Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Best of the Pillsbury Press

Here is a quick Top 10 list of the most popular (by numbers read) posts in 2015. I know many of the top hits were shared with others, such as my running community, or the Princeton Public Library. I'm surprised none of my Cuba stories made the list, but collectively the 12 posts did (412).

Mom's wedding dress on display (214)

Meaghan and I as "Balloon Ladies" for the Princeton Half Marathon  (168) 

My thoughts on the passing of Peggy Sue (#1 Running Cheerleader) (156)

Ashley's lessons learned in Europe (155)

My grandmother's wedding dress on display (155)

Dining at a restaurant run by inmates (The Mates Inn) (111)

What I don't want to learn about on FB  (106)

Ava Anderson (100)

Gates of Evangeline review (86)

The passing of our pets (79)

As always, I write the Pillsbury Press to help me record my memories. I'm happy to share these stories with everyone, but I have no intention to go viral or to make a living with our family blog. Comments are always welcome. If I don't like your comment (I recently started to received spam comments) I reserve the right to remove them.

I love hearing about your lives, too. Please share stories with me, no matter how mundane.

Happy New Year!

Get Rid of It, but HOW?

I recently asked my Facebook friends if I was the only one who became so overwhelmed by the thought of the proper way to get rid of things that I end up hoarding them instead. I was pleasantly surprised to find out not only am I not the only one to feel that way, but that some of my friends even take it to another level.

Hopefully I can add pictures to this post when I am feeling less lazy.

Yes, I understand there is no "away" in throwing away, but some ways are better than others.

The best is to not even let items enter the house. We recently came to the realization we have acquired more plastic bags from my parents sending things to our house than from all of the stores we visited in the past year. Maybe this year I can work on educating my parents to stop collecting so many plastic bags. 

Refusing is hard because it goes against my grain to be polite. Someone offers me something and (even if I don't want it) I'll end up accepting it and sending a thank you note, too (yes, thus adding to clutter in their world). Yet, we try to only bring things into our home that add to our home.

One way I have tried to reduce is by only shopping on Mondays. On Mondays I go grocery shopping and run most errands. If it doesn't happen on Monday, I try hard to make it wait until the following Monday. Emergency trips, especially during the holidays, have been known to happen.

A prime example of this is the feeding dish we bought well over 15 years ago for a cat that has long since passed away. The container is refilled with cat food for Charlie Cat and Kitty Lucy. Don brings his sandwich to work in a large napkin. Ashley uses a lunch box (I eat at home most days). Our soap containers are refiled from a giant container of soap. In addition to being ecologically sound, these decisions are economically sound, too.

A less than stellar example is our collection of cat litter containers. Even after repurposing a half dozen, we still have about 20 in the garage because they are too good to throw out, yet just how many storage containers does one need? Don recently used one to wrap my Christmas present in. I think that is taking this movement a little too far. He thought it was the perfect size for my bookends.

Recycling used to just mean bottles, cans, and newspapers. I'm old enough to have participated in recycling drives in high school as a fundraiser for the annual band trip. Recently I learned #1 and #2 plastic containers (such as the kind used for selling strawberries in the grocery store) can be recycled. Score! That much less kept out of the waste stream. The last list said only bottles could be recycled. It pays to keep up with the changes.

In addition to curbside recycling, I collect the following in various piles in the garage:

Rags: to be dropped off at a bin at any school in Hopewell
Clothes: dropped off either with the rags, or to Good Will
Books: the little free library in front of my house, or to the local library
Electronics: electronic waste day held four times a year in my county
Used motor oil: collected four times a year (along with electronics) in my county
Scrap metal: given to one of the many scrap metal collectors who drive around our neighborhood
Eye glasses: collected by the Lions
Plastic bags: dropped off at grocery stores and turned into park benches (I don't accumulate plastic grocery bags, but some things are wrapped in plastic plastic)
Batteries: collecting to drop off at a neighbor's house because his office recycles them

What creative places do you have to get ride of extra items?

When all else fails there is the annual church rummage sale (held in March) or the Veterans or other groups. My town has a Facebook group for sales I might try posting some items to next year.

This year our township started a composting program. In the first six months participants have "recycled" 57.66 TONS of organic waste. Last I heard there are less than 300 families participating in this program. Just think if everyone of the 30,000 residents (yes I know my numbers are not apples to apples, but they are the ones I have) participated in the program just how much we could keep out of the landfill and into a giant compost pile. Into the pile goes twigs, food scraps, yard waste, paper towels (a roll lasts about a month, but I have not given it up yet) -- basically anything that was once alive (we did debate about road kill, and decided to put that in trash instead).

Sometimes, though, we do throw things out. Things like those unnecessary stickers on fruit, plastic receipts, or the inevitable packaging waste that comes into our home. Now that we are composting our regular trash goes out about once a month now with composting -- a far cry from twice a week when we moved here nearly 16 years ago. has even more ideas of good places to get rid of things.

God Tells Us Exactly What We Need to Do

The other day a friend from our homeschooling days posted Genesis 6:14-16 where God tells Noah EXACTLY what he needs in order to build an ark -- what materials, how much, 

The passage is short so I'll copy it here:

14 So make yourself an ark of cypress[a] wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.[b] 16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit[c] high all around.[d] Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.

Her version of the bible said gopher wood, but same idea. To her this passage is proof that God is not a distant God, or unconcerned about the details of our lives, instead the opposite is true.

To me I wonder what it would look like if God were to send me a message telling me exactly what to do with my life. Has He left me detailed instructions I have ignored not realizing they have come from Him? Where does He want me to shine my light? 

Or even smaller questions: where should I do for a living? How can I declutter the house? What foods are the right ones for me to eat?

As Ashley graduates from a Catholic K-8 school the next challenge on the horizon as a family is where will she go to high school. For years we have been saying either the local public school or the local Catholic school. As we get closer though, the decision becomes more confusing. As we ask people who both know Ashley well and know the local schools well a third school continually pops up. A very expensive, highly endowed one. We've taken it as a sign from God saying that is where she should apply. I trust if this is where God wants her to go, He will make it happen.

Okay for Ashley, but where is the green arrow in my life? What does God want me to do? How does He want me to shine my light? What is my light? These are questions I have struggled with in 2015. I hope and pray I find some answers in 2016 and then act on those answers. Pray for me as I seek to shine my light in the directions led by God, and not led by me.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hope and Fear

During Sunday's worship service we were asked to think about how Mary felt when she was carrying Jesus. Was she afraid? Scripture tells us she was filled with joy. Luke 46-55, otherwise known as the Magnificat or Mary's Song:

46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

Pastor Matt asked us to think about what fills us with both hope and fear. For me that is change. For the past couple of years I have felt there is about to be a big change in my life, but I don't know what that change is. I am filled with hope that it will be a good change, but also filled with fear because change is hard.

In 2016 I anticipate Ashley will change schools -- really a no brainer since she is graduating from a K-8 school and will go to a high school. Which high school? Who will her new friends be? What new activities will enter our lives? How will she grow?

In 2016 Don would love a new job. Comcast has not been as fulfilling as he thought it would be when he started as a consultant nearly seven years ago.

But those are changes for those I love, and not a change for me. What is my big change? In 2015 I traveled without my family to a foreign country (Cuba). I'd love to do more traveling in 2016. We've talked about moving closer to Ashley's high school, but we still need to figure out what that is. I have wanted to start a memoir business, but get hung up on the logistics of starting a small business.

As Ashley grows and needs me less (yet on some days needs me more), I am hopeful for a change that will help me grow, yet also filled with fear. Pray for me to accept the changes God wants me to make to help shine his light in the world.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Workers without Offices

Last week after reading about friends' office parties, I decided with more than a passing jealousy I wanted one, too. The fact that I don't have an office, or a steady employer was not going to stand in the way of my fun.

Instead, I posted an open invitation to Facebook friends, tagging a few local ones, inviting all who are unemployed, underemployed, or self-employed to join me at Fedora's for an a holiday party.

It worked. Five of us gathered for lunch, and others asked to be included next time. Each person had something in common with the others (besides knowing me), which led to lively discussions and merriment in the midst of the hectic holiday season.

It also led to a plan to try to gather on a more regular basis -- choose a date and time and see who shows up. We are now calling it "Workers without Offices" because we all work, be it freelance, volunteer, or other.

Let me know if you want to be invited to a future lunch date.

Annual Christmas NYC Trip

It seems every year we go into NYC because I want to see the windows and The Tree (capital Ts, you know), and every year we come home and say "never again." It is just too crowded and too insane.

I'm pleased to report this year was different. We left thinking "we need to make notes on how we did this because this was easy."

Here are some notes. We went in on a windy Saturday afternoon with the main mission of seeing a show at the New Victory called Cirque Mechanics Pedal Punk -- sort of steam punk meets bicycles meets the circus. A high-energy show with something that appeals to everyone. It was a 7 PM show with a post-show talk back. The questions, mostly from children, were amazingly spot on. The first question was basically "Do you have a death wish?" The others were how long did you train, how much of the act did you already have worked out before getting together, do you ever want to throw up during an act, etc. The theater is small (about 200 seats) and very conveniently located.

We went in with Ashley's BFF, Maia, and her mom, Heidi. They are members at the New Vic, which meant really awesome discounted seats. Honestly, though, the seats were not expensive and there are no bad seats in the house. 

We did not hit the feared Lincoln Tunnel traffic (though it was slow going inside the Tunnel itself) and easily parked at Port Authority. We walked down to 34th Street to see the windows at Macy's. This year's was in honor of the 50th anniversary of Peanuts.

We had dinner at The Counter, which has become our default place to go in NYC as the food is filling, reasonably priced, not a regular chain (though I did see one in the Miami airport), and has something that appeals to everyone.

While in the area we saw the windows at Lord and Taylor's. Theirs are always so classic, but this year I preferred Macy's windows. I loved their archway of lights. It gave it a magical feel.

We poked through Bryant Park on the way to the show. Even that did not feel as crowded as it has felt in other years. I think it helped us that the weekend before was absolutely spring-like and probably attracted a number of the once a year visitors.

After the show we decided to be brave and walk down to The Tree. At this point it was about 9 PM. Bruce Springsteen was performing at Saturday Night Live that night (people waited outside 71 HOURS to snag tickets for that show), but the wind had died down and it was actually pleasant out (a nice change from the race I did that morning).

The grand finale ... The Tree.

We did pause at Saks 5th Avenue, but it wasn't even long enough to take a picture. They did not look special to me. Our tired feet did not want to journey to Bloomingdales. If I really want to see those I can look them up online.

Merry Christmas. May you be enjoying all of your favorite holiday traditions as well as creating new ones.

Good-bye old friend

Back when Don was a teenager his parents bought a 1976 Vega as their family car. Don fell in love with that car. When it was time for him to become a driver and to own his first car, that is the car he wanted.

LC (Little Car) as the car was affectionately known served him well through high school and college. There came a time, though, when he decided to buy a "grown-up" car, one that would be able to make the drive from Ewing, NJ to Dallas, TX for training when he worked for EDS. That's when he bought the Honda Prelude with the sunroof. LC was put to pasture in his parents' garage. In 2000 when we bought this house, LC moved into our garage. I sat in her for the first time when Don pushed her out of the garage onto the driveway to try sell.

After a number of months on the driveway, and making a bunch of phone calls, Don was led to a Facebook group for Vega lovers. He posted LC and within an hour someone from across the river offered to buy her.

With some sadness we say good-bye to LC. The man who bought her plans on fixing her engine and racing her. It would be great to see her get a second life after sitting around for nearly 30 years. In the end, she went surprisingly quickly as the new owner pulled up with a tow truck and was gone about 10 minutes later.

Here are some LC pictures:

Can't Fix What is not Broken

For too many years now I have been disappointed with how some relationships have turned out. Whether they are acquaintances I would have like to have blossomed into friendships, or family members I wanted to get to know better, I have been left wondering what I could do to "fix" the relationship.

The conclusion I came to today while trying to meditate during my walk was you can't fix what is not broken. There are certain relationships in my life that while I deem them to be relationships just are not and I have to accept that. 

This is not coming out nearly as eloquently as I had it figured out on my walk. As I am mostly writing for myself, that is okay. I won't name names in case others do stumble upon this post some day.

These are not "relationships" in the sense that both parties enjoy spending time with each other and truly care about each other and all that surrounds them. They are one-sided -- my side. 

I can't keep beating myself up because they won't accept me. I need to give myself permission (over and over again it seems) to move away from these types of relationships and to openly embrace the kind that are two-way streets.

May that be my first resolution for 2016.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ryan's Reindeer Race

I broke yet another resolution last weekend when I ran Ryan's Reindeer Race, a 5K. My running goal for the year had been to only run between 5 and 10 mile races, a goal I broke by doing the Princeton Half Marathon, too.

On December 4, 2015, at the far too young age of 3 years and 11 months, Sweet Ryan lost his battle with neuroblastoma. (from the race website:
I don't know Ryan, but my neighbor, Lisa, is friends with his aunt, who lives in Lawrenceville, too. Back in November (as best as I can tell), friends planned a 5K race and 1K fun run for December 19 in order to raise money for the family and to find a cure. Sadly Ryan did not live long enough to see the love and support, but his family was there on December 19.

Ryan's Reindeer Race was held in Lakewood at the Blue Claws Stadium. We ran through the deserted parking lots of the stadium and ended at home plate.

For a first time race, it was fairly well organized. A week before the race they had fifty people sign up for it. We, along with about 70 other people, signed up on the day of the race. As the race organizer/announcer said "people in New Jersey sign up last minute" for events like this. They had bibs on hand for the first 100 registrants. As numbers 121 and 122, Lisa and I got handwritten bibs. You can kind of see it in the picture of us with Santa.

Don't let that pretty blue sky fool you -- it was cold! At the end of the race (when we dared to look) it was 37 degrees, but felt like 29. The wind was 15 PM, but had gusts up to 26 MPH. BRR!!! We were in the middle of the 60+ degree weather a few days earlier and the anticipated 70 degree weather on Christmas Eve.

 Prior to the race he played "You're a Grand Old Flag" on the bagpipes. That's a new one for me. For once the bagpipe tune did not sound like all the other bagpipe tunes.
Those of us running had troubles finding the start line. Yes, this was a pretty bare bones race. With the handwritten bibs, it was also a chip-free race. They did have a clock at the finish line.

The big downside for me is they started 12 minutes late. We were set to start on time, but first they wanted to talk about why we were there (which I do get), and to sing the National Anthem (which I do get), and to have a moment of silence for Ryan and someone else who died the day before from the disease (which I do get), but we should have been rounded up sooner so they could start at 9. It was too cold to be standing outside! Or wait until the post-race indoor reception. It seemed most people were hanging out because they either knew Ryan or knew the organizers in some way.

There were a handful of enthusiastic cheerers and volunteers along the race. They even had a hidden water station around the halfway point. What was lacking were mile markers and someone to tell us how to get into the stadium for the grand finish.  I'm so slow I did not see the person in front of us turn into the stadium. Lisa told me "I'm so slow, I'm only running about 10 minutes a mile." I thought I would die at her speedy pace since I'm happy with a sub-11 minute mile these days.

There is Lisa excited because she made it to the finish! All she had to do was run around the warning track to the finish line. The finish reminded me of the Trenton Half Marathon, as did the delayed start. 

I had my best 5K time by far (31:39-ish) but mostly because my GPS watched showed I went 2.89 miles instead of 3.1, probably because I cut some distance off trying to find the correct entrance to the stadium.

With all of my complaining about what went wrong, you are probably wondering why I think it went well at all. 

There was some crowd support on the cold day. Parking was easy! Registration was a breeze. The organizers took the problems (such as running out of bibs) and figured out solutions on the spot. There was food before and after the race -- INSIDE the clubhouse where we could keep warm. Santa was there. People wore costumes (I saw two "snowmen" -- white sweatshirts with black pompoms on them, plus a white tutu and black leggings). You could tell their hearts were in the right place.

May they plan for even more runners next year, and may the weather be a little bit warmer, or at least less windy.

Carolers in Lawrenceville

About a week ago I heard what sounded like trick or treaters outside. An odd sound on a December evening. There it was small voices giggling and sounding as if they were coming up to the front door.

Then I heard the door bell. There were trick or treaters visiting. 

No, wait, just because we have been blessed with 60 degree days in New Jersey this December, it does not mean trick or treaters. Or does it?

I answered the door and was greeted by 8 grade school and middle school aged girls. None of whom I recognized. At least one was wearing a uniform from a local school (not Ashley's school). They said they were from the neighborhood and pointed to the other side of Bergen -- where I run and walk many days, but only know a couple of families. I could see their moms by the curb.

The kids sang "Jingle Bells." This caught Ashley's attention and she came downstairs to see what was happening. Unfortunately Don was not home.

They handed us each a candy cane for listening. I was stunned into a proper response (which I was later told would be to give them some "figgy pudding") but did ask if they had any requests for the Little Free Library on the corner. One girl asked for more Kit books -- not just American Girl books, but Kit books. Love her!

For once rather than taking pictures, I enjoyed the experience. As I write, I wish I had a picture to post.

This weekend I had the opportunity to go caroling at Heidi's annual caroling party, but as we got there late, I opted for hanging inside and letting my girl hang with her girl and her friends.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Why am I running faster?

Why am I running faster?

In the past year I have consistently knocked off between 30 and 60 seconds a mile off of my pace. I am slowly turning into a middle of the pack runner, and loving it. Recently I ran a training 5K at 33 minutes. Okay, for many of my running friends that is still a back of the packer. For me I was happy a year ago when I broke 35 minutes

I could just take the faster pace and be happy, or try to analyze it.

Reason 1: I changed my diet following a diagnosis.
Reason 2: I lost about 10 pounds this year because of that change in diet.
Reason 3: I changed my running/walking intervals from 2 minutes:1 minute to 1 minute:30 seconds (Jeff Galloway recommends walking intervals to be no more than 30 seconds)
Reason 4: I took up yoga
Reason 5: I started biking (cross training?)
Reason 6: I stopped trying so hard and just went out and enjoyed my runs
Reason 7: Awesome weather
Reason 8: New sneakers
Reason 9: I stopped running as often (1-2 times a week instead of 3-4 times a week).
Reason 10: A cosmic alignment of the stars and planets

Whatever the reason, or combination of reasons, I am enjoying running a consistent sub-11:00 minute mile and after 5 years start to understand why others actually enjoy running and look forward to it.

Happy running!

I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart

I hope to space these spiritual journey posts out and not binge post. I find when I write I feel a freeing sensation, which allows more thoughts to enter and not become bottled up inside of me. Only about 20 people ever read each post, and that is when I put it out on Facebook as a reminder "hey, look at me!" By not doing that, even less of you will find my posts. It is my hope and prayer that those who do will be the ones who need to hear these messages, and not those who will criticize me.

I've been searching for a change in my life lately. I tried yoga as a means towards regular meditation, but that failed. I wanted to love the studio that is walking distance to my house so I could use the walk as an extension of my meditation, but rather than finding yogis interested in helping me on my spiritual journey, I found ones wanting to improve my poses. I left many sessions frustrated, though my running times improved, which made me enjoy running more, so maybe there was something to that approach?

Through yoga I started finding a mantra to focus on. In my case I chose the word "peace." What could be better than peace? With the world in turmoil (as it has been for centuries, but seems even worse lately) peace is a great wish for the world.

My new word to ruminate came to me during yesterday's Upper Room Daily Devotional: JOY. This hearkens back to some thoughts I have had lately. God loves us enough to put our picture on his refrigerator (thanks, Pastor Dan from FPC Honolulu for preaching a message that has stuck with me for 15 years and counting). God loves us when we are a petulant teenager (my own thought). God wants us to be happy. Not in the sense that we take away the ability for others to be happy, but in the same way we want our children to thrive and find their paths in life and bring joy to others.

God sent us a baby to save the world. A baby! It is hard not to smile when you are around a baby. Yes, they do cry, and poop, and do other gross stuff, but they also smile, laugh, and openly express all emotions without reason or plotting or conditions (yes, back to I have a thought and I can't find the exact right word, so I am putting it out there before it is perfect). It is like kittens -- when you see a picture of a baby or a kitten on Facebook, you just smile. It is instinct. Even if that baby is putting up the biggest fuss in that photograph, you smile. Admit it. There is great joy in babies.

Until I latch onto a new mantra, I will be praying and thinking about JOY and looking for ways to add more of it to the world. I'm starting by having a non-office office holiday party at Fedoras for friends and family who are underemployed, unemployed, etc. who do not have their own holiday party. It is my hope we can extend this to non-office office luncheons on a more regular basis. We'll see.

Meanwhile I'll keep humming the familiar spiritual "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart" as I go about my day. Hopefully that joy will percolate out of my heart and into the world. After all, God also prompts us in Matthew 5:14 "you are the light of the world." If we all shined our light instead of hiding it, the world would be a better place.

God loves me, even when I act like a teenager

As I was sitting in Miller Chapel at Princeton Theological Seminary's "Carol of Many Nations" service (my favorite service of the year), I had an epiphany: God loves me at least as much as I love my teenage daughter.

Hopefully my girl will not read those words until she is old enough and mature enough to appreciate them. The mothers of teenagers reading this will get it immediately. Those past that stage as parents, will smirk a bit. Those not there yet are thinking to themselves (as I did) "oh, our daughter will never be like that." 

Um, yes, just like we were (even if we have blocked out the memories) so will she be.

This is not a post complaining about my daughter, which is again why I hope she doesn't see this until she can understand that. This is a post reminding me to stop acting like a petulant teenager where God is concerned. He loves me (and you) unconditionally and deserves that kind of love right back. Maybe "deserves" is not the right word. Writers (perhaps especially writers) struggle with just the right word. In this case, I'm putting my feelings out there. The God I know wants to have a relationship with each of us and to treat each other with kindness.

There are plenty of times I ignore God. I don't want to hear what He wants from me. Change can be scary. Very scary. What if God wants me to go someplace scary like being around strangers? Much easier to stick my fingers in my ears and say "la la la la la la la." Right?

I do not profess to have the answers. I only profess to being open to hearing them from God. Pray for me on this journey.

In all things give thanks

As part of my spiritual journey I have been doing a lot of thinking. 1 Thessalonianas 5:18 has been bouncing around inside of me for a while. It state "in all things give thanks."

Wow. That is one of those scriptures that on the surface is so simple, and yet when you really, really think about it, it is so hard. It falls right up there with Mark 12:30-3130 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.” 

Let me preface this post (and perhaps future spiritually driven posts) with I may know some scriptures, but I stink at remembering where they are located within the bible. If it were not for websites such as Bible Gateway, it would take a lot of divine intervention to find them in the bible (yes, pun intended). 

I often think of Pastor Ray's sermon at his son David's funeral when I think of 1 Thessalonians. I don't know how many others in that packed sanctuary remember what he said that day, but I do. Staff Sgt. David was killed by an IED five years ago while serving our country. Rather than focusing on the unfairness of life, Pastor Ray focused on the lessons he learned from his son. Rarely has a sermon stayed with me five minutes later, let alone five years later. Another past sermon that sticks with me is one I heard at the First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu on Christmas Eve 1999. Pastor Dan said to remember God loves us so much he has our picture on his refrigerator door. How awesome is it to think of God loving us on THAT personal of a level.

But I digress. Give thanks for everything? I was contemplating this line of scripture while raking leaves for the umpteenth time. Rather than feeling joy like Ashley did at age 7, I tire of raking leaves. It is a necessary chore in order to help the grass survive until next year. While we do mulch some of them with the lawn, many more are raked by myself. 

How can I give thanks for raking leaves when I would much rather be reading a book or (perhaps) blogging?

I thought back to a year earlier. Last fall I was diagnosed with a frozen shoulder. Raking leaves was hard in the fall of 2014, but I did it. I am thankful that this year the only part of me that hurt was when the blister on my thumb popped (yes, I should have worn gloves).

I was also thankful for the beautiful fall weather. Raking gave me an excuse to spend part of it outside without feeling guilty about the indoor chores not happening.

I was also thankful for it gave me the opportunity to chat with neighbors. We all become so insular, often only talking to our neighbors during leaf raking and shoveling. I was grateful I was raking leaves and not shoveling snow on that December day.

I was thankful we have a home with a yard. I try to remind myself of this when the neighbor's truck roars to life early in the morning and when his dog barks because "well, he is a barker." 

If a father can give thanks for his son at his funeral, I can look for the good and (hopefully) give thanks for the annoyances in life, though that is not always easy. 

I continue to search for the reason to be thankful for a diabetes diagnosis. It could be because it forced me to change my diet, which has helped me to lose 10 pounds, run faster, and be healthier overall. It could be so I would be grateful when my endo declared me diabetes free (though I still don't trust her, nor do I live me life as if she was speaking the truth).

I will continue to try to give thanks, perhaps through that practice I will see God's work in my life.