I had a conversation with my manager this afternoon about the company’s plans to encourage employees to develop more skills. She said that because of automation and other rapid changes in the workplace, people will need to be more flexible in moving to new tasks and positions, instead of expecting to do the same job every day for years.

Of course, that wasn’t really news; it has been going on for a while now, all throughout the economy. Millennials change jobs all the time and think nothing of it. For those of us who aren’t quite that young, it can be more of a challenge to picture ourselves in a different work environment. Either way, we’re likely to end up in a future that is very far from what we imagined. The most important skill for this uncertain future may simply be the ability to live in the present and take one breath at a time, without fear.
 

Word-art that says "Inhale the future, exhale the past." 

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.

February 15, 2017 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

This curious title (which isn’t really a word, of course) showed up in a dream I had on Monday morning, as the title of a book. I was the author, and somehow I also had a magical superpower of flying. A tiny lucid corner of my mind looked out, complete with a judgmental frown, and decided to play the party-pooper by informing me that I’d better not get too happy because it was nothing but a silly dream.

My dreaming self came up with a snappy comeback—so what, it’s real enough now, dream or no dream, who cares? Then the alarm clock settled the argument by beeping to wake me up for work. I had to be at the office bright and early for a Six Sigma training class, so I didn’t have the option of trying to snooze for a few more minutes and perhaps go on with the conversation.
 

Alarm clock displaying 7:00 AM and "beep" indicator. 

Looking at this dream as a message from my subconscious (as dreams often are), the main points seemed simple enough: Fun and imagination are good, my inner critic needs to shut up, and being present in the moment is what really matters.

But what might the book title have meant? I pondered that for a while, and only just now realized that it was a title because it accurately sums up the entire dream. When I freely enjoy fun and imagination in the moment, then I am not at a distance from myself; I am undistanced. As for the word’s appearance on a book, I would interpret it as a symbol of success. Take THAT, all you nagging judgmental voices, it’s not just silly stuff but a real, published, bestselling book, what do you have to say for yourself NOW?

Yes, it’s always satisfying to tell off the inner critic, even in a dream!

It’s not easy to keep a cheerful outlook when it seems like we are constantly surrounded by news about political chaos. Still, I would say that in such times, society can benefit the most from our efforts—however small—in simply going about our lives and letting go of the drama. That does more good than we know, helping the many people who feel afraid and overwhelmed to get their minds in a healthier place, so that they can begin to do something constructive.
 

Word-art that says "Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud." -Maya Angelou 

That’s not to say we should pretend everything is perfectly okay when it isn’t. We all have a responsibility to work toward a better society, however we might define that. But the key word here is WORK. It is not, as the prevailing narratives in the media would have it, “fight” or “war.” We are not literally on a battlefield, or anything close to it; and if we really want to solve our problems, we can’t keep on going through life with all that overblown drama getting in the way. It’s time—and past time—to let it go.

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.

Sometimes showing enthusiasm can feel a bit scary. Maybe there was a time when something felt really exciting, but other people complained it wasn’t useful or laughed at it. Even if that happened very long ago, those memories are still swirling around in the subconscious mind, just waiting to pop up at the first stirrings of enthusiasm. And if they have been deeply buried for many years, they could be sucking the excitement out of life without it even being apparent why.

We shouldn’t judge ourselves as weak for having such fears. After all, most people have had them at one time or another. Trying to bury them deeper doesn’t help either—they’re sure to work their way out eventually. Simply acknowledging that they are there, without judgment, can be a first step toward calming the mind. Finding little things to feel enthusiastic about on a daily basis is a concrete way of demonstrating to the inner doubter that it’s safe now. After a while, those draining old fears will naturally fade away, replaced by much healthier thoughts. Then we’ll end up surprising ourselves by how much we can accomplish!
 

Word-art that says "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." -Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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.

I am not sure if this winter has been much more cloudy than usual or if the lack of sunlight is just getting to me more, but I’ve been looking to cheer myself up by putting pictures of sunlit forests and lakes on the art display on my dining room wall. Today’s photo is of Lake Valhalla in Washington, with sunlight on the hills in the distance. I’ve never been there in real life, but it looks like a beautiful place to row or hike.
 

Photo of Lake Valhalla in Washington, with forested hills. 

And yesterday’s image was a mossy waterfall with sunlight coming through the trees in the background. I love how the green and yellow shades swirl together in the reflections on the water.
 

Waterfall in a forest with sunlit trees in the background. 

After writing this post, I’m feeling more cheerful and appreciative of how modern technology can fill every day with joyful spots of beauty. Wishing my readers in the Northern Hemisphere plenty of lovely sunny images to brighten the winter days, too!

Sometimes we need a push to get going, and that’s especially true when we get into the winter doldrums! My work emails often include cheerful word-art from two coworkers who decided they’d be the team morale boosters a few years ago. When this one showed up in my inbox, it seemed just the thing to repost for this week’s Nurturing Thursday entry:
 

Word-art that says "Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A 'you can do it' when things are tough." 

When we get that little nudge we need to start us going, there’s just no telling how fast we might find ourselves zooming along!

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.

I’ve found myself running low on creative energy during the dark winter months, especially this year. Blog posts and stories don’t come to mind as easily; or, if they do, I haven’t felt motivated to actually write them. Although I know that this is not at all uncommon, it still goes in the category of frustrating stuff that leaves me feeling stuck and pointlessly ruminating on what went wrong.

So I decided to look at it as an opportunity to apply my New Year’s resolution of gratitude for the not-fun lessons. I asked myself: What is good about these days when I don’t feel like writing? First of all there’s the Internet and blogging in general, allowing me to read and comment on others’ posts and feel a sense of connection, regardless of whether I post a blog entry myself on a particular day. Next up on the gratitude list is simply that my blog exists and has been around for a while (its five-year anniversary is coming up next month). Whether or not I feel like writing, the site is always there, giving me a platform to build on.

Another good thing is that even though the winter days are cloudy and dark, they haven’t been particularly cold this year. Birds were chirping merrily outside my front door on Sunday morning. When I stepped outside, I saw little green shoots of crocuses and hyacinths already coming up. Although that likely won’t be good for the flowers if it turns much colder, it makes my garden look more cheerful, anyway.
 

Green shoots of spring bulbs coming up in January. 

I felt a bit more energetic today, just enough to turn that list into a blog post. The moral of the story—to the extent there is one—is that even when we’re feeling stuck, there are always bright little spots of new growth coming up somewhere. We just have to look around and find them!

On these long winter nights when it seems there’s not much to do, we shouldn’t be so quick to turn on the TV and distract ourselves with other people’s drama. Instead, we might do better to spend some time listening to that small inner voice offering guidance. Even when we’re not aware of it, the subconscious mind is constantly making intuitive observations, to better lead us along the path; but we can only hear them if we’re quiet enough to listen.
 

Word-art that says "A quiet mind is able to hear intuition over fear." 

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.

January 16, 2017 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

We the People of the United States of America seriously need to chill out.

Among other things, that means stepping back from the political nastiness and having respectful conversations with each other, instead of yelling at each other. Calling people ignorant never made them any better informed.

We live in a modern nation with a strong tradition of democracy, not in a primitive land of warring tribes. Our fellow citizens in the next county, whatever their race or religion, are not going to attack our homes in the middle of the night. Whatever we may think of the government and the economy, we’re not dying of starvation in the streets. By historical standards, that makes us very fortunate indeed.
 

Word-art of a woman with an American flag covering her head that says "We the People are greater than fear." 

Fear corrodes. When we make decisions based on fear—when we go through our days full of anxiety, feeling as if disasters are everywhere and we’re about to be attacked at any moment—not only do we make poor decisions and get stressed out and unhealthy; our society’s collective health also suffers.

Yes, we have real concerns, and there is much in today’s world that needs attention. Still, that doesn’t mean we have to look at every political dispute like it’s a fight to the death. If we want to imagine ourselves charging heroically onto a battlefield, that’s what war movies and video games are for. Social and political issues, like everything else, are best addressed through kindness, decency, respect, patience, hard work, and staying true to our values.

In keeping with my resolution for this year to cultivate gratitude for life’s lessons, whether or not it feels like anything positive has come of them yet, I have been reminding myself that there are always multiple ways of looking at any situation. Often, taking the time to list some of the possible outcomes will reveal that there are plenty of good ways to look at it.
 

Word-art that says "A stumbling block to the pessimist is a stepping stone to the optimist." -Eleanor Roosevelt 

Such a change of perspective naturally leads to more positive feelings. After all, it’s much easier to be cheerful when looking around at a landscape that is full of opportunities, rather than obstacles!

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.