Archive for September, 2010


Cold Rain

Cold Rain

Soon it will turn to snow.
It beckons the chill, not blossoms
A pattering drizzle that matches
The traveler’s grief.
Heard by all alike,
Rain dripping from the eaves,
But to him who sorrows a
Sound that breaks the heart.

– Ryusen Reisai (d. 1365)

This poem really spoke to me today. I don’t know if it will rain today, but it is cloudy and cool. A storm is moving up the east coast of the USA so perhaps we’ll get more rain, which we sorely need. We traveled home from my little sister’s memorial service in the rain…a traveler’s grief.


Gratitude Journal 20100929

I am thankful for or that

  1. A good nights sleep.
  2. Waking up this morning.
  3. Cool weather.
  4. Peet’s French Roast coffee.
  5. Our new, quiet washing machine!
  6. Clean fresh water.
  7. NPR’s Morning Edition.
  8. GAB coming home safely and on time last night.
  9. The ablity to work from home when I need to do so.
  10. WordPress.

I acknowledge myself for

  1. Picking up all the kids from school yesterday.
  2. Completing my assigned tasks from home.
  3. Doing laundry.
  4. Keeping this journal.
  5. Discussing chores rationally with LEB.
  6. Turning off the TV and going to sleep early.
  7. Getting up early.
  8. Taking a walking break.
  9. Thinking to ask GAB to get some laundry detergent while she was out.
  10. Getting in touch with Mom.

Gratitude Journal 20100922

I am thankful for or that

  1. The gift of life and breath this morning.
  2. Dental insurance via LEB’s job.
  3. The dental hygienist, J., who cleaned my teeth.
  4. Dr. S. the dentist.
  5. Gas to drive from place to place.
  6. A beautiful, autumn morning.
  7. Fresh, clean water to drink whenever I want.
  8. My Motorola Droid.
  9. My niece, SMT, checking in on me.
  10. My mother.

I acknowledge myself for

  1. Going to the dentist.
  2. Doing laundry.
  3. Making the bed.
  4. Making a deposit to my business account.
  5. Letting people know I’m not feeling so hot today.
  6. Walking the long way around from where I parked into the office.
  7. Keeping this journal.
  8. Responding to work requests in a timely manner.
  9. Continuing my Inbox Zero practice.
  10. Finishing reading The Checklist Manifesto.

Brewing Tea

Brewing Tea

Green clouds spiral and twine,
Are drawn into the wind in a long stream;
On my cup’s surface the faces of
White foam flowers are cool;
The mountain moon comes into my window;
Plum tree shadows move;
Pouring again and again into my unglazed cup
I sip the lingering fragrance.

– Betsugen Enshi (1295-1364)

I came across this poem at Daily Zen.

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Gratitude Journal 20100921

I am thankful for or that

  1. The people who contributed to the memorial American Heart/Stroke Association fund set up in my sister’s name.
  2. Waking up this morning.
  3. A beautiful, cool, fall morning.
  4. Excellent Peet’s french roast coffee.
  5. Cool breezes blowing through the streets of downtown Greenville.
  6. Gas to drive to work.
  7. The chores LEB did this morning.
  8. The Greenville Transit Authority.
  9. The medical personnel who removed CIB’s irregular mole yesterday.
  10. Time with the kids and LEB yesterday evening.

I acknowledge myself for

  1. Doing laundry.
  2. Running the dishwasher.
  3. Making sure our dog, Shadow, had fresh H2O to drink.
  4. Making the coffee.
  5. Walking the long way around to work again this morning.
  6. Feeling my emotions.
  7. Letting the anger surface, noticing it, and letting it go.
  8. Thanking LEB.
  9. Showering.
  10. Keeping this journal.

Elmyra Jemison 19 July 1980 – 12 September 2010 RIP

Elmyra (Myra) Jemison, 30, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly September 12, 2010 at Gwinnett Medical Center near Lawrenceville, GA following complications after a probable allergic reaction to a medication being used to treat her hypertension (high blood pressure). The daughter of Charlotte H. Baker, Myra grew up in Jackson and Yazoo City, MS and later moved to New York, NY. Those who knew Elmyra will recall her fondness for bright colors ( even color coordinating her iPod ear buds to match her outfit! ), her love of tasty cupcakes and brownies, and her devotion to caffeinated beverages. Myra was an intelligent, generous and loving person.  She lived her life to the fullest and tried to find the good in everyone and everything.

One of eight children, Myra valued family above all else. After earning a bachelor’s degree at Jackson State University, she earned two masters degrees (one at the University of Georgia, the other at Rutgers University-New Brunswick), focusing on urban issues such as city planning and public transportation. Football season was one of her favorite times of the year, especially when she could watch the Georgia Bulldogs (GO DAWGS!) or New Orleans Saints (WHO DAT!).

Her favorite days of the year were Christmas, because she always spent it at home with her family, and her birthday. She never stayed a stranger to anyone and was a great friend to many.  Myra often gave to the homeless (a dollar for a specific person was usually tucked in a pocket), victims of domestic violence, and rape crisis centers.  Elmyra also volunteered her time to help others through her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. and the Order of the Eastern Star. While traveling in New York, her music and novels always kept her company when family and friends could not. Forever smiling, Myra danced and laughed every day and truly could brighten up a room just by entering.

Myra was preceded in death by her grandparents, the late Dr. and Mrs. Robert W. Harrison of Yazoo City, MS and the late Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Jemison of Aliceville, AL. She is survived by her mother, Charlotte H. Baker, siblings Charles H. Baker, Dreck K. Baker, William Jemison, Steven Baker, Charlotte Baker, Nathan Jemison and Robert W. Baker; uncle Dr. Robert W. Harrison III, aunts Kathleen J. Harrison and Pamela A. Harrison; and many, many, many cousins. A memorial service will be held September 25, 2010 at Robert D. Mackel and Sons Funeral Home in Natchez, MS, followed by internment at the Natchez City Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you please donate to the American Stroke Association in Elmyra’s name. You may also contribute in Myra’s name with gifts of time, talent or treasure in your community to causes that were significant to her including homeless shelters, food pantries, rape crisis centers, and domestic abuse shelters.


Gratitude Journal 20100920

I am thankful for or that

  1. The gift of life today.
  2. The ability to walk.
  3. The ability to drive.
  4. That a careless driver didn’t run into me and pin me to my car today.
  5. Dinner leftovers for lunch.
  6. Fresh fruit for breakfast.
  7. LEB, my wife, running some errands for me.
  8. Money to pay my bills.
  9. A beautiful autumn day.
  10. My family and friends.

I acknowledge myself for

  1. Making the bed.
  2. Making the coffee.
  3. Washing, drying & folding 2 loads of laundry.
  4. Taking the trash and recyclables out.
  5. Walking the long way around, 10 minutes & 0.5 miles, to work.
  6. Keeping this journal.
  7. Paying bills.
  8. Eating fresh fruit for breakfast.
  9. Taking my medicines.
  10. Drinking water.

Gratitude and Abundance Journal 20100919

I am thankful for or that

  1. Waking up this morning.
  2. Air conditioning.
  3. A beautiful fall day.
  4. Our new washing machine.
  5. The Internet, including Facebook, Twitter, WordPress & all the Google apps I use daily.
  6. Music via
  7. MJB playing with his friend AN.
  8. Fresh, clean water to drink.
  9. My computer.
  10. My Motorola Droid.

I acknowledge myself for

  1. Taking out the recyclables.
  2. Changing a burnt out CFL ( Compact Fluorescent Light ) in the hallway.
  3. Doing laundry.
  4. Making a list of my 4 Big Rocks for the day.
  5. Keeping this journal.
  6. Sitting outside in my back yard and reading a big chunk of The Checklist Manifesto.
  7. Taking my medications.
  8. Drinking lots of water.
  9. Showering, shaving and brushing my teeth.
  10. Straightening up after myself in the living room.

Gratitude Journal 20100918

I am thankful for or that

  1. My brother-in-law, BST, allowed me to borrow his tree saw.
  2. My son, CIB, mowing the back yard.
  3. My son, MJB, sweeping acorns and grass up.
  4. The physical ability to cut branches out of oak tree.
  5. My son, MJB, stacking branches that I cut.
  6. My wife, LEB, making the coffee this morning.
  7. LEB taking our daughter, GAB, to work this morning and allowing me to sleep in.
  8. All of the technologies that enable me to work from home.
  9. GAB’s job.
  10. The program of Alcoholics Anonymous and all the wonderful, helpful and loving people that make it up.

I acknowledge myself for

  1. Making the bed.
  2. Doing several loads of laundry.
  3. Picking up GAB from work.
  4. Responding to my on-call duty by leaving the football game last night when paged.
  5. Working today to upload customer web content at the behest of our new outsourced web hosting provider for work.
  6. Going to an AA meeting.
  7. Keeping this journal.
  8. Taking a shower.
  9. Taking my medicines.
  10. Eating a large salad last night  and today.

What Special Someday Are We Saving For

What Special Someday Are We Saving For?

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package.

“This,” he said, “is not a slip. This is lingerie.”

He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite: silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached.

“Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least eight or nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.”

He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment. Then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me.

“Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.”

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister’s family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn’t seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.

I’m still thinking about his words, and they’ve changed my life. I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings.

Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.

I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event–such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom.

I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for a small bag of groceries without wincing.

I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends.

“Someday” and “one of these days” are fighting a losing battle to stay in my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.

I’m not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I’m guessing–I’ll never know.

It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with–someday. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write–one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them.

I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives.

And every morning when I open my eyes I tell myself that this is a special occasion.

Ann Wells

Ann Wells penned the column a couple of years after her sister unexpectedly died, and several years before she would lose her husband. Her work somehow made its way to the Internet, where it moves by email and chain letters, compliments of the forward button, and has been renamed “A Story to Live By.” Wells, a retired secretary and occasional freelancer, was stunned that the essay, first published in The Los Angeles Times in April 1985, has been zipping through cyberspace. She doesn’t even have email. “I’m as surprised as anyone,” Wells said.