On what is a bright, sunny autumn day here, keeping toward the sunshine seems just right for a Nurturing Thursday post. Enjoy a great weekend, everyone!

Word-art that says "Keep your face to the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you." -Walt Whitman 

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.

Recently I’ve been practicing an affirmation that focuses on making clear the distinction between the present and the past. When I catch myself feeling gloomy about something out of the past, I tell myself, “Right now, I have a pretty good flow of positive energy when it comes to (category of issue), even if there were times when it wasn’t as good in the past.”

At first, I filled in the blank with a broad general category such as time, money, or health. Then, after I woke up on Sunday morning and felt pretty good in general, it occurred to me that I could get much more specific if I felt like it. After all, this was my own life energy I was talking about, and I was completely free to have fun improving it in whatever way struck my fancy.

I was planning to cook pot roast in the Crock-Pot for dinner; and when I went to buy groceries, I decided that it could be a positivity exercise for the day. How might the flow of a pot roast dinner be improved? Well, I could buy a bag of tiny red potatoes, saving time by reducing the ingredients in need of chopping. I also didn’t need to cut the meat into chunks, like I usually did, before putting it into the Crock-Pot. My daughter had mentioned that she thought the meat was more tender when she left it in one piece.

Pot roast with small red potatoes in a Crock-Pot. 

When we ate dinner, I didn’t really notice a difference in the tenderness of the meat, and neither did my husband—although he did mention that leaving it in one piece made dinner easier because we could quickly cut whatever amount of meat we wanted, rather than having to hunt for chunks of it among the potatoes and veggies. The tiny potatoes were pretty good too. So, I think it’s fair to say that I successfully improved my flow of life energy in the dimension of pot roast.

As positivity exercises go, this one might have been rather silly, but I would rate it as useful anyway. My husband once told me that when he played football in high school, one of the team chants was “Every day, in every way, we get better and better and better.” Small improvements, even if they don’t matter much in themselves, help to reinforce the mindset that things are getting better all the time. And every day, there really are many things that can be described, in all honesty, as getting better—even if they are as ordinary as a pot roast dinner. What’s important is to train the mind to notice them.

After a long string of warm, summery days, the weather turned chilly all of a sudden last night. When I woke up this morning, the heat was running and the view out the window was a gray, cloudy dawn.

In past years I would have grumbled something to myself like “oh, yuck, now it’s going to be dark and cold for ages, no more good weather till spring.” But of course, in today’s world there are always fun things to do, no matter what the season. All we need to do is look around with the expectation of finding them, and sure enough, something fun will come along soon!

Word-art that says "Here Comes the 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.

I planted a chrysanthemum next to my mailbox on Tuesday, with buds just starting to open. The mum replaced a wilted little zinnia that never managed to grow much because there was hot, dry weather all through the late spring and the summer.

Photo of a mum, next to my mailbox, with buds starting to open.

Although I know this is nothing unusual and many people change their seasonal flowers as the days turn cooler, in past years I did my seasonal planting in the spring and just left the flowers in place until the frost got them. I generally felt that there wasn’t much to do in autumn and winter besides hunker down in a warm house and wait until spring came again.

Of course, there is no good reason to feel trapped indoors just because the temperature drops. I live in the modern world, after all, and not in a log cabin in a primitive village where anyone venturing too far might get caught in a blizzard or eaten by wolves.

So I’ve decided that whenever I look at the mum blooming by the mailbox, it will be a positive reminder that new growth and renewal can happen at any time of the year, even when the trees are dropping their leaves.

When I was a kid, my mom always was a major stickler for prompt thank-you notes. I remember several afternoons when instead of going out to play, I was sent to my room to compose a neglected thank-you, while grumbling to myself that it was a pointless chore.

Although it took a while, I did eventually develop more understanding of the thank-you ritual. Rather than just being a rote social script, thank-you notes show appreciation for kind acts, which is a way of giving kindness in return. After visiting my mother recently, I sent a card thanking her for showing my husband and me around her current house, which we hadn’t seen before. That might not have been technically a gift, but I did appreciate her taking the time to do it, and just thought I should say so.

Word-art that says "Acts of kindness inspire kindness." 

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.

Last week the rowing club was more adventurous than usual, traveling to a large regatta in Florida. My husband and I stayed with another club member at his mother’s house not far from the race course. She is a delightful English lady who loves to have guests and is very outspoken, making blunt remarks such as “Absolute rubbish!” when, for instance, my husband suggested that we might take our clothes to a laundromat rather than inconvenience her by using her washer and dryer.

She is 86 years old and very active, going sailing once a week and doing charitable work regularly. When the heat got to me on the practice day before the races started, she sympathized with me by saying that she recently had gotten rather dehydrated playing tennis for two hours on a hot day.

That evening I still didn’t feel quite right after rowing and being outdoors for a long time in the heat. When I got in bed, I felt as if it might be rocking gently, like a boat. That reminded me of reading Kon-Tiki as a child and pretending that my bed was a balsa-wood raft floating across the Pacific Ocean. So, as I couldn’t get to sleep right away, I decided to populate this imaginary scenario with my adventurous future self, Fannie. I pictured us looking up at the stars from a natural-fiber mat on the raft, with plenty of comfortable pillows.

Photo of the Kon-Tiki raft in its museum.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

“So, Fannie,” I asked her, in my best faux-English accent, “would you say that the stories our culture tells about aging are absolute rubbish?”

“No, I wouldn’t actually,” she said, drawing out the vowel into an absurdly long ‘ah’ sound, “and by the way, you are rubbish with ah-ccents, and I never got much better with them over the years. So we might do better to stick with ordinary American conversation, though there’s nobody around but a few imaginary flying fish to hear us embarrassing ourselves.”

Fannie snuggled deeper into the pillows and went on to say, “Putting energy into rejecting a cultural narrative only feeds it more power. What we resist persists; that’s from Carl Jung, a very wise man. When you feel that society has you in a box, there’s no need to kick and beat on the walls. Just look up, and you’ll see the sky and feel a breeze flowing through. The box is not solid. All you have to do is step out of it. Dance and skip out of it. Do handsprings and cartwheels out of it. Oh, was there a box around here somewhere? I hadn’t noticed. Where it went, I can’t say. Maybe it’s in that field over there, behind all those tall weeds.”

“Once upon a time, long, long ago,” I said, getting into the spirit of it, “there were people who thought they had to stay in boxes; or at least, that’s what my great-grandmother told me.”

“Lost in the mists of time,” Fannie agreed cheerfully. “And while we’re on the subject, maybe instead of picturing the archetypal Crone just sitting and telling stories, you might want to invite her to play some tennis. Yes, I know you are rubbish at tennis, but the Crone hasn’t played in many years either. Of course, I’m no better at it, since I am you, so that’s nothing personal.”

I thought that I heard Fannie chuckling quietly to herself, but a fish leaped out of the ocean just then and landed with a particularly loud splash, so I couldn’t be quite sure.