Although I’ve been struggling with my resolution this year of not feeling burdened by self-imposed tasks, I can’t complain. My life has become more interesting in recent years, and my fitness has improved. Also, in general, it’s much better to pursue challenges and go on adventures than to give up on trying.

Word-art showing a person running beside a lake. "It's impossible," said pride. "It's risky," said experience. "It's pointless," said reason. "Give it a try," whispered the heart.

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 had a demanding interval workout on the rowing machine Saturday afternoon. My results were much better than a similar exercise I did last year, and I was able to stay more consistent from one interval to another, so I was pleased with my efforts.

When I woke up on Sunday, I felt okay—no aches or pains anywhere. All my energy seemed to have drained away overnight, though. I sat down on the couch with my coffee and breakfast, and then I couldn’t bring myself to get up and do anything else for a very long time. I just browsed aimlessly on my phone, with occasional thoughts that maybe I ought to do some spring cleaning or write a blog post; but it was pretty clear that neither of those would be happening anytime soon.

After what seemed like a very long time, I did get up and do some short yoga exercises, and later in the day I went for a walk with my husband. So, I wasn’t a total couch potato, but I felt that I wasn’t anywhere near being back to myself, either. Nothing whatsoever came to mind for a blog entry, and I wasn’t sure that I could put words together usefully even if I had a topic.

Monday morning didn’t go well. I had a woe-is-me internal narrative on auto-replay in the back of my mind, along the lines of, “Oh, yuck, the weekend is over already, back to sitting at my desk all day, and then I have to go sit on the rowing machine again, I’m so tired of having all my time and energy sucked up by these workouts, why can’t we have good spring weather so I could at least row on the river.”

Although I felt somewhat better on Tuesday, the blahs came back on Wednesday morning. That was even worse because it didn’t seem to make any sense; I’d had difficult workouts before, and they hadn’t left me feeling totally tired of everything for days. I put a “down under” image from New Zealand on my art display because it seemed to fit the upside-down feelings I’d been having.

New Zealand beach photo.

At that point, it occurred to me that my New Year’s resolution of feeling unburdened by self-imposed obligations wasn’t going too well either. That Saturday workout, however tiring, was not actually much more than 12 minutes of hard exercise, plus warm-up and cool-down time; it certainly shouldn’t have left me feeling overwhelmed by life in general.

“But you know it wasn’t just the workout.”

The girlish voice came from Dot, who had appeared in my New Year’s resolution post representing my to-do list personified as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Toto trotted happily at her heels over the warm sands of the beach picture.

“It’s all the disruptions and uncertainty of the past few years, plus all the time and effort that went into better fitness. Needing time to rest and take care of oneself is perfectly normal. For example, when my Kansas house got blown away to Oz, of course I was terrified for some time, but then I fell asleep. And before starting out on the yellow brick road, I took time for a good breakfast. That’s healthy.”

“Okay, maybe,” I answered, still feeling doubtful, “but if it’s healthy, then shouldn’t I feel better? And why haven’t I had any energy to write the simplest thing in my blog this week?”

“Don’t rush it. Get a good night’s sleep,” Dot advised, “and write that blog post tomorrow.”

Although the past few years certainly have been disruptive, I would say that navigating the unexpected changes hasn’t been all bad. Being forced to examine assumptions long taken for granted has led to more insight into what works well and what, instead, just causes unnecessary stress. Without the exhaustion of being in a rush to do things that weren’t really necessary, there is more available mental energy to understand and connect with others, rather than getting upset about trivial stuff.

Word-art that says, "Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind."

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.”

It’s already Friday evening, but that is okay. The time change probably has something to do with my being more easily distracted than usual. I totally forgot I hadn’t posted my usual Thursday entry last night. Nothing to worry about, though; if I don’t get everything done precisely on schedule, the world is not going to come to an end. Anyway, it would do us all a lot of good to put items like “dive into random fun stuff” on our to-do lists. In that regard, here’s a cute word-art image that suits my mood today:

Word-art that says, "Advice from a loon — Spend time at the lake. Enjoy a good swim. Call your friends. A little color goes a long way. Surround yourself with beauty. Enjoy time alone. Dive into 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.”

I had a lot of indecision this morning about what kind of image to put on my digital art display. When I looked out the window, the sky was mostly cloudy with occasional glimpses of sun. It wasn’t quite cold enough for snow. The winter landscapes I browsed through didn’t work, and I couldn’t find any early spring scenes that looked right either. Ocean views didn’t suit my mood. I was getting frustrated with myself for being so picky.

Looking for scenery that would invite me into a virtual adventure, I finally clicked on a photo showing a mountain path and storm clouds. With spring flowers dotting the slopes, it didn’t match the real-life season, but something about it drew me in anyway.

Stony trail on a mountainside with dark clouds and spring flowers.

(Image credit: Gabe Farnsworth)

“It may be an adventure for some, but it is an ordinary day for others.”

Making her way along the trail with the aid of a walking stick, the archetypal Crone came into view. She wore a dark cloak on this cool spring morning, with a long homespun dress swishing around her ankles, and a headscarf that covered all but a few wisps of her iron-gray hair. I might have taken her for a medieval peasant, but for the elaborately carved runes on her walking stick, which brought to mind tales of the powerful witch Baba Yaga in her enchanted forest.

“People tend to see dithering as a character flaw,” she went on, “and adventuring as a way to gain focus and mental energy. I would put it more in terms of what choices are open to us, though. When our lives are simple, with few decision points, there isn’t much to dither about or to imagine as an adventure within reach. The days all feel much the same.”

Somewhere to my left, a bell tinkled. I turned my head and saw a herd of shaggy goats grazing on the slope. A ragged boy glanced up toward me, without much curiosity, and went back to watching his goats.

“I’m well-heeled today,” the Crone said, lifting a foot to display a sturdy shoe under the hem of her long dress, “and so I’m ready for adventures. Once upon a time, a well-heeled person meant someone who was wealthy. When shoes were made by hand, most folks couldn’t afford to replace them when the heel started wearing down. You can’t get far on an adventure if your shoes are about to fall apart.”

I gave that some thought. “Being indecisive and going on adventures both reflect having some amount of privilege, then.”

“Yes, and there’s no reason to judge yourself harshly for it. If you didn’t own an art display, then you wouldn’t have spent time deliberating over what image to choose, and maybe you’d have gotten some household tasks done instead. But then, you wouldn’t have written about me.”

Winter isn’t quite over yet, but I am looking forward to getting out on the river soon, instead of sitting at home doing long exercises on the rowing machine. They’re good for me, of course, and the cold March rain and howling winds will soon be gone, so there’s no reason to let the weather get to me.

Modern sculling boats wouldn’t actually sink if they got full of water in a rainstorm, of course. They’re very buoyant, made of carbon fiber, and they just go slower if they get water in them. Last year my husband and I were rowing in a place that had a lot of powerboats, and one got too close and left our little boat so full of water that it was almost too weighed down to move. We had to pour out a water bottle and use it for bailing. That worked, though it was more adventure than we wanted!

Word-art that says, "Ships don't sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don't let what's happening around you get inside you and weigh you down."

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.”

Now that I’m back home after my spring break trip, it was another typical chilly and windy day here in Ohio. Purple crocuses blooming in my front garden made it more cheerful, though, and I put a looping animated image on my digital art display to match.

(Image credit: Iriska)

The creator put a lot of effort into it, with clouds moving in the wind, a flock of birds circling, and some totally unrealistic but cute purple butterflies to complete the scene. I had to smile just looking at it, and I was left feeling grateful for all the pretty little things we share with one another in today’s world.

After training all winter on the rowing machine, my husband and I won the gold medal in the lightweight mixed double at the Sarasota Sprints masters regatta on Sunday. We’ve been rowing almost 10 years now; it was May 2013 when we took a Learn-to-Row class together.

We took up the sport because we wanted something that we could do together after several years of traveling to our daughter’s soccer games when she was in college. It took a lot of effort to build up our skills and fitness enough so that we could do well at the regattas, but it was worthwhile—not just for the competition, but more generally, to keep the world feeling fresh and exciting. We both believe it’s important to keep learning new things all through life.

Word-art that says, "Ask yourself what is really important and then have the courage to build your home and life around that answer." -Joshua Becker

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.”