Sunday, March 30, 2014


Today in church we talked about being prisoners.

I tried to remember the poet who wrote "Iron bars do not a prison make..."
That thought led to thinking about what imprisons us: depression, poverty, addiction, fear, pride, loneliness, money.

And once we are locked in how do we get ourselves out?

I have locked myself into a negative view of myself years ago. The fact that I earned a masters degree while working full time and graduated with a 4.0 doesn't matter because I feel that I am an impostor that will soon be found wanting.

The fact that I have accomplished many of my goals in life doesn't negate that I feel as if I failed because I drive a 14 year old car and lost my house in the economic downturn.

It doesn't matter if I have a good personality and am well loved because I feel old/fat/ugly.

I met with friends this week and we talked about enacting positive change in our lives. We committed to meeting once a month face to face for updates and staying in touch through the electronic media to encourage and listen to each other.

I discovered I am not the only accomplished woman who feels this way.

Why do we listen to "society" and respond to the photoshopped ads to belittle ourselves?
Why do we take comfort in our misery? Why do we lack motivation? Why do we consistently harm ourselves when we would never do those things to others?

Why do we choose to live in self made prisons?



Your body was my Braille
I learned to read each scar
each rise and fall with fingertips
in the dark of night.

I lay my head upon your chest
listening to the rhythm
of your heart calming
after the passion was spent

I breathed your scent
memorizing the tartness of sweat
the sweetness of your breath
the taste of salt on your skin.

for a lifetime it seemed
we were joined by our senses
taste, touch, smell, sound, sight
memorizing one another.

Now we sleep apart,
by wounds that left scars
we cannot touch or trace.

I wonder if/when/how
I will forget
the landscape
that is your body

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dressage or Dancing in the Rain

Today I worked my first dressage event. I assume most people have at least seen dressage once, think The Lipizzaner Stallions. 
I first remember reading "Airs Above The Ground" a book about the famous stallions. And of course over the years I have briefly viewed horse shows.
Today was not the glamourous TV installation of equestrians on immaculate horses.

It was raining. Steadily. It was cold. There were 5 arenas. All outdoors. The horses were wet, the riders were wet, some in rain gear, some not. I was there to help in any way I could. Which meant running score sheets to the judges. Moving the PVC pipes that formed arena fences. All in ankle deep water/mud/muck. The arena "floor" is small gravel and sand. It was like walking in 3 inches of  a slushy.

Between the activities I watched horses and listened to the "horse people" talk. They commented on strides, neck arches, conformation. I listened to a new language and tried to match their words to the horses movements.

There were lots of standard thoroughbred looking horses in an array of colors. They all were light on their hooves, graceful and elegant as they went through their choreography. There were a few that were not amused by the wind and rain. One particular small horse, (or maybe pony?) was really ticked off. He fought the bit. He backed up. He jumped around sideways, backwards and any direction he could. His rider fought with him for control. Another person took him by the bridle and started him off in the right direction and then he would change his gait with the rider trying to control him. He was a feisty one! I knew he was being naughty but I admired his spirit and determination. For a little guy he was a spitfire!

Toward the end of the day, I fell head over heels with 2 particular horses.

One was a black Frisian: a big muscular horse with feathers on his feet. He was indeed a Black Beauty. Controlled and graceful, he did not seem to notice the pelting rain or the mud kicked up by his large hooves. I could easily imagine him carrying a Knight into battle. I could have watched him for hours. He and the rider seemed to be of one mind and body. 


The last horse of the day was an Andalusian. He too was magnificent. A dark gray with a striking white face. His tail and mane had been braided then loosed so they hung in long undulating waves. He danced across the arena, impossibly light for such a large horse. He was all grace and beauty where the Frisian was all power and dignity. 

I was agog at the beauty of these two. They took my breath away. I wanted so badly to pet them, (ok I admit what I really wanted was to ride them!)  The Andalusian was neighing and talking as he crossed to the far arena. Mr. Personality! 

I regretted not having my camera as I can find no google image that truly captures the beauty of these two.

They made the steady rain, the frozen wet gloves on my hands, the bone chilling breeze bearable ~ No,  actually they made the day worthwhile and unforgettable. I am entering a new world and falling in love with it more and more each time I visit.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Poisonous voices

Feeling like a failure
despite evidence to the contrary.

The small voice of derision
outshouts all the facts.

form a chain blocking happiness.

Tears sting the back of my eyelids
star bright anguish.

Heavy hearted, struggling to breath
to not cry.

I am the only guest
at a pity party.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Silent Sibling

Walking the beach
three of us
side by side,
linked by blood
and the shadow of him.

We are siblings,
all middle aged
and peers now
but the birth order

Eldest, middle and the baby.
But one is missing.
His presence is felt
in the uneven number.

Three where once were four.

We talk of him,
our big brother,
loving, laughing,

He is with us
in our hearts,
Our minds,
Our souls.
In our DNA,
in our blood.

Never forgotten,
the love remains
but we ache for the hugs,
the laughter now stilled,
the voice that is silent.

We are three that once were four.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hippo Therapy Fridays

From the moment I walk in peace surrounds me. The smell of hay and horses wafts even into the lobby providing instant aromatherapy.

I check in at the office, sign my name, put on my volunteer badge and then go to the barn.
More intense aromatherapy greets me, I hear nickers from the horses and Jewel the barn cat comes running for a belly scratch and petting.

I usually walk through to see who is in the stalls. I greet Sargent, a huge draft horse cross, his huge head nods up and down as I whisper hello and talk to him a bit.

Next I scout out to see if the Fjords, a solid stocky breed, are in from the paddocks. I notice that T Ball and Lightning, brothers, are side by side and "talking" to one another. 

I continue to check to see if Chico and Lincoln are inside yet.

I check with the barn manager and if needed go out to the paddocks to bring the needed therapy horses into the barn. I am not yet experienced to be alone in the fields with the horses, so someone with more experience goes with me to show me the ropes.

I am a novice here. A new student, absorbing all the knowledge I can, trying to memorize the faces and personalities of each horse. There is much to learn: the difference between a halter and bridle, an ulti pad versus a medical pelt. New words enter my vocabulary: surcingle, rainbow reins, bevel pads, chestnuts, withers, girth, channels, lunge lines, long lines~ I take it in hoping to someday not have to ask so many questions.

I am guided by life long horse people whom I am sure secretly smile at the excitement of a middle age woman's joy at learning to "pick hooves". I ask lots of questions, they answer patiently. Some days I am sure they would prefer someone more experienced, but they seem to realize I am learning and dedicated so I sense them relaxing and giving me more responsibility.

Of all the horses, my favorite is Lincoln. He is smaller than the Fjords, a quarter horse cross. I call him my "mud bug". He comes in quite messy from the paddocks. The client who rides him for hippotherapy is allergic to everything, so Lincoln must be thoroughly brushed before his tack is put on and even then, he is covered in a sheet, pinned on around his neck and withers. 

He is patient with me, really all the horses are. They are highly trained to be patient as they work with disabled and handicapped children and adults. But in the grooming bays, their personalities peek through. Wanda likes to nip, Chico likes to nibble at sleeves, Lincoln yawns, relaxing under the curry comb and stiff brush.

It is peaceful in the barn, no music blares, no sounds of traffic, just the twittering of birds, the barn cats occasional mewing, the nickering of horses and the distant sounds of a child's delight from the arena.

I curry and brush, pick the hooves, leaning into the massive warmth of the horse as they raise their foot. I hold it on my leg and clean around their frog, getting the muck and mud out. I lower their foot, give them a pat and move on to the next chore.

I know these are not typical horses. I know they are patient with me and forgiving. They are great to learn on. They don't kick at me or try to bite. I am learning to read their body language and long for the day when I really connect with them. I am getting there and it is a wondrous journey...