How is it possible to appreciate the struggle? Just when you think you’ve had about enough from the department of “Life Lessons” is right when another lesson blossoms forth, like a seed that has lain dormant all winter. Just when you throw your hands up in the air or cry yet another bitter tear to let go of something, maybe a deeply held dream, hope springs eternal. Always.
I am no stranger to self-reflection and introspection. As a Sagittarius, I am hard-wired to seek truth in all its forms. I look for signs from the divine in the mundane. I am a deeply spiritual person. I pray. I breathe. I meditate. I appreciate and am grateful for my life every day. I have always found something to smile about, even in the darkest times. I have surrendered to the Universe and its plan for me. I have worked to manifest abundance, and I practice daily gratitude (and yoga!!).
But even for me, there is always a deeper lesson to learn, like an onion, layer upon layer. The most recent one came from the sea.
Lessons from the Sea
It really shouldn’t surprise me. My husband, Roberto and I have always had our best talks by the ocean. Something about its endlessness, and eternal ebb and flow sparks in us the realization of endless possibilities. The energy of the sea helps us to break out of our current patterns and find a new way, and it has lead us down many paths in the past that are ultimately true to who we are.
We knew that moving to a place near the sea would allow for more of these opportunities – time to reflect and time to develop new ideas and plans. (If you want to read more about WHY we moved to the island of Sardinia, click here ).
We Are Provided For
Maybe you think it’s crazy to appreciate struggle. I did too. After two years of tough life lessons, when I thought I had been stripped to my core, I became angry and frustrated that things weren’t moving in a more positive direction as fast as I had hoped. “Can’t we just be done with this?!” I would often yell to no one in particular.
Yes, we were finally here, in Sardinia by some miracle, but how were we going to survive, let alone thrive? Our savings, from selling all of our personal belongings in Vermont were quickly dwindling. Our house did not sell, and we lost it to the bank. Everything has been done on a hope and a promise for so long now and everything fixed at the last minute with a band-aid, that I was craving some solid answers. I wanted a concrete turnaround – after 2 years of searching and hundreds of job applications later, a long-term gig for either myself or Roberto, being at the top of my list.
I should have just remembered all the times I had lost hope in the past, that it was just at that moment that a barrier broke, and things began to flow in the right direction. In my experience, it is not something you can MAKE happen. It just does.
This is a tough lesson for someone like me who in the past was all about “getting shit done”, and creating her own world; this magician, this planner, this person that likes to have all her ducks in a row, but not all of her eggs in one basket. Well, guess what? Life isn’t like that. At least mine isn’t anymore. What I learned from the sea is that we are always provided for, if we know where to look and when we adapt our expectations.
Some of you reading this might disagree, and I am not suggesting that you don’t reach for the stars and follow your dreams. I am suggesting that sometimes your dreams are in plain sight if only you can see them. On Saturdays, we like to do a family outing. Here it is easy to go to the beach. There were some big windstorms earlier in the week (if you want to read more about the big winds in the north of Sardinia, click here). We had no idea the gifts we would find washed up on the shore.
Abundance: Gifts from the Sea
First, there was a motherload of driftwood, which we could use as firewood. The apartment we are renting has only one source of heat – the fireplace in the kitchen. Since we are still in transient housing, this place like so many others on Sardinia is not really set up to accommodate winter residents. So we have spent a lot of the past few weeks with coats and hats on in the house. Although I love the fireplace, it doesn’t heat a home (especially one with 3 feet thick walls and a bedroom facing north), and of course, you need wood to burn.
Our neighbors have been gifting us with big tree roots from a property they are clearing to burn, but we were out of kindling. Thank you for the provisions, Mediterranean Sea!
Second, we found new toys for the kids. They have been getting bored with their toys lately. My daughter, Alba who is 4 has an amazing imagination, and she has been pretending to make gelato for about a week now. She uses Legos to build the cones and passes them out to all of us for a treat. Well, lo and behold, 2 plastic toy ice cream cones washed up onshore. So did a bunch of beach toys, and a boogie board.
It was like Christmas morning. The kids were screaming and running around in their excitement. My daughter also loves to pretend like she is foraging for berries, and other fruits, in the wild, so being able to forage for tangible things was literally the best fun she’s had in weeks. Her joy was infectious to us all.
The Greatest Gift
But one of the greatest gifts given was the memory of that day that we will hold in our hearts for years to come, a reminder that the simple things are sometimes the greatest joys in life.
The other great gift was the reminder that we are provided for. It might not come packaged in the way we hoped or imagined (however sometimes it does, like my daughter’s toy ice cream cones), it might not even be the WHOLE package, but it is enough, for now. Despite it all, we have always had a roof over our heads, food on the table, and time to be with our little family, and isn’t that what life is all about?
I love the word resilience; in fact, it has become one of my favorites. It evokes something powerful in me that I have begun to embrace with my entire being. It speaks to something that is uniquely me. It is not rigid, like “strong” or “tough” can sometimes be, and it doesn’t have the same go with the flow feel of “adaptable”, a word that I also love, and often use to describe myself.
Resilience speaks of tenacity and grit, and never giving up. It is about preserving your dreams, and bundling that hopeful energy into a little ball in the pit of your stomach, that no one can ever touch, and no situation can chip away at. It is how you keep hope alive.
Then, once that ball is safe inside you, you wait out the storm, while holding onto yourself, your beliefs, and your values. You don’t have to give up anything. Then, when the time is right, you let it out to do what it must.
Powerful Words: Modern Peasant, Hearth Keeper, Matriarch
Some of you who follow me on Instagram may notice that I’ve been using the hashtag #modernpeasant frequently. I am feeling that vibe right now, sinking into the meaning of it, how it empowers me. I love the strength that it provides to my daily life. Using that phrase to describe certain actions in my daily life is part of my embracing the moment where we are right now.
It is far from perfect, and yes, I often feel frustrated, angry, or depressed, sometimes all three. It is hard to appreciate struggle when the lesson presents itself.
But I feel stronger in my foundation now. I know who I am. I know these experiences are honing me like a sharp blade to understand what I truly want out of this life; for myself, my family, and especially my children.
I treasure simplicity, and a close relationship with nature and her cycles. We wanted to build a simple self-sufficient life when we had our homestead in Vermont. However, at that time things were very different, as we had many more resources at our disposal. This time is about finding a way when there is nothing. I talk a lot about matriarchy and building a legacy. These are roles and actions that I truly value as a mother, wife, and woman.
When I see how simple things, like foraging for goodies and having a picnic make my family so happy, I know this is an attitude and way of life that must continue, even when things are more stable for us as a family. This time of struggle has allowed me to tap into all of those passions at an even deeper level, and to realize it has no limits, even when there are very heavy limits on my resources.
We Are Always Provided For
I know there are a lot of people out there going through hard times, and that we are not alone in our struggles. It is especially hard for those of us in our 40’s who have lost their former careers and livelihoods and have to build ourselves up again from the bottom.
So I invite you to believe the sentence “we are always provided for”, and to see the truth in it, even if that truth is not always what we hoped, or quite up to par, but something. It is enough for now. Life is full of opportunity, and for now, I am going to go easier on the planning and let my life flow. Instead of trying to forge a direction, I let the opportunities guide me and my path, and I surrender to the trust that things will work out. In the meantime, I hold onto hope and have fun and learn from the lessons being provided, even though I am sick to death of lessons.
Lately, I have been getting orders for my needle-felted creations on Etsy. The illustrated historical fantasy novel, Dreams of Ydalir, we are working on has reached over $280 /per issue, allowing us to produce it, finally. I also got a project working on an Italian food magazine through the recommendation of a friend. None of this is immediate money, or enough to pay all the bills, but it is something, a start, and it is all things we love to do. This leads us in a direction we hadn’t planned on going, but one that will ultimately fulfill us more than the other directions ever could.
I will finish this post by quoting my wise husband, my rock:
“one of the best aspects of these past few months is finding the endless limits of our adaptability and ingenuity. Literally, making something out of nothing.”Roberto
I am so grateful that my partner in this crazy life is on the same page with how to handle life’s ups and downs, and who enjoys solving problems as much as I do.
What have tough times made you realize about yourself? What words do you use to describe yourself? Are they accurate? Do they empower you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, or on Facebook or Instagram.