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.

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POTENTIAL AND OTHER UNACHIEVABLE IDEAS THAT CAUSE ME TO WHINE (A LOT)

Welcome to my pity party!

Welcome to my pity party!

By Lisa Huddleston

I’m throwing a little pity party, and lucky you are cordially invited. So what’s the problem? Oh just more of the same: feeling as though I don’t fit in any category I can find and knowing that unrealized potential is worse than no potential at all.

Haven’t I written about this stuff before? Sure I have! And that makes my party even more spectacular. Balloons, banners, confetti–the works!

What’s  today’s cause for celebration? Let’s see: a less than stellar grade on an assignment for my Evaluation and Remediation of Reading class, a growing recognition that I am wasting time and money by taking these classes to renew my teaching license because odds are that I will never really teach, and a general sense of failure and despair. Yeah, that covers and smothers it pretty well. (Why yes, that IS a reference to Waffle House’s menu.)

Oh well, what’s a girl to do? Get over herself, I guess.

I did read a wonderful passage from Galatians this morning, chapter 6, verses 4-5, that contains some pretty good words to consider right about now:

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. (The Message)

Who am I? (THE question of the ages.) What is my given work? (Don’t I wish I knew.)  Am I sunk deeply into it? (Probably not–unless that explains that sinking feeling I’ve been experiencing–no.) Am I too impressed with myself? (Sometimes.) Am I too hard on myself by comparing myself with others? (Very likely.) Am I taking responsibility for doing my creative best with my own life? (Ah, God knows I’m trying, but this isn’t a game of horse shoes.)

And as is pretty obvious by my quick and snarky responses to Paul’s deeply probing questions, I still have a lot of work to do. Work that starts on the inside and hopefully works its way out to the world.

Change my heart, Oh God,

Make it ever true.

Change my heart, Oh God,

May I be like You.

Real. Honest. Thinking neither too highly nor too lowly of myself–nor too often. Deep. Hard working. Responsible. Creative.

Okay. The party’s over. Please, turn off the lights on your way out.