Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Intention Instead of Outcome

Today is the Fall Equinox, a time when we harvest what we’ve raised and yet experience the death of green all around us. I’m having mixed emotions, so I turned to some of my spirit guides for advice.

First, I checked in with one of my favorite wise women, Sandra Ingerman. She suggests:
“This time of year is a great time to let drop from you what is no longer needed to return to the earth to be composted creating new life. For with all types of death – the little deaths we experience through life as well as physical death – something new is reborn from what dies. The cycle of life and death is one unbroken circle…”

She recommends creating a ceremony to release expectations.” I find for some of us letting go of expectations feels like giving up. But what if it is giving up to something better? What if we hold an intention of what we want to experience while at the same time we trust that the way our desires and intentions manifest is greater than what we allowed ourselves to imagine? The key is don’t let go of your intentions and focus. But sometimes we have to let go of the outcome. Try working with this in the time of fall where the plants and trees are giving back to the earth the old so that the new can be born.”

I’ve been expending a lot of energy worrying about the outcome of several things in my life recently, so this idea really hit home for me. While I cleaned the barn today, I took some time to really think about what my expectations were and how they cause pain and self-doubt when I don’t get what I want. If the outcome isn’t something I can control, than there’s no point in trying to hold on to it. It’s kind of like the maple tree that I was standing under. Even though the weather is still warm, its leaves are turning brown and falling faster and sooner than usual this year. Maybe Sandra Ingerman is right: My soul and the soul of the world is working to give me greater gifts than I can imagine.

It reminded me of Mary Oliver’s poem, “Song For Autumn”:
“In the deep fall
don't you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don't you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come - six, a dozen - to sleep
inside their bodies?”

And thinking of that eloquent wisdom stirred up my sense of anticipation of all the enjoyable activities that will come with colder weather and shorter days. After all, with each ending comes a new beginning.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Much Needed Break

I’ve been working too hard. This past month, I’ve been juggling three projects, getting my daughter settled into her routine at school and trying to adjust to the shifting realities of my mother’s deteriorating mental state. It’s meant there’s less time to blog, no time to stare into space and do nothing, and even when I did try to relax and read a book, the worries of my work wouldn’t step back and give me a break. One thing that brings me back to myself, no matter how busy I get is that there are two horses in the barn who need my attention every morning and every night.

Yesterday, everything paused and I was able to go through my day with an astonishing sense of leisure. Don’t ask me why. Maybe the planets and my schedules just aligned for a brief bit of breathing room. At first, as I turned out the horses, taking time to let each of them graze on the last bits of soft green grass between the barn and the pasture, I felt like I was forgetting to do something. Then, as I mucked Silk’s stall, I realized that I was actually giving my full attention to what I was doing. My mind wasn’t racing around trying to solve problems for several projects and family dramas at the same time. It was like falling free form in space. At first, I was on edge and jumpy, but then I found a gentle floating feeling and relaxed.

I stopped to watch the horses for about five minutes. I gathered up some firewood since it’s gotten cold at night. This morning, there’s nowhere to go and no deadlines to meet. I’m not behind on anything, and it’s a beautiful sunny Saturday. I’m going to groom the horses and fool around and hopefully this afternoon, I can hop on Silk for a while.

Someone called me and asked if we wanted to go to the Big E, a lively state fair in Massachusetts. As much as I enjoy those kind of things, there’s no way anyone is going to get me in a car and on a highway. My idea of the perfect weekend is one that requires as little effort and movement as possible. You’ll find me here --Staying home, hanging with a couple of four-legged girlfriends and chilling out.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Toasters and Horses

This is a post that has to do with toasters, not horses. Several years ago, we got struck by lightening, and it fried many of the appliances in our house. One of the dearly departed was a reliable old toaster oven that I’d owned for about 20 years. When I went to Target to purchase another one, a shiny red Oster model captured my fancy. It was kind of retro-styled and quite elegant, with a convection oven as well as a regular toaster oven.

I think it was only a couple of slices of bread later that the trouble began. My husband turned on the timer and when it went off, the pieces weren’t toasted yet. So, he twisted the knob and tried to give it a few more minutes. He made the mistake of walking away. When the bell dinged, he came back to his charred bread and began to howl. I should have just returned it then and there. But life was busy, the receipt got misplaced, the toaster looked so good in our kitchen, etc., etc. Now, over four years later, we’re still wrestling with this stupid appliance.

It has a will of its own. I can put in a piece of bread and stand watching it for ten minutes. Yes, it takes FOREVER to toast. Then, the phone rings, my daughter wants me to help her with her hair, I have some momentary distraction. As soon as I turn my back, this toaster seizes the opportunity and blackens the toast. It happens almost every third time, since it takes me about two painfully long sessions of watching bread brown to make me forget and walk away long enough to burn something again.

Now that I describe it, maybe there is a connection here to horses. How many of us have experienced annoying behavior from our horses and just learned to ignore it, get around it or put up with it? I’ve tried over the years not to fall into this trap of not wanting an argument or not admitting there’s a problem. In the beginning, with Silk, I made excuses for her and for myself. It was only when I accepted what was wrong and worked it out with my horse that I was able to lose that nagging feeling of dread and anxiety. The only time I feel that way now is when I’m about to brown a piece of bread.

So, maybe my horses do have something to teach me about dealing with toasters.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Beginning

For me, the week after Labor Day always marks the true beginning of a new year. As a student, it brought the start of a new school year. When I lived in New York City, everything seemed exciting and electrified in September. There were new ideas and new films and new projects flying around. It always amazes me that even the weather comes alive overnight, with a crispness and a welcome cooling that allows you to try out the new sweater or jacket you just bought.

This morning, I can see that the horses feel the difference too. They are frisky in the corral, jockeying at the gate for first position as they go into the pasture. When they are set free, they race around in circles, chasing each other and kicking up their heels. I know we’re in for more hot weather and Indian summer, but it’s the beginning of my favorite season.

This year, somehow, it’s strange that autumn doesn’t have the joy that it usually does for me. There’s relief for having made it through August, which was a difficult month. But I’m also waiting for news on several important, anxiety-making projects, and it’s hard to be patient. I’ve turned my attention to the horses while I wait. Even there, I’m monitoring Siete’s back hooves for signs of an abscess. Her soreness comes and goes, so I’m worrying that we might be starting our traditional bout with Lyme Disease. It’s happened at this time of year ever since we’ve moved here. So, September is arriving with uncertainty, not its usual exuberance.

It's led me to think about how carefully one must fan the flames of hope or they will just disappear. I also realize that I rarely focus on the decaying that comes with the end of summer. I’ve been noticing more recently the flowers that are dying and the leaves that already have begun to fall. The tomato season was a bust here this year, with a blight taking most of the bounty from my neighbors’ gardens. So, it feels like special attention must be given to finding the bright side of things.

I’ve been telling Silk and Siete all the good stuff we have to look forward to in the coming weeks. There will be lots of delicious apples. The trails become more accessible as the foliage disappears. We won’t need fly spray, and Silk’s itchiness will be gone. There will be pumpkins and hayrides, and my daughter and her friends are making a big scarecrow for a charity auction. The prediction is that the leaves will put on an extra special burst of color with all the rain we’ve had. So, for now, I’m going to let go of what I can’t control and just try to enjoy the sight of two beautiful red horses playing in the cool morning mist.