Blank Pages

Blank Pages

I sit here looking at a blank page.  I want to express my thoughts as I am approaching the one year mark of Dale’s death.  The rest of my life is also a blank page.  It waits for me to write the rest of my story.  What will it be?  How will it be?  With whom will it be?  The questions are endless and I am not searching for the answers, the answers will reveal themselves as time passes.  I now have a permanent reminder to “Be Here Now” tattooed on my left forearm.  It is there to help me focus on the moment rather than getting lost in what was or what will be.  Nothing is guaranteed in this life, other than death and of course taxes.

Dale and I agreed that on some level we choose our path, even before birth.  Our belief that we come here to learn and grow, and that certain events are meant to be experienced, is sometimes difficult to fathom.  A few months ago I found an ear marked page, that is shown in the image above, in Dale’s little note book. It is the note book that he used to record his use of medications and other things that he found important.  Throughout his illness he never complained about his situation other than near the end when it seemed to be taking forever to come to completion.  At the same time I read a great deal between that one short line that he wrote.  Dale had six months to think about his fate, and to try and come to terms with it.  He spent much of that time healing wounds from his past and he brought meaning to his life through his writing and the sharing of his journey.  Most of us don’t know when we will die but we all know that we will.  We all have the opportunity to live our lives in a meaningful way, on every day is a blank page that we are given.

Shortly after Dale’s passing I put my creative efforts into creating Dale’s Journey (the book).  It gave me a sense of purpose and held my focus through a terribly difficult time in my life.  The book was created to help people find meaning in their lives and to help those going through a similar, or a difficult situation.  That work evolved into the blog that I put out for several months where I shared my personal journey.  There was a value for me in that and hopefully for others too.  After a time I felt that I was becoming stuck in my story and felt that I was unable to progress if I continued with it.  The other reason I stopped was because my thoughts had become particularly dark over the winter, which is a time of reflection and going inwards.  It is also the time of year that I am unable to have as much time with my horses.  Horsey time makes all the difference for me because horses are my passion.   I was able to work through the darkness and have succeeded in shedding some light on what was going on inside me.

Having stopped writing the blog was a double edged sword though, on one hand it held me back and on the other it helped me move through my emotions.   It also gave me a purpose. The intense emotion that I was feeling was not something that I felt would be encouraging to others and I just could not bring myself to share those thoughts.  I was feeling lost and alone.  Sure, I have plenty of friends however they have their own lives and I am outside of that.  That is normal and I know that they are only a phone call away but the fact that no one is within arm’s reach is the hard part.  A person can get pretty low when they feel there is no reason for them to be here.  Going through those emotions was all a part of the process and I have emerged on the other side.  I am in the midst of an exciting and wonderful season of riding which lifts my spirits and gives me purpose

Over the last year I have had so many signs that Dale and Cody are still here on some level.  Synchronistic happenings, hawks circling above me, dreams and other things give me all the proof I need.  They will both remain in my heart and mind no matter where life takes me.  There will always be sadness at having lost them so soon but I will focus on what they brought to my life rather than what I lost.  They left an indelible mark on my soul and for that I also have left indelible reminders of them on my body.  Not everyone understands why someone gets a tattoo and it’s likely not the same for everyone but for me it holds a deep sense of meaning.

Dale was always attracted to hawks, especially the red tailed variety.  We always stopped whatever we were doing to watch them, unless of course we were driving.  Shortly before he died we talked about me getting a hawk tattoo in his honour and that a former client of his would be the artist to do it.  That agreement has been completed and I am more than pleased with the result.  In this world of impermanence it is something permanent, something that can only be erased by my death.  The following text was taken from the internet and written by Stacey Couch, author of Wild Gratitude.

With red-tailed hawk symbolism, it’s time to become the observer and see things from a mystical perspective. This is not about being “better than” your tribe-mates, but about seeing things away from your ties to worry about what others will think of you. From this wide-angle view, wait to see a glimmer of movement and use your sharp, keen vision to focus in on what caught your attention. Then you can confidently dive down and grasp hold of the knowing.

Hawk spirit animals in general are about vision and the ability to shift from a wide view to a microscopic focus. It may be time for you to review your life to get in touch with a larger vision and purpose while at the same time checking in to make sure that you are focusing on key relationships. Look for the gifts of your tribe, revel in the gifts of your life, and give thanks to divine messengers. You can release your gratitude to the red-tails and they will carry the memo back to the heavens on your behalf.

I hope to be an inspiration to others and offer comfort and support in any way that I can.  Whether that be through writing, or equine workshops, or close relationships.  My story is all mine to create on the blank page that I’ve been provided.

For the past year and a half I’ve felt like a page torn out of a book that was being tossed about by the wind.  I am ready to spread my wings and fly and I’m ready to embrace whatever this life holds for me.


Lost in my story

Lost in my story

In writing these Blogs I have found some release, by expressing the emotions that I experience into words I come to a deeper understanding of those emotions.  However there is a cost.  I have recently become aware that in the process I have become lost in the story.  The story was a fairy tale, filled with love and magic, heartbreak and sorrow, and so much more.  But it’s over, The End.  They did not live happily ever after, but maybe I can… eventually.

Our stories create our reality.  It’s what we tell ourselves about a situation that eventually becomes our truth.  Dale shaped his experience with terminal illness by telling himself that there was a higher purpose to it. He used the time that he had left to evolve and grow and come to terms with things he struggled with most of his life.  For Dale the story was all that he had near the end, and it served him very well.  It also left a legacy for others to learn from in the form of Dale’s Journey.

In creating the book, and in writing these Blogs, I have somehow kept his presence alive in my life.  That has been the warmth in an otherwise cold existence.  It is time for me to let go of the story.  Not to forget it, but just to put it behind me rather than having it be my purpose in life.  For a time I had believed that I too could make a difference, like Dale had.  It was a noble purpose, but unrealistic.

The things we dream about, the goals and aspirations in life keep us going like the image of a carrot on a stick in front of a donkey.  When the “carrot” is realized to be unattainable, it is no longer a motivation to move forward.  I need to trade in my carrot for an apple, in other words I need to find a new purpose.  Perhaps it will be small goals, or dreams that slowly create a new story for me.  Once again, I am eternally grateful for the horses in my life.  They are always emotionally available, they are present and able to engage on as deep a level as I am willing to go.  Engaging in the present moment with consistency, and remaining mindful, will be my first step towards finding my way back to my own life.


PS – For the time being I will not be publishing posts every Wednesday.  Perhaps the occasional post will appear if the mood strikes me but it won’t be on a regular basis.

Thanks for tagging along, Angie

From the book

From the book

I’m at a particularly low point in my journey right now.  I wish I could find it in me to be inspiring but it’s just not there. I guess that’s probably normal, I am not Superwoman.  I’m just trying to get by one day at a time and I’m not trying to cheer myself up, I’m trying to be real with it and work through it.

Every day I read the daily excerpt from Dale’s Journey and this morning I came across something I had written about what Dale posted on this day last year.  This piece was written in the summer, while I was preparing the book. While I am no longer struggling with what happened, there are still some things to be gleaned from the writings.

Many months later I still find myself struggling with the way I feel about what happened with our business.  It’s very difficult to predict how people will handle a situation like this.  We found ourselves being astonished at how many people, that we would never have expected, offered and gave support in amazing ways.  And our co-workers, whom we had great respect for, were unable to speak to us about what they were feeling and chose instead to send us an email to say they were leaving our company.  People make choices based on their perspectives and I do my best to respect that.  I expected more from them and that is my mistake, which is why I continue to struggle.  We went through a rough patch after this and had to do a lot of processing to come to terms with it.  We cannot change another’s perspective but we can change ours and that is what can ease our suffering.

It is also interesting to note that many people had, and still have, no idea how to relate to us.  I can only speculate that they are afraid to “say the wrong thing”, or “become emotional” or just plain “don’t want to face it”.  We never know what others base their actions on and it is our expectations and speculations that create our own pain.

This whole idea of letting go of the need to analyze why others do what they do, based on our expectations, is challenging.  One might think that it would be easier to let go when it involves someone who is close to us but I believe that sometimes that’s even harder.  If our partner behaves in a manner that is not what we anticipate, how much time and energy is often spent in trying to figure out why they did not act differently.  And what about the time and energy we spend trying to “fix” them, or make them understand how they let us down.  Of course there are circumstances where we can justify our dismay with other people’s actions, for instance when physical violence is involved but even then we cannot change the other person, we can only attempt to understand our own reaction and motivations around the circumstances.

Believe it or not, neither Dale nor I are perfect people LOL!  We had to work very hard to have the relationship that we did.  When either of us found ourselves being “triggered” we had to consciously put our efforts into figuring out what it was in OURSELVES that brought out the intense and uncomfortable emotions rather than blaming the other person for “pushing the button”.  Having a great relationship is hard work.


Developing a great relationship

Developing a great relationship

There’s a check list that we have when we’re shopping for a new partner.  We prefer a certain look and build, a personality that is compatible and someone who we will enjoy spending time with.  Once we’ve find them we face the next stage of relationship, the part where we begin to build a connection.  This is a precarious stage, we don’t really know each other yet so the lines of communication can become muddied, especially if there’s some history of previous relationships there.  Then we come into it already saddled with preconceived notions, or belief systems.  So, how to proceed?

Taking it slow and easy, pausing before reacting and not having too many expectations is a great way to start.  We’d like to get their attention, have them notice us.  For that we need to become interesting without overdoing it, if we get too exuberant about it we’ll likely chase them away.  It’s a conversation that should be equally shared rather than dominated.  Too much talking and not enough listening does not create an ideal relationship.

Perhaps we get past the awkward first stage and begin to take things a bit further.  At this point there is still attraction to each other and it is easy to overlook the small things that may come up later on if we choose to ignore them.  At this stage it would be in our best interest to have deeper conversations about those things.  Even better still, at this point, we ought to take a look at ourselves and what our part is in the equation.  What are we bringing to the table that may be hard to digest?  If we can look within and deal with our own stuff we stand a much better chance of having the dream relationship that we want.

If we’re still on track at the next phase, past the romantic stage and into the daily grind we might start to forget what drew us to our partner in the first place.  At some point it may become tempting to make demands and want to change certain aspects of their personality, or their way of being.  The harder we push, the more distant they become.  At this stage the pressure often becomes too much.  The conversation becomes one-sided and there’s a lot of yelling, even if it’s energetic rather than vocal.  We can keep our mouths shut and still emit a great deal of noise energetically.  Sometimes, once the dust settles, the relationship falls into a rut at this point.  We shut down and just go along following the rut while trying not to think about what lies beyond the confines of that rut.  Many never see beyond that prison, and some find comfort in being there.  There’s often little conflict and drama there, so it can be comfortable to just plod along.  The trouble is that life brings us storms and if we’re down in a rut someone’s likely to drown.

The real magic exists when we find ourselves in a dance.  Not the kind of dancing where all the steps are choreographed, or a dance where someone pushes and pulls the other, but a dance that simply follows the music, no matter what’s playing. It’s a give and take situation, slow dancing, gliding this way and that, twirling and jiving on occasion, just taking it as it comes.  To the outside observer it is never obvious who is leading, it is totally synchronistic .

All this time you thought I was talking about people didn’t you?  I was actually talking about horses, and the training process required if you want a horse as a partner rather than an obedient  employee.  Horses and their training are the subject of so many conflicting views.  There are so many varying opinions, it’s sort of like religion and politics.  I have recently embarked on a journey of learning from a horseman that I’ve respected for over 10 years, Josh Nichol.  His way of thinking, and being, extend far beyond horsemanship.  His teachings are a gift that bring us to a heightened state of self-awareness, a place from which we can excel as both horsemen and humans.  He reminds us to value that which attracts us to horses in the first place.  I am grateful beyond measure for his gifts and what they bring to my continuing journey.


The Special Place, Deep Inside

The Special Place, Deep Inside

There’s an industrious character that resides somewhere deep inside of me, a bright eyed, bushy tailed fellow that gathers little bits of things and squirrels them away to a special place, deep inside, where they can be stored.  Through my eyes it gathers the beautiful sunrise, the vast star filled sky, the rainbow of autumn leaves, the snow-capped mountain peaks, or a lush green meadow adorned with galloping horses.  From my heart it stashes away emotions, feelings, thoughts, desires and dreams.  It is saving them, saving them just for you.  It wants so desperately to share them with you, for you to once again know the beauty of this life.  It wants you to feel the love that still burns inside of me, it wants to share all the deliciousness that life has to offer.

Somewhere deep inside, there is this special place where I sit and talk to you.  It’s where you live now, this special place deep inside where these things are stored.  I long for that place and visit it often.

There are also times when it rains there in that place, deep inside.  Times when tears fall, and the winds blow chilly with the desolate feeling of loss.  Anything between a light mist and a torrential downpour can occur.  It really depends on the state of mind because the trigger can be as simple as a jar of organic vegetable bouillon or as profound as a line in a movie that closely resembles a line from our wedding vows.  I still remain in that place taking in all of it, sitting with it, feeling it completely.    I take in the feelings and do my best to give myself the time I need. Eventually, I can let them go so the sun can poke through again and warm my shivering soul.

I’m slowly coming to the realization that this place will yield a beautiful garden one day.  It’s a place I can visit anytime, taking in the sights and sounds of treasured memories that may fade with time. At the same time I know that the impact that you had on my life will never fade.

The garden will remain as much a part of me as when you were here by my side.  I will tend to the garden and I will care for the memories and cherish them but I must also be cautious that this place does not become a prison of my own making.  As time passes I may not visit this place as often but it will always be there, this special place deep inside, as sacred as any shrine, as constant as the sun and rain.  And, as cliché as it sounds, someday I may move on with my life.  But whether I do, or not, I will always love you and keep you there, in that special place, deep inside.


The aspect of Rain reminds me of a wonderful song by Templeton Thompson called A Little Rain.  To hear it click here.



Offendability has become so common, or maybe it always was and we’re just starting to notice.  I thought I had it beat but recently was faced with a situation that showed me how easily I too could go there.  It happens when we take things personally, when we feel that someone has done something to us.  In actuality these perceived offenses are not even directed at us but we take them on anyway.  At times we become offended because another person became offended by us, I guess that would make it a defensive offense 🙂

I’ve come face to face with it when working with a horse and have had to use that information to examine my actions.  It’s not like I’ve over-reacted or become abusive but I’ve noticed that the horse’s honest reactions had valuable feedback for me.  What a horse does is not something to be taken personally, they react to the things they’re presented with and emotion is not part of the equation for them.  We are the ones who do that.  It is sometimes a huge challenge to leave emotions out of the equation, especially when we feel hurt but whether it’s with horses or people there is much to be gained by saving those feelings for our own reflection.

Our emotions are messengers sent to show us how we feel.  If we look at why we’re feeling like we do without turning the blame to anything outside of ourselves we can make good use of the message.  We tend to believe that situations or other people are to blame for how we feel. I tend to believe that we alone are responsible for our feelings.  I find there is a lot of power to be gained from taking responsibility for myself, the power to make change is in my hands rather than someone else’s.

So, when I felt my guts churning and my heart pounding I had to give it some hard thought.  I also turned to a wise friend whom I knew would provide me with unbiased insight.  It helps to be able to have a conversation with someone who won’t necessarily jump on your bandwagon and support your feelings of having been offended.  And I wasn’t really looking for that kind of support.  I needed someone to hear me, and to offer me an alternate perception.  I find it useful to look at things from another direction and that’s why talking to someone else helps me.  I highly value someone who will be honest with me rather than add fuel to the flames of offendability.  How often have you heard someone telling a story about what someone else did to them and then others justifying how they or it made them feel.  I don’t wish to be a victim in this life, I’d rather take responsibility for myself.  Again, I want the power to be in my hands rather than handing it over to external sources.

I am now calm and peaceful.  I was able to address the situation appropriately. Although there are still some tough decisions ahead of me I will face them with clarity rather than simply reacting emotionally.  Emotions are wonderful, they enrich our lives with passion but they can muddy the waters as well.  I will continue to make mistakes as long as I remain within this human condition, it’s what I do with them that really matters.  I will experience the full gamut of human emotions and will do my best to decipher the message that I’ve received.  And, I will take a long hard look when a friend, or a horse, hold up a mirror so that I can see more clearly into that which is causing my inner turmoil.

Let’s Talk and Let’s Listen

Let’s Talk and Let’s Listen

Lately I’ve noticed that certain things have begun to bother me.   A lot of it comes from spending time on Facebook, not that I think Facebook is all bad, there are a lot of interesting and wonderful stories that people share.  What irks me are the political posts and the posts that TELL me what to do.  For example; “Type Yes”, “Share If” and more recently “Update your profile pic to Let’s Talk”.  That last one got me really thinking.  I generally avoid advertising, I don’t watch TV very often and if I do, I’ve pre-recorded it so that I can avoid the advertising.  I don’t listen to radio stations that spend half their time trying to sell me something either.  So, when the first profile pic showed up and it told me to change my profile pic, I spoke up. I didn’t even know what “let’s talk” was all about.  Once I scrolled further through the newsfeed I realized what it meant, I read so many stories of people’s struggles.  Some were people that I know well, some not.  In many cases, I had no idea that some of these folks had that kind of struggle.

In retrospect, I believe that “Let’s Talk” is a wonderful idea.  The TV special with Howie Mandel was terrific, he shared his personal story and he encouraged people to talk, and to open up about their troubles.  Sure, about half the show was filled with commercials but at least the program itself was useful.  I also loved the personal stories that I read on Facebook.  They were not copied and pasted, they were real.  Those folks expressed what was going on for them and how it affects their daily lives.  That interests me so much more than whether or not someone hates or loves the current government or whether or not they agree with a March.  Especially when it’s just shared.  And I am equally guilty.  I often share things I agree with, not political posts but things that concern the environment, or the food we eat, or health related posts.

The realization of my guilt arose because of my discomfort.  When I’m irked by something often enough I start to pay attention.  The pattern of annoyance finally made it clear.  Perhaps part of it is spending too much time on Facebook.  I tend to spend a lot of time on the computer these days so checking Facebook becomes a regular thing, just a few minutes here or there but enough to become annoyed.  The other piece is that advertising  bothers me.  It’s that whole idea of being sold something that I don’t really need .  I recommend watching a documentary called “The Minimalists”, it’s an eye-opening and thought provoking film.

The final realization was the difference between real stories and shared stories.  We always have the choice as to what we choose to read, no matter where we see it.  These blogs I write are just that.  Many have provided positive feedback and some have said, “Wow, they’re really long”, which to me is another way of saying “I can’t be bothered to read all that”.  I understand, I feel the same much of the time.  We are inundated by so much information these days that we can’t possibly take it all in, so we have to pick and choose.  Perhaps creating my own memes will soon occur; at least that way I will be exercising my creativity and be expressing my very own opinion rather than sharing someone else’s.

My concern for the masses is that we have become like sheep, glued to a screen, doing as we’re told, sharing or copying and pasting other people’s ideas.  I say Let’s Talk!  Let’s talk about ourselves, let’s share our own stories and feelings.  Let’s quit finding things that separate us and search instead for what we have in common.  As Howie said “we are ALL human and we ALL struggle”.  Let’s also listen!  Listen for the sake of listening, with the intention of understanding rather than listening only so that we can reply.  We all want to be heard and we all have interesting stories to tell.    Why not take a front row seat, grab some popcorn and a beverage and just allow ourselves to be transported into another person’s story.