Maybe We Need More Passion? Maybe I Need Less?

The UU Lent word for today was passion. I saw that and said to myself, “Whoops, I don’t have a lot of that at this stage of my life; I’m just trying to get through every day.” I wonder who else among us feels that all their passion is just drained from them? Why would that be?

Sure.

Passion is supposed to be strong emotions that inspire and motivate you. Many writers (especially of memes) encourage us to do everything with passion. Sounds exhausting to me.

Passion Bites Me in the Butt

I’ve had passions at various stages in my life. There were one or two relationships that were that way. That led to bad decisions along with poor self esteem, and in some ways I felt like I lost myself. I could do without that. Then there were causes and activities I felt so strongly about that it became a passion. They motivated me to do much good work, but when I became too attached, it led to deep disappointments and feeling taken advantage of.

So much passion. Not wasted.

Passions have always led me to disappointment or defeat, whether in the interpersonal or organizational area, anyway.

Huh. Maybe I wasn’t going about passion in the best way. I betcha there are people who can be passionate about things without the burnout and negativity. I think I’ll talk to people about that today, and I invite you readers to chime in.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy my hobbies, groups, and interests, but keeping a bit of distance. I declare I can still do good work with my Master Naturalist group, the Milam Touch of Love, and the Friends of LLL without being consumed by their missions. I say that to manifest it, I guess.

But I Do Love My Mother

When I was writing my Instagram post on passion, I realized that the strongest attachment to anything is probably to the preservation and flourishing of wildlife and plants around me. My strongest feelings come when I look around me at the birds, the trees, the animals, the water…the planet we live on is amazing. I want to keep it healthy so that if I ever have descendants, they can enjoy it, too.

I saw this buck and a younger buck near the Bobcat Lair.

Sure, this one can also lead to disappointment, but not defeat. I’ll keep striving to keep Mother Earth my focus.

And Those Pesky Friends and Relatives

Speaking of passion. These two have it.

Same goes for my family and intimate friends. My passion about keeping them safe and happy won’t go away. This is where I am learning to have passion but still detach. I can’t make people love me or treat me well, but I can care about them anyway, just not so much that I curl up in a little ball of sadness. I guess I should be grateful to my estranged son (tiny photo earlier in this post) for helping me with this hard lesson.

I intend to keep going, keep caring about the world around me and those I hold close, so I’m not going to let passion lead to defeat again.

Love to all.

I Love Color Choosing

Today Kathleen and I headed over to the ole hardware store to look at paint chips. It’s time to get the paint for the Pope Residence project! (Content below stolen from another blog; sorry, but the blogs have different audiences.)

We chose the colors for the trim and walls that aren’t brick, as well as the painted ceilings. The main color is called Rosy Pashmina, and will complement the brick really well. It’s a shade lighter than the actual bricks, but will blend in with them, we hope. It goes mostly in the back of the building.

Paint samples! This is the image taken in the shade.

The trim is a “designer white” called Wings of an Angel, which is a very light cream. We wanted to be sure to get a warm white to go with all the brick and wood.

The main bathroom is a calm yellow (if you can call any yellow “calm”) called Deviled Eggs. I hope it doesn’t always make me hungry. It’s toned-down nature will go with the rustic decor of that room quite well.

My office bath will be a very vivid red-orange called Steelhead Redd. It shouldn’t be overwhelming, since one wall will be metal and the brick wall will be the cream color. Besides, I like vivid bathrooms. I love the one in Bobcat that is a paprika color.

These are the colors in the sunlight. Probably in the house they’ll look a third different way.

And in a move that I hope works out well, I selected a very pale blue (Dreamstress) for the ceilings that are currently white. I think they will register more as white, and will be a nice contrast to all the warm colors. I always wanted a ceiling that looked like the sky, and it reminds me of the tradition of painting porch ceilings the “haint blue” color.

If it doesn’t work out, like they say, “It’s only paint.”

My Car Is a Billboard

In an unsubtle attempt at bringing attention to Hearts Homes and Hands, I finally put the giant sticker of our logo and phone number on the back of my car.

Wave if you see me! Don’t honk; I’ll think I did a traffic faux pas.

Let’s see if the rest of them get installed. I think Kathleen will start using the car magnets on “official business” now that we rescued them from the back of her office.

Risky Business

The Word of the Day in UU Lent is “risk.” Now, there’s a word I’m familiar and even mostly comfortable with. The photo I put on Instagram was this one, taken from the top of the stairs at the Pope Residence, and looking down, somewhat queasily.

I’m not a big fan of heights, but you’re not going to be able to get a shiny new roof without climbing up there.

Risk can be messy, or create messes. Like all the construction debris in the photo, you often have to make a path through a lot of crap when you’re taking risks in life. And there are often metaphorical nails and sharp pieces of metal to wade through.

Easton’s like me. Not a big fan of being on the roof. He and Randy can help from the sturdy floor of the sunroom.

I’ve never been a risk taker. You know how people are divided into the ones who like roller coasters, parachuting, and thrill-seeking activities, versus the ones who prefer their novelty to be more of the “shall I try a new variety of apple?” kind? Well, I have the apple personality.

But as I have gotten older, there are certain types of risks I am more comfortable with taking, like joining groups to make friends, speaking up in work meetings, starting new businesses (talk about RISK – this is WAY beyond my comfort zone for earlier in my life). I think becoming less of a worrier and more of an observer in life helps me be comfortable with this kind of risk taking. You can’t know what’s going to happen in the future, so do what you can do to mitigate risk, then wait and see what happens and deal with what comes up.

This Blog Is a Risk

Today, putting yourself out there in public, warts and all, can be quite a risk. I’m honest about my “stuff” here on this blog, and am not out to make myself look good, be an “influencer,” or make money. I’m here to share experiences that might help others look at things in new ways, or feel less alone in their own experiences.

I’ve received some comments about how that might be risky. Last night, a reader said something about some of the posts being a bit “out there.” And since I have a lot of readers of different backgrounds from mine, I can really see that. I’m not your standard ranch girl, but more of a New Agey hippie trying to fit into a rural culture that has a lot of appeal to me, even if most people aren’t like me.

Another risk
Spring spring. Texas Mountain Laurel to thank Hermits’ Rest readers.

It’s freeing, though, that I’m no longer trying to make everyone like me or please everyone I know. If the stuff I write bothers anyone, they don’t have to read it. There’s certainly plenty of other content out there.

Thanks to you who read this and comment (some in the blog, some on Facebook, and some in person), since learning what you think helps me to get to know you. I know commenting can be a risk, too, but it seems like my community is a supportive one that embraces all perspectives. Take a chance! Participate more, folks!

Past and the Future

When I was in my twenties, big risks were just not my thing. For many years, I tried to stick to a career path I’d set out on at age 18, even when I really needed to get out. I didn’t even DARE do what I wanted to do in my heart, which was perform music with others. By the time I was ready to risk rejection that way, I was much too old for it to be anything other than a hobby. That was the past.

Here they are, live from an iPhone.

The future is bright though. Last week, Anita, neighbor Ruth, and I went to see my son’s band, Big Dallas. It was their first gig, though they have been working on songs a long time. We had low expectations, since they were the first band of the night. But, there were lots of people there, and not just relatives and friends!

And they blew everyone away. Neighbor Ruth said they sound like a country Frank Zappa. The musicianship is so high, and the songs are tongue-in-cheek urban country that has you chuckling the whole time you listen.

It’s Big Dallas, sideways.

Now, this band is a big risk, as all bands are. It’s a bigger risk for my son, who had a huge musical setback last year and nearly gave up his passion. I am really proud of his friends Austin and Russell for taking the risk of sticking with him and working on this amazing music. In my mind, they’ve already succeeded (though I hope to see them again soon).

What risks are you taking now? Are you extra risk-averse, or a go-for-it kind of person?

Should I Be Committed?

Hmm, I don’t think I’m referring to being institutionalized. I’ll let you know if I get to that point, though I sure hope I don’t. I know that is hard on everyone involved.

One commitment is to my precious little circle of a doggie.

No, today’s UULent word was “commitment,” and I surprised myself at where my mind went when I read that. At first, I just thought of things I had a strong commitment to, like meditating, walking (i.e., making the Darned Watch happy), my spouse and family, and me.

The Darned Watch. Remnider of so many things I’m committed to. And grackles. Not committed to them.

Then I thought about how very serious I am about commitments. If I say I am going to do something and really commit internally, I go to a lot of lengths to meet those commitments. That’s good, right? I know some non-profit organizations and a boss who are glad I made commitments to them. I once beat myself up if I missed any meeting of anything (wow, I went to a LOT of La Leche League meetings when my kids were little). I’m doing better with that.

Traditional wedding ring. It’s not very me-like, but it reminds me I have committed to a partnership with Lee. He ain’t perfect. Neither am I. Suna ring! What does it spell backwards! Ha ha!

And that’s the thing. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to over-commit myself. Oh look, here’s another link. It does fill my days up so I can’t ruminate or dwell on things I can’t do anything about, but I do need to rest and recover. As my Suna ring* is supposed to remind me, I am also committed to myself (my physical health, my mental health, my needs).

Sometimes, too, commitments need to be broken, because they aren’t good for you. I know I have held on to more than one relationship too long, because I didn’t want to break a commitment. (A conversation with friends I had last night reminded me vividly that I stuck with people who were not good for my mental health to my detriment.)

Two other examples leap to mind: I broke my commitment to my church when I realized it was not a source of inspiration for me, but a reminder of what’s negative about institutions. I ended my commitment to La Leche League when I realized that the bickering and in-fighting was not going to end and we were never going o be able to just concentrate on our mission. These things were draining me. I’m better now where I can admire these institutions’ admirable qualities, but not be deeply involved in the parts that aren’t good for me.

I’m committed to trying to get 700 minutes of watch-approved exercise this month.

Plus, some of my “commitments” have devolved into habits. I finally stopped subscribing to knitting magazines when I realized I was never going to actually knit anything from them, and I could buy individual patterns when I need them. I was just in the habit of buying things to support a hobby that was no longer bringing me joy. I realized I was knitting because I thought I was supposed to be, not because I enjoyed it. Now I ONLY do it when I feel a real desire.

I guess what I’m trying to convince myself of here is that, while it is good to be committed to a practice, a cause, a person, it’s not necessarily a character flaw to de-commit. I think the result of this UU Lent prompt has reminded me at just the right time that I need to periodically re-evaluate my commitments of all kinds to be sure they are still benefiting me, my family, my community, and my world.

I will not give up the commitment to healthy eating. Thank you, volunteer kale.

Do you have commitments that you may want to move away from? What kind? Why?


*The Suna ring was hand made, and purchased at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, a place I thought I’d hate but ended up providing a wonderful vacation and a happy time for my sons and me right after that commitment to their dad broke. I still miss the people we went with every day, though I lost them when the La Leche League commitment went bad, big time. It’s hard when your best friends fire you. But, I’ve been wearing that ring nearly 20 years now.

My Name Is (NOT) Sue! How Do You Do?

Time for another good ole rant. It’s about names. Names seem to have a magical quality to them. People become very attached to their given names, or they change them to show they have created a patriarchal family unit for tax and procreational purposes (just kidding, marriage). Other people go right out and choose all-new names when the one they started out with doesn’t seem to fit (I chose Suna at some point as a young woman, for long-obscure but spiritual reasons).

Here I am, not happy with the carwash people, who call me Sue.

Throughout the history of the people I mostly descend from (ye olde English, Scots, Irish people) many names have shortened or informal versions, which we are all aware of: Bob for Robert, Bill for William, Meg for Margaret, Kate/Kathy for Katherine, etc. This is just dandy for anyone who likes to use these time-honored naming conventions.

Now, naming conventions do change, even among us English-American types. There are many people whose parents name them the shortened version of a name. I know folks named “Bill” who aren’t Williams, for example. Other people do NOT like the shortened versions, like my late friend Robert, who only let immediate family and close friends call him “Bobby.”

What to Do?

Really, Herbie. Really Danny Boy. Really Johann Sebastian. Get my name right and maybe I will connect with you.

Well, my general guiding principle is to call people by the name by which they are introduced to me. I’m gonna call Pamela that, not Pam (which will make IRL friend Pamela-not-Pam very happy). If someone introduces themselves as Robert, I’m not gonna gush, “Hi Rob, nice to meet you!” I met a Burton a while back, and there was no way I was gonna Burt him until I found out it was okay with him.

This shouldn’t be controversial. People deserve the respect to be called the name they prefer to go by. This has been true for years and years, and is not some new-fangled concept like asking people their pronouns. (I’m she/her.)

What’s Bothering You, Susie?*

Well, what’s common sense to me, and what’s worked most of my life has recently stopped working well. Normally, I introduce myself as “Sue Ann” and depending on the context, I’d say, I also go by Suna. Lately, more and more, the response to that it, “Great! Nice to meet you, Sue!”

DID I SAY MY NAME WAS SUE?

No. I did not.

I do not identify as a “Sue.” When someone calls for Sue in a crowd, I never think it might be me. Or Susan. Or Susie. I am just a non-Sue. I think I’m a little different, and so is my name, I guess.

Nonetheless, every single new coworker that’s shown up in the last couple of months has begun calling me Sue. Master Naturalist Students? 50% Sue. Folks around Cameron? Yep.

Hey, bot., my name’s not Sue and you screwed up my car wash.

And woe is me, even when I fill out my whole name in online forms, it’s Sue Sue Sue Sue. All these texts trying to be all chummy with me from a certain annoying presidential candidate, as well as the car wash people who screwed up so badly that they should literally be groveling…greet me with a chipper, “Hi Sue!”

By the way, for people I meet in person, I do say, when I can get a word in, “I go by Sue Ann.” I sign every blasted email I send with Sue Ann. If someone did that to me when I called them the wrong thing, I’d notice that signature and fix it.

I know others who have it worse, like my husband Lee whose real first name is Ernest (of Earnest as the local newspaper calls him). But he knows to expect that, as did my whole family of origin, who went by their middle name, except for me, the two-word outlier. Once they explained it, people called them the right thing.

It used to be that I knew a phone call or email was from someone who didn’t know me if they addressed me as Sue. But now people who do know me keep doing it. And I hate to say it, but it makes me like a person less when they do that, even when they are otherwise fine.

Nope. Not gonna chat with you, cold emailer.

I’m attached to my name. I like it. It’s been me over 60 years (other than two years in my first marriage). When I get postal mail addressed to my spouse and me, I get an irrational response when I see something like “Suna and Lee Bruns, Jr.” as I got just last week. Who are those people?

Concluding Remarks

I guess everyone has their hot buttons, and now you know one of mine. I’m not like the great poet, the unwashed phenomenon, who once said,

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say
Still, you’re gonna have to serve somebody…

Gotta Serve Somebody, by Bob Dylan

Call me Sue Ann or Suna. I’ll call you whatever you would like to be called. I think that’s respectful. Names matter. We all deserve the respect to be called the name we want to be called.

You got any stories?


*There are about three people who can call me Susie. Dad could, but he’s not available to talk anymore.

Lent? Do I Do as UU?

I used to be a member of a Unitarian Universalist church. This is a religious denomination known for being extra-open to spiritual paths of all sorts. I still like a lot of the things UUs do, and one of them is the idea of “UU Lent,” which is a chance to do some intentional thought about a word per day leading up to the time when many faiths celebrate Easter. And you’re supposed to do a photo each day to show what represents that word to you, as described below (check out the honorifics on the designers; UUs are extra woke).

Here are all the words. They HAD to start with the hard one. Thanks to Robin Slaw for inspiring me.

I’ll post mine on Instagram/Facebook, but also here at the end of each blog post, so you can read ’em or skip ’em, as you see fit. Let’s get reflecting, shall we?

(Note for y’all who don’t know me well: I encourage you to practice your religion however you wish! I respect all of you who take the time out to think about something bigger than you. Yes, even those of you who think I’m on the short path to Hell. We’ll see.)

UU Lent for February 26: Prayer

This has never been my favorite concept, because I just never liked how so many people I was around did it. They tell some Daddy in the Sky to get to blessing them and the people they like right now. I have never been comfortable telling a deity what to do or asking for special favors. And when I eventually realized that my “deity” was good ole Ma Earth, I just felt like I should let Earth deal with things.

Suna's altar
I have this collection of objects in my living room that remind me of who I am and who my spiritual role models are. Both the St. Bridget/Goddess Brighid and the white invoking goddess a friend look like they are praying, so that’s my image for “prayer.” All the nature things, even the candle wax that looks like a triple moon, help me focus on taking care of all of our planet.

On the other hand, I’ve never had a problem putting out intentions into the world, but I guess it felt more like I was making an effort to make change happen, not passively waiting on some other entity to do it. And I do occasionally meditate on a topic, which is prayer-ish.

On the third hand, you know, the invisible one, I’ve seen many people perform “prayers” that I found quite moving and comfortable to me. I’m glad I got old enough to really understand that everyone’s ideas about God(dess) and their spiritual paths are their own and not my problem (well, until I get punished for not participating in the dominant paradigm, which can happen…).

The Darkness Fades: Spring Is Coming, I Think

It’s such a sunny, clear morning that the fog and gloom of the last week or so seems a distant memory. It’s got me thinking.

Bobcat Run at sunset.
Tenpetal anemone, which is named after another Greek myth, but is a welcome early sign of spring at the ranch.

I’m thinking and hoping the glorious sunset that I got to enjoy with the Austin neighbors seems to signal that maybe I and all my associates can start to crawl out of their holes, and rise, like Persephone, from the darkness. It’s a little late, but I have hope today. If kale can grow in the middle of the messy garden at the ranch, I can deal with the mess in my life.

Free food! Carlton inspects the volunteer kale I found. You just never know what’s going to come up, from the ground, or in these weird-ass times we live in.

I’m thinking of the sad person on my friends’s blog yesterday. We’ll probably never know how much help we were, but I was touched by the kind words fellow blog readers sent their way. At least a whole lot of positive energy came that person’s way…and I think energy like that can’t hurt.

I think a lot of the energy around me that is so sad has to do with being tired: me, my family, my friends, my cuber-community. I’m a lot better after my day off on Sunday. My poor friend at work was so exhausted from traveling to the other side of the world and getting flu that she turned blue and started shaking. ARGH. “Just exhaustion” is still exhaustion!

In a total aside, guess who was really thrilled to get to Austin? This dapper guy, along with his photo-bombing buddy in the corner. He later got to destroy the squeaker in his tuxedo.

Think!

I think I can!

Keep thinking and wondering. New life and new adventures always await. Look at the very early Indian Paintbrush blossom I found on my walk last Sunday. It’s a little bedraggled, since its brethren are still sprouting up, but the little bursts of orange on the side of the road were just what I needed to see.

Maybe the colors will keep getting brighter as the sun and rain wake up all the wildflowers and bring the middle of Texas back to its yearly celebration of pollination and abundance. I think so.

May the pansy fairy remind you of cheerful faces, even in the darkness.

My old friend Kathy D. reminded me that the pansies of winter always keep me going (even though I didn’t have any real ones this year). I just have to look to see that magic is everywhere and it’s not all bad. That’s just me, though, after all my years of positive thinking training.

Yep, I get it that it’s sometimes harder than others, and for people dealing with depression it’s worse. I do NOT want to be one of those people spewing forth platitudes like “just smile” or whatever. If it’s not in you, don’t. But DO keep putting one foot in front of the other and at least nod to the beauty you pass by, so you can enjoy it later.

Let’s stick together and see what we think about this spring. Change is in the air. We may NEED to stick together!

If You Need Help

Here in Blogland, one of my friends has had an upsetting experience. She has a frequent commenter who leaves unusual comments, which she always reads and accepts. We all know some “nonstandard” people we care for deeply, or are nonstandard people who are glad people care for us. And we are all challenged by life from time to time, if not often.

This morning’s fog has been with me all day.

Today, out of the blue, the frequent commenter on my friend’s blog posted that they were going to commit suicide. Wow, that cry for help went to someone who didn’t know who or where it originated. What to do?

My fellow blogger is pretty smart, and she also contacted WordPress for advice. Then, she gave the commenter the number for the national suicide hotline and the URL to hotlines outside the US:

 1-800-273-8255
and
http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html

important!

All of us fans of the blog also reached out to let the commenter know that we do care. I think we have all been touched by suicide and feel empathy and love for people in crisis. We all hope this blog reader has found help.

I hope the fog has cleared for the person who reached out.

These are hard times for many of us. But we need each other. If you need help, use these resources, reach out to a real-life friend by phone, text, or in person, and remember you are valuable, just as you are.

Self Care: Dog, Yarn, and Cow Edition

Hear ye, hear ye! I’m taking today off. I am not doing regular work, volunteer work, or family stuff. I’m having a self care day!

I even gave the Bitmoji new glasses and shirt.

Much of my day will be spent looking at these guys.

A symphony in earth tones.

Or this guy.

It’s my scarred-up white haid!

Vlassic is out visiting Jim again so no picture, but I got all emotional about losing him last night and got all weepy. Harvey immediately ran to my side and started licking me. Then Penney came. Vlassic licked me, too. That was the first time I really cried in ages. I don’t think it was actually about Vlassic, but about losing all my lost loved ones.

So that made me decide to take the day off. The rest of the family went on a trip, so it’s just me and Lee until dinner, which will be pizza with the Sunday dinner gang. I’m gonna take a bath and do my hair, read, and knit! Yes, knit!

Yarn from Blue Mule, near Round Top.

It’s going to be a cowl you can also wear like a shawl someday. It’s called Nomad. It’s on Ravelry.

It’s not too hard, not too easy.

The most strenuous thing I’ve done today is go look at the chickens and the young cows who are currently behind the house. They just love the chickens and the dogs.

Y’all don’t scare us.

They are such friendly young ladies. I think they were the first ones born here after the pink mamas showed up. They are all named 18. Or they’re new. I don’t know. I just enjoy how friendly they are.

Got any food?

I enjoyed taking some portraits, and hope you like them, too.

I hope your day is peaceful, or that it’s fun, whichever you need. How are you doing self care today?

I’m just gonna snooze.

Bio Blitzing and Mental Gaps

Today’s big activity (and ONLY activity, thankfully) was to go to a local park and do our very first bioblitz in Milam County. That’s where you find as many plants and animals in a specific place at a specified time. I had a lot of fun, though there was a lot of cat herding involved and I didn’t do a very good job of trying to teach what I wanted to teach. If you want some photos and such, visit the blog article I wrote for the group.

The sun even shone a little bit.

I enjoyed hanging around with my old and new friends, and sure found a lot of plants that were hard to identify, but I guess that’s part of the fun. If you want to see what plants, animals, and birds we found, you can visit the little project we created for our bioblitz.

Nature’s bird bath.
Chickasaw plum is one of the first trees to bloom here.

After the blitzing, we came back to our office, where it was warmer, to talk about uploading our findings, then a few of us had a quick lunch. There I was a bit disturbed at myself. I could not remember things. The entire topic of the mind blindedness I wrote about just last week completely escaped my mind. I blanked out on the names of a couple of people I knew, too.

More and more often I find myself coming up with a big hole where I was certain a word, fact, or memory should be. I’m not declaring myself to have dementia or anything, but it sure is annoying. It’s hard to know when you’re just tired, and it’s normal, or when there’s something actually wrong.

So, if you know me, let me know if I’m drifting off.

Look. Insects doing it. I actually typed “insexts” at first. They are crane flies.

ANYWAY, I did get to take my friend Dorothy to see the Pope House, and there we found beautiful stairs! I was pretty excited and ran up them.

Stairs! Indoors! Safe! photo by Dorothy Mayer

The steps themselves are really pretty. Chris made them bull-nosed, so they have a lot of class. I can’t wait to see what next week brings. Until then, I am officially resting, reading, and maybe even knitting for a while. I hope I remember what I’m doing.

Those steps are gorgeous, and nice and deep, too.