It was a month ago that I had followed behind the trailer on route to deliver our two wild mustang girls to Engler Canyon Ranch just on the borders of Colorado and New Mexico. With mixed emotions I watched the trailer ahead moving along the highway and down the dirt road to what would become their final destination back to the wild. I was joyful for them, but their release was a place of sadness for me knowing that my interaction with them would be limited from this point forward. Its been a season of emotions with all the changes I have been faced with over the last several months. I was unsure how I would posture myself after I came back home without a pasture of horses that had been with us for over the last 15 years.
Last Friday I headed back to Engler Canyon Ranch to visit the girls. I loaded the truck with a cooler, camera, guitars and a great anticipation as I made our way down the highway. I was joined by good friend and music partner, Karl along with meeting my new marketing and promotional director, Mary and her husband at the ranch. I had sage, tobacco and a red tie from 'Thundering Hooves' to offer up to the wild ones when we arrived. We hit the road to head north in hopes to find some wild ones and enjoy the good medicine they offer and enjoy the quiet beauty of the open range.
We pulled into the sanctuary and parked just inside the gate. The skies were vast and blue with rain falling across the northwestern horizon. Karl pulled his his guitar and we started our short hike across the range to find a few bands of about 40 mustangs grazing on the northwestern side of the bast 22,000 acre landscape. The mesa views were brilliant with hues of colbalt and ultramarine blues and shades of purple in the distance. Blue skies with clouds and every shade of green and sage filled the eye.
With camera in hand I slowly walked closer to the quiet sound of mustangs grazing when I noticed our two girls with a small band off to the right. I turned on the camera and kneeled on the range to steady my camera and began to call out with my high pitch to SierraCancion. Their ears perked up and they began a quick trot towards the familiar sound they had heard for years. I was amazed to see other wildies joining with them as they approached us.I felt the warm smile begin to curve on my face as they made their way toward us. The dust followed them close behind until they stopped short about 20 yards from us with their new wild friends in tow. It was comforting to see them stop, knowing they had settled into their previous wild state, with caution and curiousity confirming their distance. I knew then and there, they had returned 'home' to their wild place within.
Of the 110 or so wild mustangs on the sanctuary , most all of them have a story of being gathered and then released in long term holding facilities across the west. Some we we're told by the staff, had bee in holding for over 16 years. Its hard to imagine the sheer glee some of these mustangs must have felt to find their freedom under their feet after so many years. I would imagine though, it took some time to find their wild comfort as well. Like picking up a paint brush after years of not painting, the first touch of canvas with the tip of the brush can feel a bit intimidating and uncomfortable as you move across the canvas the first time seeking for that familiarity once again. Robert, one of the ranch staff members, shared the story of one of the mustangs upon being released, ran the fences for days and days, probably seeking to find its original homeland and family.
I could hear Karl strumming 'My spirit runs wild and free' on the guitar as I was snapping pictures of the girls and the other wildies at their side. A song I wrote several years ago from a wild mustang perspective going through a round up, separated from his family band and homeland. I was on my knees on the warm earth and as I stood I lifted my eyes to shift onto my feet I saw about 20 mustangs had approached and were standing with ears forward, drawn to the sound of the music coming from behind me. They were just listening, and loving it. I felt their spirits connecting to the lyrics and sound as it moved across the soft breeze over the land. We stood watching, it was beautiful. The mustangs kept their distance, and we honored them in the space they demanded, but watching them, watching us and listening was an incredibly profound experience. The music moved them just as it moves us, it was a beautiful moment of silent interaction with them. I continued taking video and photos as Karl strummed the guitar, he sensed the moment at work. I continued collecting those moments on video and photos to be cherished forever.
Good medicine was at work that afternoon, for the horses, and for us. I believer that the medicine of our hearts compassion through the music was received as well as our forgiveness for the pain we as humans have caused such spiritual creatures. These are mustangs that have not experienced the kind hand as our girls, until they had been released onto the land below their feet here at the sanctuary. Its a difficult thing, to stand in the presence of wild, knowing the injuries and injustice they have been handed out by human beings. Being removed from homeland, family and all they have known to be truth. To being rounded up, separated from family, and branded to a land of fences unfamiliar in all its ways to them, some for years and years. The ability to survive and thrive is an incredible testimony of the strength, grace and beauty of these magnificant equine.
This visit was a day of good medicine for all. For the mustangs, and each of us standing on soil that has been committed to offering a life of promise, healing, hope and freedom...good medicine indeed.
Enjoy the pictures from this trip!
As always, You can find me,
Running with the Horses!
Its been far too long that I have sat and written my thoughts...a lot of catching up to do for sure!
My gypsy life came to a halt over a year ago when we relocated to Angel Fire NM, working a 600 acre ranch with our horses along our sides. Over the years our travels have taken us, and our horses across the miles, and experiencing many different situations and landscapes. But through all the moving and travels, one thing has remained...the Promise and the Provision.
When we adopted our two 'wild' girls over 6 years ago, the Promise to afford them a life as close to their wild life was one that I have been able to keep with only brief instances of shifting from that promise. For our domestic horses, the same has been true. Promising them a continued place with pasture and keeping them together as a family band.
This Christmas, all things known changed forever. My husband was diagnosed with Dementia, and after a grueling 3 months in the VA hospital finally moved to a nursing home. Upon his diagnosis, as you can imagine, my world was literally turned upside down in a matter of days. Without getting into all the details of activity and drama that preluded and followed Christmas, the fear of not being able to follow through the Promise to our equine family became a huge heartbreaking decision.
In this life that I have lived, I have learned that hard choices are always laid before us in season and out of season. We are constantly being challenged and confronted to remain flexible, remaining soft to the harsh realities and being faced to make decisions that are best for those we love, and not always trusting what may not seem best for ourselves regarding our hearts.
These last 4 arduous months have been just that season for myself. I always hear people talking about Love, what it looks like...its sacrificial, its giving the best to others without considering yourself. And so, this is where I have landed over the last few months, having to make hard decisions, thinking little of myself, and mostly for the well being for our horses, wild and domestic. So the search began, the inquiries to secure the ones I love into a long term living situation that would guarantee their very best.
And so the Provision manifested, and the Promise was kept for them All. I said my goodbyes one by one, clipping a portion of their tail as a reminder of their presence and power in my life, releasing them one at a time into their new futures, giving them the release and permission to connect to their new futures. A hard task, a heartfelt move into new territory, but ever so wonderful to watch how it all came together perfectly to assure the Promise being kept as the Provision unfolded.
Sierra Cancion and Sierra Rosa were released into their new forever homes on 22,000 acres of wild pristine landscape at the NM/Colorado border at the 'Engler Canyon Ranch' Wild Horse Sanctuary. It is here they return to their roots of being wild, untouched and run with a herd of 110 present wild mustangs. They run wild now with their own kind, able to feel the connection to the land below their feet. The release was beautiful to watch as they moved slowly across the landscape learning the earth of their new home. Within the hour, a band of about 40 wild mustangs approached them at a run as if to say, 'Hey, we want to meet you!', it was a kind approach, yet startling for the girls, as they thought they might have this land all to themselves! After the initial confrontation they kept their distance continuing to follow the band that had approached them, knowing safety is in numbers. It was warming to know they had made initial contact and that they would soon work out their place within a band so quickly. I am grateful to the staff at Engler Canyon Ranch for the Provision they have provided to the 'girls' to be what they were born to be ... 'wild'. I will continue to visit the sanctuary in hopes to continue their story and learn new stories about the other 110 plus wild residents that roam the land there. You can presently find 'Engler Canyon Ranch' on facebook as they begin offering tours to connect to the wild and the land.
Liberty, Belle, BaildorViento and RojoNube, made the 7 mile walk down the mountain into the valley to their new home within the area here locally. A wonderful family who now calls them by their name took them all in together. The Promise and Provision was incredible on their behalf by this family to keep them together as they have been since their beginnings. It is here they will be nurtured and offered new challenges of growth and love, and my heart couldn't be happier for them.
I closed this weekend with a week of what some look as 'loss'. On a personal level, they will be missed greatly, and the hole in my heart will remain for them, hopefully to be filled with new vision for travel, painting and music, and of course, visiting rangelands across the west, learning the stories of wild horses that run wild across our vast lands. To look at the Provision as loss, is unacceptable. For the Promise has remained true in its manifestation in the Provision. And there, is where I will keep my focus and my affection on their behalf. So, we all begin a new chapter in our lives. My husband, the horses, and myself. For all of us, it may feel a bit awkward at first, but in time, we will find our rhythm and know that Creator has been ever faithful to keep the Promise and Provision using so many incredible individuals, new and old to fulfill the need and the gaps, to those, I am forever grateful!
As I personally move forward, renovations on the 'Tincan' travel trailer are in the works as I plan to hit the road, the range and meet warm hearts across the miles! I look forward to this new chapter and season in my life, knowing that the Promise and the Provision for myself will be no less then it has been for my husband, and our horses.
Enjoy the slide show of the girls release, for privacy and respect for the family that has adopted our domestic gang, I have not shared pictures of them.
The story continues...in faith and grace.
As always, you will find me,
Running with the Horses....
SoIts been quiet some time since I have blogged, not meaning that I have not been writing at all! I am on chapter four of 'Views from the window seat' so my hand has been busy with writing, but the blogging has had some distance and this morning I was feeling motivated to put some words to blog!
Those of you that follow my shenanigans have known the ups and the downs, the joys and the sorrows of the journey we have embarked on over the years. It has not been easy, nor fun alot of the time, but the Divine intervention and Grace that has been loosed over my life has been simply and so obviously out of my control to not mention.
Years of not embracing my worth and value, much less my 'creative self' and finally arriving at a place of understanding and knowing...it changes you, it changes how you function, how you receive, how you forgive, love others, and yourself. The last few years have been years of turmoil, loss and frustration mixed with incredible 'divine' blessings. This summer has been no different.
I had resolved in my heart that we would be doing another winter at the house we had been fortunate to find upon our leaving the ranch prior in dire circumstances, a long story I won't bore you with in this blog. But some of you know we had to relocate the two mustang girls, unsure if we would be able to regain them to the rest of our equine family, along with living in a house that i will call 'sterile' in the sense that it had NO personality or familiar 'feeling' of being a home to it at all. Though it was a safe harbor for us for the two years we were there. I was dreading another winter as it was near impossible to keep the house warm, we had not integrated with the neighbors at all, and I felt as if I were in seclusion during the time we were there, not to mention getting in and out during the snow season, lol! Needless to say, I have found some thankfulness in that we had a secure dwelling over our heads, but not much more than that. Our horses were confined looking over the fence for two years wondering why they couldn't eat the grass that was well up to their bellies most of the year. So, though we had a roof, it never felt like 'home'. I spent two years daily searching for a better place with no results. So as I packed my gear to head to Santa Fe for my 4th year of 'Thundering Hooves' I had in my heart resolved to the fact that we would be there for yet another season.
The event in Santa Fe was incredible as always, drawing curious crowds hungry to learn more about the horse, and the issues that surround them, wild and domestic. A bit of a slower crowd surely due to the economics of our country but enthusiastic nonetheless. I packed my gear, hugged the loved ones that have become like family over the years as we have teamed up to do what we do on behalf of the horses across the country and made my way home.
The horses have been our guide in many ways over the years. They have healed our hearts, bound up our wounds, given us a place to rest our hearts when we have felt anxious, and watched over us as we have them for years. Their presence in our lives has become one of great understanding and thankfulness. So, I shouldn't be surprised when spending myself on them, that they return the favor. Its a two fold process that I have learned to accept when it unfolds.
I woke first thing Monday morning and sat at the computer as I do most mornings and thought 'one more time, one more time I will try to see if there is something for us'...as I typed in the words, a property came up...we had spent the last few months driving and scouting out Taos and Angel Fire areas for a possible move, but again nothing available had us in lock down. But this morning, the 'unpredictable' happened, little be-known to me what was about to unfold that day.
By that afternoon we had met with the landowner and a key was in hand to begin the process of relocation. I don't recall getting too excited about it as my heart was so weary from the last few years of events with ranches that it was hard to get to thrilled over much. But....somewhere deep inside there was a hope that was still warm with its embers keeping the heart warm and safe within.
And so here we are, two months later, after an incredible couple of months of hard work, packing, moving, unpacking, more hard work...but...the unpredictable goodness of our Creator is one that you can never quite put your finger on, its best to just learn to receive every good and perfect gift. Something it has taken me years to learn, and sometimes I find I still haven't quite got it, but I am being ever stretched to remain hopeful despite all things, and to believe above all things that I am so loved, and there is One who takes great care over my soul to bring incredible delight regardless of the hardships that I am in the midst of. My hope is that You too, would recognize, feel and receive the same for your life.
Our equine family is together again, the charm of this 150 year old northwest log/adobe ranch house sprawling on land with incredible views, I can say we are 'home'...for how long, who knows. But for now, this has been the closest I have felt to being 'home' in a long time. We have renovated, cleaned, painted and gotten things up to par to some degree with a freedom to make it feel like a 'home'. Yes, we know winters will be crazy here, but after living in an RV for a year on 5000 acres in the Chama area, to living where we just moved from...we think we can handle it just fine...so stay tuned and you can chuckle along with us as we continue this crazy journey. So this story is far from over, I will be sharing more as we move forward...there is much I could say about this last move...but its for another time...until then, keep your eyes peeled for the unpredictable blessings that await for You!
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.