Changes

So, I’ve given up men for money. Who wouldn’t when they realize that 50+ available men are slim pickings? They are either bad news or…..well, there’s a reason they’re single and 50. What I probably need is a dating site for widowers. But, girlfriend doesn’t have time for that right now.

I’ve been hired to work concessions at a park in the county on the weekends I’m not with my kids and what could be better? Besides cleaning a public restroom and picking up trash? Not much. I’ll still get to see my kids and when they aren’t here, I’ll be spending 10-12 hours a weekend getting exercise and being outside. I can read if I want, write if I want, eat snacks…it’s perfect. And my bosses are very nice. Very bend-over-backwards-to-make-this-work nice.

I’m really looking forward to starting the job, the weekend after spring break. I’ve accomplished most of what I wanted out of these free weekends over the past two years and really I need the extra cash. I have huge amounts of debt to pay down, a trip to England to pay for and maybe, just maybe, a dishwasher to buy. Yes. I’m actually considering it again. It’s a matter of saving time. I’ve lived my entire adult life without one. I’ve raised two children without one. I think the time has come to consider this huge expense a worthwhile one again.

I also have to put a new roof on the house which is due for replacement at about the same time Dusty will be applying for college. Naturally. Because that’s how life works. But, right now, I’m not going to worry about that.

Instead, I’ll worry about the little things. Like how my body is starting to break down, bit by bit. The arthritis in one of my big toes has spread into my foot making every step a little painful. I’m ignoring it. How the weird heartburn in my neck might mean I’m having a small heart attack every day but the EKG and blood work say otherwise. How I’m needing my chiropractor and massage therapists (yes, I have more than one) more often than not because one long bout in the garden just about does me in. How I worry about longevity and the lack thereof. How everyone is dying and I could be next. How I just want to live long enough to see my children grow up. How I wish my family wanted to be around my children as much as I do. How I’ll never be able to see out my retirement dream of a small house on a huge piece of land with goats and bees because I’ll be too crippled to do it. How something even more awful, something I can’t even speak about, might happen and send the whole house of cards falling down. So, we won’t even think about it. Deal? Deal.

So, I have one final bachelorette weekend and then a long spring break (mine will be Wed-Tues because that’s just how it is) and then the job will start and my gardening will be fitted in where it I can fit it. I won’t get quite as much sleep as I like but hey, first world, white girl privilege problems, right? I’ve done worse. I’ve always done what needs to be done. So if you’re in the park this summer, stop by and say hi. I can sell you a $1 bottle of water and a $1 candy bar. I’ll keep your bathrooms clean and I’ll pick up the trash you dropped when you missed the trash can. I’ll keep an eye out for scofflaws while I’m doing it. What’s a 52-hour week? Pffft. If it means less debt, a possible dishwasher and a trip to England? Piece of cake.

Eclipse

Today is an eclipse day, apparently, according to my horoscope. Things begin to happen. Things are happening. It’s funny. I got a call about a side hustle I’d interviewed for (I’m all but hired) – something that will bring in a little extra money – and then received my weekly horoscope email. Here’s what it said:

Tuesday’s eclipse speaks to you about where you want to be headed. It asks for adventures. It asks for open roads. It asks to be let out so that it can live out its purpose.

Here’s where I want to be headed: solvency. I have been attending budget/debt seminars at work and spent hours this past weekend working on a budget, looking at where my money’s going and deciding where I want to be in a few years. Travel is where I want to be headed. Debt-free and traveling. New York City this summer. England with Dusty in 2018. Red wants her special “senior year” trip to be San Francisco. So, in order to pay off the giants debts and save for all these adventures, something’s got to happen.

There is a freedom that you may find yourself yearning for. A freedom that you know you can’t find without the balance of your work. A freedom that is shaped by what you are able to commit to. A freedom that informs you about the more pressing components of your work in the world.

The freedom I want is the freedom to have a say in where I want my life go, what I want it to be. I don’t need things any longer. I may go the rest of my life without certain appliances I’ve lived without up to this point. When I move, I’ll move to a smaller place. I want that land, those goats, that quiet oasis. I want my kids to be educated and go off and do the things they want to do. Go where they need to go. So, I’m losing some free time, short-term, in an attempt to make that happen.

Tuesday’s eclipse might have a part of you begging for an escape route, while the rest of you wants to dig into the meat of the moment. It might have you questioning your beliefs about an old habit. It might be asking you to see the hard work you have ahead as an invitation to find your own personal freedom within it.

I seem to be back in the “yes” mode after a couple of years of “no”. I offered to take a spot on the band booster board next year. Because it needs help. I want to help. I’ve come to realize that our individual contributions doesn’t have to be big. It can be small. It can be at ground level, down with the gravel and the grass. Lots of interesting things happen in the grass. Some people are here to do giant things, make huge impacts. But smaller things need attention. I’m here to do lots of small things. So, hopefully I won’t have bitten off too much. Hopefully, I’m not falling back on the old habit of trying to keep all the boats from sinking. If I can juggle three plates rather than twelve, I’m up to the task. I can find a personal freedom in that. I’m not sure what it is but my life’s been a serious of dotted lines. Things lead to other things. Had I never volunteered to do concessions for the band, I never would have applied (and been hired!) to do concessions on weekends for the county. We’ll see how it goes. If it’s terrible, I can quit at the end of the season. The extra money’s nice but I don’t know what I’ll be giving up yet. Apart from time.

Because our freedom stands on the shoulders of everyone who struggled to attain it, this moment is loaded with meaning about what freedom is to you. Because our freedoms should never be taken for granted, this moment is dripping with the duty you may feel to make the most with what you have been given. Because freedom is never guaranteed, the price that was paid to get us free must be paid forward for future generations.

I’m not entirely sure what this last bit is about but I do feel the duty. I am using what I’ve been given. Small talents. Small skills. And my kids will be taking on new roles, too. Jobs, chores, setting them up for their futures. I’ve let them slide a bit lately. The last two years have been an adjustment. We’ve hunkered and lazed. But, at the end of the day, it’s important to know how to wash your clothes, clean the tub, fix a meal, and mop a floor, and feel that sense of small accomplishment. Once those are done, you can leave your cleaner house and walk outside and look up at the stars in the sky and be glad you lived this day. Breathe deep. Small happinesses. It may be all we get.