Most of you who follow me, know that I blog whenever I 'get something' and it usually has to do with Horses, lol, go figure! Many of us who own horses, know that as much as we work with training our horses, we are usually the ones who are learning lessons from them.
This afternoon I had a wonderful encounter with some folks that strolled through the new studio, that's another blog for another day in the near! They were enjoying The Herd on the walls, and the new space as we began chatting about wild mustangs, domestic horses and the like...the conversation progressed to sharing experiences we had each had with our own 'equine' family. They began sharing about a little paso-fino mustang who they have had a couple of years...as we talked more they shared of how this little half mustang-paso is a 'bolter' when he is spooked. That makes for a tough horse when riding and unsafe in many ways even dangerous. They shared the love they have for him, but the concern that they are at their wits end with his 'bolting' when in the saddle and spooked. I have never much declared myself as a 'horse trainer' though I have worked my own horses since they were born to present. But more than the 'training' perspective, on the ride home tonight I was hit with so many thoughts, and as you know...this is where I tend to land on paper when they hit.
And so lets ponder on how this little 'running scared' bolter parallels our own issues of Running Scared...How we respond to fear is always an interesting thing to me...when we don't really know 'who we are' we tend to be insecure and in-confidant of our abilities, and the response to such normally manifests in our response to 'fear'. We can hang out with the right people, feel safe in the right environment, and 'feel' secure facing our fears as long as were surrounded by those we can depend on to bail us out at the right moment...but what happens when were on our own, in a different element? Are we a 'bolter' and thus running from our fears? I am reminded of One who came long before us, who to faced many fears...but the response He had to those fears was quiet the contrast of running. He knew who He was. He was secure In His identity regardless of what challenges and fears He faced, He knew who He was, where He came from, and the One inside Him being greater than His fears.
It's amazing when we know who we are...how our responses begin to shift regarding our fears. You all know I talk a lot about knowing who we are, being secure in our identity is so critical. When we respond to fear out of insecurities or lack of confidence, we not only take the chance of hurting ourselves, but hurting others in the process, like this little paso-fino...bolting, and tossing the rider off its back, running into other horses and riders causing all kinds of potential injuries and chaos.
So, what is the conclusion? Well, it had me thinking of myself, in my own responses to fear, situations that have no secure outcome etc...I have been tossed (some by my own choosing) and others by Divine Intervention into realms that are constantly 'testing' my identity, my belief in who I am, and whose I am. I confess that there have been those moments when I too have responded much like that little paso-fino, with just enough wild mustang blood running through him to give him the sense to 'survive' at whatever the cost. We all have a little 'wild' blood running through us, some more than others...the testing is to cultivate greater trust in the Divine One that is forever tweaking us to wholeness, to greater completeness, greater security in our identity in Him alone.
Next time your faced with fear...stop for a moment, breathe, and ask yourself what the test is? What is the response that will cultivate greater faith, greater trust, and security in our identity? As we 'get it' we will find that our response to those things that challenge us to 'run' begins to shift gradually as we learn to trust and learn to stand on who we are. I can relate to this little paso-fino, For years I lived in a place that I had no self worth or identity, living in a place of fear is debilating to say the least. But as I have learned 'who I am'...it has given me the courage to grow in facing my fears and respond in a way that reveals a greater faith of who I am, and the I Am that I trust within.
We can create our safe havens in our lives and live in small confines, or we can trust the 'tester' as we are challenged in new arenas in life, little by little learning to face our fears, and ultimately overcome them as we learn to step out in faith, building courage each time we move out into the new, the unknown, and as we do, we learn to step slowly rather then run. Not saying I have arrived, but...I am daily learning to step out and greater trust and in so...building my confidence in the process that I am an overcomer, more than able, to do exceedingly above all that I could have thought ever before. So, I present to you the challenge...allow yourself to be thrown into scary situations, allow yourself to experience the unknowns, allow yourself the opportunity to grow, to learn, to become more secure and confident as you are faced with these challenges that promote the best growth of all, within.
Like that little paso-fino, sometimes we just have to allow the fears to be faced over and over again, until the response begins to shift that is the stepping stone to building our confidence and realizing we had it in us all along...we just needed a little help from above to help us see who we were, and who we were designed to be from the beginning.
Do you feel the pressures of the outside pushing in around you that you feel your 'caving' inside?
In our economic times, remaining true to ones creative self can be an unbelievable challenge. If you are an artist, or one who has made a 'daily' decision to stay true to your creative self, I trust you know exactly what I am talking about.
There are so many outside pressures constantly trying to 'influence' our daily commitment to remain steadfast in our creativity. When I made the decision 5 years plus ago to go back to my roots and pursue the art career that I had so easily withdrawn from in my younger years...Who would have known it would have presented itself with so many challenges to remain faithful and true, not just to the 'calling'...but to 'self'.
I consider myself fortunate and blessed in the life that I have finally chosen to walk out, after spending the majority of my life like so many others doing things that bring little life to our spirit. When we are 'doing things' that are not bringing life to our spirits, its like a slow death, it produces little life within, and little hope as well. 'Hope deferred makes a heart sick'... this is a scripture that I can so relate to in many areas of my past. Becoming more of a 'whole' person put a demand on my choices to be 'true' to self. That meant no longer discarding the fact of who I 'am' within. From the time I was born, I was born with a creative 'crave'...its just in there, its just what makes me tick, breathe! After years of 'squishing' this life giving source...I finally 'caved to the crave' and began making life decisions towards becoming TRUE to SELF. Its in the posture, that we become a life giving source to ourselves, and those around us.
The challenge...ABIDING in CREATIVITY despite the outer pressures. I am still walking this part out...even though I have remained steadfast in 'physically' creating, the challenge lies deeper within...inside the heart, the emotions...rising above the feelings, the fears, the hopelessness that rises within when the outside pressures are not in companionship but rather hard contrast moving and rubbing against one another rather than in harmony together.
I wake today finding myself in the rub...like sandpaper against a fine soft tissue...its an uncomfortable place I find myself more often than I like, and its response requires 'contending' to remain faithful to self. Its not a place to get wimpy, weak or defeated. Like our faith, staying true to self requires contending at times regardless of the pressures and voices that try to rise above the still small voice within.
I amaze myself at times at some of the content I decide to work on in paintings, finding that unknowingly they are works that not only display an outer 'emotion or feeling' but usually resonate what is going on inside...the last large 'set' of works I recently finished, I titled 'WarDance'...not surprising that they are symbolic of a real contending going on within to remain TRUE to SELF. Examine your heart this week, look at what you are creating...why are you creating it? Is it speaking to your creative self? If it is, good for You! Your being TRUER to Yourself than you thought. Is it mundane, then reflect on that as to why?... Our art should always remain true to ourselves as well...never allow the outward pressures to manipulate a 'spirit' of mundane in your creative expression.
When I find myself in this place, all I know to do is to remain TRUE. If your experiencing these feelings, be encouraged, your not alone out there...the word for the day...
'STAY TRUE TO YOUR TRUE SELF'
It’s snowin’ today and that always seems to make for a good day to work on the computer, clearing off the papers on the desk, and removing the clutter that’s accumulated over the busyness of the last few weeks. It’s a mind clearing time as well, as once you get the desk cleaned off and organized you feel like your brain has decluttered some as well, and that’s when I am able to sit and think and put things into some perspective of thought.
Since we moved from the east, about 6 years now, there was a huge DREAM awakening inside of me. It had been surfacing from time to time over the years, but never had the DESIRE to see the DREAM come to reality hit so hard as when we made our move to the west. Walking out the DESIRE and the DREAM has taken many turns over the last several years, to the point that one would think I was on the verge of crazy, haha. Timing isn’t always the best of companions when we feel moved to STEP into our DREAM. Economics of our society were horrible when we made our move west, and ART isn’t something that is a priority on the list of financial goals for most families when people are working hard to keep their house payments and groceries on the table…but none the less… when the DESIRE calls…The DREAM of being an artist was screaming inside of me, I could no longer suppress the DESIRE without feeling like I was abandoning my true self any longer.
So, that being said, it’s been a wild (in a very literal sense) few years of walking this thing out called ‘the Dream’. It has not been easy, has not always been fun…but what it has been, is an incredible journey of learning more about myself, and others. It has been a fight to some degree, reaching for that thing inside of me that burns for more reality that what is easily attainable by normal standards. BUT, in reaching and moving towards the DESIRE and the DREAM within… I am finding an incredible peace even in the difficulties at times knowing the great satisfaction that I am being TRUE to self. I have finally conceded to ‘being’ and ‘doing’ that thing that ‘I was created’ for. I cannot express the satisfaction that it brings within my being, even in the hardship and difficulty I have created for myself at times, that it brings knowing I am being true to myself finally.
And…in that being true to self, what I am discovering is that the pathway to succeed is also opening up as I put my energy and efforts into the DESIRE that fuels the DREAM to come to pass. We all have DESIRES and we all have DREAMS, at least I would hope so. The biggest hinderance to moving forward and stepping out of ourselves to become TRUE to ourselves, one would imagine, finances or other social or perhaps family situations etc…but what I have discovered, is none of these things are what really hold us back from stepping into our DREAM (Destiny)… its FEAR. Fear of not succeeding, Fear of failure, Fear of where it might lead or take us… the consequences, sacrifices, sufferings etc. You name it, they are all wrapped up in one word…FEAR.
What I continue to rediscover, time and time again…when we finally get passed our FEAR, Faith opens the door to the Divine Destiny and no matter what the issues, hinderances etc… once Fear is behind us… there is only Faith, only Divine Intervention opening those doors that lead to the promise of our DESIRE and DREAMS becoming reality.
I don’t sit here saying I have achieved a state of enlightenment, but…I will say that I am closer to my DREAM and DESIRE than ever before. So, the gypsy shoes searching for that ‘thing’ are being retired, at least for now, haha. We have found our niche, our community, our place as we hunker down in this historic little town in northern New Mexico after the last several years of seeking and searching for that place that we feel ‘called to’.
I sold the little Tin Can over the holidays this last year, it was a hard choice to make, as it was like a statement of surrender to that ‘gypsy’ way of life we have lived the last 6-7 years traveling and moving and picking up our lives at every whim of new discovery. Not saying we can’t get in the car and go on a trip, but it was the ‘letting go’ of something that was such a part of the DREAM for that season of our lives, my life as a traveling artist.
I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed the Studio that has been such a blessing. I consider it a divine working of the DREAM as I had little to do with it manifesting outside of moving in and getting to work. The space has become a sanctuary of sorts for me to thrive in, to find myself fully in without excuse. There is a ‘sacredness’ if I can use that word without offense, to the time I spend there releasing that creative ‘thing’ that resides within me. Having this space has forced me to create even greater healthy boundaries to separate work, creative work, housework, being a wife, spending time with our horses and the like. With canvas in front of me constantly at home, I never stopped painting, to take a break and do life things that are necessary to get refueled to create. So, the boundaries this studio has helped me to create have been wonderful to maintaining a healthy creative perspective.
And getting more connected within community is something I enjoy completely, it’s easy to become a hermit parked behind your canvas and indulged in your own little world…
Overall… I am thankful, fulfilled in knowing that I am moving every closer to the DREAM, that I am ever immersed in DESIRE. It has cost much, there has been a lot of sacrifice, suffering, and even some loss to embrace the DREAM… but, it has all been worth it, it all counts as the jewels and pearls, people and cirumstances that have played their role in the fulfillment of present, ever grateful in all that have played their role.
If You’re downtown in Las Vegas, NM… You have an open invitation, to come, sit a while, enjoy a coffee, some great art, and enter into conversation around your DESIRE, your DREAM…
(The upstairs balcony during Christmas off the Studio, its a wonderful space overlooking downtown historic Las Vegas, NM)
Its been a year of creativity diffused with busyness, distraction, drama and clutter. I find it amazing how one can find such clarity, vision and focus only to be completly thrown off the tracks by taking ones eyes off the goals set. I have been so guilty of this time and time again. Constantly having to stop and climb back on the tracks, reving up the engines to gain speed once again to move forward. And its then when I feel the most liberated, the most true to self, the most at peace, the most fulfilled in 'who' I am inside and out.
And so here I am, once again, coming alive, breathing deep into the lungs of creativity, and breathing out what I am taking in. Creative Release. I find the harder I try to set goals of being true to self ... the more I find I am challenged in its proving grounds. In this, I get highly frustrated with myself...and more forgiving as I forge ahead landing once again on the tracks pressing full speed ahead, making the promise once again to stay between guides to keep me focused and on track.
Can any of you relate to this? The older I get, the more determined I become to be TRUE to self. Part of this is a process of discovery, part is risk, part is discipline. Each being sharpened with every 'wreck' that causes the guide of the wheels that turn to come off the track. It is not an easy path, the path of being TRUE to self, but it is this path, that causes us to come ALIVE, because it resonates with everything inside of us. Like a sharp pin that pricks everyplace that has become numb from slumbering as we seek the safe way of riskless living.
So here I go again... landing on the track, resetting the gages, loading the firewood to fuel the engines, looking far down the horizon trying to gage the speed at which to engage to further the journey to becoming all I am purposed and designed to be. Unable to see beyond the bends in the track and the terrain, but trusting that thing inside of the gut...normally called the HEART, and learning to listen and be everwatchful to the elements and beings in our midst. Using the wild mustangs as a collaborative voice of confirmation as they never lie, and are always true to self, making a great example of what I am reaching for, like them, true to self, and alive to self, wild and free.
This journey with the 'wild' mustang is one that I have come to appreciate more and more, they represent what we are all striving for. The beauty of 'being'. The beauty of learning to 'trust'. The essence of 'wild'. Living in the moment, accepting it for what it is, and moving forward. Everyday is a new beginning, a new challenge, a new lesson to learn, all while recognizing and embracing the beauty around us and in us, all while being true to who they are...wild.
So, this is where I am, where I have 'arrived' once again. Forgiving self once again for succumbing to the fears, fears of failure, fears of the succumbing to those voices that would say you can't be true to self, you can't be wild, it isn't natural, mature or socially acceptable. But that small still voice inside...it rises...once again...
Most of you know, I absolutely LOVE to write, haha...but I also love to write music...it is a deep passion, one that as of the last year I have not devoted enough of my time and effort to. Not saying I don't have 'dribbles' on paper and notebooks, that I do. But I have not taken the time and discipline to format and put the words in order or in a melody. To be honest with you, I have felt very 'stale' over my music the last couple of years. It is nice to paint and write and play and create...but sometimes, its just a little methodical alone.
Over the years I have had a lot of art and musical friends to join in, inspire and collaborate in one anothers creative endevors. The last few years has been much different, a solo ride with much solitude. I am not complaining of course, lol... its a good thing to just 'be' alone. But, I have missed the company of other creative as myself in relationship and the practice of creative abilities. Iron sharpens iron, and it is good to be around others who are better than 'you' at what you 'do'. Not so much in a competitive form, but in an awe inspiring form...I thrive in this environment, as I think most creative individuals do.
Upon our move to the Las Vegas area, I have slowly been building relationship with a neighboring creative being as myself, we have loosely thrown our creative abilities together and little by little seeing them bearing some encouraging fruit together. Need I say, its been a wonderful, casual and relaxed 'season' of taking time and enjoying the fruits of 'sharing' oneself creatively with another.
Karl Zimmer, a wonderful skilled guitarist...whom is stretching me with my own guitar skills, or lack of I should say, haha... to me stretching him with his vocal capacity. We are enjoying the journey of improving, exploring and playing. We are setting some 'goals' to reach for and I do think that we have a good fit as they say from a musical point.
Karl is very disciplined, very technical, where I am much looser, and less skilled in the technical areas of music. He isn't one to 'write' music, but he is one to 'perfect' his skill...so as we meld our creativeness together our assets strengthen our weakness' individually.
Stay tuned as we continue to 'grow' together musically, it will be fun to see what comes out of this creative energy being shared. Karl has helped me with some new recording and tweaking some old tunes and I have really liked what has come out of his input, so good things are in the works for sure and along with all the hard work...its a lot of fun to hear 'new' sounds too!
The flight to get home was a prelude to the turbulent emotions that were yet to be felt as I made my way east in hopes to arrive at the bedside of my dad in the hospital in hopes he would still recognize me somehow and be able to communicate with me. As I listened to people screaming in the rear of the plane, and another in front of me bouncing out of his seat, I knew that my hopes were close to being dashed and the desire to get 'home' was all the more the goal. I was handed a standby ticket by the airline agent as our flight arrived an hour late in Houston due to bad weather. The skies were black as the rains washed over the runways grounding plane after plane. There were people in every seat, on the floor, and standing all waiting for a way out to their destination, and I was one of them. My belly growled with hunger not just for food, but with the longing to make it home before it would be too late to say my goodbyes to my father as he lay in the hospital on life support, as all hope for improving was dashed only days before my travel plans to get home.
I had just gotten off the phone with my sister in law who had turned half way back as I called to tell her that the flight to the mountains of NC where we had lived several years earlier had been cancelled, and my earliest hopes of arrival were possibly the following morning. The idea of spending the night in the airport was not on my bucket list by any means. Within just a couple of minutes after hanging up the phone I heard the announcement that the plane to Charlotte was loading...I was given a standby ticket and stood with heart clenched in hopes that there was a seat waiting for me...within the next half minute and a prayer breathed below my voice my name was called and I literally ran to the desk to assure my seat would not be taken by another. I was on the plane!
It was after 3am when we arrived from the airport to the hospital, my dad was sleeping, a ventilator was keeping his lungs working and he was comfortable with a drip of medications slowly making their decent into his veins. Over the years I had seen my dad 18 years earlier hooked up to machines and tubes when he'd had his heart surgery, but this was different and I knew it was only a matter of time before our goodbyes would be nothing more then unspoken memories.
I gently took his frail hand into mine and there I sat for hours until the sun rose bringing a new day. He was never at a place to speak verbally to me, but there were several times where he held tight to my hand with his strength I remember as a little girl, and then it would be quiet again. In my heart I do believe he knew I was there, I stroked his temples and his now soft gray hair that cradled his head, in my hand. The once strong vibrant father I had known that would swim for miles into the disappearing ocean horizon with me holding tight round his neck, now gently making his way to a new horizon that I was unable to go with him to.
Over the course of the next couple of days the rest of my brothers made their way in from the west and southeast as we had been called to all come home knowing dads time was short. My brother from the west coast was the last to arrive, and I do believe dad was 'waiting' to depart until he was able to see all of his children together for the last time. It was an emotional time of 'gathering' as a family at his bedside. At one point I felt like we were having a huge 'slumber' party in his room, laughing and telling stories as we were all together sharing old times...tears would well up between the laughter in silence, then broken again by the stories bringing the laughter once again. This would be the next two days of visitation until we came together as a family to make the decision to remove the ventilator. Dad's sedation was cut so he could somewhat awaken from his slumber to recognize all of us around him. It was a very intense and emotional time as we all held our breath not knowing how long he would hold on. He opened his eyes and locked into my youngest brother and they had a conversation without words that in those moments could fill the pages of a book.
We each spent our time to say our goodbyes, how much dad could understand is hard to say, but from the look and the intensity of his eyes, we knew he comprehended the depth of the moment. The oxygen mask was placed on his face to help with his breathing, and he was given morphine to ease the pain and slipped back into the place of willing rest to accept the journey that was ahead. It was hard to watch such a strong father so weak and so frail. Near midnight, his blood pressure began to drop as he began making his way to crossing over. I began to pray with my brothers and his wife at his side, and within only moments his eyes opened once again and he smiled a gentle smile as if he was invited to come by a loved one who journeyed this way before him.
His last breath was taken, as we participated in the blessing of his crossing over, it was a somber moment full of so much emotion. Sadness, yet joy to see him finally at rest, no more suffering and finally whole, healed and at peace. And so, one chapter closed, and another opened in a moment, in a breath he was gone and in a new place while we all fumbled finding our new place in the same place.
We had a wonderful public memorial for my dad at their home on the New River in the mountains of NC. The home had been their nest for 18 years, and held wonderful memories for Cip and I, and the rest of my siblings as we spent time there over the years. A perfect place to celebrate the memories of our dad. As the friends left, the family departed down to the river to share in the memories of dads favorite place on the river, a huge rock where he loved to sit and fish.
There is so much more to this story that will be included in my writing of 'Views from the window Seat' as there is so much to share. The drive home from the hospital was my last that night, as all the family, with mixed emotions my flesh cried out for dad, but my spirit longed to jump out of the car and shout with incredible joy knowing he had finally met the Divine road that travels to only good.
This trip started with an incredible support from so many of you, friends and art enthusiasts as the efforts were made to help me purchase the ticket to make my way home. It is hard to put into words how encouraged and loved I felt from the outpouring of prayer, kindness and acts that enabled me to get home. The trip ended with the blessing of re-connecting with brothers, and extended family that I had not seen in years. For this I will be eternally grateful to my father for bringing us all together again, and to friends and family who were there to make the journey with me, with us, with dad.
'Bob' De Benedictis Jan 27-1931 to May 12-2014
Dad and me on the coast, he was an incredible swimmer and loved the ocean.
The Art of Discipline
I was on my way home from practicing some music with a friend a few days ago and we got into the discussion of ‘discipline’ and it got me thinking…
We are faced with cultivating disciplines early in our lives, but until we ‘desire’ discipline it is a lesson that is rarely enjoyed, I can look back and see where my gains of discipline have been hindered because of the lack of ‘desire’ for discipline.
We learn early in childhood that discipline is a life rule to succeed, to be rewarded, to overcome challenges in our lives, whether emotionally, physically or spiritually. We moved to the west after living my 49 years in the east. With this move came a ‘desire’ to embark into my creative abilities as an artist full time, rather than the typical hobby lifestyle that I had previously lived out. Maybe turning 50 was the driving force, haha, whatever, the ‘desire’ was there, and I was hard after it. I believe that this desire is what cultivated for me the ‘art of discipline’.
Before making this life choice to be a full time artist, I painted on the whims of ‘feeling’ inspired. Nothing wrong with that, but…what happens when we aren’t ‘feeling’ inspired…well, for me, I simply didn’t create. So as I embarked on this new found desire, with it came the need for discipline, and therein was the beginning of cultivating the ‘art of discipline’.
Years ago I journeyed through the book ‘The Artists Way’…it’s a great ‘internal’ work that asks deep questions and if you are not afraid of looking inside and taking out your ‘trash’ that normally clutters and suffocates creativity and discipline, is a great tool for opening up the sleeping creative giant within each of us. After going through this book on my own, I began gathering groups of 12 women and walking alongside their journey to open up creative blockages, finding their creative self once again.
The book taught me many powerful lessons, but the biggest lesson outside of the internal ‘heart’ lessons was ‘discipline’… journaling and working through this book demanded it, whether you ‘felt’ like it or not. Out of the 12 women that would agree to make the commitment, we would end up with 6-7 who followed through to the end, it took hard work, honesty with self, courage to face fears, and discipline.
For 4 years now, I have been ‘cultivating’ the ‘art of discipline’ in my daily life. I still continually deal with ‘internal life issues’, those internal and external voices that would desire to drown out and bring death to the creative giant living inside. It has been a constant challenge but has become easier and I can say that I have become more gracious and successful to nurture and apply the daily disciplines to self to become closer to that creative being that I was designed to be.
The ‘art of discipline’ has many faucets to it, research, challenging ones abilities and skill levels, applying studio time even when I ‘ain’t’ feelin’ it, accepting critique, but not allowing the negative voices of defeat to have power over the creative child inside, and surrounding oneself with supportive and encouraging voices that empower that discipline.
If you find yourself at that ‘mundane’ place where you are on the wait for being inspired, for that ‘creative high’ to hit before you can make your way into the studio to sit before your creative project, I would encourage you … apply discipline, if its only for a small time, then add to that each time, set realistic goals, be flexible to change, don’t’ be afraid to look inside, and by all means… let ‘desire’ fuel your ‘art of discipline’.
'You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours' Anne-Wilson Schaef
'Desire, ask, believe, receive' Stella Terrill Mann
Seems as though we are constantly passing from one season to the next, embracing the death and the life of each transition. This season has been no different as we lost a good friend to a horrible tragedy, Jesse, our 7 year old lab died a tragic death just months after making our move. The grief I witnessed my husband experience in his loss was difficult to watch. Though knowing its all a part of the growth of life, the maturity of our hearts being reached, for every death we experience, there is always a rebirth of something new. And as always, the parallels of how the cycle plays out in life always amazes me.
We were finally able to retrieve 'Sierra Cancion', our last little mustang girl and re-unite her with her band. Our gelding 'Liberty' seemed to be offended somehow with her lack of desire to travel with the rest of the gang to get home, and thus was pretty hard on his dealings with her for a couple of months. As I watched even their transition, again lessons always learned from the horse. Over the last month there seems to have been a shift in their relational dynamic as they are now in-seperable calling to one another when they are grazing in the pasture, and tenderly giving affectionate scratches in the evening hour. 'Cancion' has always had a sweet disposition and I see her maturing and seeking her human companionship more and more with me as we spend our time together. One wonders if she is eternally grateful to be back 'home' as she roamed for a couple of months on the ranch without the presence of whom she called her 'family' on the prior ranch. Nonetheless, its been wonderful to watch them all settling into their new life here without the harassment of stallions and bachelors around every bend to threaten the security of their bonds with one another. I have seen a relaxed state of mind in them that brings much comfort.
Our summer started out with a busyness with projects here on the ranch we are caretaking that carried us well into our winter season. The winter here has been much like that we experienced on the northwest side of the mountain range. But, with much more ease not living in an RV and dealing with frozen water, and subzero temps with 2" of wall to separate us from the elements. I have enjoyed the new views, the quiet, the solitude winter brings, and the studio time that winter affords to produce and challenge myself to perfect my artistic skills.
Losing 'Jesse' after thanksgiving brought a somber time for our home, and I knew as the wound was beginning to close in my husbands heart over his loss, that it was time to bring in a new 'presence and spirit' into our home...how better then with a puppy! The search began as I started the quest through rescue operations across the western region. Within a couple of weeks I found a puppy, a bordercollie/heeler mix. He was adorable, and there was something about him in the photos that just spoke to my heart. It was an effort of 'the village' community of friends that made his adoption and transportation possible. I kept it a secret from my husband, Cip, which those of you who know me, know what a challenge it is for me to keep a secret, I am like a child who has to open a gift the eve of Christmas as I can't hold back my excitement, haha! So for me this was a huge achievement to follow through without exposing my crafty endeavor before it unfolded.
The night of 'Jonas' arrival (his name comes from the greek definition 'Gift from God') I was so thrilled to get him home into Cip's arms. In the process of his adoption, I was friended by a woman named 'Cherie' who was so incredible to make it possible to get 'Jonas' here from Arizona of all places. I made a great dinner and the evening was spent making new friendship bonds and watching Cip's heart open up to embrace 'the gift'. My husband is a slow mover, unlike me, I run with a force at times that is frightening even for me, haha, by morning he had made the heart shift of releasing 'Jesse' and embracing 'Jonas'. Understandably, Jonas will never fill the place of Jesse, but he will make his own deposit into Cips heart, and our lives. And so the journey with 'Jonas' has begun, and it has been a wonderful one at that!
The transition of death to life is rarely a pleasant one, but essential for us to embrace the fullness of all that life offers us emotionally, physically and spiritually. We can all recall chapters and seasons that play out in our lives, looking back upon them and seeing the growth that took place from that experience. In relation to the horses, I see how we have shifted from 'the wild days' on the prior ranch, even our domestics learning the lessons that range life held for them. To the present of new horizons, becoming more 'planted' in relationships and purposed and vision for future.
As an artist, my goal over this season and for the year will be to move it up a notch in my artistic ability, producing Fine Art that will surpass anything I have created thus far. To find my niche in its presentation in advocacy in greater measure for the wild mustang, as 2014 is the 'year of the horse' I am hoping along with countless others for incredible breakthrough for the promises to be upheld for the preservation and protection of a vanishing American Icon. This will be the year of continued training for our own horses, refining their skills and abilities to become greater riding companions as we move forward as caretakers here at the ranch.
In retrospect, though there has been much transition, and much of that transition, has felt as 'death' with aspects of our life as chapters coming to a close, its vital to recognize the chapters yet ahead, those open doors, full of promise, growth, and mystery. One thing I am continually challenged by the equine, 'to live in the moment'...horses don't worry about 'tomorrow', they don't dwell on 'yesterdays', they live in TODAY. They recognize the value and importance of death and birth... we can learn well from the horse, if we will listen. It is difficult to take hold of the new, if we are still clenching with tight fists to the old... I am learning an old lesson, still be refined... of letting go, and taking hold.
Summer has passed and the leaves are falling as we move into winter. Our landscape has changed as we made our move out of the RV and into a home on the eastern side of the northern New Mexico mountain range.
A lot of reflection as we exited our year of living among the wild mustang on their landscape, embracing their daily lives and learning lessons along the way. I can't say I have ever 'formally' written a 'bucket list', but if I had, the year of living among the wild mustangs was one I would not trade and glad that we made the choices we did, though not always easy, well worth the experience and opportunities gained along the way.
And so, for now, we settle into somewhat of a 'normal' life if there is such a thing, with a solid roof over our heads, running water, warmth and convenience. We have brought our 'brood' of horses with us, though Sierra Cancion still runs at the former mustang ranch until we can fetch her, perhaps early spring as the snows come to an end.
If I could put into words all the glories, and hardships we have endured over the last year...it might just make a pretty good read! As winter is on our heals I will embark back into the studio to paint, and also to begin writing and see where it takes me.
For now...life is quiet, calm and there is an ease to our days outside of the work load of managing and renovating the ranch here, stay tuned for great news of things just around the corner!
I have been filtering through photographs from the last two years or more of range visits, enjoy the pictures as I begin posting more of our 'Drinkers of the wind'.
See you soon!
'Sierra Cancion' photo from last winter on the ranch. She is a wonderful spirited El Rito wild mustang, and I love knowing she is running free!
Legends of the Dance photo reference from the Sand Wash Basin in Colorado
You can see the original oil I painted from this photo capture I took on one of my visits in my artwork
Another great capture of a gorgeous
stallion from the Sand Wash Basin in Colorado, I loved taking pictures of this handsome stallion!
And what a season its been! We made it through our first winter, and right into summer, spring was a brief interlude. The grasses are green, mustangs are fattening up from winter, horseback riding has begun, and little foals are spotted everywhere on the range as spring brings new birth and growth. Bailador Viento, our little now 9 month old El Rito mustang continues his journey of learning to be a wild and free mustang here on the ranch. Running with the 'ragamuffin' band, he is learning well the lessons that come within the social structure of a stallion, lead mare, other mares and horses within the band...as well as running within other bands on the range. Even on 5000 acres of land, there are 'space' boundaries he is learning that apply within the herd dynamics here.
Even 'Jesse' our 7 year old black lab, finally learned, he is a lab. We have not been able to get him 'wet' or in water since he was a puppy. But for some reason, this has been his year of 'growth'! He is a ball hound, and so using it as the tool to promote him to learn he is a Labrador, lol...he followed in beyond his fears to get the prize (the nasty tennis ball full of mud)...and he has been swimming since!
Little Bailador Viento has lost his winter woolies and that strange little creature covered with fuzz is showing great potential of being a jewel of a beauty, taking on the sculpted face much like his mother, Sierra Rosa and roaning out with a beautiful terracotta pink tone with his flashy black legs and mane. And the eye, the eye of the El Rito's are dark, round and deep...and he has a beautiful eye.
He has been on the range now for over 3 months. He and Sierra Cancion and Liberty seem to hold his affection. He is very playful with Cancion and enjoys grazing along side of Liberty. He is a little squirt in size, but huge in personality. He still loves to mingle and get the rubs from his human friends even though he has the wild blood of a mustang running through his veins.
And so, he is learning...and growing as are we all. For me on a personal level, I am still learning through watching, the behavior of the wild mustang. Herd dynamics and the social behavior of the wild mustangs never ceases to bore me. There are great lessons and applications that can be made through watching and learning. It has become one of my favorite things to do when I am not painting or riding on the range. Our domestics are learning as well, and the lessons for them are good.
There is a calm resolve within the horse, the mustang. They are by nature a peaceful presence that appreciates and demands good behavior, proper boundaries and low pressure. Something I think we all strive for in our personal lives. Through my time with the mustang, I too have a greater appreciation for these 'moments in time'. I am finding my level of 'intolerance' through the lifestyle and relational dynamics of day to day living. Working on keeping a healthy balance to maintain that peace that surpasses all understanding is a great challenge, as well as a promoter of great growth. I am getting closer, but my, what a challenge it is. I watch the horses, and they make it look so easy to achieve.
With them, there is no worry, no frets or regrets. They live in the 'now', and they do it with impeccable grace. This is my aim...to find that same path, regardless of life's inconveniences and challenges, to embrace the ease of 'being and abiding' in peace. I can 'see' it in action, I can 'feel' it in what I experience living here with the mustangs...making the application, consistently...therein lies the challenge. I appreciate the 'teachers' that I have access to, to continue to learn and grow, all while applying life's spiritual lessons in the process.
I paint, I write, I sing...for me it is my therapy, it is my being, for you, a hopeful outlet of another way of life as you watch and learn through me, just as I watch and learn through them, the wild mustang.