September 13, 2023 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

What does it mean when you suddenly disappear in a dream?

I recently dreamed that I walked into a quiet, ordinary living room and was looking around. The room had white walls and white furniture, sort of like this photo:

Photo of a room with white walls and furniture.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Then my body vanished from the scene, but somehow, I was still there looking at the room. While I was trying—without much success—to make sense of how that could have happened, I woke up.

I’ve been wondering how to interpret that dream, and my best guess is that I feel lost in ordinary routine, searching for myself against a backdrop of plain white walls. Where do I want to be, really? And how do I keep myself from disappearing before I find it?

Of course, many of us are having such thoughts these days—so I’d say that dream was a sign of the times.

This week I’ve been having an email conversation with a friend about the common belief that when we are not feeling energetic, it is because we are getting older. Although I have felt somewhat tired and run down this summer, it was clear enough, when I thought about it, that the culprit wasn’t the lurking gremlins of middle age but, instead, had to do with higher expectations and pushing myself to do more than usual.

On Monday morning, I went to the boathouse with my husband, and we rowed 21K as practice for traveling to the Chicago rowing half-marathon this coming weekend. Naturally, I felt more tired than when I was younger and didn’t take fitness as seriously! Keeping up with a demanding workout schedule and traveling to rowing competitions, while working full time (and some amount of overtime) was more than I once thought I could do. I haven’t, in fact, lost energy; instead, as the years went by, I overcame a significant number of limiting beliefs and set the bar much higher.

Word-art that says, "Strength doesn't come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't." -Rikki Rogers

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.”

All parts of this story are consolidated on one page here.


Ina had tensed to run before she consciously knew it. The voice had come from somewhere on her right, high and excited. Had a mob gathered to attack her already, in just the few moments she had been standing here in open view?

Turning, she saw only the high grass and bright wildflowers of the meadow. Bees buzzed placidly among the tall blossoms of purple clover. The lake spread out beyond, its muddy surface rippling in a steady southwest wind. Sycamores along the shore reached spidery branches over the water.

Photo of sycamore branches reaching into an overcast sky.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

The branches swayed in the wind, in harmony with the lake’s ripples—but no, farther up in the canopy, a limb shook more vigorously. A small head came into view, framed by rustling branches.

“Hello, witch!” The little girl gave a cheerful wave, leaning out precariously along a quivering branch. Ina recognized her at once; this was Nellie’s daughter, Mabel. The child had been the first person Ina had met, right here in this meadow, almost a year ago when…

“Mama is baking apricot scones. My favorite!” Mabel announced, distracting Ina from a memory that teased at the ragged edges of thought. “We have enough to share. Come and visit with us!”

Ina fumbled for words, pondering how she might give a kind refusal without telling this innocent child her mama would more likely try to kill a witch than offer hospitality.

Without waiting for a reply, Mabel dropped quickly from one branch to another, the pace of her descent quite alarming. The wind gusted, shaking the tree even more; it wouldn’t be long at all before the approaching storm arrived.

“Be careful,” Ina started to say—just as Mabel lost her grip and fell.

The sycamore overhung the lake there, on a slight rise. Mabel had climbed down enough that she wasn’t far above the water. Ina expected to hear a splash as the child fell below the level of the bank, just out of her view. Instead, she heard a thud, followed by a scream of equal parts terror and pain.

The scream continued as Ina ran toward the lake. Just beyond the bank, a large dead tree limb, with several smaller branches attached to it, jutted out of the water. Mabel had fallen directly onto it, impaling her right leg on a spiky branch. A frightening amount of blood had soaked through the little girl’s skirt in just the short time it had taken Ina to run across the meadow.

Then, with a sharp crack, the branch broke, throwing Mabel into the lake. The scream stopped abruptly as the child sank beneath the rippling surface. A moment later, nothing but a few bubbles could be seen.

Ina, keeping her eyes fixed on the spot, flung herself into the water.

Too much work and not enough play have been making me dull this summer, or at least it feels that way. My mind needs to wander aimlessly and refresh itself. The long Labor Day weekend will be much welcomed. Giving myself (and anyone who needs it) a reminder to set aside enough time for play.

Word-art that says, "It is a happy talent to know how to play." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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.”

I’ve just finished an online restorative yoga exercise with the title “Finding Stillness.” It was as mellow as that name suggests, mainly involving supported positions where one is supposed to melt into the yoga blocks and let go of all the day’s work. Before that, I went for a long walk around my neighborhood while the sun was setting.

The August air still felt hot and heavy during my walk, but it was good to get outdoors anyway. My workday was long because I’ve been doing overtime this summer, and it took me a while to relax and settle into the rhythm of the walk. At first, the flowers and trees in the neighbors’ yards looked like random shapes without much meaning to them, after sitting at my desk all day staring at the monitor. But, after a while, the bright colors of the late-summer blossoms perked up my overtired brain a little more, and even the weeds left me smiling at Nature’s persistence.

Word-art that says, "Earth laughs in flowers."

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.”

I had a random conversation with my husband earlier this week about running hot water over a glass jar to loosen the lid. I thought it was mainly because the metal lid expanded, but he said it was more because the air at the top of the jar expanded.

So, tonight when I was opening spaghetti sauce for dinner, I tried running hot water over most of the jar, rather than just the lid as I had done in the past. And yes, he was right; it definitely was easier to get off.

I’ll keep in mind, from now on, that the world is probably full of easier ways of doing things—but first, one must expect to be able to find them.

Word-art that says, "Things will be as magical, beautiful and awesome as you expect them to be."

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 husband got his car back today, after several days in the shop. The torque converter needed replacing, which shouldn’t have been too hard except that in today’s vehicles, everything is so crammed together that many parts had to be taken out just to reach it. So, a large bill for many hours of labor, but I was still smiling a little, just because he was so happy to be “rehorsed,” as he put it.

Word-art with a smiley face that says, "Just sending out a small smile to whoever may need one today."

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.”

August 9, 2023 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

After I wrote last Thursday’s post about being thankful for all the fun little conveniences we have nowadays, such as an online pizza delivery tracker, I thought about it a little more and realized such things also make workers more stressed. They are not totally sunshine and rainbows.

Photo of sunny hills and a rainbow.

(Photo credit: Colin Houston)

Back in the day, working in a pizza store was pretty simple. Store workers took orders over the phone, assembled and baked the pizzas, and either sent them out with delivery drivers or took payment directly from customers for carryout orders. Now, the phone still rings, but orders also come in by way of the computer, and workers have to scurry over to update the tracker program every time an order’s status changes. And, of course, it’s always a bad day for the workers if (when) the software gets glitchy.

Now, multiply that by all the computer-related tasks added to the lengthy to-do lists for just about every job in today’s world, and it explains a big chunk of those “too much going on” feelings.

That’s not to say we would be better off if we could wave a magic wand and go back to 1980, or any other simpler time in history. Our apps and other modern conveniences really do make our days more cheerful and interesting—as long as it’s someone else doing the work to make sure they’re functioning properly. Even if it’s our work, using computers doesn’t just pile on extra tasks, but also makes many things easier than if they had to be done the old-fashioned way. So, it’s a mixed bag; we have more to keep track of, but also more software to help with it. I am hopeful the balance will tip more in our favor as time goes on.

I just put in a Domino’s pizza delivery order online, and, as of the time I typed this sentence, the tracker page said it had been in the oven for 4 minutes. Of course, the pizza will still taste the same when it gets here, regardless of whether I know precisely what time it was baked. Still, it’s kind of nice to live in a world where we have more information about what’s going on around us. When I take a moment to notice and appreciate such little things, as trivial as they may be, I find myself becoming more aware of how many reasons there are to be thankful.

Word-art that says, "The more you are thankful, the more you attract things to be thankful for."

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.”

August 3, 2023 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

I’ve had a library book checked out for more than a week—The Good Enough Job: Reclaiming Life from Work, by Simone Stolzoff. I’m not yet halfway through it but am still on chapter 4, which discusses the blurring of boundaries between work and other areas of life. The book is well written and holds my attention, but I haven’t gotten very far into it because I’ve been doing overtime work. The irony there is obvious enough that it doesn’t need much illustration.

Blurred landscape in rain.

(Photo credit: Tony Webster)

The overtime began recently when a big push for AI development took people away from regular tasks, leaving the backlog to grow. However, I feel that I’ve been struggling with blurred boundaries since the pandemic started. I was already working from home before then, but my days were well structured because my husband worked in an office. Usually, soon after he came home, I would shut down my work computer, and that gave me a clear dividing line between the workday and the rest of the day.

His employer decided to shut down the local office this year for cost savings, with remote work going well. Sharing the home office space is mostly okay; I’ve learned much more about what he does as a software developer, his meetings usually are not too distracting, and it’s nice to have some companionship after years of working alone in the house. I no longer have a clearly defined work schedule, though, and sometimes I feel that I have lost control of my time. Having schedules for daily rowing workouts, although very good for improving fitness, adds to the feeling that there is always too much going on at once.

I’ll get it sorted one of these days. For now, I’m just going to get off the computer and finish reading the book.