Taken for Granted

Every morning long before I started this blog I have sat down in the spot pictured and checked the news, read emails, shopped, amused myself and done work.  It is where I have my first cup of coffee each morning and a place I stop by within an hour of bedtime most every day.  Computers and all that go with them has become such an ordinary device for most of us, we hardly think any more of how amazing they truly are. 

The first computer I ever had at home did not have a CD drive, did not have a sound card and compared to computers today it moved at a snails pace and did little of what modern day machines can do.  I remember how amazed I was in 1990 when my first home computer arrived and was setup and working (and that took a while!).  Now today I am able to do so much more but take it all for granted.  It occurred to me this morning I am grateful for having this ability in my home, not the least of which is to come here and write in my “gratitude blog diary” each day. 

In just a few short days I have discovered so clearly that the more I have acknowledged the blessings in my life, the more abundant are the reasons I find to be grateful.  From deeply emotional items to common every day things I have take for granted I am learning gratitude on a much deeper level than I have known previously.  How well I live compared to just 50 years ago.  Compared to a hundred or hundreds of years ago, I know I truly do live in an amazing future that could not have been comprehended even a hundred years ago. 

So today’s gratitude expression is not earth shattering or deeply emotional.  It is just acknowledging something I see and use every day:  my home computer.  It is appropriate that I should be thankful for the equipment with which I spend at least an hour or two each day.  It brings me so much.  Thank you Bill Gates, Steve Jobs,   Blaise Pascal, Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Haskell Brooks Curry, Alonzo Church, John von Neumann, Grace Hopper, Stephen Kleene, Alan Turing, Claude Shannon, Alan Perlis, John Backus, Seymour Cray, Marvin Minsky, John McCarthy, Edsger Dijkstra, Niklaus Wirth, Donald Knuth, Bob Kahn, Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson, Vinton Cerf, Jon Postel, Whitfield Diffie, Robert Tarjan, Bjarne Stroustrup, Steve Wozniak, Richard Stevens, Richard Stallman, Tim Berners-Lee, Linus Torvalds and the thousands of others whose work made it possible for me to write these words on this screen.

What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life. Oprah Winfrey

April 27, 2011 Alabama Tornados

Clay County, Alabama is in the most southern Appalachian Mountains and where I grew up.  The majority of my family still lives within 100 miles of there.  Earlier this week I had great concern due to the historical storms and tornados in North Central Alabama, especially for my brother who lives between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa (hardest hit by the storm).  My brother said they spent several hours in his basement and were genuinely concerned.   I am relieved and grateful today to know that all are OK.  When things scare me like that it brings feeling and emotion to the top and I wrote what follows in about 15 minutes to express my morning gratitude today.


My Little Brother


I remember well those childhood days,

In Shinebone Valley where we romped and played.

“Catch-ah-ma-doggie” Creek and Gray Hill,

Clear, vivid and strong in my memory still. 


Playing soldier and building forts in the July heat

Using haybales in the loft  to make ’em was quite a feat.

Catching little crawfish and darting minnows too,

And tying to a thread June bugs of green-blue.

Evening’s early summer lightning bugs blinking in a jar,

Steam rising after rain from the road’s black tar.


Riding our bikes on pulp wood roads

With Willis teaching us about the woods,

Catching snakes and sometimes toads,

And turtles and all the fish we could.


Stepping on rusty nails and telling no one,

Kick the can in the yard till the sun was done

That time with V. & C. and mud to our knees with them.

Sweet memories strong within of those childhood whims.


Then we did not see how the days just flew.

Through the all pain and difficulty we knew.

Coping with a self-absorbed and distant mother

In our lives no choice and no chance for another.

We know it’s true as a parent she was unfit,

And without each other we’d not have made it.


We have our scars, but we are alive and well,

And it’s only on the good of childhood days I dwell.

You’ve always made me proud like no other.

Always you will be my cherished little brother.

There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy.   Ralph H. Blum


First Cup of Coffee

This blog is already having a profoundly positive effect on me after just a couple of days.  When I now wake up in the morning one of my first thoughts is about what I am grateful for that I will write about today.  What occurred to me this morning  to express came as I was making the morning brew.  It is my gratitude for my coffee each morning and to those who make it possible.  That simple thought started a landslide of being grateful. 

I am grateful for:  the person who planted the coffee, the one who gathered it, the one who roasted it, the one who packed it, the crew of the ship the brought it to this country, those who unloaded it, those who put it in the can, the store that sold it to me, the trucker who got it to the store, the stocker that put it on the shelf for me to buy, the checkout clerk who I paid for it, even the shopping cart wrangler who was responsible for there being a cart by the store entrance for me grab as I entered the store.    

I am grateful for:  the coffee pot that made this morning’s coffee and all those involved in making it and getting it to me down to those involved in making the raw materials for available, for the people making the packaging down to the one show wrote the instructions.

I am grateful for my then grammar school son who gave me the cup for father’s day close to 20 years ago (and  for his mother who I am confident either bought it for him or paid for it after my son chose it – thank you B.).  I am thankful too for those who made the cup and the ones who brought it close by so it could be purchased for me.  Too, I am thankful for the work where the money was earned that made the purchase possible.

I am grateful for:  the spoon I stirred the coffee with and the many people involved in producing it and the sugar and milk I put into my coffee right down to the cow that made the milk.

I am grateful for:  my Iranian friend Cy who gave me the beautiful tile that I use as a “coffee pouring staton” which has sat by my coffee pot for many years now that.  Seeing it frequently brings him to mind when I am pouring a cup of coffee.

I am grateful for:  the many people who are responsible for me having electricity that made the coffee pot work and made the lights come on so I could see what I was doing (was still dark out when I made coffee).

I am very grateful………. 

This list could still go on and on as I think deeper about such a simple thing as a cup of coffee.  I am deeply touched this morning by the discovery that  increased gratitude unlocks even greater feelings of being grateful. 

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.  Seneca

Favorite Shower of a Lifetime


The photo doesn’t look much like a place a person would take a shower, but in September 2004 I showered with joy right there in the open where the photo shows.  At that time I was living on Grand Cayman and it was 10 days after Hurricane Ivan (a category 5 storm) that ripped the island up badly.  The apartments on the first floor where I lived were gutted by the sea surge that had the 1st floor completely underwater during the storm. 

I am grateful that our apartment was on the 2nd floor and got only a few inches of water on the floor and a broken window.  At least I had a place to call home.  Many on the island did not have a place to sleep and one who did not have a place to stay lived with me for over two months. 

It had been 10 days since the storm and water was very precious.  All we had was bottled water and filthy water left in the pool usedful only for pouring in and flushing the toilet.   There was no piped in water, no electricity and food/water was not easy to come by.  To set the stage you have to understand that I had not bathed in a week and a half since the storm and had only washed off with a rag here and there with the little water I could spare. 

On that 10th day it rained and I did two things:  1) caught as much rainwater as I had containers for to use for washing later and 2) with my swimsuit on and a bar of soap I took a shower under the downspout the arrow points to in the photo.  I have never been more happy or grateful for a shower or bath than I was that day.  NEVER!  I was joyous standing under the down spout, washing, singing and laughing like an uninhibited kid doing a happy dance.  That will always be the favorite and most memorable shower of my life.  To this day I feel the great gratitude deep within.

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.  Epictetus

My Left Hand

Hundreds of times each day I reach for something and my hand works to grasp it without a thought.  The motion and movement is automatic, but I have not taken that for granted for several years.

Around this time in April 2005 through no fault of mine the car I was driving was sandwiched between two other vehicles in an accident.   Occupants in the other vehicles left in ambulances, but I was able to be picked up by my then wife (thank you A.)  I made the obligatory visit to the emergency room within a couple of hours and was told I appeared to be fine.  There was a warning from the doc that I would be stiff and sore for a few days and was given a script for muscle relaxers just in case.  I was bummed about my car, a 1996 Volvo, I had babied since I had gotten it new almost 10 years before.  Yet, I was grateful to be ok.  The doctor was correct as I woke up the next working with an aching back and stiff from head to foot. 

The second morning I awoke and discovered quickly before I was even out of bed something was wrong.  I could barely move my left arm and hand and my hand was partially numb.  It all looked fine, but I only had the slightest ability to make any movements.  My arm just hung at my side.  I soon learned how challenging life is when you only have one working hand.   Drying off my hair off one-handed with a towel was a challenge.  Even when my arm was in a cast when I was in junior high I could still use my hand, but not in 2005!  Ever tried cutting your nails with one hand?  Even putting on underwear and clothing was tough (more than once I stumbled around trying to put pants on… funny now, but it was not humorous then).  I was scared.  In time the doctors found that in the accident I had damaged the Ulnar Nerve (the one often called the “funny bone”) and I had cracked an upper vertebra in my back.  The treatment?  Wait and see if the movement and feeling would come back.   If not back surgery would be the next step (yipes!).

Very little credit goes to traditional medicine for helping me recover.  Instead some weeks later the help I needed came from a skilled massage therapist who was well versed in eastern treatments such as acupuncture.  After the very first two session with her, I woke the next day with at least 30% use of my arm and hand.  In repeated visits over a few weeks, I improved more to where I ended up 75% use of my arm and hand and  some of the numbness in my hand went away.  That is about where I am now.

Today when I drop something because I don’t have full feeling in my left hand, I don’t get upset.  Those times when I can’t lift as much with my left arm as my right, I take in stride.  When I sit for too long in one position (airplanes, etc) and my left arm goes mostly numb, I don’t grumble.  Instead, I am grateful!  So very grateful!  I remember all too well the weeks when I had almost no use of my left hand and arm.  Words can not describe how elated I was when movement returned.  I am so thankful for “what is” that I rarely whine about abilities lost.  I will always be indebted to a talented therapistwho healed me with her caring and non-traditional methods.   Thank you Teresa.

There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed.  If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.  Robert Brault

Hello World!

Here it is… the first post to this new blog.  It is my intention to add something to this page first thing each morning (well at least the first couple of hours of each day).  Each morning I make note of at least one thing I am grateful for (I know there are many, but will pick one thing to share my thoughts about).  Today I am grateful for the rain that has been falling here since Friday.  We were in a drought here in North Eastern Oklahoma so there is much gratitude.  We have gotten so much rain there are flood warnings now.  Today I am grateful for the rain and showers I got to enjoy this weekend… sleeping, reading and just being aware of a simple pleasure like the rain.  Have a groovy day.

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.   Johannes A. Gaertner