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.🌼
This is an ode to the most beautiful woman I know. No finer lady will this world have the pleasure of knowing, and at 66, may she know that’s she’s the most beautiful version of herself now more than ever. May this serve as a reminder that even though she’s a mother, a wife, and a grandmother, that she is still all woman, and most importantly, uniquely amazing with what she offers up to this world with the biggest and kindest of hearts…. Happiest of birthdays, Mama…
I always picture her here on the back of spry black & white paint horse riding down a mountain trail. Her black hair and dark eyes glitter, and you know she’s at home here, the most in love here, and the most alive here. She sits tall and true. She rides.
But in all actuality, this is how she handles life and all the crazy it throws at her. She’s seen mountains of heartbreak, admitted guilt, nursed sick children, loved her family and husband fiercely, she’s fallen and risen, and prayed her way through it all. Sure, she’s made mistakes and blamed herself; nobody is more aware of them than her. But, through it all, she rides, head held high, straighter and truer with every turn of the trail. She rides.
She’s tough. I’ve seen her eat dirt coming off a rank colt, and pull herself up and throw a leg over him one more time, just to prove she’s boss. She has a way with horses; she sees untapped potential, and she loves the challenge of the ornery ones. And she rides them. She hangs and rattles with the best of ’em because she rides.
Lord, she’s strong; strong- willed and strong-minded, but mostly, strong-hearted. The only fear I’ve ever seen in her is the possibility of losing a loved one. And she’s been there. She’s lost love and she cries. And she loves again, stronger. She extends her open arms and heart to those around her, those in need of it most, stranger or friend. She rides through this life with grace and love. She rides.
She paints beautiful pictures, she builds a home full of laughter, love, kindness and respect. She’s music, Sunday morning hymnals, and a little kick-ass country because it’s Monday. She’s fast horses, Sunday morning church, and a lover and a fighter. She’s woman, all beautiful woman, refined and lady-like and tough as nails. She’s all of these because she rides.
I’m lucky enough to call her Mama. There’s nobody I look up to more in this life, and I am forever grateful for all she’s ever been to me. Strength when I needed, a boot in the ass when I deserved it, and unconditional love always. Thank you for all the firsts in this life, like teaching my to drive a stick and pull a horse trailer, how to cook, and how to get tough when the tough get going. Thank you for your love and support through the years when I doubted my own skills and strengths. But I’m most thankful for your teaching me to ride. Straight, strong and true, she rides…
Love you, Mama. Happy Birthday!
In a world full of emerging Kardashians, I choose to be just me. I am finding it ever-more important to be more than just okay with that. We live in a society brimming with people sharing their opinions and demanding we believe and partake in them. I am not a jean size. I have fat. My teeth are not white. My hair isn’t long enough. My nails aren’t painted. I don’t diet, and I don’t exercise as often as I should. I also don’t give a shit because it has taken me almost thirty-nine years to like just who I am just as I am.
I write this to express feelings, thoughts, and share a piece of me with the rest of you; not to tell you what to think or how to act. Being vulnerable is the key to being genuine in self-expression, and so I share that when I write the following. This isn’t a post about horses or cowgirls or mountains, but more along the lines of empowerment and exposure to reality in hopes that you can be okay with whom you see in the mirror every day.
This is a glimpse of the real me, so take it or leave it. To coin a favored phrase from my beautiful grandmother, “It is what it is, sweetheart.” I encourage those of you that choose to read this to be uniquely you. Don’t fall for society’s carbon copy version of someone else…
I am Heather. I am almost 39, and a Caucasian, married woman. I am a full-of-faith sinner; I believe in God, and I am not religious. I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a niece, and a girlfriend. I am quirky and silly and blunt and broken. I am strong and insecure. I overthink, and I crave complexity, but I am painfully simple.
I am loud and confident, and I am shy and reserved. I am unconditionally conditional. I struggle and I endure. I am not hateful or boastful, and I am self-effacing. I love and I forgive. I am not normal, nor do I ever care to be. I crave adventure and love the assurance of a daily home routine. I say no and I say yes all in one shot. I yell, I scream, and I fight and bleed.
I know my weaknesses and thrive on my strengths. I hurt and I cry and I feel absolutely everything. I wonder and I know. I believe, but I don’t always understand. I fall down seven times, and I stand up eight. I listen to listen, not to respond. I contemplate and ponder and consider all angles.
I love deeply and sky wide, and I don’t worry about the approval of others any longer; yet, I seek their sense of understanding. I am crazy; fully certifiable bat shit insane, and I am the calm in the storm. I have patience and perseverance and I push to get my way. And I am stubborn, so very stubborn. I am ashamed at times, but I am proud. I am best anchored with my feet ten feet off the ground.
I change with the wind, and I shoulder in to keep that change at bay. I am almost never sure of what I really want, but always clear on what I don’t want. I make no excuses about who I am, and I damn sure have no regrets. I am classy and sophisticated, and I wear jeans and have horse shit on my boots. I cuss too much, and I am brutally honest.
I am not a watered down version of anyone else. I dream big, really fucking big. And I am strong, worthy, and imperfect. I cry, a lot, and I smile even more. I have bad days, and I try every goddamn day to be a better version of myself than I was the day before.
I just am me, and I won’t apologize for that. I serve a faithful, loving and forgiving God that allows me to be all of this. I am capable, strong-willed and beautiful. And simply, I am enough.
And you are, too. Be your own brand of beautiful, write your own story, and make your mark on this world. Love your flawed and imperfect self stitched together with good intentions. Just be you, just as you are.
Good Horses to Ride
Well my friends, it’s another day, another dollar
Another milestone crossed in this life
I may not be just where I want to be
But, at least I have a good horse to ride.
Life was trying at times this past year,
Sometimes it felt like I was trekking the Great Divide
But, you see these were just lessons learned
And I always had a good horse to ride.
Tears came and went on the back of my trusty steed,
As I pondered all of life’s crazy strife.
And as we slow-loped through the worries & cares
I was never more thankful for my good horse to ride.
The time in the saddle was always well spent
It signified a peaceful state of mind.
Whether climbing mountain trails or pushing cows home
I always had a good horse to ride.
I spent time with friends, old & new,
Exploring the wilderness and new countryside
Miles upon miles of trails we trekked,
And all of ‘em on good horses to ride.
As this year draws to an end
And I reflect back on it all in stride
I realize I have so much to be grateful for
But I’m most grateful for the good horse I ride.
So, may your new trails ahead lead you safely home
May you give it your all in this crazy life.
But above all else, my new year’s wish for you
Is that you always have good horses to ride.
As another year draws to a close in the crazy old life, I hope that you had time to enjoy the holidays in festive style with those you love. Now, it’s almost time for that “new year, new me” nonsense, and I don’t know about the rest of you, but my new year’s resolutions last about as long as the attention span of my two cocaine-snortin’, squirrel chasin’ border collies. So, I am going to give up the list making, the lofty weight loss goals, the money saving tips, and just live my life; Simply, just live my life in the year to come, and reflect back on all I was lucky enough to have this past year.
This is a poem that I did not write; it was penned by a man named Joe Mingus called Mountains of Time, but suits me just the same, and it captures my sentiments exactly as I look back on the year. I hope you enjoy it, too. May your year ahead be filled with all you need, and you find yourself just where you wish to be doing exactly what you desire to do.
The Mountains of Time
By Joe Mingus
When old pony’s hair starts getting long, and the leaves turn golden and red,
When the fox squirrel buries his winter’s feed and the geese fly south over head.
When the evening sun sets west-southwest in a sky that’s the color of wine,
I climb in old memories saddle, and ride up through the mountains of time.
When the springtime of yesteryear comes into view, with its freshness all green-stemmed, hip deep.
I can still smell the breath of the earth, as she woke from the harshness of past winter’s sleep.
I recall each heart-lifting happening, like each new calf’s or colt’s dancing rhyme.
But old memories and me, we must get along, we’re still up in the mountains of time.
A shadow of last summer is still lurking up here, though the flames of Old Sol are now dim.
I remember his heart that made my sweat boil, and gave thanks daily when he knelt at earth’s rim.
The long, endless days are growing faint, through a haze their shapes are hard to define.
And old memories and me, we’ve slow-loped through the rough while up in these mountains of time.
Old man winter’s still waitin’ with icy white teeth and winds that sing death with a gasp.
But he can slow nature’s dance only for a short time, as a snow blanket warms her while she naps.
So, if memories don’t fail and I keep a tight seat, we’ll look back on what we’ve left behind.
Up a trail that we cut, just as true as we could, me and old memories through the mountains of time.
I was recently asked if I’m a real cowgirl on a social media sight I partake in. The exact question posed to me was “If you don’t have cows, how can you be a cowgirl?” I pondered that thought, let my hurt feelings stroll over the words, and then I questioned myself. Maybe I’m really not a tried and true cowgirl? But I had the boots, the hat, the horse, spurs, a saddle, and even a pick-up truck? Accordin’ to good ol’ Webster, the true definition of the word is: noun.
Well, there was the answer…I am technically NOT a cowgirl. I don’t spend all day in the saddle trailing cows. Hell, I wasn’t even raised with cattle. I grew up tending to horses and mules, ornery men, and dudes, riding mountain trails and passes, and cooking in dutch ovens, but not a stitch of my time was spent with cattle.
So, I chewed on that thought a while longer, and thought “the he** I’m not a cowgirl!” Being a cowgirl ain’t just about swinging ropes, doctoring cows, calving, and riding horses. Because, to be a cowgirl means you’ve got the grit in your gut and the attitude to accomplish anything. You have the ability to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and take life right by the horns.
Deep down, each woman I know has just a touch of cowgirl in her. She may be hailing a cab on city street headed to a high-rise lawyer’s office. She’s a doctor or a nurse saving lives. She’s a teacher expanding horizons and sculpting young minds. She pours herself into the books and balances the budget. She’s the mother that just lost a child, and still wakes to face the day.
She’s lipstick, leather, and lace. She’s weathered hands that slings ropes, trains colts, and pets dogs, and is the lady dressed to the nines to hit the town with her favorite guy. She fights fires, clears trails, packs mules, and yes, works cows. She’s gypsy- souled and beautiful music and guitar chords. She’s fighting cancer with all she’s got because she’s a survivor and a winner.
But mostly, she’s you and she’s me. She’s the fight to win and the calm in the storm. She’s modern and old-fashioned. She sips fine wine and chugs a beer with the guys. She kneels and prays at the end of the day to praise God for all she has and is.
You see, it doesn’t matter what you are. Your job does not define you. It is your attitude, your heart, and your beautiful mind and soul. Cowgirl is a title well earned, and I am darn proud to be just that til I draw my last breath. And don’t ever doubt that you are one, too.
As most of you know by now, I grew up working for my aunt and uncle’s outfitting and guest ranch business in beautiful western Montana. Over the years, I had the honor of being graced with several titles: babysitter, shit shoveler, kitchen help, drag guide, aka the toilet paper (the last one a trail ride of 16 to shut gates, pick up dropped hats, reins, and bring up the rear), kids’ camp counselor (there are still a few kids out there recovering from a week of horseback riding and camping with me talking to a counselor of their own!), and backcountry cook. (I use the term cook lightly. Hunger usually won out over taste the first few years of cooking!)