I came across the word “postliminary” while reading, not long ago, and it left me thinking about how rarely that word is used. (The spell checker didn’t even recognize it when I wrote this post.) It refers to things that people do after finishing an activity, like cleaning up and putting tools away. In employment law, it means a worker’s necessary tasks at the end of a shift, such as taking off protective gear and hanging it up, which are counted as work time for purposes of calculating overtime pay.

Rows of hard hats hanging on a wall.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

It is closely related to “preliminary.” Both words come from the same Latin root meaning a threshold or a boundary. “Post” means after, and “pre” means before. So, “postliminary” literally means after the boundary. That’s all fairly straightforward as word origins go. What I find interesting about it is that although “postliminary” gets almost no use except as a specialized legal term, we’re always using “preliminary” in ordinary conversation. That word has become so common that it even gets abbreviated, such as when we talk about an athletic event’s prelims. (The spell checker recognized prelims.)

I’m thinking that maybe this difference in word usage reflects a culture with a strong focus on planning and carrying out plans, but with very little consideration given to what comes afterward. Companies have been doing better in recent years, using continuous-improvement processes to measure and analyze project results; but as individuals, we often don’t have a good sense of what comes next when we reach transition points in our own lives. We haven’t thought much about what we might find after the boundary.

That’s understandable because people never really needed to think about it before the modern era. Our ancestors’ little villages didn’t change much from one year to the next. When something changed, it generally was simple enough that everyone knew how to deal with it—a good harvest or a bad one, a birth or a death in the village, a flood or a drought. If someone invented a better tool or returned from a long voyage with new knowledge to share, this was such a rare event that the villagers had plenty of time to learn all about it before any other surprises turned up.

Now, in the Information Age, we find something new just about every day, which means our brains are always on overload trying to cram huge amounts of unexpected new stuff into our existing mental maps. It’s no wonder that we spend so much time and energy planning how we’re going to manage each day in this busy, competitive, confusing world. We might realize in the abstract that it would be a good idea to consider our next steps, too; but because today’s society is so free-flowing, we often don’t know how to go about it.

We no longer have the predictability of life in those long-ago villages. While that’s good in some ways because we have so many choices and opportunities that our ancestors couldn’t have imagined, we also have more challenges to navigate. Sometimes we just need to step back from our busy plans for a moment and think about how we’re going to clean things up afterward!

Last weekend my family went on a one-mile “fun run.” Many people brought their dogs, and my daughter pushed her little dog in a stroller. The morning was a bit chilly, so we wore light jackets as we walked to the start line. I didn’t press the stopwatch button on my sports watch because I thought it would just be a nice easy run, with no reason to time it.

I ran with my husband at first, but then he speeded up and got ahead of me. After a little while my daughter’s fiancé passed me with his Labradoodle puppy, Ziggy, loping happily by on legs that looked like they’d gotten much longer since I last saw him. A few other guys passed me too, but most of my attention was on the puppy, who looked very excited about being taken to such a big event.

After I finished the race, I got a cup of water and a freebie sugar cookie (yum) contributed by a sponsor bakery. Then I put on my jacket, but I soon took it off again because the sleeves felt sweaty enough to be uncomfortable. That seemed kind of peculiar when I hadn’t done anything other than a one-mile fun run, but then we all went out to brunch and my thoughts moved on to other things.

I washed the jacket along with the workout clothes after I got home, and I didn’t think anything more about it until my husband looked up the race results online and said, “Hey, Meg, did you know that you ran an eight-minute mile and were the first woman to finish the race?”

My first thought was, well, that explains the jacket! And my second thought was, dang, I hadn’t run that fast in, what, 14 or 15 years, maybe?

That left me wondering how much I had been subconsciously limiting myself through low expectations all those years. Back in August, I wrote a blog post about my imaginary adventures in 2083. Some of the adventures were pretty silly, but the post had a more serious aim; I wrote in it that I wanted to plant healthy ideas in my subconscious to crowd out negative views of aging. After running so fast in a fun sprint without even realizing it, I’m beginning to wonder if some of those healthy ideas are now taking root!

Word-art that says "The only way that we can live is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way that we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself." -C. JoyBell C 

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 9, 2017 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Last week, two of my coworkers decided to have a virtual party to celebrate because things have been going well for our team this year. So they asked everyone to send in a photo of something fun. I contributed a swimming pool picture to make it into a pool party.

Backyard swimming pool on a sunny day. 

We ended up with a random assortment of photos showing what people had been doing recently. Running a marathon came first, before taking a dip in the pool, which was followed by eating chocolate and drinking wine. It reminded me of telling group stories as a kid at sleepover parties, where everyone would take turns adding a sentence—whether it made any sense or not.

I feel lucky to work with such a cheerful group, and am writing this post mainly as a reminder to myself that I shouldn’t take it for granted. After all, there are many workplaces that are so dull, nobody even remembers what the word “fun” means. And considering how much time most people spend working, that surely would determine a large part of how life feels in general.

As we get into October and the fall harvest season, apples and hot apple cider are always yummy. It’s also the season when many people plant trees. So I decided that this word-art about being careful what we plant would be just right for today’s Nurturing Thursday post:

Word-art that says "Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don't count on harvesting Golden Delicious." 

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.

One of my younger selves got into a tizzy not long ago. She was upset about something that happened in 1997, I think, or maybe it was 1998—before she started working and was still spending her days taking care of the kids. They had left their toys all over the floor again, and hubby stepped on a crayon and got grumpy. As she saw it, he was unnecessarily rude to her—after all, she wasn’t the one who had been coloring. What did he think anyway, that she just sat down on the floor and played all day with the kids?

She stomped down that anger into her overflowing subconscious trash can, along with all the other emotions that never saw the light of day. If she had talked with anyone about her feelings, she’d likely have been able to put them in better perspective; but she didn’t, and so the old rancid anger from that particular incident was still sitting there fully two decades after it should have been taken to the curb.

One evening last week, that annoying memory popped up. It left me wandering aimlessly around the house, muttering to myself, “How RUDE he was! What a JERK!”

Well, this certainly wouldn’t do. Maybe Younger-Me thought she was entitled to hang onto her gripe forever; but from my present-day vantage point, it was high time for her to get some much-overdue therapy. So I decided that she would be the first visitor to my imaginary Channelwood Sanatorium for troubled past selves who needed a little time to rest and recover from their worries.

I took her hand and stepped with her into the mirror on my dresser, which magically transported us both to the beach near the peaceful little village of Channelwood. Unlike my past visits, this wasn’t a beautiful clear day with birds singing. Instead, we found ourselves standing under an overhanging cliff that gave us shelter from a steady rain. The rhythmic roar of the surf breaking against rocks blended with the drumbeat of raindrops on the sand, blotting out all other sounds. It felt like we were alone at the edge of the world.

Storm over the ocean with waves breaking against rocks.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Younger-Me looked around for a moment, taking in the scene. Then she turned to me with a slight frown and said, “You know, I was just about to start cooking dinner.”

“No problem, this is all just imagination, and you’ll be back home soon enough.” I gestured toward a driftwood log in the sand at the foot of the cliff, which made a naturally smooth bench. “Please, sit down and rest for a little while. I’ve brought a coloring book and a new box of crayons for you.”

Sitting to my left on the driftwood bench, she read the coloring book’s title out loud. “‘Mandalas and Dream Catchers: Coloring Book Therapy for Adults.'” She sounded more than a little perplexed to have come across such a curious thing.

“Coloring books for grown-ups are very popular in 2017,” I informed Younger-Me as I handed her an unopened box of 64 crayons. “A lot of people have too many busy thoughts cluttering their minds and don’t take enough time to just relax and have fun. The idea of coloring when you’re an adult is that it’s good to set aside all those worries and play like a child sometimes, making pretty things without caring about whether or not they have a purpose.”

She opened the box, selected a blue crayon in the color of a brilliant autumn sky, and tentatively started coloring part of a feather on a dream catcher with it.

“And coloring or other creative fun refreshes your mind even if you don’t put a lot of time into it,” I went on to say. “A few minutes before you cook dinner, or in between other chores, is enough to shift your perspective and get your thoughts out of their everyday rut.”

Filling in teardrop-shaped speckles on the feather with a bright vibrant green, Younger-Me said pensively, “I’m not sure how I forgot that…”

I gave her an encouraging smile as the beach scene started to dissolve around us, sending both of us back to our respective timelines. Although it had been only a few minutes’ interlude, I returned to my own time feeling much invigorated by this brief exercise of imagination, with my perspective newly refreshed in just the way I had described.

I’ve had trees on my mind recently because of spending more time this year pruning the willow hedge in my backyard. After I let the hedge get overgrown several years ago while I was busy with other things, it ended up with a lot of dead branches caused by cold winters and dry summers, and cutting it back turned into what seemed like a never-ending chore.

It’s looking much improved now, though, as shown in my last post; and I’ve taken away some useful reminders from it. First, proper maintenance generally is much easier than ignoring something and then having to clean up a gigantic mess later. And second, however big of a chore something may seem, persistence gets it done after a while. Unlike trees, we’re not rooted to our current circumstances but can shift them through the power of incremental changes.

Word-art that says "If you don't like where you are, then change it. You are not a tree." 

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 27, 2017 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Some of my past blog entries have included photos of the willow hedge along my back property line, all of which were taken from the side facing the house. This is the first time I’ve taken a photo from this angle, showing the fence, the back of the hedge, and the grass in between:

Aluminum fence with a willow hedge to the left. 

Truth be told, until recently I couldn’t have taken a photo like this because I let the back of the hedge get awfully overgrown several years ago, when I wasn’t paying attention. Branches crowding up against the fence turned my husband’s chore of mowing the lawn into something like a jungle adventure.

Then we had two icy cold winters followed by a warm winter and a drought, which stressed the willows enough that some of the older branches started dying back. I pruned off a lot of dead stuff last summer, but it wasn’t until this year that I got the hedge in good enough shape so that my husband could easily walk behind it while pushing the mower.

With plenty of open space, it looks much better now. Getting rid of clutter and keeping things in their proper place is just as worthwhile outdoors as it is in the house!

This week I didn’t have a particular topic in mind that I wanted to focus on for Nurturing Thursday, so I decided to post a word-art image filled with more nurturing advice than might be needed.

An image showing a page filled with words of advice in different fonts, beginning with "Be nicer than is needed." 

Hope you enjoy it, and a happy Thursday to all!

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 19, 2017 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I recently had a dream with some interesting symbols that practically begged for interpretation. My husband and I were staying in a hotel room that had a tiny door—it looked like a doggie door—connecting our room to the next room. A baby kept coming through the door into our room, and each time we had to take the baby back to the parents in the next room.

Baby looking through a doggie door.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Babies in dreams generally represent something new coming into one’s life. Staying in a hotel also has to do with new experiences. Having a baby show up in an unexpected place and then returning the baby—well, that probably means having mixed feelings about the change, whatever it is.

Because our daughter’s upcoming wedding has been on my mind, I’m guessing that it is the source of the mixed feelings. Not quite ready to think about future grandbabies showing up!

I’ve been a bit tired and run down this week, along with not sleeping well, probably because of a virus. There seems to be something going around. My hairdresser was sick on Tuesday and had to reschedule my appointment. I changed it to this morning, and then she forgot about it and was a few minutes late getting to the salon. I told her no worries, I was half asleep myself!

This evening the sun came out for just a little while after two very dark and rainy days. I feel perkier, and I’m looking forward to more fun on the weekend. Even when a few blah days happen, that’s just the way of things. We couldn’t do as much with a coloring book, after all, if the box didn’t have the gray and black crayons to fill in the shadows.

Colorful word-art that says "Life is about using the whole box of crayons." 

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.