I’ve been counting my blessings.

But first,

No need for cosmetic surgery here!

Have you lengthened your breathing time to 30 minutes? I heard from a scant few of you, but your responses were heartening. One of you said:

* It’s been a challenge to carve out 30 minutes before work for breathing, but the results have been quite fun. When I breathe for 30 minutes, I invariably hear comments like these at work: “I love your new dress.” (I bought this dress years ago, and I wear it all the time!) “Nice haircut. I like that style on you.” (My hairstyle is as old as my dress!) Don’t you love it?

Of course I notice the difference in myself, too. After 30 minutes of intentional breathing, I feel like I’m glowing. Apparently I look like it, too!

Speaking of glowing…

* I looked in the mirror after the first time I practiced breathing for 30 minutes, and my eyes were glowing! I almost didn’t recognize myself! I felt as good as I looked.

I am in North Dakota

I was describing the landscape here to a friend, using glowing terms, when she said “You find blessings no matter where you are!” It's true. That's one thing this lifestyle has taught me -- blessings are everywhere.

Fittingly, I’ve been re-reading Bill Holm’s The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere On Earth. He says many things that please me. Here are just two:

"If we're smart, we make our necessities into our joys." (In my phrasing, we change our perspective.)

And, “Eschew certainty, experiment fearlessly, expect little, be grateful for everything.”

So I’ve been counting my blessings. I’ve been looking back, looking at experiences that were troublesome, and finding the inherent blessings. And there always are some! So far, there is a blessing in every snafu, every conundrum, every challenge, even every sadness.

Sometimes I have to dig deep. Do you remember the 360 degrees of gratitude newsletter? It’s #11. In that, I related to you my own digging into my unfortunate childhood. I said,

…don’t get down on yourself for "choosing" your parents. They are simply part of the equation you came here to solve. An equation you solve by living it. For example, I came here to live an equation that brings me to know more about love. To that end, I was born into a family that had no practice of love and no experience of love, except with its absence. I have, as a result, learned quite a bit about love!

I realize that what I am about to say runs the risk of turning a complex aspect of the equation into a simplistic one, so please understand that the process of arriving at the following realization was long and arduous, with many side equations to solve as I moved forward.

But now, from my perspective a goodly way along on my equation, I can appreciate and even have gratitude for what was a tortuous childhood. And of course, my appreciation and gratitude are part of the equation, and lead me further along in its solution.

When I breathe and drink water, especially when I breathe for 30 minutes, counting my blessings is the most natural thing in the world to do.

Let me know how you’re doing.

Have you tried 30 minutes of breathing? No? Try it a few times and let me know what you think. And practice counting your blessings. How I’d like to hear some of those stories!

Lest you think I've completely morphed into Pollyanna, I'd like to share with you a quote from Augustine of Hippo. It's on a poster from Northland Poster Collective (http://www.northlandposter.com) and I have it on my wall:

Hope has two daughters
Their names are Anger and Courage.
Anger at the way things are and
Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.

Irregular?

Many of us are irregular in our practice. As you remember, the original idea was to practice breathing for 15 minutes twice a day and drink 8 glasses of water a day and do so daily for 6 months. That was two and a half years ago. Some of you actually did it for 6 months, and even longer, and we've read your stories about the results of your practice. Most of you, and this includes me, have been more on again off again.

Begin again.

Something happens when we come to an edge in our development, an edge to a new level of self. Some resistance happens that keeps us pacing at that edge, keeps us from crossing over into a new place. Crossing an edge to some new and unknown place can be scary. But isn't that the nature of adventure? So take a deep breath and begin again. Commit to the adventure of self, because something happens when we cross that edge, something remarkable.

* I've been getting the newsletter from the beginning. I was so enthusiastic at first. But I never kept it up. Finally, in desperation, I posted a calendar on my wall, and I cross off each day that I do my breathing. Once I had a few weeks crossed off, I didn't want to spoil it by not breathing. Even when I desperately didn't want to take the time, that wall calendar encouraged me. Now I've gone three months of daily breathing and drinking water! The effects in my life are as remarkable as everyone has said. I don't know why it took me so long to get in sync, but oh my, am I ever glad I finally made it. Thanks to you for your ongoing support and inspiration.

"Give me those wide open spaces..."

It's beautiful here in North Dakota. This is a landscape that inspires awe. One can easily imagine roaming herds of buffalo.

We expect to be here in Stanton into September. There are several state parks nearby, with good canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. We're 475 miles from the Twin Cities. It's a beautiful place for a vacation! Let me know when you're coming!