I meant to post another installment of the “Lost in Time” story yesterday or this morning, but I got busy with other things and did not finish it. Then I thought maybe I’d get to it after my workday, but after I did the rowing intervals that were on my exercise plan and took a shower, it was already late enough that it was time to cook dinner—and the garbage is still waiting for me to take it out.

Of course, being busy or not is a choice, as is setting one’s priorities. Rather than feeling deprived of time and stuck on a never-ending treadmill, it’s better to find constructive ways to change the narrative.

Word-art that says, "People too often forget that we have a choice in how we want to spend the rest of our life." -Rachel Wolchin

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 got my mind stuck in a less than optimal place this afternoon, while taking a break from my work to get some exercise on the rowing machine in the basement. Some “what’s the point anyway” thoughts started getting to me. Most of the time, I can ignore that stuff pretty well because I know that the point is to be stronger, healthier, longer-lived, and generally better able to explore the future and see what kinds of interesting adventures happen. So, usually I’m not inclined to give up. But today, I felt like it would be helpful to give myself a reminder by posting this image for my Nurturing Thursday entry.

Word-art that says, "I want to see what happens if I don't give up."

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.”

September 22, 2022 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

The willow cutting that I planted this spring, as previously shown here, is still alive and healthy. The stump from the willow that it replaced, which died last year, already had rotted enough by last weekend to come up easily when I tugged on it. Now I just need to spread more mulch to cover the base of that stump, and the replacement willow should look pretty good next year.

Photo of a willow sapling next to the rotted base of a stump.

There seems to be a lesson in all of this for me. When the willows started dying back because of climate change a few years ago, I felt gloomy about it, like all my efforts to keep them alive were useless and I would be stuck with a backyard full of ugly stumps forever, or I’d have to pay some huge amount to hire a landscaping company to dig them out and totally replant everything.

But of course, that wasn’t true. No matter how bad things may look in the moment—whether in the natural world or in life more generally—there’s often going to be space for improvement after allowing some time for the unwanted stuff to rot away.

This week I’ve been looking for a few quiet moments during the day, here and there, to just relax and do nothing. It’s intended as an antidote to the modern habit of scurrying busily from one task to another, which doesn’t actually save time because getting overscheduled and stressed makes people less efficient.

Habits can be useful when we cultivate them for a purpose, such as staying fit by exercising every day. More often, though, habits tend to be mindless; we fall into them rather than choosing them. Life can feel much more peaceful when we take a little time to reflect on where we want to be.

Word-art that says, "Live life less out of habit and more out of intent."

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 husband and I went to Chicago over the weekend for a half-marathon row. Although we’ve done half-marathon road races before, this was our first time rowing that distance. With younger and faster competition, we were mainly just sightseeing rather than contending, but rowing through downtown Chicago was a sight well worth seeing. Here’s a photo that I found online, taken a few years ago:

Chicago Marathon and Half-Marathon

(Photo credit: vxla)

I lost count of the bridges we rowed under—there were so many. At first the weather was pleasantly cool, but then a rainstorm blew in, and we still had a long way to go. The boat had a lot of water sloshing around in it by the time we got back to the dock. Other than a few blisters on my hands and a sore rear end from sitting in the boat for so long, I was no worse for the wear. After changing into dry clothes and getting coffee and a bagel, I felt pretty good.

We could’ve done without the adventures of Chicago traffic on the way home, though. There was one tollbooth that took almost half an hour to get through because some drivers didn’t feel like waiting in four clearly marked lanes, so instead they formed five lanes and jockeyed for position while rolling down windows and yelling at each other. We noticed a car with the license plate “PRVRBS29,” which definitely suited the circumstances.

Because of the tollbooth delay, we got stuck driving in the rainstorm most of the way home, rather than being out in front of it. That was okay, though, because we got ahead of the storm enough so that we had time to stop at our club’s boathouse, take the boat off the SUV’s roof, and wash it and put it away before the rain caught up with us again, just before we got back to our house.

I bought a birthday card for my mom at the supermarket where I usually shop. While I was taking my groceries to the checkout, a ridiculous worry popped into my head—what if the same card had been on the shelf years ago, and I’d bought it again without noticing that it was the same?

Of course, that is not likely ever to happen, and I don’t expect my mom would be annoyed even if it did. So, I just reminded myself that forgetting about cards and gifts would be a better way to go through life than keeping score of who gave what.

Word-art that says, "Always give without remembering and always receive without forgetting."

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.”

To read Part 13, click here. All parts of this story are consolidated on one page here.

Hamburgers sizzled on the backyard grill. The roses hadn’t yet overgrown the garden bench this year, but they were on the verge of reasserting their claim. For now, her daughter sat comfortably on the bench, with the Goldendoodle puppy in her lap. In a far corner, the bright green leaves of a Japanese maple cascaded over mossy stones like a galaxy of tiny stars.

Japanese maple leaves in sunlight.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

“Mom, I’m feeling so blessed to be here with you and Dad today. Traveling abroad last month was fun, and I’m very glad to have had the chance, but there’s nothing like coming home. Happy birthday, Mom!”

She was just about to answer when the beautiful sunlit garden suddenly went dim. The breath she had just taken swirled dizzily through her, and she struggled to stay upright.

“Mom? Mom!”

The panicked shout sounded very far away as she fell.

Her own voice crying out was the next thing she heard. “No!”

Ina woke abruptly, her heart thudding. It wasn’t totally dark in the dormitory—a faint gleam under the door told her that the hallway torches had been lit, which meant that it was not long before dawn. Soon Petra’s raven would caw, telling the women it was time to rise for their morning meditations.

In the next bed, Phoenix stirred sleepily. “You’re all right, Ina. Whatever you were dreaming, it wasn’t real.”

“No.” The word came raggedly, in a half-sob. “No, I’m not all right. And it was real—it was!”

She had thrown her feet over the edge of the bed and made her way to the door, still in her nightdress, before she gave a moment’s thought to what she was doing. The stone floor of the hallway felt cold under her bare feet, but she wasn’t about to go back for her slippers. Without a conscious plan, she made her way through the familiar passages toward the meditation room.

Candles burned softly in wall sconces, their herbal scent filling the room. Mother Ocean sat cross-legged on a cushion beside the wall, with two other women close by. Although Ina’s bare feet made no sound as she crossed the smooth floor, Mother Ocean’s eyes opened with no apparent surprise, as if Ina’s arrival had long been anticipated.

The meditators always observed strict silence, but Ina had a strong feeling that wouldn’t be the only rule she was about to break.

“You tore me away from a loving family and home.” After nearly a year, the words finally came to her, certain and precise like a string of hard, polished stones. “Why?”

Mother Ocean got to her feet, slowly, with one wrinkled hand on the wall for balance. She did not dispute the accusation as she looked up to meet Ina’s gaze.

“Walk with me, Ina.”

I am glad to be coming up on the long Labor Day weekend because I feel that a mental reset would do me a lot of good. Work has been fairly quiet—nothing there is stressing me. Still, it’s always good to have some unhurried time to rest and reflect, just letting the days go by without being crammed full of the usual schedules and obligations.

Wishing everyone a happy and relaxed holiday weekend!

Word-art with an image of a brain that says, "Reset your mind."

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 partner Deb ordered a new single scull today. She had been rowing a used boat that was too big for her. Although she prefers team boats, she got a single during the pandemic, when there was no team rowing. Going out on the river in a single made her nervous, as they are tippy boats in general, and more so when they’re too big for the rower. At first, she was slow.

She persevered, though, and dutifully went out on the river all spring and summer to do the exercises on her training plan, even when the weather was rainy or windy. Now she is noticeably faster in the single. When her new boat gets delivered and she has one that’s the right size for her, I expect she’ll win a lot of races (and probably leave me far behind, if we’re in the same race). Persistence really does pay off.

Word-art that says, "Don't be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try."

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.”

Today I took a midmorning break to go down to the basement and do a live workout on the Hydrow rowing machine. I was getting close to 7 million lifetime meters, and when you’re about to reach a milestone on a live row, the instructor gives you a shout-out to recognize the accomplishment. My lifetime meters weren’t quite close enough, however, so I had to do a long warm-up first. I did a “virtual journey” with scenery going by on the screen, but even so, it still felt a bit tedious.

When I finished my warm-up and joined the live workout, the instructor, Aisyah, gave me a nice shout-out. She was rowing in a single scull on the Charles River, and she said that it was hot in Boston, but she wasn’t going to complain. She talked about the importance of getting a workout regularly, even when it starts to feel like a grind. Exercise routines and Monday mornings are good for you, she said.

The workout was 30 minutes at an easy pace, and I felt pretty good afterward. Several people who did the live row gave me nice comments in the Hydrow app, and a “7M” badge appeared on the right side of the screen. Hydrow has badges for milestones and for special-event workouts, such as holidays. Clicking on a badge starts animated confetti flying.

Screenshot from Hydrow rowing machine showing 7M badge.

Sometimes it can seem a bit silly, all the bells-and-whistles gadgets that the modern world uses to keep us interested in our daily grinds. Still, they are mostly good for us, as we need to stick with routines to make meaningful changes over time. Whatever keeps us going is helpful, even when it gets corny.