This week I started a new five-week training program to get in shape for rowing. So far it seems like it’s going well. I was a bit apprehensive about it because last year I trained harder than I’d done before, and there were many days when I felt tired and stressed, rushing to do everything on the schedule.

I expect it’ll be easier now that I have better baseline fitness and know what to expect. Just as important, this season I plan to get more rest and manage my time more sensibly. No reason to let it scare 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.

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

I was just about to turn away from the dead-looking lake when I noticed a small ripple forming along the horizon. Tiny wisps of fog started to rise from it. At first, they were so faint that I wondered if I might have imagined them. A few seconds later, though, I heard a whumpp sound, and a thick vapor boiled up to form a looming cloud in what had been, until then, an unbroken gray sky.

Just below the cloud, a wave started rolling toward the shore where I stood. It moved at a steady pace, like the tide coming in at the beach. Rising higher, it finally crested and began to curl as if breaking over unseen rocks. I might’ve been looking at ordinary surf—except that, as it came closer, the outlines of scaly blue-green heads became visible all along the wave’s crest.

Wave cresting under a puffy cloud.

(Image credit: Johnny Jungle)

I found myself wondering, in a strange moment of detached curiosity, whether sea serpents could breathe fire like their dragon cousins. But obviously, the situation called for being more concerned with self-preservation, and I wasn’t about to stick around long enough to find out what they could do.

Tossing my now-dry fire suit over my right shoulder, I took off running across the stone, trying (without much success) not to think about the fact that it was really a troll’s head. I listened the whole time for the sound of that wave hitting the shore, but the unnatural silence persisted. All I could hear was the sound of my own shoes slapping against granite.

After I crossed the stone and came out onto a road made of hard-packed earth (or at least, something that looked and felt like it), I slowed down just enough to take a quick glance behind me. Although I expected to see a few of those scaly heads reaching my way, I was wrong. Once again, there was no sign of life or motion anywhere near the lake. It had gone back to flat, dead-looking water. Both the wave and the cloud had totally vanished.

The sulfurous smell of dragons was much stronger here. Steep cliffs loomed on either side. Ahead, the road narrowed, leading to a dark tunnel cut into the mountain. Cave openings at regular intervals—much too regular to have formed naturally—suggested this might be the home of a primitive cliff-dwelling tribe. No paths led up to the caves, however, and some of them were on sheer rock faces that didn’t look anywhere near being climbable.

I’d already started putting on my fire suit in response to the obvious conclusion before my conscious mind caught up to it: Those cliff dwellers were very unlikely to be human.

This was a cold and blustery day in my part of the world. I was grateful when my husband volunteered to bring in the mail and I didn’t have to step outside. Right now, I’m feeling warm and cozy in green flannel pajamas with a Christmas pattern of trees and stockings. Every season has its comforts to enjoy!

Word-art that says "Warm winter wishes."

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.

January 6, 2022 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Sometimes, as a meditation, I imagine myself turning to the four directions and asking each of them what it has to say to me. I always start in the East, as the direction of the dawn and new beginnings, and go clockwise from there.

When I last pictured myself facing the dawn, I was walking through a bright green meadow full of wildflowers on a clear spring day. Then I noticed that, for some reason, I had butterfly wings attached to my shoulders, like a child in a costume.

(Photo credit: Sangudo)

Unlike a costume, however, the wings were functional. I was holding some sort of futuristic control device that made the wings fly me high above the meadow.

“The future holds so many fun adventures to discover,” the East whispered on a joyful breeze.

Thanking the East, I turned toward the South, the direction of summer’s heat.

I was barefoot now, and the earth under my feet was pleasantly warm. Closing my eyes, I wanted to stand for a little while and enjoy the feeling.

“It’s okay to just relax sometimes,” the South told me in a comfortable, reassuring tone. “The future will find you anyway; there’s no need to be searching for it at all times.”

Although I was tempted to stay longer, I still had two more directions to visit. I opened my eyes and moved on to the West, the direction of cool winds of change.

I stood watching autumn leaves as they fell, but other than the leaves, nothing much seemed to be happening around me. I wondered what, if anything, I was supposed to be doing.

“Hold space for it,” the West kindly advised.

With my thanks, I turned away to face the North, the direction of winter’s cold and renewal. Rain was falling, and I heard a stream rushing somewhere nearby, quick with snowmelt. Then, suddenly, all was silent.

“You don’t need to listen for it, either,” the North murmured. “It will find you.”

Last winter seemed like a time to reassess and recalibrate, setting aside whatever did not work well. I chose Alignment as a word of intention. My New Year’s resolution was to pay more attention to mental chatter and to avoid indulging any useless negativity that showed up.

In retrospect, it was a success—but it felt like a very long, exhausting slog. My husband hired an online rowing coach, Christine Cavallo, to create weekly training plans for us. They were good plans; we improved our fitness and rowed much faster at the regattas. It was a bit of a shock to my system, though, because I hadn’t trained nearly as hard in the past. I had thought of myself as reasonably fit, but I found out that I had a lot of space for improvement.

As the year went on, all sorts of negative thoughts bubbled up, along the lines of being overburdened and totally drained of energy. The training plans didn’t in fact take up huge amounts of time, but I felt that I had no time to myself because I wasn’t used to my days being so regimented. I felt that I was constantly rushing from work to rowing to dinner and then falling into bed exhausted, with no time or mental energy to even think about anything else.

I knew those feelings were unhealthy and I needed to put things in better perspective, but that was easier said than done. No matter what I told myself, each day still felt like a struggle. It wasn’t until late in the year, after the rowing season ended, that I realized the training regimen had brought stressful emotions to the surface from many years ago. They came from a time when I felt that I was being pushed far beyond my tolerance but had to soldier on anyway.

When I recognized those feelings for what they were, I didn’t feel as troubled by them. Instead, I realized that there are plenty of ways to organize my time without being in a rush and that I am entirely capable of doing it. My resolution for 2022, I decided, should be to welcome life’s flow, in all its beauty and abundance, and allow it to replenish my energy naturally.

Small waterfall in a forest.

I did an online workout on the Hydrow rowing machine this morning and went over 6 million lifetime meters. The instructor gave me a nice shout-out for my accomplishment, and I started the day feeling pretty good. Although this is still the off-season for rowing, soon it will be time to start another training plan to build fitness for the 2022 regattas, which are not that far away.

This year, I won’t let it stress me. Instead, I’ll go with the flow, looking for ways to make each day fun!