We Have the Freedom to…umm

Perhaps today is not the best day to talk about freedom, but that’s what the UU Lent calendar said to talk about. Freedom’s always been a hard topic for me, even without being confined to quarters/office and following so many rules and regulations (our home health agency gets new guidelines from the State every day, and we have meetings to go over them; as of now we have to take every client’s temperature every time we see them; glad I’m just the CEO and am sitting at my desk doing my other job).

Still free to enjoy doggie fun and games at the ranch!

Right now, though, I feel really lucky and privileged to be able to be outside and wander around the Hermits’ Rest, so I don’t get cabin fever. I’m still free on my own property.

Land stretching out so far and wide!

As for the concept of “freedom,” I always wonder how other people define it. I don’t feel free at all here in the US. I am afraid to criticize the government aloud, for example. I hesitate to express my opinions on a lot of topics, actually, since I’m concerned that maybe many people are wandering around ready to hurt or shoot people they disagree with. That may be propaganda aimed at people like me to keep us in line, but, this doesn’t seem like a free and safe time to me. I hope I just have healthy paranoia, not crazed paranoia.

Penney is glad she is free to attack and play with June bugs to her heart’s content. She watched this one a LONG time.

So, I plan to continue to concentrate on what I am still free to do, think, and write. I’m glad my blog is not censored. I’m glad my dogs can run and play and make me happy. I’m glad I am free to at least talk to my family and friends still.

Stay safe, and don’t be a paranoid like Suna. You always have the freedom to have another perspective from mine!

Quit Spying on Me, Internet

First, yay, we made it to scenic Jackson, Tennessee, which means we should be able to eat dinner with my stepmom tomorrow, even though we lose TWO hours thanks to Daylight Savings Time.

But, on to a brief rant. I’m sure you’ve experienced the extra creepy feeling you get when something you were just talking about appears in your Facebook or other ads.

I find it less than helpful. Why do I keep getting ads for stuff I just bought? Like I need another one?

Example. Last night my sister gave me a throw with a pattern of birds on it. She said, “It has birds,” and I looked at the picture on the label, then agreed it did have birds on it. It’s a nice blanket.

Less than an hour later, this appeared in my Facebook feed:

Geez!!! Ack!! Eww!!

It’s the matching comforter set. I did NOT describe the throw or say what it was called or take its picture. I understand Siri listening in to everything I say or browse to, but no one said what the dang throw looked like or its brand. Just birds. There are many throws with birds on them.

I believe Facebook has out-creepied itself. I may become a conspiracy theorist and claim it’s in my retina or something. Then today, when we stopped for lunch:

I already ordered soup! Go away!

It was taunting me.

Now friends, I don’t need advice on why I should leave social media or turn off settings x, y, and z. If someone, something, or some corporate entity wanted to gather intel on me, they already have it. I’m just not that fascinating. So spy away. I’m sticking with social media omnipresence.

I just wish they’d suggest more things I want or new places to eat, rather than things I’m familiar with.

Imagination, Take Me Somewhere Good, Not Paranoia Land

The word of the day in UU Lent is imagination. Great, I thought, I already wrote a lot about this in my post about mind blindedness. I’m going to repeat a section from that post at the end of this one, because it explains a lot about my childhood and development.

Day-dreaming of beautiful and peaceful places…a fantastic use of imagination, right? Photo by @jesslowcher via Twenty20

My imagination has been my constant companion, sanity saver, and comfort zone my whole life. It’s almost as if I’ve lived in two worlds, the one I physically walk around in and the one in my imagination and dreams. Guess which one I prefer (even the weirdest of my weird dreams are at least fascinating!)?

Cautions – Too Much Imagination Can Be Damaging to Your Health

While using one’s imagination for temporary escapes from either too much stress or too little going on can be a good thing, I’ve sure seen a lot of times where too much imagination (or maybe it’s more like conjecture) can have some unpleasant consequences.

Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me.

I used to have someone very close to me who had an issue with paranoia. He would experience something, and then use his vivid imagination to come up with consequences, motivations of others, and their effect on him. I can remember a two-hour conversation about how a higher-up didn’t say hello to him, which meant his entire career was in jeopardy, she had something against him…blah blah. I just kept repeating, “Maybe she was just thinking about her own shit.” I wasted many hours and much energy on this.

I didn’t hear from this guy for 20 years, so when Facebook showed up, we re-connected. He immediately launched into how his current employers were out to get him. I did not engage.

Or course, I’ve dealt with this kind of thing myself from time to time. Mostly it’s when someone suddenly drops out of my life, which happens to me periodically. I’ve spent way to much of my energy imagining possible things I said or did to offend people, or things that might have been going on with them that could have led to it.

Has any of that helped the situation even one little bit? Well, maybe, if I would have stuck to the imaginary scenarios where I’m a totally innocent victim of some huge misunderstanding and I’m better off without the person I formerly cared deeply about. But, no, I’ve spent way too much of my energy and time imagining less pro-Suna scenarios.

Two moms and three young women. In good news, Pouri and Ellie still speak to me. I wish all of them a good life, though!

What’s helped is that I’ve been training myself to live with ambiguity. I’d rather have that than to find out the paranoid truth. I think I’d rather have not known why Edie and Leigh (two young women who lived with our family when they were having problems) both suddenly went off on me and told me everything I did was for selfish reasons, they’d never loved me, and they’d hated being in my family temporarily. Like my old friend, they were twisted in knots with things they came up with in their heads, and it made me sad. But in both cases, I just listened, knowing my actual motivations and that I loved them anyway. They weren’t interested in my perspective; they must have needed to make a break for their own reasons. I just moved on.

I hate dredging it all up, but I wanted to share how painful over-imagining things can be to others. I don’t want to do it.

So now, I’m okay not knowing what other people’s imaginations have interpreted my actions and motives to be. Everyone has their own perspective, and if anyone wants to talk to me about it, I’ll listen, but I won’t endure abuse. I’ll move on. And I am consciously refraining from imagining why others might be thinking or doing what they do. It’s not helpful to me, and I end up much more mentally healthy and with lots more time for all the things I enjoy.

Instagram of the day,

From now going forward, I’m using my imagination to design dream homes, take mental trips to interesting places, conjure up a nation and world where differences are celebrated, and remember my departed loved ones.

Imagine all the people living life in peace.

John Lennon

My Imagination and Me, from February 11

In case you were wondering about me, I’m one of the 2% on the extremely vivid mental imagery side. I’ve always been that way, so I never knew any different. My mom said as a toddler, I was always wandering around talking to a tree. When she asked why, I said I was talking to Jose, who lived up there. Where this little Anglo girl got that name is beyond me. So, either I was seeing fairies, or I had a vivid imagination. It’s all the same to me.

Don’t shut the car door on meeeee!

I had an imaginary gang of cartoon characters that went with me everywhere, too. My parents loved to tell the story of the time Mom shut the car door on Theodore of the singing chipmunks. I apparently didn’t take it well. I was also a Highly Sensitive Person, ha ha.

My whole life I played stories in my head. It helped pass the time, since I was not the most popular child, and certainly not the most popular during the early teen years! I had an entire life I lived during the time between going to bed and actually falling asleep. In this soap opera, I was strong, smart, and always said the right thing. What a nice world. I also had very cute boyfriends, especially the one from the comic books who was the smartest guy in the universe, and also green.

Teen superheroes make for a fun imaginary life. Hey, don’t judge. All my human heart-throbs died.

This internal life was very vivid and had touch and smell, as well as visual aspects. I now fall asleep without my “dreams,” for the most part. I think it lessened so dramatically when I started anti-anxiety medication. I will gladly exchange that loss for my mental clarity and ability to handle things more calmly.

I still can enjoy a little mental vacation by imagining things, like what’s going on in the towns I drive through, or what animals and plants may be perceiving. I find that fun. No wonder I’m not bored easily (if ever).

Currently imagining what I will do with this future stairwell and landing when it’s done.

Is your imagination your friend or your enemy? Are you imaginative? Where do you go in your imagination?

The Reviews Are In! The Dare to Lead Workbook Stinks!

I felt like I needed something pretty to balance the content. Read on.

I just can’t stop laughing, so I have to share. This will be brief. I went to Amazon to write a review of the Dare to Lead workbook I “read” yesterday. Of course, I had to read the other reviews. That started my day off right. There was ONE positive review, and it was written in exactly the same psueudo-English that so many of the spam comments that come into our blogs show up in. Let me get you an example:

Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear idea 

fargade linser solotica, comment on Hermit Haus Redevelopment blog, March 2, 2020

So, do NOT take Ralph Hornbuckle’s word for it, even when he sincerely wants to tell you. “ I’ll no doubt prescribe this book to my loved one.

The rest of the folks join me in universal rejection of this poor little booklet, which by the way was “Independently published (January 18, 2020).” AHA! I shall never again overlook those words!

Reviewer Kevin agreed with me: “It is chock full of misspellings and grammatical errors so much so that I believe an 8th grade English teacher would give this paper an ‘F.'”

This review is my favorite, so I screenshotted it:

Imposter book, by Rene, February 4, 2020

Lesson Learnt*

Last time I post about this; I promise.

Be very careful what books you order, especially if you haven’t heard about them. Remember that some self-published books, like my future series Suna Blathers On, will be just fine. Many are scary. Also, read the reviews. That can be quite entertaining for bad books and enlightening for good ones.

Want the real resources for Dare to Lead? You can find them right here, a read-along guide and a glossary. Oh boy, I hope “rumble” and “lean in” are in the glossary! (That was sarcasm folks; I’m steeling myself to wade through the jargon to find the good parts in Dare to Lead.)


*This is a chapter title in Workbook for Dare to Lead.

What Makes a Professional Editor/Writer Sweat? Unprofessional Editing/Writing

We all make mistakes, right? Well I’m about to admit to making a big mistake. I spent $8.99 on a “book” that is only a book by virtue of having pages, a cover, and some printing. I had good intentions!

Classy cover art.

The work book club is going to read Dare to Lead, by my buddy Brené Brown. When I went to pick up a second copy (because I hid my first copy when I pitched a fit about how many times she said “lean in”), I saw there was also available a study guide for the book. I thought it would be great to have some questions and ideas to talk about when we have our meetings.

Today the books showed up. Coworker Maggie said, “Hey that’s a printout of a PDF; they always have those ugly rectangles on them.” I told her to check out the inside. There’s no author (unless the Review Press is a person), little publishing information, and no blank pages. You just jump right into a table of contents.

Cringing yet?

Then you keep going, or you try to. OMG, the whole thing is in “books for the visually impaired” size type, and it’s conveniently both right AND left justified. And because the huge print makes the lines quite short, the gaps between words can create not rivers, but entire seas within the paragraphs.

As I read the first part of the book, it because clear that it is a book report penned by a 14-year-old in the UK (there’s a “Lessons Learnt” chapter) trying to get the paper long enough to fit the teacher’s requirements. Poor Brené is referred to as “the writer” endlessly, and poor Dare to Lead is repeatedly called a novel. If it’s a novel, the character development and plot both suck.

But Wait, There’s More

The book report, replete with listings of the names of each section and verbatim content from Dare to Lead, mercifully ends after 22 zippy pages. Then ten pages of quotes from the book are kindly shared by, um, let’s call them “the author.” These are dizzily presented centered, but still full of huge gaps. And for fun, one’s occasionally left aligned. (I’m a hack writer too, though, how many adverbs ending in -ly were necessary in this paragraph?)

It’s centered! Mostly…

I guess “the author” got tired after picking out those quotes, because the “Conclusion” section slides into a description of the organization of the book and the names of chapters. Riveting. After carefully detailing Part 1 (though alternating on using and not using quotation marks around chapter/section titles), everything comes to a screeching halt:

“Haven discussed all the sections in part one, the writer further divided the book to part two, three and four and termed it living into our values, under section two the writer stated that giving and receiving feedbacks is one of the biggest fears at work…”

the author, Workbook for Dare to Lead

They then finally take a breath and give one sentence for each of the rest of the sections Brown so carefully put LOTS of concepts in. It’s okay, the author had to save space for the lessons learnt and workbook pages. I don’t think I’ll be using any of the workbook questions in the book club, though I could play connect the dots using the dotted lines between pages.

That’s an imperative, my friend, not a question.

To Conclude My Most Excellent Review

I actually hadn’t intended to write a book report of this book report, but it just came pouring out, and was probably good for me in a cathartic sort of way. I realize someone wrote the study guide quickly to get something out there to make money. I was silly not to look carefully and see that it was from a self-publishing purveyor.

Mainly, I want to beg and plead with any of you who plan to self publish books or know someone who does:

Please, please, please have someone look over your content before you send it in.

Amazon is NOT gonna do it. They’re going to print copies of your PDF on demand and send them to innocent people who want to read an actual book.

Really, it does?

At least glance at other books and see how they are set up. Large print and small pages are not a good combination. Most important, while Microsoft may say what appears at right about justified text, it helps to have professional typesetters and to use hyphenation. You might want to take note, too, that centering works best in very small doses.

Of course, you or someone else should proofread; “have4” is not a word, but it’s in the study guide. I forgive using semi-colons for colons in introducing lists, since whoever wrote this was trained in the British style.

One More Thing

Say, let’s look at my pretty flowers and my breakfast, to cleanse our minds.

Some very good books have started out self published. I am proud of some of the people I know who wrote them. Not all self published books are embarrassingly bad, but caveat emptor and all that.

On the other hand, I wonder if I should just PDF up every year’s worth of my blogs and offer them for sale? Suna Blathers On, Volume 1, and so forth. I could use some money, and I did write this all by myself, errors and repetitious phrases and all. I guess I’m a writer after all! Maybe I’m creative!

I’m gonna do the whole thing in Comic Sans! That’s pretty!

My Name Is (NOT) Sue! How Do You Do?

Time for another good ole rant. It’s about names. Names seem to have a magical quality to them. People become very attached to their given names, or they change them to show they have created a patriarchal family unit for tax and procreational purposes (just kidding, marriage). Other people go right out and choose all-new names when the one they started out with doesn’t seem to fit (I chose Suna at some point as a young woman, for long-obscure but spiritual reasons).

Here I am, not happy with the carwash people, who call me Sue.

Throughout the history of the people I mostly descend from (ye olde English, Scots, Irish people) many names have shortened or informal versions, which we are all aware of: Bob for Robert, Bill for William, Meg for Margaret, Kate/Kathy for Katherine, etc. This is just dandy for anyone who likes to use these time-honored naming conventions.

Now, naming conventions do change, even among us English-American types. There are many people whose parents name them the shortened version of a name. I know folks named “Bill” who aren’t Williams, for example. Other people do NOT like the shortened versions, like my late friend Robert, who only let immediate family and close friends call him “Bobby.”

What to Do?

Really, Herbie. Really Danny Boy. Really Johann Sebastian. Get my name right and maybe I will connect with you.

Well, my general guiding principle is to call people by the name by which they are introduced to me. I’m gonna call Pamela that, not Pam (which will make IRL friend Pamela-not-Pam very happy). If someone introduces themselves as Robert, I’m not gonna gush, “Hi Rob, nice to meet you!” I met a Burton a while back, and there was no way I was gonna Burt him until I found out it was okay with him.

This shouldn’t be controversial. People deserve the respect to be called the name they prefer to go by. This has been true for years and years, and is not some new-fangled concept like asking people their pronouns. (I’m she/her.)

What’s Bothering You, Susie?*

Well, what’s common sense to me, and what’s worked most of my life has recently stopped working well. Normally, I introduce myself as “Sue Ann” and depending on the context, I’d say, I also go by Suna. Lately, more and more, the response to that it, “Great! Nice to meet you, Sue!”

DID I SAY MY NAME WAS SUE?

No. I did not.

I do not identify as a “Sue.” When someone calls for Sue in a crowd, I never think it might be me. Or Susan. Or Susie. I am just a non-Sue. I think I’m a little different, and so is my name, I guess.

Nonetheless, every single new coworker that’s shown up in the last couple of months has begun calling me Sue. Master Naturalist Students? 50% Sue. Folks around Cameron? Yep.

Hey, bot., my name’s not Sue and you screwed up my car wash.

And woe is me, even when I fill out my whole name in online forms, it’s Sue Sue Sue Sue. All these texts trying to be all chummy with me from a certain annoying presidential candidate, as well as the car wash people who screwed up so badly that they should literally be groveling…greet me with a chipper, “Hi Sue!”

By the way, for people I meet in person, I do say, when I can get a word in, “I go by Sue Ann.” I sign every blasted email I send with Sue Ann. If someone did that to me when I called them the wrong thing, I’d notice that signature and fix it.

I know others who have it worse, like my husband Lee whose real first name is Ernest (of Earnest as the local newspaper calls him). But he knows to expect that, as did my whole family of origin, who went by their middle name, except for me, the two-word outlier. Once they explained it, people called them the right thing.

It used to be that I knew a phone call or email was from someone who didn’t know me if they addressed me as Sue. But now people who do know me keep doing it. And I hate to say it, but it makes me like a person less when they do that, even when they are otherwise fine.

Nope. Not gonna chat with you, cold emailer.

I’m attached to my name. I like it. It’s been me over 60 years (other than two years in my first marriage). When I get postal mail addressed to my spouse and me, I get an irrational response when I see something like “Suna and Lee Bruns, Jr.” as I got just last week. Who are those people?

Concluding Remarks

I guess everyone has their hot buttons, and now you know one of mine. I’m not like the great poet, the unwashed phenomenon, who once said,

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say
Still, you’re gonna have to serve somebody…

Gotta Serve Somebody, by Bob Dylan

Call me Sue Ann or Suna. I’ll call you whatever you would like to be called. I think that’s respectful. Names matter. We all deserve the respect to be called the name we want to be called.

You got any stories?


*There are about three people who can call me Susie. Dad could, but he’s not available to talk anymore.

Why Did I Post Some Long Liberal Snowflake Thing on Facebook Today?

Give peace a chance. J/K.

I’ve been quiet (for me) about political leanings since before the last US Presidential election. I find that people who call other people names don’t convince anyone to change their views. And I find that, depending on where you get your information, the same events can be interpreted in astonishingly different ways (Roshomon, anyone? Look it up.)

So, I’ve been trying to live my life according to the principles I believe in, and I have freely shared those. Basically, I want to live in a world where ALL people can eat, learn, love, practice their beliefs, and feel safe. That’s apparently scary to some people. But I’m not trying to push my beliefs on anyone. (And I LIKE many people who view things differently.)

Not something I usually write about.

I would like, though, to try to just ONCE share my beliefs about the policies and programs of the United States. If you read them, you might disagree on some points, or feel more strongly about one thing than another, but really, they are not all that frightening. They are, for the most part (dare I say) reasonable.

Actually, at least at one point in my life, there was a fairly reasonable explanation of what a more conservative viewpoint would propose on these topics, but I haven’t seen it in a while, just finger pointing, name calling, and jumping to irrational conclusions. I think a lot of people on all sides are, like me, keeping quiet and letting the name-callers just do their things.

I IMPLORE EVERYONE to step back, breathe, and work together to make the US a place where we can all live together without fear, despite our differences. And now, I will cease to write about my political thoughts until after the NEXT election, in which I shall indeed vote for someone.

Here’s what you can do, regardless of whether we agree or not.

The copied post from Facebook is below the read more.

Continue reading “Why Did I Post Some Long Liberal Snowflake Thing on Facebook Today?”