The Birth of Roman: July 1st, 2020

There was quite a period where Laura and I kept chatting about the idea of having kids. Most of the conversations ended with some irrational justification on why not to have children. We weren’t ready to give up our “freedoms” quite yet. There came the point about a year after our chats started; we finally exhausted all irrationalities and decided yes. I remember the conversation clear as day to where we sat around our potbelly stove downstairs across from each other in two super cozy recliners discussing what it all meant and if we were truly ready. We decided that the “timing” seemed perfect; little did we know our house was to burn in late October from the East Troublesome fire. Funny how that perfect timing worked out for us.

Not long after our fireside discussions, we confirmed the pregnancy with a few positive tests. Now it was time to try to wrap our heads around the reality of becoming first-time parents. I can assure you, the feeling was absolutely daunting. We decided to tell the family pretty quickly as we knew this was a big deal for my parents as the first grandchild and the first child on my dad’s side to carry the Klees name. The other factor was that we knew we needed help from family and friends.

After briefing the family on the situation, we were greeted with a joking sense of yeah, right, and oh my goodness, this is really happening. In the end, everyone was super excited about what this meant for them and us. People’s labels were changing to grandparents, to uncles, to aunts, father, mother, and we were all nervously overjoyed by the thought of it. Everyone’s reaction was perfect! The moment felt like a quintessential hallmark movie.

Everything was pretty much on cruise control leading up to the birth. Doctor’s appointments all went well, and preparations were all in place. I would hold back overwhelming emotions at every ultrasound showing the little creature growing inside of Laura. Everything was pretty routine as the build-up to birth drew closer. The projected date of birth was July 8th.

On the last day of June, Laura was riding her horses, complaining about how uncomfortable it felt. I just giggled to myself, thinking, like it’s supposed to feel good while packing a full-grown baby in your stomach while riding a horse. Hell, I can barely ride after eating a big meal! Nonetheless, she rode all of her horses and continued like it was just another day.

The last night of June was passing, and we went to bed just like every other night. At about 4:30 in the morning, she said I think my water broke. Initially, I’m thinking again in my head, you think? How do you think your water broke? Haven’t you ever seen a movie before? I mean, come on, you know when someone’s water breaks.

We called into the hospital at about 5 a.m. on July 1st to tell them that her water had broken. In short, they said, yeah, make your way over sooner than later, but with the connotation that there wasn’t any real hurry. Mind you, the hospital of delivery was a good hour and forty-five minutes away and part of the drive being over a mountain pass. We took our time showering and going through a regular morning routine, super relaxed.

Before heading out, we went upstairs to inform both our parents that the time was upon us. Everyone reacted as we did, ok, now what. Restless stirring took part to make sure we were as prepared as possible, and everyone was helping out in any way possible before our final departure.

As we were making final arrangements, everyone gathered around the truck wishing us all their bests while joyous tears were forming and hugs given. Laura and I loaded up into the vehicle, doors closed, about to head out observing the others departing gestures. There were timeless waves and lingering eye contact from all the family as we began the ever-changing journey to the hospital.

The moment seemed to linger on forever as we crept down the driveway. A feeling came over me as if we were all leaving a past version of ourselves behind, never to be seen again. None of us would ever be the same. As we waved to our family, we also waved to an old version of ourselves, left only to memory.

We headed out around 7:00 a.m., arrived at the hospital around 9:00 a.m. Stronger contractions started to hit Laura at about 8:30 a.m. With their eyes wide open, we checked in, and the doctors stared in utter worry at us. We were confused by the look until we figured out why. Their first question was, what took you so long to get here? They thought we left right after we called around 5 a.m., so they uncomfortably assumed when we came over the pass that she went into labor on the side of the road. We both chuckled and just said no; we didn’t think there was any need to rush.

Shortly after, we settled into our room then met the most angelic nurse you could have ever hoped for. She and Laura hit it off immediately; she claimed us as hers. Tammy (nurse) was a true gift beyond words. I really can’t imagine the experience without her. We were fortunate to have her as our bedside angel through the whole birth.

Initially, we settled into the room, and the nurses thought she would have the kiddo by noon that day. I was thinking, hell, what is all this hoopla about this experience. Show up, a kid pops out, make sure all is well, and then head home. It was a misreading of the dilation guesstimates. We waited till about 5:00 p.m. before it was time for the delivery.

The whole time I just helped where ever possible and stayed out of the way whenever necessary. Throughout the process, I don’t believe I have ever been subjected to an equivalent experience ever before…… and hopefully never again. I was to do something and stop doing something within seconds of each request by one person with two very different personalities. There was no right, only wrong, but I just kept trying without question out of fear for my own well-being.

There were moments where Laura was in excruciating pain, angrily yelling at me to stop massaging her, only to ask me why I stopped seconds later. When she would have these moments, her voice changed entirely like a character from the exorcist or something. The flip side was when I was doing something right; she had the softest, most soothing voice praising me as if I was the world’s best masseuse. Those moments were few and far, though.

The nurse was all over the place, helping Laura out in every way possible to relieve any pain throughout the continually intensifying contractions. There were many hurried moments where we were all over the place and other moments where there was absolutely nothing to be done but patiently wait. Throughout every moment, there was relentless beeping of all sorts from the machines reading vitals. All I know is that by 4 p.m. I was exhausted, so I could only imagine how the nurse felt and, of course, how spent Laura had to be.

The moment of truth came, the nurse called in the delivery doctor and a few other assistants. I was on Laura’s left side through it all. The doctor walked her through the whole process before starting, and the nurse relayed it throughout the entire endeavor. She began her final phase of pushing in intense intervals. Three hard pushes in, and the crown of the head was right there. Two more pushes and the little man was born! The day was July 1st, and the time being 5:22 p.m.

He was immediately brought to Laura’s chest, while peeing like a racehorse in every direction, to unite with his mother. A perfect pair, a sight of incredible beauty that only present fathers would understand.

The moment he was born, I was utterly overwhelmed. Tears were streaming down my face uncontrollably while laughing because he was peeing everywhere on everyone. No one was safe from the pressurized fountain, like a fire hose at full pressure without anyone to stabilize the force! The doctor, nurses, and assistants were all congratulating us. Meanwhile, I tried to respond with a simple thank you, but all that I could muster was a bunch of jumbled-up noises. I probably just sounded like a seal while simultaneously gesturing and looking like one too.

I really can’t explain that moment, the love you feel for your wife for all the suffering to get to that moment—the actual sight of the specimen we created right there in front of us staring back at us. No person is ever the same after that moment. That was the most genuine, authentic experience of my life.

We both looked at each other when he was lying there on her chest, giving the “I love you” nonverbal look for what we just created. We squeezed our hands tightly together and had a moment I will never forget. A moment in which love changes and the definition of your relationship with another matures into something entirely different. You can’t ever love in this way without going through this experience, I would argue.

Our relationship became more through every phase, from the pre-conception chats to actual conception, to developing the baby through the birthing process and the present moment. Everything has changed for the better, but none of the experiences were given freely. There was great suffering and many sacrifices made by all to get us to where we are now.

I find the fact that I am a father hilarious as I was always the selfish one thinking I would never have kids. Why would I give up all that freedom and burn all that money? Why does anyone want to have kids, especially in modern-day society? None the less here I am, a father of a perfect child and husband to a woman with who I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life. A woman I am more attracted to now than ever before through a love that keeps transforming before my eyes. A woman who became the best mother anyone could ask for in a seamless moment when she held Roman for the first time. From that moment on, nothing but true motherly instincts took over to make her one of the most remarkable people I have ever had the privilege to be around.

While I feel I have not changed as a person, I know everything around me has changed dramatically for the better. I can’t imagine being a person in this world without the experience of becoming a father and witnessing every step of the process first hand, in real-time. The love I feel for Roman is beyond words, and the transformation of the love I have for Laura is something you cannot know unless experienced. I still can’t believe I am saying these things. I was the quintessential self-righteous ego against becoming a parent, against having kids, against loving one person forever. Here I am confessing my blatant arrogance once again to the world.

I would love to hear your story about your firstborn’s birth and what it was to you. I would also love to chat with you all about one other question; is it possible to experience anything like the birth of a child without having children of your own? Please reach out, and let’s have a discussion over the phone to get into the details.

Home is where the heart is?

Since the East Troublesome Fire, I can’t help but ask myself one question. What makes a house a home? Before defining a home, I first had to go back to dissect what made our ranch a home. Inevitably leading to the question, can a home be replaced?

Home to me is a space in which people (family/friends) intentionally gather in hopes to refine upon its’ entirety over time. Therefore, a home is something that takes more than one person as well as the investment of each individual’s time, effort, and capacity. By putting the home into order, renovated requiring only maintenance and refinement, hereby allows the reallocation of each individual’s capacity elsewhere. That freed capacity being applied to further improve upon the individuals through starting, fixing, or refining some other aspect of their lives. Full circle, bringing more purpose and meaning to the home and everyone that is a part of it.

We bought the property around 2016 after searching for 2 years. Was the property the epitome of what we were looking for? No, but it was a good landing spot after a long hard search. We scouted far and wide trying to find the perfectly priced and laid out property. After coming to the realization that no such thing existed, we finally decided on a property that was workable for all involved.

In order to purchase our dream property that meant we had to take on some major risk financially. This also led to the fact that we didn’t have much money to tackle the daunting feat of renovation ahead of us. Said in another way, lots of strenuous manual labor and endless hours working on top of work.

The property consisted of a beautiful log house big enough for our whole family and a few guests. It had a few pastures fenced that adjoined to a simple, small barn. There also was a decent-sized shed to put hay in or other large equipment. We knew when we bought the property everything was reasonably maintained, but definitely needed a lot of work to bring back to life.

The starting place was to try to get the property into a management phase. For example, the log home needed to be stained and sealed. The chinking between the logs needed some serious touching up. The massive deck needed to be replaced. The whole interior of the house needed to be updated. The barn needed to be entirely cleared of gathering junk from years past. The fence lines needed to be reestablished and added on before horses could be safely turned out. The pastures needed to be cleansed of sage, cleared of deadfall, sprayed for weeds, and reseeded.

Before the fire, our entire property was a representation of the sacrifices and suffering we had endured to create its expression. Our blood, sweat, and tears stained into everything. Our heart and soul could be found emanating throughout every inch of the ranch. If you looked closely you would feel this in everything. This could be seen by merely taking a closer look into any part of the ranch because everything was a representation of who we were and what we wanted this space to be for all. The time, effort, and love that went into its creation radiated through everything: fence lines, pastures, grass, trees, water, dwellings, people, and all critters.

This is how the ranch property became a home! The ranch took time to become a gathering space for any and all who wanted to be part of it. A home for all who wanted real connection with self-preservation. A home for those who wanted to be on a ranch, in the mountains, amongst horses, surrounded by wildlife, endless national forest to explore, and most of all to be part of a family. A home for all family and friends regardless of any circumstances. A home built with intention, with purpose, and meaning to welcome all to the space with open arms. A space that radiated love to, and through, all.

So when I think of the saying, home is where the heart is, I can’t help but scrutinize it. The foundation to a home is where the heart is, but a foundation is a final unfinished project. A foundation has no intent, no purpose, and no meaning by itself. For example, our home cannot be replaced because of all the complexities that went into its creation. We were all different people throughout all of the ranch’s progression over the years. Something like that was created during a particular time that cannot ever be recreated, even if you built everything the exact same way it was.

That home meant the world to my family and me, but it owes us nothing now that it is gone. It rewarded us with so many new and beautifully deepened relationships. The home gave us so many unrepeatable experiences and lessons by living under its domain. The home imparted us with wisdom that can only be acquired while living and improving alongside something over time.

Even now, that home is still giving from the ashes. The home has given us a rare opportunity to test who we truly think we are in our heads. The type of test that only tough times can reveal the reality behind the conceptualization. From the moment the house burned we all became different people, our future trajectories forever changed. I hope for the better, but only future time can give us that answer. Very few people ever get a test this extreme, because only an utter catastrophe can expose such an opportunity.

Thank you old home for all you gave and continue to give to my family. Thank you for all you have and will continue to teach me. Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to be tested to our core. You will be forever loved and missed by all who were part of you. What a privilege it was to live, love, and grow with you over the years. Goodbye old home! We must let go of you and continue to be transformed beyond you. We will honor your memory forever in our journey onward.

What is a home to you? How would you define it in your words based on your experiences or desires? I would love to dive even deeper and hear what all this means to you. Please reach out and let’s have a phone conversation to get into the infinite detail within it all!

East Troublesome Fire: The night of October 21, 2020.

The day the fire started I think all of us in the Grand County area quickly came to the conclusion that our worst fears had inevitably become reality.  The nightmare of the subconscious flames engulfing everything in its wake was now a conscious figure protruding into the heavens in the form of an infinitely growing, billowy, dark mass.  A dark mass with endless fuel provided by the decades of ever amassing beetle kill.  

The beetle kill had accumulated everywhere, most significantly in the National Forest areas.  Some of the dead trees were still standing naked, for all the needles covering each limb had long ago been dispersed over the grounds surrounding each tree.  Other trees lie on the ground as an impassable force, cris crossed 4-5 feet high as you gazed into the forest of what used to be passable ground.  The rest of the long deceased trees remain lurking overhead waiting at any moment to make its final decent to the earth in order to start its new job with in the ecosystem. 

I am not even sure when the fire started anymore.  All I remember is one date, October 21st.  Once the fire had originally lit I remember organizing for the emergency case situation. Most important, the relocation of our herd of 27 horses.  After that we all put together a personal emergency bag of all necessities for a weeks living along with any and all important documents.  We all placed our bags aside and thought we were ready to go if all hell broke loose.

We transported the horses long before the fire was close enough to put us in a pre evacuation zone.  This was very important to us so that all we had to do was focus on family.  Days went by with out any real threat and it being October, we shouldn’t really have to worry as we could get a foot of snow any day.  We were watching the daily briefings on facebook and it all looked very favorable for almost all who were in ‘threatened” areas.  

Days continued to pass, the fire grew, but still everything was feeling very safe.  The fire moved slowly and the briefings kept saying they had great plans to secure the fire.  We were all starting to feel an odd sense that this was the new normal.  Sure some days were super smoky and other days the plume was impressively massive, but based on all the days prior a sense of security started to set in.  

We all continued on with life as per usual, while in the back of our minds thinking, if this fire gets out of control everything will be ash.  All the work, time, money, and sweat that went into so many things would be gone.  I remember watching people out on their boats enjoying a good lake day, others working on redoing a roof on an old cabin, and even people putting up the framing to a new house.  Meanwhile, I was traveling to another town working some newly purchased wild horses that needed to get on the payroll before the ground wasn’t safe to start them on.  Everything felt normal to us locals and for most full timers, time off to relocate our lives wasn’t an option.

Even on the 21st, I was out riding horses while watching the plume go crazy, thinking that doesn’t look good.  I was up at 5 am taking a few phone calls before heading out to work through all the horses and check on the herd.  From there, I headed home to chill for a second before taking another call from 6-7pm.  I arrived home just before 5 pm, parked my truck and took a moment to linger in the beauty of the smoke plume covering the valley that evening with the sun lowering towards the mountains. I went inside to grab myself some food before sitting down to watch the daily briefing on the fire.  Just a normal day during the whole ordeal really, until I finished the briefing that is.  

The briefing was highly disturbing in many ways, but the most prevalent was the fact that the fire had crossed hwy 125 and was already to the mountain called Little Gravel.  The other odd fact to me was that the fire was completely out of control, while the people doing the briefing were just as casual as usual.  In other words they were not worried about the fire at all.  I just laughed after it finished and told the family to cancel dinner plans because we were not going to be sleeping here tonight.  I finished up my snack then headed up to my office to take a scheduled phone call.  

I went into the call knowing I had everything I needed pre packed ready to go.  After the briefing, time itself seemed to slow down into a weird hallucinogenic state in which felt like an out of body experience.  Fifteen minutes into the call, it was really starting to get interesting.  

6:15 pm the one window outside the office space was slowly starting to darken, the sky was turning pitch black.  The sight was as if a black fog rolled into the valley turning day to night almost instantaneously, even though the sun wasn’t supposed to recede for another hour.  This is when the apocalyptic feeling of watching the plume accumulate the weeks prior took on a whole new feel.  Before it was just an orange sheet of light covering the land under the wind blown smoke screen, but even then the sun forced itself through the haze.  Now the smoke not only blocked out the sun, but it consumed the entirety of the valley.  

6:30 pm the smell of smoke seeped its way through the house and the winds had picked up in a very unusual way.  I didn’t think much of it as it was nothing unusual to the day to day fire life in the valley.  

6:45 pm was when things became clear that we were going to have to leave the house sooner than later.  The house began to intensely reek of a smoke.  From this point I could taste the smoke, smoke that wasn’t just from a friendly campfire nor a distant fire.  The smoke morphed into something completely different.  The fire now created a physical solid you could grasp right out of the air.  The creation of this physical form of smoke came from a fire that was totally incinerating it’s prey and projecting its remains into the forward path of its future victims.  

The house started to rumble as if there was the most epic thunder happening right over head.  The winds were swirling, gusts in every direction and seemingly coming out of the ground upwards.  Watching out the window I felt I was watching a blustery blizzard of ash and darkness outside.  The wind ricochetting ash in every direction, followed by a brief moment of pause where the ash would remain frozen in time as if someone had just hit the pause button on a movie.   

6:50 pm the house was rumbling, the wind gusting, and now mild power outages began. I decided to end the call to see if there was any new updates.  I grabbed all my work related equipment and was about out the door from the office when I was confronted by pure hysteria.  A family member bust into the room saying, “what are you doing, we need to go…….NOW!”  You know a lot has gone wrong or is about to go wrong if you ever see this expression in another’s face.  

I responded with a nod and they darted off frantically.  When I came out to the loft area, looking down onto the living room, it looked like a recently disturbed and very irate ant colony.  Boxes were flying out of the house, people scrambling all over the place, wind scattering materials through out the house with the front doors wide open to load vehicles.  The scene was the epitome of the perfection of chaos.   

I strolled downstairs put my work supplies on my one load of things I had pre packed, loaded it up, and went to help the others.  Everyone was scrambling to load up all the last second items before coming to the ever looming departure.  

I had come to find out later that during my call, my brothers had called the parents telling them to head out as the fire was just coming over a ridge into the C Lazy U valley where they worked.  I also found out that they had delivered a secondary call about 20 minutes after that saying, “Get the **** out of there!”  Things I imagine went from bad to worse for everyone after that call.  

Hence the facial expressions I saw on everyone’s faces as I was leaving the office to head down to pack.  The way I pictured all this happening was a calm, cool, and collected gathering of pre packed items, loading into the vehicles, and heading out the drive.  It was about as completely opposite of that as you could have ever imagined.  

Right at about that time the environment outside was absolutely unbearable.  Between the gale force winds flinging quarter sized ash flakes and massive debris in every direction, the dense smoke was being forced into our lungs.  The strangest thing about this moment was the thunder rumbling had now turned into something sounding like an incoming jet engine on one of those massive international commercial planes.  I kept snapping my gaze upwards in fear of a massive fireball streaking through the darkness right at us.  The vast mountain landscape was no more, the world was collapsing in on us from every side and we didn’t have much time left.

We were all wrapping up the loading process with our heads down trying not to be blown off the hillside like a kite breaking free of its string into oblivion.  I remember forcibly leaning into the wind just to cut through it in order to get to the vehicle.  We all checked in with each other with a non verbal look as if to ask, you good?  Are we all good to go?  The eye contact was made with an unspoken thought, as ready as we will ever be I suppose.  We all loaded up ready to go.

 I stepped in the vehicle to check in on Laura (wife), Roman (3 month old son), and Luna (Dalmatian).  “Laura you all good?  Do we have everything?”  Laura shook her head in a mild form of shock it seemed saying, “I think so?”  

I glanced a little closer into the back to confirm we were all set.  That’s when I realized, wait where is Luna?  She was not in there and my heart sank as she could be anywhere out there right now.  For all I knew she is out in the horse meadows getting one last mouthful of horse crap.  Even worse, maybe she is terrified and decided to take off into the darkness.  There was no way to call for her allowing her to hear me.  So if that were the case, what was I to do?

I looked around the truck first, she was not there.  I hurried through the front doors checking the kitchen just in case she found some scraps someone dropped on their way out, again nothing.  I scanned the great room.  I scurried down the stairs calling out her name, no dog came running.  I went to our bedroom, called out her name, still nothing.  I didn’t turn on the lights right away thinking for sure she would just come out if she herd me calling.  I decided to flick the lights on to just be thorough and make sure I didn’t overlook some small detail.  Still no Luna, so I strolled around the bed to check her bed.  Mind you, as all this is happening it is as if you were trying to call out someone’s name in the middle of a movie theater during the most intense action scene you could imagine.  

Sure enough there she was curled into a ball shaking with fear.  Which is very unusual, as I used to travel the country and anytime I so much as packed one item she would know we were about to hit the road again so she would not leave my side.  The poor girl was terrified, quivering through every muscle.  I knelt down to pet on her, I put my forehead down to her just for a second to reassure her everything was ok.  I stood up, looked at her, then we headed out as we had done so many times before. We walked up the stairs side by side, through the great room, and stopped right at the front door.  

Everything was set we were ready to go, but something made me stop for what seemed like an eternity right there at the entrance into our house.  In all actuality it was a mere minute, but in that minute I took in our house one last time knowing this could be farewell.  I took one last breath thinking deeply as to what this house was to me, to all of us.  I released the long held final breath, said my farewells and thanks to the house of so many amazing memories with all those who matter most to me.  I turned, opened the front door and it flung open from the winds making a loud crash against the wall behind it.  I leaned into the winds and headed for the truck, closing the door one final time behind me.   

We drove out right around 7:05 PM.  Just to give you some reference, we came to the highway at about 7:20 pm.  We stopped and chatted with our neighbors there making sure they didn’t need any last second help and later they had said our house went up like matchsticks just before 7:30 pm.   

Driving down the road out to the highway we passed a few emergency vehicles doing some last second house checks to emergency evacuate anyone who may not have been as informed or aware as we were.  As we departed our house I think we all thought, well that’s it.  Where should we stay tonight before we get to go back home?  Have we called everyone to warn or alert them to get be ready to clear out?  We didn’t really know how crazy that fire had really become, until we hit the meadows about half way out to the highway.  

The smoke started to clear a bit and for the first time since about 6:30 PM there was some visibility.  That’s when the enormity of the situation really hit us all.  We could see actual fire crossing over ridge lines into our valley!  It wasn’t just one part of the valley it had broached multiple ridge lines.  Like water over a damn in slow motion, it visibly crept over the ridge spilling ever more into the valley.  This was truly an unstoppable force to not mess with!  The feeling of pure wonder hit me, how is this even possible.  Is this real life?  I have never felt such an overwhelming sensation of amazement before in my life. 

The scene only continued once we hit the highway.  Fire riddling the whole drive into Granby, houses visibly being torched, emergency vehicles everywhere, and people with that deer in the headlights look on their faces everywhere.  The whole drive was full of phone calls to everyone who may be in harms way while we headed to my brothers place in Granby to regroup.  

Eventually we all arrived safely and just took a moment to soak it all in.  I settled the dog, made sure Laura and Roman were good before heading back outside to watch the fire continue its path.  It really felt like a hallucination, or as if you were in a real life movie displaying an apocalyptic scene of an Armageddon moment.  Again I wasn’t out there for long, but it felt like hours.  I went back inside, sat down completely thoughtless for a bit.  Everyone was small talking or on the phone, nothing much was happening as the threat had been put to rest.  

As everyone unwound in their own way, it was time to eat and discuss what was next.  From this moment on the real nightmare set in.  The absolute logistical nightmare of moving forward.  Not only for us as a family, but for all who lost their home and for all who were about to impacted by that night of October 21, 2020.

Tough Times

Meadow Morning CLU 3

My favorite time to observe others is during tough times, because only then can you really see who people are.  The toughest of times unveil all to the exposure of reality and how they have been going about their life.  There is no masking of the truth when times are tough, as is possible in the good times when the majority have a very routine or mechanized life.  Life is easy when everything goes as planned, but what about when things become difficult, unexpected, and uncertain?  

These are the moments in which I base the core of those closest to me because I know what they have been practicing on a daily basis.  In theory, they have been preparing for the toughest of conversations, the toughest of unexpected events, and any other moments in life that can only be tackled properly through constant preparation for the unknown.  I don’t take other words seriously until I get to see how they act in these types of moments.  I find it very hard to trust others until they are forced to act in the uncertainty of challenging moments.  Then and only then, do I know who really know how they have gone about their daily life.  The words in which we speak must be backed by the proper actions in which we take.  That is both referring in preparation too as well as in the moment we are all faced with the natural chaos of life.  

That’s why I am excited to get to observe others in this moment of time of the virus epidemic.  Are you one of the people being super selfish and stocking up on superficial things such as toilet paper?  Are you buying infinite rounds of ammunition to “protect” your own?  Are you one who is attacking others for doing the previous two?  Are you one who is in complete hysteria as if this were the zombie apocalypse?  Are you one claiming it is a conspiracy?  To me, it has been a real treat to watch how others are responding to this “crisis.” 

 Imagine if this really was the end of civilized living as we currently know it to be.  If that was the case, a lot of the concerns of the general public are totally absurd!  I mean what good is toilet paper if the economic system was coming to an end as we know it?  So you have a month of toilet paper, well what happens to you for the next 50 years after that?  Even in investments people may be pulling their money out, but what good is cash if it was all crumbling to begin with?  If it was the end of the world as we know it to be now, it is already too late to do anything about it.  Just as the fall of the Roman Empire long ago, the end occurred long before it was finalized.  

Don’t get me wrong, I get the concerns and I sure hope this isn’t the end of a great time we have had to pleasure to live our lives.  I know the media literally creates the hysteria by how they report the news and that is no joke.  I watched about 30 minutes of the “reporting” on the virus and you would have sworn this was the zombie apocalypse.  I thought for sure after every commercial break this was the legitimate end of the human race.  “Breaking news, this area or town or state has been shut down, quarantined, and surrounded by the national guard to keep anyone from getting in or out.”  I mean do they not understand how most people see that?  They literally had armed personal at checkpoints.  I felt like I was watching a Netflix series or something.  

Regardless of all the chaos, it is times like these that we need those leaders to come out of the woodwork!  Those who have been going about their daily life in preparation for this chaos.  We need clear thinking and intentional action to help guide those who have just been letting life take them on the whims of societal breezes.  Most people are completely unprepared for the months or years or entire lives ahead.  A lot of people were barely surviving the way it was, and things were good or at least the best they have ever been.  So who are you?  Are you one to help guide others forward or one who is like a chicken with its head cut off gathering mass amounts of toilet paper?  

It is time to see who people really are!  In these times of great struggle, there is even more opportunity for those who have been ready for this moment.  This moment was inevitable so why wouldn’t we be preparing for it at all times?  Life is chaotic and unknown, why would you not expect this?  I hope we all step up and take accountability for ourselves now!   I hope we can be accountable for ourselves so that we can better help those around us.  That is what will propel us into a better future.  We should have been taking care of ourselves long before now so that we can team up with our neighbors and extend our positive reach.  We must help each other through these times.  Prove who you are through the actions you take!  

The Tides Of Change: Fatherhood!

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Through my 32 years, I have experienced a few major redirections in which altered my life’s course completely.  These changes reshape one acceptable future for a completely unforeseen path into the void of uncertainty.  While I have been shaping my life to prepare for this moment, now that the void is confronting me once again I can feel the subtle changes happening throughout my entirety.  I feel the oncoming of a tidal wave of drastic change that can only be understood in the wake of it all.  I know my current way of life will never be the same, nor will I ever be who I am today ever again.  Like a horse shedding its winter coat, I too have to let go of my current and former self to adapt to a new environment.  I must become more, I must become better than I ever have been up to this point.  I must become a father!

Turbulent times are ahead in which I hope I am prepared to endure.  There will be many battlegrounds with unidentified enemies that endanger our future, I just hope I am prepared to weather all the silly troubles of the immediate to keep the greater good close to heart and mind.  Please allow me to find clarity in the murkiest of waters so I may keep the end destination within my grasp through all experiences.  This is the journey into the void I must once again confront in order to prove myself worthy of greater responsibility.  

The unknown is the scariest of all places.  The void is the space in which I filter all information through a lens of ineptitude, doubt, and uncertainty for I know not what lies ahead.  What alternatives do I have though?  Perhaps I turn back, maybe run in a different direction, or you know what, maybe I’ll just stay put?  What future awaits me if I were to choose these paths of cowardice, blame, and reliance?  

The void has a way of testing the very essence of my soul.  A space that constantly challenges me to the very center of my being, forcing me to face every doubt I have ever pondered simultaneously.  The process nearly breaks me every time and just when I am ready to declare defeat a small shimmer of hope yet remains no matter how distant.  Do I give in to the doubt, crawling back into the deepest insecurities and mistakes of my past, devoting my self to a “safe and secure” future of mediocrity in which I endlessly suffer into eternity?  Do I give in to the insanity, never taking ownership for my own life and always rely on others to guide me forward in indentured servitude to them?  The fears I have every day are most prevalent in the face of the unknown.  I never know I will survive these tests of life, but that is the known price of admission.      

In these doubts of the moment, there lingers the infinite.  Within the infinite, there resides the longevity of perseverance over time.  With that time, the presence of clarity shines through all the doubt.  The unknown is temporary, time is infinite.  Within the infinite, there remains only persistence to supersede all.  This is what reassures me as I enter the void.  Once my focus is dialed in, the unknown is on the clock; time, effort, and capacity will transcend all.

I enter the void willingly once again, arms wide opened, inviting the interrogation of my soul.  I accept responsibility for my life and the ownership necessary to venture safely through the unknown.  I accept the sacrifices ahead in order to become better, to mature, to refine myself once again.  I will continue to sprint towards the void, for I know that is where my true self may be unveiled.  I welcome this redirection of my life called fatherhood.  Please show me the version of myself I have yet to be acquainted with.  

I am beginning to sense the artful craft of fatherhood ever so slightly creeping through me now.  So obvious the change has become that I can’t pretend to account for the differences of everything else.  I can see where my priorities are transforming in ways I never thought possible or even necessary.   I feel the way in which I view my priorities shifting, but in a way that I would phrase as a welcomed reorganization.  Reorganizing my priories in which all of the most important aspects of my life have now become the second most important. 

Instead of me potentially over obsessing over my other focuses, I except less and move on to more pressing matters.  Matters like preparation for the baby, organization of the household,  and being there to support and comfort baby momma.  I can sense the good coming from this reorganization of priorities and I am very curious to feel the continuous transformation as things progress closer to deliverance.  

I do not know what lurks ahead in the blurry fog of the uncertain future, but I am excited for the opportunity to experience this new venture.  I can’t imagine being any better prepared for this adventure ahead then I am at this time.  For I have an amazing partner who will willingly hash out any tough discussions ahead no matter how many days in a row we must work at it.  I also have the most amazing family and support system of friends one could ever dream of.  Having the ability to raise a child in this mountainous ranch setting feels straight out of a fairy tale and I can’t wait to have a little buddy to experience this amazing life with.  Regardless of whether he likes horses, nature, or any aspect of our lives and what we love, I am just glad to have the ability to raise a child in the country, surrounded by family and those who offer nothing, but support, encouragement, and unwavering love.  

Don’t pretend to know!

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I was recently contacted by a 5th grader asking my perspective on horse abuse so I figured this was the perfect time to finally write this.  Recently there was a case of horse abuse right here in the county and I continue to have many recurring thoughts about it.  Obviously, there are many different types of abuse, but I will speak specifically to the one that took place locally.  Many people saw the video and were ready to crucify the owners, but I think there is a lot more to the story than one moment in the unfolding of an entire lifetime.  

Let me recap the story quick.  Two horse people who were well known for riding their horses into town to visit the local establishments became a kind of iconic representation of the old-time mountain town.  For years they have owned horses and for years they had nothing other than great experiences with their horses. I did not personally know them, but I often saw them and their horses around town.  The horses looked healthy and happy, while the owners were having the time of their life.  The riders loved to show off their horses to the locals and out of towners, it was an all-around benefit to the town.  The horses were a great representation of what mountain town life can be like and they were great spokespeople to the out of towners who really thought they were in the wild west.  A great attraction for the town on top of everything else this area has to offer.  

None the less, one unfortunate event took place that buried them forever.  They attained a new horse and that new horse was not a good fit for them.  The horse wouldn’t leave the barn and primal human nature took over.  They haltered the horse and hitched it to the back of their dually truck to drag it across hard-packed snow.  The most unfortunate event for them was the wife filmed it while using excessive vulgarity through its entirety and then was talked into posting it thinking it was a great representation of “horsemanship.”  The husband was in the truck dragging the horse behind it at I would say 10 mph or so, for about 100 yards.  That is where the video ended.  The video went viral and they were fortunate to get a mere slap on the wrist from the authorities for what happened.  

Just to follow up on what I know of the rest, the wife was fired from her job, the horse was taken to a rescue, and the rest is unknown to me.  They received extreme threats of any and all kinds for the video.  I am not sure if they even live in the area anymore.  I remember seeing the video while thinking they better delete all their social media accounts, change their name, change their phone number, and move out of the country in hopes to survive this. 

Needless to say, based on 1 minute out of their entire life there whole future has been taken away from them.  Now the question, is that really a true representation of the entire situation?  Here are my thoughts on what led to this unfortunate event for all parties involved.  

From this point forward I am mixing a little bit of fact with a lot of assumptions as to how things may have been behind the moment.  In other words, I am merely portraying a thought experiment for people to consider before they may judge another negatively.  The point of this is to make people think a little deeper before they jump to conclusions.  I am not saying its right or wrong, simply outlying a normal life in which any of us could become a victim too on both sides of the spectrum.  We need to be more careful to not be overcome by our primal urges to react at the expense of others because of our own personal shortcomings.  We need to clearly think through the moment and everything leading up to it, otherwise, we should all step back to gather better information before we act.

The first problem that took place was the illusion that all horses were going to be great horses like the horses they’ve been previously exposed to.  These horses had filled in for them by forgiving them for their ineptness.  The horses they had were glorified dude horses that were kind of numb to the world.

Coincidently they were in the market for a new horse so they could retire one of their aging horses.  The wife also wanted to purchase a new horse for her husband’s birthday as a surprise.  She had reached out to me prior to the accident and was wondering what we had for sale here.  I told her the price and of course, it was too much.  I was sure to warn her when a horse is cheap or free it may not be a good fit for what they do and their experience level. Sadly, they didn’t heed my advice.  They received some free horse from a “friend” and the rest is history. 

Lesson one put the money forth for a horse that is right for what you do.  It isn’t about color, height, or any other factor, it’s all about is that horse going to fit your needs and take care of you and others.  Is it going to fit into the living situation you can currently provide for them?  Do they have a good foundation?  When it comes to finding a horse for the average hobbyist rider, these are the questions that should be running through the individual’s mind.  If you can’t afford a horse that is going to be this for you, don’t own a horse until you have a better ability to do it correctly.  Some other options may be taking lessons on foundationally sound horses or leasing a horse that is right for you.   

Think of all the time and money you would have if you weren’t having to care for and ride a horse!  Apply that time and money to your daily life in a matter in which you are refining yourself so that you can have a better quality of life in the future without always suffering to stay afloat.  Sacrifice now so that you can have a better quality future.  This will help ensure that you can buy the correct horse, care for it properly without worrying about expenses to survive, and most importantly be able to spend quality time without any pressures to delude the experience.  Don’t add more to your plate so you have no ability to shape a better future.  

The second problem was getting a horse that was beyond their level of proficiency and not getting the correct help once the problem was perceived.  Now they have received this free horse from someone they would consider a friend, a whole other issue in and of itself, and they have expectations to ride the new horse into town just like any other day with their usual horses.

Thus leading us to the third and final problem that led to horse abuse, expectations.  I imagine they had it in their minds that it was going to be a great moment in which they were going to get to show off their new horse in town and get to tell the reason for getting the new horse.  A birthday gift from his wife, I mean how great was that moment going to be for them?  There is also a piece of ego and need for attention behind this that also led to the issue, which is more of a dissection of the individual then the specific case of horse abuse.  I don’t know enough about them to dare to go into that.

To me one question arises, was this even a conscious case in which they knew what was happening that led to the actions taken at the moment and after?  While I hands down agree that this was a totally inappropriate way of handling the situation in any case, I do still feel this was a very human moment.  A moment in which any of us given the same circumstance would have been highly susceptible to making a terrible mistake.  Given their state at that time and their level of knowledge/experience, they were doomed from the very moment they received that horse.  

Follow me here, living in a mountain town demands a lot out of most people.  They work their whole lives to support their family or survive to witness another birthday underneath their own roof.  That means slaving their life away just to make ends meet.  Working at least one full-time job to afford the mountain life which is highly expensive.  Now add trying to have a hobby and pay for that.  Not to mention almost any mountain hobby is no minor investment to partake in.  Let alone the hobby of riding horses!  

So here are two individuals trying to stay afloat by working all the time and still trying to have a life outside of that chaos, by riding their horses into town to feel like their true selves.  That is who they were at heart, just an average person who wishes their real job was riding for a living, but we all need to come to terms with reality and what is possible given our circumstances.  Two honest people who want to keep a piece of their true self, but don’t have the time or money to invest to become the real horsemen they want to be.  So they find a way and stretch themselves even thinner to fill this void.  Stretching themselves in a way in which they will have to work till the day they die just to be able to experience a little piece of freedom within their realities they are being consumed by.  

Now take all of that and throw in the necessity for them to get a new horse for no money at all because they can’t afford anything else.  On top of that, imagine being exhausted and looking for that one hour in which they get to ride their horses and show off who they really wish they were all the time.  Now add in a spoiled rotten horse created by another human being that is holding them back from that one piece of freedom.  Who would you be in a moment like this?  How would you react if you have struggled your whole life for this one moment and that was taken from you?  To me, this is a true test of any human being.

Who are you when things don’t go as expected and the deck is stacked against you?  Who are you when there is no money, no time, and no capacity of yourself left to handle the most difficult moment of your life?  Is this really their fault?  

Yes and No!  Yes because we all need to take ownership and come to terms with our current reality in order to create and strategically work towards our desired future.  No in the sense these people didn’t have any of the tools necessary to handle a situation like this.  No person has the tools to handle a situation like this unless someone has shown them how to intentionally prepare for a moment like this and how to act at that moment by practicing for it in our daily lives.  These moments are indeed inevitable so we need to be preparing ourselves to recognize and to respond as intentionally as we can at the moment.  

So you tell me, is this abuse or is this just a reflection of how they have been treated their whole life?  One could even argue that they had been conditioned by all of us to take it out on others.  Is it their fault or is it ours?  I feel as if it is mostly our fault for not being able to positively influence more individuals.

We can all do more to try and reach these people before it’s beyond the point of help.  I have to do more to better prepare myself and others to succeed in moments when our life is in the balance and all the odds are against us.  If not you or I, who then are we leaving this up to?  I know I could be doing more, but even than I can’t be the only person trying to do so.  This has to be a choice in which all of us decide for ourselves but to even have a choice this must be brought to our attention.  

Had anyone given them the chance to decide?  We all need help to become more aware, we all need help to try to understand the person across from us, and we all need help to become better.  So before you try to crucify the person across from you, I would hope you would find out the whole story behind the one moment you witnessed.  It shouldn’t be through the social media filters meant to amplify every individual’s most primal tendencies.  The moment should be scrutinized by humanizing the situation in which you could find a scenario in which you yourself could have acted in a similar manner.  

If you honestly or ignorantly believe that could never be you, well then you are definitely living in your own false reality in which you have no right to comment on anyone else’s situation.  You are the type of person who becomes a guard in a concentration camp or the gulag.  For you do not think for yourself nor do you even consider yourself a real human, you let others tell you how to think and what to do without ever questioning it.  You honestly believe that you are better than others so you should have privileges others do not.  Little by little, you are talked into becoming evil by preying on those less fortunate and that is a very human trait in which we are all perceptible too.      

Do you really understand who they were and all the odds against them prior to their demise?  Who would you be if you lived their life and were given the same odds?  These questions terrify me on a daily basis, for the only moment, you know the answer to these questions is in the hind site of the choices you make at the moment.  There is no going back for any of us.  We need to better understand the other’s perspective before we pretend we are better humans than those that were never given a chance.  

That all being said, if a person is given the opportunities to redeem their insufficiencies and repeatedly choose to respond incorrectly than they must be reprimanded.  For if a person doesn’t want to help themself they are truly lost.  There is nothing anyone can do for that individual, but continue to lead by example waiting for them to become aware that they are the only ones in control of their future.       

 

                       

Conclusion to Reflection

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As I finish up the reflection upon the past two years, I figured it would be a good idea to create an overall conclusion to wrap it up. In a brief observatory state, with out going into any diatribes, I wanted to touch on a few common setbacks I see regularly.  The four topics I want to speak on are finding purpose and meaning, having real-time conversations, investing in your self, and settling down a bit.

One of the most common pieces I observe so frequently today is the complete lack of purpose and meaning in life.  All this means is that a person has a life long pursuit in which will continually motivate them to intentionally work towards a better self, life, and impact.  Otherwise, there are only two other ways of living life, no action or blind action.  Neither in which will lead to sustained growth and meaningful results.  Sure a person may succeed through blind action, but most likely at the end of the day, it was for superficial reasons.  How is anyone supposed to survive or thrive through the tough times without a definitive why to guide them?  That’s what real purpose and meaning can give a person, no matter what the pursuit may be or the circumstances they have been dealt.

I’m sure many people would deem this to be the most obvious of observations, the general lack of real connection with others.  All you need to do is go to any public place and all you see are people completely numbing themselves to all of the surroundings.  Whether a person is walking, sitting, or eating you see there face slumped down into their phones.  When you see this, you know that person is completely unaware of all surroundings.  This is just one example, but the bigger issue being people are not connecting on a real level with others.

I am not saying that you should have to go out of your way to chat with everyone you encounter or anything of the sort.  I am just saying, through observation and awareness, that it is actually quite easy to connect with people on a meaningful level if you are opening yourself to it.  To me personally, there is nothing better than the unspoken eye to eye contact moments in which neither has to say a word but both truly appreciate each other for the subtle passing of acknowledgment.  So much can be said without a word and by using our words intentionally we can really form deep bonds with anyone.

What truly astonishes me these days is the ease in which we all can become intellectual geniuses for nothing other than effort.  Internet or library access is all we need to conquer our greatest desires, but yet so few invest in themselves to attain free knowledge.  Yes, there still needs to be proof of action behind the knowledge to show a real understanding, but at the very least educate yourself!  Podcasts, audiobooks, youtube videos, search engines, and many other countless platforms all at the ease of our fingertips being waisted for mind-numbing nothingness.  All it takes is a little guidance and we can all become high-level masters at any discipline, so don’t waste your time checking out.  Invest in yourself by checking in!

The last piece I wanted to touch on was for everyone to just settle down!  Not everything has to be taken so damn personally nor do things have to be figured out right now.  Yes decisions need to be made and everything comes to an end, but why not try to learn from all of it?  Slow down, simplify, and start small with the understanding that, for anything really worthwhile, it takes time to mature.  Conflicts don’t need to be resolved in one conversation.  We all need to appreciate the development of something over time, let go of all the immediate gratification and 24/7 happiness BS.  Forget about all the in the moment dopamine rushes and really focus on the long term.  What are you doing a little of every day to become better in unforeseeable ways in the future?  If you are not thinking like that, I dare say you are really not thinking at all!

With those most common cautionary observations, I must say I am excited to see what is coming in our near and distant future.  Everything is progressing at speeds unfathomable and only exponentially increasing.  It is hard to imagine where the future is leading us all, but the one thing that is in need more than ever is more leaders.  There are so many people completely overwhelmed by everything without any clear way out.  We don’t need more “marketing geniuses” who are taking advantage of others, we need leaders who lead by the example through their day to day life.  That is where the proof is!  It’s not how many followers or likes you have, nor is it creating a false illusion of what your life is like.  No, it is all about the progression of yourself over a long period of time and the positive impact it has had on the surroundings you are in.  That’s it!  We can not leave this to other people, we must take ownership as individuals.  Then and only then, can we come together to significantly impact the greater masses.

In Reflection (2017-2019): Personal Growth

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The most cherished piece of my life during the last two years is the time and space I have been able to allocate towards my own personal growth.  As I think through my life to this point, it all feels like a refined progression of the way that I pursue my own personal growth.  Whatever the discipline may be, doesn’t seem to matter as much as the process of how I continue to grow through it. 

Here is a little secret about personal growth and how I have come to view it.  No matter how much I learn and how much better I may become, I can’t take any credit for it isn’t my own creation.  Yes, my understanding of this experience is unique to the infinite variations of any life, but what comes from my experience is merely the reverberations of many other minds that are far better matured than mine.  The words I use are unique to my own experience, but from all of “my own” thoughts, there is only the culmination of many bits and pieces from others much wiser than I.   

Which how great is that? Nothing we do or say is really new or our own, it’s only a new combination of knowledge from the beginning of time in which we are the fortunate recipients.  With that knowledge, we also need to carefully craft the ways in which we experience ownership, through the actions of a daily discipline, to prove actual attainment of wisdom.   Ownership over knowledge takes a great amount of time and intentional effort before that knowledge can be combined with experiences.  Only then can the ownership of knowledge be joined with actual proof of experience to form wisdom that will transcend the individual and any particular discipline.

 I always find myself thinking back to the time I was able to spend with great masters of many different disciplines.  They all had their own way of saying the same thing but in so many different ways.  Whether it was “I know nothing,” “I have been teaching It wrong for over 50 years,”  or “I should have given this up a long time ago,” all my mentors have very honest feelings of self-doubt in the area of their discipline.  If they didn’t practice daily, the self-doubt would have overcome them long ago.  That’s why they obsess over their life and their discipline.  They have to obsess in order to grow from within so that it eventually takes shape outside of them and through their discipline.  I find It inspiring how honest these disciplinary masters were about how little they knew and how much more they had to learn.  They were always reiterating that there is no easy path, only endless effort in order to feel honestly worthy of the pursuit of self-mastery through their desired disciplines.  All they were trying to do at the end was bring honor and respect to those before them who have paved the way for all of us.   

No matter how great any of us are at one thing or another, we are completely inept at infinitely more.  There is no reason to be angry or cocky about what we may think we know, but merely confidence in the process in which we have dedicated ourselves to one discipline or another.  In the end, it is all just another lesson of how much hard work and intentional effort it takes to really become truly competent at just one aspect of life.  If we pursue that one discipline correctly and with humility, it all leads to one place.  Compassion for oneself, all others, and the human experience we are all trying to sort through.  An experience of which we spend a lifetime of endless hard work backed up against continual overcoming of self-doubt, to achieve a mere sliver of understanding.  An understanding of our human nature and how hard it is to overcome our most basic states in which we all operate during the beginning. 

If we understand ourselves correctly then we can truly connect and relate to all others.  That doesn’t mean pure bliss or a constant state of love or happiness.  It means continual trials and tribulations that we get to challenge ourselves against.  That means civil discourse and many tough conversations in which others are going to attack you on a personal level in your most vulnerable state or weakest moments.  

So who are you when all odds or circumstances are against you?  This is what I am in constant training for through continual personal growth.  The recognition of tough moments and the ability to act as I have projected myself to be in similar situations, whether theoretical or past.    I know I will continue to transcend all others over the consistency at which I work on myself, on a daily basis, over the entirety of my life.  This process will allow me to exponentially surpass those who choose to focus on the superficial or other negative aspects of life it leads to nowhere worthwhile.  In order to refine our life, we must endure these tests in which to overcome the beginning levels of human nature that we all start on our journey to heightened awareness.  Otherwise, we are not worthy to reach refinement, it has to be earned by each individual and no one else can do this for us.     

Embrace the good and more importantly the downright ugly, for the experiences are all the same.  Just another experience for us to prove to ourselves that we are who we think we are or we have attained the actual person we have been trying to become.  That means accepting ownership for whatever the outcome may be and our part in It.  There is always something that we could have personally done better within every experience!        

In Reflection (2017-2019): Ranching

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The one aspect of my life that I continually missed while traveling coast to coast working horses was ranching!  Where ever I was in my travels I always had this trapped feeling or rather a sensation of imprisonment that was in an odd way weighing me down.  How did I choose to deal with this obvious feeling I couldn’t ignore?  My answer at the time; blind and relentless action.  This took shape in the form of more horses, more work, and ultimately no “free” time.  How can you miss something that you have no time to dream about?  

Luckily for me, the mountains are very persistent in their request.  The calling to live and work in the mountains never relented.  Day after day, the known fact continued to steep with more potency until that brief pause in the day would inevitably confront my life.  A little voice synonymous with the ever brewing picturesque daydreams forming in my mind being seamlessly integrated with the perfect sounds of nature playing in the background with subtle whispers in my ears reverberating little phrases and words teasing me with what other life I could or should be living.  This seemed to happen more and more as the days passed, ideologies forcing themselves into any second of free space within my mind.  Eventually, I had to take pause and reflect deeply upon my life and where I wanted to be heading.  Otherwise, I risked completely depleting my life-force trying to resist my own soul, rather than fulfilling its obvious needs.

Looking back now it’s just funny, but at that moment my life was in the balance.  I was literally on track with every part of the life I previously wanted.  The hardest part of it was all over.  I had the reputation, results, horses, clients, notoriety, and more money than I had ever dreamed possible in the horse industry doing what I was doing. As I continued on, I became more empty, even though I “had It all.” The future as it was had nothing but fame, fortune, and success as it has been portrayed through the media outlets as we know them today.  

So why then did I feel more lost and empty than ever?  Could anyone leave everything they worked so hard to create behind for the unknown?  Maybe I just need to suck it up and push harder, ignore my soul by continuing to pile more on my plate?  Oh how trying those times were.  I sure feel the decisions I made at that time were the difference between choosing life and that of literal or metaphorical death. 

Nothing can rival the time spent in nature amongst all of its elements in order to create a more productive setting to maximize the ranches’ efficiency and effectiveness.  The main production on the ranch here being for the horse operation.  Every action taken on the ranch is around simplifying the daily tasks, effectively using every square inch of the property to produce for the horses and the efficiency at which everything is maintained for the future.  This has taken shape in forms such as fencing to expand the perimeter or creation of new pastures, clearing deadfall or thinning out the forested pieces, the never-ending battle to keep the sage off the meadows, building of ponds to create natural watering holes for the horses, and the list goes on to infinity.  

That infinity piece is my favorite!  No matter how hard I work or obsess over ranching, there is always more to be done.  Ranching is a never-ending supply of boredom fulfillment out in the wild.  At any point, if I need to get outside and air out (after some life coach calls, reading, or writing sessions,) all I need to do is step outside the door.  This was the piece of my life I missed most, the ability to step outside and have the infinite source of entertainment at my fingertips.  No money is necessary, no traffic, no planning, just a step outside and I am free.  That doesn’t mean that I am only working, I love to just walk around the property admiring the infinite detail that resonates within everything right in front of me. 

I get to see the mountains slightly different in the way the light hits the peaks and the silhouette of the mountains change with the seasons as snow accumulates or dissipates.  I get to see the imperfections of the snow become smoothed over by the drifting pixies of snow floating across the flats waiting to find a resting place.  I get to watch the shadow play of the trees on the snow-white meadows or the mountains creep ever farther across the vastness of the valleys.  I get to witness the alpine glow of the clear evenings as they creep from low too high.  I get to observe the mysterious clouds display arrays of color I never thought possible twice a day as the sun climbs quickly over the mountains or creeps back down the distant mountains at night.  I get to experience the feeling of grass running through the palms of my hand as I watch the horses graze in the peace of the evening.  I get to do all of this while riding horses and tending to the ranch within each and every day.  

For just a handful of these descriptions above, I am forever grateful for each and every one of the moments I get to continue to witness by just living my life.  The longer I am here, the less distance I have to cover to be enamored in the details of nature.  While nature has so many fluctuations that we deem erratic or unpleasant, It is all so effortlessly fluid in its similarities.  The snow-covered meadows are symmetry to the sand dunes of the dessert or smoothness to the waters of a windless feature.  The endless cycle of being born, growth from infancy to full maturity, from full splendor to withering death, to dormancy, and eventual rebirth upon the season.  Everything we know as humans can always be related back to nature.  

Can you imagine being human without nature?  Could we have even made it this far without the example of the wild?  Nature was the first teacher, mentor, and leader to the human race.  We have been formed by nature and continue to be formed by it.  This is the most humbling piece of getting to spend every day outside, I get to relate my experience back to earth and back to myself.  If I can’t relate my experience through that filter, I know I am in the wrong or way off course.  

I find deep compassion through the earth, through nature, horses, and ranching.  I get to work with the land, with the elements of nature, in order to learn!  I get to make changes through different processes in order to not only create better results on a specific project, but I also do not waste anything from one project to the next.  If I dig drainage ditches and find rocks or have leftover soil, I get to reuse that somewhere else to strengthen a damn or build up a low point.  I get to watch as the sagebrush disappears from the meadows and how the snow reacts with the wind differently without the sage there.  I get to watch the herd of horses change the land and produce better growth through proper grazing and the spreading of their manure back over the land.  I get to use my physical being to create something of deep worth to me and in return, nature continues to guide me towards refinement.  

Nothing happens overnight here, in fact, progress happens so slow here I don’t even notice It.  I just keep coming back day after day, chipping away little by little, until one thing is complete then moving on to the next.  All I know is that at the end of the day when I look out over the land and the horses grazing, that something deep inside me has been fulfilled.    

I don’t believe there is any better teacher for us humans than to be in nature and learn from its ruthlessness.  The real question I find myself thinking though, can we really learn from nature without being taught how to observe, relate, or compare to it?  This doesn’t happen in a day, this happens over years and the exposure to so many different seasons.  Every day is different and every season is different, can I continue to raise my awareness to learn from the infinite lessons and detail that nature exposes me to in my daily life?  I have no idea, but I relish every day I get to try to decipher the endless code of working amongst the land.

I am curious to hear from your perspective on how you may relate your discipline to other sources of experience.  Mine being horsemanship to ranching to life coaching to nature.  To me it’s all the same, it’s singular, it’s universal.  What is it to you?   

In Reflection (2017-2019): Horsemanship

 

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The focus of my pursuit of better horsemanship over the past two years has been all about rediscovery and refinement.  I say rediscovery in the sense of the pure passion I used to have for horsemanship before I made it my sole source of income.  When I refer to refinement, I speak to working horses of my own over longer periods, taking them from start to a more refined state.   

I must first acknowledge my journey up to the past two years by saying how grateful I am to have been able to experience all that I did and make a great living doing it.  Without that exposure to so many different facets of the horse industry and the people within it, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my future as I desire now.  But in life, some times we have to let go of something good for something better!  That in and of itself is a definition of the word refinement as I have come to believe in it at this time of my life.  

The last two years have been so humbling for even having the opportunity to explore refinement in a setting I couldn’t have dreamed up any better.  I mean some people never can make it out of the survival state of being to pursue any desirable future of their own.  Some people have to do everything in their power just to make it through one day.  Other people have to spend every moment of their life working to provide a potentially better future for others.  

Previously, my life with horses was all about short term fixes or starts, never allowing me the ability to actually enjoy the fruits of the long term labors of refinement.  That was the missing link between both in the rediscovery of my love for horsemanship as well as my own personal refinement within my pursuits.  I believe the key to being a balanced horseman is the ability to start, fix, and refine horses both in the short term and in the long term.  

The importance of refinement is only realized through years of dedicated and intentionally focused work.  The love for something isn’t enough, that love needs to be reinforced with proof of action and the results from those actions.  Refinement isn’t anything that anyone else can just give you, it has to be earned from within.  Obviously, we all need mentors to show us what is correct and what is unnecessary, but at the end of the day, it relies solely on the ownership of the individual.  

To refine a horse, one must first be capable of starting the uneducated horse as well as progress them beyond the basics.  One must also have the ability to fix the created problem horses out there.  This allows an individual to understand both the nature of the horse and the nature of the human.  Two similar natures, but portrayed in infinitely different progressions.  A topic for another time.  

Thus leading me back to the enjoyment I so dearly missed, getting to ride refined horses.  The refined horse is the representation of oneself if taken from start to our personal limitations at that time.  The process shows us our faults or represents our understanding to the best of our abilities at that time.  If one can create a refined horse then one truly respects and honors the horse as an equal.  A refined horse is literally the fruits of intentional labor over a lifetime.  There is no other way about it, you can’t just be given a refined horse or purchase one, for the truth will shine right through those illusions.  

Refining horses was the piece of balance missing in my life and from the pursuit of the refinement comes the rediscovery of what horsemanship used to be to me.  From the whole process, an infinite pool of compassion continues to fill within me with each passing year.  By understanding the reality of the importance of the start of a horse and the understanding that bad horses aren’t born, they are created by us.  Therefore leading to not only compassion for horses who are putting up with our infinite ineptitudes but also compassion for the humans who have created the troubled horse.  It wasn’t even their fault, it was the fault of those closest to them who failed to show them the reality of the growth necessary from within to overcome our most basic reflexive human instincts.  In the end, the process shows us the extreme effort, time, and love It takes to create a real refined horse or should I say a refined rendition of ourselves.  To really understand what It means to create refinement, from the start to a state of refinement, it can only be understood by those who have achieved it through one discipline or another.