Archive for the ‘Cheryl Courtney, Writer’ Category

Tolerance and Gratitude

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

I admit it. I am overwhelmed by the information explosion surrounding me. I can't keep up. Fast paced rapid fire info confuses me, especially if it comes thru gadgets smaller than my hand that fill my head with details.

My disability has become apparent with situations with friends, like horseback riding pals. Something as simple as what time to arrive at a trailhead gets tangled up in a series of cellphone calls, and I miss important details.

For example, two times this week I showed up at what I thought was the correct time only to find them waiting for twenty minutes, horses already saddled--the morning air filled with tension and hostility of unmet expectations all around. Not pleasant for anyone. Now, I too dislike waiting, especially when I have hurried to get there on time. But I was there; I thought I was on schedule; I did what I agreed to. For these particular friends, I had not done enough.

The lesson of the week--give yourself a break. You tried to show up for life and inane details got in the way. Some of my friends and family are more into high expectations than I am. And they get snippy about it. My style is more along the lines of gratitude that another human decided to spend time with me on a horse outdoors. Horses don't know about time, or being late or early.  They just are. Horses also forgive easily, naturally, and I can do that, also. Why is it always the people I have the most problems with?

To my horse pals, I say "Seriously girls-- Tolerance and forgiveness make a nicer morning ride."




From Wild to Wow!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011


Eight horses, all mustangs of assorted sizes and colors, march by twos into the center of the arena, split to the rail and circle back around. They trot into a line and form a pivot. On cue, the pairs turn and execute a circling pinwheel formation. The Mustang Riders of Northern Colorado wear traditional cowboy scarves around their necks— fun splashes of reds, blues and pinks. Each American Mustang sports a long white neck brand--to identify the Federal lands they roamed and the year they were gathered. Like the cowboy scarves, the mustang brand evokes a Wild West mystique and says “Wow! I am a mustang.” They recently performed at CSU, Ft Collins, CO for the June 10-12, 2011 EMM, sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management and the Mustang Heritage Foundation.

I admire the calm horses and the horsemanship. Even more impressive when I consider that five of the eight mustangs on the team are from the 2010 CO Extreme Mustang Makeover, (EMM). A year ago they were wild.

Each horse is unique. Cindy Loader, our hostess at the Spirit Dancer Ranch arena, describes her chocolate gelding, Calypso, as “totally loco” last year, a real challenge to train for the 2010 EMM. Today, he trots calmly next to Bo, husband Marks’ mount. She laughs and says “Here we are having a good time, showing off our mustangs and what we have done with them -- from wild to wow!”

There is Marvin, the dapper sorrel. He has curious ears and a sweet expressive face. He is ridden by Pat Burge, the founder of the group. A lifelong horsewoman, she wanted to showcase the versatility of the mustangs and to help everyone see how much fun they can be. She says, “I got involved with the Mustang Heritage Foundation in 2007 when I realized that wild horses are gathered on federal lands – taxpayers lands. I wanted to do something to help these animals find homes and jobs.” She adds, “These are great horses to adopt. They make wonderful mounts.”

Taryn Hillman, a therapeutic riding instructor with Loveland’s Hearts and Horses, trained the bay gelding, Coda, for the 2010 EMM and then, also bought him. Today, he is a beautiful citizen, friendly and confident under saddle.

Nevada, owned and ridden by Megan Jones of Loveland, marches obediently. His brand gleams against his black neck. They recently graduated from an intensive mounted patrol clinic. He looks solid and dependable.

More than one spectator exclaims “Wow! Who knew you could teach them this stuff?”

Kudos all around for these Mustang Riders.

Check out this website—for more information and a chance to Ride for the Mustangs, on September 10, 2011, in Ft. Collins, CO sponsored by the American Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA):


What a Holiday This Was!

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

This Holiday†Season was†amazing. †Many events tumbled around us--friends fell into despair and confusion while we stayed at home. Colorado lay under winter storm warnings, but there was no traveling for us, thus†we never got stuck in the bitter blizzard conditions; we were not stranded in the ice storms. The worst thing that happened to me was I had to switch to arctic tundra boots to be able to feed hay to the horses and still my toes got very cold.

But, sorrowful and terrifying things did happen. Simply awful. One friend suffered a head on collision and was being lifted in the ambulance when her cell phone rang. The message was from a far; her elderly mother was dying. Another family I know limped thru the holiday with a broken heartóthis was the first Christmas since the passing of their little girl. And, a sister in the creative life, a writer and artist, buried her beloved husband.

Is it okay to mention the brighter side? One Christmas letter shared a story of recovery from a stroke, while another brought an address, so I could write a long lost friend back.†Plus, my little family was home, altogether! And, we opened many gifts from under the tree, tokens that reminded me that I am not alone. I truly enjoyed the games, the books, and the movies. I ate a lot of chocolate and enjoyed the feast of ham, casseroles and homemade treats. I had a long needed conversation with my very busy hubbie, and we found a path through the tangle of this empty nesting stage of life. Additionally, I rejoiced with the good news of a friends unexpected positive surgery outcome, and sighed a deep one of relief when another friend did not have breast cancer. I attended a Winter Solstice gathering and listened to Hopes as we waited for the end of the Long, Dark Night. Stars shown overhead, and filled my heart--these things matter.

This Holiday, between my radiant sparkling moments, I cried a lotófor the pain of people around me, and because so much of Life Happening scares me. I cried for myself, selfishly praying for Strength and Courage!

The older I get, the more I realize how fleeting this time is called My Life. In the bustle of all the shopping, I have learned to rest my eyes and grateful heart on the family Christmas tree, lost in the reverie of each glittering memento, treasuring the images of tiny hands and snaggled-toothed grins of my children as they handed them to me. They are grown ups now, busy and out there, more and more, †without me. But, I am learning to let go and love them as wonderful people set upon a course, rejoicing when they come to be with us.

Daily, I seek the Source of my personal strength, and clamor back on board every time a new twist dislodges my spirit.

For the New Year, I hugged each loved one and friend, generously. I want them to know they matter, that life with them has been so rich. The losses hurt. I mourn, and learn to let grief hone my sense of eternal gratitude.††

Thank you everyone, for coming into my life and for every blessing you have shown me, every Living lesson and excruciatingly painful bit. I try to live worthy of your gifts, everyday. Really.

Great Migrations

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Check this out! Whenever I think I can't get through hard times, or things don't make sense around me, I remember these amazing animals. And they do these incredible journeys, full of drama and purpose,† every day of every year. Life does makes sense -- at some cosmic level, there is amazing purpose and design and always, incredible adventures.

It is all right here for us to remember and believe.

Tune in Sunday night, but you can check out the preview here.

My Son Bought a Fedora

Friday, October 8th, 2010

My son wanted a fedora. We did find one and it does look good on him. He wants his school photo retaken with it and seems rather obsessed about it because he has mentioned it several times.

†Now this is a kid who only last month began combing out his bed head hair. For years, we have waited in the car for himÖarriving late for every event. †

†I suspect there is a girl involved in this hat thing.

Today, he also tied a necktie on over his t shirt and tucked it in under his favorite hoodie. (Evidently duct tape and this same hoodie will be part of this yearís Halloween costume ñ a zombie from some video game he enjoys.) Itís a red and black job from the seventies that he found in the deepest regions of the closet where the old things we donít wear anymore hang. He said it was for Spirit Week at school.†

†Itís got to be about a girl.

†This is all very confusing to me. †He makes the cat sleep in his room, and still watches cartoons as he slurps Cheerios. Yet, when he talks, his voice cracks.††When did he get so tall? His feet are huge, his appetite bottomless, and has outgrown every pair of pants he owns. Yesterday he loomed over me, squeaking, ìMom, did you know you have grey hairs all in the back, too?î

†My motherís heart clenches when I see him in his Boy Scout uniform, complete with shoulder amulets and a silk scarf. I canít help thinking he walks like a soldier -- I have resolved that he is a patriot and will probably enter the military. He has researched the college opportunities of serving his country and is interested in computerized game applications for simulation trainings. †But that is a ëman and his countryí thing and a long ways away, right? After all, heís only in the seventh grade.

†This morning as he sauntered out the door, I realized he was on a quest, one of many to play out thru his life. Does a hat and tie make up a man? I think so. He looked so handsome, sheíd† better notice. I know I did.


Saturday, July 3rd, 2010


Easier said than done when your heart is filled with trepidation; when every thing you have worked for has vaporized and there is no job, no hope of earning enough to pay the mortgage and are facing foreclosure. I know three women, ages 40 or over, that are dealing with this.

Last week, a neighbor was evicted from her home of 35 years. She is mentally ill, not adequately medicated, and is a ìrevolving door patientîódifficult for her family and professionals to manage. She was out in the driveway, muttering and weeping to herself as she attempted to sort the piles that the eviction moving team had left of her home. Here were her bookcases, there were her clothes, and somewhere in the maelstrom was the food from her cupboards. We tried to usher her into a local shelter, but she announced that she was going to sleep out there to keep away the thieves. I watched her make a nest†in the†laundry as her cats curled up†beside her.

Every homeless woman, man, child, or family starts this wayóevicted, alone, stuff in piles and no where to go, no more medication or resources to call upon. This was quite frightening to me. "But for the Grace of God went I" or every other person I have met this year at the Larimer County Workforce Center classes.

Breathe. Try to remember that you are working, that you are helping friends every way you can with job leads and supportive conversation. Hope will prevail. But, breathing in the face of that †womanís hopelessness is hard.

She eventually rounded up the most dear treasures and staples, and left the rest on the driveway. Yesterday, the bank sent another crew to pick it all up and put the dregs into a† bin. She was not there; I truly donít know where she is. SomewhereÖin Loveland. Starting over? Alone, dying? Frightened? Mad? Drenched? Hurt? Homeless.

I find myself breathing, with tears streaming down my face.

Breathe. Cry awhile. Breathe, again.

Ladybugs and Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Yesterday, as I was feeding hay to the horses, I spotted a ladybug atop a tall stalk of grass. For a moment I contemplated capturing it for my rose garden, thinking of all the juicy aphids there. Instead I watched it grooming and reshaping the lovely orange wings, realigning the black dots just so. This ladybug appeared to be preparing for a long journey. Soon, it launched into the morning and zoomed into a forest of tansy mustard weeds.

Last evening, I attended the†celebration for†Katherine†Hewitts' new†venture, †'Be Magazine',see† Michelle LaBorde's lovely home in Niwot. The backyard was filled with chatter about the articles on amazing women along the Front Range.† As I listened to the music and talked with novelist Janet Fogg, about†the†exciting journey†of her†new release Soliloquy, I thought of the ladybug.

Every woman there was about to launch into the bounty of the world; there are stories and extraordinary women making them happen everywhere. Thank you--Katherine and Michelle for a marvelous evening and 'Good Luck' with your magazine. Thank you for making a venue to showcase the women I have come to respect and love and for letting us write about them.†

As the sun was setting, I spotted a plate of chocolate peanut clusters and savored the crunchy goodness, then†licked my fingers. Yes-- there is abundance all around us; in the music, in the lives of women who†make a simple rich dessert††to share at a party, and in the forest of 'weeds' at the edge of the corral. What fun. I enjoy being in it, all.

The Obstacle is the Path--Zen saying

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

This always reminds me of that old camp song. The lyrics go--so high can't go over it, so low can't go thru it, so wide can't go over it...gotta go thru it.

This is life, an no matter how confused I am or discouraged, I have to go thru stuff to get to the other side.

How many times in my life have I wanted an easier and softer way? And† how many times have I valued the lesson once it is finally learned?

Lately my path seems filled with thorns and brambles. I have to trust that somewhere in all of this turmoil is the path. Because, life is unfolding as it should and now is all I really have.

I Breathe You

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

From the Ditch Witch Chronicles --

April is finally here. The long winter is over and I can see green, everywhere.

†I manage a 110 acre agricultural farm in Larimer Countyómy job is to irrigate the pasture (thus the moniker ìThe Ditch Witchî) and provide forage for the free ranging 20+ horse herd living there.

Most of the horses are older, retired show friendsómany are lame or exhibit the typical neurological or health problems inherit in aging.

These old ones are my favorites. No matter where I am working they amble over for a visit. One by one, they come in close and touch me with their noses and then they stand quietly next to meÖlike in the movie ëAvatarí, they ëseeí me, but in old horse speak they are saying ìI breathe you.î

It means they trust and recognize me, I am accepted. What a gift! Every time it happens, I hope I smell trustworthy and dependable, solid and memorable.

Too often, I am filled with self doubt; I do not feel confident or very solid. Some days, I see me as unremarkableómy hair is grey and my left shoulder doesnít work so well right now. The horses simply remind me that they know me and accept me as part of their herd. I value that trust and am always grateful to belong near them.

It sounds so simple. Take the time to really notice others you encounter, check out their demeanor. See if you can notice their life force and honor each of them by speaking clearly, softly saying ìI breathe you. I care that you are here.î This is a good practice.

Eating Soup with A Fork

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

My son is a tweener; and his favorite after school snack is Ramen noodles. He steeps them carefully in a bowl of boiling water under a saucer, then eats them with a fork, with† much slurping and flipping around of bits of noodles and sauce.

(Yes-- I have had to chisel them off the armchair and the floor by the tv.)

Yesterday, I said,† "Logan, please find a soup spoon." He replied, "Mom, what's the big deal? People in China eat them with sticks!"

He's right, of course. In approaching any problem or task, it is really a matter of personal choice which tool or utensil one uses. But as† a mother, I thought I knew best. Being a parent of older kids has taught me that everything† I say is up for question, debate, resistance, even ridicule. It's their individuation process.

I might not like how he eats his noodles but experience has taught me that he has a reason that makes sense to him. So,† I asked him why he eats them with a fork.

Guess what he said?

"Mom, its because the water is boiling hot and if I wind the noodles around a fork, I can eat them quickly while the juice is cooling down."

So, there. All I have to do now is consider how† to convince him to slow down when he eats. Til then, I have the consolation of knowing that at least he can cook something that will keep him from starvation.

As a graduate student, I lived on Ramen noodles.† But I ate mine with a spoon, slowly.