Friday Five: Attitude of Gratitude

 One of the things I’ve been thinking about and practicing lately is to look for things to be grateful for. It is so easy to get caught up in problems and issues. I’ve found it harder to find gratitude in my daily life.

Keeping a gratitude journal is one way to be thankful for each day. However, this is a journal that I struggle to keep. A suggestion for this journal is to write three things each evening before bed. I tend to forget.

This is my alternative. A Friday Five post dedicated to some things I am grateful right now:

  1.  Warm October days with blue skies and the trees finally in full color and all the things that come with these days, i.e. pumpkin patch visits, caramel apples and falling leaves.
  2. Pippa – My 5:00 am alarm clock on Saturdays when I could sleep in. 
  3. Hot coffee with just the right amount of sweetness.
  4. The ladies I work with – Regardless of what is happening around us, I know I can count on them for anything.
  5. Grandbabies – Need  I say more? 
  6.  

I’m sure this list is much longer. There are so many things in my life that I am grateful for maybe I should work on that gratitude journal again.

How do you remember to be grateful for all the things in your life?

 

5 Lessons in a Decaffeinated Life

the-eleventh-hour-758926_1280It’s been over a week since I’ve had any of my favorite beverage. Coffee.

I have survived but barely.

I have struggled with many things throughout the week. Between work, home and my own interests, each thing has been much more stressful due to this major change in my life.

My body and spirit haven’t fared well as I have gone through withdrawals. Here are some things that I’ve discovered:

1. My allergies have finally kicked in this spring. I won’t say that it is truly because of the lack of coffee but the timing is suspicious.
2. The 2:00 slump is real.
3. What do I drink all day? Water is so boring.
4. There are other things to order at coffee shops besides coffee? Really?
5. Bedtime is now 9:00 and I actually go to sleep. What?!?! I’ve got things to do.

This week hasn’t been so bad regardless of the above lessons. I have survived and I’m even starting to believe that I will be okay. There have been moments where I’ve wondered but the trade-off has been good.

Making a choice and sticking to it can be really difficult. Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle through mud but having a healthy life is worth it.

Coffee Time, Or Not

chalkboard-620316_1280I created several goals for myself this year. Most are still a work in progress, while some aren’t really working. It will be interesting to see how things end up as the year continues.

One of these areas was health. I had in mind to exercise a bit more, find balance and discover what was going on with me, health wise.

At this point in the year I haven’t truly achieved this goal at all. However, I have worked on it.

The problems I was having, I have found answer to, though another issue has reared its ugly head, AGAIN. It is my belief that many of our ailments are lifestyle ones. That means that I don’t always look for the answer to be found in a pill. It is my belief that health can be achieved through changes in habit, i.e. diet and/or exercise. I haven’t always thought this way but I have found myself to be much healthier and more at peace by this belief.

Except when I’m not healthier and things appear to be spinning out of control.

Except for times like now when I struggle to go for a walk or do yoga (which were part of my goals for this year) or to eat what I know I should be eating. Instead of what I know I shouldn’t.

Sleep has been disrupted for over a month due to GERD, which is for the most part, heartburn. I have struggled with this on and off for several years. Sometimes using medication and sometimes not. I’d really like to sleep all the way through the night and not have any pain throughout the day. Yep, that would be a good thing.

Well, and here is the crux of the issue, treatment for GERD involves taking medication and dietary changes. I’m on meds for a month to see how things go. Dietary changes include the following no’s:
coffee-750990_1280
Spicy foods
Alcohol
Tomatoes
Chocolate
Caffeine

Do you see the problem? Those who know me well understand the problem. I love coffee.

Last year at about this time I had a similar experience and was put on the medication, which worked. The only difference is that I didn’t change any part of my diet. I’ve decided that its time for a change, this has gone on long enough.

The new plan:

No more spicy foods – well this one isn’t too difficult. I haven’t been able to tolerate them for years though I like to play with fire on occasion.
Little to no alcohol – This one isn’t that difficult either since I have developed a reverse tolerance to the stuff. I just don’t recover as well as I used to and I have things I want to do with my life.
Tomatoes – While this one isn’t incredibly difficult, tomato season is coming and I love tomato sandwiches. I think this is left over comfort food from my childhood. Hopefully I will be feeling better in time for that.
Chocolate – Oh, here comes a tough one. I love chocolate and staying away may be problematic. Again, hopefully this won’t go on for long and I can once again enjoy the pleasures of a Dove dark chocolate bite.

And, here is the problem:

Caffeine – I almost don’t have the strength to go on. I repeat, I love coffee. And I am picky about it. I mean I prefer to make my own and I need a special creamer to make it just right. I’ve even been called a coffee snob. I will own that. This is a daily habit that I have been unwilling to change.

Until now.

How do I go on? How do I manage the massive headache that accompanies caffeine withdrawal? What about the social aspect of getting coffee every afternoon? How do I wake up each morning and write without that steaming cup?

It’s been two days without my normal cup of coffee and I’ve survived. The good thing is that everyone around me has too. I can only take this one moment at a time.

For me this is a choice. I want to be healthy and my body is less tolerant of the things I am putting into it than it has been. Not able to get a good night’s sleep has made me aware that I need to make changes. It is difficult to meet my goals when I don’t feel well.

So I go on sans coffee. But I go on to a better future, one where I am not in pain each day and am able to sleep at night. One where I am not required by my addiction to coffee to continually seek it out. One where I am healthy.

What would you give up to reach your goals?

Perfectly Alone

coffee-750990_1280I am sitting in a coffee shop in a town far away from home, enjoying the rare quiet, reflecting on just how unusual this is.

I had just walked out of my hotel and into the hot windy weather. For a moment I closed my eyes to relish the feel of heat and wind on my face. It had been a rough couple of days and I was feeling none too positive. Somehow, the wind cleansed away the creeping dark mood I’d been carrying. A feeling of peace came over me.

As I now sit and write with soft music playing and the barista the only other person in the building, I remember what I all too often forget:

I need time alone.

Time where I am actually without another person anywhere near me. I don’t mean just being in one room of my house while everyone else is in a different room. I actually need the house to myself. I need to be able to walk outside and just breath in the air. I need that freedom to just sit and do nothing for a bit without someone speaking to me or asking anything of me. Even if they present and are quiet, it’s not the same thing.

I forget that this alone time is necessary. I forget until that moment when that creeping angst crawls into my heart and spreads throughout my body. By that time I am frustrated with everyone and everything. It is not pretty. This is when I don’t like myself very much.

We learn so much about ourselves by being alone and that can be scary. It takes courage to face and accept yourself.

As a writer, I prefer to write alone in the quiet. It is in these moments where I can put honest, even ugly, words down. I know that at some point they will turn into a thing of beauty but in that moment, I am content. I am in the moment.

Being alone can take on many forms. Getting outside and taking a walk is healthy. Sitting in a quiet coffee shop people watching or simply reading the paper is enough. Sometimes just a few moments are all you need.

Our souls crave this quiet, especially in the midst of a busy life. balance-110850_1280

So, the challenge is to find time to be alone, whether it’s for 5 minutes or 5 hours or anywhere in between.

I dare you to stop in that park you pass on your way home and just listen to the wind in the trees.

Or pop into that bookstore you’ve been dying to visit but never found the time to just browse. You don’t have to buy, it’s okay to just look.

Or while you are waiting for your kid to get done with practice. Spend some time away from the field. It doesn’t take long. Just a few minutes to remember who you are and to be in the moment.

Challenge – Find some time to be alone this week and let go, if only a few minutes, of the rest of your responsibilities. You’ll be glad you did.

Young Only at Heart

I didn’t get a blog post out this morning.

Normally I write my posts the night before and schedule them. If I am really on the ball, it may be a day or two sooner. I haven’t figured out the trick to writing a ton of posts, scheduling them and then going about my life. I wonder if that day will come.

My only excuse for not getting a post out when I normally do is because I am not as young as I used to be.

Let me explain.

When I look in the mirror I don’t see the graceful aging that is happening. I am going to call it graceful because its me and I can. I don’t look my age because am lucky that I have some quality genes that disguise my true age. It makes me forget how old I am sometimes.

Except for weekends like I’ve just had.

It was a good weekend spent with friends, celebrating. A friend is getting married soon and, much to our surprise, another just became engaged the night before. We had a lot to celebrate. I also realized I’d never been to a bachelorette party.

IMG_0011

It was tame as those types of parties go. The bride requested no cakes in the shape of body parts nor tiaras or sashes. Just friends, music and general good times.

I believe the weekend lived up to this request. We went to a small metropolitan area in up north. We sampled restaurants, wine and hard cider, which was a first for me. There are several breweries in the area and we found one with music and darts. The beer wasn’t bad either. I don’t play darts, either with or without alcohol. Not sure why. IMG_0015

The evening ended relatively early, especially for a bachelorette party. That is when the realization that I am not as young as I used to be began to dawn on me.

This same metropolitan area is a major tourist hotspot in our state. This particular weekend they were also hosting a soccer tournament and hotels were problematic for a small party who only intended on one evening in this fair city. We solved these woes by pitching a tent in the state campground near the bay.

This isn’t really a problem. I like to camp and I like to camp in tents. I have my own kit consisting of sleeping pad, bag and pillow along with other paraphernalia . I’ve done this before and have enjoyed it.

This night however, was at the end of a celebration, the type of which I don’t normally do.

As morning dawned and my hip hit the hard dirt beneath my tent, I understood clearly that I am not as young as I used to be. I woke up cold and sore and generally grumpy though the coffee we had shortly cured that.

In hindsight, I failed to air my sleeping pad up enough so I felt the hard ground quite a lot. Since I knew I would get cold, I layered my clothing to help with that. Except that I forgot that since I am not as young as I once was, I also have temperature fluctuations in the night (i.e. hot flashes). By morning, I was cold due to the moisture both from me and the condensation from the other bodies in the tent. Not a good combination.

We woke up to a beautiful, warm morning. Found a place for a fabulous breakfast and everyone headed home. On the drive I wondered what I’d been thinking.

I needed a day to recover. Consequently, I did little for the rest of the day including not writing this post nor anything else.

So now I am back to a semi-normal routine. Working but as I write this I am at a training and “camping” in a nice hotel, still trying to recover from my weekend.IMG_0020 IMG_0021

The question for any choice is would you do it again, given all that you learned in the process.

Unequivocally, yes. I would do it all over again.

Would you?

Ice Cream and Updates

I

As I sit here with a bowl of triple peanut butter ice cream, I’m pondering the challenges I’ve set for myself.

Its official, we are 10 days into a double challenge and I think it is time for an update on progress and what I’ve learned so far.

One of the things I’ve learned is that in order to complete these two challenges, I need to continue getting up early in the morning. It gets difficult when I find myself exhausted and unable to sleep at night – 5:00 am comes so early.

I am also reminded that I enjoy this process. I mean the drive of the challenge. Nothing lights a fire under me like deciding to set a goal or two and then telling people about it.

There is lots of advice rolling around the inter web about writing and a million how-to’s to go with it. One that I’ve been reading a lot lately is to show up and write, to not wait for the muse to begin writing. That is never more important than when one is in the middle of a double challenge. It is definitely a must if I am going to complete these challenges.

I’ve also hit the dreaded second week of the challenge. In November 2014 I began NaNoWriMo and heard about the swing that often comes during the second week of the challenge. This is where the words slow down and often stop. The weight of the 50000 words seems to crush some people and they can’t continue. I didn’t really experience it then, however, I have now. Writing a blog post each day is more difficult and I struggled with my novel. I’ve still hit my goals but there have been times where I’ve fought for each word.

For the official update:

I’ve managed to complete blog posts to this point. I’ve even really liked a few of them. I’ve also been visiting blogs from the other challengers. Its been wonderful to see all of the different ideas for the same letters. Amazing. I’ve also enjoyed all of the comments I’m getting. Thanks to everyone who has visited and left a note of encouragement.

I’m nearly half way to my goal of 20000 words on my novel. I’m even excited about where it is going. Again not all the writing is fabulous but some of it is really good. I’m excited to see where the rest of the month takes me.

One of the best things about these challenges are the things I learn about myself and my writing process. I’m looking forward to the rest of the month, though I will grudgingly get up each morning to do so. As long as I have enough coffee I can do anything.

What have you learned about yourself this week or during this challenge?

Early Mornings

E

Does anyone else have a love/hate relationships with early mornings? I certainly do.

There are some fabulous things about getting up earlier than the rest of the world.

I love the quiet mornings and that first cup of hot coffee. Watching the sky turn from dark to light, just waiting for the sun to peek over the horizon is the best part of the day.

I get most of my work done first thing in the morning. I’ve discovered if I don’t wake up and write, it is more difficult to get back to it later.

Of course, there is the hate side too.

You know, those mornings when the 5:00 am alarm makes you want to throw it across the room and roll over in the nice warm bed. Except that your alarm is your phone and if you were to throw it then – no more phone.

Waiting for the coffee to get done at 5:00 am is one of the most difficult things. Since I mostly make it from hand, there is no prep work the night before so as I am half asleep I am navigating my Italian coffee pot.

Sometimes the muse is still asleep at 5:00 am and Facebook calls a little too loud. The coffee helps to wake her up and my morning journal pages nudges the muse but still, she comes kicking and screaming. Those are the rough days.

Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you have a favorite time of day?

Dang Glad the Weekend’s Here

D

In honor of the week’s end, I’ve decided to list some of the things for which I am grateful. Its too easy for me to get caught up in complaining about how long and tiring my week has been. Being grateful is something I can struggle with so here are a few things that come to mind:

I am grateful that that it is Friday and I have a couple of days off from work.

I am grateful that I will see my two grandchildren tomorrow, though I am not looking forward to the drive.

I am grateful for words that flow and especially when new characters pop up that will change the story in different and interesting ways.

I am grateful for good coffee.

I am grateful for a warm house on this cold spring night.

I am grateful for triple peanut butter ice cream when the craving hits.

I am grateful for the family and friends who have blessed my life. Things wouldn’t be the same without them.

and

I’m especially grateful for a husband who doesn’t hold it against me when I come home grumpy or spend too much time with the words.

I’m sure I am forgetting some things but this is a good start.

What are some things you are grateful for?