Friday, November 29, 2013

Crossing My Path

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend" ~ Melody Beattie

I took the long way home yesterday; the road that winds up through the timber dense hills breaking out into green fields of agriculture.  An early morning Thanksgiving visit to the ranch to feed was in order to allow for my busy Turkey Day schedule. The day's feast needed to be whipped up while honoring our long standing family tradition of a movie in the theatre which meant a good three hours away from home.  As I drove along, my mind making and checking lists, I looked up ahead around the corner darkened by thick overgrowth, just as four deer slowly stepped out onto the road.  I slowed down as I approached them, watching their elegant prancing trot as they crossed over to the forest waiting to swallow them up into unnoticed blending on the other side.  I came to a stop and looked left, my grandpa's forest training that has become instinct to me after years of hunting with him, and indeed it was as I knew....a big doe brought up the rear guard.  I watched her cross there in front of my big red truck, pronging quickly once she passed the far head light, ending with a  big leap to join her family who had already gone safely ahead. I sat still, trying to watch the family for as long as I could see them until their camouflage tricked my eyes and they could have privacy.  After they were gone, I felt like I had been given a gift....one of remembering yet again that life is full of tiny little gifts if I am willing to be open and watchful for them.  Willing and watchful while dying to my clock, allowing time to be filled with gratitude for small treasures I collect as life unfolds.

There are days where I allow myself to get caught up in a taken for granted life.  I focus on what needs to be done, what needs to be fixed, or worse yet what I don't have, what goals have fallen short, what requests have not yet been filled.   My to-do list never gets done.  Not that I am not productive but there are always things to add; more projects taken on, more goals to meet.  I guess I'm thankful for the awareness of this flaw in me. I'm hoping that awareness leads to a better, more noble quest to find gratitude.  And I'm not talking of the gratitude that is conjured up to meet some manifestation of more.....I'd like my quest to be a little different.  I'm searching for the Holy Grail of Gratitude; the kind that permeates my soul and comes out just because I'm open, looking, knowing that little gifts happen everyday if I'm available, without expectation to what they will look like. 

Last evening, as Thanksgiving 2013 began its sunset into Black Friday, I've thought over the past year, many of the deer crossing moments that came my way and I wondered if my friends know how grateful I am for their part in the gifts.  The friends that watched my ranch time and time again, lambing out culls while I attended Heppner, watching the flock while I hit the road for Kentucky, chicken sitting my flock of hens.  I think about the friend that drove with me for three weeks, living out of a little 17 foot travel trailer, 7 dogs 10 days of trailing, endless miles filled with the exchange of blood, sweat and tears. While another opened her ranch in Nebraska taking on two little known travel weary girls who sorely needed a washing machine and a bit of dog work. Then there was the friend in Missouri that allowed a helping hand during a time when having someone around might just make for more work.  Another friend being willing to share a ride and work out the details of a Washington DC airport with two dogs and all the stress and overwhelm that was trying to stop my trip to the Virginia Finals.  The phone calls when real life got a little heavy, the support when the impossible took courage, when many a superficial friend would bale, there were those who dug deep, stood in the gap, carried me for a little while.  The friend that I am thankful to call a mentor, speaking true words to me; giving precious time to watch my dogs run, to not give up on me. A friend that allows the trust of big fields and flocks of sheep for my pleasure.  The friends that decompress after runs with truth, honesty, death to ego....those who share the journey knowing it is more about self. The new friend that shares in the dogs, the work, the training.

Today, with everything in me, I want to thank you! Thank all of you who have given me a little bit of yourself....crossing in front of me on the road of life.  I can't even begin to express all the gratitude I have for each of the gifts given, big or small, known to the world or known just by me.......how thankful I am for what each of you helps mold me into.  

“He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.” ~ Lao Tzu

May I be filled with gratitude every day I draw breath.....

Seize the day!!!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Four Might Be a Charm!

First, I want to say thank you to all of those who took time to write the kindest of words filled with encouragement and support.  The days are smoothing out the raw edges a little and the bottom of the wound is granulating, slowly starting to fill in. Memories swaddle the ache in balm and friends provide the compression bandage that holds my heart together while it gets used to the new Spark sized hole that's been left behind. I miss him. 

I am very glad I did not let grieving keep me from attending my fourth Scott Glen shedding clinic up at Fido's Farm.  The clinic was darn right amazing for me.  I'm not sure if I had heard the insight and wisdom that was shared before; if I have, it went in one ear and out the other.  Be to the fact that clinics are the bread and butter to clinicians, I am not one to tell the secrets of the trade with discussions about exercises and specifics with anyone other than those who paid to attend......but I will say the basic teaching was about ME!  Does that surprise anyone??  ME!  Yep, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME!!!! Pretty self centered and self absorbed, eh?

If I were a dog, I would have a bit of eye, a lot of come forward...and I might be a little "on the muscle"!  I'm working on cleaning up my flanks, having open flanks be my first go-to, coming on when I need to, learning to saunter, working smart and using the clock as my friend, working in the middle of the ring, managing my sheep without shutting them down, having a plan but being able to see the bigger picture as contingency plans unfold, if I am going to do something radical: do it wholly, find enjoyment in speed and movement, and biggest and most important, accurately reading my sheep.  I don't think there are any "secrets" to the above.....

I think my biggest issue is focusing so hard on understanding shedding....all those teeny tiny nuances that feel like the stars in the universe that come together to allow a shed, especially of the international variety.  I'm not sure I remember the exact process of learning to drive a car....but I'm sure shedding is a lot like that....it becomes more familiar over time with miles and experiences. It was easier to claim driving my own when I had a driving instructor who helped show me the ropes with the safety net of a brake on his side of the vehicle.   Hence why I continue to go to this shedding clinic; I hope to develop good habits by way of osmosis from the fellow who gets the best shed at big trials on a regular basis.  It was good to sort out my natural inclinations...that way I can work on developing muscle memory in a more productive fashion.  When I concentrate, my flanks get tight, I focus on the specific sheep I want to cut off and I squeeze.  I'm a maker!  Sheep don't like to be made......maybe if I were a more powerful dog I could 'make them' on more occasions but I need to become a crafty dog, so to speak.   Now it is time to develop some new natural inclinations while not going to far in the other direction.  It might be time to put my name in the hat for some big flock winter work again, with or without my dogs.

The journey continues and life lessons are scooped out and served up with side dishes: self evaluation, learning, improvement.  I always expect so much from my dogs.....I'm glad for clinics that are about accountability for me to step up to become who my dogs need and, for that matter, deserve.  Where earlier years, I focused all on the dogs.....now I see, again and again, how this really is about me.  Relationships can not be meaningful and deeply rewarding without both parties holding up their ends of the commitment.  My dogs give me so much.....I'm thankful for the opportunities to learn how to develop more in me to give back!

Seize the Day!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I Thought I Knew

Yesterday, I did the impossible.  Finding the courage to help a four-legged friend across the rainbow bridge is right up at the top of my list of impossible things......the drive to the vet's office taking 9 1/2 years, yet I blinked and I was there.  I tried to dig deep and find my inner Amazon Warrior Dragon Slaying Woman....but I burst into tears in front of the poor receptionist and crowded waiting room.  The receptionist is pretty new to the clinic; a young, cute blonde that I intimidate the hell out of....she did not understand the chokes coming out of my throat, but my vet did.  He saved her, coming around the corner, through the door and whisking me around back to the safety of my truck.  My truck that swaddled my dog in fleece on the front seat....DRIVE AWAY!  Drive back down those nine years; play a little more ball, work him on sheep, let go, laugh, be silly, have fun, embrace friendships and don't take the competition so freaking seriously. 

Spark was an old 12 1/2, very sick and I had promises that I had made to him.  Promises of quality of life, living pain-free, not making him suffer in days for me......and he was tired and sick and could not walk nor eat and a little bit of me was weak too. I did not want to see him struggle to survive to make me happy.  He had spent his whole life trying to make me happy.....now it was my turn to let him go. I held him, there on that front seat, all the way to the bridge and cried dark flooding winter cloud buckets of tears after he crossed. Please let there be Heaven where I can throw a mean tennis ball for my friend when I cross. 

I had no idea how damn sad it would be, the minutes turning to hours and now a day of a Spark-less life.  The pack adjusts and I had no idea how quiet it would be. Spark was the rebel-rouser and just a tad bit demented old dog that would go out and bark; maybe for the fun of barking, maybe barking at shadows, maybe barking to get me to come out and tell him to be quiet.  Snook is lost without her buddy.....in the younger years he would chase her around the Sport Court and it was always, for Snook anyway, a serious race to see who could win. Snook used to always win.  Mostly because she does everything serious while Spark did things to make his friends happy.  He never had that do-or-die attitude nor did he find he could not live without the win...so he let Snook be the Alpha Bee of the backyard.  In the past year, with age and creaking bones, Snook would pick on Spark.  He always took it like an older brother, "ya, ya, you snarkie old bitch" and I would go and have words with Snook sometimes dosing a time out with a side of Tramadol. Snook is lost.  This morning she had words with Bella and Bella isn't the kind of dog to "ya ya" Snook.  So I watch the pack with a stern vigilance, knowing 'this too shall pass".  Nell surprised me with her sadness.....she laid with me on the couch last night, putting her head on my shoulder, feeling my pain and looking for her buddy.  Spark and Nell would spend evenings together in the front room, sleeping on the "finer" furniture while the rest of us watched TV.  Nell is lost too.

It's too quiet here at my house today.  Me, I continue to let go, grieve, feel the sadness, and miss Spark.  I sort and resort, beating myself up and countering with forgiveness.  I find a bit of healing in the memories and sorting photos for Spark's life movie; if I could only print the pictures in my mind.  Instead I'll weave his story with words trying to capture his essence and hold it in my heart where he can live on.  Live on as the youngster that changed my life so radically by all he gave my son and all the rest of us that got to share in his life.  

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard" - A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I know I am not alone in my grief, many friends have had to help their best friends across the rainbow bridge.  I take comfort from their journeys of life after.....right now the missing consumes me but their survival gives me hope.  I'm off to, yes indeed, another shedding clinic.....on the one hand I don't want to go...I'm such bad company. On the other hand, it might be nice to get out and stretch my heart a little, give my tear ducts a break.

Life goes on, it's for the living, there are memories to make...be sure to pack a camera.....and hug each dog.

Seize the Day!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tid Bits

In preparation for winter projects, yesterday I went to Ikea and bought the fixings for two stand up computer tables.  Sitting takes its toll on my psoas!  Mission accomplished, psoas saved,  however, my Ikea experience was purgatory verging on hell for me.  Thank goodness I made the mistake of going upstairs into the showroom first....I had my list of what I was after but had no idea I would need to know the aisle and bin number from the huge mother of a warehouse below.  Some marketing genius from Sweden came up with that never ending show room.....big, fat, winding,  yellow brick road and signs assuring me I was headed to checkout and store room down a level but I kept going around and around with those displays!  Thank GOD they did not have their crazy food bins at each change of room, I might have had a sit down and eaten a few Swedish Fish!   I did find a bed I want once I get the new carpet in.....bastard marketing people!

Indeed, I walked away with the items I needed to accomplish my mission, although I did not get the correct brackets, what I did get worked fine. The stand up computer desk turned out very slick......and the whole idea was borrowed from Colin Nederkoorn's Blog

Standesk 2200 Feature


So here's to a healthy psoas....and some extra calories burned in the process.....

Seize the Day!!!!