May 3, 2010 by Ellen Stimson in Living With Intention

Funny week. It snowed up here last Wednesday. I mean come on, really Vermont? It was April 27th. At first it was sort of charming. I mean snow on jonquils amidst all that green had a certain appeal. But then it kept coming. No way was it gonna stick, only then it started to, kind of. Pretty soon it was not so quaint. But then the next day the sun came back as it inevitably does. And of course therein lies the lesson.
This weekend it was up around 80 with clear blue skies and luscious warm breezes. We drove over to the dairy barn for fresh milk and met Jellybean, one of the new calves. His mom was very protective. I watched her nose him around her backside so we could only see his tail. I thought a lot about those early years of fierce protection and about the ones that come after….. the letting go and especially the deep breathing of recent weeks around here. We don’t get to pick what happens after they are strong enough to come out on their own. They get to pick. This is my mantra.
I always said we were giving them roots so they could grow wings. Only what if the wings take them places we cannot abide? What then? Surely not my well-loved brood I thought. Someone once said we plan and God laughs.
So I spent this sunny weekend amongst friends saying outrageous things that I maybe don’t even believe. I used a whole bunch of dirty words and people in the restaurant whispered. The next night I had a robust political discussion without rules. Turns out I needed those rules. I really should not be let out into polite society right now. I am out of sorts. Not myself. Some might say I am regressing….all that Grateful Dead might be a sign I suppose.
But I am starting to get it. I am. I looked at that little calf yesterday, sitting next to his mom in an organic field filled with dandelions. (Dandelions are what happen in a May without pesticides. Vermont is filled with a riot of their yellow heads right now and I am plenty grateful) I petted that Mama cow and admired her little guy Jellybean and realized that I have actually learned some stuff. Because what has been happening for a couple of weeks now is that I have been remembering to be happy. Seeing the people I love, petting cows, planting flowers and trending chickens feeds me. Holding hands with my husband and necking on a blanket in the yard can solve just about anything it turns out.
I have re-learned that the worst anxiety comes from thinking we can control the way the world moves. It’s a silly lot to take on. If there is a God, that is surely her work, not mine.
The battle against fear, which is of course at the root of that teensy little, itty bitty actually, hardly worth mentioning really, need of mine to control, does not ever end.
It ebbs and flows, rises and falls, and then takes new and different shapes and forms. It is tricky. I have to pay attention and remember that fear is a geography we must cross.
This is where I love to think of Winston Churchill. I am not big on war or on military analogies in general, but there are points in life when you have to put your feet on the ground, take a deep breath, look into yourself and say, I will simply not be brought down by this. I will not succumb. So instead you take lots of small steps. Every day. Failure and defeat really are like the man said, simply not options.
I wish Jellybean and his mama all the joy they can find for as long as they can find it. Because today after all is all we ever get. And today there are lilacs blooming and sweet heavy cream from the dairy in a pitcher next to the coffeepot. I have people I love and who love me back. It is enough.
It absolutely is.


  • Kate

    When I read your posts lately, all I can think about was the hell I put my parents through in my last year of drinking. And even though they didn't understand it. Even though they didn't want that for me. All the yelling in the hospital and having to have supervised visits with them if they wanted to see me? Well. I never forgot that they loved me. Even on that darkest of days that I wanted to die more than I wanted to live, I knew that I couldn't do that to them. And that gave me that one more second of life to make a phone call that would save my life.

    Not to them, mind you. Because I wanted nothing to do with them, I was so ashamed of myself. But three years later, I'm really glad to report that they never stopped loving me. We've had some frank discussions about boundaries and I've pointed out things that have to change in both myself and them for our relationship to flourish. And it's hard, hard work. But it's a relationship that means the world to me today.

    Hang in there, my friend. Courage.

  • library lady

    You–a control problem? It is to laugh! Maybe you need more potpourri in your diet. I have to say that the control/roots/wings issue has no statute of limitations. Although I'm 62, my mother still wants to come with meto the oncologist!

  • Molls

    Churchill…uh-oh. You are pulling out Churchill?
    That kid better straighten up pretty soon.
    Hang in there sweetie. Some of them, often the best of them, make big messes when they are separating…

  • starrlife

    I know about the snow- can you believe it!I love the spring snow- it last just long enough and this year we need the water! Anyhow- anytime you need a change of scenery, altho yours sounds gorgeous, come on down state and visit. You can swear as much as you like. I thought I was anxious before I had a child. Now I am just afraid…it takes courage, faith and closing your eyes alot!

  • Mighty Morphin' Mama

    Good for you for putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on. And finding joy, when it seems hard to find.
    We have snow right now, it has lasted 3 days and the kids are so sad that they can't play soccer (it is the first week of the season!)
    I AM alive, and well in spite of some difficult stuff going on. My husband's stepfather is in pallative care right now with end stage cancer that wasn't discovered until it was too late.
    So dealing with mourning with my children is taking all my emotional energy. And it seems that other things keep getting piled on top of that. This week was probably the most difficult of my life aside from losing my baby 8 years ago. But I know God is carrying me. And helping me find the joy in my life too. Like the new baby growing in my womb. The shock of my life, but a blessing just the same.
    So yes, we are alive and well. Just haven't opened my computer in 6 weeks!
    Take care E, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • painted maypole

    I am learning, now, to let God do her work. But damn, i want to try to control it! 😉

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