Sunday, June 04, 2006


Where does happiness come from?

This morning began like most mornings at Refuge Farms. I was up and dressed and standing at the kitchen island with a glass of orange juice at 4:20am. It was a gloriously cool and clear morning with the bird chatter just starting. The house cats were still sound asleep and Lady-the-Dog looked at me and said, "Later, Mom. I need to rest a bit more."

I love this time of day! I'm fresh and ready to go and the day lies ahead full of possibilities and accomplishments!

Out of sheer habit, I go to the refrigerator to review my TO DO Lists. Yes, there is more than one TO DO list on my frig door. There is the list I created for myself of the major projects that need summertime to get done. Projects like "Re-line the Barn Floor" and "Build Slim's Memory Bed" and "Create the West Line Fence". Not small projects. Huge projects to me. Huge in both effort and cost. Overwhelming projects on that list. But things that must be done.

And then there is the colorful, organized and detailed TO DO list from Vincent, our Webmaster Extraordinaire. His list for me is about horse stories to write, new Essay Contests to create and sponsor, new barn plans and announcements, and decisions to be made about the upcoming Open Barn.

I stood in front of those lists and said outloud, "Not today, Sandy." I said this to no one. And yet I felt I had said it to everyone. But mostly, I had said it to me.

You see, I've been so buried in lists and so overwhelmed with what has yet to be done and so worried about not getting it all done, that I've lost my happiness! The very thing Suzanne warned me about before her crossing, I have lost.

And so I ask you, "Where does happiness come from?"

As I listen to the 4am radio news, it seems that to the big world out there, happiness comes from market gains or criminal convictions or captures of insurgents. My mind hears these things every single day. I work hard to stay in touch but to also not allow the heaviness, the sheer weight of all of those hardships and fears, to bear on my mind. Sometimes, I am unsuccessful and I fear for the world in general.

When I go to work every weekday, it seems that happiness is just out of reach there, too. There is not enough money to retain benefits or salaries. We must contemplate layoffs and cutbacks in health care coverage. "How can we tighten the belt?" seems to be the mantra. I see the need and I also see room for improvements, but it wears on a person. Everyday there is the edginess, the fear of losing my job and my health benefits. It wears on a person. How will I make the house payments? What would I do if health insurance gets too expensive for me? Dear heavens, how I will I support the herd?

And then when I pull in the yard of my residence, my most critical eye sees weeds and fence lines and lumber piles and burn piles. It seems my eye scans over the beauty of it all. Why is that?

And so I ask you again, "Where does happiness come from? And when we lose it, where does it go?"

Now, nothing magical has happened during the early hours of this morning to change my soul or to make me bubbly and oozing with happiness. No, that's not where this is going. But I do sense a sea change coming. I really do.

We were open to the public yesterday and early in the day, Lynn had noticed that our Bonita had thrown a shoe. Good eye, Lynn. But where was the shoe? Oh dear heavens, where was the shoe? The pasture seemed way, way too huge all of a sudden. And the possibilities seemed way, way too many all of a sudden. But we need that shoe. For Bonita and for the safety of the others, we need to find that shoe! A huge draft shoe with nails in it laying out in the pasture was just an abscess waiting to happen - many times over.

So I went out to the north line of the pasture and started walking. With my head down. Walk from west to east and hit the fence line. Take four steps south and walk from east to west to the round bale line. Take four steps south and walk west to east to the fence line. Over and over. Monotonous and boring.

As I walked, I thought. Why is this monotonous and boring to me? Where did my happiness go? Where was my smile? Oh, I could smile, but where was my heart's smile?

My frustration was growing with each step. You see, if the shoe was upright, my eye would probably catch it in the bright sunshine. But if the shoe was upside down, it could be hiding in the grass or the hay or the mud or the manure and I may not find it at all! At least on the first pass of the pasture! The thought of multiple passes on this pasture was exasperating! But the shoe must be found, so I kept walking.

Part way through, I said, "Throw the shoe up to me. Please. I'm feeling a bit tired here and I could use some help." More walking. How far was I in this hour of walking? I was half-way completed with one third of the pasture. Long, long way to go yet. Get your head down, Sandy, and look.

There it was! I found it! Laying upside down with all the nails still in it - and with their pointed ends sticking straight up in the air! A heart smile came through. Yup, I was happy! Over something so simple.

So this morning I began my day at the refrigerator door looking at all the things that needed to be done. And said, "Nope. Not today." Today Lady-the-Dog and I will plant glad bulbs and we will play. And we will brush ole' Cole. And we will grill some supper. And we will think. And we will see not just what has to be done. No, instead we will see the beauty that is around us.

Andy used to warn me that I needed to take the time to "soak in some of your own medicine." What did he mean by that? I used to wonder this, but now I think I know. I need to soak in some of the gifts of Refuge Farms myself. I need to find the peace and trust and faith of the place that is offered to everyone for me. And I have all the tools that I need to do that here in my own back yard. How lucky am I!

So I will start the sea change for me today. In just a few minutes I will be outside in the sun and the breeze and putsing. Enjoying every bit of it. And looking around me and smiling. Remembering that what this little patch of land has to offer is available to everyone - and to me. I will take some of my own medicine and be happy through and through.

So how will you find your happiness? Whatever it is, remember to treasure it and keep it close. Because this world can get too tense and too stressful and too set on getting lists done. We can spend our time doing and feeling successful but not happy. We can get wrapped up in crossing things off of our TO DO lists and we can forget to be happy. That, in my opinion, would be a wasted day.

There. I feel better already. Can you feel the tide moving?

Enjoy the journey of each and every day and be happy!
Sandy and The Herd

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