Saturday, August 7, 2010


I have been under a lot of stress recently.  Feeling overwhelmed, trapped, stuck, frustrated, incapable, incompetent, and so on.  It all ran the gamut of every negative feeling you could think of.  I woke up sick to my stomach from the worry, and walked around with a lump in my throat.  It's been like gritting my teeth contantly to keep up a happy facade, to just keep going, while my mind has whirled with possible solutions, ideas, ways to work things out.  All underneath that is the thin line of hope and understanding that all will be okay, but it's been only a glimmer.

Sometimes it takes times like this to open our eyes.

When I let go of the worry and take in the world around me, everything is better, clearer, cleaner, brighter.  It was especially nice today that the overcast weather cleared so it was lighter earlier and warmer than it has been so far this cool summer.  When I was working outside, I noticed the fresh smells, the mint and oregano, the oak and bay trees, the wet concrete around the potted plants I watered.  I had a list a mile long of things I wanted to do, but I took this afternoon for me.  I puttered around the house. I read a little.  I watched a few television programs I'd taped.  I petted the dogs, cleaned the pool.  It was a peaceful time and I really enjoyed it.

Becca was with her oldest sister and her husband at the fair and destruction derby, so evening chores, which are normally shared, was just me.  The first time I needed to do those without her, it was a challenge, as the routine is different than in the morning, and there are more goats running around at once than usual.  They are really getting into a good routine, though.  Other than Lily and the bucklings, they really don't wander off anymore - all of them know to run to the barn, where FOOD is waiting.  This makes the evening chores easier.  Even Mr. Moonshine is doing better, not dashing to his mother's milkstand to steal her grain.  Luna helps with that, because they share a lead and she pulls back on him, urging him to just get to the barn, already.

When we spotted the rattlesnake near the house a few weeks ago, a friend suggested that we could sing songs to make plenty of noise to warn rattlesnakes to move out of our way.  I thought that was a good idea, but didn't implement it.  Becca and I don't do a lot of singing on our own, though we do love to sing along with the radio.  One exception to this was a couple weeks ago, when I remembered a song I'd heard as a teen.  It started as I was filling water buckets for the goats, and "There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza" started running through my head.  I was pondering the fun of this song, a duet with a funny ending, when I remembered the "Buffalo Boy" song that my friends Erik and Pete used to sing.  It's a silly song, made even sillier and funnier when one guy is singing the girl's part.  I told Becca I wanted her to hear this, and explained how it was originally performed.  She put up with it for the first verse, and then it started to get funny, and she really enjoyed it.  She did have to stop me after one verse to ask me, "What are chillens?"  "It's slang for children."  "Oh."

Well, tonight, I was in the mood for music.  But I didn't want to play the radio loudly in the house, or turn on Pandora on the Blackberry.  I decided to sing myself.  It was hard to start, even though I was alone.  I haven't really sung much for many years.  I didn't trust that I could do it, and even though it was just me, didn't want to be embarrassed.  I started off cautiously, slowly, softly.  "When you're down and troubled, and you need a helping hand, and nothing, oh nothing is going right."  By the end, I was confident, and wow - this felt good!  I moved on to another, and another.  It was quite an eclectic mix, and I was loving the freedom.  No one was around.  Not only was Becca away, but the advantages to living out in the middle of NOWHERE, where I wouldn't bother anyone or be embarrassed, were so freeing.  The goats must have thought I was nuts, but I didn't care.  I huffed and puffed through while the bucklings jumped and played and tugged on their leads.  As I milked Salsa I had a one-way conversation with her about why there were no songs about goats that I knew of.  I suggested that we should write one, but - well ... Maybe there's a reason there's no songs about goats.

As is always the case, music brings memories, brings people, brings places, to mind.  As I sing, ghosts of memory are at my shoulder.  Some I am so thankful for, so happy to see and remember.  Some I wonder about today, what they are doing, do they ever remember, or was this not as important?  One I have questions for that I think will never be answered.  The writings in a yearbook that I re-read many times and pondered and wondered about, but we never talked about it - and probably never will.  I wonder if they even remember what they wrote in my yearbook; I don't think I remember anything I wrote in anyone else's.  My having that writing in the book hardwires the moment in my brain, and all the unasked questions from 30 years ago.

As I sang, the fears and worries fell away.  I felt stronger.  I felt more alive.  I felt more me.  And I felt such gratitude for the people who helped bring these moments into my life - the people that started this years ago, and the threads keep moving forward, still blessing me.  As is the case when I feel that gratitude, I don't want to leave it unsaid, so to one person I dropped a line after chores were done.  I sat on the front porch in the fading light and quiet, with the cat winding his way around my ankles, and pulled out my Blackberry, because I didn't want to go inside the house and lose the focus.  And I thanked him.  Thank you for the music.  Thank you for the memories.  Thank you for blessing me and being a light in my life.

When I am grateful for what I have, what I have been blessed with, past and present, the world is not as scary for a moment.  It's not as overwhelming.  Small thank-you's said with love and true gratitude help make those small blessings grow.  They give me strength by allowing me to share - to pass along the positive feelings.

So I am grateful tonight.  For my beautiful daughters.  For my wonderful parents.  For siblings.  For my loving, far-flung extended family.  For friends, near and far, past and present.  For ES, BK, CG, JCC, LBH, LDF and more.  Bless you.  You came to mind tonight in a positive way.  And I thank you.


  1. If I was a flashlight, you would have to be a star.

    I loved this article very much. You are an extremely special person, Laura. I was never good enought to you. You never faded. You do so much, and it just seems to be who you are.

    I look forward to the next time we might see each other.

    Till then,
    Lots of love, and respect,
    Bob. :)

  2. Well, I agree with Bob 100%. And, it's not whether or not we have challenges - we all do. The measure of a person is how they respond to their challenges. From my perspective, Laura, you respond with love, beauty and grace. That makes me smile.
    Love always,

  3. Thank you, Bob and Erik. Two of the most inspiring people in my life. What a beautiful way to start a Sunday. You make my heart sing.

    I am looking forward to the next time we can all be together. Make it a beautiful day!