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Grass Always Greener

This is Bob.

Actually his full name is Bobcat, but we think he’s more of a Bob. He’s a two-year-old Percheron and already a big guy. A big, goofy guy. He’s not too experienced in the world and has very few manners.

Pepper is not a fan, but I find him interesting and fun to watch.

You see Bob is so tall and strong, he’s able to do just about anything he wants. And his lack of manners adds to the trouble he gets into. He’s walked over a taped fence, pushed down a gate, walked over the fence again.

And again.

He’s the stereotype of the gentle giant.

Now when we see him somewhere he’s not supposed to be, we just smile. “That  Bob,” we’ll say with part affection and part frustration.

 

Right now he’s the only horse tall enough to be able to lean over the gate to nibble the sweet green grass growing on the other side. Mind you, right now he has full access to three huge pastures with plenty of grass, but it’s this grass (actually weeds) that he wants.

 

Is there something challenging about eating from the other side of the fence? Is it tastier because it’s out of reach for the rest of the horses?

 

Watching Bob’s antics makes me think about myself and my friends.

We humans do tend to think the grass is always better on the other side of the fence.

How difficult it is for us to simply be content with what we have. To allow ourselves to rest in the present moment of our lives rather than ever striving for something more, something different, something better.

 

It’s a tightrope I walk these days, keeping myself growing—meeting deadlines, working in my business, exercising, eating right, learning new things while at the same time giving myself permission to slow down and fully inhabit the present moment.

 

It is, as my mindfulness teacher reminds, simple but not easy.

 

I welcome Bob as another in a long list of teachers I’ve found in the pasture.

 

What do you think? Is the grass greener on the other side of the fence?

 

 

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Rainbow

Three and a half years ago when I started writing this blog, it was with the intention to notice life, especially from the vantage point of two old horses. That would be Bud and Pepper. I wanted to pay attention to what these two old sweeties could teach me about the process of aging.

Fast forward to today, and close to eight hundred posts later. What have I learned? What has grabbed  my attention? Given me hope? Filled me with joy? Touched me deeply?

 On this day that happens to be my birthday, I offer this very incomplete list, in no order other than how the items occurred to me.

  • Eat with intention and gratitude
  • Stand your ground
  • Rely on the help of others
  • Find your herd
  • Be present to every single day
  • Accept change with grace
  • Create routines
  • Every now and then, kick up your heels and run
  • Cultivate your sense of humor
  • Make new friends
  • Share your knowledge
  • Follow your own inner compass
  • Now and then, be a rebel
  • Spend time in nature
  • Notice
  • Laugh more
  • Find beauty everywhere
  • Ask for what you need
  • Be a loyal friend
  • Learn to let go
  • Slow down
  • Save room for special treats
  • Trust even when you don’t know the outcome
  • Face your fears

This is a good start on a list that is ever-evolving.

I’m curious what you may have learned as you’ve followed our daily life in the pasture. If you’re so inclined, leave a comment below and tell me.

Thirty years and looking good!

Some females have a thing about certain birthdays.

A thing called denial.

Or a fancy hybrid of denial mixed with fear.

We soothe our out-of-control-psyches with silly phrases like, “Thirty is the new twenty,” or “I’m only as old as I feel.”

Anything to look, act, be any age but the one we actually are.

We’re hard on ourselves.

Do I have value if I’m not young? Fit? Exciting? Desirable?

It’s a terribly self-destructive game we play.

And mile-marker birthdays just rub in our faces the fact that we are no longer as young as we once were.

Well, Pepper doesn’t concern herself with all that mental junk food, and in her own quiet way is teaching me a thing or two about aging with dignity and grace. (I need this because I’m facing one of those mile-marker birthdays this summer.)

Thirty years ago today a little brown filly made her way to this earth. I didn’t know her then, but I can only imagine how adorable she was. Nice markings, good conformation, bright eyed and bushy tailed.

I have known her for twenty of her thirty years.

And what a trip it’s been.

To celebrate this important birthday, here are ten things I’m learning from the birthday mare:

  1. Be the star of your own life.
  2. Show up every day, even if you have a few aches and pains.
  3. Be loyal to your herd.
  4. Chew your food. Take your time when you eat.
  5. Be strong.
  6. Face your fears.
  7. Establish and maintain routines.
  8. Find strength in being gentle.
  9. Accept help when it’s offered.
  10. Never pass up dessert.

Thanks Miss P. And Happy, Happy Birthday!

Leave a comment and tell us what you’re learning from Pepper. She’d love to know.

Lately I’ve noticed a change in Miss P.

There was a time when she didn’t like having any horses at the gate when I put her back in the pasture.

She would kind- of- sort- of tolerate Red or Amigo being there, because they’re members of her herd.

But in truth she wanted a clear shot for re-entry.

She’d get skittish if any of the younger, stronger horses were hanging out by the gate. We’d have to “encourage” them to move along before Pepper would even consider walking through.

But that’s changed.

These days, she marches through the gate, punching a hole through the cluster of horses assembled. She gets this look on her face that clearly states she is not to be hassled. “Out of my way fools,” she seems to say as she slips through even the tiniest opening.

It seems Pepper has mastered her fear.

And it makes me happy to see her acting strong and confident.

She isn’t quite as sure of herself when she exits the pasture. She always works up a head of steam and dashes through the opening as if a predator were on her tail.

But re-entry is another story.

And because of that, I think she’ll eventually feel stronger as she exits.

This makes me happy for a couple of reasons.

First, it seems that as we age, many of us lose power and confidence.

Horse and human.

Old age can bring vulnerability, which never feels good. I much prefer the image of staying strong and confident as I age. And I’m using Pepper as one of my role models.

Second, Pepper’s change in behavior shows me that we can indeed “teach an old horse new tricks.”

I like that.

Because I know that I’m going to want to keep on learning new tricks.

Why should age stop me from learning?

From growing?

From getting better, stronger, more confident?

I don’t think it should.

So thanks Pepper for showing us how it’s done.

Do you have a story about conquering a fear? Pepper and I would love to hear it. Just jot it down in the comment section below.

And thanks!

This is the urgency: Live! And have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.

                           ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

Pepper and I had a heart-to-heart talk the other evening.

It’s not the best picture of either of us (we are much more attractive in person!) BUT, I do think it captures the mood of the moment.

We were hanging out together, enjoying the pinkish-purplish sunset and catching up with each other.

She nibbled her grain and listened, while I did most of the talking. That’s usually how it goes because Pepper is an excellent, non-judgmental listener. And I’m a talker.

A few years back when my husband broke his ankle and had to have surgery, I told Pepper all about it – every gory detail. She patiently listened as I shared my fears.

Never once did she tell me I was silly for being worried. Instead, she allowed me to go on and on, taking it all in, nodding at appropriate moments in her wise-old-mare way. Those feeding/therapy-for-Jean sessions helped me tremendously. When the world felt like it was spinning out of control, spending time with Miss Pepper and crew grounded me and helped me focus on what was real and what was not.

In many ways it’s been a frantic summer for us with a jam-packed schedule. And Pepper has been, shall we say, distracted by her dalliance with Fred.

We haven’t had enough time for girl talk.

Sitting on the back of the pickup beside Pepper as she ate her dinner, reminded me how important it is to stay connected to the people and animals that matter in my life. Those deep relationships that are soothing balm for my world-weary heart.

Why is it that we allow ourselves to become so distracted and busy that we close off one of the most healing avenues available to us?

I’ve done it and I’m guessing you have too.

We cancel lunch dates or never make them. We don’t call because we think there isn’t enough time to get into the kind of deep conversation we crave. We dash off a quick email or text that is supposed to keep us connected. “I miss you,” we say, or “hope everything is okay with you,” or “Let’s get together soon.”

Sometimes we act on the wish to get together, sometimes we don’t.

We expect those meager filaments of electronic well wishes to suffice and maintain our connection until we have more time/energy/availability.

What Pepper has helped me see is that if I wait for that magical time when I have enough time, unlimited energy and a clear schedule, I will miss out on my life.

My true life.

Pepper is the epitome of “blooming in the whirlwind,” and I want to be just like her.

What about you?

Is there someone you’d like to spend time with this weekend?

What does your soul need?

Reach out and get right up there in the noise of your own whirlwind.

Bloom on!

I began this blog to write about what my two old horses were teaching me about life, and especially, the process of aging with grace.

Except for a few detours along the way, I think I’ve held pretty true to my goal.

Animals are powerful teachers if we allow them to be. So what have I learned from the drama that has unfolded over the past week?

What lessons have my horse mentors helped me wrap my brain around?

Quite a lot actually!

The big lesson for me has been the danger of over anthropomorphizing. Big word!

Translation: Be very careful when attributing human qualities to animals. We aren’t the same. You know from following my antics in the pasture that I’m quick to give human traits to the horses. That’s not going to stop anytime soon. But I am more aware that horses are not people. We see the world very differently. And that’s as it should be.

Okay, with that huge disclaimer out of the way, let me continue. I have taken a painfully hard look at myself over this past week, because when Pepper left was stolen from the Herd of Oldsters, it shocked me. It felt personal and I responded with anger and fear.

Observations Made (in no particular order)

  • I can only control myself, not the rest of the world, as I sometimes often try to do.
  • For several days I was upset with Pepper. I didn’t like feeling angry with her for simply being a horse. Yesterday I approached her with love and acceptance, and we both relaxed.
  • I was upset because I believed this change in the herd was going to cause more work for me. I took it personally.
  • I projected dangers into the future, instead of allowing the horses and me to simply experience each moment as it comes to us.
  • Bud and his bachelor pals know how to take care of themselves. Cuts heal and life goes on.
  • Anger and fear breed more of the same and squeeze out any hope of trusting. When it comes to their world, horses know far more than I will ever hope to know. I temporarily forgot that.
  • People and animals you love will do things that you don’t like. Love them anyway and give them the gift of being able to figure out their own lives.
    As one of my preschoolers said many years ago, “You’re not the boss of the world.”
Thanks everyone for caring about the horses; about me. All is well, and I’ll definitely keep you informed. Bud wanted me to thank you for all the good thoughts and let you know that he’s okay.

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!
And a special shout out to my son (and favorite dad these days).
You rock!

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