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.

I hadn’t yet gotten around to writing my Nurturing Thursday post by late afternoon when I went to get groceries. While I was in the supermarket, my thoughts started wandering along self-critical paths such as that I’d been writing these posts for three years and working on self-nurturing and positivity in general, so I really ought to feel happier than I was, and what had I been doing wrong to mess myself up?

Then I walked out to the parking lot after sunset, under a gorgeous deep blue sky. The blue reflected so beautifully from the metal on my car that I was just standing there thinking, “Wow, this can’t be my car, I don’t have blue trim.” And all those pointless other thoughts drifted away.

Word-art that says "Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy." 

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 15, 2017 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

My daughter’s dog, called Diva in this blog because she will sometimes sit by the front door wailing like a tragic opera singer when my daughter goes out without her, will soon be three years old. Yesterday my husband mentioned that he likes to get presents for the dog on her birthday and Christmas, even though pets have no concept of celebrating special days, just because the dog is part of the family.

We gift-wrapped a dog biscuit and some chew toys, along with the other presents under the tree, when our daughter (who is currently a student in a nurse practitioner program in Cleveland) came home for Christmas. Diva Dog definitely got into the spirit of the occasion in tearing off the wrapping paper!

Small dog trying to open a Christmas present. 

That conversation with my husband yesterday got me wondering just how common it is to gift-wrap presents for the family dog. Readers, do you have any interesting stories about doggie presents? If so, feel free to post them—I’m curious!

Waking up on a sunny morning toward the end of winter, when the sun already is well above the horizon and the birds are singing cheerfully, leaves me feeling that the day has gotten off to a good start. Even if the outside air is still quite chilly, spring is not far away!

Of course, the birds will sing anyway, even if it is cloudy and rainy, because nobody ever told them that meant it was dreary. They’re just happy that it is nest-building season and the earth is bustling with new life. Those birds could teach us a useful lesson about starting the day on a good note!

Word-art that says "One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day." 

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 8, 2017 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

A few years ago, my employer started calling annual pay increases “rewards.” Maybe I am old-fashioned, but that word choice has rubbed me the wrong way ever since I first saw it. Instead of the more dignified, businesslike language of past years, such as “compensation adjustment,” it leaves me with the distinct impression that pay raises have been trivialized to the level of shopper loyalty discounts.

Well, okay, I get it, we’re in the Twitter age now, and people don’t really expect dry businesslike wording anymore. Besides, given how often younger workers change jobs and careers, it wouldn’t be surprising if they really do see their pay raises as not much more significant than the gas discount at the supermarket.

Gas station in front of a Kroger supermarket. 

Still, if it were up to me, which it isn’t, I would prefer more formality. After all, in a world where everything has been changing so quickly around us, I find it reassuring when the workplace rituals have some predictable structure and stability, rather than devolving to the language of gimmicks.

In the grand scheme of things, this is just a petty gripe, I know. What matters is that the money shows up in my paycheck, whatever they want to call it. Most people probably don’t think twice about the wording. Readers, what’s your opinion? Do you care what a pay raise is called, or are you totally practical and only interested in the amount of it?

Although having so much access to information in the modern world can be a wonderful thing, one of the drawbacks is that we’re always seeing media stories about people who are more successful in one way or another. That can leave us feeling unsure of ourselves and doubting our abilities. If we took the time to look back over the years and list all our accomplishments, then we might realize that the list looks pretty good; but instead, we’re likely to read stories about celebrities that leave us wondering why our lives are not as glamorous, even if we wouldn’t really want to be them anyway.

Rather than worrying about how we measure up to all those totally unrealistic cultural standards, we’d do better to reflect on how much we are actually capable of doing—which is, in truth, far more than we know.

Word-art that says "If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." -Thomas Alva Edison 

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.

When I wrote last winter on the topic of sorting out my subconscious narratives about money, I imagined packing off my inner Cinderella to start a new and happier life in the abandoned village of Channelwood from the computer game Myst. After she sailed off into the sunset, I thought that maybe I would feel more comfortable with spending money.

It didn’t quite work out that way, though. This winter, I still felt that my subconscious money stories weren’t what I needed to feel confident about my finances. What was I missing? Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t crafted a new story to replace Cinderella. Just sending her away was not enough; I needed to fill the space with something better, or else those old anxieties would creep back into their familiar haunts.

So I decided to go visit Cinderella and see how she was settling into her new home. I’d promised to bring her some playmates anyway, whenever I found similar characters wandering around in my mind. The journey began with a leisurely carriage ride through the foggy streets of nineteenth-century London, accompanied by young Sara Crewe from the children’s classic “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Sara was a well-mannered and thoughtful child, with dark hair and big green eyes, who had been left with nothing but her pride and her imagination upon being orphaned. All at once, she went from being the most pampered pupil at an exclusive private school to a bleak existence as a half-starved drudge living in the school’s attic with the rats. She never complained, but got through her days by pretending that she was a princess in a fairy tale and that there would be a magical happy ending (which of course there was, since this is an old-fashioned children’s story).

The author’s main point was that with enough imagination, anything is possible. When I read the book as a child, though, it also gave me the message that life is precarious. No matter how good everything seems to be at the moment, it all could vanish tomorrow. Fate is fickle, and even if the story may eventually have a happy ending, there’s no way of knowing how far in the future it could be.

Sun setting in orange clouds over the ocean.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Once aboard the ship, Sara gazed quietly out over the waves with a little smile, as if remembering happy travels in her past. We arrived at Channelwood just as the sun was about to set in a gorgeous orange sky. A small figure ran to greet us at the dock, with rosy cheeks, bright eyes, and strands of golden hair escaping from a simple bonnet.

“You’re looking very well indeed, Ella,” I greeted her. “The sea air and the peace and quiet certainly do agree with you! Here’s a young friend I brought to keep you company.”

After making our introductions, we walked up a neatly swept wooden path to the wicker tree houses of the village, set high in the branches above a bayou. Waves lapped gently at the thick trunks. Flower boxes at intervals along the path were bright spots of color in the fading sunlight. A breeze carried the inviting scent of ripe peaches from a well-tended orchard on higher ground not far ahead, where a windmill spun briskly.

“I’m used to keeping things tidy,” said Ella in a matter-of-fact tone, when I complimented her industrious work. “Really, it’s not that hard. There are oysters in the bay, and sometimes they have pearls, which I can trade for cloth and whatever else I need. The ship comes by often enough that I haven’t felt too alone. It will be lovely to have Sara here, though!”

We both turned toward Sara, who had tilted her head to one side and was gazing up into the branches. She declared cheerfully, “These houses are so tiny, I think they were built by a tribe of monkey people. I can imagine them leaping along the walkways between the trees and swinging from the branches, can’t you?”

Ella’s momentary look of bafflement made plain she hadn’t imagined anything of the sort, but she gave Sara a good-natured smile anyway. “If there once were monkey people, they’re not here now. We have the village all to ourselves, and with two of us, we can fix it up twice as nice!”

The girls chatted enthusiastically by the flickering light of peach-scented candles, over a simple dinner of baked fish and vegetables, about all the things they could do with an entire village to themselves. Then we all slept comfortably, up in the trees, on wicker beds heaped high with down-filled cushions. (In real life, I took a break from writing this post to eat pizza for dinner when I wasn’t sure how the ending would go, and after a while I went to sleep in my usual bed.)

When I woke up much refreshed (in both this story and real life), I noticed a positive shift in my mental energy, which can best be described as an “it’s not that hard” feeling. At first I wondered where it had come from, and then I realized it was the change I had intended to set in motion with this story! After I left Ella’s description of her new life to sleep on last night, it soon found a place in my subconscious where I wanted it. Pearls and orchards—a world of abundance for the picking!

I thanked Ella for her hospitality, said my fond good-byes to both her and Sara, and returned to the ship to sail back into reality—which, as all good readers know, is always intertwined with the realm of imagination.

Although I don’t work in a scientific field, I enjoyed this amusing bit of word-art sent to me in a coworker’s email recently, so I decided to share it for today’s post:

Word-art showing an atom that says "Think like a Proton and stay Positive." 

And while we’re on the topic of atoms, I couldn’t resist adding a music video of “Atomic Dog” to this post. Just go ahead and sing along with that old-school funk, and forget all about being a responsible adult; that’ll give you a smile for Nurturing Thursday. Bow wow wow…


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 week’s rare February warmth made it possible to get an early start on the rowing season, so my husband and I made plans to meet at the boathouse after work. The weather didn’t turn out to be as warm or sunny as the forecast had predicted, but it was still fun to get back on the water, clouds or no clouds. Although the water is still cold and there is bridge construction going on nearby, I didn’t mind—that made it more like an adventure.

Double scull at the dock on a gray February afternoon. 

I must have been secretly longing for some bright sky after the cloudy winter, though, because the picture that I put on my art display today is a photo from Sri Lanka. Next best thing to a real tropical vacation.

Trees at the shore and golden clouds in Sri Lanka. 

Don’t the colors in that sky look yummy enough to eat?

I had a conversation with my manager this afternoon about the company’s plans to encourage employees to develop more skills. She said that because of automation and other rapid changes in the workplace, people will need to be more flexible in moving to new tasks and positions, instead of expecting to do the same job every day for years.

Of course, that wasn’t really news; it has been going on for a while now, all throughout the economy. Millennials change jobs all the time and think nothing of it. For those of us who aren’t quite that young, it can be more of a challenge to picture ourselves in a different work environment. Either way, we’re likely to end up in a future that is very far from what we imagined. The most important skill for this uncertain future may simply be the ability to live in the present and take one breath at a time, without fear.

Word-art that says "Inhale the future, exhale the past." 

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.