What a beautiful day it was. I think we needed a reminder that Mother Nature is still doling out the beauty to at least briefly distract us from the things humans do to each other.
As a reward for doing my least favorite thing about work (Agile stuff, not vital to this story), I tidied up the pool area and gave my back some more hot water love. I heart the hot tub.
Later, after feeding the precious horses, we checked out the trailer lights. Ooh. There’s even an interior light for night loading and unloading!
I’m pretty excited to use the trailer. I was glad they checked out the lights and other safety features. So shiny.
It was a good evening to rest on our laurels and tell each other we appreciate our efforts. I think Lee even set up the auto-fill system on the pool! We’re really enjoying it. What else do we enjoy? Sunsets, of course. Tonight’s was cherry red at times. Thanks, Mother Nature.
All was well until I opened the monthly Bark Box. I handed out really cute chew toys, then opened a box of dog treats. I handed them out to each dog, which got them all excited. I realized Alfred hadn’t gotten one, so I reached over to give him one and Harvey jumped up to steal it. Unfortunately, he also got my thumb. Ow. It was an accident.
May the sun warm all our brothers and sisters who are afraid, worried, or suffering.
I was a child during the Cold War. I was petrified of atomic bombs. We had duck and cover drills in school, as if hiding under a desk would do us any good. I had nightmares about bomb shelters for decades. I don’t want to go to sleep tonight. Baby Suna might take over and return those dreams.
I never thought the threats would resurface. I thought our leaders were more interested in money than power. Maybe the current situation is about money after all.
No one should have to live like this. Our brothers and sisters in the Baltics and Russia should not have to live in fear of their neighbors. They should not have to feel the need to fight their neighbors. I’m so disappointed in humans. Again.
I feel sick for the everyday people of the world who have lies fed to them to rile them into hatred. That’s here where I live, too. It’s so disheartening.
Sure, like I said earlier today, many of us are having good lives right now. It can go in a flash, though. I’ll leave you with a Bible verse, for the first time ever.
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
Daniel 8:24, New King James Version
Applies to more than one would-be emperor, I think. Dark times. And we are unable to affect them. Powerless. Resigned. Curled up in a ball like the dogs.
Back to the Serenity Prayer for this pagan hermit. And I’m not gonna duck and cover. I’m not interested in living in one of those apocalyptic times.
(PS I do know more about nuclear warfare and such than I did at age 6 and think that other methods of genocide are now preferred.)
This morning I was listening along with Lee to his morning podcasts when one of them (sorry, I forget which one) began to discuss a phenomenon that is not uncommon today. People report that they are experiencing a good time in their lives, with positive experiences, interactions, and situations. Yet those same people are concerned about the fact that outside of their own little bubble, things seem to be going downhill in alarming ways.
Today is a more alarming than usual day, especially for those of us with friends or family in Ukraine or Russia. I’m especially concerned about the everyday citizens who have nothing to do with the posturings and agendas of their political leaders. I’m one of those people here in the US, so it isn’t hard to imagine what regular folks who just want to earn a living, enjoy their families, and have some fun are dealing with right now in both places. It’s worse for people like me, since random wars are always hard on pacifists. And no, I am not going to apologize for being a nonviolent person, no matter how much it might offend people who treasure violence or at least the possibility of being violent.
Even with all the turmoil going on around me in my family and very small (but fabulous) circle of friends, I keep thinking this may be the best time of my life. I’ve achieved a lot of my goals, minimized people and things that bring me down, and have a comfortable life. I’m even dealing with the inevitable little hiccups (like the heater going out AGAIN on the main floor of my house, where my home office is) pretty well. I’m quite happy as long as I keep to the things I have some control or influence over.
Maybe people were happier back in the times when the news of the world wasn’t blasting in their ears 24/7 and all drama was local drama. Sure, if invaders attacked, it was bad, but the rest of the time, you weren’t worried about the invaders on the other side of the planet.
No wonder so many people are becoming more hermit-like and just staying away from all the things that threaten others. I wish I were better at it, but I still rail at Texas politicians who are fighting to take away the rights of my family and friends, just as others rail at rights they feel are being threatened. We’re all the same, it seems, just with different focuses (foci). I’m working to care about all of us, but not internalize it to where it eats away at my ability to see what is good around me.
I spent all day going from the Continental Divide down to near sea level. It’s a long way down, but now I’ve got bonus red blood cells to enjoy.
I’m glad I got to ride from Breckenridge to Denver in the daytime, because there are cool little towns, old mines, and many rocks (hence, Rocky Mountains). I want to visit every funky town and all the parks. Guess I’ll have to go back.
Once I got to the airport it was the usual lines, walks, and waits. I just tried to stay away from people. But, all was well, and eventually I got to Austin. Lesson: next time take a nonstop flight.
Thanks to my giant, inexpensive suitcase, in which one will find Lee’s smaller suitcase and all my yarn, etc., I got everything I purchased or made on my trip home with ease. I’m glad Ken and Cathy talked me into that. But wow, that’s a big suitcase.
The most negative part of my trip was listening to a pilot expound on his beliefs about vaccines and other current news events. If I hadn’t just read a similar set of thoughts from someone else I know, I’d have thought he was making it up. But, no, it’s the narrative accepted by many in this country. I’m listening and learning, rather than name calling and labeling, hard as that may be. Maybe it’s good for me?
I’ll be listening a lot in the coming weeks and months, as all heck has broken loose in Milam County politics. I think listening is the best plan for an outsider like me. But hey, now I can vote here. Hmm.
Hello, and happy Tuesday, I think. It’s been a full day for me already and it’s not even 4 pm. I’m losing track of days and times right now, but that’s okay, I’m going with the flow.
The day started off right, when six members of the local Master Naturalist chapter and Master Gardener chapter came together at the Milam County Courthouse to meet with the County Judge. We wanted to talk to Judge Young about whether there could be any meeting space for us in the new county office building complex that’s being created out of our old hospital.
Judge Young showed us a map of how the buildings will be organized, and it was obvious the planners had put a lot of thought into it, like how to keep the people doing parole meetings separate from citizens coming to pay their taxes or seniors getting their meals. There was also a good security plan and a good parking plan.
Then he showed us where there will be meeting rooms we could use. There are a couple of large ones around Bea’s Kitchen that will be free after 3 pm on weekdays, plus another couple of shared ones with other agencies. When someone asked if we could use any of them, Judge Young said:
“Not only can you use it; I want you to use it.”
We talked about helping out with landscaping the inner courtyards as a way to pay back, and that went over well. He even offered us storage space in the old nuns’ quarters they are renovating for a storage building.
This will all be available sometime after March 1. It’s so great that the county got a large grant to fix the buildings up nicely for all the citizens of the county. I couldn’t stay to go on a tour of the progress on the buildings (I’d been in them before, when the space was for sale), but I hope everyone else had fun. It’s good to see positive things happening in the community.
I had to run home and get ready to go to my second horse and rider training with Apache. I got my timing off and ended up slamming him in the trailer with no warning, but he eventually got settled down when we got there and we started working on things. I’m learning leadership skills up the wazoo and Apache is figuring things out really well. I even got great advice for walking appropriately and that turned into how I can control his urges to wander off and trot.
I even managed to trot him in circles while remaining centered and in charge. A first for me! We also started figure 8 circles. All of it was very educational in subtle ways, though it looked like I was just going around and around to anyone watching me. This trainer is a very, very good teacher. But whoa, is noon a hot time to try to learn anything outdoors in August.
I was taking today off, because I had these obviously non-work things to do, but I ended up working anyway, and was very good at projecting a positive attitude in one of those meetings where that kind of thing matters. I just pretended everyone was my friend and tried to be helpful. I even passed on the Mary Poppins tactic, if you can believe that.
Now that I’m feeling all empowered for the moment, I can go call my insurance company and ask them why the same medication I’ve been on for years that usually costs around $5 was over $90 today. Don’t get me started on health care in the US!
Wait, wait, I’m not going to tell anyone not to continue in their work to fight racism, point it out when they see it, or work on their own behavior and bias with regard to race. Nope, nope, that’s not where I’m going. But, I do want to share some insights I’ve been having as I watch discussions about race happening, and how the books I’ve recently been reading cause me to see them differently.
The material I’ve been reading on unconscious bias has made it clear that, thanks to growing up in a particular society at a particular time, each of us presents ourselves to the world through the lens of our own biases, some of which are helpful and some of which may be less so. A good thing I’ve read is that the people born more recently may well be less prone to some of the racial biases that older people may have grown up with. A large percentage of younger adults in the US grew up in diverse neighborhoods, attended diverse schools, and are familiar with a wider range of US cultures (most young people I know are fans of music from urban, African, Caribbean, Latino, Korean, Indian and other artists), and have friends and colleagues from highly diverse backgrounds. So, they have a different set of biases from older Americans.
I am very happy about this, and very interested in learning from people of my children’s generation. Sometimes it’s hard, though, because in their anti-racist enthusiasm they push their audience away.
Another fact about a large subset of younger adults is that their preferred methods of interacting with others tend to be more confrontational, less “polite,” and less patient when sharing their views with others (not implying only young people act this way, it’s more appropriate in some cultures, too). This is the part that causes communication problems with people who grew up avoiding confrontation, focusing on polite behavior, and a conversation style that includes acknowledging the potential validity of the other person’s point of view. Neither of these ways of interacting is all right or all wrong; there are issues with each one, which I’m going to let you think of for yourselves.
Admirably, many people in the 18-30-ish age group want to create a better society and are working hard toward those goals. They feel passionate about the rights of people of color, LGBTQ+, poor people, and the oppressed around the world. Yay for them! Those are goals shared by many older people, too, though their methods of working toward it are different, and often unpopular with younger folks (which is fine and normal; I’m not complaining, just noticing).
The thing is, I’m wondering what the goals the young and fervent activists are working toward might be.
Are they trying to change people’s minds? I wonder if calling people you don’t know racist for actions you don’t even know that they’ve done is terribly helpful (for example, I have been sitting back and watching a woman lecturing an obviously white woman about how race and racism work, blissfully unaware (or not listening hard enough to realize) that the second woman has a black husband and family members). It’s racist to assume someone has beliefs because of their looks, period. And yes, being in an interracial relationship doesn’t mean you have no bias and can shut down conversation (sorry if I’m not clear about this; I’m still learning).
Are they trying to prove how ethically advanced and modern they are? In this case, demonstrating that you’re a passionate anti-racist while bullying and insulting others shows ALL your ethics, quite clearly.
Are they trying to sow unity? Are they trying to add to divisiveness? These are my big questions. I’ve been observing people pick at others for not being non-racist in the “right” way (say, for adopting a child of another race, without knowing whether a white adoptive parent may have a black or Asian partner or other black or Asian children). It reminds me of one branch of a religion not saying another branch is Christian enough, or Muslim enough, or the right kind of Buddhist, without remembering they all are focused on the same overall goal, which is love.
This is why I wish more of us knew HOW our unconscious biases work, and that none of us is above them or immune to them. I see a lot of bias against older people in the passionate younger folks. That’s too bad, since when I was a young, passionate feminist, I learned a LOT from the women who’d gone before me, which helped me not repeat some mistakes and not burn some bridges. Perhaps some of us older folks might have useful insights, if we could share our perspectives without being silenced or labeled.
And some of us elders want to silence and label younger folks. None of that is helpful, because the one thing I’ve learned is that the best way to limit the effects of unconscious bias is to get to know members of the groups you may have trouble with. Spending quality time in conversation and interaction with the “other” is guaranteed to help all of us realize that “they” are not a monolithic group, but diverse, varied, and interesting. Not all elderly people are the stereotypical MAGA-hat wearing, flag waving, insular white folks. They are not all inflexible members of the liberal elite. Not all young people hate everything that isn’t socialist or everyone who doesn’t fall into their definition of “woke” (insert current term for woke there). But, if we just talk AT each other rather than WITH each other, we’ll never figure that out.
We all have our blind spots, our prejudices, our biases, and our areas of passion. Not everyone will share them, and not everyone will even express the same biases and passions in the same way we do. We will never grow as human beings nor as a society if we don’t listen to other points of view. Even people we think are dead wrong in one area may have something “right” to share with us in another area, which we’d never find out if we just dismiss them out of hand.
I know my audience skews toward people of my age, but still, I want to reach out to those younger than me to listen to us, and give us a chance to share what we’ve been through and how we got there. And then share with people my age what YOU are going through and how you got there, rather than pointing fingers at us, labeling us, and dismissing us. Being young doesn’t invalidate anyone’s experiences and insights, but neither does being old. We can all learn from each other, but we might have to stop talking sometimes and listen.
Rather than trying to drag others kicking and screaming into the new and more advanced world, I’d love to see enthusiastic and passionate people reaching out a hand and gently lifting up others, knowing that they used the experiences of those who came before as stepping stones to get where they are today.
That’s my question for this first morning of spring, should I keep up with what appears to be a new undertaking for me, trolling with kindness? What the heck do I mean by that, anyway?
Well, the book I just finished, Blind Spot, made it quite clear that humans are hard-wired to participate in us versus them thinking, and that there are actually good things about feeling a part of a group. Group membership conveys a sense of safety and belonging, and encourages us to take care of other members of our group.
You can’t really avoid creating “others” who are not in your group, and it is natural to focus on your differences to clarify who’s in what group. The authors of Blind Spot pointed to the Dr. Seuss book, The Sneetches, which arbitrarily had a star on their chest or not, leading to great division. And I think of that Star Trek episode, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, where the people who are black on the right and white on the left are mortal enemies of people who are white on the right and black on the left. Both of these are heavy-handed examples, but they are right: we will work very hard to find ways to divide ourselves.
So, I am totally and completely aware that anything I do is not going to change people’s adamant insistence that “the other side” consists of horrible, no-good, bad, creepy people. Still, I know that even people who are biased to one belief system can start to question things, and that one way to initiate questioning is to repeatedly be exposed to other perspectives. THIS is why I feel compelled to “troll with kindness.”
Bubbling up inside me is a mission to not just keep scrolling when I see people making assertions that further our divided society. Rather, I am compelled to say something in a kind and/or neutral way that provides another way of looking at things.
Today’s example came when someone I used to know, sort of, posted something about President Biden tripping on the stairs of Air Force One. Commenters commenced to making all sorts of assertions about Biden’s age, competency, and such. I responded by asking if none of them had ever tripped on stairs before, that it seems common and not worthy of partisan commentary. Someone replied that they are doing it because once the previous president slipped and the media picked at him. So, I pointed out, nicely, that the tit for tat stuff isn’t very helpful, but I understand that it’s not going to stop.
And after that, I’m out of the conversation. I hope that just by planting the seed that being mean to someone because someone was mean to a member of your group in the past really doesn’t help anything at all. I don’t plan to prod and respond, just to provide another viewpoint.
No doubt I could have done a better job on today’s attempt, but it was only my second try. Maybe I’ll get better or get some suggestions. I know I won’t change anyone’s mind, but it makes ME feel better to gently point out that there are other ways of looking at things.
Diversion About Today’s News
I know I’ve been pretty naïve most of my life about the hatred deep inside people. My conscious mind has worked so hard to overcome prejudices and stereotypes that I’m often genuinely surprised to find out how others feel about their fellow humans. It’s never occurred to me to think badly about people of Asian descent (consciously; I now know I’ve no clue what’s lurking in my brain).
I’ve always found Asian cultures interesting (since I was a tiny girl in love with kimono) and I’ve had many close friends who are Asian, even dated more than one. Once again, thanks to that linguistics education and that Japanese minor! For some reason, my bias toward Asians is more like they tend to be fun people and potential friends. My upbringing didn’t overtly cause this, though; it was something inside. (I always said it was because there were so few people I had things in common with that I didn’t want to rule out potential friends because of race, gender, religion, or sexuality.)
(here I give you a little piece of my history, again.)
It occurs to me that while my mom was not shy about her traditional Southern US white people view of Black folks, she was equally unhappy with Japanese (who killed her fiancé in WWII) and loved to sing some truly horrid song about “Chink-chink Chinaman named Chow Chow,” that I never understood, but is still in my brain, right along with the sound of her endlessly reading Little Black Sambo to me.
Still, just like she actually loved Black people she knew personally, she was really fond of her Chinese-American friend, Fay Eng.* Fay owned the only Chinese restaurant in the town I grew up in, and she and Mom became friends when my sister and her child were young. It was a long-time friendship, because I knew her all my childhood, and took all my friends to meet her and eat at the restaurant in college. Ha, I remember thinking Chop Suey was an exotic Asian dish. I did quickly learn better in college.
Sorry, I keep coming back to my mom, because I am pretty sure her attitudes about people got imprinted deep within me. I guess I rebelled in a constructive way by getting to know people of so many races and ethnicities and dragging them home to confront her stereotypes. And I’m sure my own children, who had a more diverse set of friends than I did (and do) are at least helping carry on the lessening of racial biases the Blind Spot book mentioned.
(back to the topic)
Where I was originally going with this was how blown away I was to learn about the murders of mostly Asian people in Atlanta this week. I don’t get it, at all. Hurting people just because of the way they look seems like the deepest depths of horrible human behavior. I’m now crying for my Asian-American friends just like I’ve been for African-American friends for so long.
Yes, it’s convenient to divide up according to superficial things like skin color, but it’s just not right, and I WILL speak up about this, and it may not be trolling with kindness.
*Oh my gosh, I looked Fay up to be sure I spelled her name right, and as of last year, she was still alive, at age 95 and a Democratic voter, not only that, she was a poll worker, and used to serve cookies from her father’s recipe, which used to be served at the restaurant I ate in my entire young life! She still lives with her daughter, in a beautiful home. Good for you, Fay. Mom picked a great friend.
Oh, my friends, this anniversary of the pandemic lockdowns has not led to a bunch of happy, hopeful humans in my little world. The people who are struggling to maintain their equilibrium are just not doing it. And even those of us who’ve been keeping our heads above water feel like we are sinking. The hope that truly IS out there is just hard to see!
Heck, I’ve been doing sort of okay most of the past year, but for the past few days, it’s been quite difficult to get through a day. It doesn’t help that my meetings seem to have meetings in them and I get really tired of Zooming. I put the image below on Facebook, and got a lot of support from friends who said this has been an extra-hard few days for them.
It’s weird. I’m NOT all afraid like my friends in the Other World (that’s what I’ve decided to call the Fox News watching crowd) keep telling me. I’m living my life. I’m getting my second vaccine today, actually, and I look forward to some travel in a couple of months. I do have hope, but it feels like helpless hope. I honestly think I just can’t believe positive news.
For example, President Biden gave a talk last night, and it was full of hope and positive energy. People in the US might actually get vaccinated. People who are not me are getting money from the government, too. He spoke kindly, stayed on script, and didn’t call anyone names. This normally would have made me feel better.
But no, the cycle I’ve gone through in the last few decades (Bush, Obama, the previous guy, Biden) has led me to not put any credence into good news. There’s always something awful just down the road. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that life is suffering (I read Lion’s Roar, after all) and that there will always be positive and negative aspects to life, the dark and light sides of the Force, and all that. But the un-ending, pounding, grinding succession of challenges, struggles, meanness, and and obstacles the past year has brought with it have taken a lot out of me. It helps to know I’m not alone.
I admire the folks who are hanging in there and posting the positive memes every day (like my dear niece who could find the good in our sun going supernova, I think). Hope is needed. But right now, I’m in a place that I don’t believe it, no matter how nice it is to see it in others.
All I have for y’all is some virtual hugs. I think I mentioned needing hugs just a couple of days ago! And I appreciate the return hugs and good energy. I’m absolutely confident that I’m just dealing with a passing depression episode that’s completely understandable. Just know that I’m still helplessly hoping, and some day I may even believe my hope and get back to all that cautious fun I was managing to have earlier in the pandemic period.
Oh yes, it’s my job to mention that I do have podcasts now of all my most recent posts. I usually record each blog post within 24 hours of posting it here. You can go to Apple podcasts, Spotify, and many other places, search for the Hermits’ Rest, and follow our spoken journey. I also promise to mention anyone kind enough to sponsor my podcast, which will help repay all the money I spend to bring you this blog!
I’m hearing a lot of complaints about the service people have been receiving from the US Postal Service. Now, of course, some of it is related to the weather issues of last week, when people where I live didn’t get any mail at all for a week or so. The weather is a good excuse, but doesn’t cover issues people are having elsewhere.
My example isn’t of anything critical, except to me. I ordered the yarn to finish out the table runner I’m making for Lee on February 3. I got the notice it had shipped on February 7. When did it arrive, you ask? February 25! That’s almost three weeks. Usually things take 3-5 days…well, up until recently anyway. Since the end of last year, when the election thing happened and the higher-ups at the USPS started cutting services, it’s been hard to get mail.
I’ve had more than one thing simply not show up at all. An order of Christmas stuff from Doterra came mid January, which did not help with gift giving. But that’s nothing. One of my friends has had very expensive medicine delayed. She was okay, but there are others, like diabetics, who’ve had crises due to medicine being delayed.
Our horse supplements were also delayed, which wasn’t funny, even though they aren’t technically “medicine.” I’m still waiting for my turmeric tablets to show up.
Lee reports some of our clients haven’t received their bills in a timely fashion, too. That means money is not coming in. How many other small businesses that rely on the mail for billing have been adversely affected by the mail slowdown? This article shares some other consequences.
We need to be able to rely on postal mail, even if many of us pay our bills and do other transactions online. You need to be able to order something and have a vague idea of when it will show up.
It’s been pointed out to me that, back in the not-so-distant past we were used to waiting 3-5 weeks for packages, and that’s true. But, back them most people paid their bills by mail, and if you gave it a week or so, you’d be sure your payment arrived on time. And if you bill for services, you’d know that if you mailed the bill at a certain time of the month, recipients would have plenty of time to get the payment back to you on time.
That’s no longer true, and it concerns me greatly. I’m not alone, as the delays are annoying lawmakers as well.
It’s true. I can’t believe this happened, but in my Facebook feed today were two posts in a row, one by an ultra-conservative friend and one by an ultra-liberal friend. Both of the posts were about the really awful power outages that people who live here in Texas endured last week, some of whom are still dealing with it. Here’s the first one:
And here is the second one:
This is exactly what’s driving me crazy these days. Each side has found a way to blame the other for the issue. Neither article talks about anything anyone is doing to remedy the infrastructure issues or get help to people here. They just want to increase polarization.
It’s no wonder why I’m so uncomfortable with how people isolate themselves in their own echo chambers of slanted information. I think I know stuff, then I go over to some Facebook group and discover there’s a whole world of other news and a whole lot of people who say they hate me (I actually said something in the group once, just to see what would happen, and the piranhas pounced).
I remember getting a chuckle out of the endless parade of “Thanks, Obama” posts that came up whenever anything went wrong when he was President. The stuff some of these people blame on Biden has me scratching my head, though. And I truly enjoyed them going on and on about how Ted Cruz going to Mexico was JUST FINE, heck, they’d have gone too, if they had money.