I’ve been doing overtime work the past two weeks. That is good both because it’s extra money—which I can use, in a year when my refrigerator and air conditioner both had to be replaced—and because it means the company values my workgroup’s production enough to pay for more of it, which is always a positive sign.

When I noticed today that the house was colder than it should have been, my first thought was that the furnace wasn’t working. That left me worrying that all my overtime money might end up having to go toward buying a new furnace, and what bad luck that would be, and why couldn’t I be rich and have plenty of money for new stuff like some luckier people do.

As it turned out, what really happened was that the door to the garage had been open, letting cold air into the house, and I hadn’t noticed (probably because I wasn’t as alert as usual, with extra work hours taking up more of my mental energy). That was all. And, no need to worry—it’s all good.
 

Word-art that says "Remember, being happy doesn't mean you have it all. It simply means you're thankful for all you have." 

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.

December 5, 2018 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

One day last week I found myself thinking about a time, many years ago, when I got stressed beyond my tolerance. It wasn’t easy to believe things would get better. After a while, everything worked out reasonably well; but I still feel as if I have that stressed-out past self worrying endlessly in the back of my mind.

Trying to cheer her up, I invited her to spend some time in my imaginary village of Channelwood. As soon as she materialized in one of the village’s tiny houses, though, it was obvious that there would be no uplifting conversation taking place. Younger-Me didn’t even seem to notice my presence as she sat on the bed with her arms wrapped tightly around herself, staring blankly out the window at a gentle rain while birds chirped and twittered in the trees.

“I’m cold, so very cold—I am always so cold,” she kept repeating.

The air temperature in this scenario wasn’t anything out of the ordinary; I was imagining a pleasant breeze from the window. Regardless, my past self didn’t seem to be talking about the actual surroundings, but rather about feeling that the world was a cold, inhospitable place in general.

What could I say to that? No words came to mind. Instead, I thought of a blanket I keep in my living room, which was a gift from my mother-in-law. I like it for staying comfy on the couch, especially on these long December nights.
 

Blanket with floral pattern on couch. 

I pictured myself wrapping the blanket around my younger self’s shoulders and telling her, “It’s all right. Everything will be okay,” just as if I were comforting a distressed toddler in need of a nap.

She still didn’t look at me or say anything in response. Instead, the scene ended abruptly when she faded out of it. For the next few days, I turned it over in my mind looking for profound life lessons, but didn’t come up with anything really new or perceptive. I finally decided that its meaning might be as simple as just acknowledging the fact that, sometimes, we all need a little more warmth.

This time of year, when I walk outside to get the mail on a dark afternoon, I sometimes catch myself thinking that the front garden looks ugly. There’s not much in it right now except dead leaves of hostas and other perennials, which I should clean up but haven’t yet gotten around to doing, and some junipers and a yew that haven’t been trimmed in a while and are starting to look raggedy.

So, rather than thinking of it as ugly, I decided to make something cheerful out of it. I snipped off a few of those overgrown branches, brought them inside, tied holiday bows on them, and put them on a countertop next to a little candle in a jar. Now my kitchen looks much brighter and has a fresh evergreen scent, and it didn’t cost me anything. (I already had the green vase in one of the cabinets, and the supermarket was giving away free candles this week.)
 

Juniper and yew branches with red holiday bows. 

Soon enough, the days will get longer again, and the garden will bloom with new spring growth; but until that time comes, there’s no reason to settle for ugly.

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.

I chose a horn of plenty image for my Nurturing Thursday post because, right now, I have plenty of reasons to be thankful. All of my family are in reasonably good health and good spirits. I had some fun adventures this year traveling to rowing regattas with my husband. Everything at work is going pretty well. Although I had a few unplanned expenses this year, such as having to replace my old refrigerator and air conditioner, anything that can be fixed with money is not really that much of a problem. Besides, I like the new refrigerator and air conditioner much better than the old ones.

Wishing plenty of Thanksgiving blessings to all!
 

Happy Thanksgiving image with a pumpkin and horn of plenty. 

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.

November 20, 2018 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

My house is generally comfortable, but one issue it always had was that the closet in the master bedroom was cold all winter. Although that closet is on top of the garage, it didn’t seem as if it should have been so chilly—there is a register in the ceiling, but it never seemed like we got much warm air from it. For lack of better ideas, we put a space heater in the closet during the winter.

When we replaced our air conditioner with a larger and more modern unit over the summer, we also had to start buying air filters in a larger size. We noticed that the air flow seemed better, but we didn’t think much about it. When the weather turned colder, we were surprised to discover that the closet in the master bedroom stayed nice and toasty. Apparently, all it needed was a better air filter to improve the flow.

There’s a useful lesson in that. Even when annoying issues seem as if they’re going to be around forever, sometimes they’ll just vanish suddenly when other things get improved.

I deliberated for a while on what sort of image I could add to this post to represent both cold and flow. I finally settled on this photo of people rowing in icy water.
 

Black and white image of people rowing in icy water.

(Photo credit: Bianca Overree)
 

That is definitely not something I would ever do, regardless of how adventurous I might otherwise get in rowing! The people in the photo look like they’re enjoying it, though, so I would say it’s good flow for them—well, as long as their boat stays right side up, that is!

My poor long-suffering backyard willows, which I’ve had to cut back significantly in the past few years because of damage caused by unusually cold winters and hot, dry summers, took more abuse this morning when an ice storm bent their branches all the way to the ground.
 

Ice-covered willows with branches hanging to the ground. 

The temperature got above freezing this afternoon, though, and the ice is melting. I expect that by tomorrow, the branches will have shed their coating of ice and will have bounced back, not much worse for the wear. We could learn a few things about resilience from their example!

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.

After spending so much time this year rowing with my husband and traveling to regattas, it feels sad to look outside and see frost on the grass in the morning, while the boats sit empty until warmer weather returns. But, on the other hand, it’s not realistic to be on the go forever. Although it would be nice to have unlimited energy for fun activities, sometimes what’s needed is to relax and not be in a rush.

My subconscious mind drove home that message on Monday morning with no subtlety whatsoever, before I fully woke up. An unexpected thought came into my head without any filtering. “Thank God it’s Monday,” my half-asleep brain informed me. “It’s just an ordinary workday, and there’s no need to go anywhere.”

That left me considering how I might do a better job of balancing travel and adventures against the need to rest and replenish my energy. Even though this wasn’t something that happened long ago, I decided on Tuesday evening that a make-believe conversation in one of the tiny houses of Channelwood, the imaginary village where I send my stressed-out past selves for a restful vacation, could give me some insight.

I pictured my half-asleep Monday morning self sitting on the bed next to me. The scenario reminded me of a dorm room because the only other place to sit was a desk chair. Outside a narrow window, a cliff fell sharply away to the ocean, and I heard the surf and seagulls clearly.
 

Cliff with trees and shrubs dropping away to the ocean.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

I couldn’t manage to compose any useful dialogue, though. Monday-Morning-Before-Coffee-Me was not lucid enough to put more than a few words together, and just looked like she wanted to go back to sleep. And to be honest, I didn’t think of any good questions to ask her before I was dozing off too.

It wasn’t a completely wasted exercise in imagination, though, because the idea of a dorm room left me dreaming that I was back in college. I wanted to eat a leisurely pancake breakfast in the cafeteria, but my husband (who was, of course, my boyfriend then) was telling me to hurry up and grab something quick.

In real life, he generally doesn’t try to rush me when I am eating breakfast because he knows I hate that. So I interpreted the dream-image as referring not to him in particular, but to whatever might put me in a rush.

As for the pancake breakfast in the cafeteria, I decided that was my subconscious mind’s advice for enjoying a more restful life; and I made banana pancakes with real maple syrup. Yum, that left me feeling better!

November in America traditionally is a time for reflecting on the many things for which we are thankful. In that respect, I was glad to see such strong participation, especially by younger voters, in Tuesday’s election. Although politics in the United States recently has been marked by cultural and generational clashes, I feel heartened that so many people are not giving up, but are actively working to bring the country together and to build a society where our differences are respected and valued.
 

Word-art featuring fallen leaves and words like "thankful." 

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.

November 5, 2018 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I have a good relaxing afternoon planned for Tuesday. After an ordinary morning of work, I’ll have my hair done in the early afternoon, and then I’m getting a massage. My digital art display shows a peaceful autumn scene. If all goes as planned, I should be nice and mellow by the time I vote later in the day.
 

Colorful trees with falling leaves beside a creek. 

Unfortunately, some of today’s politicians are notorious for deliberately stirring up anger to motivate their supporters. That sort can be found in more than one political party, and I won’t mention any names because I have better things to do than give them attention.

Anger and fear can be effective motivators for a short time, but they have predictable effects. After a few years, the stress builds up, leaving people drained of energy and unhealthy. Of course, the politicians who stirred up such feelings don’t care because they already got the votes they wanted, and they’re not looking beyond the current election cycle.

Choosing public officials should involve considering the values and ideals that shape our society, and how each candidate would reflect them. Some of the values needed now, as I see it, are decency, civility, stable government, and respect for the rule of law. I plan to vote accordingly, without wasting time and energy on anger. Surely we can all do better.

Because it has been dark and rainy here, I’m looking for bright colors and cheerful things to perk me up—and surely I’m not the only one feeling this way. When a coworker sent this “positive energy” image in an email, it felt just right to share for Nurturing Thursday! Enjoy.
 

Word-art that says "positive energy" with brightly colored rays. 

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.