Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day Two on the Trail Ride from Hell

Now as a communications consultant, I thrive on bettering my team and the project as a whole with as many details and information as possible.  The exact opposite was the case here.  With these two guides in the lead and myself way in the back there was no knowing what to expect at all.  After six hours I finally asked about the plan as we all came to a stop. The female guide sneered, "we're waiting for this grizzly to move".  My heart started to pump frantically ... 'thanks for playing on my greatest fear', I thought.  

The other guy jokingly chimed in, "we're just trailin', trailin', trailin'" ... and trailin' we went.  Up and down and all around.  From meadows to moehills to windy sides of jagged peaks.  Whoa!  There's a few moose frolicking in the distance and oh, what are those things down there?  Elk!  Who knew!  I just knew my ass hurt like hell and I was totally exhausted already.  We kept on going and going with no end in sight.  

Night fall came and we were still trailin' ... leading the horses through some crazy marsh full of sink holes.  I couldn't see a thing.  At that point, I was going on blind faith alone.  Finally around 11pm we arrived at one of the spike camps.  We were met by a 40 year old wrangler and a couple of the guides who were stationed there.  They helped us with our horses and to unpack our stuff.  The young wrangler and I were shown to a dingy old tool shed where we would sleep for a few hours.  It was full of stinky junk but at least it was dry.

The other guide set up his stove and cooked a midnight meal of ribs, canned potatoes and salad.  It tasted so delicious after such a long day.  I was the first to hit the hay while the rest stayed up to chew the fat as pass around a bottle of the Captain.

A loud banging on the toolshed door in the wee hours told us it was time to get going again. I dragged my weary bones and aching hands out of the warmth of my down sleeping bag and into the cool crispness of the morning.

Here and Now

Some free flowin' thoughts on a snowy day in Terrace a few years ago ...

Where else would I rather be? But right here, right now. Cuz this is all we got and it's beautiful. Who wants to play the victim? Not I. You have to stand up and be strong like the peaceful warrior. Life's lessons are hard however our reactions to the actions can surface in a balanced, positive way. Under pressure, it's hard to navigate all of the thoughts and emotions. By becoming witness, the observer, taking a step back and simply being it just flows.

That's where the connection to Grace, to consciousness manifests and we can truly exist in a state of bliss, pure happiness. Take for instance, a moment with your furry friend - our pets bring such joy that taking time to love an animal connects us back to nature, our lifeforce, the source. They are our guardians. And this brings such a light, uplifting feeling. Natural chemicals are released into the brain and we become more balanced and whole.

No matter where I am or what I do I want to strive to tap into that source - to feel strength, courage, optimism and all those wonderful virtues. Life deals all kinds of cards but you can always call a spade, a spade - in a loving, compassionate way.

Becoming aware is the first step, putting this awareness, intent, attitude into action is the second. Step onto that yoga mat or wherever you are and feel the support beneath the soles of your feet. What's holding you back? You know it will feel good. Connecting all of your energetic lines into the higher cosmos and getting re-charged while loving back. If only we could feel this in our lives all the time and in all of our relationships. But why not? All we got is this moment - so read between the lines, interpret the signs and no matter where you are or who you're with or what your're doing or what you're experiencing approach it with a knowing, trust and deep faith that you are supported by the earth, by something greater, divine and free.

And that this is you and you are it. And it's all one big glorious one.
So there ... LOL.

Why Work for Peanuts Doing Crap Jobs?

Well here are a few reasons that come to mind ...
  • Develop a thick skin and cultivate new coping mechanisms
  • Learn to emphathize and not take things personally
  • Put your nose to the grindstone in hopes of something better
  • Bond deeper with colleagues and learn from others
  • Chalk it up as experience and great content for a novel
  • Learn to let go of the ego and be more selfless
  • Put yourself in other people's shoes and try to understand their perspective
  • There will be other days
  • To penetrate hearts of stone
  • To accomplish the little things
  • To develop patience and better communication

My First Day as a Wrangler

When I imagined my duties as a wrangler, I visualized a romantic image of a cowgirl wearing her dusty jeans and riding happily across the range to tend to her herd of horses.  She fed the horses, groomed, saddled, cleaned tack, cared for their feet and so on and so forth. Little did I know what the reality was actually going to be like.

My first encounter with the two senior guides who were leading the charge into camp was less than reassuring. They could hardly conjure up a smile let alone say hello.  The loading of the horses began into a huge truck.  As soon as they were all accounted for we threw our tack and personal belongings into the back of the rig which was just one huge pool of horse shit. As my bed roll was not protected, my sleeping bag and therma-rest became victim and of course by the end of the bumpy three hour ride were completely drenched at the bottom of the heap. I cried a silent tear to myself. We were off to a great start.

We finally reached the trailhead and unloaded the horses. Each one was soaked in sweat and had worked up a lather from such a crowded and stressful ride. The driver's departing words were, "looks like rain." "Thanks buddy", I thought to myself. So the packing began with a motley crew who were definitely wondering what the heck I was doing there. Oh boy, this should be fun. The pressure was on to show em what I had and my first impression of attempting to lift a 60lb pack box full of oats onto one side of a horse gave the female guide reason to roll her eyes, smirk and do the job herself. No leadership or motivation came from her, just impatience, frustration and the silent treatment. I kept trying to help, watch how she tied her tail knots and assist with the diamonds but all my efforts were to no avail. She did not care for my help and considered me to be an inexperienced nuisance.

I was definitely not used to this type of treatment and was at a loss for what to do. She appointed me an asshole of a saddlehorse so I decided to stick to myself for the time being and do my best to get ready for the journey which was already starting off on the wrong foot.

We tied the horses into mini-strings of 5, 6 and 7 and were off around 4pm with myself and my crew of horses bringing up the rear. "OK at last I can relax", I thought ... except now my saddle horse just wanted to be right up the ass of the horse in front of him and ... oh great, that horse is a kicker and the pack horse that I'm towing, well he just wants to lag behind.  Who knew I was in for four days of tug of war with these two huge beasts. I had to keep drawing each of my arms into the centre of my torso for fear of having my shoulders ripped out of their sockets from the continual pressure of the two horses pushing and pulling in opposite directions.  I kept reminding myself to mimic the biomechanics and mindset of Warrior 2 to try and stay protected and centred.

Since we were off to such a late start, we didn't make it to the cabins which typically would have been the first stop on day one of this particular trail ride.  As it neared dark, we pitched camp by a creek and hoisted a blue tarp with a diamond rope from the trees to create a shelter. Now sleeping in the open air under a tarp with three strangers and a bunch of horses, well ... that was a first.

The fire and dinner were a welcome relief. The other young wrangler and I oated the horses which we tied to trees for the night. I was totally exhausted and made my shit-smelling bed as far from my arch nemesis as possible. 5:30 am came soooo early. I rolled over with the rain seeping into my side and a horse's ass about a foot away from my face.  A new day was about to begin ...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Letting Go

My life in the fast-paced world of Toronto was all about working hard and playing hard and believe me I knew how to play hard.  I was involved in developing web sites and online media for huge corporations, climbing the ladder ... exhausted, cranky and stressed out.  I did however have an amazing group of girlfriends.  We loved our 'Girls Nights' cackling at shows like the Bachelor and we were always there to lend a listening ear.  Weekends consisted of socials, speakeasys, expensive dinners, clubs and people moving in and out of our sphere.  Often times the company we kept felt pretentious, false and scripted.  I heard far too often, "So what do you do?" as the second question in any conversation.  

I was always searching for something more and things finally started to come to a head.  My long-term relationship fell apart and even though things were going well in my career, I knew in my heart it was time for a major change.  But what?  One thing led to another and I decided to move out West to one of the most remote areas of Canada to live in the mountains and start fresh.  My friends and family thought I was insane.  What?!  Leave everything that you have worked so hard for ... your identity, your life you have built here!  I was just starting to make some great money.  I mean  what kind of opportunities would I ever find in a hick town?  I took the plunge anyway and ventured into the unknown in search of something more.  

And so the tales of a Yoga Cowgirl begins ...

Live. Laugh. Learn.

Live: We live in an era shaped by science and technology, information and environmentalism, money, medicine and multi-tasking. And with modern culture in a continual state of transition and uncertainty, it is difficult, if not next to impossible to live in the present moment. Many could say they suffer from the restless mind syndrome; a state of mental turbulence in constant pursuit of “what’s next.”

Being present is the foundation of positive change. By creating space in our minds and letting go of attachments, compassion and forgiveness can arise. In doing so we are better equipped to understand the emotions that surface within ourselves so we can live more balanced and peaceful lives. It’s our responsibility to live each moment to its greatest potential, focus on what is truly important in our lives and realize our dreams. By relinquishing control and bearing witness to our beliefs, we have the innate power to liberate ourselves and re-discover our true essence.

Make friends with the present moment.

Laugh: Happiness is our purest and most natural state of existence. As human beings, we have been designed to laugh, play and explore our creativity. Happiness lifts our spirits and gives us the patience, energy and desire to help ourselves as well as others. When we laugh it creates a positive effect on the interconnected structures of the human system - it fills our lungs and body with fresh oxygen, boosts the immune system and relaxes the mind. Combine laughter with yogic techniques and discover the effects that have the ability to transform lives.

Laughter truly is the best medicine.

Learn: To study yoga is to study the self. Seemingly simple yet a lifelong journey, the purpose is to equip practitioners with a systematic approach to deconstruct and still the turbulence of our consciousness. Using the breath as a mechanism to purify the body, mind and spirit, this ancient holistic healing system aims to create balance and connect our many layers. Yoga sets a strong foundation for all aspects of our daily lives. To develop a strong practice will produce an array of benefits. You’ll look better, feel better and will respond to the world around you more effectively.

The Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga act as a step-by-step path to truth or enlightenment:
Yamas – observances
Niyamas – purifications
Asana – posture
Pranayama – control of life force
Pratyahara – turning the senses inward
Dharana – concentration
Dhyana – meditation
Samadhi – super consciousness

In essence, we are waking up so we can remember all that we already know. What better training for life?