My Life is an Embarrassment of Riches

I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past day or two, and it has been a rather eye-opening experience.  (Yes, that is all of the smoke you have been seeing—my brain is smokin 😉 While I have known what I am about to tell you for a while, today I am feeling it all very intensely.  Sometimes it takes a while for important tidbits of information to make the long trek from my head all the way down to my heart.   As much as I am a true “feeler,” I am also highly intellectual, so I can intellectualize a lot of things for years before I actually feel, believe, and know them at the heart level.  I am having a full heart day today.

Today, I am feeling absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude, and love, and pure joy that is simply bubbling out all over the place.  I have the best life in the whole, wide, world.  I know that sounds rather cocky, but it is true.  For me, I have the best life I have ever had.  I am the most blessed person that I know, and I am also the most blessed woman alive today.  Again, I am fully aware of the cockiness of these statements, but for me, they are so inherently true that I literally ache inside with happiness and joy.

Look at that glorious sunrise! Look at those than less than stellar picture-taking skills!

I got out of prison, after a six month stay, on September 15, 2011, so it has been a little over a year now since my release.  While it became very apparent to me while I was in prison that the reason I had to go there had little to do with me, but something much greater that God had in mind, there was still a lot of fear and trepidation coming out of the prison doors.  On one hand I firmly knew that the rest of my life was going to be the very best of my life, and that was very exciting.  Over on the other hand, though, there was a lot of trembling going on.  I was walking out to a child and a car that I could not drive yet and a bag of clothing.

I had a place to stay with some lovely people, but I was technically homeless and penniless.  I was also walking out into the middle of a very yucky divorce and custody battle.  That was a very scary place to be.  I was not especially helpful to open the trunk of my car to get into some non-prison clothing only to find that mice had taken up residence in my car over the time I was away, and much of my clothing was ruined.  I have never cared for mice and this did nothing to change my opinion of them, I can tell you.  I craved a place to call home, but how would that happen?

I will tell you how that happened.  My adult children, anticipating my need, all pitched in and suddenly I was far from penniless.  I had enough money to find a place to live and to get some essentials, to boot.  No mother wants to take money from their adult children, but I knew that this was something that they wanted to do for me badly and it was my job to humble myself enough to accept their gifts.  Before I had even been out of prison a week, I had secured the perfect place for my son and I to live, with landlords that have been nothing but kind to me, even knowing my background fully.

Home!!

I realized this morning, as I prepare to sign the lease for another year, that we have been here now for a little over a year, with another year in front of us.  That is the longest we have lived in any one place since we left my marriage, and the house of horrors.  Do you know how good that feels—to have a home?  It feels absolutely wonderful, that is how it feels!  It also feels absolutely wonderful to know that in the three years since we left, we have never been cold, have always had running water, and a fully functional bathroom, and we have had those things every day since we left.  We had not had those things for a very long time prior to that.  That feels super fantastic, too, as does not having had to do a single load of laundry in the kitchen sink.  Last year, I got many random firewood drops from people just because they could, and they cared.  I was beginning to see that coming out of prison has not made my world smaller, it had made my life become much bigger than it had been in decades.

I had employment cleaning houses almost immediately thanks to a friend and word of mouth.  My writing career, which I thought would disappear while I was in prison, had only grown, expanded, and gotten better.  We have not wanted for one single thing in the past year.  New people to love and care for us were entering our lives at an amazing rate.  These are people who I can call at 2 a.m. for any reason, and sometimes I had to do that due to my inability to drive for 9 months after my release.  The people who I work for were more than happy to pick me up so that I could clean for them, but more than that, they we also happy to take me to the grocery store, or ER with a sick child, or anywhere else we needed to go.  My son now has many surrogate grandparents who adore him and spoil him and treat me like their own child, too.  Love was, and is, everywhere, and that is an intense feeling in the best possible way.

The whole fam-dam-ily, Christmas 2011

I had all seven of my children with me last Christmas.  I think it was the best Christmas of my entire life.  I will have all seven children home this Christmas, too, plus my new son-in-law, who I love.  I get all weepy just remembering seeing them all walk in the door last year.  I got all weepy then, too.  I love them so much, and they are the best children on the planet.  Smart, accomplished, yes, but much more importantly, they are kind, loving, generous, and funny as all get out!  They are all also safe after Hurricane Sandy, and all I can say to that is Thank you, God!  I love you so much!

My lovely daughter and her husband.

My oldest daughter got married last summer.  She was the most beautiful bride in the history of mankind.  Her wedding will go down in history as the most perfect, fairytale, wedding the world has even seen, and she did it all on a tight budget, too!  My son-in-law is the best son-in-law any woman has ever had, or ever will have—that is until my younger daughter gets married, then I will have the two best sons-in-law God ever created.  The wedding was a blast, and another chance to have all seven of my kids all in one place.

Don’t bug me! I am on vacation!

My little boy and I had a three-day vacation at the beach this summer.  It was a gift to us from one of the women I clean for who owns a little cottage with the most spectacular view in all of  Maine.  It was the best, and first, vacation he and I have ever had together.  We caught tons and tons of crabs who promptly ran back into the water, but when you are seven years old, that just never gets old.

Last night, I took my little zombie trick-or-treating.  There was no random, pick a neighborhood and go there, element about it this year.  We had many stops to make and we had many people we had to see—people who would have been so disappointed if a zombie had not shown up at their doorstep, or their floor at the hospital.  When you are a kid with a ton of surrogate grandparents, you get some surrogate older siblings to stand in for the siblings who are not around to go with you on Halloween.  Life just gets richer and bigger and swells with so much love that I feel like I might burst right open.

Be very afraid!!

Best of all, among all of the glorious, wonderful, fabulous things I see, I see one very happy child.  I see a child who has been through so much in his little life and he has triumphed over it all at the tender age of seven.  It was a hard-fought battle, but everyone sees the triumph now.  His principal at school sees it and tells me how happy he is this year.  He comes skipping off of the bus every day.  He is making friends.  He tells me all of the time now that he loves life.  I think he had the best Halloween of his life last night.

One very happy zombie!!

Last year at this time, I was still very much getting back on my feet.  I did not know what the world would think of a woman who had just gotten out of prison.  I started learning quite quickly that, amazingly, the world could and would think no less of me.  In fact, my world has grown in ways words cannot express, all because I went to prison.  Soon after I got out, I wrote a three-part series for Yahoo! Shine! about my prison experience.  I wrote it fearlessly, as if called to do so.  However, when I shared the first article, the fear did hit, for as many people who knew where I had been for those six months, there were many more who had no idea where I had been.

I did not know how all of those friends would react.  Those people who did not know read that article, and rather than turning away from me, I was hit with a love avalanche unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life…love and admiration.  I think it goes without saying that I have the best friends and family in the entire universe, and more and more keep coming!  The avalanche never ends, but who would want a love avalanche to end, anyway?

Once or twice in the last year, I have had someone who is just getting to know me say something like, “Oh, what a terribly tragic life you have had!”  When I have heard this, inside I was shouting, “Oh, pah-leeze!”  My life is not tragic—not one bit.  I have had some pretty intense life experiences, but God has taken each and every one of those experiences and He has woven them into something magnificent.  My life is an embarrassment of riches, and I would not trade a single one of those crummy experiences for anything in the world.  If that is what it took to get me where I am today, then all I can say again is, “Thank you so much, Lord!  I love you for everything!”

I am the single most blessed woman alive.  You can try to fight me for the rights to that title, but I am not giving it up!  I worked hard to earn that title.  In my world, I am the most blessed woman alive. You can be the most blessed person in your world, and I hope and pray that you are!  You earned that title, too!

Joel 2:25-26

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm[a]
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.

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25 thoughts on “My Life is an Embarrassment of Riches

  1. Pingback: My Life is an Embarrassment of Riches | Natural Beauty and Skin Care Made Easy

  2. Thank you for sharing your beautifully blessed life and with such beautiful writing to boot. Your post brought tears to my eyes and fills my heart with love and gratitude for my own blessings. Thank you for reminding us of the sweetness of life something many of us often forget.

    • I am tapping my foot and waiting for further comments! Thank you for taking the time to call me and tell me how this post affected you. That meant the world to me, and I love you!

  3. My eyes are a little ‘shiny’ too… What a delightful read; I’m so happy for you. Life has a way of turning such unexpected corners.. Well done. This couldn’t have happened had you not had your great attitude..!

    • I have had shiny eyes more than a few times today, too. Thank you for your lovely words and for your beautiful spirit!

    • Thank you so much. I am a firm believer that attitude is everything. I do have the links—had to go back and read them since it has been a while–to see if I still liked them. They are not easy reads…I will say that much as a warning. 😉
      http://shine.yahoo.com/women-prison-personal-experience-232800342.html
      http://shine.yahoo.com/women-prison-personal-experience-part-two-233900079.html
      http://shine.yahoo.com/women-prison-personal-experience-part-three-231600023.html

      • I read the articles. They’re really great. I often feel so lucky at having been able to get through my own alcoholism without any huge ramifications. I guess we all have a path that we’re meant to travel and you’ve embraced yours and have, I think, touched a lot of people with your honesty and willingness to embrace your own life’s ups and downs. I work for a legal aid clinic where law students come to work. I think I’ll share the articles with them; it’s always good for them to have some inspiring people who’ve been in situations that our clientele are facing all the time because the work can be very discouraging. When our youth criminal clients constantly miss meetings they get frustrated and I tell them the story of my own youth as a criminal to give them some hope that they won’t always be this way, that they may be effecting the kids more than they know. I think your story may have a similar effect in terms of the addictions and abuse that many of our clients are facing. Thank you so much for sharing those with me!

      • Again, thank you so much! I know from friends who work in law enforcement and the substance abuse treatment field just how disheartening that work can be. I also know that what you said is right–that those lawyers they are meeting may have a huge impact on them if they use their powers for good 😉 So many of these people just need to hear someone tell them that they are proud of them, because that is something no one has told them before. Thank you for reading, and sharing, the articles. I speak out as I do, because I want hope to remain a constant, no matter anyone is going through, and I want to open an eye or two, as well. 😉

  4. I read this with a grateful heart. Thank you for your beautiful writing and sharing.

    The mother of my heart use to say as each of her sons-in-law (she had several) walked through the door at family gatherings, “oh, my favorite”. Then she would envelope him in a warm embrace, entirely ignoring her daughters until she was certain her sons-in-law knew they were part of the family and welcome. She did the same with her daughters-in-law and later with grandchildren’s spouses. It was a tradition.

    • Thank you, Val! I do tell my son-in-law that he is my favorite son-in-law every time I talk to him 😉 I look forward to daughters-in-law. I’ve got one that is looking like a sure thing, and she’s already my favorite daughter-in-law-to be 😉 It has long been my plan to be the best mother-in-law possible, because, frankly, I had one who I came to love greatly after I left her son, and one I just never could abide. Extremely passive-aggressive and I have a low tolerance for that stuff 😉

  5. Your article gave me hope as I have a dear friend who just went to prison a year ago and is serving a 10 year sentence. He isn’t 30 yet and was an architect and had so much to live ‘outside’ for, yet drugs and his insistence to find them took all that away. I pray for his future. Your article let me know that there is redemption, there is grace and most of all, there is an avalanche of love. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much. I want you to know about two women that I a blessed to call my friends. One served a 14 year sentence, and another a 10 year sentence. Both were very young at the time of their crimes, and both left two very young daughters behind to be raised by family. Both were released in the last 6-9 months and both are flourishing. They had ongoing support from family and friends throughout their time, and I think that was key. Both are well employed, happy, and living in loving environments. They are good women—very good women. Drugs and alcohol both got them into their messes, but they are triumphing. Willingness is the key, and getting better, not bitter! Xoxo

  6. I also went to prison, there are other similarities in our stories…It was beautiful to hear the gratitude and enthusiasm in this writing. I wrote some when I was going to college, I wrote a whole paper on just the first night and wake up in prison. I know my life story is my most valuable possession that I would not trade either. I have the most blessed life today and know the spiritual awakening I had away from my family allows me to see all that I have to be grateful for. Thank you for your insight and for sharing it with us!

    • Just had a little flashback there to my first wake…ack! I was blessed to have good roommate–cellmates–throughout my stay and that helped a lot. My relationship with God grew so much stronger, and that remains a huge blessing to me. I also had the benefit of meeting some very caring people, and some truly talented women. I fought going there tooth and nail, but the experience was life changing in the best possible way. I know who I am now, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world! Than YOU for sharing with us! Xoxoxo

  7. WOW! I love your strength and humour! You’re an amazing lady. Congratulations on making your life’s journey a story of positive outcome and a joy of life. I’m glad that your kids are the awesome kids that they are and that you had so much support as you worked your way through the last few years; how rich you are in so many ways!! 🙂

  8. Oh YEAH!!! You just keep right on rockin’ the house girl…be strong, be better, and be ready for whatever…the Gang of five, Susie, and I are all so proud of you…not easy, I know, but you are doing it…living real proof…it’s difficult to type this and stay seated…whew… flat awesome…you are an encouragement to me!

    Continue to be encouraged.

  9. You might call me a bit of a slow-learner…lol. but I just found the “like” button for this post. I read it earlier and enjoyed it so much! but found that there was no “like” button (at least one that I couldn’t see) Note to wordpress; possible a big red, flashing button would be good little tool for the likes of me! Anyway, this post is wonderful and sends a powerful message; so i’ve now “liked” it (waiting for the “loved” it button but i guess we’re not there yet) as I had originally wanted to 🙂

  10. Though I never experienced a physical prison, my gradual release from my emotional prison has left me feeling very similarly to you. I love your vivid and joyful expression of joy -looking in the rearview mirror does give us a different perspective for sure.

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