Although our daughter has been happily decorating her starter home for the past year, that love of decorating must have skipped a generation because my husband and I never really got into it. We still have an old coffee table in our living room that was probably made in the 1950s and looks worn, with chipped veneer, but we like it because of the dimensions. It’s much longer then most tables nowadays (66 inches) and is a comfortable size for pizza or hamburgers while watching TV. Because we’ve had it for over 30 years, any table of a different size wouldn’t feel right to us.

Old wooden coffee table with chipped veneer.

A few years ago, we thought about taking the table somewhere to be refurbished, but we never got around to it. Then we decided that we might prefer to buy a more modern-looking table of about the same length, and maybe a little deeper and higher, and then give the old one to a thrift store.

Online searches for oversized coffee tables never turned up anything that we liked, though. The dimensions were wrong, the color was too dark, or the style didn’t suit us. Of course, there are plenty of places where we could order a custom-made table, but that would be expensive and we’d rather spend less, especially after we had to replace both our refrigerator and our air conditioner this year.

So I decided to write this post as an exercise in attracting what I want by being precise about it. Self-help authors often describe attraction as a magical process of aligning one’s vibrations with the Universe, while others have a more practical focus on harnessing the power of the subconscious mind to notice and act on small details. Regardless, the aim is to take a first step toward improving one’s circumstances by visualizing the desired changes clearly.

A living room table may seem like a trivial item, but after so many years of regular use, I think it can fairly be described as meaningful to my everyday family life; and I am thankful for all the pizza nights and other good memories. I am looking to replace it with a new table that is (1) wood; (2) rectangular; (3) between 66 and 68 inches long; (4) between 20 and 24 inches deep; (5) between 16 and 18 inches high; (6) a color similar to my current table, not too dark or light; (7) sturdy, but not so heavy as to be difficult to move; and (8) a reasonably affordable mass-market item that can easily be ordered online.

Okay, Universe, work your magic!

Last weekend I rowed a single scull in a regatta for the first time. The race was on Saturday afternoon in Tennessee, and although I didn’t know it, a major windstorm was blowing in from the northwest. When I rowed a double with my husband earlier that day, the water was getting choppy, and we had a difficult time keeping our speed up. We don’t have as much experience in windy conditions as many other rowers because our usual course—on a river in Dayton, Ohio—often has calm water.

When we got back to the dock, I had only a few minutes to use the restroom and pin my number onto my uniform before I was right back out there. I could have waited a little longer, but I wanted to make sure to reach the starting line (this was a 5K race) in plenty of time, which I did. So there I was, just sitting in my tiny boat waiting for my race to start, getting blown all around by the wind (racing sculls are narrow little boats generally, and my boat is more so than most, because I am a small woman).

Fortunately, an official noticed that all the competitors were there waiting and started us early, so I didn’t have too much time to get nervous. Two women who were much better at rowing in choppy water passed me before too long, but I managed to stay ahead of another rower and to make some progress against the wind, while telling myself it would be okay. My time was slow, but for a first race it wasn’t too bad, and I had no mishaps and didn’t capsize—so all was well.

The trip back to Dayton, driving into the oncoming windstorm with our boats strapped to the roof of the SUV, was more of an adventure than we would have liked. My husband was very thorough about making sure everything was well secured before we left; and although the winds got so gusty that he had to stop beside the highway and put on every extra strap we had, it was all okay—except that we had to drive so slowly that we didn’t get home in time to order the pizza we’d been planning to get. No worries other than that!

Word-art that says "Don't worry about a thing. Every little thing is gonna be alright." -Bob Marley

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 browse through the online library for my digital art display, I sometimes come across interesting photos that have nothing in the caption to identify where in the world they were taken. That’s okay, though, because it can be more fun to create stories about them when I have no clue what they really are. Here’s the image that I am displaying today—where would you guess it might have come from?

Narrow cobblestone street between stone and wood buildings.

(Photo credit: Millie Walker)

The narrow street paved with cobblestones between buildings made of stone and wood has a timeless feeling to it, as if an unsuspecting traveler might go for a stroll and end up several hundred years in the past. As for the little pointed orange rooftops, they look like something exotic from a far distant kingdom out of a child’s storybook. I can imagine them at the entrance to a medieval castle, with archers posted there to keep watch from those little windows.

On a sunny morning, the street might be full of merchants in long robes driving their donkeys and mules to market, with wooden carts heaped high. Children would dodge between the carts, laughing and playing. Women carrying baskets of food or buckets of water would make their way through the crowds on the sidewalk. Maybe a small group of monks on a pilgrimage would pass by, intent on seeing a saint’s relics in a nearby cathedral.

And just maybe, looking out my imaginary window at that scene, I might see a tiny fairy with shimmering blue wings and strands of diamonds woven into her hair, invisible to all but those who believe in her.

On what is a bright, sunny autumn day here, keeping toward the sunshine seems just right for a Nurturing Thursday post. Enjoy a great weekend, everyone!

Word-art that says "Keep your face to the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you." -Walt Whitman

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.

Recently I’ve been practicing an affirmation that focuses on making clear the distinction between the present and the past. When I catch myself feeling gloomy about something out of the past, I tell myself, “Right now, I have a pretty good flow of positive energy when it comes to (category of issue), even if there were times when it wasn’t as good in the past.”

At first, I filled in the blank with a broad general category such as time, money, or health. Then, after I woke up on Sunday morning and felt pretty good in general, it occurred to me that I could get much more specific if I felt like it. After all, this was my own life energy I was talking about, and I was completely free to have fun improving it in whatever way struck my fancy.

I was planning to cook pot roast in the Crock-Pot for dinner; and when I went to buy groceries, I decided that it could be a positivity exercise for the day. How might the flow of a pot roast dinner be improved? Well, I could buy a bag of tiny red potatoes, saving time by reducing the ingredients in need of chopping. I also didn’t need to cut the meat into chunks, like I usually did, before putting it into the Crock-Pot. My daughter had mentioned that she thought the meat was more tender when she left it in one piece.

Pot roast with small red potatoes in a Crock-Pot.

When we ate dinner, I didn’t really notice a difference in the tenderness of the meat, and neither did my husband—although he did mention that leaving it in one piece made dinner easier because we could quickly cut whatever amount of meat we wanted, rather than having to hunt for chunks of it among the potatoes and veggies. The tiny potatoes were pretty good too. So, I think it’s fair to say that I successfully improved my flow of life energy in the dimension of pot roast.

As positivity exercises go, this one might have been rather silly, but I would rate it as useful anyway. My husband once told me that when he played football in high school, one of the team chants was “Every day, in every way, we get better and better and better.” Small improvements, even if they don’t matter much in themselves, help to reinforce the mindset that things are getting better all the time. And every day, there really are many things that can be described, in all honesty, as getting better—even if they are as ordinary as a pot roast dinner. What’s important is to train the mind to notice them.

After a long string of warm, summery days, the weather turned chilly all of a sudden last night. When I woke up this morning, the heat was running and the view out the window was a gray, cloudy dawn.

In past years I would have grumbled something to myself like “oh, yuck, now it’s going to be dark and cold for ages, no more good weather till spring.” But of course, in today’s world there are always fun things to do, no matter what the season. All we need to do is look around with the expectation of finding them, and sure enough, something fun will come along soon!

Word-art that says "Here Comes the Fun."

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 planted a chrysanthemum next to my mailbox on Tuesday, with buds just starting to open. The mum replaced a wilted little zinnia that never managed to grow much because there was hot, dry weather all through the late spring and the summer.

Photo of a mum, next to my mailbox, with buds starting to open.

Although I know this is nothing unusual and many people change their seasonal flowers as the days turn cooler, in past years I did my seasonal planting in the spring and just left the flowers in place until the frost got them. I generally felt that there wasn’t much to do in autumn and winter besides hunker down in a warm house and wait until spring came again.

Of course, there is no good reason to feel trapped indoors just because the temperature drops. I live in the modern world, after all, and not in a log cabin in a primitive village where anyone venturing too far might get caught in a blizzard or eaten by wolves.

So I’ve decided that whenever I look at the mum blooming by the mailbox, it will be a positive reminder that new growth and renewal can happen at any time of the year, even when the trees are dropping their leaves.

When I was a kid, my mom always was a major stickler for prompt thank-you notes. I remember several afternoons when instead of going out to play, I was sent to my room to compose a neglected thank-you, while grumbling to myself that it was a pointless chore.

Although it took a while, I did eventually develop more understanding of the thank-you ritual. Rather than just being a rote social script, thank-you notes show appreciation for kind acts, which is a way of giving kindness in return. After visiting my mother recently, I sent a card thanking her for showing my husband and me around her current house, which we hadn’t seen before. That might not have been technically a gift, but I did appreciate her taking the time to do it, and just thought I should say so.

Word-art that says "Acts of kindness inspire kindness."

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.

Last week the rowing club was more adventurous than usual, traveling to a large regatta in Florida. My husband and I stayed with another club member at his mother’s house not far from the race course. She is a delightful English lady who loves to have guests and is very outspoken, making blunt remarks such as “Absolute rubbish!” when, for instance, my husband suggested that we might take our clothes to a laundromat rather than inconvenience her by using her washer and dryer.

She is 86 years old and very active, going sailing once a week and doing charitable work regularly. When the heat got to me on the practice day before the races started, she sympathized with me by saying that she recently had gotten rather dehydrated playing tennis for two hours on a hot day.

That evening I still didn’t feel quite right after rowing and being outdoors for a long time in the heat. When I got in bed, I felt as if it might be rocking gently, like a boat. That reminded me of reading Kon-Tiki as a child and pretending that my bed was a balsa-wood raft floating across the Pacific Ocean. So, as I couldn’t get to sleep right away, I decided to populate this imaginary scenario with my adventurous future self, Fannie. I pictured us looking up at the stars from a natural-fiber mat on the raft, with plenty of comfortable pillows.

Photo of the Kon-Tiki raft in its museum.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

“So, Fannie,” I asked her, in my best faux-English accent, “would you say that the stories our culture tells about aging are absolute rubbish?”

“No, I wouldn’t actually,” she said, drawing out the vowel into an absurdly long ‘ah’ sound, “and by the way, you are rubbish with ah-ccents, and I never got much better with them over the years. So we might do better to stick with ordinary American conversation, though there’s nobody around but a few imaginary flying fish to hear us embarrassing ourselves.”

Fannie snuggled deeper into the pillows and went on to say, “Putting energy into rejecting a cultural narrative only feeds it more power. What we resist persists; that’s from Carl Jung, a very wise man. When you feel that society has you in a box, there’s no need to kick and beat on the walls. Just look up, and you’ll see the sky and feel a breeze flowing through. The box is not solid. All you have to do is step out of it. Dance and skip out of it. Do handsprings and cartwheels out of it. Oh, was there a box around here somewhere? I hadn’t noticed. Where it went, I can’t say. Maybe it’s in that field over there, behind all those tall weeds.”

“Once upon a time, long, long ago,” I said, getting into the spirit of it, “there were people who thought they had to stay in boxes; or at least, that’s what my great-grandmother told me.”

“Lost in the mists of time,” Fannie agreed cheerfully. “And while we’re on the subject, maybe instead of picturing the archetypal Crone just sitting and telling stories, you might want to invite her to play some tennis. Yes, I know you are rubbish at tennis, but the Crone hasn’t played in many years either. Of course, I’m no better at it, since I am you, so that’s nothing personal.”

I thought that I heard Fannie chuckling quietly to herself, but a fish leaped out of the ocean just then and landed with a particularly loud splash, so I couldn’t be quite sure.