This was a somewhat rushed Thursday — nothing major, but I’d had to reschedule a hair appointment, which ended up being close enough to a work meeting that there wasn’t time to do the grocery shopping. So, I defrosted some ground beef, assembled a lasagna, and put it in the refrigerator to cook later. After I got finished with my work at 7 PM, it was time to go down to the river with my husband and do the workout that our coach had assigned; it had 200-meter intervals.

Once I got outdoors and breathed in some fresh air, the hectic feeling went away. The heat of the afternoon was mostly gone by the time we started the workout, and we did pretty well. Then we rowed a little more to cool down, and we returned to the dock just as the sun was going down. Back home, we did an online post-row stretching exercise for five minutes while the oven was preheating, and the lasagna was done by the time we took our showers. I’m sitting here at 11:59 finishing this post, but it’s all good.

Word-art that says, "Happiness is itself a kind of gratitude." -Joseph Wood Krutch

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 is Sunday afternoon, so this is certainly the most belated Nurturing Thursday entry I’ve ever written. I worked later than usual on Thursday, and we had dinner late because my husband was at the boathouse, teaching a Learn-to-Row student who couldn’t make the usual class time. He is always very flexible and helpful. So, I thought I would write a blog post after dinner, but then I got a database error message. I told my husband, who maintains my blog on a virtual private server; but I also said that because he’d had a long day, I was not asking him to fix it right away. The post could be written just as easily on Friday, after all.

After he restarted the database program, my blog seemed to be back to normal; it got some comments on Friday. We went rowing after work. It was windy, but we thought that was good practice because we planned on racing Saturday morning in the Indianapolis regatta, which is held on windswept Eagle Creek and known to rowers (not so affectionately) as the Windy Indy regatta. We needed to get enough sleep to be well rested, so I thought I’d write my blog post after dinner and then go to bed. The database error showed up again, however—and once again, there was no post.

We woke up early on Saturday and gave my women’s double partner, Deb, a ride to the regatta. My husband also towed the boat trailer with his SUV; he is the club’s usual trailer driver. Our race results weren’t the best because the water was choppy, as usual for Indy, and we were struggling. After we finished rowing, my husband took some time to help rowers on another team, who did not have much experience traveling, to secure their boats properly on their trailer. Then we took our club’s boats back to the boathouse and, with our other teammates, put everything away where it belonged.

When we got home, I cooked dinner while my husband updated the database program; upon investigating, he had discovered that the version he’d been using was buggy, and that was what had crashed my blog. He also updated WordPress after dinner, although of course he was tired from the long day. By then, I was pretty tired myself, and just fell into bed after cleaning up the kitchen.

I am better rested today. Now that I’m finally sitting down to write this post, I feel gratitude for having a kind and helpful husband and, as well, for being privileged to know so many friendly and generous people. Even in times like these, when it often seems like the world’s ties have frayed, our communities are stronger in many ways than we know.

Image of hands holding a seedling.

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.”

June 15, 2022 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Although it may seem foolish in today’s overly hot world, I am still stubbornly trying to maintain the row of willows along the back line of my yard. They were lovely 15-foot trees before climate change started getting to them in 2016, and since then I’ve had to cut them back so far that the survivors are not much more than bushes. Most of them are staying alive, though, and I recently planted a cutting next to a dead stump.

Photo of newly planted willow cutting.

It looks healthy, though small, and the rabbits haven’t eaten it yet, so there is room for optimism. I’ve been reminding myself, whenever I look at the willows, that almost anything has the potential to change for the better as time passes. Just because they’ve had a few bad years, that doesn’t necessarily prevent them from coming back strong and tall after some good years.

This week I’ve been reminding myself to frame everyday situations in terms of allowing for improvement, rather than fixing problems. The latter wording implies a binary state, in which things are either fixed or broken. While that may be accurate if we are talking about machine parts, most of life’s issues are more complicated and do not have quick fixes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however. When we regularly leave room for improvement, we can find ourselves in much better places—often unexpected—than if we simply tried to fix things to get them back the way they were.

Word-art that says, "Room for improvement."

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 I’ve enjoyed going on road trips this spring, I do need to balance that with time to relax and unwind. My coach says that a travel day puts enough stress on the body that it should be treated like a hard workout, with some rest needed the next day.

Sometimes it’s not immediately obvious when I’ve had too much going on. I didn’t have much energy on Saturday night after traveling to a rowing regatta, however, and it has been slower than usual to come back. A peaceful week with no rush to do anything—just living in today—has been good for me.

Word-art that says "Cherish yesterday. Dream tomorrow. Live today." -Richard Bach

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.”

June 1, 2022 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I had a rather unsettling experience on Monday night when I tried to meditate before going to sleep. I have a favorite meditation that I’ve written about here before, in which I imagine myself turning to the four directions and asking what advice they have for me. I’ll usually see interesting scenes and picture myself walking through them while kindly voices offer guidance.

On Monday, though, I felt like I was rooted to the spot and hearing only my internal dialogue, which sounded tired and frazzled. As far as I knew, nothing in particular was causing me to feel stressed at that moment. I had been traveling more than usual this spring, a long weekend was over, and something had been irritating my sinuses, but I felt that none of those events should have bothered me much.

When I imagined myself looking to the East, where I wanted to see a refreshing springtime scene, nothing came clear. I heard myself saying “Just breathe,” as if trying to calm myself down. After another minute passed without any images coming to mind, I turned to the South; but rather than its usual comforting warmth, it felt stifling. My inner voice whined, “It’s so hot!” Then I tried to visualize birch trees with autumn foliage in the West, with a little more success, but I still couldn’t picture myself moving toward them.

Photo of birch trees with yellow leaves.

(Photo credit: Rachel Kramer)

I finally tried to create a mental picture of a cool northern landscape to complete the meditation, but nothing happened there either. I tried to tell myself that I was half asleep and shouldn’t worry about it, but I felt that it had all gone wrong.

After giving myself a couple of days to reflect, however, I came to the conclusion that the “failed” meditation was a perfectly valid message from my subconscious mind. It was simple enough—too much time in motion, without enough rest, had left me needing to stand still and just breathe.

I’ve had a rather quiet week, mostly free of distractions and confusion. At work, I am getting ready to start a new project and also finishing up some training that I probably should’ve done sooner; but it’s all good. Sending peaceful feelings to the world tonight, while making space for new beginnings.

Word-art that says, "Peace begins with a smile." -Mother Teresa

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.”

When I got a Fitbit four years ago, I started using the food-tracking feature in the app. I didn’t have any interest in counting calories precisely, but just thought it might be informative to see how much I was eating, on average. Even after the original device was replaced with a newer model, I kept using that feature.

Photo of Fitbit.

Because my preferred exercise is rowing, which does not have motions that Fitbit can recognize, the calories in vs. out calculation was never accurate. Fitbit sometimes would record my rowing as some other exercise, such as swimming or an elliptical machine, but more often it was left out of the calculation. As a result, the food tracker usually showed that I was eating more calories than the amount needed.

The incorrect calculation was somewhat annoying, but I kept using the food tracker anyway because I had gotten used to it. The small graph was not intrusive, and I wanted to track my water intake anyway, so entering calorie amounts (quickly estimated and rounded off) didn’t seem to take much more time.

Last week, I decided I’d had enough of it when an update changed the food-tracking display to show, in all caps, “OVER BUDGET” or “UNDER BUDGET” whenever the total calories consumed so far that day was not within 100 calories of the amount Fitbit’s calculation showed—which, of course, it almost never was. I asked myself, why was I still using that feature when, by now, I had a good idea of my usual calorie intake? The only answer was that it had become a mindless habit.

So, I removed food tracking from the features on the app, and I don’t miss it. In fact, my subconscious mind seems to have cheered on that decision, because twice this week I put down the Fitbit somewhere in the house and forgot to put it back on for several hours. I suspect that my subconscious is telling me I’ve let my life get too regimented, what with rowing schedules and everything. To some extent, schedules and tracking are useful, but it’s high time to start unwinding whatever unnecessary complexity I’ve added.

I’m writing this entry on Friday evening, but that is okay. Yesterday I couldn’t quite get clear in my mind on what I wanted to post, so I decided it made more sense just to wait, rather than forcing something that probably wouldn’t come out right.

I joined the Nurturing Thursday blogging group in 2014 because I felt that a weekly reminder of the importance of self-nurturing would do me some good. In today’s busy society, it is all too easy to neglect ourselves without realizing it, while scrambling to get through the daily to-do list. For me, each of the Thursday posts became a snapshot of what I did to take care of myself in that particular week. Looking back on them gives me helpful perspective.

While traveling in the South this spring, I took a photo of Melton Lake in Tennessee. I meant to upload it to the online library for my art display, but that website hasn’t been able to upload anything recently. Given the fact that the company went out of business years ago, I can’t complain—it is still mostly functional and has given me a lot of enjoyment. I decided to go ahead and post the photo here instead.

Photo of Melton Lake, Tennessee, with a tree blooming by the water.

I wrote part of this post during a midday break, but rather than push myself to finish it, I went for a short walk and did an online yoga class before coming back to my work much refreshed. Afterward, my husband and I went out to dinner for our anniversary. We shared a bottle of wine, which is now making me sleepy because I don’t often drink it, but I sat down to finish this post anyway. Even though it is belated, I’m pretty happy with what I did for self-nurturing this week.

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 rowing club’s annual training camp, on the first weekend in May, left me feeling stressed. That was mainly because I hadn’t left myself enough time to rest and recover after traveling with my husband on a road trip to Chattanooga the previous weekend. We had fun, but it was a long way home, and then we were back to work as usual.

I hadn’t quite gotten back my energy when the rowing camp started, and the weather conditions left much to be desired—heavy rain on Friday, then high water, and a chilly wind. Walking between the boathouse and the dock, I noticed violets blooming in the grass, but I didn’t pay much attention to them because I was more focused on avoiding the goose poop.

Afterward, I was lying awake in bed on Sunday night sometime around midnight, still feeling unsettled. My bed felt like it was not firmly attached to the floor but, instead, was bobbing around like a boat on the river. Then it occurred to me that my archetypal imaginary protector, Dame Shadow, featured in several posts, hadn’t been around for quite some time. Admittedly, she could be troublesome: her past antics included giving me a backache to get my attention (twice) and shrieking at me to trust no one.

Still, I felt that Dame Shadow’s protection would be helpful at that moment. I did a bit of searching in odd corners of my psyche, trying to determine what had become of her. Although I didn’t see or hear the Dame anywhere, my bed started to feel like it was solidly anchored again. Behind my closed eyelids, tiny violet dots appeared all over the comforter, which floated peacefully above me; and I drifted off to sleep.

By morning I still didn’t feel entirely refreshed, but the image of violets floating on calm water had helped to settle my mind. I had a quiet workweek, followed by a mostly unhurried weekend in which I spent time in the yard, weeding and mulching. Meanwhile, my husband traveled to Michigan for a junior rowing regatta where he was a referee. He sent me a photo of the course, which was beautiful.

Photo of starting line at rowing regatta.

After he returned, we went for a short row in our double; he wanted to spend some time outdoors with me, even though he was tired from driving and from waking up early. We also rowed on Monday and Tuesday.

I wasn’t expecting to go out yesterday because of rain, but it started tapering off later in the day. My husband said we’d be fine with our raincoats. I wasn’t as confident because we’d gotten soaked through our raincoats during the rowing camp, but it turned out he was right. The water was calm, the rain moved off, and we saw a rainbow. It was getting dark by the time we took the boat out of the water, and the grass was still wet, as were my feet; but then I thought about walking through violets, and all was well.