Category Archives: The Gratitude Attitude

Silent Song

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In the peaceImage

At the edge of the deep

Silent corner of my mind

Lives the song of my life.

As the music of the clouds

And rustling breezes birth

A symphony in lush woods,

Lingering thoughts of distant places

Remind me of long-ago lyrics

And the rhythm moves me on.

It is the harmony of tides

And frequency of waves

That urge this traveler

To remember the movements

Of the distant past.

Lost in this voyage of time

Peeling back the layered years of my heart

I come to the song I’ve known.

Entering the quiet woods

Of my restless mind

I learn to sing.

Aboard Spirit Airline

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Looking down into the sky

Wisps of mist drifting by

Far above the clouds and sea

A couple things occur to me

What little we know of time and space

How irrelevant we are to this place

The source of power dwelling in our soul

Is all we need to make us whole

And yet daily we act in bitter scorn

As though it was for that we’re born

While in reality we are here to seek

To love, to learn, to serve the weak

If only we would clearly see

We could all live so peacefully

Like the child who at first cries

Is soothed by loving lullabies

To remember is our only task.

Who we are. We need only ask.

Bored to Death

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A woman I’ve been acquainted with for about ten years finished up the dishes, put in a load of wash, sat down with her crossword puzzle and died.

She was 61 and hadn’t been sick.

Apparently, the only thing wrong with her was her attitude.  When I asked her survivor husband what he thought had happened, he said “I think she just gave up.”

She may have been depressed, but that’s not how I would’ve described her. She was feisty and funny and cooked dinner every night. Unhappy, however? Maybe just unhappy.

Could being unhappy actually be the reason she died?  I think there’s a good chance it was.  Her dissatisfaction caused her to do things she shouldn’t have and not do the things she should. What I don’t understand is why she was dissatisfied. She was a good wife; they’d been together 40 years. She was a good mom; the boy’s a lawyer for Pete’s sake, with a beautiful doctor wife! But what about her own life?

What happened, I wonder.

I think it was exactly that… she gave up. First, she gave up working and then she gave up volunteering. She gave up traveling, and she even gave up shore vacations.  Of course, that was after she gave up going to the country house. And she had given up gardening a long time ago.

These were her choices. Just like we all have. Every day.

I never realized it before, but for some of us “having a life” may actually be what saves it.

Get in Line

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The food court.

When it comes to eating, does it get any better than this?

I mean, obviously it’s not the most gourmet or luxurious environment, but where else can you – and everyone else – get such selection? You can order up whatever you want – sushi or stir-fry, pizza or subs, tacos or burgers, deli or salads, even smoothies and fro-yo. The worst part is deciding. Once you do, you may have to wait in line and then maybe do a little scouting for a table, but where else can you get exactly what you crave with so little effort?

It’s a lot like life.

We are surrounded by amazing abundance. Everything that anyone could possibly want is within reach. It doesn’t always look like what we think it should… (You don’t always need linen napkins) …but as far as variety goes, it’s out there, like the most amazing buffet. What a blessing that the hardest part is choosing – what career, who to partner with, when (or if) to have children, where to live, how to spend our time. Of course, once we choose, we may need to be patient or put out some effort to make it happen, but the choices are ours to make, and the options are limitless.

(Me? I’ll have a little of this and a little of that, but I don’t worry about missing anything. I’ll be back.)

Never Again

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I woke up thinking that today is my last day.

Or it might as well be.

Recently, a divorced friend of mine said that if she would’ve known that the last time she made love to her husband was THE last time, she would’ve made sure it was great.

This got me to thinking. First, that I know what she means. I’ve had relationships end suddenly and you never really know when it’s the last time… last hug, last kiss, last good-bye.

We all have these feelings about things. Regrets suck. So how do I fix it so that it doesn’t happen again? Everyone always says that today is the first day of the rest of your life. That just makes me feel like I have lots of time, and that opportunities are knocking, and the future exists. But it doesn’t. Not yet anyway.

What if I do everything like it is my last day?  It’s not that it ‘might’ be my last day, or that there’s a ‘chance’ I won’t see tomorrow. It is truly the last today. Things will inevitably be different tomorrow. Situations will change, opportunities will change, circumstances will change. Some people will enter my life and some will leave it, and if I’m half the person I hope to be, I’ll be different too.  I will learn something today that will change the way I think or feel tomorrow. I will never again see things the way I do today.

So as I take the time to eat this nectarine, I’m slurping up the sweetness it has offered me and letting the juice run down my chin because I will never eat this nectarine again.

Around the Pond

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Mindfully setting my foot on the path, I inhale the flavors of the woods. The morning rain and afternoon sun have merged into a comforting haze hanging in the solemn forest. The cedar wood chips comprising the trail release a dense fragrance like red wine underfoot while vines of honeysuckle dangle perfumed flowers overhead. As I breathe in the moldy sweetness of the damp leaves and the humid air settles around me, all the tension of my body is released as if I’m embraced by a dear old friend.

As the retiring sun sinks below the treetops, it sparks the last drying raindrops on the broad leaves of laurels and young oaks. Like diamonds set to light my way they shimmer and twinkle and draw me out of the cool shade of the overgrown briar toward the exposed hillside.

The edge of the knoll has been mowed close and in the stillness, the intensity of freshly cut grass erases other thoughts from my mind as it mingles with the earthy aroma of mud that randomly sprouts fingers of tiny mushrooms. Defiant dandelions tower their tall wispy seed heads over yellow buttercups trailing from the sunlight to the dappled boundary of the tree line.

A rustle from the thicket makes me stop and guess ‘friend or foe,’ only to watch a squirrel bound from shrub to tree trunk. His claws scritch and scratch as he scrambles up the smooth bark of a large sycamore and rests on a sturdy branch drenched in blinding beams of golden light. Camouflaged by the noisy climb, a courageous rabbit ventures out from under the bramble to nestle in and nibble a tranquil patch of flower-topped clover as evening arrives.

Just ahead where the trail turns to meadow, a few robins quickly scurry to maintain their distance from me and then surrender to flight as my pace closes too soon. Disturbed is a duel of doves, and the coos of their panicked flurry warn a persistent drake pursuing a reluctant duck, now relieved that her suitor has been distracted.

Although never intending to menace my neighbors, the blackbirds join the commotion, whistling and chirping advisories as well. The long screech of a red-tail hawk shreds the remaining silence and looking up in wonder at the soaring predator, I know that no movement goes undetected in the realm he reigns.

The vivid reflection of the sky and trees on the mirrored water makes me want to dive into that other world and swim through the clouds painted on the surface. As my trek takes me round the pond’s perimeter I walk nearer the cattails and tall grasses that disguise the hideouts of nesting geese. Turning toward me, a pair of identical birds extends their necks and wings to threaten against my intrusion. Respectfully, I retreat in silence to reassure the nervous parents I mean their brood no harm.

As I near where the path turns back to concrete and draw closer to the hum of the highway in the distance, a momentary sentiment rises slowly within me, like that of a departing guest who must leave her hosts at the station, already missing the travel not even having returned home.

I take one last breath of moist and scented sunshine to help this place linger within me just a little while longer.

Until we meet again.

It’s All That

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D-day.

In my lifetime, the only meaning this really held for me was Blitzen von Normandy. It was her birthday.

I will never – no matter what happens in my life – miss anything the way I miss Blitzen.

From the day I picked her up and said “Do you want to come home and be my puppy?” and she reached up and licked my chin, to the day the vet ran the IV to end her suffering, and she reached up and licked my chin and forever closed her eyes, she was a perfect creature.

They say that there’s only one best dog in the world, and every kid owns it, but she was truly it. I’m not talking about a good dog or a smart dog. Blitz was a perfect German shepherd. (Except she was afraid of the garden hose, and well, thunderstorms too, but that’s another story.)

But that’s not why she’ll be the only thing I will ever grieve. It’s because I will never again care about another thing.

I don’t have a favorite sweater or a piece of sentimental jewelry or an album of photos I couldn’t live without. Although I inherited lots of stuff from my mom and dad and a few things of my grandmother’s, none of it holds any meaning. It’s true there are things that remind me of people I’ve known or experiences I’ve had, but their value is not intrinsic. The memories are not of the house or of the old car, or even the big table we all gathered around. All of those things have come and gone, but the memories are and will always be mine, and I’m thankful for that.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate having nice things. I do. I enjoy them while they’re here. It’s just that I learned over the years that to attach yourself to something, no matter what it is, is to invite sadness. It seems like any time I start to value a particular thing, that’s when it breaks, or gets lost or stained, or shrinks in the dryer. These little annoyances remind me that I’ve done it again. I put value into something that doesn’t matter.

So I will make an effort to value the true in life: this moment in time, the love I share, the service I provide, the art I express, the laughter we create together. The rest of it just collects dust and will be one more thing that has to be packed the next time I move.

Genesis

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“A subject for a great poet would be God’s boredom after the seventh day of creation.” ~ Nietzsche

big bang

First there was here
And then there was there
Now here is this
That then is where

It was just an idea
Whose time was right
Long enough in the dark
Let there be light

Now this cannot be with that
There must be below
Here must be above
And it was so

There will be bounty
Here will be vast
All things will be plenty
And it was cast

Balance was needed
Hence the sun
As well stars and moon
And it was done

Spirit must go
To be on land and sea
Living in this place
Let it so be

Love burst forth
Men and women to share
In All that Is
Born was the pair

Intelligence is
Wisdom will be
Available to all
And it grew on a tree

We as sad children
Acted out on our fears
Did sorrow discover
And shed our first tears

Alas, said the Lord
Look what I’ve done
Life and death forever
It has begun

Then without pride
Or judgment or shame
He rested at last
And turned on the game

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From my window I can see a pond.

I guess it’s not really a pond. It’s a bioswale where the runoff from the rain fills the retention basin until it can slowly seep into the ground. But, when the water is up, and there are ducks paddling, it’s a pond. It’s surrounded on three sides by a small forest and the little hill around it is high enough to serve for sledding in the snow.

There’s a hawk that circles over the woods occasionally; some doves nest nearby; a swarm of sparrows visits regularly; and every now and then a blue heron tries his luck. Mostly though, gaggles of Canada geese visit to graze the green grass on the slope and float on what water is there. I watch them grazing, a few keeping their heads up on guard while the others eat. Then in turn the others will stand watch until everyone has his fill.

The past few days a single goose has been here by herself. I say “her” because she’s a little slighter in size than most of the geese I see. She grazes alone. She swims alone. She tucks her legs under her and rests alone. A dog-walker came a little close, and she rose up and waddled a few steps, spread her wings in a flurry and settled back down. The puppy proved disinterested and wandered on.

So I wonder about this lone goose. Certainly, she would be safer among her relatives.  Might she be injured? But no, she has flown to the water and landed and swam, so clearly if she wanted, she could leave.  Has the flock left her?  Do geese do that? Abandon one of their own? But again, a gaggle passes over and she doesn’t even honk at them.  She has the grass she needs for grazing, the pond – should she need to move away from danger – and at the rim of the berm, she rests.

Brave goose.

She passes the time in serene surroundings.

Such is the way with wild animals. In uncomplicated nature, they are fulfilled in each moment. Once basic needs are met, they are at ease – creatures with no struggle, no schedule, no worry, no regret. Compelled at times to action, but moving freely, living their lives to the utmost of their natural ability.

And as the last light of day skims the treetops and sets the edge of the hill softly aglow, she lingers, content.

“…therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. ”

Matthew 6:25-34

On Her Own

All Fired Up

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porcelin

The heat is unbearable.

I always thought it was smart to bring a jacket. Now I’m stuck in three layers of clothing, sitting next to a rather large individual in a fairly small seat on the train.

Why, in God’s name, would they set the thermostat so high when it’s such a beautiful day? Looking around however, I’m the only one noticing the heat. Is it just me?

Oh, I get it.

It is just me.

Dammit.

My sister warned me about this. Out of nowhere, you become a kiln. A sensation starts small in the core of your body and ignites every cell on its move outward. Suddenly, what was comfortable is now suffocating and stifling. There’s an incredible urge to start unbuttoning everything. This is a public place though. I can’t exactly strip down. Oh dear God, will I actually immolate? Probably not. So here I am suffering the fires of transformation in golden silence.

It’s a test, I know.

Just as soft clay is fired to harden it to ceramic, the experience of my childhood, my youth, and my adulthood is being forged into the fullness of being a mature woman.

In a kiln, the higher the temperature, the finer the porcelain becomes. The imperfections are eliminated, the fine lines of paint are made permanent, and the colors become enameled. The result is a visibly delicate, but incredibly strong piece of china capable of withstanding daily use while maintaining its beauty.

And that is how it is with women. We reach a point where experience has done its job to teach us all the things we need to know… to be durable, to be practical and yet to display our gifts in a way that highlights the best qualities of our feminine assets.

We know who we are.

The doubts are burned off. The fear turns to ashes, and anxiety is just smoke rising and wafting away. With confidence and clarity we move into the new territory of being ourselves. Not a daughter anymore. Not a wife anymore. Not a mommy anymore. We become the women we knew our grandmothers to be: calm, assured, optimistic and ever faithful, tender yet strong, with the perspective to gauge the passing days over the lengthy years.

So as the intensity of this moment subsides, I’ll not wish it away. I will remember that in these brief minutes of internal combustion lies the serenity of my future.