I’m still wearing the Fitbit Alta that I got in April; it’s helpful for reminding me to get up from my desk chair more often, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. There is one thing it doesn’t do, though; I often row on the river, and the Fitbit is not programmed to identify rowing motions, so it doesn’t include that when it counts time spent exercising. It recognizes other activities such as walking, running, and bicycling.

That left me wondering if I should turn off the icon on the Fitbit phone app that counts days of exercise, so as not to be annoyed by it. After giving that some thought, however, I decided that walking more would be a healthy, nurturing thing to do, whether or not I row. Now that the warm summer days are here and getting outside for a walk feels refreshing, it’s another way to take better care of myself.

Word-art that says "Be kind to everyone, including yourself."

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 got outdoors a lot over the long weekend—rowing and bicycling, and the hot weather was just right for the swimming pool. My daughter and her husband came down from Cleveland to visit. Their Labradoodle puppy still hasn’t quite figured out how to walk up the pool steps, but at least he has discovered that he can stand on the bottom step and leap out of the pool.

There wasn’t really much time for blogging, which was okay until an annoying self-critical part of my subconscious began to draw unfavorable comparisons to my creative output in the past. Maybe you’ve lost your mojo, it suggested nastily. You haven’t written much in months. What happened to the days when stories just popped into your head all the time, no matter how busy you were?

At first I tried to dismiss the voice, but then I started wondering—did I really have that much more creative energy in the past? Maybe this was just selective memory playing tricks on me, highlighting times when my younger self bubbled over with new stories, while skipping over the mundane stuff. How would I know?

Then it occurred to me that an imaginary visit with one of my younger selves might help me find an answer to that question. I decided to call her Butterfly because there was a time, many years ago, when I pictured one as my animal spirit guide, carefree and flitting easily from one place to another.

I tried to construct a mental image of this younger self sitting comfortably with a pen and notepad in hand, busily scribbling away. She had her own ideas about that, however. The comfy chair stayed empty; and when Butterfly finally showed up in my mindspace, she was pedaling cheerfully along on a three-speed bike from the 1970s, with her bell-bottom jeans rolled up so they wouldn’t catch and rip on the chain.

I was riding next to her in the same workout clothes I wore on Sunday in the park, on my Made-in-the-USA fifteen-speed Huffy bicycle from 1994. It still works just fine, as does my husband’s matching bike. (Over the weekend he upgraded both bikes with nice modern carbon-fiber water bottle holders, which, needless to say, is the only bit of carbon fiber to be found anywhere on them—but, at least now they’re not 100% ancient.)

Photo of Meg Evans on an old Huffy bicycle

“Hello,” I said to my younger self, as we rode slowly along a quiet, shaded path in the park. The fast-paced real world seemed very far away.

“Hi,” replied Butterfly in a distracted tone, just before stopping her bike in the grass beside the path and exclaiming, “Ooh, look at the pretty flowers!”

I stopped next to her, and yes, the flowers were pretty—wild roses and honeysuckle all tangled together like a bright, living curtain that swayed gently in the breeze.

“If I had my phone with me,” I said, talking more to myself than to my companion, “and this was a real place, I’d take a picture of these flowers for a blog post.”

Butterfly turned to face me, frowning slightly, as if she thought I’d said something very peculiar indeed. She inquired, “Don’t you ever do anything just to do it?”

Now it was my turn to feel perplexed. “Well, of course I do. I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors this spring. But lately I’ve been feeling like I haven’t had as much creative energy as usual—so, I thought I’d ask you about that. How do you manage distractions and stay creative?”

“Manage distractions?” she repeated blankly, as if I’d been speaking in a foreign language. Then, apparently losing interest in the flowers, she hopped back on her bike and pedaled briskly away, leaving me to catch up with her.

Wondering what I’d said to confuse her, I tried rephrasing the question. “I meant, how do you stay creative when you have a lot of things happening that distract you?”

“Well, usually they’re all different things, aren’t they?” Slowing down for a moment as we rode through a bumpy spot of dried mud, Butterfly raised her left hand in a vague gesture that seemed to include trees, grass, a squirrel, and some cottonwood fluff drifting softly to the ground. “And creativity has to do with fitting a lot of different things together in ways that make sense in the story, right? So, distractions should never be a problem, in themselves. If they aren’t naturally coming together into stories that make sense, then maybe the question to ask is: What other random thoughts have been wandering into the picture?”

After we rounded a curve, a straight, level pathway stretched before us, cool and pleasant in the shade of the overhanging trees. All I could hear was the chirping of the birds and the humming of our wheels.

“You know,” I said finally, “that way of looking at it does kind of make some sense.”

Butterfly, whose attention now seemed to be focused mainly on a woodchuck munching clover on the other side of the path, didn’t answer; but I thought I saw a little smile forming as she glanced away from me.

My husband and I have been getting out on the river a lot and enjoying the pleasant weather, which is why I haven’t done much blogging recently. The wildlife is always fun to watch. When we rowed our double yesterday, there was a goose standing on the bank watching us, next to a pair of ducks. I couldn’t take a picture because I never bring my phone in the boat, just to be sure I won’t drop it in the river; so, that’s why my post today is not called Duck, Duck, Goose.

It’s a beautiful Thursday morning here, and a fascinating world all around to explore. Wherever you may be off to, let your day be full of adventures!

Word-art that says "You're off to great places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way." -Dr. Seuss

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.

A coworker who enjoys sending upbeat word-art to perk up our team attached this cute cat picture to an email recently, and my first thought was that it would be just right for a Nurturing Thursday post:

Cat picture word-art that says "Kindness is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back."

When I started writing this entry, though, I wasn’t sure how to relate it to anything I had done this week. My workdays had been pretty quiet, and it didn’t seem like I had given away much kindness or that anything in particular had come back—at least, not that I could think of. Mainly, I’d been trying to get more sleep and to give virtual hugs to my insecure younger self whenever random memories of old mistakes came to mind.

Then I realized that kindness to oneself is central to Nurturing Thursday, so it was just right after all!

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.

My husband always does the mowing, while I am responsible for anything that grows in the yard and is not grass. Planting annual flowers in the spring is fun, but weeding—not so much. It didn’t really bother me at our previous house, which had well-established perennial flowerbeds and very few weeds. When we moved to this house, though, the neighborhood still had several vacant lots, and plenty of thistle seeds and other annoying weeds blew into the yard.

Digging those thistles out of the flowers often left me feeling achy the next day, unlike when I did the easier gardening at the other house. I started to wonder if I was getting sore because I was older. After all, I was turning 40, which had seemed quite far in the future when we were 30 and moved into the previous house. As time went by and I got busier with such things as the kids’ sporting events, I rushed through the weeding, with the mindset that it was a miserable chore and probably would always give me aches and pains.

This year, however, I decided to test the hypothesis that whatever aches I got were caused mainly by too much rushing around, rather than anything to do with my age. I did some weeding on Saturday while my husband mowed the lawn. Instead of rushing through it, I slowed down, taking a little time to walk around and stretch every few minutes. I also alternated weeding with a little pruning, so that I wasn’t in the same position the whole time.

A more leisurely pace didn’t actually take much longer; my husband was putting away the lawnmower at about the same time I finished the weeding. I felt fine afterward and spent a few minutes browsing through and uploading Creative Commons photos to the library for my art display. I particularly liked the photo shown below, entitled “Old Loggers Path.” I’m sure that must mean an old path used by loggers, but it gave me a mental image of a group of brawny guys with gray beards walking along carrying axes.

Loggers' path with sunlight filtering through tall trees.

(Photo credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli)

When I woke up on Sunday morning I wasn’t at all sore. I had to conclude that I would have avoided years of aches from weeding if I’d taken the time to consider possible causes and solutions. It seems simple enough in hindsight, but our culture doesn’t encourage a mindful approach to health. Instead, the prevailing assumption is that the body naturally falls apart as we get older and there’s not much to be done about it.

While it’s certainly true that the body, like a machine, sustains some amount of wear and tear as time passes, I suspect that much of what gets attributed to age is not really inevitable. Sometimes, all that’s needed is to make a few improvements in maintenance.

Now that the weather is warming up, my daughter decided it was time to teach the Labradoodle puppy how to swim. Not so much how to swim, since that’s mainly instinctive, but the survival skill of how to get out of a concrete swimming pool by walking up the steps. He is almost a year old and looks full grown, but he still acts young and is nervous around water. She put him in the shallow water across from the steps, walked around to the steps, and called him while holding out a treat.

He didn’t quite get the concept, though. He was so afraid of the pool that he just stood up on his hind legs, put his paws on the side, and stood there looking like he desperately wanted someone to rescue him. After a while, he did manage to find his way onto the bottom step, but he didn’t seem to understand that he could walk up and out of the pool; so he’ll have to try again another time.

Often it’s like that with many things in life. We feel stuck in a situation that we don’t know how to get out of, we keep trying the same approach that didn’t work—and after a while, we figure out how to walk away.

Word-art that says: When life puts you in tough situations, don't say "Why me?" say "Try me!"

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.

May 6, 2018 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I had a curious dream last night in which I was traveling. I stayed at a house that was supposed to have a magical Fountain of Youth nearby. Although I heard water splashing and birds chirping, I couldn’t seem to find my way out of the house to discover the fountain.

Fountain in a garden pond.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

The house was big and untidy, with pet food spilled on a tile floor. After I saw that mess, I felt that I needed to take a bath; but when I found the bathtub it was dirty, with random junk all around it. I started cleaning the tub and was still scrubbing busily away when I woke up.

Perhaps not by coincidence, I’d had plenty of sleep for the past three nights. When I got out of bed and saw my face in the mirror, I looked young and refreshed. The physical function of sleep is, of course, to clean up the “junk” that accumulates in the brain and body while awake.

So I believe it would be fair to interpret the dream as a gentle reminder from my subconscious about the importance of getting enough sleep. Being well rested may not literally be a magical Fountain of Youth, but it does go a long way toward feeling healthier!

May 3, 2018 · 7 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

The past week was busy and fun; I got outdoors a lot and enjoyed the warm weather, which finally seems to have made up its mind that it wants to be spring rather than winter. But earlier today, when I was wondering what to write for a Nurturing Thursday post, nothing popped into my thoughts. I felt frustrated, and I asked myself: Had my creativity wandered off somewhere to play, too?

Then I realized it was just silly to worry about such things. It seems to be part of our culture that even when life is going well, sometimes we catch ourselves feeling—just as a matter of habit—like we ought to push ourselves to do more. But of course, happiness doesn’t really depend on how much we get done or how many people like what we do; it’s mainly about being comfortable with ourselves.

Word-art that says "Happiness depends upon ourselves." -Aristotle

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.