{Believe}

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive- to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” -Marcus Aurelius

Life. It’s unexplained; the highs and lows, the ebb and flow of good and bad, the mixed bag of emotions inside of us. It’s just life. But one of the most difficult things to come to terms with is your fellow man’s input on your life. Their perception and thoughts of you impact you far more than you should ever allow.

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We live in a society that plays on and profits from our self doubt. We are who we are, and we suffer because we imagine we should be different. We imagine we should be a replica of a celebrity, a friend, or a flawless more perfect version of our own reflection. We hold our appearances to a high standard and place our value and self worth on our outward appearances instead of valuing and nurturing and loving the inward. Starve those thoughts. Believe that whatever flaws you think you may have are your own brand, your own version of perfect. Believe in you. Just. As. You. Are. And that’s when you, yes you, become rich in the things that really matter.

Not everyone will understand your journey in the world; perhaps not even you. That’s okay. Stop needing the answers to it all. Just live with purpose, because the last time I checked, you’re here to live your life, not to make everyone understand or justify your choices. Those that truly love and accept you, know just where your heart is and don’t question. The sharpest critics are those most often blind to their own shortcomings, insecurities and mistakes. Their opinions truly aren’t your problem. Love. Love anyway. Because the happiest people are the ones taking care of their own business and choosing to improve themselves. Be one of those.

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Changing lanes in life requires ambition, going with gut instinct, grit, pain, and not always knowing the reason why. Not everyone deserves to know the real you, so let them judge who they think you must be. Be happy anyway, and wish them well, and be on your way.

Be grateful for your life; every aspect of it. Life is full of ups and downs and twists and turns. Guess what? That means you are alive. One trip. That’s what we all get. So, journey on. And don’t stop believing.

Happy Trails-

Heather

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{Strong Enough} To Bend

It was a hot, high noon in July as I topped Pyramid Pass headed down canyon on an eight day backcountry trip to the heart of the Bob Marshall. I’d seen the burn scar late last fall after the fires subsided. I knew the devastation that lay ahead, but as I rode through it with fresh eyes of summer, I felt my heart strings twinge and the insurmountable lump in my throat form. I worked to fight back tears as my eyes took in the charred landscape sending more heart pangs deep in my chest and feeling them make way to the pit of my stomach. Gut punched. Heartsick.

Tears welled, and I pinched my eyes shut feeling them trickle down my dusty cheeks wondering if that were the one drop of moisture that I might feel all damn day on the twenty odd miles of barren trail ahead. My throat swelled and felt dry. I reached out to the burnt and gnarled alpine fir and felt it’s brittle branch snap as I pulled my sooted hand away and brushed it against my jeans. I watched the powdery dust plume with every step my horse took, and I lifted my eyes skyward. I didn’t ask why. I didn’t care anymore, but the thirty plus years of memories flooded back; memories of green, of the tree with grandpa’s initials carved in it marking his presence in the Bob; miles upon miles of memories riding different horses for long hours down this Young’s Creek drainage I literally grew up in. And I know the heaviness of those memories I felt, my parents and Aunt and Uncle feel ten fold as they ride these same trails.

I can’t begin to explain in any sort of tangible fashion the amount of space this place has in my heart or that of my family’s, and no matter how much I tell myself to not be attached to such earthly places and things, it can’t be helped. Or maybe I don’t want to help it. Being of the mountains, this place is steeped in every memory, every fabric in the tapestry of our life here. I know this place made me. It shaped character. It made me tough. The drastic change of the landscape, in some places almost unrecognizable… it just feels like a well aimed kick by the meanest son of bitching mule you’ve ever met.

I recenter myself in the saddle, open my eyes, and look ahead. I have to look ahead. We all have to look ahead. And as hard as that may seem, I look again at the curled, burnt, little pines that turn earthward after a fire, almost as if they signify a slight circle of hope. Little sprigs of green bear grass show their tufts here and there, the fireweed blooms it’s brilliant purple, the birch leafed spirea softening the blow of black. The quiet bubbling springs and elk wallows that never before revealed their presence now show as if to remind me this too will be beautiful again one day; even if it never happens in my lifetime.

Strong enough to bend. That’s what it means to see something that means so much through it’s worst of times. This new reality of living through fire reminds me what true rejuvenation means, it reminds me to grow and change with it, to love it thoroughly and wholly, and let it’s scar be a part of my family’s story of how we were all strong enough to bend.

Remember there is always beauty in every state of being in this life. We’re all strong enough to bend, and we’re all better for it when we do~

Happy Trails💕

Heather

{In Pictures}

“We take pictures as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.” ~Unknown

People ask me how I got into photography. I’ve always loved the same things as the next person… the pretty, scenic overlooks, rugged mountains, showy morning and evening skies… but when I moved to Havre a few years back, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I couldn’t see definition or change in landscapes or find beauty in the old, brown wheat rows. I had to look for it, and you know how it goes when you look too hard for what you think is the right thing, you miss something even better?

I’ve had that moment a lot in photography. One night, as I was out driving hoping to catch a sunset, I came across this old, white horse. Honestly, he was homely, scarred, pink skin around the eyes and nose, dirty and nothing spectacular. And just as I was about to speed on by, he turned in the setting sun, and he came to life in the light. And something spoke to me. Like once he was proud. Like once he was young. Like once he was loved. And I slammed on the brakes, jumped out of the truck and proceeded to take about 50 pictures of him. It was sort of an amateur photographer’s glory moment.

Whether or not the pictures were amazing, or the content was right, or the lighting and processing was good, became irrelevant. I remember this moment teaching me a lesson: slow down and look a little closer. I was missing a lot of beauty looking for the grandiose.

I still pull over for pictures. Sunrises. Sunsets. Horses in a meadow. A child smiling. Reflective water. I’ve taken thousands of pictures over the last few years. And I’ve learned a lot about myself looking back on the moments since I picked up a camera.

I’ve shared in some beautiful moments being behind the lens. I’ve seen beautiful smiles of people that love one another. I’ve scenic places that take my breath away. I’ve seen my children grow. I found new love behind the lens. I found focus. Simple as that.

That’s what I’ve grown to love about photography, and it’s my hope to continue to share these pictures I take care with all of you as a return ticket to a moment that would’ve otherwise been gone.

Happy Trails~

Heather

{Ride}

Yesterday, as I was sitting in the alleyway of the barn watching Twist munch on his oats, listening to music, drinking a beer, and taking in the first signs of spring, I thought about my grandpa. It always hits me being in the barn, and especially this time of year, just how much I miss him after all these years. I don’t know if it’s the old, dust covered harness that hangs in the rafters, the pile of tack that needs oiled and cleaned, the smell of horses, leather, wet earth and oats, or maybe it’s the combination of all of it. And as my eyes drifted to the mountains and the landscapes of home, I wondered what he’d think about all this change since his passing; the change in the last place he called home, the mountains he left his childhood home of southeastern Montana for, the family that’s left here to carry on his legacy and name and dreams, yet working to forge their own and honor tradition. Would he liked what he saw? Would he be proud? I wished I could talk to him as the forty year old version of me and not the nineteen just once. To have five minutes with him to seek a little wisdom and insight about it all. About this life and what’s in store. And as I looked back at my horse finishing up the last bit of his grain, it hit me that if he was here, he’d say “just go ride, Heather Anne”.

And he’s right. It doesn’t matter what’s changed. It doesn’t matter what the future holds. It’s about living in the here and now and taking change in stride. And the best stride to take it in is that of an honest horse.

You see, Grandpa was right about a lot of things, but the one thing he was most right about is the therapy that comes from riding; the peace it brings.

So as spring slowly forges it’s way in the form of mud, rain, and little flowing rivers in the barnyard, I’ll wait patiently for those mountains to thaw and reveal their change they undoubtedly hold. And I will ride down the muddy roads close to home until then, and think of him when I do.

Miss you, Popi❤️

{Horse Tradin’}

It’s springtime… no wait. Not in my neck of the woods anyway. It’s January 78th, 2018, but that’s another story for another day.  Anywho… What I meant to say is that it’s horse trading season again for the dude ranch, and given the going price of horses these days, we should’ve spent less money on diesel for snow plowing, starved the kids, forgone Christmas, hit the millionaire jackpot and hocked granny’s fine china. All I can figure (and hope for) after reading through some of these for sale ads on Facebook and Craigslist is that these people must be in dire need of furthering their educatin’. Because if you’re going to ask $10,000 for a horse, but you can’t bother to check the punctuation and spelling in your ad, then friend, I’m probably not real interested.  There is a difference between knowing your nuts and knowing you’re nuts.

Uncle Jack always says that when it comes to horse trading that “you don’t have a good starting price until you’ve insulted the owner. Not the horse, the owner.”  I chewed on that thought, and after reading through some recent sale ads, I figure he’s on to something.

Not that I’m an expert on your horse you’re itching to part with, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and bet that there are some other cowboys and cowgirls out there thinking the same thing.  Here’s an example of an ad I came across while scrolling:

“For-year-old sorrel gelding. Green broke great foundation, great on trails no Buck no rear. Needs to be finished. Very willing ties all day trailer front shoes. If interested please call. $3500.”

I assume the horse is a four year old? Green broke? We all have different ideas on that subject. You can read the rest for yourselves… Sorta leaves you scratching your watch and winding your butt, doesn’t it?

Example 2:

“Selling my 2 yrs. old paint mare,She’s registerable, she’s halter broke, leads, trailers, she’s a little clumsy with her feet , but she just needs some training with her feet.
She’s about 141/2 hands. She’s had a saddle put on her , and she was ridden , so you could call her green broke. $1500”

I don’t know about you, but there ain’t nothing better than a clumsy footed horse. Next…

“Gentle Quarter Horse Tricolored Paint Gelding, 9 years old, 15 hands tall, 1150 lbs. Has a very nice disposition with   good conformation. He is a gentle horse. He steps right out, no spurs needed. He is bold on the trails, can be ridden out by himself and can be taken anywhere. Horse has a very nice disposition. No buck, bite or kick. Also, he has been ridden downtown. I am almost 70 years of age and I enjoy riding “Horse”. If you know how to ride a horse, you will enjoy riding “Horse”. He works very well in the round pen, his ground work is excellent and he is easy to work with. Awesome mountain trail horse. He walks out nicely on the trail. Goes through rivers and streams, over pack bridges and crosses over downfall easily. “Horse” has been on several back country pack trips in the wilderness. You can lead the pack string off of him or you can use him as a pack horse. Also, he has been roped off of and has moved cattle from summer to winter pasture and back. “Horse” has a friendly disposition and is willing to please. He learns new skills quickly. He stands quietly at the mounting block to get on and off. “Horse” loads/unloads into the trailer easily, and he stands quietly for the farrier and was just recently shoed and recently had a vet check and his teeth floated. Must go to a good home. I want him to go to an amazing home. I will be picky. He is for sale, not on sale. $9,500 cash”

Dang, he really has done it all.  Did I mention he bucks a little high and to the right? And he really needs that $9,500 to pay off a hospital bill?

I must be out of the loop these days, because I keep seeing pictures and videos accompanying these ads that show the person standing on their horse, or bouncing big beach balls, or wearing t-rex costumes while riding. I mean, there really ain’t nothing handier than being able to wear a real nice t-rex costume while riding down the wilderness trails enjoying nature.  It’s also extremely useful keeping a pissed off mama cow at bay while roping her wylie little calf for doctoring.

Bottom line, you can think you are showcasing your horse’s mad skillz, but really, you’re just showing me your horse is the smart one. So kudos… Heck, maybe he really is worth that $10,000 price tag.  After all, he’s survived you.

Give me a horse with heart; a horse of no particular color or background, but full of try and grit and good; one that will give me an honest day’s work, keep me humble, and teach me.  I’ll pass on that fancy bred, chubby halter horse for $10,000 this time. Thanks just the same.

Happy Trails & I hope you’re a little more successful in your horse trading ventures than we’ve been…

{Love Song}

She knew she loved him when home went from being a place to being a person. ~E. Leventhal

The sunset glowed through the windshield while we maneuvered down the long, bumpy road in your old truck. But it wasn’t the warmth from the sun I felt. It was happiness. It was your love. I looked at you and just smiled as you held my hand. I didn’t want the moment to end. I want to take the long way around every night, if it means more moments like this with you. Moments when it feels like every song that plays on the radio is timely and beautiful, and every song you hear feels like it was meant for the one holding your hand… like all the love songs become our love song.

Next To You, Next To Me driving down the road in that old pick up truck, there just ain’t no place I’d rather be. So, Take Me the Long Way Home, because those moments When You Say Nothing At All speak right right to my heart. The smile on your face lets me know that you need me. You really did Have Me From Hello. And if I had only One Friend left, I’d want it to be you. Because you’re Unforgettable, that’s what you are.

And Now That I Found You, I don’t want to be without you. You see the real me, no in between. These moments are made for Making Memories of Us, and I will always be here for you. I Love the Way You Love Me, and the way your eyes dance when you laugh. It makes me want More of You, again and again. I fall more in love with you than I’ve ever been.

I want the world to know, The Story of My Life, and that Only You Can Love Me This Way. I Need More of You changing my rain into sun. I know we have The Start of Something Good because your love makes me feel like a Millionaire.

You’re a like sweet music made when the bow hits the fiddle, like Right on the Money. You’re my Soft Place to Fall, and I want to be yours, too. Because if I have my way, I’m going to love you ‘Til All the Rivers Run Dry. I promise that Forever is As Far As I’ll Go.

I’m Makin’ Plans that include you. I want you to Name all of the Dogs, and watch every sunrise and sunset with you underneath these Western Skies. We really are Two in Million, and it’s the Greatest Love Story I’ve ever read, like one for the history books.

So, Could I Have This Dance for the rest of my life? Because I really Could Not Ask for More than to love you Forever and Ever, Amen.

I Will Always Love You…

{Tough}

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in your life. ~Winston Churchill

Not everybody will like you. Not everybody will agree with your choices. Not everyone will admire that you’ve gone against the grain. Not everyone will like that you’ve learned to kick ass and take names. Not everyone knows or will like your reasons why. You don’t need their approval. You just need to know you’re doing what’s best for you. Let the rest of the world go hang. You do you.

#nevada #wildhorses #mustangs #loveyourlifeorchangeit #liveauthentic #

{Okay}

Look around you. How many people do you think are settling? Probably a helluva lot. People settle into okay relationships, okay jobs, okay friends and an okay life. But why? Because it’s comfortable. Okay pays the bills and provides a warm bed at night. Some exist in okay and that’s fine. But guess what? Okay is not thrilling. Okay is not passion. Okay isn’t life changing or unforgettable or something we can’t live without. Okay is not the reason you risk absolutely everything for the slightest possibility of success and the amazing feeling that happens when it comes to pass. Okay is just… okay. Are you just okay?

This picture was two falls ago living in Havre, and I remember loving this day, albeit long. And I remember having this exact thought about my life. And I longed for a change in every corner of it. Change is definitely not meant to be easy, but for me, okay wasn’t cutting it anymore. I wanted more days just like this. And granted, every day since I made changes hasn’t looked like this, but the majority of my days are absolutely beautiful. I have two amazing kids, good horses, a loyal pup, a strong, loving family, and I have for the first time, a love I don’t want to live without. Okay works. But for me, it just wasn’t enough anymore. It wasn’t about wanting what others had. It was about knowing God put dreams inside my heart I could no longer ignore. Maybe they haven’t all come to fruition. Maybe they won’t in this great, tangible form I can see, but maybe just one word will inspire you to shake out of okay and live to your fullest potential. That’s my hope for you and for me. ❤️

Happy Trails~

Heather

{Re-Evaluate}

Re-Evaluation

Sometimes little moments in life sort of gut punch you, make you doubt yourself, your worth. Some nobody’s unforgotten words leave you jaded. Maybe you’re looking for a way to fit into your skin again. Trying to find a way through. That’s when you need to re-evaluate; remind yourself you are enough. That’s when you need to find some level ground. Pack away the good and just leave the rest. That’s when you get in your truck, grab the wheel and point her west, crank a little Miranda or Pink or ZZ Ward, and drive. Let the wind mess your hair, sing at the top of your lungs, and just drive. And remember that you aren’t some nobody’s unforgotten words. Re-evaluate. And don’t settle. Don’t apologize for your feelings or for who and what you are. Remember the stuff you’re made of. ✌🏼

Happy Trails~

Heather

{Skin In The Game}

One of the most beautiful effects of living your passion is that it inspires others to live theirs.

I believe this wholeheartedly. It’s catching. It isn’t about wanting what others have, and duplicating that. It’s about you deciding to throw some skin in the game of your life and give your own dreams a shot.

We get one life on this earth. It really is up to us to live it as beautifully and bravely as we can. And we’re darn fools not to. We all get a little lost. We all go a little crazy. Sometimes we travel through a little madness to find ourselves on the other side. So what? There’s some beauty in that wild, in that unknown.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of these very things. I write them down here as a reminder to you and to me, to go a little wild from time to time. Change up your life if you need to. Learn the lesson. Try again. Start fresh. Be gracious, humble and kind, and pray your little butt off, or your big one, or whatever. Hold what needs holding and mend the fences that mending. Love whomever you want to love. Just be authentically you.

Because, one trip, just one, is what we get here. There will be others that say it’s just an interim, that there’s so much more on the other side of this life. That may be true, but it does matter what we do with the time we’re given here. Our existence in this moment leaves some sort of mark somewhere, an impact.

So, in the words of Jack Kerouac, “climb that goddamn mountain”. I’m guessing the view will be pretty awesome. Go after what gives you goosebumps. Because you weren’t born to just pay those danged old bills and die.

Happy Trails~

Heather Anne