Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wildies



Over the past few months, I have become very interested n Alberta's free roaming wild horses, affectionately called Wildies because of the recent cull of these beautiful creatures. This lead me to finding Heather Clemenceau's excellent blog. She is a great animal lover and advocates for their protection.

On Heather's blog, I found out about Melody Perez who is an Artist/ Painter/ Singer/ Songwriter. Melody is also a very blessed and fortunate woman, and has dedicated herself to horses through her art and has spent much of her time around American Wild Mustangs.

Melody has a real funky 1968 vintage RV she calls, The Mustang Mansion where she lives, while traveling and sets up her beautiful paintings for people to come and view her art work.

Here is something I found today about the reasons horses are so loved, and why they bless and enrich our lives.

   Why Horses?

To have a horse in your life is a gift. In the matter of a few short years, a horse can teach a young girl courage, if she chooses to grab mane and hang on for dear life. Even the smallest of ponies is mightier than the tallest of girls. To conquer the fear of falling off, having one's toes crushed, or being publicly humiliated at a horse show is an admirable feat for any child. For that, we can be grateful.

Horses teach us responsibility. Unlike a bicycle or a computer, a horse needs regular care and most of it requires that you get dirty and smelly and up off the couch. Choosing to leave your cozy kitchen to break the crust of ice off the water buckets is to choose responsibility. When our horses dip their noses and drink heartily; we know we've made the right choice.

Learning to care for a horse is both an art and a science. Some are easy keepers, requiring little more than regular turn-out, a flake of hay, and a trough of clean water. Others will test you - you'll struggle to keep them from being too fat or too thin. You'll have their feet shod regularly only to find shoes gone missing. Some are so accident-prone you'll swear they're intentionally finding new ways to injure themselves.

If you weren't raised with horses, you can't know that they have unique personalities. You'd expect this from dogs, but horses? Indeed, there are clever horses, grumpy horses, and even horses with a sense of humor. Those prone to humor will test you by finding new ways to escape from the barn when you least expect it.

Horses can be timid or brave, lazy or athletic, obstinate or willing. You will hit it off with some horses and others will elude you altogether. There are as many "types" of horses as there are people- which makes the whole partnership thing all the more interesting.

If you've never ridden a horse, you probably assume it's a simple thing you can learn in a weekend. You can, in fact, learn the basics on a Sunday, but to truly ride well takes a lifetime. Working with a living being is far more complex than turning a key in the ignition and putting the car or tractor in "drive."

In addition to listening to your instructor, your horse will have a few things to say to you as well. On a good day, he'll be happy to go along with the program and tolerate your mistakes; on a bad day, you'll swear he's trying to kill you. Perhaps he's naughty or perhaps he' fed up with how slowly you're learning his language. Regardless, the horse will have an opinion. He may choose to challenge you (which can ultimately make you a better rider) or he may carefully carry you over fences - if it suits him. It all depends on the partnership - and partnership is what it's all about.

If you face your fears, swallow your pride, and are willing to work at it, you'll learn lessons in courage, commitment, and compassion in addition to basic survival skills. You'll discover just how hard you're willing to work toward a goal, how little you know, and how much you have to learn.

And, while some people think the horse "does all the work", you'll be challenged physically as well as mentally. Your horse may humble you completely. Or, you may find that sitting on his back is the closest you'll get to heaven.

You can choose to intimidate your horse, but do you really want to? The results may come more quickly, but will your work ever be as graceful as that gained through trust? The best partners choose to listen, as well as to tell. When it works, we experience a sweet sense of accomplishment brought about by smarts, hard work, and mutual understanding between horse and rider. These are the days when you know with absolute certainty that your horse is enjoying his work.

If we make it to adulthood with horses still in our lives, most of us have to squeeze riding into our over saturated schedules; balancing our need for things equine with those of our households and employers. There is never enough time to ride, or to ride as well as we'd like. Hours in the barn are stolen pleasures.

If it is in your blood to love horses, you share your life with them. Our horses know our secrets; we braid our tears into their manes and whisper our hopes into their ears. A barn is a sanctuary in an unsettled world, a sheltered place where life's true priorities are clear: a warm place to sleep, someone who loves us, and the luxury of regular meals. Some of us need these reminders.

When you step back, it's not just about horses - it's about love, life, and learning. On any given day, a friend is celebrating the birth of a foal, a blue ribbon, or recovery from an illness. That same day, there is also loss: a broken limb, a case of colic, a decision to sustain a life or end it gently. As horse people, we share the accelerated life cycle of horses: the hurried rush of life, love, loss, and death that caring for these animals brings us. When our partners pass, it is more than a moment of sorrow.

We mark our loss with words of gratitude for the ways our lives have been blessed. Our memories are of joy, awe, and wonder. Absolute union. We honor our horses for their brave hearts, courage, and willingness to give.

To those outside our circle, it must seem strange. To see us in our muddy boots, who would guess such poetry lives in our hearts? We celebrate our companions with praise worthy of heroes. Indeed, horses have the hearts of warriors and often carry us into and out of fields of battle.

Listen to stories of that once-in-a-lifetime horse; of journeys made and challenges met. The best of horses rise to the challenges we set before them, asking little in return.

Those who know them understand how fully a horse can hold a human heart. Together, we share the pain of sudden loss and the lingering taste of long-term illness. We shoulder the burden of deciding when or whether to end the life of a true companion.

In the end, we're not certain if God entrusts us to our horses--or our horses to us. Does it matter? We're grateful God loaned us the horse in the first place.

Author Unknown

 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Home Town Battle Field


I have never seen war, and I am very grateful for that. I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to experience war. Those individuals that do, are changed forever, in innumerable ways that for the average person are absolutely unimaginable. Our daily " problems " pale greatly, and seem insignificant in comparison to the affects of war on the individuals that have been on the front lines.

We don't have to look far to see that war, civil unrest, and human rights abuses exist throughout the world.

I became motivated to learn more about the affects of war when I was in University. The main reason was because of Christopher Hedges book, War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning.



This week I saw two extremely compelling items, that coincided in relation to one another. They both moved me deeply. The first was a photography project about the genocide in Rwanda. Most people are very aware of this event, that lead to 800,000 deaths of Rwandans. Pieter Hugo's riveting and powerful photography about the Rwanda genocide and forgiveness, is entitled Portraits of Reconciliation   that is very poignant.
You can listen to the interview on CBC Radio Q program, Portraits of Forgiveness 20 years after the Rwandan genocide.

The now retired Lieutenant-General, and Canadian Senator, Roméo Dallaire, was appointed Force Commander for the United Nations for Rwanda in 1993, where he was witness to this genocide, which later lead him to become a dedicated, and outspoken advocate, for mental health, genocide prevention, human rights and war-affected children. Roméo Dallaire suffers from PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome a direct result of the atrocities he witnessed in Rwanda.

The second item I saw was the singer song writer J. P. Cormier's new and powerful song, Hometown Battlefield go viral, about Veterans and PTSD, what they experience when they go to war, and return home.
J.P.'s song is deeply heart felt, a beautiful expression to honouring our soldiers, and that has now touched thousands of Veterans, soldiers, and their families.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Power of Vulnerability




My close friend from University sent this YouTube link to me today. Brene Brown encapsulates so much insight, wisdom, and truth in her TED talk, on the power of vulnerability, that I had to share it. She talks about the importance of connection, a topic that is pertinent to everyone, regardless of who you are or whatever your vocation. I hope you take the time to watch. I'm certain you will find it to be very worthwhile, enlightening and maybe even life changing.

 " Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness. " - Brene Brown

Vulnerability and Being Whole Hearted At Work

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Gentleman of Leisure



When I think of Jesse Winchester, I think of my youth, and my late brother who died when he was Jesse's age now, 69.
My brother Ralph and I shared a huge deep love for music, and a great big, the biggest love, and appreciation for Jesse.
I think Jesse is one of those wonderful musicians, and song writers, that helped to bridge the communication gap, and ten year age difference between my brother and myself. Jesse taught us about life, love, and what really mattered, our relationships.

Jesse's tenderhearted personality comes shining through in his lyrics and music. It's not much wonder people feel they know him personally.
I always felt, and got the distinct, and strong impression he is such a humble, gentle soul, and as genuine as a person could ever be. I think this is one of the main reasons so many folks love him.

His writing makes it apparent and obvious what he loves, appreciates about life, and about the world, particularly in his own personal life. His values and convictions are so greatly admired by his fans, and are a big part of his legacy, along with his music, and tender sweet voice, deportment, and songs. Of this I am  certain, it is what touches people so very deeply. He certainly always poignantly touches my heart, in more ways than I express and count. I will always, and forever be his biggest fan, besides my brother Ralph of course.

There have been conflicting reports this morning about Jesse's death though I know he is gravely ill. My heart aches with sadness and sorrow.
Confident in knowing Jesse will be most welcomed in Glory, and Heaven will rejoice with angel choirs eternally.

Jesse Winchester is and always will be greatly loved by all who had the privilege to know and love him. He truly is a country Gentleman of  Leisure. Rest easy Jesse.


Gentleman Of Leisure

I want a job that's not too demanding
Like where you do a lot of standing
No way to be an elevator operator
No way a salesman, no way a waiter
Cause I'm a gentleman, gentleman of leisure
The classified ads got nothing too appealing
I don't know, but I just got the feeling
I might take a while to find a position
With a pretty secretary, time to do some fishing
Cause I'm a gentleman, gentleman of leisure
I'm a gentleman
Gentleman of leisure
Set me in the sun
Gentleman of leisure
Let me take my time
Bet you I can please you
Forty-hour week - can't you make it thirty
No heavy lifting - you get yourself dirty
Beautiful office - thirty-seven floors
Paintings on the wall
Title on the door says,
Gentleman of Leisure
I look nice in a clean white collar
Take-home pay, O say a million dollars
I'll keep looking, never say die
Somebody, somewhere is looking for a guy
Who's a gentleman, gentleman of leisure
© Jesse Winchester


I Wave Bye Bye

Just out in the harbor
All the ships asleep
Maybe one cold watchman
Walks a lonely beat
Way out on the water
A ship is under sail
Leaving wavy starlight
And a dreamer in her trail
I wave bye bye
I pray God speed
I wish lovely weather
More luck than you need
You'll only sail in circles
So there's no need to cry
No, I'll see you again one day
And then I waved bye bye
The sailing ship reminds me
Of a certain girl
Who left a certain dreamer
To sail into the world
I've very friendly post-cards
From very far away
But they just remind me
Of a certain day
I wave bye bye
I pray God speed
I wish lovely weather
And all the luck that you need
You'll only sail in circles
So there's no need to cry
No, I'll see you again one day
And then I waved bye bye
© Jesse Winchester

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Monkey Brain and The Confessional Box of Paints



I have been feeling a little burdened for a variety of reasons lately. I can pretty much pinpoint all of the reasons why. But I found out I am being burdened by my monkey brain, and this is primarily what my blog post is about today.

Confession is good for the soul. I haven't anything I want to confess necessarily, but do want to honestly express my thoughts on something I have been dealing with this past week especially. It helps to resolve issues we are struggling with, when we openly talk about them, as it enables clarity, and especially for women, talking helps us makes sense of our world.

So I went searching on line about the topic of loneliness, and how this effects artists. It's a topic I think some of us are often in denial about. It is something we know we have to face and accept, as does everyone in this life at some point. We can't deny it. However, for artists we are often alone, as our work is solitary and we know that, prior to taking up the profession. Occasionally  I think we can be living too much in our heads, and we can loose perspective, especially if we live alone.

 I believe for many artists, art becomes our therapy of sorts, and it enables us to cope with being alone or lonely. Perhaps more often than not, we are might be stressed by something, or troubled in one way or another. We get used to being alone, even in a crowd, but it can become problematic, and something we need to be mindful of as artists.

I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin, especially being 60 years of age, and often prefer solitude and being alone although I do love people. I would be lying if I said I don't ever get lonely. I do, and lately have been feeling this loneliness especially after a long rough Winter. I attribute it to a number of reasons but primarily, I believe I am mostly frustrated with the feeling of being overwhelmed with chores I have to do around the house. I can get lured into talking myself into to simply avoiding what I need to do, as I am only answerable and accountable to no one but myself. I think the fact is, I don't much  even like my own company lately. I am the only one that can change that.

I found a great blog by the an artist Chris Palbicki, called 5 Ways To Whip The Crap Outta Loneliness.

The second blog, Wait But Why, with this great post, Why Procrastinators Procrastinate.  I am not a huge procrastinator. Oh don't get me wrong, I have had some " finer " moments that have gotten me into some mega problems, but I have definitely gotten better over the years. I still do have my moments with that monkey brain freak, and it is still problematic. But I certainly am grateful to learn more about it and understand how it works.

I must say, I do feel better for having talked about this and ' purged ' myself. I have decided I am now going to brake it on down into steps, what I want to accomplish, so I don't feel so overwhelmed and whip the crap out of my monkey brain!


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Life Animated



I don't have a lot to say about this post, other than it's about living with Autism and touches me deeply.

http://ronsuskind.com/books/life-animated/life-animated-excerpt/

The Suskind's story makes me think of  L'Arche and Jean Vanier.

Searching for Meaning

What meaning can be found in life in the modern world? So many people today are searching, so many seem lost and no longer have any kind of ethical reference points; so many are dissatisfied with a purely materialistic life, with ephemeral pleasures or with a quest for power and success.

Through my experiences both before and in L'Arche I have discovered the importance of two essential elements in human life that can give it meaning both for people of goodwill who have no religion, and for people who are searching for God, whatever their religion: being, and being open, having a clear identity and being open to others. We establish an identity through the place where we live, our family, culture, education and physical and psychological state. But we establish it too through our choice of profession, our gifts and abilities, our values and fundamental motivations in life, through friends, through the commitments we make and through searching for truth in ourselves and in life. Being open to others, especially to those who are different from ourselves, is to see them not as rivals and enemies but as brothers and sisters in humanity, capable of bringing light and truth into our lives, and of living in communion with us.

Openness does not imply weakness, nor a tolerance which ignores truth and justice. Being open does not mean adhering to others' ideologies. It means being truly sympathetic and welcoming to people, listening to them, and in particular to people who are weak or poor or oppressed, so as to live in communion with them.

Jean Vanier, Our Journey Home, p 145