The Sagebrush Sea

Ramblings from a Cowboy-girl.

A Good Girl

I didn’t know my soul needed to recharge,  that was until my heart began lifting with an effervescence in my chest,  as I stood with my face to the wind on the hilltop facing the setting sun.  Not twenty minutes ago, I was sitting in  my pick-up cursing myself for forgetting to bring a book along, as I waited for the stock tank to fill with water.  I had found the large metal tank nearly empty, when I arrived and knew I had some time to kill.   The unseasonably warm weather, combined with the lack of moisture, had driven the horses and heifers to consume more water than usual.  The sixty-mile round trip drive to check the water and fill the tank must be done several times a week.  I chafe at the necessity, it isn’t because I begrudge my livestock fresh, clean water, but because of the fuel  and time the chore costs us.

This negative cycle of thoughts continued for some minutes, as I sat in the pick-up to escape the biting cold wind.  I chastise my children (more often than they’d like) with this statement, “You can’t control everything, but you can control your attitude.”  Clearly, I also need to hear this reminder.  I grabbed my husband’s denim jacket out of the backseat and stepped out of the pickup to check the tank level.  It would be a few more hours, before there is enough water for me to leave.  Leaden rain clouds whipping across the sky to the North with the fierce Wyoming wind, but the sun is backlighting softer clouds hanging on the Western horizon.

My life has felt out of my control too often this past year.  I hadn’t realized just how confined I felt by familial obligations and the dangerous self-pitying  narrative I’d attached to them, until we chose to walk away.  In a new space, together with my family of choice, I’ve reconnected with the core of myself.  My most primal self, detests dogma, obligation, and confining labels.  In my attempt to be the “good girl” this past year, I’ve lost sight of these truths.  Good girl’s respect their roles in the hierarchy of family, despite the cost to their soul.  Good girls put the needs of others ahead of self-care.  Good girls burnout and I did.

I can’t be a good girl anymore.  Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way.  I have learned and I have turned what felt like a rejection into a reawakening of my truest self.  My sensitivity is not weakness.  The empathy with which I view the world, is the truest expression of my energy.   I am enough, just as I am.  I do not need to shape myself to the narrative of my extended family, because I write my own story.  A story, like this moment, on this windy hilltop that makes my heart rise and sing.

Ch-ch-changes

There are, I hope, some subtle changes going on here on the website.  In an attempt to support this labor of love, I’ve created space for advertisers in the sidebar.  Carefully chosen to reflect my values and ethics, please check them out.

Duckworth Wool features Montana raised wool-American made garments.  I’ve been wearing my Duckworth tank and hoody literally every day since they arrived.  I can’t recommend them strongly enough and if you act as soon as possible you’ll receive 40% off their regular prices until Friday.

Yeti coolers (American made!) saved us loads of grocery money, while living in remote cow camps without electricity.

Last, but not least REI Outlet is an awesome source for quality outdoor gear at affordable prices.

 

We’re Buying a House

We’re buying a house.

I’ve been repeating this statement to myself with some disbelief these past few weeks.  We’re buying a house.  We are buying a house.  It isn’t an uncommon life choice, but it seems such a conventional life choice.   I’ve not been known for conventional life choices, I married a cowboy.  I married a cowboy and in doing so freed myself from modern convention pursuing the flavor of gypsy life.  We’ve enjoyed moving around the West.   With every move,  we’ve become familiar with new landscapes, we’ve learned about ourselves and our relationship.  I worry that I will become complacent in my personal growth, if I’m not faced with the challenge of exploring and starting over somewhere new.

My heart vacillates between a desire for roots, a place for the simple luxury of a flower-filled vase, and the burning desire of ditching all my belongings (but a few precious books) traveling the world, living out of a suitcase.  So, believe me when I say I can’t believe we are buying a house.

We have been involved  in the home buying process for a few weeks, I’ve come to believe that like grieving the home buying process has distinct stages.  Stage One, is giddy enthusiasm.  There is some much possibility on the horizon.  After paging through realty flyers and visiting home after home, Stage One slides quickly into the depression that defines Stage Two.  The search begins to feel endless, and you become disheartened.  None of the houses, feel like home.

Then all of the sudden, one does.  Stage Three, you walk in the door and your struck by an intangible sense of belonging.  Perhaps it is the abundance of natural light, the floor plan, or a minor architectural detail but something just feels right, this is “The” house.  So you make an offer, which leads you to Stage Four.

Offer, counter offer, counter-counter offer, counter-counter-counter offer, and so it goes.  By the time an agreement is reached, you’re so fatigued by the process that you’re not certain you really want the property anymore.  Stage Five commences with more paperwork, T’s must be crossed and I’s must be dotted as you leap through the hoops necessitated by the loan process.

This is where we’re at in our home buying process.  Tentatively excited about the prospect of being a home owner, but also terrified.  This is it, we’re turning in our Non-pro cards and becoming Adults, with a capital A.  Owning a home will temper our gypsy ways.  But I know, my husband and I strive to be deliberate in our choices, and our lifestyle will adapt but our priorities will remain the same.  Rather than packing our worldly goods in a horse trailer and hitting the road every few years, we will seek growth under one roof; exploring our values rather than new landscapes.

Everybody Loves a Roan

A few years ago, I was relaxing in the bleachers at a rodeo, while a weirdo friend braided my hair.  “You’re going roan! I like it.”  Roan, the  sprinkle of white hairs, is such desirable coat pattern in horses.  Women. . .I’m not so sure.  “Whoa, whoa, whoa, timeout!” scream the glossy magazines and media.  Their not-so subtle subtext:  aging is shameful and grey hair is is to be covered.   Though everybody loves a roan, I began dying my hair shortly after the bleacher observation.   For frugality’s sake, I’ve declined to dye my hair for over a year, but my occasional discomfort with my current appearance has me questioning my cheap little heart.  To dye or not to dye?   Perhaps, I should just avoid mirrors and surround myself with other roans.

I was 17-years-old, when I spotted my first grey hair.  “Oh no, I’m becoming my mother!”  Horrified, I quickly plucked it from my head.  My mother wore her hair confidently in it’s natural salt-and-pepper state.   My  self-conscious, teenage insecurity took her appearance as a personal affront.  “Why would she choose to look so OLD?” whispered the little voice in the back of my head.  Apart from my mother, not many women were openly embracing the changes fueled by  stress, genetics, and time.  Aside from Mom’s personal, spiritual inspiration country singer Emmylou Harris, I was not aware of public figures embracing natural greying.

Fast forward a few years, I am nearly the age my mother was when my teenage-self believed her ancient.  As, my own dark hair is rapidly becoming sprinkled with grey, I admire my mother’s choice more.  Despite the mature appearance of the likeness in the mirror, I feel only slightly more adult than that girl who plucked that first alien hair so many years ago.  I’ve been under the mistaken impression that life would make more sense, as my appearance became more “dignified.”    How do you know when you are adult enough?  Grey hair clearly isn’t the answer  I’ve been looking for.  I can’t seem to find an “adultier” adult to soothe my anxiety.

Wiry greys sprout from my head like tiny alien antennas, defying the straight brown hair I’ve identified with for so long.  I used to scoff at women whose hairstyles never changed, snorting to myself, “My hair is not my identity, who I am is bigger than my appearance.”  Yet my own hair turns, and I am struggling with leaning into the discomfort of my changing appearance.  One thing is certain, I’d much rather surround myself with roan ponies, than have a roan ponytail.

 

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