My life was a mess for several years. I felt like a weak swimmer caught in a whirlpool of bad luck. Even though I paddled like mad I couldn’t get out.
I was laid off after a corporate merger and went without work for two years. I sold my dream house. No more sitting on a front porch on top of a hill, listening to birds sing and owls hoot and leaves on giant maples slip-slap against each other when it rained. No more swimming naked by moonlight in my pool or hosting family dinners on holidays.
I sold it to save money, then lived in another woman’s garage.
A man I cared for surprised me with news that did not go my way, then shrugged it off with “All is well. We’re still friends.”
I got severe vertigo attacks that left me lying on the sofa throwing up. Afterward, I had trouble walking and driving for days.
I watched my father’s slow, painful death from cancer, and for months afterward cried at unexpected times. I cried once during a job interview! It’s funny, now.
Nineteen months into this mess, I went to Kentucky for a family event. I own some land there in an isolated valley called Turkeyfoot where my mother’s family has lived for over two hundred years. One morning at sunrise I took a chocolate bar, thermos of tea, and lawn chair to the farm. I climbed to the top of the property and stood under towering oaks where my father and I once stood side by side. I followed a path my grandmother and I had walked together. I felt their spirits, but without them I was desolate.
As the day got warm I walked down to the meadow at the base of my property and settled into the chair. I was soaked—shoes with dew, clothes with sweat, face with tears. I yelled at God.
“What am I supposed to do? Why are things so hard? Are you going to help?”
I gulped steaming hot tea from my thermos. As I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, I looked up to a shocking sight.
The lower portion of my land stands about four feet above a blacktop country road. I saw a wild turkey appear on the crest between road and meadow, then another, and another. Then a steady stream of turkeys climbed up from the road and ran across my pasture to the woods. Turkey after turkey…I tried to count but they came so fast I couldn’t keep up. Fifty, at least.
In my entire life, I had never seen a turkey at Turkeyfoot. Now they streamed before me in an abundant flood.
I knew what they meant. My knowledge was certain, as clear as the morning sunshine, as solid as the ground on which I sat.
They were a symbol of prosperity. I would not starve, nor live in a garage forever. God would pour out blessings in a wild flow just like the turkeys surging across my pasture. The message seemed clear, although I had no idea how it would come about. Looking back, the turkey experience was a turning point in my recovery.
I’d looked for work for eighteen months and averaged one interview every month or two. After the turkeys, I interviewed two or three times a month. Six months later I landed a good job with full benefits. A year and a half later I accepted an offer that fit me even better.
The turkeys changed my perspective, and that changed everything. I stopped worrying; I lived with a calm expectation of success. I remembered a job opportunity I’d turned down because it required moving somewhere I didn’t want to go. When I owned that decision, I felt less like a victim. Then I interviewed with more confidence.
How about you? You may have painful losses or setbacks that are hard to get over. Sometimes I still feel angry or sad about mine. I’m learning to let myself feel the pain. Not run from it, overwork it, overeat or over drink it. I sit in yoga position on a rug in front of a window and feel it.
Are there decisions you need to own? What choices may have contributed to your pain or loss? Don’t beat yourself up, but take responsibility.
I changed my perspective after seeing many turkeys. Isn’t that great! In my imagination, I write a memoir called Many Turkeys. What do you think? Would you buy a book called that? 😊
In my next book video I feature Marisa Silver’s 2005 novel No Direction Home. It’s a story of people who face a variety of personal disasters and come together in an unlikely family ensemble. They find meaning and comfort connecting with others. I hope you do too.
© 2018 Deborah Rankin
5 thoughts on “Many Turkeys: How a New Perspective Gave Me Strength to Keep Going”
Thank you for this heartfelt, empathetic, kind, and generous post, Deb. Thank you for sharing your heart and your words with us. Best, Terry
Terry, you are most welcome. Appreciate so much your kind words and and encouraging spirit! Best, Deb
Thank you Beth! I am proud to call you family too! Yes, resilience is important and I’m glad you teach your kids about it. You have it too…sometimes it’s a result of having no other choice to survive and focusing on the good things in life. But learn from our dads: keep some cash in hiding and take your tool box with you wherever you go! Love you! ❤️
A dear story. So glad you ‘saw’ the turkeys & are doing well!
Thank you Cindy! You are a dear friend and it’s good to hear from you.