You Can Be Successful without Owning Goats

When I was a kid, all successful people went to college, because if you didn’t, you weren’t a success.

So, if success means that you own a boat, does it matter what the boat looks like? Shore Leave, original and signed limited edition print at Steve Henderson Fine Art, open edition print at Great Big Canvas

So, if success means that you own a boat, does it matter what the boat looks like? Shore Leave, original and signed limited edition print at Steve Henderson Fine Art, open edition print at Great Big Canvas

Whatever a success is.

I think it means that you bring home a chunky paycheck, replace your car every three years, make payments on a home with more bathrooms than bedrooms, and eat out three times a week.

My God, I’m a failure. I never felt like one.

I did graduate from college, which theoretically qualifies me for success-hood, but I majored in English and didn’t go on to become a famous journalist the way my high school teachers thought I would. I married a good man, had four fine children, and homeschooled them. We replace our car when it refuses to move another mile, have fewer bathrooms than daughters, and consider it eating out when we dine on the porch.

Oh, and I own goats. That’s never one of the standard qualifications for being a success, but I never, ever have to run to the grocery store to buy milk. Bill Gates couldn’t say that. Well, probably he could, since he probably never, every enters a grocery store for any reason but simply sends the housekeeper, but you know what I mean.

When you live in the country, the last thing you want to do is run to the store because you ran out of milk for the morning tea. Off the Grid, original oil painting by Steve Henderson

When you live in the country, the last thing you want to do is run to the store because you ran out of milk for the morning tea. Off the Grid, original oil painting by Steve Henderson

So what am I getting at?

We have a disturbing tendency, in American society, to define ourselves by what we do as opposed to who we are, by how much we make as opposed to how well we live, and we make our decisions accordingly.

And, being Americans who want it all and believe that this is achievable, we want to be rich and famous and important and knowledgeable and healthy and wrinkle free and contented and loved by our dog (loved by our cat never comes into the equation, no matter who or what we are).

And unfortunately, when we realize that we can’t, we’re frequently fine with dropping the “contented” and being loved by our dog part. The money and accolades received by other humans are so vital to the definition of success, that we can be unhappy happy people because we simply don’t realize the value of what we do have.

This is where the goats come in.

The other evening when I was milking them, I became conscious that, for the last 20 minutes, I had been non-stop singing, in rhythm with the motion of milking, deep and thought provoking verses like this:

The signs of success may be different from what you think. Goat photo by Steve Henderson Fine Art

The signs of success may be different from what you think. Goat photo by Steve Henderson Fine Art

“Ba-dah-ba-dum-dum-dum (squirt-squirt), Ba-dah-ba-dummmmm,”

and I thought,

“I never realized this, but I’m happy.”

I’m not rich, I’m not famous, I’m not powerful, I’m sitting on a broken chair next to a goat, and though I don’t have to buy milk at the grocery store I also don’t have a housekeeper to send there to buy bananas.

But I’m happy.

And if success is what makes people happy, then I guess that I’m very, very successful, and since I sing when I milk the goats, it must mean that, somehow, owning goats is an essential part of being a success.

I suppose it’s as good of a definition as any.

Don’t let me box you in. If you don’t own goats, or don’t have more bathrooms than you do bedrooms, or don’t have a housekeeper to send to the store to buy — or not buy — milk, you can still be a success.

You just have to redefine the word into something worth achieving.

Coming soon — my new book, Live Happily on Less: 52 Ideas to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle. Saving money does not have to be a convoluted, difficult process — and it can actually be fun.

Like me on Facebook, and I’ll post when it’s published. I’ll also post it here, so if you’re not following me already, I invite you to do so — you can subscribe to this blog by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box at the top right of this page.

In the meantime, you can read more of me through Life Is a Gift (Kindle), The Jane Austen Driving School (Kindle), and Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say him and me or he and I?”

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
This entry was posted in Art, Beauty, blogging, Culture, Current Events, Daily Life, Encouragement, Family, Growth, home, homesteading, inspirational, Life, Lifestyle, money, News, Personal, Random, self-improvement, success, Uncategorized, Work and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to You Can Be Successful without Owning Goats

  1. Candace Rose says:

    Happy is she who leans into a goat who leans into her as the milking commences. Singing and squeezing, loving the goat and this good life. Write on!

    Candace

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