This year my husband and I haven’t done much for Christmas; we are just enjoying a quiet week around the house. We bought an update for the navigation in my husband’s SUV, which he installed today, although we won’t be going on any road trips in the near future.

While that may sound kind of boring, the navigation update is actually something that we are grateful to have. We didn’t buy it two years ago because, with the pandemic, there wasn’t anywhere to go. Now, with the last days of 2022 winding down, we have more appreciation for simply being able to travel and get together with friends, towing the boat trailer (most people in our rowing club don’t have a large enough vehicle) so that our friends can go to the regattas with us. Staying connected with others is part of a fulfilling life, which we often took for granted in the past.

Word-art with circling arrows and a cloud of words like "fulfillment" and "give back."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

I’ve had a quiet, cozy Christmas day, and right now I am enjoying a cup of hot tea as night falls over the snowy landscape outside my window. I imagine there will be more adventures in the year to come, but there is no rush. Just being here with my family, in this moment of grace, is enough for now.

Word-art with an eagle that says, "Merry Christmas."

I’m sharing this image because it reminded me of a real encounter with a bald eagle on the river, a few years ago. Right next to my husband’s single scull, an eagle swooped down, talons wide. It was quite a startling sight while rowing! The eagle had spotted a fish, which it grabbed neatly out of the water.

Wishing a very merry Christmas and an adventurous New Year to all!

The winter storm got here later in the evening, there’s plenty of snow on the ground now, and it’s still falling (along with the temperature). Definitely a white Christmas weekend on the way. Just right for cozy winter nights with a mug of hot chocolate, a crackling fireplace (even if it’s not real wood), lights and tinsel shining on the tree, and being together.

Happy Holidays image with ornaments and tree branches.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

December 22, 2022 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

The weather forecast—extreme winds, temperatures suddenly falling overnight, and ice and snow—was alarming enough that I went to get groceries early this morning, for fear the supermarket would be so mobbed that I wouldn’t be able to get much. As it turned out, everything was fine; I found almost all of the items on my list, and there was very little wind and only a light drizzle. Because it was a dark morning, I chose an image of holiday lights for my digital art display.

Picture of a jar filled with Christmas lights.

I had in mind to brighten things up, in much the same way as the ancient pagans with their candles, warding off the dark—or, perhaps, to bring my family good luck with regard to the more modern issue of the power staying on, whenever the howling winter winds finally get here. Wishing a cozy, warm, and safe home and the blessings of family to my readers also!

After a long string of dark days, I can totally understand why pagans in ancient times would light candles at the winter solstice to chase away the dark. Unlike the pagans, however, we are blessed with libraries and plenty of books to curl up with in a cozy modern house.

My workgroup had a Reading Challenge this year, which involved reading books in various categories. It’s over now, but I checked out a sequel from the library to one of the novels that I read as part of the challenge. Just right for the slower pace of winter days!

Word-art with a library photo that says, "Take time to do what makes your soul happy."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

There’s an old expression that holding onto resentment is like letting your enemies live rent-free in your head. I just came across an image on Pixabay that illustrates a creative variation on that idea, so I’m sharing it for today’s Nurturing Thursday post.

Word-art that says, "Holding hostages?" with an image of a prisoner in a person's head and a cloud of words like "Resenting" and "Fearing."

(Image credit: John Hain)

I like the idea of visualizing those old pointless grudges as prisoners, rather than squatters, because it makes clear that they have no power and can be turned loose at any time. Squatters act with intent and are likely to resist being evicted, whereas prisoners just mark time and are glad to be released. After they’ve been behind bars for so many years, maybe they don’t even remember how they got there.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

My daughter, who lives in Cleveland’s snow belt, is currently working in Hawaii as a travel nurse and enjoying the warmth and the beaches. As an unexpected adventure, she also got to see the eruption of Mauna Loa up close, and she sent me some photos on Monday. Here’s one of them:

Photo of erupting Mauna Loa volcano at night.

She is a neonatal intensive care nurse, and a few years ago, she worked at Cleveland Metro. Then she discovered that travel nursing paid more, plus the costs of travel and housing. Adventure and more money, what’s not to like about that? And of course, as more nurses made the same discovery, hospitals lost more staff and relied even more heavily on temps from the travel nurse agencies, digging themselves into a hole that I can’t see them getting out of any time soon.

Somewhat related to the hospitals’ woes, I’ve noticed a few alarmist articles in the news recently about the Federal Reserve’s string of interest rate hikes, aimed at cooling off the economy to get inflation under control. Doomsayers warn of recession and job cuts. I think that’s overblown, and as supply chains improve, I expect the economy will do much better. I don’t foresee many jobs being lost other than in the construction and finance industries, where raising interest rates effectively put a stop to housing speculation.

Now that we live in a world of persistent labor shortages, interest rates don’t have nearly the impact on unemployment that they had a few decades ago, when large numbers of workers in the baby boom cohort struggled to find jobs that could easily be sent overseas. We’re never going to see an economy like that again. Employers are realizing that they need to hold onto talent, as I am sure the Fed’s policymakers are aware. Workers also know that their skills are in more demand than in past years.

Of course, the rate hikes are in part intended to make consumers get uneasy and spend more cautiously. Monetary policy has as much to do with mind games as with economic facts. But overall, I’m not worried. Higher borrowing costs are not going to cause short-staffed employers to lay off workers that they desperately need. Workers likely won’t be deterred from job-hopping in search of adventure and better pay, either. We’ll see what happens, but I expect it won’t be anything dramatic.

My husband has been away on a business trip this week; he’ll return later this evening. The house has been weirdly quiet. I was working from home before the pandemic, and quiet days felt ordinary to me then, but it’s very different now that I have been sharing the home office space with my husband for almost three years. Without having him around to fill my office area with cheerful energy, it just seems like a big, empty place.

While it’s also fair to note that sometimes he has interminable meetings that leave me craving a quieter space, this week has brought into focus how blessed I am to have a loving family—along with others who brighten my life such as kind friends, helpful coworkers, and readers who take the time to write encouraging comments on this blog. Many thanks to all!

Word-art that says, "To all the people who are loving and kind to me. Thank you for the sunshine you bring into my life."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

This is the sixth story in a series. Click here to read all parts from the beginning.

The icy wilderness beyond the oversized door looked eerily empty. It wasn’t altogether devoid of life; a few scrawny conifers clung to the rocky slopes on either side of a frozen lake, but I saw no animals or birds. Sunlight brightened the scene but gave little warmth.

frozen lake and rocks

I didn’t see any sign of dragons, either, which was one advantage of suddenly finding myself in a bitterly cold wasteland. Dragons, like all reptiles, preferred warm climates. Still, if I froze to death here, it wouldn’t matter that nothing was trying to eat me.

Going back the way I came wasn’t in the cards, though; not with dragons and sea serpents in the way, and of course I had no clue how to reopen the portal to my own world even if I could reach it. Lacking any other choice but to go forward, I let the big door swing shut behind me, but not until after I checked to make sure the knob would turn from this side. No sense locking myself out when I had no idea what I’d find here.

I took off the hood of my fire suit to get a better view of the landscape without the visor. Looking up, I saw no flickering magical portals anywhere, which didn’t surprise me. After all, nothing was ever that easy. I did see two blood-red moons that hung near the horizon, both large enough to give the unsettling impression that they might fall out of the sky at any moment. The sun was low enough that it didn’t look like I could walk far without losing the daylight.

The cold wind in my face was strangely constant, without lulls or gusts. It smelled of ice and rock, with maybe a trace of woodsy scent from the trees, but that was more likely my imagination. Putting my hood back on so I wouldn’t lose too much body heat, I decided to start walking to my right, toward the setting sun. If I didn’t find shelter in that direction soon, then I’d have to turn around and come back here. The hard stone of the passageway inside the door wouldn’t be the most comfortable place to sleep, but it definitely beat freezing in the open air.

I picked my way carefully along the rocky shore, feeling very thankful for my sturdy shoes. A clump of conifers nearby offered a windbreak and more level ground, so I headed toward it. There were no paths, which suggested that no predators were likely to be lurking, but I kept a close watch anyway.

After a while, the trees grew more densely. Calling them a forest would still have been a stretch, but they could at least pass muster for a respectable woods, of the sort that lakeshore cabins back home in Tennessee might’ve had. The sun was just about to sink below them, which would have been my cue to turn around, when I saw the bright glow of a lantern through the trees.

Wonderful turkey day wishes to all! I’ve been happily spending a quiet Thanksgiving reading an excellent fantasy novel, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. Inspired by the Rumpelstiltskin fable and set in a dukedom in long-ago Poland, it tells the story of a moneylender’s daughter who bargains for her life with a magical winter king. I was so engrossed in the book that it wasn’t easy to take a break just to write this short blog post. Good books are rare treasures, and I am thankful for a world that has them.

Word-art with a turkey that says, "Happy Thanksgiving."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”