I was practicing mindfulness this evening while cleaning up after dinner. While I was standing at the kitchen sink, a negative thought wandered into my head, along the lines of “what’s the point of being mindful about a boring everyday chore.”

To deal with that, I started composing a mental list of reasons to be grateful. Obviously, having a good dinner was at the top of the list. The dishwasher deserved gratitude for making the chore much easier. I was standing on a comfortable mat in front of the sink. The house was warm and the kitchen well lit. Even something as simple as hot running water earned a place on the gratitude list, especially after we had two water outages last year (caused by a water main break and a tornado).

After I had brought into my conscious awareness all the little things in the moment for which I was grateful, I felt pretty good—so, I would say that the mindfulness practice was a success.

Word-art that says "Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day." -Jim Rohn

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 this winter has been relatively mild, with much more rain than snow, all of those dark and gloomy days have given me a bad case of the seasonal blahs. I haven’t felt like blogging and, more generally, haven’t found much creative inspiration anywhere.

Yesterday I caught myself wondering if my creative energy might have vanished forever, leaving me doomed to a small, diminished, unimaginative life. I told myself that was completely ridiculous; but even after that, I couldn’t manage to get my thoughts onto a more positive track.

At that point, I decided it was high time for a visualization exercise—specifically, asking my 119-year-old future self, Fannie, what she (we) had done to banish those doldrums. Picturing a version of myself so far in the future often helps to improve my perspective, given the fact that whatever situation I’m bothered about in the present is highly unlikely to still exist after so many years.

I found Fannie outdoors on a sunny spring day, walking with her robot poodle on a sidewalk in a well-maintained townhouse complex. A light breeze was blowing, and the air smelled of apple blossoms and freshly cut grass. Somewhere close by, an electric lawn tractor purred softly. Daffodils in bloom gave the sidewalk a bright, cheery yellow border.

Photo of daffodils under blue sky.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

The imaginary scenery was enough in itself to lift my spirits, especially when a flying car backed out of a garage and took off into a gloriously blue sky with just a few pale clouds. I stood watching it for a moment before I told Fannie about my writer’s block worries, which by now had started to sound even sillier.

Fannie listened with a sympathetic smile as I rambled on while walking next to her. After a while, she gave me her advice. “Just open the window.”

Because we were outdoors and I didn’t know what window she might mean, I felt confused for a moment before she went on to explain further.

“Creative energy is part of the flow of life. When we let ourselves get disconnected from the natural world—such as by being cooped up inside all winter—that flow stagnates. When I feel low on energy, taking a walk usually puts me in a better frame of mind. But sometimes I’ve found it is enough just to open the window for a few minutes, breathe in some fresh air, and tell that stagnant energy it is free to go on its way now.”

Fannie paused to glance up into a flowering tree where a robin was singing, almost invisible behind a thick curtain of white blossoms.

“If you’re looking for inspiration,” she finished, “don’t sit around the house ruminating about why it hasn’t struck you yet. Go out for a walk—and chances are, you’ll find it shows up quite naturally.”

This week I’ve felt like my energy is all tangled up in some sort of mental static, buzzing at me just below the threshold of conscious awareness. Probably the change of seasons has something to do with it, and maybe I need more sleep. Whatever it is, I keep reminding myself to slow down, just breathe, and be present in the moment. Patience heals many things.

Word-art that says "Listen," "Breathe," and many other positive words beside a shadow of a person in a yoga pose.

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.

February 26, 2020 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Although the weekend was chilly enough that I wouldn’t have said it felt like spring, my husband went out sculling on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon. He rowed a double with another member of our club who loves rowing enough to go out on a late-winter day when it’s sunny, if a bit windy. The water temperature was cold enough that he wouldn’t have risked going out on the river in a single, which is less stable; but he had a good time in the double.

Monday was cooler, a dark day with low clouds. I put an image of a foggy path winding through a park on my digital art display, and it matched the outside view with more accuracy than I might have preferred.

Foggy path through bare trees in a park.

(Photo credit: Elliott Brown)

The weather didn’t change much on Tuesday, and this morning looks about the same. That’s all right, though—it is close enough to spring that the birds can be heard chirping happily at sunrise, even when there’s not much sun to be seen. It won’t be long before we can get out on the river regularly and see the herons, beavers, and other wildlife.

While I was doing my grocery shopping today, the woman behind me in the checkout line introduced herself, said that she went to the same gym with my husband and daughter a few years ago, and asked me to tell them that she said hello.

I thought at first that she must have an excellent memory for faces, recognizing me when I wasn’t a member of that gym. She couldn’t have seen me more than a few times. But then my husband pointed out that his Facebook photo includes me, so that probably was how she knew my face.

Anyway, however it might have happened, it was nice to get an unexpected cheerful greeting while I was just buying groceries, and it left me smiling.

Word-art that says "Be the reason someone smiles today."

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 have good feelings about my New Year’s resolution of bringing more clarity into my life by focusing on little things in the moment. Part of the process is simply reminding myself that finding inspiration and direction will naturally happen when the time is right. There’s no need to plan tasks or compose to-do lists. Rather, awareness and presence, in themselves, create a welcoming space for life’s healing energy to fill.

Word-art that says "Be aware" and many other positive words in the shape of a woman.

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 had a massage appointment Tuesday afternoon, which followed about a week of having a tight, painful area on the right side of my back. The therapist worked on it for awhile, but it was still bothering me in the evening. I had not lifted anything heavy and did not seem to have any bruise or injury, so I thought it was probably caused by stress.

I woke up feeling thirsty around 3 AM and drank some orange juice. Then I got back in bed and was just about to fall asleep when I remembered that a sore back was among the tactics used by Dame Shadow, my self-appointed subconscious protector, when she felt I wasn’t doing enough to address a problem.

“Okay, Dame Shadow,” I said sleepily in my thoughts, while lying face down on my pillow, “I know you like to keep me guessing, but can you give me at least a small hint as to what’s going on here?”

After a moment, I felt a weight on the edge of the bed as Dame Shadow sat down next to me, dressed in a luminous velvet gown with long, rustling sleeves. She had brought with her an assortment of oil pastels, but no canvas or paper.

Photo of oil pastels in a stack.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

The reason for the absence of a canvas became clear when the Dame started pressing the pastels, one at a time, into my back and shoulders. Evidently she was placing dots of various colors on my skin, but I had no idea what the pattern might be. She didn’t seem inclined to explain what she was doing, either. I lay there for a few minutes without saying anything, but then she poked an especially tender spot.

“Ow! Isn’t that enough? Just what are you doing anyway?” I complained. “Whatever you’re drawing on my back, you know I can’t see it. Even if we had some daylight, I still would need a mirror.”

The Dame added a few more dots, leaned back as if to admire her handiwork, and chuckled.

“That’s often the way life is,” she told me. “We can’t see the picture in real time, but only the reflection later.”

Last week was so dark and gray that I ordered a sparkly sleeveless top from a catalog to cheer myself up. That was somewhat out of character for me, as I’m not usually an impulse shopper. It definitely left me feeling more cheerful when I put it on, though. I would say there’s no harm in it because we all need to buy new clothes sometime! And now that the days are getting longer, it’s starting to feel just a little bit like spring. Even though today started with icy drizzle and ended with snow, we’re not that far away.

Word-art that says "Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise." -Victor Hugo

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 it can be hard to find energy when, like this week, it’s just one dark winter day after another. Still, there are many reasons to be grateful. Even the little things, like a flameless candle on my desk and a colorful lighted keyboard that my husband gave me for Christmas, add up to feeling well nurtured and cared for—when we take the time to notice them.

Word-art that says "Grateful for being" and many other words with a candle image.

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 on these long, dark winter nights, I get a feeling that can best be described as a longing to go home. It is just as likely to pop up when I am in my house, so it’s not about a specific physical place in the here and now. Maybe it has to do with a childhood home, or an ancestral home—it might even be a collective wish to get back on the mothership. I honestly don’t know.

When that happens, a good book always leaves me feeling more at home in the world. Being able to explore different places and times while discovering a wonderful assortment of new friends there, just by reading words on paper (or more often a screen, nowadays) always seemed magical to me.

Word-art that says "Books are the plane, the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey. They are home." -Anna Quindlen

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.