Finding gratitude…

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Ever have one of those weeks that calls into question things that you once believed were fundamentally true?  Of course you have…silly question.  We all have if we’ve been around very long at all.  We are all broken people and we let each other down.  But how many times do you choose to trust again before you finally say enough is enough?  Forgiveness and trust are often hard to reconcile.  Forgiveness can come; I believe that it must, but trust?  I just don’t know right now.

It’s long past time for me to fill the pages of this blog again.  I confess that I’ve been struggling with gratitude lately.  Gratitude needs to be an intentional thing.  A spiritual discipline.  It is a gift I can give to myself as well as others and it’s high time that I begin to focus on it again.

As rough as the past few weeks have been I have much to be grateful for.  If I pay attention as I should there are things big and small everywhere in which to find gratitude; the friend who listens without judgment when I need a caring ear; my dear, funny Pippin who gives me a reason to smile and to laugh every day; a job with people of integrity who understand when I’m having a rough day…so many things…

I loaned my truck to a friend this week and he brought it back with an assortment of things repaired; things I had been living with for quite awhile, such as the broken driver’s side door handle and the missing knobs on the handles that roll the windows down; now replaced.   Heck, I drive a 20 year old truck–a few idiosyncrasies come with the territory.  The gesture was totally unexpected and unnecessary but he did it anyway and I am grateful.

I stopped to visit with my friend Mark early this morning on my way out for a power walk with Pippin at Town Lake.  Some of you will remember Mark from a blog I wrote last August.  Mark is homeless.  Visiting with Mark always brings to mind a laundry list of things I have to be grateful for if I’ll just get out of my own head long enough to notice.  Mark’s life is harder than I can possibly imagine and yet he always seems grateful for the chance to have a short conversation; perhaps a Clif Bar and a bottle of cold water; a simple acknowledgment of his humanness.

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One of the ways that I decompress during stressful times is to spend time with my camera.  I have found my muse in the birds and squirrels in my backyard and on my hikes with Pippin.  It’s a chance to be quiet and still — birds don’t stick around long if you make a bunch of noise or move too fast.  It’s a chance to be in nature and a chance to use the creative gifts that God has given me–a form of meditation I believe.  I’ve had some time to do just that this past week and I am grateful for it.  I’ve been rewarded with some decent photos, some new birds to add to my life list and the gift of encouragement from friends who share my passion.

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My plan is to be more faithful to this practice of gratitude and to recording it in this blog.  Perhaps in doing this I can find my way back to forgiveness and trust.  I am grateful for your time and attention in reading and my wish for you is that, through all of life’s ups and downs you find a reason to be grateful.


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2014: moving towards the light…

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“We always do the best we can

by the light we have to see by”

–From The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron

I’ve never been much of one for New Year’s Resolutions.  It just seems to me that if a change needs to happen, why wait?  But the New Year can be a good time to reflect; to look back with gratitude for the blessings in life–the people and experiences that have made life richer.  It’s also a good time to look back at the things that could have gone differently and maybe cut yourself and others some slack for those all too human moments.

I have been blessed to come to know many wonderful people this year.  They are misfits, like myself…an eclectic bunch that inspire me, challenge me, encourage me and, in the words of one of those misfits, crack me open.  It’s a good thing to be cracked open.  Not an easy thing; a sometimes painful thing, but a necessary part of living life fully.  I remember a quote — I think it is credited to singer/songwriter David Wilcox:

Love is not to fill our hearts
after all
It is to
open them.

And if
in opening them
we find that they are

That’s homework

Yes…to be cracked open is to learn to live life fully…

I spent three days in the Texas Hill Country over Christmas.  It was a time of reflection and a time to look forward to what I want to do differently next year.  A time to look at what I need to let go of and what I need to move towards. 

I didn’t find all of the answers — that would be too easy, but I did find some clarity about some things.

–I want to live a creative life.  I never thought I would ever hear myself say that, but this nurturing of the creative child in me that I didn’t even know existed until recently has been an incredible gift.  I want to; no, I plan to do more of that in 2014 and beyond.

–I have always been a forgiving person; I don’t get my feelings hurt easily.  As a whole, I am a person who is inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt.  That’s problematic at times but given the alternative I choose to live my life that way.  That said, there are people in my life; people that I care for deeply, towards whom I have been carrying hurt and resentment without intending to or even really being aware of it.  Oh, there are legitimate reasons for that hurt but I realize that it is beyond time to let them go…to learn to trust again.  I realize that I have been waiting for them to fail so that I could be right.  That is neither fair nor loving nor the right thing to do.  So, I will let go of those hurts, one day at a time and move forward.  They are doing no one any good.

–There are many resentments that I hold on to that are really against myself.  As I forgive others it is time to forgive me…to cut myself some slack for being human just like everyone else.

I realize that I will do all of this imperfectly; that I will stumble and fall, pick myself up, take steps forward and steps backward.  I will cut myself slack about this too and trust that I am doing the best I can.  I will focus on the journey; the twists and turns; the overcast, cloudy days and the clear, sunlit days.  I will keep moving towards the light.

I am grateful for many things over this past year; for the people in my life who have helped to crack me open — I thank you.