Posted in Lists

Drawing up a gratitude list 

November is a popular month for gratitude, given the holiday that’s named for the emotion, but my motivation this year is a little different. I’m grateful that October is over! “Isn’t that the same thing as being-in-November?” you ask reasonably. Well, not precisely. 

The thing is, almost every major Drama, Trauma, and Tragedy in my life has happened in an October–leaving me with a superstitious fear of a “cursed” month. Add in the fact that those events (ranging from loss of a job to loss of a spouse, from severe complications of childbirth to last year’s vacation in a psych ward) have left me with a lot of unpleasant “anniversaries” in October–and it’s just a rough month. 

I literally spent the month praying that I could get to November 1 without anything awful happening–aware that if I did, it would be the first time in about a decade.

It happened! I broke the streak and got all the way through October without an Awful Event of any kind. I’m very nearly giddy over it. And helping with that reaction is the fact that I got my mental-health meds adjusted a couple weeks ago, after realizing I was on a downward slide toward Depression. I’m emerging from the haze of lethargy and indifference and feeling increasingly like ME again. (Witness the fact that I’m back here writing again–a silent blog is a danger sign with me.)

All that said… I’ve been on a sketching-kick, specifically a gratitude list. So although I’m usually one to express myself with words, today I’m offering my “gratitude album.”


I’m grateful for the man who married me. His voice puts a smile on my face, and his laugh lights my world. He has loved me (and prayed me) through some of my worst. It’s a joy and an honor to be “Mrs. Smith.”


I’m grateful for a job that keeps me challenged and interested, and where there’s room for growth.


I love RV-living, and our cozy little home. I’m grateful to live so comfortably!


I’m grateful for Vertical Church, and my church-family.


I’m grateful that I grew a pair of bright, vibrant, good-hearted people. (Readers, too.)


I’m grateful for modern medicine, and my mental-health meds!


I’m grateful for COFFEE!


I’m grateful to live in Idaho.


I’m grateful for my Ma, who has continued to love me no matter what.


I’m grateful for my teddy bear, Toots, who has been a comfort for more than four decades. (Here with Jon, who sewed Toots an Army outfit.)


I’m grateful for Open Adoption, and that the boy-I-grew has such a fabulous family.


I’m grateful for BOOKS!


I’m grateful to have my driver’s license back, and for the car Jon bought me when I got it back. I so appreciate being able to drive myself to appointments and work rather than hiking everywhere.


I’m grateful for open roads and motorcycles.


I’m grateful to be Sober! This is my owl-sticky-note marking my favorite page of the Big Book. “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.”


I’m grateful for my health. Crohn’s Disease has been in remission for 16 years, and I’m healthier than I deserve to be, given my alcoholism. God is good.


I’m grateful for my great Sis, who shares many of my memories (and quite a few of my quirks). And a grand welcome this week to her new daughter!


I admit it–I’m grateful for my iPhone. 


I’m grateful for challenges–like learning to ride.


I’m grateful for seaside vacations!


I’m grateful for a guy who fixes things… and builds things, and COOKS things!


I’m grateful for FUN!


The back of Jon’s helmet is a reminder for the road-of-life… I’m grateful that God has ALWAYS had my back.

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Posted in Motorcycle, prayer, Recovery

Taking Off the Training Wheels (in Prayer)

motorcycle training wheelsWhen we were motorcycle-shopping, Jon jokingly threatened to buy me a bike with training wheels—though he then reassured me that he wouldn’t humiliate me like that. I think the issue goes deeper than avoiding humiliation, though—what I need most is to build the gut-level confidence that the bike will, indeed, stay upright even without Jon on the front. And that confidence wouldn’t start growing with training wheels in place.

In a sense, passenger-ing behind Jon has been my “training-wheels” course in motorcycling… I’m SO comfortable when he’s in front of me, and I have absolute confidence in his control of the bike. When I’m his passenger, I’m utterly at ease on a motorcycle.

In my solo parking-lot ventures, it’s that confidence that was wholly lacking the first time I got on the bike by myself. It’s that confidence that I’m building. I’m overcoming my illogical expectation that the bike is somehow going to suddenly fling herself to the ground!

boot on motorcycle peg
feet UP!

Last week I was pretty much walking her around the parking lot in first gear, working on getting comfortable with the friction-point on the clutch, and with the balance and weight of her being mine to handle. Last night I graduated to wide, slow circles around the parking lot, with my feet mostly picked up—so that’s some serious progress in my comfort-level. (Jon jogged alongside calling encouragement to me, just like my grandpa did when I was learning to ride bicycle.) Continue reading “Taking Off the Training Wheels (in Prayer)”

Posted in Mental Health, Recovery

On Vapors, and Vapers

who vs whomLast week CBS This Morning hosted a lexicographer from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, talking about the malleability of language and the ongoing task of incorporating new words into the dictionary. Although prescriptive grammarians (unlike descriptive ones) would have you believe that our language and its rules are static, nothing could be further from the truth. (Sure, I know when I’m supposed to say “whom”—and I sometimes even do it—but these days those rules are largely at odds with actual usage.)

Speaking to new words that have been recently incorporated, the Merriam-Webster editor gave examples like “photobomb” and “binge-watch.”  By this point, “selfie” has been in the dictionary so long it’s old news. I’m fascinated by the cultural commentary afforded by new words…  The one I’m interested in today has only been in the dictionary for a couple years, and won Oxford’s “word of the year” honor in 2014:

vape definition Oxford word of the year

The Merriam-Webster definition adds to the verb definition of vape: “like someone smoking a conventional cigarette.” That definition might already be outdated. Most of today’s vapes have so little in common with cigarettes that they’re not even getting called e-cigs anymore. Early models did look like cigarettes, but these days they range from boxy models to flashy pens—virtually no resemblance to the nasty originals.

Yup, I just called cigarettes nasty. I actually thought so even for the eight-or-so years that I was obsessively smoking them. And there you have the strange face of addiction. Cigarettes are nasty—but I liked them. They were my friends, They were a treat, every time I lit up, even though I hated the lingering ashtray-odor that clung to me afterward. Continue reading “On Vapors, and Vapers”

Posted in Language, Motorcycle

Love Languages & Chocolate Sprinkles

imageThere’s a new key on my ring that I can’t use just yet, but I’m carrying it anyway because I’m excited about this unexpected gift from my husband. I’m still sort of in a state of disbelief about it, to be honest. I can’t quite believe I really have this key, let alone what it goes to… But I’ll leave you in suspense for a moment and come back to that.

Here’s what I find kind of funny today. Jon and I have been reading The Five Love Languages, and we have determined that “receiving gifts” is not my love-language. As a writer, maybe it’s not surprising that “words of affirmation” are what speak most eloquently to my heart—and those are closely followed by the language of “physical touch.”

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Jon likes to leave me love-notes in cards… No “occasion” needed!

I feel absolutely adored when Jon leaves me a sweet card with a hand-written love note. Or when he calls me by a pet name, tells me I look cute or sexy, says he loves me. I even thrill when he calls me “Mrs. Smith,” because it’s an emphasis on the married-in-love “Mrs.”… We spend a few hours of every day on the phone, he with his Bluetooth in his ear while his head is under hoods of cars—we talk to each other while we go about our days, and I never tire of the sound of his voice. Words do it for me, no question! I’m also a hand-holder, a snuggler, a butt-grabber, and a happy recipient of reciprocal touches. When he puts his arm around me in church and holds my hand in the grocery store, I feel Capital-L-Loved.

Now don’t get me wrong, regarding gifts. It’s not that I don’t enjoy or appreciate them, they’re just not the currency that “proves love” in my emotional world. When he does give me something, I find myself floored by it, maybe because it seems like such an “extra.”   Continue reading “Love Languages & Chocolate Sprinkles”

Posted in Idaho

Listening in Silence

Placerville cabinI’ve just been pondering what defines a ghost town. On paper, you’d probably consider Placerville Idaho in that category—it’s down to thirty or so households from its 1860s gold-rush heyday of more than three thousand… Visitors can enjoy the sight of an old general store, saloon, and other mining-era buildings that now operate as summer-hour museums.

But I find myself unable to consider it a ghost town when you can still buy Alka-seltzer and Tostitos at the local store, and when the one remaining church still holds services every Sunday. (Well, truthfully there was only one truck at the church when we passed by, five minutes before services… But I guess there’s a service even if only the pastor shows.)

imageWhether or not it’s a ghost town, Placerville is small and isolated in the Idaho mountains—and right now, absolutely buried in snow. We thought we’d need to chain up in order to get in, but only ended up needing four-wheel drive. Jon’s family has a cabin up there, where his folks lived for a number of years before moving into Boise, and we just put it to use for a get-away weekend.

imageWe lost cell service an hour before we got to the cabin (that’s part of the get-away!) and started the weekend by lighting the fire his brothers had laid in the wood stove on their last visit. We pulled our food and overnight bag in from the road on our sleds, and melted snow on the stovetop to make coffee and wash dishes. We grilled steaks, read aloud together, hiked around the little town and through the snow to the old cemetery, sat on the covered porch swing and watched the incessant snow falling in the absolute silence around us,  we bedded down in front of the fire…

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Jon “sledding” our cooler down to the truck

We don’t live a terribly fast-paced or stressful life, but every life can use some get-away to silence. When it just registers as “white noise,” you don’t notice the constancy of traffic… until you’re away from it. When the sky above you in town still seems Idaho-blue, you don’t realize how polluted it is… until you’re breathing in the mountains. And when church commitments and AA meetings and family dinners and work schedules fill in your calendar, you don’t even realize you’re busy… until you’re away from it all, listening to your Marriage.

Posted in Lists

Step Aside, Monday. This is a Job for COFFEE!

b7bb47cd0c2c66ea78a35710f4fab489It’s a very sweet thing that my husband brings me a cup of coffee every morning before I’ve even sat up. I suspect it’s also an act of self-preservation on his part.

I am a person who fuels and functions on caffeine. Coffee all day. Makes me happy. It should probably be listed among my mental-health medications!

So here’s “Put it on a T-shirt: The Caffeinated Edition”…

  • Coffee is my favorite way to trick myself into doing stuff.
  • Procaffeinating. (n.) The tendency to not start anything until you’ve had a cup of coffee.
  • 74aa1e7f98211fa8c6195912a2811aa1First I drink the coffee. Then I do the things.
  • There are two kinds of people: coffee people, and sad people.
  • Coffee helps me person. Personing is hard without caffeine.
  • I laugh in the face of decaf.
  • The early bird can have the worm. I’ll take the coffee.
  • Coffee = Inspiration Juice!
  • Warning: Do not activate this person without coffee.
  • I drink coffee for your protection.
  • How do I take my coffee? Seriously. Very seriously.
  • There’s too much blood in my coffee stream.
  • Perkatory: the anguished wait for a pot of coffee to finish brewing.
  • Don’t let them tell you fairy tales aren’t real. I drink a potion made from magic beans every day, and it brings me back to life.

As for bringing me coffee in the mornings, Jon jokes that he’s Biblically inspired to consider it his job… The Good Book says HEbrews!

 

Posted in Idaho, travel

Cultivating a Path

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The “chronicler”… Documenting LIFE!

Yesterday when (yet another!) snowstorm took hold of Boise, we joined an impromptu neighborhood shoveling-party. 5 neighbors, 3 shovels, 2 brooms, 1 snowblower (till we ran it out of gas), 1 dustpan (for hand-scooping), assorted bags of icemelt, plus 2 “helping” dogs (plus one “helping” chronicler)… all added up to a merry band of nearly-snowed-in RV-neighbors!

So… What to do when your city is under a Winter-Weather State of Emergency and even church services are cancelled? Head to the Idaho mountains for MORE snow, of course!

Jon and I went sledding. Continue reading “Cultivating a Path”