Balancing Your Dreams with Their Dreams

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.

I hope this meme I made helps me realize I’m fine like I am. Even with my unhelpful aspects.

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).

It’s the Austin house (Bobcat Lair) showing lovely dark rain clouds. A house in the trees where I feel safe.

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).

Hooray for the equines. And the chicken (on water bucket).

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).

Apache Newsbreak

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.

The outside of his feet look good. The inside did, too, but I didn’t want to get that close, due to ye olde virus precautions.

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…

I always liked his stripey feet, even if light feet are more trouble. OOPS. I had to crop his happy “member” out of the picture. It’s a GP-rated blog.

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.

I’m not all lost, I have my center and my spotted emotional support buddy.

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?

Feeling Centered: An Elusive Goal

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.

Could be a goddess. Could be Virgin Mary. Could be one of us. She sure looks like she’s centered, though. (It’s a statue called The Genius of Water, in Cincinnati, OH, USA. Photo by @CrosleySpelmanPhotography via Twenty20)

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 searched for “center” and the exact image I needed showed up. Miracle! Photo by @katjakholm.68 via Twenty20

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.

I chose this image because there’s only room for one person on this path, and that helps me remember we are all on our OWN paths, and they don’t look the same. I also like the marker up ahead, which reminds me it’s okay to set some goals, and maybe you’ll get to them. Photo by  @trackin_scout via Twenty20

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.

Insert platitude here! I’m full of them today. But I’m sincere. This is yesterday’s sunset, which looks much like the sunsets all week.

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.

Me: Feeling Feisty – Office: Feeling Fancy

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.)

Is it a clown? No, it’s Feisty Suna. Colorful!

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.

Before picture.

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.

It looks like it was made to go together.

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.

On its way to goodness.

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.

I have cleaned the mirror and frame, but we are leaving it brown. There’s enough white in here now.

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.

Here’s the window mirror, cleaned but not yet painted.

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.

Stained plywood.

Are We OK? Okay? Heading Down a Path to Okay-hood

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!

Equine Okay-hood

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.

Before: a sad side-pull bridle

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!

Continue reading “Are We OK? Okay? Heading Down a Path to Okay-hood”

Where Did I Go?

True, the blogging machine known as Suna didn’t write anything for a few days. Just the effort I was taking to keep on an even keel over the weekend was all I could manage. I was already feeling pretty useless and unhelpful to the people in my life, and it all came to a head, and I felt crappy. I realized I hadn’t been doing a good job supporting my family, their business, my friends, and blah blah blah. I slipped back into my old habit of telling my own self I suck.

Scarab beetles and thistles made for Mother’s Day cheer.
A phaon crescent butterfly visits an Indian blanket flower.

I know I am not Suzy Sunshine. It’s just not my nature. Maybe it’s being a Pisces. We tend to have melancholy in us, and to always see both sides of things, happy and sad. I like it that I enjoy feeling all my feelings and honestly think that’s healthy, for me. But, I know it comes across poorly to others sometimes, and I’m sorry.

Because I certainly didn’t want to burden others with my own self-inflicted issues, I put a lot of energy into trying to have fun this weekend. Then, boom, Lee told me this morning that I’d seemed all mopey yesterday. That was with me TRYING not to be! Lordy!

I love watching roses blossom. Thanks, Lee.

All you can do is try to do better, right? But, once I get into one of my rare really down periods, I am not able to immediately crawl back out. I will, though! I know I actually don’t suck. And usually my brain, subconscious, or whatever it is that sends me into a downward spiral, agrees with me. I don’t appreciate how poorly it deals with negative feedback one bit! But hey, I’ll work on it!

The wildflower bouquet I made, after the beetle flew off.

Not much could have made my Mother’s Day any better. Everyone was so kind. Chris made perfect omelets for breakfast for me and Kathleen, Lee sent me roses on Friday, I got a little box of cheer from Chris and Kathleen, I got calls from all sorts of friends and family, and I heard from many of my sweet children and bonus children. A friend even dropped off a little trinket for me in my mailbox. What a sweet surprise!

Pure white beauty.

We spent the day relaxing, while Chris fired up his extra cool barbecue machine and made his professional quality ribs and chicken for dinner, which my sister was able to come and enjoy. It really was a lovely day, and I truly appreciate everyone’s efforts and kindness.

A yellow rose, in Texas.

Shoot, if I can manage to be a mess through all that great stuff…I’ll just blame the virus, the stress it puts on all of us, and just being a human. I have a book report and some beautiful horse photos coming for you, when I get breaks from work, and I hope they bring YOU some cheer.

What’s This about Toxic Positivity?

I live around people who focus a lot on the good in their lives and strive to present themselves as happy. I respect that very much and love them for it. Everyone in my household has a gratitude practice, and two of them write about it in their journals every day. These are all very admirable things to do. I’m glad these practices are good for their mental well being.

Happy happy, joy joy! So what if it’s windy and my hair hurts!

I spend my “gratitude time” noticing what is going on right now that brings me joy. Yesterday I saw a coyote cross the road, then a bluebird flew by. Happiness! Today I smelled some lotion that brought happy memories to me. Living in the moment is also healing for the soul.

But sometimes, lately often, I notice people who simply don’t allow themselves to pay heed to or allow themselves react outwardly to the challenging parts of their lives. Some people close to me seem to want to force away anything that would cause pain, worry or stress to present a very cheerful persona. What I’m having trouble with is when people judge themselves and others (say, me) for not always being happy. Taken to an extreme, that’s toxic positivity.

Sometimes I just can’t do it. Like, hey, I’m annoyed by that backwards apostrophe.

I’m not the only person to notice it. I read this article recently, and it helped me see why I was feeling uncomfortable with the pressure to always present myself as happy. It’s why I’d practically growl at people who’d chirp “Smile!” at me if I was presenting myself as neutral or concerned. “Look, I’m thinking about my dead dog. I don’t want to smile.” Here’s how it feels to me:

A lot of us feel pressure to come across as though we are living our best lives. And I’m not saying everyone who says they are happy is actually not, or people who try to push “positive vibes” onto you don’t have your best interests at heart – but covering up your true feelings with layers of fake happiness is really not it.

Welcome to the world of toxic positivity: The trend which is ruining our lives, by Hayley Green

Especially right now, I have started to feel like I let my family down if I admit that I’m stressed at work, or had a bad experience, or even just feel a bit grumpy. I’m not negative all the time; in fact, I’m not positive all the time. I think my base is sort of neutral, so I’m not a little ray of sunshine nor do I walk under a dark cloud. I just experience what’s going on right now, which can be good, bad, or in between. It’s me. It’s how I am.

Carlton would rather hide from negativity.

I’m not alone, thankfully. One of my friends, who thinks about mortality a lot, wrote her own obituary today, and in it she said:

She spent her life resisting toxic positivity. Not because she didn’t see goodness in the world but because she saw all of it and didn’t deny the whole story.

JD, her obituary, Facebook

That’s okay with me. In fact, it made me happy to read what my friend said!

I found this handy example of how you can validate someone’s feelings without making them feel like they have to fake being happy with everything:

Image from sitswithwhit on Instagram

We’re All Different

This is NOT my message to my readers!

Look, I’m not knocking people who have found that focusing on the positive has improved their lives. I’m pleased for them, and encourage them to keep up that practice, because it works for them. I just hope that they can allow other emotions when they truly are valid.

It seems to me that it takes a lot of effort to push down anything that’s not 100% cheerful. It probably takes as much effort to be endlessly negative (I do know some of those folks, too, the ones who can take anything you say and find the down side).

So please, do what works for you to cope with the challenges you are facing every day. But consider that not everyone is cut out for being happy at all times, and that some of us don’t even want to. Let’s enjoy our differences and be patient with our friends and family who cope differently than we do. Then we can have some genuinely non-toxic positivity in our lives.

As a donkey, I make people happy, but I’m sort of an Eeyore. I can’t change.

Fuzzy in the Head

Every day it’s something new. Today I’ve been trying to attend and lead meetings, dealing with irritated people, and handling email/messages, but my head seems to have inserted a fuzzy barrier between the brain and the world. I’m just all fuzzy, buzzy, or I don’t know, maybe wuzzy.

Wooden, that’s it. My head feels wooden. And her is some real wood stained to resemble the luxury vinyl. The wood and stain will be on the stairs and doors at the Pope Residence. Nice.

Are any of you going through periods like that, where you know you have to do something, but you just draw a blank? Once I get going, I’m fine. I’ve managed to get my meetings done, respond to requests, and review some content today, but each time I switch to a new topic, I space out. It took me FOUR tries to get a meeting on my calendar where it was supposed to go! Geez!

I took a walk around the block and that helped for a while. I guess I just need to walk in circles in between activities!

Here’s my new boyfriend, a slim water heater. We will finally have hot water in an office!

At least there’s some good news. Kathleen determined it’s safe to see my sister again, so I got to see her today. I guess two weeks have passed since…something, I don’t know what. I do know she’s wearing her mask and not going out so much now, so maybe we all have made it past some quarantine milestone.

Honestly, I think it takes a lot of energy (psychic and physical) just to keep on doing what needs to be done, with the underlying fear, dread, worry, or anger (depending on your viewpoint) that the shelter in place guidelines bring out.

Perhaps I need more yoga. Image by @lelia_milaya via Twenty20.

Listening to the news can be more than I can take. This morning they were playing a montage of dire headlines about the stock market and unemployment, and I just pulled to the side of the road and looked at the sunshine on trees for a few minutes. When the guy on the news keeps chirping, “Yes, it’s bad; it’s the worst it’s ever been; it’s something to tell your grandchildren about,” your motivation to head into the office and listen to the CEO tell you how great your software company is doing (because OUR clients aren’t restaurants and oil/gas businesses!) becomes less. Hmm, maybe that’s just me.

Well, darn it, I think I ranted again. I got through a WHOLE day with no rants, though. Here, look at one of our copper ceiling tiles. That’s cheerful.

On my walk, I stopped by the Pope Residence and got to see a new ceiling tile sample.

How are YOU?

If You Need Help

Here in Blogland, one of my friends has had an upsetting experience. She has a frequent commenter who leaves unusual comments, which she always reads and accepts. We all know some “nonstandard” people we care for deeply, or are nonstandard people who are glad people care for us. And we are all challenged by life from time to time, if not often.

This morning’s fog has been with me all day.

Today, out of the blue, the frequent commenter on my friend’s blog posted that they were going to commit suicide. Wow, that cry for help went to someone who didn’t know who or where it originated. What to do?

My fellow blogger is pretty smart, and she also contacted WordPress for advice. Then, she gave the commenter the number for the national suicide hotline and the URL to hotlines outside the US:

 1-800-273-8255
and
http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html

important!

All of us fans of the blog also reached out to let the commenter know that we do care. I think we have all been touched by suicide and feel empathy and love for people in crisis. We all hope this blog reader has found help.

I hope the fog has cleared for the person who reached out.

These are hard times for many of us. But we need each other. If you need help, use these resources, reach out to a real-life friend by phone, text, or in person, and remember you are valuable, just as you are.

Self Aware Means Self Care

Last week I was in a mental vortex, tizzy, or something. I’m so glad I was aware that something was amiss, and that the only person who could do anything about it was ME.

So, what kind of self care can I do? Can you do it, too?

Exercise

This guy could use some yoga!

I realized yesterday that I hadn’t done any yoga in over two weeks, maybe three. Between work getting hectic and taking a week off, I was feeling sluggish and stiff.

I’ve gone to the class at work twice this week, and I can really tell it, both physically and mentally. I’m a lot more centered and my muscles feel well used, but good.

Continue reading “Self Aware Means Self Care”

Grateful for Insights

I was feeling pretty crummy today. I guess grief hit me hard.

This Horace’s duskywing butterfly reminds me of how things get better no matter how dark it is

I asked my Facebook community friends to share things that brought them joy recently, thinking it might help. I was smart. It did help. I highly recommend reaching out and asking for help when you need it. It will remind you that people ARE good.

If you’re my Facebook friend, check out my post asking for joyful moments. All the happy babies, cute pets, fun stories, and nature observations remind you of all the beauty and love around us.

Sample cute baby, the amazing Ripley, who is getting her first teeth

How I’m Doing

Grief is hard, even when you intellectually know all about how it works. I hadn’t cried in so long that I couldn’t recall the most recent time. So I’d forgotten how much it takes out of me.

Being on Prozac for the last couple of years has helped me a lot, but I can see how it’s separated me from expressing some emotions. They’re there, but not all on top of me. It helps me from drowning in my empathic tendencies. But yow! When something breaks through it has physical consequences!

This mystery plant never bloomed last year, but it came back! Plus, lots of basil is coming back from last year’s plants

I have had the strange headache I used to often get. It feels like something gently squeezing the sides of my head. And I forget to breathe and end up gasping. That’s annoying. My words don’t come out well and I have trouble swallowing. Ooh, and let’s not forget the chest pains, my old friends! At least the weird neck tingling that used to really bother me hasn’t kicked in.

So, those are all my anxiety symptoms I used to live with every single day. How did I manage? How do others manage? I sure feel sympathy for them. If you have anxiety and are functional, you have my admiration.

This gerbera daisy got knocked back hard in the cold winter. It looks like a new plant now! I will also recover

I’m guessing I’ll feel better soon. Grief is normal and can knock you down. Soon the grief will bloom into love and warm memories of our canine friend, Brody.

The photos are all of my plants that have resurrected themselves after the winter.

I actually thought squirrels had murdered this poor plant, or the cold had killed it begonias are hardy, like me, I think!