Posting a blog entry for Nurturing Thursday late on a Saturday afternoon is definitely the slowest I’ve ever been! I had planned to write a post on Thursday after work, as usual; but after I got some exercise and took a shower, it was late enough that I decided to cook dinner first. And after that, I sat down at the computer, only to discover it wasn’t working.

We have another home computer, but my husband has been using it for a remote connection to his work computer since he started working from home last year. His company had a software release scheduled for Friday, so he was doing some last-minute bug fixes. I was starting to get sleepy anyway, so decided I might as well just go to bed and let it wait. That turned out to be a rather long wait because my husband bought new motherboards for both computers and upgraded them to Windows 11, which was a good thing to do, but wasn’t finished until today.

Of course, I could’ve gotten up early on Friday to write a post on the other computer before my husband got up, but it didn’t seem worth sacrificing sleep to write something that was already late. And besides, Nurturing Thursday is mainly about taking care of oneself, which includes being well rested and not rushing around. Slow and steady made more sense!


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.

Once upon a time, my workgroup had a tradition of weekly emails with positive word-art to keep up team morale. They were fun, and we had a friendly, cheerful group for many years. As time went by, though, some people retired while others got busier, and the weekly emails ended.

When I thought about it recently, it occurred to me that the emails were very much like my Nurturing Thursday posts, and that I could start a new tradition. So, this morning I sent out a Nurturing Thursday email to my coworkers, featuring one of the word-art images that I put into a blog entry last month, along with a brief explanation of the history.

I am hoping this will encourage more positivity and self-nurturing among my coworkers. Of course, I can’t know for sure what will happen; but sometimes a few kind words from a friend can go much farther than we imagine. Anyway, I’d like to think so.

Word-art that says "One friend can change your whole life."

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.

Although my daughter always blows in like a whirlwind when she visits, we found time over Thanksgiving weekend to put up the Christmas tree together. This week has been warmer than usual, and it probably will be a while before it gets cold enough for snow. Still, just seeing the tree with all its lights, ornaments, and family memories gives the days more winter cheer.

Winter word-art images in a frame.

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.

Because I still had a little unscheduled vacation time needing to be used before the end of the year, I decided to take off Thursday morning and Friday afternoon from work. Earlier in the week, the weather forecast for Thursday predicted a warm day without much chance of rain, and I thought that perhaps I could go rowing with my husband around noon if it wasn’t too windy.

Although the morning was indeed quite warm for December, the wind was gusty enough that we decided a lunchtime row wouldn’t be much fun. Friday’s forecast looks much better for rowing. I spent a little time doing yoga and exercising on the rowing machine, but mostly I just lazed around, feeling indecisive about what sort of image to put on my digital art display. The morning started out sunny, but clouds were blowing in fast. I finally settled on a lake with a blue sky and some passing clouds.

A lake in winter with tall brown grass in the foreground.

(Photo credit: Antonio Garcia Campos)

The dry brown grass along the shore made plain that winter was near, as did the bare trees across the lake. When I pictured myself taking a breath of the cool fresh air, it felt pretty comfortable; there was almost no wind. The tiny structures on the other side of the lake settled into a recognizable pattern as the outbuildings of Channelwood, the imaginary village inhabited by several of my younger selves.

I heard a bit of splashing, and a stone skipped into view across the water. Turning to my right, I saw Peter, who was me at five years old when I really, really wanted to fly away to the Neverland and enjoy a new adventure with the fairies every day.

“Did you come here to play?” Peter took a step toward me and held out a flat chip of dark gray slate.

I gave it my best effort but didn’t have much success, given the fact that skimming stones was something I hadn’t done in decades. Peter politely refrained from commenting as my stone sank without a bounce.

“Well, playing wasn’t actually on my mind,” I had to admit. “And not much else was, either. I’ve been feeling low on energy because I trained so hard to row faster at regattas this year.”

Peter stopped skimming stones and looked thoughtful for a minute.

“The Lost Boys felt like that sometimes, when they’d had a long day of adventures and had been working hard to learn new flying tricks. Wendy said they needed more sleep, and she tucked them into bed early and told them stories.”

“That’s good advice, Peter. But my mother can’t tuck me in and tell me bedtime stories because I grew up and don’t live in the same house with her anymore.”

Peter thought about it a bit more.

“I’ll have to pretend to be your mother and tell you a story, then. It’s not bedtime yet, but you can lie down in the grass over there next to that tree, and I’ll tell you a naptime story.”

I found a place among the tree roots that wasn’t muddy. Peter gallantly contributed his green jacket for my pillow and gave me a moment to get comfortable before starting the story.

——————————

Once upon a time, on a lake very much like this one, there was a duckling who was full of energy and always wanted to play. Instead of staying in line and following Mama Duck like the other ducklings, he wanted to dance on the water, flapping his wings and turning in circles. When he got too far away, Mama Duck quacked at him and Papa Duck pecked him, but he still wouldn’t behave like a proper duckling.

“Little one, you need to do as you’re told,” quacked Mama Duck. “There are hawks, dogs, and cats everywhere, and they don’t want to see you dance—they just want to eat you!”

Of course, he went on dancing anyway, and it wasn’t long before he got too far away from his family again. Trying to find his way back to them, he passed a hawk sitting on a branch overhanging the river.

“Good afternoon, Madam Hawk,” said the duckling (he had, at least, properly learned his manners from Mama Duck). “I would like to show you my new dance, but my mama says that you don’t want to see it and that you just want to eat me. You wouldn’t do that, would you?”

The hawk fluffed her feathers. “Your mama isn’t wrong that I am a predator, but I wouldn’t have any interest in eating a scrawny little duckling like you. I wouldn’t get much more than an annoying mouthful of feathers. A nice fat rabbit would be much more to my liking. So, you may dance for me, young duck, and I promise not to eat you.”

The duckling happily performed his latest dance, and the hawk clapped her wings, cheering.

Just around the next bend in the river, the duckling saw a spotted dog lying on the shore in the sunshine. The dog blinked, half asleep, as the duckling hopped out of the water and came closer.

“A good day to you, Mr. Dog, and may I show you my new dance? My mama says you only want to eat me, but that isn’t really true, is it?”

The dog yawned, showing a large mouthful of sharp teeth. “I might eat you if I felt like getting up, but right now I am too lazy and would rather lie here in the sun.”

Once again, the duckling danced, and the dog applauded with a wagging tail.

Walking farther along the shore, the duckling came across a black cat fastidiously licking a paw. The cat watched with curiosity as the duckling approached.

“Hello, Madam Cat, would you like to watch me dance? You wouldn’t eat me instead, would you?”

The cat blinked once, as if uncertain, and then began grooming the other paw. “Hmm. A duckling might be a tasty little treat, but my owner just fed me, and I’m more bored than hungry right now. Watching you dance might be more interesting than eating you—maybe.”

The duckling gave one more performance and then, seeing that the cat was starting to look hungrier, scooted back to the river in a hurry. It wasn’t long before he found his family again. After giving him a loud quacking lecture on his bad behavior, Mama Duck just shook her feathered head in despair and turned to Papa Duck.

“He’s sure to come to a bad end one of these days.”

——————————

I wasn’t far from dozing off as I listened to Peter’s naptime story. That seemed to be all there was to it, though, as Peter turned away and sent another stone flying over the lake, skimming it lightly across the water with perfect technique.

“Did he?” I asked.

Peter turned back to me, looking as if he had forgotten all about the story. “Did who?”

“The duck. Did he come to a bad end?”

“Yes, of course he did.” Peter shrugged. “He grew up.”

I have to admit, I didn’t do much for Thanksgiving dinner this year. My husband and I didn’t feel like cooking a big turkey dinner, and our daughter has to work and can’t be here until Saturday. Still, it will be good to have the family together, even if it is not on the actual day. What matters is being grateful for all our blessings and for being in the world together.

Word-art with Thanksgiving words like "grateful" and "blessed."

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 morning I ran the Turkey Trot, which has become a family tradition; we’ve done it for almost 20 years. Before we started the race, I told my husband that I was just going to take it easy. I still felt somewhat tired and achy from training so hard to get in better shape for rowing at regattas, and also from sitting in the car for hours on long road trips to those regattas. It was a good year—we both had much better rowing speed and endurance, and we won more medals. There’s no doubt our online coach, Christine Cavallo, did an excellent job of improving our fitness; but it was exhausting.

My husband ran next to me all through the Turkey Trot and set what I thought was a nice steady pace. I had no trouble keeping up with him and did not feel tired. As we got close to the end of the race, I thanked him for being my “pace car” for a comfortable race. He was being kind, I thought, in staying with me instead of running on ahead, when he would have preferred a faster pace. I felt that I was slowing him down and that I was not putting much energy into the race.

We ran the five-mile course in 49 minutes. Then I made sure to walk around for a while to cool down, although it was raining and there was a chilly wind. It wasn’t until after we got home, when I started looking online at past results, that I realized this was my best time ever for the Turkey Trot. There had been years when I got close to 50 minutes, but never below it. I also felt pretty good after the race; the cool-down walk was good for keeping my joints loose, and I did not seem to have any new aches or stiffness afterward.

As far as I can tell, whatever tiredness I still have is more mental than physical. I’ve read about research studies that suggest the brain is always subconsciously calculating how much effort to put into each activity. This can cause feelings of exhaustion not because the body is in fact overworked, but rather because brain circuitry detects a risk of overexertion and sends a “this could be too much, it’s time to slow down” warning. I’m guessing that those risk-detection circuits got put on heightened alert when I exercised much more this year than in the past.

So, I’ve been left with a few questions: How do I update my body image to match my improved fitness level? What amount of rest do I need to (1) actually keep my body well rested, and (2) persuade those Nervous Nellie brain circuits that everything is fine now and I’m not on the brink of collapse? And, on top of all that, how do I sort out what’s true and what’s not in the cultural messages about slowing down with age?

After considering it for a while, I decided to ask Fannie, my imaginary 119-year-old future self, for advice. Fannie is short for Fantastically Adventurous, and I envision her traveling a much-changed world in her trusty flying car (named Hildegarde) while staying healthy and full of energy.

She wasn’t in the car when I created a mental picture of her, though. Instead, she was walking beside a river on a sunny autumn day. As usual, her robot poodle, Maxie, trotted along with her. Maxie gave a friendly, welcoming yip when I appeared on the scene. Fannie smiled and motioned toward two chairs overlooking the river, which looked like a good place for a conversation.

Photo of two chairs facing a river.

(Photo credit: Elizabeth Wallace)

We settled ourselves comfortably in the chairs, with Maxie at our feet. Although the breeze coming off the river felt just a bit chilly in the shade, both of us were dressed warmly enough that it didn’t bother us at all.

“I seem to have gotten my subconscious mind in a bit of a tangle,” I confessed. “Although my fitness is better than in past years, I’ve been feeling that I am more vulnerable and need to be careful with myself. I have been wondering what you do to avoid such worries. You always look so confident, about your health and everything else. Do you ever feel like this?”

Fannie considered the question, gazing out over the river as a few leaves drifted slowly by in the current. Reddish-gold reflections danced across the water’s smooth surface.

“Those feelings used to be part of what was called a midlife crisis,” she observed, “way back before people started living long enough that the idea of midlife lost its definition. But yes, however it might be described now, I still have such worries in the back of my mind. No matter how much the world changes, we can’t ever get completely away from the culture we grew up in. Medical science has advanced enough that it is now possible to be healthy at a much older age than mine, but still, there are moments when I feel as if I’m living on borrowed time.”

She reached down to pat Maxie’s furry black head.

“I wouldn’t really say that I avoid those worries,” she concluded. “They’re just going to come up at times. What helps, I’ve found, is to give the mind more possibilities to explore, so that it can keep on expanding its maps instead of simply assuming things must be the way they’ve always been.”

I rowed well on Saturday, as did my husband; we were much faster than two years ago, both in the double and in singles. Afterward, though, I felt totally drained of energy, as if the stress and exhaustion of a long training plan and competing in so many regattas had caught up with me all at once.

Even after coming home, I still felt tired all week. This morning I woke up feeling better rested, but that energy did not last through the afternoon. I had to remind myself that I worked harder to improve my rowing than in past years, so it was only natural that I would need some time to rest and recover. Instead of getting frustrated about not bouncing back instantly, I should give myself more kindness and understanding.

Word-art that says "You will never speak to anyone more than you speak to yourself in your head. Be kind to yourself."

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.

Rowing season comes to an end, for me anyway, on Saturday when my husband and I compete in one last regatta, the Head of the South. It’s in Augusta, Georgia, which is forecast to have pleasantly warm weather. Meanwhile, there may be snow flurries here in Ohio, which I’ll be glad to miss.

We both worked hard to follow the training plans from our online coach this year, improving our fitness and our racing performance. I have to admit that it felt exhausting at times, and sometimes I wasn’t sure if I could deal with the stress of it, both mental and physical. But, of course, those exhausted feelings did not mean that there was anything really wrong with me. The goal was never to be perfect, but to make steady improvement and be able to keep on going when put under pressure.

Word-art that says "One small crack does not mean that you are broken; it means that you were put to the test and you didn't fall apart." -Linda Poindexter

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.

On Tuesday, I gave a presentation on Resilience, Stress Tolerance, and Flexibility, which I had mentioned in a previous post was one of my projects for this year. It was part of a series by several presenters, aimed at helping employees feel comfortable with digital transformation. The pace of automation at my company has been much faster recently, and people have been getting stressed about it, especially after all the disruptions in the world generally.

This was my first company-wide presentation, and although the audience wasn’t huge, it was enough to make me nervous anyway. I needed to take my own advice on helpful ways to calm down and find focus! But my mentor was very positive, one of the other presenters helped me by finding good animations for some of my slides, and everything went well. I even got a compliment on my avatar (I’ve been using the same one at work that I use here).

Afterward, I thanked my mentor for encouraging me to get involved with the presentation group and told her that the project definitely had improved my own skills in Resilience, Stress Tolerance, and Flexibility! Having the opportunity to work with people who are so kind and cheerful left me feeling very good.

Word-art with a beehive that says "Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul." -Proverbs 16.24

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.

Sometimes, we all need little reminders to be kind and understanding to ourselves. I’ve never actually posted paper notes to myself around the house, but I do think it’s a good idea.

Word-art that says "Note to self: Your feelings are valid. You are allowed to enforce your boundaries. You do not need anyone else's approval. You are capable of amazing things. You are enough." -Stacie Swift

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.