Friday, December 12, 2014

Proposal off to editor

I am so excited to have the Hay House book proposal off to the editor for final polish. This has been quite the journey. The project was a test in perseverance. I wondered how many obstacles and challenges could keep coming up that took all of my attention. We had a major external review of our department that took about 3 weeks in November. I've lost two dear friends through death and distance in the past 2 weeks. Lakota suffered an injury that required hand walking again - at least only a week this time. Then holiday preparations and an unexpected training in New York.

Life happens. My calendar had been cleared in order to focus on my writing but the Universe had different plans. In my heart of hearts, this is my passion. Writing, telling stories. I will continue to write whether or not I get the contract from Hay House. I will not let my self worth hinge on this contest. For too long, I have set aside my dreams because I might appear foolish, I might meet with disapproval, I might fail.

I cannot see the ending of the story of my life. I am happy about that. The choice I make is to see my last few chapters as disappointments or as going out with a huge exclamation point. What will I leave behind that will impact the next generation? How can I leave the planet a better place?

"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."
This quote from Baba Dioum has been my tag line on my signatures, business cards and stationary for over 25 years. I feel like the native, wise woman that passes along the stories of how to care for the earth. Getting children into nature and allowing them to get their hands dirty is my biggest thrill.

The submission date is December 28 but I am leaning towards submitting on the new moon and solstice on the 21st. The results will be posted on face book on January 28 on the Hay House website. I know you will join me in sending positive, light filled energy with this proposal.

Best wishes,

Pat

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Someone to Tell




Tonight the wind whipped across my face in the dark. The full moon was hidden behind the moving storm clouds. The rustle of the grasses and the shaking of the aspens created a symphony of sensations. Light mist kissed my cheeks turned up to the sky as I leaned against the car. The scent of the pines wafted downhill and surrounded me. I stood alone in the driveway buffeted by the evening and I wished, I had someone to tell.

I loped around the arena being carried by a thousand pounds of muscle and heart. She moved like a rocking horse evenly and steady. Ta Dum, Ta Dum, Ta Dum. My hips moved in rhythm to her legs; we were as one - she and I. I could feel my chest ever expanding, overflowing with love and affection for my partner. Her ears flicked forward then back, listening to my every word. She was light on the reins, waiting for my slightest command. The mare and I had traveled a painful journey and now we had arrived. All of the trials and fear, waiting and perseverance had been worth it. We were moving in unison, connected through bodies and breath. My hands steady, my weight dropping into the saddle, my legs slightly forward-and she slowed to a halt. Perfection. This feeling was intoxicating. I floated from her back and wrapped my arms around her neck; heart to heart, my forehead pressed against her shoulder. The ride meant everything to me and I wished, I had someone to tell.

The sun baked upon the tour group as we traversed across the ruins. I felt I had stepped into a National Geographic magazine. The Coliseum, the stone aqueducts, the columns a thousand years old. The marble angels, the David, the Celestine Chapel. I was in awe of the beauty of Rome. Fountains everywhere, each a grouping of Gods and Goddesses pouring water over their nakedness. The aroma of tomatoes boiling and bread baking filled the air. These were only enhanced by the scents of espresso and wine. I took pictures of families and they returned the favor. Me at a cathedral, me at the Duomo. The history, the architecture, having seen these places only in calendars and books, I was living a dream. I only wished, I had someone to tell.

I pulled the towel from my head and combed out the knots. The morning ritual had begun as each tress was dried and curled into place. My hands moved rhythmically across my hair in a silent dance of preparation.

My thoughts are on the day. I set my intention. I contemplate the struggle between Spirit and Ego. I wrestle with the option to build or to buy, a house in town or a house with a view? I drift into dreams of luxury vacations aboard a sailing schooner. Can you see the Greek Isles while the sail billows above? The salt spray is inhaled with each wave we crest. The gulls circle our ship as the chef carries the tray of champagne and cheese. The white linen pants I wear, gently sway against my tanned legs. My lover lays a kiss on my brow as I toast another day of love and abundance.

Ouch! The iron descends into the sink after scorching my finger. Drink the coffee. Pack the lunch. Clients to see. Decisions to make. As I lay on the lipstick, I drift once more. How do you know when to push and when to let go? How do we know what comes after this existence? Does everyone question life as much as me? Sometimes I wish, I had someone to tell.

I was so afraid alone in the desert. Hadnt he accosted me? Hadnt I used the only threat that could save my life? What was I doing on the other side of the planet from all that I knew? My vow was to return to this place one more time. It was a now or never, do or die precipice in my life. I was going to stand on that dune in the Kalahari, on Easter as the sun came up on my 50th birthday. I made it! My tears poured forth in joy and relief, as the rays crept over the sand. He had not touched me, the torrents from the storm had not washed me away and the lightening had not struck me. I was still here.

I have known violence from an early age at the hands of men. A knowing sprung forth that no man would ever force me again, the day I earned my black belt. Abuse stopped here. No more stalking, rape, beatings or hostility. Someone referred to me as “rage under control.” That was me and that was then. I had spent decades in fear. Now I am free. I have faced terror and pain. I carry those scars inside. I only wish, I had someone to tell.

I lay down on my pillow. The flannel is soft wand warm. Cats purring along my legs. The dog stretches and yawns. I can hear the pellets drop into the stove as the fan begins to hum. All is quiet, time for sleep. I long for the strength of a man to lie beside me and hold me close. Trusting that he will be the protector, the defender against the things that go bump in the night. The woman in me is yearning to cook and provide for him, to make a home that is peaceful, sacred and serene. The child in me searches for a playmate, a friend to share secrets and play hide and go seek. Buckets of ice cream long after dark, pillow fights and racing on bikes. We run; we laugh; we play. I am a woman and a child. I only wish, I had someone to tell.

A best friend is someone whom we share our most intimate thoughts – our dreams, our fears, our passion. Our stories feel empty when we are separated from this person through distance or death. My wish for you is that you always, have someone to tell.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Unexpected Pathways pre-order!

http://www.futuresinspired.com/unexpected-pathways-project/

Unexpected Pathways: "The Journeys of Women in the Workforce”
I am excited to announce the publication of this new book. I am one of several authors that have contributed their life stories to motivate and inspire other women. Take a peek!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Perfect

In my Tuesday post, I mentioned an offer I pulled on a house a couple weeks ago. I didn’t have time to elaborate but it seems like a good time now. Aries is lying by my feet and the fire is burning in the wood stove. It’s too early to go to bed; too late to start a project. The snow is just beginning to fall outside my window but it’s cozy in here.

Photo by Nicole Tavenner
Over seven years ago, my dear friend – a veterinarian in Albany, NY offered me one of his German Shepherd puppies. These dogs go to law enforcement agencies including the New York State Troopers, the Colonie Police Department, U.S. Border Patrol and Onondaga County Sheriffs. I said, “Thank you, no.” I had recently lost my dog in an automobile accident and was not ready. We talked several times and he was doing his best to convince me I’d be doing him a great favor by fostering this exceptional dog. One of the female pups had scored extremely high in an aptitude test and he wanted to keep her for breeding stock. She would eventually take her mother’s place in the line. While she was growing, it would be a shame for her to be kept in a kennel at the clinic. I could train her, keep her until she was two and after she had two litters, she would be spayed and returned to me. All her pups would be police dogs and be of service to the community.

I had worked with her grandparents many years before. These dogs were smart, hardworking and never stopped trying to please. It would be an honor to receive one as a gift. Why was I having such a hard time saying yes?

I walked along Six Mile Creek, the way I always did when I needed inspiration. There was something magical about this place. It felt like any second I could stumble upon a fairy kingdom or a nature spirit. Maybe it was the way the sun splattered through the Sycamore trees and danced on the water’s surface. Maybe it was the series of waterfalls that plunged from the limestone cliffs covered in moss to deep pools below. Whatever it was, I loved it. I sat on a rock that was warm from the sun. I dangled my toes and played with the minnows.

I don’t have visions. I don’t hear voices. A knowing seemed to force its way into my consciousness and asked me a question as clear as day. “Why can you not accept anything perfect?” I couldn’t have heard that. I wouldn’t even think of that. What? There it remained, still and strong. The dog. I had always picked up dogs from the shelter or a rescue group. Dogs that needed fixing. Holy cow! Was this the reason I could not accept this dog? Did I feel unworthy? Did I feel that someone else could give her a better home? I sat with this and reflected how this theme was reflected in many areas of my life.

I drove the three hours to visit the puppy. David had her packed and ready to ride before I could protest. Her name came to me before I even saw her. I knew she would be perfect and that everything was going to be ideal. Aries and I have been inseparable all these years. She is my reminder not to settle.

A couple weeks ago, I called my real estate agent to make arrangements to see a house that had just been listed. It was in a wonderful neighborhood, only two or three miles away from where I am now. Aries would have a small lake to play in and I would have a large lawn where I could putter. The view from the balcony looked across the lake and into the mountains. Perfect. It also had a great east exposure for me, the morning person. All of this information I gathered by doing a drive-by. Now, to get inside. The house would be shown for the first time in two days. I was the fifth person in line to make an appointment. By the time I saw the house, I was one of seven to have a showing. I have come so close to buying a house and had it slip out of my hands, that I made an offer by noon on the first day.

Instead of being excited, my stomach began to knot. It didn’t feel quite right. I began making a list of all the problems that would need fixing in this house. For one, it wreaked of dogs that had been housed in the lower level. The garage was permeated with cat urine. The master bath had been renovated to make it handicapped accessible. In doing this, the door had been removed and a hideous mismatched tile shower installed. The bedroom clothes closet was opened from inside this bathroom. The whole master bedroom and bath had to be remodeled to be useable. I started adding up the costs of renovating and looking on line at the closing prices of houses in the neighborhood. There was no way I could get my money out of this house if I made the investment. The next morning, I spoke to my agent. We discussed my concerns. Out of seven showings, I was the only person that made an offer of any kind. In my desire to get out of the cabin, I had offered way more than I should.

Why was I thinking I had to buy a fixer upper? Why could I not imagine buying something perfect for me? I thought of Aries. Was I doing it again? I pulled my offer. I will look and I will find a house that is perfect for me. Yes, I may have to put work into it – just like training Aries – but then it will be mine. I will enjoy it and make it fun. My house will be perfect for me.





Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cat to Eagle



Restlessness stirs deep within me. I listen but it has no sound. The tension builds as I know that in an instant I will leap. Just as a cat waits patiently, knowing that the moment will come, I am ready. I cannot see the direction or the goal but I am aware of its imminent arrival. My future is calling me. Love, do not hold me back.

As a doe in the hedge line, I have spent years avoiding any sound approaching, sure that each step bears a weapon that will pierce my heart. I nibble the fruits and twigs safe inside my thicket. On occasion, I venture out in the moonlight to the meadow with my friends. Kicking up our hooves until someone hears a snap. Then it is tails a flying and back to safety. I leave the doe behind, secure in the undergrowth of the forest. I am no longer running and hiding. I stand upright and hold my ground.

Now, I am the momma bear. My innocence is not always perceived. My intentions are simple. I protect and nurture my young by guiding them to rivers and berry patches. We travel from mountains to stream banks, always rolling and tumbling along in harmony. My strength is evident when I climb a tree for a better vantage point or defend my home from predators. I am peace loving and easy going. I will do what needs to be done when pushed into a corner. I walk empowered and confident.


When I am an eagle, my vision is expanded. The pettiness of the crows that taunt me are easily left behind. New worlds invite me as the gentle winds carry me every higher. From here, I cannot see the struggle of men. He is ever seeking to dominate his fellow man or build a grander monument. I say to him, “look up, look up, lift your eyes to the heavens.” Feel the magnificence of our world. A river of abundance flows from the Creator. Hold this in your mind and open yourself to receiving. You have created your walls that hold you. Fly with me. Release yourself. Let the currents of life guide you. You will not fall. Spinning, diving, coasting, silently landing atop the snag. Exhilaration permeates my existence.

Love, join me in my flight. Do not tether me and hold me to you. Let us dance on the wind as our cries echo through the canyon.




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Transition



Where does the time go? Early mornings - it’s the gym, then the 8-5 job that can really extend in any direction and evenings are with Lakota, trying to take advantage of the last bit of riding before the winter darkness descends. By the time the dinner is made and swallowed, it’s time for bed and starts it all over again.

I am thrilled to be working with my editor and web person in the development of the book proposal for Bedtime Stories for Grownups. We've almost got it. My next step is to record myself reading one of my stories aloud and put it on my website. I can’t wait for you all to be able to download it and give me feedback. I envision people buying my “book” in hard copy and/or an audio version to listen to at night. I’d love to read you my stories as you drift off to sleep. I want you to feel all the wonder and beauty wrapped in these stories and gifted to you.

Have you ever been in that transition stage where your current career is functioning but not making your heart sing? You know it is not time to move forward yet and you feel squeezed but nowhere to go. I’m there. My job is rewarding in that I get to help people solve problems every day. I answer their questions about lawns, trees, fruit, wildlife, vegetables, and livestock. If I can’t, I find someone who can. This job is different every day and never boring. I have had the opportunity to meet thousands of people in my community and am grateful.

I hear another calling but the way is not clear. I am learning patience. In the interim, I look for a house of my own. The timing must not be right because I have put nine offers on houses in the last three years and they have not gone through. I need to tell you, each one has had a unique story. Three of the houses I put an offer on the owner said my offer was too low and did not counter. All three eventually were listed for less than my original offer. I could not build a house because a construction loan requires three times the down payment. Two houses had a stunning view and offers came in for more than the asking price. Only one house did I pull my offer after 24 hours. I realized I was desperate to get out of the cabin before winter and I bid too high on a house that was not worth it. I couldn’t sleep after making the offer. I didn’t feel excited; I felt sick. It required so much work and when I stayed up developing an estimate, I knew I’d never get my money back. It would also take so much time and energy; it would completely derail my writing efforts. I had to look at why I was so anxious to get out of the cabin. One reason was obvious. Last year, we suffered through three different weeks of minus 23-25 degree nights. My bedroom was about 40 degrees and had a layer of frost on the carpet. Each evening, I sat in front of the wood stove in tears with a blanket over my shoulders trying to stay warm. I couldn’t go to a friend’s because the pipes would freeze and the pets were here. I vowed never to be another winter in this draughty cabin.

My second reason, was my feeling that by now I “should” have my own home. My husband and I parted 15 years ago and I have never had my own home since then. I question my ability to provide this for myself. I had to dig deeper. My father never believed females could make it on their own. I don’t think my mother did either. Women have to be cared for and provided for. How ingrained was this belief? How many generations bought into this assumption? I was trying to prove I could do it. All this battling windmills had made me tired. It used up every spare moment I could squeeze into my day. My attempt at making something happen, like swimming up river, was discouraging at best. Between my job, my responsibilities to my horse and this frantic search for a dwelling, I burned myself out. I wonder why I haven’t even thought of dating. Joking.

The ground is covered with snow. The fire is burning brightly. My landlord insulated the windows and built a new wall under my bedroom. The cabin is warm and snug. I didn’t go to the gym this morning. Today my choice was to write or workout. I love writing in the morning but it is the only time I can make it to the gym. A friend of mine said that, “You think you will be Patty the Hut if you don’t work out.” Yes, that is a whole other issue for another day. Every time I feel an overwhelming urge to push or run away, I dig. I unearth another belief or promise that needs tossing. I still grapple with when to put your heart and soul into a dream to manifest it and when to let things go and let God. The whole “Divine timing” is a conundrum to me. Ok, I could ramble all day but it’s time to hit the shower and get to my job. Talk soon!






Thursday, October 9, 2014

Posts

When you see a pattern in yourself, you can either laugh or cry. I first started this blog, so I had an avenue for my writing - an excuse to write, a place to put my thoughts, a trial run at short stories. My goal was to write consistently at least two or three times every week. It evolved into being a place I wrote on Sunday mornings, which was the only time I wasn't running off to work or the gym. Writing is a hobby that can transcend me; I lose track of time and everything around me when I am in the flow. The blog was to inspire me to write more often and enjoy the process. 

Instead of writing for the pure pleasure of it, I made it the place to craft my articles for the magazine. If I didn't have enough ideas for a page or two, I'd feel it wasn't worth writing. It was not fun anymore. Now it was a job. Deadlines. Commitments.  I had over-complicated  one more thing. My words dried up. 

I'm going to relax. If I ramble on and it becomes a story, then fine. Otherwise, it will be a place to once more exercise my writing muscles. I had someone tell me that I am always "pushing the river." My assumption is that is the opposite of just going with the flow. Guilty as charged. 

I find the most difficult issue is knowing when to create, manifest, make your own destiny or when to let life takes its course and roll with it. It's a tricky balancing act. This is the situation I am in with my house hunting. I have done everything possible for the last 10 months to buy a house. I have made eight offers, a couple of  houses more than once. I watch the listings; I read the paper. I am pre-approved. All I  can do for now is stop struggling. I have to stock up wood for the winter in the cabin and hunker down. Spring will come and the search will begin for the fourth year. Time to relax and flow. Maybe I'll just write.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Walking through our fears

Lakota and I, reunited


It had been another year of one of us healing. The latest injury had been Lakota tearing off most of her hoof under a sharp metal fence. Seven months of summer- hand walking and an additional six months of winter. Now with over a year off from riding, the mare had fallen back into her previous fearful behavior. Cripes. Not this again. It had only been two years before that, when I broke my back in a horse accident. She waited more than a year for my bone to mend. I threw the saddle over her back; she flinched and drove her nose into the corner of the stall in terror. “Oh, come on. I am not going to hurt you. I have never hurt you.” I threw the pad on and off her until she settled. I hoisted the saddle up first from the left, then off and up on the right. I sure hoped she calmed down before my arms gave out. She did. As I came around her rump, I noticed her skin actually rippling along her right flank. When I ran my hand over the area she cringed under my touch. Lakota looked like a watch spring wound just a little too tight. This location on her body had been abused years before. I imagined a right handed rider using a whip along her side to motivate speed. The rider was long gone but the fear remained. Each time we were laid off, we lost our rhythm and these fears came back to haunt her.

Fast forward two months. I decided I didn’t have time for Lakota. It would be better to let another owner take her who would give her the attention I could not. I felt guilty when my work kept me away from riding her. My schedule is erratic and I was house hunting. Maybe I’d be even busier with a house and then maybe I wouldn’t be able to afford her board. I would sell her and it would be the best for both of us. Our relationship had deteriorated and neither of us was enjoying the situation. I was tired of riding around a farm alone and she would rather eat grass than listen to me.

I delivered her to a trainer who would work with her for two weeks, show her to perspective buyers and then she would be gone. I choked back the tears as I drove away. The sobbing and heartbreak was relentless for three days. I went back to the barn to check on her. The trainer had been using ground exercises to help her work through her anxiety and return to work mode. She was responding beautifully. More days went by and more I saw Lakota willing and eager to cooperate. As time allowed, I learned the exercises and continued them on weekends. She whinnied for me when I arrived and nickered with head bobbing as I left. Our friendship was blossoming once again. When a buyer called, I told him I needed a couple more weeks to decide.

The words fell on my ears like bricks. “She’s ready to ride. You have your old horse back. Go get her.” I tied her. I brushed her. I applied fly spray. She stood calmly as I lifted up the Tucker onto her back. Lakota lowered her head to allow the bridle to slide gently into her mouth and up over her ears. I led her to the arena. My bowels turned to jelly. My stomach churned. The wind rattled through the aspen trees. Bits of leaves and dust danced across the ring. She stood silently as I climbed slowly into the saddle. I nudged her forward into a walk and then a trot around the fence line. “Breathe,” I reminded myself. “Lakota has done her work, now you do yours.”

Traumatic images percolated up as soon as my foot hit the stirrup. Long forgotten, or purposefully buried, painful equine mishaps reared their ugly heads. My confidence had been shattered by a long history of horse accidents. The events were suddenly remembered in vivid detail. The wind reminded me of the thoroughbred off the racetrack I purchased 25 years ago.   I attempted to retrain him for a dressage horse. Each time something startled him, like the wind, a leaf, a gum wrapper – he would bolt, racing then bucking – always, always resulting in a trip to the emergency room. I broke both of my wrists, my nose twice, my ribs two or three times, the bones on my hand. The last time I was thrown off my Achilles tendon was torn so badly I was told I would always walk with a limp. After that gelding, I bought a quarter horse that did not run away with me. In fact, when asked him to trot or lope, he bucked and tried to throw me into a fence. I took him to a trainer who told me that the horse needed an expert with a sharp set of spurs. I handed him over to an expert for a month of training. The horse never thought about bucking so there was not much for him to do. The moment I climbed on board, much to the amazement of the trainer, the horse began bucking around a huge rodeo arena determined to do me in. That is another story, but when I finally got off that horse, I handed the man the reins and said, “I never want to lay eyes on this horse again. Sell him.” More recently, I had just purchased Lakota. My daughter was visiting and I put her on my new prize. A friend handed me a horse all tacked and ready to ride. “Join your daughter. Go on a trail ride; this mare will be fine.” I took her to the round pen to try her in a small area and got on. I had no sooner asked her to move forward when “she broke in two”. Meaning = she exploded into a fit of bucking. The pain I felt when I landed will forever be burned into my body. The doctor at the hospital said it was as if someone had taken a sledge hammer to my sacrum. The months of therapy, medication, loneliness and agony are every horse person’s worst nightmare. All of these horrors flooded into my psyche once I was aboard Lakota.

Had I really become too busy or had I simply lost my nerve? Each time Lakota and I took a year off, we both fell back into our fears.

I was upset at Lakota because when she gets scared, I get scared. When she gets tense, I get tense. I wanted her to stop thinking of the past and know I wont hurt her. Stop being afraid! How ridiculous is that? Can I just stop being afraid of getting thrown off a horse again? I wanted her to do what I had not been able to accomplish. It would have been so much easier to deny these feelings and send her down the road, than to face this terror.

When I made this realization, something inside of me shifted entirely. I threw my arms around her neck and I am sure she understood. I am in this for the long haul. I would like to be riding until I am 75 years old. I would like Lakota to be my horse. By the time I am that age, we will both be ready to hang up our boots and call it good. There is no race. If it takes me a month or years to completely trust a horse again, it is OK. She helps me see where I am each day in the process. Around and around the pen she lopes like a carousel horse, allowing me to be comfortable with speed again.  I don’t have to be afraid she will run away with me. When the wind blows, she is unaware and keeps to the lesson. My new instructor says, “it’s is all about trust.” Lakota and I are learning to trust each other again. We are helping heal each other’s wounds. We can’t take away the experiences that happened before. We can only move forward with what we have today. Every day I see her moving through her fears, I hope she sees me moving through mine.



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Intention

Some of the happiest moments of my life were when my husband and I were reading bedtime stories to our daughters. Every night the four of us snuggled in one bed or the other to hear a well-worn tale. No matter how busy the day, there was always time for a story. Kate liked her blankets tucked in so tight she could barely roll over. Sarah had countless stuffed animals piled in with her.

The stories we read conveyed humor, faith, magic, consistency and adventure. They filled my daughter’s minds with fantasy and laughter before they drifted off to sleep.

I can only imagine how life changing it would be if every person in the world was tucked in with a loving story and a fuzzy blanket. As an adult, many of us go to our beds with the latest world news report, a murder mystery, stressing over family finances or relationship woes. Some of us have been alone a very long time. Some of us wish we were. Bed can be the home base of power struggles, disappointment and isolation. If I had a magic wand, I would sit on the edge of the bed of each individual as they relaxed into slumber and recite to them a story of hope and encouragement. My words would transport love to each heart. The stories that I would read would be every day events that demonstrate how easy it is to tap into the connectedness of life. The birds, the animals, the insects are all here to assist us on our journey. I would help the listener tune in and see with new eyes. To feel enveloped in love and understanding, warmth and compassion, this is the experience I would deliver.

If every person went to bed feeling secure and loved would they arise to kick the cat or bomb their neighbor? I think not. Setting in motion dreams of what can be instead of what seems to be, is the first step to solving global conflict. I wish to be an instrument of peace.

When I was the director of the Farm on Wheels program in Albany, NY, I took my farm animals into urban schools to teach about agriculture. I was less than 10 miles from the farm but a world away. At an elementary school in Schenectady, I asked a teacher one morning why some of the students were arriving at such random times. She explained that these six year olds were often dragged out in the middle of the night while their parent went to get a drug fix. The child would wake up in a strange place and have to find their way back home and get themselves ready for school. These students were fed and applauded for arriving no matter what time. My heart wept for them. No one to read a bedtime story; no one to tuck them in with their favorite blanket and give them encouragement. These are the young people that kept me motivated to continue my teaching. They were like little sponges that drank up the love that flowed between my animals and me. I could see the looks on their faces when they held the rabbit or put their arms around the sheep. A step away from the concrete and crime was a universe of kindness that they were eager to taste. If resources had allowed, I would be conducting this program today simply for the reward of seeing the look of amazement on their faces. Instead, I share the stories of these days, the miracles I witnessed.

What about their parents? If they were tucked in each evening with a hug and a story of reassurance, would they be addicted to drugs and violent behavior? And, what of their parents before them? I would have treasured storytelling and goodnight kisses on my forehead as a young child. I know what it is like to stay awake all night in fear, feeling so vulnerable and insignificant. Even as an adult, we realize the pleasure that is felt when listening to the soothing voice of a loved one assuring us that we are loved and cared for.

Each time I sit down to write, I pray that my words help someone, somewhere, someday.

I write stories that express my appreciation to nature, people, and animals – everything that has brought me to this place on my path. My stories are intended to be uplifting and healing. I wish to serve. I am extending love to all. As my life continues taking twists and turns, new stories reflect those experiences. I am taking my reader on a journey and inspiring them to see their life in unique ways. See the magic; see the messages that are available in every moment. My wish is to bring you sweet dreams.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rose


I sit here on the front porch of the cabin early on a Saturday morning. The dew is heavy on the grass and the hummingbirds are feasting at the feeders. The only sound is a crow chasing a red tailed hawk over the meadow and chickadees in the pines. At times like this I wonder if I really want to leave the cabin to find a home of my own. Then I remember this past winter, shiver and continue my house hunting. I am satisfied as I look out over the lawn and see the beauty I have created here over the past six summers. The turf is well fed and weed free. The perennial beds are blossoming all around the cabin with roses, black eyed susans, peonies, hydrangeas and phlox. Pots of geraniums and beds of snapdragons add splashes of color. It has been an honor to care for this historical treasure. The peace and serenity I have found here has added a multitude of textures to the fabric of my being.

I look over the railing and observe the fullness of the wild climbing rose I cut down in April. The canes had become woody and non- productive. The weight of the plant was corralled by heavy gauge wire and nailed to the cabin logs. I’d been told by native Montanans that these heirloom roses could be cut down harshly and they would rejuvenate completely. So one very brisk morning, I conducted a dormant pruning. Donned in a canvas jacket and wearing leather gloves, I hauled out a truckload of branches. Then I waited. Temperatures rose, daffodils and tulips bloomed, the rose did not survive. I couldn’t believe I had been so foolish. I know better than to prune more than 30% of a plant at one time. Restoration pruning takes two to three years to accomplish successfully. I had annihilated my favorite shrub. Last year neighbors stopped by just to tell me how gorgeous this plant was. What was I going to tell my landlord? I accidently killed a 75 year old rose that his grandparents had placed there or the settler before them. Me, the master gardener teacher. By Father’s Day, when the other roses were blooming, there was one green sprout. Please, please grow.

Thirty days later, fertilized, watered and prayed over, it is rallying with a passion. The succulent new growth is an emerald green and profuse. Hallelujah! This plant speaks to me on so many levels this morning.

· It speaks of faith that life is reborn from the ashes of what can appear to be insurmountable devastation. Like the mythological Phoenix, we rise from our challenges and greet the new day. My faith and trust are even stronger after walking through the dark night of the soul and reaching the light on the other side. The root system was tough and irrepressible.

· What appears to be dead can be a matter of timing; it will bloom again. It may not be on our schedule but it will happen. I reflect on dreams I have carried and wonder if maybe someday… I have dreamed of a partner, a new home, writing a book…these dreams may be dormant but they are not dead. When the time is right, they will bloom. I cannot see it now, but someday I will. There is still life and growth under the surface.

· One year of flowering was sacrificed for the overall health and benefit of the whole. This rose will be even more glorious next year. Continual thinning will eliminate the necessity of such radical measures in the future. We can make huge changes all at once in our lives or small incremental moves that take us higher on our path. Sometimes we do them both simultaneously. There are times when I have taken an unnecessary detour and then I see that it was an indispensable fork in order to give me a new skill or a new perspective. The time I forfeited was made up in the awareness I gained.

· I really dislike this cliché, but it comes to mind, “What doesn’t kill you makes you strong.” Don’t people tell you this when you are so far down you can’t see any hope? I want to kick them in the shins. The rose says it more beautifully by gentle demonstration. I can see where my rough edges have been worn down by adversity. Maybe it is age, or wisdom, that allows me to accept the softer side of me. I don’t need the woody branches that were the stiff and rigid belief systems that I inherited. Through the years they have been discarded one by one. In their place is a flexible bough with budding shoots and tiny blossoms. I can bend, I can be pushed flat but time has shown me that I will rebound even more resilient.

So thank you, Rose, for giving me so many messages as I drink my coffee and the morning sun. Thank you for surviving my overzealous efforts. I didn’t mean to be so punitive in my branch removal. It is one more lesson to understand that sometimes people think they are helping us but can appear to be cruel. Their words can cut to the bone. All the while they are trying to help in their own way. Just say “thank you” and keep on growing. Keep on thriving. Pull up the juices stored in your roots and bloom, bloom, bloom.

Best wishes,

Pat

Monday, July 7, 2014

First step

I am sitting in the shade of the cabin as the sun beats on the front porch. The heat can become beastly in July right around supper time. A breeze puffs down the hill from the forest, crossing first the orchard grass in the pasture and then my lawn before it reaches me. The scent of pine needles and cottonwood blossoms are carried along with the cooling breeze. I am distracted first by a butterfly and then by the realization that the lawn needs mowing one more time. I can hear voices floating  up from the horse park and jet skis buzzing across the lake. My chair is a tractor seat that has been nailed onto a tree stump. It goes beautifully with the old wooden, electrical spool that serves as my table. 

I must create a "platform" for my book proposal. This is a publisher's version of a business plan for for a book. The platform describes how I intend on getting the word out about my book. It includes social media - I better learn how to tweet - interviews, contacts, newspaper, magazines and television. I do have experience in this area, not only from the job I have now but also for years working as director of the Farm on Wheels, Inc. and development coordinator for the NYFVI. I sent my promotional materials to ABC, CBS and Oprah describing my agriculture program. I cannot begin to convey my excitement when a crew from CBS news spent two days with me going to inner city schools filming me teach and joining young students as they learned hands on activities at the farm. I found the 1997 VHS tape, amazing it has made all of these moves across country, and had it converted to a DVD. I picked it up today. Step One of the book proposal project. Now, I have to figure out how to make it available as a link to this site. You will all get to see it as soon as I have that figured out. The right person will show up, I am positive. 

Each day I hope to make one step toward my goal. I'm going to set up a calendar of deadlines. The next person I need to find is a copy or line editor. I have some ideas where to begin. It will help me to select which stories will go into the proposal if I have an editor that is not related. Each family member has their own favorite.

I will have to share with you that I am still house hunting - six years and counting - and I am working with a personal trainer. There are many balls up in the air, so to speak, but it is time for these things to  fall into place. I am sure I will manifest a home that is conducive to writing where heat can be expected by turning a dial and not dragging wood up from the basement. The stronger and healthier my body, the more confident I feel speaking in front of a group. Yes, it is time.

Next post I will share with you my intention and why I wish to write. I am content that I made myself sit down and I actually wrote without finding a reason to do housework or plant additional flowers. Until later..








Sunday, July 6, 2014

Book Proposal Launch

Ok, this is going to be the beginning of something new. My blog usually consists of my commentary of life and the awareness that I gain from being in nature. I called my vignettes "stories" and a friend told me that term indicates fiction writing. This is not fiction. 

I wish to share with you, my reader, my dream. I love to write. I'd love to make my living by being an author and speaker. A part of me always denied this yearning and kept me pursuing more practical careers. A little more than a year ago, I started posting to this blog. It was my first venture into having my stories out in public. Next, I presented some of my work to Montana Woman magazine. The editor, Cindy, allowed me a section in this beautiful, monthly magazine. I am so grateful for the opportunity. Having a deadline each month gives me the reason to set aside time for writing. 

I have recently returned from a Hay House publisher writer's workshop in Denver. Hay House publishes Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Gregg Braden and many more. If you attended this workshop, you may submit a book proposal on December 28 without an agent. One person will receive a $10,000 advance and a publishing contract. Two people will receive a Balboa Press self publishing contract - worth over $7,000. The odds of winning this contest are about one in 50 compared to the average one in hundreds of thousands. This is my shot and I am going to take it. It is my intention to share this journey with my readers so that your energy and support will help guide me along this path.

When I first arrived in Montana, there had not been an agriculture agent here for 15 years. I was charged with teaching my clients how to grow their food in spite of the fact that  I had never grown anything in the Rocky Mountains. I decided to plant a vegetable garden on the courthouse lawn in the middle of town. This way, people would know where the ag agent was and I would learn along with my clients. If I was making a mistake, the whole town would see it. I would teach what I had learned. People loved seeing the garden mature as they drove to work each day. I had many wonderful phone calls and yes, everyone knew where the new agent set up shop. It didn't matter if the garden succeeded or failed, the purpose was the learning.

This blog is going to be like that. I encourage you to select one of your dreams and follow that path with me. I will continue to post my "vignettes" but will also be sharing my process - emotional, physical and spiritual - as I develop this book proposal. The staff at Hay House told us repeatedly that our ego would try to stop our progress. I listened to authors and publishers recount situations where writers gave up because they thought that "no one wants to hear what I have to say, who am I to be publishing, who will buy my  book or listen to me, I am not worthy, I probably wont be selected, " and on and on. When those thoughts began running through my mind, I thought what about those 3,000 readers I have on my blog. They are my support network. I will ask them to help me. 

What is so amazing to me each month is where you readers are located. Half of you are in the Ukraine. I have followers across the U.S. and in more than 20 countries. I say this to demonstrate how varied my audience is. I will gain so much from your unique perspectives. 

** There is a comment section under each post. I would appreciate your feedback very much. All you have to do is mouse over the word comment and a text box will appear. We all have dreams; we all have fears; we are all buoyed by each other. 

I read once, "If you want to be a golfer, golf; if you want to be a painter, paint." I want to be an author, so I am writing. More to come. 


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Beginnings

I was brushing Lakota’s mane. It had been a seemingly endless winter and her long tresses were rolled into tight little spirals and knots. A mist of detangler, some finger pulling and finally the wide toothed comb. I actually enjoy this process – it is a mindless task that allows my brain to wander and relax. As each tangle unfolds I feel my being settle; my breathing quiets. The scent of her filles me, her munching soothes my soul. I know that I love her completely. Then why was I grooming her and preparing her for a potential new owner?

When I thought of losing her or giving up my dreams of us becoming old ladies together, my heart would clench. Tears would well. I could feel anxiety rush over me. It felt like death – sudden, irreparable, final.


The word beginning hit me out of the blue. In an instant, I saw Lakota taking a young girl to the state horse show. I saw her being doted on and fussed over. Lakota would be a best friend and ally as this young lady traversed the pinnacles and canyons of high school. Her life was just entering a new chapter as was mine. When Lakota and I began our story, I envisioned joining folks exploring the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park, going camping on weekends, driving cattle, and possibly learning western dressage. I had only owned her 10 days when I had a serious accident and fractured my sacrum. Lakota waited for me for a year until I could ride again. The next two years we rode around the farm and the forests nearby. I came to realize without a truck and trailer we weren’t able to meet up with groups who were traveling with their horses. All the assurances I had been given that you could just jump in a trailer going by, had been unrealistic. Our third year, Lakota suffered a traumatic injury and sat on the sidelines for over eight months. I have come to a point where I understand I either have to go big, by purchasing a truck and trailer, or find Lakota a new home. Riding around the farm alone has lost its appeal.

My beginning will be to invest in property and put down roots. My choice is financing a home instead of a truck and trailer. If I allow myself to feel the love I have for Lakota and still move forward, allowing us our new beginnings, I feel at peace.

Why do I feel I am losing something? Why do I hang on so desperately to the past? Why do I cling to old dreams even though I can see fresh ideas pouring into my mind? Change can be scary. Change is continual. When I look at my life, the biggest changes have brought the biggest rewards. Getting married, having children, going to college, moving, even dating and buying a horse. Every change has allowed me to grow and become more of the person I am. Change has never made me less.

I am only afraid when I think I am doing it alone, when I forget I have a higher power. At those times, I feel inadequate and not able to face the challenge. When I remember we are all one, we are all connected, that there is a force supporting me – I find the courage. Change is an opportunity for life to get even better.

I am talking to myself here. I saw that the man I care about has moved on with someone else. I put an offer on a “fixer-upper” house and wonder if I have what it takes to pull this off. I am at a workshop for writers because this is my dream. Should I stay with the job I can do with my eyes closed for the security? We all have doubts. All we can do is face them one at a time and keep walking through. I ask each day to see my life the way Spirit sees it. Use me to help others. Let me see me as the loving, perfect soul that the Divine sees. My judgments of myself and my lack of trust in my decisions, perpetuates my fear of change. I ask to see these changes as the new beginnings that they are. Jumping into the void is easier if you go with me. Come on, let’s go.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Meaning



I was filled with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety as I tugged on the snorkel mask. Hadn’t I been the first person in the group to say, “I’ll join any small excursion at the conference that does not involve me getting into a bathing suit or putting my head under water?” I was swayed by my colleagues who had seen sea turtles feeding in front of the resort while swimming. I love turtles. They have such a maternal energy. Standing on the beach for the first three days, I only managed to see the silhouette of turtle heads bobbing in the sunset light.

We broke up into groups for team building/leadership activities. One group took a catamaran out to a reef with a tour guide and snorkel instructors. Our entourage decided to do beach activities on our own which included body surfing, snorkeling and tanning. After all, we were saving over a hundred dollars and we all knew what we were doing. The first stop was Snorkel Bob's where we rented our gear. Properly fitted, we were off to the closest beach. My “teacher” had been snorkeling for two days so he was way ahead of me. Here we were in Maui, and a Wyoming, Montana, Nevada and Colorado resident were teaching each other how to take on the ocean. You have to admire academics.

I stood still about shoulder deep and put my face in the water. Ok, yes there were little striped fish down there. Cool. I tried to swim but found my heart racing after only a couple minutes. It was then I realized I was holding my breath while I swam and taking a gigantic breath when I lifted my head. Now to swim, breath and keep my face down. The first time I got the rhythm, I swam easily along the lava rock and spied on all the urchins, coral and neon fish. I was watching the fish dart about when way below me were three scuba divers. Holy cow! How deep was I? I popped up to find myself way out on the reef. I paddled quickly back towards land. I had been so focused on keeping a safe distance from the sharp rocks and coral I lost my sense of space. After a half hour of swimming, I was tired. The water was so warm and inviting but I was done. I took off my mask, tube and flippers and waited on a rock for the men to return. They were all about 20 years younger and able to traverse the increasing waves as the tide came in. It was then that someone from the other side of the reef yelled, “Turtles!”

My Nevada colleague asked if I wanted to go back out and try to catch a peek. I donned my gear in a hurry and jumped back in. We swam along the far rocks. The waves were pushing us towards the coral and it was a struggle to keep away. I had to use all of my strength. I kept his red swim trunks within sight as the rocks became larger and as confusing as a labyrinth. He pointed to a blow fish and then a needle shaped fish. On we swam. Nevada began signaling with excitement. I searched and searched and saw nothing. Then I saw it. I almost burst with joy. There on the bottom, was a beautiful sea turtle taking a nap in the sand between the giant lava rocks. Finally. I could say I saw one. We came to the surface to talk. The decision was made to continue swimming across the front of the rock formation and then return to shore along the far side.

I hadn’t gone far when I surfaced again. I was exhausted. Each time I tried to relax, the waves pushed me into the sharp rocks or pulled me out to sea. There was no resting. I looked for my companion, I shouted his name but he was nowhere. I was alone and so far out from shore that no one could see me. The people looked like specks on the beach. I had to calm down. I put my snorkel back on and attempted to regain my rhythm and swim for land. I couldn’t do it. I hadn’t swam in water over my head in more than 10 years. Why hadn’t I thought of renting a life belt? How did I get this far out into the sea? How did I lose my swimming partner? There was no way I had the reserves to get to shore. I had heard nightmare stories of people getting impaled on the urchin quills but could I do that to get onto a rock? The waves were getting stronger and stronger. I wondered if this was the way I would go. No one would ever know where I went. I’d just disappear into the vastness.

It was then I saw a snorkeler holding a board maybe 50 yards away. His head was submerged and I could not get his attention. I began paddling his way with all I had left. Plunk went my hand on the board as I found my target. Up he came. I told him I was struggling and could not make it back alone, would he please help me. Still watching fish, he chugged away holding the board with one hand with me trailing behind. I held on and assisted with my flippers to a meager extent. When we got close enough, I waved good bye to my rescuer and he was gone without a word. My friends were not on the beach but came in some time later. Trembling and shaken, I layered on my clothes and drank some water. I made up my mind to set aside the incident, while remaining in a place of gratitude.

The next morning I woke before dawn reliving the experience. I felt my limbs giving out. I could see how small the people looked on the shore. I felt the tide thrashing me first towards the rocks, then out to sea. I watched but there was no emotion. It struck me that my mind was trying to decide how to file this scene. My mind was attempting to give this experience meaning. In this instant I could decide if this was going to be a file of miracles – the man showed up with the board just in the nick of time – or a file of terror- I thought I was going to drown, I was alone, vulnerable, unfit, dragged out to sea to inhale salt water and die. What was it going to be?

It reminded me of an accident that occurred almost 30 years ago. My girls and I had spent a day swimming at our pond with the aunts and cousins. I was packing up the car at the end of the day, stuffing the station wagon with inflatable toys, life jackets, sand pails and towels. I turned back towards the beach to collect the girls. Where was my youngest? My eyes combed the sand and that’s when I saw her. A little pink blur was under the shallow water. In an instant, I was there reaching for her as she lay on the bottom looking at me with wide open eyes. I hauled her out and into my arms. She was fine. When my husband came home from work, I recounted the story. We were both giving thanks for her safety.

She seemed to be fine the first few days and then she became increasingly afraid of the water. Afraid to take a bath, afraid to wash her hair. Eventually, I couldn't get her near water to wash her hands or brush her teeth. Instead of getting better, she was getting worse. My husband and I took her to a counselor. It didn’t take long until he solved the mystery. Her sister was 2 ½ years older. Her sister was dramatically telling the story, as only a four year old can, emphasizing how dire the situation had been. The younger child was listening and becoming more fearful with each telling. The more she heard how scary the situation was, the more she felt afraid. If no one had applied a negative meaning to the experience, she would not have remembered it that way. It would have remained a neutral experience. We began retelling the story in a nonchalant way and the symptoms disappeared. We took away the charge. We changed the file name.

It is time for me to assign the snorkeling incident a meaning or maybe not. Can I leave this as a neutral experience? Can I put it in my memory without denying it happened, without giving it a charge that will sneak up and affect my future dealing with the ocean? Can I use this situation to see how I apply meaning in other areas of my life – negative or positive? It’s a choice. I am choosing to leave it as neutral. It happened. I am still here. I am grateful for my life and every breath I take. That is all the meaning I need.



Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dog as my Teacher

Aries first day home June 26, 2007


After reading Your Dog is Your Mirror by dog trainer Kevin Behan, I looked at my dog, Aries, differently. Behan states that dogs respond to what their owners feel and not necessarily to what they say. Most of the book demonstrated the heart connection between humans and their dogs. The trainer had handled numerous canine behavioral issues which he felt were related to the owner’s emotional state.

I remember thinking – wow – if Aries’ behavior reflects what is in my heart, I could only be so fortunate. She is playful all the time. She is loyal, trusting and dependable. Aries never has a bad day. She likes everyone and everything. This dog is always wearing a smile. I must be joyful, loving and optimistic if my dog is my mirror.

In light of that idea, what keeps going through my mind is My dog is My Teacher. I could only aspire to be what Aries shows me. I don’t know if I can agree with Behan that she shows me what is in my heart or what I wish was there.

Aries demonstrates to me unconditional love. Right now, it is just the two of us. Aries lets me know every morning and every evening that I am the most important thing in her life. I can be totally who I am and she loves me completely. She is totally accepting, a walking example of unconditional love. Each day I see her and remind myself to be more accepting and forgiving in my work and at home. To me it is a process, to Aries it is who she is.

Aries trusts me completely. She does not worry that I will forget to feed her or care for her. She is always in the moment. How amazing would it be to have that kind of faith and trust? Aries lives without worry of the future and has no regrets of the past. Right here, right now. It is my intention to achieve that kind of peace and security. I tell myself “Surrender and Release, Let Go and Let God.” Eventually, I sense anxiousness over something at my work or fear of my future and I must remind myself to stop trying to control the outcome. Let it go. I say the Serenity prayer once more. Aries does not need a reminder.

Hand in hand with trust, must be patience. This is a quality I have worked on my whole life. Blame it on my personality type, my astrological sign - I’m an Aries, too – or my upbringing, but I am a get it done person. Be a part of the solution to something, or get out of the way. My co-worker and I joke about this all the time. I’d like to grow into the sweet, gentle, little, old lady in the back of the church that is wise and humble. I recognize that patience is a major ingredient to that achievement. Aries will wait for me for days, for weeks, for months. You could say it is because she has no choice. True. But when I leave her anywhere, she watches the door quietly until my return. Friends and kennel owners tell me that she doesn’t want to play, she doesn’t whine or pace, she just waits. She is obedient and calm. Her patience is unlimited. Her patience is not limited to waiting. Aries loves children. I took her to a sledding party where there were many dogs, kids, adults and activities. There was a disabled child there that could not join in the sleigh rides. She could only throw snowballs. Aries assumed that was a game and joined in catching the snow each time a handful was thrown. The child’s mother came up to me and said, “I am so sorry, your dog does not have to keep doing that for so long.” I told her, “Don’t give it a thought. When Aries gets tired, she will go lie down.” I can’t remember who gave out first, the child or the dog. I have seen her catch sticks, snow, or tennis balls from children for hours without getting bored or agitated. This must be where the saying “Patient as a Saint” came from.

Aries makes a sport of every activity. Ever since she was a pup, her favorite game is to catch the snow that is being brushed off the car as it is scraped in the morning. She makes me laugh even when I want to be miserable. This was a particularly bitter cold winter with more snow piled up than I have seen in years and countless subzero nights. Of course, it coincided with the winter I would sign up for a boot camp at the gym four mornings a week at 5:30 am. At 4:45 am, I am shoveling the walk and trying to find the car and Aries is having a ball. With each swish of the snow broom, Aries’ face is filled with white powder as she leaps and swallows the snow. She coughs; she gags and then leaps again. As I shovel, she grabs the shovel and tugs. I get angry because I’m freezing and tired and she pulls even more. Finally, I have to enjoy it with her. Her sense of humor is contagious. I can’t imagine cleaning the car without her dashing around my legs. I will remember her actions and be more like her finding enjoyment in little things - being excited by simple daily duties. No matter how daunting things appear, there must be fun in here somewhere waiting to be discovered.

Maybe her happiness stems from her youth. I told my friends when she was a fuzzy puppy, “I am treating her like she is 90 lbs. and I am wearing nylon stockings. This is how I want her to behave.” I spent countless hours training her and I have been rewarded for that effort over and over. The days of practicing drills, we were making an investment in our future. I had clear boundaries and expectations, consequences and reinforcement. She never questioned who was Alpha; she fell into her role as pack and relaxed contentedly. We would go on long hikes, swim in the lake and bask in the summer sun side by side as she traversed the road from sprout to mature dog. I was a mother bear in her regard, protecting her and the rules were clear. She didn’t need to expend energy in a power struggle; she could live life and find the ecstasy that abounds. I would be much more peaceful if I could remember that there is a power higher than mine. I am safe and protected. My relationship with the Divine is endless and the journey clear.

I do not believe for an instant that Aries is some type of super dog. She is a good dog. We have molded each other. She will be seven next month which is getting up there for a 90 lb. German Shepherd. Our time together is finite. I am choosing to learn the lessons that she presents to me. We humans, with our amazing brains and souls, have an ability to see everything and everyone as a path to our evolution. What can we take away from observing wildlife, holding a lover, raising a child or helping a friend? Are we able to use every opportunity to grow and become more of who we really are?

I can choose to become exasperated over the mud and shedding hair this time of year, or I can remember that soon things will dry out and Aries will be back on the front porch of our little cabin. I do not know if I will adopt a dog again after she leaves this world. I would have a great deal more options on where I can live without a pet. I will never regret this time and I treasure each day I am graced with her presence. People come in and out of our lives and pets do, too. Can I discover the lesson that each encounter brings to me?

What does my Creator ask of me? He asks me to be patient and kind, forgiving and trusting, love unconditionally and without regret. He asks me to be grateful for everything in my life and to know I am being cared for even if I lose my way. He asks me to be joyful and happy. He asks me to be of service to my brother. My Creator has given me a teacher and she is lying at my feet. Yes, Dog is my Teacher more than she is a mirror. Thank you for this gift. I am honored and grateful.

Aries and I December 2013



















Monday, March 17, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

If you build it, they will come.


Ok, I admit it, I was wrong. I went to the barn where I keep my horse and I saw a plywood sign on the road spray painted “Free garden space”. I asked the farm owner, “What is up with the sign?” He said, “Look!” He proudly showed me that he had enclosed a section of his fallow hay ground with deer fence and tilled it smooth. “It’s a new community garden.”

Considering that I was the county extension agent and had organized many of these gardens around the area, I thought he was being naïve. It takes a village to raise a community garden; committees formed, goals established, raised beds built. His farm was out in West Valley where there was no transportation and his neighbors all had acreage. Why would anyone out here need garden space and who would travel all the way out to this spot from town to use it? All that effort, gone to waste.

A few days later I saw activity inside the fence. Strings were being tied, rows created, seeds sprinkled. What? Who? Soon the garden was springing up with flowers and leaves and shoots. Neighbors further up the road were on rocky ground and in shaded areas. The deer were a constant threat and plantings were always under assault. It became obvious the location was perfect. People would stop by the garden on their way home from work and tend to their young vegetables. I was amazed.

After the first season, there were so many friends that wanted to join the garden that the farmer expanded the fence. Irrigation was improved from a single hose to an automated system. I did have my nose slightly out of joint when I realized that the project for having the riding arena enlarged was on hold so that the garden size could be increased. More and more gardeners arrived daily. A shed was constructed for tools. One gardener installed a small plastic house to start her tomatoes. A few of my master gardeners showed up and started planting. It was fabulous.

Centennial Farm is the location. Les Keller is the farmer. He is shy about talking about his success but when asked about the garden, he gushes about how much he enjoys it. “I meet all the nicest people who live nearby and I am constantly receiving fresh vegetables. I wish more farmers would consider taking a small piece of ground and provide it to others for gardening. The fence and the water are a small price to pay for the satisfaction of seeing nine families from my area growing their own healthy food. I am not sure how I would have met so many neighbors if I hadn’t done this.”

As I ride my horse on the farm, I wave to the gardeners who ask where my plot is. I say, “I have a horse.” This is my choice. The sunflowers hang over the fence and rattle in the breeze. The gardeners exchange ideas and advice under the brightly colored umbrella installed over a spool. Les refuses to acknowledge that this garden was an act of generosity but his neighbors disagree. He has offered to help any other farmers interested in creating a community garden for their neighbors. Build it and they will come.








Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pink Moon





He invited me to watch the Pink Moon rise over the Swan Mountains with him. I did not know that the full moon in April had such a designation. We walked along the lakeshore observing the snowcaps bathed in the rosy rays of sunset. A great horned owl gazed silently at our progression along the dike. He and I came to rest on a grassy slope that afforded a view of the marshland. The trill of the red winged blackbirds surrounded us. A pair of Canada geese honked overhead. Ducks sought refuge among the reeds. Deep blue clouds floated in to rest atop the peaks in the east. Who would win out, the formations or the long awaited Pink Moon? We waited in silence filled with the tranquility of the moment. The last of the sun’s rays lit golden on the cattails as the chill of the damp earth eventually worked its way through our jeans. The clouds were winning but the moon remained steady in its ascent. He reached for me and held me close, his hands stroking my hair. Then a tentative kiss. The sand hill crane croaked its prehistoric call. Confidence rising, melting, giving, receiving – laughter and tenderness. The moon eventually rose above the clouds but long after I had returned to my cabin. The Pink Moon is forever etched upon my heart even though I did not see it with my eyes.

This snippet from my journal reminds me of the reason why I am so grateful for my life. I read this passage and am transported to this treasured moment. The savory deliciousness of each encounter in my past is engraved on my heart. I am fortunate to have experienced the thrill and exhilaration of potential love. The magic of these moments does not fade whether I am 16 or 60. This is the frosting on the cake of my life.

Being a romantic is not for cowards. To enjoy the moment means opening and allowing the connection for all that can be. If I didn’t release my fear and allow myself to bond with this man, I would have denied myself the pleasure of this instant. The length of time that this union endures, does not define the value. If preoccupation with security and protection is foremost, we block all feelings behind walls of trepidation. How can we breathe in his scent and hear his heartbeat when we are fixated on the possibility that he may one day leave? How can he find us, if we insist on hiding?

Be bold. Be vulnerable. What is at risk? What is heartbreak? Heartbreak is when you have assigned a function to another person and they did not live up to the role you desired. You say to them, “I need you to fulfill this need for me or I will be …despondent, depressed, angry, ill...take your pick.” How does it feel to have someone put those conditions on you? I am responsible for my happiness. My partner can certainly add to that pleasure but I am ultimately in charge of my life and how I view it.

I choose to remember what I brought to the scenario. I brought an open, willing heart. I was generous and kind. I was playful and innocent. These emotions feel wonderful. I did not act or pretend; I was totally myself. I love the way I felt. I cannot know how another is interpreting my actions or words. I cannot dictate his actions nor would I want to. My security is my own. I know who I am going into this situation and I will be the same person if it continues or ends. I trust me. When I have loved honestly, willingly without expectation, I am being my authentic self. I accept the other unconditionally. If the Other decides to walk on another path, he is not taking anything away from me. I am more because I have known him. I have learned about me in the process. My spiritual progress is gauged by my ability to see his holiness at all times. I honor and respect him in light of my own personal desires. Sometimes, I disappoint myself when I have allowed emotions to blur my sight. My sister reminds me that, “I don’t walk on water”. I tell her, “I am in my human suit doing the best I can”. I am a work in process.

I bless each person I have had the pleasure of knowing. I continue to grow with each new relationship. My strongest wish is to encourage us all to continue to reach out to others. Be available. We cannot serve the world or find true joy unless we share who we are. Happiness shared is multiplied over and over exponentially. Hold your brother’s hand. Express yourself. Allow yourself to love and receive love from everyone you meet. Be the light. Please, come out and play. There is nothing to lose unless you make it so. Show up in the world. Show off your talents. Excitement is a magnet. Passion is contagious. We are here for such a short time in relation to eternity. Let’s not waste a moment being afraid that someone may not like us or approve of our haircut. Grab your roller skates. I’ll pack a picnic. Let’s set off for the next big adventure and see what the next moon holds in store for us.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Books




My eldest was packing to return to the east coast when she groaned, “Crap, I finished my book and I don’t have another one.” I said she could borrow one of mine and she said, “thanks, mom, but I am fine just the way I am.” She had been staying in my room and the bookcase is filled with spiritual and self-help books. I did find a novel for her to borrow but it really made me think about my reading habits. How long can you spend trying to learn about how to be a better person, partner, parent or leader? Is there no end to it? I do find a new insight into my being each time I read a fresh book. I see something about others or me that I had not thought about previously.

I find myself hip deep in another lengthy book right now. In some ways I must enjoy having all of my beliefs challenged. I am ok with feeling a little lost until I can integrate new concepts into my personal paradigm. I don’t mind other people questioning me, because I am continually questioning my own thought system.

This book is stating that, in most cases, I do not really know what is in my best interest. We think we know, but only the Divine can truly see. After life’s twists and turns we come to realize that a situation was not what we thought it was. A person turns out to be someone we should not have trusted, or a job turns out to be a nightmare, or a move resulted in a life we had not anticipated. I am facing relationship choices, career choices, and location choices. How do I know what is in my best interest? I believe that it is true, I probably really don’t know. The text encourages me to have faith and to listen to my Creator. I always joke with my friends and tell them I don’t want to have to guess what the answer is; I want a burning bush. A big YES or NO on the front lawn would suit me fine.

What do I want in my life? Will these decisions bring whatever that is to me? Is my life about finding a body to sit on my sofa? Is it about making more money? Is it about achieving glory? No, at the end of the day I want peace and I want joy. Will any of the situations I am considering bring me peace and joy?

Closer to 60 than 50, I am not looking for another heart break or an unrewarding career. My pondering takes me to a place of faith and listening to my Creator. My book reminds me, that my Creator will not put me in a place of fear, limitation, poverty or pain. I am free to make the choice to be miserable but that is not the will of the Divine.  I was created to be happy. This is my function.  I trust that the burning bush I have asked for will lead me to my best interest.

The Divine created us to be content and supported by loving relationships. Are we able to receive this? Can we allow ourselves to be blissful? How many of us can give freely but cannot tolerate compliments or gifts? When we open ourselves to the abundance of the world in every direction, we allow the energy to pour through us. Our acceptance of an offering is a benefit to our fellow man. We deny our brother the pleasure of giving, if we refuse him out of our feelings of unworthiness.

I know in my heart that we can have heaven on earth. We can choose to be in alignment with our higher selves. If we wish to create a union of peace and joy, we allow ourselves to see the light in our partner. That light is shared and strengthened through our thoughts and actions. Acceptance, nonjudment and kindness.

I consistently see people my age in a place of fear about relationship. I have several girlfriends who simply say, “Never again; I am not going through that kind of pain ever.” My male friends talk about what they have lost in previous break ups: stocks, retirement, and real estate.  In our haste to protect ourselves, have we forgotten the love that we have shared over the years? Why do we choose to feel the fear and the loss? Maybe it is more difficult to talk about love, maybe it is more socially acceptable to share misery, maybe feeling only the loss justifies us withdrawing and closing our heart to everyone around us. Does this decision bring about peace and joy? Hardly. It makes us feel cold, afraid and isolated. This feeling of separateness is not Divine will.

I choose peace. I choose joy. I make a decision to remember the love shared in my past. I am in the process of forgiving myself for any blame I have bestowed on past partners because a relationship ended. It is a process, because no matter how much I think I have ferretted out any negativity, I can find it trickling up. I am ok with that. I will stay vigilant and will bring these buried thoughts to the light as they surface.

In order for us to see the light in our partner, we must see the light in ourselves. We must come to know what an amazing, unique gift we are to the universe. I know when I meet someone, if they do not love and accept themselves, there is no way they can love and accept me. When this happens, I look closer at myself because my brother is my mirror. Am I able to acknowledge all that I am? Am I willing to be as happy as my Creator intended me to be? Can I let my walls down and accept this person as he is without judgment or fear?  

My books on the shelf have served their purpose. After years and years of reading, the conclusion is simple.  It’s not complicated. Be happy. See your brother as the Divine being that he is. See yourself as the perfection that you are. Let the light shine on all of your relationships, past and present. Allow yourself the bliss you were always meant to enjoy.







Monday, January 27, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Play



Yesterday a group of friends and I held our annual sledding party on a private drive north of Columbia Falls. The weather was less than perfect.  There was an adequate base of snow but the day was unusually warm and rainy for January in Montana. This did not dampen our enthusiasm. Chili was cooked, a bonfire lit and the roadway groomed to a glistening sheen. Each year we celebrate our host’s birthday by pulling out the runner sleds that he collects and race neck and neck down the hill. There is a very large bend in the road and some of the sleds steer better than others. The contests often look more like bumper cars than races. I wonder how far the laughter and shouting can be heard as we barrel into a pile up. A four wheeler with a long rope pulls the willing participants back up the road at the end of the trip. This is a luxury we enjoy as adults. By adults, I mean there is no one in the group younger than 55 years old. If you close your eyes and listen, it sounds like any sledding hill filled with children.

I lie on my stomach and hold the wooden bars with my soggy mittens. I taunt my opponent as I slide back and forth revving my machine, loosening the runners from the slush that is forming. Then it’s off down the hill. My face is only about four inches from the glazed road, the sled making a crunching sound as it flies over the ice. I scream to my friend to “watch out” as she weaves into my lane. I am gaining on her but the bend is coming; if she takes the turn too wide we are going to crash. Her grandson, who is snowboarding along the edge, dives out of the way. Somehow we make it around the turn without a collision. We high five each other at the end when we see we have set a new record for distance this trip. My friend and I trudge back up the hill pulling our sleds since everyone else has disappeared to watch the football playoffs.

Sledding makes me feel like I am eight years old again. In our youth, we used to toboggan downhill in snowy pastures. We didn’t have a smooth road for runner sleds. The exhilaration is the same now as before -wind in your face, sounds of sled over packed snow, teasing, laughing, wet clothes, and matted hat hair – all good for the soul.
My dog, Aries, played all day with other dogs and youngsters who threw snowballs for her to catch. The children built snow forts and waged snowball fights with the adults. I think about all the ways that people and animals have of playing, actions that are simply for enjoyment; no purpose; no agenda.

My sister and I took a vacation to Sedona a couple years ago. After about our fourth day of hiking, she sat on a stump and said, “You go ahead and do your thing. I’ll be right here when you get back.” I was totally bewildered. She said, “You told me we were going to relax and have fun, but we keep hiking every day.” I was so totally absorbed in the rock, the beauty and the warmth of the sun, it never dawned on me that this was not her idea of play. I enjoy physical activity – kayaking, hiking, swimming and riding my horse. Sometimes, I like to just sit in a place of grandeur like Glacier, the ocean, a forest or the lake. After awhile, I need to move again. Taking her desires into consideration, my sister and I reached an amicable compromise.

Currently in middle age, my friends and I are exploring hobbies and opportunities to play. The kids are grown and gone. We are and have been conscientious, hard working and focused. It won’t be long and we will have more time on our hands. Now what? It has been so many years of being the responsible adult that I struggled to make a list in my journal of what I consider play. That cracks me up. To get my list, I play the game with myself, If I were King. That means letting my imagination go. If money or time was not a limitation, what would I enjoy the most? It’s a pleasurable exercise. I see myself visiting my daughters more often, taking excursions to the ocean, riding my horse into the mountains and writing stories. Just envisioning these activities makes me happy.

Our perception dictates our definition of play. A rancher friend of mine needed a hand to help move cows to summer pasture. To him, it was work. To me, it was glorious play. This does not mean I did not take my role seriously. I moved when and where directed.  I pushed; I guided; I ran back and gathered stragglers. Other times, I guarded dirt paths that could become an escape route. This was not an ordinary task for me. It was filled with excitement and camaraderie. I was definitely playing.

When I returned home last night, I listened to a webinar online as I cooked my dinner. The speaker mentioned “sacred playfulness”. He said it was a source of creative inspiration. That term has been running through my mind. When we can let go and play, relax, be in the moment, have fun without any expectations – we are in a place of openness. We are happy and joyful. This is where we are one with Spirit. Ideas, insights and motivation flow into our being. Guidance is delivered when we are not blocking and over thinking. The silliness of yesterday’s activities is still in my heart. I allow myself to be inspired, to create without purpose. I am giving myself permission to simply enjoy the writing of this story for my own pleasure.

I am fortunate to have a job that is rewarding. There are many times in my day that if I just slow down and become aware, I experience pure joy. Nothing makes me happier than to help others be successful tending their land, to see a child grow their first vegetable, or feel that I have contributed to protecting our environment. Sure, I can see it as work and then it creates a feeling of drudgery. If I look at it as doing exactly what I would be doing If I were King, it makes my heart soar. I am surrounded by the magnificence of the mountains, the spectacular reflections in the lake and the endless fields of wheat as I travel around the valley carrying on my duties. As I head into 2014, I will make room for more play in my life. It is all in my mind.  The way I look at my everyday activities will determine whether I see them as a chore or not. I will seek joy and share it with the community I serve. I invite you to add more play to your life and encourage your friends to do the same.