Weekend Coffee Share – Empowering Zen Strategies, That Sprinkles Every Day Bliss Over Your Life

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This is Shasta Dam, with Mt.Shasta in the background. We hiked the Upper Sacramento Ditch Trail last weekend, and the trail head is just behind the parking lot of the dam. It’s gorgeous out there. I love coming to the dam on a regular basis, mostly to watch the ospreys, that likes to fish there. I saw at least 20 birds of prey there last weekend. Hiking in magically beautiful places is one of my most effective strategies for a blissful zen life.

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Imagine. The power is yours. You can choose. You have a full tank of gas. Where are you going? Are you taking a scenic dirt road? Or the highway, to get where you want to go fast? This morning while I was sipping my first cup of the black magical brew, I thought about how I own the power. How I can make a choice every morning. Despite responsibilities, and personal challenges, we all have them, it is possible to choose amazing. It’s possible to choose a blissful day, every day. Even when a day doesn’t start out feeling awesomely amazing. Naturally a great cup of coffee helps a lot too 😉 How do you like yours? Perfect. 

While sipping my second cup of that magic brew, I thought about a horse trainer/mentor I worked with for several years. She recently passed away. She was a wise woman. A very wise woman. Completely, totally no-nonsense. She kicked my *ss right after my divorce. What she said made me so mad at first, but it was the best advice I ever got. As I was feeling sorry for myself one morning, she simply said; What are you choosing to do about it? Then she left the room. It took a while for it to sink in, but it changed my life. I could actually choose how to react to a situation that seemed totally unfair, and undeserved. 

Later on we had a few more conversations about the subject. She’d let me borrow some empowering books, and of course we worked with my horse. She was filming horsemanship videos of her methods (inspired by Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance, and some Pat Parelli.) My horse was in several of the videos, so we spent a lot of time together. Which I’m very grateful for. I learned a lot. In one of the books she gave me I found this inspirational quote:

Our Outer world reflects our inner commitments. If we want to know what we’re really committed to, all we have to do is look at our lives. We are, whether we are aware of it or not, always creating exactly what we are most committed to.

The choices we make are ALWAYS in alignment with our deepest commitments.

By examining what we have and what we don’t have.. we are able to uncover and see what we are TRULY committed to. – Debbie Ford

Those words became a guiding light. I started to make a list of things that meant the most to me, and compared it to what my life looked like at the time. My list did not have a whole lot to do with reality back then. I decided to do something about it. I still revisit my list once a month, and evaluate if the things on my list still are important to me, if I need to add, or withdraw things on the list. ..and then I compare the list to my reality. (It’s crucially important to be honest with yourself while doing this.) I quickly discovered that the more my list and my reality are in harmony with each other, the happier I am. I believe that the most important thing in the world is to be kind and compassionate to others, follow the golden rule, and treat them like you would like to be treated. That means that I need to treat myself right as well. Maybe I’m only talking to myself, but I think it’s a thousand times easier to be generous and kind, when I feel good. The things on my list keeps me grounded, and balanced. The list is meant to include things/activities that are a priority, and that you do on a regular (preferably daily/weekly) basis. Are you tempted to make a list? It sure does make it easier to choose amazing. 

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This is what my garden looks like now. I’ve divided my garden into two separate rooms. One for traditional gardening in the ground, organic of course. The second room is the home of my container garden. I’m planning on getting a greenhouse for my container fruit trees this fall. Spending time in my garden is one of the things I love the most. Definitely helps to keep me grounded.

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I’m 5’10, and the highest corn, growing in the best part of my garden, is as tall as I am.

 

These are some of my feel-good priorities:

  • Time with my daughter, indulging in any activity she is interested in at the moment. 
  • My horses, and my dog.
  • My garden.
  • Learning new things related to my vision. Most often related to gardening/homesteading/parenting/horses/photography.
  • Reading for fun.
  • Hiking.
  • Photography.
  • Road trips.
  • Exploring old towns.
  • Meditation.
  • Enough sleep.
  • Healthy, organic, (preferably homegrown) homemade food.  
  • Blogging.

At the moment I feel that there is a balance, and that I have made room for these important feel-good priorities on my list. They are a part of my daily, or weekly schedule. I am happy, and I know that to stay happy I need to meditate over all the things I have to be  grateful for in my life. I need to do this at least every morning. This strategy works for me. It makes me feel empowered, to choose these things that I know makes me feel good. It makes me feel strong and happy. I also know that if I get sloppy with my habits, I don’t feel very good. If I don’t go on at least one longer hike every week, I get tired. If I don’t listen to my daughter’s ideas, and indulge in something she’s interested in, I miss out. My horses makes me breath deeper, and stay in the moment. They are both doing fantastic BTW. I rode Fancy in my new dressage saddle for the first time this week, and it was a blast. I hear Ghost calling for me right now. It’s 6am, and he’s expecting his breakfast, and some grooming. (..I’ll better hurry up.) My dog, well, she’s the most loyal friend I have. My garden helps me eat healthy, and even get some exercise. I often meditate, and read in my garden. It’s peaceful. I practice my photography every day, while doing the activities I love. Do you need a refill on that coffee?

Sometimes I ask people I meet, friends, and acquaintances, about what makes them happy. Some have lots to say, which makes me happy. Others become very quiet. So tell me now, what makes you happy? What’s on your feel-good priority list? Any fun plans for the weekend? Imagine. The power is yours. You can choose. You have a full tank of gas. Where are you going?

Love,

Ms Zen

Ps. I forgot to mention I started a new part-time job last weekend, taking care of some horses at a nearby estate. I’ve been going there after finishing my own morning chores, every morning this week, and absolutely love it. The horses are well mannered. The place is gorgeous, and well kept. The owner is really nice. It doesn’t feel like work. 

Weekend Coffee Share

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I can’t believe it’s already the weekend. This week have gone by faster than fast. How was yours? Please have some coffee with me, and tell me all about it!

I started out Monday being slightly tired, after a fun, action filled weekend at the rodeo. I took it a  little easy (for me,) on Monday (my friend E tells me that my life is always like boot camp, compared to hers.) I had to spend quiet some time to clean up space on my computer, to be able to download all the photos I took at the rodeo. I believe this is my favorite.

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I’m not done editing the photos from the rodeo yet. I’ll do a little at a time, and share them here as I go.

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My daughter was mesmerized by the events most of the time, but still, I think this jumping thing she did after everything was over, was her absolute favorite.

On Tuesday afternoon I went to see a friend of mine that lives a couple hours north of me, in Weed (CA.) I really enjoyed the drive. I drove over Shasta Lake, passed by Castle Crags, and Mt.Shasta to get to her. Seeing all that beauty up close makes me think of Tim McGrath’s song Humble and kind. Natures beauty does something to my soul, every time. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen a beautiful place, it’s almost likes it grows a little every time, even if it took my breath away the first time. There is still some snow on Mt.Shasta, but the surroundings are green. 

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We’ve been making our new place a little more ours this week, both on the inside and the outside. I pretty much been dividing my time this week between my daughter’s school work, the horses, and the new place. It’s been a great week, with pleasant weather in the 75-85’s, a little hotter a couple afternoons. We’re supposed to have rain for three days now, which I welcome with open arms. I bet my garden are going to LOVE that. 

This is the humble beginning of my annual garden.

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Squash

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Cherry Tomatoes

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Spinach

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Garlic

My daughter have shown an interest in growing corn, for a couple years. It’s something she mentions on, and off. When I planned my garden this year, I hadn’t heard it for a while, so I did not make any plans for it. This week she’s been talking about it every day. Maybe because we’ve been working in the garden more. So we decided upon a place where she could grow a couple rows of corn. I prepared the spot yesterday. It’s an extension of the garden we’ve already made. I watered the ground there to make it softer, dug it out, filled it with a layer of old horse manure, another layer of tree shavings mixed with goat/sheep manure, and a top layer with soil from my compost, before planting the corn. I hope it will do the trick. It’s the firs time I attempt to grown corn, so that’s a little exciting. I admit that I could of done more research. I am usually better at researching everything I plan to grow, before planting. I didn’t this time. I wanted to get it in the ground before the rain. Rain will be unusual for us from now on, and I wanted to take maximum advantage of it.

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Our tiny corn field. I also planted some cucumbers right next to the fence. 

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The tiny cornfield, in front of the fenced in garden area. In the back of the garden is my container garden, currently consisting of; 4 pomegranate trees, lavender, cilantro, oregano, and basil. I just planted the kitchen herbs from seeds. I’m planning on adding both more fruit trees, and more herbs, to my container garden throughout the season. My container gardens have a tendency to get HUGE. I sold my whole container garden by the end of last season. I’m a little bit wiser, and know a little more about what I want in my garden now. It’s exciting to build it up again. I believe that container gardening, is something that’s just going to get bigger and bigger, as more people see the advantage of growing their own food, and how simple it can be.

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FTB Fancy Tradition

Ghost and Fancy, are enjoying their days in the new pasture. They are both looking great right now, and are in good spirits, showing more energy and Joie De Vivre than before. I work with each of them a couple times a day, about 15-30 min at a time. Depending on what we do.

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Ghost is in a period of processing things, and have asked me to slow down a little with introducing new things. I try to listen. He needs more time to feel completely comfortable with ropes, that’s a thing we’ve been working on a lot, with good progress, but he still needs time. He have no problem having my hands (he loves being touched and often begs me to just stand with him,) or my weight anywhere on him, but man made materials are scary. He had a little episode yesterday morning. I had just finished grooming him, and was going to play with him at liberty (without any equipment on.) He loves playing at liberty, and is very tuned in to me. Sometimes I think he tells me that he would love to be a trick horse. Anyways, before taking the halter off, I purposely let the lead rope slide over his back. He knows that I’m about to take the halter off, and knows that he have the lead rope attached to him. No surprises. He is usually cool with the rope sliding over his body. I’ve done it a lot, to desensitize him to this most scary object, that certainly could eat him..but yesterday he completely fell apart, and jumped up in the air, crashed into the round-pen, and started to run around like crazy. He is a very sensitive horse, and have days like this. He had very minimum interaction with people for the first (almost) 4 years of his life. Until January this year, when I bought him. Even though I feel terrible when he have episodes like this, it clearly tells me that his mind is not ready to proceed our training. We need to stay in the stage we are longer. That is OK. I’m in no rush, as long as we move in the right direction. If I feel that I can’t connect with him, it would be different, I would look for someone who could, but I feel that we do connect.

He ran around with the rope hanging over his back, dragging on the ground. He is responsive to my directions, even though he was freaked out, he respectfully changes direction when asked. Taking control over a horse’s hooves, by frequently changing direction is the easiest way to gain control over a situation. When this happens, I start to exaggerate breathing deep and slow, until he follows my lead. After he calmed down yesterday, we took a break, doing nothing together. He responds very well to this form of reward. Initially when he starts to relax, after a scary episode, he isn’t ready to be touched yet. After doing nothing together for a few minutes, I left him alone in the round-pen. To give him an opportunity to digest things. I came back ten minutes later, took the halter of, and caressed his whole body, inside his mouth, in his ears, on his legs, everywhere. It’s to make him feel my love, and also to tell him that it is OK, that I will always take care of things in a safe way, and listen to him, but he has to trust me. After that I opened the gate to the round-pen, and took him for a walk on the property, without a halter. He follows me with his head on my shoulder. When I stop after a few minutes, and sit down on the ground, he licks my right cheek. That horse has the biggest heart. Just being with him teaches me a lot. 

Fancy on the other hand is getting really comfortable with her new life. She is thriving. I’ve cleaned her up, and given her a job. My daughter rides her 15 min every day. Fancy still need to gain more weight, and get stronger, but light exercise (that will increase with her getting stronger,) is helping her to get stronger faster. She is so proud to have a job, and she takes excellent care of my daughter. My daughter have never ridden a horse as big as Fancy, and is not 100% comfortable with her height yet. My daughter knows how to ride by herself, but for now, she wants to be lead around. That’s OK. She insists that Fancy is her horse, and that she is going to ride her every day. My daughter is proud of herself for riding a big horse, despite her fear of height. I love seeing her conquer her fears, and grow in the process. It is a win/win for everyone. Fancy feels important, and is gaining health by the day. Ghost watches us with huge eyes from the other side of the fence. It’s very obvious that Fancy enjoys having my daughter on her back (photo here,) and I believe he understands that. I feel at peace, and very grateful.

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Thank you for having coffee with me. I really enjoyed your company. How is spring in your area? Is everything green? Are you enjoying having coffee on the porch this weekend? Tell me about it in a comment!

Love,

Ms Zen

 

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Story 2 – A Snow Saga

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A few months ago, I search for new hiking trails to explore. I found Castle Lake Trail, near Dunsmuir (CA.) It looked very interested. I hiked it, and a nearby adjoining trail up to another lake, Heart Lake. I found the nature to be extraordinary beautiful, and I’ve been returning at least once a month to this amazing trail. I’ve seen some snow on the trail before, but nothing like last weekend!

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It’s a couple miles uphill to get to Heart Lake, from the parking lot at Castle Lake. The hike is very rocky, when it’s not snow on the trail. This weekend however the snow reached my thighs most of the time. On some places the snow was hard, and I could walk on top of it, but on many places I had to walk through the snow. It was slightly exhausting, but well worth it! My daughter was light enough to not sink, and she had a blast. We still had to stop a few times on the way up. The hike is rated as moderate, and it is a little strenuous for a five year old to hike up. Totally doable though. We took the time we needed, and enjoyed ourselves, and the view.

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Just before reaching Heart Lake, there’s a big rock formation to your right. The local calls it Castle Rock. As we climbed up on it, this was the view that greeted us. The white snow-covered mountain in the background is our volcano, Mt Shasta. Isn’t it gorgeous? I LOVE all the untouched snow.

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This is the view from the top of Castle Rock, with a frozen Castle Lake down to the left, and Mt Shasta in the clouds to the right. Below is the exact same view, taken during a hike in November last year. (Both are available as prints in my gallery.)

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I can’t decide which scenery I find the most beautiful, with, or without the snow. I recently read a poll in an online outdoor magazine, that Siskiyou County, where this amazing hike is located, is rated top ten among the most desirable places to live for outdoor enthusiasts. Which is kind of interesting, since the county isn’t very populated. It has many remote places that rarely see people, and the towns are small towns. Maybe it’s  on peoples wish lists, but to actually live there isn’t doable for most people (jobs etc.) ? I don’t live there, but would definitely consider it, if I could make a living there year round. It doesn’t get too hot in the summers, and not too cold in the winters.

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My dog loves this hike. On the upper part of the trail the visibility is good, above the tree line, and I can usually let her off leash, which she loves. Near the trail head I always have her on leash.

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Another shot of her enjoying some off leash time. Heart Lake is on the left side in this photo, but unless you know it is a lake there, you couldn’t see it. The lake is completely frozen, and covered with a thick layer of snow. Heart Lake is located in a little “mini valley”. The snow builds up fast there, in between Castle Rock, and the ridge on the other side. The two previous times I did this hike, people were ice skating on Heart Lake. It would not of been possible to ice skate there now.

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I very much prefer snow in the winter, compared to the endless rain in the valley. It’s a great blessing to be able to enjoy the mountains around us in the weekends. The fresh mountain air, and the light does so much to revitalize my spirit. It also feels like I share a piece of my home with my daughter, even though “my home” was a mountain very far away from this one. Strangely enough, when you grew up in the mountains, all mountains sort of feels like home.

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I think this photo, and the one in black and white of my daughter, is my two favorites from last weekend. Ooo, I almost forgot! One of the most memorable thing was sliding our way down the mountain, on the way back. My daughter and I “belly-slide” (my daughter’s expression,) down. We didn’t have a sled with us, but our winter clothes did the trick. I hope you enjoyed my Winter-Saga-Story. I enjoyed sharing it with you!

 

Love,

Ms Zen