Breathe + Smile: Mindfulness and Gratitude

Breathe: Words for a Mindful Moment with the Breath

I’ve been thinking a lot about place lately ~ the places I inhabit, how they sustain and nourish me, and seeing the beauty, literally, in my own backyard.

altar in world

My Buddha in my backyard

Smile: Gratitude

We have lived in our current home for just over a year now. Last summer was filled with yard projects, painting, and organizing our new place. This summer I have been enjoying the beauty of my backyard. My husband loves to garden, and I am grateful for the work he does to create a beautiful retreat, a calming space. This was my view yesterday as I read An Altar in the World {quoted above} by Barbara Brown Taylor:

flowersTurning around, I could gaze at our garden, with handprint stones the kids made several summers ago, in our old house:

photo-36Or I can admire these beautiful hydrangeas that we didn’t think would bloom this year, and now are gorgeous:

photo-26

I am thankful I don’t have to travel far to find a peaceful garden, an altar in the world.

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My daughter seems to also have a sense of gratitude for place. This is from her summer binder, reflecting on what she is grateful for:

photo-33

You can’t argue with that.

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Place is also about our new city, new people, and new connections. We have moved to the district in which I teach. Years ago I would have found it confining, but I love that I am already deeply connected to my new place.

Friday night I went to a local bookstore for a reading by Chris Bohjalian, author of The Light in the Ruins. I discovered that the bookstore, the oldest in the Twin Cities, is owned by a former colleague of mine. One of my former students is now the events manager for the store. They introduced me to Bohjalian, and we chatted about his latest book, set in Florence, and how much we love to travel in Italy. While waiting for the presentation to begin, I ran into another former colleague. Small world!

I loved listening to Bohjalian and his author friend Stephen Kiernan share their stories about writing ~ how the ideas developed, how they made their ideas come to life on the page.

And I even won a t-shirt in the raffle! And when my name was read, the woman next to me asked, “Are you a teacher?” Turns out I had taught her son years ago, and he had travelled to Europe with me on one of my student trips.

I left the event smiling and joyful ~  spending a night connecting with colleagues, students, and parents, and celebrating the written word was a delight.

I am so grateful for this place.

chris bohjalian

Hanging out with Chris Bohjalian!

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And finally, this last piece of gratitude has nothing to do with place, but it is absolutely worthy of mention. My husband and I took our children out to dinner on Saturday night, and it was the most pleasant public dining experience with our children to date. They are finally reaching an age where they stay at the table, we can play tic-tac-toe, and talk and laugh ~ it was an enjoyable evening that made me smile. So thankful.

out to dinner

Gelato!

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What are YOU thankful for today?

Monday sig

****Updated to add: It seems some Internet gremlins don’t want us to share our gratitude today, because none of the comments on my blog are going through! I am working on fixing this ~ in the meantime, if you’d like to comment or share, please visit the link to this post on my Facebook page and comment there. If you tried to comment earlier, I know comments were submitted, but I have been unable to read them. I’m not ignoring you, dear readers!

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Sarah Rudell Beach

Sarah is a writer, teacher, and mother. At Left Brain Buddha, she writes about her journey to live and parent mindfully, joyfully, and thought-fully in her left-brain analytical life. When not working, she enjoys dancing, reading, and hanging out with her little Buddhas.
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