Perhaps Grace Is What We Need Right Now

What was not an example of grace?
Me trying to get the varnish off between these grooves.

Hmm. Grace has always been a hard concept for me, at least the Biblical kind. As a person whose spirituality didn’t fit in with the Father God concept, I never felt the “grace” in the “Amazing Grace” song. I was more of the “chasing grace” kind, I guess, as in one of my favorite songs, “One Good Year,” which I listen to often:

Just give me one good year
To get my feet back on the ground
I’ve been chasing grace, but grace ain’t so easily found…
by Slaid Cleaves and Steve Brooks

Maybe you would like to listen to it. I just happen to be able to show you both of the writers’ versions. I guess if I don’t know what grace actually is, I can graciously share some music about it. Um. Okay.

Here’s the brilliant Slaid Cleaves singing this. Well worth a listen in these times.
And here’s my friend Steve playing it. Hey, listen to it. He needs the royalties.

Being Graceful

I do have a clue what physical grace is, and that’s what I put in my Instagram of the day. I was really impressed that Chris made a routing table out of stuff there was around the Pope Residence project, then got Randy set up making beautiful curved edges for all the trim. Next we have to mass paint it all, before installing.

Also, I stripped all the varnish off those trim pieces in the foreground. See, I can help!

I’ve been thinking harder and harder about what the heck grace actually is, because I think I’d like to both send and receive it. It seems to have to do with love, acceptance, and kindness, I think. I finally broke down and looked at Google to see what it was about. I still am not real sure about Divine Grace, but I did see a list of ways to exhibit grace, which is shortened from a blog post with a lot of helpful Bible verses, if you would like to see them.

How to Show Grace to Others

  1. Words. Be kind and gentle in what you say and how you say it.
  2. Look for Needs and Opportunities; simple everyday kindnesses and actions often help in great ways.
  3. Let it Go. Letting it go is one of the easiest ways to extend grace to others.
  4. Be There.
  5. Forgive.
  6. Learn to Ask for Forgiveness.
  7. Watch the Way You Speak.
  8. Gratitude.

That all sounds like good stuff to me. I am right now concentrating on 7 and 8. I’m trying to speak kindly to people who think getting infected with a scary virus is a joke. And I am remembering to be very grateful to still have work, be able to see at least some of my family, and live in a place concerned with safety.

Safety?

Some more grace. Here’s Randy rolling sealant on our brick. The brick stuff is actually nearly complete!

Our county judge has echoed the governor’s state of emergency recommendations and told everyone in the county to stay the heck home unless you have a workplace to go to, need food, or have to do something urgent. People had been being a bit jerky around here, apparently not grasping the concept of invisibly carrying a disease and passing it on to someone else, the fact that diseases have incubation periods, and that sort of thing.

I’m one of the people glad he did this, even though I had to go to the auto parts store today, because my windshield wiper broke. I didn’t want to die driving in the rain with no wipers. So, I was careful. Mainly I was VERY impressed that the store had my car’s wiper blades!

Look at those lovely edges. Wow.

What else is there…I’m ready for a virtual meeting this evening, and hope to hang out on Zoom with online friends a bit, like I did last night! What fun that was. I’m grateful that the pandemic came when we have lots of online tools for connecting. Is that something you can actually be grateful for?

Postscript

I’m glad I asked for guidance on this topic. My friend from high school, Vickie Dixon, kindly shared her definition, which was helpful to me, and may be to you!

Grace is one of my favorite words. And it doesn’t have to have anything to do with religion. Although, for me, it’s a lot easier to give grace to others when I remember God’s grace given to me. It’s basically just treating each other with love even if they don’t seem to warrant it. It can’t be earned and none of us truly deserve it. We all hurt each other. It’s part of being human. Grace comes in when the person we hurt still treats us with love. A beautiful, and very difficult, way to live.

Vickie in North Carolina

We Have the Freedom to…umm

Perhaps today is not the best day to talk about freedom, but that’s what the UU Lent calendar said to talk about. Freedom’s always been a hard topic for me, even without being confined to quarters/office and following so many rules and regulations (our home health agency gets new guidelines from the State every day, and we have meetings to go over them; as of now we have to take every client’s temperature every time we see them; glad I’m just the CEO and am sitting at my desk doing my other job).

Still free to enjoy doggie fun and games at the ranch!

Right now, though, I feel really lucky and privileged to be able to be outside and wander around the Hermits’ Rest, so I don’t get cabin fever. I’m still free on my own property.

Land stretching out so far and wide!

As for the concept of “freedom,” I always wonder how other people define it. I don’t feel free at all here in the US. I am afraid to criticize the government aloud, for example. I hesitate to express my opinions on a lot of topics, actually, since I’m concerned that maybe many people are wandering around ready to hurt or shoot people they disagree with. That may be propaganda aimed at people like me to keep us in line, but, this doesn’t seem like a free and safe time to me. I hope I just have healthy paranoia, not crazed paranoia.

Penney is glad she is free to attack and play with June bugs to her heart’s content. She watched this one a LONG time.

So, I plan to continue to concentrate on what I am still free to do, think, and write. I’m glad my blog is not censored. I’m glad my dogs can run and play and make me happy. I’m glad I am free to at least talk to my family and friends still.

Stay safe, and don’t be a paranoid like Suna. You always have the freedom to have another perspective from mine!

Remorse Is Complicated and Unhealthy

When I saw that remorse was the UU Lent word to think about today, I got a sinking feeling. There’s something I’m familiar with and that I’ve really had to grapple with a lot.

Remorse is a distressing emotion experienced by a person who regrets actions which they deem to be shameful, hurtful, or wrong. Remorse is closely allied to guilt and self-directed resentment.

The Wikipedia

The key here is that remorse has to do with something that a person deems to have been wrong, not that anyone else might necessarily view it that way. And the part about guilt and self-directed resentment sounds really, really familiar to me. I don’t know that remorse is something we should be cultivating for good mental health.

Way too much of my life, this was my internal monologue.

I know. I did some things in my twenties that really were unfair to people I loved, hurt them, and in retrospect, I see are very wrong, even though I couldn’t see it at the time in my immature and very confused mental state.

The remorse I felt after that led me down a path of further poor decisions, because I was so upset with myself that I felt I didn’t deserve to look for a happy life, a good job, or close friendships. I felt like I’d just let everyone down. And the poor self image my remorse led to absolutely ensured I’d lose friends, chase away partners, and treat myself unkindly. Ugh.

The Instagram of the day. I did love that poopy, butt-scooting pug.

It took a lot of work after my divorce from my children’s dad to learn to forgive myself of my mistakes and stop trying to make it all better for people I disappointed. I learned to move forward and learn how to deal with my hormones and childhood abandonment issues in a respectful, adult way (with the occasional totally human slip-up).

My dog forgives me, so should I.

If you are feeling bad about yourself, you can get to a new place, too. Therapy is your friend. So is Brene Brown.

Right now, I’m experiencing periodic remorse about what happened to my relationship with my older son. I’m not even sure if I did something awful or he’s embarrassed about something or what. I try to stick to sadness over the loss of a relationship to dear to me, rather than blaming myself or imagining hurtful things I might have done. It’s tough. Remorse is hard.

Spiderworts behind the Pope Residence say hello, and are happy, even after being mowed.

Enough brutal honesty for one day, right? I’d love to hear your thoughts. enjoy some flowers.

It’s a parasite, but it feels no remorse (Texas paintbrush). At the Hermits’ Rest.

Not Long Winded

Too bad, but I’m just not up for writing an ode to the wind, as the UU Lent prompt would want me to. And my wind photos right now consist of mostly pictures of pollen and ducks. Here is pollen that needs to get blown around by the wind more:

These folks parked under an oak tree. Oops.

I’m like my mom in that I am not a big fan of the wind. It’s not as bad as my son was when he had his long rock-and-roll hair, but I am not fond of it. That’s one reason I cut my hair, so it wouldn’t get me all wind-miffed.

And happy holiday to you ethnically Irish friends. Note that I need a haircut and that there is a donkey poking out of my head. Oops.

The pollen has been pretty awful, as I’ve mentioned, and everyone in my little pod of containment has to explain to each other that really, really, they just have allergies.

I’m glad we can get outdoors, anyway. The wind blew n some whistling ducks this morning while Chris and I were talking outside, and I got to enjoy the look on his face when one of the ducks landed in a tree. He said, “I didn’t know ducks did that!” I told him just these.

I’m a special duck.

I’ll just share one more picture of a duck and a tree full of pollen, then I hope to have a fun Pope Residence update for you.

Two whistling ducks, one sort of hiding.

And yes, the dogs were glad to see us when we got home!

Rolling with the Changes

Change. I guess most of us are dealing as best as we can with all the changes to our daily routines. Nobody doing the UU Lent challenge will have any trouble with this as a prompt.

My friend Sara posted this message. A good one.

I’ve been trying to put things into perspective. There are always changes and challenges, big and small. My generation is lucky to not have been hit by something that requires sacrifice in a long time. But we managed 911 and the threat of atomic bombs and so on. If we stick together, we’ll handle the virus crisis.

Instagram of today.

I’m very glad for the perspective on change that my I’ll-timed trip has given me. It’s let me see that even from one week to the next, our planet changes. On the way out, the trees were bare and only white trees and red maples were blooming.

Still some beautiful white trees are in bloom.

Now, it’s a riot of colors. There is yellow jessamine throughout the trees, oaks and elms are going crazy, and the beautiful red bud trees say hello through the diverse woodlands we are driving through. Every week the show changes, and soon enough autumn colors will arrive.

More red buds.

I think this is why it’s so good to go out in nature, especially now. You can see the big picture and remember you and your problems aren’t the center of the Universe.

Not a bad view. We’re rolling along in the Mobile Social Isolation Unit!

I haven’t had too much to write about for a while, but I know there will be lots of changes to come once we get home. I can’t wait to see the progress on our offices, assuming that’s still going on. And then I hope to share more about our next project. Life will go on, even though I’ll be confined to home and the office.

This fills my heart with peace.

Roll with those changes, friends.

Part of the Resistance

Today we have resistance as our UU Lent word. Once again the Sunday word is ripe for sermonizing. I’d rather not preach. If you know me, you’ll know I’m part of the resistance against fascism and oligarchy and such.

Deep Instagram thoughts

As I try to get back to Texas in my Mobile Social Distancing Unit (Lee’s Car), I keep thinkingw oabout how some of us have more resistance to disease than others. That’s one reason for keeping our hygiene up, to protect the vulnerable.

Not planning to die. Just sharing that Donita’s neighborhood once was a graveyard. Many homes have headstones.

Most of my upcoming activities are cancelled, and I’m supposed to work from home for the next couple of weeks. I’m glad we got to visit Flo last week, because they place she lives no longer allows guests, even family. We are wondering if the State will require Hearts Homes and Hands to only provide vital services. I guess there’s a fine line between helping and potentially harming.

Take a breath and enjoy a night view in Swansboro. Resistance is futile. You WILL relax.

I have no conspiracy theories to share, other than to be reasonably cautious. I wish I hadn’t had this week chosen to travel, but we were careful.

I was so proud I got a shot while the blinking light was on. See. I can have fun with no people around.

What we could not avoid on this part of the trip was tree pollen. Oh my. Pines, elms, oaks and more have flowers or candles, in the pines’ case, in the Carolinas right now. Donita’s car turned yellow on our drive yesterday, and I know Libba and I sucked up a lot on our long walk last night, since my sinuses were running like a babbling brook last night. Lee says his eyes are crunchy. Poor guy.

Just a little truck stop pollen.

Now to keep my germ resistance up. Y’all do the same. Let me know how it’s going!

Since fresh air is good for removing germs, eat outdoors! Does alcohol disinfect your innards? Um. No.

Music to My Ears

Throw me an easy one, UU Lent! I could blog for hours about music. Luckily I’m visiting relatives and don’t have hours. I keep getting distracted by wildlife, anyway (another post). Music has always been important to me (as for many of us).

I sang my whole life, mostly choral music, which I took to the second I learned what harmony was. Harmonizing with others brings harmony to my soul, and I guess it’s proven scientifically that it’s good for you, too. The years I spent rehearsing in my folk/rock trio, Trey Bone, were wonderful years. My friends Bill and Austin and I sounded so good together and really learned a lot as we put together songs to sing.

Back when I could sing. Eddie Collins, Austin Kessler, me and Bill Dower.

What makes me happiest, though, is that my children inherited my love of musical performance. I never could learn to play an an instrument, but both of them are experts. The one who doesn’t talk to me is an amazing mandolin player and takes his instrument everywhere.

Today’s Instagram about Declan and music.

And Declan can play so many things. I am so thrilled to see him playing stand-up bass in Big Dallas, but I’ve also enjoyed his guitar, bass, keyboards, and drum playing in other bands.

Both kids were in marching band in high school, and long-time friendships came from that. I firmly believe that learning music in school makes you a good thinker.

The markings on these shards look like music. All found off Swansboro.

While I lost my voice singing too much first soprano in a fancy choir, I still sing when I’m alone. I keep hoping my broken notes will come back. But music will always be there for me, and I hope it’s that way for you, too. It’s helpful at this time, because it can take us to other places in our minds.

Just be ready, though, I will cry hard if you play the Ode to Joy singing in the 9th Symphony of Beethoven. Tears of joy.

How are you doing? Stay in touch!

Don’t Doubt and Be Dumb

I got asked if I was taking the coronavirus seriously. Yes, I’m not a virus doubter, even though we went ahead with our non refundable vacation. Convenient isn’t it, that the UU Lent word for the day is doubt?

Sunrise on our last day in Myrtle Beach. No doubt that was beautiful.

Lee and I almost used up a bar of soap washing our hands, and we sanitized restaurant settings, once my brother told me too. I’m lucky my brother works for the Santa Clara County Health Department, who publish great information.

We also didn’t go to crowded places and maintained space around us. Still managed to enjoy the beach and each other.

This guy was happily disinfecting all the lobby furniture. He was pleased to be photographed.

Hilton was being really diligent about cleaning, especially the touch screen elevator buttons. We had wristbands that activated the elevators and unlocked doors, which came in handy.

Staying healthy, since I’m old.

We’re now heading to visit more relatives. We will stay at their house and do water activities. If we go out to eat, we will take precautions. When we go home? I’ll be real careful in restrooms. Then I’m staying in Cameron for a while, where there are no virus sufferers yet.

Stay safe, everybody, and don’t be a dumb doubter. Our business is also taking precautions for the safety of our clients, too, in case you wondered. It’s not a time to doubt scientific professionals.

Wisdom: Did We Make a Wise Decision?

The salesperson we dealt with yesterday, the relentlessly flattering Kathy (she kept telling us how smart we were), convinced us to stay an extra day here in Myrtle Beach. So, we pushed our trip out a day. Hmm…that brings me to the UU Lent word of the day, wisdom.

There is no doubt in Lee’s nor my mind that this wasn’t a wise decision! An entire day with no agenda and no feeling rushed is a real blessing to us. After losing more than half of yesterday working out a deal to make traveling easier for Lee (he NEEDS to get out, but doesn’t like to fly), today feels good. And it’s given me a chance to think hard about what wisdom is and where it comes from.

I looked out the balcony this morning and saw a perfect depiction of the path to wisdom. It runs between my watery intuitive side and my my analytical side. I need them both.

I’m not being egotistical to declare that I am a lot wiser now, at age 62. Life’s journey has given me plenty of learning opportunities (or challenges), and while I may have not been as wise as I thought I was early in life, at least I was always open to learning and growing. Like in the picture above, I can never see where I’m going on this path, but there’s always something new coming up. Then at the end, I’ll disappear into the mist. (GEEZ that’s cheesy.)

What Do We Need to Gain Wisdom

Yep, this is what I look like in a mirror and it’s just fine, thanks.

Well, there’s lots, of course, but one thing that’s really helped me is accepting myself as I am, rather than trying to be who someone else wants me to be or comparing myself with others. I like that I can look in the mirror now and tell myself I am fine just the way I look, and that I am really great inside.

Learning to love myself and retraining my brain to send me positive messages was the hardest thing I ever did, and it’s rewarded me more than I can express. I sure see things more clearly when they aren’t obscured by self criticism and insecurity about myself. Go me!

Another characteristic that has brought me a lot of wisdom is curiosity. I’m not interested in staying in my comfort zone and not exploring new ideas, new places, or new activities (after a bit of Suna’s patented hesitation). I love to look around corners, explore nooks and crannies, and see what’s out there, just like the beautiful bird below. That’s helped me see things in new ways, which can’t help but bring on not just knowledge, but wisdom – which includes knowing what to do with what you learn.

“What’s over here?” asks the egret.
I found this picture on my phone, taken by Lee when he was supposed to be taking pictures for me. Made me laugh.

One thing that maybe people don’t think about leading to wisdom is humor. Humor requires looking at life in different ways, not just what’s readily apparent. That’s got to help you become wiser. I’ve found that the wisest people I know laugh a lot, too. Maybe that’s good for you in more ways than are apparent!

Being able to laugh at experiences rather than dwelling on how bad they are or what awful consequences there may be also leaves you more open to learning, even from the hard things that we all go through.

And finally, wisdom requires patience. You don’t get wise overnight (like I used to think when I was an all-knowing teen psychic wonder). It doesn’t just show up. Sometimes you have to experience things multiple times to learn from them (how about those repeated relationships with inappropriate men?). And sometimes you have to wait for life to unfold before you get to where you’ve internalized your knowledge and applied it to your life. It doesn’t help to know something, it’s got to get IN there, and that takes patience.

I’ll get to use this soon, away from dog toenails, of course.

Yep, I am finally almost done with this lap blanket. If only I’d brought the green yarn to finish the corners. This took both patience and perseverance!

What Have I Missed?

I’m sure some of you have in mind other aspects of life that lead to wisdom. Share them here or on Facebook, because I’m interested to know what you think. Wisdom also comes from learning from your peers!

Every Single Day Takes Courage

We have courage for the UU Lent word today. I think we’re all more courageous than we know. Life is challenging. Sometimes we wonder if it’s the most challenging time to be alive, like ever, but no, I think it’s always been hard to be human. It’s always taken courage to face each day.

It takes courage to stand on the balcony on the 26th floor if you aren’t good with heights.

Before we had to deal with evil viruses, our current political leadership, bad drivers, and mean people, humans still needed courage. I would have been scared to death to get pregnant before the late twentieth century. Well, I’d have died after the first try, so there’s a time when maybe I should not have been courageous (mis-shapen tail bone). People were always at war with the folks next door, and if you got sick, you just hoped you were strong enough to survive. And then there were wolves, bears, mammoths, and poisonous fruit,

To be honest, it takes courage for Lee to try a new beer. He likes familiarity.

Any of us who get up, greet the sun, and go do the needful, as they say in India, is courageous in my book. And you get rewards for your courage. You learn and grow, you find people to love, you create and contribute to society. Courage wins.

Sorry. I will never have the courage to get on this thing. I draw the line there.

It often happens that when I have the courage to do something that intimidates me, the reward is big. If I fail, I learn a lot, making it not so bad. And if I succeed, I get to add skills and have fun.

But, I think we all have things we haven’t worked up the courage to do. For me, it’s rides where I can’t see what’s holding me up, like roller coasters and Ferris wheels. Oh, and I am not going skydiving. It’s okay. I’ll be fine without these things.

Here is one of the first times I worked with Apache. He’s big and scary. That took courage.

Take riding Apache. It’s scary to sit on another living being and hope it doesn’t kill you. It took courage to get on, to walk around, to trot, and to get back on after falling off. But, it’s the most fun I have. I’m glad I pushed myself. I’ll be honest, I don’t like falling when I can’t see where I’m going, so every single time I dismount takes courage. We each have our “things.”

Courage to do hard things makes me shine. Here, I’m on a long car trip.

Starting our real estate business took courage, and some might say we failed at it. At least it wasn’t a glorious success. But we sure learned a lot, and it’s helped us be more confident with the Hearts Homes and Hands business. I’m glad we are willing to get out there and provide services people need. If we just sat around and lived on our passive income, it wouldn’t be just us who suffer.

Courage is everywhere. So is strength. We just have to remember.

I have friends facing life-threatening illnesses with courage. Their reward is to enjoy life as long as they have it and to learn how much love there is in the world. They also teach the rest of us to not fear the inevitable. I hope to face my health challenges with such grace.

Sending you all love as I have the courage to go listen to a condominium sales pitch and “just say no.”

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