Hmm, since I decided to just flow along with all the disasters and challenges of our times, my subconscious has been staging a rebellion in the form of really bad dreams and insomnia. These are things that I’m lucky enough to not suffer from, normally.
I had a dream so scary about my mother disappearing that I yelled in my sleep and scared Lee. At least the source of that one was obvious; I’d started a book in which a child’s mother drops her off at her grandparents’ house and drives off. Apparently that bothered me more than I realized.
But that’s not all, the endless dreams of being lost, deserted, confused, unloved…you know, the kind of things an anxious person would dream about…they keep coming and coming. And if I wake myself up to get away, I drift off, eventually, to visions of things I’m confused about at work dancing in my head. I’m feeling a little challenged, I guess (not necessarily a bad thing).
And trying to get to sleep, a thing I have finally perfected in my old age, has suddenly escaped me. I get all sleepy, lie down, and weird fuzzy thoughts pop up. Go away, weird fuzzy thoughts! (By the way, you do NOT need to give me advice on getting to sleep; believe me, after all these years I know exactly what works for me, am an excellent relaxation breather, own CBD/hemp oil, etc.)
I know the things I’m trying to let lie dormant don’t want to be dormant. That’s the real challenge of living in the moment, isn’t it? The past and the future keep vying for your attention. I’m not sure why things I did that were awful (when I was 26) keep popping back up, unless there’s some useful tidbit I need. And I sorta DO know why the future keeps poking me, even though over the weekend, the family worked out a long-term plan for that.
Maybe I need to rethink how I deal with the totally legitimate stressors that are buzzing around me at the moment and give them some space and time. Okay, they get a half hour around 3:30 pm. I hope they will show up and present their cases to gain my attention, then wait until the next day. Yeah, right.
What’s keeping you up at night? Illnesses (yes)? Interpersonal things (yes)? Family issues (yes)? Work or lack thereof (yes)? Natural disasters (yes)? Politics, climate change, racism, religion? Whatever it is, you’re normal, and however you’re dealing with it is just fine. We’re all doing our best, right?
People my age will remember early Saturday Night Live shows with Gilda Radner playing the irascible Roseanne Rosannadanna (not Emily Litella, as I said in my first draft). She’d end her confused monologues with the memorable phrase, “It’s always something.”
She was absolutely right, once you start thinking about things. Right now a lot of people feel like the world is in the worst shape it’s ever been in their lifetime. And there sure are a lot of calamities and issues these days.
I started thinking back through my life, which is a while, since I’m one of those Baby Boomers everyone thinks is so awful. What did I find? There was always something.
When I was a little kid, I had nightmare after nightmare about an atom bomb falling on my school. I had dreams where we’d be taken deep into tiled corridors that were supposed to lead to the safe area, but we never got there.
Later, I thought that what happened after high school, if you were a boy, is that you went to a faraway place and fought in the war Walter Cronkite kept telling us about every night, where there were always charts about injuries, deaths and MIAs.
Next, a whole lot of propaganda got me scared witless about drugs. Someone was going to slip me LSD and I’d be thrown into a psychedelic poster of Jimi Hendrix and never escape! I was scared to death of sugar cubes. Meanwhile, Mother’s Little Helper was over there turning my mom into a basket case. But, those weren’t DRUGS. Hippies used drugs!
Time marched on. There was always some calamity that was going to cause the downfall of society, kill us all, or take away this freedom we’d been told we had (being White people and all that). As I got older, I was sure we’d never survive a succession of war-mongering poor-people hating presidents (my opinions; not always accurate).
There were social things to get all up in arms about. Seat belts! How dare they! What? Cigarettes are bad? Don’t be a litterbug! Plastic is evil! Etc.
Yeah, it’s always something. After a while, you realize that there’s always some crisis or something to fear. The news has to report something. There’s always a war somewhere, a drought somewhere, a big storm, a fire…some are just closer to home than others. So…
I figure I’ve made it through all of these things. I’m just going to continue trying to do the right thing, strive for a better world, and deal with whatever threatens me at the moment. What comes is going to come.
I’m not going to be oblivious, complacent, or complicit with evil, meanness, or cruelty. I’m not going to be unsafe. I’m just not going to let it rule my life. This is the only life we get to live, and like Billy Joel said,
They say that these are not the best of times, but they’re the only times I’ve ever known.
Summer, Highland Falls, Turnstiles
I’ve been doing a lot better with it, with all the practice the pandemic has given me. I’m just gonna “roll with the changes” (REO Speedwagon?).
One of the guiding principles of my life is to assume that people have good intentions in what they do and say. That means that people are doing the best the can with what they know, and given their life experiences/culture. I’ve found that doing this allows me to easily straighten out misunderstandings, to listen with an open mind, and to learn from others. I find that almost every time I think someone is going something to be mean, unkind, or ignorant, they didn’t mean it the way it came across, or were missing some information that would straighten things out. It’s a good principle.
Is this hard to do? Why, yes, it certainly is. It’s very easy to mess this up in more than one way.
First, you can slip into the mindset that everything revolves around you, so anything anyone does or says that upsets you must be on purpose. I had a graduate school friend who did this. Once I had to talk him down from leaving school just because a professor didn’t say hello to him when she passed him in the hallway. To him, it HAD to be because she disapproved of him, his dissertation topic, or something. To me, she could have been thinking about the class she was about to teach, an issue with her children, or many other things…she could have been just daydreaming. The discussion was painful.
Second, you can fall into the trap of making assumptions about motives. That’s the one that gets to me. I have been known to assume that people have some agenda that I don’t fit in, so they ignore me, or say things that appear to me to reject my input. That’s often not the case, as I find out when I snap out of it and have a reasonable discussion (or say something unhelpful, which also happens a lot, just ask my family).
Third, you can put labels on people that over-generalize them and lump them together into some group you don’t have a high opinion of. That’s where we get racist, sexist, classist, and ethnic stereotypes that don’t give people a chance to be individuals with their own motives. I’ve lived around enough different groups of people that this one doesn’t trap me as much as the assumption one. However, it has taken me over 60 years to overcome some of the labels I put on members of certain religious groups. I’m very grateful to have met people who gently point out the fact that all religions have different factions and that I could probably find people very much like myself in all of them, if I’d just look. So, not all members of certain traditions don’t want to take my rights away or hate me because of my beliefs. I must remind myself of this!
What Makes It Harder
As you know (because you do not live under a rock) these are hard times to be reasonable people. All sorts of forces are conspiring to pit us against our neighbors in our towns, states, countries, and the world. We take our assigned label and cling hard to it, assuming that people we assign another label all have horrible intentions, are stupid, want to harm us, and are the reason everything’s so bad. Right? It’s not just here in the US. Check out the UK, for example, and yes, even Canada has its factions (read the news, you’ll see!).
I happen to know, live with, and interact frequently with people who are assigned different labels from me. I have to talk to them, work with them, and read their social media postings. Sometimes, since most of us don’t wear our labels on our lapels, the back of our trucks, or our speedboats, we get surprised to find out someone we like is one of “them.” Ooooh, noooo.
Well, they are still the same person you have something in common with, or you wouldn’t like them. Maybe they were brought up in a different community from you. Maybe they have had pivotal experiences that affect their thinking. And yeah, maybe they just follow along with their crowd, because it’s easier to do than pushing boundaries or sticking out. Hey, people on your side do it, too.
The challenge is to assume that they hold their beliefs, not because they personally hate you or your friends, but because the vast majority* of people you disagree with honestly think they are doing the right thing. They may be wrong, but for their internal value systems, it’s right for them. You (I) may be wrong, too. Confirmation bias and all that.
So, my plan is to work even harder on assuming good intentions for the next few months. This doesn’t mean I won’t work hard for causes I believe in, won’t vote as hard as I can for my preferred candidates, or won’t practice my own spiritual beliefs that work for me. It just means I’m going to try as hard as I can to remember the “other” side are people, too.
I will note that sometimes it will mean I can’t answer a question, because I can’t come up with a way to say things that won’t come across as insulting. And I’ll screw up. Some things really push my buttons. I bet you have buttons, too. And when I’m tired, overwhelmed with my work, or worried about things, I may be less than a sterling example of someone living their beliefs. But I’m going to TRY.
In the end, we all have to share our world. It’s the one we have.
*Yes, some people are mean. Some people are full of hate. Some people really fit stereotypes; that’s how they become stereotypes. It’s just that I firmly believe that MOST people I disagree with are not this way.
Yesterday I was talking to my therapist (a thing I do, because I think it’s good for you). I started describing all the things that are making this a rather stressful time. I went on and on. I ended up with quite a hefty list of things that combine to make me, perhaps, not at my best right now. For example, these are so of the things running through my mind.
Suna’s Bulleted List of Concerns
My job changes
The new company
Family health issues
My kids’ issues
Police killings of Black people
Well, yeah, probably just a couple of those would be enough for one period of time. My neck tingling started up just by typing that. How shall I cope?
I don’t think it’s healthy to ignore the things that are challenging us or threatening people we care about; I have noticed that things you try to bury eventually emerge to bit you in the butt. I want to be able to acknowledge them, then set aside the things I can’t do anything about (viruses, fires, rain). Worrying won’t change these natural phenomena I can do little to affect.
That leaves me with the things I do need to deal with. I’ll just minimize contact with mean people, keep in better touch with the kid who talks to me, donate to elections, work hard to figure my job out without letting it consume me, be there for my family, and cheer on the new business without getting in the way.
As for police killings of Black people, I am continuing my own education about racism by reading Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson with a group. They are reading one chapter a day, so it will take a while, but they are serious and ask lots of questions. It would have been interesting to read How to Be an Antiracist that way. And as for concrete actions, I’ve volunteered to be on the diversity committee at work, though I have to say I also plan to work on supporting elders like myself and my LGBTQ friends.
Just by examining how I am dealing with the challenges the world is presenting I feel better and more like I am handling these hard times as well as any other imperfect human could.
The Rewarding Part
And, for my friends and followers who prefer to focus only on what is good in life and what they are grateful for, I will happily acknowledge that I DO stop and smile at the good things that surround me.
I wish I could have captured the moment visually, but this morning, as I stepped out of the house to go to my car, the sun had just risen, and was casting a golden glow (smoke particles, no doubt). The grass was heavy with dew, so heavy that the blades were all bending down from the weight of drops of water. Each water droplet looked like it was made of gold, thanks to the sun. I walked to the car in a glistening, gold and green carpet. Yeah, my feet got wet, but it was worth it!
What have you encountered on this day the Earth has brought us? Are you safe or in a storm? What comforts you as you deal with your own bulleted list of concerns?
I really like to know what time it is. I was monitoring myself in the background today and realized how often I check the time. In fact, I almost panicked when the time wasn’t on my arm during a meeting, when I couldn’t see the time on the computer screen. My watch was charging. The horror.
I have many, many ways to tell time when I’m here at the office. Each computer screen tells me the time, though it’s tiny and is always betting blocked by my phone, a beverage, or another object..
My phone tells me the time in two places at once when my hot spot is running, so I’ll have a digital and an analog option. (By the way, I didn’t realize the clock icon on my phone actually told the correct time for an embarrassingly long number of months after I got an iPhone.)
I prefer analog clocks. I highly dislike military time, and I get annoyed when Lee sets appliances to tell me it’s 15:41. I do know that time that is, but I always have to pause to calculate. I want my time awareness to be instant.
Why do I care? I really don’t, unless I’m at work (paid or volunteer) and have to Zoom, or have to meet to feed the horses. I eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired, and go and return from work when it seems like a good time. Besides, time seems to be one of those things we humans, with our puny brains, really don’t understand completely. It could be FAKE NEWS for all I know.
Thus, it should come as no surprise to you that my new office’s lack of a clock bothered me. I did NOT like the Coca-Cola clock in the old office, since it didn’t have birds or flowers on it (as we know, I like to have a theme). I was pretty darned thrilled to find this item in the Grommet website. It had birds! It was made of recycled material! It came in the right color!
It’s made out of layers of corrugated box material. Isn’t that cool? That made it easy to hang on this ancient brick. I decided not to get the pink one, since there is so much pink in this room that it almost feels too girly to be MY room.
I’m happy with my clock. Are you a clock person? A watch person? A phone-time person? None of the above? I wonder how other folks prefer to have their time told to them.
I admit it. I am overwhelmed. I hit my wall and it hurt. Actually, what hurts appears to be a sinus infection on the left side of my head. I hope I can nip it in the bud without antibiotics, since I am not fond of those.
But yeah, yesterday, as things kept coming in for work, as I kept being confused about the new way to do things and messing it up, as my team asked for support while my management repeated that what they want isn’t important, I also had to run a meeting, prepare the agenda, and be secretary for the monthly Master Naturalist group. And I had to start putting together another newsletter for Friends of La Leche League, even though we are losing members due to our broken e-commerce system. Plus, the deal with my older son decided to poke its head up and cause me to plunge into despair again (son quit talking to me and won’t say why, and even got married without telling me; I usually cope okay, just right now I’m not). And don’t forget I’m trying to help out with the family business when asked.
I just took yesterday afternoon off and slept. That enabled me to get my evening stuff done. But that’s not a daily choice! It’s too bad that telling myself to take things one day (or hour) at a time, stop trying to do everything right when I’m confused, remember I’m just fine the way I am just isn’t working at the moment. That calls for me reminding myself that life isn’t an uphill climb; sometimes you fall down into a valley and start again.
What doesn’t help is lying in bed trying to figure out how to quit everything and just hang out with the dogs, chickens, and equines at the ranch. That, in itself, is a huge and overwhelming undertaking, as my mind firmly reminded me. I was just wallowing in self pity last night.
Then, when I woke up this morning, I realized I have the major PTSD over the events on this date years ago, when I was lost at O’Hare and trapped in Schaumburg, Illinois without my children (and the totally un-supportive husband who only wanted to get rid of me). Well, no wonder I’m not at the top of my game. I just need to accept this.
I think I’ll just do what I can at work, and psyche myself up for the one hard meeting, then go home and hug the ranch. This is only temporary, and life will, as always, have its ups and downs. Onward, and I hope, upward!
Well, here I am. It’s my designated blogging opportunity, and honest. Nothing to say. But my goal is to write every day, so I’ll write. What’s up with me?
I’m in Austin, enjoying a Flash Flood Warning, listening to Anita watch Facebook (people who live alone talk to a lot of inanimate objects and pets, it seems, but it’s sweet). Life doesn’t get much better.
I’m still confused about work, but have decided to go with the flow in hopes that at some point the actual tasks we have to do come into focus. At least the intentions behind what we are being asked to do are starting to make sense – they want to sell software. Surprise. So, we technical documentation specialists are gonna make that happen…somehow. I can do it!
While I made it to Austin, the clothing I was going to wear while I was here did not. I was afraid I’d have no pants that fit, but I do; it’s just that they are mint green jeans. It’s a good thing they only see your top half in Zoom meetings! I found a company conference t-shirt from 2014, so I’ll look quite prepared.
We have our neighborhood book group tonight (one reason I’m here), and I am really looking forward to talking about The Vanishing Half, since my book review of it went over like a lead dictionary. That’s okay, lots of my posts get about six readers; they are treasured readers!
So, are YOU doing something interesting today? Tell me what’s up!
Yep, it’s Labor Day here in the good ole USA, where we honor the working people who contribute so much, by giving them a day of rest. Well, we honor SOME of them, anyway. I have the day off at my “white-collar” full-time managerial position in a software company, where I get 3 weeks of vacation and insurance, plus a 401K retirement plan.
It was NOT always the case, and I will not forget it. Here’s what I said 11 years ago, before I got the job I’m in now:
I love the concept of Labor Day. But today, please remember us contract workers, folks for whom today is a forced day off, with no pay. That does not feel like a reward for our hard work. Independent contractors get no benefits, pay high self-employment taxes, and have no holiday or vacation pay. I have not had a vacation since 2006, except when laid off/between contracts. I am very grateful to have work, though.
Suna on Facebook, September 7, 2009
What that doesn’t tell you is that I hadn’t had a paid vacation in…ever. The work I did from 1995-2006 was a mix of volunteer work, contract work, and stipends for a nonprofit. (Poor pitiful me, not really; I managed to live just fine.)
Every year I make it a point to remind folks who are having parties, cooking out, boating, or relaxing in groups smaller than ten (my peeps) that not everyone has the luxury of time off. My younger son is out there delivering YOUR pizzas (if he can get into your gated community). The folks at Hearts, Homes and Hands are taking care of our clients, whose needs do not stop for holidays. Grocery and convenience stores are open to sell you beer and brats. Retailers are open for Labor Day Sales Extravaganzas.
So, not everyone gets a paid day of fun for Labor Day. Minimum-wage workers are out there earning their minimum wage, at jobs where their hours are kept just below what would legally require benefits (like paid time off). Contract workers, like me in my previous life, sit at home, hoping that the pay shortage won’t make it hard to pay rent or utility bills.
Sigh. I think something that would actually make America great would be to pay hard, honest workers a livable wage, with time off for holidays (or comp time if they choose to work holidays), and heck, maybe even parental leave when they have babies. Then I’d celebrate Labor Day with a happy heart.
I probably mean who are MY friends. I’m not talking about my inner circle of friends and family, which is a small number, like with most people. I mean the larger group of folks I care about, respect, and am interested in hearing from.
Thanks to my career on the internet, I know and have gotten pretty close to lots of people from a wide range of backgrounds. We all have something in common that ties us together, but we’re all different, too. I honestly like that, even though I also like being around my “tribe” as well, which is very human.
Most of the people I know are great about respecting the rights of others to express themselves, even when they are TOTALLY WRONG (i.e., on the other side of an issue). A few aren’t. I’m okay with that, unless I get accused of thinking or believing something I don’t think or believe.
I got my feelings hurt pretty badly when I shared the recent news article about people who,as a group, aren’t big on following rules sinking their compatriots’ boats by going too fast in a parade. I thought it was a funny example of logical consequences. (I am having trouble linking to an article, so just Google “Lake Travis boat parade” and it will come up.
Someone took offense to my posting it, even though I didn’t comment, and said: “Pretty sad that you take pleasure in this. I’ll bet you wish some of these people had drowned.”
Wow. That’s the kind of thing that hurts a lot. Did they really believe that? Knowing I’m a pacifist, nonviolent, Buddhist-leaning tree-hugger?
So yeah, I said that was mean. But I didn’t delete this person’s comments, since they have a right to insult me and lump me into some hypothetical evil group of people. On the other hand, I didn’t delete any subsequent comments, some of which agreed and some that didn’t. Everyone gets a say.
Im not surprised someone treated me like that. I’m learning that people who speak out, in today’s climate, will get bashed. Others have it lots worse, so I’m grateful for the kindness of people I know. Maybe that’s what matters more to me than beliefs, kindness.
I just hope the bashers (ha ha autocorrect hat it as badgers) stick to words! Dialog or one-sided rants are fine. But I’m against hurting others or their businesses because you disagree on things. I want to hear all sides, even when it’s hard. But I’m not super. I have to deal with my own knee-jerk reactions. Don’t we all?
What I Discovered
After all this, I checked my Facebook friends list. I was relieved to see quite a few people I care about who disagree politically or socially. This is GOOD. I don’t want to isolate myself in my comfort zone!
I want to share what I wrote on Facebook, mainly as a record for myself, but also to try to say how much I care for all my friends and family. Please don’t think I’m a horrible stereotype!
My Post.It’s Long.
I just culled my friends list. I saw a beautiful parade of faces from all over the world, in every color. From teens to my elders, there they were. Some I hear from often, some haven’t posted in years. I just like seeing their precious faces. Who did I cull? A couple of leftover fake people, people who have passed from this life (cause I get sad at their birthdays), and a lot of animals who long ago passed over the Rainbow Bridge.
Who did I keep? A large group of very diverse people I truly care about. Family, old friends, new friends, locals, people in other hemispheres, people from the whole spiritual spectrum (Yes, including Christians, Jews, Muslim, Buddhists, Wiccan, agnostics, and atheists). Straight, gay, trans, questioning, bi, gender fluid—they’re all good to me. There are people across the range of political and social groups, too (that’s right, from MAGA to Antifa to Communist to pacifists to gun rights activists to Capitalist to Socialist to fans of dictators to fans of the US Constitution (many interpretations) to people who just don’t care).
I’ve kept people who are vocal about their beliefs. I’ve kept people I agree with. I will keep people I disagree with. I’ve kept people who don’t post controversial things and people who do. Why? Because we all get to express ourselves however WE see fit.
We have the option to scroll by things that bother us or to react. Then we deal with the consequences. When I screw up, I can count on others to point it out. I am not going to censor friends I agree with or disagree with. I’m not going to invite people I disagree with to leave. Nope. We all get to stay.
Sometimes my humor upsets people. I hate that! But I’ll keep trying. If I hurt your feelings, tell me. I’ll do the same, though. Thanks to all of my diverse friends for sticking with me in these troubled times. I treasure YOU.
Take care friends. The US is in a bad place and it will get worse the rest of the year, I’m afraid. Do your best not to pigeonhole your friends, acquaintances, and family. Try?
The last few days have not been in the realm of “fun” for me, for the most part. Just because I CAN do things doesn’t mean they aren’t stressful and tiring. I knew I had to change my team and work in a different way than before, so I did, but between actually doing it, needing support, and spending a LOT of time supporting confused people, by the time last night rolled around I was pooped.
When I got home, I was not up for wading through mud to feed the horses, and besides, I knew they had food and water, due to all the rain (the grass IMMEDIATELY grew). I did check on the very wet chickens and their very wet food (I can’t open one of their feeders, so, it was all in a very wet bowl). As I was checking on the new chickens, Patty ran into the pullet area and wouldn’t come back out. She went right over to poor Henley (who still doesn’t look great, but she’s eating and drinking). I tried as long as I could do remove her, but failed.
I crawled into bed and had ice cream for dinner. Self care! That was fun.
Today, it’s been raining all day again. The weather around here is just plain weird. But, it’s not hot. And the chimney leaked a lot less than yesterday. See, how great is that?
After surviving (set the bar low, Lee said) the three days of planning meetings with hundreds of people on Zoom, I was happy to find a box on the porch. It contained my new autumn wreath. It’s not too fancy, but will look good on my office door. I wanted to wait until after Labor Day, but I needed some fun, darn it! That will get me through another couple of months, anyway.
My boss said to take the afternoon off, because we’ve earned it, but of course I’ve had to deal with an ornery aging computer genius, and my team all want me to to one on ones and teach them complicated document formatting techniques. I wonder if I can do that while completely empty of mental strength?
I AM taking tomorrow off. Maybe it won’t rain and I can make it up to Apache and Fiona!