by Laura Crum
Some tough things have happened lately. Both to me and to others I know. I’m not going to pretend. As my friend Funder put it recently (I’m paraphrasing here—hope that’s OK, Funder), I never wanted to be a “sunshine and roses” blogger. Though I do post quite a few photos of sunshine and roses, actually. But sad things do happen, people do behave unkindly when they could just as easily be kind, people respond to honesty with fear…etc. This is part of life, and I don’t choose to live in denial, either in my own mind or in my writing. I try to be honest. With myself and with others. So this includes writing about the negative stuff here on the blog. And have you ever noticed, those negative or controversial posts draw a LOT more response than my happy posts about all that is good in my life?
But…the truth is that I spend most of my time contemplating the good things. It’s a considered choice. I do have a really good life—by my own standards, anyway. I drive an old, beat up pickup that most folks would be ashamed of, I live in a 750 sq foot off-the-grid house that doesn’t include a TV or a dishwasher or many other things that people seem to regard as essential, and I have an ancient flip phone that won’t hold a charge that I use only for emergencies. (It doesn’t even text or take photos—imagine that.) I don’t go on elegant vacations to fancy resorts, or out to see famous musicians perform, or wear expensive clothes on trips to the city, or compete on my horses any more. I tend to avoid parties and big social events of any kind, and after years of avoiding such things, I don’t get invited to them much. It’s true that I have had some sad things happen recently and I am still processing them.
It doesn’t sound like a very glamorous life, does it? Certainly no life for an extrovert. But I still wouldn’t swap places with anyone I know.
Because I have the things I really want, the things I’ve wanted all my life…every single one of them has come true. And this gives me pleasure every day.
I have a husband and son that I love with my whole heart, and four beloved horses who have carried me for many, many miles that live with me. I have some good friends who have been my friends for years and who are like family to me. I can see no other houses from my front porch (very important to me); I live on a small “mini-ranch” that I designed and built (along with my husband) from the ground up. We own it free and clear. I love my barn and corrals and riding ring, my garden, my home, the little guest house, the wild land that surrounds us…everything about our property delights me.
I watch the wild animals that wander through every day, I admire the spring daffodils, and in their time, the big rambling roses (that I planted myself twenty years ago), and gaze at the goldfish in the pond. I turn the horses loose to graze and putter around the property, and take great pleasure in the sun glinting on their coats. We eat food that we have raised ourselves-- every single day. Salad from my husband’s little greenhouse, vegetables from the veggie garden, eggs from our chickens, grass-fed beef from our own pasture. All these things are such a gift—and also the result of carefully considered choices.
Almost every evening I sit on the front porch (or the back porch) with a cocktail in my hand and watch the light die out of the evening sky while my husband plays his wild and wailing highland pipes and the old Scottish music drifts over the ridge. (All you fans of “Outlander,” eat your hearts out—I have the real thing.) Every morning I watch the sun rise, with a cup of hot tea in my hand and a little dog curled up beside me (also two cats and a boy, usually). It’s a good life. And it’s the life I want.
Yes, I am lucky--though very many people wouldn’t want my life. For those who say that they do, well, other than luck, it’s been about choices. Choosing to buy a piece of raw land and live here in an old travel trailer for seven years…because that was the ONLY way I could afford a horse property in this part of the world, and I knew (all my life) that I wanted a horse property. So while my 30ish friends bought houses, I bought a piece of empty land—and developed it as I could afford it (didn’t have a house for seven years, but had a barn the second year I lived here—priorities, you know).
It’s still about choices today. I choose to stay home and live my quiet, private life, with time to watch sunsets and sunrises and have dinner every night with my family and such as that. And what this really amounts to is saying no. No to all the “fun” social things and opportunities and distractions that would have me out and about and doing, rather than home looking at the sky and the wild critters and the blooming plum tree. Saying no isn’t fashionable. We are urged to say “yes” to life. But guess what? It’s saying no that brings time and space to my days. And I am so grateful for that time and space.
So here are some recent glimpses of my life…perhaps you can see why I am filled with gratitude, even when I am sad.
Our house with plum blossoms.
My husband building a trellis for his greenhouse plants.
First tulips of spring on Valentine’s Day 2014—with Tigger.
A cozy place to nap—Shadow and Star.
Henry is about to knock on the back door.
Daffodils on the back porch.
My boy and his little dog.
Sunrise from my front porch.
Early blossom on Westerland rose…. maybe I am a sunshine and roses blogger.
The view from my little yellow horse.
It’s a good life.