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

Gratitude Celebration 5: $50,000 Roller Skates

This is my fifth day of 60 days of gratitude for people in my life. For 60 days I’m writing a post to celebrate my 60th birthday. Enjoy this essay about my Uncle Walt and Aunt Aileen!

“So I took the fifty thousand dollars and I bought a pair of roller skates!” That’s what my Uncle Walt said once and it became the line that everyone used to characterize him! I never understood the story, but those words somehow encapsulate his lighthearted view of life.

Uncle Walt was my Dad’s oldest brother by fifteen years. He was an attorney in the small town of Celina, OH, not far from the even smaller town of Coldwater where the Bernard family grew up.  Aileen Courtney, his wife, was my Grandma’s younger sister, making Aileen my aunt AND my great aunt! read more

Gratitude Celebration 4: Grandma Graciousness

I’m celebrating my 60th birthday with 60 posts of gratitude for people in my life. Today, I’m remembering my Grandma, Mary Zugger.

I liked my grandma. She was the only grandma I knew, my Dad’s mom having passed away when he was only 16. Grandma would come from Buffalo, NY on the train. My grandpa had worked for the railroad for his career and earned her free rides on the train. My memory snapshot is of her sitting at our kitchen table with beer in a glass and a cigarette in her hand. She would send me to the neighborhood grocery store with a note giving the store manager permission to pick up her Lark cigarettes, a whole carton of them. read more

Gratitude Celebration 3: Karen: Perfection Emulated

I’m celebrating my 60th birthday with 60 days of gratitude to people in my life! Today is the third day. I honor my older sister, Karen.

I had this view of my life that I would follow in my sister, Karen’s footsteps. She’s three years older than I, and did everything perfectly (well, except play that Chopin piece with so many repeated notes I wanted to scream down the stairs from my bed, “Just play the thing through! Stop repeating. Stop repeating!”). She was smart. And popular, but not in the boy-attracting way my older sister, Claudia was. Karen dazzled me with her ability to gather groups of friends into marvelous events that I always wanted to be part of. Her friends were so interesting, and talked about important things like social activism and personal growth and things like that. She was such a nice big sister that she did invite me a few times! I was invited to her friend’s party on the night of the first Moon Walk. I was in Karen’s glorious circle of friends with eyes glued to the full moon on July 20, 1969, sure that I could tell that the moon had been breached. read more

Gratitude Celebration Day Two: Claudia

Today is my second day of SIXTY DAYS OF GRATITUDE to celebrate my sixtieth birthday!

Today, I’m giving thanks for my oldest sister, Claudia.

Claudia, my oldest sister

She is five years older than me and I always admired that she was beautiful and popular! I was grateful for being able to borrow her clothes because she always had better ones! At least that’s what I thought when I was 15! Once, though, I had a vest and she had a skirt that went together well, so that time I felt equal!

The funny thing is that I still like to borrow her clothes and I still think she is beautiful and popular, but I also think that I am too! This Christmas season, when we were both staying at our mom’s house, we both got glitzed up for Christmas Eve in Claudia’s clothes. It worked out great because she could show off two glitzy tops and I could surprise everyone with wearing a glitzy top. read more