The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!
Lee has been talking about how he’s reframing sentences that start with, “I’ve got to…” with the alternative of, “I get to.” sometimes a simple change like that works!
I’m trying it right now! Earlier I’d asked Lee if he wanted to pick me up some lunch, and join me, since I didn’t see anything at home I was hankering for. He suggested Domino’s, which has sandwiches we like and curbside pickup.
He checked with the folks working across the street, and they said they would join us, and said what they’d like.
Next, Lee told me he has an online meeting he must take from home, so he can’t come (hmm, why did he agree before and choose the venue?). So, I practiced saying, “Oh boy, I get to drive to the pizza place.” And I envisioned getting out of the dungeon and such.
I got there. No food. Had to talk to the owner. Turns out, Lee had ordered in Rockdale. I “got to” call Rockdale and cancel, then “got to” go inside the store and re-order. (Or, I could have gotten to drive to Rockdale and pick it up, which would mean cold soggy food.) Luckily, I was the only customer in the restaurant, we were appropriately masked, and no one touched my credit card. And I have hand sanitizer in the car!
Now, I “get to” sit in the car while the food is prepared. That’s okay! I get to blog, and I came up with a blog topic for today. Score!
I got to have a nice chat with the pizza store guy, and still had piping hot sandwiches and pizza when I got to the office. We all enjoyed our meals.
See, that have to/get to reframing really does work! All’s well that ends well!
In my recent post about core values, I mentioned the guiding principles I try to live by:
Treat others how you’d like to be treated
Assume good intentions
They go along with the core values I figured out that drive me: kindness and making a difference.
It’s important to revisit your intentions, because if you don’t keep putting them out into the world, they can just whither away. The stressful state most of the people I know are in right now makes it really, really easy to wallow in sadness, self-pity, or anxiety. People like me can experience some remarkably steep reversals in their personal growth (which I’ve mentioned a couple times in the past few weeks, so no need to beat that topic to death).
The Golden Rule’s been taking a bit of a beating lately, when I find myself getting defensive and not saying things as kindly as I would prefer to, and it doesn’t help that my attempts at being kind or helpful can get misinterpreted, leading to an ugly circle of no one being at their best. Knowing perfectly well that the only person whose behavior I can change is mine, I’m going to try to stay a little more in my higher self zone, and not reflect back any perceived negativity I get from friends and family, which might stop the circle.
This brings me to the second principle, of assuming good intentions, or that everyone’s doing their best. This topic has independently come up a number of times in the past few days, which hints that I need to be paying attention, right? Just as I’m firmly convinced I’m doing my best (in other words, I’m not being mean just to be mean…ever), I need to remember that the people I interact with are ALSO doing their best. I have fallen down at this lately, but now’s the time to get started again!
Honestly, I don’t know anyone who’s a jerk just for fun (I’ve probably de-friended them), and even people with whom I disagree strongly usually have their hearts in the right place or are acting sincerely based on their upbringing, culture, and experiences. I have started practicing making a conscious effort at remembering that, and am amazed at how differently I act. I just need to keep it up, both online and in person!
Bear in mind, friends, that sometimes things just don’t come out like they are intended, whether from tone of voice, lack of tone of voice (text, email, social media posts), nervousness, or simple misunderstandings. I need to give people a break. People need to give me a break. We all need to give each other a break!
Lee and I have been having some good conversations on these kinds of things lately, and we’ve found our own communication getting a lot easier. I am proud of both of us! By explaining where we are coming from, we can be a lot easier on each other’s little foibles (because we ALL have them!). His support and understanding mean so much to me (along with some other helpful and trusted confidants). I suggest you try out the whole assuming good intent thing on those closest to YOU and see how it works!
And one more thing, if anyone is at their best right now, firing on all cylinders, working at 100%, and treating everyone they encounter with kindness and understanding, please write a book really quickly and tell the rest of us how you did it! It would be a major blockbuster best seller!
Sigh, we only have two guineas left, but they are big enough to do okay in the main pen. So, today my sister was here for dinner and got to see them enjoy their first taste of freedom. It’s fun to share bird stuff with her.
At first they ignored the open door. They’d just gotten fed, after all. Then they hopped around and got confused when Hedy went in to check on their food. Of course, I was watching too hard to remember to take pictures.
Finally, the gray one went out. Then she went back in. They did that a couple of times when they realized there was some scratch on the ground.
Suddenly, there was a frenzy. The brown one flew across the pen and landed on the branch. The gray one looked confused, then dashed over to join its remaining buddy, knocking a couple hens off.
I think they will be okay. Now if anything tries to go after them, they can get away. I do hope that trap catches something other than Vlassic or Gracie, though.
I thought I’d take my own advice and get out in nature this morning, so I made up a project to see how many different vines I could see along the fence in front of and beside the ranch house.
It hadn’t gotten stifling hot yet, so Vlassic and I set off. I knew a lot of what I’d see, but figured I’d find at least seven different vines.
I actually ended up with 12! At least I hope so. Most weren’t blooming, but I recognized them. The white morning glory had closed up and I couldn’t get to the flowers to photograph.
I was especially glad to see passion vines in more than one place, because I’d worried the poison ivy had crowded it out.
Also I was glad to confirm that we have sorrel vine here, since the Master Naturalist who lives not far from here has a lot of it.
Otherwise, it’s the usual prickly, rash-inducing, invasive and/or pretty plants.
Of course I had to snap a few other pretty sights. Plus, there’s action around the hen house. There’s a new spider building a web right in front of where I get the eggs from. Luckily I have another way to get eggs.
And Chris put a live trap by the chicken run. We need to stop whatever took almost all the guineas and a hen! Hopefully, once it cools off, he will come up with more safety measures.
We do have a much more elaborate water system, though, since the other one was trying to make the hoses explode. Chris used new water hose/pipe and fittings to make a safer temporary setup until we make the fancy underground one. It’s also too hot to safely dig the trench for that.
At least the dogs are happy we’re inside all day. 102 is too hot for any of our outdoor projects! Happy July.
As hard as it is to find equilibrium these days, I’ve always found my bird watching greatly helpful. Birds just keep going, breeding, eating, being silly. Here are today’s examples.
Finch Family Time
Over at the Hermit Haus/former church office, I’ve been watching all the birds raising families. The mockingbirds have moved on, but the house finches are doggedly determined to produce offspring in the carport. They built one nest in one corner, but lost that little one. Wah.
But, lo and behold, the second nest they built has a little fellow in it. Yesterday I got to watch it waggle its little head around as its parents looked annoyed at me from the telephone wire a few feet away.
When I arrived this morning, two finches flew away, and I realized a second pair was building a nest in yet a third corner of the driveway. I guess those little notches make house finches feel secure (and it IS hard for roaming feral cats to get to them).
As you may know, the past few weeks I’ve been going over to the sad, grass-less horse pen to give Fiona and Apache hay to tide them over until their evening feeding. Well, Big Red, the only hen remaining from my previous flock, has figured this out. She didn’t get to be the only one left by being a slow learner.
Most mornings, there she is, barreling toward me, wanting her sunflower seeds NOW. The only morning she didn’t show up, Chris found that she had laid a sad egg with no shell (she’s old), which has inspired me to get her some actual chicken food this weekend to go with her seeds.
Today, she didn’t charge at me, because she was busy. I’d actually been wondering where she got her water, because I’m not sure her old water trough made from the cabin’s air conditioner runoff is still there.
Well, there she was, on the edge of Fiona’s water bucket, drinking away. It was so cute. That inspires me to keep filling the bucket all the way up!
Once she was done, she strode right over and requested her morning ration. I just love that hen.
I’m sending love and hopes for understanding for each of us. Remember, everyone you meet is pretty stressed out right now and probably not at their best.
That seems to be my hobby this week. It would be funny if it weren’t so annoying that I’ve managed to offend or upset people every time I try to be nice and accommodating. As my dad always said, I really have a way with words. Just not a GOOD way sometimes.
Anita said it’s Mercury in retrograde, so I’ll go with that. But in advance, if I’ve said, written, or texted something you think is horrible and mean, I probably lacked proper tone or was so wound up trying to not be offensive that I failed. Inarticulate is putting it mildly. These are not my favorite points in my life. Luckily they do get better!
And on that note, I do have a couple of happy little things to share. One is that the inexpensive little rug I got from Overstock.com turns out to really go well with my “guest chair” for my new office. (Ironically, there will be no guests in the chair until after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, so it’s now my “reading chair” instead.)
I also got a nice rustic office trash can, so that I can leave the generic black plastic one in the dungeon office. Yay.
And look how pretty the reception room at our new office looks, now that all the saws are gone and the floor is clean! It’s almost done, too. Of course, it’s just for show until some time in 2021, but maybe we can have internal meetings there, or something.
Virus news around here is really sad. I don’t mind one bit being careful if it means someone else might stay healthy! You all take care, and try to choose your words more carefully than I do, because foot-in-mouth disease is unpleasant in so many ways!
Today we said a fond farewell to one of our favorite buildings in Cameron, the old Trubee house. It’s where we first had our offices for our real estate business, and there were lots of good times in that place. I loved my little area, which had windows I could look out of, and I liked the beautiful dining room where our conference table was.
Mandi and I enjoyed having coffee on the porch and playing with the feral cats outside. And we got a lot of work done!
My dear friends from my old church, Mike and Martha, have been living there since we moved our office to the Hermit Haus/former church building. They finally decided to bite the bullet and buy the place. It has plenty of room for all the things they like to do, but is also cozy! The pecan trees are another big plus, too. Yum.
We’re very happy for them. I look forward to visiting the house often, soon as we are allowed to visit anyone again. It will be fun to see all the projects Mike comes up with now that there’s nothing stopping him.
We had a nice, simple closing over at our lawyer’s office, which meant a chance to see friends! Luckily, we recognized Liz and Hollis with their masks on, and we could even tell when we were smiling. We did the closing in the biggest room in the office, too, so we had as much space as possible.
I’ll miss the old house, but am very happy for my friends. And, hey, the income is nice, too, right?
Just a quick funny story (to me). Historical background:
I bit my nails until I was 14. Nothing could stop me; I was an anxious child, and this was one of my soothing behaviors. I really had me some ugly hands.
But, a week before high school started, I got it in my head that I could have a new start, not be the outcast I was in 8th grade, and look a bit better. So I managed to not bite my nails. I can remember being so proud in Algebra I class, when I could see some white at the ends of my nails. The next week, I painted my nails red.
And, most weeks for the ensuing many decades, I’ve painted my nails. I had them really, really long in high school and painted them all sorts of interesting ways (this was LONG before nail salons and professionals; it was all me).
Once I got to college and had to type a lot, the nails got a little shorter, but other than a few brief hiatuses, my quest for great nail polish and perfect nails never ended. I always acknowledged the irony that other than a love of sparkly eye shadow and long nails, I was quite the gender neutral dresser.
Fast forward, and I’m still an eccentric dresser, but also with weird hair color. I hardly ever had professional nail applications; I can remember one in San Francisco in 2005…and a few toenail polish bonding events.
But, I got a hankering for something that lasted longer, and started going to the salon here in Cameron, where I really like the people and had a lot of fun. This blog has plenty of photos of my fanciful dip nails. I miss them.
When the coronavirus stuff started, the salons all closed. I also noticed that the tools they used on my nails had made them paper thin. Well, I thought, a great chance to let them heal a bit.
The salon opened back up, but because of my very visible position at our personal assistance service, and my own desire to stay away from people who are less careful than me, I haven’t been back (and I am so sorry for the nail salon people!).
I found some Essie products that are really strong and last over a week on my fingers, and have been using them. Except last time, I discovered you need to pay attention to what you’re doing.
I put the top coat on as my base coat, and the base coat on top. Hmm, I thought it didn’t come out very shiny. Then, two days later, all my fingernail polish peeled off in sheets. What? I did NOT take a picture.
Yep, that shiny top coat doesn’t stick well to bare nails. And that grippy base coat isn’t shiny.
In fact, the base coat is so grippy that it would stick to my socks when I wore my boots. I kept the toenails for another week, but wow am I happy to have changed to the right polish in the right order.
You’d think that after doing my own nails for so long, I’d learn to read the bottle of clear polish and put on the right one! Sheesh!
What have I learned here? Give me 15 minutes and I can write a long blog post about almost anything. Back to work.
Expressing anger is difficult for some of us. Like Suna.
No, no, I’m not angry about anything right now! Everything’s just fine. If you’re looking for drama, I’m not serving that up today. I’m just thinking about anger.
The book club meeting I attended on Zoom (of course, no in-person meetings for me!) today got on the topic of things we struggle with, and I brought up the fact that I totally suck at getting angry. The very nice women in the meeting were quite supportive of me, and the consensus was not to expect to be great at something you don’t have a lot of experience with. They were right!
Even as a child, I was discouraged from getting angry. If my little brother pestered me, I was told to, “Just ignore him.” And if I did get angry and yell or hit back after he slapped me, I’d get spanked. So, I fairly quickly learned to bottle up any anger I had and to arrange things to be as peaceful as possible in my little world.
Hence, I ended up an Enneagram Number Nine. As the website says:
Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them.
That probably also explains my initial resistance to change, even the good kind!
Another thing it explains is why I’m always trying to attain some sort of spiritual transcendence; it’s another way to escape the real world. At least I have the sense to know that “the only way out is through,” and am coming to terms with the whole “life is suffering” concept.
Anyhow, I am just not good at getting angry. Not one bit. I can’t be like Anita, who often declares she’s angry at this that or the other, but she just expresses herself strongly. I keep thinking, “Why is she angry at that? I’m sad, or…some other emotion.” That’s because if I try to express anger, it scares the pee out of people. You know, I also learned from my family or origin how to have a very sharp passive-aggressive tongue. Oopsie.
I can actually remember the two or three times I let my anger spill out. After one time, I was never able to bring myself into a particular community again. I just left and never came back. I’ve only let myself express anger at my spouse a couple of times in all these years. I just get snippy on occasion then over-apologize for it.
Dang, I need to learn how to legitimately express anger when it’s appropriate without alienating people forever, or turning into a sniveling ball of self-abuse. Those seem to be my main anger outlets. I’m just not equipped to be an angry mob of one, I guess.
As my colleagues in the book club pointed out, it helps to remember you’re angry at a situation. (And I point out that it helps to remember people are doing the best they can; though when I’m angry at an institution, that’s hard to apply.) If kindness is my main value, I should apply it to both the object of my anger AND me, right?
This is pitiful, I know, but I Googled “effectively express anger” (because, how else do you figure things out these days?) and I got this:
Address An Issue Immediately Before It Escalates. …
Take A Walk. …
Try A Simple Breathing Technique. …
Try Getting In Some Rigorous Exercise. …
Journaling Can Be Another Great Way To Process Anger. …
Well, I do all that! That’s not expressing anger, it’s dealing with anger. Those are all the tools I use to maintain the peace and not rock the boat.
I turned to that oracle of knowledge, WikiHow, who went through all the above anger mitigation techniques that I already do, then FINALLY gave some advice on how to express it! That’s what I wanted!
Choose to express your anger assertively. Assertive expression of anger is the most constructive way to express your anger. Assertiveness cultivates mutual respect for each other. You can still express your anger, but you do so in a way that doesn’t accuse the other person. You have mutual respect for each other.
Assertive communication emphasizes that both people’s needs are important. To communicate assertively, give the facts without making accusations. Simply state how the action made you feel. Stick to what you know and not what you think you know. Then ask the other person if he is willing to talk. 
For example, you might say: “I was hurt and angry because I felt like you were belittling my project when you laughed during my presentation. Can we talk and work this out?”
Enough with the background colors. I didn’t mean to make you all sick.
After reading the information, I conclude that it makes sense, and sounds a lot like things I’d read in all my “how to get along with people” courses and such. I know I try to do that, and sometimes do. I just need to work on my tone, maybe.
In any case, if you have an anger problem, whether inability to express it or expressing it too much, how have you dealt with it? There’s so much anger in the world right now, it might be helpful to band together and make an effort to say what upsets us without turning the audience away completely.
I shall now go look at nice, happy animals and stop with all this self-analysis.