Who Is NOT Experiencing Anticipation?

Sure, the UU Lent word for today is anticipation, because it’s the traditional day when Christians anticipate the culmination of the passion/story/tradition of Easter. But really, who isn’t anticipating a lessening of the very necessary restrictions we are dealing with right now? More on that later.

First, it’s still spring. Resurrection is all around us. Here in Cameron, lilies are blooming everywhere, butterflies are making their appearance, and the birds and bees are everywhere (especially when I’m trying to drink a beverage on the new patio break area we made).

Mrs. Finch is annoyed that Chris and I are watching her work on the nest. She’s also anticipating those little chirpers.

I keep coming back to it, but anticipation of the familiar, regular, slow and sure changing of the seasons has been really helpful to me the past month or two. Be sure to look out and see what’s changing outside your window – it can help.

What ARE We Anticipating?

I’ve been idly wondering (okay, maybe not so idly wondering) what’s coming up in the next few months. This morning I read two articles that hit me like a big ole brick wall from across the street at the Pope Residence.

First, Kathleen shared this article from the Houston Chronicle about the phases of coping with the pandemic. Gerald Parker says we’re in Phase 2, mitigation, but there are two more phases to come that are just different kinds of mitigation. Next will be containment, where we start things back up a bit, but remain cautious, since we will not yet have a vaccine, but hopefully will have better treatment. We will be much more careful about sanitation and isolating sick people

This is how I feel right now. That all these invisible things are swarming around me. I also was splattered with paint yesterday when I made this.

Once there is a vaccine for people who believe in such things, the virus will be much less prevalent, but never go away, just like the flu that comes every year and kills people. That will be the new normal, according to Parker, anyway.

I thought it was a little discouraging, but my friend Jean, who has a background in such things, has another perspective:

Actually, it is kind of encouraging. We’ve been executing a plan for this and it’s on schedule. I may not like it, but this contingency has been planned for, some of the problems we are seeing were recognized as such but not acted on (not surprising by the way — I was responsible for our organization’s shelter in place plan before I retired, and there were things I knew we weren’t ready for because it was fiscally not feasible to do), but our national strategy is working. Had we not had a workable plan for this, we would be in a far worse place now.

Jean Schara of Philosophical Meanderings, Too

I’m glad to read this other perspective. It makes me feel like we’re all helping.

Next, let’s talk about spin. Here’s an article that has been shared all over my Facebook today, which pessimistically predicts that as soon as we are all out of our homes and those extremely creepy commercials about how companies love us in our confinement are over, the advertising/marketing engine will gear up to try to get us to forget all this ever happened. Talk about Orwellian dystopia coming to life. Argh.

Let’s take a break and watch some streaky clouds. They look like they’re in a hurry to get out of Cameron. I don’t blame them.

The author, Julio Vincent Gambuto, calls it the ultimate gaslighting (and let me tell you, as someone who experiences it often, I do NOT like gaslighting). He predicts we’ll be hearing how all the things we are directly experiencing right now will be minimized. This gives me the shivers. I am not sure this will actually happen to the extent Gambuto claims it will (after all, the article is on Medium.com, which does not fact check), but now that I know about the possibility, I’ll be anticipating it and keep my eyes and ears open for marketing gaslighting.

Well, let’s change the subject. I anticipate the end of UU Lent tomorrow. I’ll have to think of my own topics! Don’t worry. I can do it.

The result of yesterday’s painting and scraping is ALL the matching doors are now a matching color.

By the way, I said I’d write about something today, but I decided not to, since it had to do with corporate practices, and I currently work for a corporation. I’ll follow their social media guidelines like a good corporate citizen and go paint, scrape, and clean some more.

There’s Always Something to Be Grateful For

Yes, today’s word is gratitude. You knew that one was coming, right. Those of us working on our attitudes are told by all our self-help books, tapes to keep gratitude journals, because it actually makes us feel better at a brain chemistry level. I know my spouse does it every day and it’s been really good for him.

I don’t write a gratitude journal, but I’ve been practicing just “noticing” where I am and what is going on, often through the day. This just leads to gratitude welling up in me. Corny as it may seem, I’m often just grateful for the privilege of being here on this earth, able to live and continue to learn every day.

Just noticing where I was. Grateful for the ever-entertaining ducks of Cameron.

Today, I awoke from the first decent sleep I’ve had in a while, looked out at my chickens, who got through a pretty bad storm last night, and was glad to see that my sadness of the past few days had moved on to a new phase. The first song I heard this morning said it well:

Let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day

Raglan Road, Irish folk song

I’m practicing being grateful even for the stumbling blocks and unexpected changes life brings, which I’ll talk about more in the next post. Right now, I just want to share how grateful I am for my support system, including these precious beings, who have really improved their behavior lately.

Two good doggies.
Lee is ready for when we are allowed to open our office and need to wear scrubs!

And I’m grateful for my family and close friends (thanks Anita and Mike) for listening to my vents yesterday. I feel very well cared for, with Chris sharing his stories of similar things in his life, and Lee jumping right into lists for planning our future. With this network of support, I’ll get by.

We all deserve a support network when things get weird, and by gosh, things are weird for everyone right now, and lots of us have other things piling on top of the isolation. If I can EVER be a listening ear for YOU, I’m here. I want to pay forward the kindnesses for which I am so grateful.

Your thoughts are always welcome, friends.

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.

Resilience. Can We Do It?

Right about now, lots of folks are finding their resilience tested. It’s another really appropriate word for UU Lent. Every day we try our best to bounce back, face the day, move forward, and support those who need our support. It ain’t easy, especially for my family and friends who’ve lost loved ones, have sick friends, have lost their income, or are trying to teach children AND do the job they still have.

Am I feeling resilient today? Not really.

Some people are born more resilient than others. I’ve read all those studies about how some people will thrive no matter what circumstances they are thrown into. You hear stories of people who have overcome really sad situations in their youth to become amazing contributors to the well-being of others.

Others of us aren’t resilient by nature at all. Still, with support and care, many of these folks can learn coping skills and do very well in life.

The rest of us are somewhere in between, and do better or worse due to our environment and other support systems. It’s the support systems, I think, that matter the most, which is why I’m grateful to all the people around me who are supportive.

I’m pretty sure the hackberry tree will be around long after the rest of us. It has resilience and then some!

Input

My friend Pam shared the types of resilience she’s working on, in a comment that doesn’t show up on the Instagram photo. They are too helpful not to share. Here’s what she said:

8 forms of capital I have been working for quite some time to strengthen my resilience in. Some days are easier than others. Time, social, cultural, emotional, knowledge, material, living and financial are the 8- sending you peace and love and light today Suna💕

Chris Martenson, PhD and Adam Taggart in their 2015 book, Prosper! How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting

I love getting helpful feedback with resources to help out, so thanks a lot, Pam!

Nature and Resilience

One of the things we learn about in our Master Naturalist training is how resilient things are out there in nature. We learn how forests recover from fire, how ecosystems can regain their balance once important species are re-introduced (wolves, reindeer), and so on.

I hope the toad makes it. Nice to get comments on a post!

We also learn about the most fragile members of ecosystems, like frogs, who just can’t take all the rapid change. The most resilient plants and animals get to keep going (why we have so many medium-sized mammals and so few giant dinosaurs now).

I guess one day spiders will rule the earth. Phidippus arisonensis.

It’s just hard to watch entire groups of plants and animals going away because of the actions of humans. We have re-shaped the planet in so many ways, with our agriculture, selective breeding of animals, depleting resources like trees, and taxing the ecosystem with our large population.

I once read that plagues happened when there were too many people in a place. Is Nature trying to tell us something? Can we stay strong and get through to better (or at least different) times?

Stay resilient, friends.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

Those of you who haven’t been quarantined your whole lives have probably heard this saying before. It’s the first thing that popped into my head when I saw that today’s UU Lent word is bloom.

Let’s see how to do that. Image by @dmotif via Twenty20.

It being spring in glorious central Texas, you see blossoms everywhere. They look especially vibrant this year, since it’s been cloudy or rainy most of the time, and there is a lot of very green grass to contrast with it. I don’t think they are what I’m going to talk about today.

Bloom is a verb. When a plant blooms, it puts all its energy into reaching out to other plants, insects, birds, and animals. It sends pollen out to make seeds. Then the females put even more energy into taking what they got and making fruit.

That’s how I see the idea of blooming where you’re planted. Just like a plant, we don’t get to choose where we do our growing. Some of us get nice rich soil and lots of nurturing, others of us get placed on the sidewalks of life.

Burr clover can bloom on the driveway.

Right now a lot of us are planted in an isolated place. I’m even in a basement, for heaven’s sake. What is helping me a lot is taking the situation I’m in and learning from it. While I’m all cozy in here, I’m thinking of ways to be a better person, do my work better, and contribute to my community.

Blue-eyed grass is one of my favorite signs of spring at the ranch.
I’m planted right here, Mommy. I’ll bloom later, okay? I’m also metaphorically exhausted.

When I bloom, I’ll be able to make the best possible flower, and we can all do that, no matter where we’re starting from. You take what you’re given and make the best of it, or not, I guess.

Let’s hope that the fruit we eventually make from all the introspecting, preparation, and hard work we are doing to grow and bloom will be sweet, nutritious, and strong, so we can plant more ideas.

I’m metaphorically worn out now. Are you? What do you think about when you think of blooming?

Don’t Cry Now

Yeah. Don’t listen to that advice. It is perfectly appropriate to cry now. It’s just that when I saw that today’s UU Lent prompt was cry, the first thing I thought of was this Linda Rondstadt song.

I don’t cry anymore. Right around the time I started feeling better about myself, I stopped crying almost completely. I’ve teared up a couple of times, both from happiness and sadness, but I’ve only really cried twice that I can remember in the past year.

My good buddy Brody in 2018.

When my precious Brody got hit by a car and died, I certainly cried, as one does when they lose a family member. I found out that another heeler I know got hit and killed on the same road last week. Just punches you in the gut. You try to keep them in the fence, but they sure have a drive to chase.

My constant companion, at least for a long time. I think he’s standing in the same spot as Brody in the previous picture.

The last time I cried was just before we left on that ill-timed recent vacation. Once again, Penney had chased Vlassic off my bed. He’d already spent a couple of nights at my brother-in-law’s RV, and I’d missed him. I completely broke down at the thought of losing my little best friend, and a huge wave of grief took over for a while. I do still have issues with feeling deserted, especially when I’m feeling weaker. Having the hole in my soul from being deserted by the radiant Kynan (as his spouse calls him), I was vulnerable.

I’m okay now. I think Vlassic is safer and happier next door in the RV, and I get to see him nearly every day when we feed chickens and horses together. Jim needs a little friend, too. My generous higher self is dealing with it now.

Why Don’t I Cry?

I wish I knew. as a child and young adult, I had a very quick crying trigger. I was a “sensitive” one, and very easily hurt by name calling, bullying, and criticism (deserved or not). It’s one reason I tried to be so good as a child. If I was good, no one would yell at me or criticize me, and I wouldn’t start to cry, which would lead to more name-calling and being laughed at.

Stinging tears, like a thistle.

I’d always cry during difficult conversations or when I was feeling strongly about something. It made me so angry at myself when I wanted to be rational and strong, but I’d start to cry, even when the rest of me was trying to make a point or be articulate. No doubt I drove my romantic partners crazy with that. And that’s why I tried to avoid confrontation so much, because if I started crying, I’d always look weak.

I may have cried enough for a lifetime during the years surrounding my divorce from my kids’ dad. Maybe I used up all my tears on all my personal drama, much of which I made for myself, I now admit.

She cried a lot.

One thing’s for sure, crying at the drop of a hat was one of my least favorite habits/traits. It was harder for me to forgive myself for crying the times I was “let go” at jobs than over losing the jobs themselves. I am still pissed off at myself for letting that awful man who was jargoning and biz-speaking his way through running La Leche League into the ground see me cry, and for letting that absolutely horrid Dean at UT see me beg to keep a job I hated (because I thought I’d lose my kids with no income). Blech.

But, I don’t cry now. I occasionally get sad and I get angry, but I don’t cry, not even healing tears, like Vicki refers to above. I think crying when appropriate (say you have had just about enough of a certain pandemic) is healthy, but I just don’t. My only guess is that the antidepressant I take has muted my crying trigger.

Has that happened to any of you who admit to taking an antidepressant? I’m curious. I can still feel quite happy and quite annoyed (ask the people who live at my house about the annoyed part).

Thanks to the 100+ people who reacted to this post, and all of you who commented.

Please, if things get to be too much for you, let out those tears. If you need to vent, please do so, and don’t beat yourself up for venting about things that are trivial. No one will judge you for it, certainly not me. I’m happy to be there to listen, too, and hope that there are those of you out there who would listen non-judgmentally to me, too.

We’ll be together at our Austin house again, my friend.

Let’s muddle through together! And wipe those tears (on your own mask or tissue, please).

Have Mercy. We’re Doing Our Best

For some reason, I seem to do worse blogging about these “churchy” words like grace and mercy than I do with stuff like rain. But today I got mercy. All I’ve got done so that we all deserve some mercy right now, from each other and our spiritual leaders.

Hmm, I don’t think this is the right holiday.

Oh yeah, Palm Sunday greetings to my Christian friends.

Now I’ll tell you about the mercy I received today, which was that kind Easton saw me struggling to build our new patio furniture for the balcony at the Pope house. He made all four chairs in the time it took me to make two tables. How merciful.

Little rocking chairs. And a tiny table.

I did manage to build rolling drawers and a filing cabinet for my office all by myself. When Chris gave me an electric screwdriver I sped up.

I need help getting the drawers in. But I built it!

I got matching bookcases for my office and Lee’s. They still need to get built, and will require two people. We must be getting close to move-in time if I’m building furniture!

Drawers already in use holding my printer.

So, I’m looking for stories about mercy, if you have any, because I’m all out of stories. I do like patio furniture, though.

It looks like a room.

I Forgive You. Forgive Me.

Admission: I’m not feeling too great today, and this UU Lent prompt, forgiveness, didn’t help. I shall now indulge in some wallowing in self pity. You know, sometimes you just have to do it for a while, pick yourself up, and get going again. I promise, I’ll get going again. So forgive this post. I just need to say it.

I had absolutely no clue how to parent.

With the pandemic going on, it’s just killing me that forgiveness hasn’t happened in important parts of my life. Mostly, I just want to tell Kynan that if he did anything that led him to disappear from my life, I will forgive it, because I love him. And I so dearly want to be able to ask his forgiveness for anything I did that led him to desert his mother.

I tried really hard to be a good parent. Obviously I wasn’t perfect, because there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. I know I gave them too many presents, because I’m totally clear now that my love language is gifts. Oops. That’s okay, all the kids left most of the things I gave them at home when they moved out <insert smiley face>.

Memories! What a bright little kid he was.

So today, I officially ask forgiveness of my kids, people who I felt maternal toward, and anyone who I may have hurt when they were young and vulnerable.

I also want everyone who’s hurt me that I forgive them. People mess up. People get angry and do things they wouldn’t normally do. Mental illness can color people’s interpretations of others’ motives and actions, and I know that. If I love you, I love you, warts and all. Even if I don’t forget things that happen, I can forgive you and accept you.

I will always care for these three, no matter what happens in our lives.

That was all really hard to write. Today I’m still reeling from some terrible dreams I had about Kynan a couple of nights ago. He was there, which felt great, but he kept reminding me we’re really apart. At one point, he rejected an outreached hand and said, “You know, we never really did like each other.”

No, son. I adored you and thought you were the most amazing creature on earth. I only want happiness, growth, and love for you.

Interestingly, I am wearing that same shirt today.
Equal opportunity baby picture of Declan.

Hey, I know I’m not alone. Estrangements are more common than I once realized, and I am sending virtual hugs out to anyone going through this along with me. I’d just like to know why I’m estranged, but until then, I’ll go on living and hope to heck I get to see my children and all my loved ones again, and that we all make it through this disease.

Forgive someone. Forgive me. Life’s short.

End of self-indulgent wallowing. Supportive comments will be appreciated.

Acceptance of the New Normal

I’m betting the UU Lent creators didn’t realize the meanings some of their words would take on as the Lenten period went on. Acceptance is probably on everyone’s minds right now. As the Tiny Buddha points out, you really don’t have much of a choice but to accept.

You are so right. Tiny Buddha.

It very well could be that a lot of the anxiety and sleepless nights we’re dealing with today is from wanting to make things different, to go back to our old lives, to not feel trapped. But, that ain’t happening. This is what we have!

Perky little Suna, typing away.

Some days it’s easier than others. I realized with a jolt, just yesterday, that all this isolation, mask wearing, hand washing, and dread of learning the latest news felt totally normal, like it’s always been this way. It’s only been a MONTH!

I get upset with myself for feeling bad, knowing I’m lucky to have jobs that keep me earning money, at least for now, and am “essential,” so I can drive to work and back (for excitement, I take the OTHER route!). I’m not alone, either, which is a blessing, even for a hermit. I should be ashamed of myself?

At least I have a giant monitor. And blog readers, according to my stats.

NO! Every single one of us has had their lives changed really suddenly. Sure, some of us are dealing with different types of challenges than others, some are in more danger than others, and some have lost loved ones. But NO ONE’S grief, anxiety, sadness, or worry is better or worse than anyone else’s. I will do my best not to judge myself or others.

Accepting the new normal. The ranch is always here.

Support and kindness are what we need. If you need to vent, I’ll listen. And if I have to whine about how little I slept last night, my horrible dreams about my lost son, or my worries about others, I appreciate you for listening to me!

Keeping each other healthy means keeping our distance. It’s important. But our mental health still relies on our community. Thank you all.

Confessions of an Over-confessor

Dudes. The UU Lent word for this first day of a new month is confession. There’s one thing I do enough of already in this blog is confess to my past mistakes, errors, and goof-ups. I don’t share everything, but I hope people can learn from my mistakes and it will be helpful. Confession is good for the blog. Or something like that.

Today I’m going to go the more light-hearted route and do a variation of a meme I’ve been seeing going around on Facebook, where people confess to things they just don’t like, but everybody else seems to love. I think we could all use a break right now, right?

That’s the Master Naturalists’ big Folgers. The other two are what Lee and I drink in the office. I need Folgers bods.

Gourmet coffee. I have tried to be a coffee snob, many, many times. I have owned some darned fancy coffee. But, I really like Folgers. The Black Silk kind is just great. But, any medium roast is fine with me. And I like milk or half and half in it. I fail as an elite in this respect.

Continue reading “Confessions of an Over-confessor”