The theme of this week’s photo challenge is very appealing to me. When I was younger, and just lost my mom to her battle with cancer, I imagined myself looking at the world through a window. I did this little mind game for several years, as a part of my survival mechanism. When I finally learned to live in the real world again, it became critically important for me to live mindfully in the moment. In this process, first while distancing myself to the world, and later after making a decision to live mindfully, I started to notice more and more details. It enriched my life in a thousand different ways. It absolutely helped me to be more content, and grateful for what I have. It helped me to develop a more patient side, but also to not settle. My peace of mind had a high price, and I will not sell it, or trade it.

When I wear my snowboard glasses, I often think of the looking out through the window phase of my life. Partly because it feels like you’re looking out through a window, and partly because I did hundreds of days of snowboarding during that phase of my life. The photo is from Boreal, Lake Tahoe, last winter.

On a completely different note, now when I have a little piece of land, I’ve been starting to nurture the thought of having a horse of my own in my life. I actually looked at one yesterday. It was not the one. I came there with higher expectations than usual. Talking to the owner made me believe that he actually knew what he was doing. He was the one that had trained the horse himself. When I got there, it turned out that yes he knew about some techniques, basic Parelli techniques. He had obviously used them a lot, the horse absolutely hated it. Or, should I say, the horse strongly disliked his use of the techniques. (I like Parelli, and think very highly of him. I often use his games when I play with horses. The way I see it, Parelli is very much about mindfulness.) In this case there was no feel of the horse’s response. I started to get a bad feeling from the moment he put the halter on, and the horse turned her head away. Not liking the interaction at all. She even showed her teeth at several occasions, during the short demonstration. Her lips was constantly very tense. It was a very unhappy horse. I tried to be polite when I told the man that it wasn’t the horse I was looking for. (He was a very kind man, but not so experienced with horses. Even though he thought so.) I felt bad when I drove home…and then the engine heat light came on, on my car. I had to stop for a while by the side of the road. There was no cooling fluid, which was very weird, since I had an oil change, and topped of all the fluid the day before. I got home, but definitely need to have a mechanic check things out. An interesting day indeed. It ended in the best possible way with a mini photo shoot with one of my friend’s daughters and their horses. We had a great time, and the photos turned out beautifully, if I may say so. I hope you’re having an awesome weekend!


Ms Zen




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A few more shots from my trip to the desert last weekend.

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The high desert is a most interesting place. I find it very inviting, but at the same time it’s extremely harsh. It’s like a magnet drawing me to the sea of sage brush. I believe it’s the scents that attracts me the most. I devour that scent every chance I get. It’s almost intoxicating.

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I thought the desert photos was a good choice for his week’s photo challenge; Layered.

This week, share with us a layered image of your own. The topic is wide open, as long as you focus on the interplay of depth, density, and texture (or just choose one of these elements if you’d like). Strata of clouds, a shirt collar peeking through a sweater, a cross-section of an onion: you can keep your interpretation as literal or as figurative as you wish.

I look forward to exploring this topic through your photos!



Ms Zen


The Wild Stallion

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One of my absolute favorite things to do, that keeps me grounded, and sane, is to watch horses be horses. I particularly enjoy observing wild mustangs. There’s a few bands of horses in my neighboring state Nevada, that I try to check in on a couple times a year. Naturally I don’t always find them, horses move around a lot, up to 50 miles a day.

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Some bands (family group of horses,) live closer to civilization and are easier to find. (As much as I enjoy seeing them, I wish that they were further away, but that’s a story for another day.) The pinto stallion in the two photos above live very close to the city of Reno. Sometimes he’s a little higher up in the hills, but sometimes he wander very close to the houses in the suburbs of Reno. I took the photos above yesterday.

I’ve been following this stallions adventure for five years. The first time I saw him, I was with some friends in a vehicle, he was prancing around with another young stallion in the middle of the road. As he grew older he learned to stay away from the roads, (at least I hope so.)

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This photo is from December 2014. I did see him last year as well, but he was injured then, and seem to be agitated. I always stay on a respectful distance, and only take pictures with a telephoto lens. However, last year, I choose to not even do that.

Of course he noticed me before I noticed him yesterday. When I did see him, he was looking straight at me. His eyes were soft, and I swear he recognizes me by now. This is a very intelligent horse. He is a master of building friendships with other horses, not something stallions are known for. The horse in the first photos is another stallion, and they have been friends for years. When their friendship started the pinto stallion was the protector. When the pinto stallion got injured last year, the chestnut stallion never left his side. I saw them several times during this period, and he was never more than a few feet away from his friends. Horses are very loyal.


I took this photo 4 years ago. I have it as a canvas on my wall. Here he was a young, rather hostile, insecure, but very good looking stallion. Dangerous to even be within a few hundred feet of. Can you see the tense wrinkles in the corner of his mouth? Seeing this beautiful horse grow from a young stallion, to a mature horse, still wild and free, is something that gives me extreme pleasure.

Watching wild horses is one of the most intense experiences in mindfulness one can have. Your mind have to be completely still. I want to have room in my life for this kind of experiences. It means something to me. I hope you enjoyed the experience as well.

The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact 
with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom.

~ Sharon Ralls Lemon



Ms Zen


© Copyright 2017 NorCal Zen. All Rights Reserved. If you’re interested in prints of a photo use the contact forum in the top menu, and I’ll be very happy to help you. Regular photo prints, and canvas prints are available.