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.

I began this year with a New Year’s resolution simply to be present in the moment. There was no daily routine associated with it. I wanted to train my mind, very gently, into a habit of noticing more of what went on around me.

Even though I hadn’t tasked myself with actively working on any problems, after a while I began to feel that they were getting solved anyway, or at least put into better perspective and taking an appropriate place on the priority list. By noticing more of my surroundings without judgment, I planted seeds for thought, giving my subconscious mind enough space to let new patterns grow naturally.
 

Word-art that says "Every problem contains within itself the seeds of its own solution." -Stanley Arnold 

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 old air conditioner gave up the ghost yesterday. The service company was able to send people out to my house to put in a new one this afternoon, so I didn’t roast too much; but it was a large unplanned expense. Not exactly unexpected, as the old unit obviously didn’t have much life remaining. It had gotten so noisy that I pulled my bed away from the wall last year, so it wouldn’t disturb my sleep.

While I might have preferred to keep it going a while longer and spend the money on something else, having a new, quiet, modern air conditioner is a good thing. And being able to buy it right away is something to be grateful for in itself, rather than having to leave the windows open all summer (which happened about twenty years ago in our starter house when we didn’t have much money). So, I can’t complain.
 

Word-art that says "Happiness isn't about getting what you want all the time. It's about loving what you have and being grateful for 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.

Last week’s heat wave in this area has finally broken; today was much cooler, and a light rain was falling all through the day. Although I stayed indoors and there wasn’t a bit of sunshine to be found anywhere, I felt cheerful anyway when I looked out the window because the grass and flowers, which had gotten parched in the heat, were visibly greening up and looked so happy to be alive.

Wishing everyone visiting my blog a happy Thursday too!
 

Word-art that says "Be so happy that when others look at you, they become happy too." 

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 house felt like it had gotten totally overrun with dogs. My daughter, who has two dogs, came to visit while she was dog-sitting for a third. They were all very well-behaved the entire time, so I can’t complain; but the house did feel kind of crowded.

We played a game of Monopoly while sitting on the floor and managed to avoid having our little plastic houses, etc., knocked off by playful dogs wandering onto the board. Then I thought about how fortunate we are to have such a close family—pets and all.

For Nurturing Thursday, here’s a dog picture for all my awesome readers.
 

Word-art with a dog that says "Who's awesome? You're awesome!" 

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 make a point of surrounding myself with cheerful images, particularly in my house, because I believe that the things we regularly encounter in our environment go a long way toward creating who we are. Even though we may not be fully aware of what is going on around us from one day to another, the subconscious mind notes the smallest of changes and looks for new ways to put those perceptions together, updating the stories it tells about life in the world.

When my husband bought me a digital art display as a Christmas present in 2015, I thought he understood me very well and was being especially kind and thoughtful. Recently he said that he hadn’t entirely understood my beliefs in that regard, but just thought it was an interesting gadget that I would probably like. Still, it was a much appreciated gift; and it goes to show that kind acts often have unexpected ripples. In keeping with the water metaphor, I’m displaying a bright, colorful image of boats in a canal today.

Wishing my readers many cheerful sights and ripples of kindness too!
 

Brightly colored image of boats docked in a canal between buildings. 

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’m still wearing the Fitbit Alta that I got in April; it’s helpful for reminding me to get up from my desk chair more often, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. There is one thing it doesn’t do, though; I often row on the river, and the Fitbit is not programmed to identify rowing motions, so it doesn’t include that when it counts time spent exercising. It recognizes other activities such as walking, running, and bicycling.

That left me wondering if I should turn off the icon on the Fitbit phone app that counts days of exercise, so as not to be annoyed by it. After giving that some thought, however, I decided that walking more would be a healthy, nurturing thing to do, whether or not I row. Now that the warm summer days are here and getting outside for a walk feels refreshing, it’s another way to take better care of myself.
 

Word-art that says "Be kind to everyone, including yourself." 

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 and I have been getting out on the river a lot and enjoying the pleasant weather, which is why I haven’t done much blogging recently. The wildlife is always fun to watch. When we rowed our double yesterday, there was a goose standing on the bank watching us, next to a pair of ducks. I couldn’t take a picture because I never bring my phone in the boat, just to be sure I won’t drop it in the river; so, that’s why my post today is not called Duck, Duck, Goose.

It’s a beautiful Thursday morning here, and a fascinating world all around to explore. Wherever you may be off to, let your day be full of adventures!
 

Word-art that says "You're off to great places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way." -Dr. Seuss 

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.

A coworker who enjoys sending upbeat word-art to perk up our team attached this cute cat picture to an email recently, and my first thought was that it would be just right for a Nurturing Thursday post:
 

Cat picture word-art that says "Kindness is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back." 

When I started writing this entry, though, I wasn’t sure how to relate it to anything I had done this week. My workdays had been pretty quiet, and it didn’t seem like I had given away much kindness or that anything in particular had come back—at least, not that I could think of. Mainly, I’d been trying to get more sleep and to give virtual hugs to my insecure younger self whenever random memories of old mistakes came to mind.

Then I realized that kindness to oneself is central to Nurturing Thursday, so it was just right after 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.

Now that the weather is warming up, my daughter decided it was time to teach the Labradoodle puppy how to swim. Not so much how to swim, since that’s mainly instinctive, but the survival skill of how to get out of a concrete swimming pool by walking up the steps. He is almost a year old and looks full grown, but he still acts young and is nervous around water. She put him in the shallow water across from the steps, walked around to the steps, and called him while holding out a treat.

He didn’t quite get the concept, though. He was so afraid of the pool that he just stood up on his hind legs, put his paws on the side, and stood there looking like he desperately wanted someone to rescue him. After a while, he did manage to find his way onto the bottom step, but he didn’t seem to understand that he could walk up and out of the pool; so he’ll have to try again another time.

Often it’s like that with many things in life. We feel stuck in a situation that we don’t know how to get out of, we keep trying the same approach that didn’t work—and after a while, we figure out how to walk away.
 

Word-art that says: When life puts you in tough situations, don't say "Why me?" say "Try me!" 

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.