Reader, Thinker, Writer, Lover.
November 2015

I love mornings.


I begin getting excited about them the night before, while setting my coffee pot.


I love the way my feet are the first thing in the house to touch the ground. I love the cold chill that runs down my body as I leave the warmth of the comforter.


I love how I can smell the coffee wafting back to my bedroom and the deafening quiet and how my books of poetry wait dutifully by my chair.

Read more…


My head is a glass jar

full to brimming with voices

and expectations,

fighting each other

for their survival.


I sling my pack over my shoulder

and cinch it tight

around my belly

to hold in my anger,

to hold in my rest.

Read more…

HH Enrich Sign

We show up with pitchforks and passion,

with Carhartts and compassion, and a whole lot of courage.


We are not slowed down by the blizzards and gale force winds of winter, or the roasting heat and dust of summer.


Day after day, week after week, month after month…adding up to thousands of hours, we are not deterred in our mission to serve horses and riders.


I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It’s a tribe, a family, really. I’ve volunteered at a lot of places in my life: schools, churches, as a court appointed special advocate; but the Hearts and Horses volunteers are the most dedicated, passionate, wonderful group of people I’ve ever met.


We’re just regular folks. Some of us have a lifetime of horse experience, others of us are just figuring out how to catch a horse and put them in a halter. One might argue that we’re sort of eccentric and a little weird outside of the HH home, but here, we fit in. We have a place. We understand each other and the mission: “to promote the physical, cognitive, emotional and social well-being of people with special needs through equine-assisted therapy.” And we dedicate our bodies and souls to it entirely.


Driving up the winding road Carter Lake Road, I can bet every volunteer feels like me: a sense of excitement, a lowering of blood pressure, a gut feeling that we’re probably going to witness some kind of miracle today.


And when we step out of our cars, it’s like we step into a cocoon of support and kindness and passion. We hear the leaves rustling in the giant cottonwood trees and the sound of horses whinnying for their breakfast. We hear children laughing as their parents round them up for their lesson and we hear wheelchairs and walkers clicking into place to bear their rider to the arena. We take a huge happy breath and smile and know we’re home for a little while.


The days can be a whirlwind of activity: miles and miles of walking, brushing, catching, tacking, setting up arenas, tearing down arenas, chasing wayward kids, cleaning up the occasional vomit, wiping a snotty nose. Our feet hurt sometimes and we often can’t feel our fingers or our faces in the winter. We take turns throwing the Western saddles on the tall horses, based on whose back doesn’t hurt that day.


It doesn’t matter if we’ve seen each other a few minutes ago, we always exchange a smile or a joke or a nod of the head as we pass each other, leading our horses to and fro.


And sometimes, we get the treat of sitting down to lunch together, wolfing down a hodgepodge of what we brought in our brown bags, some leftover cookies from a few days ago, and using the chili pepper from last week’s pizza. We joke and tease each other, and occasionally share a tear over a poignant ride.


We all have our reasons for being there. We don’t often ask why, we just get it. We understand that many of us see Hearts and Horses as an escape from a world that is often cruel and devoid of miracles. We crave the joy and endless positivity we find here.


We are an army. More than that, we’re a family. We’re the barn cleaners, the horse leaders, the side walkers, the office helpers of Hearts and Horses.


November 17, 2015

Building Materials

Written by Posted in Blog Posts Comments 1

Frankly, I’m sick of myself.

It’s very hard to take my mind off of my own stress and issues; some days, seemingly impossible.


I got an amazing gut check from Anne Lamott this morning, in her book, Bird by Bird. She said, “To be engrossed by something outside ourselves is a powerful antidote for the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has its head up its own ass – seeing things in such a narrow and darkly narcissistic way that it presents a colo-rectal theology, offering hope to no one.”


Basically, when my head is up my own ass, all I see is, well, ass. It becomes my religion.


Self-focus is like building myself from shifting sand. When I go to bed tonight, is this really the footprint I will have left in the world?


Or can I do something, one thing, to turn the spotlight from my darkly narcissistic heart onto something bigger?


I want to build myself from steel and bones. From love.


I don’t know how I managed to make it to 42 years of age without losing a pet. I was never an animal lover, believe it or not. It wasn’t until we adopted two little shelter kittens, 11 years ago, that I fell head over heels in love with all of the furry creatures in the world.

I had been expecting Princess, our little tabby cat, to go for a while. She was sort of wasting away…down to about 2.5 pounds, but the vet agreed that she was actually pretty healthy. She suggested we should just enjoy every day until Princess told us it was time for her to go.

And on the night she began to tell me, I just understood and knew. I snuggled her up next to me in her heated bed. I kept my hand on her belly all night, counting how many times she was breathing each minute. Sometimes I would drift off, then wake in a start, panicked that she had left, but she was still there. Quiet and curled up. I found myself wishing she would look up, scratch me and run off, as she often did when she felt smothered by my affection. Read more…


Teen Group 1: Depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, aggression, suicidal, fear, abuse, neglect, anger, self harm.

Teen Group 2: Confident, engaged, well-behaved, respectful, friendly, talkative, gentle, calm, introspective.

Am I describing two different groups of kids? Nope. This is the same group of teenagers; only in group 2, they are surrounded by loving therapists and volunteers who are totally invested in their engagement and success. And most importantly, they are paired with a 1200lb animal that doesn’t care about their history or diagnosis. This animal only cares about the current moment. The animal’s questions are: how will you treat me? Do I respect your body language? Do you make me fearful or make me trust?


And just like that, a miracle occurs. A miracle. In mere minutes. Read more…