Tuesday, July 1, 2014


e·piph·a·ny: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality oressential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

The weeks have unfolded, revealing a common theme in my relationships:  dogs, running, friends.  It's that double edged knife....when to push, when to let go and allow.  I just came back from a KK clinic; as I watched a young dog start its lifelong journey of sheepdogging, the first steps in the round pen, I listened as Kathy encouraged with a hint of warning, "Let some things go with this dog" Ah the mystery of knowing when to clean up with correction and when to allow for confidence.  

This actually started two weekends ago at a sheepdog trial.  One I attended because, once there, I find a bit of refuge in the shade of the trees, wind always chatting up the leaves, the newly mown grass easy to relax into.  This trial gives back to Nell some of what I have taken from her by asking her to do things for me she would rather not, given a choice in the matter.  The sheep like Nell, they move off her, providing her with the opportunity to enjoy her job.  Her first run was stop-less...I'm pretty sure I did not get a single one.  I do know for a fact that i stomped my foot in frustration at this little bullet of a dog; seven years old, trained to decent partnership, running as if she had no idea who I was, or at the least what the whistle meant.  I played it out in my mind, back and forth, what would serve Nell best:  should I walk?  make a point in having her know that I was large and in charge?  She was not rogue by any means, but she was not a partner and I actually tried a few things to see if i could get in her head a little, or at the least between those ears.  (Perchance a BEAR test was in order?) We finished the course with thoughts of "I'm going to take this little rocket out and show her what a stop looks like when I get back to my Bed & Breakfast"!!!!! running through my mind. Thank God the drive included a ferry ride and lasted long enough for me to think about all that Nell had been through in the past two months.  I changed my mind about the schooling and looked to myself instead.

The past few days, I watched and listened intently as dog after dog was evaluated and worked under the skillful eye of one whom i would call "mentor".  Between Kathy and Jack, my foundation was formed with the "method" and mission statement they live and bring to the start of dogs.  They are the rare few that bring the sheep into the forefront of what we do and why we do it when it comes to working sheepdogs.  "The sheep will tell you when the dog is wrong." I study my sheep to hear what they tell me.  I've also been challenged at so many clinics to be open to what the dogs are telling me too.  Then it comes right back to me, whiplashing me into looking at what my pressure is doing, what my correction and tone is doing, what my timing (or lack there of) is doing, what my perfectionistic nature is doing.  

"Get versus make" has been an argument I've had with myself, and Jack for that matter, since that very first double Knox clinic I attended, years ago but it might have been yesterday.  My epiphany came in the form of what I felt was correcting the wrong and leaving the right, never once doing the corrections to keep the dog out of trouble.  My intentions were pure, however, the end result a mirror of an outcome that did not care one hoot about my intention.  The dog was not understanding the "why" of the job.  All the corrections of wrong were taken, the piece I was missing was the lack of understanding.  And the dinger dings: Every now and then I have to give it all back to the dog and see if they have sorted out their part of responsibility.  

I go back to looking at myself....my own dogs understand me, although I've had to do some unconventional work with Dot, I've been brought around to giving back understanding to responsibility and am not afraid to go there with her. I see more readily when she is doing what I say without taking responsibility for much of anything herself.   Now my journey of digging a little deeper into myself to begin to pass this baton to others and their dogs begins.  I add to my over-thinking thoughts of "get vs make"....now including "get vs give".  The journey continues.....

Seize the day!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Right Here in the Middle

This post has nothing to do with sheepdoggin' and yet it has everything to do with sheepdoggin'.  It's a bed time, fairytale of a story that starts like this:

It began last fall, when I sat down and really thought about the fact that, in 2014, I would celebrate a milestone birthday.  As always the good and disciplined over-thinker, I started pondering my life and what I wanted to do to celebrate the amazing unfolding of my story.  I wanted to do something very radical, something way out of anything I thought I could ever do and so I decided to run a half marathon at a Disney Park.

Now, having never really run before, and for sure, having never liked it the few times I tried, I knew it would take a lot of courage, digging deep and sorting out of myself.  I bought a "couch to 5K" book and read it, from start to finish.  I then lamented to a friend, "I can't do this!  I can't run a 5K let alone a half marathon".  She gently suggested I start reading the book again, but instead of hurrying through to the end, maybe just turn one page at a time and live that page. She assured me the rest would take care of itself.  And so I began, running a minute (sure my iPhone timer had broken because, truly, it was the longest minutes of my life) and walking three; round and round my back yard with the dogs cheering me one with glee.  My minutes began to get longer, so I moved it out to the ranch where I walked and ran (my coach calling it "wogging") around my pastures.  Yes, I hired a coach to guide me and hold me accountable....somebody who had been there and done that to hold the hand of this serious never before runner.  My son "caught" me one day and I had to confess to him my shenanigans.  As the minutes of running got longer, I began to hit the road.

Eventually I had to get my family involved in my plan.  There were races to run to prepare me for the big dance and I needed help to pull my plan off.  It's not like I wanted to be secretive, it was just that the journey of finding myself was so private.  I did not want anyone "trying" to hold me accountable or quizzing me on my progress.  I wanted to dig deep and do the hard work for myself.  I found myself taking baby steps into the knowing of the world of me.  My first race was a 5k to benefit the K-9 police unit in Stayton......my biggest fear of being last with the race closed down before I could cross the finish line was just that...an unfounded fear.

Race #1
I've now finished three 5K's all together, my favorite one run on Mother's day where I ran like a mother and had a good strong plan that I stuck to.  I'm headed to a few 10K's to see what is next with the added milage.  I love the long runs of my training....they ground me.  I find my mind wandering all over the place, solving dog training issues, working through thoughts until I find my mind settled into a good rhythm of footsteps and breath... a stillness that I have longed for.  I've cried a few tears over my speed work.  I want it right now and perfect by the way and I have to find forgiveness and compassion for myself and my shortcomings.  I am my hardest and most critical evaluator....I'm working on that.  I see so much of the dogs and their work in my running; although they are genetically gifted for their task.

My trip to Wyoming turned out to be something other than what I had dreamed of when I made those original plans.  Bella was sore, Nell was sick of me....the journey was more about me finding joy in the journey than it was about any placement, point outcome.  My runs were priceless:

running in Idaho
ranch running outside Buffalo, Wyoming
running the trails of Buffalo, Wyoming
Kaycee, Wyoming's red road running
I'm over half way there: 9 miles being my longest run at this point.  As I look at myself from the inside out, I know I have only begun to scratch the surface of finding myself....little bits of me are picked up on the roads I run.  My speed work shows me those dragon parts of myself.....the doubts and other feelings I find hard to put in words.  I know I don't HAVE to do this, but then again, I know I do.

the roads of home
I'll be running my half marathon January 18th 2015 at Disneyland....my family cheering me on.  I have both inside and outside work to do....I continue to pick up the pieces of me.  I'll be running for St. Jude's Children Hospital......for every day I have lived the most amazing life, I want to join in helping to allow others to do the same.

If you want to become a part of my team of sponsors here is the link to donate:


If the time is not right, I understand but I could still use your moral support as I train.

This journey of life is truly amazing.......made ever sweeter by those who share the road. Thank you for sharing mine.

Seize the Day!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Back in the Saddle

I really loved how the girls ran for me this weekend.  Yep, I'm back in the saddle, hanging out at the post, running the girls at sheepdog trials.  Nell has become such a partner; we are finding the ability to get things back together when they go wrong which has been and will always be a goal of mine.  Not that I don't strive for "perfect" mind you.....but when things go wrong, the getting it back together is progress from the stinking it up the whole way around we've seen.

Bella got around twice and I am so happy to have her out running and trying.  We have work to do.  Today we head back to the PT's office, as it might be physical work that needs done.  Her runs were like driving a car with no breaks (our go-to under pressure maybe) and the ability to turn only one way well.  It's not like Bella to not open up a come bye flank close at hand...say the pen......when I make my point. I'll go have her checked out and see what I can do to help her be more comfortable with the stride out on that left side.  I cannot express how thankful I am she ran and ran sound!  The detailed picking of that flank is the best of starting points for trialing....we will find our rhythm and get back into sync and I will do the physical work necessary to get her back to feeling 100%.

Stepping back into the trial world after a brief hiatus was a bit like being sugar free for 8 months and going to a grocery store........the bakery isle whispers to me: german chocolate slices of cake, maple bars, blueberry muffins, and even the darn bagels can look at me with bedroom eyes.  I've learned to just not go there.....I don't even use the bakery section to get the the deli section....there are safer routes to travel.  I can and do spend time in the produce section and allow myself to go hog-wild with honey crisp apples and kale.  Such is life at sheepdog trials.....

I got an email from a sports psychologist I love reading just before I headed out the door to run dogs Saturday morning.  She spoke of a disease I've actually contracted in the past and one I have to work to prevent relapse in myself......it's called the Disease of Me.  "When you have the disease of me, your confidence is not real.  It's not based on your skills, your results, or your resilience.  It is based on your PERCEIVED superiority to everyone else." This disease seems to be more prevalent in the world of competition; its not isolated to any one sport and sheepdog trialing is not exempt. "All unhappiness is caused by comparison"

I also see a secondary, and almost more fatal disease beginning to rear its ugly head.....the Disease of You.  That's where a person will have the Disease of Me and want to have company in their misery so the PERCEIVED superiority is shared with others that have not asked for any input.  Not that handlers don't need mentoring....just not from those who do it from the point of making themselves look like Gods.

I was talking with a gal at the recent sheepdog trial, and she confessed to me that, this year, her goal is to really enjoy her dogs and their runs.  This was not the excuse of somebody who can't get around well; instead they focus on the good in their run and don't address what needs attention.....this comment came from a top competitor who routinely puts down runs that make a person sit, watch, and make notes.  This weekend, her runs were astounding!  Was it the change in focus or did her dogs just mature over the winter?  Did her dogs feel the release of pressure and find their best in the support coming from the post??  I do believe that this might be one of those magical moments where "right focus" creates winning.

It's that double edge sword though...you can't say, "fine I will have "right focus" so I can win".  "Curing the Disease of Me can free you from envy, unhappiness, and under-performance. You see other athletes as an inspiration, not a threat.  Of course the quickest and easiest way to cure the Disease of Me is to stop living in fear that someone else will surpass you.  This means concentration on your game, not someones else's game." ~L Brown

That and stay out of the bakery section at the grocery store......

Seize the Day!!!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Drinking Lemonade...

The valley has been unseasonably hot and I keep a watchful eye on the flock: radical temperature changes seem to invite the likes of pneumonia and cocci and the dreaded "just lay down and die for no good reason" disease that sheep seem to get on occasion.  My culls keep their gifts to themselves and I wonder if I might be that "crazy sheep lady"...obsessed with udders, vulvas and watching.  This year, I have new neighbors and a smaller flock than years gone by....I now have three nice, tall green grass fields with trees for shade and that makes for happy sheep that can't quite get all the mowing done.    I'll wean this week and with that, phase one of the Rocking Dog Ranch plan for the future starts:  cull hard, no lambing, small flock over winter, buy in lambs and culls for spring.  Doors begin to close...and I'm back to the theme of watching for windows.

Bella is doing PT now.....that plus laser twice a week and massages every night before bed has promoted Bella to Princess Bella, thank you very much.  She still has a hitch in her giddy up on a few steps but I wonder how much that might be habit as it is a dab of tender.  I do 'close at hand' work with her; easy work and she opened up her come bye flank last night without my reminder......she is getting there.

Dot has had a very exciting spring with her meeting three top handlers and getting their autographs.  With Dot, I continue to dig into the "make" versus "get" theory of life through dogs with a new twist; I've added "tell".  That 'tell, make, get" is a heady cocktail; the fumes from the mixing rising up and almost making me lose my way into the world of responsibility and understanding of the job.  My biggest challenge right now it to look at what my correction and my asking is doing to my dog(s).  And in the blink of an eye, I am right back to this whole darn dog journey being about me.  I soldier on, I know what I want with each of my dogs and that is: relationship and each of us understanding the dance of being accountable for our part of the journey.

I've pondered many a moment of pondering about "gracefully letting go of what is not meant for me".  How do I know what is meant for me and what is not meant for me?  When I sign up for a trial, I get into the mode of sports psychology, dreaming of how the trip will unfold, visualizing runs, preparing for the good and what might happen in between.  I don't vacation in the way others might, so often my road trip trial extravaganzas become my getting away from it all vacation time.  Sometimes I find when the going gets tough, I need to just dig deeper, want it more, find out who I really am with letting go of all distractions to get there and run.  Then there are other times when I need to let go, change plans, rest.  Finding the balance in all that is challenging me right now, but it is a good challenge.  I know it is life....not just dogs but all of life.

Lemonade is very refreshing!

Seize the Day.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

RDR Style.....When a Door Shuts...

A Window Opens.  I think I just have to be ready for finding the window.  I'm not sure "finding the window" is actual pursuing but I do believe "being open to" is action as well.  

I love this quote by Buddha ~

In the end, only three things matter:  how much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

I ponder this.....how am I to know what IS meant for me and what is NOT meant for me?  My grand plans of hitting the road came to a screeching halt as Bella limped the sheep to me on a short fetch, my friend watching to asses movement.  Pretty silly because he did not need to asses....it was as plain as the pockets on my jeans....Bella had not healed and I needed to pry my bony fingers, that had their tight grasp on MY plans, off what might not have been meant for me.  I'd been looking forward to getting away for so long; not just a weekend, but three Divine Weeks of "away".  

This was not about Bella's injury, nor my part in that.  It was and is about me and how easy it is to say Buddha like words when life goes as I planned and desired....yet how, with each degree of separation from the map I've laid out, my grip tightens and I fight.  Too honest for some, allows for judgement from others, but hell, this is my life........and maybe just maybe by sharing my honest feelings, I will be a help to someone working on loosening their grip also.

So a friend mentioned that I had things to be thankful for in the "staying home" quick detour of my life's map.  I believe those might be my windows......

1) The cull ewes are thankful.....the bred girls were slated for a trip to the buyers yesterday had I been heading out on my door trip.  I could not leave cull ewes lambing to my friends who check the ranch.  These girls have now bought themselves another month to deliver their "gift with purchase".  Get with the program, girls but not until tomorrow when the sun is supposed to shine!

2) Sis is turning four months on the 1st.  Giving her another month to grow up and be used to days on end in her crate in the truck is another window opportunity.  That plus I would have been going it alone  and it's always nice to have a friend to help with a puppy.

3) It's always nice to travel with a friend...who can provide the best of conversations to keep the truck time interesting.  I was going this trip alone with a few books on CD......not a bad way to travel but I prefer a copilot that can keep me awake and the boogie man away!

4) I have a few old dogs here at home that are getting older.  Snook has been loosing control of her back left leg...it will be good to spend time with her while I still can because I have no idea how much longer I'll have her.  

The list could go on..it's a good exercise to look at what I have to be grateful for in the detour I am forced to take.  Here's the deal.....I don't believe disappointment is a bad thing.  I live life pretty darn passionately, doing all I can to squeeze out what I can from each day.  I make plans, and dream of what will come from those plans.....friends I get to spend time with, beauty I've not seen before, opportunities for improving relationships with each of my dogs, runs to be had, finding areas in myself that have either strengthened or need more attention (sometimes being on the road really allows me time with myself).  Being disappointed also does not lessen what other's have gone through.  I guess I've worked hard on making my life about me and not about comparing to other's lives......I have no intent on diminishing and minimizing what other's have gone through. I'm just disappointed is all and thankfully this will not last.

Bella has a PT appointment on Monday, in addition to all the massages, laser treatments, and walks we've been doing.....she's getting to see her favorite clinician.  I'm very thankful Bella is alive and will run again one day.  She would run now for me, limp and all, and I wonder what, if anything, I have done to deserve such loyalty from my friend.  But this in not really about Bella, this is about me gracefully letting go of the things not meant for me.  And THAT might take a lifetime.....

Gracefully Seizing the Day!

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!