By early afternoon, I was feeling somewhat distracted after a few minor annoyances, such as my headphones weirding out when I joined a Zoom meeting. After it was over, I went to get gas and groceries. The sun had come out, warming the air, and I felt comfortable standing at the gas pump, unlike the wintery weather of a few days ago. Even though I wasn’t doing anything but ordinary errands, going outside put me in a more cheerful mood.

Word-art that says, "Are you overwhelmed? Go outside. Too much to do? Go outside. Overly distracted? Go outside. Feeling anxious? Go outside. Need some restoration? Go outside."

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.”

November 28, 2023 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Perhaps because I’ve been reading historical novels, I dreamed that I was a young medieval princess. Unfortunately, that wasn’t a good thing to be. Some rebel faction had killed my father and taken over the country, and they wanted to dispose of my mother and grandmother—literally, as in “off with their heads.”

All of us were walking along a path toward the execution grounds, with a jeering crowd on both sides gleefully anticipating the spectacle. The rebels weren’t quite vicious enough to murder girls, so they were going to lock me in a dungeon afterward, along with my baby sister. My mother was holding the baby, who blinked sleepily at me when I offered to carry her.

Princess image in black and white.

“Don’t take her from me yet,” my mother said, in a voice that allowed no argument.

I kept moving, one foot in front of the other, telling myself this didn’t have to be real. If only I had enough faith, then it would all go away. Quietly, I began saying a prayer as I walked.

“Dear God, please let me be dreaming. Let this be a nightmare. Let me wake up.”

Surely, God was more than powerful enough to change the world around me, making my life completely different. I pictured the hostile crowd melting away, taking another shape—flattening out, turning into the covers on my bed. They couldn’t hurt anyone because they never existed.

Waking, I found myself in a completely different life, just as the prayer had asked. It took me a moment to sort out which version of me was the real one!

All parts of this story are consolidated on one page here.

The lake wasn’t very deep where Mabel had fallen from the tree. Ina could stand up easily; the water didn’t quite reach her shoulders. It was murky enough that she couldn’t see the bottom, however, and rain had started to fall. She looked for bubbles or other disturbances, but none were apparent.

Photo of rain falling on a lake.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Mabel couldn’t be far away, but Ina’s foot touched nothing when she swept it in a broad circle. Taking a deep breath, Ina plunged under the water, reaching more widely around herself. Still nothing, and below the surface it was literally too dark to see her hand in front of her face.

With burning lungs, Ina came up for air. She blinked the muddy water out of her eyes and looked again, feeling increasingly frantic; still, there were no bubbles nearby. Was Mabel dead already? Had Ina failed, yet again, incapable of something as simple as finding a little girl who surely had to be right here

A voice spoke in her thoughts—Mother Ocean, from a lesson months ago.

“Ina, close your eyes. What do you see?”

Forcing herself to shove away the rising panic and take a calming breath, setting an intention on the breath out—let Mabel be safe and well—Ina obediently shut her eyes.

There, just to her left, a tiny pinpoint of life energy. So faint, so terrifyingly faint—but she could feel it. Ina reached down again and touched the soft fabric of Mabel’s dress almost at once. She got her arms around the child’s torso, heaved Mabel over her shoulder, and waded up out of the lake.

The rain was coming down in earnest now, huge sheets of it. Ina set the motionless girl down in the sodden grass. Her hands moved almost on their own, as if they knew what to do without need for guidance from her half-panicked mind. Compressing Mabel’s chest, she forced out a big gush of lake water. Had the child started breathing now, or was that only Ina’s imagination? Her skin was so cold, so pale. It was hard to believe she could still be alive.

The pouring rain hadn’t washed away all of the blood on Mabel’s dress where a sharp branch had pierced her leg. Most of the branch had broken off when Mabel sank into the water, but some was still in there. Ina took hold of the splintered end and tugged it out, feeling a gush of blood over her hands.

That means Mabel is alive, Ina told herself, grasping for a tiny shred of reason. Dead bodies don’t bleed; they don’t have a beating heart to push blood out. Fumbling in her pocket for the cloth sacks she’d been carrying, Ina wrapped one of them around Mabel’s wound, and then another. The blood kept seeping around her fingers, however tightly she held the makeshift bandage in place. Maybe it had slowed, just a little…

“This won’t be enough.”

The voice in Ina’s mind was her own this time, but it held the same certainty as the earlier fragment of memory. Of course, a bandage wouldn’t be enough. Even if the bleeding stopped soon, Mabel was chilled through and half drowned, and her unnaturally pale skin showed that she already had lost a dangerous amount of blood. What she needed was a skilled healer, along with shelter, dry clothing, and warm blankets.

None of which Ina could provide right now. Although Rowan had tried to teach her the ways of healing, she hadn’t made much progress. Healing magic felt beyond her reach—unlike fire magic, which Ina always pictured as dancing joyfully, eager to play. If she could call upon healing magic in the same way, it would leap from her fingertips and dance along the child’s injured leg, sparkling with heat and life.

The bandage took on a sudden warmth under Ina’s hands, though she hadn’t consciously invoked magic. Dissolving into a glowing cloud, it first had the deep red hue of blood, shading almost at once into orange and yellow like a leaping fire. Ina felt the heat going into Mabel’s wound, bringing the torn flesh together and mending the damage. It faded into a pinkish mark like a healing scar, and then the glow moved up Mabel’s body to settle in her chest for a moment before fading away entirely.

Moving her head just a little, the child breathed more deeply and normally, as if asleep. She hadn’t regained consciousness, but her cheeks now held a trace of color. Now, she needed to be gotten out of the rain, without delay. Ina tried to control the storm and make it stop raining, but she couldn’t muster up more than a tiny flicker of magic after so much of her energy had been drawn into the healing work.

Ina still had the normal strength of her body, though, and the cabin where Mabel’s family lived was just across the lake. Carrying the child that distance would be manageable. What to do about her mother, Nellie, who hated witches “worse than anything,” might prove more difficult.

One problem at a time, Ina told herself, picking Mabel up again to carry her home.

I got up early this morning before the sun had come up, getting ready to head out to the Turkey Trot with my husband and our grown children. We’ve done this road race together for the past 20 years, so it can fairly be called a tradition, although we haven’t always stayed together on the course. Today, our daughter brought two friends, all walking together while we ran on ahead. They came over to our house afterward and spent some time playing board games, just like when they were kids.

Wishing fun times with friends and family to all, and many blessings!

Word-art with a turkey and autumn leaves that says, "Thanksgiving Greetings."

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.”

November 20, 2023 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I woke up this morning with a dream in my head that wasn’t entirely clear, but its theme definitely was mindless repetition. I had been banging my hands against something hard—maybe a brick or stone wall, I can’t quite remember—and every time, I said “Ow,” and then did it again, like an automaton.

Photo of a wall made of bricks and stones.

(Photo credit: Caroline Léna Becker)

Evidently, my subconscious wants me to quit doing something thoughtless and futile that is hurting me. Perhaps it’s related to another dream I had recently, in which I had to back up when there wasn’t enough space to walk through construction vehicles. I still haven’t figured out where in my life I might need to change direction, but my dream-self seems to be prodding me to reflect on it more.

Today was a gloriously warm and sunny autumn day, so perfect that I took the afternoon off from work. It probably was the last one of the year; rain will be moving in tomorrow, with falling temperatures.

That’s all right, though, because winter afternoons in a cozy house are just right for a good book and a cup of tea—or maybe, on a lucky day, a great book.

Word-art that says, "A good book makes you want to live in the story. A great book gives you no choice."

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 seventh story in a series. Click here to read all parts from the beginning.

As the lantern came closer through the forest, I couldn’t quite make out who—or what—held it. The shadowy figure loomed above the height of any human; but even so, my best choice seemed to be asking for hospitality, if at all possible. I had no cold-weather gear, and the already-frigid temperature was dropping fast as the sun sank toward the horizon.

Light coming through a forest in the evening.

(Photo credit: Stephen Bowler)

When he came clearly into view—”he” was my best guess as to gender, due to a long and bushy beard—I couldn’t decide whether he looked more like a Sasquatch or a caveman. He wasn’t as much of a giant as the huge door in the tunnel might have led me to expect. Eight feet tall, maybe, and hairy all over like a Sasquatch with caveman-style clothes roughly made from animal pelts.

I figured I’d better hurry up and say something friendly when he held the lantern higher, tilting his head one way and then another, looking baffled to find a scrawny little alien like me suddenly appearing. To give him a better look, I took off my hood, trying—without much success—not to shiver when the wind hit my face.

“Hey there, Sasquatch. Pleased to make your acquaintance. Lovely planet you’ve got.”

Well, maybe it could be called lovely if one were inclined to overlook such minor details as dragons, trolls, and sea serpents. On the plus side, nothing had tried to eat me (yet) in this forest.

I plastered a big smile on my face and then said, “I’m Chris,” pointing toward myself and speaking slowly and distinctly. “Chris.”

My newfound companion beamed delightedly and echoed, in a booming voice, “Cree-iss!” Then he poked me in the chest with a thick, stubby finger—hard enough that I had to brace myself not to stumble backward—and pointed toward his own chest while saying something that sounded like, “Irawaddagummygolly.”

“Glad to meet you, Ira.” I made myself smile even more broadly.

I was pretty sure he hadn’t understood a word I’d said, but he seemed willing to offer hospitality anyway when he turned back the way he’d come, gesturing for me to follow. By then, it had gotten dark enough that I had to focus on making my way carefully through the trees as I trailed along behind him. That was just as well because it distracted me from thinking about other possibilities, such as that Ira might be a cannibal with plans to roast me for his dinner.

I shivered again and told myself, firmly, that it was just from the cold.

Once again, I’m scheduling my Thursday post in advance because of travel plans for another long weekend. I’m heading south this time, visiting my mom, who lives in Spartanburg, S.C., and then rowing in the Head of the South regatta in Augusta to finish out the fall season.

Wishing everyone fun trips and adventures, too!

Word-art showing a person driving toward a sign pointing to "Adventures."

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.”

Although it is chilly here today, the bright sunshine coming through my windows leaves me feeling cheerful anyway, and I don’t mind that the calendar shows it’s getting close to winter.

Wishing sunshine to all my readers today!

Word-art that says, "Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." -J.M. Barrie

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.”