Continuing my line of thought from last week’s Nurturing Thursday post about how to balance other activities with a demanding exercise plan, in which I compared it to learning how to pace a workout on the rowing machine, the solution became obvious once I looked at it in those terms. My pacing on the machine improved when I had collected enough statistics on my workouts to know when I was going too hard. So, I need to take a similar approach to my activities overall, creating a spreadsheet to track what I actually do and compare it to the workout plan, to make sure I’m not overexerting myself.

Running low on energy is no fun, either during a workout or feeling run down more generally; but sometimes it’s part of learning how to do better.

Word-art that says, "Sometimes we fall down because there is something down there we're supposed to find."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

May 16, 2024 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Last night I dreamed that I was designing a children’s game in which a character tried to avoid getting stuck in splotches of peanut butter. In the dream, I wrote a post on this blog describing the project, and then a manager at a game company saw the post and offered me a job.

Photo of peanut butter.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

I am not a game designer in real life, and I am allergic to peanut butter and always avoid it. So, my guess is that the dream most likely was telling me to work on designing a life where I can do a better job of avoiding sticky and unpleasant situations!

This week I’ve been contemplating how to balance other activities with my training plan for rowing, which my husband and I do together. It includes strenuous exercises crafted (more or less fiendishly) by two national-level rowers. They balance the hard workouts with some easy days and Sundays off, so it’s a reasonable plan, consistent with the current wisdom in exercise physiology. They are younger than our kids, and I suspect they think it’s an interesting challenge to see how much they can do with geezers like us.

My fitness has been much improved since we started doing these workouts three years ago. At first, it felt overwhelming because I hadn’t previously done such demanding workouts and did not have a good sense of how to pace myself. There would be days when I started too fast on the rowing machine, then all my energy suddenly drained away, and I struggled to finish. Now that I understand pacing better, that generally does not happen, and the exercises don’t feel as daunting.

I still find myself getting low on energy sometimes, though, after traveling or other events that are outside my usual routine. That also seems to be a pacing issue, in that the training plan takes up more of my energy, restricting what else I can do. I need to discover where my limits are, letting some things go and taking others more slowly, so that I can find the right balance.

Word-art that says, "Life is a balance of holding on & letting go."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

May 8, 2024 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

The river was full of cottonwood fluff when my husband and I went rowing this afternoon. We had an easy day on our training schedule, so we were just paddling along and enjoying the peaceful sounds of nature.

Then we heard some agitated quacking and wings flapping, right next to us. Before we knew it, we had rowed through several tiny ducklings that were barely noticeable in the floating fluff. I didn’t have my phone to take a picture, but they were even smaller than the ducklings in this photo I took a few years ago:

Wood duck swimming with her ducklings.

As far as I could tell, we didn’t injure any of them. We were rowing slowly enough that they mostly got out of the way, and my husband picked up his oar to avoid bumping one of the ducklings. After a minute or so, when we had moved on, the parents flew back down to collect their scattered offspring.

I recently saw a word-art image that left me smiling after I looked at it, and it made me happy enough that I decided to share it—in hopes of making readers happy too. Enjoy!

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 encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

May 2, 2024 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Over the weekend, I spent a few minutes just lying down in the grass under a tree, looking up through the bright green leaves and watching the clouds go by.


Photo of a treetop with bright green leaves in spring.

That wouldn’t have been particularly notable, except that the last time I did it was so long ago, I’m not even sure how many years have gone by. When I was younger, I would often lie down in the grass and relax, not even thinking about it. Now I’m all grown up—and even though I spend time outdoors regularly when I go down to the river to row, it’s part of a regimented exercise program, so it doesn’t calm my mind in the same way as just being in nature and doing nothing.

I wasn’t even sure how to tag this post, honestly. I settled on Meditation because that seemed the closest. That left me wondering how my life had gotten so far away from simple little things I once took for granted.

I had a rather long day. Work, hair appointment, race-practice exercises on the rowing machine, more work, then some easy rowing outdoors to unwind. This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but it was after 11 PM by the time I sat down to write this post, and nothing particularly imaginative came to mind.

So I decided that instead of stressing about it, I would give myself permission to simply relax and not expect anything more of myself tonight.

Word-art that says, "Life is all about balance. You don't always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it's perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back, and do nothing." -Lori Deschene

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

There isn’t much left of the gravel path between my rowing club’s boathouse and the dock. It got neglected during the pandemic, as many things did; and by now, the grass has grown all through it. Walking to and from the dock is like going for a walk through a country meadow, bright green with spring grass and clover, and clumps of violets along the path here and there.

More gravel will be put down sometime this season; the club’s board already has approved the expense. It really does need to be done soon because the path is uneven, with groundhog holes and other hazards that might cause someone to fall. Even so, as peaceful as it felt to walk through the grass this afternoon, I was almost wishing it could stay like that a while longer.

Word-art that says, "A walk down a country road is good for body, heart and soul."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

This is the 11th story in a series. Click here to read all parts from the beginning.

I stomped through the slush on my way back toward Ira’s cabin, mentally rehearsing how I would demand that he explain his sorcery. Distracting me from my thoughts, the cheerful trilling that I had taken for alien birdsong sounded again, much closer. I glanced to my right and saw a bird perched on a snowy branch. It resembled a cardinal, but it was larger; and the song I’d just heard did not sound at all like a cardinal’s distinctive notes. Whatever the differences might have been, the bird’s bright red feathers reminded me of holiday cards and winter travels.


(Image credit: The Graphics Fairy)

This wasn’t a trip to a vacation resort, my grumpy subconscious informed me again. When I saw Ira standing in the doorway holding up a white fur coat, however, it did almost look as if I had acquired my own personal Sasquatch valet. Scraps of fur littered the dusty wooden floor under the table where he’d been cutting the coat down to my size.

For a moment, I hesitated, wondering if he might have put an enchantment on the coat. Common sense told me it was much more likely he just didn’t want me to freeze, given my obvious lack of both winter clothing and furry skin. Besides, I wasn’t interested in freezing; so I held out my arms and let Ira put the coat on me. It came to my ankles, comfortably warm, with no weird magical effects—or at least, none that I could notice.

“The coat belonged to my mother,” Ira said in a soft tone, looking past me toward the forest. “She has been dead for three winters now.”

I bit back the complaint I’d been going to make about sorcery, not wanting to sound like an ungrateful jerk.

“I’m sorry, Ira.”

“She was gathering mushrooms on a misty autumn day, and a warhagalla got her.” Turning to look inside for a moment, he gestured toward the big pelt on the floor by the fireplace. “They don’t often range this close to the mountains. Even wild animals can feel the curse.”

I couldn’t feel anything but the warmth of the fur coat, honestly. The bird didn’t seem perturbed either, to judge from the happy chirping. I glanced in its direction and was surprised to find it sitting motionless on the branch, with its beak closed. What other creature, I wondered, might be doing the singing?

Then the bird opened its beak and produced a screech so hideous that my first impulse was to cover my ears. I wasn’t sure if Ira might consider that rude, so I kept my hands at my sides. But evidently, he wasn’t a great fan of the noise either. A stone from his well-aimed slingshot hit the bird right in the middle of the chest, knocking it into the snow.

Without a pause, the angelic singing continued. I saw something moving behind the tree, and then a large flying rat came into view, its mouth wide open as it warbled. Its fur was a silvery gray, and its ears and wings were a rosy pink. A large tail curled over its back.

I didn’t have time for more than a quick glance before another stone flew.

“Hey,” I complained, as the rat thudded to the ground. “I’m sort of a tourist here, you know. Couldn’t you let me discover the wildlife before you start killing it?”

Looking perplexed, Ira was silent for a long time as he tried to sort out my meaning. Finally, he gave a practical answer.

“You’ll be glad enough of the meat when it’s time for dinner.”

Eclipse day was beautifully clear here in western Ohio. My husband and I went down to the river to watch from our boat. We brought extra shirts so we wouldn’t be chilly, but Monday was such a warm day that we only needed to wear them during the totality. Seeing the light fade away until the sky looked like sunset was pretty amazing. We felt lucky to have had the chance.

I’ve been reminding myself this week to slow down and appreciate what is around me. When I catch myself running through a list of to-dos in my head, I stop and replace that thought with a reminder that I am only doing one thing at the moment, along with a reason for gratitude to be doing it. Even if it’s something as simple as getting a glass of water, for instance, that is much more convenient for us than it was for our ancestors, who had to trudge to the pump or cistern and could only get ice in the winter.

Word-art that says, "Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life." -Rumi

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”