No, You’re Not Responsible for the Happiness of Others

Here is a post where I lecture myself and remind myself of how one of my personality features bites me in the butt, repeatedly, for the same dang thing. It’s bugging me so much that I’ve started writing my own passive aggressive memes about it. I put a picture of Fiona enjoying Johnson grass under the words “You are responsible for your own happiness.” I felt good.

May be an image of animal, outdoors and text that says 'You are & responsible for your own happiness 0'
Fiona knows this!

And, by the way, I am still occasionally annoyed beyond belief when people post thinly disguised “messages” to folks who are in their disfavor via memes. On the other hand, some of Kathleen’s do make me laugh, so I’m not saying y’all should never do it. Perhaps I just don’t like the ones aimed at me. Wow, that makes me sound like a jerk. Newsflash: I AM a jerk, at least in the eyes of some people. Hey, it reminds me of another meme I wrote years ago: No one is universally beloved unless they are boring as hell.

Where I’m going here is that I keep re-learning is that it’s not my job to “make” anyone else happy. In fact, when I try to do so, it usually blows up in my face in a spectacular manner. And I’m the one who gets hurt. That’s why I wrote a meme to remind myself. It said: “Reminder time: You’re not responsible for the happiness of others.”

I’ve probably mentioned this before, since I’ve been blogging so long, but indulge me as I repeat that one of my “features” is that I find sad people, see their good points, and want to help them become happier. This started in my twenties, where I tried to help a paranoid grad school friend realize that people weren’t always talking about him behind his back and the professors didn’t hate him just because one didn’t say hello in the hall. I knew I couldn’t “fix” him, but wanted to make things easier on him. Of course, he hurt me badly in the end. And I didn’t really help. I heard from him a few years ago, and he was still thinking everyone was out to get him. I didn’t contact him again.

Not by me, but true.

Moving forward, many (okay, most) of my “love affairs” I now see as me trying to help someone sad feel better. Coincidentally, many had some pretty severe mental illnesses they were living with (a LOT of borderline personality disorder). I’d help with their self esteem and get them to a better place by being kind and listening a lot, but I couldn’t “cure” them, just show that they are worth caring for just as they are. Once that message sunk in, they’d move on to someone more well suited to them. And I’d be sad. I do hope the new relationships went well. And hey, I did eventually see my destructive pattern and STOP IT. Lee’s the last sad person I rescued, lol. I was also sad, though, so this time it was mutual, and we are sticking together through thick and thin.

It wasn’t just people I “fell in love” with. I also would come across younger folks and want to help them get a good start in life. Some of those actually worked out very well, and I have some great friends living wonderful, independent lives. But, I was still drawn toward people whose issues were really not something I could do anything about. I couldn’t “make” them happy by providing them with a safe home, sharing experiences with them, giving them tools for their hobbies, or anything. Mostly I now have a lot of baking and art supplies to show for that.

Ooh, this meme hits close to home.

At least two of these people I tried to help and even brought into my home ended up lecturing me for being kind to them just to make me look good. I took that to heart. Maybe a lot of it was MY problem, not theirs. Ugh. All this self-evaluation is not fun or pretty. But I hope I learned the lesson that each of us is responsible for our own happiness, and while giving people a chance is good, they need to find their own way.

I need to keep writing myself some memes, though, because it has dawned on me that I’ve been trying to make life better to some other folks, STILL. I spend so much mental effort trying to figure out ways to make their lives easier and more pleasant. I want the people in my home and work life to feel like they’re contributing to society, cared for, and not alone. That’s probably okay. I still can’t “make” anyone feel less depressed, less unfulfilled, or satisfied with where their life has ended up. It’s not my job.

A meme about walking your own path.

I say all that to try to reinforce it in my head. I’m NOT a failure if people I care about are not handling things well. I can’t rescue anyone, including myself! So, right now I’m working to get a better balance between caring for others and protecting myself from hurt. I know I’m not alone in this, but it’s damned hard. I’m not doing a good job of it a lot of the time. I’m wired to be an annoying rescuer, and I’m sure it came from growing up with a powerless, mentally ill mother, or whatever.

All’s not lost, though. I’ve been learning a lot in working with my team in Austin, and my boss has come up with this helpful way of looking at the mentor-mentee relationship. And that’s that the mentor can only give 50% of the effort in improving situations. The other person ALSO has to give their own 50%. Expecting someone to fix everything for you never works; you have to put in the effort. Thanks, boss, you super-stoic.

Sara and Ace are the perfect example. Each of them has to be doing their part for their horse-rider relationship to grow.

Forgive me if I’ve ever tried to help you and it made you upset or angry. I’m doing it because I also need help, ya know? Eventually I’ll figure out a balance between being part of a supportive community for those who could use some help and supporting my own self. Maybe even I’ll do better at asking for help. Those are some big dreams.

Until then, I’ll look for memes.

PS: On the podcast, I added that I may not have been clear here. I’m not saying you can’t support, love, and cherish people who are struggling, nor that you shouldn’t. I was trying to just make it clear that you can’t force people to not feel the way they feel. Did that help?

I Can’t Muster Up Schadenfreude

Wow. I’m not saying I’m a saint who never has bad thoughts about others, but when presented an actual opportunity to experience some good old schadenfreude, roll around in it, wallow for a while, and maybe even gloat, I find I can’t dredge it up.

Let me share what happened, as vaguely as I can. Last year, my favorite boss ever, was “let go” as they always said in La Leche League while firing anyone with institutional knowledge or history in the organization who didn’t drink some very bitter Kool-Aid.

Even though we were prepared, those of us who worked for this boss were sad, really sad, because we’d done a lot of good work together and were a great team. Of course, we had nothing to do with whatever the C suite’s issues were, and that wasn’t our call. But, it hurt some of us a lot, including the old boss.

Everybody’s beautiful, in their own way, right? This Japanese maple sure is.
Changes make me want to hide, like this budding hydrangea.

Fast forward to today, and the person responsible for that “letting go” (and for me losing the two coworkers I tried to hire last year) was let go today. I had dreamed of the day when that darned so-and-so got their comeuppance. I was ready to take immense pleasure in the pain of that other person, true schadenfreude. But, no. I felt sad, instead. I know how hard it is to see that unemployment train coming and have it roll over you. All I could feel was empathy toward my former nemesis.

Why? Well, I’d recently gotten to know that executive as a person, and saw them as more than just the instigator of a really bad year. I found out things we had in common, and our mutual humanity won out over my biases. Shoot, the stuff in those unconscious bias books is actually true; you really can’t hate someone you know as a well rounded person.

It’s okay!

How about that? I’m not as vindictive as I thought I could be, when it comes down to it. And that’s a good lesson to learn. I’m sure I’ll be fine as the changes keep coming where I work. It’s normal, corporate America stuff, after all. But I can still have empathy with former colleagues as I keep trying to keep up with the changes.

Actually, I feel like I had an omen or portent of the future this afternoon. As I was walking in the courtyard trying to get my bearings (me and big changes are just not friends), I found myself surrounded by common whitetail dragonflies, all female. They’re a symbol of change, metamorphosis, and good things to me. I felt comforted.

I’m Still Thinking about the Effects of Labels for Mental Illness and Disability

Every once in a while, a subject gets into my head and just stays there, gnawing away at my free time and causing me to think and think. The topic of how often we refer to negative things in terms once used to describe people living with disabilities or mental illnesses just won’t go away. Now that I am aware of how often these terms are used, I see (or hear) them everywhere, especially in casual conversation, but sometimes even in more serious speech and writing. This has led me to a loose collection of not-all-that-related thoughts.

So much negativity! Image by @kelsen28 via Twenty20

Where do we see these terms?

I do NOT see these pejorative terms used (often) in the news, magazines, or academic books. That’s a good sign I guess. The one exception seems to be the “crippled economy” and the like. I am wondering of that persists because circumstances actually can cripple concepts like economies, degrees of debt, etc., by causing metaphorical injuries to them. Perhaps that word can be seen as more neutral, then?

I can see how people can easily get confused until they practice using alternate ways of referring to people. The subtle nuances of finding neutral ways to refer to people dealing with various challenges can take some time to sink in. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to guide you (but don’t read too many, because they can start to conflict). I’m just glad to see there seems to be at least some effort made in new media and places like that.

I want my talking heads to leave the name calling to the people they interview. Image by @amauritorezan via Twenty20.

Who’s most likely to use these terms?

Another understanding I’ve reached is that it’s no wonder people use these disability kinds of terms to put others down; as a whole, people are still pretty ignorant about actual facts about disabilities of all kinds. I found an interesting article from the UK about the language of 14-year-olds for putting others down about disabilities.

The authors found five themes in the data.

  1. Popular derogatory terms (nuts, psycho, crazy, loony)
  2. Negative emotional states (disturbed, depressed)
  3. Confusion between types of disability (disabled, spastic, dumb)
  4. Actual psychiatric diagnoses (depression, schizophrenia)
  5. Terms related to violence (scary) (I admit, I didn’t see this as violent)

There are lots of lists of words in the article, but the authors concluded that, for the most part, the young people didn’t really know what the words meant and were just using words for emphasis, especially the popular derogatory terms. They were surprised that actual diagnoses weren’t used much, and concerned that the violence words appeared as much as they did (though they were the least used).

We’re just kids, mimicking other kids. Cut us some slack. Or educate us! Image by @lelia_milaya via Twenty20.

The article cited above inspires me to cut folks some slack. How many people know where the words “loony” or “spaz” come from? I sure didn’t until I was a lot older than a teen. Many really hurtful utterances probably come from folks just picking a word they’ve heard others use that sounds sufficiently negative to emphasize a point.

I come to the conclusion, based on that emotional maturity stuff I talked about yesterday, that people who are still muddling along at the adolescent stage of emotional maturity, at least with respect to labeling others, are more likely to engage in using disability terms to insult or put people (and ideas) down.

Now I’m back to name calling

On the other hand, name calling, in general is one of my least-favorite human proclivities. It’s something I worked with my children to eliminate (fairly successfully, for the most part, though we did love the word doofus for gently chiding ourselves for making simple errors). People just LOVE labels. And so many people define themselves by the labels others (and they, themselves) assign to them. That’s why I don’t like name-calling and that type of put-downs. They can mess a person up.

Labeling Exercise

So, here’s something to think about. How many labels have people put on you, or you have put on yourself, throughout your life? I’m thinking both positive and negative, by the way. Here’s a list for me, with my internal labels in italics. (note that some of the items in the left column I don’t personally find negative, like sensitivity and agnostic, and some of my positives are negatives for others.)

NegativePositive
FatSmart
UglyTalented
TalkativeGood listener
StupidPatient
UnlikeableHard worker
UnfriendlyEmpathetic
SensitiveGenerous
UnpopularKind
Goody-two shoesBrave
HeathenFeminist
AgnosticSpiritually open
Femi-NaziLiberal
LibtardWell read
Intellectual snobAltruistic
HystericalCentered
NervousOpen minded
Self centered
Look, I made the columns kind of equal, though it was easier to think of the items on the left

As I look at my own list, I can see that some of the labels that have been applied to me sunk in and were very difficult to shake off. Others didn’t bother me at all. I’ll have to ponder why that’s so, but as a first stab (aha, a war metaphor), I’ll guess that labels that point to my insecurities (fat, unlikeable) stuck longer than put-downs that I’m actually proud of (feminist, agnostic).

So, I challenge you to see if you can come up with a list of the things people label you (or you label yourself with). Are they accurate? Have you glommed onto inaccurate ones and believed them at some point in your life? Have you broken away from some labels?

I’ll share more about this later, I guess.

Emotional Maturity Thoughts


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!

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Good old Big Red is emotionally mature for a chicken. She knows what she loves (the horses, me, and her new food) and she takes care of herself.
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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.

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No one is saying the journey is easy!

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).

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Makes my brain hurt!

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.

Continue reading “Emotional Maturity Thoughts”

Let’s Talk about Disability Talk

As you may be aware, I’m on a big kick to learn about my own unconscious biases, and as a former linguist, I’m very interested in how the language I use reflects these biases. I have already been thinking a lot about issues with and labels for neuroatypical folks, since they apply to many of my friends and family members.

Helpful button.

My friend Rollie has been a great source of information and resources about labels, concerns, and the great diversity of people who fall into this category (it’s not just people on the autism spectrum). For example, just yesterday they posted about being hard of hearing, which means their audio processing is different from a lot of people’s, so they need to be spoken to slowly and clearly. They got a button to wear to let people know, which I find very cool. It helps an invisible challenge be more visible.

All this learning scrambles my brain, but it needs some scrambling.

The above shows how I am learning to use words like neurodivergent or neuroatypical rather than things like Aspie or whatever. I just have to ask people what they prefer, and that helps. That’s a great start, but when I start examining my own language, I realize I come out with some cringe-worthy utterances, all the time. Constantly. A lot.

I got started thinking about all this when another friend, Robin (who happens to be the offspring of my two favorite linguistic mentors), posted an article in Forbes magazine by Andrew Pulrang called “It’s Time To Stop Even Casually Misusing Disability Words.” Hmm, I mused, I think I do that without giving it a second thought. Could this be another one of my unconscious biases coming through?

Yeppers, it sure is. The best news about the article, for me, is that it’s directed at organizations and companies who are trying to focus on diversity and inclusion, another of my favorite topics right now. The opening paragraph sets a great tone, I think:

It’s not “oversensitive,” or too “new” of a concern for organizations and businesses to take a hard look at reforming ableist language. Ableism itself is not a new phenomenon, even if “ableism” is a new word to some of us. And avoiding offensive language throughout organizations isn’t just about preventing bad publicity. Curbing use of stigmatizing and problematic language makes workplaces safer for diversity, more productive for employees, and friendlier to customers and clients.

Andrew Pulrang, citation above

Most of us probably are aware that it’s not a great idea to use “retarded” in polite speech (or any speech unless you’re talking about how a plant’s growth was retarded in last week’s weather incident). What I hadn’t thought about very much was how often I and my friends say ideas or actions are stupid, lame, dumb, idiotic, moronic, and such. When we say something has crippled something else, that’s insulting people with physical disabilities. I’m pretty sure that in most people’s minds, these words are no longer labels for people, but that’s not a good excuse. As Pulrang points out:

The fact that a people still use such terms without intending to hurt disabled people doesn’t matter. They are harmful in all cases.

Andrew Pulrang, citation above

Sure, I know that asking people to find other ways to express that an idea is not great falls into the “politically correct” category for a large swath of people. I do get it that most people have no idea they are insulting others with their words. That’s because it’s a product of unconscious bias, not conscious. But, now that I am aware that I tend to talk this way, especially when I’m upset (another sign that unconscious bias is leaking out), I really want to work toward not using ableist language and monitor my speech and writing.

And calling me “politically correct” is not insulting, in any case. Speaking respectfully to people and taking their desired names, pronouns, or labels into account seems like a good thing. So there.

Well, what should we say, then?

That was my first question. Luckily, Pulrang shared some ideas. He cites a blog post by Lydia Brown titled Ableism/Language, that was updated in June, 2020. Brown writes more about ableist words and expressions, and offers a helpful list of alternatives for a wide variety of words and situations. I’m gonna refer to this often (and read more of her blog, which looks fascinating).

I also ran into this excellent diversity style guide that is fairly current (the preferred terms change frequently, as we know). Glossaries in the collection are very helpful for figuring out if you’re saying things in a neutral way or an ableist way.

Having to think about better ways to say things may well be to our benefit, too.

An added benefit of consciously reshaping our use of disability words and expressions is that it forces us to think more deeply about what we are talking about, and express our thoughts and feelings more precisely, maybe more humanely. “Crazy,” “insane,” “idiot,” and “moron” aren’t just offensive to people with mental illness or intellectual disabilities. They are also cliches that allow us to write people off without having to contend with their ideas and actions.

Andrew Pulrang, citation above

Are you feeling bad for frequently using some of the terms I’ve been talking about today? Don’t be, since you are just talking the way you have heard people talk your whole life. And as Lydia Brown points out right at the start of her blog post:

Note that some of the words on this page are actually slurs but many of the words and phrases on this page are not considered slurs, and in fact, may not actually be hurtful, upsetting, retraumatizing, or offensive to many disabled people. They are simply considered ableist (the way that referring to a woman as emotionally fragile is sexist, but not a slur). You’re not automatically a bad or evil person/activist if you have used random language on here, but if you have the cognitive/language privilege to adjust your language, it’s definitely worthwhile to consider becoming more aware/conscious of how everyday language helps perpetuate ableist ideas and values.

Lydia Brown, Ableism/Language

I find this all pretty darned fascinating and educational, which is why I have probably overwhelmed you with quotes. Please go read the articles I link to if you’d like to learn more about ableism and what you can do about minimalizing it and treating all your fellow humans with respect and kindness. I don’t want to insult people without intending to, so I’m glad to learn more.

Don’t be a doofus, go learn!

Wait, I think doofus may be one of those terms I should retire from my vocabulary. It sure is, because I found the definition: “A doofus is a dummy or a simpleton.” Wow, the definition gives me two more words to avoid. Off I go to learn more! It’s weird how excited I get when I glom on to a new topic to research.

Why Not Resolutionize?

Let’s admit this right off. I stole this idea from a very talented bogger, whose writing I really enjoy. Her blog also has a beautiful design, so check out this post on the Zowiezoe blog. Zoe (how come it’s so much easier to find an umlaut on the phone than on my dang keyboard?) shared how she has never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but decided after the weirdness of 2020, she’ll make lots and lots of them. She is going to revolutionize resolutions and resolutionize her life! You see, if you make so many that it’s hard to keep track of them, you’re bound to succeed at one or two!

Example of 2020’s effect on me. These are my “festive” holiday gifts for tomorrow. I bought exactly two gift containers, which are hiding.

I Can Resolutionize, Too

I decided that it would be a fun Christmas Eve activity to make some resolutions, myself. This also conveniently procrastinates from more closet organizing. I won’t have quite as many as Zoe did, but I did like her category ideas. Here goes.

WORK-O-LUTIONS

Planview

  • Be free with praise to productive coworkers
  • Contribute more to the LGBTQ+ group and make it the BEST
  • Remind myself that I enjoy organizing and writing, and have fun
  • Get a better desk location near a WINDOW
  • Find new ways to support and encourage my direct reports

Hearts, Homes and Hands

  • Write more frequent blog posts
  • Figure out what I can do to help without getting in the way
  • Support the team!

VOLUNTEER-WORK-O-LUTIONS

  • Find more ways to help with MTOL; I’ve been a sucky Board member
  • Keep the spirits up with the Master Naturalists as we can’t DO much right now
  • Keep my mojo going on the Friends of LLL newsletter, even though hardly anyone gets it because we have so few members

CRAFT-O-LUTIONS

  • Crochet a cardigan
  • Crochet an afghan
  • Knit Lee’s table runner for his office
  • Knit anything a family member requests (within reason)
  • Try some new (dog-friendly) things
  • Use my stash as much as possible
  • Organize the craft room in each house (ha ha ha ha ha)

SOCIAL-O-LUTIONS

  • Talk to kids more
  • Find ways to talk to more friends (and see them, eventually)
  • Be a better conversationalist, even when tired
  • Conversely, stay out of conversations where my contribution would not be helpful
  • Participate more in online groups (I tend to lurk)
  • Blog every day, for my own fun, not statistics
  • Comment on people’s blogs and encourage them
  • Quit trying so hard to be nice to people who aren’t nice to me

HEALTH-O-LUTIONS

  • Get that annoying post-nasal drip looked at
  • Go to a dermatologist
  • Get new glasses/prescription
  • Keep walking as much as or more than now
  • CBD Oil. Lots of it.
  • Don’t stop my therapy just because I only have one big issue

RANCH-O-LUTIONS

  • Ride the damn horse or get another horse that has good feet and just enjoy Apache
  • Get more chickens and keep them SAFE
  • Help however I can to get a tack room and fencing for horses on our property
  • Contribute to beautifying the outside
  • Get rid of ugly stuff in the house, like dead plants
  • Replace the nature tree with a new one

Geez, that should be enough. I hope I get some of this done. But, at the least, Lee will be happy that I now have GOALS and priorities and lists! He loves those, more than anything, I think.

Lee, writing in his journal of lists, goals, goal analysis and goal tracking. He’s amazing at it.

Maybe I’m becoming a better person, right? Some of this will help, or, at least I’ll have fun trying!

So, are you ready for the resolution revolution? Let’s ALL resolutionize!

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.

Screwing Up

It happens. Happened to me. I was trying to be a good friend, but didn’t use good judgment. Did it go unnoticed?

Nothing goes unnoticed today, and by the end of the day, numerous people had reported to my spouse that I had made a mistake. Small town living at its finest.

graffiti that says paranoia
Can I climb out? Photo by @gafutch via Twenty20

That kind of thing can make you feel paranoid! Or, in my case, a lot of the work I’ve been doing on my “stuff” can fall away, and I end up acting like teen Suna with all the negative self-talk bubbling up.

I’ll take that as an educational moment, and one that can provide helpful insight into how my inner workings work, and maybe how many of us work. We may work to change ingrained patterns and know what our triggers are, but every so often, we’ll fall back into that hole.

What’s important is to learn to quickly pick ourselves up, reflect on what we can do differently next time, and (most important) shake off that self criticism and crawl out of the hole more quickly each time it happens.

a girl looking down, beside a ladder.
She did it; so can I. Photo by @paigeinrealife via Twenty20.

I even DREAMED I was climbing a rickety ladder, trying to get out of a hole. Like I’ve said before, my dreams contain very un-subtle metaphors.

Hug yourselves, friends. Our imperfect selves are here to learn to love and forgive not only others, but ourselves.

Wondering

quote from Brene Brown

How do you forgive yourself? Through prayer, meditation, invoking a higher power, or reading? Searching the internet for quotes by your favorite healing author?

What are some useful things to tell yourself (asking for a friend, ha ha)?

Quick Enneagram Update

As I talked about recently, I have been looking into the Enneagram to see what insights it could give me into how I could function better as a person and interact with others.

Two of the types came close to describing me, 2 (helper) and 9 (peacemaker). I eventually decided I was a 9 after realizing how strongly my urge to keep peace around me had affected my life (not always positively).

I broke down and spent the twelve dollars to take the official test, the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI). That test identifies how your responses to a series of questions match each type. I found the results interesting:

Enneagram Type Score
Type 2, The Helper 28
Type 9, The Peacemaker 24
Type 4, The Individualist 18
Type 7, The Enthusiast 17
Type 5, The Investigator 14
Type 6, The Loyalist 13
Type 3, The Achiever 12
Type 1, The Reformer 10
Type 8, The Challenger 8

The two I’d self identified were the two highest, by far. The results commentary said: “Your primary Enneagram personality type is most likely the highest of these scores, and almost certainly among the highest two or three.”

I’m still going with 9, but with a lot of 2. I don’t know if the standard version “allows” being mixed with two types, but, there ya go, I gotta be me. The two types on either side of you are supposed to be your “wings” to draw from. Note that those were the two least identified with me (and 8 is my spouse’s type, oh my).

Reflecting on how Type 2 people tend to want to rescue others, form large groups of friends, and focus on helping, I do see that I have been that way, but more in the past. It may be that I am moving from Type 2 to Type 9 as I get older. A lot of the things Type 2 people do are just not me, while pretty much everything in Type 9 hits home with a bang.

Just knowing how I tend to react to things has helped me explain how I am to others, and has already made communication easier in my family. So, I’m grateful for that. If you want to take the test yourself, here’s the link.

Books

Anyway, I read a couple more of the most recent books on the Enneagram, so I may as well tell you what I thought of them.

The cover of The Honest Enneagram, by Sarajane Case.
Another blogger writes a book.

The Honest Enneagram, by Sarajane Case, is an introductory level book that uses “normal” language to help people understand how to apply knowledge of their type to their lives. It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but you sure get the idea that Sarajane is a kind person who wants to help everyone be their best. I gave the book to Kathleen to look over and share with Chris, because it’s a nice intro. It’s also a really pretty book.

If you know your type, this is interesting for sure.

The other book I got was The Enneagram for Relationships: Transform Your Connections with Friends, Family, Colleagues, and in Love, by Ashton Whitmoyer-Ober. Ashton is another person who just oozes concern for people. I am getting a bit more new information out of this one, especially about others (like my son and spouse). It’s really helpful, because this book gives you ideas for how to let people you love know you care for them, and how to best communicate with them. That’s useful information. I got some good ideas for how to communicate with a lot of people I know, at work, as friends, and as family members. I will use this one as a reference for a long time, I’m sure.

Both these books are available on Kindle for not much money at all, so check them out if you’re interested. I have one more book to read, then I’ll move on, since I may have found a new spiritual path!

What’s been bringing YOU insight? Are you using this time of being close to home to look inside yourself like I have been doing?

Apache Love

Why am I writing about my horse relationship issues? Surely very few people who read my little blog are well-meaning but somewhat clueless horse owners like me. Well, the growth you achieve when working with horses (or other animals) spills over to all other parts of your life. I’ve become much more confident at trying new things, secure that mistakes will teach me important lessons, and like I’ve been saying all week, braver. (I’m still me, but I’m learning to love my little quirks and care less if the way I am isn’t how someone else wants me to be…that’s for later.)

On to yesterday. I almost didn’t go do work with Apache yesterday, because it is so damned hot, and I was feeling bad that I was bothering the neighbors. Then I told myself that spending time with my horse is one of the most important things I could be doing right now, so Mandi and I just waited until later in the day to take a walk.

Mandi is telling Apache to not be a dick. He’s not having any of it.

DAMN. After taking some photos of Mandi with Apache for some dating purpose or something, we headed off in a direction we’d never gone before. Now, bear in mind that prior to this, I’d never been able to take Apache in that direction farther than the big barn with the beef freezers in it. He has always gotten nervous, looked back at the other horses, and pranced around.

Mandi says, “Isn’t this the cutest little ass you’ve ever seen?” Note that she’s finally getting closer to shedding out.

Not today. He and I walked slowly and calmly down the driveway, with Fiona and Mandi following at a respectful distance (to be sure he wasn’t relying on Mandi, who was so busy on her phone that I’m sure she wasn’t sending him vibes). We walked, I occasionally let him eat some plants, we talked.

Standing on my tiptoes behind his giant belly.

I walked him to the big cattle tank/pond where he likes to eat the sedges, and he plopped his foot in the mud and munched away. We walked around the tank, and he didn’t even flinch when Fiona panicked due to not being able to see us and galloped to find us (a hilarious sight, I guarantee you). I never ONCE had to tighten the lead rope, and only once had to ask him to move over to the other side of the path (to avoid an electric fence).

When we got to the farthest I intended to walk, he looked longingly as if he wanted to keep going to the end of the driveway! Who IS this horse? We walked back, calmly. He was in no hurry to get to the other horses. We stopped to take some pictures. I dropped the lead rope and he just stood there, just as he’s been trained to do.

In other words, not only did he act like the “old” Apache, he acted BETTER. I’ve always wanted to be able to come out during the week and just walk around and hang out with him. I see now that I should have done what I did this week long ago (as Sara has repeatedly suggested and I resisted). It’s helped our relationship very much, and made both of us feel more confident. So, I say to Sara, “You were RIGHT!”

In this picture, we are hugging each other. Just resting in the shade and relaxing. It was really great. Photo by Mandi.

This weekend I’ll need to start riding again. I’ll stick to my plan of not using the bit again until his teeth are looked at (scheduled for the week after next). And next week I may try riding him alone, with Mandi, Sara, or Kathleen following along just in case I need them. The goal will be to feel safe to ride alone around the ranch at some point.

We’re on our way. Photo by Mandi.

Apache and I are on our way. Thanks for listening.