I had a rather long day. Work, hair appointment, race-practice exercises on the rowing machine, more work, then some easy rowing outdoors to unwind. This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but it was after 11 PM by the time I sat down to write this post, and nothing particularly imaginative came to mind.

So I decided that instead of stressing about it, I would give myself permission to simply relax and not expect anything more of myself tonight.

Word-art that says, "Life is all about balance. You don't always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it's perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, kick back, and do nothing." -Lori Deschene

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.”

There isn’t much left of the gravel path between my rowing club’s boathouse and the dock. It got neglected during the pandemic, as many things did; and by now, the grass has grown all through it. Walking to and from the dock is like going for a walk through a country meadow, bright green with spring grass and clover, and clumps of violets along the path here and there.

More gravel will be put down sometime this season; the club’s board already has approved the expense. It really does need to be done soon because the path is uneven, with groundhog holes and other hazards that might cause someone to fall. Even so, as peaceful as it felt to walk through the grass this afternoon, I was almost wishing it could stay like that a while longer.

Word-art that says, "A walk down a country road is good for body, heart and soul."

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 11th story in a series. Click here to read all parts from the beginning.

I stomped through the slush on my way back toward Ira’s cabin, mentally rehearsing how I would demand that he explain his sorcery. Distracting me from my thoughts, the cheerful trilling that I had taken for alien birdsong sounded again, much closer. I glanced to my right and saw a bird perched on a snowy branch. It resembled a cardinal, but it was larger; and the song I’d just heard did not sound at all like a cardinal’s distinctive notes. Whatever the differences might have been, the bird’s bright red feathers reminded me of holiday cards and winter travels.

(Image credit: The Graphics Fairy)

This wasn’t a trip to a vacation resort, my grumpy subconscious informed me again. When I saw Ira standing in the doorway holding up a white fur coat, however, it did almost look as if I had acquired my own personal Sasquatch valet. Scraps of fur littered the dusty wooden floor under the table where he’d been cutting the coat down to my size.

For a moment, I hesitated, wondering if he might have put an enchantment on the coat. Common sense told me it was much more likely he just didn’t want me to freeze, given my obvious lack of both winter clothing and furry skin. Besides, I wasn’t interested in freezing; so I held out my arms and let Ira put the coat on me. It came to my ankles, comfortably warm, with no weird magical effects—or at least, none that I could notice.

“The coat belonged to my mother,” Ira said in a soft tone, looking past me toward the forest. “She has been dead for three winters now.”

I bit back the complaint I’d been going to make about sorcery, not wanting to sound like an ungrateful jerk.

“I’m sorry, Ira.”

“She was gathering mushrooms on a misty autumn day, and a warhagalla got her.” Turning to look inside for a moment, he gestured toward the big pelt on the floor by the fireplace. “They don’t often range this close to the mountains. Even wild animals can feel the curse.”

I couldn’t feel anything but the warmth of the fur coat, honestly. The bird didn’t seem perturbed either, to judge from the happy chirping. I glanced in its direction and was surprised to find it sitting motionless on the branch, with its beak closed. What other creature, I wondered, might be doing the singing?

Then the bird opened its beak and produced a screech so hideous that my first impulse was to cover my ears. I wasn’t sure if Ira might consider that rude, so I kept my hands at my sides. But evidently, he wasn’t a great fan of the noise either. A stone from his well-aimed slingshot hit the bird right in the middle of the chest, knocking it into the snow.

Without a pause, the angelic singing continued. I saw something moving behind the tree, and then a large flying rat came into view, its mouth wide open as it warbled. Its fur was a silvery gray, and its ears and wings were a rosy pink. A large tail curled over its back.

I didn’t have time for more than a quick glance before another stone flew.

“Hey,” I complained, as the rat thudded to the ground. “I’m sort of a tourist here, you know. Couldn’t you let me discover the wildlife before you start killing it?”

Looking perplexed, Ira was silent for a long time as he tried to sort out my meaning. Finally, he gave a practical answer.

“You’ll be glad enough of the meat when it’s time for dinner.”

Eclipse day was beautifully clear here in western Ohio. My husband and I went down to the river to watch from our boat. We brought extra shirts so we wouldn’t be chilly, but Monday was such a warm day that we only needed to wear them during the totality. Seeing the light fade away until the sky looked like sunset was pretty amazing. We felt lucky to have had the chance.

I’ve been reminding myself this week to slow down and appreciate what is around me. When I catch myself running through a list of to-dos in my head, I stop and replace that thought with a reminder that I am only doing one thing at the moment, along with a reason for gratitude to be doing it. Even if it’s something as simple as getting a glass of water, for instance, that is much more convenient for us than it was for our ancestors, who had to trudge to the pump or cistern and could only get ice in the winter.

Word-art that says, "Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life." -Rumi

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 had more than usual going on this week and have felt somewhat distracted, like I am ping-ponging between too many activities without enough time to rest and reflect. When that happens, generally the best thing is just to breathe quietly for a minute or so, letting the mind slow down. Everything will get done—or maybe some of it won’t, and that is probably okay too. No worries.

Word-art that says, "Sometimes you need to slow down, remain calm, and simply let life happen. Take a deep breath and focus on the simple important things: you are alive, you are breathing, you are enough as you are. You got this."

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 1, 2024 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

As a trustee for a nonprofit organization, this past week I worked with the other board members interviewing candidates via Zoom to replace the departing executive director. It wasn’t a disruption to my regular workweek because my employer, LexisNexis, allows a reasonable amount of paid time for charitable work during business hours. I’ve been with the company for many years and appreciate having such benefits.

Still, the prospect of interviewing job applicants, which is not something that I have done in my career, gave me a serious case of impostor syndrome. The candidates reminded me of my younger self, feeling judged and at the mercy of other people’s expectations. Now, I was one of those doing the judging. What kind of puffed-up faker was I, wielding power to determine other people’s futures?

Image of a bird on a post wearing military regalia.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

As the week went on, though, I began to feel more comfortable. I realized that it wasn’t about judging people personally, but about assessing skills and how well they matched the job, and that I did in fact have a reasonably good sense of what was needed.

Although I can’t honestly say that I have overcome the fears of the younger self who nervously applied for jobs so long ago, I do feel closer to getting there.