May Highlights


Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is on Zimbio, and it seems that articles or posts that mention Exxon show up in his account. Imagine my surprise to see that More Doo Doo Hits the Fan, where I bash Exxon mercilessly, shows up in his news feed. I wonder if he thinks that's good PR for his company; not that it matters any to his checkbook.

May 2 Tornado

The beginning of the month saw yet another round of deadly, destructive tornadoes in Arkansas. My last assignment with the newspaper was to cover a little town called Carlisle for that weekend. Tornadoes strike Arkansas Again, Tornado aftermath: cleanup and Tornado Aftermath: Finding the Path Again walk you through the devestation with photos.

Sucker Punched

Let the Bumps Knock You Off the Path and Stay Out of My Underwear will give you a good idea of how I approached my latest round of challenges in my personal life. I'm so glad I'm a positive person.


NCAApHC's May 10 horse show was both chaotic and fun. I announced during the second half of the show, and was able to meet and talk with quite a few people. The next weekend, we had the pleasure of a free reining clinic that had all that was needed to get a Well Trained Horse.

Helping Hand

The news was filled with more disasters, unimaginable pandemonium, on top of the increasing struggle to weather gas and food prices. That news, those photos make us all feel bad, and we want to reach out and help in a good, effective way. There is no doubt that you can do much more with someone walking with you as you attempt to understand how so much can go so wrong.

A Bumpy Path gets a Facelift

I hadn't realized what a huge thing blogging was until this month. My eyes were opened up quite a bit to a different perspective. I redid the 'look' of the blog and added in some spiffy features to make it come together beyond the basic template Blogger provides. This includes stepping outside my usual box to begin promoting the blog, which in turn, gives more purpose and value to what I write. Take a look at my list of Interesting Blogs at the bottom of every page and visit these exceptional blogs. When people leave comments, their name is also a link to their blog. Give a look-see and you'll see what I mean about the large world of blogging.

Thanks for reading!


Notes on Changes

"The voices in your head can be sending you conflicting messages today," started my horoscope for today. Great. When did I become clinically schizophrenic? I assure you, any and all voices in my head are my own.

The last few weeks, I've been working on my blog's layout and features. I hope you like it. It's not something I'm completely comfortable with, but one of the things I added was Entrecard, and it has tripled the number of people visiting here. You'll notice more great comments now, and please, check out their blogs by clicking on commenter names and the little Entrecard in the sidebar. Lots of great reading out there!

I've noticed that my blog will show for people searching for "define positive change." I have my own ideas about that, and I've written them up on my About page. Are those the things you see as evidence of positive change? What is positive change to you?

In three days, gas prices jumped thirty cents a gallon! $20 will get me a quarter tank of gas is all. I'm already a homebody, and now I'll be leaving the house even less often. A news headline yesterday said that employees are going down to a 4 day workweek to save gas. Oh, be careful! I can see that as an excuse for employers to consider you less than full time and cut your benefits.

On that note, I really do work hard at keeping my self talk positive. The benefits to doing so, staying positive, are a thousand-fold. How you think and feel inside is reflected on the outside, so not only are you more confident, you appear more confident and capable to others, and it spreads. As tough as times are, there's no sense adding to it by being negative and miserable too.

I drove down to Little Rock yesterday and noticed that there were fewer cars on the highways and streets. It made the trip more enjoyable, but sad too. It is no longer a bustling capital city. There's not a lot of foot traffic usually anyway, so the lack of cars on the streets gave it a ghost town feel. It's the first time I've seen glaringly obvious effects of the gas prices and the economy.

In the news: More soldiers are diagnosed PTSD and more have committed suicide. No help yet for the Myanmar cyclone victims. China is still struggling to save people from that massive earthquake and is now threatening to publicly humiliate the countries who promised aid and didn't come through. An earthquake in Iceland and India, fires and hurricanes galore. And the ever continuing sagas of our comical political process and the angst in the Middle East.

How far of a leap in logic would it be to say that the Earth is bucking like a wild bronc in response to humanity's stupidity? Think about it. The Earth and its people are one. If one is out of balance, so is the other.


Saying Thank You Out Loud

I hate to shop for clothes. I just don't like it. Everything on the racks look the same and nothing looks like it's made for a real person to wear, especially one with more curves and rolls than the eating disordered models in magazines. I hate spending the money on clothes. No, I wouldn't rather be naked; I'm just more comfortable in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. And, I won't try clothes on. I go for the generic sizing or one-size-fits-all kind of thing.

But, today, I had to shop for clothes. I have two interviews coming up that are important, and I have to present myself in a favorable way. I have to do well in that 'first impression' part of things.

So, I headed on out to the only department store in town. I wandered around, lost as usual in that particular store, and finally stumbled into the right department. I went from rack to rack and back again, going in circles, finding nothing. A woman looks at me and said, "Can I help you find anything?"

"Sure! I have an interview tomorrow, and I don't know how to dress!" She looked me up and down with a glint in her eye. I expected the same remark she gave: "Well, you're dressed now!" Ah, a like-minded person.

After a few questions about the interviews, she heads out to all the racks of clothes with a definite idea in her head of what would be suitable for me to wear. I was just so relieved to have found someone to tell me what I should wear that it took a few minutes for me to realize that she was looking and finding exactly the things I immediately liked. Why can't I find those things when I shop myself?

Now I'm armed with a nice suit, very nice suit. And, she made me try it on. She didn't want me to wake up tomorrow morning, put the clothes on and find that nothing fit. That would be a disaster, she tells me. So, I did, and yep, it fit perfectly!

I came out of the dressing room all grins, and decided I'd better invest in a pair of shoes too. So, she walks me there, talking all the while. Turns out she is also a counselor, only working at the store to be doing something, anything, while waiting for the release to return to her job. We talked and talked, and when we got over to the shoe department, she helped me pick out shoes too.

In all my life, I have never had this great of a shopping experience. And, for once, I came out of a store with exactly what I wanted and needed.

To this lady, I want to say, "thank you," and yes, I will come back in to let you know how the interviews went!


Find Your Path

It's no surprise that we all turn into blubbering fools when we're around babies. Well, the ones that aren't crying for some unknown reason. Right? As if by instinct, one of the first things we 'play' with an infant is Peek-a-Boo. There is something about that pure, joyous sound that makes us even more silly as we try to keep that musical laughter going for as long as possible.

Why is that? We are all born with that purity, that boundless joy, as evidenced by the baby's laugh. We miss it. We lost it somewhere along the way. Surprisingly, few people seem to think it is worth finding again. We were born with it and it's in there somewhere, yet it remains lost. But, why?

As the infant learns to interpret and respond to sensory input, everything is new and a tremendous leap ahead in terms of growth and development. It is raw, concrete data that sets off physical and emotional responses. It is this concrete, what-you-see-is-what-you-get interpretation that will set some infants off into a terrified scream the first time you try Peek-a-Boo. Even the first "boo" will scare those that weren't concerned with the initial disappearance. Then, the adrenaline rush becomes the cause for the glee and laughter once the baby learns that it is just a game. Each infant is different, but each is reacting to the concrete: you disappeared, you came back sooner or later with a "boo" to heighten the surprise. It's so fun!

Jump ahead 5 or so years, and though Peek-a-Boo is no longer played, concrete thinking continues all the way up to around 12 years old. Parents take their kids to church to "pray" and learn about God. To a concrete thinker, all that is understood is that this God will punish you if you are bad, you learn from your parents when you are bad, so you get a double whammy. Not only are your parents mad at you, but God is too. To punish you, God must be some big, bad person to fear more than anything else because your parents fear him too. You start noticing how many other people must have been bad too by the looks of them. The fear of God is solidly implanted.

Rebellious, abstract, independent teen years come and take that child away from church and religion to be replaced by the importance of peers. But, the initial interpretation of God as a big, bad meany remains. God is left to be thought of as an anthropomorphized old man with long, white hair and a beard sitting up there. The infant's purity and joy is buried deeply now.

God is an abstract, not a concrete person, you suddenly realize. You have to dig deeper than all you learned, you have to get past all the concrete deductions in order to intuitively understand the abstract. That abstract is whatever each and every one of us interprets and can be no other way.

If you choose to find guidance in reaching your understanding of God, no matter if it is through a religion, reading or talking with others, the only one that can decide and know what is the truth is you. No one way of thinking, no religion, no teaching is better than any other. No one's interpretation is more right than anyone else's. They are all a piece of the same pie. It may be that you find one that rings most true for you, and that helps you solidify your conceptualization of the ultimate abstract. That is your path and your right.

Some become uneasy, even fearful at the prospect of deciding to dig deep within themselves to think through this abstract. Placing the belief within, inside oneself, outside the symbolism and ritual of a group religion means that the concept of God is something that no one else can give you or decide for you. It must come from within yourself. The only one that can do it is you.

The other side of your struggle to find your God is purity and joy. God is within you.

Believe not what you have heard said; believe not in traditions merely because they have been transmitted through many generations; believe not merely because a thing is repeated by many persons; believe not solely upon the authority of your masters and elders. When upon observation and analysis a principle conforms to reason and leads to the benefit and welfare of all, accept it and hold it. ~~Buddha

Dalai Lama Renaissance with Harrison Ford - UPDATED

This announcement came to my inbox today:

Dalai Lama Renaissance” is the first theatrical film about the Dalai Lama in U.S. since international spotlight on China and Tibet; Narrator Harrison Ford expresses support for the Dalai Lama.

"Dalai Lama Renaissance" playing for ONE NIGHT ONLY at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colorado on this Thursday, May 29 at 8 p.m.
(Email from the Director-Producer added below.)

Dalai Lama Renaissance,” an award-winning 80 minute documentary film narrated by actor Harrison Ford, holds its U.S. theatrical premiere on May 23 in San Francisco .

“Dalai Lama Renaissance,” produced and directed by Khashyar Darvich, is the first film about the Dalai Lama and Tibet to open theatrically in the United States since the international spotlight placed on China for its firm handling of Tibetan protestors speaking out against Chinese policies in Tibet.

San Francisco recently experienced protests over the running of the Olympic torch in the city, a few months before the Summer Olympic Games, which are scheduled to begin in Beijing on August 8.

In the documentary, the Dalai Lama discusses the calls for economic sanctions against China , and emphasizes that he could not support economic sanctions towards China since it would hurt the ordinary Chinese poor.

“Dalai Lama Renaissance” opens one day after the premiere of Harrison Ford’s “Indiana Jones 4,” which opens internationally on May 22, and is only among a small handful of documentaries that Ford has chosen to narrate during his career.

"I narrated Dalai Lama Renaissance,” says Harrison Ford, “because I believe His Holiness is making a positive influence in our world. For me, the film represented an opportunity to continue assisting the optimistic efforts of an extraordinary individual.”

In 1995, Ford spoke to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee about Chinese policy in Tibet :

Ford told the Congressional panel: “The Tibetan struggle is no ordinary freedom struggle… It is a path of non-violence… As an American who cares deeply about justice, freedom and democracy, I can tell you that this is a cause that touches at the core of our own values. It is about the survival of a people who seek only to democratically determine their own government, to have the freedom to practice their own religion without interference, and to bring up their children in a safe environment where they can be proud of their unique heritage.”

“Dalai Lama Renaissance” premieres theatrically in the United States on May 23 in San Francisco at the Roxie Theater, and in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the Santa Fe Film Center. On May 29, the film screens theatrically at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colorado, and then begins a theatrical run in Portland on June 28. It is expected to play in several additional cities across the U.S.

On October 30, the film opens theatrically in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and will be released in Holland and Belgium in November. It is expected to be released in several other countries around the world before the end of the year.

“Dalai Lama Renaissance” has won 12 film festival awards, and is the official selection of 38 film festivals around the world, where it consistently has attracted sold out audiences.

The film tells the story of 40 Western innovative thinkers who travel to India in the Himalayan Mountains to meet with the Dalai Lama to solve many of the world’s problems. What happened was surprising and unexpected, and was captured by a five camera, 18 person crew.

The film features two of the starring quantum physicists from the hit theatrical documentary “What the Bleep Do We Know,” Physicists Fred Alan Wolf and Amit Goswami. Also appearing in “Dalai Lama Renaissance” are Michael Beckwith (who appears in the film “The Secret” with Wolf), Air America radio host Thom Hartmann, and others.

Visit the film's Web site at http://dalailamafilm.com.

Email from Producer-Director Khashyar Darvich:
May 27, 2008

Hello Everyone,

"Dalai Lama Renaissance" (narrated by Harrison Ford) has it's Boulder-Denver area Theatrical Premiere at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colorado on Thursday, May 29 at 8 p.m.

Producer-Director Khashyar Darvich will appear in person for a Q&A after the screening.

Ticket information can be found here: http://www.bouldertheater.com/event_detail.php?id=867

Along with featuring intimate, personal moments with the Dalai Lama, the documentary features Michael Beckwith (from "The Secret"), Quantum Physicists Fred Alan Wolf and Amit Goswami from "What the Bleep Do We Know," Air America radio host and author Thom Hartmann, and others.

"Dalai Lama Renaissance is about Forty of the world’s most innovative thinkers who travel to India in the Himalayan Mountains to meet with the Dalai Lama to solve many of the world’s problems. What happened was surprising and unexpected. Narrated by actor Harrison Ford.

"Dalai Lama Renaissance" is the official selection of 38 film festivals around the world, and has won 12 awards.

Film Critic John Griffin of the Montreal Gazette calls 'Dalai Lama Renaissance' "a provocative, even enlightening film... fascinating, ravishingly beautiful and sonically soothing."

Amy Wong of LA Yoga Magazine writes: "it is a stunning tour-de-force [and an] intimate glimpse into the Dalai Lama's life."

You can read reviews of the film, and find other information here: www.DalaiLamaFilm.com

For Ticket information, please visit: http://www.bouldertheater.com/event_detail.php?id=867

Here are the days and times when "Dalai Lama Renaissance" is playing at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colorado:

Beginning Date of Theatrical Exhibition: May 29, 2008 - 8 p.m.
Theater Name: The Boulder Theater
Address of Theater: 2032 14th Street, Boulder, CO
Website: www.bouldertheater.com
Contact Phone: (303) 786-7030
Contact Email: www.bouldertheater.com/contact.php

Thank you for informing others in the Boulder-Denver area about the screening.

I look forward to speaking with you at the screening at the Q&A

Khashyar Darvich
"Dalai Lama Renaissance"


Memorial Day

Proclamation 3409 Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 1961 ~April 24th, 1961

WHEREAS the high courage and the supreme sacrifice of Americans who gave their lives in battle have made it possible for our land to flourish under freedom and justice; and

WHEREAS the ideals and patriotism of those who answered the call to service stand as an inspiration to every new generation of Americans; and

WHEREAS the same principles and revolutionary beliefs for which our forbears fought and died are still at issue in the world and the challenge against them can be met only through the same qualities of courage, strength, and unflinching determination shown by our noble dead; and

WHEREAS Memorial Day each year provides a fitting occasion upon which our people may not only commemorate the Nation's heroic dead but also unite in prayer for the preservation of liberty and peace free from the threat of war; and

WHEREAS to this end the Congress, in a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950 (64 Stat. 158), requested the President to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOHN F. KENNEDY, President of the United States, do hereby urge the people of the United States to observe Tuesday, May 30, 1961, Memorial Day, by invoking the blessing of God on those who have died in defense of our country, and by praying for a new world of law where peace and justice shall prevail and a life of opportunity shall be assured for all; and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at eleven o'clock in the morning of that day as the time to unite in such prayer.

I also urge the press, radio, television, and all other media of information to cooperate in this observance.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this 24th day of April in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-fifth.


By the President:
Secretary of State.

The American Presidency Project


Assassination, a Hummer, Cheap Baby, a Challenge

The news cycle strikes again. What isn't relevant or important becomes so because of someone sitting in a news room gathering feeds decides to offer yet another spin on irrelevance. At least this time, the quote remains consistent, though the meaning does not:

Responding to a question from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader editorial board about calls for her to drop out of the race, she said: "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don't understand it," she said, dismissing the idea of abandoning the race...Clinton said she didn't understand why, given this history, some Democrats were calling for her to quit.

Why is this "news" now? She said it before, it's history and in the books, yet now she feels she has to apologize for this piece of history because of the Kennedy family's newest bad news: Edward's brain cancer diagnosis.

Possible consequences?

With the news updated and delivered instantaneously, little bits and pieces become leverages for new angles so that it appears to be news. Little bits and pieces are regurgitated over and over, rearranged to give importance to something that wasn't important the last time the news was released. Add to the repetition of the barrage of news, and suddenly people who know better are also thinking it's important.

But, one result is happening behind the scenes. Google Hot Trends is a service for Web designers that lists the 100 most popular search terms used during the last 24 hours. Three terms stick out like a sore thumb, or at least as a warning flag: "Obama assassination," "Clinton assassination," "Hillary assassination." What has become important in people's minds is not the irrelevance of what was said, but solely the word "assassination," the drama and violence of it. Will that bring people to the polls? Will that sway the results?

Some factors to consider

The news is only news if it is spun from all angles. But, in the scurry to produce instantaneous news, real life is left behind. A lot is happening out there, lacking the dots to connect it all together. For instance, this piece of an explanation worth reading:

The biggest factor in the skyrocketing price of gasoline is the historic ascent of crude oil, which has surged from $45 per barrel in 2004 to more than $135 this past week, setting new record highs all the while.
What determines the price at the pump is based on oil that will be available on the market in the future. Oil futures are traded on the stock exchanges and bought by people who have no intention of actually owning that oil. They just want to wait a bit, gamble on the price of a barrel of crude increasing, and then sell.

The day to day impact of the high cost of gas, heating oil and diesel will far outpace and outlast any reduction in oil supply and demand. Less food will be produced and distributed, less work will be available, and fewer people will be able to get to work, even if they have a job. Children, the disabled and the elderly will feel the squeeze far quicker than the rest. Will gas prices ever come back down?

For the first time, the news is reporting the impact of the recession's effects on the more affluent. One couple has been trying to sell their Hummer for the last six weeks with no success. People are trading their gas guzzlers in for scooters and motorcycles and bicycles. The trend is now to move closer to work. Apartments around industrial areas are filled. Fewer people are traveling for the holidays.

By the time November rolls around, along with the heating season, no one will be able to afford to vote.

The solution challenge

People are becoming more and more creative with their solutions to their financial woes. One couple decided to sell their baby on eBay. No takers, even though the opening bid was only $1.57. (Perhaps the people with the Hummer would do better if they opened bidding at $1.)

This one way street is a dead end, or at least that's the way the news is portraying it all. One article gave a tiny bit of advice: inflate your tires and slow down. Surely we can do better than that.

So, let's roll the ball. The great benefit to blogging is that there are no gatekeepers. What bloggers blog about, especially poor ones (like me) that don't have the traffic to support advertising space, is wide open. No one can shut us down. Blogging is the voice we all thought we had but didn't until now. We must now step up and become the news that is important and relevant to all of us.

My challenge to you is to put our heads together and come up with solutions to our squeezes. Bloggers, we all need to do this. Let's create an active community. Are you up for it?

I'll start:

1. Go meet your neighbor. When I first met my neighbor, he told me I was welcome in his shelter if a tornado ever came this way. How about if you can carpool with your neighbor, or get together to buy in bulk? Jump in the same car to run errands together.

2. Help someone out. I talked about this in How to Help Without Harm, and it's a good way to bring people together.

3. Free your creativity. Give it a boost. I explain how in The State of Creativity: How to Tap into Your Fire.

4. Fight all the negativity and let 'er rip. I show you how in Life is Loudly Knocking: How to Open the Door.

5. Your turn! Keep the ball rolling!


Do To, Done To vs Do With

Girl talk. Oh, if men only knew how deep girl talk gets at times! Guys, you are tried and sentenced before we even meet you. That's what keeps us sane. Sure, you could argue against stereotyping and generalizations; but hey, you do it too, don't you?

Yeah, we talked about 'doing to' and 'doing for' and being 'done to' and 'done for.' It misses the mark. The whole thing gets sidetracked from the get-go and soars away from the important part: doing with.

Now, I don't mind 'doing to' when it comes to my horse. I'll go ahead and brush him every day, which he enjoys quite a bit. I'll give him a good itch when he asks. That he learned to ask instead of demand is worth the reward. Besides, he looks darned good when he's all brushed out and clean and shiny. I don't mind 'doing for' him either. That's the way it is with people who love horses (or any other animal) and take their responsibility for them seriously.

The same can be said for parents. They do whatever is necessary for their children, no matter what. There's no choice in the matter. You just do what it takes to love, care for and provide for your kids. You keep them safe, you teach them about the world and you give them the responsibility of freedom when it's all said and done.

But, that's where it stops. There is a definite line after guardianship of children and animals or anything else that might depend on us for survival.

That lopsidedness has no place in any other kind of relationship.

If a friend is doing all the doing to and the doing for (making you the done to), then what kind of friend are you? A taker. Just a taker. The friendship is not a true one, and won't last long. Sooner or later, the well of giving runs dry.

It's more obvious in love relationships. Friends go home, but lovers don't.

And, a paycheck isn't enough reward for the huge chunk of life spent working. If someone works for someone, it won't be long before they decide to go ahead and work for someone else.

To be a giver or a taker means that there is an gap in the ability to form a real relationship. The key is to do with. Work with. Be with. Live with. Play with. Love with. That key unlocks the door of aloneness.

Go find your key.


Where in the World Is...

We are geographically challenged. But, the planet is round, so how lost can you get? If you stepped off the world for 24 hours, you'd land back in the same place. What goes around, comes around - in the literal sense.

Catching a plane every now and again doesn't change the fact that, for the most part, we are geologically "fixed." A great majority of the world's human population spends a great majority of their lives within a microscopic portion of the planet. This tiny portion of terra firma appears flat and the mind translates that vision as finite, edged, with boundaries. It's a visual thing. Stay within and you won't fall off - you are safe.

The population is dense in some areas, sparse in others; but inherently, it is the same worldwide. Our existence is the same, worldwide. We all need food, shelter, a sense of safety, and belonging and acceptance. All is confirmed by the input of our five senses.

What excites the imagination and empathy is the visual input. "You have to see it to believe it." News of WWII began to precede movies, and images of severe starvation of death camps brought a very different mass reality into our consciousness than ever before. Now, that mass reality is instantaneous with the global Internet, and we are now able to expand our awareness far beyond the physical environment we inhabit. Our boundaries (and our safety?) have dramatically dimmed.

Those images are the source of feeling badly. Images give us something to relate to. It's too easy to imagine and empathize with the victims of tragedies if we can see them:

"When disasters strike or emergencies occur, people are motivated to help for a variety of reasons, mostly they feel badly for the victims… In order to deal with that negative feeling they're experiencing, one way to alleviate that is to help that person out of that plight." (Jeanna Bryner)

The world is shared, our experiences shared, our emotions are shared across the board. The world sobbed with us to mourn the 3,000 that died during 9/11. Countries stepped up to the plate when Hurricane Katrina hit our coastline. Yet, we do nothing as we continually watch much wider, greater devastation in Myanmar and China; though to help, to be the world power, has always been the tooting horn of the United States.

To step in and help now, unconditionally, would go far in healing many wounds. Why haven't we? Where in the world is our humanity now?


Well Trained Horse

On May 17, members of NCAApHC were invited to a free clinic given by Glenn Reed, long time non pro reining exhibitor.

The methods Reed uses to teach his horses to do reining maneuvers can benefit all horses, no matter what your chosen discipline. By getting you and your horse good at these moves, you will have an enjoyable, well trained horse to ride.

The goal in all moves is to get your horse to respond to progressively lighter cues. He must also do what he is asked until you tell him to do something else.

Always remember...

Ask, tell, demand. Ask first, then tell your horse, then demand if he has not responded. Once your horse responds to your cue, eventually he should learn that it's easier on him to respond to the lighter cue. You will undo all attempts to get your horse 'light' if you continue to ask him at the demand level once he is responding to lighter cues.

Start out with light pressure, giving your horse the chance to respond before increasing pressure. Once there is even the slightest hint that he is trying to respond, release. The release is his reward. The goal is to get your horse to respond to the lightest cue.

Every time you are on your horse, you make the decisions. Do not allow your horse to do or go wherever or whenever he chooses. Always remember that "whoa" means stop. It does not mean slow down or just pause. It means stop all four feet and not move until told to.

  1. Reach down a rein, then slowly pull your horse's head to the side.
  2. Rest your hand on your thigh as an anchor.
  3. When your horse puts slack in the rein, immediately let go.
  4. Repeat on other side.
This teaches your horse to be very light in the mouth. It is also a good thing to do when you want to get your horse's mind on you.

When starting to teach your horse to flex, he may move off to follow his head. That's ok. If you are not giving leg cues, he will soon learn that his feet should stay still.

Work up to flexing your horse's head side to side while moving. This is the beginning of isolating and controlling each part of your horse's body.
Give Behind
  1. Hold reins steady to discourage forward motion.
  2. Put right heel slightly behind girth and apply steady pressure.
  3. Stop giving pressure as soon as the horse moves his back end away from your heel.
  4. Repeat on other side.
One or two steps at first is good. Wait a second before trying again. Work up to a full circle.
Give in Front
  1. Hold reins steady to discourage forward motion.
  2. Put right heel more forward than you did for behind give, and apply pressure.
  3. Stop giving pressure as soon as your horse steps over in front.
  4. Repeat on other side.
Back Up
  1. Hold reins steady.
  2. Push your heels down and feet forward in the stirrups.
  3. Increase pressure on reins until your horse moves back.
  4. Ease the pressure on the reins as soon as your horse starts to back, but keep heels down and feet forward.
  5. Return legs to normal position when you want to stop backing.

The cue for whoa is the same as for back up. Push heels down and feet forward in stirrups, and increase pressure on the reins. Continue holding reins and leg position until your horse backs up if he did not stop immediately. Soon your horse will stop without needing to apply pressure to the reins. Because he will learn to expect the back up, he will plant his rear end.
  1. Hold reins in both hands.
  2. Ask your horse to walk in a circle, using inside rein pressure, outside heel.
  3. Make your circles get progressively smaller and smaller.
  4. When you want the horse to stop forward motion, take slack out of outside rein and put it against the horse's neck. This is the beginning of the spin in place.



I grabbed my camera today and headed outside, and I managed to catch Hiro and Saki when they paused to argue over who was going to own this stick.

Saki is independent, and rarely wags his tail. What he'll do instead is wave his front paws. I caught him chasing a cat today, and pointed my finger at him while saying "no" and the little rascal barked back at me.

Hiro is more the jealous type, bites my hand when I'm petting Saki, and is always wagging his tail.


How to Help Without Harm

I ran across an interesting article on wikiHow called "How to Forgive the Unforgivable." The first thing the article lists as advice is to realize that the hate you feel does not harm your enemy in the slightest. The last piece of advice is to be sure you don't take your anger out on someone else (child, partner, etc.) while you are stomping around in anger at being wronged. Although the article has good intentions, it is just a superficial scratch on the surface of emotional pain Dear Abby style. It misses things that might be truly helpful and hits on things that might even be harmful.

Half truths are not helpful at all.

The first clue that the article was going to miss the point was by its inclusion of the phrase "respond to evil with kindness." As a good friend of mine always says, "What kind of smoke are you doping?" I'll tell you straight out that the most kindness I can give a jackass is by walking away.

The next phrase, right in the first paragraph too, is "develop a habit of gratitude." Thank you, best friend, for allowing me to walk in on you and my boyfriend doing the hanky-panky. What? Not in this lifetime. They are both promoted to "X" status.

Then we have, "your enemy may not deserve to be forgiven…" They seem to have forgotten "judge not lest ye be judged." So, which way is it?

Other words used in the article - such as Jericho, poor soul (might as well just say 'pitiful' and get it over with), repent, bless, vessel, holy and enemy - all indicate a set of adopted values and mores that are not integrated, true aspects of the individual. Close, but no cigar. It's just acting. Those that walk around using these kinds of words and phrases are the ones trying to beat oxymorons into their heads so hard that they forget the distress and anxiety of cognitive dissonance - i.e., being a follower is not the easy way to 'fit in' after all. The truth behind the meaning of the words is absent, making them void, hollow, and empty. They are nothing but a pile of dogma.

The reality is that there's a huge chasm between fundamentalism and faith. In the end, it's no help at all. It may even be harmful. Tell a person in emotional pain something that they cannot do (forgive, be grateful, etc.) and you add in feelings of worthlessness to the emotional quagmire. In essence, you are telling him that he deserved what he got because he is such a weakling that can't rise to the occasion. Let's just add insult to injury here.

Look around.

Our culture gives us many opportunities to stretch our wings emotionally, to practice vicariously. Amusement park rides are an example. What other way can you experience dropping from 3 or 4 stories and live through it, or experience G forces so strong that you feel your internal organs plastered against your spine? I practiced road rage in bumper cars long before I got behind the wheel of my first car. Then there's the roller coaster that gives you a good idea what it would feel like if the brakes went out in your car driving down Rt. 6 in the Rocky Mountains.

I watched the Wizard of Oz every year growing up, and finally had to stop watching it in my 20's because I'd cry every time Dorothy cried when she couldn't get into the Emerald City. Immersing yourself in a good movie is sure to give sadness, grief, pain, fear, anticipation and dread good workouts.

"The Horse Whisperer" was the most recent book I read that I could not stop reading until I reached the end. A good book can take you on an emotional ride along with it and, along with movies and amusement parks, can give you a chance to experience emotions you might never have a chance to feel otherwise.

Books and movies tend to focus on negative emotions more often than positive ones. I had the LP album (large plastic disk played on a turntable), the 8-track, the cassette, and now the CD of "Mother Lode" by Loggins and Messina. When I turn that CD on, I am taken right out of time, right out of my self. I experience joy.

Look within.

No two people are alike. No two people ever experience the same thing in the same way. You may come close in the case of identical twins, but in more common circumstances, two siblings will experience their shared family life in completely different ways. In court, unless an eye-witness's account is corroborated, it holds little weight. I watched my first adult film with my husband and two other couples. I was laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face while two of the men had erections. The laughter was infectious and a potentially uncomfortable situation for me was averted.

Going to a movie theater, you can look around to see how others are reacting to the film and how they handle their reactions. That may be a viable guide for you, but far more important is to feel what you are feeling, 100%. Take the time to identify those feelings and the reasons you are reacting the way you are. That is something you have to do on your own, and a movie is a good place to practice. The goal is to correctly identify your emotions and your reactions to those emotions.

If you think that this is something not worth the time and effort, consider how easy it is to be angry when what you are really feeling is fear. If you've ever been in a minor fender-bender, you'll understand what I mean. You might jump out of the car and start yelling words your mother would be surprised to hear come out of your mouth while inside, your fear is slowly slowing down. If this or that had happened differently, you'd have been a-goner. Your adrenaline had kicked in and you came out fighting. But, the true emotion was fear, not anger. Feeling anger is a lot easier to accept.

It wouldn't take much to come up with a substantial list of the ways we misinterpret our emotions, or lie about them to ourselves. Because no two people are alike, no one can interpret your emotions for you or tell you how to feel. No one else can make you feel at all. No matter how hard you try, there is no way you can make yourself feel the way you think someone else feels either.

Build from there.

Once you get good at correctly identifying your emotions, you will no longer need or want to look to others to identify what you feel. You now have an "internal locus of control" or are "internally motivated," two psychology terms that describe this. You are honest with yourself, and you will find you no longer need or want to present to the world a "persona" or "different face" than who and what you really are. You also no longer need or want to "act" in order to fit in or belong. The one person that needs to accept you for who you are is you, and you do.

This is the beginning of the road to integrity, honor, honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty, altruism and empathy. Within and without are the same - congruence.

How to help.

If you want to help another person, help them identify their true feelings. You have to "walk a mile in their shoes" and "see through their eyes." You can't really do this, but that you are trying shows you want to understand, and that goes a lot farther in helping than the religious dogma I spoke about earlier. There is no potential for doing harm either.

Taking this path is at the heart of treatment for PTSD, depression and anxiety, and the basis for adjustment, marriage, family and grief counseling, to name a few.

Skip the Dear Abby dogma and truly help.


May 10 NCAApHC Show

NCAApHC's shows are always a place to take great photos, and have a great time.

I wasn't able to take a lot of photos, but it's been a long time since I've had so much fun. I met and talked to wonderful horse people, all who were very excited about the club's relaxed and fun atmosphere. There were two other photographers there, and I can't wait to see their photos!


Stay Out of My Underwear

Having just moved into a new house, I had to drive a quarter of a mile down the road to the nearest pay phone since mine wasn't installed yet. The second day there, I ran to the phone and was back within 10 minutes. I found the front door open and my dog loose.

I cussed the dog for being too danged smart and getting that door open, and headed inside. I found my living room torn apart - seat cushions everywhere, things knocked off the top of the... It took several seconds for my mind to accept the fact that the TV and stereo were gone, the cause of all the things on top to now be on the floor.

One of my guitars was still propped against the couch where I left it, and so was all the PA equipment in the kitchen. In the bedroom, I found the sheets, blankets and pillows torn back from the corner of my waterbed, and the top drawer of my dresser on the floor with all my underwear and socks strewn everywhere.

That was when it hit me, and hit me hard. I had been violated, raped, assaulted, robbed and I was terrified. My home, my place in the world, my safety was gone.

That incident happened in 1979, but the memory is still as sharp and clear as the day it happened.

I haven't thought about that break-in in years. But, on Tuesday, something happened to attack my person in much the same way, but to a lesser degree. I am not terrified this time; instead, I am royally pissed. Emails I had sent to someone else were intercepted. My personal space has been violated.

I may be a little more 'diplomatic' in conversation with some people than I would with others, but it won't come as any surprise when I say that I will say what is on my mind. Always. You won't get a different answer if you ask different people what I told them. I won't eavesdrop either, and know that it is my own fault if I happen to overhear something I don't like. I sure wouldn't be crass enough to let on I overheard either.

It's like burping and farting and picking your nose and scratching your crotch in public. You just don't do it. Well, except for in Wal-mart - the fart part, that is. Some things are just beyond your control.

There is no circumstance ever that you should stick your nose in where it doesn't belong. When a parent sticks their nose into their child's business, it teaches them first-hand what it feels like to be violated. The child in turn learns right away not to ever do that to someone else. The crappy feeling that comes from violation just doesn't go away, and it is a major assault on trust.

You get what you deserve if your feelings are hurt because you stuck your nose in the wrong place. Next time you'll know not to put your hand in the fire, won't you?


Let the Bumps Knock You Off the Path

Once in awhile, I come across something that 'slaps me upside the head' hard enough to sink in. This time, the slap comes from Darren, of Problogger. He wrote a post called "Following Paths vs Leaving Trails" that is the cause of the red mark on my cheek. He found this quote:

“Do not follow where the path leads. Rather, go where there is no path and leave
a trail.”
Darren, one of the main gurus of bloggerdom, found himself with his own red mark and asks that you let it sit with you awhile. His minds takes him to how the quote would apply to blogging itself. Commenters ranged from those too comfortable with the safety of the known path to those who's feet have probably never touched ground where others have tread.

For me, the quote says out loud what this blog here is about. Yes! Expand, push the limits, take the responsibility for yourself and the joy that comes with personal growth.

On the practical side, look at it as taking the path full speed ahead; and when you are flung in the air from hitting a bump, look at it as an opportunity to fly instead of as a chink in your plans.


Tornado Aftermath: Finding the Path Again

There is an 'angle' here, a way to translate the devastation of a natural disaster into something that can't be captured by a camera. Or so I thought until I went through yesterday's photos again, this time with a new eye.

If I were able to go up in a helicopter to take photos of the path of that tornado, then perhaps I'd have a visual of the extent of the damage done, the whole picture. A shot here, a shot there, a hundred shots of what your eye falls on when you go through the area creates a jigsaw puzzle in your mind without the box that shows the finished product.

Last night, when I went through the day's photos, I was looking for the drama, the instant visual jolt. This time, I was looking for something that represented the Big Picture, and I found this photo.

This is only one downed tree, and the two contracted workers were faced with cutting it up in chunks small enough to move. You can see their progress, but there's still a lot to do. They had been working since very early in the morning, and when I took this photo, it was almost 5 p.m. The slump of the man's shoulders and the small step he took as he walked illustrates the toll of the day's labors, with much more; much, much more to do. (Update: I later embedded the slide show, but the photo I'm talking about is included.)

There is the positive. Though working to restore the municipal infrastructure first, that people are working tirelessly at such a daunting, mountainous task, it will all be done, and done rapidly. Last month, I commented about how some people seem dispassionate about what they do and would do better finding another line of work. Yesterday, I saw people working because it had to be done.

A natural disaster brought out personal responsibility.

The people of Carlisle were in shock. I saw many standing in the front door of their houses, watching, waiting, unable to do anything. Their lives are disrupted in unimaginable ways; ways you wouldn't understand unless your safety, your home, your place in the world was assaulted or raped as theirs was. After Mother Nature comes troops of strangers, an invasion that works to clear away the devastation to restore day to day life.

Will it ever be the same?


Tornado aftermath: cleanup

The Day After the Tornado

Top photo: The Carlisle, AR fire station. The mayor said he believes it will have to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch because of bent support beams.

Photo 2: Of all the photos I took, this one shows the severity of the tornado. It had to have been a monster to pull that tree up by that huge root system. This home was in the area of town hardest hit.

Photo 3: The power company subcontracts tree services to clear out the downed trees after they say it's safe and before the new lines go up.

Photo 4: A landmark building, an old Esso gas station converted to a coffee shop. Since the power was still out, the shop wasn't open today.


Tornadoes strike Arkansas again

In a little town called Carlisle, west of Little Rock, in a very flat area of the state, one of the many tornadoes that touched down today bored a three-block wide path straight through the middle of the community. It's an old town, quaint with old buildings and the feel of history, and those old buildings were built strong.

I got a call to go down for photos and to find out the particulars for a news story and arrived a few hours after the tornado hit. The chief of police said that they had so much warning, radar and tornado watchers, that they were as ready as they could be. His concern was getting the kids out of the school afterward, which took a lot of clearing of downed trees and wires.

No injuries; no deaths.

The electric company flipped a switch in Little Rock to shut the power off to the town, but won't come out until tomorrow to assess and give an estimate of when power will be restored. That leaves 2,500 people without power indefinitely.

Amazingly, many volunteer crews were there already with their chain saws, and cleared the downed trees off of several homes before they were told to stop. The electric company will not deem the area safe until they've been out there to ground all the power lines. The town couldn't risk anyone getting hurt should a line still hold any juice. If they had been able to continue, many more people would be able to at least spend the night in their home. Instead, they'll have to go to one of two churches set up as a shelter.

I'm heading back to Carlisle tomorrow to see what it will take to get the town back to working order.


Failed at Mind Reading

A friend of mine just gave me a good example of this. She puts it this way:

"Say I hire someone to muck out stalls. He goes in there and picks apples, but what I really wanted was all the stalls stripped. At his last employer, he was told not to strip stalls because it wastes a lot of good bedding, so that's what he did in his new job. Can I fire him for not doing the job the way I wanted? No. I didn't tell him how I wanted it done."

That's a good point.

Let's add a few dynamics to the same sort of scenario. Say an employee is hired to do two different things, and after a few days, became pretty solid in both. One task is one the employee has a lot of experience in and finds the last person doing the task was not experienced at all, and it's a major mess. There is a lot of experience in the other task, but not in the particular style. At first, the new employee's product isn't perfect, but it was getting there. The employee was enthusiastic, willing to learn, takes material home to read to learn, and was flexible enough to roll with just about anything.

Those two things keep this employee pretty busy for 40 hours a week, so there are no lulls. The "hiring boss" takes a week off, and no sooner is she gone than this new employee was pulled from the two tasks by "big boss" and put on other things that made it impossible to do those original tasks at all. There is no time. And surprise, the employee turns out to be pretty dern good at the new tasks too. The hiring boss returns to wonder why original tasks weren't done, but says nothing.

Now, the wrinkle comes from the "little boss" who sits in the middle and adds in a few jabs of her own. She says 'don't do this until you are told to' but tells the other bosses she doesn't know why it isn't getting done. She also pulls the employee away from doing work assigned by the other two bosses, the employee can't complete the work by the "big boss'" unspoken, unknown deadline and is then chastised by big boss for working too slow.

The hiring boss takes more days off, only this time, she comes back to find the new employee gone from the office to work from home because the employee was too slow to do everything and can then "do your research on your own time." One employee, three bosses. But, the employee isn't fired, at least that's what was communicated. Instead, the employee is supposed to "freelance" to get paid per project instead of by the hour. The hiring boss doesn't know about this either.

What was expected wasn't communicated. Nothing was said to the employee about deadlines, timelines, expectations or even job title. When asked what the "freelance" position would pay, the answer was "oh, we'll work that out." It appears that there is little communication between the bosses either.

It sounds surreal, like a no-win situation. Perhaps the new employee was too enthusiastic? Or, was it that the employee was too flexible?

Whether hiring an experienced stable hand or hiring a person with no direct experience in mucking out stalls, what is expected has to be spoken out loud. It may even take several times. A person new to barn work may also be new to horses and will have to learn a lot more than just how much horse shit to take out of a stall.

But, that the person accepted the offer of employment and showed enthusiasm to learn says a lot. If the enthusiasm isn't killed by unfair criticism, the employer would have a trusted, loyal employee who is far more valuable than an experienced hand that changes jobs on a whim.

I wish colleges, even high schools, taught courses in mind reading.