My poor long-suffering backyard willows, which I’ve had to cut back significantly in the past few years because of damage caused by unusually cold winters and hot, dry summers, took more abuse this morning when an ice storm bent their branches all the way to the ground.

Ice-covered willows with branches hanging to the ground.

The temperature got above freezing this afternoon, though, and the ice is melting. I expect that by tomorrow, the branches will have shed their coating of ice and will have bounced back, not much worse for the wear. We could learn a few things about resilience from their example!

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.

After spending so much time this year rowing with my husband and traveling to regattas, it feels sad to look outside and see frost on the grass in the morning, while the boats sit empty until warmer weather returns. But, on the other hand, it’s not realistic to be on the go forever. Although it would be nice to have unlimited energy for fun activities, sometimes what’s needed is to relax and not be in a rush.

My subconscious mind drove home that message on Monday morning with no subtlety whatsoever, before I fully woke up. An unexpected thought came into my head without any filtering. “Thank God it’s Monday,” my half-asleep brain informed me. “It’s just an ordinary workday, and there’s no need to go anywhere.”

That left me considering how I might do a better job of balancing travel and adventures against the need to rest and replenish my energy. Even though this wasn’t something that happened long ago, I decided on Tuesday evening that a make-believe conversation in one of the tiny houses of Channelwood, the imaginary village where I send my stressed-out past selves for a restful vacation, could give me some insight.

I pictured my half-asleep Monday morning self sitting on the bed next to me. The scenario reminded me of a dorm room because the only other place to sit was a desk chair. Outside a narrow window, a cliff fell sharply away to the ocean, and I heard the surf and seagulls clearly.

Cliff with trees and shrubs dropping away to the ocean.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

I couldn’t manage to compose any useful dialogue, though. Monday-Morning-Before-Coffee-Me was not lucid enough to put more than a few words together, and just looked like she wanted to go back to sleep. And to be honest, I didn’t think of any good questions to ask her before I was dozing off too.

It wasn’t a completely wasted exercise in imagination, though, because the idea of a dorm room left me dreaming that I was back in college. I wanted to eat a leisurely pancake breakfast in the cafeteria, but my husband (who was, of course, my boyfriend then) was telling me to hurry up and grab something quick.

In real life, he generally doesn’t try to rush me when I am eating breakfast because he knows I hate that. So I interpreted the dream-image as referring not to him in particular, but to whatever might put me in a rush.

As for the pancake breakfast in the cafeteria, I decided that was my subconscious mind’s advice for enjoying a more restful life; and I made banana pancakes with real maple syrup. Yum, that left me feeling better!

November in America traditionally is a time for reflecting on the many things for which we are thankful. In that respect, I was glad to see such strong participation, especially by younger voters, in Tuesday’s election. Although politics in the United States recently has been marked by cultural and generational clashes, I feel heartened that so many people are not giving up, but are actively working to bring the country together and to build a society where our differences are respected and valued.

Word-art featuring fallen leaves and words like "thankful."

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.

November 5, 2018 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I have a good relaxing afternoon planned for Tuesday. After an ordinary morning of work, I’ll have my hair done in the early afternoon, and then I’m getting a massage. My digital art display shows a peaceful autumn scene. If all goes as planned, I should be nice and mellow by the time I vote later in the day.

Colorful trees with falling leaves beside a creek.

Unfortunately, some of today’s politicians are notorious for deliberately stirring up anger to motivate their supporters. That sort can be found in more than one political party, and I won’t mention any names because I have better things to do than give them attention.

Anger and fear can be effective motivators for a short time, but they have predictable effects. After a few years, the stress builds up, leaving people drained of energy and unhealthy. Of course, the politicians who stirred up such feelings don’t care because they already got the votes they wanted, and they’re not looking beyond the current election cycle.

Choosing public officials should involve considering the values and ideals that shape our society, and how each candidate would reflect them. Some of the values needed now, as I see it, are decency, civility, stable government, and respect for the rule of law. I plan to vote accordingly, without wasting time and energy on anger. Surely we can all do better.

Because it has been dark and rainy here, I’m looking for bright colors and cheerful things to perk me up—and surely I’m not the only one feeling this way. When a coworker sent this “positive energy” image in an email, it felt just right to share for Nurturing Thursday! Enjoy.

Word-art that says "positive energy" with brightly colored rays.

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 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.