While I’ve been on vacation this week, with no concerns about getting tasks finished on a schedule, I have found myself wondering why I felt so constrained in the first place. After all, there are plenty of ways to arrange my days even when it’s an ordinary workweek. No need to stress about putting everything in a precise order and then hurrying through it all. Life doesn’t have to be that confining.

Word-art that says, "She couldn't keep her colors inside the lines, so she drew new lines."

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 been trying to make sense of a dream I had last night, in which my family lived in a comfortable townhouse in a large apartment complex. We had bought a wooded lot in the country some time ago, but we still hadn’t gotten around to building a home on it yet.

Photo of woods along a country road.

(Photo credit: Robert Lyle Bolton)

In real life, there was no dilly-dallying when we built our current house. We looked at several subdivisions, found one that we liked, met with the developer, chose a floor plan, decided on a lot, and signed a contract to get the construction started, all in fairly short order.

My best guess is that the dream was illustrating the inertia that people commonly get at the end of the year. Our culture tells us that we’re supposed to be making long lists of projects to get busy on when January starts, but instead we’re comfortable just sitting in our quiet, cozy homes in the dark of winter. For now, it feels like there’s no hurry, and all those grand projects can wait a little longer.

This morning, while I was sitting at my desk, a bird chirped outside the window of my home office. Maybe it had hopes of an early spring, as this has been a rather warm December. But, although a white Christmas is not in the weather forecast for my area, I’m predicting it will be merry.

Merry Christmas word-art with birds turning the calendar to December 25.

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 husband was busy with his work today, and he ate dinner at his desk in the home office. I sat in the dining room across from his empty chair. It felt quiet and still, except when his voice carried from the other room while he was talking to a coworker.

After we finished our separate meals, I gathered up all the dishes and put them in the dishwasher, setting it to start on a delay so that it wouldn’t make any noise until late at night. Then I went upstairs to sit alone, composing this post. I didn’t mind having a little time for solitude; it calmed my mind and felt good for reflection and creative thought.

Word-art that says, "A person who enjoys solitude always gives others their space. No matter what kind of a relationship it is, healthy space nourishes the connection. But when someone is uncomfortable with solitude, they become co-dependent. Such people become so dependent on others that they don't let them breathe. Solitude is the foundation of self-love; a person who enjoys their own company knows themselves on a soul level. When someone truly loves themselves they give others space not out of obligation, but out of love. Giving others space is like setting them free, and the more you let go the deeper the connection gets. The ego thinks love is possession, but it's actually giving the other the freedom to be themselves." -Pawan Nair

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 11, 2023 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Last night I went to bed wondering what I might do to be happier. It’s not that I was unhappy about anything in particular, but staying cheerful when winter’s short, dark days arrive is not always easy.

My subconscious mind obligingly answered the question by putting the disco song “You Should Be Dancing,” from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, in my head when I woke up.

When I went to do a rowing exercise on the Hydrow machine in the early afternoon, I set it to play disco and funk songs during my 10K row, which took about 48 minutes. “You Should Be Dancing” wasn’t one of the songs, but it definitely did put me in a more cheerful mood!

I recently slipped on acorns while walking on a hilly area under some tall oaks. That was, of course, a natural consequence of taking that particular path, but I still felt annoyed while struggling to get back my balance. After a while, I thought about it from the perspective of being fortunate to spend time among Mother Earth’s small wonders, and that put me in a better frame of mind.

Word-art that says, "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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 people are living longer, “would you want to live to 100?” is a question more often asked. Some answer it by saying, “yes, but only if I am healthy and don’t run out of money.”

Photo of a piggy bank labeled "Retirement Fund."

Many retirees are so terrified of ending up impoverished and in poor health that they never spend more than a tiny fraction of their retirement savings. Health issues in old age can be costly, that’s true enough; it makes sense to have some funds set aside for future medical bills, assistive technology, and so forth. But in the scenario described above—living to age 100 while staying healthy—why would using up one’s savings be seen as a fate worse than death?

Presumably, many people feel that going back to work in old age would be too hard, so any further years of life after running out of money would be a miserable penny-pinching existence. But if we’re talking about living to 100—which, for most of us, is pretty far in the future—then why make such a negative assumption? The current labor shortage is not likely to go away by then, given today’s historically low birthrates, and I expect future employers will be happy to hire anyone they can get. Age discrimination won’t be much of an issue when companies desperately need workers. Medical advances will make us healthier.

Granted, after having been in retirement for three decades or so, our hypothetical centenarian likely won’t have the skills needed to do the same work as before. That prospect might also seem very unappealing to a person who has gotten used to a completely different way of life. In a future economy where workers are scarce and in great demand, however, we may find that it’s easy to start another career designed around whatever new interests we may develop. Maybe we’ll all have bespoke jobs, tailored to our every desire by happily obliging employers. Such jobs would be available to anyone, including older people who run out of savings in retirement.

This may seem a wild flight of fancy by comparison to today’s workplace, which is not far removed from a decade of brutal cost-cutting. Some managers still can’t wrap their minds around the prospect of a long-term labor shortage, and age discrimination certainly hasn’t gone away. Even so, it’s fair to say that any attempt to imagine the distant future is just guesswork—so why live in fear of one possibility when so many other things might happen instead?

That said, I do save regularly in my workplace retirement plan because it’s always good to have savings, whatever the future may hold. In the interest of present-day serenity, though, I don’t worry about how much of my savings might have been spent decades from now. I prefer to hold space in my imagination for a future world with plenty of choices, rather than problems.