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 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'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 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'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 "".  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


"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 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 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 the gift slowly (with intention) so the moment won't pass me by......