Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Living the dream..

I have found myself thinking about something I hear someone say regularly. These words have been sticking in my mind and I can't help but think about them, turning them over in my mind, again and again, I really feel the need to get the thoughts out.

To the left you can see a picture I took of our sweet little calf, Heracles. This was two months ago so his voice is deeper and he is no longer the size of a black lab. He is bigger than the yearling sheep. He is beautiful. We bred our dairy cow and she delivered him this past March. There is a lot of pride wrapped up in the little guy. We worry about him and hover over him and make sure that he is fed and watered and halter broken and brushed and petted constantly. He is not just well cared for but pretty darn spoiled. He follows my daughter, Veronica, by the sound of her voice. She is his person. He does whatever she wants, he trusts her and her voice.

Veronica, Calf-Whisper Extraordinaire.
We spend a lot of time taking care of the animals we have on this little hobby farm. It is an unbelievable amount of work and we are not well suited to but we do it. Somehow we keep the animals alive. Somehow we manage to keep their babies alive. Somehow we manage despite annual snowfalls as deep as twenty-eight feet, and I am not even kidding about that amount. The Keweenaw is real, guys. Not only do we keep the animals alive, we aren't dead yet either. That is winning, in my book.

Sometimes I go to bed at night and I wonder what we are doing and why. We took a major leap coming here and we didn't really understand what we were doing. Basically, my husband and I looked over a ledge, held hands, and jumped. He quit his white collar job in finance and we sold our remodeled home and offloaded literally half of everything that we own. We had to grow into this work here, and this is serious work people. The visions of sweet animals on pasture is beautiful. The visions of children playing in a farmyard with the animals just steps away is also beautiful. In reality, it is just as beautiful as we imagined but it is also just a lot of reality. I know people dream of raising their children on the land but I doubt their sanity when we are mucking the barn, milking during fly season, or trying to lure sheep out into the open so we can help them. They get into a lot of trouble and not just in the Bible, guys. Seriously.

Sometimes I question our sanity. My husband sacrificed a white collar salary. We sacrificed a lot of urban comforts. We sacrificed our relationships since now my mother, sister, and my best friend who are the people I love most (after my husband) are twenty hours away. Oh, add in the oldest boy who decided after graduation to move to my mom's because Colorado is much awesome. We are crazy. Our life is crazy. Everything is crazy and here we are, in the thick of it. I have days that are just too much sometimes. The other day, actually a really bad day, I was in town at the Walmart because we gotta eat and wash and do things. I asked the checker how he was doing. He often replies the same way.

"Livin' the dream. Not my dream
but I am sure it is somebody's."

This. This is the anthem of my life. But maybe not in the way that you might think immediately. I know that I am living the dream, even when it doesn't feel like dreamy. I think that is what is wrong. When we sit around and dwell on the things that hard or wrong or unfair we forget that this is the price we pay for the dream, even if it isn't your own. I am not pointing fingers and I really like this checker; he is on the short list of people I look for when choosing a lane. It's like this, when I was young and I had several children very closely spaced, there was a time when I was frustrated with my fertility (nobody tell me I have too many kids, that is the fast track to Delete-and-insta-block-ville). I have a dear friend who has never had children. She has been married as long as I have and never had any. So heavy was this burden was for her and I am a better person for knowing her and watching her carry on through it.

When I was up with sick kids and I was so tired that I actually cried, I prayed for her. When I was thrilled at my children's first steps, I prayed for her. When someone would tell me that I have too many kids, I would pray for her. When someone congratulated me on another baby, I prayed for her. I have prayed for her thousands and thousands of times over the intervening years. I always thought about how I was using my burdens for her sake. That in using my struggle, I was blessing her. I should have been thinking how she was blessing me. I have been living the dream for two decades and most of the time I didn't even know it. How many times would she have happily taken on the price I pay to live this dream? Thank God that in my navel gazing I at least prayed for someone other than myself. I should call this friend and tell her that she is a blessing to me because she keeps me from being a totally self-absorbed narcissist. Without her, I cannot imagine who I would be.

Sorry for the electric fence wire; I am too lazy to clone it out.
Behold Jack, hugging Io while Heracles licks his hand.
I think there is a temptation to focus on the cost of the dream and not the dream. We look at what we have to go through and we don't see what our suffering buys for us. With children it is easier, though not easy, to see the endgame. Pregnancy and childbirth and violent and painful and messy. When your baby smiles at you for the first time it is ethereal. The clouds part and the sun shines and the angel chorus rings out. We are actually living the dream but we don't see it because we are focusing on the cost.

Dreams are expensive. We get that, right? Kind of? Don't we all love the film montages with a workout sequence and people rise to the top? Don't we love the movies with the swelling music and David conquering Goliath, but there have to be a couple of serious obstacles so it feels more triumphant? We don't want it to be too easy, we want the characters to have work for it. We want to think that when they succeed, we succeed. We want to believe we are the kind of people who will do whatever it takes, who will make it to the top, who can't be held down. In reality, we are the people who want to Netflix and Chill but have success still come to us. I do this. I know a lot of people who do this.

I am not really sure where my story arc is headed or where the late nights and early mornings and the accidental injuries are headed but it is somewhere. In real life, these sequences don't have a soundtrack with a driving beat and they take a lot longer. There is a culmination here somewhere. I am going to have to see where this all is headed, how it all works out, and then I will know what it all meant. Maybe someday I will have that, "I was born for this!" moment. Then again, maybe I won't. Not all dreams end the same way.


  1. I love this! I've been writing a new post today about feeling terrible that Manny had to work on vehicles for his vacation all week instead of going to New Mexico. Every time I told him I was sorry and felt bad that he didn't go to New Mexico, he would say "Don't be, I'm living the dream. I'm happy to pay this price for the life I have." I love that man so much!

    Thanks for sharing. It's always good to know we are not alone on this crazy journey! ;-)

    1. I started thinking about this after we talked! I'm so glad to not be alone. Knowing you guys are on the same road is so helpful. You'll never know what your family means to ours!

  2. This was so right on. So many of us give up everything to get to that elusive "dream," that we forget there are costs involved. Things are going pretty good right now and I keep waiting for that "other shoe" to drop...you know? But I also know that when we held hands and jumped off our cliff, we prayed and talked and considered a lot before that leap. Has it been easy? No. What we expected? Absolutely not. Are we glad? Some days more than others. But I believe this is where our faith and our journey come in. I'm still hanging on...thanks for voicing what I often feel! You are awesome!!!

  3. This rings so true. I did NOT expect to be where I am today, and sometimes I am bitter about it, but then I look around at the beauty of this messy, complicated life, and I'm so grateful that my selfish plans collapsed on me.

    1. Life is crazy sometimes. It really is. Can I tell you how much I love the your comment, "...grateful that my selfish plans collapsed..."? Because that's the best.

  4. Great post. We are just 4 years into our own experiment and jump. And it also has its ups and downs, but I am really glad that we are - at least - trying something different than the prescribed suburban middleclasseness.


Keep it clean, people. Remember, if you cannot say something nice, say nothing at all.