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

Forever, My Girl

“I know a girl, she puts the color inside of my world…” ~John Mayer
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18 years… Seems like yesterday, my beautiful Kiley Dawn.  April 15th, 1998 at 7:25 A.M…they laid you in my arms.  I knew my life would never be the same, and as cliche as that may sound, it’s entirely true.  You were my first overwhelming, selfless love. You were my first in so many ways, and if I knew then what I know now, I’d hit pause for just a while on all those firsts…
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The first minutes of your life, the look in your daddy’s eyes when he first saw you, the first smile you smiled, the first words you spoke, the first steps, the first time you rode your horse, the first time we took you fishing, the first time you bugled elk with Dad, your first days of every year of school, and now the first day of the rest of your adult life…
fb_img_1460562680316.jpgSo, here we are, and I just want to make the moment last just a little longer.  And as much as I want you to spread your beautiful wings and fly, and am excited about all the amazing things you’ll do in this life, I want just as badly to hold on to the last little bit of your time at home with us before you strike out on life’s grand adventures.  I wonder if I’ve given you all the love you needed to succeed, the proper guidance and direction?  Do you know how much you are admired and loved, and just how proud of you I am?  Because I feel I could never tell or show you enough.  Moms are just that way… So, before you go, I give you these words, so you may always know just how much you’re loved and supported, and know that I trust the decisions and choices you make, even if they’re not ones I would choose for you.

Remember that you have what it takes to climb that mountain, and don’t take the easy way. That grit in your gut is pure strength and passion.  The challenge builds character, makes your lungs burn, and reminds you how alive you are.  When you doubt yourself, trust in God. He wants even more amazing things for you than you or I can even fathom. Don’t sell that ride short, ever, because there are no short-cuts to anywhere worth going.

Integrity is everything…Doing the right thing when nobody is looking is your soul proof. I know this is not something you will ever struggle with.  You have strong and true convictions in right and wrong… You always have.  Don’t ever ask of someone what you are not willing to do yourself.  Be the example and the change you want this life to see.fb_img_1460562258527.jpg

Please don’t forget to nurture that beautiful, little girl still inside you. Never ignore her.  You will need her in the years to come, and the passions you lived for as a child, will carry over into adulthood.  Sing….Girl, please sing and share that amazing talent with others.  You’re meant to be heard. Learn to dance, ride wild horses, pick wildflowers, play in the rain, and forget the boys once in a while…always do these things because they will help keep you young.  It’s not ever selfish to get back to the roots of just being you before the world told you who you should be. Don’t lose the smile it brings to your face and soul because yours is simply too amazing not to share with the world beautiful daughter.

Be forgiving and humble…and sort out what is worth holding on to emotionally, and just let go of the rest.  Anger and discontent become extra weight you will be better off without in the long run, and remember you never truly lose in apologizing.  There is always something to learn from every situation or conflict.  There are always opportunities for emotional growth, so learn from them.  You’ve taught me so much about myself over the years just by simply being your mom.  You’re a reflection of me and my actions, and more often than not, I got it all wrong. But from that, I see wisdom and strength in your young eyes, and more importantly, in your heart.

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Travel, explore, and be adventurous.  Try something new any chance you get.  You will need these memories to take out and reflect on now and then. We all need “remember whens”.  But, don’t forget the door to home is always open, and my shoulder is here for you to lean or cry on.  When you have troubles, I promise to just listen and not talk.  When you have good news to share, I will rejoice and celebrate with you.  When you just need a place to be…home is here for you with the door unlocked, clean sheets on the bed, and ice cream in the freezer.

Family really is everything, and so is learning to count on yourself.  Family is your anchor, and a complete pain in your ass, but they have your best interest at heart, and are there when the shit hits the fan.  Listen to your grandmas’ advice, hug your grandpas’ necks, make your brother one of your best friends, be an example for your younger cousins, and know your aunts and uncles are a second set of parents with their own words of wisdom and adventurous advice to share.  Visit them as often as time allows, and honor them because they love you like you were their own.

20160305_151924-02.jpegIf your life and circumstances allow, always own a horse or a dog. And if you can’t have one out your back door, I promise to always have one for you.  You already know all the reasons why…but mostly because it reminds you how to love something bigger than yourself, gives you purpose, and a reason to get outdoors.  And they always provide love in return.  They teach you about yourself, your strengths and weakness, and where your character needs improvement.  Besides children of your own {someday}, they will be your best teachers.

Laugh…laugh at the silly and the stupid and the simple things.  Just laugh. It’s infectious and makes others smile.  Give people a reason to laugh, and do it often.  Laughter through tears heals broken hearts…And cry. Never apologize for tears.  They’re real and exist because of a feeling, and sometimes for no damn reason at all.  That’s just being a woman.

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In the end, be grateful… Grateful for hurt, pain, and triumphs no matter the size.  There is always something to be grateful for in this beautiful life, Kiley.  The more you know yourself, the more there is to rejoice in.  Remember to take the time to get to know the new and changing you, now.  The big choices and decisions don’t have to be made at this moment.  Don’t let this world jade you, chew you up and spit you out.  Stay grateful, stay true….Stay just you.  Boys will wait if they’re meant to be. College can wait. Marriage can wait. Babies can wait.  But life can’t wait.  Some days you will make great strides, and others will feel like two steps forward and one step back; it will feel like you’re treading water.  Go to church now and then… We all need reminders, and wait on God in those moments…Just wait.  He’s busy clearing a path in your heart to prepare you for what lies ahead. Reflect, listen, learn, but always love.

Never forget you will always be your daddy’s little girl, your mama’s best friend and riding partner, and your little brother’s advocate and confidant.  I am so damn proud of you.  Spread those new-found wings, spread them as far and wide as you can, and know that I love you…Yes, to the moon and back. And always…

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