{Goodbye, Old Friend}

For Grandpa and Teton. May they be riding down those trails together again…

It’s been time for a while now… to say goodbye. And I knew you knew that when I walked out in the corral the other day on that cold and frosty morning. The time had come to let go. And I could hear Grandpa saying the same. The goosebumps came, the hair stood up on my neck, and the tears welled on my icy eyelashes while I slipped the halter on and walked you to the trailer…

It’s funny how one, single moment can cause a flood of memories. This moment, this short walk from the corral to the horse trailer with the last horse, Teton, Grandpa C.B. rode and called his own, did just that.

Memories of every single horse I’ve owned in my lifetime flashed through my mind; the good moments and the not so good. I could hear my grandpa’s words from that July day in 1989, as I stared at the carcass of my horse lying on the cold concrete floor in the vet’s office, my 12 year old heart crushed and broken, tears falling and his hand on my shoulder, “Sweetheart, you’re gonna outlive a lotta horses in this old life. You’re gonna have to toughen up.” I looked at him, thinking how cold and cruel and unfeeling he was, but now I know he was right.

And I have toughened up. I’ve had to thanks to my life’s path of working at the ranch with the horses and mules. I have outlived a lot of them; really good ones and some real pains in the ass. And none of them have been easy, but I’ve learned so much during these junctures in life. I just haven’t learned to say goodbye to these old friends very well.

Saying goodbye to Teton was really tough. The last memory I have of Grandpa at the ranch was on this quick little black and white pinto. He still carried himself with that snap of step and ears perked, but his body was failing him at 28. It was time, and it was the right thing to do. So, I smiled through tears closing that trailer door. I knew Grandpa would be waiting at the top of the pass for this good old boy, ready for that last ride through the mountains of time.

I find a little comfort in this thought… And I smile thanking God for all those horses I’ve had the pleasure of crossing trails with over the years, and the ones hopefully still to come. And although, goodbyes never come easy, I know they’re going to come regardless. And, like old cowboys and their horses deserve, I will honor them by carrying on and remembering what it means to be cowgirl tough.

May the good Lord bless and keep you; you and your old friends.

Happy Trails~

Advertisements

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

A Pace I Long to Keep

wp-1470584727537.jpgThese past few summer months have been nothing short of crazy and chaotic between work and home life.  Some of you may know that I work for an electric and telecom company here on the hi-line of Montana, but what you don’t know is I am a credit representative.  That means I get the pleasure of disconnecting services for non-payment and am somehow the late bill and payment negotiater.  Let me just say right off, I am fairly sure this must be karma biting me square in both butt cheeks, because I have had my way a time or three with  a Dish Network or Verizon wireless customer service rep in the past.  Truly, what goes around comes around, but at the end of the day, I usually go home feeling like I’ve been hit by a freight train driven by a sixteen year old that was just given the keys for the first time.  And on my drive home nightly, I ask myself why? What lessons am I learning? How can I be a better person? And as I am beating myself over the head with all these thoughts and “lessons” I am learning in my job, my mind drifts to a simpler time.  A time when I didn’t have to think about much except what to make for dinner… A time I could watch my life unfold between my horse’s ears down a mountain trail at a pace I now find myself longing for…A pace I long to keep.

Between these ears my life unfolds at a pace I long to keep.

Every breath, every thought just makes more sense here.

My heart and mind are put at ease.

No phones are ringing, no device needs response

No man is whining about his selfish needs.

All the while the trail unfolds between my horse’s ears

At a pace I long to keep.

The hustle and bustle of life’s worries & strife

Become a distant sound muffled by my horses’ feet

As ol’ roany clips over God’s landscapes

And I watch my life unfold at a pace I long to keep.

Between these ears I see vistas grand and Big Sky true.

From towering mountain peaks to sagebrush coulee breaks

I think what more could this girl need?

As my horse travels freely along at a pace I long to keep.

You can keep your city life, your heels, dresses and fine wines.

As for me, I will don boots and jeans, while the wind teases my hair

And Roany and I will slow lope across the miles while life unfolds

At the only pace I long to keep.

In closing, be nice to the person on the other end of the phone; she’s just trying to do her job. Your life is a one time offer. Use it well. Love often, share a smile, be kind to one another, lend a hand. Remember what really is important to you in this life, and remember who you want to be. Ride high and stay grounded.

Happy Trails,

Heatherwp-1470584709555.jpg

When They Call.

“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” ~Psalm 61:2
image

When they call…those mountains. They call to me this time of year. They call to me always. They call me home. They say it’s time to feel alive again. It’s time to shut out the noise. It’s time to be where you’re most at peace. It’s time be grounded again, yet elevated. It’s time to live simple, and simply live. It’s time for reflection and time to breathe deep. It’s time to awake there and watch the sun rise and glance from peak to peak and warm the evergreen floors and the trail before me. They call…the mountains. They have been for a while now. And they pull on my heartstrings, the thoughts of trekking over miles of terrain, new and familiar, make me want to go, to walk away from everything and everyone, and just go.  They’re the most profound love I have. They’re easier to love. Easier than people, easier than this man-made life. Nothing ever alters that feeling, and nothing else satiates that calling. Because they’re home. Every nuance, every sound, every stream, every tree, every trail, every peak. I feel and hear and see it all, and I know that’s exactly where I belong. I’m never lost here. I’m completely found.

image
The trails of the mountains that wind and twist over rock and stream are that of my own heart and soul. And they tell me it’s time to do more than just exist. So I go. I go when the mountains call. I go to find the core of me again, to ride my horse down those trails that beckon, and I go to be happy for this moment. This moment that is my life. The mountains always call…and I will always go. I will always go home…

Happy Trails~
Heather

I Thought of You Today…

image

I thought of you today while the wind teased the loose tendrils of hair from under my hat. The familiar feel and memories of a spring with you came flooding back. The horse hair curried, the mane and tail trimmed and shaped, the tack cleaned and oiled just right. My horse rolled air through his nose, and snorted with anticipation. He knew the first ride of spring was upon him. Old Roany gave me the look, the one you used to tell me to watch for. The look that allows a fraction of insight into their heart and soul, the one chance you get at an advantage on a spry, spring-backed horse. I saw so much life there. He told me not to worry or be afraid. And he told me he would test me, but he also told me to trust. He read my hesitation. You see, he’s sort of like you were. Standoffish. Confident. Proud. Full of life. I saw your reflection in his eyes and your words echoed in my ear, softly. I saddled him up, lead him away from the hitch rail, the wind picking up force.  My bosal hackamore, the one you gave me, hung from the horn, and I always see your hands, weathered and rough, on the mecate. I bridled him, patted him, and gave him one last look as I grabbed a hunk of mane, and swung a leg over ‘ol red roany. Hump in his back, wind in his tail, and the look in his eye, he strode out just like he always does every time, quick and sure-footed and in charge. You would’ve liked Red, Popi. He would have been just your style. The smile on my face said it all.  Anyway, I thought of you today…