On Tuesday morning, before getting started on my workday, I had a bit of indecision about what sort of image to put on my digital art display. The weather was cloudy and the forecast called for thunderstorms, so I considered a painting of a Florida scene with clouds looming over bright greenery before deciding that it didn’t quite fit a chilly Ohio morning.

Painting of Florida wetlands on a cloudy day

(Image credit: Georgrpe Buckner)

After a while I decided on a picture of empty gondolas parked in Venice with a bit of sun coming through the clouds. That didn’t work too well either because the sky just got darker in real life, and thunderstorms did indeed start rolling through. I wasn’t looking at the art display anyway because I was just sitting at my desk focused on the computer, so it didn’t really matter. My husband had been planning to row with some friends, but that didn’t work out because it was raining at the boathouse too.

Still, it was a mostly good day. I got a very nice surprise when a coworker sent me an email saying that the charity committee had chosen me as the featured volunteer and will post an entry about me on the internal website. It’s always good to be appreciated at work, especially when I hadn’t known that I was being considered for any special recognition. That left me feeling pretty cheerful.

This week I’ve not been able to stay as calm and relaxed as usual. Some of it has simply been a matter of not getting to bed early enough; but I slept well last night and still don’t feel altogether back to my normal self, for reasons that are mostly unknown. The human brain has its quirks, and sometimes cause and effect are less than clear. So I’ve been taking it easy and, when my thoughts wander, bringing them back gently with a reminder to just be with myself.

Image of a brain overlaid with words like "Sense" and "Observe."

(Image credit: John Hain)

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.

April 25, 2021 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

My exercise room has a new occupant, and it is not a dinosaur. After borrowing old Concept2 ergs from the rowing club twice to use in online races over the winter, my husband and I decided to buy a new one. The Hydrow that we bought in 2019 has fun instructor-led workouts, while the Concept2 just has a small monitor that displays the pace and other basic statistics.

Photo of a new Concept2 rowing machine next to a Hydrow.

Concept2 has more options in that it can be programmed for either time or distance and for intervals, which Hydrow cannot; everything on Hydrow is time-based. So a Concept2 is very good for training, in addition to online races, some of which require all competitors to use Concept2 machines.

We much appreciated the rowing club’s generosity in allowing us to borrow the old machines, which are in reasonably good condition, considering that they’ve been kept in a non-climate-controlled boathouse for 15 years. Having a nice new Concept2 in our basement will be much more comfortable, though; and now we won’t inconvenience any club members by borrowing machines that someone might have wanted to use. And, if it gets late in the day and neither of us has gotten any exercise yet, we can both row at the same time, rather than one of us having to wait.

Concept2 ergs are still very affordable. Unlike many companies, they did not raise prices during the pandemic. We had to be on a waitlist for six weeks, but that was reasonable, and the machine was shipped promptly when we reached the top of the list. It arrived yesterday, and we’re happy with it.

Chilly winds have been howling outside my house today, but there’s a bit of sunlight peeking through the clouds and plenty of green leaves unfolding, so it’s all good. Happy Thursday!

Word-art that says "Sunny," "Good," and a cloud of other positive words.

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.

The world felt unusually quiet when I woke up to a cool, overcast morning on Saturday. I got myself some breakfast and, while sipping Raspberry Chocolate coffee, set my art display to a painting of spring blossoms with a peaceful lake in the background.

Painting of spring blossoms on an overcast day with a lake in the background.

(Image credit: Linda Apriletti)

My mind felt quiet, too, like there was nothing I needed or wanted to do. That was peculiar enough to make me wonder if there might be something wrong. I didn’t feel like reading a book, browsing on the computer, or writing a story or a blog post. Nothing else was distracting me—no chores or to-dos demanding attention. What was going on here? Had all of my creative energy mysteriously gone missing?

I imagined myself stepping into the picture on the art display, but not much seemed to be going on there either. Just another cool, overcast morning with painted spring blossoms. I looked around for interesting characters and didn’t see any, so I sat down on an imaginary log and gazed out over the pond. A few pink and white petals floated by. A frog jumped on a rock at the water’s edge.

“Doesn’t this give your mind the loveliest space to wander?”

Turning my head, I saw one girl, alone. Sara, cheerful as always, had come up next to me while I was looking at the frog. The path behind her led away into the woods, and I could just make out the tiny tree houses of Channelwood in the midst of the spring foliage.

“Ella and Queenie both have been working hard since they woke up this morning,” she went on, arranging her long skirts comfortably as she sat down beside me. “There’s always something to do. Chores, projects—so many ways to stay busy. People forget that they need to leave space for imagination.”

The frog hopped off the rock and landed with a splash.

“I wasn’t busy at all this morning,” I told her, “and I felt that I had plenty of empty space—but, for whatever reason, there was nothing to fill it.”

“That’s what happens,” Sara replied earnestly, keeping her big green eyes fixed on me. “When imagination hasn’t been given enough space in your mind to wander around and make itself happy, it finds somewhere else to go. Then you have to coax it back, like a neglected pet; and afterward, even more time has to pass before it feels comfortable again.”

I pondered that for a moment, unsure what to say. Then it occurred to me that she was a fictional character, after all; so I didn’t have to come up with an answer right away. Instead, I could put this scene on pause until I had a better idea of where it was going.

After giving myself a day to consider the proper care and feeding of imagination, I returned to the conversation on Sunday morning. The spring flowers picture on the art display didn’t match the bright sunlight streaming into my house from a clear blue sky; but I let it stay there for the time being, just for continuity of thought.

Sara was sitting on the log where I had left her, although she wasn’t in exactly the same position. She had turned her head to watch the bees bustling about on the heavy blossoms.

“They look very busy,” I said, following her gaze.

“Yes, they never stop to wonder what might happen next. I don’t suppose that means they lack imagination, though. Perhaps that one,” and Sara pointed to a bee hanging upside down from a large blossom, “is imagining a warm and sunny day, with just the lightest of breezes under a bright blue sky. Maybe it’s easier for them to pretend simple things like that because their minds aren’t cluttered with worries. Imagination doesn’t come from idleness. What it needs, instead, is regular practice, along with enough space to grow.”

I glanced away from the art display for a moment, and I had to agree with Sara when—in real life—I found myself in exactly the bright, sunny day she had described.

Although it’s officially spring, today was chilly and windy here, and I was glad that I didn’t have to go anywhere besides walking down the driveway to get the mail. Mostly I just sat at my desk. My work was about the same as always. During a break I went downstairs to get some exercise on the rowing machine.

I’m planning to row at a regatta in Tennessee with my husband over the Memorial Day weekend. We are very much looking forward to getting out again; but after being at home for such a long time, it still seems far away and not quite real yet. I wasn’t thinking much about getting ready for the competition while rowing on the machine, but was focused on maintaining good form and sitting up straight.

Then my husband came downstairs to chat for a few minutes, and he mentioned that I was sitting up straight and looking good. He expects us to do well at the regatta because we have been working out regularly and getting faster. I was glad that he noticed my efforts; and this was a good reminder that every day matters, even when it seems like there’s not much happening.

Word-art that says "Today matters."

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.

My husband sometimes has described me as a very patient person. I suspect he is giving me too much credit in that regard because I don’t feel as patient as I would like to be. Especially now, I really want life to hurry up and get better. Not just back to normal, or just a little better—a LOT better, and oh yeah, right NOW. I want great things to happen, and I want them to show up yesterday.

I know that I’m not the only person who feels this way. Everyone reading this post probably has similar feelings. Still, I have to admit that I am far from being a patient person. Persistent, yes, but that’s not the same. Being persistent is just a matter of keeping on, while patience has more to do with perspective and calmly accepting that not everything will happen at once. I haven’t mastered the latter, but am still—persistently, at least—working on it.

Word-art that says "Never give up because great things take time."

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.

Outside my window this morning, there were snow flurries. After last week’s warm weather, it kind of felt like Mother Nature had decided to play an April Fool’s joke, even though I know there’s generally at least one cold day in early April.

That was okay, though, because my digital art display always lets me prank Mother Nature right back when the occasion calls for it. This faux “window” showing wild parrots on a wall in Venezuela seemed like just the thing—no snow to be found anywhere.

Flock of wild parrots sitting on a wall in Venezuela.

(Photo credit: Rosemary Acosta)

Wishing you a colorful flock of happy imaginings too!

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.

March 30, 2021 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Even though I wasn’t as fast in the virtual rowing regatta two weeks ago as I would have liked to be, my husband and I still got prizes for our double crew on the “dinosaurs.” The online racing software allowed us both to row a 1000-meter race at the same time as a virtual double by adding our distances together and automatically stopping when the combined total reached 2000 meters.

All of the other competitors in the double race were men, so although we weren’t the fastest crew, we were separately awarded a first prize as the only mixed crew. Instead of medals, we got Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards in the mail with a very cute donut rower cartoon and the race information, which we can keep as souvenirs even after cashing them in for donuts.

Dunkin' Donuts gift card prize decorated with a stick figure rowing on a machine that has a giant donut in place of the flywheel.

I haven’t yet decided what kinds of donuts I want to get, and it may be a while because the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts is five miles from my house and a bit out of the way—but that pink cartoon donut with sprinkles is definitely making me hungry!

After I said something to my husband earlier this week about wishing that the world would hurry up and get back to normal so it wouldn’t feel like we’re living through the zombie apocalypse, he asked if that was a movie. I said no, it’s a genre of stories where a virus turns millions of people into zombies and the survivors hide indoors.

After thinking about that for a little while, he called me to come and look at something on the computer. He had made a list of the rowing regattas where we like to compete in the fall season. The list included the date for each, and he told me that most of them already have been scheduled.

That cheered me up a lot—I appreciated his kindness in putting together that list to show me, and I could tell that he felt happier too.

Word-art that says "Be kind, feel happy."

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.