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When Yana gave me the opportunity to do a column here at Fabulously 40, it was to tap into my love for journalism and center around politics and current events, a timely topic, to be sure. I was inspired today by the column Yana, herself, posted on the seriousness of happiness. I can surely apply that topic to current events as its something we all deal with daily; that quest to feel happy and know purpose in our lives. Yana stressed the importance of attitude. I commented how I so agreed, that we all need to look for the giftwrap around the burdens that tumble through our lives. I decided to paraphrase something I'd written earlier to illustrate that point in my column.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a short piece for an organization called "Doorways" in which I was to offer a life history in twelve hundred words or less. A life history essay in twelve hundred words or less? "How can that be?" I asked myself. Quite a feat for one roaming around these life roads for sixty plus years! I muddled with that until I thought of "Doorways" like the popular game show. Life is a series of opening doors, isn't it?  Each opening, a small history in itself. Wrestling that thought further, I applied the doorway premise to the triune: youth, middle-age, and aged. As in fine wine, of course. Nothing of worth ever gets old! I decided to use a summation technique to compose my article.

Passing through the first two doors of my life, the myriad of rooms behind them, was usual enough. Like everyone, I fell down a lot learning to walk and ride a bike. I learned to share my cookies and milk in Kindergarten, and not to share my gym suit in high school. On cue, all the right hormones kicked in. I loved and lost the boy next door, experienced the joys of right choices, and learned there were consequences for wrong ones. My soul found its mate and nests were feathered. We had two fine sons to make up our brood and embarked on the building of our lives. Some goals were accomplished, others not. Also, typical enough.

I went back to college later in life deciding to hone the skills of writing which was, and yet remains, my passion.  Writing is, also, my best mode for communication, as verbally, I tend to babble. I did well in school, but still the activities of husband, sons, and home took precedence by my own choice. The writing as a career, or simply creating worthy prose of any length remained a dream stored on a back shelf in my mind. Instead, I placated myself with a bit of journalism for local newspapers, and tutoring English for the University I attended.  Time flowed into the next moment. Circles turned.

Door number 'One' opened unto door number 'Two' in ways that are familiar to most. A certain maturity was achieved and new horizons were sought as the nest emptied and the boys went on to explore and open their own doorways. Now, new curiosities needed to be fed, new goals needed to be set. We began to plan our retirement.  

It has been said that into each life some rain must fall. Yet, the occasional thunderstorms do serve to water our life's gardens. I'd had my share of vibrant gardens. Gardens that grew hardy with myriads of colorful experiences among intermittent periods of draught and storm.  But, then, there may just be the infamous big one, the hurricane, brewing in the realms of happenstance, too. Sudden widowhood at age fifty-six slammed my door numbered 'Two' quite shut. Suddenly, I found myself standing, minus my right side, at the threshold of a gaping door numbered 'Three'. I was unwilling, even unable, to enter the room lying beyond. In an instant, my gardens were no longer gently watered, but a huge field of mud.

Wallowing, it's often called, when we simply sit and wonder at the whys and whats of circumstance and resolve to feel sorry for ourselves. I excelled at wallowing. Oh, I worked everyday, put on all the right faces in all the right places, and was lauded for my courage by family and friends. It's amazing the wardrobes with which we adorn ourselves over our tattered underwear. My muddy garden had dried, cracked and brittle, into an internal wasteland I was convinced would never bear flowers again.

An avid lover of Nature, I often use its metaphor in conversation and I received a call from a friend one day. "How are you, really?" he asked. Taken aback, my mask dislodged, I confessed that the high mountain meadows of my life had disintegrated into a desert of despair and I couldn't seem to find the hidden water holes.  This friend, who resided in a Mohave Desert town, paused and chuckled softly. Then he uttered words that were as a cool drink to a parched mind . . . "You know, Sue, the mountains, they fill us up," he said, "but the desert empties us out so that we might fill again. Look closely. You'll see there are beautiful mountains looming on the horizon."

As said, I'd always had a passion for the written word. As a child, I'd proudly hang little poems on the refrigerator door for my mother and the daily journal in my diary was my secret treasure where truths were told.  In high school, I loved English. In college, I eagerly anticipated every Literature or Creative Writing course with vigor. Later, while digesting my friend's simple comment, a ray of sunlight peeked through the windows in the room behind door number 'Three'. Donning a new shawl of resolve, I took the first step inside. I don't believe in coincidence, luck, or random chance. I believe everything that has ever happened to me is a guided point of energy provided by the Creator. How we listen, how we react, and how we choose to deal with each circumstance, determines how we will create our life.

  

I started writing with a vengeance. Every thought, every fear, every resentment, started spilling out on papers and scratch pads. Another secret diary came to life. I began writing poems again; poems that made little or no sense to anyone but me. They made me laugh, so I started playing with humor and satire. Soon, even the grocery list took on the flair of silliness or the philosophy of why to buy leafy greens.

I played with the word processor on the computer and started writing essays. I started going to the Philosophy forums on line, just reading what others had to offer. Occasionally, if a discussion aroused me enough, I'd gather some grit and post my own ideas and opinions. After all, I'd read a bit of Socrates myself! I discovered interaction was what had been lacking in my life. Oh, not the face to face kind, the 'hellos' and 'how are yous'. I deal with the public in my job so there were ample daily greetings. No, it was the thinking kind of interaction. That's what was missing. Having a purpose.

My critically organized room became a maze resembling the back room stacks at the local library. Piles of papers, research results, and lists of Spiritual and Environmental websites were about to engulf me. So I put up on a website of my own. I felt alive and with purpose again. I was writing and sharing, hopefully, helping others.

I'm eight years into the room behind door number 'Three' now. Its walls have hangings of new friends, new places. In the corner bookcase, realized dreams collect in new photo albums. More important it holds the copies of my two published books and a variety of published columns. The windows now have bright yellow curtains of new experiences dressing them. The squirrels line up for breakfast on the back deck, and the raccoons and the possums greet me when I arrive home at night. My two old lazy cats have taken to the new room pretty well, too. The sons visit when they can and I try to make sure they can still breathe in the familiar smell of home fires burning. A cousin came to stay with me a while and taught me to share my cookies and milk again. He shared his good heart and helpful hand with me in return.

Solitude must have balance, I've learned. Too much tends to make you grumpy and self-centered. Though, everyone needs breathing space, too much can shrivel you up and take the joy out of your doorways, keep your walls a drab brown. Remember that if you have a loved one or a neighbor that lives all alone. Share a little of your cookies and milk with them. Oh, my gardens still get a good washout now and then; the occasional thunderstorm still blows through and drops a few limbs in the yard. But the sun always returns. You only have to open the doors. Oh, and invest in a really good raincoat.

May you always have rainbows!
Susan Haley



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