Wild Once

“Love her, but leave her wild.” ~Atticus

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You’re just some wild thing, with a faraway look in your eyes. The memories of freedom seep back into the unsealed cracks of your buried heart. No one can tell you, no one can really see, what goes on in there, the heart between the one you were, and the one you’re yet to be. It’s a sagebrush sea of haze and blue, to navigate all alone. The place where you crave the shelter, yet seek the crazy storm. The flame and longing in your eyes fuels the fire in man, and everything he loved and admired about you, the wild look, the catch me if you can, the youthful beauty, has become something he unknowingly tries to tame. You learn to give, you learn to bend, but your heart always runs, it runs with the calico pony off into the sun. Those wild winds, they always call, they speak straight to the core of your soul. Stay true to that wild, and stay true to that free. Remember this world can’t break you, it can’t change what you’re really meant to be… Because deep down, you and me, we are always meant to be wild and we are always meant to be free.

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Raise ‘Em Up

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This is how kids should spend every day…learning to work, learning their worth, learning to contribute positively to society, learning how strong they can be, learning the physicality of the elements, learning to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, learning teamwork, learning compassion, learning to use common sense, learning that life doesn’t involve a screen and being entertained endlessly, learning to smile and joke and to have a sense of humor, learning to cuss and thank God in the same breath, learning that this is real life, learning a job well done doesn’t necessarily reward you monetarily, but emotionally, and learning to feel good at the end of the day about your accomplishments and to be grateful for the opportunity offered. So, raise them up strong…raise them to know right from wrong. Raise ’em up.

Brandin’

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For my generous friends and their families that have been kind enough to share their way of life with me… Thank you…

I haven’t written much about the hi-line of Montana since moving here.  Mostly, because I was fairly certain that nothing about Havre could compare to the spring beauty of my home in the mountains, but I’ve been proven wrong.  And as much as I love the receding of the snow-line on the mountains, and birth of the wildflowers and watching the ice retreat from it’s alpine lakes, spring on the prairies of central Montana are truly awesome. The foothills of the Bears Paw Mountains are beautiful in their balsam root bloom, the fresh scent of sage, the greening up of winter wheat and alfalfa fields, and pastures full of newborn calves and new mamas that speckle the landscape.

But as picturesque as the landscape is, the ranching and agriculture families of the hi-line are the heart of the country.  That becomes so evident during the spring and branding season.  Ranchers are a proud, hard-working lot that carve their livelihood out of the formidable landscapes of the west.  Raising cattle ain’t for the faint of heart.

By the graciousness of my friend and co-worker, I was allowed to spend the weekend riding and to help out with their branding.  I didn’t grow up working cattle; the mountain horses and mules from our dude ranch were my exposure to livestock.  And I thought I had somewhat of  a handle on that cowgirl lifestyle…until now.  I’ve ridden rugged mountain terrain all of my life, and the prairie handed me my hind parts on a worn leather platter. Those hawthorn-covered coulees are steeper than they look when you’re at run downhill after a wiley little calf.  We pushed cows and calves where cows and calves didn’t want to go. And my horse worked harder than he’s probably ever worked since I’ve owned him.  I swear we covered 20 miles in 10, and the majority of it at trot or run. That grass wasn’t growing under anyone’s feet.

Eventually all the cattle were penned and separated, and once the branding started, it was all hands on deck. There were family members, neighbors, strangers and friends all working to get the same job done.  There were calves making men outta young boys bucking and kicking all the way to the fire.  There were no gender roles, girls roping, and handling stock just the same as the next.  Fathers helping daughters, husbands working with wives, and kids working with kids, and the older generation helped guide and coach the younger along. I let my eyes take it all in and felt a lump rise in my throat. These moments are exactly what life is all about.

At the end of the day, the cattle were branded, cold beers were drank , good food was eaten, and stories about back in the day were shared around the table. With pride for a job well done, and feeling lucky to have been part of this tradition, I threw my leg back over my ol’ roan horse and we headed out to push the cattle back out.  What a sight watching mamas join back up with babies as the bawled and called their way back up over the hillsides.

The smiles in the eyes, the ‘thank yous’ and the ‘good jobs’ were generously passed around.  It was an honor to be part of something so worthwhile, with people I am proud to call my friends.  And the best part was being asked back to do it all over again the next day…

I will forever be grateful for these opportunities that the generous families around here have been kind enough to ask me to be a part of.  Life is good on the ‘ol hi-line, and it’s even better in the brandin’ pen.

Happy Trails,

Heather

All In

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Being all in. I struggle with it. Whether it’s jobs, relationships, and adventures and decisions. And then I reserve and hold back and overthink until the time passes, uncomfortably. Self doubt…because what if I don’t meet expectations? My own…someone else’s? Then the justification sets in…I tell myself I didn’t do it because it wasn’t the right time or it just wasn’t meant to be. I look for the comfort in my justification. Then I think of the importance of living in the moment and wonder why the hell not? And I am all in…almost. And the justification of why’s and why nots and self validation rears itself again and again. And I complicate the choices I make. I muddy the waters just to clear them. I throw rocks in the puddles just to stop the ripples. And I wonder…will I ever just be all in? That peace of assuredness doesn’t knock frequently in my mind. But while I’m over thinking the next big decision or idea or should I of?, life happens. And it happens in such a soft and mild and endearing way, that I settle softly into routine. And maybe that’s the answer in the end. To just be grateful for the chance to choose my action or reaction. And be all in. Just for a moment.🌼

Motherhood: Challenge Accepted

This is for all the moms…past, present and future…written out of love and respect for all of you and whatever place you may be in the journey of motherhood.

imageMotherhood…Let’s be real for a moment here. I thought I was good at being a mom, until I actually had kids.  But in all reality, there are days I just suck at it. Or maybe it is just this particular moment in my personal journey of motherhood that has me questioning why I was born with boobs instead of a pecker?  Either way, I’ve screwed it all up…This being the best mom in the whole, wide world thing… I’ve irreversibly and simply just effed it all up.  The trophy for “Outstanding Mom of the Year” has evaded me once again and been hastily passed to a more deserving, perfect cookie baking mom. So kudos. Kudos to you, you big Mom winner.  I bet your kitchen is spotless and your garden blooming grandly.

No… I don’t really mean that because any Mom that has that going for her deserves a pat on the ass and a date night that doesn’t involve sex.  So, my little pity party aside, I’ve come to the realization that I should at least give myself a little credit for showing up to this mom thing and giving it a valiant effort on most days.  I tried.  And although a trophy simply for my participation in this monumental challenge of parenting would be nice, I don’t need it.  I don’t need that shiny award to remind me that I am a good mom.  Because my children are proof of that.

In the end,  despite me being me with all my lofty and grandiose expectations and parenting goals paired with my over-stuffed baggage of personal life screw-ups and hang-ups and botched attempts at princess-themed birthday parties and leaving the crust on the PB & J sandwich-I know I am still a good mom.  I know this roll did not just happen upon me.

Maybe my expectations of both parent and child were just a little too high at times? Maybe I hold on too tightly and don’t pull them close enough at all the important times.  Maybe I spanked ’em too hard and laughed when I shouldn’t have.  I left the dirty dishes in the sink for two days too long, let them eat off paper plates, and let them wear the same dirty shorts two days in a row. Maybe the phrase “pull your head out of your ass” was used one time too many.  I don’t know the answer, and I can question myself until I’m a size 2 and 105 lbs, but one thing I know for sure… I have expectations of my kids, and the words used and choices made were done out of a place of love.  That’s what being a mom really is.

It’s putting aside differences and hoping beyond all hope that maybe your children will see themselves through your eyes, eventually.  It’s knowing that just because too much Captain Crunch was consumed and not enough organic oatmeal, I am still a good mom.  It’s knowing that at the end of the day that I’ve probably provided just enough dysfunction to sustain-ably and gainfully employ two part-time therapists to “sort all that shit out”, but I am still a good mom.  It’s knowing that I did what I thought was best at the time, and accepting that no matter how hard I try, I will never get it all right.

So are you.  You may be wearing your pajamas at 3:00 P.M. picking your middle schooler up while your toddler is tugging at your pant leg or you may be at your 9 to 5 job worrying about your kiddo in daycare; You may be 65 wishing your son would call more often, but knowing he’s happy just where he is, or you may be like me, 39 with a headstrong 18 year old leaving you second-guessing every move you’ve made at this point in your roll as her mom.  Your house can be messy, your dishes not done, stories unread, crafts unfinished, and photos not in the album. Just be in the moment because those storms never last, mama.  They may get more intense, but the good news is… you cared, you supported, you fought, and you loved right down to your last damn breath as a mother.  Mother. Mom. Mama. Motherhood: Best challenge ever accepted, and I will cross that finish line with my head held high, a bottle of wine in one hand, and my Bible in the other.  That’s what this journey is all about, and what a ride it is.

Happy Mother’s Day & Happy Trails,

Heather