My brain is not working, that’s my problem. Somehow, I’ve allowed myself to fall into a pretty deep hole of depression, low self esteem, or hyper-protectiveness to where anything I try to do that even remotely resembles work is a huge hurdle. Anything that has drama, misunderstandings, unkind behavior and the like makes me want to flee, and it’s spilled over into my volunteer work the most. It’s hurting my head to write this, but I’m going to, anyway. Someone has to say something, and perhaps if it’s me, I’ll feel better and more like keeping on.
What’s happened is that one of my “triggers” has been triggered. It bugs me, because I’ve worked really hard to get past it, but I’m getting the idea that I didn’t get past it; rather I buried it. I’ve talked about my issues with La Leche League before, but I’m going to briefly re-hash a bit to explain why I’ve been so messed up for the past month or two.
First, I love the friends I made in LLL. Love them to pieces. They are some amazing people. But, the organization itself keeps repeating its mistakes, as if no one learns from history (which is probably true). In a majority-women organization with a strong, focused mission, many people get “power” for the first time. And it really screws up some people’s senses of right and wrong, and for some reason empowers them to bring new things into the mission (like natural childbirth, co-sleeping, baby wearing, etc.)
One thing that becomes clear to me is that if I try to squish down stressful situations and pretend they don’t affect me, my anxious brain has its own ways to beg to differ. It’s all well and good to consciously remind yourself that the only things you should concern yourself with are things you can do something about. But some part of you (probably hanging out somewhere with those unconscious biases, over in the unconscious stressors area) still feels stressed about those things.
Usually I feel okay during the day, sort of observing what’s going on and doing my best to let other people’s problems be their problems and not take things personally. That’s a major triumph right there! I do a lot of deep breathing, just like I do with the horse. People, horses, they’re all things I can’t control, only offer information to.
At night, though, I have a completely different type of dream when I’m feeling anxious and overwhelmed than when things are just normally stressful. First, it’s the dreams about being in school and not knowing where to go or what the test is about. Then I’ll be at a large conference trying to avoid the scary people. Lately I dream about trying to get dressed in fancy clothing, but having forgotten how. That sounds like a COVID dream, doesn’t it?
I also think I’m trying to cover up my insecurities and put on a more professional/fancy face, but failing. People try to help me, but that makes me end up dressed really funny. I tend to end up going out to the party, meeting, or whatever half dressed. That’s a work-based interpretation. It means that all this hashing out of the same problems but only coming up with half-assed solutions ends up creating something totally unworkable. Hmm, that’s what my colleague L. and I talked about just today!
Otherwise, I’m overwhelmed with baby animals, adult animals, and their excrement. Duh. That’s literally true at the ranch, and figuratively true with my work and family life.
The dreams partially come from having so many animals in bed with me, and partially come from my problem of wanting to take care of everyone who’s helpless or needs comfort. Even when I consciously tell myself I can’t help people who don’t want to be helped or comfort everyone who’s hurting, my heart wants to anyway. Oh, stop it.
For me, I get physical symptoms only when my subconscious’s other ways of communicating don’t work. Right now they’ve been screaming at me for a week or so, and that’s led to my favorite anxiety symptom: chest pains. That means I need to do something NOW or I won’t be fully functional. I also get weird feelings like everything’s in slow motion, which makes it hard to talk. Usually, I can get through these and still do what I need to do, but it takes so much energy!
My mind and body are crying for help, obviously, but there isn’t a darned thing I can do to make today any different. I just have to get through today and see what tomorrow brings. We can’t always cope, and that’s actually fine. Sometimes we have a right to have an anxiety attack. It helps to know they will pass, and things can get back on an even keel.
Hope you aren’t having the ups and downs I am today! If you are, know you aren’t alone, because I’m surrounded by people in the same boat!
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!
All weekend I just didn’t feel like writing. It was a reasonable weekend, and I enjoyed being outdoors in the sunshine, but I felt bummed. Looking around, I saw a lot of bummed people. I realized that, oh my gosh, this week is the anniversary of when we all started to take the COVID precautions. And it was the week of the last “fun” out-of-state vacation Lee and I have had.
It’s the last time I saw my stepmother, my cousins, my stepsister, etc. And the ocean. I’m not alone, of course; people are just tired of being restricted, and all we hear is that things will still be bad. At least some of my friends and family are fully vaccinated, which lets them breathe a little easier.
But, some of my less resilient friends are struggling, and struggling HARD. I’m really worried about a few of my friends whose ability to cope with isolation and the other effects of the pandemic is growing weaker by the day. The worst part’s that I can’t think of anything really helpful to say or do to make things any easier.
I’m coping by finding the good in what I do have, getting outside a lot, and interacting with people online, as well as being patient (since there really isn’t any other option). But, telling folks to just hang in there and things will improve seems patently UNhelpful to me. When you are struggling, that sounds like a meaningless platitude.
I happen to know that struggling friends in Texas are feeling worse now that the governor has opened up businesses and entertainment spots all over the state. Many people will have the opportunity to go back to work, but many are young and not eligible for vaccinations yet. And they KNOW they will be dealing with customers/patrons who interpret our fine governor’s declaration as meaning “go back to normal and forget those masks, the hand washing, the large gatherings of strangers, and the other precautions!”
Hmm, I would not blame anyone for hesitating to return to a job that literally puts their lives in danger for little above our currently disgusting minimum wage. Do I have any helpful suggestions? NOPE.
Well, at least the people for whom freedom to risk their lives and the lives of others is the most important thing in the world should be happier. Maybe they’ll all go run some traffic lights and shoot each other with their unconcealed weapons in joy. Freedom trumps safety. Freedom trumps the Golden Rule.
Uh, as you can see, I’m pissed off as well as bummed. But, it’s my blog, where I can express an opinion, right?
If you are struggling right now, please accept as much love and support as I can muster, and know I’m here to listen and to try not to stay unhelpful things in response. And, please reach out to your therapist, psychiatrist, or other professional if things are really going badly.
Ooh, scary, I’m back to my deep thoughts again. You can blame my friend Louise, who is always sharing thought-provoking content. Or you can THANK Louise, after you read this!
Come to think of it, though, a lot of my “musing” posts (which you can find in the Rants and Ramblings section of this blog) have been about my long and circuitous journey toward emotional maturity. This journey, which doesn’t end by the way, for any of us, is probably the one I care about the most in my life. When it comes down to it, my goal has always been to understand myself better, so that I can understand others better and treat all of us as kindly and gracefully as possible.
Looking back on my past, I realize a lot of the times when I judged others, put myself down, doubted myself, or blamed others for what happened to me, it’s been because I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to see clearly this:
Nothing is as black and white as you think it is, and perfection is an illusion.
And, as a correlation, when others behave “badly,” hurt me, or misunderstand my intentions, it’s for the same reasons. They have some emotional maturity gaps as well. For example, getting to where I am on my journey helps me be more patient with my son who hasn’t spoken to me for two years, knowing he’s always tended to be a black-and-white thinker and a blamer. He is working at his own pace, and may re-think things sometime. In the meantime, it’s my job to be understanding of that and not blame myself.
All this yammering has been brought on from Louise posting on Facebook the lengthy article I’ve pasted at the end of this blog post. I looked around and found its original source, but I’m displeased that it has no author attributed to it. Maybe I need to dig further. In any case, I find these items very helpful to check up and figure out how I’m doing on my journey, and thought you might, too.
When I review these, I can see how I’ve done an impressive job on some of the signs of emotional maturity (1, 6, 11, 15) but I can still do some work on others (9, 21, 23). That’s just fine, because, like I said before, none of us (except maybe bodhisattvas) are going to hit the maturity mark all the time. In fact, like #18 shows, we will all slip into earlier patterns, and that’s normal and human (or “hormal” as I first typed).
I invite you to read this article and think about it. How are you doing? What are your areas of strength and your areas for growth? Where are you muddling along somewhere in the middle.
Oh, and note that, thanks to all my reading on disability bashing, I replaced all the words in the article with more neutral ones in square brackets . It was fun and enlightening to practice identifying these kinds of words and thinking of alternatives.
Since ye olde pandemic set in, I’ve noticed many of my previously non-crafty friends jumping into the “craft therapy” club. I don’t blame them one bit, because there are so many reasons engaging in crafts can be soothing. I found myself so out of sorts during the Snowpocalypse and my last week at work, that I took to coloring in an adult coloring book.
It felt good to just randomly pick shiny colors and fill them in. It took enough mental space to clear my mind of my surroundings, but didn’t give me a headache from thinking.
I’ve seen lots of pictures of things people colored on paper or on their computers, and they are always cheery. Friends with art talent are painting more, too. I’m told it’s great fun. Kathleen had made some of those things with beads, but I haven’t seen any. I’m told it’s the same kind of “just enough thinking” project.
The need to create beautiful things and concentrate on something other than the news is why I came back to knitting, too. I’m not alone, either. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see my friends taking up knitting or crochet and having fun. I was very disappointed when my friend Melanie, who gave us our late dog Brody, had someone pick on her for being a “granny” because she took up knitting. No, she’s a granny because her child had a baby, sheesh.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Knitting is popular with young people, old people, men, women, gay, and straight. So is crochet. Thank you.
I’m happy to report that the table runner for Lee has grown by another pattern repeat. It may get finished soon! Then I just have to finish the border on the shawl project. Oh, no, will I be out of projects?
First of all, it is hilarious of me to ask that question, knowing how much yarn and how many pattern books I own. Still, I do have a birthday coming up…
So, I admit I followed an ad and bought a pattern for a lovely project ($5).
So, then I had to find yarn to make it. Luckily, the local yarn shop that I like to support, Hill Country Weavers, had the yarn, three different shades of this stuff, though not the ones in the picture (naturally).
While I was there, I browsed around and bought some more Noro knitting magazines, because I just love looking at things made with that brand of yarn. Then I found a slightly more difficult project to make that I ALSO want to try, so I got yarn for it, too. I detect a pattern in my choices. I like self-striping yarn!
So, that takes care of my birthday gift from Lee! I get exactly what I want!
Maybe later in the year I will make something in a solid color. We’ll see. I think bright colors are therapeutic for me.
So, have you taken up a new craft or other project to keep you a little calmer and help you feel productive?
Yow, there are a lot of ways today’s post can go, because I’ve been busy trying to come up with ways to be safe, treat others well, meet my own needs, and meet the needs of others. That’s a lot, combined with concerns about work and world events. But, most of us are in the same situation, I have a feeling.
Two recent influences in my life have combined to remind me to not forget what I want out of life. My reading on the Enneagram, while confusing in some ways, has brought a lot of clarity in others. (While you are only supposed to be ONE type in that system, I keep seeing parts of three in the more shadowy aspects of me, which could explain why I’m internally confused.) In the past few weeks, I’ve needed to make important decisions, and I keep running into the Type 9 proclivity to place the highest priority over creating a peaceful environment, which causes me to not advocate for my own perspective as hard as I could.
And, when someone close to me asked me what my fondest dreams for the future were, nothing came up. What the heck? I was taken aback. I realized that I basically wanted to support my spouse’s dreams, and hope some things I enjoy would come along as part of that.
Well, yuck! So, I began to wonder if this was a pattern (it was – ask my why I am in Texas, why I am where I am now, etc.). Now, I’ve had a good life, and am not whining about this state of affairs. I just genuinely got curious as to what the heck my own dreams were or are?
I realized that I have met two of my life goals. One is that I always wanted a house in the trees in a place I felt like I belonged, like when I was a child. My Austin house meets that need, so no wonder I fought to long and hard for it and want to keep it in all its total impracticality (especially right now).
The other, as I have mentioned before, is that I always wanted to share my life with horses. I was drawn to them as soon as I met one as a child. Now that I have Apache and Fiona in my life, I won’t desert them, even if Apache has foot problems and Fiona doesn’t do any work (such animals are not popular on ranches, I have learned).
So, see, I HAVE managed to keep my dreams going while still supporting Lee’s (just one example, not picking on him – he’s a good guy with good dreams).
Trixie was here yesterday to check on Apache after his recent setback, and to do some other work on our little herd. His feet look remarkably good for a horse dealing with his challenges. There was just one little area of redness, which could have been a stone bruise.
I reckon he might have hurt himself a bit on rocks when he was pitching all those fits and not wanting to go anywhere. He also seemed to be favoring one of his shoulders, which could have happened when he was bouncing around on uneven ground. Now I wonder if his feet were already hurting then? Hindsight…
Anyway, she’ll be back in another 4 weeks to see how things are going. Fiona also got a trim. She grows very long toe areas. All fixed now.
I always really enjoy these long times with my equine friends, and they seem to, as well. A great deal of mutual admiration is expressed.
Back to Balancing
I don’t think I want to change who I am and put my needs ahead of others or cause more of a ruckus than I already do. I am who I am. But, I think working to balance my own needs and goals with those of my family and others in my circle is a reasonable and attainable goal. Sticking up for myself and saying no to things that make me feel unsafe or anxious doesn’t mean I don’t care. I expect others to take care of themselves and THEN take care of others (like with airplane oxygen masks…remember planes?). I can do that for myself and it will be just fine.
Well, apparently today’s blog post was supposed to be a pep talk to me about myself. What a surprise (not a surprise at all.) But, I know I’m not alone in wanting a balance between my own needs and the needs of people I love. I’m not alone in getting so involved in someone else’s dreams that I lose my own.
All we can do is keep moving forward. I’ll find a way to meet my own needs while still supporting my inner circle. Both are important.
Is this balance easy for you, or hard for you? I think it really depends on our inner wiring, but who knows?
The last few weeks, I really felt like I’d lost my center. That’s one reason, I think, that I was letting things other people did or said affect me more than usual. Deep down, I wasn’t coming from my customary perspective of acceptance of my own worth, dignity, and humanity. I’d lost sight of my hard-earned understanding that what connects me with my spiritual core is the realization that I’m a mix of things I’m good at and things I’m working on, and both of those naturally will fluctuate, especially when there are a lot of outside stressors.
Does any of that feel familiar to you? Are you finding it harder to treat yourself the way you want to treat others, and they way you’d like to be treated! Have you lost your Golden Rule? Aha! Time for some centering!
Everyone finds their center differently, though there are common techniques many of us use. For me, meditation has always helped. Just breathing and not letting the cares of the day intrude for a while each day certainly can’t hurt. Other people call their meditation prayer or contemplation. It all works.
Deep breathing is a real help, too. Long ago, I noticed that when I am feeling super stressed I start holding my breath! Eek! As soon as I figured that out, I began to take that as a sign I need to stop whatever I’m doing and start a series of deep breaths, the kinds you do in yoga class, or in guided meditations. I have been known to pull into a parking lot and breathe a while. This aids when dealing with road rage (in self or others), too!
Over the weekend, I got a lot of time to myself to read and re-read helpful books (I’m working through The Sacred Enneagram, which has a remarkably helpful spiritual slant that makes me want to go thank a bunch of priests and is helping me deal with some of my prejudices and biases against organized religions). I had a lot of time to meditate. And like petals unfolding and revealing the heart of a flower, my center re-emerged.
I feel like myself again (hello, Suna)! And now that I’m coming from a much better mental space, all sorts of things are easing up. I’ve been able to deal with people I’ve found difficult in the past with grace and kindness. I’ve been a better family member. My work is going better. Funny how that works, right?
There’s still a lot to be done. I messed a lot of things up during my little bout with depression and hopelessness. I didn’t treat myself or others the way I’d want to, but I can be kind to myself now, learn from those mistakes, and move forward.
We’re all on a journey, as I like to remind myself. There are ups, downs, and curves along the road. Worse, we never “get there” until our life ends. Ya just keep going.
Failure and disappointment will show up. That reminds me: Chris read me a piece about failure this morning, which he said made him think of me. It talked about the opportunities that arise from “failing,” and was spot on. Once you fail, fall down, or regress, you get the opportunity to start again, maybe with some new knowledge or insight that will help you on your journey.
I’m wishing all of you peace and understanding, and encourage you to find the areas in your life where there IS hope, and insights into what your challenges can teach you on your own journey.
I can tell I’m getting back on a more even keel, mentally. I did a good job, for once, dealing with one of those, “It has been reported that X has happened, and if you don’t fix it, dire consequences will befall you,” conversations pretty darned well. I just asked the information-bearer to ask the person with an issue to get in touch with me, and I’ll be happy to work with them to take care of things. And I repeated that. I just don’t need third parties telling me so-and-so said this about me or that about me. I’ll happily talk to them. That’s probably not as FUN for the person in the middle to participate in, since they don’t get to lecture me in that scenario, but it sure clears up misunderstandings. (I’m sure everyone has the best of intentions; it’s just easier to communicate directly.)
Though I still haven’t heard from the person who needs to talk to me, I am doing my best to remedy the problem, anyway, because it’s a good thing to do. Treat others as you’d like to be treated. I mostly manage it! If you don’t let people bully you and put you down, they can’t make you feel bad, so that’s why I feel feisty. I’m just going to do my best to be strong, confident AND kind.
As for my office, today it’s getting a beauty makeover! We decided to put the really pretty wall hanging that looks like a quilt square made of tin, brown wood, and white wood under my mantel piece, to make it look like a unit.
After realizing there was no way to actually hang it, Chris screwed it into the mantel, and now it looks like one big, beautiful unit.
Then we went mirror shopping.
WHAT, you went out in public and SHOPPED?
No, no, we went upstairs where there are four or five different mirrors that came with the Pope Residence. We tried two of them, and one really was a winner.
When installed, it will block the hole where the woodstove pipe used to be, so we don’t have to run a fake pipe in front of the mirror. The faux woodstove will be fine without it, since it’s electric.
The other mirror we brought down is made from an old window. We are going to paint it white for Kathleen and then put it in the other bathroom instead of the tiny mirror that’s there now.
Oh yes, the counter top edges got dry enough to trim. That’s a manual job with a big metal file, when you don’t have a cabinet shop. But, they look good now.
I also ordered paper towel holders and a toilet paper holder, so all the bathrooms will have appropriate cleaning accessories. However, I’ll patiently wait until my office is finished to put art up. I’m so patient. Who are you kidding? I’m not, but things can only go as fast as they can go in these times.
But wait, there’s more! Here’s the stained plywood to finish the stair area. The wood looks like zebra print or something. I actually like it.
It’s fascinating when things happen in different parts of your life that coalesce into one collection of insights. Right now it’s been “okay-hood” and how to cope when advice overwhelms me.
One area in which this happens for me is the issues I’d been having with Apache and his sudden backsliding in behavior. I’ve appreciated all the advice I’ve gotten from a variety of sources, very much. At first I started to get worried that I’d upset people if I didn’t do THEIR idea. Then, upon further reflection, I realized that I know the horse and he knows me. I know our abilities. I can take what I’ve heard and learned, and incorporate it in a way that works for us. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll try another thing. It’s okay!
For example, I decided I didn’t want to use the bit for the foreseeable future with Apache, but was willing to listen to input from Chris and Sara about other options than the halter. Sara gave me this rather sad-looking side-pull bridle (one that does not use a bit, but combines nose pressure with reins attached at the sides of the mouth) and I said I’d give it a try.
First I had to clean it up. That was really fun, because the dang thing turned out to be a completely different color than it was when all covered with mildew and ickiness. Saddle soap is a great thing!
Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
In light and in shadow, always with ❤