It is not always easy to know the signs of your own success even if they are overflowing with abundance like the gift of too much zucchini in August. Your own thinking can be the worst critic at times like this. First you start comparing the relative comfort you had in your past to your current, sometimes dire, circumstances. Or you start measuring your own progress against your former partner's and find yourself miles behind, on the side of the road with an old beater car. There is the insidious thinking that follows this line of logic." But I am smart and motivated how the hell did I find myself here?"
Then there are circumstances beyond your control. Actions by others less zen than you create havoc with your well plotted course to financial independence. Jobs fall through. Cars break. Children get sick and you can't get to an important appointment. Childcare arrangements turn into a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. And it seems when all other goodness in the world fails the weather will also be awful, your car gets stuck in the snow, your wood pile proves insufficient to a polar vortex.
It can really wreak havoc on your self esteem. It can really make you want to hide under the blankets and hope a lightening strike puts you out of your misery.
Or it can really make you pay attention to what you do have. Much has been made of gratitude and abundance. Sometimes they can feel like empty feel-good words because it is usually something we only pay attention to if it appears in our Facebook feed. Other times we think of these words when times are really bad and we grasp onto these concepts like some sort of balm against despair. "I am grateful for my health." "I am grateful for the sun." " I am grateful that this horrid day is over."
I'm not an overly spiritual person. I think of karma as an actual real thing we foster by our own actions. If we are kind, if we are hardworking, if we are generous and compassionate, we cultivate those very things in our life and our relationships. And if we do not, well, you follow the logic.
So with this in mind the idea of success, for me, takes on a different meaning than the one we are sold in popular culture. I don't really aspire to fame, glory, multi-million dollar mansions, and high powered careers. That is success with a large "S;" the sort that many folks strive for and a very few achieve. I prefer success with a small "s." It appears as a consequence of the karma we nurture. I was thinking of this last week when the phone call came from Kendall, the alpaca farmer.
Two years ago I was hired to farm sit for him. He had about a dozen alpaca, 3 dogs, a couple of cats and a coop full of laying hens. Later that spring I helped him shear these beautiful creatures. Later that summer I began haying with him for the first time.
It was a trial by hay burn. I was 46. While I was in the best shape I had been in years (thank you separation) I was not prepared for the physical labor of haying. Forty to fifty pound square bales of hay shoot out of the baler. They are stacked first in the hay wagon and then in the barn. There comes this point in the labor when you stop paying attention to all you physically feel and you just fall into the rhythm. The sound of the baler is the metronome for the dance that occurs between the haymakers and the hay. I wore the the small cuts of hay rash with pride and by the end of the summer I had no problem lifting and stacking the hay. The money was really needed at the time. I worked hard for it and Kendall appreciated the effort by calling several times that summer.
I am much busier with my other jobs and I don't always have the time to hay. But I gladly will take the work when and if I am available. This past weekend time and weather conspired for a guest appearance at the alpaca farm. Only this year I had the luxury of partaking of a rural custom. I did not need the money I would earn from haying; which itself is a small sign of success. What I did need was a good amendment for my garden. So yes, I can say I get poop for pay; which in my case creates abundance in my future so that someday I can bestow the gift of too much zucchini on someone else.