My family has gotten scattered around the country over the years. We stay in touch by phone and mail, but it’s not the same as seeing each other in person. I like to think of friends as being part of a larger circle of family. That helps with feeling connected—which, of course, is something we all need.

Word-art that says "Friends are the family you choose."

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.

In addition to my regular work, I’ve been putting together a PowerPoint presentation entitled Resilience, Stress Tolerance, and Flexibility as part of a group that presents online sessions for employees about digital transformation and related issues. I haven’t used PowerPoint much before, and it’s interesting to see what can be done with design and images. I like this Lego juggler image to illustrate the flexibility needed in a work environment where the pace of automation keeps increasing.

A Lego person juggling Lego pieces.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Meanwhile, after a short break when the sprint season ended, my husband and I are training for the rowing regattas again. During the fall season the races are 5K, which is about the same length as one lap on our usual course on the river. Usually we row two laps, but we are now rowing three laps most days to build up our endurance. With the shorter days this time of year, we’re in a bit of a hurry to row that much before it gets dark, and sometimes we still have work to do when we get home. We’re also doing some online yoga and mobility exercises in the evenings.

Finding time to write blog posts has seemed like a bit of a challenge, but as I’ve built up more mental and physical flexibility, I’m finding that creative ideas come a bit quicker. The self-improvement advice that I’m putting into the presentation seems to be doing me some good in real life!

My employer has been training the managers this year on Psychological Safety, which involves creating a supportive environment where workers feel that they can express their concerns and will not be punished for asking questions or making mistakes. I believe that it is more important than ever in today’s circumstances, after people got totally stressed out last year and are still struggling to recover. More kindness and understanding are needed now, rather than unrealistic pressure to be perfect.

Word-art that says "Making mistakes is better than faking perfections."

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.

September 8, 2021 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

One good thing about the shorter days at the end of summer, when it gets close to sunset while I am out rowing with my husband, is that we see more wildlife on the river. Sometimes that can be kind of freaky, though, as in “the freaks come out at night.”

We were rowing along in our double at a nice steady pace on Monday when, all of a sudden, we heard a loud noise right next to us. It sounded halfway between a snarl and a splutter, or maybe a dog sneezing. But we hadn’t expected to hear anything like that in the middle of the river! Because we were so startled, we stopped rowing by instinct, and then we saw a furry little head right next to the boat. We had bumped into a raccoon swimming across the river, and it looked more startled than we were.

Because we hadn’t brought a phone in the boat, we could not take a photo—so, instead, I’m illustrating this post with me standing next to the boat after we rowed it.

Meg standing next to a double scull on slings.

Today was much quieter, without much to be seen other than the usual ducks and geese. It’s always good to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine, though, whether we have unexpected adventures or not.

This morning, my husband and I had a Zoom meeting with our rowing coach, Christine Cavallo, to talk about the sprint races we did this summer and what we’ll be doing in the fall season. We let her know that we were pleased with her training plan and that we’d both improved our speed, endurance, and consistency. Christine said that when she looked up our results from last month’s racing, she was surprised to see that we had competed in several sprint events during the regatta. She would have given us more work, she told us, if she had known we would enter so many races!

Truth be told, before we signed up for online coaching this year, we hadn’t realized how much a regular training schedule would improve our fitness. It’s very good to know that there are so many possibilities—both in rowing and in life more generally—for improvement.

Word-art that says "Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I'm Possible."

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 mentioned in a recent post that I might change my Gravatar/WordPress image to a cartoon avatar instead of a real photo, just to have more fun. I’ve changed it now, and not only as a Gravatar, but also on Gmail and on my work Outlook account. A few other people at work have done the same, so it’s not entirely silly—or if it is, at least I’m not the only one. Here it is:


Because the cartoon image looks younger than my real age, I’m curious as to whether seeing it every day will cause me to feel younger and more energetic as time goes by. There are research studies establishing that older people actually become healthier when put into an environment filled with reminders of their youth, showing measurable improvements in conditions associated with aging. It’s an interesting experiment, and even if it’s a bit on the goofy side, there can’t be any harm in it.

Instead of exercising on the rowing machine after I finished my work this evening, I decided that I could better nurture myself with a Restorative Yoga online session instead. It was very calming—all those rushed feelings from the workday fell away, and I breathed in life.

Word art with positive words growing out of a tree.

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 went down to the river on Monday evening to row with my husband, the earlier sunset made plain that autumn was coming, although the scorching days haven’t felt at all like it. I’d been outside in my backyard during the afternoon, setting up a soaker hose to water what little there is left of my poor bedraggled willows. Before climate change hit, I had a lovely willow hedge all along my back property line, but not much remains of it anymore.

On Tuesday morning I woke up after dreaming that I was walking alone in a clearcut forest. All the way to the horizon, I saw nothing but stumps and dry, dead weeds. The heat was intense, and I heard no sounds at all—not even crickets.

Clearcut forest

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

I thought of it again later that day—but this time, I wasn’t alone in the unwelcoming scene. My satirical future self Kass was perched on a stump, wearing very short jogging shorts and a skimpy tank top with a built-in bra. The cap shading her face had a bright red logo proclaiming APOCALYPSE-R-US in bold letters.

“Yeah, right, Kass, you would think this was funny,” I grumbled.

Kass bounced up from the stump, with dead leaves crunching under her flip-flops. “Let’s go for a little stroll through the Forest of Collective Angst,” she suggested cheerfully.

Dust rose around our feet as we made our way through the desolate landscape. Other than the occasional small hill or dip, there was nothing to distinguish one place from another. After we had been walking for a few minutes, we crossed a dry gully full of pebbles and silt. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a skeleton or two, but I didn’t even see any dead insects. Everything looked totally lifeless.

“Okay, so was I supposed to have learned anything from this?”

Wiping sweat from her forehead, Kass replied, “Well, now, that’s up to you, isn’t it? I’m just a projection of your overactive imagination, after all. But, given that I am you in the 2040s, the fact that I’m alive and in reasonably good shape means that the world as we know it hasn’t collapsed. You haven’t perished of starvation in a howling wilderness. Right?”

I thought for a moment about disputing the point because, obviously, my imagination—however active—wasn’t in charge of what might happen to the world in real life. However, I didn’t really feel like arguing about my chances of dying in a hellish future, so I kept quiet as we slowly trudged up another little hill and started down the other side.

“So—what does the world look like in your time?” I finally asked.

We took a few more steps and went around a particularly large stump before Kass stopped to glance down at a scraggly dandelion that had sprouted in its shade. One stalk held a seed ball. Plucking it, Kass held it to her lips and blew, her eyes closing as if to make a wish. The tiny bits of fluff drifted away on an almost imperceptible breeze.

“We’re still reseeding,” she answered quietly.

The online coaching that I mentioned in last Thursday’s post was definitely worthwhile. My husband and I rowed in several races at the Masters National Championships regatta last weekend in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and had good endurance in the heat. The weather stayed sunny, with no disruptions to the schedule other than morning fog delays. Just after the last race of the final day, a storm blew in, but by then we were already packed up and getting on the road.

Our rowing team traveled together with friends from another nearby rowing club. My husband won a silver medal in a men’s lightweight quad with rowers from both teams, and my women’s lightweight quad took bronze. We also rowed mixed quads, which were fun; and we rowed our double and our singles, as usual. Although we got no medals in those races, we did well in comparison to past years, gaining both speed and consistency. And, it was especially good to be traveling with friends and seeing familiar faces.

Word-art that says "Life is better with friends."

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 summer I haven’t been blogging as much as usual because I’ve spent more time rowing with my husband. He signed us up this spring for online coaching from Christine Cavallo, who works for Tagalong. Christine is well suited to us because of her experience with the lightweight double, which is our preferred race. The training plan she created for us includes both rowing workouts on the water and indoor exercises on our rowing machine.

I have to admit that it felt exhausting when we were getting started, but now we’re definitely rowing faster and more smoothly together. My strength and endurance have improved noticeably, and my husband is looking better as well. The Masters regattas where we compete are just for fun—no prize money or anything other than cute little medals. But it’s a fun activity that we can do together and a good way to stay fit, and I am thankful to have something that we can work on improving every year.

Word-art that says "Do something today that your future self will thank you for."

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.