Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wednesday, 31 January 2007 - Pedestrian opportunity

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a pedestrian opportunity.

(Sigh.) We're enduring another bitter cold day. This morning, the North wind was so cruel that T and I barely survived one lap around the park. Now, S mentions that he needs to go the the credit union to deposit a check - a branch office is about a mile from the house. He's hesitant about driving the short distance - the trip would not be good for the truck since the engine would not warm up properly.

Around 2:30 PM, I take T for another spin around the park. It's beginning to snow. To my surprise, the wind has died down considerably. After one lap, we race home to give S an updated weather report. The decision: we will walk to the credit union so S can complete his important errand.

So, there we are. Two baby boomers and their dog, walking through the neighborhood on a wintry Wednesday afternoon. Our first destination: the credit union branch that resides in the strip center near the entrance to the neighborhood. I wait outside with T while S deposits the check. Passers-by say hello and comment about T's exceptionally good behavior.

Our second stop, the local Starbucks. S takes in the two commuter mugs I carried in my backpack and fills them with hot coffee (decaf for me). I sip the steamy liquid as we cross the street and begin the short journey home. The route is now uphill all the way - at least the exercise will warm us. T happily leads us up one street and then another. Soon, our house is in sight.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tuesday, 30 January 2007 - A wandering sort of day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a wandering sort of day. Despite my inability to concentrate, I hope to accomplish a few important things before bedtime.

A. A. Milne, one of my favorite authors, captured my mood perfectly in this poem.

Where am I Going? I don't quite know.
Down to the streams where the king-cups grow -
Up to the hill where the pine-trees blow -
Anywhere, anywhere, I don't know

Where am I going? The clouds sail by,
Little ones, baby ones, over the sky.
Where am I going? The shadows pass,
Little ones, baby ones, over the grass

If you were a cloud, and sailed up there,
You'd sail on the water as blue as air,
And you'd see me here in the fields and say:
"Doesn't the sky look green today?

Where am I going, The high rooks call:
"It's awful fun to be born at all,"
Where am I going? The ring-doves coo:
"We do have beautiful things to do."

If you were a bird, and lived on high,
You'd lean on the wind when the wind came by,
You'd say to the wind when it took you away:
"That's where I wanted to go today!"

Where am I going? I don't quite know.
What does it matter where people go?
Down to the wood where the blue-bells grow -
Anywhere, anywhere. I don't know.

- A. A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday, 29 January 2007 - Barbaro

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Barbaro (4.29.03 - 1.29.07).

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.
~Cecil F. Alexander

The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. ~Arabian Proverb

To ride a horse is to ride the sky.
~Author Unknown

Ah, steeds, steeds, what steeds!
Has the whirlwind a home in your manes?
Is there a sensitive ear, alert as a flame, in your every fiber?
Hearing the familiar song from above,
all in one accord you strain your bronze chests and,
hooves barely touching the ground,
turn into straight lines cleaving the air,
and all inspired by God it rushes on!

~Nikolai V. Gogol,
Dead Souls, 1842, translated from Russian
(this quote combines translations by Bernard Guildert Guerney, Richard Peaver, and Larisa Voloklonsky)

I am not a horse person. Yet, this 1,200 pound thoroughbred captured my imagination with his spectacular Kentucky Derby win in 2006. Then, his courageous eight-month struggle to recover from a freak accident at the Preakness stole my heart. Now, I grieve Barbaro's untimely death.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Related post:

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday, 28 January 2007 - Book friends

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for book friends.

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.
~Sir Francis Bacon

I've begun my annual reading of Alice Koller's book,
An Unknown Woman: A Journey to Self-discovery. I bought my copy at the B. Dalton bookstore in Beverly Hills on January 8, 1983 (I still have the original receipt - paid $15.92 for the hardback edition ). I read it nonstop that afternoon. Since my first reading, this book has remained one of my very best friends.

I've never met Alice Koller and, despite my best efforts, haven't found her mailing address. If I had the opportunity, I would invite her to lunch at a quiet cafe. While we waited for our meals, I would thank her for writing this extraordinary book. Through it, she has helped shape my own journey to self-discovery by asking key questions. More importantly, however, she has forced me to find the answers.

And, so, I begin on page 1. "The October morning sunlight pours against my reflection in the bathroom mirror ..."

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday, 27 January 2007 - New parka

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my new red Eddie Bauer winter parka ($129.50 value, bought online for $27.99 + shipping, handling and sales tax).

During this morning's maiden wearing, it successfully blocked the wind and snow while keeping my head, core and derriere warm. Unfortunately, it couldn't warn me about the icy sidewalk near the park entrance. Oops. I slipped and fell on my right bun for the second time this season.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday, 26 January 2007 - The Thrift House

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for The Thrift House, a local organization that runs a thrift store just south of the downtown area. The Thrift House invests its profits in our community, supporting over 50 charities.

My friend, Kim, first told me about this charitable organization. Now, it's where I donate my gently-used clothes, shoes and accessories. The best part - if you give regularly like I do, they set up an account for you. As you donate, the volunteers value the items. At the end of the year, you get a statement that reports the dollar value of your donations (great for tax time).

This afternoon, I donated all the clothes, shoes and accessories that I have not worn in one year or that are now too big (I've lost inches thanks to rock climbing and weight lifting). The volunteers greet me by first name and are always glad to see me and my "stuff."

I guess could sell the items on Ebay, but the amount of money I'd make won't change my life. My donations to The Thrift House, however, are making a difference in our community.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday, 25 January 2007 - First climbing adventure

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for our first climbing adventure of 2007.

Where: Red Rock Canyon
Route: Quarry Wall, Mono-Smear 5.8
(a really smeary climb with very few edges)

Despite the month-long hiatus, S climbed quite well. T thoroughly enjoyed the hike along the snow-packed and occasionally slushy/muddy trail. I was rusty and awkward - my climbing, far from fluid and elegant (still, I managed to complete four ascents).

I still say that a mediocre day climbing beats any day away from the rocks.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


S and T enter the climbing area.
The sun's rays bless today's journey.

A snow-capped Pikes Peak peers over the duck pond.

S and T

T and I

S and T near the edge of the quarry wall.
We climbed a 5.8 route that begins just around the corner.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wednesday, 24 January 2007 - A great thing to attempt

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a great thing to attempt.

What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?
~Robert H. Schuller

Last night, the PBS show, Independent Lens, aired a program entitled, "Beyond the Call."

In an Indiana Jones-meets-Mother Teresa adventure, three middle-aged men, former soldiers and modern-day knights, travel the world delivering life-saving humanitarian aid directly into the hands of civilians and doctors. Ed Artis, James Laws and Walt Ratterman inspire through deeds, not words, in some of the most dangerous yet beautiful places on Earth — the front lines of war.

I was captivated by how these "ordinary" men accomplish great humanitarian deeds with limited personal resources. Now, inspired by their work, I long for my own "make a difference" adventure.

This morning, I read that a New Orleans school district is having a tough time recruiting teachers or prospective teachers for the most at-risk high schools in the Katrina-ravished region. They're recruiting nationwide for qualified people.

I first fell in love with New Orleans - the place and the people - nearly ten years ago. I was the marketing manager for a start-up company, and we were exhibiting our products at a major trade show. Since then, I've visited several times on business. I wonder if the school district would be interested in a 50-something writer from the West, a UCLA graduate who would love to teach high school writing and math? In any event, I'll talk it over with S and T. I am seriously thinking about applying.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tuesday, 23 January 2007 - Neighborhood teachers and mentors

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for neighborhood teachers and mentors.

The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery. ~Mark Van Doren

There's nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child. ~Frank A. Clark

I am thinking about some very special people: our next-door neighbor, Bill, a veteran educator who teaches art at a middle school; our other next-door neighbor, Dennis, who diligently coaches his two high school-aged sons in baseball, basketball and football; my husband, S, who patiently shows the neighborhood kids how to maintain and adjust their bicycles; the man in the park who enthusiastically coaches two young but promising athletes in the art of playing football (he seems strict, but the boys always seem to love the attention and experience).

And, yes, I am trying to do my part. Even if it's simply saying a cheerful, "good morning" when T and I meet a child walking to the bus stop. Or asking "how was school today?" when I see someone I know walking home. Or supporting a fundraising effort (the kids know that I never say "no").

It's all about being accessible and showing we care.
It's all about treating children with high regard.
It's all about sharing our experiences and knowledge.
It's all about being generous with our time, talents and resources.
It's all about investing in our future.

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday, 22 January 2007 - More answered prayers

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for more answered prayers. Nothing earth shaking. Just some wonderful results that matter in my everyday life.

The Indianapolis Colts reaching the Super Bowl.
After the Oakland Raiders' dismal season, my loyalty switched to the Indianapolis Colts during the play-offs. Yesterday's AFL championship game was a classic nail biter. Just before the Patriots' final play of the game, I prayed, "Please God. Let Peyton Manning go to the Super Bowl." Moments later, the Colts intercepted Tom Brady's pass, ensuring their trip to the Super Bowl.

A break in the weather so we can rock climb.
Looks like we'll get our wish at least once, maybe twice. The temperatures are suppose to hover in the high 40s on Wednesday and Thursday. Tomorrow, S plans to pick up our resoled shoes at the local climbing shop. I'll bake an extra loaf of bread so I can pack sandwiches for our lunch. T has no idea that an outing to Red Rock Canyon is imminent. If he knew, he'd be nervous about getting to join us. Silly boy. Of course you get to go.

Peace about releasing a few people from my life.
I've been praying for permission to let these people go from my life. After talking to my sister, E, I realized that I have the power and right to let them go. And, so I did. Peacefully, sans regrets.

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday, 21 January 2007 - Outdoor adventures on an indoor day

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for outdoor adventures on an indoor day.

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life.
~John Burroughs

So what if it's cold, windy and snowing. So what if we're tired of winter and yearn for a sunny and warm rock climbing-worthy afternoon.

T and I are not going to let inclement weather spoil our Sunday. So, it's off to the park - not one or two but three times.

If we hadn't made the third trip, we would have missed the flock of songbirds scavenging for seeds in the south meadow. Their winter feathers perfectly matched the frozen gray earth and dull brown grasses. We didn't see the birds until they took flight, probably startled by our approach to their feeding ground.

I noticed how noisy snow can be, crunching and squeaking with each step especially when I wear my heavier boots. T's steps are silent. I wonder if he hears my steps (or is walking on snow like eating a raw carrot - I hear every crunchy bite but no one else does)?

The cold air refreshes.
The walk invigorates.
The snow crunches.
The dog and his person rejoice.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Saturday, 20 January 2007 - Evidence of birds

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for evidence of birds.

Those little nimble musicians of the air, that warble forth their curious ditties, with which nature hath furnished them to the shame of art.

~Izaak Walton

During the past few weeks, I haven't seen any birds except for an occasional magpie or crow in the park. I miss them. I'm sure they're struggling to survive the cold winter.

So, when I went to get the mail, I was glad to see several bird tracks in the snow near the garage door and by the mailbox. Hopefully, as the neighborhood thaws, the birds will return to our yard and treat us to a winter concert or two.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday, 19 January 2007 - Puppies

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for puppies.

On days like today, only a puppy can make me smile. This time, it's a playful blond labradoodle who is strolling by the park. When he sees T, he pulls on his lead, straining to walk towards us. His owner has other ideas and drags him away before T has a chance to say a proper canine hello. I smile and wave to the owner and puppy as they head for home.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday, 18 January 2007 - Sunshine

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for sunshine.

The earth has received the embrace of the sun and we shall see the results of that love. ~Sitting Bull

The sun is the epitome of benevolence - it is life-giving and warmth-giving and happiness-giving, and to it we owe our thanksgiving. ~Jessi Lane Adams

We awaken early to brilliant sunshine and blue skies. Before taking T for a walk, I grab my hat and gloves - just in case. I'm glad I had the foresight. It's actually bitter cold.

As we turn the corner and approach the park and open spaces, the breeze picks up. The frosty air quickly ices my face before penetrating my gloves and freezing my fingers. I wish I had have grabbed the heavily padded ski gloves. T doesn't mind the cold. He's moving aggressively towards the park, pulling me along the snow-packed sidewalk. I guess he's anxious to investigate new sniffs (aka pee-mail) left by his canine buddies and other four-legged friends.

When we walk towards the mountains, the wind is at our backs. During this short stretch, I luxuriate in the sun's warmth. I feel the heat and energy soak through my heavy winter jacket, thawing my neck and shoulders, rallying my sagging spirits. A most welcome event.

The sun. The warmth. The cloudless blue sky. The promise of a good day.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wednesday, 17 January 2007 - A good cry

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a good cry.

Flowers grow out of dark moments. ~Corita Kent

Every man has his secret sorrows, which the world knows not; and oftentimes we call a man cold when he is only sad. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. ~M. Scott Peck

The world is crumbling and tumbling around me today. Perhaps it's the gusting wind that continually pounds the house and yard - I'm so tired of its constant wailing. Perhaps it's the loss of connections to people and places - partly my fault. Perhaps it's just something inside of me that's angry and frustrated because, in spite of my talents and efforts, I haven't lived up to my potential. I read about other 50-something women who are at the height of their careers. What happened to me?

So, it's time for a good cry. Time to calm the inner turmoil. Time to soothe the painful sting of failure.

Get it all out. Let the tears flow.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tuesday, 16 January 2007 - Pink lemonade

T has learned to be patient while I take photos.
I've learned to be patient while he sniffs.

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for pink lemonade.

This morning, while I sip a mug of hot raspberry lemonade, this childhood memory surfaces.

My mother, older sister and I are on an outing.
I am very young - maybe four or five (my sister is one year older). My mother is young too, 30-something and very pretty.

We ride the streetcar from my grandmother's house to downtown Los Angeles where we'll shop at the huge Robinson's department store (the multi-story brick building occupies a full city block). The best part - whenever we visit downtown, Mom treats us to lunch at Clifton's Cafeteria.

While waiting for our lunch, my sister and I play carefully near the indoor waterfall. When lunch is served, Mom waves us back to the table. We are hungry and look forward to the meal - our usual: homemade chicken noodle soup with saltine crackers and a glass of pink lemonade. A simple meal fit for two young and unassuming princesses.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday, 15 January 2007 - Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day
live in a nation where they will not be judged
by the color of their skin

but by the content of their character.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
I Have a Dream
Delivered August 28, 1963
at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.


If you lose hope,
somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving,

you lose that courage to be,
that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all.

And so today I still have a dream.

~Martin Luther King, Jr., The Trumpet of Conscience, 1968


Everybody can be great.
Because anybody can serve.

You don't have to have a college degree to serve.
You don't have to make your subject and
your verb agree to serve....

You don't have to know
the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.

You only need a heart full of grace.
A soul generated by love.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968). On the anniversary of his birth, I honor his life and legacy.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday, 14 January 2007 - Shelter

January is here, with eyes that keenly glow,
A frost-mailed warrier striding a shadowy steed of snow.
~Edgar Fawcett

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a warm and safe shelter from the extreme cold.

The Weather Service reports that the temperature is now -14 degrees F with the wind chill. T watches as I step outside - I just want to see what -14 degrees feels like. T, who normally follows me outdoors, decides to stay in (good decision).

I can endure the elements for only a few seconds; long enough, however, to feel the North Wind's bone-chilling breath through my clothes. Yup, it's freezing cold all right.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saturday, 13 January 2007 - S makes it home

The neighborhood park.
A winter wonderland.
Ice-encrusted trees mingle with snow-covered evergreens.
The grassy field has lost its texture and contours.
Transformed into a pure white ocean,
Now calm and collected,
It's surface as smooth as a fondant-covered wedding cake.
Blodgett Peak sits regally above us all,
Unscathed by the bitter cold and merciless wind.
Ah, to be a mountain
When winter ravages the landscape.
Even more,
To touch the sky
After the storm has done its deeds.
Bluer than blue.
In its eyes,
I see Heaven.

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for S's return - he finally arrived home at 5 AM this morning - safe and sound. T was especially delighted.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday, 12 January 2007 - Peppermint tea

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the mugs of hot peppermint tea that I'm drinking to ward off the cold and soothe my overcast, wintry spirit.

Antisthenes says that in a certain faraway land, the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered, and after some time then thaw and become inaudible, so that words spoken in winter go unheard until next summer. ~Plutarch, Moralia

As evening falls, sub-zero temperatures prevail while the North Wind stages his finest performance this year. I'll definitely throw an extra blanket on the bed before turning in.

Each winter storm offers its own bit of drama. A week ago, it was S's pre-dawn drive to the airport in the midst of a snowstorm. Tonight, it's his flight back to Colorado Springs - ETA is the wee hours of Saturday morning. Then, to get home, he has to drive a nail-biting 20 miles, negotiating icy and snow-packed roads on the coldest night of the new year. I'm praying for his safe return.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Mid-day. Bitter cold engulfs my world. I shiver when I look at this photo. Can you see the day's chilliness? Poor T - no walks today.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thursday, 11 January 2007 - One more hike

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one more hike with T in Red Rock Canyon before the next wave of bitter cold winter weather arrives.

Looks like we'll be housebound for the next few days. Cabin fever is sure to abound as we try to survive the arctic front and frigid temperatures (single digits, possibly sub-zero) that are moving in tonight.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - Again, I like the contrasts of color: white snow, dark gray bush (foreground), silvery-gray tree branches (quite feathery), red rock, dark green pine and fir trees, glorious blue sky

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wednesday, 10 January 2007 - A very early start

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a very early start.

I went to bed just after 11 PM last night (early for me) in hopes of getting an early start in the morning. My wish came true. At 3 AM I was wide awake.

I rarely suffer from insomnia, so I stayed in bed an extra half hour trying to sleep. Finally, I arose, turned on the computer and began working. Why waste precious awake time?

Here's list of the things I did to occupy my time:

  1. I wrote. Distractions are minimal at this time of night - the house and neighborhood are quiet; it's dark; the phone never rings.
  2. I cleaned up various email accounts (I got bored, however, and stopped with 100 unread messages to go in my main account).
  3. I created a dodecahedral calendar using the pattern provided at
  4. I watched the sunrise while sipping hot tea.
  5. I ate breakfast, a generous bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal sprinkled liberally with dried cranberries and slivered almonds.
  6. I studied the latest High Country Gardens catalogue while eating breakfast.
  7. I updated sundry lists: groceries, things to do, plants to buy for this year's garden, books to read, books to give to charity, 2006 tax-deductible donations
  8. I watered the plants.
  9. I groomed the plants.
  10. I sorted the growing stack of junk mail.
  11. I took care of the "to be shredded" pile of credit card offers and related junk mail.
  12. I updated my address book.
It's now 8:15 AM, my usual wake up time. I am still wide awake.

The winds are gusting wildly again, making the prospect of a walk around the park rather unpleasant. T is still sleeping so I'll leave him alone for right now. If the weather calms down, we'll go for a hike in Red Rock Canyon in an hour or so.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: I prefer to take candid shots of T but he likes to pose whenever he sees me with the camera.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tuesday, 09 January 2007 - Competency

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a sense of competency.

Learn to do the common things uncommonly well.
~George Washington Carver

Great writers zealously learn the craft of their profession so they can release the power and the depth of their imagination and experience.

~Leonard Bishop

In my Myers-Briggs NT world, I expect competency in myself and in others. This "trait" is both my doing and undoing. Until I've mastered something, I'm not at peace with myself and mind if others "watch." While learning something new, I prefer to struggle privately. I don't like to falter or fail in front of others.

With my writing, I get to struggle privately. I choose the exact moment to share a poem or essay or story, unveiling the piece only when I deem it ready. My readers are not privy to my behind-the-scenes struggle to get every word right. That's just the way I like it.

Rock climbing, however, has forced me to struggle publicly. The venue is on public land so other people become instant audiences when they stop to watch us. Sometimes I do well; sometimes I don't. I readily concede that, on the road to becoming a competent and elegant climber, I will frequently miss moves, misread the rock, slip off the rock and abandon difficult climbs. Thankfully, I'm learning to ignore curious, impromptu audiences. Anyway, few people are really interested in watching a 52-year old woman climb in Red Rock Canyon. Rather, they usually stop to pet T.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: T inspects the huge but slowly receding snowdrift in his backyard.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Monday, 08 January 2007 - Writing time

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for writing time.

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don't know what was in the newspapers that morning ... a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.

~Joseph Campbell

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: T and I in the park. How long is your winter shadow? (In case you're wondering about T's shape, he's standing near the trash receptacle.)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday, 07 January 2007 - My lesson

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for my lesson (the one I repeat often because I still haven't passed the test).

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

~Joseph Campbell

How do you make God laugh? Show Him your plans.

~Notice posted on church marquee

Each time I go through a crisis, I always lament, "This is not how it was suppose to be."

Of course, I don't know how things are suppose to be for me. I do know that I do not have a fairy tale life so a happily ever after ending is impossible. I do know, however, that I have a destiny (and, hopefully, am traveling towards it).

My lesson from Life 101:
Let go of the life I had planned and exploit the opportunities that arise from the setback.

My result:
Things have an uncanny way of working out.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: T (with snow on his nose)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Saturday, 06 January 2006 - Snow shoveling workout

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a snow shoveling workout.

With S out of town, I'm responsible for clearing snow from our property - mainly the driveway and sidewalk. I usually welcome the workout - a combination of squats and deadlifts with lots of upper body - 100s of reps. The recent storms, however, dumped a ton snow in the cul-de-sac. So, our 15 foot driveway is suddenly 50 feet longer. That's a lot of shoveling!

I have an appointment on Tuesday (it's time for a complete hair makeover) so I'm relying on the sun to melt the snow. Just in case, I reshoveled the driving path from the sidewalk to the plowed street (a strenuous 1.5 hour workout). I'll scrape the ice and packed snow the next three mornings. By the time I leave on Tuesday, I should to be driving on asphalt.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday, 05 January 2007 - Mozart for Your Mind

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for
Mozart for Your Mind.

Years ago, in the midst of the Mozart craze, I bought the CD,
Mozart for Your Mind. I believed that the music would boost my brain power and productivity.

As soon as I settled in my office, I turned on the CD. I listened to the music continuously while I worked. The music acted like "white" noise, blocking distractions and helping me concentrate on the task at hand.

In those days, I worked outside the home for 70+ hours a week (off on Saturday but in on Sunday after church). I was at the height of my corporate career and did some of my best work under very stressful and challenging conditions. Mozart can't take all the credit for my success. I was also very passionate about my work and lead a team of incredible people.

Now I listen to the same Mozart CD when I'm working and writing in my home studio. My challenges are different and stress level reduced. Still, I am more focused and productive when the music drifts quietly in the background.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon (from yesterday's outing) - I love the clear blue sky. In contrast, today's sky was gray and overcast as another snowstorm moved through the region.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Thursday, 04 January 2007 - A good day after all

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a good day after all.

You can't say we didn't try. With the temperature in the 50s and a storm due tomorrow, we headed to Red Rock Canyon to climb and try out our new Osprey backpacks.

To our surprise, the roads and trails throughout the park were still packed with snow from the pre-New Year's Day storm. The canyon walls, clear of snow and ice, looked dry.

However, once we hiked up to The Whale and examined the rock, we discovered that the wall's lower section was damp. Not a good thing for sandstone which can be fragile and flaky.

We decided not to climb - didn't want to risk damaging any route.
So, we turned our aborted climbing adventure into a 1.5 hour hike (gave T a good workout). Our backpacks worked perfectly (although my shoulders got tired - I'm not used to carrying a heavy load).

Later, we ran several errands before working into the early evening on our marketing projects. Around 8 PM, S and I headed for the gym for a vigorous 90 minute weightlifting session - was challenging but not as fun or exhilarating as rock climbing.

T, of course, accompanied us on our errands and to the gym. He waited in the truck, nestled on a special bed behind the driver's seat. I'm sure he was dreaming sweet dreams about the day's events.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - Duck pond, Pikes Peak, blue skies - a glorious January day - almost perfect for climbing, ideal for a hike

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wednesday, 03 January 2007 - Simplicity

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for simplicity - a quality that I want to attain - a goal towards which I am inching ever closer.

Out of clutter, find simplicity.
~Albert Einstein

Simplicity doesn't mean to live in misery and poverty. You have what you need, and you don't want to have what you don't need.
~Charan Singh

Simplicity, carried to an extreme, becomes elegance. ~Jon Franklin

How difficult it is to be simple. ~Vincent Van Gogh

I don't need a lot of things anymore. I still like nice things, however. Quality over quantity. More of a European than American attitude that appeals to my imagined French persona.

So, I am seeking simplicity again this year, primarily in my closet, house and work. At least I'm somewhere in the middle of this journey. The beginning was tortuous. Now, I'm mindful of what I have, what I need and what I want (but don't need). I also know what I wear or use frequently, occasionally or very rarely.

This year, I'm not going to hesitate about giving away a pair of barely worn shoes for which I paid full price or books that I read just once before placing on the shelf. These things deserve a more useful life than I can give them. It's time for me and my "stuff" to move on.

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. ~Hans Hoffman

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: A child's sippy cup and small bottle of water on the park bench - just where they sat before the snow storm.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tuesday, 02 January 2007 - A spark of inspiration

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a spark of inspiration.

Inspiration is the act of drawing up a chair to the writing desk.

I didn't have the chance to work on my own projects today. Instead, I worked for hours on a series of technical product sheets for a client. Not the most stimulating work. Not my favorite kind of writing and editing. Not how I wanted to spend my creative energies.
Now, at day's end, I have a few minutes to write for me.

My eyes are tired and my brain, fried, so this entry will be short and sweet.
I draw my chair up to my desk and think about the day, looking for a spark of inspiration. I remember a rather ordinary day:
  • The cold morning and icy sidewalks that made our walk to the park rather treacherous. T and I managed two laps in the morning and three in the afternoon (I hope T sleeps well tonight).
  • The irresistable aroma of homemade French bread, just out of the oven, cooling on a wire rack. My mouth waters when I think about eating a thick slice spread with peanut butter and jam.
  • Our excitement when the UPS man delivered S's new Osprey backpack (my new Osprey Aura 35 pack arrived just before Christmas). Now we have to divide the climbing gear and set up our packs for our next climbing adventure (hopefully on Thursday).
  • The late trash pickup (after 5 PM today) - I considered moving the trash bag and recycle bin back to the garage. S told me to wait until 6 PM. I'm glad I did.
  • The feeling of accomplishment when I finished the last product sheet and sent it off for final review.
For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: The neighborhood park: T studies the snow-packed sidewalk while I take pictures.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Monday, 01 January 2007 - One resolution

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one resolution.

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things.

~John Burroughs

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

This year, in all situations, I resolve to rise above the little things. I refuse to micromanage the world and nitpick every action I make or contemplate making (oh, this will be hard!). I am letting go of my critical nature (good riddance) and letting in a positive, compassionate, patient and tolerant attitude.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - looking north towards rock formations at Garden of the Gods