Some Good News

It’s a relief to share the biggest piece of good news from around here first: Apache the horse escape artist seems to be digesting his forbidden spring grass fine. He shows no signs of colic (horse stomach issues), which is good, because one does NOT want one’s horse to get twisted intestines. And he is walking normally so far. No doubt he’s getting tired of me showing up every few hours and making him walk, but that’s what I want to see, normal walking!

No more lush grass for me!

The vet says that after 24 hours, he probably won’t colic, so now we just watch his feet. I’m continuing to stay at the Hermits’ Rest rather than going to Austin, and am checking him multiple times a day, in an abundance of caution. This morning it was cool and everything was wet, so driving Hilda the utility vehicle over to him certainly woke me up!

The other piece of good news is that I’m proud to announce that the blog and podcast have their first official supporter! Dorothy Mayer gets her very own hand-knit afghan (or a shawl, if she’d rather have that) from me as thanks for being the first of what I hope is a good number of supporters, who will help me pay for the expenses of blogging and podcasting! I’m so incredibly grateful to Dot!

Dishie, cotton dishcloth yarn from KnitPicks.

I’ve still got ten sets of cotton dishcloths ready to be knit for future supporters. To tempt you, here are just some of the colors you can choose from! Check out the yarn page for the other colors, and see a whole bunch of dishcloths you could choose from, too, just for supporting the podcast!

I’m so looking forward to making dishcloths that I already ordered some yarn to make some for our house after I finish the current project (which is moving right along).

The final bit of good news is significant to me. I finally have stopped having so many meetings every day, and now have time to actually contribute some content at work. It’s a nice change. And speaking of work, we participated in a #ChooseToChallenge activity for International Women’s Day, and I got to share my pledge.

Don’t I look serious?

Here’s my pledge:

I’ll contribute to a gender-equal workplace at Planview by making sure I listen to all voices, incorporating the unique gifts of each of my colleagues in my work, sharing the accomplishments of my coworkers throughout the company, and noticing when I can diminish my personal biases.

Suna at work

I am proud of the work that the company I’ve been with for close to ten years is doing to create a safe, diverse workplace. They have also been showing they care for our mental health. They gave us two days off this spring, to acknowledge how hard everyone has worked through the pandemic. It’s inspiring to me.

Update: Check the comments to see how the International Women’s Day pledge really upset a reader. She said no one should have to make such a pledge, because that’s the way you should act every day. I totally agree with that, by the way! I think the reasoning behind sharing these pledges is to expose everyone to people doing positive acts. With all the negativity, hate speech, and racism that’s out there bombarding us, I think it’s helpful to counter that with declarations of kindness, caring, and empathy. The more people are exposed to positive images, the more likely they are to consider alternate points of view, I hope. Feedback is very welcome.

So, do YOU have any good news to share? Comment away!

How’s That Podcast Coming Along?

Today I was telling the story of skunks and escaping horses, and someone said, “You need to have some kind of ranch adventures blog or podcast!”

“Um, I do,” I said, and said to go look up The Hermits’ Rest. I actually saw people write it down.

Look, here I am having ranch adventures. I’m in one of the horse pastures.
More ranch adventures: we found WHITE verbena on our county road! That’s research!

So, it appears that I have not been doing the greatest of jobs at publicizing my funny ranch stories and personal rants. That’s probably because I don’t really enjoy self-promotion, though I make myself do it anyway.

On that note, I did start a podcast of verbal versions of this blog. I have found it to be surprisingly fun to record and put together. The people who have listened (all 21 of them) find it at least slightly interesting (and they love the theme song, by my talented son). I mean, whoa! That podcast is GREAT. That’s better.

I told myself that if I got a hundred plays of the episodes, I’d do more publicity. Today is that day. Time to get self promoting!

Look, here’s the podcast!

Just click that Play button and you can hear me yack about the horse and the skunk. I talk just like I write, too. The podcast is like a free bonus to this blog, which also, you may note, costs you nothing other than annoying ads. So far, the ads have raised a whopping $59.80 over the past two years, all for me to squander as soon as it hits $100 (maybe by the time I retire!).

If I’d had any hopes of paying for my blog hosting fees with those ads, I was foolish. I mean, I have plenty of followers and readers, but I’m no influencer. I guess they’re the ones who make money. You know, because they influence. I have tried to influence people to be kinder and more peaceful, but I’m not sure how well that’s worked.

So, Does the Podcast Have Ads?

It turns out that the Anchor platform where the podcast is hosted also has a deal where you get paid for ads. I had to make one, for Anchor (so far it’s my only sponsor). But, I DO get paid for it! I’m up to a DOLLAR! That’s right, kids, a dollar since March 10! I’d rather not have to put ads in, but to do that, I have to do the OTHER thing.

That thing is to get supporters. You can actually support the podcast (and the blog, since they are the same content in different forms) by making a monthly donation. What? Yes. Like being a patron on Patreon or something. Or like funding some startup. Only it’s me, talking about dogs, horses, plants, knitting, bias, and such. I do support a couple of other people this way, and it feels good, plus you get “bonus content” and such. It appears I can create bonus content on the podcast. The possibilities are endless.

I’ve made no bonus content, because I have no supporters. [insert frowny face.] But, that can change!

In fact, I’ve shared in a couple of spots that the first ten people who becomes a supporter get to have dishcloths made by me! And the first person to support at any level higher than $.99 a month will get a lap blanket made by me, and I’ll discuss the pattern with you and everything! What a deal!

UPDATE! The lap blanket has been CLAIMED! I’m still ready to knit on those dishcloths!

I could even knit a heart.

Why on Earth Are You Doing This, Suna?

I’m doing this, because podcasts with supporters get shared and recommended more than ones that don’t. And they get more offers for sponsors, too. Like maybe I could have a more interesting ad! Or rotate them! My mind is boggled by the possibilities. I could make fun and funny ads!

I can only do those things with sponsors. They will make Lee happy that I’m not “wasting” money on WordPress fees, and help support me in my old age. Who knows, if I get a couple of sponsors, I might be able to get a better phone with a better camera, or one of those nice microphones…

Raise my self esteem! Or tell me I need to STFU. Either way.

To sum up, the podcast has been more fun than I thought it would be to create. I’d love to have you check it out, on most podcasting platforms. And I’d be honored to have a supporter or two, who will be lauded, I promise! And get prizes if you hurry! AND I hate self promotion, so this will be IT for a while. I hope I get a supporter!

No podcast will be created from this post. (hooray)

The Word “Weary” Seems to Fit

Since work has started up and since groups I’m in have started meeting, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people I know. I’m seeing similar things in Facebook groups, chats, etc. It’s summed up by something my friend, Barbara, wrote this morning, which I quoted in the title of this post.

At night, when the snowflake lights are on, this peace tree manages to provide comfort to me.

We’re Weary

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve been in this week that either started or ended with someone looking into the camera, bewildered, and sharing that their parents are very sick, or that they lost a friend, or that they’ve been exposed and are worried. People tell of losing multiple loved ones or friends in a short time (I’m one of them). A neighbor at socially distanced book group got visibly shaken telling us that she won’t be able to see her frail and elderly mother this year, because she’d reluctantly canceled her flight to Texas.

At one point, the same neighbor looked at us all, and plaintively asked, “When can we hug?” Whew, we miss hugs.

At the end of the Friends of LLL Board meeting on Tuesday, we had some time left over, and people were talking about the challenges we all had been dealing with, a friend who lost her husband recently, etc. At one point, we all seemed to have our heads in our hands, or blank stares, as we just silently sat there. It felt like a virtual hug was really needed.

A work meeting yesterday was similar. It was hard to get started with the latest project’s progress after we’d been sharing about lockdowns in England, a mutual Swedish friend who got sick…all that. But, work is a thing I am lucky enough to have, because it lets me think about other things beside germs, the degrading environment, and the government.

Yes, we are weary. We know we have to keep up what we’ve been doing, and that it’s important. But people, at least in my circles, are feeling helpless to do anything for themselves or others. The separation we’re experiencing is important, but as it drags toward a year, it’s hard to keep our spirits and resolve up, isn’t it?

What Can We Do?

I’ve noticed that a lot of people are decorating the heck out of their houses. I’ve seen a lot of holiday extravaganzas out there! Anita and I have even made a winter wonderland out of our year-round tree and our mantel. Other people are crafting like crazy (my current knitting project is now too long to be even a maxi-skirt on me).

We always have nature to help out. At the book club meeting, the sun shining through these grass seed heads brought me comfort.

Mostly, though, let’s talk. Let’s listen to each other’s stories and hold those who are having a hard time in our hearts. We’re all having challenges, to one extent or another, right now. If we all send comfort out, we’ll all get some. I feel like by honoring the stories of my friends and colleagues, I’m sending good energy out. I’m appreciating theirs, too. I’d really like to see my husband and my animals.

I’m Not Sick, Just Tired, But I MUST Be Supportive!

Please let me first apologize for making my discomfort with plane travel over the weekend appear like I think I am sick. I have no symptoms of COVID-19, and have been taking my temperature. Still just fine, as far as I can tell. I was just really uncomfortable being around so many people in the Dallas airport and sitting next to a woman who was coughing. Like I’ve said before, I’m a special snowflake who believes the pandemic is real and would prefer not to take chances. But, I’m not sick.

As it does every day, noticing nature’s beauty keeps me feeling well. These are two red-tailed hawks circling above Marbry’s Ridge.

And by saying I’m tired, I mean I’m spending a lot of energy (and rightly so, I think ) supporting friends and family who are going through really hard times right now. It may be tiring, but it’s important work, and I don’t plan to stop.

Examples and Inspiration

For example, I know how to not get overly sucked in by others’ needs, but when your close friend’s husband passes away, you can’t help but send your energy out to them. My friend Vicki was the only person who came to my dad’s funeral to take care of ME, and she’s stuck with me since we were teenagers, despite our political and spiritual differences. That’s true friendship. I’m so sorry she lost her beloved husband so soon after finally reuniting with him. True friends need to be there for each other and truly listen, so I’ll so what I can in these WEIRD times.

A circle of friends surrounding a cactus seems an apt illustration!

Coincidentally, I just read this beautiful article in the New York Times, by someone famous, but who suffers just like us.

“[W]hen people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter — for all of us. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.”

The Losses We Share, by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, New York Times, November 25, 2020

She recently experienced a miscarriage, a devastating life passage she shares with so many of us. She shared that just having someone actually express that they care about how she is getting along was helpful and healing. And her overall point, that checking on others during this time of isolation is VITAL, is something we all need to think about.

I know reaching out is not one of my best skills, but I’m prioritizing it. I’m very GOOD at responding, though, and boy do I send out those healing thoughts (which I’ll go along with the organized religion fans and assume do some good).

This is where I send all my vibes to. Hee hee.

Another example: someone I know mentioned that none of their local friends had checked up on them during the pandemic until very recently. That hurt. It made me wonder who I should be checking up on (yes, I will call my stepmother). Who do you need to check on, just so they will know they aren’t alone?

As Meghan pointed out this morning, we need to really see each other right now, even if we’re covered up:

“We are adjusting to a new normal where faces are concealed by masks, but it’s forcing us to look into one another’s eyes — sometimes filled with warmth, other times with tears. For the first time, in a long time, as human beings, we are really seeing one another.”

Ibid.

I truly hope she is right. With so much loss and pain going around, we need each other to see us, accept us, and show we care.

A final example: a blog reader wrote me a long email yesterday, in response to one of my blog posts on Highly Sensitive People. He was worried that he was using his sensitivity as an excuse to indulge his other issues (fears of various things). Now, this man is also dealing with autism and other mental health issues, and I felt so bad to think he worried that his personality type was an excuse. I’m glad he reached out, because I think he expressed something many of us experience, which is that our thoughts or feelings aren’t good enough, or are a cover-up for something else. In reality, many people share the HSP trait, and some of them have other issues, too. It’s just who we are, and dealing with it becomes a lot easier if we accept our limitations and challenges, and work to be the best unique individual we can be. Who that man is, the way he is, is fine. No one should judge him without spending some time in his reality.

Of course, I told him this, in other words. It’s what we all should do, listen and be supportive. Everyone’s struggling with something!

Looking out my window, it’s easy to see how we feel isolated, each of us up on our own hills.

Listen to the Universe

Wow, it sure seems like the Universe is conspiring to tell me something this week. Clearly, the effort it takes to be supportive of others, to listen to what people are concerned about, and to reach out is worth it, even if it can make you tired. We’re all we have!

Just another cool hawk photo to enjoy. I like how the sun made the interesting effect. Nice to end on a note of beauty.

Calgon, Where Are You? Can We Transcend This Madness?

Today’s will be a short blog, if you can imagine that. Things have sort of taken a downward turn in my non-pandemic life, so I will need to deal with that. I have lots of support, and I was really moved yesterday when the support I needed came from so many parts of my life, and there’s where the UU Lent word for the day, transcend, comes in.

I realized that I have support that transcends all boundaries, if I only remember it’s out there and reach out. Those 128 likes and 93 commenters include people I’ve known since I was a child, people I’ve never met, elders, youth, people I disagree and agree with, and people from:

  • Family
  • High school
  • College
  • Grad school
  • My first job outside school
  • All my previous and current jobs: Akibia, Dell, Planview
  • Friends from when my kids were in school
  • La Leche League
  • Unitarian Universalists
  • FortuneBuilder friends (real estate)
  • Master Naturalists
  • Email lists founded long before Facebook
  • Knitters and crocheters
  • Musicians
  • Community theater
  • Neighbors from Austin, Round Rock, and Cameron

I am sure we all have a varied network, even when we feel alone. I am imagining them lifting me up in support, so that I can transcend these mundane roadblocks, personal issues, and unwise decisions made that we have no control over. Community support is vital right now.

The earth abides. The harvest goes on. Nature transcends human problems.
Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away. I put this t-shirt on this morning, and it turned out to be quite appropriate. (It’s a Slaid Cleaves album title.)

I know blog readers are also here to support me. And we are here to support each other. I’ve been sending out so much empathy to people I know who have lost loved ones during this time when we can’t gather together. I’ve been sending strength to those of us for whom this new world is scary and brings out their anxieties and depression. I’m sending calm out to all the people I know who are trying to work and school their worried children. And of course, super duper vibes are going out to people who can’t work right now and need to keep their lives together.

This too, shall pass (I think that’s the message my t-shirt is trying to convey).

Let’s all send out what love and light we have to spare, while taking in what others are sending us. Maybe that will keep us all able to move forward.

Contemplating the meaning of life and transcendence on a Maundy Thursday.

Thank you all. Supportive messages for me and all the rest of us blog readers and their circles are welcome.

Who Supports Whom?

I was thinking about support even before I saw that it was the UU Lent word for today. Right now pretty much everyone needs support, right? Times are so confusing for everybody. Still, many of us are called on to support others. And sometimes the people we support need us to support them, too.

Yesterday, when I blew on this dandelion, I imagined each seed was flying off to touch someone in need of care and support. Cheesy, but what the heck.

My boss at my software job made this point yesterday in our Zoom meeting, when he said he’d probably be needing to reach out to us sometimes, too. We’re all glad we have jobs that we can do virtually and that we haven’t been laid off yet, but it’s still challenging. Remember, it may not be all that great for your boss, if you start to feel gripey.

I am really glad that I can be there to listen to the people I manage, because it’s hard enough to work from your personal cell (mine is even in a basement, and at the moment a bee is trying to attack my monitor), but it’s even harder when your work gets frustrating. A couple of my team are dealing with that, and they NEED to have someone to vent to and to tell them to just do their best, because none of us is at our peak of efficiency right now.

This wonderful friend curls up to me, sighs, and sends calming vibes. Well, he does that when he’s not running around like a goofball and barking for attention.

The concern I have right now is for the people I know or work with who are isolating all by themselves. It’s easy for me to immerse myself in my tasks, but I’m hereby reminding myself to check in on people like my sister, my stepmom, my coworkers, etc. We have all these fine ways to keep in touch, so don’t think, oh, their other friends/family members are supporting them. Your support is also important!

Suna’s Support Team

Hello Zoom, my old buddy.

As for me, I’ve got my precious dogs to help. Carlton has been especially good, since Vlassic is hanging out with Lee’s brother, who’s mostly alone in his RV. I do treasure my daily walk to see the horses and Fiona with him! (Fiona is healing, I think.)

I have to say, though, that the Zoom company, whoever they are, is my biggest support system. I’m sure they are getting rich, but I don’t care. It is so great to be able to talk to my coworkers, my friends in my nonprofits, and groups of online friends. I am so grateful for the technology that some of us lucky and privileged people have for keeping in touch.

He has no fat, because he is on the go all the time.

And of course, there’s the Hermits’ Rest commune. It’s so helpful to have the family around to support each other. I just wish I had ALL my family with me. I guess I better go send those supportive texts, letters, and emails now!