This is a time in life when many of my women friends are considering what we want to do “next.”

Some of us are single.

Some of us have means; some not so much.

Most of us who are single are trying to understand the ins and outs of “never being able to retire.”

For me, I’d always thought I wanted to engage with some kind of work, even as I aged.

My ex always claimed to like that idea. He used to say he’d retire when I was making as much as he did at whatever time he said that. I’d go teach and dig scientific holes at archy sites and write and he’d stop working and play his guitar. Seemed okay to me at the time.

When these little conversations happened, I really had no idea how sparse the F/T teaching jobs were; I didn’t foresee what would happen with my life in archaeology; I had no idea that a virus would want to have my heart for lunch; and I really didn’t get what was happening in my marriage. I was living in a fine little bubble. A very temporary bubble. A very illusory bubble.

So you should view this fleeting world
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightening in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
~ the Buddha (one translation)

Yeah, that’s about right.

20 Oct 04 028

I’ve been experiencing a shift in my thinking. “Shift” is the right word for it. It’s like the whole framework of my life has just shuddered on down the line.

For a number of years I thought my life was taking a certain course, the course I talked about above. I would settle into some kind of high desert sunset and let the years unroll with Mr. Ex.

What a load of happy horse-shit.

My former partner not only was not at all invested in thoughts like that, he hadn’t been for any number of years.

The emotions attached to all of this have been difficult but, honestly, lately I’ve been feeling more like the financial practicalities are swarming to the forefront. Maybe that’s good.

My finances now are my own. The IRS thing is resolved. I have to repair some of the credit damage that lingers on the files at credit bureaus. I have to make sure that my name is not being used in some of the ways it was in the past by certain individuals. At this point, I suppose that would be identity theft. But, finally, it’s my identity. So, yeah, maybe this kind of stress is good in some ways.

A friend of mine and one of my sons told me when the whole messy process began that I would come out in better shape, even with an income quartered (drawn and quartered?), than I had been in while married. They both made some accurate points. And now at least I don’t have to worry about where that money has gone and listen to stories invented to persuade me.

I am beginning to think longer now, not so short.

While I was going through the divorce, so much of my thinking was short term. How to make it from Point A to Point B. That’s done. My situation now is what it is.

The county and the federal government are helping me with support of my final minor child. In a year and a half that assistance will be gone.

Time to begin composing a new life so that doesn’t smack me upside the head when it arrives.

Considering what is in the academic world, what is in cultural resource management in California, what is directly in front of me, I’m done with the academic climb as a way to provide for myself and my family. Archaeology is, and will always be, a passion. Maybe paid maybe unpaid. I’ve done both. I may continue to do both.

I have a certain level of disability that may or may not improve. Self-care dictates that I need to consider this if I want to be around to help provide for my younger kids and help my older kids and grandkids.


Right now I have no freakin’ idea what I will be doing in a year and a half. I know that I went to the beach with the younger three kids a week ago and enjoyed it. I will teach this week. I may take a trip out to a site in several weeks and do some work, if the cardio doc says okay. We had a farm day last weekend and we will have another before the end of the month.


Now I need to develop a consciousness that will lead me into the future.

I know I need to view my life shifting as a good thing. I need to get myself out there more, out into nature and out “there.” There being wherever it may be at any given time. Right now it’s driving out to Brendan’s soccer practice.

About rainshadowfarm

I teach anthropology, am an archaeologist, a drylands agroecologist, community educator, and a single mother of eight grown kids. I currently own and operate an educational and research farm in the southern Mojave Desert, Rainshadow Farm. I'm 100% West Virginia hillbilly. Not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in disability, family, gratitude, gray divorce, Life changes, Nature, resilience, spiritual ecologies and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to shift

  1. A says:

    I too am in a time of shift and narrow passages and the requirement of conscious self care. It is sobering, particularly as the mother of a daughter who requires total care, 24/7. (Your kids are
    beautiful, BTW.) Sometimes I think the only thing that makes sense is coming back around to a kind of communal living or co-housing model, but to balance that with sufficient solitude and our
    peculiar set of needs is tricky to even envisage, let alone bring into being.

    • rainshadowfarm says:

      A, your solution is exactly what many of my friends and I have come up with. Some kind of co-living situation. I could have written what you did above: the deepest challenge would be to find a way to make it work, given our very individualist enculturation, all, and each person’s need for space. Very tricky, indeed.

  2. And I, too, am in a time of shift and change — even with three children at home. I wake some mornings in a stifled panic, particularly due to finances. I have an uncanny ability to be very, very foolish and block the panic — shove it aside — let light in. My marriage struggles and I have no idea what’s next. I think the best one can be (beyond the obvious) when change is imminent is to be open.

    • rainshadowfarm says:

      Oh Elizabeth, my admiration for you, for what you accomplish with such grace and beauty, under difficult circumstances, is just boundless. I agree about being open. It’s not the easiest thing for me. I have to bring myself back to it again and again. Even then sometimes I just blow it. How could your marriage not struggle under the circumstances? I wish I could give you a hug.

  3. praw27 says:

    Life is always about shifts, transitions, change…just keeping up can be a challenge. I never thought I would be where I am…single, disabled and afraid. My fear? It’s about finances; it’s about my health long-term and who will help me if I need it; and, it’s about filling the hours in my days. I have learned to fill the hours, although all the “alone time” can get overwhelming. The journey has taught me so much about myself, what is really important in life and who I can really trust and count on for what. Different people have different abilities and talents, as I do. The main things I have learned: I NEED little; spontaneity is a good thing; and, life will happen whether I am ready or not, so I might as well go along for the ride, rather that fighting it!

    • Very wise advice. I hear you on all points. If only there were a way for all of us who are separated by distance to physically help one another…For the last three years I’ve been thinking plenty about needs vs. wants. It’s challenging.

      • praw27 says:

        I agree! I wish we could all live closer or in a “community.” Maybe then we could pool our “disabilities” so that we could accomplish “whole” things!

  4. We’re all good at different things. That would be one way to look at it. I’ve gone back and forth with the idea of creating an eco-village, a very small one, but I have no desire to lead such an endeavor. And I usually think I’m too quirky for people other than some of my family members to maintain happily around. Also, there would be major challenges to creating an eco-village in the high desert. It could work but would need serious work.

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