April 22, 2017 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I woke up to a dark, cloudy morning on Wednesday and felt gloomy for much of the day, brooding about past occasions when I had felt stuck in bad situations. Although that happened many years ago, it still bothered me that I had let myself get into such a negative pattern rather than taking timely and constructive action to deal with problems as they came up.

The sky brightened after a while, and I went rowing with my husband after work. We had to go slowly and carefully because the river was full of large logs and other debris that had floated downstream since the last time we were there.
 

Large log in the river. 

By then it was late in the day, but I still hadn’t managed to shake off the gloomy thoughts. As we returned to the dock, it occurred to me that some impulsive decisions I had made recently could be seen as related to that old pattern—or, more specifically, could be seen as my subconscious mind forcing the necessary action to break the pattern and ensure nothing like that would ever happen again.

“Okay, subconscious mind,” I said to myself, continuing the internal dialogue, “if you’ve been so busy protecting me from myself by any means necessary, then what was your reason to leave me feeling so totally blah the entire day?”

“To recognize the pattern, of course.” The answer popped into my head right away. It was not followed by a “Duh,” but sounded as if it might easily have been. Then the gloomy feelings instantly vanished, in what had to be the fastest mood swing ever. I felt fine while putting the boat away and getting into the car.

By the time I got home, though, my back muscles had tightened up for no apparent reason, making it hard for me to move around all evening. I don’t ordinarily have back problems, and I certainly hadn’t exerted myself too much when I was rowing very slowly around that obstacle course of monster logs. So what the heck was going on here?

Then another thought came to mind, which was that this drama had Dame Shadow’s fingerprints all over it. As I described in a December blog entry, Dame Shadow is one of my angrier and more defensive past selves. She feels like it’s her responsibility to protect me from the world’s evils when she thinks I’m not doing enough to take care of myself, which is often.

When I last had an imaginary conversation with Dame Shadow as she was getting ready to charge into battle with an army of mythological creatures in a landscape from an empire-building computer game, I came to the conclusion that she wanted recognition for her efforts, and I promised to show respectful appreciation the next time she had something to say. Gratitude for a sore back wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind, but that seemed to be where things stood for now. So I took a moment to meditate and let my mind quiet down. Then I thanked the Dame for kindly offering advice and told her that I was sorry, but I didn’t quite grasp what she was trying to tell me.

She didn’t step out into the light of my conscious mind, but I heard the fabric of her long skirts rustling somewhere not far away. “What or whom are you carrying on your back? You may want to think about that,” she remarked cryptically; and that was all I got out of her.

I realized that my back did indeed feel weighted down, as if someone had come up behind me and jumped on it. No particular images came to mind, though, and I spent the next couple of days pondering the question. Was it a younger self, heavy with old emotional baggage? Maybe another person that I had been trying to please without knowing it? Or a more general metaphor, such as having a monkey on one’s back?

Then I decided that I didn’t really need to have an exact answer; just thinking about the question was useful in itself. My back felt fine when I woke up this morning, and I wondered if perhaps the lesson might also have to do with patience—that is, setting aside any expectations that I ought to be able to get things sorted all at once. After all, everything always has another layer to it somewhere!

Okay, I haven’t really gone exploring in the desert recently; but the way I see it, a little prodding in the direction of a more adventurous mindset is all for the best.
 

Word-art showing a hiker in a desert that says "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." 

Comfort zones do have their benefits, in that having predictable routines helps us to avoid stress and be more productive. Still, it’s important to find a healthy balance and not get stuck there!

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.

Now that the last remnants of winter finally seem to be over, I’ve been wanting to spend a day on a nice long rambling springtime hike. However, this is just another ordinary workweek and I’m not in fact taking a day off, so instead I put an image on my art display that shows the bright cheerful greenery of Kerry Way Trail, Ireland. It certainly looks like the earth springing to life, don’t you think?
 

Bright springtime green of Kerry Way Trail, Ireland 

Even though I’m not really gazing out my window at this wonderfully inviting trail, I can at least get my subconscious mind halfway believing that I could just step outside at any moment and be right there!

Sometimes it gets kind of scary in our fast-changing world. Even when we just keep on doing the things that we enjoy and are good at doing, all kinds of doubts pop up. Jobs can disappear, skills can get obsolete, and the culture can change so much that others no longer appreciate our talents or see us as being useful. There’s no way of knowing what might happen.

Even though the future is uncertain, we shouldn’t let ourselves get overwhelmed. The world is full of amazing possibilities too, and changes that seem scary can end up opening doors for us that we never imagined. Instead of letting those doubts get to us, we need to trust, and just keep on.
 

Word-art that says "Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." -Henry Van Dyke 

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.

With so many things changing around us in today’s world, sometimes we can feel unsettled not because of any problem in particular, but just because it seems like there’s no way of knowing what might happen next. It’s hard to imagine what the future might look like when living in the present is so complicated already, and getting more so all the time.

But the upside of all this complexity is that we have more options than at any time in history, and every few years they increase exponentially. Even if we haven’t yet discovered what many of them are or will be, somewhere in that ever-changing future, if we keep an open mind, we can expect to find creative ways to shape our lives into new and wonderful patterns.
 

Word-art that says "Don't wait for the right opportunity: create it." -George Bernard Shaw 

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.

They’re predicting more wintry weather blowing in on Thursday, with temperatures falling all day, rain turning to snow, and howling winds. Seriously? I want summer already! Wah! But since the forecast is not cooperating, I’ve decided to go on an imaginary vacation and turn my art display into a window of a comfy beachfront cottage, where I can breathe the salty ocean air, smell the tropical flowers blooming on the balcony, and watch the waves roll in.
 

Ocean view with a corner of a wood balcony. 

Ahh… now that feels much better! If you’re also in a place where winter just won’t give up, I hope you stay warm and safe, with plenty of fun distractions to keep you cheerful.

Although I’ve been contributing to the Nurturing Thursday blogging community for the past three years, I have to admit that there are days when I don’t feel as inspired to create nurturing posts as I would like to be. Maybe it’s the weather (the seasonal blues got to me this past winter) or maybe it’s other distractions. Random stuff happens, and we don’t always know why.

But, even at times when I feel low on creative energy, putting together a short post for Nurturing Thursday generally leaves me feeling better. After all, it doesn’t have to be perfect—or even particularly inspired—to be much better than the alternative of not doing it.
 

Word-art that says "Positive anything is better than negative nothing." - Elbert Hubbard 

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.

March 29, 2017 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

In the “why automation won’t be taking all our jobs anytime soon” category: This morning, my husband took his car to the dealer for a warranty repair. The touch screen with the radio controls, etc., weirded out and went blank a few days ago, then came back up after restarting the car. When my husband called the dealer, they assured him that they had a service bulletin describing the problem and could fix it with a software update. He made an appointment to bring in the car early this morning.

When they started working on it, however, they discovered that the update wouldn’t download from their diagnostic computer, which has a wireless connection and insufficient bandwidth. So my husband sat around all morning while they tried to figure out what to do. By the time I took a lunch break, I still hadn’t heard any more from him about it. Maybe they’re still clueless.

Anyway, I don’t expect to see a future of machines seamlessly running everything while we all sit around without any work to do. It’ll probably be more like Star Trek, where crews of overworked engineers scurry around fixing one problem after another. And while I’m on that subject, would you trust a transporter to reassemble all your body parts in the right order?
 

Person in a Star Trek uniform standing on a transporter.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

Nah, I didn’t really think so. Me neither.

One good thing is that the sun finally came out after a dark and chilly morning, and hopefully it’ll warm up enough so that we can get out on the river and row after work. My husband said he could definitely use the exercise after a morning like that.

Sometimes when I feel like I am wading through a bog of dull adult practicalities, I lighten my mood by rereading stories that I loved as a child. That’s easy to do with my Kindle because e-books don’t take up storage space in the house and many of them are priced at only 99 cents. I keep a velvet-covered print copy of “The Secret Garden” on a little shelf in the kitchen next to the Kindle, to set the right ambience.

Reading grown-up fairy tales can be fun too. At present I’m reading “Fairy-Struck” by Amy Sumida, an urban fantasy romance in which a thoroughly modern heroine discovers she is a long-lost fairy princess, although she never wanted anything of the sort and has no intention of giving in to her attraction to a handsome fairy lord. That’s about as far from practical as a book can get—which is, of course, the whole point. Wishing all my readers a fun, lighthearted Thursday too!
 

Word-art with a picture of a barefoot little girl that says "May you touch dragonflies and stars, dance with fairies and talk to the moon." 

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.

The digital art display that hangs on my dining room wall is more than just a decoration. I’ve found that when I take a few minutes to browse through the online library and change the picture every day, it gives me insight into what’s going on in my subconscious mind, guiding me toward whatever I might need at the moment.

The image I chose for Sunday was a quiet pond with bare trees. I don’t know where it is; the caption simply said “Pond.” The idea that it could be anywhere in the world fits the mood quite well, though—silent and reflective as winter holds on, not yet ready to give way to springtime.
 

Pond with bare trees in winter 

Soon enough, there will be busy days again, exciting new adventures and explorations. But for now, all that I needed was a peaceful, meditative day of rest—and the picture on the wall gave me that message as clearly as if it had spoken.