SKUNKS AND DOGS

By Lisa Huddleston

I think I am going through an identity crisis! I’ve always scored high on the controlling or “bossy” end of every personality test I’ve ever taken until today. Today I took the Enneagram test and scored as “The Peacemaker” with “The Investigator” and “The Helper” rounding out the top three.

What? Who have I become—or who am I becoming?

Until recently, I would have blown these results off as just being an error, but now I’m not sure. Today I wonder if maybe I have changed. And I don’t think that would be a bad thing.

Dogs gotta be dogs.

As I’ve noted before, I often have to see something multiple times to really get it, and the lesson I’m currently being taught is that I am not in control—not of others’ happiness nor their health nor the world’s condition nor the lifespans of the animals in my neighborhood. I am not in charge.

This weekend the dogs found a skunk’s den near the driveway in the ditch under the iris bed. It is a place in which skunks have built before, and both Chuck and I knew what would happen if we let nature take its course. So Chuck tried to keep the dogs away. Every time the dogs headed down the drive, he would call them back until I finally said, “Are you going to be out here watching them every time they go outside? Because I know I’m not, and if we aren’t, then the dogs are going to dash down there and dig that skunk right out of the ground.”

Chuck looked at me for a few seconds then said, “You know what? You’re right. There’s nothing we can do about it.” And so we just relaxed into the patio chairs and drank our coffee. About 30 minutes or so later, Dottie came running back up the driveway with purpose in her steps. Yes, she had been sprayed right in the face, and she couldn’t wait to share it with us. And, yes, it was upsetting, but it was inevitable. Dogs chase skunks. Skunks spray dogs. And that’s part of what makes the world go round. Could we have stopped it? For a little while, we could have—but not forever. We are not in control! Dog nature and skunk nature ruled that situation, and there was nothing we could do effectively to change that.

And that’s the truth about so much of life. No matter how hard we try, we can’t stop every bad thing from happening. And it shows wisdom to stop trying to control what is not mine to control. Yes, I have my choices to make and for them I will strive to be responsible. But many, if not most, things do not really fall into that category. And just maybe I am finally learning to make peace with that.

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HAPPILY EVER AFTER

By Lisa Huddleston

When I was a young girl, my best friend, Marilyn, and I used to sit with crayons and notebook paper and map out a future we called, “Castle in the Clouds.” In that castle, I had a husband who loved me, children (at least 3), dogs, and a sweet homey house. I didn’t plan for riches or great adventures or notable discoveries. I wanted a simple, quiet life. And I got it all, and I lived happily ever after.

Swoosh! Just like that. I met my husband-to-be in high school, started dating him in college, and we married a year into his medical school training. A month after his first paycheck in residency, I was happily expecting baby number one, and numbers 2, 3, and 4 followed like a string of daisies–with number 2 sadly ending unexpectedly in a miscarriage. Despite that heartbreaking disappointment, most things went according to plan. Of course, we had all the typical struggles, but we lived a very happy and very good life. And it flew by faster than I ever could have dreamt.

The only problem I have with all of this is that my plans were very short-sighted. I never considered what the “happily ever after” would contain. In some ways, that makes this time of my life unhindered. I am free to create whatever I choose (short of being young and starting all over.) In many ways, that is wonderful, and I know it seems so to those who are just beginning their journeys and are longing for a day off. But in other ways, it is frightening. What does one do when all her dreams have come true?

She may have to find new dreams, build new castles in new clouds. Oddly enough that seems to have brought me back to parts of myself that were present in the little girl with the crayons, but they never made it on to the paper. Things that I could and still can do all on my own. Like writing things and making things and loving things like dogs and cats and goats! Quiet things that will not make headlines nor win awards, but will still bring joy to my heart and populate my cloud-filled dreams.

Many days I am filled with fear at even the idea of trying to make these dreams come true. What if I can’t protect my goats from coyotes or dogs–even my own dogs? What if I never will be able to learn how to warp properly that creaky floor loom I bought second-hand from a woman who taught herself how to use it (no pressure)? What if my writings never speak truth to another soul and remain forever unnoticed? What if my old dreams were for young dreamers only? I really do struggle to the point of going days even weeks without making even a tiny step forward.

Then there are days and weeks when something nudges me like an elbow in the ribs–it may be Hope but it just may as easily be Despair. I watch three “How to Warp” youTube videos that remind me that people have been weaving their own fabric for centuries. Chuck and I settle on the fence we want for the goats who will be coming as soon as they are weaned–and, yes, people have kept goats for centuries. And I sit down to write a blog post that will be read by at least a few others who will be women my age who are trying to live in the “happily ever after” days of their lives, too.