When I noticed a bit of loose wood on a kitchen drawer, I asked my husband if he had some wood glue. He said there was some in the garage, and I should write a note to remind him to look for it. So I wrote a short note that said “wood glue for drawer” and put it on the kitchen counter.

This morning I came into the kitchen and found my son standing there with a bottle of wood glue. He said he’d seen my note and wanted to help out. So I showed him what drawer it was that needed to be repaired, and he took care of it right away.

Having people around who want to be helpful, even in small ways, is something to appreciate. Pets also—they can sense when a person needs comforting, and their joy in life always brings a smile.

Word-art that says "The little things? The little moments? They aren't little."

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 I’ve been reading blogs fairly regularly and buying books on my Kindle for the past few years, it occurred to me that I hadn’t visited my local library in quite a long time. The library wasn’t something I thought about much anymore, in part because it’s so easy to research all kinds of topics on the Internet nowadays, instead of making a trip to the library as people once had to do.

Of course, libraries now lend electronic materials, not just paper books and magazines; but in recent years I had been buying Kindle novels from indie authors to encourage their work. When I realized how long it had been since I’d checked out anything from the library, I went to its website to sign up for electronic borrowing. Then I found that my account was no longer in the system due to inactivity.

I went to my local branch library on Monday and got a new card issued, which didn’t take long. There was quite a difference between my plain old white plastic library card, which I put in the shredder when I got home, and the colorful updated card that came with a keychain mini-card.

Library card with mini-card for keychain.

That got me thinking about what wonderful places libraries were to me as a child. My parents took me to the library regularly as a very small child, and I got my own card as soon as I learned how to write my name. Bringing home new stories to read was always great fun, as was scribbling my own “books” while imagining myself as an author with other kids happily borrowing my stories from the library.

Growing up, I took for granted that visiting the library was something I would always do. I’m still not entirely sure how I could have gone without thinking about it for so long that my card expired. When I realized what I had done, I felt kind of embarrassed, as if I had been guilty of neglecting an old friend. But thankfully, the library is a forgiving friend and is always willing to take people back.

The Fitbit wars continued today, as my daughter started a new one-day challenge—after she worked out this morning, of course. Meanwhile, I hadn’t done much besides going to the supermarket on my lunch hour, and it was a windy day with rain blowing in.

Late in the afternoon, the sky got very dark, and there was even a tornado warning. Although I didn’t see anything other than a single flash of lightning, it definitely wasn’t the sort of afternoon to go outdoors for exercise. Not that it mattered because I generally work later on Thursdays, so I was still at my desk while the others in my family went to the gym.

The rain was over by the time I finished my work, though, and it was pleasantly warm outside, so I went for a walk. The sky had pretty much cleared by then, and the birds were singing happily. I ended up being glad that I’d gotten a little nudge to go out and enjoy it.

Word-art that says "We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails."

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 didn’t sleep well on Sunday night, perhaps because of the time change. Waking up at some dark hour, I tossed and turned for what seemed like a long time. Old fears, mainly about having no money and being powerless and pushed around, wandered out from dusty corners of my mind.

Then I fell halfway back to sleep, and it only got worse. Some kind of thick, heavy energy was sitting on my chest, directly above the solar plexus. When I tried to push it away, it solidified into an enormous boulder and squashed the middle of my body totally flat.

Boulder in a field on a cloudy day.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Despite my dream-body now being mostly separated into two pieces, I was somehow as much alive as ever, and I was angrily trying to shove that gigantic boulder away from me. Not surprisingly, it didn’t budge at all. I felt that nobody would help me with it because all the people who should have helped me in the past, but didn’t care enough to do much, were responsible for putting it there.

After a while I thought of someone who might want to make herself useful: Dame Shadow, an eccentric bodyguard of sorts who inhabits my subconscious as a self-appointed protector of the realm. When I last wrote about the Dame on this blog, she had given me a backache as a melodramatic way of prodding me to think about how much emotional weight I’d been carrying around.

I figured she owed me something after that annoying stunt, and I launched into an imaginary tirade. “Dame Shadow, I know you can hear me, and you’d better do something to get rid of this horrible boulder RIGHT NOW! You like to pretend you’re a superhero who can move mountains to save me, but where are you when I really need help?”

Another minute or so passed. Crickets chirped. Finally I heard light footsteps, and Dame Shadow walked around the boulder. She was dressed in a Wonder Woman outfit, complete with lasso.

“Okay, whatever,” I gave an exasperated sigh. “Just lasso this boulder already, and get it off me.”

The Dame replied, with an evil smirk, “Haven’t you learned yet that letting gravity work for you is much more efficient than brute force?”

She beckoned with her right hand, and several peasants promptly came forward and began digging along the downhill side of the boulder. They were dressed in muddy clothes and had bits of straw sticking to their boots. The shovels they were using looked (and smelled) as if they’d been mucking out the Dame’s stables very recently. Needless to say, the Dame had prudently positioned herself at a comfortable distance upwind.

Given the fact that my body had been effectively cut in half, I didn’t see myself as being in much of a position to complain. So I kept my dignity and pretended everything was fine while the peasants kept on digging. Eventually they undermined the boulder enough so that it rolled a short way down the hill. My midsection started inflating at a steady rate, as if by means of an air pump, until everything was back to normal.

Dame Shadow smiled again, this time with what looked like genuine friendliness. “You see, there are always plenty of sensible solutions to be found, but first you have to take the time to reflect on them.”

The house seemed very quiet today after a week of dog-sitting was over. A sunny morning had given way to another dark, cloudy winter sky by the afternoon, and it was well into the evening before my husband came home from work and the gym. I was sitting at the computer wondering what to post for Nurturing Thursday, but I didn’t have much energy and nothing insightful came to mind.

Then my husband came in and started chatting cheerfully about the international soccer game he watched on TV last night, after I went to bed. He didn’t get much sleep and had to drink plenty of coffee in the morning to wake himself up, but he was fine with that because the game was so exciting.

Just listening to his upbeat conversation left me feeling more cheerful and energetic, and reminded me once again that happiness doesn’t necessarily have to be gained through effort or insight. It’s mainly just about having a good outlook on life and enjoying the moment.

Word-art that says "Positive thinking evokes more energy, more initiative, more happiness."

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.

March 4, 2019 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

My husband and I finished ahead of our daughter in last week’s Fitbit step challenge. Although she craftily contrived to start with a day’s lead, as I mentioned here, I was able to get ahead of her on Friday because that was her travel day, while my husband and I were the dog-walkers. I couldn’t quite manage to catch up to our son-in-law, though, mainly because he was sneaky enough not to sync his Fitbit all day, so I didn’t know how far ahead he was. Of course, my husband totally crushed the rest of us because he is the most disciplined about regular workouts, so I came in third.

The weather has been wintery here, so we’ve been walking the dogs in the snow while their owners enjoy a warm, sunny Florida vacation. I have to confess to a bit of jealousy; but going for a walk is healthy even in the snow, and—as the dogs evidently know—there’s always plenty of time to laze around on the couch.

Two dogs looking comfy on the couch with blankets and pillows.

More doggie lessons about being happy in the moment—life is good with regular walks and a comfy couch!

We’ll be dog sitting this weekend because our daughter and son-in-law are traveling to attend a wedding. Their dogs are always so excited when they come here, running all around and wagging their tails. My husband often says that we can learn a lot from dogs about just being happy in the moment.

Word-art that says "Happiness is a journey, not a destination."

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.

February 26, 2019 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

On Friday evening, my husband challenged our daughter and son-in-law to a weekend Fitbit step competition. The weather wasn’t good enough to do anything outdoors, not only because it was cold, but also because we had strong winds most of the weekend. So we worked out at our local Rec Center both days. Of course, my husband’s manly pride required him to get many more steps than me, so he also went to the Y early in the morning. I decided that I would rather enjoy my sleep.

Fitbit with small purple band.

We both got more steps than the young’uns, and our daughter complained that it wasn’t fair because she had homework for her nurse practitioner program. So she got revenge by inviting us to a workweek challenge, but not until late Monday evening, after she already had enough steps to start in the lead. By then I had gone to bed, so I found out about it this morning. Of course, I didn’t see that coming and just sat around on Monday resting my feet, so they were all far ahead of me before I knew what was going on.

I went for a walk this afternoon and got some fresh air before the sun went down, but it was chilly enough that I didn’t stay out for more than half an hour. Then I swept the kitchen floor and some other areas, which didn’t count for a lot of steps, but needed to be done anyway. Meanwhile, I’m sure they were all at the gym feeling confident they had left me in the dust. Overconfident maybe? We’ll see.

I had a brief conversation on another blog this week about sadness and letting go of things. Everyone has memories of unpleasant events and hurtful attacks, which need to be worked through and tidied up so that they don’t fester. The old-fashioned advice of “forgive and forget” is of course much harder to do than to say, but it can go a long way toward a peaceful life.

Word-art that says "The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest."

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.

Ever since Fannie, my imaginary 119-year-old future self, suggested a few months ago that I might want to invite the archetypal Crone to play tennis, I had been turning that idea over in my mind. It made sense on a basic narrative level—if I wanted to explore possibilities other than the usual negative beliefs about aging, then I needed to be more creative in how I pictured older people. That included expecting the Crone to do more than just sit and tell stories, as in my previous post about her last winter.

Tennis didn’t work, though, for several reasons. First, I never played the sport or had much interest in it, and an imaginary outing where I bumbled around cluelessly on the tennis court didn’t hold much appeal. Of course, I didn’t have to be as realistic as that; but I didn’t want to be the Crone’s opponent in a sporting event anyway, or even her doubles partner, which would carry another well-defined set of adversarial socially-scripted baggage about pushing one’s body to the limit and always competing to excel over others. I really did just want the Crone to tell me stories, but without the typical cultural strings attached.

So, after I recently spent some time browsing through winter landscape scenes and imagining myself (as I mentioned here) on a snowy forest adventure, I decided to invite the Crone to be my companion on a mountain-climbing trip. That would be active enough to dispel the old-woman stereotypes, but we wouldn’t be opponents in anything, and there would be plenty of time for insightful conversation. I’ve never been a mountain climber in real life either, but that was okay—a hiking trail along a mountainside, without need for rock-climbing gear, would be sufficient.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

The crisp mountain air carried the scent of pine trees and snow. The wind was just right—enough of a breeze so that the Crone and I wouldn’t overheat as we hiked up the trail in our heavy winter gear, but it wasn’t blowing hard enough to make us want to pull our scarves up over our faces.

“Oh look, just over there!” exclaimed the Crone, as we went around a curve dotted by rocks and small bushes. I didn’t see much of anything else, but the Crone sounded quite excited indeed. She bustled over to a spot of green in the shelter of two rocks, where glossy leaves and a few bright berries could be seen poking up through the winter’s debris.

“It’s just another wildflower nowadays,” she explained, lovingly brushing away twigs and snow to give me a better view. “But long ago, skilled herbalists would have come out looking for this and other healing plants, even in winter. Many of them were older women, you know. They brought apprentices on mountain hikes very much like this, pointing out where the medicinal herbs could be found and how to recognize them.”

After carefully replacing the small twigs and dry leaves that protected the plant from the cold air, my companion stood up and went back to the trail. We continued around another bend, winding between several thick pines, while I considered the message in this little interlude.

“It’s just a myth, then, that old women didn’t do much but sit by the fire and tell stories,” I said after a minute or so, as I took a few quick steps to catch up to the Crone. She had gotten ahead of me while I was preoccupied with my thoughts, and she walked with plenty of vigor.

“Life was much harder in those days,” the Crone noted in a reflective tone, as if describing her own past. She slowed her stride a little. “Every pair of hands was needed. If an elder didn’t have the strength to work outdoors, she might indeed sit by the fire—but there would always be chores she could do while sitting. Of course, that didn’t prevent her from telling stories at the same time. When surviving through the winter couldn’t be taken for granted, stories and song went far toward keeping joy and vitality in the soul, just as herbal remedies kept the body healthy.”

We came out of the pines onto a steep ascent. The snowy peaks loomed majestically above us, just as they would have done thousands of years ago. I felt grateful for their enduring wisdom, as well as for my companion’s gentle words, as the imaginary adventure faded away.