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.”

I haven’t spent much time online this week because I’ve been on vacation in the South, enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. My husband and I have been rowing our double scull and riding bicycles. Yesterday was a bit too windy for us to row with any speed, but it was still fun to be outdoors in the warmth. Happy spring wishes to all!

Word-art that says, "Spring Break."

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.”

Today was rainy and dark, with an occasional rumble of thunder. Not much to look at. When I stepped outside, though, I really liked the soft feeling of the humid air, starting to feel just a little more like spring. It was a good reminder that there is something to enjoy in every day.

Word-art that says, "What a wonderful day. I've never seen this one before." -Maya Angelou

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.”

On both Saturday and Tuesday, I had good workouts on my Concept2 RowErg, in which I was able to stay below my desired pace of 2:05 for a series of five 500-meter intervals. These workouts, with a minute of rest between intervals, are meant to assess fitness for a 2K rowing machine race. Concept2 is the standard machine used for competitive races.

Rowing machine results for a 5x500 workout.

This is noteworthy because I had been trying to achieve the 2:05 pace for two years, but I had never been able to do it in a 2K race. I could stay at 2:05 for a little over 1000 meters, but then I would get tired and start slowing down. I couldn’t pick up the pace at the end, either; when I tried, my heart rate spiked and then I went even slower.

It wasn’t from lack of fitness; I was training pretty hard, and I could hold a better pace on 10-minute rowing races on the Hydrow machine, which didn’t make sense to me because a 2K race is shorter than 10 minutes. Why did one machine feel so much more exhausting than the other? I couldn’t figure it out, and the worse I did on the Concept2, the more anxiety I had about it.

So, when I did the practice on Saturday, instead of visualizing it as a race, I told myself that it was just another workout and that everything would be okay. I focused on staying consistent and didn’t worry about anything else. Much to my surprise, I felt that I had plenty of energy and was able to maintain the pace throughout. Then I spent all weekend wondering why. What had changed?

By Monday, it occurred to me that the difference was simply that I had started a little more slowly. With a Concept2 race, the machine has to be started from a standstill, and I had been taking three strokes faster than my race pace to get going quickly. Hydrow races, by contrast, have a flying start, which allows for a gradual buildup to race pace before the race actually starts.

I hadn’t thought it would matter if I used a little more energy at the start, but apparently that made it harder for me to sense when I was on a sustainable pace. Subconsciously, without having a consistent pace, I couldn’t be confident that I had enough energy to finish. I believe what happened was that after a while the uncertainty triggered my mental threat detectors, causing me to slow down to prevent overexertion. When I tested that theory by starting at a consistent pace on Tuesday, I was able to sustain it again.

Now I’ve started to wonder how many other things in my environment might be causing preventable feelings of anxiety or overwork. Maybe there are a lot of ways in which an easier pace, or some other simple change to everyday routines, might leave me feeling much calmer and more refreshed. I’ll be looking for them!

After replacing an old Keurig coffeemaker with the latest model, I went into the kitchen yesterday morning and found an “update successful” message on its screen. I took a picture of it just because the idea of a coffeemaker updating itself seemed interesting.

Of course, I’m showing my age here because the younger generation wouldn’t think anything of it. They’ve grown up with all kinds of devices getting frequent updates. I don’t mind, though—it keeps the mind healthy to have a sense of wonder, even with something as ordinary as a coffeemaker.

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.”