Saying thank you for birthdays

When I clicked on Google on  Feb 12, this is what I saw

When I clicked on Google on Feb 12, this is what I saw

One or two (OK, at least two) birthdays when I was a little girl, I insisted on silhouettes of Abraham Lincoln — with whom I share my special day — taped onto dining-room windows.

These days, I much more prefer to let Abe have his own birthday, and me to have mine. Which means, ever since the Barker girls’ birthday tradition began a few years ago, going to dinner with my sisters and our mom.

This year, my birthday fell on Wednesday. My sister Jeanne had a conflict, so we instead went on Tuesday. That was fine with me; I’m a firm believer in spreading the birthday out as long as possible. I think this is a sentiment shared by my Februarians, or maybe I just made that up to hide the fact that — I’m a bit of a birthday princess.

We went to Seasons 52 , which was ever so yummy (yes, even despite a waiter whose eye-rolls we probably would have been able to see if the restaurant hadn’t been so dark. Instead, we merely sensed them)..

The Barker girls revel in each other's company, especially on birthdays.

The Barker girls revel in each other’s company, especially on birthdays.

I think I can safely and happily speak for us all when I say we had a wonderful time. I smiled all the way home, and when I woke up on my actual day, I felt optimistic, cheerful and very lucky.

On my actual birthday, I ran eight miles, a distance I usually save for a Sunday. I confess that I took my own sweet time getting ready for work. I even stopped at Starbucks on my way in was heartened to be told that yes, I really DID get a free drink on my birthday.

That night, I went out for wine and yummy pizza, this time with dear friends. In my world, admittedly, two nights in a row going out to dinner is a bit of a rarity so I especially felt like the Birthday Princess.

The whole week was rather wonderful. I meant to write about my feelings  the next day, when they were all still new, still close to the surface of my soul. But you know what happens with plans like that. Hours slip by; by the time we sit down to record what had been so fresh and so teeming with gratitude, that feeling of being loved and wearing a tiara has dissipated somewhat.

But not always. Though I don’t think my words tonight are quite as poetic as I wanted them to be before I turned into a pumpkin at midnight February 12, I can still conjure up the feelings of warmth and belonging. So maybe they’ve settled deep into my soul, which I find rather nice.

Oh, one more thing. At work on the day after my birthday, I told Cornelia, the woman who keeps our break room, the restrooms, and everything else sweet-selling and shiny, that I’d had a birthday.

She hugged me and then said this, which kind of sums everything up in the simplest and truest of ways:

“It’s always good to have a birthday.”

So for having one…and for those I love who let me unabashedly revel in being Princess Leslie…and for just feeling so darn lucky, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for sunshine

Blue sky, sunshine, February in Texas

Blue sky, sunshine, February in Texas

See enough of it, and sunshine becomes almost a given — one of those offerings of nature we come to expect: Walk onto the sidewalk, look up, squint a little. It’s up there, we’re down here, voila. And life goes on.

But we haven’t seen nearly enough of it lately. The sky’s stayed cloudy, the wind beyond brisk, and the air oh-so-cold. So this morning, finally feeling the sun — almost even before it ascended the sky — was a gift, one of those fling-your-arms-around-the-giver gifts.

My run today was, quite honestly, not particularly great. But I didn’t need gloves, and I wore short sleeves, and when I gazed at the sky, the sun — the sun!! — was pushing aside the moon.

While I can’t exactly wrap my arms around Mother Nature, when she treats me to such splendor, I can take her gift and let it fill me; I can let it guide my day. If only in my mind, I’m flinging my arms outward to take it all in — these sweet and dreamy and golden drops of a butterscotch morning.

So for sunshine and all it evokes; for days that beg to be embraced and mornings to be held close, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for reminders


Sometimes we all need a reminder.


My month, quite honestly, didn’t start out great. In retrospect, I’m kind of embarrassed what was getting me down. But I am going to touch on the reasons, with the confident belief that seeing my silly gripes in print will put them even more in perspective.

First, my phone. The bad news was that I washed it. The good was that it was insured. The bad was that the replacement phone didn’t work because it was reported stolen (so how could it be in my hand?). Three days, three trips to the AT&T store, a couple of calls to Apple and to AT&T, and another replacement phone later, the good news is that I am able to call and to receive calls.

Second — nah. Suffice to day my upcoming birthday was involved, and double suffice to say I continue to be reminded how blessed I am by each and every year.

But enough about my former gripes; instead, I’m here to remember my wonderful Wednesday.

It started with a note from, telling me I’m a finalist in the social fitness category. I am incredibly honored, but what makes me especially tickled is that my colleague and friend Leslie Brenner nominated me for this.

Then I spent a fulfilling and downright fun couple of hours with members of the Dallas Kiwi Club. The group — in case your mother wasn’t one — is made up of current and former American Airlines flight attendants (or, in Mom’s case, stewardesses). They meet monthly for lunch, a speaker (me!) and also raise money for such worthwhile organizations as Patriot Paws.

I do not thrive in front of a group. Public speaking, as my dad would say, is not my thing (as it was his). But I said yes to this group because of the loose Mom connection (though she isn’t a member). Plus, at another group where I spoke last month (what’s gotten INTO me?!) a woman there asked if I would. Because the first group made me feel so comfortable I said yes….and would have stayed all day if I could have.

The women (and one man) were wonderful. And I, who had written down what I’d planned to say, hardly looked at my notes and couldn’t seem to stop talking. When I told them that I tend to be pretty quiet (as my colleagues would attest), they didn’t believe me. Yes, I’m laughing right now thinking about that, as well as how we all did yoga breathing, and how I did a few squats to show them how easy incorporating fitness into everyday life is.

Part 3 of my wonderful day was going out for pizza and wine with my yoga instructor and quickly-becoming-dear-friend Jill. She knows my birthday is next week and wanted to start my celebration early.

So there you have it. My reminder that while nonworking physical objects and irritating other things do get in the way of the who and what really matter, they only stay as long as we let them. So for that, and for the burst of energy that shoves them out of my psyche and makes room for the sunshine, The Grateful Runner says thank you.


Saying thank you for (under & over) finishing

I seem to have lost my tape measure

I seem to have lost my tape measure

I have been working on this hat for — well, quite awhile. Confession: I am not the crafty type. I do like to knit, but am not known for finishing projects. Case in point: A blanket I started knitting long before our knitting group at work, which has long since unraveled (so to speak), even began. I still have not finished the blanket.

The unfinished version of this hat has been in my little green canvas knitting bag since last winter. I’d knit a little…then put it aside. Well, today, spurred on by a jaunt to the knit store with my mother, who is starting an Easter vest for her adorable great-grandchild, I thought I’d go ahead and finish my cap.

So I did. Doubly so, it seems. I could have skipped the last — oh, what, five inches of knitting?!

On the opposite extreme is my swim today. I swam yesterday, so today only wanted to go — oh, maybe 54 lengths, which is three-quarters of a mile. When I started, I thought, “Maybe I’ll go 60,” which is 1,500 yards.

But about five minutes into my laps, my new goggles started providing vacuum cleaner-like suction. My eyeballs were being slurped into my skull, or so it felt.

I tried to adjust them once, but the effort was rather fruitless. So after 40 lengths, I stopped. Hey, that’s 1,000 yards more than I would have done had I skipped the whole thing altogether.

As my yoga instructor stresses, you just gotta go with how your body is today, and that is just how my body was. ‘Tis nothing to be ashamed of (really, Leslie, really!). I’m happy to have done something (including having a really good yoga class this morning).

So for finishing at all — overkill in one case, under in another — The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for happiness exuded

Jules and Tyler Jan 30 14

My gratitude thoughts today are three-fold, and pretty much — OK, completely — unrelated.

Here goes:

When I checked the temperature this morning and realized I could wear capris instead of tights on my morning run, and would need neither a cap nor two pairs of gloves (not even one pair!) nor my trusty jacket, I felt mighty pleased and quite appreciative.

Then I saw a text message to my sister Jeanne and me from our niece — the only daughter of our sister Susan — telling us she is engaged. She sent a picture, too — yes, that one above — and you can see  how very happy she is.

Her happiness big-time trumps the nice weather. Both of them trump Appreciation No. 3, the pita chips whose crumbs I am practically licking from the now-empty bag.

So (in ascending order) for pita chips…for 56-degree running weather in January…for the happiness my niece exudes…The Grateful Runner says thank you.