This is a time of upheaval, and I’m really glad I spent my whole life up to now preparing for lots of stress and lots of change. I think if the past year had happened with my coping skills back when I was 20-something, I’d be curled up in a ball every single day. So, if you are that way now, don’t beat yourself up over it.
This week I have three meetings for three different organization, and of course I’m the secretary of all but one (that means I have to pay attention). Plus, there have been lots of shakeups and changes at my Austin job. Hard ones, some of them. But, I was doing well today, having finally gotten the temperature in my office under control, my webcam set right, and a fine ambiance. I even took a cheerful photo of myself to use on some PowerPoint for a work project.
Suddenly, I got a message that I have to be out of the office for two weeks, to be sure we’re all safe and following instructions from the state. I was like, “Right now?” Yep. Thank goodness I could finish the meeting I was in! So, I untangled all my cords and wires and brought all the things I needed over to my office at the Hermits’ Rest, which I’d been avoiding using for work, due to barking dogs and such.
Lee brought my office chair, so I don’t have to sit in a dining chair! Once you get things all set up for a modern “work from home” situation, you don’t realize how much stuff is involved. I had to move my fancy work headphones, my HD webcam, my ergonomic mouse, and my cute keyboard. Oh yes, and all the power cords and USB attachments for all of them. Good thing I have a lot of USB plugs. We did have to go back and get things I forgot, but now I’m set.
I got everything plugged in and working, though it’s not pretty. The desk is pretty (solid labradorite), but it’s pretty much all cords.
Well, I have no choice but to embrace this change and find the good parts.
Working in my office/den will encourage me to clean up some clutter that’s showed up here (I did clean up the air bed leftover from our last guest).
I have a really nice bathroom with birds all over it.
I have usually well behaved dogs lying around and sighing.
I brought all my pens, so I can write in color!
I get to look out a window and see birds and trees.
I can go feed my horses this afternoon with plenty of time to come back for my evening meeting, rather than having to drive back and forth to the office.
Um, and the commute is shorter! I will welcome more snow!
Oh, really, this is just a little glitch, and it will all be just fine. I’ll deal with it, I’ll deal with whatever comes up at work, I’ll deal with challenges my friends are facing, and I’ll do my best to remain positive about how next week will go, government-wise.
I know I’m supposed to embrace change! Honest! But, we are allowed to get a little annoyed, for a little while, before moving on and getting things done, doing the needful, etc. Keep me in your thoughts, and I promise to do the same!
True fact: every time you figure out a way to lessen one type of stress, another one comes up. Ha ha, life, you are SO FUNNY!
I had gotten a handle on some of my worries about the greater angst in the planet, which has helped me see our political stuff a different way (thanks to the mushroom book). And reading Caste gave me concrete ideas for working to make relationships among Americans better, so that wasn’t upsetting me as much. I even grappled myself into a place where I can deal with the changes at work in a positive and productive way. So proud of my own self.
But, no, I did not dwell in my feelings of equanimity for long at all.
The details are not important, just know they involve a not insignificant collection of sad animal tales and sickly family member tales (not just me; by the way I feel better).
BOOM. I got knocked right down and feel like a tumbleweed rolling down a hill in a rainstorm. Not a lot of control. But then, you NEVER have a lot of control, do you? I have to hand it to life, it doesn’t take it long at all to remind you of lessons you should not be forgetting.
There are challenges out there and they aren’t gonna stop. That’s always been true, even if right now seems like they’ve sped up, like an old 78 RPM record or something. Round and round and round, zoom!
While there will always be challenges, there will ALSO always be ways to deal with them! And I know what those are, because I’m prepared!
Deal with one day and one challenge at a time
Not worry about what’s next or what just happened
Breathe deeply and get to my familiar place of comfort/ease
Light a candle and stare at it for a while
Read a book on a non-sad topic (I’m looking at YOU, book on the color blue!)
Pet a small animal (hi Pickle, since Vlassic is staying with Jim, ’cause it’s cold)
Go on a brisk walk (guaranteed brisk, due to aforementioned weather)
Send out loving-kindness to all my friends and families dealing with similar crap as mine
So, I hope you can do some of these things with me! Peace to you.
Usually, I enjoy taking a blogging break each day, because it gives me a chance to stop thinking about work and stuff, and instead focus on fun or fascinating (to me) things. This week, my mind has been so full of other things that there’s just no room for fun. Well, maybe there’s a LITTLE room…
I’m still working on decorating the office, just figuring out what works and what doesn’t. While I’m waiting for my plant stand to arrive, I’m enjoying my plant corner a lot using the old table that’s been hanging around for years.
The big change for today is that Chris put up a piece of plywood in my window that looks out into the hall, to dampen the sounds of me in my office, and I assume also to keep noise from coming IN, as well. It’s just temporary, I think, until the actual piece of glass comes. I’m sure the gaudy vase of flowers makes the plywood practically blend in with the surroundings. Sure, Suna.
I had a bunch of candles that were just sitting on the shelves, so I got some inexpensive candle holders for them, such as the shiny silver ones above and these extra pink ones for the mantel. They aren’t fancy heirlooms, but they are cheery, and will look good lit up (too bad I still haven’t managed to sneak into an uncrowded store and buy more AA batteries).
Apparently, shiny things and lights help keep my mood up, and right now, I’ll take all I can get! If they distract me from work challenges, political grumblings, and natural disasters, they’re worth the time, effort and expense. I feel lucky to be able to make myself a haven here at the Pope Residence, and I’ll work really hard not to interfere with the work everyone else is doing, in return.
When stress is high and change is swirling all around, little things can really bug us, am I right? The little thing that bugged me was that the inexpensive toilet paper holder I’d gotten for my bathroom had turned out to not hold those giant rolls of Charmin that I love. The horror! It was also so lightweight that it tried to fall over every time I touched it. That just would NOT do.
This new one is made of iron pipe and has nothing to restrict the size of the spare roll. Rustic romantic, fits the theme! My bathroom is complete. Hooray. I’ll donate the other one to the thrift shop next time I go over there.
So it’s time to go think about hard stuff again. I’ll be keeping a part of my mind on everyone in the path of hurricanes and tropical storms today. I do hope we can get enough rain to have an effect on the grass from it. The little bit that showed up last night didn’t help much at all!
May you all find something shiny to smile about, and that there’s a little extra space in YOUR brain-o-meter for fun.
Let’s see. What I’m trying to say here is that I have a hard time maintaining a poker face when my world takes a sudden shift, and I have an equally hard time rapidly processing sudden changes when I’m told about them. This isn’t a problem if I’m reading about something, all alone in my home or office. I have time to think about what’s going on, mull over the implications, push aside my knee-jerk reactions, and figure out what good spin I can put on it.
In person, though, it’s hard. I’m guessing it’s hard for most people, to be honest. When your adrenaline starts running like crazy and you go into survival mode, your higher brain functions get sacrificed (it’s one of the things I learned in the Behave book I read a while back). The best I can do at these times is nod and plaster a smile on my face.
For instance, yesterday in a work meeting, some changes were announced to our leadership team. Now, we knew something was coming, and probably most of us had an inkling of the kind of thing it was. But, with little prelude, we were shown a chart with all sorts of people, positions, and roles on it, many of whom we weren’t familiar with. The boss asked, “Do you understand this?” The other two colleagues, who are way better at office politics than me, nodded. I shook my head. Well, I didn’t understand it!
I’m the only one who asked for clarification, to help me process the shit ton of information I was supposed to internalize and grasp in 30 seconds. I did ask a few questions, to help me understand what was going on, since I will have to explain it to the people currently on my team. I’m guessing I was supposed to just say, “Okay,” and figure things out as I go along. But, I probably looked confused/annoyed and came across as a grumpy person who hates change.
I don’t hate change. Things change all the time. I simply find it easier to process with some context, reassurance that the sky is not falling, and some explanations of the rationale behind them. So, I didn’t get that, this time. That got me thinking.
If I have this kind of trouble, I should probably think about this experience next time I have to change something significant, change a process, etc. I think I do. I feel like I owe it to my team to provide context and rationale, rather than just say, “Here’s how it is now.” It’s not going to change the fact that a change is made, but it might help make it more palatable, gain buy-in on the new ideas or processes, and earn the trust of those I work with.
There’s a whole field of change management. I know it involves getting buy-in, setting expectations, and building up to the change. Maybe I’ll go study that some more and try not to do to others what was done to me. I had nightmares about having to implement something I didn’t know anything about!
Poor rigid Suna, ha ha. It’s just another effing growth opportunity, right?
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.”
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.
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.
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!
Change. I guess most of us are dealing as best as we can with all the changes to our daily routines. Nobody doing the UU Lent challenge will have any trouble with this as a prompt.
I’ve been trying to put things into perspective. There are always changes and challenges, big and small. My generation is lucky to not have been hit by something that requires sacrifice in a long time. But we managed 911 and the threat of atomic bombs and so on. If we stick together, we’ll handle the virus crisis.
I’m very glad for the perspective on change that my I’ll-timed trip has given me. It’s let me see that even from one week to the next, our planet changes. On the way out, the trees were bare and only white trees and red maples were blooming.
Now, it’s a riot of colors. There is yellow jessamine throughout the trees, oaks and elms are going crazy, and the beautiful red bud trees say hello through the diverse woodlands we are driving through. Every week the show changes, and soon enough autumn colors will arrive.
I think this is why it’s so good to go out in nature, especially now. You can see the big picture and remember you and your problems aren’t the center of the Universe.
I haven’t had too much to write about for a while, but I know there will be lots of changes to come once we get home. I can’t wait to see the progress on our offices, assuming that’s still going on. And then I hope to share more about our next project. Life will go on, even though I’ll be confined to home and the office.
FIRST: To all my long-time church friends. Don’t panic. You are still my friends and will always be. And to the current and former ministers at the church I’ve been a member of, it’s not you. You have my deepest respect and admiration.
That said, in the back of my mind, I’ve been thinking about my membership in an organized religion for the past twenty-something years. It’s clear to me that I did it for reasons that had nothing to do with the institution itself: I just wanted to meet some people with values similar to mine and to have a chance to sing with others.
I had not made friends in my neighborhood (only ever made a few), and my work was online, so I couldn’t make work friends. A church seemed like a good idea, and a church that would accept me as I am and give my children a foundation from which to create their spiritual paths.
I joined a Unitarian Universalist congregation, where I made some wonderful friends and enjoyed a close-knit community for many years. When the church changed focus from building community to growth, I still had my friends and the music we performed to serve my needs. I also enjoyed women’s conferences and other activities.
I enjoyed the traditions and rituals in the weekly services, too, and I learned a lot from the sermons. I also liked how sermons seemed educational and disagreement was welcomed. I didn’t feel like I was being told to toe some denominational line or being put down for having a different perspective. That was good.
Change is inevitable
People change and institutions change. There were a couple of upheavals in the church, but we got through them. I was really surprised at how much I grew personally from these challenges. I handled change! Scary change!
But some of the change I’ve seen in the church and its parent denomination have made me feel less and less comfortable. And for that reason, I don’t think I want to be a UU anymore.
Lack of forgiveness: Leaders in the church keep getting removed from positions for mistakes that seem totally human to me. Someone said something “politically incorrect,” or they made a mistake when they were younger and less wise, or in some way they just weren’t living up to expectations of “wokeness.”
Rather than working with people to make amends; allowing them to learn from mistakes, apologize, and move forward; or look into how an error occurred and not do it again…people just get forced to leave. And people get shunned for not being perfect.
It’s the “me-too” movement taken to other areas. If you screw up and someone points it out, you should go into your corner or cave and stay there.
Intolerance: More and more, I see denomination and church members conveying an intolerant attitude towards people who have a different point of view, a different perspective, or unique experiences that might lead to conclusions that are different from what’s being promoted by the leadership. That reminds me way too much of the kinds of spiritual communities I’ve avoided my whole life (prescriptive, more uniform traditions are fine if that is what makes you comfortable; it’s just not for me). I see lip service for supporting diversity of thought and expression, but in practice I see a LOT of pressure to conform to whatever’s currently en vogue.
[Unpopular aside alert: It sometimes even seems that, if you are white and straight, you start out with so much negative baggage and un-earned privileges that nothing you say or do will make your input worth including. Wow. Even if I think I believe in reincarnation, I don’t think I chose to be a white straight woman (European-American cis-gender I mean). I was just born this way. I might actually care about people who aren’t like me and want to help make the world a safer and more welcoming place for them.]
Ageism: And this one’s the straw that breaks this old camel’s back. I know it is very important to mainstream denominations in the US to attract youth and young families. They don’t want to die! (I understand that from the first-hand experience with the church we bought because there were no new people joining the congregation.)
I also enthusiastically embrace the inclusion of new perspectives, new voices, and new energy into all institutions. They bring welcome change and help us see where we’re bogged down from always looking at our communities and institutions in the same way. Like I said yesterday, I learn so much from people who are growing up today.
But, both the larger UU Association and the church I have been associated with have been (both subtly and occasionally overtly) pushing aside or putting down input from older church members. And I’m not just talking about recent events. I once said a program didn’t really meet the needs of me and my friends, and I was told that well, the church isn’t looking to please the long-time members.
Individuals have also given me an uncomfortable feeling about being my age in the church. My generations experiences with racism, sexism, homophobia and other issues are put aside as no longer relevant. That’s really hurtful, especially when I consider how much I learned from feminists and equal-rights activists of the generation before me!
A fond (I mean it) farewell
I’d been thinking of starting a satellite church in Cameron, but I really don’t think the lack of acceptance of people who think differently would go over well there.
So, I think I’ll go back to being a solo practitioner of my own brand of crazy pacifist/neo-pagan/Buddhist/gnostic mish-mash and leave institutional religion to people for whom it works. At this stage in my life, I want to focus on areas where my input is appreciated, my propensity to make mistakes tolerated, and my imperfect ways of supporting and allying with others are welcomed.
I’m just going through a phase where I’m tired of having to prove I’m good enough to be in the same room with UUs. I still support people who get their needs met by UUism or other such things. I’m just outa here.
PS: I’m not wanting to be convinced my perceptions are wrong or to be told not to feel how I feel. I get to have my feelings. That said, you get to have YOURS, too, and you are welcome to share them. I also get to perceive events the way I perceive them; yours may differ. I won’t judge you.