Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The joy of not knowing the future

Fall walks invite contemplation, don't you agree? The golden light, crisp air and all the beauty of nature are helping me to find a mental clarity that I've been missing all summer. 
I used to say that I can't meditate, but that's actually not true. I'm not a fan of sitting cross legged in a room with my eyes closed, trying to empty my mind. Closed rooms are not my natural habitat, they make me antsy after a while; being outside in nature is. It's where I do my best thinking, my best relaxing, and, as it turns out, my best meditating. 
I've been thinking a lot about how quickly life can change. No matter how well we plan ahead, no matter how prepared we think we are, life has a way of surprising us.
There is no way to avoid it; the best tactic is to embrace it as much as possible.

Thinking back just over the last 2 years I can't help but marvel at how everything has fallen into place. Rich and I always have a rough idea about our future, but we have no clear idea about the time line or how exactly we will make it happen. At some point, opportunity presents itself, and all we have to do is make the decision whether we want to take it or not.

Before we moved to our dream place 2 years ago we had about 6 months of bad luck. Two of our dogs died within weeks of each other, which resulted in a coyote sneaking onto our farm (the guard dog was gone) and killing close to a hundred chickens. Spring was particularly cold and rainy that year, which put us both in a bad mood. I had trouble adjusting to changes at work, while Rich had problems getting work, aside from one high-stress and complicated contract that gave him sleepless nights.
We were plucking along, because what else can you do? But we were both on edge, hoping our luck would change soon, yet clueless about how to make it happen. Little did we know that within weeks, our lives would change completely.
We had planned all along that one day we would move to a more rural setting. When that one day would arrive we had no idea - we figured we would know when the time is right.

Crazily enough, that's exactly what happened.
In June of 2016 we didn't know yet that we would celebrate Christmas in the house of our dreams. But everything lined up: the real estate market, our personal and professional situations, our mutual determination to stop dreaming and start doing.
The time between June and Christmas was completely insane, but it was so worth it. We love our new home.

Last year around this time Rich became sick. I am very glad that we didn't know beforehand how bad it would get, because I don't think we could have handled it. As it were we just took it day by day, because what else could we do? His turnaround point was the winter solstice, which not only brought more light into every day, but into our lives as well.
At the beginning of this year I had a hard time anticipating what to expect. On one hand, I had a sick husband at home, a farm to take care of and a job that I love but that can be demanding
On the other hand, my biggest dream was about to come true, and I should feel really excited and happy about that.
What happened was far beyond what I ever thought would happen.
I burnt out. 
In the spring of this year, when it was clear that Rich was really out of the woods and I didn't have to solely shoulder the responsibility for our lives anymore, I fell into a depression that lasted longer than any episodes I've had since I started taking antidepressants in 2012.
I still did what I always do: be cheerful and upbeat at work, which wasn't an act because I enjoy being there. But as soon as I arrived home, I would crawl under the covers, desperately wanting to escape reality by napping, reading, or watching Netflix.

I would dip in and out of the fog, trying to pull it together for the frequent guests we had at our place, or to enjoy the truly magical time I had with my sister when she was here for a visit.
But the truth is: I felt really unbalanced. I cried more in the summer of 2018 than I did while Rich was at the worst of his illness, and I couldn't bring myself to do the simple things I knew would give me joy: going for walks, doing yoga, being alone with my thoughts. 
Kate Spade's suicide shook me deeply, inspiring me to write this post. But when, just days later, Anthony Bourdain did the same, it scared the fricking daylights out of me.
Because, even though I was as dumbfounded at his seemingly out-of-nowhere suicide as the rest of the world was - a very small, tiny part of me - understood.
I have never been suicidal, but I was messed up enough to see how this last, desperate step would make sense to a sick - or very desperate - person.

Good thing I didn't see that coming while sipping champagne on New Year's Eve!

The truth is: I felt like my big dream failed. I had staked so much on that year, had so many expectations about my book, was secretly harboring fantasies about it becoming a huge hit, when in reality - it happened, and not many people noticed.

I'm really conflicted about sharing this, because I don't want to come across as ungrateful. On the contrary, so many people have been exceedingly kind to me during that process, and as long as I focus on them, it has been truly amazing.
But as soon as I play the numbers- and comparison-game, I feel woefully inadequate.

Anyway.

I was pretty messed up this year, which probably explains why I did a completely uncharacteristic move in July: I accepted a job that would take me away from home 50% of the time.
And you know what?
It's the best thing I could have done. 

It's been grounding me, chased away my depression, has been helping me to find my way back to myself, and I'm finally feeling like myself again.
If you would have told me on New Year's Eve that, 8 months later, I would leave my home half the time to work somewhere else, I would not have believed you.

But it's exactly what I needed.

For the first time in my adult life, I live by myself (part-time). And I really enjoy it! Sure, I miss my husband and the farm, and on the last day I count every minute before I race out of there, booking it home as fast as I can -  but you know what? That's also part of the attraction. It's nice to lie in bed and miss your man. It's incredible to wake up to a day with no other responsibilities than yourself (and your little dog).
I could have never foreseen this, planned for it, or in any way be prepared for this (to us) very strange development.
But I love it. And I'm excited to do something that I could never have predicted 4 months ago.

Helen Keller said it best:

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all."  

It's amazing to see where life leads you when you let it. I'm excited to find out what the future holds in store!

xoxo Miriam



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8 comments

  1. It has been 2 years already? How is the she shed? All decorated? I am sorry you have such a dark summer. But I am grateful that you are out of the shadows once again.

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    1. I'm feeling tons better, and I have learnt a lot while I was going through that. It's all good!

      And yes, the She Shed is done and it's even more beautiful than I hoped for!
      I shared some photos of it in this post: http://www.farmgirlmiriam.ca/2018/09/she-shed-tour.html

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  2. I love this quote by Helen Keller - 100% agree! I admire that you have continued on so strong and positively after everything you (and the hub) have been through. I think it's an awesome testament to your character and what you are capable of, and I love following along on your journey! I love, love, loved your book and continue to love your blog. Who gives a flying fudge about numbers? Keep smiling, Miriam! I think the rest of this year and 2019 are going to be great for you :)

    xoxo

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    1. And for you, too Sam! You will be a certified yoga teacher, probably a published author(!!!), and who knows what other surprises life has on store for us!
      Thank you so very much for your kind words. You are such a generous and loving woman, I feel honored to call you my friend ❤

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  3. Thanks so much for sharing this. There are ups and downs and sometimes they get mixed together in a way that one shadows the other. (i.e., The book is out but the numbers aren't want you wanted. I know that burns, but remember that life is long. It didn't happen overnight yet, but that doesn't mean that it won't.) I agree that taking time away from your partner can be really powerful... I really enjoy my solo trips and alone time even though I really love my boyfriend. People don't get why I leave so often and how he "lets" me. I think they should try it sometime and see how it goes! :) In any case, I wish you all the best in closing this year strong and starting fresh in 2019. Keep up the beautiful work.

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    1. Dear Nova, thank you so much for saying that! "Life is long" - that's so true. I tend to see it more from a "life is short" perspective, but that's not always true. Damn that instant gratification-culture that makes us believe we have to get everything we want right.this.minute.
      Thanks for the beautiful reminder and your support!

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  4. Thank you so much for writing this. It's such a good reminder that we never know what's coming our way. The Mr and I are definitely in that "limbo" phase right now where we know we're not in our forever home, but we have no idea how to get there. So... as you said, what else can we do? We're taking it day by day, and just waiting for Opportunity to come knocking so we can answer the door.

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    1. She will knock on your day - opportunity always comes when we hustle, and you're a hustler. I'm glad you're ready for her when she does!

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