Lakota, the Circle of Life, and Being Startled

I’m guessing that today you’ll be wanting to find out how our boarder horse, Lakota the elderly fancy palomino, came out after his rough time yesterday. Last we heard, he’d been sweating and heaving, and Spice was standing over him like she was guarding his life. Sara is happy to report that after he stood up and made a big poop, he walked off, normally. She did keep checking through the night.

This morning, to our great relief, he was standing under a tree with Spice, and they both had been sleeping. It was probably a rough night for them, too. They both kept yawning and yawning, and were very loving and affectionate. Poor guys.

He just let me hug and hug, and he hugged back.

Sara had a couple of ideas about what had happened. Her current theory (and it’s just a theory) is that he ate some of the nightshade (Silverleaf Nightshade Solanum elaeagnifolium) that had been mown in the pasture (because she is allergic to it). Apparently, horses and cattle don’t eat it when it is alive, but for some reason think it’s tasty when it’s cut and dried. I hope that’s all it was.

It does have pretty flowers.

Thanks to me looking up alternative veterinarians, Sara was able to get in touch with Dr. Brimlee, who works with Milam Touch of Love, and while he couldn’t come last night, we are scheduling him to come soon (Apache’s teeth need to be looked at, too). In any case, we were both really relieved to find two horses standing under the trees this morning!

Spice was a good friend and nurse last night.

After this, my morning went downhill and my anxiety went uphill, but that’s the way the circle of life goes, I guess. As I approached our gate, I saw lots and lots of black birds in the pasture. What, a crow convention? As I got closer, I realized it was vultures. I also saw this.

Brown cow guarding two calves.

I drove overo where the feasting birds were, and found one of the three calves was no longer with us, and hadn’t been for a day or two. That certainly startled me. I don’t know what happened, and I probably won’t, but it was sad and a bit of a shock to see him laying there. Circle of life strikes again.

On the other hand, the chickens are all still here! Haven’t lost one in weeks! And Hedley seems to have given up on being broody, but hasn’t started laying again. I hope she does. She doesn’t seem sick or anything. They all got quite a treat out of a bunch of tomatoes Kathleen donated to them.

Hey, this is good! Thanks! Hedley is the one by the water trough, looking perky.

Even Buttercup and Butternut ate a tomato, which is a first. Maybe they’ll start branching out and eating more than just their feed and only their feed soon. I do enjoy them, and they cheered me up.

THEN I went to drive to the office. There was a giant wasp in the car, the black kind with red wings (sorry, no ID). I usually don’t worry about them, but two of my friends have had bad wasp reactions in the last week, and it started buzzing my head. As I tried to shew it away, I ran off the road. Luckily, I just drove through a lot of long grass, and probably made County Road 140 passersby curious. I am just not having a calm day so far! I’m still shaky. On the other hand, I did find some pretty groundcherries in the overgrown office lawn. These are clammy groundcherries (Physalis heterophylla).

The blossoms face downward, so you often don’t spot them.

So, I will go do my other Saturday writing tasks and breathe deeply. Has anything startled you today?

Anxiety, You Are My Weird Friend

Goodness knows, we are living in unprecedented times of stress. But, they are also times of opportunity for positive change. I’ve actually been feeling encouraged by some events in the past week or two. Even my most pessimistic coworker had to grudgingly admit that that there ARE positive trends (though he stuck firmly to his trademarked pessimism).

Anxiety, while in a Zoom meeting.

So, why have I been dealing with an onslaught of anxiety symptoms for the past couple of days? Why was I unable to get to sleep last night thanks to pesky thoughts about potential issues popping into my head (totally unbidden; I was relaxed and ready to sleep). Why am I having my least-favorite symptom, big ole chest pains? Why is my head all fuzzy and buzzy?

The answer is that at the moment I have no idea, but I know well enough that these symptoms are a part of my makeup and that I need to listen to them when they make their presence known. It’s like, “Hi Suna, are you doing the things you need to do to maintain your mental and physical health? Is there something going on that you are choosing to ignore and not deal with? Are you concerned about someone else?”

So, I’ve been sitting here thinking about what my conscious mind may be trying to hide from me that I need to address. I know there are three family members with health issues that concern me. They’re very important to me, and it’s hard to see people you love in pain. One is getting better, but two are struggling (physically or mentally).

As I type this, AHA, I get the idea that a lot of the anxiety is about my struggling family members. In the past week or two I have tried to help out and really not had much success. So, I’ve stepped back. For one of them, matters are becoming more pressing. I know I tend to get anxious about things I can’t do anything about, especially when I really NEED to do something.

Thanks, weird anxiety friend. You have told me in no uncertain terms that I need to not keep hoping issues will go away if I don’t think about them. Some part of me is concerned and it’s causing physical symptoms.

What a good lesson this is for me, and perhaps you, too. Like I realized when the Enneagram book helped me embrace my inner sloth, the problematic parts of our makeup have a place in our whole selves. My anxiety is my messenger. I’ll listen.

Still embracing that inner sloth. Image by  @jandall via Twenty20.

It’s worth thinking about what parts of yourself that you may not be thrilled about actually are serving a useful purpose. I hope you enjoyed reading how I worked out what was going on in my head. What do you find? How do you figure things out?

Grace, Nature, and Humor to the Rescue

What do you do to get through trying times? You take it one day at a time. I am doing my best to just observe and not get all caught up in things I can’t control, like I’ve been saying this week. And I figure one way I can help myself and others is to provide brief diversions. What the heck?

Grace

I’ve been reading and reading ideas on mindfulness and they have brought me a bit of grace, I think. Here’s a quote by Joanna Macy, the Buddhist teacher and naturalist, about the times we are in and our relationship to the earth:

…It is so great a privilege to be here on Earth at this time….Being fully present to fear, to gratitude, to all that is–this is the practice of mutual belonging. As living members of the living body of Earth, we are grounded in that kind of belonging. We will find more ways to remember, celebrate, and affirm this deep knowing: we belong to each other, we belong to earth. Even when faced with cataclysmic changes, nothing can ever separate us from her. We are already home.

Lion’s Roar, May 2020, p. 50. Excerpt from A Wild Love for the World: Joanna Macy and the Work of Our Time, edited by Stephanie Kaza.

Guess what book I just ordered?

Nature

As always, nature has provided me with a way to center. The magnolia blossom that Chris picked for me this morning has filled my office with fragrance, and I found myself in a meditative state earlier, just looking at the structure of the center.

Magnolia glory.

You can see how the current beauty is all set up to become a beautiful seed pod with bright red seeds. I take it as a reminder that we are always undergoing a transformation (including Mother Earth) and that we can gain solace from how destruction and metamorphosis bring their own beauty.

What’s cool is that it continues to change. The petals are folding up now (not happy we picked it, I guess)

I’ve noticed a lot of my friends sharing their gardens, whether flowers or produce, which brings moments of pleasure. And my Master Naturalist friends keep coming up with the best stuff! Look at this puffball mushroom my friend Pamela saw on her property, just a couple of miles from our ranch.

Now, that’s one big mushroom! I love all the patterns on it. Photo by Pamela Neeley.

Humor

And then there’s humor. I was rather surprised yesterday when I made a joking comment to my husband, and he took offense. He says I never joke around. This is disturbing, since I think of myself as funny. Oops.

But I decided that it’s a good idea to have some fun with images, anyway. I posted the following photo of a tile in my bathroom on Facebook:

What do you see in the center tile?

I said I saw a Satanic goat (it has scary eyes). The responses to the post were a lot of fun. People saw a llama, a dragon, a snail, a slug, a horse, unicorn, a goddess, and a duck (among others). The tile is a natural stone called river travertine, because it looks like flowing water, so the person who saw the ocean was right on!

I decided I’d just post things that made me laugh, so I also posted a picture of poor Penney and all her excess skin.

There’s a second dog in there somewhere.

So yeah, I’m not going to deny the undercurrent of doom swirling around me, but my pet bobcat (or whatever that is) and I are going to keep looking for grace, natural beauty, and the absurd as we go through the day.

Oh, SnapChat, when you don’t have me worried about my kid’s safety, you entertain.

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

Subititle: ME ME ME ME ME but not ME

Yeesh. Thing number one is that I am acutely aware that the deaths of black people at the hands of law enforcement is not all about me and my problems with it. So skip that lecture; I already read it here. I want to say I’m not interested in hearing how my reactions to world events are wrong, or that I don’t have a right to react because of my race, socio-economic background, or perceived intellectual status. I get to react how I react. I get to test my bravery, even if I screw up. I get to be upset.

Do I fall into the spiral, or sit on the edge and watch? Image by  @tampatra via Twenty20.

But I do want to butt out of other people’s issues. I’m all for letting the people most directly affected direct their responses, whether individual or as a group. If I’m needed, I’ll step up, but since I am reading over and over again that I’m not needed, I will stand by and do other stuff. What other stuff? Well, here’s a really long list:

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

And I am going to point out racism, anti-free speech, and non-factual content when it’s in my face. No, I’m not gonna go troll everyone I know and shower them with my thoughts. That’s not gonna work, and I know it. But I might answer back if you troll me with your anti-liberal assertions.

It’s a hard line, which is why I gave the title I did to this post. I just have to accept that some people will damn me for not taking enough action or being silent, while others will damn me for speaking out in ways they don’t approve of. I will be taken to task for not responding to accusations or inaccuracies, then told I should just block and ignore anyone I disagree with. This is true for a lot of us right not.

It’s all an illusion, anyway. Image by @anelehbakota via Twenty20

But, I want to hear what people have to say. All of them, not just the ones like me. I can’t figure out how to listen to my more radical and more conservative associates and not talk back. My mom would laugh. I always talked back.

Luckily I spent a lot of yesterday reading Lion’s Roar, the Buddhist magazine. It reminded me that life happens, it doesn’t happen to me. And that life is hard, but that’s how you learn. It reminded me of the virtues of silent observation.

That’s the Lesson for Today

I have, at least, figured out why I feel uncomfortable (in addition to the obvious other reasons). I’m used to being a participant, going out and doing stuff, and raising my voice to work for a better world. Right now I need to be more quiet. You know, like so many people of color have to be, in order to keep from being noticed and targeted.

Right now I need to observe. That’s my lesson.

Why Is the Anticipation Always Worse than the Actual Thing?

Nightmares suck.

That’s today’s question. I’ve spent the entire weekend stewing about stuff at my job. It has given me nightmares (hey, a change from pandemic nightmares!), made my stomach upset, made me cranky, and generally took away from enjoying the family and holiday. Plus, there is a situation at the OTHER job that’s making us all cranky, and no one’s enjoying the thought of the hard conversations it’s going to require.

I guess I need a pep talk. This is me giving myself a pep talk. You don’t have to read it.

You’d think I’d do better. I’ve lived long enough to know perfectly well that usually anticipating big changes, hard conversations, transitions, and the like is worse than actually DOING the dreaded thing. But, my body is not listening to my mind one bit. My mind keeps saying, “Be a big girl, you’ll be fine and all will work out,” and my favorite, “When one door closes another door opens.”

Bodies make it hard to fake it until you make it sometimes, when they keep showing stuff.

My body says, “Here’s another fun nightmare to remind you how you REALLY feel,” and “Have some chest pains, why don’t you?”

I need to be there listening and being there for my colleagues in both my jobs, not wallowing around in my own self-pity and irritation at how things are. That’s easier said than done, when I’m sitting alone in my office, which happens to smell awful thanks to the kitchen drain pipes. (This coming after sleeping right next to Penney the Skunky Dog.) And it’s not helping that you can’t have any hugs, in-person private talks, or happy hours to let off some steam.

Hooray for people I work with!

Support helps, and no doubt my colleagues and I will help each other get through yet another round of challenges at both my workplaces. When you have to do a hard thing, it’s better with the help of others. You can remind each other that usually people think they’re doing the right thing and want the best for each other (even corporate executives?).

At least I’m not having to have a hard conversation with one other person, which happened with me and a family member last week. You have no backup in those cases! But of course, the anticipation was worse than the actual conversation. We all need to remember that mistakes and misunderstandings happen all the time, but having a foundation of trust and a belief that all parties are trying to do the right thing makes a really big difference.

And at least I have one dog who only stinks a LITTLE.

Assume good intent. That’s one of my biggest rules for life. This week, I am going to have to test that out many times. Sending YOU all my best!

Calgon, Where Are You? Can We Transcend This Madness?

Today’s will be a short blog, if you can imagine that. Things have sort of taken a downward turn in my non-pandemic life, so I will need to deal with that. I have lots of support, and I was really moved yesterday when the support I needed came from so many parts of my life, and there’s where the UU Lent word for the day, transcend, comes in.

I realized that I have support that transcends all boundaries, if I only remember it’s out there and reach out. Those 128 likes and 93 commenters include people I’ve known since I was a child, people I’ve never met, elders, youth, people I disagree and agree with, and people from:

  • Family
  • High school
  • College
  • Grad school
  • My first job outside school
  • All my previous and current jobs: Akibia, Dell, Planview
  • Friends from when my kids were in school
  • La Leche League
  • Unitarian Universalists
  • FortuneBuilder friends (real estate)
  • Master Naturalists
  • Email lists founded long before Facebook
  • Knitters and crocheters
  • Musicians
  • Community theater
  • Neighbors from Austin, Round Rock, and Cameron

I am sure we all have a varied network, even when we feel alone. I am imagining them lifting me up in support, so that I can transcend these mundane roadblocks, personal issues, and unwise decisions made that we have no control over. Community support is vital right now.

The earth abides. The harvest goes on. Nature transcends human problems.
Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away. I put this t-shirt on this morning, and it turned out to be quite appropriate. (It’s a Slaid Cleaves album title.)

I know blog readers are also here to support me. And we are here to support each other. I’ve been sending out so much empathy to people I know who have lost loved ones during this time when we can’t gather together. I’ve been sending strength to those of us for whom this new world is scary and brings out their anxieties and depression. I’m sending calm out to all the people I know who are trying to work and school their worried children. And of course, super duper vibes are going out to people who can’t work right now and need to keep their lives together.

This too, shall pass (I think that’s the message my t-shirt is trying to convey).

Let’s all send out what love and light we have to spare, while taking in what others are sending us. Maybe that will keep us all able to move forward.

Contemplating the meaning of life and transcendence on a Maundy Thursday.

Thank you all. Supportive messages for me and all the rest of us blog readers and their circles are welcome.

Well Past My Limit

I hit my limit on Wednesday. Today I surpassed it.

Work continued to annoy, mainly from being out of the loop when hard work was supposed to be done as a team. We worked it out.

Glad I had my squishy thing today.

And. We had been waiting to close on our Villa Park property all week. Ever so many weird delays occurred.

I was sad and disheveled.

I had hoped for a quiet day in the Cameron office today, but nope. While I was in Austin, all sorts of…things happened on our Pope Residence project, but no one had told me.

They also broke this light fixture.

Blah blah. Who cares. At some point I just started crying as Kathleen talked to me. I just wanted to flee. I couldn’t take any more bad news.

The bathroom window looks out on the yard now. The scary laundry room is gone.

I didn’t. Breathing occurred, and I sat through all my meetings, politely said how I felt, and did my work for all my jobs.

There the laundry room isn’t.

We actually got the closing on that house done, though our real estate agent, Carol, had to drive up to Cameron to bring the papers and our friend Liz had to rush through all the papers. Whew.

Carol and Sierra rest during their brief stop in Cameron for the closing.

I just decided to go with the flow. It worked. Sometimes that’s all you can do!

Yep. That’s an incredible number of papers for sellers.

The sight of all the work going on at the Pope Residence, along with thoughts of chandeliers for our offices helped. And some wine.

Nothing relaxes me more than decorating houses, so tonight Kathleen and I looked for chandeliers for our offices. Which one do you like best?

I’m sure things will settle down soon. I’m sure being out of the loop won’t be permanent. Challenges are part of life!

Little Rewards

The big thing I did yesterday was get a hair cut, which I hadn’t done since Kalea moved so far away and only works when I’m in Cameron. I found a place on the way to therapy and showed up on the wrong day, but it was okay. The lady who cut my hair was funny, my age, and did a perfectly reasonable job. Whew. Finding someone to cut your hair is HARD. I deserved a reward.

Since we worked so hard Monday, Anita and I capitalized on a break in the heat by sitting on the deck in a civilized fashion. We drank wine from the wine fridge and I twirled around in my white linen dress (which Vlassic managed not to get dirty).

Looking more and more like my granny every day. But happy.

I felt so relieved after reorganization stress at work. Every little thing looked beautiful to me. Even hybrid flowers got my love. Plants really do help with stress and anxiety (my eye stopped twitching, even).

Portulaca hybrid

I’m concerned about my nipple cactus. It looks like it’s imploding, though it has lots of babies. I’ll have to look this turn of events up.

Continue reading “Little Rewards”

The Storm Passes

Last night we had quite a strong storm pass over the Bobcat Lair, our Austin house. Just as we were emerging from our dungeon…I mean, office, to go pick up some plants, the sky let loose.

The edge of this little storm front stayed over our house a long time.

That was okay with me, since I was dealing with that panic attack/anxiety thing last night. I went into self-care mode and concentrated on my own needs.

I burned candles, smelled appropriate aromatherapy oils and blends, watched HGTV, and finally sat in my room and meditated for a half hour.

See, there’s a reason my notebook says “omm” and I have a little crystal ball on my desk. You never know when the need to empty one’s mind will come up.

The best thing about the storm was that we ate dinner early and went to bed early, thereby enabling me to get enough sleep. I’ve noticed that my antsy days tend to be when I haven’t slept enough, which is usually Mondays (I have to get up early to drive to Austin).

A few minutes after the first picture. Eventually, storm clouds will pass.

Today I’m still feeling sensitive to “stuff” around me, but I’ve been able to get much work done, even a meeting with the boss of my boss’s boss. I am back to myself!

You’re TOO Sensitive

My gosh, have I heard that little put-down way too many times in my life. It mostly came from my father. Sometimes it came from my mother or my brother or my sister, or especially my grandmother. Whoever said it got me even more huffy. Soon I’d cry and ALSO be a crybaby.

Baby Suna? (My scary mask)

Being sensitive was a part of my nature. I couldn’t exactly become someone else just so they could insult me with great impunity and not feel bad about it.

I’m bringing that up now, because I’ve finally developed the skill of not taking other people’s insults, snipes, and passive aggressive digs to heart. So that’s good. Yep.

I guess lightning this red candle will help?

But. I’m still sensitive. This linguist can handle words better, but I’m annoyingly sensitive to the moods, affect, and unspoken signals of others. Sometimes it’s general malaise, like after an election. Other times someone in my close circle sends out signals of distress or negativity and it gets me.

Continue reading “You’re TOO Sensitive”