Sunday, March 9, 2008

Alphabet Soup - Letter "Z"

*NOTE - Index to full alphabet of my list of blessings can be found HERE.

Finally I draw this exercise to a close, so I can get back to my other ponderous postings on this silly little blog.

For me, the exercise has been worth while. Counting my blessings this way has been a good thing, giving me rich ammunition to reflect back on during dark days when trouble and struggle threaten to overtake.

For this last letter, I'm a bit stumped. Z is little used in the English language. For that matter, it was Z was abolished in Icelandic in 1974.

I love going to Zoos and have seen many: San Diego, St. Louis, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Phoenix, and Cleveland to name just a few.

Zip Codes are quite useful, whether for posting a letter or searching for geocache.

Zygotes are the beginning of all of us, our biological acorn.

ZEST for Life is something I seek every day.

There. I'm DONE.

So what are YOU grateful for?

Alphabet Soup - Letter "Y"

Yaks and Yurts and Yellowsubmarines are all Y letters that have tickled my fancy at one time or another. Yogurt is yummy and yarn can be fun. Yardsticks help me to measure and yo-yos can amuse. Yams are a staple at my table and yawning is something I do all together too much of in my current sleep deprived state.

But perhaps the Y word that is most meaningful to me is YEARS.

By this I mean that I value the perspective that comes with the passing of years. Back in the day I could not even have begun to imagine what my life would be like at the ripe old age of 50. I've come a long way to get where I am now. There have been many changes and challenges along the past 12 months. I suspect there will be more to come. But now because I've had enough years piled one on top of another I've learned a thing or two about patience and takeing events in stride. I've learned how to work some and play some and love some each and every day. I've learned a lot, with the passing of years. Perhaps most of all I've learned that I still have more questions than answers and that each year, each day, each moment is a gift to be savored.

I don't know how many years I have left on this crazy old planet, but I'll say thanks for however many I get, in whatever circumstances they may find me. So far some have been playful, some have been painful. But ALL have been worth every minute.

I don't believe in that glass half empty or half full dichotomy. Rather, I believe every person's glass is TOTALLY FULL - just some with fluid and some with air, just as every life as a range of different experiences. I'll take it as it comes and learn what I can from it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Alphabet Soup - Letter "X"

When I first started this challenge of writing out blessings for every letter of the alphabet I knew that some letters would be tougher than others. But isn't that the whole point? Doing this project has prompted me to ponder deeper what things I really AM grateful for that perhaps normally I take too much for granted. As I wind up with these last few letters of the alphabet I look back over all I have listed so far and feel pretty good about the things it has caused me to notice.

So now here I am at the letter X. What can I say? I have no special affinity for Xylophones.

But I am DEEPLY grateful for Xenotransplants - the transplantation of organs, tissues or cells between different animal species. My 12 year old grandson, Austin, has a cow valve in his chest keeping his heart beating. Without that modern miracle of science he probably would not be alive.

I am also grateful for X-Rays, and all the many accoutrement's of modern medicine.

I am grateful for XEROX, (even though the copy machine I have in my house was made by HP. It's is one of those one-size-fits-all printer/copier/fax machines that are so common today.) It was still Xerox machines that set the standard early on and made it possible for us to easily copy so many useful resources.

There is a park in Walla Walla called Xeriscape Park that I have much enjoyed - a small niche of ground carefully planted with succulents, shrubs and flowers that can survive well with very little water. As a child of the desert who grew up in Arizona I have deep respect for landscaping that can survive well on it's own without constant tending. Besides, there is a geocache treasure hidden there that was great fun to find!

Two other X words that have been definite blessings to me are Xel-Ha and Xcaret, two of my favorite places I visited when my beloeved and I were in Mexico last Nov/Dec.
Our walk along the "Path of Consciousness" through the jungle of Xel-Ha was memorable indeed. It was also at Xel Ha that I had perhaps the most joyful snorkeling experience of my life. It was amazing. At Xcaret we spent a wonderful day in the company of Shep & Sue, two fellow travellers who were a delight to meet. From the butterfly house to snorkeling through caves to the show late that evening, everything about that day still brings a smile to my face.

So yes,even letter X brings me much to be grateful for.

Alphabet Soup - Letter "W" REVISITED!

I have some thoughts in mind for addressing that challenging letter X that comes next in my long list of alphabet blessings. But I am just not ready to go there yet.

Rather, I want to take a step back to W for one more spin. I have many things I am grateful that begin with the letter W.

WOODS - I love going on long hikes surrounded by trees.

WASHING MACHINE - Years ago I lived for a while in a two room cabin up in the mountains with no running water and just a wood stove for all cooking and heat. I'm grateful for that experience, but even MORE grateful that now I live with modern conveniences like a microwave, an electric toothbrush and a washing machine. In a lot of ways I still believe in living simply, but carrying water every day and using a wash board over a basin was not all that fun.

WARMTH - I love the feeling of being snuggled up safe in a warm cozy blanket or being outside feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. Inside or outside, I love to be warm! I hate to be cold. I am so glad that winter is ebbing away now and signs of spring are popping up all over the place. I look forward to flowers blooming and longer days, with comfortable temperatures. Call me a weenie if you will, but I am grateful for warmth!

WATER - This is a powerful blessing on so many levels. I love rivers, oceans, lakes and streams. After years of being quite scared of the water following some rather nasty near drowning episodes, I have overcome that old terror to truly appreciate being all wet. Beyond that, water is my drink of choice these days, Having spent time in several countries where it was not safe to drink the water I am deeply grateful to live in a land where all I need to do is turn on the tap for a clear, clean drink. Water is the medium of baptism, the ritual of forgiveness & making a sacred covenant with God that has been such a source of power in my life. Water is also what my faith uses for sacrament to symbolize the atoning blood of Christ. In so many ways my life is richer for having water. The earth is mostly water. My body is mostly water. Water is a very good thing.

WEIGHT TRAINING - This has been the year of me taking action to get myself as healthy as I feasably can manage. Part of that process has been a water aerobics class (ooh - I left that one out up above!) Another significant piece has been a weight training class I took for a while at the college where I work. It has since fallen by the wayside since my new job's schedule doesn't allow the pocket of time when I was going, but those several weeks I spent there definitely helped me tone and firm up some long ignored parts. I may not officially be in the class anymore, but I've learned the importance of resistance training to condition this middle aged body so I will find other ways to keep up the progress I've begun.

WAFFLES I've made some rather big changes in what and how much I eat in my determination to lose the lard that had accumulated around my carcass over the last decade. But every now and then I still love a good "pancake with tread". My husband has a very cool waffle machine given as a gift from our youngest son some years ago. On a few rare occassions we slow down enough to have a lazy morning together that includes a breakfast of waffles with real maple syrup or strawberries and whipcream. The food is quite yummy - but the time we take to savor it is even sweeter.

WARTS - NO! I am not grateful for those small rough bumps that grow on one's skin. (blessedly I have none.) But I think of this word when naming my blessings because of the expression I share with a couple special pals who are willing to love me "warts and all." It's just my way of saying that I have been gifted to know some fine friends with whom I can be completely authentic, not having to hide behind any pretense or false smile. It can feel very scary and difficult to allow one's self to be vulnerable with others - to expose the soft underbelly weaknesses of our lives. But I am blessed to have a couple of folks with whom it is totally safe to do just that. This reminds me of a passage from the book "A Life for A Life" by Dinah Craik that says:

Oh, the comfort --
The inexpressible comfort of feeling
safe with a person,
Having neither to weigh thoughts,
Nor measure words -- but pouring them
All right out -- just as they are --
Chaff and grain together --
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them --
Keep what is worth keeping --
and with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.

That's what I mean when I say that I am deeply grateful for friends who accept me, warts and all.

So YES, my life is much richer for all those W blessings. I'm sure there would be more if I gave it more thought. But these will suffice. So now on to the neXt!