Friday, April 18, 2014

"Trying" Days

2014 goals included:

*Raise a puppy......man oh man, is this turning out to be one wild and crazy ride of learning to mold the mind of one very clever puppy!  I'm starting a list of all the things she has taught me......I'll post that later as said list grows pretty much every day.  One thing is for certain, I need to keep my bras in a drawer and that drawer shut!  Enough said!

*Get healthy.....this one sounded easier and simpler than what it is turning out to be.  Fine by me, I've got some house cleaning to do.  Days gone by "healthy" meant "loose some weight", "exercise a little"; instead I find myself, shovel, rake, pick, and broom in hand, cleaning out my heart and mind.  Attacking and mucking as I would the barn.  Too bad I can't fit the tractor in there....it is hard, yet good, satisfying, fulfilling work. Progress is measure incrementally; and care is taken to not be making messes along side the cleaning.

*Follow a well thought out plan for lambing.......hahahahaha!  I guess I must be good at lambing because it stays with me like fresh sheep pooh stink on a 3 1/2 month old puppy!  I'm lambing again, and with the Douala job comes the highs and lows of life....at their extremes.  As much as I try, I can NOT "not care".  Instead I try to find the balance between NOT over-caring while doing what I know to do and NOT beating myself up when things are not perfect.

I was chatting with a good friend yesterday, intermittently, small tid bits of feelings shared when each of us had time amidst a busy day. What am I to learn from this......never ending lambing seasons married to the lambing out of someone else's cull sheep.  I've felt "stuck" in the movie Groundhogs Day....hitting the alarm clock and living similar experiences each spring with lambing seasons seeming endless.  I'm now on take five, I believe; different versions of the same story.  One year, the ram broke out into the open ewes I keep for dog work.....lambing went on and on.  Another year, I used CIDRs on the ewes and a marker on the ram.  Once all the ewes were marked, I slipped into the comfort of "knowing" exactly what day each ewe was bred meanwhile leaving the ram with his harem to keep him happy until lambs appeared....lambing went on and on that year too!  Yet another year, I brought in some skinny old hags of some shepherds sharp pen of culling.  Needless to say, they WERE open, but my good and kindhearted friend, who would give the shirt off her back to her peeps, hauled a ram for another friend in the same trailer with the ewes.  Convenience and keeping that ram happy, left him in a pasture with the girls until he was hauled to his new home......and the lambing went on and on that year too!  I've hit the alarm clock and its 2014......first lamb of round two hit the ground yesterday....I'm off and running, hoping to get it right this time.

*Find Peace.....or in the negative....stay away from Drama!  This goal has had me attempting to limit my Facebook time.....seems FB really brings out the drama for me.  On the one hand, it is nice to read about other people and their "challenges" in life......makes me feel a little bit more, hmmm, well normal.  On the other hand, part of my barn cleaning is setting healthy boundaries and surrounding myself with those who come along side to share the journey of finding answers that are healthy and keep me headed in the direction of my goals: GET HEALTHY!  As I pondered this past weeks extravagant helpings I've been served up for life, I cannot help but let my mind slip into "what have I done to deserve this?" mode.  Am I living the payment of some karmic debt that I owe from something I did last week, last year, last lifetime?  Am I being "tested" to see what I am made of, how bad I want it, or how far I will go to get it?  Is my Creator tell me to hang up my crook, sell the sheep, watch reality TV during the day and get a boob job?

These questions don't just come about from Never Ending Lambing either.  Last Wednesday, I wrapped my Bella around a piece of cattle panel and put 25 stitches in her left shoulder.  The second it happened, I knew......I took off running into the bottom pasture where her outrun had propelled her, three legged, asking for that "lie down" we've been working on and getting it, thankfully, on the first command.  I lay with her, compressing her shoulder, slowing her heart rate, wondering what the hell I was going to do.  How could I, one person, keep her bleeding controlled, hold her shoulder together, while carrying her to the truck some 250 yards away.  We lay there, Bella and me......and I realized yet again so many of the epiphanies I always seem to promise to remember as they slide into the "taken for granted" corners of my cobweb infested mind.  My good friends began to show up for their day of sheep work; each of them working together to help me.....bandages brought down, tears dried, phone calls made to cancel the day and make room at the vet's.

"Trying" days"......LIFE!  I don't think we manifest all of our "trying days".  I don't think we are paying karmic debt, nor do I believe we "deserve" them.  I believe they happen......trying days happen to everyone regardless of belief or goodness.  We cannot escape them, wish them away, protect ourselves from them.  We can learn from them but learning does not prevent more and different "trying days" from coming around.....because they will come around until we breath our last breath.  Trying days are the yang to fabulous days and I surely don't want to live without those!

Here's what I am learning, again and again much like my lambing:  1) I have a choice in my "trying days"....I don't get to choose them, but I do get to choose how I will participate in them!  I get to choose how I look at them, how they make me feel, if I let them turn to drama.  I get to choose my attitude and behavior....if I try to eat them away, or sleep them away, blame them away or bitch them away.  I can choose to bring others into them; to help find answers, to share in the journey, to find some sympathy, or feed my ego.  I can laugh at them and learn from them and find a bit of what is to be thankful for amidst them.  I can CHOOSE MY ATTITUDE. 2) FRIENDS are priceless......I'm so thankful for the good friends that I have.  My "trying days" magnify both.....my attitude and the work that needs done there.... my friends who come along to walk beside me as I TRY.

Bella is going to be fine.  My plans are needing some adjusting as she mends and I am practicing the art of letting go mixed with patience.  The cattle panel has been removed...and those that are gate opening are being padded.  And me, well you can find me in the lambing barn working on my attitude all the while being thankful for my friends. One down....nine to go......

Seize the Day!!!!!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Doors and Windows

I've been putting it off.....for as long as I knew my shotgun side-seat driving friend could not go along. I've tossed and turned, shed a few tears, and grieved a little.....this morning I got up and pulled out of the Bluegrass.  I've competed in the Bluegrass for the past two years and really love the trial.  Kentucky is beautiful, if not hot, living on the edge with tornadoes and thunderstorms not seen here in the West.  And the competition, wowzer!!  Three lambs on a big field, each run a mini-clinic in handling!

I know there are times in life where "what you want to do" and "what you really do" are lessons in letting go.  I also understand that there are times in life where a person has to dig deep and ask "how bad do YOU want it?" soldiering ahead and sacrificing to achieve a goal.  Finding the balance between going and staying, buying and selling, moving and keeping still, training and recuperating are fine and personal lines.

I've also learned that "when a door is shut, a window is open" so I will keep my eyes wide open for the view through the window as I head out to new lands that have been on my list of "Oh the Places You'll Go".  Wyoming beckons to me this year; new adventures to savor and new places to run.  No looking back and wishing, no "coulda, shoulda, woulda".  I'm going to miss the Bluegrass but I will root from home!  And while I am cheering on and watching scores, I'll fondly relive all those sweet memories of my trips to Kentucky!

Seize the Day!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven

Life's a country song, so they say.  Kenny Chesney sings:

"Everybody wants to go to heaven
Get their wings and fly around
Everybody want to go to heaven
But nobody want to go now"

Exactly right, everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to go now.  I've shared I am reading three books right now: one on sport's psychology, one on mental management and the other I'm actually listening to in the truck and it's about living life.  I found a quote I can not stop thinking on...."I love the journey as much as the destination."  Really, when I think about life, my last destination will be my coffin and I'd like to take as much time getting there as I can.  Better keep to the task of loving the journey!!!  In the past, I've lived destination to destination.....I'm working on building my "journey/process muscle memory".  

Last blog entry I misquoted so I will quote again and get it right.  It's really worthy of another look:

There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein

I've had the opportunity to talk to many sheepdog handlers over the years and as I share about my longing for my scores and placements to not define me, my longing for finding the learning opportunities in each outing with each dog, my longing to find the miracles in each day....I hear how easy it is to cross the line into burnout when pushing towards a life where destination trumps journey.  I think in sheepdog trailing, it is different than say being an Olympic Athlete where a person only gets so many years to attempt being THE BEST.  With sheepdogs, each new dog that comes into our lives gives us the next shot at achieving our dreams.  Many of us have a number of dogs, each in different stages of competition which means our life of being competitive could be all the way to our end destination if we so choose and find a bit of good health along the way.  How do I find joy in the journey and not loose myself in the competition, caring about scores, when I compete weekend after weekend, year after year?

I've been asked to dig deep into the "why" am i sheepdog trialing. Really digging deep into the "why" is challenging. Every time I come up with an answer, I ask myself, "what else, why else?"    With much appreciation and gratitude to those who have helped mold me, my "why's" have changed, radically in the past few years.  My "why's" bring me joy now, instead of leaving lack; the why's bring me back to being true to myself and focusing on relationships.  i can rest in a run knowing I have put forth my best effort for the day and the process of the journey.

"After you have shifted your focus from “perfect” to “best,” ask yourself: “Did I get better today? Did I move another step towards my goal, my full potential?” ~ Beecham, Stan

I think Stan might have nailed me...."perfect"...oh how I long to be perfect.  As I let go of the idea of perfect, best feels so much more attainable and supportive of my journey.  Did i get better today?  Have I found things to work on to help me be better?  Baby steps to reaching my full potential.........I love the journey as much as I love the destination!

Seize the Day!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rambling Around the Hills

"No matter who you are or how successful you have become, you will have another bad day.  Accept it and move on." ~ Stan Beecham

The beginning of the trial season is here!  What has been the dreams of the winter becomes the reality of the now.  It does not matter if the days preceding were filled with training or time away from preparation, the trial season is indifferent to personal readiness.  Yet, opportunity remains abundant; opportunity for learning, assessing, growing, succeeding, working on "right" focus.  For me, I know if I base my identity and self worth on a score, I will live an empty life full of ups and downs. I can't always run at my peek, my dogs can't always run at their peek, together expecting peek performance weekend in and weekend out is...well, for one thing not realistic and, for another, is ego driven.  (I am still talking about "for me" btw).  The time has come; I feel the need to hang up my excuses and live in the now; not living in past accomplishments or disappointments, letting go of the preplan of "how I will do" at trials ahead. I know my character is formed, my learning curve sharped, opportunity to improve upon relationships are given by any run.

"What is to give light must endure burning" ~ Viktor Frankl

I'm re-evaluating my ranch and how to proceed into the future.  Letting go of what I love is hard but I do know that I need to embrace the seasons.  Letting go feels a lot like burning.  On the one hand, burning the internal rubbish is good and cleansing. However, there is that burn that happens when there are two good and equal choices, the one let go of can feel a lot like loss.  I think I'll try not lambing next year and see how that works and feels.  Well, unless I buy in some bred cull ewes that always seem to come "gift with purchase" when I buy them.

"Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle" ~ Abraham Lincoln

Hustle, amazing word.  I'm reading a new book on mental management and the focus of today's chapter  is: finding flow.  So instead of hustling against the stream, which creates the illusion that a person is giving 110% only because it is hard work paddling against the current, I want to hustle with flow.  Which then brings me back to burning the things in my life that don't serve me but create current and hinder me from going with the flow.  Sometimes words like "flow" and "timing" and "letting go" appear to be the antithesis of "hustle"....and yet not.  Hustle for me is doing all that needs to be done in preparation that will allow flow.  For example, an unfit dog can't get around a course, so we condition.  Hustle becomes the vehicle which allows the easy of flow.   Those days when i don't really "feel" like doing what it takes to achieve my dreams....those are the days when I'd like to "wait" on the 13.1 to come to me......hustle!

"There are two ways to live:  you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle" ~ Abraham Lincoln

My two weeks that surrounded Heppner and Zamora were filled with miracles that could only be found when I opened myself to what each day had to show me.  My dogs were partners, my puppy a trouper, my friends good and true, the road and hills filled with amazing beauty atop those hard to climb inclines and hills.  I wonder about competition; my new book wants me to find the why's in what I do. Funny as I sort that out I'm better at listing my goals...the why's behind these goals are requiring some serious mining and, thus far,  I've only found a few nuggets, I've not hit any vein yet. Why do I give lessons?  Why do I work dogs and travel America to trial?  Why do I run?  And of the small answers i have begun to find; which were handed to me by others and which are deeply and truly mine?

I want to live as if everything is a miracle: good days, bad days; burning, growing, in the hustle of the flow.

Seize the day!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cobwebs

I trialed a little over the winter, I told myself as I packed the truck to head off to Heppner.  My dog will be fine, she will remember.  I thought over the top hands I'd see at Heppner; the day-in day-out training up of their dogs to begin the trial season.  When the feelings of unpreparedness started creeping their way into my mind...I remember Jack's run at Soldier Hollow the year Missouri was hit with that nasty drought; high temps keeping his dogs from practice and certainly no working of the sheep to cause stress as they conserved what they could waiting for cooler days.  If my memory serves me, Jack won Soldier Hollow that year.  I headed to Heppner; 10 week old puppy as co-piot, working on the art of letting go and being in the moment.

The first run of the 2014 trial season was brake-less and all Bella.  I can't remember the last time we ran sheep on the fetch like we did...and I mean ran 'em.  Bella took that bit in between her teeth and reminded me of a few things about us.  What I love about her and what drives me nuts about her is that fine line: every now and then she gets away from me and we gallop off into the sunset, blazing saddles and all.  A top handler once told me, "if you run them on the fetch, you might get it back together for a decent run, but you will never have the run you could have had if you would not have run them on the fetch." Yep...running them on the fetch was not a good idea from any view, especially not Heppner sheep!  As I lay in bed that night, looking at all the little details of my Bella and me, I began sorting out my list of ideas as well as putting together a plan for the next go. Time to get the broom out and get rid of those cobwebs.

Bella and I were first dog to the post on Sunday.  First run on a glorious day in God's country.....couldn't ask for a better lighting to see any of those cobwebs I might have missed in the dark of the night before.  Bella ran, and it felt marvelous; a hit of the high that keeps me coming back for more.  Let the trial season begin.........

Seize the day!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Focus

I was reading an article from an ultimate sports magazine (yep, that's one we subscribe to here in this household) and the story was told about a runner that had to cross a long bridge that spanned a river far below while running an ultra 100 mile run.  In my minds eye, I envision a rickety, wood slatted bridge with rope hand holds, built for traversing, not stability.  The runner in the story was struggling with the thought of crossing that deep chasm using the  swinging, rickety bridge. His companion, knowing that the bridge must be crossed, and having crossed it before himself, gave sage advice:  "focus on where you want to go.  If you look down, you will go down; keep your focus on the other side...and you'll be just fine"

Focus on where you want to go!

Somedays it is more difficult to not look, focus on, or worry about where I don't want to go.  Probably one of the reasons that I am a great visualizer is because I've allowed myself much practice imagining all the things that could go wrong in any given scenario. That totally useless, worry mentality is muscle memory that I am putting a cast on to allow for atrophy while the "focus on where I want to go" develops into a strong alpha bitch muscle.

In addition to worry, what I'm not good at deserves just a cursory glance.  To become the best me I can be, I know I have to look at what I am not good at; a quick study that allows for assessment on what needs to be done to get better.  While assessing what needs work, I find myself digging deep, not to focus but to understand what deserves my focus......on where I want to go.

Focus on where I want to go.......today is a good day to do just that!  While I'm at it, I think I will

Sieze the Day!!!!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ready, Set...Let's Roll

Life begins to find a new normal...for now until the next change.  The only certainty of life....change!  With age, I seem to have lost some flexibility.  My right quad, left hip flexor, schedule, life plans....all have lost pliability.  Nothing like a new puppy......and a new year of trialing to roll everything out.

Zamora had 140 dogs for 78 spots...the Blue Grass has 13 first dogs on the wait list before the second dogs even get a look at running as handlers begin their annual pulls.  I have dreams for trialing, dreams that will need to be accompanied with, yes, flexibility.  Next weekend, the trial season begins for me and Bella at Heppner.  I'm thankful that Zamora will be the following weekend for both girls.  I signed up to go to the Blue Grass this year, time will tell if both girls get in to give the nod for the trip.  My entries are filled out and ready to send on opening dates, sealed with wishes and sent off hoping and praying that the draws are with me.

I'll dig deep and work at knowing that, when I let go and allow, life unfolds pretty darn miraculously!

Seize the Day!