Thursday, July 19, 2012

Success or Failure?

I LOVE my life.  I HATE my life.  Those are both equally true statements that take turns bobbing up and down in the surface of my thoughts.  Like the log above, am I dead and on my way to being turned into ashes, or beginning to grow again and simply looking for fertile soil and a bit of rain.  And by the way, rain is plentiful here.

 I am 1/2 as old as both of my mother's grandmothers lived to be.  I'd say that qualifies as middle add in my family.  In two months, the youngest of my children moves out and 400 miles away to go to college, and my home becomes much quieter.  It is already much quieter than in most previous summers.

I have been so successful, I tell myself on the good days.  I have been married for nearly 30 years to a man I still love and respect and who is my best friend.
I have adopted one beautiful baby and given birth to another, and watched both grow up into fine, wonderful young men.
I have gone to college and taught special ed. for ten years, and substitute taught for 13 years while raising  my family.  The students I have worked with, I have helped more than hurt, and taught them with love and respect.
I have travelled to Guatemala and Europe and gone to school in Beijing, China.  I have taken my family to Disneyland, Yellowstone and the Mississippi river.
I have a house on two acres of green wonderland where the boys played in the trees and dig in the mud and rode bikes through the kitchen and laughed a lot.  In 16 years I have never been late on a house payment or a utility.
I have a Mom and two brothers and numerous cousins and I have managed to stay in at least annual contact with them, and still love them very much.  I have some of the best fiends in the world.
I have written and published 3 books and seen my students love them and beg for more.  

I have been a success.

Or Not?

 What looks beautiful and solid and valuable on one day, becomes full of thorns and poison on another.  The only difference is my attitude.
 I raise two kids and they worry me all the time and they are going away and I will miss them horribly and be worthless without them.  I failed to give them the financial freedom I should have them set up with, and they were babied so much because I loved taking care of them that I failed to make them learn to cook, and do car maintenance, and balance a budget.
    I taught for 23 years and I still have too much credit card debt and no savings and making it until that next September 30 payday looks impossible, even without considering college costs.  i have students who loved me, and co-workers who loved me, but I also had that one administrator who told me and everyone else in multiple memos that I was a failure.  Those memos will never go away.  Grrr.
    My Mom may have health issues turning scary and I an't even afford to go visit her this summer even though I have not been there in 2 years.
     My house would never appraise for what I still owe on it but it is too big for us, and winters in it are miserably cold, and it hasn't been painted or re-roofed in the 16 years we've been here and it had termites when we bought it so some window sills are more potting soil than wood.
     WHO NEEDS MORE BOOKS?  There are more books in the world than anyone can ever read anyway.

And there you have it.  The voices in my head that talk to me from one day to the next.

 A writer always has voices in her head, usually the voices of the characters we make up.  I know that really, I am surviving and doing better than I deserve and having way more than I earned and loving my life.  BUT I can't help wanting more, I'd love to be able to buy toilet paper without wondering if that means we might have to run short on laundry soap this week.

I am not exactly religious, and think I'd love to believe in god way more than I actually do believe in him/her.  Yet I do have a strange faith that I am being taken care of.  I know that every time I need something, I get it, but every time I find a surplus it vanishes.  Can you believe in the manna for a day provisions, without believing in a God who provides it?

It is a beautiful world, when you open your eyes looking for beauty.  It is scary and dark when you go looking for that.  I don't know, in the end, how other people will judge me

but there have been moments when I have held a loved one close and known that if the rest of my life were horrible, it would all be worth it anyway,
Moments I held my baby brother (who has Down's Syndrome) or played with my other brother, who loved my stories.  Moments I held each of my sons and made them laugh.  Moments with my husband.

I don't know the final judgement on my success, and I hope that I live long and have many more successful moments.  But if this is all I get.  It was enough for me.