Life has been so hectic lately, it’s hard to FIND the roses, much less stop for a little sniff. But, I think I’ve decided that life will only slow down when I force that to happen. I’ve also decided that it has very little to do with outside forces and events, and much to do with my own decisions and choices. So, I’m deciding to slow down a bit. Yeah, yeah, I know… I’ve said it before. Only time will prove my earnestness this time…
But this week, I got a new lease on life with my health — and a clean bill from my doctor following a year of less than glowing health. I’m in the middle of figuring out how to pay a whopping tax bill (because I buried myself in work as my health went south, but didn’t put money back for taxes — foolish, foolish…) and I watched my best friend make arrangements to bury her tiny great niece — who was not even three months old.
I continue to watch her sacrifice her life and her happiness and her mental well-being to take care of everyone else. She worries over things that don’t belong to her. She’s a saint, but her life is slipping through her fingers and she’s not even aware of it. And when I try to talk to her about it, she turns the tables. She says I have no room to talk — that I can’t learn to “just be” either — and that I’m always planning and doing and dragging others along. She says she agrees with me, and that she will stop being who she is, when I stop being who I am. I disagree… this is WHAT I am, not WHO I am. And it’s time for a change…
And it all hits me at once. While I’m stressing over everything and managing only to lose today while staring behind me at the mistakes of my past — and the things I should have done better, or casting anxious squints ahead to attempt to make out what the future holds.
And, while I do all this, I miss the beauty that’s all around me. I have to focus on the here and now to see the grandeur. I’ve been missing the beauty. It’s like walking through a field of strawberries and roses looking back at a tornado-littered storm and forward into a potential desert, not sure if I’m seeing a bright future or a mirage.
I don’t bask in the sunlight cast right here, I don’t sample the fruit, I don’t sniff the flowers… I curse the squishing underfoot, and the thorns that grab my clothing as I rush by and the heat of the sun’s rays on my face…
It’s sad. It makes me feel guilty when I actually manage to see what I’m doing. It’s almost like I’ve wasted so much of my life already, that I’m not sure how to stop. And, that usually makes me push those particular facts back, out of the forefront and soon, I’m running through the beautiful field again… from the desert into the unknown.
You know, I have moments of perfect clarity… when I’m overwhelmed and become unspeakably emotional when I look at a perfect wildflower, a ring around the full moon, the look of love in my husband’s eyes, the sleeping faces of my children…
But those are too brief. I get scared when something so simple can move me so deeply, I suppose. I immediately start thinking about my list of things that need to be done, afraid to shed a tear, to fully be enveloped by that moment, that split second. I push it aside and deal with the “real” issues of life, like making this deadline (usually self imposed) or paying this bill (to be completely debt free and remain that way) or cleaning this or repairing that.
In retrospect… I’ve spent a good portion of my life fighting unwinnable wars. I was higly politically centered for years. Then, I realized I’d spent literally YEARS of my life playing politics in ways that don’t matter a few weeks, or months later. So, I quit getting involved and fighting the good fight on regional politics, in professional organizations, in local politics and I quit making it my personal mission to make a difference. And, I quit watching the news… it depressed me. I narrowed my scope. And dove deeper into my business, my kids, my farm.
I’ve been too deep in my business. I’ve now proven I can do it. I now know — and can prove to the world — that I can take nothing but determination and unquenched stubbornness and make something real out of it. Something enviable.
But so what? Now that I’ve accomplished that, it means less. Sure, I’m proud, but it’s done. I make better money right now than I ever have. I love my work. I love my clients. I do what I enjoy most. And, last week, I turned down three new clients. Why? Because I want to continue to enjoy my life. I want to work less. According to this year’s taxes… I will probably make more if I work less. Sad, but true.
So, why would I exchange what should be the best years of my life, to work harder to support a government that is knee deep in debt, constantly creating more, making no attempt to unload the debt and merely electing to damn our children with the back-breaking load? I shouldn’t.
A business associate told me this week that he just purchased a motorcycle. And I remembered wanting to buy one for myself years ago. Since that time, I’ve pushed that away, as I gained responsibilities and have children to raise. I told him… “I quit dreaming of a bike when I had the kids, maybe once they are up and don’t need me for food and shelter and guidance, I’ll be willing to risk it and I’ll buy one.” He told me that he was worried about that, but that he felt so free and happy when riding and confided that he’s a Capricorn, and that Capricorns age backward and are sooo responsible in the early years, so they can enjoy the later ones.
I’m a Capricorn too, and I’ve always read that what he said is true. Not being a big follower of astrology, though, I’m never happy that I am where I should be. But, you know, maybe that’s why all the re-evaluation is happening now — and why there is less and less time these days between each bout with this that I endure.
Maybe the universe is telling me it’s time to relax… finally.
So, I’ve met with my retirement professional this week. Before the end of the summer, I’ll meet with a financial planner, a trust attorney and will get a will drawn up. I’ll do what I can to secure the future of my own children — doing my best to ensure that anything other than the worst possible scenario will be survivable for them.
They will have the farm, a way to grow food and keep livestock, a place they can heat with wood heat and a place they can go to escape their own hectic lives. Then, I’ll move forward with my own life, enjoy it a bit more, work a bit less and put more of what I make away for a rainy day.
For now, I’m starting to listen to music again — the kind that makes me sometimes melancholy and forces me to remember moments in my past that I wanted to forget for a long while. You know the songs that remind you of the good times AND the bad times. Soon after I quit watching the news (because it was depressing me and making me feel both helpless and doomed), I weaned myself from music. Caused too much thinking and evaluating. I didn’t want it.
For several years, I dove into movies. It’s easy to escape into movies and my current collection of DVDs tops 1100. So, I’ve been escaping that way for awhile now. I’ve done it enough that I’m ready to slow down. (Thank God I never decided to escape in other, even less healthy, ways!!!)
This morning I slept in. This morning I rediscovered my life. This afternoon, I’m finally able to blog again… about what matters. And it’s flowing, it’s not a chore.
It’s time. It’s past time.
During the last four weekends, I’ve gone back to the farm to look at the life I left there. The “temporary” housing of the trailer was overrun when we left — field mice have destroyed many of the things I held dear. Mold has destroyed much of what remained in tact after the mice came “in from the cold” into the trailer. The cabin is still unfinished. My tiny office still unoccupied. (thankfully the mice and the mold have left them both alone)
And, prior to the magnificence of the blooms on Daffodil hill…. the waste and the loss of “stuff” made me so melancholy that visiting the farm was hard.
Between these losses, and the theft of all my belongings when I was making the move from the city to the farm… I don’t have that many non-essential things left. And yet, it’s given me the urge to purge even more. I’d rather not own so much. Losing it hurts. Not having it doesn’t.
It’s not the stuff that bothers me, it’s the amount of my life it represents. Losing it is a waste of my life — in very tangible terms. And, recognizing that I’ve been living without all of it for over a year now, and haven’t missed much of it at all… well that tells me even more about what a waste of time and energy it was for me to accrue it all. Now, I know that I have my “things” now that I feel I can’t live without, but I’m even looking at those in a new light, with a new perspective. I’m sure I’ll be contemplating this for awhile to come. I think maybe the urge to be a turtle, to pack up in a Bambi Airstream and take off… maybe that was a physical way to get as “unfettered” by things as possible. That would be easier than having to purge everything while I have room to keep it. It’s such a mental discipline. It’s HARD.
A year ago, when I had to leave the farm, I felt like a failure. Total failure.
Then I had to face the health problems that I had, I had to deal with the other issues that are a part of being the mother of children of divorce, and LIFE happened and kept happening … I became overwhelmed. I felt like a failure. I felt like I needed a rubber room and a white jacket with REALLY long arms. Even though the business was finally rocking, the rest of my life seemed merely shaky — with the exception of my husband. He’s as steadfast and rock-solid as they come. He got me through it. I’ve had some tough patches in life, but last year was really hard. I’ve not had to deal with the feeling that I was being betrayed by my body — talk about feeling helpless –that will do it. And a new marriage to boot, with all these new problems. I worried despite his constant reassurances.
And relaxing in bed this morning — refusing to dash out of bed to get something done, making the decision that I’d not finish cleaning out the trailer today (it can wait for a day when I’m not relaxing with my family and enjoying my life) — I realized how much Wayne’s life has changed since he started dating me. Before we married, his life was simple. There was no drama. He lived a fairly calm day-to-day. I asked him if he missed the calm. He pled the fifth. I asked him if it didn’t make him crazy to give up the serenity to join my circus of a life… and he merely smiled and said… “I had peace then, but I didn’t have you. I like my life better now, much better.”
And with that, I made the decision that I’ve been playing with for several days now… I’m turning my life down a few notches on the drama scale. I don’t care if people think I’m selfish, I don’t care if I’m not there for everyone with every single problem that they may have, I don’t care if some things on my list don’t get done.
The facts remain… I have two grandmothers that I want to spend more time with, and since they are both in their 80’s, my time with them is limited. I have a son turning 18 and another that just turned 16 and I need to be available if and when they need me. My “baby” is now 8 and is WAY too sophisticated for most “little girl” things these days and she will be gone before I can blink — I feel this in my bones.
My parents are getting older and calmer and I want to enjoy them more. My husband is a gift that I’m not properly appreciating. I get frustrated and flustered over things that don’t matter and take those that do for granted. I have a sister that’s preparing for her first child and I want to BE there for that… mind and body.
My best friend is planning her wedding and I want to hold her hand through the process
and remind her to enjoy it — every moment. And the best way I can encourage those that mean the most to me, the most I can hope to do is to be more involved, more available and a better example of living life to the fullest.
Yeah, the issues I have with our government will still need to be addressed (and I may work that out here on the blog), I’m still disgusted with the educational system in this country, I still want to do more to promote the online, freelance and independent remote professional industry, I want to serve my clients and do my job…
But it’s time to prioritize it all and recognize the fact that I could leave this earth tomorrow… and I want to be sure I’ve left a good example to my family, my kids and my friends of how to live — not how to rush through life at a breakneck attempt to get to the finish line. I want to enjoy my life more. Now, not later.
I’m 40. It’s time to live.