of a Nordstrom's employee, he promptly took care of the problem I had with knitting needles I purchased online last January. It's a long story that I won't repeat here. In a nutshell, I bought the needles, put them away because I didn't need to use them right away, decided to try them out last Saturday, discovered a fatal flaw in each pair, contacted the customer service department on Monday and received the replacements today. No questions asked. No need for me to return the flawed needles. Talk about great customer service.

By the way, the knitting needles are the #17 and #19 additions to the basic Denise Interchangeable Knitting Needle Kit at http://www.knitdenise.com/. I own two basic kits and use them for nearly all of my knitting projects. I highly recommend the knitting needles and the company.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesday, 27 November 2007 - One more climbing adventure

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one more climbing adventure this month.

Cooler weather settled in our region just before Thanksgiving. I don't think it intends to leave until spring. Still, if the air temperature is at least 45 degrees F and the winds are calm, we can usually manage a few hours of climbing at Red Rock Canyon. Our main concern is staying warm while belaying the climber.

Also, when winter arrives, our goal changes from climbing at least once a week to climbing once a month. I admit that I have never climbed in a climbing gym. But, if we have an exceptionally snowy or cold winter, I concede that we may have to climb indoors for a few weeks to keep our climbing streak intact.

Early this morning, we awake knowing that, in a few hours, we would embark on our last November climbing adventure. Another cold front is due tonight.

Before leaving the house, we finish our A-priority business tasks. Then, S, T and I load our gear into the truck and head for Red Rock Canyon with high hopes for a great day on the rocks.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday, 26 November 2007 - An unexpected invitation

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an unexpected invitation.

My husband's former manager and still good friend called tonight. But, she wanted to speak to me not S. Of course, I was surprised until I learned the purpose of her call. She called to invite me to speak in January to her women's networking group on the subject of journaling.

Here's the history behind her call. A few months ago, she invited S and I to a house meeting to meet our Colorado legislators. I always like to take a host/hostess gift so I gave her a copy of my self-published book, A Year of Living Gratefully. The book contains favorite entries from the first year of this blog. The next day, she left me a gracious voice mail message, thanking me for the book. She said that once she started reading it, she just couldn't put it down. So, when her networking group decided on the program topics for its 2008 meetings, she thought of me and my grateful journal.

Of course I said yes. Although I am not an expert, I do have extensive journal writing experience. So, here's hoping I will develop an engaging presentation that will inspire many of the 60-80 attendees to start documenting their lives in journals.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday, 25 November 2007 - Writing lessons

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for writing lessons.

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
~Gene Fowler

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it. ~Jules Renard

On October 29, when I registered for the National Novel Writing Month(NaNoWriMo) challenge, I honestly did not believe that I could write 50,000 words in 30 days. My writing claim to fame is poetry. In fact, the poem for which I placed second in a national contest last summer consists of three Haiku for a total of 40 words (43 if you include the title). I think I wrote the poem in about 15 minutes. So, you can see how writing 50,000 words in 30 days intimidated me.

Then, November 1 arrived. I started writing. I had no idea what I was doing.

A NaNoWriMo veteran sent me an email, exhorting newbies like myself to write our 1700 word daily quota like our lives depended on it - no excuses allowed. The veteran said that it would take about two weeks for me to develop a rhythm. Then, I will find a story and a voice to tell it.

Well, that is exactly what happened to me. About half-way through the challenge, when I was a woeful 10,000+ words behind schedule and suffering from writer's block, I discovered my main charactor. To my delight, she had a compelling story to tell. So, instead of telling my story, I began to write hers. The light bulb went off. A serendipity. So that's one of the secrets of novel writing - to tell the character's story, not mine.

The writing came easily when I let my main charactor speak. 4,000 words a day - no problem. I reached the magic 50,000 word mark a week early. A good thing for S and T since I have other important things to do like grocery shopping, cooking, house cleaning and laundry. So, in my spare time, I continue to work on my novel. I plan to reach 60,000 words by November 30.

During my writing career, I have claimed several titles including poet, essayist, blogger, ghost writer and editor but never novelist. Now, I will gladly accept it after I finish writing my first novel. Novelist. It's a title that I am earning the hard way - by doing the painstaking work of crafting a story, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter.

Will I complete the NaMoWriMo challenge again? I think so. Now that I've been through it once, I will be better prepared next time for the 30-day roller coaster ride. I also know that, when I'm forced to write under heavy deadline pressure, my writing and writing strategies improve by leaps and bounds.

Finally, writing is my passion. Challenge or no challenge, I will write anyway. For me, writing is not a competition, but a journey.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday, 24 November 2007 - 50,000 words

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for 50,000 words.

Write the wrongs that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble. ~Arabic proverb

I won't receive official acknowledgement until tomorrow when the official word counter is up and running on the National Novel Writing Month site http://www.nanowrimo.org/. My unofficial word count exceeds 50,000 so, unless the notorious word gremlins delete entire paragraphs from my manuscript tonight, I plan to join other writers in the "winner's circle" beginning Sunday.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday, 23 November 2007 - Black Friday

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Black Friday.

In the spirit of Black Friday, I don't shop or buy a single thing on the day or weekend after Thanksgiving. This morning, a few stores opened at the erstwhile unheard of hour of 4 AM (thank you very much Kohls and Penneys - I definitely won't contribute to your bottomline this year). Anyway, it is so cold outside, I can't muster the courage to take T for a walk in the park. I'll let S have the honors this afternoon. Poor T. He's suffering from cabin fever.

BTW. I spent the afternoon working on my 50,000 word novel for the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I now have less than 3,000 words to go. I hope to reach 50,000 words tomorrow. I read a few posts on the regional message board and learned that my Colorado Springs team is battling the Fort Collins writers on total wordcount - obviously a friendly and informal competition. When I checked a few minutes ago, Colorado Springs was winning.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday, 22 November 2007 - Thanksgiving

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a special thanksgiving.

Oh Lord, help me serve others with a generous and nonjudgmental heart so that I may be worthy of a stranger's blessing.

About a year ago, a woman posted a short message on the local freecycle message board to which I subscribe. She was desperate for help for her family during the holidays. After we exchanged a few emails, I sent her a check. After she received the check, she sent me a gracious thank you note. Then, we simply went on with our lives.

So, this afternoon, I was quite surprised and humbled to read this email message:

Greetings, I have never forgotten the kindness you did for my family last year; as we give thanks today, I am thankful for kind hearted people like yourself - you are a rare find. I hope this message finds you and your family firmly planted in the hold of our higher power and receiving all the blessings due you. Happy Thanksgiving and Be Blessed, Sincerely The J-S Family

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday, 21 November 2007 - Good writing weather

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for good writing weather.

Early this morning, a bitterly cold arctic front dumped about two inches of snow on the neighborhood. Brrrr. The day's high won't even reach freezing. It's definitely an indoor day for S and me. T is the only one who wants to venture outside. We let him race around the backyard and romp in the shallow snowdrifts near the fence. I'm glad that I finished my Thanksgiving shopping yesterday.

Regarding my novel: With less than 8,000 words to go, I'm very close to reaching the 50,000 word goal set by the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I hope to finish by this weekend. No, my novel won't be publishable in its current form so no one but me will ever read it. Besides, I've made too many story transitions and changed the main character twice. Yes, I have created the foundation for a real novel so I guess I can almost call myself a novelist.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday, 20 November 2007 - One turkey

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one turkey.

When the local meat market called yesterday to inform me that there might be a problem with my turkey order, my heart sunk. What would Thanksgiving be without an organic Wisdom turkey?

The problem was serious. Apparently, when Wisdom began processing the meat market's order, it discovered 50 missing turkeys. These were the large ones, over 20 pounds in final weight. And, I always order a Wisdom turkey in the 22-25 pound range.

I was rather embarrassed when the sales person asked me how many people I needed to feed. I told her two. Then, I felt that I needed to explain further.

"Well," I continued, "the meal is mainly for my husband. My dog and I eat a little. I freeze a lot, too." I think she understood and told me she would put my name on the largest turkey in the store.

To make a long story short since I'm saving as many words as I can for my novel, the meat market found a turkey weighing close to 22 pounds for yours truly. I picked it up this morning.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday, 19 November 2007 - A new voice

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a new voice.

My novel has a new voice. The voice belongs to a 10-year-old girl growing up in a small mountain village in Colorado. She just popped into my head as I began today's writing session. And yes, I see a lot of me in her.

I'm really glad I found her (or, maybe she found me). She has a strong and lively voice. Because of her, my novel is now over 34,000 words. I feel that I will make the 50,000-word goal easily.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday, 18 November 2007 - Something to say

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for something to say. Just in time, too. I was beginning to feel the onset of writer's block again. By the way, my novel is now over 30,000 words long - less than 20,000 to go!

Writing comes more easily if you have something to say. ~Sholem Asch

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday, 17 November 2007 - 27,444 words

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for 27,444 words - the current length of my novel. I feel more confident than I did a few days ago that I will reach the magic 50,000-word mark by November 30.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday, 16 November 2007 - Perfect climbing day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a perfect climbing day.

I'm suffering from the early holiday blues so we took the afternoon off and headed to Red Rock Canyon for a few hours of climbing. The weather cooperated, blessing us with warm temperatures, clear blue skies and calm winds. S and I have yet to attempt one last route on the Solar Slab - the difficult 5.11. We thought about trying it but S was a bit stiff from his hard Wednesday workout. We still hope to climb the 5.11 before winter weather settles in the region. We think that Sunday will be our next best chance at achieving this goal.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday, 15 November 2007 - Two things

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for two things: my niece, Elizabeth, and Project Runway.

1. My niece, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was was born on November 15, 1990. Sadly, she died from a rare congenital syndrome a few weeks before her third birthday. She would have been 17 today, a young lady and a senior in high school thinking about college applications and what to wear on her next date. I usually remember her on the anniversary of her death and tend to forget her birthday. This year is different.

2. Project Runway, Season 4.
S cancelled our cable TV subscription earlier this year - we were watching way too much television. I can't watch the actual Project Runway program as it airs - a real tragedy for me since I love fashion and sew much of my personal wardrobe. So, I'm following the designers and their exploits on the Project Runway website. And, yes, Tim Gunn is still my favorite mentor/critic.

For these blessings, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wednesday, 14 November 2007 - 5,000+ words

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for 5,000+ words.

I am woefully behind schedule on my 50,000 word novel. I could list the reasons why, but that would be a waste of precious words.

Today, I wrote for hours to try and catch up. 5,000+ words later, I'm feeling much better. The rules remind me that quantity not quality will win the day. I am still behind in my word count but plan to make up the difference a little bit at a time for the remaining days of the challenge. Writing a novel in 30 days is really hard work!

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesday, 13 November 2007 - Just one reason

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for just one reason to get up in the morning.

You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell. ~Emily Dickinson

A morning person, I normally don't have any problems getting out of bed and starting the day. For some reason, holiday depression is already knocking at the door, having arrived early for her annual visit. I don't want to let her in. If she gets in, December will be unbearable for me and those around me. Anyway, finding one thing to help me start my morning will help keep holiday depression at bay.

Thank goodness for T. His cold nose tells me that he needs something from me. Right now. Like a walk. Or a hug. Time for me to get out of bed and begin the day.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday, 12 November 2007 - Teenagers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for teenagers, especially the young men living in our neighborhood. S and I take very seriously our responsibility to listen to their concerns, encourage their efforts, applaud their achievements and help shape their journeys to adulthood.

Whether or not you have children yourself, you are a parent to the next generation. ~Charlotte Davis Kasl, Finding Joy, 1994

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday, 11 November 2007 - Veterans Day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for America's veterans - for their courage and sacrifice in the name of peace, justice and freedom.

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations. ~President Woodruff Wilson

Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America , do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 , as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.
~President Dwight D. Eisenhower

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday, 10 November 2007 - Stamina

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for stamina.

Our climbing adventure went somewhat awry today. We decide to visit the Coyote Wall, the southern most climbing area in Red Rock Canyon. The hike to the Coyote Wall has two uphill sections that test our fitness. Our packs are heavy - S and I each carry at least a gallon of water. Mine usually weighs about 25 pounds - I only weigh 107 pounds. S's pack weighs much more since he carries the gear and the rope. About half way up the second uphill, we step off the groomed trail and follow game trails to the climbing area.

Earlier in the year, we scouted the area but didn't realize that the better climbs on the left require the belayer to stand on the rock. As we approach the base of the climbs, T slips and refuses to step onto the rock. So, we reluctantly decide to try the routes on the right.

Despite S's successful lead, we must abandon the first climb. It turns out that we need two ropes - we only brought the 70 meter rope and the route is about 140 feet, ground up. So, 2.5 hours into our adventure, S pulls the rope. Then, we pack our gear and head northward to the Solar Slab.

The Solar Slab is one of our favorite walls so we're not disappointed by the change in venue. According to our records, we have not yet attempted two routes - a 5.11 and a 5.10. Since it's getting late, we decide to climb the 5.10. Despite the cold, we both climb very well and happily cross the 5.10 route off of our to do list. We'll try the 5.11 next time.

Anyway, nearly 6.5 hours later, we pack up. It's getting dark and colder. We don warm clothes. Our packs are much lighter thanks to the empty water bottles. T happily leads us down the main trail, stopping here and there to check out a good sniff. We're tired and thankful for the downhill path.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday, 09 November 2007 - Homemade focaccia

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for homemade focaccia.

Since our Air Force Academy cadet plans to visit more frequently, I decide to refresh my baking skills and try new recipes. A few days ago, Caprial made focaccia on her cooking show. She made it look so easy that I decide to give it a try this afternoon. S, being Italian, favors this type of bread.

I make my version using the breadmaker so I don't have to knead the dough. In my recipe, I substitute organic whole wheat flour for the all-purpose and add additional wheat gluten. Just before baking the bread on a hot stone, I sprinkle the top with Celtic salt, extra virgin organic olive oil, finely grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil from my winter herb garden. Twenty minutes later, the bread is done.

As soon as I remove the bread from the oven, I drizzle more olive oil over the top. The oil immediately soaks through the crust. A few minutes later, I slice the focaccia into small wedges, pick up a slice and take my first bite. It's absolutely delicious, especially when dipped in even more olive oil.

Next on my list: homemade cinnamon rolls.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thursday, 08 November 2007 - The right prayer attitude

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the right prayer attitude.

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved
but hope for the patience to win my freedom.

~Rabindranath Tagore

I am not so worried about the things for which I pray but whether or not I submit my prayers with the right attitude. Humility is essential, but so is boldness.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wednesday, 07 November 2007 - Potential

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for potential.

My prayer - for me and for others like me who crave to know their purpose in the world - is this: that we aim our eyes beyond the rigid box that bounds our current lives so we can begin to see our true potential in action. Then, may we answer the Universe's wake-up call and gather the courage, energy and imagination to step outside our boxes and become that potential.

This is how a human being can change:
there's a worm addicted to eating grape leaves. Suddenly, he wakes up, call it grace, whatever, something wakes him, and he's no longer a worm. He's the entire vineyard, and the orchard too, the fruit, the trunks, a growing wisdom and joy that doesn't need to devour.

~ Rumi (Translated by Coleman Barks)

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday, 06 November 2007 - Brilliant things

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for brilliant things.

Brilliant as in extraordinary genius, great ideas that work, Jon Stewart, sunshine, stars, fine crystal, Garrison Keillor, Robert Frost, a beautiful smile and diamonds.

For these brilliant blessings, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Monday, 05 November 2007 - 1,700 more words

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for 1,700 more words.

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Writing 1,700 words a day is really challenging and rather exhausting. When I begin to write, I never know where my words and thoughts will take me. I am, however, beginning to develop some interesting threads that explore the presence of angels, visits to a therapist and experiences growing up.

Fortunately, despite my insecurities, the novel is still on target with its total wordcount. Whether or not I'm developing a story worth reading is another thing. My wordcount as of day 5 is spot on - 8,583.

With a busy weekend ahead of us (our Air Force Academy cadet plans to spend it with us), I need to exceed the minimum output just in case I have to skip a day. Right now, I'm praying for divine inspiration.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday, 04 November 2007 - A fine, end of the season

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a fine end of the season.

This morning's perfect weather means only one thing. Today's the day S and I will attempt to climb the 5.10 route on the Wailing Wall at Red Rock Canyon that we've eyed for months. A strenuous 85-foot adventure. What a fine way to close our 2007 season.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Mission accomplished!

S's lead was perfect. I followed with a Red Point. By session's end, I made three ascents while S completed five. T was well-behaved, enjoying the hike in and out. After we reached the Wailing Wall and began climbing, he basked in the brilliant sunshine and chewed on the scrub oak branches that littered the belay area. Good boy!

Yes, S and I will continue to climb as long as the weather cooperates. Our lower limit, however, is around 45 degrees Fahrenheit with no wind. With cooler temperatures certainly on the way, today was probably one of our last chances this year to accomplish this important goal. Now that we've done it, we're ready to move onward and upward, setting our sights on more difficult and challenging climbs.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Saturday, 03 November 2007 - Extended service agreements

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for extended service agreements.

Whenever we buy a major appliance, S questions my insistence on purchasing the extended service agreement. Why do I want it? Just my intuition that says that new, high tech, top-of-the-line machines won't last 10 years without a fight. So, to S's surprise and my delight, my "just in case" attitude has paid off.

The supposedly very best front loading washing machine that money can buy is finally working again after the repairmen replaced the main drum and bearings for the third (and hopefully final) time and both motherboards. My beloved three year-old refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom no longer freezes lettuce thanks to the new motherboard.

Anyway, you get my point.

(BTW, my novel is now 5,752 words long.)

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday, 02 November 2007 - A clean culvert

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a clean culvert.

For the past three years, I've been asking the city to dredge the cement culvert that sits behind our house and adjacent to the park. The culvert had become home to opportunistic plants that grew in large mounds of soil that had accumulated on its floor for the past 20+ years, blocking its drainage function. The north end was a smelly swamp, complete with cattail reeds and other wetland flora. In the summer, we were concerned about mosquitoes.

This morning, T and I were elated when the work crew arrived. I spoke to the men briefly, thanking them them in advance for their work and attention.

In an age when the city council cares more about new housing developments and expansion, I relish this one small victory for our older, established neighborhood.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thursday, 01 November 2007 - 2,687 words

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for 2,687 words.

The National Novel Writing Month 50,000 word challenge began at midnight. This morning, I wrote with surprising ease and discovered that I had a lot to say about all sorts of things.

Only 47, 313 words to go. (But, who's counting?!)

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wednesday, 31 October 2007 - Trick-or-treaters

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for 25 brave and hardy trick-or-treaters.

The temperature had already dipped into the 30s when the first trick-or-treaters visited our house. S had just set out the jack-o-lantern (literally - a metal lantern with a smiling, pumpkin face, lit by a large candle).

During the ensuing 90 minutes, we greeted a diversity of characters including Spider Man (S misspoke and called him Batman), a perfectly-attired hippie, clowns, princesses, ghouls and several robots. Most wore heavy winter coats and offered to unzip their jackets to show-off their creative costumes. The high school boys we know came as themselves (very scary!). Even T got into the act, wearing his Tour de France yellow kerchief and barking loudly at each doorbell ring.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday, 30 October 2007 - A jazz band concert

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a jazz band concert.

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. ~Charlie Parker

We have a personal connection to one of our city's cultural treasures, the Coronado High School jazz band. Our next door neighbor and talented baritone saxophonist, Hayden, invites us to the concerts. In return, we always support his efforts to raise money to fund his musical endeavors.

Tonight's concert was fabulous despite the poor venue. The cafeteria was an unworthy substitute for the under-renovation auditorium. Still, the musicians treated us a 90 minute adventure in jazzland. Vibrant, exciting, emotional and soulful music with take-your-breath-away solos. Bravo!

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday, 29 October 2007 - An intriguing challenge

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an intriguing challenge.

... focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. ~Greg Anderson

November is National Novel Writing Month. And, while I am not a novelist, I have accepted the challenge to write a 50,000-word novel during November.

I am unsure if I can write enough - nearly 1,700 words a day. Fortunately, I have a vague storyline in mind - probably something regarding the summer's "not Larry Bird" experience. I suppose that I'll write the novel like I compose poetry. Just begin writing and see what emerges. The goal, after all, is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Quantity, not quality wins the day.

Visit www.nanowrimo.org for more information and to sign-up.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday, 28 October 2007 - No shortcuts

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for no shortcuts.

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. ~Beverly Sills

My famous last words regarding rock climbing: There are no shortcuts to the top. Regardless of the route's ease or difficulty, I still need to make every move.

So, I climb deliberately, concentrating 100% on the problem in front of me. I aim for solid technique and good style. Maybe a touch of elegance when I execute a difficult move. And, no more complaints about high reaches and steps. The rock doesn't care that I'm petite and neither should I. After all, some of the best women climbers are my size.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday, 26 October 2007 - One tough decision

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one tough decision.

Once in a young lifetime, one should be allowed to have as much sweetness as one can possibly want and hold. ~Judith Olney

This afternoon, while grocery shopping, I realize that it's time to buy Halloween candy.

Yup. It's that time of the year. Time to decide what to give the trick-or-treaters. An agonizing decision, complicated by my inner-health nut's protests against the impending purchase of sugary food.

I walk up and down the "treats" aisle, overwhelmed by the vast selection. The shelves overflow with hundreds, maybe thousands of bags of sugary confections. I grab bag after bag and study the ingredients. I cringe each time I find the words, "partially hydrogenated oil," among a litany of artificial flavors, preservatives and other additives.

Choosing Halloween treats for other people's kids is a tough decision. Twenty minutes later, I am still undecided.

I finally settle on chocolate bars, the ones that normally cost 75 cents each. They are on sale, 10 for $3.00. Only 9 ingredients - 8 used to make the milk chocolate. I buy 40.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, 27 October 2007 - Fall landscape

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a very colorful fall landscape.

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This year, Nature is painting the region with more than her usual fall palette of rusts and golds. Random splashes of brilliant red, orange, coral and yellow embellish broad strokes of deep pine green and rich bark brown. All of this against a deep blue sky. Think Monet and Van Gogh. Impressionist painting at its best.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday, 25 October 2007 - Best climber

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the chance to be the best climber in the world.

The best climber in the world is the one who's having the most fun.
~Alex Lowe (1958-1999)

During autumn, the cooler temperatures and unpredictable weather forces S and I to revisit favorite climbs at Red Rock Canyon. That's what happened today. I don't mind. Each ascent is a unique event. I'll try a new move or climb off-route. S often sets strict rules about which holds he can use - usually avoiding bomber and "thank God" holds.

Occasionally, S will lead a route that's new for us. But only when conditions are perfect. We're hoping for perfect conditions soon. We still have to achieve one of our 2007 goals: climbing a route on the Wailing Wall.
For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday, 24 October 2007 - Grace

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for grace.

When I pray for faith, I receive gifts of grace.

Not just the awesome grace that intercedes during major crises. But the everyday variety that covers me, follows me during ordinary moments. Like while I sweep the floor or fold the laundry or chop onions.

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky

and water bears them,

as hawks rest upon air

and air sustains them,

so would I learn to attain

freefall, and float

into Creator Spirit's deep embrace,

knowing no effort earns

that all-surrounding grace.

~Denise Levertov

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday, 23 October 2007 - Creative cooking

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for creative cooking.

Some people call me a "freestyle" cook because I rarely use a recipe. Instead, I take a look at my available ingredients. Then, I use them to create an interesting dish or meal. Definitely ad hoc. Unfortunately, I'm unable to replicate the dishes S really likes or give others the recipe. How do you quantify a little bit of this or a generous spoonful of that? (sigh) I am simply following Bobby Flay's advice: learn to create and refine each dish by taste.

And, when I cook, one thing leads to another.

For example, today, the three avocados are finally ripe. So, I need to make guacamole and something to accompany the guacamole since we don't eat chips. How about enchiladas using Mexican cheese, ground buffalo and tofu? And, since the oven is already on, I might as well make crispy oven baked potatoes using organic Yukon Golds and roasted organic chicken thighs. That ought to feed S for a few days! No dessert baking this time around (even though I'm tempted to make brownies). I'm trying to eliminate sugar from my diet.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday, 22 October 2007 - Honey crisp apples

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for honey crisp apples from Paonia. They're my favorite eating apples. Unfortunately, honey crisps are also a short-season variety. Locally, demand exceeds supply. If I'm lucky, I'll find a boxful at the natural food co-op and buy them all.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday, 21 October 2007 - First snow

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the first snow of the season.

The snow doesn't give a soft damn whom it touches. ~e. e. cummings

The North Wind delivered the wetter, heavier variety that my gardens favor. At least 6 inches when we measure the accumulation near the patio.

T is having a blast. Football in mouth, he races at full speed around the backyard. For S and me, today will be a stay-at-home day. Perfect for watching football and baseball (S) and for sewing (me). We'll dig-out tomorrow morning.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday, 20 October 2007 - Monarch butterflies

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the Monarch butterflies that visit my garden during their fall migration to Mexico.

Late this morning, as S finishes loading our packs and climbing gear into the truck, I inspect the front yard garden. The large helianthus that sits along the north border catches my eye. I notice many orange-hued "things" on the shrub. Upon closer inspection, I realize that the orange "things" are Monarch butterflies, clinging to the long, lacy branches. I assume they are resting and feeding.

I inch closer to the shrub - just want to talk to the Monarchs for a few minutes. Someone must warn them not to linger in the neighborhood. A major snowstorm is heading our way. They really should consider leaving before nightfall.

It's late afternoon when S, T and I return home from our climbing adventure. I feel really good. The near 80 degree temperatures, low humidity and autumn breezes contributed to Red Rock Canyon's excellent climbing conditions. While unloading my pack, I glance at the helianthus. About a dozen Monarchs still decorate the shrub. I hope they move southward before the cold front invades the region.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday, 19 October 2007 - Contradictions and riddles

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for contradictions and riddles. This poem states several. Somehow, they all make sense to me.

I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.

~Juan Ramon Jimenez (Translated by Robert Bly)


For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday, 18 October 2007 - Self-discovery lessons

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for self-discovery lessons - the necessary but difficult ones.

There's a period of life when we swallow a knowledge of ourselves and it becomes either good or sour inside. ~Pearl Bailey

It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy. ~Lucille Ball

I am doing what Pearl Baily describes: swallowing a knowledge of myself, then tasting the resulting bitterness and sweetness. Then, I repeat the process until the proverbial light bulb turns on. Oh, how I like epiphanies.

I am also doing what Lucille Ball suggests: learning to recognize what makes me happy. Easier said than done. My list is still very short.

I do this work not in the spirit of self-improvement - I've abandoned fluffier pursuits for hard core introspection. And, I do this work because, if I don't, I'm afraid that my life will unravel beyond repair.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday, 17 October 2007 - Daily walks

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for daily walks.

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake. ~Wallace Stevens

By all means use sometimes to be alone. Salute thyself; see what thy soul doth wear. ~George Herbert

I like taking T on his daily walks. Just the two of us. Early morning, if possible. Usually around the park. But, occasionally up the big hill or along the dirt trail.

I prefer to be alone with my thoughts, prayers and dreams. Every now and then, our short journey reveals the first line of a poem or an essay's subject. And, on those rare days when serendipity reigns, I'll return home, my pockets heavy with treasure: a sliver of peace, a handful of hope, a full measure of truth.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday, 16 October 2007 - One good decision

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one good decision.

After a morning of appointments and errands, I arrive home just in time to convince S that we should go climbing. The day is warm - probably in the 60s - and dry with occasional breezes. Plus, the weather forecast calls for lower temperatures and stormier weather for the rest of the week. If we don't take advantage of today's favorable conditions, Saturday will probably be our next opportunity to climb.

So, within the hour, S, T and I head for Red Rock Canyon. There, we enjoy a satisfying afternoon climbing the Solar Slab.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday, 15 October 2007 - Autumn nights

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for autumn nights.

Would it not take one
Who slept alone to know it?

Who could have told you

That the nights in autumn

Are indeed extremely long?

~Takashina Kishi

The neighboring county to the west reports its first snow of the season. I'm sure that we'll see ours any day now.

Roll out the welcome mat for fall weather. To those of us who barely tolerate hot summer weather, autumn offers gifts of nippy but energizing temperatures and chilly winds. S, of course, could live in summer's heat year round.

Even though I wear a heavy fleece jacket indoors, I feel cold all day. My blood hasn't had the chance to thicken and my fat reserves are low. I am quite thin right now. Even my skinniest winter jeans are loose in the waist and legs. Must be our frequent climbing adventures and my strict diet.

As the temperatures drop, we'll climb less and hike more. But, as long as it's sunny and at least 45 degrees, S and I can and will climb in Red Rock Canyon. We hike in any weather, mainly for T's sake. He relishes the nippy temperatures and scent-filled trails. This morning, the kitchen floor sweeping yielded less dog hair than usual. Finally! T is shedding less - but still shedding.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday, 14 October 2007 - Baseball

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for baseball.

Baseball? It's just a game - as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. It's a sport, business - and sometimes even religion. ~Ernie Harwell

The season starts too early and finishes too late and there are too many games in between. ~Bill Veeck

Baseball is drama with an endless run and an ever-changing cast.

~Joe Garagiola

Yes, sports fans. I'm thinking about baseball because it's finally World Series time. The drama has intensified because our home team, the Colorado Rockies, is vying for the National League Championship for the first time in franchise history. Many people think the Rockies have what it takes to win the World Series. We'll see.

Ever since the last baseball strike, I've been a fair weather fan. Still, S, T and I have our baseball traditions. At the beginning of the season, we celebrate the game by watching the movie, Field of Dreams. Although we rarely catch a regular season game on television, we follow post-season play closely. And, we always watch the World Series, even when, heaven forbid, I don't like either team.

This year, we hope to be cheering for our team. In the meantime, I'm praying for good weather (nothing worse than playing baseball in freezing temperatures). Go Rockies!

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday, 13 October 2007 - Roasted chili peppers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for roasted chili peppers.

If soup isn't hot enough to make a grown man wince, it's undrinkable.
~Grey Livingston

I love the very distinct, smoky aroma of roasting chili peppers. The fact that I am personally roasting "hot" Mariachi peppers straight from my garden enhances the experience.

What's next for the roasted chilis? They'll be the "secret" ingredient in my homemade black bean soup and spicy corn bread.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday, 12 October 2007 - A special homecoming

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a special homecoming.

Home is the ultimate value that humans venerate.
~Ray Leopold (from Ken Burns' The War)

Home is a shelter from storms - all sorts of storms.
~William J. Bennett

Our friend, Tom, returns to Colorado Springs today for the first time since his June 16 cycling accident. For right now, he will stay in his own house with one of his younger brothers as his caretaker. After living in a very structured environment for the past few months, the change of venue and new routine may overwhelm him. His family has asked us to wait a few days before visiting Tom. He needs time to acclimate to his "new" surroundings and to feel, once again, at home.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday, 11 October 2007 - A taste of sacredness

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a taste of sacredness.

Some nights, stay up till dawn,
as the moon sometimes does for the sun.
Be a full bucket pulled up the dark way
of a well, then lifted out into light.

Something opens our wings. Something
makes boredom and hurt disappear.
Someone fills the cup in front of us.
We taste only sacredness.

~ Rumi (Translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks)

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - Sowing and reaping

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for sowing and reaping.

You have not lived a perfect day, even though you have earned your money, unless you have done something for someone who cannot repay you. ~Ruth Smeltzer

Opportunities arise daily where I can be the difference for someone else. I know that when I help someone, my own needs are often met thereafter.

In my haste and selfishness, I don't always respond accordingly. Whatever I do, the lesson of sowing and reaping repeats.

A need arises. Someone needs help. I feel God's hand tapping on my shoulder and hear His firm directive, "Tag, you're it!" Now, it's my turn to do the right thing (or not).

Do unto others ...


For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tuesday, 09 October 2007 - Happy Birthday, S!

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my husband, S, as he celebrates his birthday.

We don't make a big deal out of our birthdays. I'm beginning to think that we should, given what's happening to our friends' health and lives. I don't know if we shall see our next birthdays.

What things do I love about my husband? These immediately come to mind.
  • His wittiness and incomparable sense of humor.
  • His nonjudgmental attitude.
  • His ability to watch a football game without choosing sides.
  • His patience.
  • His generosity when it comes to helping young people in our neighborhood.
  • That he truly loves me unconditionally.
  • That he is a great dad to T.
  • That he's glad and proud that I am his climbing partner.
  • That he never complains when I buy another sewing pattern, more fabric or more plants.
  • That he willingly provides the heavy labor when I need help in the garden or around the house.
  • That he always eats whatever I cook or bake with great relish (even my more "creative" concoctions).
For this blessing, I am very grateful.

Amen.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Monday, 08 October 2007 - Dancers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for dancers.

Dancers are the athletes of God. ~Albert Einstein

I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

I don't want people who want to dance, I want people who have to dance.
~George Balanchine

I was saddened when my very talented niece hung up her dancing shoes when she entered high school. For some reason, I liked telling my friends that she was a dancer. Every family needs one. She was ours.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sunday, 07 October 2007 - One person

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one person.

People say, "What good can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?" They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time. We can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplies the loaves and the fishes. ~Dorothy Day

I just finished my application for a position with a politically-oriented organization. Despite my progressive beliefs and actions, I'm sure I won't get the job. This time, I'm probably not radical enough. Still, I welcomed the opportunity to explore my political motives and their origins.

If you asked me twenty years ago for my basic political philosophy, I doubt that I could articulate it. Now, years later, I've finally figured it out.

Here is the single belief that underlies my thinking and actions: One person can make a difference. My inspiration: an all-time favorite book, The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono (which I read in both English and French, listen to on CD and watch an animated adaptation on DVD).

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Saturday, 06 October 2007 - Colorado's fall colors

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Colorado's fall colors.

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.
~Elizabeth Lawrence

As we hike through Red Rock Canyon towards our climbing destination, we marvel at the intense rusts, reds and golds that now replace the summer greens we're accustomed to seeing. We walk slowly towards our climbing destination, lost in thought. Even T's mood is subdued. Mine is wistful and a bit sad. I still don't know if this will be our last Colorado autumn.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday, 05 October 2007 - Quiet memories

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for quiet memories as I remember my niece, Elizabeth, 1990-1993.

The leaves of memory
seemed to make

A mournful rustling in the dark.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I study each picture in the small stack of photographs that chronicle Elizabeth's short life. My mother had the foresight to capture the moments and share them with me. In a few days, I plan to send them to her parents. Not because I don't want them. I just don't need them to help me remember. My heart will never let her go.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wednesday, 04 October 2007 - Favor in unexpected places

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for favor in unexpected places.

One of my favorite prayers focuses on "walking in favor" - a good thing to do while I travel the life and career transition road. The prayer instills these blessings: favor with bureaucrats and authorities, favor in the marketplace, favor as I come in and go out, favor in unexpected places.

If I had to choose only one of these blessings, it would be the last one: favor in unexpected places.

Serendipity.

Oh, Lord, surprise me with Your grace.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wednesday, 03 October 2007 - Small Feng Shui steps

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for small Feng Shui steps.

I read an interesting article the other day. A Feng Shui expert discussed ways to get rid of the clutter I accumulated during summer. Suggestions included recycling magazines, changing light bulbs to CFLs, considering a new set of sheets. She also suggested that I move 9 (or any denomination of 9) objects in my home. Apparently, the number 9 represents maximum power in Feng Shui. Then, she instructed me to mix orange essence with spring water and salt, and spray it around the house to balance the energy.

Yes! I can do this. A few small steps to a quasi-Feng Shui-friendly home.

I've recycled the magazines, catalogs and other printed material. I've changed nearly all of the incandescent light bulbs to CFLs. I'm not sure about the new set of sheets - our favorite flannels are still in good shape. I will, however, follow her advice and consider a new set.

As for rearranging nine items in my home. I changed the action to discarding things in sets of nine. I count aloud as I gather the items: 1, 2, 3, 4 .... 9! Then, out they go - either thrown away or dropped in the to-be-donated/recycled box. I smile at this small accomplishment. The room feels different already. Must be that powerful Feng Shui energy filling the clutterless space.

[In case you're wondering, I have not yet sprayed the house with the orange essence concoction. I wonder if the potion will still work if I substitute lavender oil?]

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tuesday, 02 October 2007 - Guardian angels

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for guardian angels.

The guardian angels of life fly so high as to be beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us. ~Jean Paul Richter

We trust in plumed procession
For such the angels go -

Rank after Rank, with even feet -

And uniforms of Snow.

~Emily Dickinson

My guardian angels have been exceptionally busy this year, keeping my signature roller coaster ride life in check. I know they're hoping for a more peaceful season as winter approaches. At least we won't be climbing as frequently. When the rock is cold, we favor warmer days and familiar routes. Still, as the holidays loom, I can feel the blues begin to color my disposition. I know I will need angelic prayers to lift my spirits.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Monday, 01 October 2007 - Food

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for food.

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. ~Indira Gandhi

Recently, the local FreeCycle message board to which I subscribe, has seen an increase in food requests. I'm concerned. People need food. Usually for their children. Nothing fancy or expensive. Cereal, milk, bread, peanut butter - whatever one can spare. Have already visited area food banks. Just need enough to get through the next week or two. Until the paycheck arrives. Until the crisis is over.

I write to one person, asking what I can do to help. She explains her current hardships. She tells me that some people responded with mean-spirited lectures and name-calling. One well-meaning person actually gave her an assortment of opened cereal boxes, the contents contaminated by mouse droppings. I tell her that, in the United States, it takes courage to ask for help (we have a "thing" about pride and self-sufficiency). I also promise to do what I can to help her family.

Unfortunately, I do not have Bill Gates' checkbook. Fortunately, I have his heart for giving. I simply apply the Golden Rule. I just wish I could do more.

In our rich, overweight and wasteful country, how can we allow people to go hungry?

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday, 30 September 2007 - Climbing moments

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for climbing moments.

Thirty days hath September ...

September has been the strangest month of this year's journey. From Labor Day to 9/11 to seasonal transitions to harvest time, I hoped, I prayed, I believed.

I end the month, thankfully, on a high note. On a lovely autumn day filled with mixed feelings about nearly everything, I climbed very well.

That's what I like about climbing - I'm forced to focus 100% on the task before me, to live entirely in the present. Shut down worries and anxieties. Forget about yesterday's mistakes and tomorrow's challenges.

I step onto the rock and study the problem it presents to me - a gift, really. It's up to me to make the next move.

Climbing. An act that produces meaning from movement. An experiencing of time and space. Reality. I climb therefore I am.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday, 29 September 2007 - A patient heart

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a patient heart during a week when nothing seems to be going my way.

Be patient with everyone, but above all with yourself ... do not be disheartened by your imperfections, but always rise up with fresh courage. ~Saint Francis de Sales

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday, 28 September 2007 - Peppers to pick

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for peppers to pick.

The near-freezing night time temperatures mean one thing ... harvest time is near.

I concede that the watermelons won't mature. They're curious plants - amid the withering leaves sit a few fresh blossoms. In a few weeks, I'll dig up the vines and cut up the immature fruit before adding them to the compost bins.

At least I can reap a pepper crop. I am tempted to pick the dozen or so peppers but decide to wait at least one more week. The mariachis sport a reddish cap near the stems. In a few days, each pepper will blush boldly, wearing their finest fall colors just for me.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday, 27 September 2007 - Autumn climbing

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for autumn climbing.

The day produced all the elements of a perfect fall climbing adventure - ideal weather, gentle trail, warm rock - except for the actual climbing.

We're still a bit rusty from the long layoff due to S's blisters.

I just couldn't link the movements required to climb one slightly overhung section. Grasp crimps ... step up left foot ... step up right foot ... reach high right hand ... step up right foot.

For the next few days, I'll mentally rehearse the sequence over and over so I can do it or a similar problem this weekend. I'll also add a few more sets of pull-ups and push-ups to my workout ... never hurts to be stronger.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Photo: Red Rock Canyon ... fall colors

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wednesday, 26 September 2007 - A greater purpose

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a greater purpose.

Every time you pick up a piece of trash along the road, say to yourself, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the house of God." ~Edward Hays

Time to feed the trash receptacles. I am in a "pick up every last bit of trash along our route" mood. Not because I have to but because I want to.

Even T senses that this morning's walk has a greater purpose. He dutifully leads me to a wayward scrap of paper and wags his tail as I pick it up. One down, scores to go.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday, 25 September 2007 - Warm jacket

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a warm jacket.

Common sense is not so common. ~Voltaire

I am freezing this morning. The cold front that brought snow to the high country continues its unseasonable journey to the south and east. The resorts are predicting an early ski season.

T celebrates the cooler weather by tearing around the backyard in pro running back style while I complain about the cold. He's eager to begin our morning walk.

I must look strange to our middle school friends waiting at the bus stop. Yes, I'm the woman wearing summer capris, walking shoes and a warm Patagonia jacket made from wind resistant fleece. If I had prepared better, I'd also be wearing gloves and a hat.

Dominic yells good morning to T. I see that he's not wearing a jacket or his favorite hoodie. I'm sure that, as he left the house a few minutes earlier, his mother urged him to wear a jacket. But, like most boys his age, he refused, opting to brave the chill. Now, he looks cold but won't admit his discomfort.

I shiver and push my hands deep into my pockets. When Dominic's older and wiser, he'll appreciate the virtues of wearing a warm jacket on a cold morning.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday, 24 September 2007 - One bold caterpillar

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one bold caterpillar.

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly.
~Richard Buckminster Fuller

I always notice butterflies, especially the ones that visit my gardens. But, I very rarely see caterpillars (although I've spotted cocoons in the scrub oak).

So, during prime visiting hours at Garden of the Gods, I was surprised to find one bold caterpillar out in the open. "Mr. Fuzzy" entertained us for a minute or so. He demonstrated his acrobatic skills by traversing a leggy scrub oak branch. Then, he wandered into the grassy area that bordered the paved trail. No time to stop and chat. Mr. Fuzzy was definitely on his way to somewhere.

Now, the caterpillar's appearance must be a sign (a good one, I hope) - a warning, perhaps, that I should not downplay my sensitivity to seasonal changes.

Summer becomes fall becomes winter.
Long shadows punctuate my days.
Morning late.
Evening early.
I pray as the harvest moon rises.

The spirit of transformation hovers over me like a vigilant guardian angel.

For this blessing, I am grateful.

Amen.