I have to confess I didn’t feel motivated to write blog posts this week. Instead, I spent much of the long weekend just enjoying a cozy house and hot tea, letting the cold winter days quietly pass. I’m sure something creative will bubble up after a while, but for the moment I feel content just to rest and relax. Sometimes that’s more helpful than rushing around to get things done.

Word-art that says "Relaxing with Tea."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

This week I started a new five-week training program to get in shape for rowing. So far it seems like it’s going well. I was a bit apprehensive about it because last year I trained harder than I’d done before, and there were many days when I felt tired and stressed, rushing to do everything on the schedule.

I expect it’ll be easier now that I have better baseline fitness and know what to expect. Just as important, this season I plan to get more rest and manage my time more sensibly. No reason to let it scare me!


Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

This is the fourth story in a series. Click here to read all parts from the beginning.

I was just about to turn away from the dead-looking lake when I noticed a small ripple forming along the horizon. Tiny wisps of fog started to rise from it. At first, they were so faint that I wondered if I might have imagined them. A few seconds later, though, I heard a whumpp sound, and a thick vapor boiled up to form a looming cloud in what had been, until then, an unbroken gray sky.

Just below the cloud, a wave started rolling toward the shore where I stood. It moved at a steady pace, like the tide coming in at the beach. Rising higher, it finally crested and began to curl as if breaking over unseen rocks. I might’ve been looking at ordinary surf—except that, as it came closer, the outlines of scaly blue-green heads became visible all along the wave’s crest.

Wave cresting under a puffy cloud.

(Image credit: Johnny Jungle)

I found myself wondering, in a strange moment of detached curiosity, whether sea serpents could breathe fire like their dragon cousins. But obviously, the situation called for being more concerned with self-preservation, and I wasn’t about to stick around long enough to find out what they could do.

Tossing my now-dry fire suit over my right shoulder, I took off running across the stone, trying (without much success) not to think about the fact that it was really a troll’s head. I listened the whole time for the sound of that wave hitting the shore, but the unnatural silence persisted. All I could hear was the sound of my own shoes slapping against granite.

After I crossed the stone and came out onto a road made of hard-packed earth (or at least, something that looked and felt like it), I slowed down just enough to take a quick glance behind me. Although I expected to see a few of those scaly heads reaching my way, I was wrong. Once again, there was no sign of life or motion anywhere near the lake. It had gone back to flat, dead-looking water. Both the wave and the cloud had totally vanished.

The sulfurous smell of dragons was much stronger here. Steep cliffs loomed on either side. Ahead, the road narrowed, leading to a dark tunnel cut into the mountain. Cave openings at regular intervals—much too regular to have formed naturally—suggested this might be the home of a primitive cliff-dwelling tribe. No paths led up to the caves, however, and some of them were on sheer rock faces that didn’t look anywhere near being climbable.

I’d already started putting on my fire suit in response to the obvious conclusion before my conscious mind caught up to it: Those cliff dwellers were very unlikely to be human.

This was a cold and blustery day in my part of the world. I was grateful when my husband volunteered to bring in the mail and I didn’t have to step outside. Right now, I’m feeling warm and cozy in green flannel pajamas with a Christmas pattern of trees and stockings. Every season has its comforts to enjoy!

Word-art that says "Warm winter wishes."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

January 6, 2022 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Sometimes, as a meditation, I imagine myself turning to the four directions and asking each of them what it has to say to me. I always start in the East, as the direction of the dawn and new beginnings, and go clockwise from there.

When I last pictured myself facing the dawn, I was walking through a bright green meadow full of wildflowers on a clear spring day. Then I noticed that, for some reason, I had butterfly wings attached to my shoulders, like a child in a costume.

(Photo credit: Sangudo)

Unlike a costume, however, the wings were functional. I was holding some sort of futuristic control device that made the wings fly me high above the meadow.

“The future holds so many fun adventures to discover,” the East whispered on a joyful breeze.

Thanking the East, I turned toward the South, the direction of summer’s heat.

I was barefoot now, and the earth under my feet was pleasantly warm. Closing my eyes, I wanted to stand for a little while and enjoy the feeling.

“It’s okay to just relax sometimes,” the South told me in a comfortable, reassuring tone. “The future will find you anyway; there’s no need to be searching for it at all times.”

Although I was tempted to stay longer, I still had two more directions to visit. I opened my eyes and moved on to the West, the direction of cool winds of change.

I stood watching autumn leaves as they fell, but other than the leaves, nothing much seemed to be happening around me. I wondered what, if anything, I was supposed to be doing.

“Hold space for it,” the West kindly advised.

With my thanks, I turned away to face the North, the direction of winter’s cold and renewal. Rain was falling, and I heard a stream rushing somewhere nearby, quick with snowmelt. Then, suddenly, all was silent.

“You don’t need to listen for it, either,” the North murmured. “It will find you.”

Last winter seemed like a time to reassess and recalibrate, setting aside whatever did not work well. I chose Alignment as a word of intention. My New Year’s resolution was to pay more attention to mental chatter and to avoid indulging any useless negativity that showed up.

In retrospect, it was a success—but it felt like a very long, exhausting slog. My husband hired an online rowing coach, Christine Cavallo, to create weekly training plans for us. They were good plans; we improved our fitness and rowed much faster at the regattas. It was a bit of a shock to my system, though, because I hadn’t trained nearly as hard in the past. I had thought of myself as reasonably fit, but I found out that I had a lot of space for improvement.

As the year went on, all sorts of negative thoughts bubbled up, along the lines of being overburdened and totally drained of energy. The training plans didn’t in fact take up huge amounts of time, but I felt that I had no time to myself because I wasn’t used to my days being so regimented. I felt that I was constantly rushing from work to rowing to dinner and then falling into bed exhausted, with no time or mental energy to even think about anything else.

I knew those feelings were unhealthy and I needed to put things in better perspective, but that was easier said than done. No matter what I told myself, each day still felt like a struggle. It wasn’t until late in the year, after the rowing season ended, that I realized the training regimen had brought stressful emotions to the surface from many years ago. They came from a time when I felt that I was being pushed far beyond my tolerance but had to soldier on anyway.

When I recognized those feelings for what they were, I didn’t feel as troubled by them. Instead, I realized that there are plenty of ways to organize my time without being in a rush and that I am entirely capable of doing it. My resolution for 2022, I decided, should be to welcome life’s flow, in all its beauty and abundance, and allow it to replenish my energy naturally.

Small waterfall in a forest.

I did an online workout on the Hydrow rowing machine this morning and went over 6 million lifetime meters. The instructor gave me a nice shout-out for my accomplishment, and I started the day feeling pretty good. Although this is still the off-season for rowing, soon it will be time to start another training plan to build fitness for the 2022 regattas, which are not that far away.

This year, I won’t let it stress me. Instead, I’ll go with the flow, looking for ways to make each day fun!

Last week, our daughter and son-in-law drove to Florida to visit his sister, who recently had a baby. My husband and I expected that they’d stop at our house on the way back to their home in Cleveland, sometime over the New Year’s weekend.

It was a great surprise when, instead, our daughter showed up on Christmas Eve. She put her little dog in a pet carrier and got on a plane. I hadn’t yet wrapped her presents, which were still sitting on the basement floor, so had to hurry up and get them under the tree.

Although we didn’t have any holiday parties this year, it feels like one anyway! So wonderful to have a loving family. Wishing all the best to my readers in 2022!

Word-art that says "Holiday party."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

Last week I read Empty Planet, a book about the modern world’s falling birthrates. The authors believe that having only one or two children is becoming a worldwide norm and, as a result, they expect global population will peak soon and then drop sharply for the foreseeable future. The trend of moving to the cities will continue. After a while, almost everyone will live in large metropolitan areas, while leaving the rest of the planet to revert to wilderness. People won’t dream of having a peaceful cabin in the woods anymore.


Some of that makes sense to me, but I have to disagree with the authors to the extent they predict young people will have a lower standard of living because of supporting a large elderly population. That’s based on the stereotype that older folks don’t buy much (thus dragging down a consumer economy), don’t produce much, lack creative thought, and generally can’t do much of anything.

Although it’s a fact that many present-day seniors live on a small budget and don’t buy much, either for fear of running out of money or simply because of long-standing habits of frugality, I wouldn’t assume it has to be that way forever. Rather, I expect it to change along with everything else. Many retirees couldn’t save much during their working years because wages were flat for decades. Those who could invest weren’t getting much of a return on their money. Middle-aged workers were likely to get laid off because of automation and offshoring, which forced them to spend what meager savings they had. With jobs being scarce, employers were picky, and finding a new job after a layoff wasn’t easy.

Now we’re starting to see the first glimmerings of what a world with persistent labor shortages will look like. Because young workers are in short supply, companies are having to rely more on middle-aged employees. Many of those employees, however, feel like they’ve had enough of the rat race after years of being taken for granted and getting tiny pay raises and minimal perks. They’ve noticed that the stock market is way up—which is not surprising, given the obvious fact that the money saved by being so stingy with the workers has been going to the shareholders. People who have stock funds in their retirement accounts are now realizing that they can afford to retire sooner than anticipated.

Companies are frantically automating whatever they can, but they’re discovering that robots are not staying ahead of retirements. Robots do, however, save costs, allowing companies to earn reasonable profits even if they are understaffed. Those profits go to shareholders, the stock market climbs higher, and then more workers can afford to retire and live happily ever after on their stock earnings, even if they’re not yet old enough to draw Social Security payments. We’re in a loop that just keeps feeding on itself.

Of course, it’s possible that a major economic calamity might put an end to the party; but if COVID-19 couldn’t do it, then what would? Stocks may not rise as quickly for the next few years because companies will be forced to give meaningful pay raises to retain their long-term employees. The financial markets will still be in good shape, though, because ongoing automation will keep corporate profits up. Employees with bad memories of having been treated like beasts of burden will keep on retiring in large numbers—and because of low birthrates, every year there will be fewer new workers to replace them.

I expect that by 2030 or thereabouts, we’re going to see an economy the likes of which has never existed. Chronically short-staffed companies will be doing all they can to persuade retirees to come back to work. That’s going to be a hard sell because most retirees won’t need the money, so employers will need to find creative ways to make the work more pleasant. Meanwhile, higher salaries will enable young people to be choosy about their jobs. I predict that in the not-so-distant future, most people will work because they enjoy what they are doing, not because they are desperate to pay the bills. The world will become calmer and more peaceful as we leave behind all that stress—and I expect we’ll buy plenty of new, fun, mostly robot-made consumer goods, both for ourselves and for the small number of grandchildren we may have.

Twas the night before Christmas, and the children were all snug in their beds in the tiny houses of Channelwood village. A mouse was stirring, with visions of cookies dancing in his furry little head. Although Ella’s pet mouse, Darcy, was supposed to be asleep in his basket at the foot of Ella’s bed, he was just pretending. As soon as Ella dozed off, up he jumped, intent on getting to that plate of cookies he’d seen Sara leave on the kitchen table. He was in such a rush that he didn’t even stop to shake off the ridiculous red cap that Ella had put on him.

Usually, the children were tidy enough that Darcy wouldn’t find much besides a crumb or two for a midnight snack. Ella conscientiously fed him a healthy mix of homemade kibble; but of course, no self-respecting pet would be content with that. Not when there were cookies left unguarded!

Scurrying toward the kitchen, Darcy heard the sound of tinkling bells. He didn’t think much about it until he discovered an intruder—a big fellow in a red suit, with a bushy white beard—standing next to the kitchen table and EATING ALL THE COOKIES! Furiously, Darcy stood up on his hind legs and chittered something not at all nice in mouse language.

Mouse in a Christmas hat.

“Well, hello, little fellow! A very merry Christmas to you!” The intruder gave a jolly laugh and bit into the last cookie.

Darcy shook his tiny fists and screeched something even nastier.

“Well, now, this won’t do. Naughty mice don’t get presents. If you want a piece of this cookie, you’re just going to have to ask properly.”

That didn’t seem fair to Darcy; after all, he was the one who lived here. But his greed soon got the better of his pride, and he chirped something that sounded at least somewhat contrite. The white-bearded fellow reached down, with a chunk of cookie and a hearty “Ho, ho, ho!”

Darcy took a big bite. Yum, oatmeal! He closed his eyes in bliss. When he opened them again, the intruder was nowhere to be seen. Outside the kitchen window, bells tinkled again, and the faint shape of a sleigh vanished into the clouds.

Snuggling back into his cozy basket in Ella’s room, Darcy tried to tell himself that he had dreamed it all after eating too much of a very tasty cookie. He couldn’t quite manage to convince himself, though.

Things have been rather hectic in my house this week, but that’s okay. Christmas lights are twinkling, I have family who love me, and that is all I really need in the moment. Wishing merry days to all!


Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.