My One Word for 2015: Peace.
Fact: peace is much easier to maintain if everything is going perfectly.
Oh, it's not that bad. It could always be worse. But for a girl who tends to be high-stress and high-anxiety with a bit of low self esteem and depression thrown in for good measure, the first six weeks of this year aren't exactly cultivating peace.
There was the news a few weeks ago that my husband would be going back to working out of town for long periods of time. There was losing one of our horses, completely unexpectedly, while I was on my own with the kids. Now it's becoming clear that my goats, who should have been due to kid in two weeks, are very clearly not bred, meaning no milk for us for at least another five months. Add in my kids' crazy 4-H schedules and volunteering up to four hours a week teaching other people's kids' 4-H projects and, well... not what I'd call a recipe for peace.
Here's what I'm learning: to achieve true peace, it can't be dependent on living a life with no stress or trials. It means finding peace in the trials. And it's not necessarily easy.
So where is my peace?
We lost a horse. I was devastated. I cried. Hard. Every animal that comes here holds a place in my heart - horses and dogs more than any other. I'd never lost either until last week and to be honest, I've been terrified of that moment since we first started bringing home animals. I mean truly, honestly, awake at night what-if-everything terrified. But here's the thing: it happened. We survived. It wasn't pretty - it involved a lot of tears on the shoulders of very kind neighbors. It involved having to call the vet, having to tell the girls and wipe away their tears, having to stand by while they put her down, and having to call the next morning to find someone to dig a grave. It was awful. And we survived. We live on a farm. Animals die, and it sucks, and sometimes you can't do anything to stop it. But what seemed like something that was impossible to handle is something that I no longer have to fear. I don't have to like it. I might still call the neighbors for moral support. But I'll survive. I can sleep at night now knowing my animals are cared for as well as they possibly could be, and that's the best I can do. I don't have to be afraid of losing them anymore.
My goats aren't bred. That means there won't be any baby goats this year, the one event that tops our Top 10 list each New Year's. That also means there will be no milk. No cream. No fresh cheese and butter. For awhile, I was bitterly disappointed. Milking goats is what I do. I love my morning time in the barn in a way I can't describe. I love the satisfaction of the whole process. I love cuddling the babies instead of doing the multitude of other things I ought to be doing. I appreciate the extra bit of cash that selling the kids provides. But having dairy animals is a HUGE responsibility. You are virtually tied to your farm. You have to be there to milk, without fail. And you have to find ways to use that milk. It's rewarding, but it's exhausting. I've since decided that instead of being disappointed, I'll just appreciate the break. We can buy milk for a year. Maybe this will keep me a little more sane when my husband is gone so much. It'll be easier to find someone to watch over our animals for a few days every now and then - maybe this year we can do some of the camping we used to love so much but haven't been able to do. One year without fresh milk is not the end of the world. And at this exact moment, maybe it's even for the better.
4-H is a crazy kind of peace. It's high energy, time consuming, and at times exhausting. But to look at these kids - my own and others - and realize the skills we're helping them to build, offers a different kind of peace. The kind of peace that gives me some hope for the next generation. Hope that all these old-fashioned skills that I've worked so hard to teach myself might be preserved for just awhile longer. It's the kind of peace that comes at night after patiently teaching crochet and cake decorating and spinning wool and canning and sewing - knowing I actually did something worthwhile, might have benefitted some kids in some way. It's not a relax-and-breathe-deeply kind of peace. It's a my-life-has-purpose kind of peace. All peace isn't low-stress, but that doesn't make it any less meaningful.
As for my husband being gone again? That one's not so easy, but I'm working on it. I'm not glad he's gone, but I'm trying really hard to find the good in it. It's great for my character. I've learned to depend on myself, to be stronger than I ever thought I was, to have the courage to ask for help when it's the last thing I want to do. I'm grateful that he has a job at a time when so many in his field are facing lay-offs and pay cuts. I'm grateful that because of that job, we can live in this blessed little community filled with the most wonderful folks on earth. I'm grateful that we have the kind of marriage that can survive this sort of difficulty and, while it isn't always easy, our relationship doesn't seem to get any weaker for the time away. I'm learning to appreciate the quiet evenings spent with my knitting and good books. I'd still rather be with him, but at least I don't dread the evenings anymore.
So... peace? It's there. It doesn't come naturally to me, and it doesn't always come easy. I've already have a few very... umm... un-peaceful moments this year. But I've learned from them. And that's the most any city-girl-turned-farm-girl can ask for, I think.