This morning I woke up to a chilly cold — silver frost covering the ground and wonderful penetrating quiet all around me. Even the normally well traveled road in front my house seemed serene. So when I was thumbing through images to use in this blog post this morning, this image struck me. I remembered it from a previous post on this blog, but felt it was worth revisiting — now, months later. It’s funny how themes emerge in your life and how the peaceful morning lead me to reflect on the past few months of my life and this epiphany: Peace is a personal journey as well as a global one.
For awhile now, I’ve been working on just that journey — finding peace within myself, peace with my past and peace with my future. It has at times been anything but serene. I have fought hard against old patterns that serve only to keep my life disrupted and unbalanced — yet are comforting even in their dysfunction. I have struggled to replace them with better habits, refreshed vision and a more holistic approach to my world. There were times the path in front of me almost disappeared — and I’m sure it will fade in and out as it climbs to better views — but I trust that it will lead higher and eventually slope more gently making the going easy instead of tiring and painful.
This image was taken down the road from my house on a beautiful November morning in 2004. I Photoshopped it some — to make it match my memory. These three heifers were simply soaking up the warm ground, ruminating and listening to the rustle of fall leaves … ahhhh, peace.
Synergy — the bonus that is achieved when things work together harmoniously. — Mark Twian
Mark Twain — one wise man and an incredible writer. He had lots of synergy!
In my life, as I age particularly, I find myself seeking synergy more and more. Not that I can’t fight for a good cause — and not that I don’t like a bit of a challenge every now and then — BUT sometimes it’s nice when things work together — easily and with harmony.
When I look at this image I took at a recent cattle branding in Wyoming I am reminded of synergy — and I’m reminded of how much every being in a situation plays into the harmony of an action. Here, horse, human, and bovine all play a roll in creating a balance — in moving from pasture to pen and from pen to working area and back out again. The horse moves about within the herd of cattle, guided by the human, urging them on to a destination (of which they may or may not want to go cooperatively). It is a dance of species — and when you think about the cooperation it takes, it is a truly wondrous thing to behold.
Opportunity’s favorite disguise is trouble. — Frank Tyger
No one can spin undesired behavior (aka “trouble”) better than a horse trainer giving a clinic (well, except maybe a politician backpedaling to cover his tracks). Take what’s going on in this photo for example. You can choose to look at this horse as a bronc and not fit for riding OR you can spin the situation the other way and take this opportunity to allow the horse to figure out that bucking like a psycho is not the right answer. The horse trainer here, Kerry Kuhn, took the latter approach. Another half hour, and he was riding her around (mostly on the horizontal). I’m sure she went on to become a good riding horse because he was smart enough to turn this trouble into an opportunity.
This is one of those reminders from life that what you choose to see changes everything — including your reaction to a situation and the final outcome. I have watched this lesson take place innumerable times as I sat on the edge of a roundpen photographing horsemen as they work with colts.
I honor this lesson by trying to remember it every time I’m presented with a challenge. I won’t say I’m always successful — I am, after all, a work in progress. But the times I’ve been successful, it has paid off and here’s what it has given me: confidence. When I changed my mindset from always looking at a problem as a “trouble” to looking at it as an “opportunity” I found the problem was much easier to solve and that turned into an internal confidence that coaxed “I can’ts” into “I cans.”
If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves. — Thomas Edison
When I look at this photo and read this quote, I have to ask myself when was the last time I did something as brave as ride off on a great big horse with my feet dangling a good 18 inches above my stirrups and nothing but blue sky and open prairie in front of me. It has been a long time since I took a leap of faith that big — or have been willing to take a fall that far down if things came around to it. But that’s the beauty of being a kid: you don’t worry so much about your limitations because nobody has told you what they are yet. It’s a sad state of affairs that anyone, ever, tells you that you can’t do something. But it happens all the time. And we, as human beings, are very susceptible to the suggestion that “it” is not possible or we are not the “one” to do it.
Thankfully, Mr. Edison didn’t fall victim to this mentality. If he had, I would be in bed right now (since it’s 9:25 pm), sleeping in the dark (or probably trying to read by candlelight) and so would you!
So remember Mr. Edison, this quote and the little cowgirl on the great big horse the next time you’re faced with something you’re not sure you’re “capable” of … remember you have the power to astound yourself.
Read more about Thomas Edison here: http://www.thomasedison.com/biography.html
The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. — Dolly Parton
Dolly has long been one of my favorite celebrities because of her unique personality and candor. This quote is typical of one of her “tell it like it is” expressions that rings so true. Today this sentiment has hit me on several levels.
First, it has rained most of the day. The house has been dark and cold and I’ve been feeling less than creative. More headachey than happy, more sleepy than energetic … but now, golden light is filling the window outside my office and the light behind the clouds is making them look enticing to my photographer’s eye. When I finish this post, I will head out the door to feed the horses and I promise to enjoy whatever Mother Nature has set up in the sky above.
Another current of thought that has run through my mind all day is the death of my father. He passed on this day 21 years ago. In some ways it feels like yesterday. In some ways it feels like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve seen him. And, oh God, how I miss him and my mother. After I feed the horses, I will take the short walk out across the pump pond dam to the small cemetery on our ranch and tell his headstone how much I miss the man it represents.
Finally, the past year has been very difficult for me in business and personally. I have had many changes — old relationships have fallen away or recreated themselves in new ways; old friendships have found new life; and new relationships have built themselves into my world — and I feel blessed for all the promise that is on the horizon. Today, I had a conference call to discuss many of the positive changes coming my way and now I feel like the sun is spinning my rainbow in the sky and soon bright multicolored light will guide the way to prosperity. All is well under the rainbow. 🙂
The photo above was taken in New Mexico in 2009.
All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers is contained in the dog. — Kafka
This image was taken last weekend (3/31) at the dog shelter in KCMO. I was there photographing the matches during the Mega Match-a-Thon. During the event 700 plus animals from three different participating KC area shelters found families and are (hopefully) sleeping comfortable in their new homes as I write this tonight.
The dog in the photo, named Beaumont, was not adopted. He is still at KC Pet Project.
Beaumont has three strikes against him in finding his family. First he’s a senior dog. His gray muzzle which to me embodies the quote I chose to go with this photo, works against him. So many people want a puppy or a young dog — and who can blame them (and there are so many that need homes). Second, he’s heartworm positive. That means a vet bill, vet visits and more intensive care than a dog without heartworms. Lastly, he’s a black dog. Black dogs routinely get overlooked in the dark environment of the kennel. This is the hard reality of Beaumont’s situation.
What Beaumont has in his favor, however, are a bunch of people who really care about dogs (and cats and all animals) in general and him specifically. He has already won over several volunteers and staff members at the shelter. He has worked his way into their hearts, and I know that this incredible network of animal lovers will do everything in their power to find him a place to live out his senior years — and the payoff to wherever he goes will be the enrichment he will give to those who spend those last few years enjoying his company (and learning all that knowledge that is contained within all that is his dogness).
If you’d like to adopt a dog, and live in the KC area (or heck, anywhere for that matter) visit: http://www.kcpetproject.org
Sorry I’ve been away for awhile! 🙂
This image is of Charlie Trayer and was taken on the Cottonwood Ranch near Emporia, Kansas. It was one of the few shoots I’ve done on slide film and had digital not come a long, I probably would have switched all my shooting over to slides. I love the feel of the vivid colors and natural saturation slide film gives.
The dog in this photo — and you may have to look a little to find him — is named Smoke. He was Charlie’s right hand man at this time and the two of them could handle any cattle task that presented itself. Watching a good cowdog work is truly amazing — and what they do completely embodies the quote that goes with this photo — they do their job for the love of the work, not because it will gain them a reward. There’s a lot to be learned in this concept and if we’d only apply it to our human lives, think of all that we could accomplish.
Anybody who lives around dogs and horses (well, animals in general) will tell you they (the animals) are their greatest teachers. I wholeheartedly agree. Watching a cowdog love his job — revel in it, live for it — can teach us mere humans how to open our hearts to the passion of the world around us.