Scary, but Not the Halloween Kind, the Political Kind

If I hadn’t put out decorations in my houses, I wouldn’t remember that Halloween is in a few days. All that fun spookiness and pretending to be scared has fallen by the wayside in my circles. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY seems to have real fears right now. It doesn’t matter who you are or what social group you’re a member of, you’re probably scared, or at least really concerned.

People in the US seem to be the most scared, but friends around the world have been expressing their concerns to me or in public forums. The elections coming next Tuesday are alarming people. People are scared of fraud, roaming militias, unseemly riots, government failures, mayhem, the apocalypse, a military coup, bombs…you name it, if it’s bad, people are afraid of it.

According to an article in today’s The USA Today, 70% of US adults are anxious about the upcoming election. That obviously includes people from all parts of the political spectrum! The article describes what people around me have been saying:

The majority of American adults say they feel it. The anxiety, the fear, the dread. 

They feel it before bed and when they wake at night, at red lights and in grocery store lines, at desks and dinner tables. Quiet moments are no longer a refuge, but spaces to ruminate, contemplate, to grapple with how risky it is to hope.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/10/28/presidential-election-stress-how-cope-anxiety-and-fear/6049521002/

Only 52% were anxious in 2016 (I should have been MORE anxious). The thing is, no matter who wins, the other side will be doubtful about the results. I can see that. It doesn’t bode well. And taking deep breaths won’t help in that situation, will it? I have been wondering if there are any ideas I can share with y’all, my real-life friends, and my family (who run the gamut of beliefs and expectations).

For example, let’s not imagine the future this way, okay?

Thank goodness for Alia E. Dastagir, who wrote this helpful article, and thank goodness I found it when I was faliling around searching for ways to cope. I’ll share her ideas for dealing with the next few days, weeks, or months, but feel free to head on over to the original article for details.

Avoid doomscrolling. That means don’t obsess over the news and check outlets repeatedly. You could even take some time off.

Prepare for a period of uncertainty. Ugh, I don’t want to do that! I want things to be DONE. Well, too bad. We need to find ways to remain strong while waiting for things to settle down. And there’s where I’m grasping at straws. Dastagir did NOT tell me how to do that.

Dare to hope. Dastagir points out that many people in the US no longer dare hope. At least there’s a suggestion on this one, which is to focus on finding something you can actually DO. I think all the postcard writing some of my friends did helped in that way.

Avoid black-and-white thinking. That is easy to fall into, especially for some of us. WE’RE DOOMED! I have been doing a fairly good job of avoiding that kind of thing myself. I try to remind myself that we are all fellow humans, and that awful stuff has happened throughout history and at least SOME people make it through it…so, maybe I’m not doing such a great job of avoiding doom and gloom. But, we can all try together, right?

Don’t despair. This may be easier said than done, but we are implored not to despair if our candidate does not win. The psychology professor quoted in the article recommended that we try to avoid people who may be gloating or in ecstasy for the first few days after a contentious election is settled. That is what I did in 2016, though that was easier then than it is now.

This time, I may have to leave town.

This looks nice. Image by @ctayers via Twenty20.

Hey, do any of YOU have any good suggestions for how to deal with what’s going to be a hard time for at least half of us, no matter what the outcome?

It’s Always Something

People my age will remember early Saturday Night Live shows with Gilda Radner playing the irascible Roseanne Rosannadanna (not Emily Litella, as I said in my first draft). She’d end her confused monologues with the memorable phrase, “It’s always something.”

She was absolutely right, once you start thinking about things. Right now a lot of people feel like the world is in the worst shape it’s ever been in their lifetime. And there sure are a lot of calamities and issues these days.

I started thinking back through my life, which is a while, since I’m one of those Baby Boomers everyone thinks is so awful. What did I find? There was always something.

When I was a little kid, I had nightmare after nightmare about an atom bomb falling on my school. I had dreams where we’d be taken deep into tiled corridors that were supposed to lead to the safe area, but we never got there.

Little Susie in the 60s. Duck and cover!

Later, I thought that what happened after high school, if you were a boy, is that you went to a faraway place and fought in the war Walter Cronkite kept telling us about every night, where there were always charts about injuries, deaths and MIAs.

Next, a whole lot of propaganda got me scared witless about drugs. Someone was going to slip me LSD and I’d be thrown into a psychedelic poster of Jimi Hendrix and never escape! I was scared to death of sugar cubes. Meanwhile, Mother’s Little Helper was over there turning my mom into a basket case. But, those weren’t DRUGS. Hippies used drugs!

Watermelon, the gateway drug for chickens.

Time marched on. There was always some calamity that was going to cause the downfall of society, kill us all, or take away this freedom we’d been told we had (being White people and all that). As I got older, I was sure we’d never survive a succession of war-mongering poor-people hating presidents (my opinions; not always accurate).

There were social things to get all up in arms about. Seat belts! How dare they! What? Cigarettes are bad? Don’t be a litterbug! Plastic is evil! Etc.

Yeah, it’s always something. After a while, you realize that there’s always some crisis or something to fear. The news has to report something. There’s always a war somewhere, a drought somewhere, a big storm, a fire…some are just closer to home than others. So…

This line of thinking led me to post this status on Facebook a couple of days ago.

I figure I’ve made it through all of these things. I’m just going to continue trying to do the right thing, strive for a better world, and deal with whatever threatens me at the moment. What comes is going to come.

This poor grasshopper certainly didn’t see that bird coming or guess that it would be impaled on a fence. It’s always something.

I’m not going to be oblivious, complacent, or complicit with evil, meanness, or cruelty. I’m not going to be unsafe. I’m just not going to let it rule my life. This is the only life we get to live, and like Billy Joel said,

They say that these are not the best of times, but they’re the only times I’ve ever known.

Summer, Highland Falls, Turnstiles

I’ve been doing a lot better with it, with all the practice the pandemic has given me. I’m just gonna “roll with the changes” (REO Speedwagon?).

These curious heifers are just dealing with life as they keep getting moved from field to field. They just take it as a chance to meet new people. It’s always something, isn’t it, ladies?

Chickens Can NOT Catch a Break

I’m beginning to think my poor chickens are living under a black cloud, are haunted, or broke a mirror sometime in their past. They really just can’t catch a break.

Here’s a rat snake that was found in a shopping cart in Midland. So friendly.

You may recall that just last Saturday, I found an adult Texas rat snake curled up happily in the henhouse, with three eggs embedded inside him or her. That snake was removed, so I was really thinking all was well.

Nope. Wednesday night, Seth, the chicken tending volunteer, got scared witless when he saw TWO snakes in the hen house. He didn’t stop to try to identify them. For someone who lived in the boonies most of his life, he’s not real “ranchy.”

Here’s a cute spider to take your mind off snakes.

He called his mom, who told me. I said, hey, remember Tyler who lives right there? He can take care of snakes. Then I heard nothing.

I asked Mandi how it all went, and she said she wasn’t sure. He wasn’t talking about it. Wow. Nature is not kind to that boy (age 19). But I do understand that many people have big issues with snakes, even non-venomous ones.

So, I asked Tyler, who IS ranchy, what the heck had happened. He said the two snakes were the same kind and size as last week.

What, are they a family? If so, one of them ought to tell the others that the fun times at our coop don’t have happy endings.

Mostly, though, I feel bad for those poor remaining 8 chickens. We took care of one set of predators, only to be joined by another one. I think my friend Mike and I need to get working on the new and improved coop, not just talking about it.

Fearless. Am I? Are You?

Get ready for some heavy introspection! In the past couple of years, a big change has come over me. I’ve been spending some time reflecting on how the way I interact with people and the world in general has changed for the better. I’ve been wondering what the heck sparked the welcome change, and whether I could even describe it other than “I feel better now.”

Is this flower perfect? No. But it’s beautiful and capable of bearing fruit (because I see a rose hip).

I come from a “nervous” family, and always have dealt with anxiety, which coupled with being an “extra sensitive person” could be a real hindrance to someone like me, whose goal is a relatively calm life with relatively little stress.

After decades of trying to deal with my lovely symptoms through meditation and self care, I finally got some therapy, which was very helpful and healed up some of those deeply rooted issues from childhood.

This blue wall used to have a very busy mural on it. The blue wall and fake clouds remind me of how nice it is to have some of that background buzz diminished.

When I finally tried some medication, I noticed that the background buzz of anxiety went down just enough that I could really work on some of the other things that were holding me back, most of which were fears created by myself:

  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Fear of trying new, hard things
  • Fear of displeasing a loved one
  • Fear of rejection (the big one)

That’s a lot of fear. Those are pretty common, I know, but they sure were intrfering with that peaceful mental state I was aiming for. So, I worked on it.

Continue reading “Fearless. Am I? Are You?”