Deborah Rankin

Many Turkeys: How a New Perspective Gave Me Strength to Keep Going

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

6 thoughts on “Many Turkeys: How a New Perspective Gave Me Strength to Keep Going

  1. You are a strong woman that I admire, Deb. I’m proud to call you family! I hope you embrace your upcoming changes as another adventure that will lead you exactly where you belong. I talk to my kids about how important resilience is in life and you have it in spades. I would love to read a book entitled, “Many Turkeys!” Love you! 💕

    • 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! ❤️

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