It was quite a year.
This is going to meander around but it will eventually come to a point. Bear with me...
I lived most of my entire adult life in a constant state of work-related stress - getting ready for work - getting the kid(s) to bed so they could be pried out of bed in enough time for me to get to work on time - constantly rechecking the lists in my head whenever I had work-related travel: a. kid related b. animal related c. home related d. work related e. repeat ad infinitum.
How did I ever manage to do EVERYTHING? All the time? By myself? Wow. I lived with constant stress. It does not mean I never had fun or that I did not enjoy my life. I just had a lot of stuff to take care of by myself all of the time.
One particularly low point... the crazy neighbors had finally succeeded in sucking all the joy and sense of accomplishment I had in buying my first home - no co-signer needed. The neighbors to the north would not let their bratty grandchildren play with my son, though they were in the same class at school. The neighbor across the road, incredibly high on post-surgery drugs admitted he had been spying on me since I moved in, with his binoculars. The tenants in the apartment building to the south parked in my driveway and parked in spaces in my backyard, all without my permission. I could not have cars towed from my property according the Topeka Police Department. I first had to send a registered letter to my neighbors instructing them to remove their property from my property - even though they never asked permission to park their junk cars there in the first place. And since I could technically still get out of my driveway, the TPD would not tow the offenders from there either. I backed across the neighbor's front lawn a few times and finally a hefty parking ticket put a stop to most of that. It was awful to not get along with the neighbors.
My son had been diagnosed with ADHD and the school was pressuring me to medicate him, though he was only in 1st grade. He was a very busy child, for sure. My grown daughter was mixed up with a very bad guy - a thief, a manipulator, a liar, and a mooch. So, on top of everything in my family life, I was at war with my own neighborhood. As far as I knew, and as much as I could, I had tried to live in peace and mind my own business but I felt victimized in my own home. That was how I came to be steaming like a lobster in the awesome old clawfoot bathtub one day, about to the end of my rope all the way around. My son was having a fit on the other side of the door, screaming and banging on the door attempting to get the lock to spring. (He knew from experience if he pounded hard and long enough, it would eventually spring, god save me.) Normally, I never allowed myself the luxury of actually feeling the tremendous pressure of my life but for some reason, not even being able to take a ten minute break in the tub was the last straw. I prayed, desperately, right then. "What is your will for me, Creator?"
A voice spoke clearly into my left ear, "It is my will that you raise this child."
That would be the obnoxious little child throwing a spectacularly loud fit on the other side of the door, I assumed.
Not everyone hears from God when they are at the end of their rope, so believe me, I was grateful. Stunned, to be sure. It changed my life. Oh, the neighbors were still the neighbors from HELL - the old granny on the north poisoned both my cat and my dog, I found out after the fact. Raising my son alone was an enormous challenge because I did eventually medicate him, suffering guilt and doubt every single day! I was insulted and treated badly by some of the "best" doctors at Menningers because I dared to question their professional opinion, I guess. Fuck them. I wish I had just saved my son and me the time and torture, and saved those arrogant professional dicks a lot of time by just telling them to fuck off right out of the box. I wish I had told the teachers and principals to fuck off, too. Especially one particularly evil old bitch in USD 501 who taught fifth grade at the Science Magnet school. I thought she was going to succeed in giving my son a nervous breakdown. At semester I took him out of that sham of a magnet school, away from the nastiest old bitch of a teacher on the planet, and took my son off the meds and put him back in the neighborhood school. He did fine. Thank God for those few wonderful teachers along the way. (Beth Edmonds, you are a bright, shining star and my son was blessed to have you two different years!) We made it. Oh my god, it was hard sometimes to know what to do. I did the best I could even though I felt as if I were careening from one death-defying cliff to another. I often had dreams during those years that I was driving a truck at highway speeds but the steering required a tremendous force of will to actually turn the wheel, only narrowly escaping certain death... and to brake I had to stand on the brake pedal and apply pressure with all of my will and all of my strength. I was tired - ALL the time - for YEARS!
But we made it. All of us made it. My daughter got her life lined out in fairly short order after she left the horrible guy in the rear view mirror. Both of my children have earned Masters Degrees. They are gainfully employed and living good lives. I admire both of them very much. I cannot believe that they grew into such a fine adults considering the unprofessional, hit and miss parenting they received.
So, all of that to get to today, this spanking new year, Two Thousand Nineteen. I finally came to the finish line of my working life the third week of January, 2018. I did not officially retire until March 1, but I stopped going to the office in January, using my last paid vacation to transition to a life of leisure. I did not set any goals for the first year, except that if I did not want to do anything, I was not going to do it. I have rested. Napped. Slouched around in my bathrobe for days. (I can tend to the animals while wearing a bathrobe.) I have painted, drawn, slept, read, studied Buddhist books, meditated, visited old friends... but mostly I have stayed home, on my little "farm". I have enjoyed the sunrise from my bedroom window as the seasons changed gradually day by day. I have sat on the front porch in the delicious cool spring mornings with coffee and dogs, positively luxuriating in the absence of the need to go anywhere, let alone get there on time! I can sit in the hay at the barn and listen to my horses picking through their hay, absorbing their calm, contented energy for hours if I want. All they want to do in life is eat and hang out... maybe take a little nap. I sooooooooo get horses!
I am blessed. Mightily blessed. I have a nice little house, a car that is paid for but full of dust, oats and junk I am too lazy to throw away or put away. I have dogs and two horse persons! I have everything a human person could possibly need in this lifetime - well, except for maybe a cat. (I can have a cat if ever have to move to town.) It all worked out. All those long years of grinding to work - all those times of kissing ass because I had to - all those years of honestly doing the best work I could do for my company but letting things go to hell at home - all of it paid off and finally came to a pleasant ending. My mother and father are not here to see it. My mother was too ill to ever come to the farm. She would have loved my little house, I am sure of it.
I honestly do not know what happens to people after they die. Some believe in Heaven (and hell). Some believe they will live normal physical lives in a different dimension. Some believe in reincarnation and the balancing of karmic debt. The ancient Toltecs believed that our life force rises to the beak of a mighty eagle and is utterly consumed and only sorcerers, impeccable practitioners, escape this utter end. I believe I have memory from a past life when I was a young Native American man who was betrayed by his white friends in a tragic, heart-rending murder. I believe I remember being shot in the heart at almost point blank range, the betrayal crushing my spirit as my life force quickly bled from the gaping wound. I am not entirely certain if that is from a past life. It is a strange "memory" that does not fit with the rest of my memories or make any sense. But the emotion of it certainly feels real.
No one has ever come back from the dead to personally tell me not to worry. If I ever needed to hear from a dead person, it was after my father died when I was nine. I never heard from him. So, I do not know what happens when we die. Maybe no one knows. Maybe every single belief system is correct. The infinite universes are certainly big enough to contain an infinite number of possibilities. Maybe nothing happens to us when we die. My paternal grandmother believed we simply cease to exist. I can respect that because it certainly appears that way from this side of the grave. However, on the day of her funeral, off to the side away from everyone, I noticed a clear shaft of light in the bright sunlight and knew it was my grandmother taking her final leave of everyone she had loved so well for so long before being swept into the ultimate mystery.
I think my mother and father know all about my life. I believe that Grandpa, that genuine old cowboy, comes to sit with me sometimes in the cold winter mornings to listen to the horses as they eat their grain. He must have loved the clean air of still winter mornings the same as I do. Never a man who said much in life, he is silent in death but yet I can feel him with me sometimes. And maybe my parents have visited me a time or two. I once stopped on the corner to watch the sunset over the "sacred pond" and recalled fishing with my parents. It was not the fishing I was remembering but the feeling a child has when in the company of both parents. I had that feeling again - a fleeting few moments before it was gone. I think they were there with me, remembering fishing, too.
So, yes, I guess our dead family members must still check up on us, maybe even "drop by" for a little while. Sometimes the Creator answers our prayers. Sometimes we can slog along through life only to look up one day to realize that there was a light at the end of that long tunnel. In my case that light is a tiny little house in the bend of a nameless little creek at the bottom of a long sloping ridge. It is where Wally and Ginger live, the magic horse persons. And where Mattie and Jake live to bark and drive me crazy. It is home, and sometimes my children come here to see me and it is wonderful. I am not a smart woman, but I know when I have a good life!
Many blessings to you and yours in this New Year.
Peace on earth and good will toward some men - from the critters and crazy woman at Spiritcreek!
We are all becoming enlightened down on the farm!!!