Studies have shown that as people get older, they spend more time focusing on positive things. Some researchers think it happens because age brings about more awareness of mortality, and as a result, time feels like a scarce resource that needs to be used wisely.

That may be so; but I would say that no matter what length of lifespan we expect, our perspective is likely to broaden as we gain experience. We discover that whatever we got so upset about when we were younger wasn’t the end of the world after all, and we’ve taken away useful lessons. Instead of looking at every missed opportunity as a terrible calamity, we understand that there is always something more to be found.

Word-art that says "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." -Milton Berle

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.

December 27, 2017 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

This was another year when our daughter couldn’t be home on Christmas because she had to work, as the low nurse on the totem pole. So my husband and I decided to go visit her instead, at her house in Cleveland. We drove up there with our son and all the family’s presents, which went under our daughter’s tree.

Brightly lit Christmas tree with presents

After we opened them all (there was nothing really big this year, but everyone enjoyed them), we sat on the rug next to the tree and played games for a while. Our daughter’s little dog jumped up on the couch and watched us sleepily, looking so contented to see the family all together in one place.

We didn’t stay the night, and it got kind of late driving back after dinner; but it was definitely worth it to get everyone together at Christmas. We had a great time, and all was well with the world!

I went outside to run at noon. The sun was shining brightly, though it was still chilly. I generally feel better when I can get some exercise outdoors—not just because of the physical fitness benefits, but also because it puts the to-dos on hold for a little while and sets the mind free to wander peacefully.

When people talk about why it’s good to exercise, they usually don’t add daydreaming to the list; but I believe that exercising the imagination is just as essential to a healthy life as exercising the body. After all, the stories that we tell ourselves shape our view of the world, just like physical exercise keeps the body in shape. Taking time to explore new stories helps keep the mind from getting too flabby.

Wishing all my readers a peaceful holiday season with plenty of free time to daydream!

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.

As the end of the year draws closer, I’ve been reflecting on how things went with my resolution of gratitude for the empty spaces left behind after clearing away mental garbage. Even if those spaces hadn’t yet filled up with healthy positive energy, they were still an improvement over stagnant feelings of anger and fear; and I resolved that this year, I would appreciate them as such.

Although I never did wake up one morning to find myself unexpectedly bubbling over with fresh enthusiasm and feeling like a completely new person—or anything nearly that dramatic—there were subtler shifts as the year went on. Those old subconscious dramas slowly faded away, no longer appearing to be present-day obstacles. In their place came quiet confidence and trust in a stronger future; and then, after a while, problems started to feel as if their solutions always had been there.

Word-art showing Dorothy's feet with the quote "You've always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself." -Glinda, Wizard of Oz

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.

December 13, 2017 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

All was quiet on the younger-self front. A few weeks had gone by since I took one of my past selves on an imaginary hike near Channelwood Village. I had hoped that she would relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings for a while. Since then, she had been exceptionally quiet, much more so than I’d anticipated.

To some extent, I had been unfair when I nicknamed her Drama-Queenie because of her volatile temperament. Still, there was a reason for it. Many times, she had unexpectedly popped up from the depths of my subconscious, moaning about mysterious emotional pain. Quiet wasn’t something I associated with her. I concluded that I’d better go check on her and make sure that she wasn’t in—or causing—any trouble.

When I arrived in Channelwood on a bright, crisp morning, I found her returning with a basket of eggs from the village’s new chicken coop. I almost didn’t recognize her. During our recent hike, she had been wearing cheap sneakers and an ugly discount-store sweater and pants. Now she had on a long gingham dress, in keeping with my rather arbitrary decision to set Channelwood’s time period in the year 1897. The ends of her dark braids hung below a neat, clean bonnet. She looked like she had just stepped out of a Little House on the Prairie episode.

Farm-fresh eggs in a basket.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

“Good morning!” I gave her a friendly wave and then fell into step beside her while she carried the eggs to the kitchen outbuilding. Channelwood’s tiny houses in the treetops, all connected by narrow little walkways, did not have their own separate kitchens. Something smelled tasty, and when I turned a corner, I found twelve-year-old Sara toasting thick slices of brown bread on the hearth.

Looking up from the toast, Sara gave me a great beaming smile. “Thank you ever so much for bringing us a wonderful new friend! Ella and I are so happy to have her!”

Sara was known for her good cheer; but, to be honest, this wasn’t the reaction I had been expecting. Given Queenie’s history, I had thought it likely that she would be a sulky and unpleasant guest, tolerated out of pure charity.

“I’m glad to hear that you have been getting along so well with Queenie,” I answered, returning the smile.

Putting down her basket of eggs, the subject of the conversation turned to me and inquired, narrowing her eyes a little, “Why are you calling me Queenie? I’m not any kind of royalty.”

“Oh, I just thought it suited you,” I said breezily, settling myself into a comfortable kitchen chair while Sara spread the toast with apple butter and Ella started frying some eggs.

While Queenie set the breakfast table, I went on talking to her, in a more serious tone. “I’ve been thinking how brave it was of you, being honest about feeling pain. Our culture severely punishes that sort of honesty. It demands that we keep our true feelings to ourselves, hiding the pain behind a happy-face mask so that we don’t make anyone else uncomfortable. If we let the mask slip, other people get nasty, no matter how much we might try to please them and do everything they want—just as you said in the woods during our hike.”

Braids bobbing, Queenie nodded silently as she poured hot cider into thick clay mugs from a large jug that she had picked up from the edge of the hearth.

“I got nasty, too, telling you to shut up because I didn’t want to hear anything more about your pain. And I certainly ought to have known better.” I put a red cloth napkin in my lap as Ella gave me a plate heaped high with eggs and toast.

Queenie finished pouring the cider and sat down to eat her own breakfast. She took a big bite of toast and chewed slowly, thinking over her words before she answered.

“I know this isn’t a real place,” she began, “and that means I’ll have to go back to my old life, always falling short of everyone’s expectations because I’m not perfect, no matter what I do. But I wish I could stay here forever. To me, it feels much more real here. When I go out to the chicken coop to get the eggs, I don’t have to pretend anything. I’m not expected to compete every day to be a great success, never show any weakness, and keep everyone around me happy at all times.”

“That’s fair,” I said, as the steam rose from my cider on the table between us. “And the way I see it, there’s no requirement for you to go back. This is not a dream from which you have to wake up; it’s more like an alternate timeline. In the so-called real world, other versions of you checked off those modern-adult-life boxes many years ago—and they did a reasonably good job. It’s done and taken care of.”

After sitting motionless for several seconds with a look of total amazement, Queenie suddenly started bawling all over her breakfast. Big fat tears rolled down her cheeks and splattered all over her fried eggs.

Ella, who had been just about to sit down to her own meal, gave Queenie an alarmed glance and remained standing next to her.

“It’s all right,” Queenie gulped, managing to get a few words out. “I’m c-crying because I’m huh-huh-happy.”

“Well, of course you’re happy! Why shouldn’t you be?” Sara declared. “Everyone ought to be able to live someplace where she’s happy!”

Although Ella finally sat down, she kept a suspicious gaze fixed on me, as if she thought I might change my mind at any moment and snatch Queenie away. I didn’t take her distrust too personally because, after all, writers have to get used to characters who decide they’ve had enough of plot changes. Besides, I had a different kind of surprise in mind.

“Because you were so brave, Queenie, I think you deserve a medal.” I reached into my pocket and held out my hand toward her. A brightly polished gold circle glinted on my palm, with the word ‘Courage’ in elegant script above a raised image of a crown.

Looking down at the table and blushing, Queenie muttered, “But, but I wasn’t, not really…”

“Yes, you were,” I assured her. “Sometimes we can be at our very bravest when we see ourselves as not doing much of anything. It takes great courage to go against society’s demands and to say instead—this is wrong, this is hurtful. You had that courage, and it’s only fair that you should be recognized for it.”

The medal was attached to a braided gold chain, which I fastened around Queenie’s slender neck. Then I finished my eggs and toast (which were delicious) and thanked the girls for their hospitality. As I returned to what I called real life, I couldn’t help but to wonder just how much more real it was anyway.

Looking at our past experiences in the light of everything that we’ve learned over the years, sometimes we’re left with bad feelings about our old mistakes. We judge ourselves harshly, asking how we could have been so foolish and messed things up so much.

When I catch myself doing that, I take a moment to shift my perspective and consider what might have been gained from the mistake. Often the “failure” was actually a valuable learning experience, setting the stage for much better things to happen. Instead of criticizing our past selves for their ignorance, we should instead thank them for their wisdom and perseverance in understanding the lesson and trying again!

Word-art that says "You only fail when you stop trying."

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.