Lists of social virtues generally include kindness and honesty toward others, but it’s all too easy to overlook the importance of being kind and honest with oneself. Pushing too hard to get things done, while acting like everything is okay and the stress is not really a problem, often gets mistaken for being responsible. Then, before you know it, the real you ends up suffocating under heaps of phony pretense and desperately screaming to be let out.

Word-art that says "Be brave. Be silly. Be your own magic. Be present. Be full of surprises. Be adventurous. Be kind. Be free. Be you." 

I was going to write more about the value of authenticity, but I just read an excellent post on the blog Nuggets of Gold about what happens as a result of not wanting anyone to see the real you; so I’ll just finish with a link to it.

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.

June 18, 2017 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I have a backyard fence that is somewhat overgrown by the plants in the neighbors’ yard. They include an orange trumpet vine that gives me a lovely view from my kitchen window (as shown here), but I also have to cut back other, more intrusive stuff on occasion. Last year a wisteria vine climbed over the fence and got into a willow in the back corner, and I didn’t notice it right away; so when I cut off the stuff that was growing over the fence, part of the vine was left hanging from the branches, out of my reach. One of these days I’ll go out with a stepladder and clean it up, but the ground is often muddy in that corner, which gives me an excuse to put off doing that chore.

Dead vines hanging from tree branches

Seeing the remnants of that vine hanging all over the place left me thinking, sort of randomly, about the New Age intuitive healing practice of using a crystal to sever old strands of negative energy. Whether or not one believes in it (which isn’t really what this post is about), looking more closely at old memories and emotions often does leave me feeling that they are tangled up with all kinds of other past experiences.

That’s also what traditional psychoanalysis is about—bringing past memories into conscious awareness and sorting through them. Going to see an analyst for self-improvement purposes has fallen out of fashion in recent years, although it was quite popular in some circles a generation ago. Now we read self-help books, visit websites that give advice on nurturing ourselves, and generally try to untangle our own internal dramas as best we can manage it.

Although I would say that fits in fairly well with the modern trend toward learning more about our world and taking more responsibility for the course of our lives, it sometimes can leave us with long strands of bothersome thought patterns spreading unnoticed where we don’t want them—just like the vine that climbed over my fence. Then we’re left with a lot of cleanup to do. The job never gets completely finished, either, because those mental vines always seem to go wandering in unexpected directions.

Still, if we’re reasonably vigilant, we can end up with a landscape that looks pretty good.

Yesterday morning was rainy, and by the time it cleared in the afternoon, the river was very muddy. My husband and I had to wash our boat thoroughly after we went rowing. We had more rain overnight, followed by a damp and cloudy morning. I put an animated image on my art display today that shows rain falling in puddles in a muddy country lane. It’s clearing now, though, and the real-life puddles are drying up.

I would say there’s a simple but useful lesson in there: No matter how rainy, muddy, and messy everything looks at a particular time, it’s probably not going to last very long.

Word-art that says "With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts." -Eleanor Roosevelt 

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.

While I was out shopping over the weekend, I walked past a middle-aged couple in a parking lot. The woman glanced toward me and then said something to her husband about wishing to be young again. In fact, she was only a few years older than I am, if that; but I was wearing a sequined blouse and blue-jean shorts, and the wind was whipping my hair across my face, so I suppose she assumed that I had to be young without looking all that closely at me.

Pink blouse with sequins

I bought the blouse several years ago from a catalog aimed mainly at younger buyers, along with skinny jeans that had pretty embroidery. The jeans are shown in a decluttering post I wrote last year, when I took them to the thrift store because they were a low-cut style that I never felt comfortable wearing (I couldn’t tell from the catalog photo because the model wore the blouse untucked). But anyway, leaving aside the issue of age-appropriate clothing, which could take up an entire post in itself: Would you want to be young again?

Sometimes when I write blog entries having to do with what people think about age, I wonder if I ought to create an “aging” tag for them; but I always end up tagging them as “cultural narratives” instead. The word “aging” is both too general for what I want to say, in that it refers to many things besides people’s attitudes, and too specific in describing a process rather than a wide-ranging set of beliefs.

I do have a “Younger Self” tag that I use for imaginary conversations with myself in the past, which I find helpful for bringing patterns and assumptions to the surface. While it would be nice if I could literally go back in time and give my younger self a few very-much-needed clues, I would much prefer to do it as my present-day self, instead of swapping places and having all those life lessons to struggle through once more.

That’s not to say I am anywhere close to thinking of myself as a wise old woman in the present. To the extent that I can visualize my older self, she sometimes peeks out of a far-distant future to remind me, in a tone of dry amusement, that as far as she’s concerned I am still just a kid with a lot more to learn. I would say that’s good, though. After all, I wouldn’t want to get complacent and stuck in the proverbial rut. Much better if she has more to say a few decades from now, when the world surely will be much changed, about getting out and exploring all those new adventures.

Last weekend my husband and I participated in a rowing camp with traveling coaches who visited our local rowing association. The coaches gave useful advice, such as showing me how to lean at a better angle so as to reach farther with the oars, and telling me to have more patience and not rush.

Patience is something that I need to work on, generally. I wrote another post on that topic for Nurturing Thursday three years ago, and Becca helpfully reminded me that we are exactly where we are supposed to be when we are there. Keeping that in mind and letting things unfold naturally isn’t always easy, though… so I decided that I could use another reminder.

Word-art that says "I am exactly where I need to be, right now." -Janine Ripper 

No matter what the situation, there is always something that can be learned from it; and usually, taking more time makes those opportunities for learning a lot easier to find.

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 had a busy weekend with a lot going on. It’s all good, but it left me feeling like I need to give myself more time to just rest and breathe. Also, can’t forget to de-stress by looking at a few good cat pictures, right? Wouldn’t want to end up like this poor kitty…

Cat picture that says "I'm so stressed out over being stressed out that I can't even remember why I'm stressed out... and it's stressing me out!" 

In the interest of avoiding stressed-out kitty syndrome, I put a beach photo on my art display this morning, with a nice relaxing view of the tide coming in. That, along with getting some exercise rowing for an hour or so this evening, should do the trick.

Beach photo with rising tide 

I’m hoping that this post gave everyone visiting my blog a little bit of stress relief too!

I received the word-art shown below from a coworker who sometimes gets a teeny bit too enthusiastic in her self-appointed duties as team morale booster—she sent it along with an image of Tony the Tiger from those old cereal commercials. Although I have to admit that brought up happy memories of being a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons in blissful ignorance of the evils of eating too much sugar, I decided Tony didn’t need to be part of my Nurturing Thursday post.

Word-art that says "A great attitude becomes a great day which becomes a great month which becomes a great year which becomes a great life." -Mandy Hale 

Tony didn’t get completely dissed, though, because I just can’t resist wishing everyone a gr-r-reat weekend! Along with 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.

May 30, 2017 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I had a weird dream where my husband and I were driving home after a road trip, and we noticed that a broom somehow had gotten in the car. It was just an ordinary, well-used utility broom, like the sort that might be found in the garage next to the rakes and shovels.

Brooms, rakes, and other tools on a rack in the garage. 

My husband wanted to turn around and take the broom back to its owners. I said that instead of wasting time and gas, we should just send them some money to buy another broom or return it the next time we were there. In real life, my husband is sensible enough that I am sure he would agree.

But in the dream, he didn’t see it that way; and suddenly I felt overwhelmed by sadness like it was a horrible tragedy and the end of the world. Then I started to wake up. As the dream faded, something urged me not to forget the details—that I needed to remember.

I dutifully committed this odd dream to memory, although I had no clue what profound message my subconscious mind might have wanted to communicate by way of a misplaced broom. After pondering it for a while, I decided that it had something to do with sweeping away unnecessary drama. Maybe what I need to remember is that small disruptions shouldn’t feel like the end of the world!

As those of us in the Northern Hemisphere go into the summer season of picnics, parades, beach parties and other seasonal fun with our friends and family members, we should cultivate a habit of putting kind acts on our schedules too. No matter how much kindness we share, it never runs short—there’s always much more to go around!

Word-art that says "Throw kindness around like confetti." 

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.

Although I’m not really going to the beach for Memorial Day weekend, I decided to get in the mood anyway by putting a cute beach and pool cartoon on my art display. Okay, maybe I can’t jump into the picture and be there; but hey, my inner child doesn’t know that, right?

Cartoon image of a pool with lounge chairs at the beach. 

Who says that doing therapy on oneself has to be all about angst and excavating mounds of deeply buried negative emotions? I honestly think that sometimes it might be more worthwhile just to invite my inner child to hang out at the beach for a little while, build a sand castle or two, and enjoy a yummy confection from the ice-cream truck.

At the very least, it can be a useful reminder not to take life too seriously!