Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You will find future blog posts here: http://discoveringranchlife.com!


Discovering Ranch Life is the second blog I've been writing on blogger. I've been using blogger mostly to make it easy for myself. I think blogger is very easy to work with. It's also free. I am aware of the question of ownership of the content. It does bug me. I even tried to recreate my blog on Wordpress a few months ago. I thought I’ll give it a try. I kind of like the design of my blog on Blogspot. I custom made it the way I wanted it to be. When I started to do the same thing on Wordpress I got a little frustrated, they wanted money for every little thing I choose to add. When it become around $150 and I still was in the starting process I gave up.
However, now when I'm getting more serious with my photography I don’t feel comfortable having so little control over my content, on Blogspot. Therefor I decided to give Wordpress another try. 

While you're there you should visit my brand new "about page",

This is a working progress and the site is far from finished…I guess a blog is never finished..really. One different is that I don't have all the pictures in the sidebars anymore. Instead I'm making a separate gallery with my best pictures. The gallery is coming soon.
If you want to read more about Blogger v/s Wordpress this is a brilliant post http://www.aroyaldaughter.com/2013/01/04/blogger-vs-wordpress-content-ownership/
Ps. You can read all my old posts on my new blog http://discoveringranchlife.com.   See you soon!

Spring is here!



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Inspiration For Writers

Trinity National Forest, a magical place. I'm dying to explore more of it from horseback.



Two weeks ago I walked in to a Barnes& Nobles in Sacramento buying Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bird-by-bird-anne-lamott/1018999644. The cashier, a girl with a very serious look on her face, went through a complete transformation when she saw the book in my hand. Her face started to shine, she smiled and started to talk fast about how much she loved that book. In fact how much she loved all Ann Lamott's books. She told me that she took a writing class, and that one of her class mates suggested that she read Bird by Bird. She took the advice and find herself reading all Anne's books within a few weeks. It was now one of her favorite authors. 

When my writing class Writing in the digital age, came towards the end, we decided to create a book club reading books that would help us in our writing. The first book we picked was Bird by Bird. We're going to read one chapter each week and discuss them on Fridays. It's only been two weeks yet. It certainly is very challenging to only read one chapter/week! The book is so good! Anne's writing is brilliant. She encourage me to work on the details. It's Saturday today and I thought that I should take a little sneak peak on next weeks chapter…of course I ended up reading the whole chapter. I'll have to start reading another book on the side to pace myself :)

Tomorrow I'll start reading Mark Rashid's newest book, Nature in Horsemanship - Discovering Harmony Through Principles of Aikido http://www.markrashid.com/forsale_books.php . Or maybe I'll start tonight..

Friday, March 8, 2013

Small children and their colds

Hayley has a cold

Hayley have not been herself for a couple of days. She has a bad cold, coughing and sneezing all the time. Yesterday she had fever, but not today. She's tired most of the time, wants to nurse and be close. I'm a little surprised that she could catch such a bad cold when Phil and I aren't sick at all. The only reason I can think of is those times when I'm not fast enough and her admirer (read: everyone we meet) grabs her hands..(.and of course she puts them in her mouth.) I know that small children have plenty of colds, but my experience is that they usually not get them this bad until they start some kind of daycare/preschool.

A cold doesn't kill babies nowadays, I know. It's just not fun seeing them struggle, those precious little things. If she doesn't breath easier tomorrow I will take her to a doctor. Just to make sure.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Home



Pictures from my last place in Sweden



The most important ingredients in a home is the people living in it. There's no doubt about that. There's a few things that, if you ask me, that helps to make my home a happy place. Without harmony there is no home. I found harmony in simplicity. Having less things, but things that I have for a reason (may it be beauty or that I really need a certain item every day, if possible both!) That makes it easier to avoid clutter around the home. It makes my home easier to keep clean and I know where I have my things. More time to enjoy doing what I really want to spend my time doing - spend time with my family, friends, ride my horses and take pictures. Harmony and peace of mind doesn't come automatically, it's a decision. A decision to be made every day, just like eating healthy food and exercise. 

For me staying organized frees up time. Time gives me freedom. Time also sparks my creativity. Being disorganized on the other hand have the opposite effect. It kills my creativity, takes my energy away and leaves the harmony outside the door. A happy home doesn't cost a lot of money, just the commitment to make one.


My grandfather made this beautiful wooden coach that I had in my kitchen.


How much things do I really need? I want my home to be a warm welcoming place
 with beautiful things, BUT is it possible that I have things that I don't need?
Things that makes it time consuming to manage my house?



         What brings you harmony? What's the key ingredient that makes your house a home?




Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Macro





Today and yesterday, I've been playing with my iPhone 5, taking close up pictures on my dog. Just for fun. 

I wanna get a really good macro lens for my Nikon D5100 (any suggestions?) and make a book with close up pictures of horses (mane, tail, ears, hooves, muzzles...) and dogs (eyes, teeth, face..) That would be so much fun! I really enjoy taking that kind of pictures. I enjoy it because, for them to turn out good, you have to have some kind of communication and understanding with the animal. It's challenging, fun and you get to be creative!

I have a lot to learn about macro photography. I haven't done a lot of it, but I am wiling to work hard to become good! It helps that I have so many willing models to work with :)







Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Guest Blogger Franklin Levinson: ‘Amazing Grace’ The Joy of Compassionate, Successful Horsemanship



 Franklin Levinson
“Was blind, but now I see.” These words from the last line of the wonderful hymn
Amazing Grace, usually find me misty eyed and full of emotion. Sometimes I am totally moved to a very cathartic release and a flood of tears upon hearing and singing the hymn. Of course, I used to cry when watching Bambi’s mother got killed. I suppose that is just how I am and I am now at ease with my sentimental self. As a man, I like the fact that I can cry easily from happiness and feelings of love and gratitude. I treasure and savor each and every joyful moment that moves me to tears. Actually, there are not that many. But each one is like a pearl on the string of pearls that encircles the happiest moments of my life. The thought of moving from the darkness of feeling isolation, separation and fragmentation, which produce fear and anxiety, into feelings of connectedness, wholeness, safety and love, always produce wonderful feelings of safety and peace. It is these feelings that I wish to foster and I know I am not alone in this quest. I think a big part of why I occasionally have these sorts of emotional responses as an adult, is a void of expressed love and approval from my parents when I was a child in their care. I know others share a similar experience of their parent/child relationship.

So many times I have heard and read stories of how horses have affected people in the most positive and miraculous of ways. I have seen many such occurrences first hand. There are numerous accounts of how horses have helped heal people from physical, emotional and mental challenges. Books on this topic are many and easily available. Pet and equine assisted therapies are now an accepted method of positive support for the confined elderly, hospital patients, mentally ill and humans facing other difficult situations. Certain convicted criminals in our prison system are given the opportunity to train and/or rehabilitated horses. There is evidence that these prison based equine programs are the most effective rehabilitation programs available.

I believe that at the core of these positive responses to successful interaction with horses, and other animals as well, is the merging of perceived differences and separation, into feelings of oneness and wholeness with accompanying feelings of acceptance. I wrote The Story of Pete which was about my first horse in Colorado who had the reputation of an ‘outlaw’ horse and was due to be destroyed because of his dangerous behavior. My experience with Pete was one of these experiences of turning fear to trust. I have cried happily many times in response to the outcomes with Pete. He has become positively brilliant providing Equine Facilitated Learning for children and grown-ups with learning disabilities as well as “normal” people. I feel his love for me all the time and I send it right back to him. There is no separation between us, even when I travel away from where he is I still, somehow, feel his loving presence with me.

I have worked with thousands of horses over my 40 plus years as an equine professional and am very fortunate to have had this experience of turning fear to trust often. Each and every time I experience a horse move from anxiety to feeling safe, I am moved into what I would call a state of grace or feelings of grace. When I experience these feelings, I feel whole and complete, unworried, peaceful and connected to something I can only describe as being of a divinely loving nature. With horses, if we first focus on the elimination of fear and the development of trust, all else we desire to do with our horses cannot help but be successful when we add patient, skillful and compassionate leadership into the equation. Whether it is Grand Prix competition or simple trail riding, partnership with the horse that is based on mutual trust and excellent human leadership, cannot help but succeed.

As with all relationships, developing trust happens over time. There is no quick scenario, or magic pill that will instill trust in an individual. If someone saves your life you may think that is evidence you can trust that person. However, that is not necessarily true. That person has certainly earned your gratitude. But, actually may not have earned your trust. Between spouses, good friends, close companions, family members, etc. this trusting, compassion and love based relationship can and does produce feelings of grace within the individuals involved. Somehow feelings of grace provide a break and reprieve, even if momentary, from worry, anxiety, fear, tension and stress. Even small successes with horses, because it is prey/flight animal, which come about through turning a bit of fear to trust, can provide us with an experience of amazing grace.

I think meditation is a great method for centering ourselves, focusing, getting into the ‘now’ (the present moment), de-stressing as well as offering many other benefits to those who do it. I sometimes expressly teach successful horsemanship as a form of meditation. Depending on who I am teaching, I may or may not use the term ‘meditation’ as there are those who will have a negative attitude towards it because of a lack of knowledge and understanding of what that really means. As a teacher, ‘being politically’ correct has its place. However, learning can be impaired by rigid mindsets and prejudicial viewpoints. Semantically dancing around a person’s erroneous opinions and unfounded beliefs is not my favorite thing to do. But sometimes it is necessary to get certain basic points across. I believe states of grace can be found through meditation. I know this for a fact as I have experienced it during my own meditations. Similar experiences can be fostered when we focus on helping others as opposed to always seeking to get for ourselves. This goes for helping horses eliminate fearful feelings too.

There are many places that we can now go to learn about being with and training horses in gentle ways. Using internet searches to find trust based trainers, thoughtful and even spiritual paths with horses, can really provide many options for those seeking better relationships with horses. If one is open to spirituality, there is no better or more profound spiritual path than one accompanied by a horse. To me, the message within the Amazing Grace hymn means moving from darkness to light, from ignorance to wisdom, from separateness to wholeness and from hate to love. Freedom from fear is one of the great rewards and benefits of grace.  Understanding the value in compassion, service, kindness, tolerance and embracing peace, immediately provides us with a state of grace. When we are with our horses and manage to quiet our minds and open our hearts, it is then that grace (wholeness and inner peace) becomes a part of our immediate and conscious experience. This is Amazing Grace, The Joy of Compassionate and Successful Horsemanship.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Solutions for hiking with a baby!




Tenzing TZ 720 Camouflage
Hunting Gear Travel Fanny Pack


Lately I've been trying to find the best way to carry my camera and other gear when I'm hiking. If I would hike by myself I would wear a back pack, but nowadays I have Hayley in a baby carrier too. I've been trying different solutions; I made shorter hikes and skipped extra diapers, water, food etc. I also carried everything in my traditional camera case. I like to go for long hikes, so skipping to bring water and food doesn't work. To carry my gear in my traditional shoulder (camera) case doesn't work either, it's way to uncomfortable. With the weight moving around to much its' rough on my shoulders and dangerous on steep climbs. 

I think I finally found a good solution! Most of the weight from the baby carrier is on my shoulders (even though I have the most high tech baby carrier their is on the market http://www.babybjorn.com/us/products/baby-carriers/baby-carrier-original/original/.) I've been looking for ways to spread the rest of the weight as even, and as much as I can. I tried to stay open to different options. Even options that I would never consider to wear in public! When I'm hiking comfort is king. I ended up buying a "Tenzing TZ 720 Camouflage Hunting Gear Travel Fanny Pack" http://www.opticsplanet.com/tenzing-tz-720-camouflage-hunting-gear-travel-fanny-pack.html. I bought it on Sportsman's Warehouse http://www.sportsmanswarehouse.com.


Tenzing TZ 720 Camouflage
Hunting Gear Travel Fanny Pack


I tried it out yesterday and I'm very pleased. There is room enough for food and water for a really long hike. It's comfortable and my camera is within easy reach and so is the rest of my stuff. It's lightweight and I almost didn't feel it. However this is not a camera bag, therefor it doesn't have the protection you need to have for a camera. Since I always need to bring extra diapers I had padding for my camera! If I didn't carry the diapers I would of arrange some other protection for my camera. A smaller camera case would fit inside of the bag as well. I would NOT wear this equipment in town, but for the woods it's perfect. I'm pretty sure that I can use it behind my saddle when I'm 
riding my horse as well. 



Tenzing TZ 720 Camouflage
Hunting Gear Travel Fanny Pack.
View of the inside, with my camera,
diapers, tissues, water etc.
For Mom's that enjoys taking
taking their babies on adventures!


Whitey, my faithful trail buddy.



One of my classmates from my writing class recently started a new blog that I follow with great interest. She have a very authentic writing style. I can relate to her experiences and I love her open mindedness. I feel very honored to be mentioned in today's post. Check it out here http://parrotandox.com/2013/03/04/merry-monday-a-new-approach/. She puts a smile on my face every time I read her blog :)


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Basic Needs, Play-time and Happiness



Watching animals and children play,
makes me very happy

7am Sunday morning. The house is quiet. I feel like I won the lottery at least! The first night of real sleep in like a month. The weather outside the window is grey and it might rain today. But nothing can take away the great feeling of a good nights sleep. Sleep is such a basic need, but without it, everything becomes so much harder. I get very homesick when I don't sleep. I miss everything about Sweden. Everything familiar and understandable. Without sleep the importance of a good nights sleep is crystal clear. 

Whitey and Stella running on a beach in Humboldt County, CA.

Sometimes the animals play can seem to be rather rough,
but mostly it's just play. Whitey and Stella never had one single
 fight. There play sometimes give them scratches and to an observer
might look a bit aggressive. They play all day long if opportunity given.
They love playing together and when they are too tired to play they
bundle up and sleep together.



On the other hand, a good nights sleep opt for a great day! Today, I'm ready for a great day! I'm not sure what today has to offer yet. I'm looking forward to find out. 
Last week I took around 1000 pictures. Many of them, (strangely enough…) are of dogs playing. Last night when I went to bed I thought about why I enjoy taking pictures of animals so much. Especially animals playing. The answer is simple. Simply because seeing animals play fills me with such joy. I want to capture those moments and share them. 
Happy Sunday!






Friday, March 1, 2013

The Lost Coast


My family enjoying the last sun, on a beach outside Eureka

The Lost Coast is a undeveloped part of Northern California that I've never been to. Many of the small towns along the coast is completely isolated from the rest of the world (sort of..) My husband new that I was eager to see that part of California. That he's been telling me so much about. Especially since California's coastline have a special place in his heart. 

Stella taking the opportunity to swim
 in a river on "a diaper change break".

A few days ago Phil had to meet with a business acquaintance in Humboldt County. He was only making a day trip, and I knew that if I came along it would be a long day. I decided to go anyway. I don't regret it. Who am I to say no to an adventure?

The first sight of the ocean, from a vista point outside Eureka.

Soft, rolling hills on the side of the road,
 on our drive towards The Lost Coast.


We left early in the morning and pretty much drove straight to the business meeting, without to many stops. When the work part of the day was finished we still had a couple of hours of daylight left. We took a backroad from Eureka and out to the ocean. It was a long winding drive through a wonderful landscape; rolling hills and views of the ocean. On some places there were free ranging cows eating grass, living the life. If they only knew what an expensive neighborhood they live in..

Pasture with a view

There were many sign on the side of the road that said "now entering tsunami danger zone". I wouldn't like to live that close to the ocean. I have a lot of respect for water, but I really enjoyed visiting this area with it's magnificent nature. 
We parked the truck close to a beach. We had to climb down some rocks to get down to the actual beach. We let the dogs play at the beach until the last traces of sun were completely gone. 
I love the salty smell of the ocean. It's liberating. Hayley enjoyed it too, even though it was a little cold and windy. This part of California obviously have a colder climate during winter. When the sun was gone it became cold fast. We debated if we should take the same way back to town, and the highway, or if we should continue forward and eventually come out somewhere. Our phones and GPS didn't have any service. We continued forward. 

A cave on the beach

I'm so grateful that Phil showed me this incredible piece of California.
Nature touches my soul in a way that all the fancy big cities never can do.



The road took us through Redwood National Park. Even though it was dark, it was an AMAZING drive. The trucks head lights lighted up giant redwood trees. Hayley was asleep in her car seat. We stopped and stepped out to look at this beautiful heritage of Northern America. The dark sky, the bright stars and these enormous trees completely took our breath away. The trees were so tall that we couldn't see the top of them. They where so big that a person could live inside of one of them, and have a big house, if he carved out rooms and stairs! We talked about that for a little while. That would of been very cool! I wouldn't mind living in a tree house like that.
These giants covered big parts of this continent not very long ago. In my imagination I can see what it would be like to live in a place covered with thousand of years old trees. It really makes you feel small, but still part of nature. I'm glad we decided to take that road. I'm looking forward to bring my son and go back during day time, to fully see the beauty of this place. 

Stella looking at the ocean


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