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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RE-TIRING FOR NEW ROADS AHEAD

Re-tiring.

Re-tiring.

By Lisa Huddleston

It used to be when someone would ask Chuck when he planned to retire it irked me a little, and I would think, “Wow, we’re not that old–not for a very, very long time!” But just recently I have begun to countdown to when that day will finally arrive.

Truth is, I have already retired since my career as a homeschool teacher ended when my last student graduated from high school in 2010. But Chuck is still plugging away having just been recognized for 20 years of service in the VA medical system and looking forward to adding a new role as a faculty member in a brand new Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program.

Thumbs up!

Thumbs up!

Although his career is still expanding, you can’t blame us for looking forward to his spending more time at home–not to sit and sour, but to get moving on some of the new roads we are planning to travel. Roads that lead us into exciting adventures with chickens and goats or sheep or alpacas and studios for spinning wheels and looms and shops for woodworking and … oh yeah, there’s an exciting road just ahead, and we need to be re-tired to get going.

So now I’m not insulted when people ask when we will retire. It is tantalizingly close–almost within reach–and I can’t wait to see where the journey will lead us on those re-tires!