August 16, 2018 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Monday seemed like a melancholy day, without much good reason for it. Dark thunderstorms and cooler temperatures have been rolling through the area for days, making it feel as if we’ve already lost the warmth of summer; and I was bothered at times by memories of past foolish acts when I was younger. Of course, those things didn’t matter much even at the time, and they’re all totally unimportant now; but they just tend to stick around as little irritants in the mind—rather like burrs, or maybe sand and grit in shoes.

So when I went to bed Monday night, I decided that I would benefit from a calming visit to my imaginary Channelwood Sanatorium for troubled past selves, as described in several of my Younger Self posts. I generally picture two of Channelwood’s tiny homes as being kept available for my use. They’re both about the same in dimensions and furnishings, about 100 square feet and containing a bed that converts to a daybed, a nightstand, a small desk, and a dresser/wardrobe unit that has a mirror with an ornate pewter frame hanging above the dresser section.

The only difference is that they are located on opposite ends of the village. One is deep in the forest, while the other is close to the beach. Depending on which I choose, when I get in bed I’ll set my clock radio to play either an ocean soundtrack or a rainforest with tropical birds singing.
 

Tropical bird on branch in rainforest.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

I started to feel better after listening to the rain and birdsong through my imaginary window on Monday, and then it occurred to me that perhaps all those annoying past incidents needed was a few good laughs to take the sting out of them. After all, it really was very silly that I still felt bothered by insignificant stuff that happened 30 or 40 years ago. Some of the people there at the time probably weren’t even alive now.

Although that last sentence looks like a morbid thought when put into written words, it briefly struck me as hilarious in my half-asleep brain. I pictured myself telling them, “Hey, guess what, you guys are dead now! Ha, ha, wasn’t it silly, all the ridiculous stuff that we used to think mattered?”

Then a few of their disembodied voices joined in the laughter. “Yeah, we’ve been dead for years! We’re all jolly ghosts now! Ho, ho, being human was so absurd! Can you believe we ever imagined any of that nonsense was important? What a hoot!”

We all laughed raucously together for a minute or two, while the birds went on singing and a cool, refreshing rainforest breeze blew through the tiny house’s open windows.

“Thanks for dropping by, you guys,” I finally said, just a little more seriously. “You’ve really cheered me up.”

“No problem, glad to oblige,” one of the ghosts promptly replied. “Hey, it gets kind of boring sometimes, being dead and all that.”

My husband bought a waterproof bag for his mobile phone so that he can keep it with him when we go rowing. The bag is designed to allow operation of the touch screen through a clear front panel.

This morning before he left for work, he held up the bag with the phone inside to show it to me. Then he told me to smile and took a picture of us both smiling at the camera. That started the day out on a cheerful note!
 

Word-art that says "A smile is a curve that sets everything straight." -Phyllis Diller 

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.

August 7, 2018 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

Last night I dreamed that I was a trucker (in real life, I’ve never driven a truck) and I had a white goat named Wilhelmina, who rode in the passenger seat of the cab, happily looking out the window and watching the world go by. I took her for a walk at a truck stop like a dog.
 

White goat standing on grass.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

I’ve never owned a goat in real life either, but I’ll guess that the meaning of this dream had to do with being adventurous—getting out and seeing more of the world. Long-haul truckers drive to new places every day. Dogs and other pets that enjoy riding in vehicles are always excited about the adventure.

Why a goat rather than a dog? Maybe just to put more emphasis on the idea of doing something unusual. I’m not sure where the name Wilhelmina came from, as I’ve never known anyone by that name. It sounds like a German queen, though, so it does add to the travel motif. Anyway, this dream gave me a bit of fun trying to figure it all out!

When a coworker recently sent me the image below, I thought it was cute, but couldn’t quite decide whether it would be suitable for Nurturing Thursday. I put it in my media library anyway.

Then I saw it again while I was sitting at the computer just now, trying to make up my mind what to write for today’s entry, and I had to laugh at myself. I certainly wasn’t being decisive! So, in the interest of not ending up as Nurturing Thursday roadkill, I went ahead and put the image into the post. Hope you all enjoy it!
 

Word-art that says "Remember, right or wrong, be decisive. The Road of Life is paved with too many flat squirrels that couldn't make a decision..." 

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.

August 2, 2018 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

To simplify their lives, my husband’s parents try to avoid scheduling more than one activity on the same day, which they view as “too much confusion.” I usually am more flexible than that, but this week definitely had more confusion than its fair share.

Monday started out pretty good when an energy-efficiency rebate check from the power company arrived for replacing the old air conditioner. Unfortunately, the equally old refrigerator died on Monday evening, so that money now has to go toward its replacement.

No food got spoiled because the freezer side is still working and my husband brought an old dorm refrigerator (left over from when our daughter was in college) upstairs from the basement. Still, it was disruptive, what with going shopping for the new refrigerator and having computer issues at work.

Tuesday was a dark, rainy day. I got confused driving to the appliance store because the street numbers changed from one city to another, and I had to call my husband (who was meeting me there) to find out where to go. I put an image of a dark, tangled tree on my art display because it seemed to fit.
 

Dark tree outlined by pale green leaves. 

The new refrigerator is on order and should arrive next week sometime, so the confusion won’t last forever. Yesterday evening we went rowing on a nice calm river. Getting outdoors and spending time in nature always helps to calm the mind and the senses.

Last summer the rowing club bought some new boats, and this year they’re selling older ones. Because the boathouse manager was going to be out of town when buyers from another club came on Wednesday evening to pick up two boats, my husband volunteered to meet the buyers at the boathouse.

We helped them to take off the riggers for transport and to lift the boats up on top of their truck. It was sunny and hot, and we ended up being about an hour late for our usual Wednesday evening row, but it worked out all right. By the time we got on the river, the temperature had cooled off and felt very pleasant. The water was very calm, and we rowed most of our usual distance before it started getting dark. It turned out to be a beautiful day on the river!
 

Word-art that says "How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it." -George Elliston 

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 didn’t sleep well on Sunday night. Although I went to bed at a reasonable hour, it seemed like I had already been lying awake for a very long time when a parade of my younger selves began showing up, one after another. They were all very distressed, crying about how unfairly they’d been treated on some long-ago occasion, even though they had done all that reasonably could be expected.

For a while, I did my best to comfort them with imaginary hugs, reassure them it wasn’t their fault, and sing them to sleep; but they just kept on coming. I tossed and turned, now completely miserable myself. I felt like I would never get any sleep no matter what I did, and then I’d have to drag myself out of bed for work.

Long after midnight, I got up to drink some water. I felt parched, like there wasn’t enough water in the world, even though in fact I’d had plenty to drink on Sunday. After lying back down, I couldn’t get comfortable because however I turned, my body seemed full of aches and pains, battered and worn down by many years of stress. Then the younger selves started in again with their litany of woes. It was all so unfair. I felt responsible for comforting them, almost like I was their mom; but who was going to comfort me?

This was definitely not just an ordinary night of “the blues.” There were so many layers of blues piling on top of each other, it felt like I was lost and doomed to wander forever in a deep blue wilderness.
 

Blue night clouds in Oregon wilderness.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

Then I saw daylight behind my closed eyes. My first thought was that I must have gotten at least an hour of sleep. I carefully got out of bed, anticipating that something would hurt; but there was no pain anywhere. I felt healthy, refreshed, and full of energy. How could that be?

I got a cupful of water, picked up my mobile phone, and opened the Fitbit app in which I log my daily water intake. One feature of the Fitbit wristband is that it senses when the wearer is sleeping. The app showed that I had slept for a normal eight hours, with only a few minutes awake when I got up in the night for water.

Only then did I realize that I had just been dreaming. The achy, sleepless “me” who had become old, tired, resentful, and worn down from many years of taking on too much responsibility and complaining about life’s unfairness was not really me at all. Rather, she was a very literal manifestation of a wake-up call from Spirit, showing the natural consequences of such feelings.

I went into Monday morning with much gratitude, as if I had reached the end of my life and then, through miraculous grace, had been given a chance to start over.

Sometimes (and I’m sure this happens to many of us) when I sit down at the computer intending to write a blog post, I find myself wandering off and reading other people’s blogs instead. Then I feel as if I’ve been wasting time because I sat there for so long and have no creative work to show for it.

Looking at it from a broader perspective, though, it’s not really a waste of time at all. Not only do I learn more by taking the time to read more, I’m also contributing to the development of a kinder and more nurturing society when I write encouraging comments on blogs. It’s also fair to say (and I actually did once say this to my manager) that blogging and participating in writing groups for many years improved my feedback skills, which are valuable in today’s team-oriented workplace.
 

Word-art that says "No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted." 

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.

July 18, 2018 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

When my husband and I have been sculling in our double this summer, we’ve been rowing briskly and then picking up the pace as we practice sprinting to the finish. That may seem like a very basic thing to do, but in past years I never could quite manage it. We learned to row only five years ago, taught by volunteer instructors at the club, and we had no proper coaching until we attended a rowing camp last summer.

So when we started going to regattas in our second year of rowing, my idea of sprinting was pretty simple—row as fast as I could and try to keep that up for the whole course (Masters sprints are 1 km). By the time we got near the finish, I didn’t have anywhere near enough energy to go faster.

Then we went to rowing camp last year, where we learned how to set up our boat properly and sit farther forward to get more powerful strokes. And this year, when we attended the camp again, I learned how to pause for just a fraction of a second after dropping the oars into the water, so as to make sure they are fully in the water and not waste my energy. That also helps us to stay better synchronized.

Although it seemed counterintuitive at first, now the boat goes faster even though I’m taking fewer strokes and using less energy. There’s a general life lesson in there, I’d say. When we take a moment to slow down and make sure we are properly situated, that can result in getting things done more quickly and effectively.

When I was looking online for a sculling photo to illustrate this post, I came across one that was taken with the Royal Dutch Mint in the background:
 

Sculler in front of the Royal Dutch Mint.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

So far my husband and I haven’t done a lot of traveling to regattas—we go down to Tennessee a few times a year, but that’s usually as far from home as we get. It would be fun to have a rowing adventure in Europe someday, though!

Because the weather around here has been hot and sunny for some time, I’ve been watering the row of willows in my backyard with a soaker hose. They used to be lush and healthy, as shown in this photo from 2015, but they’ve been dying back for the past few years after having been stressed by several cold winters and hot, dry summers.
 

My backyard willow hedge, bright and green in summer. 

I’ve read that because they are such fast-growing plants, they generally grow back well after being topped, so they’ll probably be okay. But after all the time I spent cutting off half-dead branches, I ended up feeling that those willows had turned into a giant time-sucking chore.

Truth be told, I hadn’t paid enough attention to them in previous years. Because I never took the time to prune them properly when they were smaller, they got overgrown with low branches that were in my husband’s way when he mowed the lawn.

Now, as they grow back, they’ll be in much better shape. So I have to say that I’ve learned a few useful lessons about paying more attention to routine maintenance, which I’d do well to appreciate rather than judging the willows as nothing but an unfortunate chore.
 

Word-art that says "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant." -Robert Louis Stevenson 

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.