The horse's pasture to the East...

Friday, October 26, 2007

In The Zone

If you look to the right of this posting, you'll see a link to a video for a juggler named Chris Bliss. I found this at the end of my morning, just before time to go out to give my equine family their noon time hay (I always do that if they're staying in the paddock. Spreads out the hay so it's more like grazing and keeps them from getting to boarded.)

This Chris Bliss is in the zone when he juggles. Watch how he moves with the music and never, ever drops that ball. It's mesmerizing! And it's what I call "being in the zone". I go there sometimes if a painting is doing what I want it to. It's a wonderful place to the zone. Time is irrelevant. I'm not hungry, thirsty or even aware of my surroundings. It's just me and the paint.

Watch the video...enjoy...and may you find the "zone" some time in your life too!

Nancy, celebrating artists today!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

more success....

"Good morning...gooooooooooood moorning, I laughed the whole night through...good morning, GOOD MORNING to you!" Love that song. It's from a Gene Kelly movie with Debbie Reynolds and Dennis O Conner in it, a silly 50's musical. I sing it sometimes on the way down to the barn to do chores in the morning. I figure there's no one out here to see or hear me except the horses, dogs and cats. They don't seem offended by it, so it must be OK...right?

I was talking about success. It's a loaded word, success. Everyone wants it and there's no one definition for it either. Most folks do say "Oh she's very successful. Look at the house she has!" or something along that line.

Truth is, although having money is a very nice thing, I'm not sure that it brings success, or at least it's not my idea of success. Most of the people I know who have money haven't been very happy. They're so stressed out while they try to accumulate money so they can have the bigger house and the nicer car and the expensive trappings that go along with that kind of life style, that they've lost their way. They're not happy. And if you aren't happy, are you successful?

I used to do allot of my work for people who are very well off financially. I'd go in to do my mural or design work just about the time they were leaving for work. There was a very interesting transition that went on in those neighborhoods. The owners would leave, driving off down the street with their tired kids in the back seat, all of them wolfing down those cereal bars and drinking coffee for the adults or juice packs for the kids, squabbling among themselves. And about 15 minutes later, in would come all of the maintenance crews to clean houses, mow lawns, repair or paint houses, do landscaping and so on. I guess you could say I was in that category since I did most of my work when the owners weren't home too.

Later, at the end of the day, the maintenance crews would leave and the owners would come trickling home in the same condition. The kids were in the back of the car, eating Mac D hamburgers and french fries, whining about whatever activity had been planned for them that evening because the most successful (there's that word again) students were the ones with lots of outside, extra curricular things going on. They'd come slamming through the doors, stop long enough to ohh and ahh over what I had done, then go on with whatever argument they'd been having. I usually took off about then because I wasn't comfortable being there while all of this personal family stuff was going on.

But if you asked people if they were successful, most of them would have said "Heck, yes! look at all that I have!" My question was always (to myself, or course) "Well, if you're so successful, why aren't you happier about it? Why all the gloom and doom and trauma-drama?"

Someone who is one of the centers of my life told me that he'd like to see me be successful outside the house. I think I already am. I start every single day so excited to get out the door and start my chores that I end up laughing at myself on the way to the barn! The place that I live in is beautiful, even in the most inclement weather. I don't think I've had one day EVER while we've been here when I didn't stop at some point and say "WOW! Look at that!".

I have friends who call or email every day, wanting to know what's going on in my life. I hear from all of the people I love nearly everyday too (just gotta love the Internet for that one!). I have enough food to eat, very good food at that! I have a place to sleep that's safe and warm. The bills are paid...usually. I'm writing, painting, reading, learning, growing (sometimes a bit too much across my backside, but that's another story!) and changing. I call that success.

It's the Nancy-ized edition of the Websters New World dictionary version of the word SUCCESS. Best part is that I can be my own Wikepedia. I can change the definition as often as I want to.

Folks, it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings! I'm just getting started with the idea of what SUCCESS is. Stand back...I'M COMING THROUGH!

Nancy, just another cowgirl with her hat on and her head back, laughing!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

SUCCESS at any price....

Success. It's an interesting word, isn't it? If you ask people what their definition of success is, you get a different answer nearly every single time.

I went to a party this past weekend, at a friend's house. Since we've never been to one of her pot lucks, there were lots of new people to meet. And, being a bit gregarious, I had fun talking... and talking. It's easy to carry on a conversation when everything you have to say is new, and everything they have to respond with is just as fresh. Before I went, I decided to carry out a little experiment. I was going to ask, in the course of each conversation with all of these potential acquaintances, what their definition was of the word SUCCESS.

Now, I'm pretty good at talking. I love a good story and love to tell one even more. It isn't usually hard for me to find a common thread and keep it going all night long. And the results are always fascinating. So, I asked my question, slipping it into the conversation between horses and politics.

"Can I ask you something? What's your definition of success? How do you define it?" There were a few people who were surprised by my experimental question, but most were more than happy to talk about it.

Some felt that success was the number of academic achievements they had and the career that came from those degrees (We do live in a town with two universities and only 30 or 40 minutes from several other universities and colleges, so I would have been surprised if this one didn't show up during the evening's festivities.). Other's said that the home they had paid off or the car they were driving was a symbol of success for them.

" I have three wide, flat screen TV's that are all 48 inches and two are high definition." That was an unexpected one...and very funny to me. We don't even have cable at our place. If you can't tell, it was a guy talking.

Another said " I have four horses and I started my two year old colt myself this year."

One guy, someone who had dealt with severe depression the past two years and had been reduced to living in his car as a result, was just happy to be working again as a carpenter. He's also a cowboy who now has two horses and a dog. His story was the most profound and, I think, told to me in confidence. I don't think I'll write the details here. But he's genuinely happy. And he's the one who stays with me all these days later. He was the only one who talked about happiness.

When you look up the definition of SUCCESS in the New Webster's dictionary, it says : n. (I'll skip the latin roots here) 1. orig., result, outcome 2. a) a favorable or satisfactory outcome or result b) something having an outcome 3. The gaining of wealth, fame, rank, etc. 4. a successful person

Doesn't really say much, does it? Maybe that's why we all have our own definition. Me? I think I go with the formerly homeless cowboy. I go with happiness. But I choose that on a smaller day to day scale.

I call it a successful day when I find the shoe Lucky threw, against all odds, out in the pasture. The sun was going down and it was hard to see out there, but it was time well spent because my best friend...was out there with me. And so was my ageing dog, Gypsy. We walked along the edge of our pond, looking for the missing shoe. I knew it was probably going to be out there. The mud is gooey and always sucks my boots off if I go wading. Makes sense that it would probably be where a 1000 pound horse might loose his shoes too.

We had our adventure together, laughing and talking. I went out into the pond to check one of the hoof prints, thinking there was something sticking up out of the bottom. It was the edge of a turtle's shell. In my haste to withdraw, I lost my boots in the pond. But my finger was intact (it was a snapping turtle) and we were both laughing. Not a bad trade, all things considered.

We kept looking, talking about the news of the day while our eyes were down. Gypsy snuffled along with me, looking for potential dead stuff to roll in. And since my feet were now squishy and the sun was going down, it seemed like a good time to call it quits. (My hope is that pond mud is like any other mud pack; good for your skin. If so, then my feet should be gorgeous tomorrow!)

On the way back to the paddock, there it was! Lucky's shoe, gleaming in the grass, slightly bent and with 5 of the 6 nails still in the shoe. I'd found it! It was kind of like winning a lottery or something.

I'm cutting this one short. Ethan brought his Mom and Dad for a visit (next door neighbors). They're the kind of folks who live with everyday success too. But more on that later.