I Get to…

Lee has been talking about how he’s reframing sentences that start with, “I’ve got to…” with the alternative of, “I get to.” sometimes a simple change like that works!

I’m trying it right now! Earlier I’d asked Lee if he wanted to pick me up some lunch, and join me, since I didn’t see anything at home I was hankering for. He suggested Domino’s, which has sandwiches we like and curbside pickup.

He checked with the folks working across the street, and they said they would join us, and said what they’d like.

Scenic Domino’s. Formerly the fancy farm and ranch place.

Next, Lee told me he has an online meeting he must take from home, so he can’t come (hmm, why did he agree before and choose the venue?). So, I practiced saying, “Oh boy, I get to drive to the pizza place.” And I envisioned getting out of the dungeon and such.

I got there. No food. Had to talk to the owner. Turns out, Lee had ordered in Rockdale. I “got to” call Rockdale and cancel, then “got to” go inside the store and re-order. (Or, I could have gotten to drive to Rockdale and pick it up, which would mean cold soggy food.) Luckily, I was the only customer in the restaurant, we were appropriately masked, and no one touched my credit card. And I have hand sanitizer in the car!

Now, I “get to” sit in the car while the food is prepared. That’s okay! I get to blog, and I came up with a blog topic for today. Score!

Later

I got to have a nice chat with the pizza store guy, and still had piping hot sandwiches and pizza when I got to the office. We all enjoyed our meals.

Mine was actually the veggie sandwich.

See, that have to/get to reframing really does work! All’s well that ends well!

We’re Doing the Best We Can!

In my recent post about core values, I mentioned the guiding principles I try to live by:

  • Treat others how you’d like to be treated
  • Assume good intentions
  • Love yourself

They go along with the core values I figured out that drive me: kindness and making a difference.

It’s important to revisit your intentions, because if you don’t keep putting them out into the world, they can just whither away. The stressful state most of the people I know are in right now makes it really, really easy to wallow in sadness, self-pity, or anxiety. People like me can experience some remarkably steep reversals in their personal growth (which I’ve mentioned a couple times in the past few weeks, so no need to beat that topic to death).

Perhaps I need this sign in my new office. Image by @dunahoot217 via Twenty20.

The Golden Rule’s been taking a bit of a beating lately, when I find myself getting defensive and not saying things as kindly as I would prefer to, and it doesn’t help that my attempts at being kind or helpful can get misinterpreted, leading to an ugly circle of no one being at their best. Knowing perfectly well that the only person whose behavior I can change is mine, I’m going to try to stay a little more in my higher self zone, and not reflect back any perceived negativity I get from friends and family, which might stop the circle.

trying
I deserve a reward.

This brings me to the second principle, of assuming good intentions, or that everyone’s doing their best. This topic has independently come up a number of times in the past few days, which hints that I need to be paying attention, right? Just as I’m firmly convinced I’m doing my best (in other words, I’m not being mean just to be mean…ever), I need to remember that the people I interact with are ALSO doing their best. I have fallen down at this lately, but now’s the time to get started again!

Honestly, I don’t know anyone who’s a jerk just for fun (I’ve probably de-friended them), and even people with whom I disagree strongly usually have their hearts in the right place or are acting sincerely based on their upbringing, culture, and experiences. I have started practicing making a conscious effort at remembering that, and am amazed at how differently I act. I just need to keep it up, both online and in person!

Coming from a place of love, not anxiety!

Bear in mind, friends, that sometimes things just don’t come out like they are intended, whether from tone of voice, lack of tone of voice (text, email, social media posts), nervousness, or simple misunderstandings. I need to give people a break. People need to give me a break. We all need to give each other a break!

Lee and I have been having some good conversations on these kinds of things lately, and we’ve found our own communication getting a lot easier. I am proud of both of us! By explaining where we are coming from, we can be a lot easier on each other’s little foibles (because we ALL have them!). His support and understanding mean so much to me (along with some other helpful and trusted confidants). I suggest you try out the whole assuming good intent thing on those closest to YOU and see how it works!

Image may contain: Sue Ann Kendall, eyeglasses, selfie and closeup
Teamwork! That’s what counts, say the blue hairs (this picture is from early 2019 I think).

And one more thing, if anyone is at their best right now, firing on all cylinders, working at 100%, and treating everyone they encounter with kindness and understanding, please write a book really quickly and tell the rest of us how you did it! It would be a major blockbuster best seller!

My Poor Nails!

Just a quick funny story (to me). Historical background:

I bit my nails until I was 14. Nothing could stop me; I was an anxious child, and this was one of my soothing behaviors. I really had me some ugly hands.

But, a week before high school started, I got it in my head that I could have a new start, not be the outcast I was in 8th grade, and look a bit better. So I managed to not bite my nails. I can remember being so proud in Algebra I class, when I could see some white at the ends of my nails. The next week, I painted my nails red.

I interrupt this story with a picture of the lamp I had to bring into my dungeon office, because the ceiling light has gotten so dim I can’t see. Note bonus mask holder!

And, most weeks for the ensuing many decades, I’ve painted my nails. I had them really, really long in high school and painted them all sorts of interesting ways (this was LONG before nail salons and professionals; it was all me).

Once I got to college and had to type a lot, the nails got a little shorter, but other than a few brief hiatuses, my quest for great nail polish and perfect nails never ended. I always acknowledged the irony that other than a love of sparkly eye shadow and long nails, I was quite the gender neutral dresser.

Actual Story?

Fast forward, and I’m still an eccentric dresser, but also with weird hair color. I hardly ever had professional nail applications; I can remember one in San Francisco in 2005…and a few toenail polish bonding events.

But, I got a hankering for something that lasted longer, and started going to the salon here in Cameron, where I really like the people and had a lot of fun. This blog has plenty of photos of my fanciful dip nails. I miss them.

Ah, so pretty.

When the coronavirus stuff started, the salons all closed. I also noticed that the tools they used on my nails had made them paper thin. Well, I thought, a great chance to let them heal a bit.

The salon opened back up, but because of my very visible position at our personal assistance service, and my own desire to stay away from people who are less careful than me, I haven’t been back (and I am so sorry for the nail salon people!).

Golden toes. These should be fine.

I found some Essie products that are really strong and last over a week on my fingers, and have been using them. Except last time, I discovered you need to pay attention to what you’re doing.

I put the top coat on as my base coat, and the base coat on top. Hmm, I thought it didn’t come out very shiny. Then, two days later, all my fingernail polish peeled off in sheets. What? I did NOT take a picture.

Base coat left. Top coat right. Memorize. I am not compensated for this photo.

Yep, that shiny top coat doesn’t stick well to bare nails. And that grippy base coat isn’t shiny.

In fact, the base coat is so grippy that it would stick to my socks when I wore my boots. I kept the toenails for another week, but wow am I happy to have changed to the right polish in the right order.

Nice bronze nails, all my own. And a bonus donkey.

You’d think that after doing my own nails for so long, I’d learn to read the bottle of clear polish and put on the right one! Sheesh!

What have I learned here? Give me 15 minutes and I can write a long blog post about almost anything. Back to work.

An Angry Mob of One

Expressing anger is difficult for some of us. Like Suna.

No, no, I’m not angry about anything right now! Everything’s just fine. If you’re looking for drama, I’m not serving that up today. I’m just thinking about anger.

The book club meeting I attended on Zoom (of course, no in-person meetings for me!) today got on the topic of things we struggle with, and I brought up the fact that I totally suck at getting angry. The very nice women in the meeting were quite supportive of me, and the consensus was not to expect to be great at something you don’t have a lot of experience with. They were right!

Even as a child, I was discouraged from getting angry. If my little brother pestered me, I was told to, “Just ignore him.” And if I did get angry and yell or hit back after he slapped me, I’d get spanked. So, I fairly quickly learned to bottle up any anger I had and to arrange things to be as peaceful as possible in my little world.

Hence, I ended up an Enneagram Number Nine. As the website says:

Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them.

Enneagram Type 9

That probably also explains my initial resistance to change, even the good kind!

Another thing it explains is why I’m always trying to attain some sort of spiritual transcendence; it’s another way to escape the real world. At least I have the sense to know that “the only way out is through,” and am coming to terms with the whole “life is suffering” concept.

I just want peace, calm, and goodness.

Anyhow, I am just not good at getting angry. Not one bit. I can’t be like Anita, who often declares she’s angry at this that or the other, but she just expresses herself strongly. I keep thinking, “Why is she angry at that? I’m sad, or…some other emotion.” That’s because if I try to express anger, it scares the pee out of people. You know, I also learned from my family or origin how to have a very sharp passive-aggressive tongue. Oopsie.

I can actually remember the two or three times I let my anger spill out. After one time, I was never able to bring myself into a particular community again. I just left and never came back. I’ve only let myself express anger at my spouse a couple of times in all these years. I just get snippy on occasion then over-apologize for it.

Dang, I need to learn how to legitimately express anger when it’s appropriate without alienating people forever, or turning into a sniveling ball of self-abuse. Those seem to be my main anger outlets. I’m just not equipped to be an angry mob of one, I guess.

As my colleagues in the book club pointed out, it helps to remember you’re angry at a situation. (And I point out that it helps to remember people are doing the best they can; though when I’m angry at an institution, that’s hard to apply.) If kindness is my main value, I should apply it to both the object of my anger AND me, right?

This is pitiful, I know, but I Googled “effectively express anger” (because, how else do you figure things out these days?) and I got this:

  1. Address An Issue Immediately Before It Escalates. …
  2. Take A Walk. …
  3. Try A Simple Breathing Technique. …
  4. Try Getting In Some Rigorous Exercise. …
  5. Journaling Can Be Another Great Way To Process Anger. …
  6. Meditate On It.
    Here’s the source of this list, so you’ll know I didn’t do this lack of parallel construction

Well, I do all that! That’s not expressing anger, it’s dealing with anger. Those are all the tools I use to maintain the peace and not rock the boat.

I turned to that oracle of knowledge, WikiHow, who went through all the above anger mitigation techniques that I already do, then FINALLY gave some advice on how to express it! That’s what I wanted!


Choose to express your anger assertively.
 Assertive expression of anger is the most constructive way to express your anger. Assertiveness cultivates mutual respect for each other. You can still express your anger, but you do so in a way that doesn’t accuse the other person. You have mutual respect for each other.

  • Assertive communication emphasizes that both people’s needs are important. To communicate assertively, give the facts without making accusations. Simply state how the action made you feel. Stick to what you know and not what you think you know. Then ask the other person if he is willing to talk. [9]
  • For example, you might say: “I was hurt and angry because I felt like you were belittling my project when you laughed during my presentation. Can we talk and work this out?”

    That one’s from How to Express Anger without Hurting People (with pictures).

Enough with the background colors. I didn’t mean to make you all sick.

Yeah! That’s it! Work on my tone!

After reading the information, I conclude that it makes sense, and sounds a lot like things I’d read in all my “how to get along with people” courses and such. I know I try to do that, and sometimes do. I just need to work on my tone, maybe.

In any case, if you have an anger problem, whether inability to express it or expressing it too much, how have you dealt with it? There’s so much anger in the world right now, it might be helpful to band together and make an effort to say what upsets us without turning the audience away completely.

I shall now go look at nice, happy animals and stop with all this self-analysis.

What Are Your Core Values?

You just get to pick TWO!

I’ve been reading Dare to Lead, a book by my favorite self-help author, Brené Brown (it’s the book I reviewed the horrible workbook for back in March). It was my suggestion for our work book club at Planview. What’s annoying is that I keep leaving the book in Austin, so I hadn’t been able to keep up, but I finally remembered to bring the book back with me last time I went, so I was able to read the correct chapter for today’s meeting.

I sure am glad I did, too, because some of the things she has us thinking about in the “Living Our Values” section helped me focus on not only how to effectively deal with coworkers, but also how to deal with the people around us during this pandemic.

Brown stresses that it’s important to know what your personal core values are, because they will affect how you make decisions, work with others, and treat yourself. And you only get to have TWO of them (though she lets you pick sub-values, too). I already had a set of guiding principles I live by:

  • Treat others how you’d like to be treated
  • Assume good intentions
  • Love yourself

But, I’d never chosen a mere two words to be my core values. So, this was an interesting exercise to me. I ended up with these:

Kindness

Making a difference

Kindness was easy. I have always tried my best to be kind, and feel unsettled and weird if I realize I’m not being kind (usually it’s when I find myself being judgmental, and I have to snap out of it).

Here are the value choices I had to select from. Oops, no one can read this list on their phones. Here’s a link to the list on Brown’s website.

I had a little harder time figuring out that making a difference was the correct second value. I thought about my past career choices, both paid and volunteer, and I easily saw that what tied them all together was that I wanted to somehow make life easier for others and/or make a genuine contribution to society with what I did. I’ve helped build educational databases, taught college students, helped mothers breastfeed, gave organizations and individuals websites to spread their messages, written documentation and made e-learning for software companies, etc. In all of these, I’ve been wanting to make a difference to people.

When the time came to do our book club meeting, the three of us who’d made choices of values had all chosen kindness as one of them. I guess I’m not as original as I thought, or people who choose kindness tend to join book clubs! I really enjoyed talking to the other three women who were able to attend today, and am almost glad it was a small group, because we were able to share in meaningful ways. Thanks, Zoom meetings!

Other parts of the little chapter I read hit me very close to home, too. Brown included a discussion of keeping this in mind when you are providing feedback:

“…everyone is doing the best they can.”

p. 215

It helps me with the judgmentalism I need to worry about so much in myself. And it’s my core belief that I need to assume good intentions. And like Brown’s husband Steve pointed out, even if it’s not true, things sure work out better if you just go ahead and make that assumption.

Hmm, can you try to do that with people on the other side of the mask wearing issue? Of the other political party? I find that to be a very interesting exercise, and one that I wish I could share further. It’s not that, “Oh, why can’t everyone just get along,” plea. It’s more of a, “Where are the people I disagree with coming from, and can I use that information to better understand them, or to talk to them productively?”

The kindness art I have on my bulletin board.

I’d really like to talk with more people about these core values and how they inform our lives, and these really helpful attitudes toward other people. Feedback is welcome!

Hopeless or Hopeful

Hopelessness is everywhere. Life is challenging.

The world seems upside down. Or it seems like “up” for one person is “down” for another. People I once respected disappoint me so much.

What’s up to you is down to me. What’s down to me is up to you. Image by @JosiEpic via Twenty20.

I think any of us in the US could say this, right now. The distrust is palpable, isn’t it? Even from within the tiny bubble I’m residing in right now, I feel it.

With all the new guidelines I’m following, I end up spending most of every day in a dim, 10×10 room with no windows, with the door closed. That’s hardly a recipe for optimism, cheer, or hope. But I realize I’m privileged to be able to work and not interact with the public.

Others have a whole different set of challenges. Some of us have jobs that require us to be outside or in busy buildings. These people are relying on others to help them stay safe, or, if they are of the group looking at things the other way, are being forced to do things they don’t want to do. Either way, it’s not easy.

And how do we all cope with that? Do we pray for each other’s safety and respect each other’s viewpoints?

I wish I saw more of this. Image by  @lelia_milaya via Twenty20.

No, we are so frustrated that we spend our energy attacking each other and reinforcing our divisions. That’s really why I feel hopeless.

Love one another. Give each other hope. We need it.

You tell, ’em, rock.

Asking for Input in Troubled Times

While I do try to remain upbeat, some days are easier than other. And the daily grind is challenging. I don’t know anyone who disagrees with that right now!

Every day I hear grim statistics about COVID-19. Every day I read about people who “don’t believe in” the virus. Every day I see people scurrying around in masks trying to complete their business and get back home. Every day I see people playing contact sports, walking in large groups, and choosing to ignore social distancing practices.

Everyone has their own ideas of what’s safe, it seems.

Such contrasts!

The NY Times says fighting over masks is the new national pastime. That’s so sad.

How do you deal with the conflict that’s so obvious in our state and nation during this pandemic? I don’t think yelling at each other is a good idea. Shaming doesn’t seem to work. Everyone’s stressed out enough as it is, and being yelled at and shamed won’t make anyone change what they’re doing. I totally understand that, but I also understand how people react that way.

So, I’m looking for input. What are some ways of coping and maintaining an even keel that you’ve tried? Here are a few of mine (which aren’t working too well right now):

  • Deep breathing
  • Limiting reading of social and news media
  • Spending time with animals
  • Reading cheerful books and magazines
  • Writing letters
  • Doing kind things for others (I ordered some herbal supplements for a young friend, for example, since I could get them at a discount)

This is a good start, maybe!

Be good to each other. We’re all we have!

News Consumption Blues

Wishing for a source of news that is unbiased and accurate.

Recently I was talking to a coworker about how we consume news. We both feel like we should at least have a clue what is going on at a local, state, national, and international level. Ignorance is not bliss for most of the people I associate with. I guess it’s culturally ingrained, not that there’s anything wrong with being from another subculture within the US that isn’t as concerned with knowing true from false, news from propaganda, etc. There have always been folks who are just fine in a local/family bubble; it’s sort of understandable, especially lately.

So many of us just want to know what’s happening beyond our doorstep. Photo by @madelinerosephoto via Twenty20

Anyway, my coworker and I found we were in really strong agreement about how we liked to get information, and agreed that things we see on social media platforms take too much energy to figure out whether to believe or not. We both just skip that stuff and are members of the “don’t make or read any comments” group.

A good local newspaper!

I have a source for international news that I like, and I am aware of the biases of the US-centric sources I use and that they play into my confirmation bias. I am able to weed out obvious slant-y things, but it gets tiresome! Surprisingly, I find have found local Austin and Cameron news sources (radio and newspaper) that are quite helpful and not too hard to get factual information from. I guess that’s what helps keep my head from exploding. That and NOT reading their Facebook pages.

Honestly, though, I miss being able to read a news source or watch the local news and just get a summary of things that have been happening, with no hidden commercials, obvious slants, and repetitive hype. I can’t stand the local news channels (all over the US, not just where I live) that repeat the same hyped-up snippet of a news piece repeatedly to get your attention, then present something totally bland. I’m smart enough to take information and run it through my own biases and interpret it myself. I don’t need help. Thus, I can’t make myself sit through any television news.

I don’t know how anyone manages to figure this stuff out, no matter what your biases are. Photo by @andreyyalansky19 via Twenty20

I’m aware that anything written by a person has biases, but I do remember when I was a kid we were trained to try to eliminate that as much as we could, and to clearly label opinion pieces. I wish ratings and ad revenue weren’t the actual reason for news content these days. But, it sure looks that way to me. The more incendiary content is, the more it sells.

Incendiary news sells, if you can read it before it goes POOF! Photo by @foto.privet via Twenty20

I’m wary of cutting myself off from all news sources, because so much affects me directly. Where can I find some simple statements of facts to learn from? Tell me! I’d buy some crap from a company or organization that sponsored accurate, unvarnished, information.

As always, I’d love your feedback and ideas.

Getting Over Things

[Edited to be calmer, July 2020.]

I learned a thing from screwing up yesterday. One is that the alleged thing I did wrong wasn’t what bothered me. I’m over that, and have apologized and moved on. What aggravates me is that people didn’t let me know there was an issue; rather they told my family members.

That’s sad. I don’t want to feel wary of everyone I know. I don’t put dumb things on Facebook either, though I’m an open book when it comes to my own issues, things I do, and places I go. Life isn’t worth living if you feel like you have to hide. I don’t write about other people’s stuff, like problems my family members have, etc.

Suna blowing steam out of her ears, next to a flaming computer screen.
People disappoint me. Duh.

I would really appreciate it if someone sees me post about something they think I did that they don’t approve of, they TELL ME, so perhaps I could explain what was actually happening, or what legit reasons I have for what I do. Or extend an apology.

Two llamas.
No more being a Drama LLama, Suna!

Vent over. Subject dropped.

Screwing Up

It happens. Happened to me. I was trying to be a good friend, but didn’t use good judgment. Did it go unnoticed?

Nothing goes unnoticed today, and by the end of the day, numerous people had reported to my spouse that I had made a mistake. Small town living at its finest.

graffiti that says paranoia
Can I climb out? Photo by @gafutch via Twenty20

That kind of thing can make you feel paranoid! Or, in my case, a lot of the work I’ve been doing on my “stuff” can fall away, and I end up acting like teen Suna with all the negative self-talk bubbling up.

I’ll take that as an educational moment, and one that can provide helpful insight into how my inner workings work, and maybe how many of us work. We may work to change ingrained patterns and know what our triggers are, but every so often, we’ll fall back into that hole.

What’s important is to learn to quickly pick ourselves up, reflect on what we can do differently next time, and (most important) shake off that self criticism and crawl out of the hole more quickly each time it happens.

a girl looking down, beside a ladder.
She did it; so can I. Photo by @paigeinrealife via Twenty20.

I even DREAMED I was climbing a rickety ladder, trying to get out of a hole. Like I’ve said before, my dreams contain very un-subtle metaphors.

Hug yourselves, friends. Our imperfect selves are here to learn to love and forgive not only others, but ourselves.

Wondering

quote from Brene Brown

How do you forgive yourself? Through prayer, meditation, invoking a higher power, or reading? Searching the internet for quotes by your favorite healing author?

What are some useful things to tell yourself (asking for a friend, ha ha)?