Today I was walking around the property wishing it would rain again. I looked down and saw this ray is sunshine.
The rain lilies always surprise me. We only got .6 inches of rain a few days ago, but these copper lilies popped right up for their yearly visit. Glorious.
It’s so dry and parched here, which matches many of our moods right now. But the strength of these plants, which just need a wee bit of encouragement to push through and be their fabulous selves, gives me hope. I hope that our efforts to bring forth love and peace can push through like these lilies.
The copper lilies brought a smile to my face and planted a seed of hope. Well, technically I guess the hope is a hidden bulb full of strength. That metaphor will do, too.
When I see tragedies happening around the world that are caused by some frightening person’s lust for power or sense of entitlement (I want it, so I’ll take it), I have no illusions that the same thing can’t happen here or anywhere else. People let it happen.
They are starting to talk about the other “n” work, the one Pres. Bush had trouble pronouncing. I’ve always thought that’s how I’d die. I’m ready for it. I’ve made me peace, eliminated most of the negativity around me, and am fine disappearing.
I don’t want to lose Gaia or all the young folks with things to contribute to the betterment of humanity. Of course, I also struggle to keep to my illusion that better things are possible, no matter how we try.
I know folks who have evacuated due to fires northwest of here. But their prize horses are safe. That’s good. Two other friends who’ve dealt with fires and flooding are recovering. That’s resilient. Some people I care about have recently lost loved ones, quite young. Their families show such grace and humor, as do those I know struggling with “long COVID,” which is so unfair. There are glimmers of goodness and hope, even amid despair and destruction. Our job is to see it and cling to it. It may be all we get.
What I affirm that I can do is try to be kind, try to help others, and enjoy every single day I have on this planet. I’m soaking up the beauty and peace as hard as I can, and I’m savoring any good moments that pop up, like my ring.
Sigh. Lots going on today, I guess. I’m beginning to sound more and more like a convert to Stoicism, even though I still claim to be an existentialist in my less woo woo moments.
One of my favorite parts of living at the Hermits’ Rest is anticipating spring’s arrival. It’s darned early here! And today I noticed my beloved bluebonnets are up and ready to grow buds.
I feel hope for the future when I’m reminded that Nature keeps plugging along. There are a few flowers out, especially the beautiful dandelions. I even snagged a bee in one photo!
Not many other insects are out right now, which disappoints the chickens.
Things are actually settling down a little bit over here. I may have time to review some documents or watch presentations from last year’s Master Naturalist conference that I missed due to COVID. Or I can just enjoy nature and the animals.
Hey! Thanks to all of you who sympathized with my being so hopeless and sad right now. You all rightly pointed out that many things have led to our collective urge to just sit and stare ahead. There’s even astrological reasoning! This afternoon, Sara postulated that because we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel, all the stuff we’ve been holding in has started to leak out. Yeah.
Today I was getting a bit concerned about myself. I kept having trouble concentrating, and somehow managed to leave Austin late. Partly I was distracted by welcome signs of life coming back.
I enjoyed lots of redbud trees and pear trees. I’m so glad they made it. And the first thing I spotted when I got to the ranch was an Indian paintbrush!
I’d heard bluebonnets are blooming at last, but didn’t spot them until I got to the hill leading down to Walker’s Creek, where they are beautiful every year.
I was still pretty squirrelly when I got to the ranch. I was nervous about getting my second COVID vaccine, so I forgot my vaccination card and panicked because I couldn’t find my paperwork. Uh, it was in the car. Then I drove off, leaving a can of drink on the trunk. That’s gonna make a mess when I open it, I’m sure.
But! I got to the vaccine place! Turns out I was supposed to be there yesterday. But, they let me in. The shot didn’t hurt, and so far I have little pain. Maybe I got all my reactions over with last month.
The other part of the day that made me feel supported and hopeful was that I went to the drugstore in Cameron to pick up my precious drugs, and got to see Mandi at her new job as a pharmacy assistant. Yes! After we had to let her go, she made good use of the time and got her certificate back. See, some people DO use their unemployment to get training and get a job. I’m so proud of her and will hug her in two weeks.
Once I got home, I took a nap and felt fine feeding horses. We had to give them the nastiest wormer of the series we are giving this spring. Both Apache and Lakota made some sad faces and rubbed their faces on the ground. Tomorrow if I’m not having reactions we will reward them with grooming and riding. They are shedding big time. I need it, so I hope I feel less scattered and more centered.
Little things like signs of spring and the promise of future hugs help. But knowing I’m not alone and have wonderful, supportive friends everywhere to feel a sense of community with is the best. Sincere thanks to all. We’re in this together. That’s helping me know I can crawl out of this hole!
Oh, my friends, this anniversary of the pandemic lockdowns has not led to a bunch of happy, hopeful humans in my little world. The people who are struggling to maintain their equilibrium are just not doing it. And even those of us who’ve been keeping our heads above water feel like we are sinking. The hope that truly IS out there is just hard to see!
Heck, I’ve been doing sort of okay most of the past year, but for the past few days, it’s been quite difficult to get through a day. It doesn’t help that my meetings seem to have meetings in them and I get really tired of Zooming. I put the image below on Facebook, and got a lot of support from friends who said this has been an extra-hard few days for them.
It’s weird. I’m NOT all afraid like my friends in the Other World (that’s what I’ve decided to call the Fox News watching crowd) keep telling me. I’m living my life. I’m getting my second vaccine today, actually, and I look forward to some travel in a couple of months. I do have hope, but it feels like helpless hope. I honestly think I just can’t believe positive news.
For example, President Biden gave a talk last night, and it was full of hope and positive energy. People in the US might actually get vaccinated. People who are not me are getting money from the government, too. He spoke kindly, stayed on script, and didn’t call anyone names. This normally would have made me feel better.
But no, the cycle I’ve gone through in the last few decades (Bush, Obama, the previous guy, Biden) has led me to not put any credence into good news. There’s always something awful just down the road. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that life is suffering (I read Lion’s Roar, after all) and that there will always be positive and negative aspects to life, the dark and light sides of the Force, and all that. But the un-ending, pounding, grinding succession of challenges, struggles, meanness, and and obstacles the past year has brought with it have taken a lot out of me. It helps to know I’m not alone.
I admire the folks who are hanging in there and posting the positive memes every day (like my dear niece who could find the good in our sun going supernova, I think). Hope is needed. But right now, I’m in a place that I don’t believe it, no matter how nice it is to see it in others.
All I have for y’all is some virtual hugs. I think I mentioned needing hugs just a couple of days ago! And I appreciate the return hugs and good energy. I’m absolutely confident that I’m just dealing with a passing depression episode that’s completely understandable. Just know that I’m still helplessly hoping, and some day I may even believe my hope and get back to all that cautious fun I was managing to have earlier in the pandemic period.
Oh yes, it’s my job to mention that I do have podcasts now of all my most recent posts. I usually record each blog post within 24 hours of posting it here. You can go to Apple podcasts, Spotify, and many other places, search for the Hermits’ Rest, and follow our spoken journey. I also promise to mention anyone kind enough to sponsor my podcast, which will help repay all the money I spend to bring you this blog!
I have been doing a fairly good job of keeping good spirits until last week, when I saw how many people whom I’ve been extending the benefit of the doubt, supporting their right to their beliefs, etc., are willing to try to bring down the government and the precious Constitution they kept braying about for so many years. Beating police officers, whose lives I thought mattered to them, with American flags, which I thought they held sacred, etc., all brought out my worst fears.
Knowing me, and I sorta do, it’s clear that I can handle one or two crises at a time pretty well. By the time yesterday came along, the crisis count went over my limit. There are a couple of things that I can’t talk about but weigh heavy on my mind. Plus way too many horrible illnesses in my extended circle. Then stuff happened at my job over the past week or so went over my limit for calmly dealing with the barrage of change that comes with an Agile organization owned by a new set of venture capitalists.
By the time my final meeting ended last night, at 7 pm, I’d had it. The darkness enveloped me, literally and figuratively, as I made my way back to the ranch, and I just couldn’t take another thing. I want to help people, I want to talk to folks who need to talk to me, and I want to get things done that I’ve committed to do. But wow, I’m only human.
You know what, all of you are only human, too. It is important to know when you’ve hit a limit and do something about it.
I am not someone who feels better by just ignoring current events, but I CAN find good things to balance them. That’s my hope for all of you, too, that you keep listening to the advice I repeatedly give to turn to nature and find its timeless beauty. Breathe. Take a walk. Surround yourself with what makes you happy (like all my silly Valentine’s Day decorations in the office). Talk to a friend. Maybe talk to a friend who is NOT overwhelmed like me!
I will now sign off and follow my own advice. Love to all, and I mean ALL.
This morning dawned chilly and shiny. The chickens were out running in their pen as usual, and new cows are behind us, enjoying a nice, full pond. I’m drinking New Year’s coffee and plan to read a while before cooking my black-eyed peas, so no photos of any of this.
This morning, my friend and insurance agent, Carolyn, posted this:
I like the idea of making a wish for the new year. Hope is something I can muster up right now. I can wish for enough, the word for my year, and not feel let down if 2021 is more of the same.
Probably my best lesson from last year is that life can be okay with lower expectations. Getting through another day with my family all right, the pets beside me, and relatively good health is enough. No need to save the world. Suddenly, this smarmy over-used sentiment works for me:
Might as well enjoy being alive, find humor when you can, and focus on love over hate and divisiveness. Simple and mostly manageable, I hope. I’m still a little worried about the next few weeks from a civility viewpoint, but I’ll be positive. Why not?
There. I’ve set reasonable expectations, won’t forget my resolutions, but won’t be hard on myself or others if we just muddle through and slog through the next few months as best we can. That feels like enough.
I don’t usually reblog or repost things from other people. But this article From Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper today hit so close to home that it nearly burst my heart. So, today she’s the guest blogger. I hope that linking to the original makes this more okay.
She writes of the divine feminine, which I’ve always associated with our interconnectedness with each other and nature. She writes of tenderness, a trait we see less often these days. She provides hope for the future.
I don’t know about you, but I need it right now. I pretty much shut down yesterday and ditched my commitments. I had to breathe. These words support and uplift me. (I will link to the original when I can find it).
Maria Shriver is my age, and has seen a lot in her privileged life. To read her thoughts is comforting!
I’ve Been Thinking…
Not too long ago, a friend suggested I write down the definition, values, and characteristics of the “divine feminine.” He said it would be a “good exercise” for me moving forward.
“Mhmm, OK,” I thought.
I sat down to give it a try and ended up staring at the paper for a long time. I wrote something and erased it, and I tried again and again. Nothing really felt right to me.
Then last Sunday in this newsletter, I wrote my essay about courage and tenderness. The response I got was overwhelming, from both men and women.
“That is what we need!” people wrote to me. “That’s who I want to be!” My friend Elizabeth suggested I even curate a new conference called “Courage and Tenderness: The New Hero’s Journey.” Others wrote that they had never contemplated tenderness in the public space, but that they were open to it, even hungry for it. (An old video of Joe Biden resurfaced this week that visualized what I’m talking about.)
As I read all the responses from readers like you, I allowed myself to be touched by the words. I allowed myself to receive your kindness and gratitude for the idea, which wasn’t really my idea at all. It was the Pope’s! But, perhaps I presented it in a different way, maybe even a feminine way.
Several people also responded to the paragraph I wrote about bestowing tenderness on my tough mother. People told me those lines really took them aback. I’ve thought a lot about that in the days since. The truth is, I have spent many years trying to understand the towering warrior that was my mother. My quest has, in turn, helped me to better understand myself.
Better understanding myself is not why I wanted to understand her, but it is the gift I got from delving deep into my mother’s drive, restlessness, rage, pain, and determination. I learned a lot from seeking to understand the way she wielded power in the halls of Congress, in her extended family, and in my own immediate family with my father, my brothers, and myself as her only daughter. I could write forever about my mother, from whom I learned feminism, although I’m not sure the word itself resonated with her. But the concept of women being equal to men sure did.
But today I want to focus on the description of the hero or heroine’s journey at this moment in our collective journey. It is, in its own way, the realization of the divine feminine. Women of my mother’s generation were not seen or valued, much less understood. If they had an idea, they were passed over or silenced. If they wanted to compete, they had to be a warrior 24/7. They had to bury their tenderness and femininity and show they could out-men the men. And even then, they were often invisible to the people around them.
Thanks to so many women of my mother’s generation and my own since then, we have paved a way. Today, many young women are brave enough to step out and speak up without giving it a second thought.
Women today, like the men of today, have the opportunity to lead in a more evolved and humanistic manner than those of generation’s past. In fact, they must if we want to survive. Yes, survive. You see, I believe that our collective humanity is on the line right now, and that it will take tenderness and courage, coupled with the divine feminine to resurrect us all.
Today in our midst, there are record numbers of cases of anxiety, depression, suicide, abuse, and addiction. People report being bullied. Millions are desperately lonely and feeling anything but “seen or understood,” much less “included or valued.” It is time to reimagine the way we walk and talk in the world, as well as how we lead in our homes and places of business. It’s time to shift the old power balances that still exist around us, because it simply doesn’t feel like it’s working anymore.
It is time for the tender warrior: courageous in thought, word, and deed. The tender warrior is vulnerable in action. Compassionate in speech. Fully alive and fully realized. The tender warrior uses their eyes to see what is, not what the deluded mind says what is. The stories we tell ourselves and others are critical to moving forward in a realistic way. They are critical to know what needs reframing and reforming.
The tender warrior is an empathetic storyteller, one who is courageous enough to tell the story of where we are with honesty. Their mission is not to scare us, but to reassure us that the future we imagine is, in fact, possible for all of us. (Just look at New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her handling of the pandemic in her country.) They use a new language. They use words that we can collectively embrace, not hurriedly shove down our throats.
So, who is this tender warrior? Well, you can be one. Yep, that’s right. Each and every one of us can be a tender warrior. To become one requires a tender heart and a courageous spirit. It requires a commitment to compassion, empathy, and the journey ahead. Everywhere I look, tenderness is needed these days. Everyone I know can soften under its expression. Even the toughest of the tough.
I know this because I was one of those tough people for years. I felt I had to be tough to survive the family I was born into and the profession I chose. And yet, when tenderness touched my armor, the walls came tumbling down. Imagine that power. Imagine knowing that you have it to bestow on another. Think about that and let it sink in.
I pray we can jointly commit to stop the bullying in our public square. It’s ruining lives and damaging psyches. Expressions of hate demean us all and destroy the very fabric of our humanity. Racism. Sexism. Ageism. Any “ism,” really. Let’s put them to bed once and for all. They are beneath us. It’s time.
People are tired. People are scared. Who hasn’t had enough? A good friend told me that after watching the news the other night, she turned off the TV and wept. She said, “I can no longer tolerate the meanness. It’s destroying us all.” I said to her what I’ll say to you, “It will get better.” It will get better because the majority of us want it to get better. Now me must work to make it so.
There is light ahead, this I know to be true. There is a new energy coming our way. So, let’s each open ourselves to it. Let’s open ourselves to being tender, fellow warriors. Be tender and embrace the divine feminine that exists in you. Do not be afraid of what’s feminine, regardless of your gender. It is healing. It is nurturing. It is soft and vulnerable, and yet it is so strong and courageous. In its magnificence, it can mirror to another person their magnificence. It can show them their own divinity, which in turn will allow them to fly. How extraordinary is that?
It turns out that I know exactly the definition, values, and characteristics of the divine feminine. Now, will you join me in living them?
PRAYER OF THE WEEK
Dear God, please let us all be brave enough to embrace the divine feminine that lives within us. May we all be tender and courageous and reimagine how we show up in the world. Amen.
Thank you for reading! It’s worth subscribing to her newsletter for more like this.
If you know me or have read this blog a few times, you won’t be surprised to learn this, but I’ve always been a tree hugger, and I mean always. My poor mother (happy birthday wherever your spirit is) used to find me as a toddler wandering around the yard talking to the huge oak trees on our property. When I moved away, I mourned the loss of my tree friends around the town, and even now, when I go back I make sure to check in and see who’s still around and who’s gone.
That may explain why I have been reading so many books about trees, forests, and how they work for the past few years. It may explain why I became a Master Naturalist. It certainly explains why I have a hard time with cutting down trees for human convenience, though I am trying my best to be cooperative with other folks’ agendas in that respect. It explains why I bought the parts of the Hermits’ Rest ranch that I did – there were lots of trees, not a monoculture of non-native grass. I was born an annoying hippie tree hugger!
So, then, why did I wait so long to read The Overstory, by Richard Powers? It won a Pulitzer Prize last year and everything! And it’s about trees! Anita and I both ordered it this time last year and planned to read it, so I had good intentions.
But, the first chapter was so sad it made me cry. And the second chapter had nothing to do with the first chapter, so I got confused, put the book down, and read all those other things I keep writing about (of interest to no one but me).
I ran out of books I hadn’t read last week (at least ones I could easily locate). I gritted my teeth and picked up The Overstory again. This time I looked at the table of contents, which was quite helpful. There, I saw that the first chapters were all about different people. I figured I’d just need to hold my horses through those first chapters and it would all come together in the gigantic middle section. Spoiler: it does.
By the way, they aren’t kidding when they say this is the greatest novels ever written about trees and perhaps one of the greatest about anything. There’s nothing I like better than a complicated plot that weaves new knowledge and a much-needed perspective on how to change the world. No, make that a much-needed perspective ON the world, one I share.
That Richard Powers. When I was in grad school, he was already a legend, the topic of many a conversation in the English department. He left just a semester before I got there (I was in another department, but many of my friends were in the English department with my brilliant boyfriend). Probably because I got sick of hearing about him, I didn’t read his first book. I got bogged down in The Gold Bug Variations (about music and genetics) but should probably go back and find that one to read.
Because Powers is such a polymath and so incredibly gifted, he crams a lot into a book. It’s not one of those quick summer novel kind of things. It’s more of a book to read when you are all alone, overwhelmed by real life, trapped by a pandemic, surrounded by people who don’t want to talk most of the time. Hey, that’s ME! I was in the right situation to immerse myself into the interwoven plots, make it through the deep despair the novel can raise in a tree hugger, and come out of it with my personal beliefs validated.
I sort of needed “Do Not Disturb” signs when I was trying to finish The Overstory, because it came right when Lee was in one of his talkative moods. My sometimes elusive goal is to stop what I am doing when he starts talking, so I had to re-read a lot.
Maybe that was a good thing; maybe it drove the message home. I’m finding it very helpful and very comforting to take that message to heart. We are not in charge of the earth. There are other minds and other forces at work, ones our perception of time makes it hard to notice. I take comfort that no matter what crazy Armageddon humanity is hell-bent on driving itself toward, Gaia, the trees, and the deeper consciousness will heal and persevere. It gives me the grain of hope I need to keep a-going.