Many years ago, my friend Sensei Larry took a look at how many committees at the church we were members of, and he said, “Wow, you’re really a joiner, aren’t you?” I was quite indignant. I am NOT a joiner. I’m a hermit, dang it! I hate joining things. Ugh! Groups! People! Conflict!
I started laughing to myself today when out of the blue, I volunteered to run for the Board of the homeowner association where we live in Austin. The Board pretty much tells the 30+ homes in our little development what they can and cannot do. They meet monthly. They have committees. They are mostly “good old boys” (not exclusively). Why on earth…
…I’ll tell you why. I care. Wow, make me stop caring.
But wait, there’s more
As I type this, I’m in a Board meeting of another organization. Why? Because I care about my connections and friends. And they asked. So, other people: don’t ask me to join anything!
I’m happy to say I’m the new editor of Continuum, the publication for Friends of La Leche League, a group of people who have been or are currently members or associates of local La Leche League breastfeeding support groups. It’s going online and they asked. And wow, I love working with smart and interesting women.
So, yeah, I’m a joiner. But I’m also an organizer and a person who loves collaborative work. So hey, former LLL friends of mine! Consider helping out with this project! Nothing would be a lot of work! We could get the old gang together and create a useful and entertaining online publication relevant to all of us, whatever parenting stage we’re at. Contact me on the Facebook, please.
Now I think I’m full. No more joining for a while, which I’m sure will make good ole Sensei Larry happy. Remember: I’m FULL. No more volunteering.
I’m still pondering how I got to be so fearless all of a sudden. Did I suddenly become a wise crone when I turned 60? I doubt it. A lot of things I do contributed to it. Now, I know everyone attains their wisdom and maturity differently, but I also know that I learn a lot when I read about other people’s journeys (probably why I like blogs so much, now that Facebook no longer has as many interesting personal updates). Memes schmemes.
So, I’ll be sharing what’s worked for me over the next few days or weeks, and you are welcome to take what works for you and leave the rest, as we used to tell mothers at La Leche League meetings.
Let’s take a walk
I can remember thinking I was a slothlike slug, because I never was very good at vigorous exercise. I sure was over-generalizing! Looking back, I see that I was, and still am, a big walker. I walked miles and miles while I was getting my university degrees. I have strong memories of exactly how far it was from the Foreign Language Building to the Engineering building on the University of Illinois campus, especially when it was below zero outside.
Then I had kids. Walk walk walk (also a lot of bike rides). Walking on trails. Walking at football stadiums. Walking.
Then I started working in office buildings. The only way I can survive is to take a walk most days. That’s where I do my best thinking and pound away my concerns.
Get ready for some heavy introspection! In the past couple of years, a big change has come over me. I’ve been spending some time reflecting on how the way I interact with people and the world in general has changed for the better. I’ve been wondering what the heck sparked the welcome change, and whether I could even describe it other than “I feel better now.”
I come from a “nervous” family, and always have dealt with anxiety, which coupled with being an “extra sensitive person” could be a real hindrance to someone like me, whose goal is a relatively calm life with relatively little stress.
After decades of trying to deal with my lovely symptoms through meditation and self care, I finally got some therapy, which was very helpful and healed up some of those deeply rooted issues from childhood.
When I finally tried some medication, I noticed that the background buzz of anxiety went down just enough that I could really work on some of the other things that were holding me back, most of which were fears created by myself:
Fear of making mistakes
Fear of trying new, hard things
Fear of displeasing a loved one
Fear of rejection (the big one)
That’s a lot of fear. Those are pretty common, I know, but they sure were intrfering with that peaceful mental state I was aiming for. So, I worked on it.
Wow, yesterday was just one amazing discovery after another around the ranch! The wind finally died down, which made it much easier to be outside, so I engaged in a lot of running around with dogs and exploring things, once the cattle moved off and the cattle torture ended.
Our neighbor Mike came over earlier than usual in the afternoon, so that we could go check out a few things in the woods. Of course, the dogs went, too, which gave them more opportunities to irritate the cattle. Sigh. But the good news is that we found an old food storage container that had slipped out of Lee’s hands and disappeared into the woods during the summer, when you can’t see a thing in there.
But, WAY more important was that I confirmed my suspicions that the last remnant of the big drought that was going on when we first came to this area is going away. It’s quite clear that our springs are back!
I’d been seeing a wet area from our side of the fence, but we wanted to see it up close. Sure enough, water is seeping out of the ground and heading toward the stream. I’d heard that there were springs in there before, but other than getting a little muddier than the rest of the area, it hadn’t showed any signs of flowing.
We also noted that the little brook/stream that flows into Walker’s Creek is flowing pretty briskly. Two things could cause that. Either the pond is still getting water from runoff and flowing through the arroyo, OR the other spring is working. Mike and I confirmed that the culvert is barely dripping, so that brisk flow of water must mean that the big, deep spring is flowing on its own again. Hooray! There’s water under the ground again!
Now that the flooding has died down, we can see lots of tracks in the mud that the flooding deposited. One thing is for sure, those herons are BIG birds.
And the chickens?
I am very happy to report that the longer days, increased food, and/or less owl stress have combined to ramp up egg production. We were afraid that the one who was still laying had been the last owl victim, but, hooray, we had three eggs today, and since two of them were white, there are at least two laying now! Of course, we are down to a dozen chickens, so we won’t have what we did before, but it’s an improvement.
And, by the way, Mandi is ordering some netting to help foil the predators.
And more mooning
We got back home and sat on the porch (it was cool, but not too cold) to enjoy blackberry wine and yet another lovely sunset, which I managed to frame in the porch, like a painting on a wall.
Then we turned around to see the super moon rising in the east. Wow, that thing was big. My phone doesn’t do very good eclipse photos, but the red moon was very cool. I wish that happened more often. You know that sight must have been confusing to ancient people who didn’t know how the sun. moon, and earth coordiate!
Our personal land is surrounded by the Wild Hermits land that we share with the neighbors. We rent that land out to the Vrazels, who have many lovely cattle in two or three pastures (I think they took a fence down to make a really big pasture).
Usually, the animals are way over by the creek, or on the far end of the big pasture. But today, they decided to torture our dogs by grazing on both sides of our fenced-in back yard.
The good news is that our fence now actually holds all the dogs except Vlassic, who can slip through. The bad news is that means the dogs can stand right in front of the cattle and bark their little barkers off for way longer than either Lee or I can stand.
With them on both sides, and some irritated mooing, the dog frenzy seemed likely to never stop. Brody barked the most (duh, he’s a cattle dog), but Carlton was right behind him, adding play bows to show the cattle he LIKES them.
They actually like him, too, since we’ve seen them play with each other when Carlton isn’t fenced in. It’s rather cute. He goes after cattle; then they rush him, and back and forth. These are mostly heifers who have been around them their whole lives.
The new Charolais bull who was brought in to do some natural baby making, however, does not seem fond of the dogs at all. He bellowed at them, and gathered all his ladies and their babies around him in a most manly fashion. What a protector.
Meanwhile, Alfred just sat on the porch. He guards those cattle at night. He isn’t going to bark at them.
I’m still trying to make amends for upsetting folks who are into KonMari. I threw away a box today. Just kidding.
Really, I wanted to say how much more joy my ranch office is giving me today, because I have been reunited with my old friend, the Owl Clock. It’s not really a very old friend, but it brings back such happy memories to me of the most fun vacation my husband and I ever took together, back in 2014.
We did one of those Viking river cruises on the Rhine River that you see so many ads about. Well, it turned out to be absolutely fantastic. We loved the pace of it, we met friends from England who were perfect (Lee and the husband sat and enjoyed the scenery in the cities where we stopped, while the wife and I had a blast shopping and exploring). And there weren’t too many people for Lee, and we had a small suite he could escape to. It worked.
Our favorite place was the Black Forest (it turns out we both have ancestors from that area). We loved the traditional farms, the crops, the trees. Ah. And we even loved the Tourist Stop that apparently every tour makes, to a little center where you could buy glassware, steins, and of course, cuckoo clocks. The minute I saw this owl clock (which was next to a rather kitschy Harley Davidson clock with moving motorcycles), I knew I had to have it. The hand-carved owls and pine trees were very different from most of the other clocks, and the little own that comes out and says “Who-who” (nope not cuckoo) charmed me to no end. I love owls, even if they do eat the chickens.
The clock got shipped to our house and held a place of honor until we sold that house to move somewhere smaller. We got it to the ranch, but it took a while to get it re-installed. Thanks, Lee! And we even found the weight that keeps the time right, which of course the dogs managed to find and take outside.
What else? A tapestry and a chair
I just wanted to point out two more items that sparked my joy today (oh wow, I am using that term). I had to re-hang my Navajo-style weaving, because the Owl Clock took its place. When I touched it, I had great memories of the weaving class I took in Colorado with my friend Chriztine, and of the amazing teacher we had, Lynda Teller Pete. By the way, she and her sister have just published a new book, Spider Woman’s Children. I highly recommend it if you are a weaving fan.
I realized where I was sitting when I was looking at the clock and little tapestry. I was in the same chair I sat in with my dad, ever since I was a tiny child. I remember this chair my whole life. One of my earliest memories is of watching Lassie, squeezed in next to Dad in the big green chair, and crying because I thought something bad was going to happen to Lassie or Timmie. Dad explained that Lassie always came back.
Later on, with different upholstery, this was “my” chair in our family room. It always had a pile of books, some knitting or embroidery, and a beverage next to it on a very ugly table (now it would be a chic mid-century modern table, but I hated it).
Still later, after Mom passed away, Dad had the chair recovered in some bargello-like blue and green fabric, and I ended up with it at my house. The upholstery matched NOTHING in my house, but there was no way I’d change it, because my great Uncle Doc had done the work (this uncle raised his 7 siblings and took care of his mother, Granny Kendall, after my grandfather lost his life in a tragic bar fight accident, where he was just trying to help…which explains Dad’s feelings about guns).
When we moved out of the Braesgate house, I finally had it re-done in this perky yellow print. That chair has been busy!
What in your surroundings sparks joy in you today?