Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Nurturing Monday- Moderating My Negative Thoughts

Most Negative Thoughts have Little To Do With Truth

Negative thoughts pop up uninvited. But, in truth so do positive thoughts. Moderating them becomes vital. 

Last week I found thoughts of my ineptitude and my lack coming on a regular basis. These thoughts seemed to follow difficult conversations with my students. As I observed them arise I looked for kernels of truth. It helped to ask questions of myself. Did I feel unease because my students were not progressing as I planned? Did I need to change my approach?  Was I expecting too little or too much of myself? 

I liked moderating my thoughts. There was power in sifting through and seeing what had evidence in reality. I learned that negativity about myself arises more often when things don't go as I planned. The furturizing I do about what is going to happen often leads to disappointment. Perhaps it would be wise to admit that I have less control of the outcome as I would like to think.

There is a line in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin where her father and Lizzie are discussing the scandalous affair of her younger sister. Mr. Bennet admits that he is distressed but that the feelings will likely dissipate as time goes on. He is seeing himself as weak at that moment. Well, feelings do change and knowing what feelings are actionable is essential. How can we know? How can we know that a thought is true and needs our attention? Experience tells me that patterns emerge in our thoughts. When a recurring pattern arises it needs analysis. Does this pattern reflect my better nature? Does it require that I change? Is this a pattern I should embrace and nurture? 

Nurturing moderation has proven to show me that setting limits in my life gives me power, that I have changed and can continue to change, and that moderating my thoughts can reveal patterns which can be nurtured or altered.

To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click here.

Friday, May 26, 2017


Coming Into A Community Changes From First Visit To Long Time Connection

I visited Five Minute Friday because I found the writing of Lisa Jo Baker. She gathered me in with many others. The first post I shared was three years ago, almost to the day. The word prompt was hands and I was reveling in the joy of using my hands to hold brand new twin grandchildren.

I searched for other Christian women who could share the journey they traveled,  writing about their exemplar, Jesus Christ. I was shy at first to write candidly, but each visit made me bolder. I made friends, some I follow to this day. It was uncanny how I could see the growth in these women from week to week. Improving my writing voice was second to learning about all of you. Thank-you, Lisa Jo and Kate for keeping us together.

 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday Group for three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nurturing Monday- Setting Limits

“We had entered an era of limitlessness, or the illusion thereof, and this in itself is a sort of wonder. My grandfather lived a life of limits, both suffered and strictly observed, in a world of limits. I learned much of that world from him and others, and then I changed; I entered the world of labor-saving machines and of limitless cheap fossil fuel. It would take me years of reading, thought, and experience to learn again that in this world limits are not only inescapable but indispensable.” 
Wendell Berry

May, for me, is a Month to nurture moderation. Setting limits gives me the freedom to maintain a moderate and healthy life. I would love to expound on the notion that we have no limits but, I fear, for me it is not so. So where do I limit myself?

Experience has shown me that tracking my food intake is very helpful. A mindset of limitless food intake is a death sentence. Sometimes I exceed my limits but having a goal is vital. There are some foods and drinks that I don't use at all. They have proven to take a huge toll on my health. 

  I started a bullet journal this month and a habit tracker page helps set more nurturing limits of how I use my time. Years ago I identified six habits of happiness for myself. These are still viable today and they make my days most enjoyable. 

   Moderation, in a crazy, fast world is nurturing. It may not be popular but it is sustainable over a long time. Even my six habits of happiness can be detrimental if I go to an excess. 

Five months of unpacking the word "Nurture" leaves me wanting more.

To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click here.

Friday, May 19, 2017


Truth: As we build our lives, sometimes essential pieces go missing.

I was putting together a challenging puzzle. It had three sizes, extra large, large, and really small. The bigger ones were easy but the smallest pieces required too much concentration.

As I was putting in the pieces I thought of a funeral I'm attending tomorrow. A twenty-five year old father and his 3 month old daughter were killed in a head-on collision. His wife was traveling in another car in front of them and avoided  the oncoming car but was injured as her car rolled. This young father was a student of mine for four years, attending a religion class I was teaching every school day. He was quiet with a sweet smile. 

  For his wife, there will always be pieces missing in her life. We might ask, "How could God let this happen?" That is the wrong question, I'm sure. But, truly, I don't know what a better question could be? Maybe, it would be simply, "How can God help us survive?"

 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday Group for more than two years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Nurturing Monday- I've Moderated Much

    Nurture: the process of caring for 
and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something 

Do you ever look back and appreciate the changes you have made? I believe it to be nurturing to recognize the improvements each of us have made in our lives. Thirty years ago I was was quick to anger. Sometimes a rage would rise up inside of me that took me by surprise. I was a young mother of five, limited financial prospects, and I harbored many unfulfilled expectations. A good recipe for learning to moderate anger. And, I have. 

   My children matured, my hormones leveled out, and I learned to see that hard times change and become stories of overcoming. I still get mad but I can moderate more quickly.
   Thirty years ago I watched soap opera's everyday. I noticed that the plot lines stayed in my head long after the TV was turned off. Sometimes when my husband arrived home I transferred the plot of the cheating husband onto my man. I felt resentment that did not come from his actions. I gave daytime viewing a kick in the pants. I nurtured moderation of my free time. 
  Thirty years ago I talked on the phone, a lot. My kids were shushed and dinner delayed if a friend needed to talk. Now we text and I am more moderate about letting my devices rule my day. 

   I'm not feeling smug just happy to know that I can change. 

To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click here.

Friday, May 12, 2017


                            Wear Your Joy

My mom was well dressed. I didn't fully understand her style until this week. It wasn't until I joined a week long "Wear Your Joy" project. 

Each day this week I considered my wardrobe and decided what made me feel good and what was just material to drape around my body. In the process I heard words my mother used to say about what looked good on me and what did not. 

She was tiny but I inherited my father's genes. Her voice dictated rules related to appearance. I felt compelled to lift that voice out of the picture to consider what brought me joy. In the process of sifting out what was my voice and what was her's, I noticed her very particular style, a style she developed in Germany in the midst of war. Above, in her early twenties she wore pleated skirts and a bow tie around her blouse. She worked from the time she was 14. Money was scarce but she looked great.

In her sixties she wore suits that she sewed herself. White with a contrasting dark color was a favorite. 

   Even in her nineties her style was distinct. White pants with a frilly white blouse and brown loafers. I believe she would tell me today to find what feels joyful and comfortable. Even if that means polka dots and stripes.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Nurturing Monday- Moderation In Thinking

“Thinking has, many a time, made me sad, darling; but doing never did in all my life... My precept is, "Do something, my sister, do good if you can; but, at any rate, do something".

Elizabeth Gaskell, North And South 

In my pursuit this year of nurturing I choose May to nurture moderation. I could use some moderation in my thinking. I observe my mind gathering evidence that a situation will be a certain way. Sometimes my perception is that the situation will be hard. My mind is taking a hard line, so to say. But is it really?

   I am experimenting with the practice of thinking less about the outcome. My idea is that I will in the moment look for the "ease". As I check my calendar and see the long day of teaching piano students ahead I choose to notice the quiet of the morning hour and the stillness in just breathing. I don't stop preparing, just mentally stop the obsessing about needing my day to go a certain way. My husband teases me about my inclination to worry about my grown children and their children. 
   "You can't stop bad things from happening by worrying over them."
   "But if I'm thinking about them then the worst can't happen. Right?"
   "I'm not sure I see the logic there."

   The practice is "look for the ease".

 See the beauty of the dandelion and stop worrying about the hundreds more popping up behind it.

To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click here.

Friday, May 5, 2017


                   In theory, this should work.

   I like a formula. Give me steps A, B, C, and I can get my head around it. A formula has the promise that if you do each step you will get the desired effect. 

  But, when the results don't materialize I am disappointed. Most often I blame myself. I was not committed enough. I didn't fully subscribe to step B. I was distracted and took my eyes off the ball. What I fail to realize is that every formula has variables. When the variable is another person the validity of the formula goes south. 

  "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

The formula is, do the training and she will not depart from that training. It should work, right? So what are the variables? The training, what should be done, the child, what is the child choosing, the path, is the path secure, these are all the variables. Even the outcome has a variable. When will she be old enough? 
So is there a promise there in Proverbs 22? I am consoled by the conviction that these are relationships and not math formulas. The first relationship is the one with God. Do I trust Him? The second is my relationship to my child. Do I love her? The third relationship is time. Does it have to be solved now? Can I wait on His timeline? 

I should be able. But I must fall to my knees everyday in weakness because I am scared that it won't end up the way it should.

 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday Group for more than two years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Nurturing Monday- Moderation

Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide. 
Marcus Tullius Cicero

In April I used the sub-heading of nurturing reality for a theme. I asked hard questions about what that would mean and one of the answers I perceived was that I could use more moderation as I often stretch reality when it comes to my relationship to food and the use of my time. 
In May I will use the camera to document ways that I could nurture myself by being more moderate and ways I am successfully meeting that desire. 

Losing ten pounds in the last few months is fun for me but I am still  scarfing down extra calories at one meal and adjusting on the next meal. What is that inward craving to take more than I need?

  When I finish work I instinctively turn to a distracting activity. Can I find more moderation by setting time limits to mindless surfing on a device? 
Good questions and if I find better answers I will certainly nurture myself with more equanimity. 

To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click here.