Monday, December 26, 2011

Into the wild

 I woke to the sound of eerie silence Christmas Eve morning. The quiet stillness in the house was almost heart wrenching. I missed the children terribly. It was our first Christmas apart. I rolled over in the bed and stared at the ceiling for about 30 minutes before I decided to "function".
As I slipped into my favorite pair of blue jeans and tossed on my hiking boots, I knew I needed to just "step away" from it all, just for the day. Years prior when I was weighed down and needed to rid myself of inner turmoil I sought refuge in the woods. The crunching of the leaves would whisper friendly sounds. The wind would carry away any doubts or fears. The mist from rushing waters refreshed the soul... I always found solace in the wilderness.
For months I had pulled up the Tennessee department of Environment and conservation website and studied various parks and conservation areas. Out of many of the places I discovered, I had my heart set on the seeing the Walls of Jericho.

The Walls are found within the 21,453 acre Bear Hollow Mountain wildlife management area. The area extends across the Cumberland Plateau between Tennessee and Alabama along the state line. I never truly understood vast wilderness, and although I know there are far more primitive places in the world... this would eventually be my first taste...
I packed dried banana and mango, a couple bottles of water, chapstick and mittens, before calling my father and informing him of my intentions. Before hanging up the phone we made plans that I would make it back on time to have Christmas Eve prime rib with him and my mother.
"I love you, daddy", I thoughtfully said as I hung up the phone. "I love you too Smooch", he said. (My dad has called me that ever since I was little)
I loaded the car and headed toward Alabama. The 21/2 hour long car ride didn't take long at all. My loud obnoxious off key singing amused me greatly as I rocked out to Kings of Leon, Mumford and Sons, Foster the People and so on.
The road twisted and turned up the plateau. I turned the radio off and rolled the windows down. I inhaled the crisp winter air. I let the atmosphere wash over me. The breeze hit my fingertips that held slightly out of the drivers side window. The views were magnificent. I was happy for the escape.

 There were several  pull offs along the way. I finally found the parking labeled "hikers". I was surprised to find three other vehicles in the parking lot.
Dust still stirred around an older dark blue Mercury Sable. A man jumped out of the car leaving the door opened and briskly walked toward the port-a-jon. His little dog jumped out of the car and wandered around the parking lot untethered. I stepped out of the car and looked around. I pulled my phone from my pocket to send my father a text message,"Im here... Alabama hiking trail.".

I slipped my phone back into my pocket and inhaled the clean air. I heard the man whistle for his dog. The car door shut. I turned to see the blue mercury exiting the parking lot.

 I stepped onto the hiking trail. The path was clearly marked  as it twisted and turned down the plateau. It was fairly easy hiking but it did cross my mind that coming back up might be a different story. I was about 45 minutes in when I came across a fellow hiker. She was a pleasant lady fitted in fairly nice hiking gear. I could tell that she wasn't an amateur as her boots were worn for wear. She was hiking with her three dogs. I stopped and chatted with her for a bit. The largest dog of the three laid down at my feet as we chatted.

 She said I was about 30 minutes from the first walk bridge. She warned me that the hand rail wasn't real stable and advised me to use it more for balance verses something to firmly grasp or lean against. She told me that once I start to see the large cliffs go back farther into the gorge or I will miss the really beautiful parts of "The Walls of Jericho". I assured her that I wouldn't miss it.

I continued on my way... There was a beautiful spring pouring water down the mountain side.
The trail fluctuated from fairly level to gradually slopping. I came to a rocky area but as I looked around there was a cane break on a gently slopping part of the hillside. I walked towards it to investigate the native shoots.

I turned around to get back on the trail but I had became confused at this point. I looked down and saw the trail ahead and walked towards it. This was possibly one of the many mistakes I had made thus far. I should have focused at that moment to figure out where exactly I came from verses where I was going but I continued on... 

I could hear people ahead of me talking. Finally a family came briskly moving up hill towards me. I am assuming  that the man and woman were actually the parents and the gentleman that was with them was their young adult son. They were also fitted in full hiking apparel. At this point it did start to cross my mind that perhaps I underestimated the hike.

I took the ebb and flow of the terrine in stride. I finally came to the first walk bridge. I must confess when I saw it I laughed out loud. I wasn't expecting what I found...
Even at this point the trails were fairly friendly. The only real obstacle at this point was my physical condition. Note to self: work out more often.

 I followed the path across a second bridge... urgh.... very similar to the first one but much more stable. After I crossed the bridge I came to a field  the sat steadily between the two mountain sides... I felt so far from civilization as I looked towards the vast mountain sides.
Shortly after passing the field the terrain started to change yet again.. The path gradually became rocky and steep. There was a briskly moving stream littered with boulders directly off to my right...

I could feel my energy waning and my ankles were really starting to ache as I wasn't use to walking on such narrow uneven terrain. I kept my determination. "I have came all this way to see something breathtaking, I will see it", I thought.
I pulled my phone from my pocket once again to check the time. It was starting to look like I would be missing Christmas Eve dinner. It was 2:00 pm. It would be dark in a few hours. Taking in consideration the time it took me to get to Alabama and I had already been hiking for roughly 21/2hours. I decided I would give myself 15 more minutes and if I hadn't reached the walls yet I would just have to come back some other time. That thought was greatly disappointing. I needed to make the most of my time so I moved forward along the narrow trails that weaved beside the cliffs.
About five minutes past this point (referencing the picture above), I realized I might just be in trouble. I recall taking a step and my vision blurred. It felt as if the ground and hillsides moved in a psychedelic manner. I knew then that my blood sugar was low. I stopped for a moment to pull a few strips of dried mango from my back pack. I stared off into the distance....
I looked at the steep mountain around me. I had a long way back to civilization. I had no choice. The walls would have to wait. I knew that they weren't going anywhere but if I wanted to ever see them again I had to get the hell out of there.

"Getting out", was a key motivator in my quick pace. I drank water as I walked rapidly back the way I came from. I started to feel very hot. The first bridge I came to I had to stop and peel off layers of clothing. I had made it just past the second bridge when I started to feel nauseated. I started wreching up mango and water a quarter of a mile later. I would walk a few feet and then heeve into a pile of leaves and walk on again.

I finally came to the first cane break that had distracted me previously at the beginning of my hike. The path was clearly marked except for this one area. It was hard to distinguish were I had originally came from because all the boulders looked a like to me. I thought I had found a slightly worn path so I took it, but what I had originally thought was a human walking path became apparent that it had been made by the local deer. As I lost sight of the marked trail below me I began to panic. I decided to walk back to the marked trail and try again to find the correct path. I climbed back down. I look right in front of me and it looked as if the path came to a dead end.

There was nothing but large boulders in front of me. I had a decision to make. I could go back down to the camp site about a mile down and stay the night. That really wasn't a reasonable option. It would be very cold in the gorge at night and I wasn't sure my fire lighting skills were up to par. I thought about  the children. They would be returning Christmas morning and I wouldn't be there. My blood sugar was rapidly dropping. I was feeling disoriented and couldn't hold down food. Who knows what kind of physical shape I would be in in the morning.

I decided to trek straight up the mountain. If I had to sleep on the hillside at night so be it. I felt like eventually I would hit civilization as 16 South runs along the top of the mountain. I also had a better chance for cell phone coverage.

The incline was much steeper than what I had encountered throughout the day. I prayed as I climbed over boulders and rocks that I didn't accidently slip my hand or foot into a snake den. I continued to vomit in route.

 I gradually lost sight of the trail that I had left behind. I started to have doubts. What If I veered too much to the right or left and I wasn't going straight up from the path at all!?! Did I make the right decision? Panic started to set in.

I pulled my phone from my pocket. I was "out of network". Fear washed over me... I could see it all coming to head, five o'clock news headliner, "Dumb ass gets lost in the wilderness Christmas Eve".  I knew I needed to have a pep talk with myself. "Leigh, chill out, calm down, think, move forward", I said out loud.

Then once my outer voice became quiet my inner voice spoke out loud. "O GOD!", I whimpered in fear just before I began to dry heeve.

I stood up and hear two beeps, signaling incoming messages from my cell phone. That was the signal of divine intervention. I now had hope! The first message was from my father, asking me if I was going to be on time. The second one was from my friend Joel asking me if I was enjoying the hike.... My answers at this point were no and NO!

I messaged my father back. I cant remember what I said but it was something along the lines of. "I'm in the woods, I'm sick and I need help". I sent Joel a message that stated "I'm lost and my blood sugar is low."  Neither message went through at the time.  I was ready to cry. I was so frustrated discouraged disappointed and LOST! I again had to regain my sanity. The bright side... I got some sort of phone service.

Again my head started to spin and nausea took hold of me. I dropped to my knees clutching the leaves as I emptied bile onto the ground. I was freezing cold and shivering as sweat dripped from my temple.

I stood up as I wiped my mouth with the back of my sleeve and pulled the long stray strands of hair back into a pony tail. I dialed 911 on my cell phone. I held the dialing phone in my hand as I hiked on hoping that eventually I would get service. Finally I gave up in fear I would drain my battery. I looked down and noticed I had one bar of service so I dialed my father. My phone cut in and out but I could hear my mom. They had received my messages. I tried to tell her where I was and the situation but the phone cut in and out. I could hear the terror in her voice as she frantically said "I cant hear you. Are you ok? Where are you?"

"Mom I am off the trail, I'm sick, I'm lost, I was on the red Alabama hiking trail, I came in to the gorge from the ALABAMA side", I yelled as if it would help her hear me through bad reception.

I hung up and walked on. I finally came to the upper level of the marked path. If I had the energy I would have dropped to my knees and kissed the trail but I knew I wouldn't be able to get back up. I looked down at my phone. It was 3:45. I walked on. My reception still was coming and going. I only felt the alleviation for a few moments. The climbing really depleted my energy and I couldn't even hold down water at this point. BUT I knew I was better off than what I was. I was back on track!

I continued to get sick along the trail and my cell phone was in and out of coverage area. But apparently I picked up a signal and I had pocket dialed my father. All he could hear in the back ground was me wreching. His panic set in. He felt helpless. He didn't know where I was or if I would be coming home at all. He wiped a dribble of tears from his eyes and called the rangers. He was getting his things together for a rescue.

My legs trembled as I put each foot in front of me walking forward. Joel had received my message and asked if he needed to call in a ranger. I messaged him back to tell him I was back on the path, sick but I thought I could make it out. Then I lost service yet again.

I finally reached the hiking trail entrance and  immediately called my father. We briefly talked and he let me go so he could call off the search party.

I was so relieved to make it out, and I learned a lesson among many but ultimately the greatest lesson learned... Never underestimate the wilderness... 

AND... Of course there is that lesson that has been burned into us all many times as children...

Try once and if you don't succeed, try try try again!

Alabama bound!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


As I sit here this morning I am thinking about the holidays... If  I squint my eyes real hard and focus on the meaning, I can almost see it....

I see the faces of my parents...

Not too long ago I had to skipped out of work for a morning. I needed to travel back to the country, past the rolling cow filled pastures and roads littered with fallen leaves. I had tell my parents that I wasn't well. That morning... We cried....

 I am crying now because I am so so thankful that when I squint my eyes to see the meaning in the holidays that I have those loving  faces looking back at me...

My gratitude may not always show but know that it swells and boils over in my heart...

As I get distracted in this world. It takes my focus. Again I try to see the meaning... I see my brother. My big brother Joshua. I cant explain my connection to him but if you ever had a sibling you are close to then you get it. He is the guy that can always make me laugh  to tears. There is no other male in my life that will understand me like my brother Josh.

 The best memories I have was with this kid....

I am thankful for my Sister. How she came into our lives is blessing in its rawest form. There isn't a thing in this world that I couldn't talk to her about. She is truly one of the strongest people I know.

 Not only is she strong but rare.... Rare in that her external beauty shines on throughout her heart.
 I love you Sista.

I am thankful for my nephew. He was the first born. We got to make all the mistakes with him (smiles), "No kids, just ask Dominick what happens when you eat ice cream sandwiches for breakfast". I am thankful for the strong arms of my nephew. I will never forget that early morning outside the donuts shop. (Happy tears, sad tears, loving tears...)

I am thankful for my friend Charlie. Our times sitting on the porch watching the leaves fall, talking about the meaning of life, laughing in the circle of trust, cuddle time during "How I met your mother"... and sweet sweet tequila (tah-keel-ya).

I am thankful for my best friend Holls. Damn.... that's all I can say. I could write a book about us. From 6th grade on... catching the tent on fire, the famous toilet ring,  the box of secrets.... the days you didn't leave my side.... the things you said... the things you know.... Monumental is what you are!!!

To truly be thankful you have to understand what blessings you have.... you have to embrace every aspect of thankfulness....

I am thankful for my ex-husband. There is a lot to be said for 11 years... the most obvious, the two beautiful children that we made. Thank you for the memories, the children.... and the friendship.

So with much effort... I get it. Today I will look over the early Christmas trees, the ceramic turkeys, and fruit filled cornucopias.... and see the people that I TRULY  love.... the people I am MOST thankful for.....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Earning My Degree

Come By Chance is in a different place currently but I tell you with absolute certainty, although traveling in a foreign land, the destination has not changed. This is merely training.

The cold seeped from the concrete stoop and bleed through my pajama pants as I sat outside of our small two bedroom apartment in the city.  I delicately laid the large stack of unopened bills next to me. I stared across the litter parking lot, watching a candy wrapper flit and bounce with the breeze. O how I was craving the woods. I squinted my eyes for a moment. I pretended the trash was a  blissful delicate autumn painted leaf... Then shaking free from my fantasy, I looked around, "I cant believe I thought this was a good idea", I sadly reflected.

As I wrapped my arms tighter around me, the wind blew splinters of cold through my jacket. I inhaled the evenings cold air. With each detoxifying breath, calm cleansing and deep, I exhaled each crisis of the day.

 Just as I was releasing the stress, my doubt crept back in. A tight knot formed in my stomach, " BUT, what am I doing here and why?"

The sirens from the hospital had started to drown out my thoughts. Then drawing my attention to the right, a sound closer to home. A car door five spaces down slams shut.  A young mother screams at a man still standing beside the older white Honda, "your a fucking jerk", she says as she angrily  fumbles for the correct door key. I just sat there gawking at their intimate BUT yet public display.

 The pizza delivery guy pulls in next to my car. With little notice he casually walks in my direction. Still avoiding eye contact he says "whats up", but then absently hovers over me. "Its not mine", I snipped. Without a word he turns and knocks on my neighbors door... The smell of fresh pizza reminds me that I have almost a week before my next pay day.

My cell phone rings. I can feel my heart rate hasten as I see its an ex-boyfriend calling...

The sounds of sirens fade into the distance. The couple's bickering is no longer seen behind their closed door. The smell of pizza fades from my senses. My calm is restored as I pressed end to my ringing phone.

I'm here in this place. So far home, finding my way is going to take focus and determination.  At times it will feel like I my efforts are insurmountable.

It is easy to react in the calm.  Focus is simple in  perfect conditions.  It is when the chaotic world around us that pulls us in every which direction do we learn what true focus and determination is.

There will be times when I am listening off into the distance or wondering about someone else's life. There will be times when I am envious of others simple fortunes and times that I just have to shut off my feelings... but in the end I will steady myself and find my focus. I will regain my footing. I will learn to hear the breaths of my sleeping children over the the sirens echoing around me. I will focus on my soft inner voice over the yelling of others.. I will find happiness in the blessings of other people and I will have a love that's all mine again.

When I look at the world around me, I realize the magnitude of  cause and effect and the toll it takes on our senses.  Our reactions count!

A few years ago after hitting a road block, I mastered the art of being self sufficient.  I can grow a garden and raise healthy livestock. I am capable of ending an animals suffering and carving a simple bowl out of fire wood. I have conquered many of the physical tasks life can bring. I can and have embraced the simple life.

It is only here in this place of chaos that I have moved on to the next stage in this educational degree of life... Now I have complex task of  learning to Master ME....

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stepping Forward

Time leaves no traces, no paths leading backwards.

Time knows no reverse.

Time is a force not a measurement.

It pushes us.

It propels us, whether it be willingly or unwillingly into the the future.

Time creates a light often masked in darkness.

And each step in time is MONUMENTAL second.


Be there in that moment and make it golden.

A golden second in time.... a golden force...

Because time is untraceable, immeasurable in the realm of living. 

And once that beautiful golden second is gone it can never be recaptured again...

From there, the golden hour of time, those memories will shine a light into the future...

Which reaffirms the importance of making every second count,

Make every moment golden.

Its the only way to light the path ahead.

 Time leaves no traces, no paths leading backwards. Time knows no reverse.

Time is a force not a measurement.

It pushes us. It propels us, whether it be willingly or unwillingly into the the future..... 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Compassion is love and love is an art..

When I became a mother... I became aware that everyone is someones baby.... When I became a mother... It was as if I become the custodial guardian to the earth and her children... and when our children cry... we all weep...

Saturday afternoon I was weaving in and out of the cluttered streets of Nashville. Slews of fast paced people walked the sidewalks, seemingly, headed towards a specific destination. Not a soul wandered with out a destination. Even those sitting with their backs pressed against the wall strumming their guitars for coins were headed somewhere... perhaps in all little time but definitely somewhere.

A mass of people briskly walked towards the pub. I noted a blonde headed man had smiled and shook the hand of the dark haired man that had been walking towards him. The blonde held the door as they walked in... Defiantly not close friends yet but once the drinks ease the flow of conversation, I am sure the day will end with a closer bond... and possibly wondering if they said to much...

About a block down a curly headed little girl about 3 years old happily wrapped her arms around a little boys neck. She squeezed him so fiercely that his wriggles towards freedom proved a weak attempt. I am pretty sure she let go before the disgusted little boy turned a brilliant shade of purple.

A man and woman wearing matching Khaki shorts and tan hiking sneakers briskly walked up the street towards the park. "Very healthy people", I thought... I even stereo typed them into the category of people who probably eat large bowls Kashi cereal and orange juice after their morning jogs together.

 A few blocks down, there were brightly dressed people in wedding apparel, shuffling towards a large White Methodist Church  that vainly adorn pink ribbons and bows. I huffed a bit at the elaborate display... All that just to say I love you?

 For some reason when I thought about the displays of I love you's, I was taken back to the image of the men at the pub, the children and the couple walking towards the park.

 Love comes in many shapes and sizes, some loud and boisterous other calm and conservative...

Just as I was about to have this long drawn out conversation with myself about the shapes and sizes of love something caught my eye... Something... Someone I will never forget.... The image of this... this person will forever be embedded in my mind....

I saw someone's baby... Someones innocent.... lost.... little baby...... His dark black frail body glistened in the strong afternoon heat. Sweat dripped down from his brow leaving a trail down his cheeks. His ribs protruded underneath his thin skin like a thin black sheet hiding a sack of bones.

He stood about 6 feet tall and too close to the road. His eyes were shut as his head tilted up towards the burning sun light. It was apparent that he was out of his mind. He rocked back and forth on his bare heels as he chanted loudly at the sky above.

 I wish I could have understood what he said... I wish I could have understood how he became what he is... He probably doesn't even know himself...

He didn't know how close he was to the road... nor was he aware of the blistering from the hot asphalt on his naked feet. He probably was completely unaware that I was watching him, completely unaware that my heart grew and sank at his presence...

Compassion is love

Then there was a lady wearing a git up that reminded me of the world war II women's work force, "We can do it" poster. She climbed the stairs to the Art museum that was featuring an Andy Warhol  exhibit.

 I was almost one of those people... Headed towards the museum to see someone else's interpretation of art but then I realized, that in my heart I had made my own....

 Love is a complex art...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Vessel of Life

The first time I talked to the car salesman last week I thought I was literally going to be sick. I have made so many wrong decisions, I cant afford to make another one. Even though, inside, I had wished that someone else could make the decision for me, I knew that I had to do this on my own... by myself... for myself...

I researched the possibilities. I went back and forth with the pros and cons. I listened to the guidance of my friends and family. I did everything that I could have done in order to make the best decision. Although, I ultimately ended up purchasing the first car I test drove, it wasn't the only car. I know I made a good decision. It was the right and practical decision for my new life. The funny thing about good decisions is that they don't always make us feel happy.

I did everything I was told. I negotiated. I walked away from the table. They called me back and Monday evening we started the paper work. I was purchasing my very first vehicle, all by myself!  But the entire time, there was this dull pain in the pit of my stomach that I just couldn't quite figure out.

Today, my colleague (and good friend) took me to the dealership to pick up my new car. When I pulled in, it hit me, "I wont be driving Big Red anymore...". I know its silly, but at that moment my heart sank. That truck had been with me during what I hope was worst parts of my life. We have so much history together. It accompanied me when I went to seek inspiration from  the quiet country side. Her low hum often soothed my breaking heart. She escorted me to dinners with beloved friends and family. She safely carried my loved ones on fabulous adventures.... And together we witnessed breath taking views....

It wasn't the proud tears of independence, or even about parting ways with an old  friend.  It wasn't the relief of a fearful newbie reaching the end to a painful car shopping experience. Today I walked away from the truck that literally bore the weight of Come By Chance. She pulled horses in trailers, hauled lumber, chickens, goats and happy children...  In short? It was a symbolic farewell.

This evening, we said our goodbyes and parted ways. On the quiet drive home in my new fuel efficient Nissan Versa, I didn't wipe away  just a few tears. My shoulders shook with heart breaking sobs. And for every mile home, my new car quietly whispered.... "in due time... in due time..."....

I cant say that today was the beginning of my new life but it was definitely a defining mile stone along this road of mine...

Where is this new vessel going to take me?  Who knows!?!

Monday, May 9, 2011


There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not searching for the light...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Water Fall

I have thought along time about how I would write this post. I am lacking the words. I don't like to write about the bad stuff. Its not because I want to portray my life as something better than what it really is, it's just... There is so much negativity in the world and I am not one to wallow in it. I refuse to wallow in it.....

When I finally arrived home from work late Friday night ,I was exhausted. I was exhausted from a long week of work and emotionally exhausted from the divorce. But Friday night when my head finally hit the pillow I couldn't sleep. I laid there in my quiet empty room awake staring up at the ceiling. "Whats next", I wondered.

All these unanswerable questions crept into my head like the blanket of darkness that surrounded me. I felt like I was standing under a waterfall trying to catch an air pocket to breathe. I was drowning. I finally let the flood overtake me but not before I drifted off to sleep.

In my sleep I dreamed of pouring rains and rising water. I gasped for air as I jumped up from my sweat soaked sheets. Relieved that it was just a dream, I tried to catch my breath. But the hot stagnate air in the bed room replaced the rising water in my dream. I opened the bedroom window. The gentle breeze swept in clearing out the choking humidity.

As my body started to cool I drifted back to sleep.

When morning finally came, I knew I had to get away for the day. But where would I go!?! I needed to see something that was beautiful. I needed to feast my eyes on something that was breath taking for all the right reasons...

I knew of just the place!

I threw on a t shirt and shorts and grabbed Sammy's leash. Sammy must of heard me grab the leash as he excitedly ran to investigate.

"Come one boy, Its just me and you today"... I thoughtfully paused... "Just like old times", I soberly said.

I hooked Sammy to his lead and he excitedly trotted to the truck. It was a long two and half hour drive. There wasn't much silence though as my head was full of constant dialog. Sam patiently look out the window occasionally turning his thoughtful gaze upon me. There is no doubt he was reading my mind. He would occasionally look over at me and warmly closing his eyes... Yes, With all the inconsistencies in this world, one thing will never never change... my dog will always love me.


We finally reached Fall Creek Falls around noon. The Falls parking area was bustling with people. People from all over... People of all walks of life yearning to feast their eyes on something amazing and breath taking for all the right reasons.

Sam and I climbed down to the cascading water. The trek was too steep to go any lower into the gorge with Sam on a lead. The sound of the rushing water ran across my soul, soothing any weariness. It was exhilarating. The refreshing mist that danced in the air, a refreshment for the skin. I felt real. I felt alive and in the moment...

The moment was soon interrupted by a new flood of people. I took one last look and clicked my jaw for Sam to follow me to the Nature Center.

The Nature Center was littered with people. I stood looking at the door for a moment debating if I should tie Sam up to go in to get a map. Just as I decided to do without a nice lady offered her map of the park. I graciously accepted and said my thank you's.

I walked over to a lonely picnic table to reviewed the map. I studied the map for a long time. There were so many places to go. There were so many many paths....Which one should I take???

Something so simple began to seem like a life altering decision. But before frustration got the best of me, I concluded, "what the hell, I don't need a map"!

Sam and I walked away from the flock of people searching for view. We went on our own path, along the trickling creek...
Up the hill...
A path less traveled. Each step I took I began to realize how far away we really were...
For the first time in my life, I realized of the possibilities of being lost in the wilderness...For a split second caught myself  thinking "O shit, just a few feet to the left or to the right and I could really be lost! Thats the funny thing about being lost, it only takes that first initial step in the wrong direction... (That sounded like an epiphany!)

 Sam and I finally came to a clearing. I looked out across this deep gorge...
This huge hole now separated us from where we once were only an hour before. What a difference a few feet in the opposite direction make... Its good to see another perspective.

Sam didn't like walking away from the water. I noticed he started to slow down a bit. He wouldn't drink and he when I stopped to rest he paced back and forth.... Finally I became concerned that he was becoming over heated. Perhaps turning back would be best, I questioned.

We turned around and headed back towards the Falls.
Sam became happy and exuberant as the sounds of rushing water grew nearer. He pounce his paws against the ground and excited lunged towards the water.
He cooled his weary legs in the stream... and I sat on a rock and watched him bath.
I thought to myself... It doesn't matter where we are... If we are coming and going.... climbing or cascading... Its all pretty irrelevant. And when things are looking grim, mother nature has never failed to sooth my weary soul.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

At Day Camp...

This is why we don't take the goats on picnics.....

Monday, January 24, 2011

Life is a canvas..

Lee asked Sissy the other day, "When is  your front teeth going to come in, I want your teeth to come in!"

Sissy looked at her father and sternly replies to him, "DON'T RUSH ART"!

Apply Accordingly...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Some things never change...

This morning the moon accompanied me as I did my morning chores...

 As I walked to the barn I kept my eye on the moon. In my world of uncertainty I found comfort in knowing that no matter what, the moon will remain in the sky and the ground beneath my feet....

My peaceful morning walk was met by the brisk morning air. The glowing moon shimmered across the snowy ground, leading me to my four legged friends.

Milo, the barn cat circled between my feet while my dairy goats, Jasmine and Jessica called for me to hurry with their morning grain.

I took in a deep breath. Just as I was about to exhale the stresses from my life, suddenly I wondered, "What is that smell?"

And then I made a frightful discovery...

This is the third time I have had broken eggs in my pocket...

And so.... though at times I find comfort in the things that will forever remain steadfast...
I am still annoyed by the things that I have yet to change.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Legend of "Sitting Hen"

For Karen, One of the most fabulous people I know!!!!

When a Chicken goes missing or perishes during the night, some believe that a predator has taken them. But the legend at Come By Chance acres tells a slightly different story ..... 

Once many many moons ago a young pullet was out free ranging. She enjoyed her free time in the lush green fields with the bright warm sun beating down on her tail feathers. Life was great! But each day she would stray further searching for more worms seeds and berries. One day the little pullet reached a woods line. She knew the woods was a dangerous place to go. The woods was dark and scary. She knew that there were bears in the woods... and fox and raccoons! But the little hen spied a blackberry patch.  All those delicious berries were far to tempting.... She excitedly clucked her way through the under brush and had her fill of the sweet blackberries that lured her away from the safety of her home. 

Quickly night came. She didn't know what to do!!!! She began to panic.  Her instincts told her to roost.  She searched for a large tree, where she could roost high up in the sky. "Nothing will get me here", she thought.

When morning finally broke, she realized that in her search for a high roost, she had wandered even deeper into the woods... She was so frightened that she couldn't bring herself to leave the safety of her tree.

Over time the little hen had other instincts. She built a nest out of tree bark and leaves. There she laid thousands of unfertilized... empty spiritless eggs. She continued to sit on her nest... She so badly wanted to hatch a clutch of her own. If she just had one chick she wouldn't be lonely anymore. 

She was too scared to leave the tree in search for other chickens. Her fear of leaving the safety of her tree crippled her spirit so badly that when it was finally her time to return to her maker in the sky, her spirit could not make the travel. Her spirit now lingers between two worlds

Legend has it that she finally found her way back to the coop. Awe but yes, but she still yearns for little ones of her own.

She comes in the middle of the night in search of other stray chickens. She steals their spirits and places them in her empty eggs in hopes that one day, she may no longer be alone.

So when a chicken goes missing or perishes in the night its not a wild predator but it is the "Sitting Hen in The Woods", coming back to the coop collecting spirits for her empty eggs.

 The silhouette of Sitting Hen in the Tree marks as a reminder to put the chickens up at night.


Thanks to my pops for pointing out the chicken in the trees. ;-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Loving the skin your in...

For the Females....


Loving the skin your in...
It hasn't been that long ago that I had to go to the doctors for my annual check up. I am like most women, I dread going. I shamefully admit that the last time I went was the month after my three year old son was born. Its not that I just openly refused to go back but it was one of those things that I just kept putting off and the next thing I knew, three years had passed. 

Nothing gave me a kick in the butt to get to the doctors like visiting the subject of gynecologist with my good friend Rose. Her mom died of cervical cancer when she was just thirteen years old (a critical time in a young girls life might I add). She told me that her mother had just missed one annual exam. By the time her mother got around to making the next appointment it was basically too late. Hearing of Roses story once again reminded me that no matter how much I dread that appointment, it must be done. 

So I made my appointment and trekked to the big city of Nashville. Once I arrived at the doctors office I was warmly greeted by the staff. It was like seeing a group of old friends. It was nice to sit there and catch up with everyone and of course I showed off pictures of my growing kidos. One of the nurses is a West Virginia girl so we talked about home for quite a while as well. 

Finally it was my turn to go back. I should confess that there has been more than one occasion that I have canceled a doctors appointment just because I didn't want to be weighed. I know, everyone go ahead and scold me at once but don't act like you haven't at least thought about it before!

So I get on the scales and my nurse (who I am friends with) exclaims "Goodness you have lost a ton of weight since your last appointment"... "A yeah, that happens when you give birth", I said sarcastically with a smile.

I made my way back to the exam room where I was greeted by my doctor. I should say that up until this point I have always liked my doctor. I think that its important to have a a friendly relationship with your doctor in order to make the whole thing less awkward. We chatted for a bit as he did the exam. He made a comment about my flat stomach. I said thanks and smiled. I was really proud of myself for loosing all the baby weight. I felt good about my body!

I had felt better about my body than I had in years... that is until my doctor suggest, "a tummy tuck would get rid of those lines", pointing to the light marks on my lower abdomen. He proceeds to tell me he could set me up with a physician who does "Mommy Makeovers". He goes on to do the breast examination and says "the Mommy Makeover  package includes a tummy tuck and breast augmentation". I can not even begin to tell you how bad I felt at that point. I just wanted to crawl into a hole.

When my doctor suggested these things, I did not hear them as suggestions. I heard "you need to lose more weight, you need to work out more, you don't look good". I know that isn't what he said, but that is sadly enough what I heard.

Ok... now let me tell you. I have worked on writing this post for a few months now. Yes, that is how shy I am about discussing stuff like this... so you can just imagine the amount of trust I would have to have for someone to just see me naked!!! Do you see where I am going with this???

I walked into the doctors office feeling good and positive about myself but when I walked out I felt like I was all wrong. I felt like I needed "fixing". 

On my way home I thought long and hard about what my doctor suggested to me and when I say I thought long and hard, I confess, what I was thinking wasn't about whether or not I should have the elective surgery but I was already thinking of how was I going to pay for it! Then some where between Charlotte and Second Avenue I thought..."what the crap!?!?!? I cant afford surgery". I felt so down on myself all the way home. I was broken and even worse...unfix-able. I became angry that I allowed to fool myself into thinking that I had actually done good. 

The weeks following I started to physically self destruct. My new diet was killing me. 

One evening I was laying in my bedroom watching TV with Sissy and Aubs. Sissy laid her head on my stomach and my shirt slightly slid up revealing a few faint lines just above my pelvic bone. She ran her finger across them and said, "This was my side". I smiled at her and said "Yes". 

When I was pregnant with Sissy I carried her on my right side, the lines there were from her and on the left side was from Aubs. The lines on my stomach affectionately reminded her of  all the stories of her birth. She then slowly began to recite each story about her life in the womb, Like when she kicked me in sync to Dean Martins Thats Amore. (one of my favorite prego stories by the way)

It was in that moment that I realized that wanting to change my body was absolutely ridiculous! My daughter affectionately looked at my scars and in them she did not see ugly or broken... She read them as if she was reading a love story. She looked at them as if they were something beautiful and golden. 

I will never look the same as I did before I had children and you know what? I am okay with that. I am a woman now and my body speaks of a love story.

So this post is for all my girls. You are beautiful and never let anyone tell you any different. No man woman or doctor should ever make you feel inadequate. 

Your body is golden. Love it, respect it, and take care of it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Just a little bit red neck...

Just the other day I ran into one of my friends from high school. It was so nice to catch up. Our conversation broke out into a fit of gut wrenching laughter when we spoke of our first night frog gigging together.

Here the story goes....

When I was in high school there were several cliques of kids... There were the The preps, The stoners, The Christians, The nerds, The trouble makers, and The rednecks. I was the loner. But never was I alone. I drifted from one group to the next. Hmmm, perhaps that made me the drifter instead?

 Anyways, I had my preppy friends that I went shopping with. I participated in a few "stoner" functions that lead me to be excepted in the stoner crowd.  I need to pray for partaking in the stoner functions so I attended church with the Christains. I enjoyed spending time with some of the "nerds"... and I dated almost all the trouble makers. I was almost a well rounded kid, except for the redneck part.

 Don't get me wrong. I am a bred and born redneck. I just never felt the need to advertise it. But this crowd did. Nothing screamed billy bad ass redneck more than driving into the school parking lot in a loud over sized truck with a set of iron balls hanging off the hitch and your man fitting a tight pair of dusty old wranglers with a skol ring on the back pocket.  Yeah our school had a ton of these kind of fella's.

Although I had friends in various cliques, the red neck crowd was elite. You had to be a true horse ridin', beer drinkin', squirrel huntin' redneck to be excepted with in this crowd. In high school, I was none of those... That is, until the spring of my junior year.

 I had became friends with a prep, a Christian and a redneck through our common disdain of one of our classes... I cant remember which subject because well... I don't think we ever broke from our on going conversations to pay attention to which class we were in. Despite our labels we weren't all that different. Hell living in middle Tennessee its not like there was a lot of culture to set us that far apart! But this class was where a mix of random people became friends. We later discovered how we weren't that much different after all.

Rose was the girl that went on trail rides, went skeet shooting, smoke cigarettes, and could out drink any guy in town. She was a real southern charm. ;) Really! Nikki on the other hand, was the kind of girl that wore name brand cloths, painted her toe nails, and went shopping every other day. Pam, went to work and to church. That was the extent of Pam's socializing.

So one Saturday evening during late July, like most of the kids in town, we congregated at the old parking lot along the main road of town. We were all sitting on the tail gate of Rose's pick up truck. Thats all of us with the exception of Pam of course. She had to work her job at the local Micky D's.

 Every once in a while someone we knew from school would pull in. We would get the news of a party or a recent fight.... but not a dang thing was going on that night of any interest to us. We were bored to pieces.

I cant remember who exactly hatched the idea, although I am fairly sure it was Rose but the next thing I knew, We were in the midst of executing what seemed to be a swell plan. We were goin' giggin'! Rose went home to get her pistol- in case we ran across any snakes. I went to home to grab my dads  gigs and Nikki called her older friend to get us some.... ehm...  "refreshments".

Here we were, three intoxicated seventeen year old girls trespassing on some farmers land to go frog giggin'. I will never forget that night.  I remember thinking it was official, "no going back now". I will forever be an out of the closet redneck.

I was absolutely terrified that we could get caught trespassing, or caught  carrying a deadly weapon, or underage consumption, and (what would have terrified my dad to no end)... "giggin'" without a permit! But beyond all those fears, I was far more terrified of the scary mysterious things that lurked in the deep dark water! Well hells bells, the terror was what made the whole thing so exciting!

I remember the first frog I speared. I was standing in dark murky water up to my knees. I caught a glimmer as I shinned the flash light along a dam.  I closed my eyes when I gigged the massive frog. Suddenly fears of being caught completely wained. We all hooped and hollered like a bunch of rabid coyotes. "Now what", I thought? Of course I handed my gig over to Rose, I wasn't about to pull it off the gig!

The real fun came when the three off use drove through the McDonalds drive thru to show Pam our "trophies". We held up the muddy pillow case of frogs to the window. I had anticipated a grossed out scowl from Pam but nope... not a grossed out at all. The truth was she was pissed we didn't wait for her to get off work so she could go too.

By the time we made our way out of the McDonalds parking lot there was a large crowd forming at our parking spot. We pulled in, stinking and covered to the hilt in mud. Rose hopped out of the truck to greet her boyfriend with a kiss. I was new to the redneck scene. I assumed that the girls went frog giggin' on a regular basis. So when Rose's boyfriend asked where we had been, with a huge smile on my face, I  proudly held out our pillow case of frogs from passenger side window of the truck... just about that time Rose's boyfriend and his slew of friends nearly lost their dinner.

Due to the boys reaction, I frowned and looked over at Nikki,  "Whose going to clean them ", I wondered out loud. O NO!  Rose returned to the truck and off we went to clean our catch.

 Rose was in charge of the cleaning process. Nikki and I just watched. I remember my stomach turning just a bit and thinking perhaps it would have been best not to have alcohol swishing around in my gut before this task.

I was standing directly in front of Rose when she preceded to show us how to cut off their heads and skin em'.  The street light illuminated our dark working space as Rose put the first unconscious frog on the cutting board. Just as she was about to behead it, the frog made a miraculous recovery. He slipped out from underneath the knife blade and flew DIRECTLY TOWARDS MY FACE. I bout crapped my pants. I screamed and took off for the hills!

Later, (after my friends retrieved me from the woods), I discovered that barbecued frog legs are awesome!

The conclusion to todays post.... we're all a little bit redneck... just embrace it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Game Cam works

Holy Crapola! My game cam can actually take pictures of something other than me trying to see if its on!!!!