October mostly has been warm and sunny here, but last night a thunderstorm blew in and cooled things off. This morning it looked much more typical of this time of year—cool, damp, and cloudy. When I stepped outside, though, I noticed some new color in the front garden to balance the dark sky. Solid green hosta leaves had turned—overnight, it seemed—to a bright, cheerful mix of yellow, green, and brown.

Hostas in autumn with a mix of bright yellow, green, and brown leaves. 

Don’t they look as if they just put on their party dresses and are ready for dancing and fun?

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

Considering what has been going on in politics recently, I’d say we all could use as much distraction as we can get. I’ve been changing the images on the digital art display on my dining room wall at least once a day, so that I can at least pretend to be somewhere far away from it all. At the moment, it has an image of Lake Havasu at the Grand Canyon to brighten up the room.

Photo of digital art display with picture of Lake Havasu 

Have you been doing anything fun for a virtual escape? If so, feel free to post about it in the comments. (And, of course, make sure to vote anyway!)

Sometimes when things don’t seem to change much from one day to another, it can be hard to stay optimistic. When we don’t see immediate results, we might start to wonder if anything we do is making a difference or if it’s just wasted effort.

When that happens, we need to remember that the most majestic accomplishments often come from tiny, incremental changes.

Word-art captioned "Strength" that says "A river cuts through a rock not because of its power but its persistence." 

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

Two years ago, I posted a three-part series of blog entries (starting here) that explored the concept of tithing as it relates to time. I wrote that giving—whether we give money, time, or anything else—leads to feeling prosperous because we have more than we need, which in turn attracts more of whatever we gave. The subconscious mind constantly looks for patterns in daily life that match our expectations; so, when we expect to have plenty of good things, we’re more likely to find them.

Although giving time two years ago didn’t literally cause me to get more time, it did leave me feeling more relaxed about having enough time generally. After a while, I wrote a follow-up post about creative energy and what giving means in that context. Giving away creative works (such as posting uplifting entries on a blog without expecting to earn any money from it) and encouraging other writers and artists can help with feeling more confident and creatively inspired.

This year, I was still wondering just how the concept might apply to health. We all want good health, of course, but how is it possible to give health away, or to feel that we have enough of it to share? Although many people donate to medical charities to improve the public health, I would classify that in the category of giving money.

Giving blood is a direct way of giving health; but not everyone is able to do it, and blood donors can’t give too often because it takes a while to replenish blood. Medical professionals can volunteer at free clinics, and people without medical skills can help by doing small tasks such as scheduling appointments. Again, though, not everyone can do that, and for most people it wouldn’t be something they did often.

Also, medical charities, blood banks, and free clinics are all modern organizations. Surely, I thought, there must always have been something simpler in everyday life. What would our peasant ancestors have done in their little villages if they wanted to share good health?

Homes with thatched roofs in a peasant village.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Once I framed the question in those terms, the answer became obvious. Almost everything we do when interacting with others affects their health in some way, even if it’s as basic as giving a cheerful smile to a person who is feeling down. As social animals, humans depend in large part on good relationships with family and friends to stay healthy. Researchers have done plenty of studies showing that married people and residents of close-knit communities live longer than average and score higher on many tests that measure good health.

So, giving health is easy—all that’s needed is a little time and effort, as we go about our daily activities, to show kindness and appreciation when we have the opportunity. Cultivating that habit not only helps those around us to feel happier and healthier—it also makes us feel more connected, which improves our own health. And I believe our ancestors knew that a long time ago, before modern research confirmed it.

Today was an absolutely gorgeous early fall day here—sunny and pleasantly warm, with just a touch of crispness in the morning air. To be honest, it felt much too nice to be indoors blogging, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to post for Nurturing Thursday! But later in the day I got an email sharing some word-art with kind wishes for October, so I’m reposting it here to cheer my readers. Enjoy!

Word-art that says "May your October be filled with good thoughts, kind people and happy moments." 

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

October 4, 2016 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Last night I dreamed that I attended an event where someone was selling tickets for a charity raffle before the event got underway. Each ticket was 25 dollars. I opened my wallet to see if I had that amount and discovered that I had a lot of small bills, some in odd denominations that don’t exist in real life. It all seemed perfectly normal, though. I was looking at a 12-dollar bill and a 15-dollar bill, while trying to work out how to put one of them together with smaller bills to add up to the correct amount.

Wallet with edges of small bills showing. 

Before I went to sleep I’d been thinking about how much our perspective on life changes as the years go by and we gain more insight. I suppose the dream must have been a variation on that theme, illustrating how many different things can add up to a prosperous life—even things that might never have existed in the past, but now are simply part of what we see every day.

While I don’t expect that the U.S. Treasury will literally start printing 12-dollar bills any time soon, I do believe that the future will hold many new and interesting discoveries, and that sometimes it will be a challenge to sort out how best to put them together!

When problems persist for a while, sometimes they start to weigh heavily on the mind. Those little moments of happiness once taken for granted start to seem few and far between. Even though the simple everyday comforts are still there, they don’t get noticed or appreciated as much as they once did. When that happens, it can feel like the only way happiness will ever come back is when the problems go away.

Word-art that says "Happiness is not the absence of problems, it's the ability to deal with them." 

Instead of putting most of our energy into problem-solving, it’s often more effective to step back from the worries and set aside more time to enjoy simple comforts that refresh the mind. Just a little shift in perspective can make problems a lot more manageable.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

September 28, 2016 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

Twice recently I’ve had a dream in which I am sitting in a parked car with the engine running, and it suddenly starts rolling backwards. I try to brake and to turn off the car, but the computer is malfunctioning and won’t take any input. The car keeps on rolling away no matter what I do, and I know it’s just about to crash into something when I wake up.

A car wouldn’t really do that, of course, and there is nothing scary happening in my life right now. So I’m guessing that the dream reflects a fear that I might somehow “roll back” to stressful times in the past when I felt like I wasn’t in control. How to deal with it? Well, mainly I’d say that I just need to take a few deep breaths and stay focused on the safe, straight road ahead.

Straight road with colorful autumn trees on each side.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Also, there’s no need to keep a narrow focus and look only at the pavement. Much better to slow down and take enough time to appreciate the pretty landscape, the soft sound of leaves rustling in the wind, and the crisp autumn air. There is always something in the moment to enjoy!

September 26, 2016 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Over the weekend, my husband and I drove up to Toledo to row in the Frogtown regatta, named for the city’s location on land that historically was a frog-filled swamp. We didn’t see much wildlife when we put our boat in the river, probably because the windy and choppy conditions on the Maumee River were so bad that even the frogs ran for cover. Most of the small boat races were cancelled for safety reasons; and in those that weren’t called off, some of the entrants took one look at the water and decided to just go back home.

We decided to go ahead and be adventurous, so we struggled along with only two other mixed double crews that braved the course. They were much more experienced and finished well ahead of us; but we got bronze medals anyway, which we felt like we deserved just for not being chicken. (Or perhaps frog, which they say tastes like chicken, but my bravery does NOT extend to eating it, so I wouldn’t know.)

Bronze medals from Toledo Frogtown regatta. 

Though I’m not likely to make a habit of doing daredevil stuff and would rather have rowed on nice calm water instead, sometimes having an unplanned adventure turns out to be fun anyway. After all, life would get pretty boring if everything went exactly as planned. Unexpected events every now and again make things a lot more interesting!

Sometimes life feels so busy and complicated that it’s hard to see how one person can change anything. But although we can’t always see what impact our choices might have on the world, it’s likely that we are making much more of a difference than we know.

Word-art that says "One person can make a difference, and everyone can try." - John F. Kennedy 

Bringing positive change to the world doesn’t necessarily require big dramatic projects. Often it’s our small day-to-day decisions that have more lasting effects, whether or not they might turn into anything that can be measured in terms of conventional success.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.