Welcome to our ninth "stroll" together. Feel free to gallop around this issue, email me with your thoughts and dreams, and come visit if you get a chance.
July, 2010 Newsletter Contents:
Here's Me Dreaming
Farm Stay News!
Speaking strictly for me, being with horses at liberty is not about the horse being free. It is about me learning how to be free; free of projection, free of doubt and worry, free of the desire to know the thoughts of another, free of constant conjecture that renders me motionless because I am caught in the web between my awareness that infinite choices exist and the impossible belief that I must control the outcome.
This is a double edged sword. It is Taiji and Wuji. On the one hand, I am aware. I am aware like a deer or a rabbit. I am alert and deliciously perceptive. I tremble with the sensitivity of a prey animal. My mind is a network of synapses firing constantly. I am alive! On the other hand, I am inclined to feel a tinge of hopelessness and impending doom. It hovers around me like a mist. Mingled with mist is sunlight. The two together are breathtakingly beautiful. The only way to experience this union is to realize my freedom.
I ponder this as I sit in the hot tub at 6:45 in the morning, having finished milking the goat and cleaning up the milking equipment. The horses and sheep graze in their respective pastures above me. I sip on a steamy chai made with spiced black tea, fresh goat milk, and honey. I whistle and call out softly to Indie. He lifts his head from the dried grass of the pasture and gazes my way. I lift both arms out of the water and wave, feeling such love for him. The mist and the sunlight mingle. Summer is half over, I think to myself. Indie is seven years old now. I keep putting off riding him. I am not sure why, but figure there must be a good reason. Trust, trust, I think to myself. It is not only Indie that is put off. I put off many dreams and ideas while I "finish" this or that. The mist gets heavier and then the sun breaks it up a bit. Years ago, when my father was in the last days of his life, he told me he loved to eat pie alamode...and that was all he liked eating. I remember encouraging him to do just that if that was what made him happy. Wise words, eh? The hot tub water reflects the yin-yang symbol at me. Putting something off is only half the symbol. I act on my passions and follow my heart. The conventional tugs weakly at my sleeve, but I am inclined to ignore it, at times reaping incredible joy.
When I recently returned from being away from the farm for two weeks, the first thing I did after a ten hour drive was clamber out of the car and run to the pasture gate. My son held out his cell phone towards me as I ran past him, saying his sister (my daughter) was on the phone. I told him to tell her I would call her back. I had to go say hi to the horses first. I reached the gate, breathless with excitement, and called out. Four mane-crested necks whipped up, all eyes in my direction. Neighs sailed my way, like beautiful ribbons twining through the air, and they all came running. They galloped towards me through the golden grass as I entered the pasture, closing the gate behind me. I stood and waited, my heart thumping wildly. Indie was the first to reach me. He stopped about five feet away and arched his neck. His ears and eyes firmly held me, like someone grasping me by the shoulders and saying "Is it really you?!" Then, they all were there; sniffing, touching, nipping at each other to make sure they had the room to be close to me. I hugged them, kissed them, and inhaled them. I brushed flies from their eyes, picked dried grass and burrs out of their manes and forelocks, and scratched hard-to-get-at spots. It was divine!
I am at liberty in moments like that. I am at once aware and immersed. I am safe and whole, the sun and the mist, the world and me, entangled. I do not exist in absolute stasis, so moments like that are fluid. They are the convergence of who I am and the choices I have made. They are as much an affirmation of wholeness as any unpleasant experience is a confirmation of fracture. When I deliberately spend time with horses at liberty, as when I coach, I find the perception of both is made more evident. Thus, the decision as to which I might choose to focus upon becomes more obvious.
The act of "working with horses at liberty" has become a growing phenomenon. There is much talk of the healing power of horses. I cannot attest to this healing power, even though I have spent a life time with horses and have considered the possibility that it was that opportunity that kept me alive at times. I just feel that if there is any healing to be done, it is from the inside out. The whole world beckons to me. I am intrigued enough to draw a breath, exhale, and draw another.
Right now, there are four ewes in the upper pasture. Two are lying down chewing their cuds. The other two are grazing beneath the apple trees. Near the fence that separates the horses from the sheep two bucks with tall, branching antlers come together and touch noses. Then, they part. One goes under the fence. The other leaps it effortlessly. It is the same dance over and over. Nothing ever stays the same. There is no right or wrong, no end that I can see and no beginning that I can remember. Whether I wish to perceive myself as fractured or whole, I am immersed. The horses are running free, and so am I.
Here's Me Dreaming
I have added this new section to this newsletter...for me. I have so many ideas and dreams. I have spoken a lot about the subject of dreams, visions, and ideas in this newsletter. Most of the time you will read about what I have learned in my life time spent with the horses and how that relates to dreaming our lives into being. I tell little stories that highlight or emphasize the concept. I might tell you about some planned "new" thing I am doing. I even mention ways to be involved with me and the horses in order to receive coaching and/or practice what I write about. However, you do not get the opportunity to hear my dreams when they are just being born or are young and undeveloped. To be honest, there are way more of those kind of dreams than the ones you see actualized. I have heard it said that to share your ideas when they are malleable and unformed is a risk because of the opinions (often negative) of others that can shift their directions. Perhaps this is so, but the only way this can happen is with my blessing. Having input from others is not a threat. It is a perfect representation of the process of expansion, which is why I so want to get down to what lies at the heart of all growth and change...our dreams. So, I will be sharing these newbies with you in my newsletters in the first half of this section.
There is a second half to this section, though, that I am just as excited about. I would like to offer the opportunity for you to share your dreams, visions, and ideas with me. At first this can be done through email, if you like. I will perhaps create a blog or forum as a space for sharing dreams. At any rate, it will be a way for you to voice ideas you have for no other reason than it is fun, inspiring, and enhances well-being. Then, with your permission, I will post your dreams. We can dream together. It does not matter whether what you dream comes true or not. That is not the point here. The point is you have a voice, you have ideas, your imagination is vast. Don't hold back. Sing.
So, enough of this talk. Here is where I am at today. More than ever I am aware of my love of immersing myself in Nature and simply observing. It is the joining of the immersion and observation that utterly thrills me. I dream of sharing this experience with other people. I imagine sitting quietly with one person (most of the time it is just one person at a time) and saying nothing. We sit and watch the horses, the deer, the quail, the coyote as she slips by almost invisible in the summer grasses. We watch the lizard, the ants, and the cricket. We watch the trees sway in the breeeze or stand quietly in the morning mist. But it is more than watching. It is so much more. It is a complete awareness, using all the senses to be with the world we are sharing. I do this by myself and love it. I want to share this experience with others. One of the reasons I want to share it is because there is absolutely no way I can be destructive when I am in this state of mind. It becomes completely evident that who I am does not stop at my skin. Who I am is all of it. To be destructive is to strike at Self. Furthermore, it is the most inclusive feeling I have ever had. This opening of awareness allows me to feel the hugeness of life and my part in it all. I would like to share this with you and with anyone who is interested. I imagine individuals, families, youth groups, businesses, and more, all understanding when they come here to Full House Farm there is a possibility to mingle with the moment in this way. So, today I am planning to make a sign to post in our vacation rental, in the cottage, and in both rooms in the B & B that describes this particular sustainable aspect of Full House Farm because it is what sustains me.
Full House Farm has a new "tag line". For three decades, thirty years, the quote on my sign on the street has been "It's about relationship". And it is. Yet, for me it is has become more than that. I have come to realize, especially through my work with the horses, that my experience of life is an inside job. So, the new tag line is "Sustainability from the inside out". The horse, so long a part of our history--the plower of our fields, the war-time partner, the wings for mail express--is fast becoming an accepted spiritual guide or role model for those who desire a greater sense of inclusion and well-being. Where as my farm represents a place for sustanance via open space, organic fruits, veggies, eggs, and dairy product, it also houses an animal that at first glance provides nothing but entertainment. But this is not so. The horses here represent the hub of sustainability, in that we are not truly sustainable unless we are first thriving at our core. Working with the horses at liberty highlights our committment to our Self and the coaching programs here are all about that inside job. Although we currently offer a very popular Farm Life Tour, additionally we are in the throws of planning a new series of Farm Life Lessons that will include how to milk a goat, make Chevre, Goat Kefir, Goat Yogurt, and other goaty goodies. You can also learn how to tend a garden, plant a container garden, and plan your own personal container garden even in the smallest space. We might include utilizing or preserving food we harvest, like apples, pears, zuchinni, basil, or tomatoes. Throughout all the activities here, the intent is to share the sense of connection and well-being that is so naturally held by the horses in a way that is both spacious and intimate, as well as the other animals both domestic and wild, and the surrounding environment.
Farm Stay News!
In the August issue of the Sonoma County Gazette there was an aticle written by Vesta Copestakes called "Hereos & Villians". It was about the impact on our environment of the many people who enjoy the great outdoors in this area. This article inspired me to share my point of view on the subject of environmental care and maintenance. Since 1999, I have owned and run our farm stay, Full House Farm, so have had the opportunity to meet many visiting tourists who are excited to explore Sonoma County. Whereas I am invested in offering them "a good time", I also feel a deep commitment to maintaining the well-being of myself, my land and houses, and the surrounding countryside and community I consider my home and family. I balance the desire to be a good host with the well-being of the whole in mind. Interestly, when I fail to do this I find I am spoken to rudely, or my house is treated poorly, or the maintained-for-visitors garden is damaged unnecessarily. I cannot know if those same people went out and also left their trash along the river or roasted starfish on an open fire, but my guess is those who thrash on a small scale are more likely to do so on a larger scale. So, it is my intent to raise the standards of my own sense of well-being. To expect and invite those who are respectful of me and my home, to take the opportunity to role model this self-care in hopes that when my guests drive up the driveway and into my community and beloved countryside, they will care for it. Cleaning up after them is all well and good, but I believe the long-lasting solution lies in our hearts. Well-being begets well-being.
As of January of this year, we have had the pleasure of hosting guests in the Full House Farm Bed & Breakfast! The B & B is a 3 bedroom/ 1 bath farm house built in 1964 by Sis and Curley Groves as their retirement home. When they both died in 1999 after 64 years of marriage, the farm house became part of Full House Farm which was already in operation right next door. The kitchen and bath have both been remodeled, but the flavor of this wonderful farm house is still preserved. Speaking of flavors, the breakfast you will feast upon while staying at the B & B are amazing! There are organic eggs lifted fresh from the hen house nests, locally baked bread, fresh produce harvested that morning from the garden, creamy goat milk goodies like yogurt or kefir or chevre. And if you have never tried goat cream in your coffee you have not lived. Of course, all these can be enjoyed if you rent the Studio Cottage (opened in December of 2008) and the Vacation Rental & Retreat (opened in 1999.) So, if you have been wanting to apprentice with me, visit for the weekend, or just have somewhere to stay while you explore Sonoma County , check it out!