I’ve felt a bit rushed this week, in part because I was trying to cram too much into the days, and in part because I did not get quite enough sleep as a result. When that happens, I remind myself that it’s nothing to worry about. Time is not really a scarce resource, even when it seems that way; it’s just a matter of getting the days better organized.

Word-art that says, "It's not about having time, it's about making time."

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.”

April 26, 2022 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I went for a walk on Sunday along a path in the woods. It was a beautiful sunny day, with birds singing in their nests and flowering trees coming into bloom. Going around a bend in the path, I saw a bench and decided to sit down for a few minutes and drink some water.

Then I noticed that there were words painted on the bench, but I was too far away to read them. My first thought was that some annoying person must have spray-painted a rude message. Definitely not what I wanted to see when I had been enjoying a nice relaxing walk!

When I got closer, I discovered that the words said “BE KIND” in neat white lettering.

Photo of a park bench with BE KIND painted on it.

That was a very nice surprise indeed. It left me feeling more hopeful about the world, and it gave me two useful reminders, not just one: Be kind, and expect more kindness from others.

My husband took his car to the shop for an oil change early Wednesday morning, so I had the home office all to myself when I started my workday. The house seemed weirdly quiet. For the past two years we’ve been sharing the space, and that is likely to continue because my husband is now on a team that doesn’t have anyone in the company’s local office, so he has no reason to do his work there.

I worked from home even before the pandemic, and I thought it was pretty comfortable having the house all to myself during the day. Now it seems as if I was missing out on more than I realized. Although I wouldn’t want to sit in a cube farm all day, it’s nice to have more human connection.

Word-art of a handshake with words like "connect" and "cooperate."

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.”

April 21, 2022 · 2 comments · Categories: Stories

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

I wouldn’t have thought the sky could get any darker and gloomier above the dirt road that was, apparently, Main Street in downtown Dragonopolis. I was wrong, of course. Maybe not literally wrong, but everything around me looked darker through the visor of my fire suit than it had upon my arrival.

Now that I wasn’t running for my life or hurrying to get my fire suit in place before any dragons could swoop down and roast me, I had time to look more closely at my surroundings. They didn’t seem to offer much in the way of escape routes, unfortunately. Behind me was the lake or bay I’d come from, with its hungry sea serpents. Sheer cliffs full of dragon caves rose up on both sides of the road, which led only to a tunnel entering the mountain. Light gleamed faintly from deep within the tunnel as it curved to the left.

Photo of a tunnel entrance on a dirt road.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Other than the tunnel, nothing else broke the stark expanse of the cliffs at ground level. Well, unless I wanted to count a few dragon dens barely low enough to be reached by a climber more intrepid than myself. As a professional dragon-control specialist, I had climbed up to a nest on occasion to retrieve hatchlings after capturing their mother, but it hadn’t been my idea of fun.

A wisp of smoke curled up from the nearest of the low caves, off to my right. I heard a scrabbling of little paws, and then a fledgling dragon emerged from the den, eyeing me with curiosity. Spreading golden wings, it glided down to the road, only a few steps from me.

The fledgling wasn’t a threat—its head didn’t quite reach my knees. I was a lot more concerned about avoiding a close encounter with its mother, who surely had to be nearby. No more smoke came from the den, so perhaps she had gone in search of food.

Beating wings and a screech from behind me confirmed that guess. Mama Dragon, gripping an ugly snout-faced fish in her talons, went into a steep dive. I took a quick step toward the far edge of the road as she landed with a thud and a cloud of dust, halfway between me and Junior. Then she hissed at me, almost like a goose protecting a gosling—not that a goose would’ve breathed fire or been the size of a large cow. I was lucky she hadn’t decided to squash me.

I kept on walking toward the tunnel, slowly enough that I wouldn’t look like fleeing prey, and without taking my eyes off Mama. She watched me just as closely for a minute or so before turning to chatter angrily at her offspring. I was pretty sure this couldn’t be anything but a lecture on staying away from strangers.

After a few more steps, I started breathing a little easier. Mama and Junior went back into their den to chow down on the fish. The tunnel was closer now, and there was enough illumination to show me that no dragons lurked inside the entrance. Of course, there was no way of knowing what else might be in there, but I reminded myself that I didn’t exactly have a long list of choices.

Especially when I heard more wings beating above me. Dragons came out of their caves on both sides of the canyon, all of them flying in my direction. Turning around, I took a quick count—at least two dozen of them. Bad odds if they chose to attack; my fire suit wouldn’t last long against their sharp teeth and talons.

Staring up at the nearest dragon, I hissed as loudly as I could, trying to imitate the sound of a protective nesting mother. The dragon didn’t turn away, but it landed on the dirt road—followed by the others—and paused for a few seconds before advancing slowly toward me.

I hissed some more, bringing the dragons to a standstill again, and backed a few paces toward the tunnel. That went on for several minutes—hissing and backing, hissing and backing—until the rocky walls of the tunnel’s entrance rose around me. A quick glance over my shoulder revealed that the tunnel appeared to be empty of life.

An icy wind blew toward me along the tunnel. I backed up a few more steps, until it became clear that the dragons weren’t following, and proceeded to walk normally around the bend. The tunnel ended in an ordinary-looking door with a round metal knob. Or rather, the door would’ve been ordinary if it hadn’t been about three times the size of a human-built door. It obviously hadn’t been built by dragons either, given the fact that they didn’t have hands with opposable thumbs. Sunlight—but no warmth—came from a window set into the top of the door, which was far above my head.

I reached up and put both of my hands on the knob. It turned easily, and the door swung outward to reveal a very different landscape.

Although today was just an ordinary workday and I didn’t do much beyond going out to get groceries at noon, it felt like the day went well. Maybe yesterday’s post, in which I wrote about my future self and about developing perspective over many years, put me into a calm and reflective mood. Rather than letting mundane worries drain my energy, I felt more inclined to appreciate how I’ve learned and grown.

Word-art with butterflies that says "Give yourself some credit for how far you've come."

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.”

April 13, 2022 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I shelved a potential post in February about a future me acting as a guardian angel to my present-day self because my first attempt to imagine that scenario didn’t go as planned. Instead of a refreshing visit with my wise and kindly 119-year-old future self Fannie, I caught a glimpse of a smirking Kass in fake wings, obviously getting ready for a snarkfest. Although Kass, also an older and wiser me, generally has had good intentions, I wasn’t in a mood to deal with her satirical version of my future.

After letting the idea percolate for a while, I circled back around to it, this time holding an image of Fannie more clearly in mind. I pictured myself sitting across a glass table from Fannie on the sunny balcony of her townhouse. Birds chirped at a feeder, water burbled in a fountain, and pink climbing roses bloomed all along the balcony rail.

Photo of pink climbing roses and mostly blue sky.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

The breakfast table was set for two, with coffee cups and small plates. Steam rose from the full cups, along with an enticing mocha caramel aroma, and a box of assorted donuts occupied the center of the table. They looked delicious: glazed twist, chocolate-topped custard…

“Hey, wait a minute, this isn’t right.” Instead of giving in to the temptation to load up my plate, I gave Fannie an accusing glare across the table. “How can you eat a box of donuts if you’re a future me? I gave up the bad habit of donuts for breakfast many years ago—they’re so unhealthy. If you are my guardian angel, then you ought to have the table set with something that’s good for me. What happened to the food I really eat, like fresh fruit and multigrain toast?”

Fannie calmly brushed back an unruly strand of hair, which was purple today, a soft lilac hue that suited the gentle spring breeze. In a mild tone, she answered my question with another.

“What have we always said about assumptions?”

“That it’s best to avoid them.” I picked up my coffee cup and took a sip, enjoying the flavor while I tried to make sense of where this scene was going.

“And leave space for improvement.” Fannie smiled as she reached for a donut. “Yum, cinnamon almond crunch. You know, nutritional science has improved a lot since your primitive times. Donuts nowadays are made with a healthy mix of grains, just like your toast, and baked with good oils. They have natural flavors and no added sugar. Recipes can be adjusted to suit each customer’s individual needs, as determined by genetic testing. Basically, these are prescription donuts, designed to enhance my longevity. Because you are a younger version of me, they’ll be very healthy for you too. Go ahead, take one.”

A small bird hopped down from the feeder and took a few steps across the smooth floor of the balcony, tilting its head to one side and gazing up at me. Hoping for crumbs, I supposed.

I picked up the glazed twist donut and looked at it dubiously. It appeared to be just an ordinary donut, as far as I could tell. But then again, this was a scenario in which my future self was still alive and healthy at a very advanced age. Fountain-of-youth donuts made about as much sense as any other explanation.

Fannie sipped her coffee quietly as I bit into the glazed twist. It tasted like a regular donut and had the soft texture of one.

“Avoid assumptions,” I said, speaking mostly to myself.

The bird, perhaps disappointed that there were no tasty crumbs to be found, took wing. After watching it fly out of sight, Fannie spoke again. “What do you imagine I have been doing as your guardian angel?”

“Rescuing me from danger, I suppose, and from bad or unlucky situations generally. Isn’t that what a guardian angel is supposed to do?”

“Well, sort of. Danger and bad luck often are a matter of perspective, however. From my perspective at more than twice your age, in many ways you are still a baby. I don’t mean that in an insulting way—you are navigating a very confusing, often-changing world as best you can.” Fannie gestured expansively toward the blue sky beyond the roses. “Now, let’s think for a moment about how a baby learns to walk. At first, standing up feels scary and dangerous. The baby wants to be rescued and kept safe. But the parents—and the baby’s guardian angel—know that learning to walk calls for practice and, occasionally, a few well-timed words of encouragement.”

“So, when we’ve had these conversations,” I clarified, “you have been acting as a guardian angel by encouraging me to stand tall, rather than swooping down to save me from my circumstances.”

“That’s part of it, yes. Of course, a baby first has to become aware that the possibility of walking exists. When we tell stories about our past and future selves, we are keeping space open for possibilities that we are only just starting to imagine—or, put another way, holding the future lightly.”

I have a row of willows along my back property line that I still think of as trees, although they’re not much more than bushes now, after a few years of climate change stress. Hot, dry summers killed so many branches that I had to cut the willows back drastically, and some died altogether.

Last year they started looking better, though, and I am hopeful that this will be another good year for new growth. I took some cuttings in March, which I plan to use for replacements. They’re currently sitting in a pot in my kitchen, and I noticed a few leaves sprouting this week, which has me feeling optimistic.

Words of advice in a tree shape such as "Stand tall."

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.”

April 5, 2022 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Saturday’s rowing regatta went well. My husband and I both had four races because our friendly mixed double rivals from the Great Miami club came to the regatta (we finished just ahead of them by 0.7 seconds in the 1K sprint, for third place) and each of us also rowed a single-sex double with them as our partners. My women’s double advanced to the finals in a large field of competitors, but did not medal. My husband also coxed for Great Miami once.

There wasn’t much time to rest between the 1K mixed double and the 2K because they were scheduled fairly close together. That was all right, though, because we still had a good amount of energy. Unfortunately, we didn’t go straight in our lane because of shifting winds (we need to work on that) and whacked a few buoys with our oars, which slowed us down. We finished three seconds behind the second-place boat and 20 seconds behind the crew that took first place.

Rowing medals from Clemson Sprints 2022.

We would at least have gotten third place regardless, as there were only three entries in the mixed double 2K race. Still, we’re happy with our medals because we were middle-aged lightweights racing against much larger college athletes, and we stayed close to them all the way down the course. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight…