Brave Suna, Part 2B: Public Bravery

Since we’ve added a very appropriate new focus of concern for the people of the country where I live, I’ve found it harder and harder to concentrate and more and more difficult to see the positive in things. This is the other area where I need to be brave. Let’s hope the horse stuff helps me.

It’s been bad enough watching people turn dealing with a pandemic into a partisan thing, but now I see the exact same thing going on with protests about the death of a black man at the hands of a police officer (and more). People seem WAY more interested in deflecting from the actual issue (systematic racism) to other issues, in the most polarizing way possible. I am just sick about it.

First I Want to Say This

NOT ALL POLICE OFFICERS ARE SOCIOPATHIC KILLERS.
NOT ALL PROTESTERS ARE LOOTERS.
THIRD PARTIES, LIKE ANARCHISTS, WHITE SUPREMACISTS, RUSSIAN AGENTS, AND THE LIKE WANT TO DISTRACT US FROM THIS:
OUR SOCIETY MUST TAKE CONCRETE ACTION TO DEAL WITH RACISM OR WE ARE NOT A JUST AND FREE SOCIETY LIKE WE CLAIM TO BE.

Well, Suna, what qualifies you to say this?

Does personal experience count? I KNOW more than one ethical and principled police officer. In person. I’ve hugged them. I KNOW more than one passionate and peaceful protester who is willing to take action to improve the lives of black and brown people in this country. In person. I’ve hugged them. I’ve given birth to them.

That said, I am totally aware that telling people how to think and feel is not a useful tactic, because people will believe what they are already primed to believe. I’m primed to believe good things about liberals, socialists, actual communists (the very few real ones, not the “all media members are commies ones”), non-sensationalist news outlets, and intelligent people with backgrounds in the subjects they are talking about. I also think there are capitalists who try to do good in the world, and businesses that aren’t out to smash poor people.

So, news that fits in with my world view is more likely to be believed by me. I totally get it that if you are primed to believe liberals hate Good Americans, and all the associated beliefs, you will believe other angles. We’re just stuck with that. Can’t fix it all by myself.

What Can Brave Suna Do?

Or brave you, or anyone, for that matter. I get conflicting advice. One school of thought is to not let myself get all worked up about things not in my sphere of control. I can’t change people’s minds. I can’t cure diseases. I can’t make people learn to be less racist (other than me). So, I should just let go and stare at nature some more. Bravery, in this case, is being brave enough to live the Serenity Prayer, darn it.

I’m trying.

But, I need the wisdom to know what I can and can’t control, right? Another set of advice I get tells me I need to speak up. I need to let the world know that the stereotypes of people like me are not all true. I need to not only say I’m an ally but BE an ally to people struggling. I need to listen to them and to learn where I can do better and maybe even make a difference.

And sometimes when I listen, I hear that, dear old white liberal lady, it’s not your time or place to protest. You have lived a life of privilege and have no clue what it’s like to be marginalized. Shut up and let the people who know the issues first hand figure out what to do. It’s not your job. I get that.

It’s hard to be a person with empath traits when there is a lot of hurting going on. You take on the pain and suffering of others around you, even if you don’t experience it yourself, but of COURSE you aren’t directly experiencing it. You want so badly to help, to make the world a better place for all of us, but you may not even have the right tools.

A sure-fire way to get eggs thrown at your house? Or worse?

So, what can you or I do to be brave about our convictions in public?

It feels really inauthentic, and to be honest, chickenshit, to do nothing when you see your friends’ neighborhoods being destroyed, your children putting their lives in danger to support others, other people’s children being killed just because they look a certain way, your friends’ husbands feeling uncomfortable in their own neighborhoods. All that. It won’t do. It sure won’t make our society any better.

One thing I can do is model the behavior I’d like to see in others and hope someone notices, I guess. I sure can’t order people to notice their biases (I DO try to notice mine). We can all give that one a try.

Plus, I guess I must speak up publicly. As much as I really dislike being labeled and insulted, I will calmly state what I believe, and when I hear false information, present another viewpoint. That may not be much, but it is one way to make it clear that the vast majority of us, no matter what label we put on ourselves, just want ourselves and our neighbors to live in peace and safety, even if they look different from us, worship differently from us, or love differently from how we do.

Why is that so hard? Humans, you disappoint me, deeply. And I’m human. I’m not proud of it right now.

I’m physically sick. I’d flee, but there’s no place to go. Must be brave and stick it out with the rest of the humans, many of whom are in much worse shape than me. George Floyd doesn’t have that option anymore.

Brave Suna, Part 2: What Does It Look Like?

This is a two-part part 2. Looks like it will be two posts.

The Horse Part

Like a good optimist should, I got on that horse again today. I was a little concerned about my attitude, not because of Apache, but because I’d been reading Facebook and becoming more and more sad/angry/disgusted/insert other negative emotion here. So, I walked to the barn and put thoughts of calm, peace and love in my mind, buoyed by some deep breathing.

Sara and I had a backup plan today. She was going to ride Lakota, our boarder horse, and I’d ride Apache. If all went well, great (she predicted today would be wonderful). If it didn’t, we could switch horses (I am not competent to ride Spice, I’m told).

I don’t want to ride anywhere, now, Suna. (Photo from a few weeks ago, as you can tell by non-blue hair)

We started going down the Scary Row of Trees, where Apache has always tended to want to go back or rush. It took a while, but we got him calmly walking, did a bunch of practice circles, then walked in a serpentine formation all the way back. He did okay (not great), but he was paying attention. Everyone was brave.

So, I declared we would now try the race again. Brave! That lasted about 20 yards. Apache again was having nothing to do with walking down that path. I spent a rather exhausting 20 minutes where he simply didn’t do a darn thing I asked him to do. There was backing, turning, going sideways, head flinging, ear pinning. WTH?

See, we used to have fun.

Fiona, Lakota, and Sara just watched me patiently coax and prod, and urge him a LOT harder than usual. So, I got off again. I managed to only briefly lose my temper, so I consider that a success. Sara said I did way better in being patient yet persistent than most people. Probably those saintly natural horsemanship trainers would be more patient, but then, they would be better at “reading the horse” and figure out what’s up.

Sara got on Apache, and I walked Lakota behind them (so I got to hang out with a nice horse and get some exercise). I can’t say I was pleased, but I guess I was relieved to see that Apache acted the same with Sara, though she had more tricks she could do (because she would not fall off). She eventually got him tired enough that he went forward halfway down the race. She said that was enough, because he was still all worked up.

Cowgirl Suna on the fancy horse. Note that I am actually smiling, which is practically a miracle. You can see Fiona way back behind us. This narrow field is “the race.”

I got to a gate I could use to get myself up on Lakota, so I did get to ride him back. That was nice, and it was brave to get up on a new horse out in the middle of nowhere on a wiggly gate. He didn’t act weird or anything, and followed my cues just fine.

Western saddle, reins, boots, getting there.

Meanwhile, Apache never did settle down, though he did at least walk back. He was coated with sweat and only calmed down enough to walk in one circle at a calm pace, which we declared SUCCESS!

Once Sara dismounted, he was his normal self, although sweaty. As I gave him a bath, I realized I felt nothing but love for him, and curiosity about what was causing his problem. I wasn’t angry at all! I wish I had that attitude when my kids were small!

We’re all fine and happy now.

Interestingly, Sara had read a post from someone in a group she’s in who said their horse started acting extra barn-shy and strangely when a new gelding was introduced into the herd. So, maybe there is going to be a time of getting used to Lakota. Hmm.

So, what being brave and doing hard things the past two days has taught me is that just getting through a challenge counts as success. I am not going to give up on Apache, but will work through the issue, however long it takes, so we will both feel good about ourselves and learn a lot.

Will this attitude hold for challenges outside my immediate community?

Tubby’s Makeover Continues

The serious work that’s going on at the Pope house is that the stairs are getting their final coats of urethane today. These pictures are from the first coat, which looks darned nice.

Chris didn’t sand the stairs very much, because, as he rightly pointed out, it’s good to have some traction on stairs. With my propensity to fall and slip, I will be very grateful for any help I can get. And of course there WILL be “trim” along the wall and stair rails!

Tubby Is Special

Mrs. Swallow says she hopes we hurry up and get away from her damn nest.

I just couldn’t wait like a good blogger and do my other writing before sharing this. I am so excited about that darned bathtub! It’s our special labor of love.

This morning Tubby went from drab to fab with two coats of flat white Rustoleum paint. All that sanding made a difference, because other than a few lumps from when it was cast, the outside looks pretty smooth and nice.

It’s the new Tubby!

And then, what did I find in the mail today but the replacement legs! These are MUCH smaller, but do have claws.

Not as fancy as the other ones, but they do FIT.

Most important, they FIT. Those little black feet make Tubby look just about ready for his big debut!

A thing of beauty is our Tubby.

We’ll have a helper next week, so Chris will be able to get Tubby set up and installed in the bathroom, and we’ll get the last few stains out of the inside. Gosh, someday it might even hold water (more likely, water the plants).

Suna the Brave

Yes, I didn’t write anything yesterday. For one, I had way too many meetings and errands to do. But really, I joined many people I know in being so overwhelmed, appalled, and upset about how black men and people of color in general are being treated in this country that I couldn’t find anything non-incendiary to say. So, I’m not saying anything else yet. I will, though.

Am I a Coward?

Tough on the outside, soft on the inside. A goal.

One thing about observing injustices in the world is I sometimes feel cowardly, like I really could be doing more to express the outrage I feel. Or take concrete action. (I have plans, though.)

This morning, however, I got a lesson that showed me I can indeed be brave, but that it helps to do so with a clear head and not from a place of anger.

Testing My Bravery

It was horse riding time on a very hot, cloudless morning. Sara and I met at 9 am, hoping that would be early enough for it to not be too hot. Wrong. By the time everyone was all groomed (including Fiona, who I am continuing to help shed her winter fuzzies) I was dripping with sweat.

I’m always cute, though.

Sara told me she’d had a great ride on Apache yesterday, though he exhibited some of his “druthers,” as she calls them, where he indicates he’d rather be doing something else, thank you. He warmed up fine, though.

Once I mounted, he began to hint that he’d much rather be over chatting with Lakota, the new gelding, who was not being ridden. I got him to do other things though, and we set out to go ride in our favorite pasture, where there is some shade.

To get there, you have to walk down a long “race” that’s used to bring cattle up from the far pasture. It’s mostly grass, but with the recent rains there are still some big muddy areas, which we usually just go around.

This picture of me trying to look intimidating but calm shows what I was trying to project at the dang horse.

Not today. Apache had absolutely no intention of walking down that race like he normally does. He kept turning around. When I’d make him go the other way, he’d back up. He’d go sideways. We crept forward (poor Sara had to just walk her horse back and forth), and eventually got to an area between two slippery muddy areas that caused him to slip and slide as he cantankerously waved his head around and acted pissed off. No amount of urging, poking, bopping with the stick, and strong language helped.

After about fifteen minutes of this and I could see that I was losing my ability to project calm thoughts and not act angry. And Apache was slipping and sliding to where I was worried for his safety.

If I could stay calm after realizing this huge caterpillar was chomping on my ankle last night, I can handle an ornery equine. (A live oak metria moth)

So I got off. He started to head back. Nope. We walked the rest of the way that we were going to ride. He was still agitated but at least went the right way, mostly. About halfway through the walk, he sighed and started acting completely normally. I was so glad I didn’t give up on him, managed to stay calm, and saw the day’s agenda through.

When we got to the end, we enjoyed the shade a bit, then I got back on (no easy feat with a hybrid saddle with high stirrups), and we walked sedately and calmly back. He didn’t break into a trot or anything.

Stay focused and calm and think of beautiful things, I kept thinking.

There was a bit of druthers when we got to the end of the race, because we didn’t go straight to the barn. Sara and I wanted to be sure he had a clue who was in charge. Eventually he realized that prancing around foolishly was just making him sweat, and he did the circles he was asked to do.

Sara said we’d had a real breakthrough and she was very proud of me. I realized once again that I CAN push past fears and do things that need to be done so that I and others (including horses) can grow and do better.

Whew. I needed that.

Can I Be More Tired?

Oh, Probably

But I can’t hardly feel my legs, and my stomach muscles are yelling at me. Plus, my head is all fuzzy. It’s both physical and mental. But, I kicked butt and took names today. At least until I got home from work.

I had a couple of pretty intense work meetings today, and I had to work up some courage to take up space, I guess, to not get put down and belittled. So I put on makeup, a nice shirt, and a power necklace, just to feel the part.

Everything went just fine, and I enjoyed myself, even. Immediately after that I ran across the street to sand away on the bathtub. I changed my outfit, as you can see above. Made me feel strong and powerful in a different way.

Chris figuring out one sanding method.

The rest of the day I was in so many meetings that my ears hurt. Luckily I was only in charge of a few. It does hurt my brain, but I like learning stuff at work, too.

I appreciated the sanding stand. I don’t know how Tubby got up there, though.

Back to sanding I went. Between me and Chris, and three sanding methods, it’s as good as it’s going to get. I got the tub exterior all clean, so it’s ready to paint.

Believe it or not, this is an improvement.

Chris went at the interior of the tub with the CLR and got almost all the stain off. One more attack should do it.

The stain is almost a dim memory for Tubby.

Speaking of Sanding

Of course, Chris got a lot more sanding in than I did. He did ALL the stairs.

Sanded stairs

Then he applied stain. Maybe it will be dry enough to seal tomorrow. Then he does the trim and they’ll be ready for rails. Wow!

Stained stairs.

I heard that the new, smaller tub legs are on their way, so maybe Tubby will get installed soon and the rest of the plumbing will go in!

We’re still debating what to do with the floors. Lee doesn’t want to sand them. I do. Chris is stuck in the middle. I think I’ll lose this one. Oh well. I’ll buy rugs!

Is It a Bathtub Beauty Yet?

Today has mostly been about doors and stairs. All the doors are now stained and hung, which is a significant milestone!

The rest of today, Chris has been covering nail holes, sanding, and otherwise preparing the stairs for being stained. That will be another huge milestone.

Stair preparation is well underway.

But yes, I did get CLR, which is a product to remove lime stains, rust, and such, this morning. I ran out between phone calls to see if it would work. I was not as happy with it as I hoped to be. It’s definitely not a miracle product, and appears that it will need to be used repeatedly with the scrubber. I can’t use a metal scraper, because I don’t want to damage the tub. Sigh. It’s getting there.

It sure felt good to scrub hard, though. Renovation is very good for the frustrated.

Things That Puzzle Me

To be honest, a lot of things puzzle me these days, and I assume you’re probably puzzled a lot lately as well. Some of these things are fun or funny, and some are testing my ability to not be judgmental of others (and ya know, sometimes people seem to be begging to be judged; still I try not to do it). And some of it brings me way down. Sigh.

The first thing is this. It’s a fun one. What is going on with these mud daubers? Is this love or death?

What is going ON with this threesome? I can’t get it out of my mind.

There’s been a lot of mud dauber drama around the house, anyway. I see lots of hornets attacking the blue-black mud daubers, but there are usually just two of them. What a way to go!

On to the Rant

Next, I see so many people with huge logical inconsistencies in the things they say and post on social media. How is this not an issue for them? I was going to write some specific instances, but I decided that I don’t want to get involved, because of the next thing that puzzles me…

Why does everything have to be politicized? Health and safety precautions to protect ourselves and others now signify which political “side” we’re on? Why? I’m sorely disappointed at how people are labeling each other as fearful and irresponsible. Let’s look at a butterfly now and breathe.

And facts. What the hell has happened to those little gems? This whole business of not trusting science and verified facts confuses me a lot. Of course there is always more to be learned, but this doesn’t mean that historical event X never happened or gravity doesn’t exist (we don’t exactly know what gravity is, by the way.

And black men! My word! My heart is breaking and I would start hugging every black man I see, but that would not be good at this time, and at any time that would be sort of weird. Nobody deserves to live life judged guilty just for being born. Shame on us.

Ah, a buckeye. That brings some positive energy in.

Honest, I respect people’s right to view the world from different perspectives from mine. I am not telling anyone how to think, as much as it’s tempting sometimes. I guess I’m just disappointed. And puzzled. And confused.

I’ll tell you exactly how bad I feel about other human beings right now. Last night, I dreamed that some kind of bomb went off and I watched a man fleeing a nuclear blast. I thought, “Well, he can’t escape that, but at least he won’t have to deal with the mess the survivors are left with.” I think my subconscious was reflecting what I consciously don’t want to admit, which is that there are times when I’d just rather not be here than to watch society disintegrate before my eyes. It’s so painful.

Debbie Downer, signing off. Going to look at nature so I can feel better. How are YOU coping?