This morning I dreamed that one of the rabbits in the backyard decided it wanted to be a house pet, and so it kept trying to follow my husband and me into the house. Of course, that would never really happen because they all seem to have normal bunny instincts, meaning that they scamper when they see us, or stay very still and hope they won’t be noticed.

And of course, because our daughter visits often with her dogs, the house would not be the most comfortable place for a rabbit to live in! As silly as it was, though, I woke up smiling after that dream—so it’s all good.
 

Word-art that says "Good vibes only!" 

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.

As summer comes to an end, the shorter days generally mean less time spent outdoors. Although the weather may still be hot and muggy, like it has been around here for the past week, the angle of the sun makes clear that it’s not July anymore. Still, I enjoy the peace and calm of September evenings. Even on days when I don’t go down to the river to row, I like to post sunset photos on my digital art display and imagine that I’m looking out over the water in some new and exciting place.
 

Sunset over water with tree branches. 

I suppose the peaceful feelings that people get from pictures of calm rivers and lakes must go back to prehistoric times, when such landscapes usually meant that all was well—plenty of water to drink, along with fish and other food to hunt and gather. Probably there’s something deep down in the primitive parts of our brains telling us that we need to spend time in such places.

Wherever it may come from, I definitely feel refreshed when I walk by the river—or imagine myself looking out the window of a beautiful lakefront vacation home—as the evenings come earlier.

The rowing club’s fall regatta season starts this weekend, with a race in Cleveland on Saturday. Not many of the club members are making the trip, though; it’s just me, my husband, and another guy. Some other people thought about going, but they couldn’t get their plans together.

It does take some commitment, as well as organization, to travel regularly to the regattas. I don’t have quite enough vacation days this year, and rather than taking off all the Fridays before weekend trips, I’m planning to work some extra hours during the week and leave early on those Fridays.

I can’t complain, though, because it is helpful to have that flexibility. After all, not everyone has the option of rearranging their workweek when they have things to do.
 

Word-art that says "At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

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 never been among those who hurry out and buy pumpkin spice products as soon as they show up on the store shelves in late August, but I can understand the feeling. As the season changes and the days get shorter and darker, we need to surround ourselves with fun little things to keep us feeling cheerful, even on stormy afternoons when we can’t get out and do much.

So, I’m sharing a harvest tapestry image for Nurturing Thursday, even though it’s not quite fall yet:
 

Seasonal word-art with leaves, pumpkins, and autumn-related words such as "harvest" and "thankful hearts." 

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.

This year my husband and I have been rowing singles many days, rather than only sculling in our double. We bought the singles to celebrate our 30th anniversary, which was in May. It was my husband’s idea and a surprise to me. I had suggested that he might want to look into buying a single because he had been taking a very old club boat to the regattas, and it was too big for him and poorly suited to his rowing style. I never thought about getting one for myself, though. The club boats did not fit me any better (worse, actually), but I was happy with the double, rarely rowed singles, and never had considered racing one.

Now that I’ve had a few months to get used to rowing a single that is the right size and is set up the way I like it, I’ve been starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of taking it to regattas. My husband suggested that I enter an October head race on our favorite course in Tennessee. (Head races are 5K races during the fall season, so-called because they often take place at the head of a river.)
 

One double and two single sculling boats. 

I was wondering how many women would be competing in my age group. When my husband looked up last year’s race, he told me that there was only one rower in the category of women over 50 racing a single. Other regattas that we like to attend are much the same, with very few older women rowing singles; and my practice times are competitive with their race times, despite my lack of experience.

Although that should mean I can expect to win medals, it is also a bit disconcerting. I understand that much of it is generational, in that most women my age were not encouraged to be athletic when we were growing up. A woman of my generation might enjoy racing in a mixed crew with her husband, but she is not as likely to think about signing up for individual events. Younger women often are more adventurous and competitive because the times have changed.

So, it doesn’t mean that I am now so old that my competition has started dying off. Nor does it have any logical bearing on how many years I might be healthy enough to row. The fact that such thoughts even briefly came to mind bugs me anyway, though.

Last year I began writing occasional stories about my fantastically adventurous future self, aka Fannie, mainly to remind myself that there are many other possible futures besides the usual culturally-conditioned aging scenarios. I decided that Fannie should be 119 years old, not because I expect to live to that age or any other particular age, but simply to kick all such expectations much farther down the road.

Some folks really do live that long in the present day, and it seems likely that longevity will increase as a result of scientific advances. That puts Fannie within the bounds of reasonable possibility, although I never intended my stories about her to be realistic, or close to it; they’re aimed more at liberating my thoughts from other people’s overly narrow ideas of what is or should be realistic.

In that spirit, and without making any assumptions beyond observing that the future surely holds more possibilities than we know, I’ve found myself reflecting on the ideas I had about aging when I was a teenager. Back then, to the (very minimal) extent I thought about it at all, I didn’t see myself living past 80, which seemed ancient and very far away. This morning I put a birthday card in the mail for my mom, who turns 80 next week and is generally healthy. My dad and my husband’s parents already are over 80, and whatever notions I might have had about when a person becomes “ancient” have changed accordingly.

So I’m wondering—now that becoming “ancient” seems much farther away than I once imagined it, and there is at least some possibility I could have another half-century or more of healthy life remaining—why should I feel any closer to old age (whatever that may mean) than I felt when I was a teenager?

This time of year, often there are storms rolling through the area when my husband and I go rowing after work. We can’t always tell from looking at the weather forecast if we’re likely to get wet. So, we sometimes drive down to the boathouse, which is not too far from home, and then look at the sky and check the weather radar to get a better idea if any storms are near. We might row one lap and then stop to take another look.

What often happens on such days is that we have the river to ourselves because other rowing club members decide to stay home. They look at the sky, see dark clouds, and don’t want to risk the possibility they might be caught in a storm. As a result, they miss out on a lot of days that turn out to be good after all.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that anyone should take foolish risks. If we hear thunder while we’re rowing, we hurry back to the dock and get off the water like we’re supposed to do. But if we’re not sure that it will rain, we generally prefer to err on the side of adventure rather than caution.
 

Word-art that says "Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure." 

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 enjoy having a digital art display on an otherwise blank wall because I can imagine it as a window into many places. The company that made it is no longer in business, though, and I can’t always count on being able to log into the online art library to change the picture. Not enough bandwidth where it is now hosted, apparently. Of course, I’m lucky that it still functions at all, rather than ending up as just a dead screen.

It’s a bit of a disruption to my routine because I had gotten used to changing the picture every morning, so as to imagine myself starting the day in a new and different place. Now I can rarely log in that early and instead have to wait until the afternoon. Today I wanted to display this peaceful image of a garden path, but I had to try several times before it worked.
 

Flagstone path through a perennial garden.

(Photo credit: Jennifer Rafleyan)
 

I found myself thinking about how people create calming rituals and routines to make a busy, complicated world feel a little more manageable. When it works as intended, it’s all good; but when something doesn’t go quite right, it becomes another source of anxiety.

Looking at it in perspective, the time of day when I change the picture is so insignificant that I shouldn’t care at all. Most disruptions to everyday activities are just as small and unimportant, but people often find them hard to cope with anyway. That’s probably because in the modern world, there is always so much going on at once, the least little disruption can feel like it might all spin out of control.

That feeling is just an illusion, though, like the window on my wall that isn’t really a window. Those little disturbances and interruptions usually cause no problems at all. The more difficult part is simply to convince the subconscious mind that it’s all okay. Looking on the bright side, a nice, relaxing imaginary walk along the garden path should help with that…

I had a conversation on another blog this week about writing affirmations and how that can make them feel more concrete. I said that’s how blogging can be too; we attract readers for whom our words resonate, and we affirm the content of our blog entries in our own minds.

So, at the risk of getting a little bit goofy (which seems to be the way this summer has been going for me anyway), I decided that my Nurturing Thursday post would be about sharing fun affirmations and good vibes with my readers.
 

Word-art that says "Sending good vibes your way! Zazzle! Zing!" 

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.

Over the weekend I sat down and began writing a few times, but never finished any of it. The weather was sunny, warm, and beautiful, and getting outdoors seemed much more appealing.

The rowing club had a canoe race on Saturday against some members of the canoe club across the river. My husband got in the canoe, but I opted to watch from the shore, which turned out to be a wise decision when the canoe overturned in the middle of the river. No harm done to anything but the rowers’ pride, but I was glad to have stayed dry.

Then I got “Margaritaville” stuck in my head for most of Sunday, which was apparently my subconscious mind’s snarky answer to whatever thoughts I had about being more diligent with my writing.
 

 

When I went to bed, I tried to reboot my brain and get ready for a more creative week by listening to ocean sounds on my clock radio and trying to visualize an insightful younger self with a helpful life lesson to ponder. But instead, all that came to mind was an image of Fannie, my 119-year-old future self, sitting in a lively beachfront bar that looked like something out of Star Wars and smiling at me while holding up—yeah, you guessed it—a margarita.

At least there was no Jabba the Hutt anywhere to be seen, so I suppose I ought to be grateful for small mercies. I don’t know the reason I’ve been goofy all season, but I know it’s nobody’s fault. Or maybe, well, it could be my fault…

My daughter and her dogs visited again last weekend. In between looking at new cars and talking about all the things she’d like to do, she came down to the river to row with us and her brother. The next day she went kayaking with a friend. Toward the end of her visit, when the dogs started snoozing on the floor, I thought she was going to doze off right next to them! That would have been okay—even though people in today’s world get used to always being busy, we need to give ourselves a little downtime too.
 

Word-art that says "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." 

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.