I’ve had a rather quiet week, mostly free of distractions and confusion. At work, I am getting ready to start a new project and also finishing up some training that I probably should’ve done sooner; but it’s all good. Sending peaceful feelings to the world tonight, while making space for new beginnings.

Word-art that says, "Peace begins with a smile." -Mother Teresa

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.”

When I got a Fitbit four years ago, I started using the food-tracking feature in the app. I didn’t have any interest in counting calories precisely, but just thought it might be informative to see how much I was eating, on average. Even after the original device was replaced with a newer model, I kept using that feature.

Photo of Fitbit.

Because my preferred exercise is rowing, which does not have motions that Fitbit can recognize, the calories in vs. out calculation was never accurate. Fitbit sometimes would record my rowing as some other exercise, such as swimming or an elliptical machine, but more often it was left out of the calculation. As a result, the food tracker usually showed that I was eating more calories than the amount needed.

The incorrect calculation was somewhat annoying, but I kept using the food tracker anyway because I had gotten used to it. The small graph was not intrusive, and I wanted to track my water intake anyway, so entering calorie amounts (quickly estimated and rounded off) didn’t seem to take much more time.

Last week, I decided I’d had enough of it when an update changed the food-tracking display to show, in all caps, “OVER BUDGET” or “UNDER BUDGET” whenever the total calories consumed so far that day was not within 100 calories of the amount Fitbit’s calculation showed—which, of course, it almost never was. I asked myself, why was I still using that feature when, by now, I had a good idea of my usual calorie intake? The only answer was that it had become a mindless habit.

So, I removed food tracking from the features on the app, and I don’t miss it. In fact, my subconscious mind seems to have cheered on that decision, because twice this week I put down the Fitbit somewhere in the house and forgot to put it back on for several hours. I suspect that my subconscious is telling me I’ve let my life get too regimented, what with rowing schedules and everything. To some extent, schedules and tracking are useful, but it’s high time to start unwinding whatever unnecessary complexity I’ve added.

I’m writing this entry on Friday evening, but that is okay. Yesterday I couldn’t quite get clear in my mind on what I wanted to post, so I decided it made more sense just to wait, rather than forcing something that probably wouldn’t come out right.

I joined the Nurturing Thursday blogging group in 2014 because I felt that a weekly reminder of the importance of self-nurturing would do me some good. In today’s busy society, it is all too easy to neglect ourselves without realizing it, while scrambling to get through the daily to-do list. For me, each of the Thursday posts became a snapshot of what I did to take care of myself in that particular week. Looking back on them gives me helpful perspective.

While traveling in the South this spring, I took a photo of Melton Lake in Tennessee. I meant to upload it to the online library for my art display, but that website hasn’t been able to upload anything recently. Given the fact that the company went out of business years ago, I can’t complain—it is still mostly functional and has given me a lot of enjoyment. I decided to go ahead and post the photo here instead.

Photo of Melton Lake, Tennessee, with a tree blooming by the water.

I wrote part of this post during a midday break, but rather than push myself to finish it, I went for a short walk and did an online yoga class before coming back to my work much refreshed. Afterward, my husband and I went out to dinner for our anniversary. We shared a bottle of wine, which is now making me sleepy because I don’t often drink it, but I sat down to finish this post anyway. Even though it is belated, I’m pretty happy with what I did for self-nurturing this week.

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.”

My rowing club’s annual training camp, on the first weekend in May, left me feeling stressed. That was mainly because I hadn’t left myself enough time to rest and recover after traveling with my husband on a road trip to Chattanooga the previous weekend. We had fun, but it was a long way home, and then we were back to work as usual.

I hadn’t quite gotten back my energy when the rowing camp started, and the weather conditions left much to be desired—heavy rain on Friday, then high water, and a chilly wind. Walking between the boathouse and the dock, I noticed violets blooming in the grass, but I didn’t pay much attention to them because I was more focused on avoiding the goose poop.

Afterward, I was lying awake in bed on Sunday night sometime around midnight, still feeling unsettled. My bed felt like it was not firmly attached to the floor but, instead, was bobbing around like a boat on the river. Then it occurred to me that my archetypal imaginary protector, Dame Shadow, featured in several posts, hadn’t been around for quite some time. Admittedly, she could be troublesome: her past antics included giving me a backache to get my attention (twice) and shrieking at me to trust no one.

Still, I felt that Dame Shadow’s protection would be helpful at that moment. I did a bit of searching in odd corners of my psyche, trying to determine what had become of her. Although I didn’t see or hear the Dame anywhere, my bed started to feel like it was solidly anchored again. Behind my closed eyelids, tiny violet dots appeared all over the comforter, which floated peacefully above me; and I drifted off to sleep.

By morning I still didn’t feel entirely refreshed, but the image of violets floating on calm water had helped to settle my mind. I had a quiet workweek, followed by a mostly unhurried weekend in which I spent time in the yard, weeding and mulching. Meanwhile, my husband traveled to Michigan for a junior rowing regatta where he was a referee. He sent me a photo of the course, which was beautiful.

Photo of starting line at rowing regatta.

After he returned, we went for a short row in our double; he wanted to spend some time outdoors with me, even though he was tired from driving and from waking up early. We also rowed on Monday and Tuesday.

I wasn’t expecting to go out yesterday because of rain, but it started tapering off later in the day. My husband said we’d be fine with our raincoats. I wasn’t as confident because we’d gotten soaked through our raincoats during the rowing camp, but it turned out he was right. The water was calm, the rain moved off, and we saw a rainbow. It was getting dark by the time we took the boat out of the water, and the grass was still wet, as were my feet; but then I thought about walking through violets, and all was well.

We got rained on at the weekend rowing camp during the Friday afternoon session, as the forecast predicted. I had thought it wouldn’t be so bad because my husband had bought nice raincoats especially designed for rowers, but there was such a downpour that we got soaked right through them. Then it got colder on Saturday and the river was high, so we stayed in the boathouse and did some exercises on the rowing machines. By Sunday the river had gone down enough to row, but the current was still fast enough that it was definitely no fun doing drills. The boats were drifting downstream and occasionally colliding with each other. It felt more like bumper cars than rowing.

The coach gave us some good advice, so it was worthwhile, though stressful. I meant to write a separate post about it before today, but the week sort of got away from me and I wasn’t able to concentrate on writing. I’ve been reminding myself to just breathe and be present in the now.

Word-art of open hands and a butterfly, with words like "now" and "being."

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.”

Last weekend, my husband and I went on a road trip to Chattanooga and met up with some online friends at the Lookout Rowing Club on the Tennessee River. Our hosts were very friendly and welcoming, and we had a great time. The river conditions were excellent for rowing, the weather was gorgeous, and we enjoyed riding bicycles in the park one afternoon.

This weekend, there is a rowing camp at our local club. We’ll do some training with a visiting coach and go out to dinner as a group. The weather forecast is on the chilly side, and we’ll probably be in raincoats; but it’s still good to get outdoors and do something fun with friends.

Word-art that says, "Good friends, good times."

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.”

I’ve felt a bit rushed this week, in part because I was trying to cram too much into the days, and in part because I did not get quite enough sleep as a result. When that happens, I remind myself that it’s nothing to worry about. Time is not really a scarce resource, even when it seems that way; it’s just a matter of getting the days better organized.

Word-art that says, "It's not about having time, it's about making time."

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.”

April 26, 2022 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I went for a walk on Sunday along a path in the woods. It was a beautiful sunny day, with birds singing in their nests and flowering trees coming into bloom. Going around a bend in the path, I saw a bench and decided to sit down for a few minutes and drink some water.

Then I noticed that there were words painted on the bench, but I was too far away to read them. My first thought was that some annoying person must have spray-painted a rude message. Definitely not what I wanted to see when I had been enjoying a nice relaxing walk!

When I got closer, I discovered that the words said “BE KIND” in neat white lettering.

Photo of a park bench with BE KIND painted on it.

That was a very nice surprise indeed. It left me feeling more hopeful about the world, and it gave me two useful reminders, not just one: Be kind, and expect more kindness from others.

My husband took his car to the shop for an oil change early Wednesday morning, so I had the home office all to myself when I started my workday. The house seemed weirdly quiet. For the past two years we’ve been sharing the space, and that is likely to continue because my husband is now on a team that doesn’t have anyone in the company’s local office, so he has no reason to do his work there.

I worked from home even before the pandemic, and I thought it was pretty comfortable having the house all to myself during the day. Now it seems as if I was missing out on more than I realized. Although I wouldn’t want to sit in a cube farm all day, it’s nice to have more human connection.

Word-art of a handshake with words like "connect" and "cooperate."

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.”

April 21, 2022 · 2 comments · Categories: Stories

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

I wouldn’t have thought the sky could get any darker and gloomier above the dirt road that was, apparently, Main Street in downtown Dragonopolis. I was wrong, of course. Maybe not literally wrong, but everything around me looked darker through the visor of my fire suit than it had upon my arrival.

Now that I wasn’t running for my life or hurrying to get my fire suit in place before any dragons could swoop down and roast me, I had time to look more closely at my surroundings. They didn’t seem to offer much in the way of escape routes, unfortunately. Behind me was the lake or bay I’d come from, with its hungry sea serpents. Sheer cliffs full of dragon caves rose up on both sides of the road, which led only to a tunnel entering the mountain. Light gleamed faintly from deep within the tunnel as it curved to the left.

Photo of a tunnel entrance on a dirt road.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Other than the tunnel, nothing else broke the stark expanse of the cliffs at ground level. Well, unless I wanted to count a few dragon dens barely low enough to be reached by a climber more intrepid than myself. As a professional dragon-control specialist, I had climbed up to a nest on occasion to retrieve hatchlings after capturing their mother, but it hadn’t been my idea of fun.

A wisp of smoke curled up from the nearest of the low caves, off to my right. I heard a scrabbling of little paws, and then a fledgling dragon emerged from the den, eyeing me with curiosity. Spreading golden wings, it glided down to the road, only a few steps from me.

The fledgling wasn’t a threat—its head didn’t quite reach my knees. I was a lot more concerned about avoiding a close encounter with its mother, who surely had to be nearby. No more smoke came from the den, so perhaps she had gone in search of food.

Beating wings and a screech from behind me confirmed that guess. Mama Dragon, gripping an ugly snout-faced fish in her talons, went into a steep dive. I took a quick step toward the far edge of the road as she landed with a thud and a cloud of dust, halfway between me and Junior. Then she hissed at me, almost like a goose protecting a gosling—not that a goose would’ve breathed fire or been the size of a large cow. I was lucky she hadn’t decided to squash me.

I kept on walking toward the tunnel, slowly enough that I wouldn’t look like fleeing prey, and without taking my eyes off Mama. She watched me just as closely for a minute or so before turning to chatter angrily at her offspring. I was pretty sure this couldn’t be anything but a lecture on staying away from strangers.

After a few more steps, I started breathing a little easier. Mama and Junior went back into their den to chow down on the fish. The tunnel was closer now, and there was enough illumination to show me that no dragons lurked inside the entrance. Of course, there was no way of knowing what else might be in there, but I reminded myself that I didn’t exactly have a long list of choices.

Especially when I heard more wings beating above me. Dragons came out of their caves on both sides of the canyon, all of them flying in my direction. Turning around, I took a quick count—at least two dozen of them. Bad odds if they chose to attack; my fire suit wouldn’t last long against their sharp teeth and talons.

Staring up at the nearest dragon, I hissed as loudly as I could, trying to imitate the sound of a protective nesting mother. The dragon didn’t turn away, but it landed on the dirt road—followed by the others—and paused for a few seconds before advancing slowly toward me.

I hissed some more, bringing the dragons to a standstill again, and backed a few paces toward the tunnel. That went on for several minutes—hissing and backing, hissing and backing—until the rocky walls of the tunnel’s entrance rose around me. A quick glance over my shoulder revealed that the tunnel appeared to be empty of life.

An icy wind blew toward me along the tunnel. I backed up a few more steps, until it became clear that the dragons weren’t following, and proceeded to walk normally around the bend. The tunnel ended in an ordinary-looking door with a round metal knob. Or rather, the door would’ve been ordinary if it hadn’t been about three times the size of a human-built door. It obviously hadn’t been built by dragons either, given the fact that they didn’t have hands with opposable thumbs. Sunlight—but no warmth—came from a window set into the top of the door, which was far above my head.

I reached up and put both of my hands on the knob. It turned easily, and the door swung outward to reveal a very different landscape.