Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wednesday, 28 February 2007 - A good laugh

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a good laugh.

"You are what you eat."

That's the message T's expression conveyed after S caught him nibbling on a Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate bar this morning.

A chocolate Lab eating chocolate. Get it?

We laughed about the incident all day long. The intermittent chuckles helped us cope with the current snowstorm (sadly, the roads are extremely icy so we had to cancel a rare night out).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tuesday, 27 February 2007 - Joy

T and I get ready to go hiking in Red Rock Canyon.

Nearly all the ice has melted on the duck pond.
No ducks today, however.

"Are you done taking pictures?
I want to resume our hike."

We ascend these stone steps to reach the trail
that leads to The Whale and some of our favorite climbs.

A much-traveled path through the canyon.

The Wailing Wall

The Quarry

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for joy.

I don't pray for happiness.
Instead, I pray for joy.
Rather, I invite joy into my life.

Joy that sets my heart a-singing during my darkest hours.

Joy that sets my soul a-dancing while hopelessness engulfs me.

I welcome the joy that transforms.

The joy that makes

My fears and pride surrender,

My self-doubts disappear,

My frowns become smiles.

Joy is God's heart beating strongly within mine.
Joy is His music whistling softly beneath my breaths.
Joy is His kiss melting my deepest hurts, drying my tears, erasing all traces of my bitterness.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Monday, 26 February 2007 - Daily opportunities

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for daily opportunities to take care of Mother Earth.

I'm no longer self-conscious when I pick up trash or collect recyclable aluminum cans and plastic bottles during our daily walks. Others may wonder what the heck I'm doing. I don't care. The environment is my "cause" and "issue." Keeping the park clean is just one way I can meet my commitments, do my part, set a good example.

So, if you see a petite woman picking up trash and cans in the culvert, don't worry. It's just me - with T by my side, of course. Stop by and say hello!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday, 25 February 2007 - The movies

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the movies.

For five decades, the movies have entertained me. I've laughed, cried, sung, screamed and sighed through the best and worst and everything in between.

For me, movies are sources of hope and courage (think Forrest Gump, The Joy Luck Club, Shindler's List, The Truman Show, The Shawshank Redemption, Sling Blade, The Wizard of Oz and You Can't Take It With You). They teach me me important life-changing lessons (think It's A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, Groundhog Day, Pleasantville, Master and Commander). They inspire my writing, offering new perspectives on the human condition (think Little Women, Dead Poet's Society and Cross Creek). And, they tickle my funny bone with etched-in-my-memory one-liners and antics (think Monty Python, Mel Brooks and the Marx Brothers).

Yes. I gave in and watched the Academy Awards (not the most productive way to spend 3.5 hours). I am a very strange participant in this whole affair. Although I did not see one nominated film, I read all the major reviews and watched the BAFTAs. If you eavesdropped on a recent conversation, you'd be surprised at how easily I discussed the films and actors. I know just enough to be dangerous!

Anyway, this year, I wanted and got two favorable results. First, Helen Mirren won Best Actress honors (she's one of our all-time favorite actresses - we know her best from the
Prime Suspect series and Calendar Girls). Second, Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, won the Best Feature Length Documentary award.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Saturday, 24 February 2007 - A new story

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a new story.

I'm just about finished writing a new story. It's taken me quite a while. Writing fiction really challenges me - I prefer crafting a poem or a personal essay.

Now, all I need is an audience (i.e., someone other than S or T).

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo (taken yesterday): Red Rock Canyon - pine tree against a bluer than blue winter sky

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday, 23 February 2007 - Another sign of spring

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for another sign of spring.

We almost aborted today's climbing adventure. As we donned our backpacks in the Red Rock Canyon parking lot, the winds kicked up - sustained, swirling gusts. But, S insisted on continuing. Conditions could be calmer in the canyon.

I'm glad that we completed the short hike to the canyon entrance. Otherwise, I would have missed a sure sign of winter's end. The ducks are back!

Imagine that. It's still February. Yet, there they are. Swimming in the icy cold water between the ice floes.

And, yes, the winds died down as we approached the climbing area. We ended up climbing on The Whale - several laps on favorite 5.7 and 5.8 routes - 7 ascents each. S tallied the distance we covered - over 425 feet each.

As we began our hike back to the truck, the winds kicked up again - much cooler this time. The forecast calls for light snow tonight and windy, wintry weather tomorrow. I hope the ducks will be warm and safe in their nest.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thursday, 22 February 2007 - A forgotten joy

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a forgotten joy.

Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand the trailing beauty of forgotten joy or unremembered peace.

~Howard Thurman

My forgotten joy is my niece, R. I honor her today on her 18th birthday.

I wish her an exciting and very rewarding year ahead. I hope she likes (or at least appreciates) the gifts I sent her.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: On this warm and sunny day, T relaxes while I clean up his yard.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wednesday, 21 February 2007 - Extra soft facial tissues

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for extra soft facial tissues.

I awake to a warm and sunny morning. Yet, I feel miserable. Why? Allergies.

An allergen rode in on last night's windstorm. Now, my nose won't stop running. When I sneeze, I sneeze in threes. Achoo! Achoo! Achoo! Post-nasal drip upsets my stomach.

Well, too bad for me. We're going rock climbing anyway. I hope the much anticipated adrenalin and endorphin rush (climber's high) will mitigate this temporary setback.

In the meantime, I'm carefully dabbing the delicate skin near my nostrils with a very, very soft tissue.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photos: Red Rock Canyon (today's hike/climb)

T and I. Check out my new haircut.

S and T

T relaxes and grooms his paws after chewing on
scrub oak bushes for a few hours.

I contemplate my second ascent of this smeary 5.9 climb.

S waves to me from the top of the climb.
He's taking down the top rope.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tuesday, 20 February 2007 - Turner Classic Movies

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

I want to knit for a few hours tonight and need some entertainment. I check the television schedule. Nothing much on BBC America or PBS. Repeats rule on the History and Discovery Channels. I've already watched the Iron Chef America battle and Rachael Ray's $40-a-day visit to Sedona. None of my DVDs or books on tape appeal to me either.

Enter commercial-free Turner Classic Movies to save my evening. TCM is in the midst of its annual 31-days of Oscar festival where past Academy Award-nominated films air 24x7 for a month. No "A" movies tonight, however. At least westerns and war stories are not on the bill.

You're right. I can't complain. After all, beggars can't be choosy.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Monday, 19 February 2007 - Hardy plants

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for hardy plants.

I am pleased to report the partial melting of the large "glacier" that has covered my front yard garden for the past few months. I'm finally able to see some of my precious xeric plants. I'm relieved that they survived this winter's bitter cold - after all, they're suppose to be zone 5 hardy which means they can survive -20 degree F temperatures. Now, I'm hoping that the warmer temperatures and wetter spring snows will jumpstart the growing cycle.

Sadly, I don't have much of a budget for new plants for this year's garden. No big order from High Country Gardens this spring. New additions to my garden will come from seeds and plant exchanges with neighbors and friends. I hope to acquire more berry plants. My heart is set on homegrown raspberries, strawberries and goji berries.

While cleaning the refrigerator, I find several seed packets in the coldest corner of the veggie bin. My way of cold stratifying seeds prior to planting. I'm sure they've been there for several months. Which means the seeds will be ready to plant in a few weeks.

I also have the "love lies bleeding" amaranthus seeds that I collected last fall from the backyard garden. Last time I made butternut squash soup, I saved the seeds. And, I may score some free tomato plants after I volunteer for this year's Horticultural Art Society's plant sale.

Anyway, I see that my garden is beginning to take shape regardless of my bank account.

And, like all avid gardeners who live in colder climes, I can't wait to dig up the soil and get my hands really dirty!

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: Red Rock Canyon - my favorite tree stands (or leans) in the center of the photo

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday, 18 February 2007 - One last best climb

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one last best climb.

I was tired and didn't think I could finish one more ascent up the challenging 5.9 route. But, S said that my final climb was one of my best ever. I even completed the dreaded "stem" move and traverse without a hitch.

When you're tired, you can't power your way up the rock. You must depend on good technique and balance. To conserve energy, each move has to be a good one (you waste lots of energy repeating moves).

So, I made my way up the rock, one deliberate move at a time.

This is the way climbing should be. Mentally and physically challenging. Tiring. Exhilarating.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: A diversity of prints preserved in the trail - human, canine, feline and mountain bike

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday, 17 February 2007 - Climbing goals and dreams

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for climbing goals and dreams.

The weather was quite nice today: sunny skies, temperatures in the 30s, slight breezes. We decided to go for a hike in Red Rock Canyon. Our three-fold purpose: to give T some outdoor exercise, to see if the rock is dry enough to go climbing tomorrow or Monday, and to check out the climbs on the Wailing Wall.

The first goal was easily met - T loved every minute of our two-hour+ excursion on muddy roads and trails. The second was also easily met. After examining the rock on the Solar Slab, we were pleased that it was quite dry (though not very warm).

The third goal was more challenging because the Wailing Wall climbing area is off the beaten path but still accessible if one treads carefully. We managed.

At the base of each climb, we paused for several minutes. S read aloud the guidebook's description as we both studied the route. T stood by, patiently chewing on some bushes or tree branches.

Our eyes slowly tracked the climb from the ground to the top anchors. We counted the number of bolts, noted the distance between the bolts, identified each crux and assessed the climb's difficulty relative to our levels of experience (the easiest climb on the wall is 5.10a).

We imagined actually attempting the three easiest climbs. I know that the 5.10a is doable. The other two are real possibilities under ideal conditions. The rest (all 5.11 and above) will have to wait until I learn to fly or turn into Spider Woman.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday, 16 February 2007 - The good sense to let the wind do its thing

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the good sense to let the wind do its thing.

The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And, on this extremely blustery Colorado day, I add, the best (and only) thing one can do when the wind is gusting wildly is to let it gust until it's exhausted and pray fervently that the fence will withstand the onslaught. Also, be sure to wear your snuggest hat when taking the dog for a walk or risk losing your favorite one when walking into a strong headwind..

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thursday, 15 February 2007 - More letting go

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for another round of letting go.

You can never plan the future by the past. ~Edmund Burke

Every one of us has in him a continent of undiscovered character. Blessed is he who acts the Columbus to his own soul. ~Author Unknown

I am letting go of more connections to the past - ones that I thought were important to my destiny but have actually held me back. I've thought about this for a long time and know it's time to say good-bye. My future is not tied to "what might have been."

So, I take my sharpest scissors and prepare for surgery. I hold my breath and shut my eyes. Then, I feel the scissor blades close around the taut cords and ribbons that bind me to people and events that no longer have a role in my life. In a moment, the severance is complete.

I open my eyes.

Amazing. They're gone.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wednesday, 14 February 2007 - Love, tough times

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Your love, the kind that tempers the toughest times.

Fill my heart with Love,
that my every teardrop may become a star.
~Hazrat Inayat Khan

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tuesday, 13 February 2007 - An important lesson

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for an important lesson.

Praises for our past triumphs are as feathers to a dead bird.
~Paul Eldridge

Once upon a time, I thought I did exceptional work for this company and that organization. And, in many respects, I probably did.

Now, five-and-a-half years since my last corporate position, my "proudest" business accomplishments seem trivial and unexciting. Yet, they are the stuff of my career story. Fortunately, they are not the stuff of my life story.

One of my most important lessons: I am not my job.

My current challenge: How in the world will my new resume reflect the real me?

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday, 12 February 2007 - One tired Lab

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for one tired Labrador retriever.

A dog is one of the remaining reasons why some people can be persuaded to go for a walk.
~O.A. Battista

I knew that T was tired. Two long hikes in two days is a lot for him. But, even after we completed two laps around the park, he begged for one more adventure. So, off we went to Red Rock Canyon for our third hike in three days.

Yes, T was tired but a good sport. He lingered whenever possible, stopping frequently to sniff the bushes that line the trail. I didn't get my usual aerobic workout. But that's okay. We managed to finish the loop - not in record time but in T's good time. I think he was quite happy to reach the parking lot, jump into the Camry and snuggle on the back seat.

Needless to say, T slept all afternoon.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday, 11 February 2007 - T's company

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for T's company.

With S out of town, I'm glad that T is here. He is my constant companion, taking the edge off of some lonely moments. He's also a very good listener (even when he's sleeping) and a diligent and persistent exercise partner.

So, on this weather-perfect winter day, T and I hiked the east trail at Red Rock Canyon. We started around 10 AM - early enough that the ground was still partially frozen and the trails not too muddy and slushy (although some spots tried my patience). Despite the nearly full parking lot, we only saw a handful of people on our travels. I guess that the others hiked or biked the trails west of the canyon.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Saturday, 10 February 2007 - Saturday hike

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a Saturday hike.

No climbing this weekend despite the glorious weather. S is out of town, and I can't climb by myself. So T and I go to Red Rock Canyon for a late morning hike. The trail is still inconveniently muddy and slushy. I walk slowly along the path, constantly looking for the driest route. I don't want to slip and fall in the muck. T fares much better. Must be his all-weather paws.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday, 09 February 2007 - TGIF

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for all the Fridays that I managed to get through so I could start the weekend. TGIF.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thursday, 08 February 2007 - A good definition

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a good definition.

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things
. ~Peter Drucker

The resume questionnaire continues to challenge my memory (can you describe a typical work day from a job you held five to ten years ago?).

Anyway, today, I am trying to differentiate between my management skills and leadership abilities. A few minutes ago I found the Peter Drucker quote (or maybe it found me). The simple definition has shed much light on the matter.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: It was too cold to climb today so we drove up the pass to Woodland Park and took T for a walk along this road. Looks like a great place to snowshoe.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wednesday, 07 February 2007 - A small treasure of quotations

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a small treasure of quotations.

This afternoon, I sorted through a stack of magazine clippings from the past few months. I found photos of favorite outfits and haircuts, an article on discount boutiques that sell designer clothes online, information on vacationing in Provence, assorted recipes, and lots of diet and exercise advice. I also found a small treasure of quotations including these three:

  • Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. ~Etty Hillesum
  • If there is no wind, row. ~Japanese proverb
  • Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you. ~Maori proverb
For this blessing, I am grateful.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tuesday, 06 February 2007 - A perfect day for climbing

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for the warm and sunny day - perfect for a trip to Red Rock Canyon and hours of rock climbing. I can't believe that nearly a week ago, I complained about sub-zero temperatures.

For this extra special blessing, I am grateful.


We navigate the icy, slushy and very muddy trail.

I think this is a mountain lion pawprint -
just one of the scores that decorated the trail.

Pikes Peak

The Whale

Monday, February 05, 2007

Monday, 5 February 2007 - Step in the right direction

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a step in the right direction. Yes, I am taking my first step of the proverbial 1000 mile journey to relaunch my career.

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~Seneca

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.
~Buddhist saying

Okay. Although I am a good to great copywriter, I cannot for the life of me write my own resume. So, this time around, I've enlisted a highly-touted resume service to help me write my personal marketing brochure. They even guarantee interviews in 30 days or else!

The initial questionnaire is quite challenging to complete. Details, details, details. Outside of a very thorough interview, I've never had to describe my career in such detail. I don't remember my exact undergraduate and graduate GPAs (it's been that long). At least I had the foresight last week to order transcripts from UCLA and UCCS.

The good news? I'm investing in myself for the first time in years. And, I'm counting on an excellent ROI that exceeds my expectations.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunday, 04 February 2007 - S words

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for sunshine, sushi and the Super Bowl.

We enjoyed today's abundant
sunshine. To my delight, it was warm enough to thaw our cold-ridden bodies, melt some of the snow and revive my gardening dreams. The trails were too icy and slushy so, instead of hiking, S and I worked out at the gym for the second day in a row.

I made my "famous"
sushi for Tom's Super Bowl party. This time, I used arame seaweed (cooked with soy sauce and sugar), pickled ginger and arugula for the filling.

I don't always watch the entire
Super Bowl. This year, the event was worth my time because Peyton Manning was playing. Perhaps you heard me cheering wildly for Indianapolis. S, a Tony Dungy fan, also favored the Colts. T was just happy that two "animals" (colts and bears) made it to the Super Bowl (silly boy).

For these blessings, I am grateful.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Saturday, 03 February 2007 - Encouragement

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a few words of encouragement.

While leafing through a magazine, this Louise Hay quote caught my eye: Somewhere, someone is looking for exactly what you have to offer.

Just what I needed to hear regarding my current job search.

The words raised my spirits, if only for a moment.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Photo: T is a handsome chocolate Lab who loves to pose for his mom.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday, 02 February 2007 - Punxsutawny Phil's favorable report

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for Punxsutawny Phil's favorable report.

O, wind,

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

~Percy Bysshe Shelley

I am pleased, no, ecstatic, that the beloved groundhog did not see his shadow this morning. Here's the official report (

Phil Says Spring is Right Around the Corner!

Phil's official forecast as read 2/2/07 at 7:28 a.m. at Gobbler's Knob:

El Nino has caused high winds, heavy snow, ice and freezing temperatures in the west.
Here in the East with much mild winter weather we have been blessed.

Global warming has caused a great debate.
This mild winter makes it seem just great.

On this Groundhog Day we think of one thing.
Will we have winter or will we have spring?

On Gobbler's Knob I see no shadow today.
I predict that early spring is on the way.

It's 8 AM. T and I are ready to leave for our walk. The National Weather Service reports the official temperature: -17 degrees F, -33 degrees with wind chill (possibly colder in our neighborhood since our altitude is 600 feet higher than the city's).

I wonder, "Are we in Colorado Springs or at an advanced camp on Mount Everest?" This morning, I can't tell the difference.

We aren't the only ones to brave the elements. I notice human, canine and deer tracks, but none leading from our street to the park (I guess K did not take Sage for a walk).

It's so cold that I hesitate before taking off my right glove to pick up T's poops (I do it anyway). Despite the beautiful snow-covered landscape, I take no photos (my gloved hands are too frozen to operate a camera).
For the first time in my life, I actually feel the cold around my eyes (not a pleasant feeling - delicate tissues beginning to freeze).

Of course, T is having a grand time. He still sniffs and marks at will - can't understand my impatience when he stops to investigate an interesting scent. Needless to say, I force him to keep moving. After one incredibly bone-chilling lap, we race home. Never before has our drafty house felt so safe and warm.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thursday, 01 February 2007 - A little ignorance

The park just after sunrise

This cage shelters the porta-potty during the warmer months.

Bench with snow near the basketball court

T just loves to eat freshly-fallen snow from my water collection bins.

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for a little ignorance.

Sometimes, ignorance is indeed bliss. Case in point. This morning, it was -4 degrees F, -18 degrees with wind chill. If I had known this information, I would have stayed in, denying T his morning walk.

Instead, I bundled up and took T to the park as usual. We actually managed two laps despite the bone-chilling cold. I even took off my gloves to photograph the landscape.

When we returned home, S informed me of the temperature. Imagine that. T and I just completed our coldest walk, ever.

Note: I am getting really tired of our wintry weather. If that darn groundhog sees his shadow tomorrow ...

For this blessing, I am grateful.