Friday, July 15, 2016

Time....

Relationships take time....friends, lovers, grandchildren, dogs.  In my heart, I've known this...although there were times when I did not listen; times where I jumped into a relationship without going through the steps of developing and learning and listening...all those tiny steps that make for strength, deepness and trusting.  I'm challenging myself to take time.....all the time it needs to nurture all that I am longing for in life.



I'm working a new-to-me little dog that has been here for three weeks.  She is all trained up and shiny in the right hands.  But for me, I have my own way of doing things; my own way of communicating......and she does not understand me, at least not at this point.  In three weeks, we have done a lot.....real work pushing to sort lambs for shipping, small field work to develop understanding and trust, and a little big field work.  Most days, in the familiar, she is coming along with me.

That old phrase "it takes a year to partner up with a dog" is such a great reminder when things go...well, really wrong!  At a recent trial, I thought perhaps...with all our "coming along" I could exhaust a little with her.  And with that....pretty much everything that could go wrong on an exhaust did.....well, we did not run sheep into the fence but we did everything else really wrong.  It was a good day for me to practice all the things a good developing relationship needs to continue to be deeper and filled with trust and understanding.  I went and helped her.......immediately..... I got what I could while whisking the sheep off the field..... then, we stopped.

This relationship needs more time!  We need to chat on the phone a little, go to lunch, laugh, share experiences, watch a few movies.....all the little things that happen as a friendship begins.  I can't expect her to go from "not knowing me" to " best friend" without the time and miles.  This dog brings such perspective and I'm grateful for the reminder!!

I'm working on three things...all of which I wrote on my hand at the recent trial.  I wrote it in ink on the back side of my hand so when I looked down I would see the words and remember:

CALM
QUIET
FAIR

Bella loves it when I run with those three qualities.  Our relationship has the time behind it, plus the miles...and when I am really calm, and very quiet, and honestly fair....she shines.  I stumbled a few times while I ran her this weekend...but, with my eyes wide open....she told me when I was off.  For me, that is exactly how relationships, the good ones anyway, work.  The give and take in communication, the adjustments made based on the feedback, that miraculous dance that occurs when the partnership is in sync.....yep, this is why I go back for more.

In talking with a friend about all the above, I came to the conclusion, yet again....changing myself, growing myself, developing myself is my highest calling.  I mean really, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, right?  I love it when my dogs give me their all......I owe it to them to keep to my task of giving them my all right back...calm, quiet, and fair.  And when "it" goes to crap...because there will be days it will.....the relationship will be the calm in the storm.....if the time was invested.

These are the things I need to remember......

Seize the Day!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

My Addiction

I journal....no surprise that I write out all my inner most over thinking.  Writing helps me sort me.....and I do go back and read what I have written.  They say the definition to insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result....so I read myself to see what insanity I have going on.  I could do a secret true confession here and tell you I am addicted to sugar.....yep.  But really my epiphany from reading myself is...I am addicted to STRIVING.

I wondered if my addiction is unique to me...or if it is a human nature issue....that striving for more/better/change; cleaner flanks, bigger outruns, more sheep.......the list goes on and on for the things I fall into striving for.  Perhaps I strive to keep myself from falling into "settling" which is a huge fear of mine.  Not giving my all and falling short to then feel the disappointment and excuse turning into "well that was the best I could do" knowing that I gave only half a heart.

If one edge of the knife is "settling" is the other "always striving?"  The idea really smacked me after I ran my half marathon last year......it took me a good year to train and fundraise. The whole trip was magical and the run itself was a dream come true experience. But after the race......there was this huge hole in me......I'd achieved my goal and then....now what?  A faster half marathon, a longer race, a race in Europe...all the possibilities and yet that feeling of "that was it?"

Having a bit of a critical nature, being a bit of a perfectionist...well those two traits really hold hands to create a purpose of never ending striving.  I look around and see that striving might be a human "issue" really.  All those striving for more...better dogs, bigger land, thinner bodies, more money.  Of course when you mix in some comparison with the striving...well, holy hell, Batman!

I'm off to a sheepdog trail this coming weekend.......I've trained a bit and worked a lot more.  We shipped lambs on Thursday and Sis got some hard pen work mixed with learning to work with me on a quad.  I love the days of work.....with or without the dogs.  I'll head to the trial; the little test to see what I have in my relationships with my girls...how far I've come with the work in me and my fairness and partnership.  And somehow, I hope to find the tip of my knife; that little place between 'settling' and 'striving'......that place where I know....life is good!

seize the day

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Beat Stress"

I just opened an email....the tag line was "Beat Stress".  It was a woo woo advert for a meditation program that touts, "Imagine achieving instant results -- LESS STRESS, more happiness, greater focus, improved creativity...immediately."  WOW!!!  IMMEDIATE results...all without effort.  As I read the ad...I thought "damn, too bad it wasn't weight removal!".  Right?

I thought about that ad all day long today....so much of what is wrong in me has to do with wanting results RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE!  Those 10+ pounds....I put on over months...yep I sure would like them gone NOW!  The zen of meditation that takes a life time to attain....sure would love that in less than 12 minutes a day with a miraculous audio program.  Or how about a "trained to open dog".....yes sirree...that can be done in a month.  

What if.....bear with me on this one....what if I took the time to enjoy the journey.  What if, I enjoy the food I eat and the runs of the day.....and instead of wanting anything other than what I have this very moment....I just am!  What if I take my time and allow my dog the privilege of sorting her outrun by providing opportunities to have big field gathers as well as set sheep for her. What if I take my time and enjoy her unfolding...knowing that any step of the way, I can be there to help her and  teach her; trusting myself to know when to do just that.  What if i don't make a big deal out of what happened yesterday....knowing today is a new day and it will never be yesterday again! What if, I took time to mediate instead of the time on social media?  

Perhaps....just perhaps....I can embrace what is and allow what will be....taking the time to do so.  And perhaps I will stop looking for short cuts or magic bullets!  

Yep, it's a good day to make extraordinary!  

Seize the day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Make Your Life.....

I spent the weekend at a sheepdog trial.....I've not trialed since late last fall.  The past two years, my trialing has been sparse; with the BIG move, I wanted to be fair to my dogs.  If I can't condition them and put some time into the working relationship, I'd rather not spin them out onto a field of lines and precision.  Now here I am, full circle back to the beginning of my roots.....the trial that started it all for me......surprisingly, I'm not the same person I was ten years ago.

I keep thinking of my favorite movie quote...."Seize the day.....make your life extraordinary";  whispered by the lead actor, Robin Williams, as he points to a trophy cabinet filled with pictures of teams from the past.....reminding the young boys that all those men in the pictures were dead.  It's the fate of all of us; the ending punctuation of our life book is death.  Indeed the other truth is: we have the opportunity to make this day, the one we are living right this very moment, amazing.  The quote reminds me...I choose....at the very least, and most, I chose my focus.

The Scio Trial 2016.......I really enjoyed my dogs.  Sis showed the things we have worked on in understanding, all the while knowing, she needs time to become.  I asked things of her she was not quite ready to give and yet she also showed understanding and partnership as she sorted all the "new" I threw at her.  My job now is to be fair and cut the muscle memory in myself; that muscle that goes to a bit of yelling when any dog does not seem to listen to what I am trying to say.  Bella ran and it was good to see that she is feeling pretty fit.  I spayed her in January and took a tumor off her back leg.  Our journey back to fitness has been a little sore.  She is also a little chubby.....sigh....taking weight off a spayed dog requires some creativity and the help of a village.

I read a blog post the other day that presented the idea:  much of disappointment, and perhaps even some depression, stems from "expectations."  At the end, the article encouraged me to let go of my daily expectations.  I've thought about this for the past few days.......


I've made my own equation from the idea.....expectation + perfectionism = _______________.  I've lived this, having had a few people in my past life that were expectation + perfectionism + personal low self esteem = very critical negativity.  You know the type...where nothing you do is ever good enough and there is always, always something wrong.  Perhaps I brought that to my early dog interactions.....poor Snook, my sacrificial first dog.  Digging a little deeper, perhaps I brought this to my college years, friendships, parenting and most certainly to my relationship with myself.

I've already, with intention and focus, begun to put to death my perfectionism.  The new question is: how does one let go of "expectation," especially when a toe is dipped in the pool of a competitive based activity?  First off, letting go of other people's expectations is paramount.  It's not just the sheep dog world of critical comparison...it's everywhere.  I'm dabbling in the world of bees and I have joined a few 'bee forums.'  I've found the critical expectation there as well.....from what type of hive is maintained, to needing to wear a total and complete bee suit to be comfortable working with those tiny stinging pollinating creatures from Heaven.  "I'm so badass, I tend my bees in my birthday suit...you SHOULD too."  Um...not ever going to happen!!!


I've been working with myself on "being present" for the past few years.  I've struggled with this.....but it's a worthy quest for me as I let go of expectations. Also letting go of, what Dr. Daniel Amen calls, ANTS: Automatic Negative Thoughts.   I've already confessed I work my mind around to seeing the beauty of the land as I nurture it back around to fertile and healthy instead of focusing on how sick and uncared for it was when I began.  As I run, I try to see and be a part of the run rather than allow my mind to make lists of things needing done or worse...get caught up in not really wanting to run!  At the trail this past weekend, I found myself falling into the list of expectations of what I thought my dogs could do, should do, do better.  It was only a momentary lapse into the expectation insanity.....I breathed out and sought to seize the day.  I volunteered to exhaust and move sheep with Sis.....



I spent some quality time with people I have not seen for a long while.....and while we chatted, I really focused on being in the here and now; I learned more about them and their lives.  I sat and watched dogs run....styles of handling, glimpses of understanding, creativity in partnerships.  As I drove home, I knew the day had unfolded into extraordinary.

Letting go of expectations, working on being present, exterminating ANTs, directing focus, and along the way.....finding the magic....it's a noble quest and I'll keep to it.

Seize the day.....make life extraordinary!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

What Makes Your Heart Beat?

A long time ago, in a world that feels far, far away, a friend from a past life told me...."do what makes you happy."  This advice came on the tail end of a disappointing trial season.....the disappointment falling on myself and who I had become. I had sort of lost sight of how I trained, the importance of relationship, and the joy that comes when focus is "right".  I've thought long and hard about those five words "do..what...makes...you...happy".  What does make me want to get out of bed in the morning?  What makes my heart beat?  


When it comes to dogs, I love watching a dog sort and learn....two parts natural instinct mixed with one part input from me.  I double love watching a dog sort out sheep in real working situations.  The confidence that comes from shutting the gate on a task and knowing the work was done, together...and done well.


I love riding out on a cool morning, climbing hills, Bella running by my side looking out and knowing...there is a job to be done today.


Watching a dog sort out its first look at a mob of "old croppers", which by the way are older bigger lambs being sold for bigger weights, finding courage and understanding how to move the bolder of the mob....well, it always takes me breath away to see the dog unfold into being useful.


Working together, my dogs and me, to help take a mob of sheep to a new field......doing a job, making it easier, smoother, less stressful.....makes me so proud of all that my dogs are.


I know happiness can be so fleeting...I also know it can be a side effect of right focus.  I think, more than being "happy" I am seeking those daily captured moments where relationships are nurtured, deepened, solidified......those moments come putting in the time while staying present and doing the work.


This.....this is what makes my heart beat!

Seize the Day......


....make life extraordinary!


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Suddenly.....

"Have you ever had a moment like that? Suddenly, without explanation, the stars seem to align and, without doing anything, the pressure in your chest eases and the thoughts in your mind untangle and you can’t explain it, but it seems like everything’s going to be okay, and you know you didn’t do anything to make it happen and it feels like a gift—one you want to open slowly so the moment of grace won’t pass you by, as you know it inevitably will." ~ Dr. Kelley Flanagan
I really enjoy Dr. Flanagan's website blog, UnTangled.  He is pretty darn raw and authentic; does not sugar coat the challenges of life all the while striving to find the higher ground.  Unlike so much of the blather on social media, which whips up drama forming stiff peaks of uncooked meringue, Dr. Flanagan brings the journey of living around to self.  I love it, I need it. I long for my moments of amazement to string together joined by "gratitude" and "right focus."


I love the new ranch.  Over the past few months, I will admit, there have been times where I felt like I was just visiting; I've felt like I was staying at a bed and breakfast, until Tuesday night.  The moment probably was seeded last month when we finally signed all the papers and the other house became home to another family.  I drove by and saw kid things in the back yard and it was bittersweet.  All the memories; the goods and bad, mundanes and parties, memories of growing a family and finding a little more of myself washed over me.  I'm so thankful the house belongs to another family growing up kids....it deserves to be loved and enjoyed!  The signing of the papers and the turning over of keys released me into unpacking my heart and mind....finally. As I was driving home on a windy, rainy Tuesday night....I came to the stop sign that I have stopped at how many thousands of times over the past 10 years of owning my original RDR?  THAT moment, of intense feeling of being untangled, hit me...... I turned right instead of left and drove home.  


This place is pretty magical.....there are days when I go out to work and I lose myself in time.  I step back into 1856 when the property was homesteaded...the first in the Turner valley.  I squint my eyes into slits and let my mind wander into the forest trees that were cut off the hill side.  What grew in the big field below? Certainly camas, as my wet corner pocket acres are full of the beautiful purple flowers.  I wonder if natives roamed my land, gathering the roots to dry and feed their families.  The little pond, fed by the spring-head on the acre we own across the main road, invites a leisure bench sitting in the shade of the big willow........who decided to bring the bullfrogs in?  Taking the land back from the hemlock, thistle and blackberries is my main goal right now.....and the beauty unfolds as the work continues.



My husband laughs, almost daily, in wonderment at the idea we purchased 'property with a view'. "Who knew?" he exclaims as he drinks his coffee from the porch and wonders at the changing views. Some days fog rolls in off Mill Creek, fingers extending out over the fields, lengthening, relaxing and covering the land.  As the sun rises and finds strength, the hand folds curling back into the waters, taking nothing while leaving the fingerprints of dew.  Other days, the sky is crystal blue, a backdrop for Mt. Jefferson, a rosy snow covered mountain reflected in the water of the pond.  

The work can be consuming....the fitbit steps never ending....as I spray, seed, feed and love on the land.  Thoughts of "how the heck could anyone let the land go so feral?" sneak in and I remind myself......I am so blessed!  The physical work, putting the roots to my dreams, is so rewarding....and I find a lot of happiness and perhaps a little peace as the late 1800's meet 2016.  




Secretly, I think this place was created just for me.  All the tiny details of those who lived here before.....maybe it was created for them too, but most certainly it was for me.  "Suddenly, without explanation, the stars seem to align and, without doing anything, the pressure in your chest eases and the thoughts in your mind untangle and you can’t explain it, but it seems like everything’s going to be okay, and you know you didn’t do anything to make it happen and it feels like a gift—one you want to open slowly so the moment of grace won’t pass you by, as you know it inevitably will."

I find myself living my manifesto.....seize the day, make life extraordinary....open the gift slowly (with intention) so the moment won't pass me by......






Monday, April 25, 2016

Are Blogs a Thing of the Past?

I glance over at my blog feed, the list being full and long on the right hand side of my own blog page......only a handful, if that, are current.  I wonder why?  The running blogs I follow are filled with current updates, the same to be said with the bee blogs.  Of course, Pioneer Woman posts every day, sometimes more than once!  What has become of the working dog blogs?

Personally, my life has changed radically with the move to new land.  I'm still training my dogs but the days of "every weekend trialing" are gone for now.  The list of "things to do" here and closing up shop there, makes for days on end being full from sunup to sundown.  I hit over 120,00 steps for the week for the first time since my half marathon.  My days are filled with hemlock and thistle eradication, planting, feeding, planning and dreaming.  I've added bees to help the orchard thrive and have plans for an enclosed, deer proof garden.

But my love is still the dogs!  My freelance sheep work has continued well past lambing.  Young Sis is coming along and I try to work her on the mobs whenever the fields allow for mistakes and learning.  I've got a friend's dog in for some training; new lines are making me dig deep into the tool box to get understanding.  An old friend, from a life that feels past, once told me, "do what makes your heart happy" and here I am.

As I watch the youngsters sort and learn, my heart can hardly be contained in my chest.  Sis gathered a field of mamas and babies the other day. The field did not allow for the gather of my dreams; two string polywire lined the back end and Sis does not have the experience to sort that.  Well, not without either losing sheep through the wires or getting shocked in the process of bending.  As I work on her bending and sorting top ends....a shock is NOT where I want to go ever, so I got my Fitbit steps in and walked her out......pushing the stragglers over to form a single mob as we went out wide. The push to the holding pen was nice and easy with everyone staying together and Sis covering all those who might want to stay.  Sis was quite comfortable being way ahead of my slower, two legged trot that never seems to keep up with anything four legged especially in a wet field.  Once we got to the need for some real "pushing" the pressure brought some fight out in a couple of mamas.  I watched in amazement as Sis sorted out what to do and when.  One ewe, Sis just held the pressure and the mama moved off with her baby.  Another ewe decided her family was not going in the pen and came at Sis. Time froze and I knew....this was a make or break moment.

Watching a dog find themselves...learning what they are made of.....still takes me breath away.  I had no idea that Sis had a lovely face bite in her.....a soft one and a nice hard one.... or that she could take the "stand there" to allow the ewe to move off once the defensive move was delivered.  Perhaps I could have manufactured the experience in a controlled training session.....however, watching Sis sort it out herself was that sweet reward of all the lies in these amazing working dogs.  It's that "thing" that I can't take much credit for......perhaps just allowing "it" the time and miles and trust and relationship to grow up and finds its way out in the real work.

I'm still here, although life looks a little different these days.  I still train and work and I'll get a few trials in here and there.  I still think about the dogs and ponder their ways as I do my land improving work.  I believe my blog will take a little turn as I feel compelled to write about my new days....filled with bees and flowers and gardens and sheep and always, always dogs.

Seize the day!!!