Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, 30 November 2008 - Warmth on cold winter days

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for warmth on cold winter days.

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

Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in the summer, when they complained about the heat.
~Author unknown

I've been cold since Thanksgiving Day. That's the day winter settled in, nearly a month before its official December start.

I know the beginning of winter very well. This is my 22nd Colorado winter which means I can rightfully claim experience. Anyway, the signs are obvious - somber gray skies, bitter cold winds, snow flurries and an overworked furnace.

I greet winter's onset with my usual arsenal of edible remedies: pots of spicy homemade soup or stew, steaming mugs of ginger-laced green tea, drops of grapefruit seed extract in orange juice and hot toddies. I wear layers of high-tech, expedition weight clothing and drape Polarfleece blankets over my lap when I work at the computer or watch television. I dread getting out of bed in the morning.

Only T tolerates the cold. Actually, he prefers cooler weather. His dense oily coat is perfect for winter's sub-freezing temperatures. The North wind is his seasonal friend. Morning, afternoon and evening, T patrols his snow laden yard, investigating new scents with typical Labrador retriever delight.

I watch T from the kitchen window. Brrrrr. It's really cold outside. I take another sip of hot tea, feeling quite envious of his ability to stay warm.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday, 29 November 2008 - Glimpses of heaven

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for glimpses of heaven.

There are glimpses of heaven in every act, or thought, or word that raises us above ourselves. ~Arthur Stanley

Imagine that. Glimpses of heaven. Rare insights into the divine and holy nature of life and beyond.

Miracles occur daily when we do exactly what we're suppose to do for ourselves and for each other. No heroic deeds or deep pockets required. Just step up to the plate and swing at the next pitch with intention and passion. Nothing more, nothing less.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday, 28 November 2008 - Giving and receiving

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for giving and receiving.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
~The Golden Rule (variation)

I don't buy anything on the day after Thanksgiving, honoring Black Friday boycotts. Who needs the nasty crowds, the annoyance or the stuff?

So, I'm speechless after learning that an early morning stampede of Wal-Mart shoppers killed one man and injured several others.

I wonder what heavily discounted item on aisle 15 was worth one man's life. None, in my book.

My thoughts are these:

+ On giving.
We battle feelings of inadequacy because, for the first time, many of us have little to give others but a smile, a hug and an encouraging word. My cup simply does not runneth over this year. Of course, by placing dollar signs on everything, we fail to realize the true scope of our generosity. Simple gifts are always best. Gifts of oneself, priceless.

+ On receiving.
To receive is humbling, forcing me to test the limits of my pride and gratitude. Giving is easier, receiving more difficult to rationalize. But, when times are hard, random acts of kindness abound. The trick is to find the balance - I give, I receive - trying at all times, to do the right thing.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday, 27 November 2008 - A day of Thanksgiving

Dear God:

Today, as I reflect on the things for which I am thankful, I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Let our hearts be filled with kindness,
Our minds be calm and light,

May thanks arise within us

For all we share tonight.

~Susan Smalley

I've been away for some time ... entangled in frenzy of Senator Obama's Presidential campaign, suffering from severe writer's block that made me feel like I had nothing important or new to say and watching depression's gray fog creep towards me as the holidays approach. This week, I'm feeling much better about life in general and am ready to begin writing again.

So, on this Thanksgiving Day, I give special thanks for:

Good health
At the Air Force Academy's human performance lab, I had a DEXA full body scan. The results confirmed that my self-prescribed diet and exercise routine has worked miracles. My bone density now falls solidly in the normal range, a result that negates past diagnoses of osteopenia (early osteoporosis). To my surprise, my nonessential body fat content is below 15%, equaling that of NCAA Division 1 women athletes at the Academy - not bad for a 54-year-old woman.

Senator Barack Obama's win in the Presidential election.

Change is definitely upon us, and it feels marvelous. S and I worked hard, especially during the Democratic Party primary, to nominate and elect Senator Obama. On November 4, after MSNBC declared an Obama victory, I turned to S and exclaimed, "We did it!" I am still fired up and ready to go. Yes we can!

Blue state cheers.

Colorado turned blue this election season (although El Paso County, where we live, remained bright red). Imagine that. Two Democratic US senators and an overall win for Senator Obama. I'm elated to be residing once again in a blue state. I say "yes" to progressives and those who support 21st century solutions to our country's problems.


Because no matter its nature, complexity or opportunities, work adds value and purpose to my life.

First snow.

Snow arrived late this season ... October 21, 2008 to be exact. T, of course, was delighted by the flurries and small drifts. He thrives in cooler weather. His high energy level and spirits continue to impress S and me. T turns 12 next month ... a sad reminder that he won't be with us forever.

More climbing adventures.

Autumn's cooler weather and shorter days don't deter our outdoor climbing adventures. We're still regulars at Red Rock Canyon and the Ute Valley Park boulders. My current favorite is the 5.10b route that S and I climbed earlier this month. It resides on the notorious Wailing Wall in Red Rock Canyon and presents climbers with 90 feet of sustained 5.10 climbing. Because I'm so short (only 5'2"), climbing from bolt to bolt requires three or four sequential bouldering-type moves. Needless to say, I fell a few times during my first ascent. Next time we attempt this route, I plan to redpoint the climb.

Extended family.

Our Colorado Springs family includes neighbors, business colleagues and climbing friends. I'm pleased that our two Air Force Academy cadet friends continue to spend time with us on a regular basis - climbing, bouldering, watching NCAA or pro football, hanging out in the house with T and eating meals that showcase my cooking and baking skills.

Thanksgiving traditions.
Each Thanksgiving Day, S, T and I gather near the radio to listen to Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" on KRCC, the local public radio station. For dinner, we usually join friends and neighbors, contributing a few bottles of wine or a side dish or two (my best are homemade cranberry relish with a splash of whisky and sweet potatoes/yams flavored with rum). This year, we're joining our next door neighbor's celebration. The day after Thanksgiving, I cook our own feast (except I won't this year because I have to work). I don't shop on Black Friday ... just because it feels like the right thing to do.

I feel it ... love ... the Universe's assurance that my mere existence makes a difference on Earth. I think Mother Teresa said it best - "Every act of love is a work of peace, no matter how small." Here's to love, to peace.

For these blessings, I am very grateful.


Photo: T poses near the Wailing Wall in Red Rock Canyon.