As the end of the year draws closer, I’ve been reflecting on how things went with my resolution of gratitude for the empty spaces left behind after clearing away mental garbage. Even if those spaces hadn’t yet filled up with healthy positive energy, they were still an improvement over stagnant feelings of anger and fear; and I resolved that this year, I would appreciate them as such.

Although I never did wake up one morning to find myself unexpectedly bubbling over with fresh enthusiasm and feeling like a completely new person—or anything nearly that dramatic—there were subtler shifts as the year went on. Those old subconscious dramas slowly faded away, no longer appearing to be present-day obstacles. In their place came quiet confidence and trust in a stronger future; and then, after a while, problems started to feel as if their solutions always had been there.
 

Word-art showing Dorothy's feet with the quote "You've always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself." -Glinda, Wizard of Oz 

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.

Looking at our past experiences in the light of everything that we’ve learned over the years, sometimes we’re left with bad feelings about our old mistakes. We judge ourselves harshly, asking how we could have been so foolish and messed things up so much.

When I catch myself doing that, I take a moment to shift my perspective and consider what might have been gained from the mistake. Often the “failure” was actually a valuable learning experience, setting the stage for much better things to happen. Instead of criticizing our past selves for their ignorance, we should instead thank them for their wisdom and perseverance in understanding the lesson and trying again!
 

Word-art that says "You only fail when you stop trying." 

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 I’ve been feeling kind of rushed, like there is too much going on. I haven’t really had all that much to do, besides insurance open enrollment (which I did this afternoon) and a class I’m scheduled to attend Friday morning. Maybe the end of the Thanksgiving weekend made the workweek seem busier, or it could just be the season generally.

Busy feelings are pretty common this time of year. The modern world has its stresses, and as it gets more complicated every year, that means there are more things to keep up with and more decision points where mistakes could be made.

Even when we feel like there’s too much going on, it helps to keep in mind that most of it doesn’t matter much. Unlike our peasant ancestors getting ready for winter, we can be reasonably confident that when we make mistakes or leave a few things undone, they won’t cause us to starve, freeze, or get eaten by wolves. So, whatever we do, there’s really no need to stress about what else could have been done.
 

Word-art that says "Do what you can with what you have where you are." 

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.

My family always runs the Turkey Trot road race on Thanksgiving morning. This is our 15th year; it has become a family tradition. Our daughter had to miss it this year, though, because she is a nurse and was scheduled to work.

She’ll eat the turkey dinner with the family, though; and that is enough for it to be a happy Thanksgiving. Wishing all my readers a happy and thankful day too!
 

Word-art of a turkey saying "Happy Thanksgiving!"

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

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.

These dark autumn afternoons have put me in mind of childhood days when I would go out to play after school, no matter what the season or the weather. Paths in the woods were always an adventure, and sometimes I would go off the path and imagine myself to be a famous explorer in the wilderness. Even if I got burrs in my stockings (that was back before girls wore pants), it was fun anyway.

As adults, we spend most of our time following the well-worn paths of our everyday activities. This time of year, it’s probably dark when we get finished with our work, and we have other things to do and wouldn’t be interested in getting mud on our shoes wandering in the woods anyway. Still, it’s good to keep the spirit of exploration alive, such as by learning something new or visiting blogs we haven’t read before. When we get off the path, there’s no telling what discoveries we might make!
 

Word-art that says "Do not go where the path may lead; go where there is no path and leave a trail." -Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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.

One of the assistant coaches for our local rowing club’s junior program, who had been driving the boat trailer to regattas and scrimmages, quit recently because he got too busy with other things. That left the junior program without a trailer driver for the rest of the fall season because a parent who often had volunteered to tow the trailer also was no longer available.

My husband, who had gotten some practice driving the adult trailer, volunteered to take the junior trailer to the final regatta of the season last weekend. That was not much fun because the junior trailer is old, heavy, and poorly balanced, so towing it required a large rental truck; my husband couldn’t use his SUV like he had been doing with the adult program’s nice new trailer. Also, he had to drive through a major thunderstorm on the way back.

The juniors showed their appreciation by buying his dinner and giving him a thank-you note and an Amazon gift card. Meanwhile, I had mostly used up an old gift card that I had been buying Kindle books with, and it was a nice surprise for me when my husband asked if I would like to have the Amazon gift card. It all goes to show—there’s no way of telling how far our simple acts of kindness and appreciation can keep on going!
 

Word-art that says "Anytime you can have a positive impact on someone else's life, don't think about it, just do 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.

The furnace in my house was having some problems Wednesday afternoon, and my husband spent some time tracing wires and checking circuits. He never did find out which one of the switches was faulty—all of them tested okay, and the furnace just came back on spontaneously.

That left me thinking about how we often can’t trace the events that happen in our everyday lives. Even if something looks like it is small and unimportant, that is not necessarily the case; it could turn out to be much more significant than we realize at the time.
 

Word-art that says "Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end." -Scott Adams 

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.

My husband deserves a shout-out for going above and beyond the call of duty on Sunday afternoon when he cleaned the shower and mowed the lawn at the same time. First he sprayed on some shower cleaner, then he went outside and mowed for a while, then he took a break from mowing and came back in to spray the shower some more. After he finished mowing, he hosed off the mower so that the garage wouldn’t smell like decaying grass clumps, which got him wet and splashed all over with grass goo, and finally he went inside and scrubbed the shower thoroughly while also cleaning himself up. What a guy.

When our family members and other people in our lives do something that’s worthy of appreciation, we should take a little time to compliment them for it. There’s always something nice that we can say!
 

Cartoon with a ruler saying "You rock!" and a rock saying "You rule!" 

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.

Sometimes it seems like the more effort we put into letting things go, the more we look around and discover there’s still a lot to be done. When clutter gets cleared away, another heap of it turns up somewhere; and when those dusty old mental storerooms full of sad memories and wrong assumptions get a good sorting and sweeping, there are plenty more to be found. After a while, it starts to feel like too much effort and a never-ending chore.

That generally means it’s time to stop pushing and simply be present in the moment. We can learn a lot from nature in that regard, especially this time of year. When the trees let go of their bright autumn leaves, they don’t have to make any effort. Cool winds blow through the branches, and the leaves just fall naturally. Sometimes, as autumn shows us, letting things go doesn’t have to be hard.
 

Word-art that says "Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go." 

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 weekend my family went on a one-mile “fun run.” Many people brought their dogs, and my daughter pushed her little dog in a stroller. The morning was a bit chilly, so we wore light jackets as we walked to the start line. I didn’t press the stopwatch button on my sports watch because I thought it would just be a nice easy run, with no reason to time it.

I ran with my husband at first, but then he speeded up and got ahead of me. After a little while my daughter’s fiancé passed me with his Labradoodle puppy, Ziggy, loping happily by on legs that looked like they’d gotten much longer since I last saw him. A few other guys passed me too, but most of my attention was on the puppy, who looked very excited about being taken to such a big event.

After I finished the race, I got a cup of water and a freebie sugar cookie (yum) contributed by a sponsor bakery. Then I put on my jacket, but I soon took it off again because the sleeves felt sweaty enough to be uncomfortable. That seemed kind of peculiar when I hadn’t done anything other than a one-mile fun run, but then we all went out to brunch and my thoughts moved on to other things.

I washed the jacket along with the workout clothes after I got home, and I didn’t think anything more about it until my husband looked up the race results online and said, “Hey, Meg, did you know that you ran an eight-minute mile and were the first woman to finish the race?”

My first thought was, well, that explains the jacket! And my second thought was, dang, I hadn’t run that fast in, what, 14 or 15 years, maybe?

That left me wondering how much I had been subconsciously limiting myself through low expectations all those years. Back in August, I wrote a blog post about my imaginary adventures in 2083. Some of the adventures were pretty silly, but the post had a more serious aim; I wrote in it that I wanted to plant healthy ideas in my subconscious to crowd out negative views of aging. After running so fast in a fun sprint without even realizing it, I’m beginning to wonder if some of those healthy ideas are now taking root!
 

Word-art that says "The only way that we can live is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way that we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself." -C. JoyBell C 

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.