Sometimes we need a push to get going, and that’s especially true when we get into the winter doldrums! My work emails often include cheerful word-art from two coworkers who decided they’d be the team morale boosters a few years ago. When this one showed up in my inbox, it seemed just the thing to repost for this week’s Nurturing Thursday entry:

Word-art that says "Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A 'you can do it' when things are tough."

When we get that little nudge we need to start us going, there’s just no telling how fast we might find ourselves zooming along!

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’ve found myself running low on creative energy during the dark winter months, especially this year. Blog posts and stories don’t come to mind as easily; or, if they do, I haven’t felt motivated to actually write them. Although I know that this is not at all uncommon, it still goes in the category of frustrating stuff that leaves me feeling stuck and pointlessly ruminating on what went wrong.

So I decided to look at it as an opportunity to apply my New Year’s resolution of gratitude for the not-fun lessons. I asked myself: What is good about these days when I don’t feel like writing? First of all there’s the Internet and blogging in general, allowing me to read and comment on others’ posts and feel a sense of connection, regardless of whether I post a blog entry myself on a particular day. Next up on the gratitude list is simply that my blog exists and has been around for a while (its five-year anniversary is coming up next month). Whether or not I feel like writing, the site is always there, giving me a platform to build on.

Another good thing is that even though the winter days are cloudy and dark, they haven’t been particularly cold this year. Birds were chirping merrily outside my front door on Sunday morning. When I stepped outside, I saw little green shoots of crocuses and hyacinths already coming up. Although that likely won’t be good for the flowers if it turns much colder, it makes my garden look more cheerful, anyway.

Green shoots of spring bulbs coming up in January.

I felt a bit more energetic today, just enough to turn that list into a blog post. The moral of the story—to the extent there is one—is that even when we’re feeling stuck, there are always bright little spots of new growth coming up somewhere. We just have to look around and find them!

On these long winter nights when it seems there’s not much to do, we shouldn’t be so quick to turn on the TV and distract ourselves with other people’s drama. Instead, we might do better to spend some time listening to that small inner voice offering guidance. Even when we’re not aware of it, the subconscious mind is constantly making intuitive observations, to better lead us along the path; but we can only hear them if we’re quiet enough to listen.

Word-art that says "A quiet mind is able to hear intuition over fear."

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.

January 16, 2017 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

We the People of the United States of America seriously need to chill out.

Among other things, that means stepping back from the political nastiness and having respectful conversations with each other, instead of yelling at each other. Calling people ignorant never made them any better informed.

We live in a modern nation with a strong tradition of democracy, not in a primitive land of warring tribes. Our fellow citizens in the next county, whatever their race or religion, are not going to attack our homes in the middle of the night. Whatever we may think of the government and the economy, we’re not dying of starvation in the streets. By historical standards, that makes us very fortunate indeed.

Word-art of a woman with an American flag covering her head that says "We the People are greater than fear."

Fear corrodes. When we make decisions based on fear—when we go through our days full of anxiety, feeling as if disasters are everywhere and we’re about to be attacked at any moment—not only do we make poor decisions and get stressed out and unhealthy; our society’s collective health also suffers.

Yes, we have real concerns, and there is much in today’s world that needs attention. Still, that doesn’t mean we have to look at every political dispute like it’s a fight to the death. If we want to imagine ourselves charging heroically onto a battlefield, that’s what war movies and video games are for. Social and political issues, like everything else, are best addressed through kindness, decency, respect, patience, hard work, and staying true to our values.

In keeping with my resolution for this year to cultivate gratitude for life’s lessons, whether or not it feels like anything positive has come of them yet, I have been reminding myself that there are always multiple ways of looking at any situation. Often, taking the time to list some of the possible outcomes will reveal that there are plenty of good ways to look at it.

Word-art that says "A stumbling block to the pessimist is a stepping stone to the optimist." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Such a change of perspective naturally leads to more positive feelings. After all, it’s much easier to be cheerful when looking around at a landscape that is full of opportunities, rather than obstacles!

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.

Although the days are slowly growing longer in the early part of winter, sometimes that’s hard to notice when it gets dark and snowy, without a hint of sunlight anywhere. We just have to take it on faith that spring will arrive after a while because, well, that’s always what happens.

And when those dark winter days leave us feeling gloomy, as if the good times are nothing but long-ago memories and far behind us, we also need to remind ourselves this won’t last forever. There will be plenty of delightful surprises in the future because that’s always what happens too!

Word-art that says "What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven't happened yet."

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 thought about making a New Year’s resolution for 2017, there was a little voice in the back of my head telling me to choose wisely. Last year’s resolution seemed harmless enough at the time: my word of intention was Coalesce, and I set myself the tasks of reflecting daily on the patterns that had been created by my past choices and writing down a question about them.

As planned, I kept notes—they weren’t really detailed enough to call a journal—in which I wrote both an observation and a question for each day. I expected that this would help me to recognize subconscious patterns and to make changes as appropriate. Well, it did, sort of; but I hadn’t foreseen some of what came bubbling up. Smoldering old anger, feelings of being trapped and unsafe—basically, all the stuff that gets stomped down in the mental garbage can and flattened to make room for more subconscious garbage.

After inadvertently letting those nasties loose, I spent much of the year feeling like all I did was clean up after them, without much energy left for writing or other creative pursuits. When would I reach that happy place I had imagined, free of old limiting patterns and bubbling over with spontaneous, joyful inspiration? Was there such a place? I kept on peeling away layers of old junk, expecting to discover something better; but I saw only quiet, empty spaces curving away into an unknown future.

Empty railroad tracks going around a curve.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

That was how I came into December, with my creative energy more depleted—or so it felt—than when I started trying to sort things out last year. I didn’t feel much inspired to write stories or to start new projects. Sometimes I noticed little signs of a positive shift, such as my face in the mirror looking more relaxed and rested. I was sleeping fairly well, and a few small health issues had cleared up. Still, I felt tired and unmotivated by comparison to past years, and far from where I wanted to be.

Although I kept telling myself that I should feel glad of the empty spaces because I now had plenty of room for something good to show up and fill them, I couldn’t make myself feel it. So I decided that my word of intention for 2017 would be Gratitude, but not in the usual sense of looking around and counting one’s blessings—I know that I have many. The kind of gratitude I need to cultivate this year is a healthy appreciation for the lessons I learned from taking out the mental garbage. I’ll do that by writing about them in my daily notes, along with the possibilities that are unfolding.

Even if I can’t feel it yet, writing each day about the potential for good things in those empty spaces ought to attract positive energy to take up residence there. I don’t yet have to choose from among the many possibilities; it is enough, as a new year begins, simply to recognize that they exist.