Gratitude Celebration 15: Surrender to Spirit

Gratitude Celebration 15: Surrender to Spirit

My youngest brother, Paul, was so cute. He gave me the excitement of having a child without the responsibility. My mom was pregnant with her tenth child when I was a high school biology student. As my luck would have it, our unit of study was Human Reproduction.  “How fascinating!” I thought. “I can study my mom while she’s pregnant.”  When Paul was a toddler, my photographer friend thought Paul, with his angelic blond curly hair, a perfect subject for black-and-white photo practice. I often volunteered to babysit my little brother so my friends and I could play with him! read more

Gratitude Celebration 14: Rescue Me!


Betsy brought us to the trailhead of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail

My sister Betsy rescued me several times in my life! The last time was as recent as 6 months ago! I’m celebrating my 60th birthday with 60 days of gratitude for people in my life, and today I’m celebrating Betsy’s “life”-saving deeds.

“I’ll be there in an hour.” Betsy said without hesitation, when I called her from the lodge at Seven Springs Ski Resort. My hiking partner, John, and I had been stumped, faced with an obstacle we were resigned to ending our week-long hike. On our fifth day of winter hiking in Pennsylvania, we stopped dead in our tracks when the trail opened up onto a ski slope teeming with skiers. It was the first snowy Sunday of 2013 and thousands of people had hit the slopes! We were not aware until that moment that the trail literally followed the ski slope for half a mile to the top of the mountain. It was early afternoon and we still had nine miles to go after surmounting the ski slope to reach our required destination. I was not willing to walk up the ski slope and there was not enough time in the day to arrange a ride up the lift to the top of the mountain. We had chosen to call it quits on the trip and see if Betsy would pick us up and shuttle us to our car, thirty miles down the trail. read more

Gratitude Celebration 13: Humor and Boundaries

Boundaries give us the space to take our time. Today, in my thirteenth post in my 60 days of gratitude for people in my life, I celebrate my brother, Jim.

Jim is my brother who is eight years younger than I.  Jim played a big role in a pivotal time in my walk of the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. He lives within a few hours of the spot where I needed to get off the trail to take a week off for completing my training as a Radical Forgiveness Coach. He and his wife, Katherine took a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, picked me up, and took me to the Richmond, VA airport. A week later, they brought me back, along with my husband, who was planning to hike with me for three weeks. read more

Gratitude Celebration 12: Generosity and Persistence

Generosity and persistence are my brother, Tom’s, virtues for which I am thankful. I’m celebrating my 60th birthday with 60 days of gratitude for people in my life. Enjoy! Please comment with your own stories, and feel free to read previous and subsequent essays.

Today’s gratitude goes to my brother Tom for his generosity and persistence. What I’ve noticed about Tom is that he insists on making sure that people have what they need. He goes out of his way to help people. He did that for me when I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. My trip started close to San Diego where he lives. Tom, and his wife, Mary, invited me and my hiking partner to stay at their house for our last few days of preparation. Tom opened his workshop to create a special mailing tube to send our food canister when we needed it. read more

Gratitude Celebration 11: Seeds of Self-Forgiveness

Today’s gratitude is for Seeds of transformation planted by my sister, Mary Rose.  I’m celebrating my 60th birthday with 60 days of gratitude for people in my life.

My gratitude today must begin with an apology.  I’m sorry that I wasn’t a better big sister, a kind and caretaking big sister to my little sister, Mary.  I was mean to her by kicking on her mattress on the bunk bed above mine, trying to get her to stop rocking herself to sleep. It didn’t occur to me to hold her or sing to her or tell her a story. read more

Gratitude Celebration 10: Noble Heart

“Noble” is how I describe my brother, Mike, who I celebrate today in my Gratitude Celebration series. I’m celebrating my 60th birthday with 60 days of gratitude for people in my life. Enjoy! And please add your comments!

Today, I want to thank my brother, Mike. He’s three years younger than I am, but I look up to him for his courage out in the wide world.  Mike’s world is completely foreign to me! He had a career as a naval officer, living on those floating cities of aircraft carriers. I have only laid eyes on one, and that was when my brother Tom took me to the naval yard near San Diego right before my hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. The size of the ship astonished me, as I struggled to imagine a seaman’s lifestyle. I’m pretty content walking on the firm earth of hiking trails. And that’s as close as I’ve come to understanding Mike’s way of life. But, I’m still fascinated by it! read more

Gratitude Celebration 9: Home and High Notes

I’m celebrating my 60th birthday with 60 days of gratitude for people in my life. Today, I bring to mind my older brother, Dan who keeps high notes coming and the home fires burning.

I have a few clear memories of childhood play with my brother, Dan, who is just 16 months older than I. As toddlers, we created our world in the dining room with stools, chairs, and blankets. Our playhouse included an upstairs formed by the wooden window seat. That 5’x8’ space between the dining room table and the window was our preschool playspace for doing the important work of three and four year olds. read more

Gratitude Celebration 8: Graciousness and Interest

I’m celebrating my 60th birthday by expressing gratitude to people in my life for 60 days. Today, my nod goes to my Aunt Priscilla and Uncle John.

I want to honor my Aunt Priscilla for following her heart and leaving the convent when she wanted to get married instead. My memories are those of a teenager as I witnessed her making that transition. Of course, at the time, I only watched. But now, I have a little more understanding of what a significant choice that would have had to be, and I honor her for it! The family she and Uncle John raised are all truly wonderful people! read more

Gratitude Celebration 7: My Steadfast Connection with God

I’m celebrating my  60th birthday with 60 days of gratitude to people in my life. Today’s gratitude goes to my cousin, Susan.

Today, I want to express my gratitude to the one person in my life who always reminds me of God, in particularly, how I am staying – or not staying – mindful of a reverent path.  I haven’t spent much time with her. We have only shared a few conversations in the midst of large family gatherings, and those just within the past 7 years. I have never visited her where she lived, never saw where she worked, never gone on an outing with just the two of us. She has not seen any of my homes or walked with me on a trail. If we have shared any of these moments, I don’t remember them! read more

Gratitude Celebration 6: Music, Ingenuity, and Humor

I’m celebrating my 60th birthday with 60 posts of gratitude for significant people in my life. Today’s gratitude goes out to my Uncle Paul. Enjoy the story! Then, share one of yours!

Tears welled up in my eyes and I pulled my shoulders in and tucked my chin so I could be invisible. The thought forming in my mind at that moment was, “I don’t matter, even when I have served generously.”

It only took a few seconds for my Uncle Paul to notice me, but for me it was an eternity as I burned a limiting belief that would grow into my way of life into my heart’s hard drive. It was one of those moments of childhood that I can replay at any time to illustrate either a victim story or a story of transformation. At the time, it was a Victim Story. Now, it’s a transformative one.  And I have my mom’s youngest brother, Paul, to thank for it. read more