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.

A Visit Cut Short

I was about to start writing this, when I got more and more annoyed at a phoebe flying around me. It got SO loud. I looked up, and she was sitting right on the porch with me. Missed that photo op!

Speaking of photos, you might enjoy a visit to the Master Naturalist blog, where I posted some photos of yesterday’s field trip. I’ll have more later.

Not to worry about missed opportunities, though. I got plenty of photos today, since my dear former work friend, Mike Y, finally came to visit after quite an absence. I sure was happy to give him a hug and show him what’s going on around here.

Feed the birds…

Of course we visited the chickens, who have finally figured out how to climb up their ladder. See proof below.

Chicken butt!

We had lunch at Dutch Towne, where he fit right in with his VFW hat. Too bad he took it off to eat.

Hey.

I then showed him all around the Pope Residence and introduced him to the family. He really liked the upstairs bedroom, where he just had to try on the church lady hat.

He’s in heaven.

He also found a 3D Jesus, which we had not noticed before, which I gave him as a souvenir. We then ambled over to the Hermit Haus, where Lee tried to convince him to also take Buddy Jesus home. But, no. We still have him.

Two Jesuses are better than one.

I got a real treat when we went up to the sanctuary and Mike fired up the organ and played me a rusty version of the Marine Hymn. He even used proper pedal technique. I was impressed. He had me take many photos of himself preaching and worshiping, which I do hope he made into a photo montage!

Rock on, Mike!

On our way back to the ranch and a glimpse of the Nash house, his check engine light came on. Ugh. So, we cut the day short, and he headed to the auto parts store to see what error he got. It appeared safe to drive home, so off he went.

As fondly as he’s looking at this guy, I think he will return soon.

He WILL visit again soon! He missed Sunday dinner!

Happy Hallmark Holiday

I’ve never been a fan of those holidays that seem to be designed just to sell stuff. Sweetest Day (what?) comes to mind. And after reading years’ worth of people saying how sad they feel on Valentine’s Day, or gloating about what they got…yeah, I’m not so big on that.

Valentine’s DAZE

Except

This is me in my heart attire telling all you nice readers that I appreciate you SO MUCH!

I like reminding my friends and family that I am fond of them. I like seeing people smile at a little surprise. So, this year, when Anita and I were at the H-E-B (the best grocery store chain in Texas) early in the season, when there were still some “good” gifts and cards out, I picked up some little things for the gang in Cameron. It was nice-ish cards and a few little cute things.

Good quality corporate gifts.

But, where are they now? Heck if I know! At least it’s given everybody a good laugh, and we all know we like each other, presents or no. And Kathleen and her helpers DID get gifts out to all our clients and business contacts at Hearts Homes and Hands. You should just be our client for the presents!

My advice to everyone is to use a day like today to tell someone you care, do something kind for someone, or give yourself a big old hug, because YOU deserve it.

Aftermath of the Aftermath

After much discussion and many good ideas from family and friends, we decided to get some of the things you put on stairs to make them less slippery, and apply them to the area where Anita and I walk out of the Bobcat Lair house when dog walking. That’s the place we walk most when it’s rainy, since the dogs have to do their duty no matter what. We’re hoping they hold up and prevent falls until we can get the deck rebuilt with better materials.

This will help give us back our confidence walking on the deck when it’s rainy. We just won’t go out if it’s icy!

I had been all worried about my chickens when someone told me they knew of a bunch that had died from huddling together too intently during the recent very cold rain. Chris sent me a picture to prove they are alive, and Lee went out to check on them after the first freeze. I guess they figured something out!

We are just fine, Suna! Soon we will make eggs!

PS

Thanks for all the fascinating comments on Facebook about your personal prejudices. I think it helps that we realize we all have these irrational feelings about people, and maybe we can cut each other some slack about our areas for growth. I have some fascinating friends.

I got anti-falling stuff. Kathleen got little cakes! (The cup was from Lee.)

Prejudice and Me

Extreme honesty alert!

Poor bear. What did the bear do to deserve this?

In any case, things I was reading today about other people’s biases gave me pause to think about my own. As hard as I’ve worked to overcome different kinds of prejudice, some seem almost hard wired. I have no scientific basis to go on, but my gut feeling is that these are the ones I learned when I was very young, before my ability to make judgments like that on my own kicked in.

Yep, I’m a white person. I was raised in a Southern US white culture. Some of the prejudices of that group rub off. I’ve spent many years dwelling on this, and it doesn’t make me happy. I know that having slave ancestors as well as slave owning ancestors is something to think about. I know I have biases in other areas that skew my opinions. I know I can’t fix past things. But I know I can work hard to treat people fairly today.

Where Prejudice Comes From (for me)

I sure know where a lot of my prejudices come from, and that’s my mom, whom I loved dearly, but I could tell from an early age had some extra doozies of flaws. One was her wide range of racial and ethnic stereotypes. She had a bad World War II experience (lost a fiance) and was pissed off at Japanese people and Germans (they spit when they talk) her whole life. She was also quite opposed to “white trash,” and kept telling us not to be like them. And she both loved black people personally and said awful things about them them as a group (probably from her own upbringing). All this stuff confused the heck out of me, and even though I was uncomfortable with the things she said and did, I know some of it sunk in.

Skin is just skin. Cultural differences are interesting, not scary. Yep. All images from here down from Twenty20.

Thanks to my upbringing, I was scared of black people and looked down from my barely middle-class perch at poor white people. I have a feeling many of my black and poor white future friends came about from me wanting to distance myself from my mom and not wanting to be like that. At least I stuck around to like my friends as people. But to this day, I get this tiny bit of negativity that my higher thought processes immediately slap down. Whew, no wonder racial stereotypes and prejudices are so hard to eradicate, when even someone who knows better and wants to judge people on who they are, not how they look, still deals with childhood crap.

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I Am So Proud of Our Friends and Family on This Renovation

Wow, the amount of work that’s gone into our office renovation project is immense. Anything to do with money can get my poor spouse upset, and things were getting to him. I am so grateful to Kathleen and Chris, who were also dealing with their own stressful “stuff,” for helping Lee and the team figure out a good way to move forward on our project to bring a very old house back to life. I feel like I owe them something!

This brick has been cleaned so you can see all its colors. Looks so good. What’s that on top? The air conditioning/heating unit!

Now our family and friends are part of the team, and getting stuff DONE. Chris and Cody are supporting each other and leading the charge, while they brought in Easton (Kathleen’s daughter’s boyfriend) and Randy (neighbor at the ranch). These guys are cleaning bricks like crazy , making the walls prettier every day.

Here’s the unit in my office, and one of the doors that we’re going to use for a desk.

This lets Cody concentrate on bringing in specialists, such as our friend Felix, whose team swooped in today and installed a new HVAC system that’s both energy efficient and minimally intrusive. Wow, that’s going to literally be cool!

Working on the tiny hole that goes from the outside unit to the inside one.

Interior decoration helps me get my balance back. I told you earlier how Kathleen and I spent a happy hour or two last night dreaming of rustic chandeliers for our offices (mine with bling, hers without). We also have been figuring out ways to re-use the doors we’ll have to replace by making them our new desks. She’s looking for something cool to set hers on. I’ll probably get something with drawers from IKEA. I need drawers.

Another crazy light fixture. Antlers and bling. I have no idea which of the possibilities I’ll actually get.

We found a giant mirror in the bathroom by my office, which we already know a place for in Lee’s office. When we get it cleaned a bit, we’ll show it to you.

Look at all the pretty shiplap in the empty bathroom. That’s way better than a lot of really dirty stuff.

Most important, though, is that our family, our friends, and the people we are working with are back to having FUN on this project, which is how it should be. I am so grateful to everyone who is pitching in and helping me and Lee.

Lee actually having fun with air conditioning stuff. Felix said to get his hands off his noodle. We laughed so much.

PS: I have some additional photos of the renovation over on the Hermit Haus Redevelopment blog, if you want to see more.

Whoops, I Hit a Limit

If I can’t get balanced, I’ll drop all my stuff.
(Robin Wood tarot, 2 of Pentacles)

For the past few weeks I knew I had been filling my time with too many things that take away energy and not enough things that build it back up. I know perfectly well what those things are, and usually I am able to keep a good balance, even with all my jobs, volunteer positions, and social/family stuff.

But, hey, as we all know too well, life happens. So, even though I have my nature walks, dogs, horses, chickens, and good friends to build up my reserves, some of these new things that have popped up have tilted the balance. I’m just worn out.

What’s Draining My Energy?

Well, some of the things are small and some are large. Some are at least superficially good, and some are plain irritating.

That’s my energy, serenity, motivation, and essence, just going down the drain.
  • I got a new job responsibility in Austin that seemed like it wouldn’t be too much, but has put at least half a day per week of meetings on my schedule. Meetings drain me (the new people I work with are great, though, and I actually want to contribute by doing this work).
  • Some new management strains have surfaced, too. Yet another initiative for “creating a mentoring culture” and “celebrating wins” has arrived. These things are all well meaning and “just” take a few minutes. For each direct report and your own self. And then you need to schedule some one-on-ones, which will add another few hours of meetings (with people I like, for sure, but still…I want to do actual work). And corporate initiatives drain me.
  • I try to schedule just two nonprofit meetings a week, but with the Master Naturalist class going on every week, there ends up being more many weeks. I thought I had it all straight this week, with one MN meeting and one day of volunteering for MTOL and all the animals at the thrift shop, but, suddenly a house closing, in Austin, popped up. ACK. I wanted to do it, but that would mean going to Cameron for a Thursday night meeting, then to Austin for a Friday afternoon closing, then back to Cameron for the thrift store in the morning. I want to do all the things…but wow. Too much driving drains me.
  • Many of my friends and family members, near and far, haven’t been well. I want to be there for them, too. I can’t let that go to the wayside. Sending out good energy drains me.
  • And I want to help Anita get her Cameron house ready for a tenant who’s going to help her fix it up. Watching her work so hard with no help drains me by proxy.

Consequences

So, I find myself having a hard time getting through days. I was just sure yesterday was Thursday. It was Tuesday.

Yesterday afternoon, after work meetings for both jobs, I was all nauseated and had one of those squeezing headaches, but powered through a 2-hour meeting. Today I had allergy symptoms and my throat has that weird feeling like it’s sore, but not like I have a cold or flu. I get it when I am physically run down. DING. I can’t even keep my eyes open.

Things, even pretty things, can overwhelm if there are too many of them. Photo by @lostintimeline via Twenty20

Hey, that may mean I need to STOP WRITING and go rest. Gee. Quit yelling. My head hurts. I need to be kind to myself and remember that if I don’t get my balance back, I can’t be much use to anyone.

Gonna make a few schedule changes and re-balance. Lee already changed the closing to doing it from Cameron. Now to meditate. Om.

Why This Non-gambler Gambled Last Night (Introverts, Harken!)

We had our own sign!

My dear spouse is the incoming president of the Cameron Rotary Club. Thus, it was sort of his duty to attend their big yearly fund-raiser, a casino night. We never went before due to a strong dislike of crowds and an equally strong dis-interest in gambling. Heck, we never gambled when we had to go to those real estate things in Las Vegas!

But, we had already bought a bunch of tickets to contribute to Rotary. And we were also a corporate sponsor, as we try to get this business going. So, we psyched ourselves up, buoyed by a surprise visit from nephew Chris (Kathleen’s birthday is next week, and this was a GOOD present). We brought along our assistant, Meghan, too.

Eek, a crowd.

The idea was to chat people up and let them get to know who our team is. It became obvious really quickly that the bland snacks were not going to entertain us all evening. I told myself that I might as well do something to pass the time, so we three women took all our pretend money and got coins for the slot machines. A kind woman told me how slot machines work (really, I don’t gamble).

Well, here we go. I can’t say I never gambled anymore.

We ended up having a lot of fun, especially when we were joined by our fellow business owners, Courtney and Jeremy. We lasted way longer than we thought we would, because we kept winning, dang it. It also helped that Chris kept sneaking more coins in our buckets. He is a good supporter of charitable organizations, I guess.

I finally could not take any more dinging and scooping up of germy coins, so I bravely made my way to the nearest gambling table. The dealer had pink hair, so I hoped she might be fun. She was.

Continue reading “Why This Non-gambler Gambled Last Night (Introverts, Harken!)”