Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lots To Be Grateful For...Always

                                               by Laura Crum

            Some tough things have happened lately. Both to me and to others I know. I’m not going to pretend. As my friend Funder put it recently (I’m paraphrasing here—hope that’s OK, Funder), I never wanted to be a “sunshine and roses” blogger. Though I do post quite a few photos of sunshine and roses, actually. But sad things do happen, people do behave unkindly when they could just as easily be kind, people respond to honesty with fear…etc. This is part of life, and I don’t choose to live in denial, either in my own mind or in my writing. I try to be honest. With myself and with others. So this includes writing about the negative stuff here on the blog. And have you ever noticed, those negative or controversial posts draw a LOT more response than my happy posts about all that is good in my life?
            But…the truth is that I spend most of my time contemplating the good things. It’s a considered choice. I do have a really good life—by my own standards, anyway. I drive an old, beat up pickup that most folks would be ashamed of, I live in a 750 sq foot off-the-grid house that doesn’t include a TV or a dishwasher or many other things that people seem to regard as essential, and I have an ancient flip phone that won’t hold a charge that I use only for emergencies. (It doesn’t even text or take photos—imagine that.) I don’t go on elegant vacations to fancy resorts, or out to see famous musicians perform, or wear expensive clothes on trips to the city, or compete on my horses any more. I tend to avoid parties and big social events of any kind, and after years of avoiding such things, I don’t get invited to them much. It’s true that I have had some sad things happen recently and I am still processing them.
It doesn’t sound like a very glamorous life, does it? Certainly no life for an extrovert. But I still wouldn’t swap places with anyone I know.
            Because I have the things I really want, the things I’ve wanted all my life…every single one of them has come true. And this gives me pleasure every day.
            I have a husband and son that I love with my whole heart, and four beloved horses who have carried me for many, many miles that live with me. I have some good friends who have been my friends for years and who are like family to me. I can see no other houses from my front porch (very important to me); I live on a small “mini-ranch” that I designed and built (along with my husband) from the ground up. We own it free and clear. I love my barn and corrals and riding ring, my garden, my home, the little guest house, the wild land that surrounds us…everything about our property delights me.
            I watch the wild animals that wander through every day, I admire the spring daffodils, and in their time, the big rambling roses (that I planted myself twenty years ago), and gaze at the goldfish in the pond. I turn the horses loose to graze and putter around the property, and take great pleasure in the sun glinting on their coats. We eat food that we have raised ourselves-- every single day. Salad from my husband’s little greenhouse, vegetables from the veggie garden, eggs from our chickens, grass-fed beef from our own pasture. All these things are such a gift—and also the result of carefully considered choices.
            Almost every evening I sit on the front porch (or the back porch) with a cocktail in my hand and watch the light die out of the evening sky while my husband plays his wild and wailing highland pipes and the old Scottish music drifts over the ridge. (All you fans of “Outlander,” eat your hearts out—I have the real thing.) Every morning I watch the sun rise, with a cup of hot tea in my hand and a little dog curled up beside me (also two cats and a boy, usually). It’s a good life. And it’s the life I want.
            Yes, I am lucky--though very many people wouldn’t want my life. For those who say that they do, well, other than luck, it’s been about choices. Choosing to buy a piece of raw land and live here in an old travel trailer for seven years…because that was the ONLY way I could afford a horse property in this part of the world, and I knew (all my life) that I wanted a horse property. So while my 30ish friends bought houses, I bought a piece of empty land—and developed it as I could afford it (didn’t have a house for seven years, but had a barn the second year I lived here—priorities, you know).
            It’s still about choices today. I choose to stay home and live my quiet, private life, with time to watch sunsets and sunrises and have dinner every night with my family and such as that. And what this really amounts to is saying no. No to all the “fun” social things and opportunities and distractions that would have me out and about and doing, rather than home looking at the sky and the wild critters and the blooming plum tree. Saying no isn’t fashionable. We are urged to say “yes” to life. But guess what?  It’s saying no that brings time and space to my days. And I am so grateful for that time and space.
            So here are some recent glimpses of my life…perhaps you can see why I am filled with gratitude, even when I am sad.

Our house with plum blossoms.

My husband building a trellis for his greenhouse plants.

First tulips of spring on Valentine’s Day 2014—with Tigger.

A cozy place to nap—Shadow and Star.

Henry is about to knock on the back door.

Daffodils on the back porch.

My boy and his little dog.

Sunrise from my front porch.

Early blossom on Westerland rose…. maybe I am a sunshine and roses blogger.

The view from my little yellow horse.

It’s a good life.


Unknown said...

Does life get any better than that?

As I am just starting to toy with the plan to "compete" on a certain level with my horses at the ripe old age of 51, I often ask myself why? It is stressful, and my low grade horses really aren't competition worthy (not the big time anyway)and it is very expensive. So why do I put myself through this? I'm still searching for an answer and so far the best I can come up with is that I was so busy on a road of self destruction I missed out on all the fun stuff when I was younger. So I am making up for it now. Of course I am learning so much and through it, becoming a better rider, so that is a good thing for both me and my horses.

But with that in mind when I read your description of your life, I think that it would be pretty awesome to live a life so simple, and only really spend time with the folks who want to see badly enough to make the drive out to my house.

For now I shall be content to live a vicarious quiet life through you ! :-)

Laura Crum said...

Thank you so much for that comment, Cindy D. Because you bring up something that I really should have said in the post. I am very aware that one of the reasons that I'm content to stay home and be a hermit is that I competed relentlessly for twenty years on my horses. I hauled somewhere virtually every weekend. From my early 20's until I turned 40 I was literally obsessed with training, improving, competing...etc. I absolutely understand that impulse.

I think if I had not spent those years doing so much with my horses, I probably would feel that I wanted to do more now. It's just a guess. I can't know anyone else's path. But I certainly understand what you are saying. I also know that the "hermit" path is not for everyone.

Jan said...

I think your choices and lifestyle are more common than you think. I don't know how old you are but have a rough idea, and I think there are many women in that age group who share your lifestyle.

Maybe it is more common here in the Midwest but I have many friends and acquaintances whose time is occupied with gardening, pets, kids, grandkids, riding, hiking, reading, etc. Not much partying or going out and about. Just enjoying family and hobbies and a quiet, homebody existence.

I know that is what my life looks like. Dogs, cats, and horses are my companions with some husband time, and a few good friends occasionally. That is what makes me content.

When I was younger I worked all over the country, moving up to 6 times a year, and now I'm happy to just stay put and enjoy the quiet life.

I'm sure there are many people who would go stir crazy with our lifestyle, but there are just as many who enjoy it, or long to be able to have it. We are doubly lucky to not only be able to live the life we want to, but we know how good we have it. With age comes aches and pains, but also the wisdom to know how blessed we are.

Jessica @ The Georgia Horse said...

Beautiful post and gorgeous pictures!

Funder said...

I think your "all is well" posts get fewer comments just because there's no conflict? A good story requires conflict, and hearing about someone else's problems brings back to our memories that one time when something similar happened to us. So for better or for worse, people think "omg what a gorgeous rose" and move along. :)

I'm so, so glad you still see the beauty in your wonderful life, my friend :)

Martha Seaman McKee said...

Thank you for the photos of flowers - it's 5 degrees here and snowing. Nice to have a vision of spring. I like the idea of choices - choose the life that nourishes you - then we don't need to judge others. I guess it all boils down to self-confidence, which, certainly in my case, has expanded as I have aged.

Laura Crum said...

Jan--I have definitely noticed that a lot of people my age are drawn to the same lifestyle that I'm living. Some bemoan the fact that they can't/don't live this way, others are just doing it. But I agree with you that it has to do with age. We've reached the "contemplative" stage of life, perhaps?

Jessica--Thank you...and thanks for the comment.

Funder--I know. I almost said, "OF course there's no reason to comment on my pretty-pictures-of -my-life posts." If I want comments, I just write about something with inherent conflict-- exactly as you say. But I really enjoy collecting pretty photos of stuff and talking about my hermitish lifestyle, so I keep on doing it. And yes, I do still find this quiet life incredibly satisfying. But the truth is I did not feel that way (at all) in my 30's, so I have plenty of respect for all of you who are out there "getting her done." That was me, too.

Martha--Like you, I'm more confident in myself now that I'm older. As Jan says, age brings some gifts, along with the aches and pains.

Anonymous said...

I like the "all is well" posts, they make me smile, but I rarely feel the need to say anything about them.

I have a couple of cousins and friends who have devoted as much time to earning money as I have to the horses and farm. They have huge houses, expensive cars and vacations and millions of dollars. I don't think I would like it. I would like your greenhouse better. I guess if you have to feel sad, it wouldn't be a bad place to to it.

Laura Crum said...

redhorse--I have relatives just like that, too. I quite honestly think their big houses are hideous, and I would feel absolutely claustrophobic in their suburban neighborhoods. But I'm perfectly aware that they find my life puzzling verging on repulsive (mud or dust and animal crap and hair everywhere, you know?). As someone else said, to each his own.

I'm never sad in the greenhouse, by the way. It's a very cheerful spot. I'm actually not sad much when I'm at home. It's things that happen in the world of people that get me down...and if I think about those things I can get sad. (And mad, to be truthful.) But when I just focus on what I have here, I'm always pretty happy. (Ok, there are those days when I lose an old animal or such that I'm sad, but it's a healthy sort of sadness.)

I actually don't expect much comment on these "pretty pictures of my life" posts. But I like doing them. I like reading posts from others about the good things in their lives, too. But I agree--I seldom comment.

AareneX said...

I'm a big fan of the "all is well" posts too. People who have nothing but drama are exhausting to read and even more exhausting to know.

Yes, life has drama in it. But I am pretty sure that if a life has *only* drama and heartache for years upon years, then the person living the life has made choices to allow only that stuff. And I have deliberately avoided that kind of choice as much as possible.

Thanks for the sunshine.

Laura Crum said...

Aarene--I agree. People who have constant drama are seeking this--though they may not be able to acknowledge this truth to themselves. And I know a few people like that. I find them exhausting, just as you say.

I think choices are what it comes down to, really. And one of the most important choices (in my view) is choosing to focus on all that you have that makes you happy. That's why I like doing these "sunshine and roses" posts on a regular basis. It helps me keep my focus on what's important to me. And I do love reading other people's similar posts.

You are always an inspiration with your positive attitude toward life. Thanks for the insightful comment. You make me smile.

Martine said...

Life is best viewed through the ears of a little yellow horse :D

Laura Crum said...

Martine--Yes, like Sunny and Flurry. Is Flurry a buckskin?

Anonymous said...

I think you'd call Flurry a buckskin over there. In Ireland/England he's 'dun' in France he's 'Isabelle' The best description is cream with black points.

Laura Crum said...

Yes, we'd call him a buttermilk buckskin. But all buckskins are technically duns, I believe. Buckskin is a western term. For us, duns are the golden horses without the black points, but with the dorsal stripe. Buckskins are the ones with the black points and range from very dark gold (almost chocolate-y) through bright gold to the buttermilk ones. I love buckskins but have never owned one. Sunny is my first palomino--first yellow horse. Most of my previous mounts were bay.