Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Distracted by Blondie

Look closely to see two elk. Or just take my word for it.
I would hate to leave my summer vacation dangling in space. As you may recall, we had just ridden the river and were contemplating leaving the ranch in the morning. Or possibly, you may not recall this at all. Whatever. Either way, I hope you can appreciate what my horseback-riding experience had to offer in the way of a life/writing analogy.

My daughter and I headed down the mountain from our cabin to join the few others for our morning horseback ride. After watching a video in which, once again, we were told our lives could be on the line in this risky activity, we met our horses! She had a sweet little guy named Junior, and I had a strong, sturdy dude named Buck. The view from atop a horse is so different. Suddenly, trust becomes real, since other feet besides yours are touching the ground. Those feet are going to carry you, or not. Wherever they ultimately go, that's where you're going, like it or not. *Analogy #1: Get out of your comfort zone now and then if you want to see a new perspective. Feeling stuck? Look through someone else's eyes.

We began our slow, steady climb up the rocky paths and green pastures of the mountainous ranch. Slow it was, since every horse wanted to eat instead of walk. This was no head-to-butt ride up a narrow trail. These horses were free and relaxed, which meant we only had to keep up with the group. There was even a horse-in-training. She had no rider and no one leading her. She simply followed along with the group. She was beautifully golden, young, smart, trim, and her name was Blondie. 

Buck did not like Blondie. For whatever reason, he did not appreciate her behind him, and actually snapped at her. Did he think she was going to nip at him? Hurry him along? Did they have issues back at the corral? I don't know. I just tried to steer clear of her when possible. *Analogy #2: Jealousy and worrying about what other people are doing will get you nowhere. You will look silly if you lash out in front of your herd. You can't compare your strengths to someone who's in a different place than you. And most likely, they aren't doing what you think they're doing behind your back.

Buck liked to procrastinate. He'd eat as much as he could, ignoring my pleas to keep up. Then, when the horse ahead just turned the corner, Buck would run to catch up. Our Guide would occasionally stop to make sure everyone was still with him. Then we'd all ride on, trying to keep from getting brushed off our horses by the overpassing trees and shrubs. At one point, my daughter had finally had enough of keeping it under control on this long-and-getting-longer ride (and she had hurt her hand on the saddle). I stopped with her, just long enough to see her cry and then my Buck sailed on by, without an ounce of sympathy. We called the Guide, who rode over and gently talked to her. As sweet as could be, he took Junior's reins and led them on the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Buck, Blondie, and I somehow ended up toward the back of the group.

I tried to keep an eye on that Vixen. So did Buck. I coaxed him to get back up with the group, to no avail. I had lost all control, and danger was imminent. As long as she stayed away, Buck contentedly ate the grass. I talked soothingly to him, patting him. Let's go, boy. She means nothing to you. She's just in training, hoping to be like you someday. Then Blondie galloped past us, with her brown mane and tan legs flying. Buck was having none of that. As much as he hated her behind us, he did not like her passing him up. I let out a scream as he galloped down the steep, rocky path. The Guide said that I came around the corner, hanging on, bouncing sideways out of the saddle. My heart pounded, my legs shook. He calmly came toward us.

Buck stopped short upon hearing the Guide's voice. I informed him that Buck did not like Blondie. She was distracting and annoying. He pulled Buck to the front of the group, away from that chick. He asked if I would like him to guide us the rest of the way. "Yes," I squeaked. 
*Analogy #3: When you find yourself falling, find that expert who can help you back on. When you find your control and confidence again, you can take the next step.

Our Guide was expert enough to ride his own horse, while leading BOTH Junior and Buck. We had a great rest of the ride, just chatting, not worrying about the horses. I don't even know where Blondie went after that. I just know we were more than ready to get a drink and get back to the ground. 

Isn't he cute?
A dirty, crusty little border collie ran along with us the whole way. He zipped in and out amongst the horses, always keeping his Master within his sight. Clearly, that dog lived for these rides and loved every minute of it. On the final stretch of rocky road, the Guide simply put his hand down and pointed, not saying a word. The dog sat. We rode on and still that dog sat. I looked back several times. He laid down, one black-and-white ear sticking up. After a couple minutes, the Guide whistled ever so slightly, and that collie came running until he caught up to us again. What a faithful little dog. 
*Analogy #4: You can hear all kinds of things, from different people, good and bad. Until you cut through the noise and listen to yourself, you'll only be doing what other people want. Do it for yourself. 
What are the Blondies in your life? Distracting you, annoying you, keeping you from your goal? Are you doing it for yourself? Or someone else? 


  1. OMGosh, Christina! Your post is a tremendously creative analogy about your horseback-riding experience to those distractions in life keeping us from our goals. So timely...I was just saying to some friends last evening that I was allowing myself to be derailed from my writing by social media, especially in helping to promote writer friends and acquaintances through Goodreads, Amazon Discussion Boards, writing organizations, etc. Not that I was expecting any reciprocation, but when I was getting nil, I realized that it was time for me to get back to me and what means most to me--my writing. And...I'm back!!!! I just this week worked out the problems I was having with the storyline for the sequel to Sweet Glory. You know how I did it? I forced myself to write the synopsis for it (actually, I have Theresa Rizzo, co-founder of the Crested Butte Writers to thank for it--long story), and suddenly the storyline started to come together in bits and pieces--it took three days to do it, but I did it. Anyway, I'd like to have the next chapter written by tomorrow, so I better get to it. But...thanks so much for the post and especially for letting me chew your ear off!!!!!

  2. Chew away, Lisa! That is so good to hear. We are definitely looking forward to that sequel! It's hard to balance because when it comes down to it, writing is kind of lonely. Or at least solitary! Glad you enjoyed my post.