Hometown

days-gone-by_16812654352_oHometown. You spend the entirety of your childhood waiting for the day to leave this god-forsaken place just knowing there must be a bigger, better world out there awaiting you. And there possibly is.  But what you don’t realize at the time is you will come to miss what your hometown has truly manifested in your heart of hearts.  It won’t be a sense of success or money that you seek, but the first time you come back home after a long period of being gone, your heart will see what really mattered all along…A sense of comfort and belonging and stillness and peace. And most importantly, love.

It’s not much of a secret to anyone how much I miss home.  But I was ready to leave for a while when I did a few years back.  Ready for a change. I was one of the few of my graduating class that stayed.  I didn’t seek out grand college ideas, even though I wanted to be a large animal vet.  I didn’t mind bar tending and waiting tables and working odd jobs just to get by, because I always had my family and the ranch.  I had what I needed to feel fulfilled out my backdoor.  And then life changed. Family came along and bills needed paid, and it was evident that I had to do something about it, so moving happened. And I embraced every part of it.  I had to. Adventure and change finally awaited me, and there was no sense not meeting that change with arms wide open and a freshened heart ready to beat strongly.

And life went on in my hometown.  Without me.  And I thought, “I don’t miss it. It is always there to come back to.”  I still tell myself those things.  And with every drive back home, the  “I don’t miss it” turns into “I miss some things about it”.  And then phone calls come about people passing, family and friends and high school pals, and the “I miss some things about it” turns into “I miss home. Every damn day.”

16812880925_4783c52764_hWhen I walked through the doors of my favorite church this Christmas for service, I had a difficult time managing my tears and swallowing the lump in my throat.  It was joy and peace and love I felt.  The friendly faces, the “it’s so great to see yous”, the warm embraces, the “we miss yous”  and kind words.  Life went on, and some things changed, but the one constant was the goodness of what I always loved about my hometown hadn’t… the love of good people and their hometown hearts.

And I am forever grateful for my hometown. For the county lines that bring a smile to my face when I drive that familiar drive west.  I remember fondly the first kisses that happened here, the football field full of black and gold, and the smell of peanut butter and paste that greets my senses in the schools I grew up in.  I am grateful for those church pews and the warm and welcoming faces that don’t forget me.

I love the scent of pine that greets my nose, the mountains and the valleys that I intimately know; the back roads I drive to get lost on and with every little, winding mile I find another piece of me.  With every visit, I come back to life here. I realize that in leaving my hometown, this crazy, hectic world has given me sanctuary here.  A place to come back to, to right the wrongs, to remember my roots, and a place to just be me again.  A place to anchor in the storms of life.  A place that continuously welcomes me no matter the time that lapses.

Hometown hearts, they are the love that makes a place home.  And I am proud of the place I call home. Always and forever will be…

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Cowgirl, Who Are You When the World Ain’t Lookin’?

I will admit, I’m a people watcher. I find myself intrigued and wondering what makes up the character of a person. As women, we often feel threatened by what we perceive other women to be. We measure ourselves strongly against other’s physical appearance, by successes, by well-behaved children, by the cars we drive, by relationship statues, by friendships, and facebook posts. We constantly strive to measure up. And sadly, I catch myself doing the same. In that acknowledgement, I also realize that life is so often not what it seems. Every single one of us has a unique story, has scars, lives with fear, smiles through tears, or has a chapter in our life story we don’t read aloud. This realization levels the playing field.  We’re in this life together to help each other, inspire one another, cry with one another, and embrace our differences. 

So, that is where the following rambling came from, knowing we all have secret hopes and unfulfilled dreams. I challenge you to not compare your uniqueness to another, to look deeper than the surface of yourself and others, erase expectations and preconceived notions, and see the heart and soul of someone. Read between the lines. You may be surprised what you find you can relate to…

Cowgirl, who are you when the world ain’t looking begging you to be all it expects you to be? What are your hopes and dreams? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Are you happy with what you’ve come to be? Do you beat yourself up because you think you’ve failed? Do you like who you see? Are you still searching, longing to find your voice down deep inside? Are you happy, really truly happy and feel life is as it should be?

Are you looking for love? Are you married and struggling to reconnect? Do you still long to find your childhood love and ride off into a sunset? Are you missing someone? Their touch? Their smile? Their laugh? Do you ask if love will ever be? Do you have good friends? Or do prefer to just be?

Who are you, cowgirl, when this old world ain’t looking, waiting for you to make your next move? When it’s not asking you to be what you don’t want to be? Do you close the chapter on your book of life that hurts too much to read? Do you hate yourself for your mistakes? Do you wish you could just change everything? Anything? Just that one thing? Do you have regrets? Do you share unselfishly your gifts and talents with others, or tuck it away in safety away from the world’s harsh reality? Do you know who you really want to be? Do you rise up? Do you try again? Do let it all go? Do you let it be what it will be?

Are you hardened or closed because you’ve built walls to guard your heart? Do you cry for no reason at all? Are you sick? Are you tired? Are worried about it all?

Hey cowgirl, who are you when the world ain’t looking?

Do you dance in your underwear and sing in the rain? Do you drink wine straight from the bottle? Do you like your whiskey straight? Do you paint your nails red, bright, shiny red because it makes you feel pretty? Do you let your hair down, or cut it off because you just need a change?

Do you hike a thousand miles through the wilderness just to know your real heart?  Do you love whomever you want? Do you raise babies, and ride broncs? Do you work at your passion? Or just a job to get by?

Do trail cattle on the  calico prairies and sagebrush sea? Do you let that wild horse run? Do you let your lungs breathe the mountain air deep? Do you travel the world to see through new eyes? Do you put down roots and watch them grow? What is your story? Why?

Cowgirl, be who you want to be anytime, anywhere… Even if this world is watching, do just as you care.  Quit waiting, quit wondering. Just get out there and live, cause this one life ain’t waiting on you, so why are you waiting on it?

Happy Trails, Cowgirl~

Heather ©

Look Up

“Pretty little thing, sometimes you gotta look up, and let this world see all the beauty that you’re made of, because the way you hang your head, nobody can tell, you’re my Virginia Bluebell.” ~Miranda Lambert

I’ve had so many dreams in my life. So many things I thought I would be by now. I’ve outgrown some of them, and some of them have outgrown me. And there are those I still long for to come true. And they will. I have faith.

The first time I saw thirteen year old Rachel Myllymaki run the barrels at a local rodeo, her yellow hair flying out under her hat and her horse on fire, I wanted to be a barrel racer… Some days I still want that.

I wanted to be an equestrian cross-country jumper the first time I watched it on the Olympics.  I borrowed my mom’s dressage saddle and jumped my pony over every log, ditch and downed tree I could find. Until the big girl dreams came along, but some days I still long to take that jump, too.

I wanted to be a female horse trainer and rancher and equine vet. Yes, all of them.  I wanted that big, blue sky ranch with horses as far as they eye could see. I still want that, too.

Nowadays, I find myself longing to help others through horsemanship and the wilderness and helping run the family business. I also want to write novels and short stories and take pictures of the beauty that graces me every day. And I will.

You see, sometimes we outgrow dreams, and sometimes they outgrow us. But they also follow along silently until something, or someone, reminds us that they’re still beating in our heart and soul, and they’re worth giving another thought.

I lost focus along the way. Life changed so fast and my priorities morphed over the years to accommodate choices I made. And it wasn’t bad.  But my dreams didn’t go away. I just forgot to look up. Worrying about failure, worrying about timing, worrying about finances, always worrying and always wondering. And then I finally asked myself why? What in the hell am I waiting for?

We all ask ourselves these questions when we set out on a personal endeavor. The importance of feeding our souls and feeding our dreams with good people, positive thinking, beautiful scenery, love and light, fuels the fire of wanting to accomplish something significant. When we’re passionate about pursuing life, it spills over to others.  It is the want that keeps us trying.

When dreams are written on our hearts with permanent ink, tattooed there, they may fade, but it’s our job to not let ourselves down.  

Don’t be hard on yourself. Take a moment to look back on where you’ve come from, from where all you’ve been. Revel in it. Marvel at it. Evaluate the heartache you’ve felt, but nurture your new found strength. And grow in it, and trust that you’ve got this and God has you.

Despite all you’ve been through, you’re still here. Even though the sun didn’t always shine, you still grew. You’re a mosaic of all the shattered pieces of your life, with the bits of dreams still there and the flicker of hope still burning.

It’s never too late to get your shit together. Because that’s the beginning of something good, something strong, and something that’s right for you. In that pit of anger, of sadness, of frustration… that’s your new beginning. And those tucked away dreams are your way out.

So, pretty little thing, don’t forget to look up, and show the world all the beauty that you’re made of.

Dream big. Dream forever. Live authentic and live true to yourself.

~Happy Trails

Heather

Flawedless

 

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. We pin pictures, save hairstyles, read tips, buy products all for the sake of improvement.

Starve those thoughts. Believe that whatever flaws you think you may have are your own brand, your own version of perfect. Give up being the judge.  It’s not your job.  Because when we give up judgement of ourselves, we give up the fear of being judged by others.  There is nothing wrong with being better or doing better or wanting better.  There is nothing wrong with striving to be the best.

But guess what? You are meant to be a square peg in a round hole. Imperfection is perfection, and is in fact beautiful to the right one. You are meant to not have all the answers; but you are destined for greatness, regardless.  Believe in you. Just. As. You. Are. And that’s when you, yes you, become rich in the things that really matter.  You are good enough. You are strong enough. You are smart enough.  Girl, you are flawedless. You’re meant to be. Go out and own that shit.

 

Happy Trails~

 

Heather

Faith

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I don’t often write about religion, or bestow upon you what some may consider my narrow minded views, mostly because I am not adept at quoting scriptures or leading by example. I am not afraid to voice my belief in Christ, nor am I ashamed of it.   I just often prefer quiet mornings sipping coffee, talking to God in my own ways, because when it comes to faith, I am such a work in progress.  I fail time and time again to believe in something bigger than my own will and power.  But I am never without faith in Him; I just simply need to reprioritize.

I come from a blended family, and my {step}father, Ralph, prior to my knowing him, was a Pentecostal preacher, and this is really where faith started to take hold.  Little did I know that God had placed this man in my life for reasons I was not privy to, but he was the vessel through which faith reached me.  Even though he was no longer a preacher, he walked the walk to the best of any man’s ability showing all of us the importance of a relationship with Christ.

Every Sunday, mama would roll us out bright and early, tell us to get dressed, and join them at the breakfast table for a family meal of hotcakes, bacon, and eggs prior to church.  As a 4th grader, this was not my favorite thing to do on a sunny, summer Sunday morning.  I had horses to ride and country to explore.  {Little did I know that my Sunday morning sermon attendance and my incessant need for equine therapy would later coincide in my life}.

Sunday sermons were attended at a few different denominations over the years, Baptist, Pentecostal, Non-denominational, and Presbyterian mainly.  But never the pagan Catholic church… Haha… {This is just tongue-in-cheek humor! Please don’t get offended yet!}  We were not the front row family. We were not the back row family.  We were somewhere in the middle with a quick exit seat near the aisle where my mom could escape with my wily, younger brothers family. And per usual, we were the late family, but never late enough for my taste.

Now, there are two, yes, only two, particular sermons that stand out in my pea-sized brain from over the years. One was from the 4th row pew of the Baptist church on a hot, summer Sunday.  Pastor Joe was at the pulpit with his screechy, boisterous, and ear-piercing voice preaching at us about gluttony, which he related to eating pecan pie. “Lord, I just wanted to eat that whole PECAN PIE!”  Ok, so maybe I don’t remember the whole sermon, but that man soured my breakfast that morning, and if I could have, I would have turned a deaf ear to him.  As it was, I sat there for what seemed ages listening to him drone on about that stupid pie; I didn’t even like pecan pie, and still don’t to this day.  I rode home in the car that Sunday not knowing a thing more about Jesus, not wanting to be Baptist, remembering Pastor Joe’s sweaty armpits and wondering if anyone had taught him that cleanliness was next to Godliness, and hoping we weren’t eating pecan pie anytime soon.

The other church experience that stands out to me, comes from the first time I really attended a Pentecostal sermon. I was about 9 or 10 years old at the time, and I didn’t know the difference between all of these religions, and really still don’t.  But, this particular sermon started out what seemed really nice, with some music I even knew the words to.  After a few praise and worship songs, we sat down and listened to the pastor deliver his message.  I don’t really remember this message either, but I vividly remember what happened after.  The ‘freak show’ started.  The congregation rose to what I assumed would be to sing the closing hymnal.  Nope. All these people started lifting their hands in the air singing songs with their eyes shut, swaying back and forth.  Not me;  I stood there dumbfounded staring at these nut jobs around me, and then the pastor started speaking in Tongues.  What on earth had my mother brought me to?  I had seen something like this in a movie once, and I was fairly certain that snakes would be let out of a bag soon.  This particular day, I learned the importance of prayer.  Never had I prayed harder that God would get me out of this room, and to the sanctuary of somewhere normal! I would have settled for being delivered to the Presbyterian sermon just down the road!

As it turns out, thankfully, these moments would not discourage me from the importance of finding and having faith in my life.  Because, I found it my freshman year of high school, when I hit an emotional low and thought that leaving this world would be better.  I felt it during times of death and disappointment. I discovered it when I found out I was pregnant for the first time, and out of wedlock.  I knew that I could not prepare for what lie ahead without knowing God.  I found it again when I was told I had cancer, which later was misdiagnosed.  I found it when my brother was healed from his cancer.  I found it in the peace and love of my husband’s arms and the smile and laughter of my children.  I found it on the back of my horse riding a high mountain pass, and watching a red-tail hook a strong breeze.  I found it in my relationships with my siblings, and watching my parents reunite their love and marriage.  And yes, I found it in a small, country church pew filled with selfless souls, worn hymnals, and the  highlighted verses of my bible. I found my faith.

Lately, I’ve forgotten the importance of living by it, and remembering that without it, I really have nothing.  No fall back plan, no forward push or purpose. This is the very definition of faith. Reminders, whether small and minute, or magnanimous and difficult, are there for all of us to seek something bigger than ourselves.  Don’t rest on just your own laurels.  Find your faith somehow. Remember you’re meant to be tested and strengthened by God in ways  you don’t understand.  We may not always see the clear, correct path, or get our prayers answered in the form we think necessary, or get answers to our eternal question of why, but that’s faith; Faith that you are just where God wants you in this old life, and it us up to you how you will come out of your walk on this earth.

So, here’s to finding favor in your Sunday.  Here’s to Sunday sermons gone wrong, but oh so right. I’m wishing you a week full of peaceful Sundays, full of faith and love.

Happy Trails~

Heather