I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Gratitude Sunday

Empty picnic tables at Samish Overlook
I took this picture last Thursday when we started our usual hike at an unusual place (for us). Usually going up to Oyster Dome we begin from the much harder and longer road. This time, we drove most of the elevation gain and were able to make the hike longer or shorter, depending on the weather conditions. Fortunately for us, it was wet now and then but mostly just overcast and cool. We were all prepared with appropriate rain gear, so it ended up being more than seven miles, not too bad at all.

Today I could have a post filled with lamentations and upset, but I had a long conversation with myself last night once I went to bed and waited for sleep to come. A few weeks ago, I wrote about concentrating on things to be grateful for, rather than focusing on all that is wrong with the world. Especially my own little world. So that's what I'm going to do: I'll tell you about what's happening, but from a positive perspective. It's always possible to look on the bright side, and I sure do have plenty to be grateful for.

My eyes. Ever since I went to the eye doctor to get a new prescription to allow myself to see better out of my left eye and discovered that I am in need of cataract surgery, it's been on my mind. People don't just take it for granted when your eye is going to be cut into, but everything I've learned is that it's so commonplace that most people have no adverse effects and wish they had done it earlier. I suffer from AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and so they warned me that my vision would not be perfect after the surgery.

Then a month or so ago, I began to see little flashes of light, always in the same place, a short little burst of vibration that came and went so quickly I could ignore it. It's gotten worse in the last short while, so I called my retina specialist to see if I should come in before my checkup next month. The receptionist reassured me that it's a normal part of aging, but after doing some online research, I called them back again yesterday and left a voice mail to see if I can get in sooner. Although I wasn't looking forward to the cataract surgery, now I'm afraid that I might have to postpone it while other procedures are done on my eye. If you have symptoms like I do, you might want to read up about it here.

I am incredibly grateful to have a retina specialist that I've been seeing for a few years now, and he will be able to tell me what's going on. Being able to see is important to carry out all that I love to do. If I had been born a century ago, I would have simply gone blind and that would be that. I'll keep you apprised of the situation during what I'm beginning to think of as my "season of eyes."

Basic necessities. This is something I take for granted; it's been ages since I've been miserably cold and wet, unless it was on a hike and a situation I chose to be in. There are many people around the world, more all the time, who don't have basic necessities, like food to eat, clean water to drink, and a roof over their heads. Last night, while I listened to the rain fall outside in the dark, I nestled into my warm bed and allowed gratitude to wash over me for the gift of abundance. I truly wish it were possible for everyone everywhere to have what I take for granted. At the very least, I can allow myself gratitude for my good fortune.

Sound body and mind. Anyone who reads my blog knows how important exercise is to me. I am incredibly grateful for a healthy body that allows me to run and jump and play outdoors. Even though I am a septuagenarian and have slowed down considerably from earlier years, I am able to exult in my good health and use the muscles I've got to stride through my days, rather than shuffle carefully from place to place. For the past few years my yoga practice has helped me to stretch and strengthen in ways I thought were behind me. My knees are in better shape than they were a year ago. Right now, I have no pain when traveling up or down steep hills. I thought my future would be all declining health, but it seems I was mistaken.

I had such a good time on Vashon Island, and I learned that my ability to write down my thoughts is growing, rather than shrinking. I just finished Ann Lamott's book Bird by Bird, and I am enthusiastic about developing my own unique voice for the next season of writing. This blog also allows me to stretch myself into new pathways. This wonderful venue allows me to be grateful for a well functioning mind. To know that a new world of creative writing is available to me, well, how can I not be grateful for that?

Friendship. Now that is a big topic, but one that makes a huge difference in my life. As I sit here in the dark with my laptop casting a dim light around the room, my partner asleep next to me, it is such a comfort just to share my life with such a good person. The coffee shop that beckons me is filled with familiar people whom I care deeply about. It's so wonderful to walk into the Y and see familiar faces and be greeted with smiles as I chat with my fellow exercise junkies about their lives. Many are acquaintances who might develop into friends outside of the gym. That's how I met my friend Judy years ago: in an exercise class, and we went out for coffee afterwards. The beginning of a deep friendship. Today we'll meet at the local independent theater to watch a documentary together. I am thankful for the friendships I've developed since moving to the Pacific Northwest nine years ago.

Technology. Although technology allows me to be grateful for it all the time, it's become so pervasive that I must step back and take a look at how much it's changed the way we do things. This past week I spoke for a couple of hours with my sister on FaceTime, laughing and sharing with each other in ways that were impossible just a few decades ago. I carry my smartphone with me all the time, not only to count my steps, but also to help me to stay connected to the wider world. In my pocket, I have a device that contains the world's entire store of knowledge, a conduit to the latest news, a quick check of the weather conditions to come, a place to keep a grocery list at my fingertips, and much, much more. Wow! How can one not be grateful for all that? Of course, it's not without some drawbacks. I try not to become one of those people I see on the bus who don't look up from their phones for the entire journey. It's important to enjoy the present moment.

Well, that's five bits for my Gratitude Sunday. I could go on and on, but you get the gist. Every single one of those items would be enough for any one of us to expand upon in our own lives for many more paragraphs, but it's time for me to wrap this up for today. Hopefully there will be many more Gratitude Sundays in our lives for us to appreciate. I hope you will find your own gratitude with your loved ones, and I leave you with Mary Oliver, once again.
When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
Until next week, be well, my dear friends.


Marie Smith said...

I love that quote. I so agree with that philosophy.

A gratitude journal helped me through a difficult time in my life. I can usually see the positive in a situation, as my husband points out often.

My MIL has AMD and the cataract surgery helped her, Jan.

I hate it when reception in a Dr's office does triage. There is no privacy in that area and most do not have medical training. It is a pet peeve of mine.

Linda Reeder said...

My mother went legally blind. My friend is also functionally blind, both from macular degeneration. I fear it, but so far have no sign of it. You are wise to demand attention to any changes in your eyes.
I slept poorly last night, but I am making myself get up and get going so we can get in a walk this morning before we goe on with our day. We'll go in early for a 1:00 Sounders match, the last of the regular season. Afterwards, we'll meet up with Jill and the kids at the pumpkin patch and then take them out to dinner. The sun is peaking through already. It is the day after the gloom, with much to be grateful for.
Be well and happy.

Elephant's Child said...

I too love that quote.
I spend my days filled with awe and amazement - and it is not a bad place to be. At all.
I too am grateful for the abundance in which I live, and hope/try to share some of it.
Thank you for this post - and have a wonderful week.

Gigi said...

A beautiful post, DJan. And I, for one, am grateful to know you. Have a great week!

Marty said...

Thank you, DJan. I always leave your posts in a contemplative frame of mind - something that I wish happened more in my life!

Arkansas Patti said...

That quote is something we should all strive for. I am glad you are getting your cataracts taken care of and are diligent about your eyes. Our sight is not all but sure is important.
Yes, gratitude can get us through these difficult days. I have gone a bit ostrich like as I could feel the world gloom was affecting my health. The improvement has been amazing since I kicked up my exercise and now fast forwarded through the news and take time to count my blessings and give where I can.

The Furry Gnome said...

In spite of the world's problems, health issues, aging, and all the rest, we still have so much to be thankful for!

Red said...

You're right. You could sit and complain about these situations and drive yourself up a wall. You've chosen to look at things from a positive angle. Sometimes it's hard to bepositive but being positive works best.

Rita said...

I am grateful for you. :)

Anonymous said...

You seem to have a much better life than mine. I admire you for it. Good luck with the eye surgeries.

b+ (Retire In Style Blog) said...

I love that your reflection make your life amazing and interesting. Keep on going sweet lady.


Glenda Beall said...

What a nice way to think about your eye problems. Gratitude makes so much difference. I know you must be concerned and I send you positive energy for a great result for your eye surgery.
Your posts are always uplifting.
Thank you.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I so enjoyed the way you turned everything into a positive view. Very well done! I am so with you on the importance of your eyes. I truly wish you the best as you go through upcoming attention to eye issues. Have to second your comments on technology. Love it but constantly seem to be trying to keep from being overcome by it. I can't even imagine going through retirement without the internet and all that it brings to us such as blogging. That reminds me to mention Eye on the Edge and say thanks for writing and publishing one of my favorite blogs. I hope you have a great week and look forward to seeing you next Sunday!

Far Side of Fifty said...

yes you should see your specialist very soon. My eye guy told me if I see flashes of light I should call him immediately...I said "even at home?" he said "yes the number is in the book."
Without our sight our world becomes smaller and more difficult. I understand your worries.
I hope and pray that everything will be okay for you.
Take good care of you!

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

Yes life can get a bit heavy sometimes and in doing so we get tilted and become a bit off balance.

My mom had both her eyes done, she said it wasn`t so bad. I admire your healthy outlook. Everything will be alright. I will keep you in my prayers.

stay blessed......