A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Philosophy Channeled Through Grief

It seems that I have spent the past few months waiting for doors to open... I grieved not getting to spend my days in the way I had planned for the past three years, running a child-centered daycare program based in my home community where I had worked and served and socialized (as well as lived on the very rural outskirts) since 1990. I also looked at what was opening up for me, and applied for a handful of jobs, taught a GED prep class, and found that the staff of that program and I hit it off. I could look at my resume, my education and background, and realize that I was very talented, but not likely to move to a large, urbanized area populated with employers who would want to snatch me right up. The Golden Ticket hasn't appeared yet.

I found lots of solace in knitting, great joy in getting to hang out with some of my blogland friends in mid-June, and still had to wonder how was I going to make an adequate living or pursue my own work-life passions. I have thought most of my adult life that when one door closes, another opens, and I have tried to stay receptive and open to the fact that the door might look more like a crack in the wall or a hole in the ground, and not turn aside an opportunity simply because it wasn't what I expected or how I perceived myself.

Nothing happened ... at least on the plane where I could notice.

Then, last week, my three adult children came into a crisis that has deeply touched me and made me re-examine what we do and why we live. I wrote about them losing their dear aunt unexpectedly, and lots of you wrote back with love and concern. What I didn't expect was how profound it would be for all of us to ponder what their lives would be without me. My DD is the most emotional, and grabbed me and clung to me in tears when she arrived for the holiday weekend, and I could only promise I would try hard to live a very long time. All three of them had immediately reached out to support their two cousins, also in their twenties... and I could only be thankful that I got to be 39 before losing my own mother. It has been a very sad time around the Camp.

I have been taking greater care in driving (I drive way too much per week, and have to be vigilant not to take the process for granted), have watched my diet and thought about my health, and even started weight training again. I mean it - I will be trying to stick around for them.

I have also thought a lot about the quality of the time I spend working and what it means to the quality of the time that I have left over to give my family and dear friends. I can see that my most important contribution to the world to date has been raising three compassionate, committed individuals who would reach out beyond their own awkwardness to their cousins and value their mother so much; I did something right and something powerful in that.

I have come to the conclusion that I do not want work that will keep me too busy for those I cherish, too overwhelmed to see other needs than my own job, or too tired to care. Many people I know have expressed themselves through their careers and accomplishments, but I have been much happier expressing myself through the love I could give, through being a good wife and mother, a true and loyal friend, and a creative person. Knitting, writing, photography and other passions have been my opportunity to excel in something for pure art's sake, for the simple joy of it.

Where does that leave me in paying my bills, having a nest egg so that I can work less as I age, or being able to help others, travel to meet up with friends, or even buy yarn or a new outfit? That part is still a bit murky, although I was offered additional teaching hours this week, which will kick in by August... as I say, the doors aren't big and looming, but still obscured.

I am sending these thoughts out because I believe we all should be consciously weighing the worth of our lives, while we have the chance. Make it count, in the way that matters to you.


Blogger Jennifer said...

Family and loved ones are the most important part of life. I've found that when I gave up my job to be with my little ones, financially we've had our struggles, but we've always had our needs met. Somehow it all works out. I think we are taken care of when we take care of spirits and our hearts.

7:37 PM  
Blogger SheKnits said...

You put into words, what I cant create into sentences. Thank You.

So much has been going on in my life, sometimes it seems all so insignificant and other times... it's like "WHOA! I think that's gonna mean something HUGE!" Other times.. "Ah, of course!"

I too, after watching my SIL and Best Friend (same person) die of breast cancer... and I myself finding a lump in my breast... (not cancer, Im ok) has really made me re-evaluate the price of my life. Our lives are what we do, what makes us happy. If we aren't happy, what is the point?

I cant explain how often you and I are going through the same thoughts. Perhaps for different reasons... but the same nonetheless.

Have a superb weekend!

8:05 PM  
Blogger Vicki Knitorious said...

We so very narrowly escaped crisis in my family earlier this year, were so consumed and focused and intent on that and nothing else for so long, it has changed us. The dynamics of my entire family has changed -- and continues to change even five months later -- as we each come to terms with the events, our reactions, our fears and hopes and dreams, reality, the past, the present, the future...

An excellent post. Thank you.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Stacie said...

thank you again for your eloquent posts! You have words that move me. I completely understand about the money/happiness factor. Living in a rural community is tough for job oppotunities, I work for minimum wage! Your kids and life are a testament to your right choices in the past, keep up the good work, and thanks again!

8:32 PM  
Blogger margene said...

Success is often equated by dollars earned and how much 'stuff' we have, the car we drive and the house we live in. Success is a life well lived, full of love, joy and the understanding of what is truly important to a person. A good family shows how well your life has been lived.

5:16 AM  
Anonymous Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

You struck a wonderful chord!

6:37 AM  
Blogger KnitNana said...

Margene is so right, the definition of "Success," while different for everyone, should be measured by how well we live, and what we'd have written on our tombstone, not the quality of our bank account.
But when bare necessities can't be met, or are threatened (like decent healthcare), it's hard not to be fearful.
I, too, believe that when one door closes, another opens, but you're right, dear Birdsong, sometimes we don't see the frissure...it's so tiny...till after it yawns open wide, and sometimes we miss it altogether!
Take care of YOU. For YOU. (the others just get you as a side benefit!)*wink*
I'll be thinking on this topic on Nana Sadie's Place, I suspect...thank you for the fodder!

8:59 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

Birdsong, I wish you Health, Happiness & enough $$ to keep the wolf from the door. You've done a wonderful job in raising three thoughtful, loving children - that's something of which to be very proud. So many of the trappings of so-called "success" aren't really necessary for happiness and good health is the most important blessing of all. {{HUGS}}

9:31 AM  
Blogger Carrie K said...

Thoughtful and thought provoking post, Birdsong. Evalulating your life vs what is actually important to you is crucial, but so very hard to do. We're too close to it.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Amazing post, Birdsong!

I know what you mean about working. I often wonder if I should try to have a 'career' instead of a 'job', but I just don't want to be wrapped up in my work like those with 'careers' seem to be.

With my 'job', I walk out the door at night and don't think about work until I return the next day. Work is not an important part of my life (other than paying the bills). Work does not define me.

Thanks for making me think.

10:55 AM  
Blogger The Purloined Letter said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for putting it up.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous caroline said...

Thanks for posting at a difficult time in your life. I echo what the other commenters have said. Can only add my personal thanks since for reasons slightly different than yours I find myself on a similar path, trying to figure out a good livelihood but being able to keep a sane and balanced life, too. Thanks so much for such a thoughtful post, Birdsong. May your path become clearer and easier.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous SpiderWomanKnits said...

Maya Angelou says, "Life takes care of those who dare to live it."

When we live in a society that is constantly trying to turn us from humans to consumers standing your ground for what you believe is the most important thing you can do.It's heroic in fact. And every hero must go through conflict. The fact that you are actively contemplating what you want from your life is the way it should be. I wish more people realized the cards are in their hands.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Lynette said...

Oh, Birdsong. What a jewel of a post. Since having my own little daughter I am suddenly aware of my own mortality and how important it is to me to keep my baby safe, secure and happy. I hope to be around for a long time for her. Thanks for sharing my same thoughts.

6:27 PM  

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