Bo standing in the doorway between knowing and not knowing
This is going to be deep so please put on your diving gear.
It must be so frustrating on so many levels to observe our process here at Blue Star. It is nearly impossible to tell day to day what is next or how we are doing with it all without actually being here. For those of us here it is equally frustrating trying to communicate just how important this work is and why it is worth so much sacrifice, personal and collective. It is not on purpose, this frustrating element that exists here is a symptom of learning how to communicate clearly, intelligently and sensitively and most definitely respectfully with the best tools at our disposal.
This letter was bound to happen as I am super conscious and loyal to those that have followed us lovingly and unconditionally and there are so many, far more than those that do not, as far as I can tell. I always feel that some communication is better than none and so much of it is on Facebook because that is the one medium I do know how to use and since the communicating for the farm falls largely on me, I do my best. When I am quiet there is concern, when I write there is concern, when I only share the activities at hand or for the day there is concern. I had a friend ask me “what happened to the Steaming Tenders job? Do you still have it?” or countless other questions about countless details, all relevant and important and things everyone is probably thinking or wondering too. There is a lot of communicating that I am responsible for that I have fallen short on for all kinds of reasons but primarily because I am not the same person I was before Paul died yet I haven’t quite figured out how to express who I am becoming…. yet.
Let me start with Bo. Yesterday we lost Bo and if you had told me that was in the cards I would have crumpled in a ball…for a minute or a few…..and let myself feel the sadness of how he had to go. The blood, the fear he felt, we felt, the blood. There was so much of it and it really unnerved me to the point that I was feeling feelings way beyond anything to do with Bo. We are nature and as natural humans we are going to be riding waves of change always, it is natural. Some do it privately and personally I see that as a real luxury these days, especially for me. Some like myself reach out to connect and articulate the process so as to get the real powerful sense that there are others that care deeply too, are feeling it deeply too. I think Bo unleashed a lot of grief that a lot of us on the farm hold back as a natural consequence of trying to keep the farm going. If my sharing of our experience bothered others or didn’t meet everyone’s idea of good taste, I am sorry for that, sincerely. There are others that it helped to know and be with us in the way that they could.
The truth is all of it is so rich in opportunity to really witness and be with what the whole community needs and wants from work like ours. I have said it before we are a lot like a garden and much less like a business. We were founded with a lot of professionals that created an image and language of the mission and I am the only one left of them all. It was Paul and I, now it is just me. For the past year I have been sorting through all that we do, administratively, publicly, on the farm and trying to make the best decisions I can. I do have a board and they are guiding and helping in the ways they can but they too have full lives and professions and can only do so much and like everyone they have to weigh what they can give without putting themselves at risk for giving more than they can afford too.
When Paul was here I had back up, we had each other and Paul had a pension and could make up the difference wherever we fell short financially. That is gone and I personally have had no income for nearly seven years. My life will need to change dramatically as I am dealing with some serious health issues that will require money to fix. I am not worried for myself, I have had a business before all of this and it was with what I love nearly as much as the horses, soil conditioners. I love talking about, sharing and helping others really “get” that the soil is very very much alive and needs our tender loving care as much as any other part of the natural environment we stand for. Proper care of our soil will change things for the better in such a dramatic way that we hardly could think of a more important issue, everything comes from the soil. Lately I have also been exploring building my own business, I even bought a cheap website that I have no time to finish…yet….
Bo’s lesson for me was a very hard one to swallow. Bo was “rigid” in his ways, not flexible and flowing like Sarge (our other blind horse is). Bo also was used to a routine and life that created “expectations” in him. With his rigid control of his surroundings he was able to build a small and comfortable world for himself. That is what we admired and loved and if he was “bossy” about space or “rigid” about how he was handled…it hardly mattered. Several months ago he cast himself in his stall and couldn’t get up. We were able to help him, we have a lot of experience with it, but he didn’t let us, he was terrified….his heart was racing and he flalled around, he wouldn’t relax no matter how slow or quiet or reassuring we made it for him. He finally got exhausted and let us help him, he got up, shook it off and basically kept us away until he felt better. He commanded his space and took his privacy whenever he needed it, he taught us all so well. Bo died yesterday as a result of a severe anxiety attack he was having about where he was at. He swung around too fast and hit his head in just the place with just the amount of pressure to puncture or rip an artery. He didn’t need to swing that hard, but that was who he was, it is how he self regulated himself and as an older man that is what worked for him and wasn’t interested in learning something else. He did try to trust more and step outside of his comfort zone and he did it beautifully, until he decided to contract again.
I find myself these days in too rigid of a place. I am reacting too strongly to some things and paralyzing myself in others and in all of it I am doing my best. I read something today that I cannot help take personally as I am grieving publicly…to some degree. One of the differences between who I was and who I am is that I don’t really take anyone’s opinions personally anymore, I really just try to do my best every moment I can and better on those that I am more conscious of.
Here is how I am on this day, the day after another sad reality check. I am grateful and I am composed, in between crying. I am not crying for Bo. He was loved so dearly and we did our best and our best has gotten really good especially for horses like Bo. I am crying because as of yesterday I am beginning to let my own “nature” be what it is. I am sad and relieved that is finally flowing much easier. I am grieving. I am so many amazing and complicated things that it will take my whole life to describe and I think I will try. I do believe writing is and will become a bigger way of life for me. For now I am still staying strong waiting for others to join us, especially financially, support the amazing things happening here when you put so many really talented and warm hearted people together to create sustainable solutions. Here is the thing, we are human, we are doing our best for all that we say we do it for, we are accomplishing things beyond our wildest dreams and trying to share it more and more as we develop the tools we have to do it with. There are just not enough of us to make it happen any faster, but we are designing our website to reflect our work clearly and powerfully and when you all get to see it put together in one easy way to find all your questions answered or a way to make it so….you will be proud. We work hard to make our supporters proud. We feel so proud of it all.
Finally I want to say and echo a colleague well versed in doing important work in this way…We are and always will be “a work in progress”. We are nature, we are learning, we are willing to stay awake and present for our community in order to share something really good for all, no matter how you look at it. Amid the shortcomings we have as individuals, we have far more strengths especially when shared collectively, especially when we figure out how to communicate our needs and ideas clearly for ourselves and the world and especially for the horses on our farm and the people we work with.
We have learned that the horses are waiting for us to figure it out, beyond the right and wrong and black and white and good and bad and hard and easy and all duality of thinking…they are waiting for us in the fields of all possibilities and dreams. We are there more and more all the time. Bo gave us another opportunity to carry on, discover we can and love and live even more than we knew before him.
Thank you Bo. You were a masterful teacher of survival and good naturedness and just how far it can take you. You also showed us powerfully that rigidity can hurt you so bad and I am so sorry about that, that you left us that way. I promise to walk lighter, keep a soft and flowing rhythm in my step and keep flowing along moment to moment in equanimity and hope for the good of us all living in an interconnected web of life. We are going to do our best always to carry this lesson in our heart, where you live. We are so lucky and blessed and happy to have another moment to keep trying to do better.
For inquiring minds our website is well underway and it is not an easy process at all. It has presented big learning curves for the already overworked folks helping. We decided yesterday, before any thing happened with Bo, that we would give ourselves another 4 weeks to finish. Based on how fast we are moving along. It was a great relief to me, my secretary and to Ali our farm garden webmaster guru who knows how to run non profits on line and in social media.. having done it before.
You can wait and join us then when you see what we do more fully and just how much has been created and held here. Or you can join us now. There is no way around us asking for help because we are not doing this for our own selves, with what we have learned here we all know the road to our personal success and somedays that is a really hard calling to not listen too…but we are devoted and committed community members doing our part at a time in our history collectively when more and more of us need to care more deeply.
So help, be a herd member, we don’t want to have to convince anyone about this. If you like this work and what it has accomplished and what it still holds…join us…for as little or much as you like. Money is a the life blood of the work and there are enough of us that it would only take a small monthly donation to make sure we meet our annual budget of $250,000. We can even grow from there. Right now it rests in the hands and on the backs of too many doing way more than they can comfortably do without it having a negative impact on our personal lives. If we go or give up or get too sick or hurt or any of the possibilities that exist in that way, the horses here will have to go and that makes hanging in there with the hope that it will be easier one day when more of us are in it and sacrificing something for it.
As for grieving online or in a blog. It takes all the courage I have to share as I do and I am still too sensitive to handle the criticism when it comes at me indirectly so maybe I will do what I have always done…keep a journal….until the day I feel it will help or do good in some way because I know that sharing with a community, the good and the hard stuff is natural and good and a profoundly important way to remind ourselves that we have more in common than not. That we are not alone, even if feels like it.
Don’t give up on this farm friends. Don’t give up on us, stand with us and support it. Show others with more resources to help that it matters greatly to so many with so little and it will live on in a way that will go beyond any of our expectations or wildest dreams. Support it if you love horses, humans and mother earth or any one of them and join us in making the small sacrifices we all have to make in order to get to where we all say we want to be.
Become a part of the “work in progress” that will always be living here, as long as there are those willing to show up for it.
One more thing. Just when I want to be doing more, moving faster, thinking better I am not able to do so. I will never leave this organization or not be a part of it but I am going to have to to not take on what I can’t manage which will require others to fill those places I and Paul have held alone beyond what was good for us. We cannot give what we do not have. My health is failing, because it keeps getting put aside. I have the beginning stages of cancer in my mouth. My road going forward will not be easy but it will be good for me in that I will finally have to do what seems so hard for me to do…worry about myself.
Join the Herd, the most powerful way to secure the income we need monthly. After seven years of always paying our bills every month and not having any debt and with having acquired so many valuable assets for the horses and their work, it is a guarantee that you will not be wasting your money or time. Come and see for yourself and feel proud about what has been created here out of a simple dream to provide something for retired working horses http://www.equiculture.org/join-the-herd.aspx
Donate, any amount helps. Money is necessary to run this organization and asking for it will always also be a part of it. Helping us build our bank account so that there is free space to seek the grants and support from bigger foundations can only happen when we have enough day to day security to make it happen. The message and tool we do it with will be appealing but it will still be the same message. We cannot do this without you. Nor do we want too.http://www.equiculture.org/donations.aspx
Always we hope and pray that the “Horse” be with you…they are waiting in the fields of our dreams beyond anything we can imagine. They can prove that if they are given a chance.