Saturday, January 2, 2010

Squeaky Snow! and Thoughts for the New Year

This morning when I left for the barn it was 2F with a wind chill of -7F, but bright sun and the wind wasn't too bad, although I didn't spend a lot of time with my face to the wind! The dog was happy with the briefest walk - she doesn't like the cold. Maisie and Dawn got a brief turnout while we cleaned their stalls, but came to the gate when I called them - Dawn had her head down and eyes squinched. I led Noble up to the turnout so he could have a drink from the big heated tank - he prefers this to inside water - but he insisted that he wanted to eat on the round bale, so I left him there while his stall was cleaned, and when I went to get him he wasn't sure he wanted in - he seems to really like this batch of hay. By the time I got back from the barn, it was still 2F and the wind had picked up so the wind chill was -14F. Everyone's tucked in their stalls with hay, and I'll go back at noon to check on them and then later to feed and pick stalls.

And, it's cold enough that the snow is not just crunching, but actually squeaking when I walk on it! For some reason, it just delights me when this happens - it's one of the joys of really cold weather (there actually are some)!

Many people have been posting New Year's resolutions, or New Year's goals and plans, many of which are really thoughtful. My New Year's items are more in the nature of attitudes, or ways to be, than things to do or accomplish. They're not specifically about horses, but they are, too, since I don't separate my life from horses from the rest of my life. It's also hard to break them down into separate items, because, as you'll see, they're related in lots of ways.

1. Live life thoughtfully, but don't try to control everything. I don't want to be mindless about how I live my live, including how I work with my horses, what I eat or what I buy - just doing what others do without thinking about it or because someone (a trainer, authority or a marketer) tells me I should. Choices matter, sometimes a lot. But I can't control the choices others make, although perhaps sometimes I can have an influence on others through my actions.

2. Engage, but let go when needed, and remember than no one else determines my reactions or emotions. I need to connect, to engage, to be with the people and animals in my life, but I always need to remember that how I react to the behavior of others is within my power, not theirs. That said, to do this will require me to let go of any clinging to anger or resentment about the behavior of others or "bad stories" I may tell myself about certain people and my history with them. I find these "stories" can often be impediments to seeing situations as they are and making necessary changes. This isn't an excuse for me to allow others to take advantage of or mistreat me - it's also important to make choices about who to associate with and what behaviors in others are acceptable and it is OK to speak up.

3. Spend more time listening and less time talking or reacting, and remember that others' stories are their own. I need to remember to listen, really listen, without interrupting or prejudging - this requires that I actually pay close attention. This one certainly applies to horses, too! This listening needs to be done without thinking ahead to what my response might be, either in words or emotions, I just need to listen. And while I'm listening, I need to be open to finding out where the other person (or horse) is coming from - what motivates them, where are they coming from and what are they trying to achieve - what is their story? This doesn't mean that I can't ultimately disagree with someone, or have a different opinion, but I should make an effort to understand their perspective first.

4. Take joy and comfort in routine and familiar things, but don't get into a rut and be sure to have an adventure now and then. I need to work on achieving a balance between the joy of the familiar and being able to risk new things - both in terms of activities, people and places. I'm pretty risk-adverse by disposition, and sometimes I need to push myself to try new things or spend time with different people.

5. Keep learning. This one is sometimes easy for me - I love learning new things - but sometimes hard, particularly if learning the new things involves laying aside my own ways of thinking to listen to ideas others may have. In a mysterious way, sometimes people or horses are in my life at a particular time for a reason - even if they are difficult or disagreeable, there may very well be something important I can learn from dealing with them (and dealing with my own reactions to them).

6. Take time - don't be in a hurry. I need to understand in the deepest way that hurrying, or feeling pressured, never results in things getting done more quickly - often just the opposite. If I have too much to do, or a short time to do something, it's much better to be calm and focussed than rushed and stressed. And I need to think about whether things need to be hurried at all - perhaps some things just don't need to get done, at least right now, and perhaps others just need to be done more calmly. And, always, I need to remember that horses don't wear watches (except at feeding time)!

7. Be here, now. I need to beware activities that result in numbing my awareness, or that are a way of avoiding being fully present - sometimes diversions can be too diverting. And whatever I'm doing, however mundane - sweeping the floor, cleaning stalls, making dinner, doing the laundry - and whomever I'm with, human or equine, I need to be fully here, now, focussed on this moment and not thinking about the past moment or anticipating the next one. Whenever I'm able to do this, I find that even ordinary activities can become a source of pleasure and delight, and time to get things done expands in the most delightful way. I need to develop the cast of mind that will allow me to do this more consistently. And I need to remember to notice the splendor around me - yes, there's ugliness and bad things happening as well - but there is an incredible amount of beauty and delight to be found in the world if only I pay attention, from moment to moment.

Please enjoy your Saturday, and may it include horses!


  1. Squeaky snow aside, the rest of the post is great! (Don't like the cold and don't like the snow anymore...)

    You have set down an excellent list of principles to live by. Listening is an art well worth mastering. Patience and acceptance, incoporated into some of your other principles, are essentials to being a happy, functioning person.

    Now, the trick is to live by all your words. It's a challenge well placed for the New Year.

  2. Very thoughtful goals, thank you for sharing.

  3. A very thought provoking post, including the mention of the squeaky snow which I well remember from my life in Ontario. Good principles to live by with one added from Phillipians 4:11-13 which is a continual struggle for me to re-learn and attempt to master.

    I don't enjoy the cold nearly as much here in the mid-south, and thankfully we don't get much cold to endure most of the time. But this week is going to be different so I'm told, with daytime temperatures around 30 and nights in the teens. As your husband will attest, nothing down here is built to deal well with any sort of extended cold weather. This would include our home which has just now managed to crack 68 degrees thanks to two supplemental heat sources, our springhouse, and even the diesel we run in tractors, which gelled enough after one cold night...even with anti-gel added....that it took me most of the day to thaw it out and get things operable.

    I'd better get out there and feed some hay. Hope all is well in the north today and hope that you get a break from the cold MINUS the ice that often comes with it in your part of the world.



  4. Your list of ways to be in 2010 and beyond is very well-thought out and meaningful. Just by following them, life is so much more enjoyable to be sure.
    Good for you :)

    We've had squeaky snow each time it's snowed her this winter (8 so far). I don't remember it being that way before. But this has been an exceptionally dry year, both in the summertime (with only 3 good rains). And the snow we've gotten has been the fluffiest of powders. Our temps haven't been all that cold either. The lowest it's been has been 8 degrees, and it didn't even snow then. Most of the time it's in the 20's and 30's.
    Today it is 40 degrees and our 9" of snow is beginning to melt.
    Thank goodness! I need to stock up at the grocery store today. Of course, the weather reports are calling for more snow next week.

    Batten down the hatches this winter and have plenty of hot cocoa to sip, right?
    (And some peppermint scnapps too! hehe!)


  5. Kate...I'm with Lisa of Laughing Orca. What you have planned (attitudes) for 2010 is very meaningful and right on my wavelength. You are so logical and thoughtful! What a pleasure it is to read your posts.

    By the way, it is very cold here today. Single digits with and a sub zero windchill. The horses are going in early tonight.

  6. Sounds like you are perfecting the art of true Mindfulness with your resolutions!

  7. I usually make your normal, run-of-the-mill resolutions, and I still did make a few of those. Mostly, I made ones like yours: speak less, listen more; be thankful for what's right in front of me - today, here and now; starve bad habits and feed good ones, etc.

    Today has been a clear, sunny, beautiful day. It's still quite muddy.

  8. Your list of attitudes is one we should all get behind. I think each attitude is a good one to try to achieve not only for 2010 but for all the days ahead.

    Stay warm. We're snowed in and frozen too.

  9. Isn't it amazing how quickly "It's freezing out here!" becomes, "Huh - it's 10' today. I may not need my gloves." LOL!

    Happy New Year! And as Grey Horse Matters says, stay warm :)

  10. thank you for sharing your goals, we all need to work on the points you mentioned in this super busy world...and now guess how cold it's here? -35F...brrrr....

  11. Petra - I don't know where you are, but I'm glad I'm not there right now!

  12. What good resolutions! Especially #5 - I truly believe you can learn something from everyone you interact with. It might be as simple as "there's a shortcut I don't like" or "this person is scared so he lashes out." But you can learn something, some little scrap, from anyone you talk to.

    Anyway, thank you for being a positive inspiration toward my interactions with Dixie!

  13. Great resolutions though those are amazing life goals for anyone! Good advise to think about while starting the new year. I am never been the type to make resolutions.... the animals don't realize it is a new year so it must not be too important :)

    You like squeaky snow? Just thinking about it sets my teeth on edge. I spent a week in Ohio for Christmas and that is quite enough cold for me for a long time. Florida is unseasonably cold right now with temps dipping below 20° F! That is cold for us weenies!

  14. Those are very noble and thoughtful goals. Good goals for living a good life.

    One thing I find positive about the extreme cold here is that the manure piles freeze before they have a chance to get frozen to the ground. It's odd. 20s & 30s, they seems to get a chance to adhere to the ground to the point that I'll never get them up until Spring. Colder...the apples freeze together but I can still get my manure fork underneath the pile to scoop it up. How's that for looking on the bright side?


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