Loss and gratitude

My best friend

These past few weeks have been a time of loss and deep gratitude for me. I said goodbye to my darling horse of over 18 years a month ago. I loved Metro the moment I met him and he was more than I could have ever dreamed of as a horse-crazy girl. We had such a deep bond of trust. Riding makes you both physically vulnerable, but also completely transformed and liberated through the horse’s enormous strength, speed and flight. Metro gave me wings.

A plain bay with black stockings and a bit of white on his right ankle and a few white hairs on his forehead, he had huge ears, a giant ground-covering stride and unusually large and kind eyes… matched only by his enormous heart. A remarkable athlete, he was wise and gentle with children. I loved every inch of him and am impossibly grateful, but I am here and he is not and my heart is shattered.

Metro and I in the show ring
Metro greeting my grandson
Me and my darling boy

I have ridden and loved and owned and leased horses all my life and yet have never met another like him. He seemed to operate on a deeper level of wisdom, kindness and understanding. After retiring him from competition in the spring of 2018, he was able to enjoy a few years of retirement before he got sick. He came through so many other life-threatening illnesses – I wrote about them here. Looking back I think that my magically thinking brain thought he would never die because he had survived so much.

Metro in the full bloom of youth
An evening frolic in the early days of his retirement
My husband and I with my darling boy on his last day, during which he was able to enjoy green spring grass and even a big buck for the first time in months – courtesy of heavy duty pain meds and a caring vet

A poem from Mary Oliver:

Where has this cold come from?

“It comes from the death of your friend.”
Will I always, from now on, be this cold?

No, it will diminish. But always it will be with you.”
What is the reason for it?

Wasn’t your friendship always as beautiful as a flame?”

I know so many people have lost so much this year – loved ones, jobs, income, face to face school for their children, time with friends and family, travel and vacations, opportunities, experiences, the health of our democracy. Perhaps some folks might think losing an older horse pales in comparison, but I have learned that each person’s loss – whatever it is – is the biggest loss for that person. Comparing losses makes the winner the biggest loser. And, as always, those who know – know.

There is so much grief and loss and sadness in the world right now. I hope this story of a boy, a mole and a horse will lift you up a bit. It is magic.

And, some magical music. It’s The Keep Going On Song by the Bengsons. “I pray that my pain is a river that flows to the ocean that connects my pain to yours, and I pray my happiness is like pollen that flies to you and pollenates your joy, oh boy.” I listen to it over and over and over…

More from me soon… in the meantime, please stay safe, get vaccinated as soon as you can. Let’s keep going on together, in sadness, grief, hope and joy.

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Best of 2021… January

Biden Inauguration

We are only a month in to the New Year and I have found so much to love. Here’s a list, but I’d love to hear what is making your heart happy too so please comment below!

#1The Inauguration of the Biden-Harris Administration. Thank God. Maybe we can somehow find a way forward together, in truth.

# 2 – Movies. I have been watching lots and lots of TV, which now, thanks to the pandemic, can also mean fabulous movies. Here are the ones that topped my list:

The Dig – Netflix – Quiet, brilliant, deeply moving, a treasure. A masterclass in acting and cinematography and storytelling in my book. Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes star.

Soul – Disney+ – What a surprise! An animated movie that looks at the meaning of life. Do we need a big purpose to deserve to live?

A Promising Young Woman – Amazon Prime – You know how most revenge movies portray a good, mild mannered man who goes ballistic after his beautiful love interest is raped/murdered/kidnapped? This isn’t that movie. (You will not recognize this Carey Mulligan from the one you meet in The Dig).

The Sound of Metal – Amazon Prime – A musician loses his hearing and he has to learn how to live again.

Life Overtakes Me – Netflix – Within moments, this movie surrounds you in an alternative reality. Families tenderly and carefully holding their living child’s limp and unconscious body through the daily activities of life. These small children are living but have slipped away into unconsciousness. Watch.

White Tiger – Netflix – Wow. Wow. Wow. Based on a book of the same name that was the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2008, this dazzling movie tells the tale of talented young man

Good Hair – Netflix – Prompted by having two young daughters, Chris Rock travels the U.S. and the globe to understand the history, economics, politics, fashion and future of black hair. I was riveted.

The Prom – Netflix – Fifteen second in to this show and I was wishing it would last for the rest of my life. There is absolutely nothing Meryl cannot do, and she is once again brilliant here. Singing, dancing, sparkles, humor – I drank it all in with a giant gulp.

#3 My apps of the moment:

Duolingo – I am working hard to relearn Italian. I spend my senior year of college studying at the Universita di Bologna, (founded in 1088, it is the oldest university in the world). All my classes were in Italian and I was fluent when I left. I work on this app every day to recapture that most lyrical of languages. My sister recently pointed out that if I get a paid membership, I can unlock tons more content so I recently upgraded.

MarcoPolo – My friend Janet turned me on to this app back in May, and it has been a lifesaver during lockdown. The founders call it a video Walkie-Talkie, and it allows you to make videos whenever and wherever you want and the receiver can watch them at their leisure. It has made me feel connected to the family and friends I love and miss.

#4 – Podcasts (who doesn’t have one yet?)

I pride myself on being an early adopter of this medium, and I follow scores, but my latest find “SmartLess” is pure comedy gold. Co-hosted by Justin Bateman (Arrested Development/Ozark), Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Sean Hayes (Will & Grace), are true friends IRL, smart, quick witted, crass, rude, curious and able to give each other endless crap. Each week, one of them invite a guest and so far, Martin Short was nirvana.

#5 – Books

I am part of two bookclubs and I loved both books I read this month.

The Splendid and the Vile – it is the gripping account of Churchill and the Blitzkrieg of 1940 – 1941. I linked to Bill Gates’ review because he’s a genius and I am not, but I agree with his feeling that it was the perfect book to read for these times. I was so despondent during the last four years, it was inspiring to read about how a true leader can guide a desperate country through unimaginable times.

Breath – this book has been life changing. While I have always taken breathing for granted – this book shows that by paying attention to how I breathe, I can improve my health in countless ways. Check out the link above, and in addition to links to purchase the book, you will find links to breathing exercises that might pique your interest in the book.

#6 – Online events

Lyle Lovett and guests – I follow 2,439,0113 people on Instagram (not really, but lots) and Lyle Lovett is one. He notifies followers about upcoming online “talking and playing and singing” concerts with friends – for the price of $10. Over the last few months, we have tuned in for Lyle with Dwight Yoakum, Lyle and Chris Isaak and most recently, Lyle and Jason Isbell.

#7 – My husband, my dog Lexi, my horse Metro – Always, every day, these three bring me joy, comfort, profound connection and meaning.

I have so many things I could add to this list, but I will be back for more next month. Until then, please stay safe, wear your mask, stay socially distant and let me know how you are finding hope and joy in the midst of everything.

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Sad Songs Cheer Me Up

Sad songs

It’s weird, but when I am sad, listening to sad songs cheers me up. For me, nothing is sadder than a cry-in-your-beer country music song.  I love the ache of a twangy voice that cracks with pain, a slide guitar, and lyrics …  and no one does it like George Jones.  Well, maybe Tom Petty does. Longing. OK, well, then there’s The Hag – yup, Merle Haggard. Bewilderment at all how it all came down. But I don’t want to leave out Vince Gill.  Lonesome. Gram Parsons and Emmylou. Keith Whitley. “There were times if you’d been around, you would’ve seen me broken down.” Vern Gosdin. “if you’re gonna do me wrong… do it right. Ralph Stanley… nothing darker.

George Jones with a guitar

For some reason these melancholy, heartbreaking tunes cheer me up. I could go on and on. Who do you turn to when you are sad?

A few links I hope you like.

Heartbreaking.

This is on my reading list. I Found My Tribe.

Prince. Always and forever a 70’s girl.

The rise and fall of the once great Tower Records.

I could watch this four hour movie over and over again. Running Down a Dream. 

Rising Strong.

Sending big hugs out to anyone who needs one today… including me.

 

 

 

 

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