Well, “Slim”, as everyone here at the barn has taken to calling this skeletal critter, just keeps changing get-ups and moving around! He has been found in a new and unexpected place nearly daily as we get closer to the big Halloween day. I finally stopped jumping at the sight of him today as he took over the trail ride scheduling desk. Just another day at the stables!
A little mischief and some eccentric horse people. Put those together and, well…you just don’t know what you might find when you walk out in the morning or come home late one evening. Beware the week before Halloween in particular!
It is often difficult to find peace when you live at a boarding, riding, training and trail riding facility where people are surrounding you constantly. It has been said that HORSE people are not usually “PEOPLE” people. I have found that to be very true. Living here, though, it’s a constant lesson of immersing ourselves with horses (which is so easy) AND getting used to all these people (which isn’t always so easy). We have the “early bird” boarders that tend to be retirees that want to show up first thing in the morning to clean their horses stalls themselves. We have the working crew who show up after 5 pm and rush (or buzz as my little girl says) around like bees before it gets dark. We have the ladies that like to sit and drink coffee all day. We have the early morning riding lessons and horse training sessions. We have the 3 pm after-school rush of riding lessons. We have the homeschooling families that spend their days here. We have the lazy Saturday crowd that plays poker at the picnic table right outside of our front door. The farriers who come for coffee every morning. The casual Sunday boarders who come by after church. Oh, I could go on. Then we have the late Sunday night or early Monday morning delivery of hay of course. It is always (why, I don’t know) a 5 AM forklift fight. Stalling, re-starting, revving engine, stalling, REPEAT. I am awake now and it is Monday morning all over again.
It is times like today where I have to look deep within to find strength. And peace. Even the simple peace of a walk around the property with a flashlight at 11 PM because (usually) there will be quiet and stillness. Finding peace in a 2 AM colicing horse check. Finding peace in the early morning fall chill feedings that keep this place quiet just a little later. Finding peace in the little overgrown niche back behind the round pen where no one really ever ventures. Finding peace in hanging a little swing there for my daughter to escape to. Finding peace in this early morning sunrise scene that I captured before the busy-ness began. Thank you for these oh-so-rare (and oh-so-worth-it) moments of peace.
I was reading this interview today that Oprah did with Paulo Coelho, the author. It struck a deep chord with me. Not only because I love this writer’s works, but he spoke so casually in this interview in words that jumped out at me. He spoke of not just “following your dreams” but of the belief that we are all here with a “purpose”. We may not know what that purpose is just yet, and it may take a while to discover it, in fact he even speaks the scary truth that some of us may never find our purpose (nooooo!). He conveys that we all have a purpose here and if we just “fight the good fight” and continue on in the direction we feel pulled (not pushed) that we will discover ourselves. He says that we must persevere, never accept no, create our own destiny and, at the same time, let go. I have been working on my share of “letting go”. While many of his words ring true in an ideal world, I do get discouraged. I do wonder where this is all going in the end. I do think (sometimes in a quiet corner of my mind) about giving it all up and just living an easy, quiet life. When the tests come, when the stress rears its head, when the boundaries are being crossed again and again I often find myself wondering why I’m doing this. And then I sit and breathe. I try to work on the fine art of how to “let go”. Letting go is the hardest thing, I think. We can “fight the good fight”, persevere, never give in, put in the sweat and the heart….and so on. But, as of late, I honestly find the “letting go” part to be the absolute hardest. When building a dream, we want to build and build and never let up. If we stop to breathe, we might possibly remember that, while we have power, we are not necessarily “in charge” and we have to let go to let our purpose be. I am reminded of a quote that has taken me through some challenging times, “Don’t try to force anything. Let life be a deep let go. See millions of flower buds opening every day without the forcing of a single bud”. It is easy sometimes to sit here in the evenings and wax poetic and positive. Yes. That’s how I process. It is absolutely the hardest thing that I have yet to face in my time on Earth to understand how to “let go” and let my purpose be. I am reminded of something Mitch Albom wrote in “Tuesdays with Morrie”….”Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long”. It is so hard to find that balance between going for your dream and letting go at the same time. A combination of both somehow must be the answer. The equation to get to that answer? That’s the million dollar question my friends.
Well, if this little cutie (named Romance, perfectly enough) isn’t getting you into the fall spirt then I just don’t know what will. Fall is definitely in the air, as the saying goes. From the sudden early morning chill to the need to start wearing my fleece lined work gloves and sweatshirts to feed in the morning, I never quite knew what that saying meant, I now realize, until now. The waking up just a smidge later because the sunrise is just a smidge slower (that’s a few minutes more sleep for us) and then walking out into a somehow slower feeling morning with a crispness in the air that has long been forgotten. The help, the boarders, the lessons…they all arrive just a little bit later. It seems the world sleeps more, we fold in. We fold in to remember the changing of the seasons, the pulling of the tides, the chilling of the moon, rejuvenating our bodies in the way that humans really do seem to hibernate. I welcome the chill, the fall air, the slowing down of our world for just a tiny little bit.
I also smell a bit of mischief in the air….
Have I mentioned what hard work this can be here? Exhaustion. Absolute and complete exhaustion. I have never known this kind of tired before. I feel it in my bones, my muscles, my mind and my emotional tolerance threshold. I have certainly worked hard before in my life and have always been a very busy type of personality. However, now that I live in this stable of 50 plus horses as well as homeschool my daughter, this level of busy has upped it’s ante on me. I thought I had slowed down my lifestyle to come here and live in this environment. I left the world of chaos, materialism and superficiality behind to leave the city life and live here experiencing this “slower paced” way of life. I wanted myself and my family to know and live differently. In some ways, yes, life has slowed down. Slowed to remember what’s really important. Slowed to show me a brilliant neon pink sunrise while the crisp early fall air hits my face. Slowed to watch birds nest and peek back into those nests each day to see when the eggs hatch and admire the tiny baby birds. Slowed to the satisfying feeling of dirt on your face, hay in your hair and real sweat on your forehead. Slowed to the basics of life and nature. Horses show you how to slow down. Food, water, shelter. Then it’s all okay. And, when you are stressed out or hurried, they will definetly let you know and ask you to look inside yourself by acting up. The horses are constant reminders to slow down. But what full days we have here! Sunrise to sundown, and then more. I am finding it hard to keep up on the little things. Any suggestions for time management? We rise with the sun to feed, check waters, clean stalls, ride and exercise the ones that we are responsible for, homeschool somewhere in and out of there (math, reading, art…), teach a couple of riding lessons, run my daughter to her handwork (knitting) class, stop at the post office, back home, answer questions for people stopping by asking about trail rides, help a boarder fit their new saddle, casual boarder conversation about the weather, sell a few bales of alfalfa (got to run around to find change!) dinner, showers, read to my little girl, tuck her into bed, sweep out the barn, check on the horses, dump the trash, check the calendar for tomorrow. Then I find it’s 10:00 at night and I haven’t yet done the dishes, picked up the house, finished the load of laundry that sat in the washer all day and now smells too mildewy to put in the dryer and fold. Also, I do enjoy the time for myself to post a tidbit or two here on this blog. Oh, and prepare our schooling lesson for tomorrow. Off to bed about midnight. Read some, fall asleep and up again at sunrise to feed. It is an exhausting and very full life here. We are just still trying to find our rhythm. It is a satisfying exhaustion at the end of the day though and I know we will figure it all out eventually.