Oh goodness. Today is Sunday, so the UU Lent word is extra UU: inclusion. This is, I suppose, to incite us privileged cisgender white womyn to give a pious lecture about including our rainbow of friends in all aspects of society. Politics! The Board room! Your church! Your neighborhood!
Okay. So, go do that.
Inclusion starts in your own circle, though. It’s been a tough issue for me. I’ve felt left out a lot, especially as a somewhat weird adult. I can see all the lunches, parties, outings, etc. to which I’m not invited but thought I’d fit in with. Still hurts. Childhood stuff.
I do get included in things, especially in Cameron. That pleases me. And I do not expect everyone to like me. I’m over the people pleasing thing, except those leftover pangs. More growth opportunities.
This is the best I can do on one cup of coffee and without getting political. I guess I’ll just suggest you invite an outlier in your circle to join you and your friends, at least occasionally. You might make a new friend?
Onward to North Carolina, soon as I can move the spouse.
Today’s word for UU Lent is play. Great choice, since Lee and I are taking a birthday present road trip to visit a new place and see some relatives. It’s my gift to him. We hope to get Lee relaxed and me out looking at water. Fun.
I’ve always tried to incorporate play into my life. Some of the goofy stuff I do, like weird hair colors and holiday-themed nails are play for me and a way to encourage others to bring some fun into their lives.
My two main sources of fun at this point in my life are the Master Naturalist activities and my animals. I learn so much in our MN meetings and classes, and I have fun sharing it with others.
The dogs and chickens make me play. They can’t help it. But true play is when I’m with Apache and Fiona. They both love to play, and I love going along with them. They just like to hang out together. Like yes, when Trixie the farrier came, we spent most of the time cuddling and nuzzling.
Apache loves when Trixie comes and he gets to get in those weird positions and then feels better. I think he thinks they’re playing.
Riding just exhilarates me. It’s the best playtime ever.
One More Way to Play
I must admit that some aspects of our work renovating properties is like play. I do have fun picking out colors, fixtures and such. And Chris and I tend to play pretty often. Yesterday, we decided to check out the well behind the Pope Residence.
It has water in it. We are now working on ideas for what we can do with that. We both admitted we had wanted to look in there for a long time.
I’ll have a Pope update soon. Until then, here’s a hint of what we hope will be the next project.
What a coincidence that the UU Lent word for today is community, when it’s the day every year that I’m reminded of how far my extended community goes and how close my intimate community is. As much as people complain about Facebook, it’s great for reminding you that people are thinking of you, so Facebook birthdays are always fun.
Community is something I think about a lot, because as the years go by, I’ve come to realize that so much of what I do is to try to create community. I crave being part of a group of people who care for each other and support each other. Perhaps most of us do (with my spouse as an exception, maybe).
At last, after making a lot of attempts at joining communities and trying to become a part of them, I’ve come to realize that it works way better when communities join YOU. I often mistook being part of an organization or other group of people formed because of a shared mission or passion as being part of a community. Sometimes it is, but sometimes you can mistake people working together as people who care about each other. I found this out the hard way with La Leche League, my old church, my knitting group, and others. I did make good friends doing this work, but the community of caring wasn’t really there after all, or if it was, I wasn’t in it. Too much struggle for power and in-group formation.
To me, a real community consists of a group of people who all are equal and accept each other as they are, warts and all, and work together for the benefit of all. So, my old groups had sub-communities, for sure, and I truly appreciate them and the friendships they created that have lasted many years.
Now I really do feel part of a community in both of the places where I live. I feel safe and cared for in my little Austin cul-de-sac (warts and all, oh yes), and I certainly feel that way among the community that’s building up around me in Cameron. No wonder I am happier and more at “home” than I’ve ever been in my life.
The fascinating UU Lent prompts continue to take me down rabbit holes of thought. Silence is the word of today. I chuckled a bit when I walked into the office this morning to see absolutely no one in my entire area of cubicles. That led to quite a bit of silence, other than the ever-present noise-canceling hum.
Of course, by the time the morning moved along a bit, laughing came out of meeting rooms and a couple of coworkers came in for meetings. We just happen to have a lot of people at an off-site meeting, combined with the usual people working from home. I don’t think anyone’s staying home for coronavirus reasons, at least so far.
I Abhor a Sound Vacuum
It has taken me a long time to become comfortable with silence, even though I’ve found a quiet place to meditate daily for most of my life. Then I hear my breathing, so it doesn’t feel silent.
Growing up, my family were all readers, so you’d think it would have been quiet, but they were all “readers while watching television.” There was always some kind of background noise in my life. When I went to my room I played the radio until I finally got a little stereo (it was green plastic and was from K-Mart of its equivalent). After that, I read to the sounds of the music.
I also took a long time to be comfortable in silence when in groups of people. I must have driven my teachers crazy, because I wanted to answer all the questions, I talked when I was done with my work (always quite early), and I chatted while waiting silently in line. In small groups, I talked when no one else was speaking up.
And that went on and on. I sure talked a lot. I’m not sure why I felt the need to fill the air with the sound of my own voice. I had to concentrate to get myself to stop going on. Yeah, I had reasonable stuff to say, but I never gave other people who had to think a minute any time to talk.
Yes, I worked on that problem a lot! I have gotten much better at being quiet. I can sit in meetings and let all the other folks talk. Sometimes I don’t even share all my brilliant contributions. I can self edit! I learned to take notes to myself when I wanted to talk. Now that I have keyboards, I type to myself. Then you get to read it, the results of my logorrhea!
One thing that helped me learn to be a better conversationalist and meeting participant was watching others. I see how people react to the colleague who never takes a breath when they talk and vigorously resists any attempts to steer the conversation a different direction or end it altogether. I don’t want that!
I’m still working on waiting for my spouse to respond in conversations. He generally takes a lot longer than most people before answering a question or contributing to a discussion. I find the silences that ensue really uncomfortable, and can’t ever tell if he simply doesn’t plan to respond or is working something brilliant out in his head. I’ve started counting to ten before moving the conversation on or answering for him. I don’t want to be rude, but my ideas of the intervals between conversational turns are different from his. If I were still a linguist, I’d probably research it and write a paper about that.
But Suna, Don’t You Love to Be Alone in Silence in Nature?
That’s a paraphrase of an actual question I got when discussing silence. I do, indeed, love to be alone in nature. I love taking hikes, riding the horses way out on our property, and even sitting on the back porch alone. But it’s not silent out there. Sometimes it’s pretty loud, with all the birds communicating, crickets and cicadas, frogs and toads, cattle, bees and wasps, chickens, coyotes, etc. This is the music I like to listen to best at this stage of my life.
I can walk along, being embraced by a breeze that feels like an actual hug, and see, smell, and hear all the life around me. If this is silence, if this is being alone…it’s great with me.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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!
The UU Lent word for today is creativity. It didn’t require much creativity for them to think of that word, did it? I hope I can make my thoughts on this not only creative, but interesting, since only eleven people looked at yesterday’s masterpiece on sanctuary. I enjoyed writing it, anyway.
First, yes, I think creativity is important, and I have no doubt that I am a creative person. That’s probably why I like brainstorming so much. The ideas just keep coming.
However, most of my life I’ve always viewed creativity through a narrow lens. My personal definition of creativity seemed to be to think of something new and different and bring it to fruition. Originality has been important to me. In other words, it’s sorta like how some people define art versus craft. Art is original and craft is creating something based on a pattern. I’ve always been crafty, but not artistic (in my own mind).
Because of this mindset, I would always bristle when someone would look at something I knitted, needlepointed, or otherwise “made,” and said, “Oh, you are just SO creative!” I would uncomfortably respond with, “I just followed a pattern, though I guess choosing a color was creative.” Or, I’d get told a newsletter I made was creative, and I’d think, “No, I just arranged what people gave me and put it in a template. Whoever made the template was creative!”
I was wrong, so don’t waste your time shooting holes in those arguments. I’ve come to a much wider view of creativity, where I think we all get to join the Creativity Club. Any time we put things together in a new way, tweak a recipe, put together a new outfit, etc., we’re exercising our creative talents. We’re making something new and interesting out of whatever is at hand. I like this viewpoint better.
I’m glad I get to arrange furniture, select lighting and paint, and plan uses for rooms in renovated houses. I’m glad I get to arrange objects on my shelves and tables in ways that please me. It’s great to do crafty things and follow the directions OR branch off. Our minds need to be able to take chances and do new things. It keeps us fresh and alive!
Ah, the word for today is sanctuary on the UU Lent calendar. As I am sitting inside one of my personal sanctuaries as I type this, I didn’t have a hard time coming up with things to photograph for this concept.
What I realized soon after starting to think about sanctuaries is that I truly crave them. I make myself a sanctuary wherever I go. In Austin, it’s my bedroom, where again, I have things I care about and a cozy place to sit and read or knit. I’ve turned my office at the Hermit Haus into a sanctuary with all my colors and all my nature stuff. Even in the horrible “open office” thing at work in Austin, I’ve tried to create a place of calm.
Heck, I even OWN a sanctuary, but not in the same meaning of the word. The old church sanctuary still gives me a bit of a chill, so it won’t be a haven for peace and reflection for me for a while yet.
I feel like a wealthy person when I realize how many places I can retreat to when I need to. I need to retreat a lot, which is how I keep as even-tempered as I manage to do (though Chris said I had a negativity attack yesterday).
To help with office negativity, I went and made myself a sanctuary at the Pope Residence. I drug a chair and a bench out on the balcony, where I can look at the big magnolia tree and survey the churches of Cameron. I spent a nice time listening to the many grackles, four woodpeckers, and a loud mockingbird. Triumph in the sanctuary department!
Of course, Lee and I built our very own sanctuary here at the ranch. The Hermits’ Rest is most definitely his safe place, and I’m not far behind (I just have more places). My Instagram post for today shows me enjoying coffee in the only side of the house not dealing with hurricane-style winds.
It’s a real privilege to have your own physical areas of sanctuary like I do. I think of people in Syria, people in abusive situations in the US, so many others in crisis who don’t have anywhere to go where they feel safe. No wonder so many people just retreat inside themselves; they have nowhere else to go.
Everyone deserves to be able to escape and refresh and renew their souls. Those of us who have the chance to should cultivate and care for our sanctuaries, because we are lucky to have them. One way to do good in the world is to help bring peace and safety to others.
How would you do this? Where is your sanctuary? Is it physical or mental?
The UU Lent word for today was passion. I saw that and said to myself, “Whoops, I don’t have a lot of that at this stage of my life; I’m just trying to get through every day.” I wonder who else among us feels that all their passion is just drained from them? Why would that be?
Passion is supposed to be strong emotions that inspire and motivate you. Many writers (especially of memes) encourage us to do everything with passion. Sounds exhausting to me.
Passion Bites Me in the Butt
I’ve had passions at various stages in my life. There were one or two relationships that were that way. That led to bad decisions along with poor self esteem, and in some ways I felt like I lost myself. I could do without that. Then there were causes and activities I felt so strongly about that it became a passion. They motivated me to do much good work, but when I became too attached, it led to deep disappointments and feeling taken advantage of.
Passions have always led me to disappointment or defeat, whether in the interpersonal or organizational area, anyway.
Huh. Maybe I wasn’t going about passion in the best way. I betcha there are people who can be passionate about things without the burnout and negativity. I think I’ll talk to people about that today, and I invite you readers to chime in.
In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy my hobbies, groups, and interests, but keeping a bit of distance. I declare I can still do good work with my Master Naturalist group, the Milam Touch of Love, and the Friends of LLL without being consumed by their missions. I say that to manifest it, I guess.
But I Do Love My Mother
When I was writing my Instagram post on passion, I realized that the strongest attachment to anything is probably to the preservation and flourishing of wildlife and plants around me. My strongest feelings come when I look around me at the birds, the trees, the animals, the water…the planet we live on is amazing. I want to keep it healthy so that if I ever have descendants, they can enjoy it, too.
Sure, this one can also lead to disappointment, but not defeat. I’ll keep striving to keep Mother Earth my focus.
And Those Pesky Friends and Relatives
Same goes for my family and intimate friends. My passion about keeping them safe and happy won’t go away. This is where I am learning to have passion but still detach. I can’t make people love me or treat me well, but I can care about them anyway, just not so much that I curl up in a little ball of sadness. I guess I should be grateful to my estranged son (tiny photo earlier in this post) for helping me with this hard lesson.
I intend to keep going, keep caring about the world around me and those I hold close, so I’m not going to let passion lead to defeat again.
The Word of the Day in UU Lent is “risk.” Now, there’s a word I’m familiar and even mostly comfortable with. The photo I put on Instagram was this one, taken from the top of the stairs at the Pope Residence, and looking down, somewhat queasily.
Risk can be messy, or create messes. Like all the construction debris in the photo, you often have to make a path through a lot of crap when you’re taking risks in life. And there are often metaphorical nails and sharp pieces of metal to wade through.
I’ve never been a risk taker. You know how people are divided into the ones who like roller coasters, parachuting, and thrill-seeking activities, versus the ones who prefer their novelty to be more of the “shall I try a new variety of apple?” kind? Well, I have the apple personality.
But as I have gotten older, there are certain types of risks I am more comfortable with taking, like joining groups to make friends, speaking up in work meetings, starting new businesses (talk about RISK – this is WAY beyond my comfort zone for earlier in my life). I think becoming less of a worrier and more of an observer in life helps me be comfortable with this kind of risk taking. You can’t know what’s going to happen in the future, so do what you can do to mitigate risk, then wait and see what happens and deal with what comes up.
This Blog Is a Risk
Today, putting yourself out there in public, warts and all, can be quite a risk. I’m honest about my “stuff” here on this blog, and am not out to make myself look good, be an “influencer,” or make money. I’m here to share experiences that might help others look at things in new ways, or feel less alone in their own experiences.
I’ve received some comments about how that might be risky. Last night, a reader said something about some of the posts being a bit “out there.” And since I have a lot of readers of different backgrounds from mine, I can really see that. I’m not your standard ranch girl, but more of a New Agey hippie trying to fit into a rural culture that has a lot of appeal to me, even if most people aren’t like me.
It’s freeing, though, that I’m no longer trying to make everyone like me or please everyone I know. If the stuff I write bothers anyone, they don’t have to read it. There’s certainly plenty of other content out there.
Thanks to you who read this and comment (some in the blog, some on Facebook, and some in person), since learning what you think helps me to get to know you. I know commenting can be a risk, too, but it seems like my community is a supportive one that embraces all perspectives. Take a chance! Participate more, folks!
Past and the Future
When I was in my twenties, big risks were just not my thing. For many years, I tried to stick to a career path I’d set out on at age 18, even when I really needed to get out. I didn’t even DARE do what I wanted to do in my heart, which was perform music with others. By the time I was ready to risk rejection that way, I was much too old for it to be anything other than a hobby. That was the past.
The future is bright though. Last week, Anita, neighbor Ruth, and I went to see my son’s band, Big Dallas. It was their first gig, though they have been working on songs a long time. We had low expectations, since they were the first band of the night. But, there were lots of people there, and not just relatives and friends!
And they blew everyone away. Neighbor Ruth said they sound like a country Frank Zappa. The musicianship is so high, and the songs are tongue-in-cheek urban country that has you chuckling the whole time you listen.
Now, this band is a big risk, as all bands are. It’s a bigger risk for my son, who had a huge musical setback last year and nearly gave up his passion. I am really proud of his friends Austin and Russell for taking the risk of sticking with him and working on this amazing music. In my mind, they’ve already succeeded (though I hope to see them again soon).
What risks are you taking now? Are you extra risk-averse, or a go-for-it kind of person?