Peaceful Interlude in Austin

This is a rare time. There really isn’t anything pressing at the moment, and I spent all last night doing things that weren’t stressful (other than figuring out why the television isn’t working in the living room at the Bobcat Lair). I even did the things on my to-do list (Kathleen now has software for us), including finding someone to clean the ranch house. I have three candidates to talk to!

Highlight of yesterday was getting this odonata (damselfly) to hold still.

One thing that’s good about having two houses is that you get new scenery and a bit of a break. I LOVE that there’s usually so much to do at the ranch, but an occasional day of not sweating profusely or shoveling anything does give my back a break. I’ll have plenty of energy for when I get back!

Anita and I watched Dr. Pol (show about old Dutch vet in Michigan) in my beautiful bedroom and said ooh and aah to cute puppies and kitties, and ICK when there were two scenes of cutting off cow nipples. That was plenty of drama for me!

Regrettably, this may well have been the last peaceful evening we have. Tonight we have visitors and will get some work done around here as we prepare to move all Anita’s boxes to her new house in Cameron, and I prepare to get the beautiful and unique Bobcat Lair sold. Have I mentioned the housing market in Austin is ridiculously hot? So, as a professional house flipper, I know it’s time to flip the house, as much as I love it.

I will miss my quirky but very pleasant office so much.

The plan is to get an apartment near my work for the next couple of years. A quiet one, if possible. We just have to get the boxes out, sell the house, and move things to various places, other than the things that just go away.

I am no longer stressing out or worrying about any of this. We can handle it all by doing one thing at a time. I may still occasionally lapse into patterns of self doubt or have trouble handling change, but I’m sure doing a lot better. That’s all any of us can ask; to do better. I’m also doing way better accepting people in my life just as they are, warts and all, and am only requesting that favor in return, when possible. No wonder things are a bit calmer for me!

Imagining What to Say about the News: My Dream

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I woke up this morning to happy news about the United States and its government (from my perspective). I am relieved to see that the way our system has been set up is holding up, at least so far. I fervently hope we can avoid violence and move toward a society I can be proud to live in.

WELL I’M NAIVE AND FOOLISH! I’M ASHAMED OF FELLOW US CITIZENS.

Readers of my blog have probably figured out that I fall on the liberal side of the political scale. While it’s true that I’m a pacifist, non-evangelical, pro-choice, democratic socialist, I’m not scary, out to eat you, or hell-bent on destroying anyone’s way of life. And I don’t want to live in a place that forces its citizens to toe some political line or suffer for their beliefs. I’m a big fan of diversity, and that’s why I’ve been having a hard time living in the US since our political parties have turned so violently against each other. How the heck are we supposed to accomplish anything at all if our only goal is to make the other team lose?

I hope that today’s events in the US, with actual elections, voted on by actual people, and certified by neutral parties can lead this supposed democratic republic back to sanity. I can dream, can’t I?

What I Want to See

I too, have a dream, like Dr. King did. In my dream people can:

  • Work together to make the lives of all citizens healthy and safe
  • If we participate in the political system as elected officials, do so to make the lives of the citizenry better, not to benefit a few people in power
  • Help the mentally challenged lead productive lives and contribute to society
  • Use our different viewpoints and perspectives to come to workable compromises for laws, regulations, and programs at the local, state, and national levels
  • Take care of the health of all citizens without causing undue financial burdens
  • Educate our children and adults to create a workforce of laborers, technicians, artists, scientists, and others to create a thriving society
  • Take care of the planet we live on and its non-human citizens as well as we take care of the humans
  • Celebrate our differences and learn from each other
  • Banish hate. Period. Friendly competition is great; hatred of the other is not.
  • Prioritize peace over war. Imagine what the world’s warriors could do if they didn’t have to spend so much time and energy on weapons and fighting.
  • Enjoy our religious traditions and cultural heritage without negating other people’s
  • Stay out of people’s private lives if they aren’t hurting anyone
  • Talk to each other. AND listen to each other
  • Celebrate beauty, hope, love, family, and all the good parts of life
  • Treat children as people, not property

I can be optimistic for one day. Yeah, Imagine.

Peace, Joy, Hope

Sharing a quick message to all of you. Keep the Hope going, it will help.

Holiday love.

From the Hermits’ Rest to your place of refuge, celebrate what’s meaningful to you today.

It’s a memorable Christmas!

Here’s what’s keeping the ranch house looking cheery!

Of course, dogs
Blooming on time!
Looking forward to food. Yay.

Peace! Hope! Love!

Rejoice, Yes, Now

This morning, I started the day out doing a presentation highlighting the work our Agile team has done in the past two weeks (the usual presenter is already off for the holidays, so I was the stand-in. I had on professional-looking clothing and got to enjoy looking at my little holiday decorations in what passes for my cubicle. Most important, I could see in my Zoom window this little sign I recently bought.

Peace, a thing I knitted, and petrified rock from the ranch.

It’s one lesson I’ve been taking to heart this year. Peace doesn’t show up, you make it happen, and it starts inside. As I was feeling peaceful and proud, I did a good job presenting all our stuff in exactly the time allowed. I may know what I’m doing!

The world may be a bit sideways right now, but we can always get some wisdom out of it, right?

There was then a company-wide meeting, at which some changes were announced that I suspected would happen, but still made me sad and added another layer to this change-ridden period we’re living through. But, our CEO told a great story at the beginning of the meeting.

He talked about listening to a golf podcast (how CEO-like) that said the word of the day was “rejoice.” Minutes later, on his commute to the practically empty office, a car cut him off (join the club!). He had to laugh when he saw the car’s bumper sticker, which read “Rejoice.” It would probably help to pay attention to your driving while you’re rejoicing, I think.

As the rest of the company wove the idea of rejoicing through their presentations, I was rejoicing over the amazing work my team had done so quickly, as well as the work our Diversity and Inclusion initiative members have done. I’m so happy to be a part of the new LGBTQ+ group and to help out with learning and development at the company. It’s amazing what people who really care about things can do, and that’s worth some rejoicing!

My work plant is not dead, and just seeing it and the little wren brings me joy.

As a company, we have found things to be happy and proud about, even during the hardest times of many of our lives. As a person, I am aware that I’ve been doing the same thing all year, in this blog, as I talk to people, and as I go about my life. There is much to rejoice about, even though some of us have to look pretty deep to find it.

No need to buy more inexpensive yarn, I can also rejoice in my immense stash, just waiting to be something someone wants! Photo from @AZ.BLT via Twenty20

And if there’s nothing going well, make something you can be proud of. That’s what we are doing at work, and I’m taking that lesson into the rest of my life. I’ve even started putting projects into my Ravelry page again (it had been sadly neglected since 2018), rejoicing in my newly simplified knitting adventures. Not only am I bringing peace to myself, I’m bringing joy. Or else. Join me!

No Advice from Me

I woke up this morning and the world was still here. I still had work to do. The sun was shining, and the moon was still up.

As I read my daily email updates, checked out social media, and finally decided to listen to some news, I began to read and hear lots and lots of advice from people for how to deal with feelings today. A lot of it was very good, and once again, I appreciated words from Maria Shriver.

from the midweek edition of her Sunday Paper, November 4, 2020

And there were lots of other people sharing advice to breathe and acknowledge your feelings. I think we all need that, regardless of your feelings about the US election. We are still a country that is very divided, so I intend to continue to send thoughts for peace and calm, remember that I’m resilient, and keep living in the moment.

If cats and dogs can love each other, despite their differences, maybe we can, too. Photo by @daniela_coppolino via Twenty20.

I’m not going to tell YOU how to act, what to think, or what to feel. I feel overwhelmed by all the advice, myself. Please do what works for you. That’s all my advice.

Leaning on my friends and those close to me is about all I have. This is from the trail yesterday.

Know that lots of bad, awful, and disheartening events have occurred throughout the history of this country, but regular people still just want to live their lives in peace and safety. I’m remembering that.

Thinking Peaceful Thoughts

Every time I get shaky today, I am thinking of peace, over and over.

My little sign and random stuff from the side of the road.

It’s helping! I’m also keeping busy with work. Thank goodness I have something complicated to think about and people to brainstorm with.

I also took a walk today, and that helped me with the peace. I tried to find the nearest hiking trail, but could not find the start, so I wandered up the golf cart path through the golf course at the next resort. That was a bit of a huff and puff, but I was rewarded with at last being able to look at mountains, trees, and such with no condos in view. Hooray.

Ah. Birch trees, not construction equipment.

I found the trail when I got to the end of the golf course, and decided to follow it back down. It was so pretty, and I got to see more birds and a very annoyed squirrel. And lots of pretty Utah rocks. The path is narrow, so you have to jump off when cyclists show up. Luckily I just had to deal with one.

Heading down the trail.

The only thing that disturbed my peace was when I was almost to the bottom of the trail, and things got muddy and slippery, due to snow melting. Then the path totally disappeared under a pile of snow (manufactured, I am sure). There were no cyclist paths or shoeprints to tell me where to go, so I guessed. I ended up having a lot of fun sliding and stomping in snow. If someone was watching, I’m sure I put on a good show, but it was just what I needed, some goofy time spent right there, in the moment. Goal achieved!

End of the path (ski school is here).

And by noon, I’d met my goals for exercise and movement, so my watch is happy. I’m back to doing meetings requiring concentration for another few hours, then I shall read a book that requires concentration. No, I’m not even turning on my preferred news outlet until later today.

I’ll be thinking of these guys. They’ve survived humanity. So can we.

One more thing, I want to thank all my friends and readers outside the US for the support you’ve been giving during this hard time in the US. It helps with our collective anxiety. Please, all of you our there, keep all of us in the USA in your thoughts, and if you pray, pray for peace.

We are all part of the same earth.

The Tender Warriors — Our Hope

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).

My activity level yesterday.

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?

Love,
Maria

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.

Goodbye from the ranch.

Pleasures of Home

One good thing about going away for a bit is you then see the pleasures of your home. Just little things seem new and fresh. I found myself becoming relaxed and full of a tickled kind of peace just looking at how annoyed the giant bird appears to be at the smelly candle.

Maybe it’s like Lee and hates scented items.

I have to say it’s the simple joys of home that make me happy. And the Bobcat Lair is as much home as the ranch. It’s a different joy, a more quiet one. And it smells good. Ha. Plus there’s Anita and HGTV!

Plus, wine.

Look around your home and haven. What keeps you going? What relaxes you and brings peace? Notice it and give it a grateful smile. That’s what I did with the annoyed fake bird.

Don’t forget me.

And yes, wherever my dogs are is a haven. I feel lonely without a little dog warming one of my thighs. I’ll see Carlton and Penney, my other cuddle buddies soon.

Reaching Out/Reaching Up

I was surprised to see reach as the UU Lent word of the day, but then I realized it’s really appropriate for me, and probably for many of us right now.

Reaching Out

For me “reach out” is most important. It’s no longer optional to reach out to friends and family, but mandatory. With so many people living alone or dealing with challenges (like schooling children…or heck, just feeding and entertaining them), it’s important to be in contact with your peeps.

Don’t do as the cattle do! Isolate!

Goodness knows, I am not a great correspondent (other than blogging), but I’m doing my part. I write a couple of letters every day and make sure to say hi to someone I don’t often talk to, especially those who live alone. Today a friend reached out to ME on the day I was going to reach out to HER, which made me smile.

Gratuitous chicken picture. They are reaching up and grabbing at clover I picked for them.

Some of the things people have been doing for each other have really warmed my heart. People who have surpluses share them (we got some bread products that way just yesterday). Restaurants are selling supplies they don’t need due to not being open to the public. And there’s all that mask sewing going on! Way to go, sewing people!

I hope that when this is all settled down we remember all the kind and good things people have done for each other, and let the memories of people who aren’t considerate, run around in public, and hoard stuff fade away.

Reaching Up

My Instagram of the day featured Spice the paint quarter horse in a quest for delicious hackberry leaves, which she deserved after going for a ride and surviving being barked at by my dogs. It’s nice that Sara and I can still ride, as long as we take some reasonable precautions (we no longer share grooming tools, and only one person at a time can be in the tack room, which I keep forgetting).

Spice stretches out while being groomed after a nice ride.

I did a lot of reaching up (and down) yesterday while painting trim. But, now that much of it has multiple coats of creamy white, it looks great.

Nicole paints away on the trim yesterday.

Today, Chris is really reaching up as he works on painting the wall behind the new stairs. He has most of the priming done and is hopeful that there will be two colorful bathrooms very soon!

Looking down from the front door. Lots of white trim, new subfloor, and a primed wall, ready to be a cheerful color.

Peace within Reach

Other than being a mirror image, this shows me all dazed in a meeting, sharing the sight I get every time I drive down County Road 140 to my house. It’s lots nicer with that field of flowers to enjoy.

Many of my coworkers are doing their meetings on their patios or porches. It’s a great way to get outdoors a bit and enjoy some peace, while still getting stuff done.

I’m stuck in the basement for meetings. But never fear, I took a couple of photos of hos beautiful it is on the road leading to the ranch, so I use it as my Zoom backdrop. A little bit of peace for all!

The view without my head in it, and not mirror image. Not bad, is it? You can see my house around the bend.

I hope you can get out in nature, reach up and touch something not made by humans, and find a little inner peace. Let me know how you’re doing!

Deep Stuff about Dust?

Oh goodness. What WERE the PC Practitioners over at the Unitarian Universalist Association (world’s most politically correct organization) thinking when they decided that dust was going to be one or the UU Lent words of the day? Were they thinking UU Lint? (And how many people also came up with that question today?)

Can’t believe no one else had tagged #UULint yet on Instagram. Ima check back later. None on Twitter yet, either.
Photo by @melpaul199 via Twenty20

I’m sure a lot of people go real deep when they think about dust. Or the song “Dust in the Wind” gets stuck in their heads. Darn you, Kansas. I guess it DOES blow your mind the first time you realize that, “we are all made of stardust,” a sentiment which seems to have been attributed to every pop astronomer of the past twenty years.

Sometimes I wish the vast majority of people who have that us versus them mentality would think about the fact that we are all made of the same stuff a little more. Perhaps if they dusted off the cobwebs in their brains, dust could lead to peace. That’s a stretch, though.

Just imagine what all’s in there.

I’ll be honest, here. When I think about dust, other than when I need to wipe some off a surface, I usually think about what’s IN the dust. I’ve always had what passes for Suna having fun by imagining germs, dander, mites, ash, and a whole lot of giant pollen particles swirling around me, going in my lungs and back out. I’m glad we don’t get all stuffed up inside.

Special Dust

Brick dust everywhere, even on the ancient curtains.

However, right now, I’m more fixated on all that brick dust at the Pope Residence. It’s a couple of inches thick on some of the wainscoting in the entry. Poor Randy has swept it many times. I’m sure glad he and Easton wore masks when sanding down the bricks.

That’s some dust-free wood! Plus, I can see where the light fixture and vent will be! Photo by Chris

In fact, when Chris sent me this photo of the ceiling going up in the bathroom attached to my future office, my first thought was, “Wow, that sure is clean.” I sure hope we eventually get ALL that brick dust out of the building. It can blow in the wind, because as we all know, EVERYTHING is dust in the wind. Or stardust.

Okay, if any of you would happen to have more insights into the concept of “dust” that you’d like to share with me, I’d really appreciate it. I may be missing out on something as I am using most of my brain on actual work today. Share! Do it for Vlassic!

Thinking about being made of stardust has me all tuckered out.