Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bridge over Troubled Waters....

My mind began wondering off the moment I laid eyes on this bridge for the first time that wet & rainy morning we rode. Even now as I write when I look at this picture it represents so many things in my life right now. This side earth-that side heaven. This side fear-that side Victory over it.This side unsure-that side knowing.
Last week Judy and I got a little lost doing some trail blazing. Were still getting to know the woods across from where we board. It's gotta be hundreds of acres as far as I can tell. The woods & everything in it were soaked to the core. When we got to the second tier of the hill I saw this beautiful bridge at the top. I always get excited when I see new challenges for Bubba & I to try. I was sizing up the bridge. I was thinking it looked rather new and definitely strong enough to hold the weight of a car so I figured my horse & I should be just fine but to be sure I got off Bubba and made him stand while I walked up on the bridge to check it out..I got back on Bubba and took a deep breath and in my efforts to pump myself up to go across Judy and Gomer just walked by us politely and up and over they went lol..I didn't say I was the most brave woman in the world but I'll try just about anyone once !!! Sometimes when facing something new, my mind quickly runs many scenarios. Like for instance, what happens if my horse panics in the middle of the bridge? Though the floor seems strong enough how about the rails? What if the sounds his hooves make going across scare him..What if the bridge isn't strong enough? What if we don't make it lol. There's only a few choices..You can turn around and go back the way you came. You can find an alternate route (there was none in this case lol) or You can cowgirl up and go across.

Just as Bubba and I walked up the first ramp part of the bridge, Judy and Gomer were going down off the last ramp part off bridge. I had to stop Bubba in the middle of the bridge because I could see & hear Gomers shoes sliding down across the wet wood & I thought thank God this bridge isn't any longer or more steep. Now this would be nothing to worry about if the bridge was dry but I wanted to be careful. If Bubba were to get hurt crossing do you think he would be so willing to cross the next bridge we encounter? Probably not..Do you think he might lose a little trust in me to keep him safe? Probably..So I wanted this to end well and safely. Since i was all ready in the middle of the bridge there was no turning back since there were ramps at both ends. Normally on a dry day there would be a little grip, but not today. When Bubba got to the end I made him slow up and I just tried to Hold his head with the reins to give him a little support but Up wasn't where he needed his head..So he basically let me know he needed to lower his head to keep his balance and to keep from slipping & falling. Trust goes both ways..He trusted me to get up on the bridge and now I had to trust him to get us off. He put his nose darn near to the ground and down we slid.. It wasn't the easiest bridge to cross over on horseback but it was however the only way to get to the other side and Bubba did a great job. I was so proud of him..That was definitely carrot worthy & Bubba knew it as he stopped and looked back at me like "well??"hahaha

To be honest that bridge was pretty scary. I had no way of knowing the getting off the bridge would be the hardest & most tricky part. The incredible part was how willing Bubba was to trust me to walk up & on this wooden bridge.There was a time when he had no trust in me & would of just planted his feet and said "No Way" & I had no faith in him or myself & would of said "okay" or found an alternate route. Once we started up the bridge there was a second element. As any trail rider knows, the sound that each of Bubbas steps would make. A lot louder then on solid ground that hollow clipody clop was enough to make him curious and walk very slow. Im glad, I'd rather pick a slow and steady pace then try to fly across it dangerously.  My horse and I are becoming quite the team.

I'm so proud of the both of us and how far we've come with getting to know each other. Bubbas willingness to trust & step up on was huge, But having him walk across and off was a Victory.  It was the back side, coming off the bridge that was a bit nerve wracking for me. I didn't realize wood got so slick when its wet. I was so afraid Bubba was gonna slip and go down on his rump with me on him. Looking back on it I probably should have got off and hand walked him across but he was willing so I chose to ride him and We crossed it together!!! When we reached the last part,he just put his nose real low too the bridge and locked his legs and slid down. I think we both breathed a sigh of relief when we got on solid ground. I'd be lying if I didn't say my heart was pounding a little bit. Once across, I swore, if we ever came to this bridge again I was going to take a picture of it for all of you to see. 

At times when were faced with that bridge in life were just to darn scared to cross it. We might even look for an alternate route around it. We can only see that safe ground is under our feet by staying on this side. Or maybe that bridge represents whats keeping you from getting to the other side. Instead of a means to get there.Then there's the rest of us, because were focused so hard on whats on the other side we begin to doubt we have what it takes mentally,physically or spiritually to get across. There's no way to foresee what the "getting across" will entail, So we tend to want to overlook that major detail & just focus on "this side" or the "other side". 

For most its that first step that's the hardest. For others it's the walk across or that last step from the known into the unknown that is the most scary. Regardless every step of the way takes Guts. Sometimes the other side represents a life different then the one your living now this very moment. Maybe that bridge represents whats keeping you from getting to the other side. Maybe the other side holds a promise that what's breaking our hearts today wont hurt as bad if at all by the time we make it over there. Trying to see the other side from where your standing right now isn't really possible.. It's sorta like blinking your eyes & wishing something came to be or wishing something went away. This is real life and most times wishes aren't granted. So lets muster the courage to take that first step, lets dig down & find the strength we need to walk on.

For me right now,that bridge represents learning to live on without my loved ones here & how someday I'll see them on the other side.. The journey across that bridge is me working through my grief and making my own decisions without parents to fall back on for advice or reassurance. I wish grief was one of those things you could just blink your eyes and make go away. Grief though a painful & sometimes long & difficult process is the result of a great love shared. If only wisdom didn't come at such a cost. Compassion for others can be one of the greatest gifts or lessons you can take from grief to help someone else. Being understood when it hurts brings more comfort then generic words could ever express.

The next time you see a bridge, whether its on some back woods trail or on the way to work..Give your self a little credit for all those you've mustered the courage to cross. Think about the strength & knowledge you've gained during the "crossing over & walking through". Just don't ever let fear keep you from taking that first step. So whether your walking in the valley of the shadow of death or crossing the bridge over troubled waters please remember you do not walk alone. I wish you strength and courage to get to the other side. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Rock of Trust

It was around 10:15 in the morning yesterday when I made the hard left down the long gravel driveway that leads to the Stable. The woods, so dense on both sides of the driveway that it just feels like I've driven to the center of the Allegheny National Forest. Up the driveway on the left, a waving tree branch caught my eye & out walks a very young white tailed doe. Its not often one gets the chance to see these wonderful creatures so up close & personal. I stopped the car & watched her walk into plain view right in front of my car. She bravely stopped to check me out too. As she stared back at me I thought "get your camera" but in my excitement I fumbled to grab it & my movement caused her alarm. Her white tail went straight up as she bounced into the woods to my right. I drove slowly up the driveway while simultaneously dropping the passenger side window. Hoping to catch just one more glimpse of her. A mere 15 feet away, there she paused, next to a Giant Cherry tree. Her tail flapping wildly while looking straight at me. This time I didn't fumble for my camera but chose rather to take it all in and watch her until she bounced out of sight. As I neared the end of the driveway I just couldn't help but smile from ear to ear over the encounter.  

 I got to thinking just how much I love this place. Its private & quiet. Set smack dab in the middle of no where & it's just the kind of serene place to sort through the numerous thoughts & feelings I've accumulated in my head during this journey through loss & finding a way to live again. Since the loss of my big brother & parents, spending time with Bubba has changed from something I had to force myself to do because caring for my sickly parents was a tremendously exhausting and time consuming obligation..on top of my full time day job.Plus it was hard enough to add being a wife or a friend into that mix..there just wasn't any time let alone time for me. 

Now that my day to day doesn't consist of spending every spare minute outside of work devoted to the care of my parents next door, I feel like time & my life are actually my own again.Spending time with Bubba has turned into something I can now relax & enjoy, while walking away refreshed & renewed every time...It makes me feel as though the slate of the past weeks junk has now been wiped clean. I feel as though someone has shaken all the dust from me and put me back on my feet again..Ready & willing to face the weeks challenges with strength because I'm gaining it. Being with Bubba has always helped me to either muster the strength for what needs doin or it gives me that break or peace of mind that I ache for. Having place to forget my troubles for a little while is a tremendous blessing.

I put the car in park,put up the windows, and grabbed all the necessities for the trail ride off the passengers seat. I had chap stick, a pack of cigs, 2 lighters because I always manage to lose one (lol). I had carrots, 2 roast beef & swiss sandwiches, grapes, strawberries & my blackberry. Though the weather promised a Sunny 82 degrees,the skies above were invisible due to the thick laden dark clouds. It threatened rain and had looked that way since I woke earlier that morning around 6:30am. 

Now barely 70 degrees later, the air was still quite damp & chilly from the wee morning downpour. It was smart to layer up with a tank top then t-shirt & finally a big sweatshirt. I was ready for what ever the weather had in store. The real me has recently been enjoying riding Bubba on these gloomy skied days. I'm not sure why? Maybe that's the kinda mood I'm in, maybe its because I truly love the kind of quiet you can only find deep in on the trail. The only sounds are hoofbeats and birds chirping which makes its own rhythmical melody. Plus everything smells so fantastic in the woods after a rain.

Walking down the short paved drive towards the barn I could see which horses were out in the big 10acre pasture. I could also hear that familiar sport news radio echoing in the far back tack room across from Bubbas stall. As I entered the barn I stopped just a second to say Good morning to Judy & rub the neck of her West Virginia Mutt as she calls him..but we all know that's her Gomer(name meaning sign of completion as she corrects me from giggling when i say his name..So i call him Gomey..Hes a large,nearly 16h Kentucky Mountain/Missouri Fox Trotter Gelding who was standing so quietly in the cross-ties being brushed to show ring standards (lol). With the silkiest and most shiny natural coat you ever saw or touched as proof. I listened to the horses chowing down on their morning hay as I walked to the back of the stable towards the second to the last stall on the right. I opened the stall door to my Handsome Boy. He nickered & gave my hand a sniff for treats..."Good Morning Bubba".

We all stopped at the end of the driveway to listen  for cars coming in either direction. When the coast was clear we trotted both boys hurriedly across the road and onto the trail. The trail was a bit muddy and the leaves a bit wet but our boys from the getgo were awesome. 3hours later, after having much luck trail blazing with just a few minor detours & politely trimmed branches, we kinda got stuck in the valley of two ridges on what looked like some sort of deer trail..We tried finding 3 ways out with no success and then Bubba made a hard right like he wanted to go up the mountain side.. For Bubba too want to take the lead and blaze through the unknown will surely get no resistance from me. We agreed and I gave him his head and up the hill he went.I could feel his muscles just digging up the hillside with ease. We reached the top in no time at all and lo and behold what did i see? The trail. What a relief from the previous skinny paths we followed earlier & some stopped us dead because they had thick covering like ceilings,far too low for our horses to try to ride under. Bubba finding a way out & safely leading us out of the woods to that trail at the top was just the coolest thing ever. I know both Judy and I were so proud of him & we both needed a break from the unknown back to the familiar.We  climbed up out of the woods onto that path & decide to go to the right up the trail, instead of left down it. 

Ahead I could see this giant rock just sticking out over the top of the trail ahead. 
It was the most incredible size rock. It had to of stood nearly 20 foot high & was just as long as it was thick. It had wide 2ft layers worn out on the sides, almost as if at one point it had been covered in water where maybe a strong undercurrent for many years might of wore deep grooves in the side. Anyhow that was the thought that went through my mind and as we rounded the trail around the side of this large Rock, to our surprise sat row after row of these old wooden benches..A fire pit placed as the centerpiece.

Judy and I were like  a couple of little kids..We  got off the boys, let them graze around the benches and we sat down to enjoy awesome roast beef sandwiches & fruit..What a perfect place to stop for lunch. It just made the day more beautiful. Rides like this have been so frequent and I'm just so glad I worked with him over the long winter. I watched as Bubba walked in between the rows of wooden benches to munch on the grass around the fire pit..He's getting so brave and I'm so grateful I helped him get there..Just as he has helps me to be brave in facing my fears to get through this journey..Hes trusting me & I'm trusting him and that's definitely earned both ways.