For the past few days, I’ve been noticing that I cringe when I hear certain words used to label people or things in conversation, on social media, or on television. Some of these are words I know bother other people (like “gypsy,” for personal and business names that the Romani/Romanichal folks would not be fond of because the people using the term aren’t referring to actual gypsies, or naming your pets “Dixie” or “Cracker” or other loaded Southern words in today’s climate).*
Others are just me. I realize that, for some reason, I do not like the word “cheap” when applied to things you buy. I think my internal definition in my idiolect has more to do with poor quality than low cost. In my mind when people say they want a cheap thing, they are saying that they pay more attention to the price of a thing than to how well it will work or how long it will serve, a short-term viewpoint. So, I never refer to things I obtain as cheap. They are inexpensive, which doesn’t have the poor quality connotation that’s really a secondary definition of cheapness. To me.
Back to the first group of words I don’t like, most of them appear to be words that apply to cultural, racial, or national groups. I just recently began to cringe when I hear “Latinx,” after hearing someone say no actual Latino or Latina person would use that word, since it isn’t even Spanish. To them it sounds like white people went and made up a word to solve a problem that didn’t really exist. People who speak Spanish don’t take grammatical gender as literally as English speakers do. How about that? Should I use “Hispanic?” That one has its own issues. Maybe I’ll just call people by their names or refer to their country or origin if they aren’t from the US.
I guess I know how much people treasure their cultural identities, so I want to use the words members of a particular culture prefer to use, even if they change as time goes on. It would be a LOT easier if there was universal agreement, though. I actually knew someone who preferred “negro” to “Black” or “African American.” Plus, the AA term really doesn’t apply to actual Africans or people from the Caribbean who have moved here. ARGH.
One thing the current movement toward acknowledging the great variety of gender terminology and preferences has taught me is this: it never hurts to ASK someone how they want to be referred to. So, if you don’t know, ASK if a Cajun wants to be called that. ASK what your “indigenous” friend likes their cultural identity to be called.
Just don’t be cheap about it. Don’t gyp me. Don’t try to jew me down. When did you start to cringe in this extra cringeworthy paragraph? Do you see why I prefer to be careful with labels and their derivations? It’s not just me being a liberal snowflake (by the way, each snowflake is unique and beautiful, so thanks for calling me that, frenemies!).
Suna, she/her, McLeod of the Clan McLeod**
*I have known many dogs named Dixie, and it didn’t use to be controversial. Times change.
**Way too fond of one branch of my Ancestry family tree, perhaps?
I’m talking about mentally lighter, here. True fact is that I have been feeling much lighter while I’m on my sojourn in the mountains. I have finally given myself space to breathe and permission to do nothing I “should” be doing for a few weeks. I’ve been able to read, knit, watch silly television movies with the family, and eat whatever I want to, whenever I want to. Nice.
It turns out, though, that I’m not the only one. In my casual reading of email, Facebook, and news sites this morning, I have run across a surprisingly (to me) large number of folks expressing that they feel lighter, better, more free, or less stressed. It’s not everyone. But it’s a lot of people.
I’ll address the elephant in the room.*
Lots of people are feeling more free and less vigilant because of the US election results. Some of us are relieved at the Presidential election stuff; others are happy that their party did much better than expected in state and local elections. Still others are just glad for a break from all those ads and such. But, I don’t think it’s all about that.
There are still lots of things in 2020 that can keep us blanketed with concerns. The COVID stuff weighs on everyone’s minds, for sure. There have been exposures in my family, and that worries me, of course. And I keep trying to think of ways to have fun in Utah and avoid crowds of strangers (so far, I’ve done pretty well, though one store I went in last week made me uncomfortable, so I left). Being able to figure out ways to enjoy life, even with restrictions, though, has helped me a lot, and I am thinking others are figuring out ways to be comfortable with their “new normal” (a phrase I’m growing to dislike).
Maybe, just maybe, the way we’ve all been forced to do a lot of introspection and many of us have been spending more time in nature and noticing how we’re all interconnected, maybe that’s helped. I want that to be true. And it has really helped a lot of us focus on the here and now, not what just happened or what might happen. When we realize we are a part of everything, even pandemics fall into place. We just deal with what comes up, every day.
I keep mentioning that finding the good in whatever you’re doing seems to work. Attitude seems matter, lots. I think more and more of us are finding this focus, whether intentionally or not. I know it’s how I’ve gotten through previous politically tough times and times when people I love are ill. I think back to when my mom was sick, when my dad was in his horrible accident and the aftermath of that, the loss of my son’s love, and all the hard times I’ve faced, and I realize that all these times I’ve focused on the current moment, realizing there’s nothing that worrying or brooding can do. We all have these kinds of times, and 2020 seems to have brought more than its share to so many people.
Let’s enjoy feeling a little lighter, even for a short while. Hold these times in our hearts as we figure out what to do with all the upcoming holidays and other challenges. Keep those negative thoughts in their proper place (there is still plenty to challenge us, and there’s no denying it). With the support of our inner circles and a focus on the good around us, I think we can make it.
*Another elephant (symbolically) is that maybe a lot of the people who are angsty and upset are hanging out in their Parler now, so I’m left interacting with people who are coping with life right now.
Today is Anita’s last day with me in Utah. I just have to say it’s been great. One of the best things about hanging out with your long-time friends is that you can enjoy yourselves without doing much at all. We did a lot of nothing this week.
We did have a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, but since we didn’t have access to a car most of the time she was here, we spent a lot of time just hanging around the Canyons Village resort area. All the walking was a blast, and it sure used up a lot of energy. That meant we got to enjoy a lot of food, too! Thank goodness the pho and ramen restaurant finally opened, so we could eat there!
The shopping and sight-seeing was also fun, and we sure were grateful for the family visitors for taking us around. Yesterday we did a bit more shopping, and Anita got some great coral Zuni earrings. I’m so glad she got to have fun, while Kathleen and I were drooling over a huge jewelry selection AND Navajo blankets. Not bad ones!
My favorite thing she got is a huge cactus-shaped birdhouse thing. It’s going to be her “travel pillow” so she can get it on the plane. It is stuffed with excellent newspapers from Nepal!
The best part was just hanging around in the condo, eating our random foods, watching the snow, the birds and the one giant black cat that hangs around here. It was so good having someone to watch election coverage with and talk about things.
And of course, the four seasons of Schitt’s Creek were a blast. Neither of us had laughed so much in a long time.
She got out while the weather was still great, which is good, since a snowstorm is a-brewing. I’m sure the rest of us will figure out something fun this evening, though!
The intent of this post is just to say treasure your friends, and make the most of times you get to spend together. Usually Anita and I are both working a lot, so just hanging out was a real treat. Relaxing, truly relaxing, is rare, and I am glad we got to do it together. Only she and I would laugh when I pompously declare that I just realized that for every mountain, there is a valley (that’s after I looked at a team photo in the newspaper stuffed in the cactus and wondered where people played soccer in Nepal, with all those mountains).
Tell your friends you care about them! (Hey, friends, I care about you!) Write me!
Where did the real Suna go? I’ve been thoroughly enjoying getting lots and lots of exercise since it got cold way up here in the mountains. Like, I volunteer to climb up snowy hills. I pant a bit and go higher. I stand around and think about going even higher or driving to a better hiking place (we may rent a car tomorrow and go somewhere).
Today we went to get more groceries, which was also fun. If there’s a blizzard I’ll be fine. And Anita got lemon for her morning beverage! We’re good! Then we took yet another walk. I just can’t stop. I think I’d never seen so much dry powdery snow before. The crunch crunch crunch is really invigorating! It’s even addicting.
I think I may need to learn to criss-country ski at some point, though my legs are already yelling at me.
Folks, I never liked exercise as much as I do now. I wonder if taking turmeric and CBD oil has made my body feel better, so I enjoy moving more? Now physical exertion is fun.
Also, though, I never liked being out in the cold much (sorry, Illinois years). I’m from a warm place. What’s up with that?
In Illinois, it was often SO cold and windy, and I had to stand around waiting for the bus, or walk a mile to teach a class too many times when my breath was freezing as it came out. This week, it’s cold, but really pleasant. I’m glad I’ve had this experience.
All this glee isn’t something I’ve felt in so long. I get that way in Texas when I’m with Apache or out looking at new plants. The key really seems to be living in the moment. Just being present and experiencing what’s going on right around you truly brings joy.
What a lesson at such a good time! Most of my life I’ve read about living in the moment. I’ve tried to do it. This year has been hard, so hard, but I think I’ve benefited by making so much progress on being here, now.
What’s out there that can invigorate you? How are you growing in this season of transition?
I realize I keep coming back to this topic, but I’m really concerned. While there have always been different points of view, different “teams” that we’re on, and strong feelings about them (this morning I was thinking about Tudor England and the religious issue), I never have seen that these divisions have helped societies move forward and improve people’s lives. The deepest times of division have led to death, poverty, and great sadness.
I’ve felt a lack of kinship with people in the US much of my life. Most Presidential and other more local elections tend to be close, meaning there are lots of us on each side. I admit that I was not fond of perhaps most Presidents of the USA. But, I didn’t run away and hide from people who liked those leaders. I still worked with them, went to school with them, socialized with them, etc. I was never so afraid of them that I felt I needed to hide.
Even in the last four years, when people were arming themselves, calling people like me horrible names, and threatening violence against us, I didn’t feel like I had to hide. I did contain my strongest thoughts to smaller circles of friends, but I didn’t want to abandon my other friends and acquaintances. They mattered to me, and still do.
So, I am really disappointed and sad that many people, including people I have enjoyed being around, are running away from the rest of us to go off to their own special social media platform. It’s fine to go be around people like yourself. I think it’s a really human impulse to want to want to be able to relax and not self-censor quite so much, at least some of the time. But, I really hope most of these folks don’t completely abandon places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., where you can be with people like yourself AND get exposed to other ideas and perspectives.
Please, friends, don’t take your toys and go hide just because you’re in the minority. Most of us have been in the minority our whole lives and it’s been okay. Sharing power and influence might even make life easier, who knows if we don’t give it a chance?
Even we hermits of the Hermits’ Rest really don’t want to hide from everyone who isn’t “one of us.” There is so much we have in common. I know I harp on this, but it’s true! We need to work together to deal with the pandemic, to create good jobs in our communities (like our company, which has people of ALL perspectives in it), and to keep each other safe. I just wish our common humanity and citizenship of the same planet mattered to more of us.
Anyway, thank you to everyone who is willing to continue talking to each other, caring for each other, and considering each other’s perspectives. We don’t need a civil war, violence, or separate societies. We can disagree, protest, and work toward our goals without hurting or deserting each other. I sure hope.
I’m going to be sure to let people I know hear that I care about them. What about you?
Starting to wonder here, have we all turned into assholes? It used to be that humor was the tool used in times of stress to break the tension. Nowadays, any time I, or any of my other friends who hasn’t deleted every person who votes for the “other” US party, simply can’t make jokes. There’s no such thing as laughing at ourselves, gently ribbing another group, or having a chuckle over our cognitive dissonance. Nothing’s allowed to be funny now, according to the humor police.
Nope, if I dare post something on Facebook that I find funny, but happens to be vaguely political, a predictable group of people will take me to task. I find that sort of funny in itself, because my strategy has been to let stuff like that slide, or even see the humor in some of the things people post. In many cases, I’ve simply scrolled on by things they say, because I think they have every right to say them, whether I agree or not.
One person, we will call them “M,” always chides me for my rare political posts, and virtuously points out that they NEVER say anything political on their own page. That’s absolutely true. Instead they insult and put others down in comments on their statuses. I take a little consolation in the fact that I’m not the only target. I have always apologized for any perceived insult, but M always needs to have the last word, or more accurately, jab. I always let them get that satisfaction, since it doesn’t matter to me and I’m not keeping score.
I share that example, not to get back at people outside of Facebook, but to genuinely wonder why we have to be this way? What does trolling do for the troll? What accolades do online bullies get? Does their fearless leader send them a gold star?
When folks I disagree with post rational responses, I always learn something and go look up more on the information behind their comments. That’s how I’ve gotten to get a better perspective on both sides, and why I have NOT removed friends and family with whom I disagree. But, dang, how much passive aggressive jabbing is too much?
I hate to lose touch with people I care about or need to work with. No one’s all bad (even me, M). I feel really badly for my friends who can no longer interact with family and lifelong friends because they’re wired differently (like I was saying yesterday). Please, folks, let up on others.
Sure, some humor is really mean, cruel, or ugly. But a lot of humor isn’t. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, we’re going to be stuck in an even longer, more humorless period than we’re already in. It really does feel like a new Dark Ages, doesn’t it? Plagues, civil wars, being attacked for saying or believing the wrong thing.
Like the rest of the world, I have been watching events unfold after the US election. One thing I have seen over and over is people lamenting, “How could so many people have voted for the other side?” And ooh, are they serious, as I found out when I tried to post something funny that I didn’t realize was such a hot potato for the side I’m not a member of. Oops. No opinionating on Facebook, even just to be funny, it appears. On the other hand, I guess I actually agree with the humor, and it has to do with why I’m not so surprised so many people voted on each side.
A Digression on Divisiveness
There are two different world views, and each one is “right” from their point of view.
Depending on how you were raised, your life experiences, and yes, even some genetic influence, you are just going to have different priorities. Actual scientific research concluded “the development of political attitudes depends, on average, about 60 percent on the environment in which we grow up and live and 40 percent on our genes.” Scientific American
I know there’s stuff written on this, but I’m just going to say it as my opinion: I believe that about half of us primarily act out of self preservation and keeping their group on top (safe, in power, well fed). The other half of us have a larger view of preservation and focus on preserving all of humanity and the rest of the earth, too. That’s an over-generalization, of course.
Having read the Caste book recently (sorry if I keep referring to it, but it’s just chock full of helpful information), I am very aware that the country where I live was designed to preserve the wealth and power of one group (that would be the white dudes). And yes, the Electoral College was set up to preserve the power of the right white dudes. The idea of one person’s vote counting the same as another’s really scares some of us, because it might disrupt the balance of power. A person I know said that if we didn’t use the Electoral College, people in New York and Las Angeles would count the SAME as him! Oh no! Their vote would be equal to his! All that work keeping progressives, blacks, and others from influencing things would be down the drain. I guess? I honestly don’t get it.
What Was I Writing About?
What I wanted to actually talk about today is why I care about people who are not a part of my “group.” I am lucky enough to be descended from the English and Scots people who fled the UK because the were religious outsiders, criminals, or sons who couldn’t inherit land. A fine bunch. But because of that, I am the recipient of a lot of advantages. This has never set well with me.
Part of it comes from being raised in the Deep South and experiencing a lot of discomfort about how Black people were treated. I have s strong memory of being yelled at for peeing in Versie’s toilet in the garage at my grandmother’s house. This woman could cook our food, but her toilet was forbidden? And why did she have her own toilet?
And as things went on, I ended up having more Black friends than a lot of people like me did. When my parents moved to (ugh) Plantation, Florida, I was in eighth grade. For some reason, my classmates took an initial dislike to me. I went straight from being a popular kid in a gifted class to the person no one talked to, who had to sit with the black kids. Well, it turned out the black kids felt like me. They’d been bussed into this extra white neighborhood and did not feel welcome. So, what the heck, I talked to them (as much as I could; back then there actually was quite a difference in how the two groups talked).
I ended up spending most of the year with a Black girl, Earnestine, who was smart, like me, but who also didn’t understand Algebra 1 (we were in a horrible experimental school that was one giant room and where you were supposed to teach yourself from textbooks and just ask teachers if you needed help). Earnie ended up being the first person I ever taught to crochet, and we made money from it! The moral to that whole experience was that I got to actually know a lot of these kids, learned all about their families and lives, and found we had a lot in common. (Earnie was top in her class when she graduated from the historically black high school in Ft. Lauderdale, though I didn’t see her again until senior year of high school; things might have been different if we’d had email and social media!).
I was glad to have my eyes opened to see that the people my peers said bad things about were actually just fine. Thank goodness I also made really good Jewish friends and Cuban-American friends (we didn’t have Mexicans) in high school, plus being really close to one of my Black friends. Poor Mom, dealing with me bringing ALL these kids home. But wow, I’m glad I made all these good friends while I was young. I simply can’t view people who aren’t like me in looks, religious tradition, or ethnicity as non-people.
In college, I just happened to fall into a group of young gay men, which was really important. This was pre-AIDS. It was also long before people were coming out in high school or earlier. Many of these guys were trying to figure out who they were, and feeling very vulnerable. Most important, though, was that they were kind to me and my straight friends, and taught us so much about what it’s like to be afraid to be yourself, but go out in the world as you really are. My deep care for these people is probably why I care SO MUCH for young people today who are exploring their gender and sexuality. I remember how hard it was for my friends.
So, no, I wasn’t born such a tree-hugging, peace-mongering, equality-promoting human. Both my genetics (from my dad) AND my experiences led me to be how I am. I totally get how someone with different genes and different experiences might feel threatened by people like me, my friends who are people of color, and all those LGBTQ folks. They are different.
I know so many people I care about feel very threatened by the idea of people who aren’t white dudes being in charge. I’ve heard people say they voted against Biden because if he died in office, TWO WOMEN would be in charge! Yeah, that’s way too many vaginas in power. The thing is, those of us who care about everyone also care about people who feel threatened by change in the status quo. So, don’t worry folks. Those of us who love everybody will keep on loving them, regardless of power struggles. And we don’t expect people who are wired differently to change.
Who knows, maybe the fact that we are about 50/50 is a good thing for humanity and contributes to our continued ability to thrive in the world. Maybe it’s okay that some of us are for unity and some for division. I just want the best and the brightest to get a chance to lead, regardless of superficial differences. That makes me radical, but it’s just how I am.
I woke up this morning and the world was still here. I still had work to do. The sun was shining, and the moon was still up.
As I read my daily email updates, checked out social media, and finally decided to listen to some news, I began to read and hear lots and lots of advice from people for how to deal with feelings today. A lot of it was very good, and once again, I appreciated words from Maria Shriver.
And there were lots of other people sharing advice to breathe and acknowledge your feelings. I think we all need that, regardless of your feelings about the US election. We are still a country that is very divided, so I intend to continue to send thoughts for peace and calm, remember that I’m resilient, and keep living in the moment.
I’m not going to tell YOU how to act, what to think, or what to feel. I feel overwhelmed by all the advice, myself. Please do what works for you. That’s all my advice.
Know that lots of bad, awful, and disheartening events have occurred throughout the history of this country, but regular people still just want to live their lives in peace and safety. I’m remembering that.
Lately I’ve varied the kinds of things I put on social media. Sometimes I share a thoughtful meme, sometimes I talk about how I’m feeling, sometimes I share a blog post, and other times I do a check-in, where I ask people a question.
By far the most engaging posts are ones that ask questions. Today, I was feeling a little bummed, so I asked people to share what the highlight of their day had been so far. I was delighted to see that by 6 pm it had close to 80 comments! I heard from so many people, some of whom I hadn’t heard from in a while.
Plus, conversations got started in the comments. I love it when I see my friends “talking to each other” thanks to a conversation starter from me. That may be my favorite aspect of the Facebook, conversations. I learn so much, and I am so often uplifted and encouraged when I read what my friends have to say.
In marketing, they always tell you to put a call to action on things you post (like, click, comment, please!). I am not all that great at that, though I do add a question to my blog posts when I sincerely want to know something. Marketing is SO not my thing, which is probably why I still only have a thousand followers and don’t get 40 WordPress likes every time I sneeze (I am guessing not being young, cute, and an “influencer” may also have something to do with it). I should be grateful that at least someone reads what a grumpy old Boomer with blue hair types! (I admit that I type mostly for me, anyway…it’s been said that I’m self centered…maybe a narcissist…I do stare in the mirror a lot.)<– humor.
But, seriously, the reason I’m here is to give YOU this little hint. If you want to hear from your friends and family ASK something! It works like crazy, and if you happen to have something you want to promote along with it, feel free (some of us do prefer subtle promotion that is not constant, though, just saying). People like to answer questions, it makes them feel like someone is actually interested in them (and in my case, I am!). This builds community, and it’s free PLUS you can do it from the comfort of wherever you happen to be!
What if you’d rather answer questions than ask them? There are two people I follow on Facebook, who ask great questions nearly every day: Joanna Fontaine Crawford and Jonathan K. Horstmann. One’s a UU minister and one’s a filmmaker/musician (both are parents of attractive children, ranging from babies to young adults). I’ll try to share others as I’m reminded of them. You can “meet” interesting folks by reading other people’s answers, too, and in these times, I’ll take any kind of uplifting human content I can get!
Let me know if you have any questions you’d like me to ask, either here on the blog, or on Facebook (I don’t ask questions on Instagram). Not connected? Tell me you’re a blog reader, and I’ll be your friend unless you start spamming or attacking others!
If I hadn’t put out decorations in my houses, I wouldn’t remember that Halloween is in a few days. All that fun spookiness and pretending to be scared has fallen by the wayside in my circles. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY seems to have real fears right now. It doesn’t matter who you are or what social group you’re a member of, you’re probably scared, or at least really concerned.
People in the US seem to be the most scared, but friends around the world have been expressing their concerns to me or in public forums. The elections coming next Tuesday are alarming people. People are scared of fraud, roaming militias, unseemly riots, government failures, mayhem, the apocalypse, a military coup, bombs…you name it, if it’s bad, people are afraid of it.
According to an article in today’s The USA Today, 70% of US adults are anxious about the upcoming election. That obviously includes people from all parts of the political spectrum! The article describes what people around me have been saying:
The majority of American adults say they feel it. The anxiety, the fear, the dread.
They feel it before bed and when they wake at night, at red lights and in grocery store lines, at desks and dinner tables. Quiet moments are no longer a refuge, but spaces to ruminate, contemplate, to grapple with how risky it is to hope.
Only 52% were anxious in 2016 (I should have been MORE anxious). The thing is, no matter who wins, the other side will be doubtful about the results. I can see that. It doesn’t bode well. And taking deep breaths won’t help in that situation, will it? I have been wondering if there are any ideas I can share with y’all, my real-life friends, and my family (who run the gamut of beliefs and expectations).
Thank goodness for Alia E. Dastagir, who wrote this helpful article, and thank goodness I found it when I was faliling around searching for ways to cope. I’ll share her ideas for dealing with the next few days, weeks, or months, but feel free to head on over to the original article for details.
Avoid doomscrolling. That means don’t obsess over the news and check outlets repeatedly. You could even take some time off.
Prepare for a period of uncertainty. Ugh, I don’t want to do that! I want things to be DONE. Well, too bad. We need to find ways to remain strong while waiting for things to settle down. And there’s where I’m grasping at straws. Dastagir did NOT tell me how to do that.
Dare to hope. Dastagir points out that many people in the US no longer dare hope. At least there’s a suggestion on this one, which is to focus on finding something you can actually DO. I think all the postcard writing some of my friends did helped in that way.
Avoid black-and-white thinking. That is easy to fall into, especially for some of us. WE’RE DOOMED! I have been doing a fairly good job of avoiding that kind of thing myself. I try to remind myself that we are all fellow humans, and that awful stuff has happened throughout history and at least SOME people make it through it…so, maybe I’m not doing such a great job of avoiding doom and gloom. But, we can all try together, right?
Don’t despair. This may be easier said than done, but we are implored not to despair if our candidate does not win. The psychology professor quoted in the article recommended that we try to avoid people who may be gloating or in ecstasy for the first few days after a contentious election is settled. That is what I did in 2016, though that was easier then than it is now.
This time, I may have to leave town.
Hey, do any of YOU have any good suggestions for how to deal with what’s going to be a hard time for at least half of us, no matter what the outcome?