September is a season of change. From the cooler weather beginning to settle in the Midwest, to the turning of colors. For parents the biggest change is that school is back in session.
Change brings many emotions. It’s a time of celebration of kids going back to school and having a welcome routine again. For others, it’s a time for tears as you let go of your child’s hand as they go off to school. Whether they are 5 or 18, the letting go of their hand will always tug on your heart.
I was never the mom drinking the mimosa on the first day of school in celebration. I was the mom crying into my husband’s shoulders, as he wept with me, for our children were another year older and we had to kiss them and summer good bye. At the same time we were excited for all they would learn, and for their future.
A true roller coaster of emotion.
Whatever the case may be for you, there is one thing that is for sure, you cannot control time. Dealing with this set of emotions, I first want to share a few tools in my tool box of life, that have equipped me over the years to be prepared for this roller coaster ride called parenthood.
Eat healthy. What you eat matters. It fuels you for the day. For healthy recipes, check out my dear friend, Brooke Thomas cookbooks . They will save you time and stress. This will feed the soul.
One of my FAVORITE SUPPLEMENTS that are safe, effect, and plain ole WORKS, are from Shaklee, called Stress Relief. This is not only great for parents, but for your children as well. I always gave my kids growing up 1 before school every day. They just functioned better and so did I, this calms the soul.
Laughter. Get together with dear friends, and have a night where you just laugh till you have side aches. Plan a date night with your spouse, and go laugh together. Laughter heals the soul.
Devotions. I get up early every morning, and give my first thoughts to my Creator. This strengthens the soul.
Reflection. Sometimes to take the step forward in life, one must reflect on the past to go to the next chapter in life. This will prepare the soul for the future.
Here is my own personal soulful reflection just recently:
It seemed like yesterday, I was just pregnant with my middle daughter Whitney Rose and now I’m taking her to her first year of college.
In her final week at home, I was seeing change all around me. Massive life changes we are making as a family. Many reflections of what used to be, and what we are preparing to let go. A true shedding process.
It was during this reflection that every time I saw my daughter, she wasn’t 18, but 7 years old again. Her mindset was on one thing, and one thing only. A horse. Her first words weren’t Momma or Daddy, they were her “NEIGHING LIKE A HORSE!”
Thinking back, I could never resell her pants or jeans, or hand them down to some other girl, because the knees were always worn out as she crawled around on her knees more than she ever walked. Simply because she didn’t have 2 legs, but four. She was a horse. Horses live in herds. Whitney did too. She had her cousin Alyssa. They were the same age, and Alyssa too shared Whitney’s same love for this animal. These two little girls, I truly believe didn’t have human hearts, they had the hearts of horses.
Countless times, what sounded like crashing thunder, shaking the ceiling and chandeliers of our home, was these two little girls jumping around upstairs, as wild horses.
When you have the heart of a horse, you find others that do as well. The herd grew. Whitney had two aunts that had horses. One lived in Colorado, and another in Wisconsin. She gravitated towards these two women like magnets.
When she was in the first grade, she had a project in school. She had to choose and research one place she wanted to live and why she would want to live there?
Whitney’s response was “I want to live in Colorado, by Aunt Linda to live with all the horses.”
The interesting thing, is Whitney had never met this Aunt Linda yet, only heard wonderful memories of her from her Dad. And more importantly, Whitney knew Aunt Linda loved horses.
Derek called his Aunt Linda and asked if she could help Whitney with her project.
When you feed a dream, as Aunt Linda did to Whitney, it’s amazing what happens. The dream grows.
By the time she was 8, it’s all she wanted. A HORSE. Since her dad and I had no skills what so ever with horses, we tried to detour her in every way.
“Whitney if you want a horse, than you better save money for one. They are expensive and we aren’t paying for it. If you want something, make it happen.” We told her.
And so she did. She saved all her birthday money, and helped around the house to earn extra money.
When we were at Disney World, she came up to her Daddy and as he had promised each child a souvenir in the gift shop, little Whitney asked, “Daddy, can I save this money for a horse instead?”
Derek looked at me with big eyes and as he rolled them we both knew, she was not letting this go.
When Whitney had saved her money for a long time, she asked her daddy.
“Daddy, can I buy a horse now, I saved my money?”
And so he said, “Well, you have to go find one.” Hoping this task would again detour her.
Whitney went camping with her Aunt Susie, who also kept feeding this dream. This wasn’t a typical camping trip. Susie brought her horses camping and went trail riding with Whitney.
Upon their return, Whitney had a picture in her hand and showed her Daddy a horse she had met camping. “Daddy, I found a horse. I want to buy this one with my own money.”
Derek and I look at each, knowing we were screwed.
Derek said, “Horses are a lot of work. They need shelter, fencing, and a lot of care. You will need to put up fencing and care for the horse.”
“I will help you put up the fence Daddy and I will take care of the horse.” She said.
And so, she put up fencing with her Dad – even got poison ivy in the process, and never complained.
“We need something to pull a horse home in.” He said.
“I will find a trailer Daddy.” And, indeed she found a trailer.
Together Whitney and her Daddy, found an old horse trailer for $300. They painted it black, and on the last day of school in the 3rd grade, he pulled into her school parking lot with the old trailer behind his truck.
Together they drove up north, and when Whitney laid eyes on Buddy, it was without a doubt, love at first sight.
Like any love affair, it doesn’t come without challenges. Buddy being a POA Pony, was to say the least, a bit on the spirited side. The first week at our small farm, we tried putting a bridle on him. When we slipped his halter off, we thought he would just stand there, but as soon as he knew nothing was holding him, he jerked his head back, reared up and then just like that, he turned and ran.
Horses are a romantic figure, most vision them running wild and free on exotic beaches. Buddy was running wild and free all right. He ran across our farm, over the road, through the farmer’s corn field, into the horizon till we could see him no more.
This was not romantic.
Four hours later after driving all over the country side, chasing that pony down, a little 80 year old woman captured him – with carrots in her hand.
That’s when Derek and I realized how stupid we were with horses. We had a lot to learn.
“Whitney if you are going to keep this horse, you better learn everything you can to control him.” We told her.
And Whitney did.
Her bedroom became filled with horse books, and magazines. Anything she could read about horses she did. She corresponded with Aunt Linda through the mail who shared horse stories with her. Whitney asked questions. She asked lots of questions. Eventually, she met more women, who shared her love for horses as well. Leanne, Kim and Dee. These women from afar and close by, poured their love and mentored our sweet little Whitney, because they knew she had the same heart as they did. The heart of a horse.
As the silly thing called time began to fly by, and the years began to pass, every summer was filled with riding through our fields’ bare back, picnics with Buddy, trail riding on our farm, the county fair, where Whitney didn’t have the best show horse, but she did have the horse with the best heart. The two became one. The ribbons they won together were a result of that. All this time, her faithful companion and cousin Alyssa played beside her. These two little girls, were always in cowboy boots with pigtails in their hair. They were never clean, and always outside, or in the barn.
Whenever I did laundry, I always had to check Whitney’s pockets twice, because there were always horse treats in her pockets. The horses always needed treats.
No fairy tale story happens, without learning curves. Buddy disliked being trailered with a passion. 4 H horse lessons, we were always the last to leave, because Buddy refused to get on the trailer, a process that should have taken less the 5 minutes, often took hours.
I personally witnessed the day Whitney had enough, and she worked with him for three hours in our driveway, till she won. And got him in the trailer. From then on, Buddy walked in without an ounce of hesitation.
The first time I put chaps on Whitney, I put them on backwards. Her first horse show, her saddle pad was on backwards. I was backwards in everything I did with this horse and yet, Buddy waited patiently as I figured it out.
My view from my window, was often Whitney running in the field, acting like a horse, with her horse. It always scared me to death seeing this huge animal running with my daughter fearful she would get trampled. But as this horse would run wild around her, Whitney would stopped. As she stopped, Buddy stopped. They would find each other, and he would hang his head and slowly walk towards to her. He submitted to her. She had become his master. Whitney was the alfa horse. He followed her everywhere.
Working from my home office, I would be on calls with clients, and when I would looked up, a horse was looking at me in the window, with a smiling Whitney on its back, scaring the life out of me.
Almost like a parents love, Whitney learned you can share this deep love for another. By the time she was 14 she bought her second horse, Boomer, with her own money. A most magnificent quarter horse that took her to the next level in loving these heavenly creatures. Boomer and Buddy were her boys. They were her everything. Every morning and evening, she was out in the barn caring for them. She never had trainers doing anything for her, or the top notch show clothes, and she didn’t care. What she loved most, was just being with them and riding them on our trails.
Whitney never dated a boy who wouldn’t ride her horses. Watching her put tall lengthy boys up on this bouncing pony, boys who had never ridden before, always made Derek and I laugh. She quickly ruled out who she would date, and who she wouldn’t.
Whitney learned to remain calm in tensed situations. A tensed human only aggravates a horse. Leadership, became inevitable. Perseverance, determination, relentless love, and so much more were now engrained in Whitney’s soul.
Buddy never ran away again. Because his home was with Whitney.
Buddy was a best friend to Whitney. For best friends are there on good days but also the rough ones. He counseled her during the tough days of life, and loved on her unconditionally. Through injuries and life challenges, his presence always encouraged her to press on, move forward, encouraging her to try new things. He was her first audience when she began singing. Because she only sang in the barn to her boys.
It was when Whitney became an Aunt, that she learned the next great lesson. To pay love forward. She now became the mentor to her niece that others in the past had been to her. For pictures speak a thousand words, and it is evident in every picture that little Scarlett at 17 months, has been bitten by the “Whitney-bug”. She shares the same passion, the same heart for horses as her Auntie.
You may be thinking, after reading this, it’s only a horse. But let me tell you something. Buddy is a rare animal indeed. There’s only a few that come into this world, that not only make a huge difference in someone’s life, they actually make that person better.
Whitney and Buddy were better together.
Just when you think you have been taught all you need, life will through you a curve ball. Buddy, had one more great lesson to teach Whitney.
Life is about sacrifices. The giving up of something great, to move forward onto something even better.
Whitney is all grown up now. A little girl no longer, and heading off to college. It was time to let go of her childhood.
Whitney hesitated to the last part of summer, to let go of what she didn’t want to let go of….Buddy.
We all knew, this would be most painful for her. And when the day came, and a woman stopped by, after Whitney had placed an ad, there wasn’t a dry eye in our home.
When Whitney walked the woman down to the barn and the woman looked at Buddy for the first time and said, “Darn, I forgot my treats. I always carry treats in my pockets.” Whitney knew, this woman loved horses like she did. She had the heart of a horse.
This woman owns a large boarding facility and not only mentors many children through her facility, she has large trail rides on her property, works with veterans and their families, even does trail rides for St. Jude’s.
I watched that day, as my daughter read this woman like a book. From this woman carrying treats with her, to the fact that her large 175 acre farm gives trail rides and that is Buddy’s favorite thing to do, Whitney knew, this was his new home.
When the woman offered Whitney to purchase him, is when I lost it. My tears flew, Whitney’s tears were already flowing and as we looked at this woman, she too had tears.
We asked to have him for one more week, and the woman without hesitation, understood. How hard it was going to be, to let go.
As we spent our last days with Buddy on our farm, it was without a doubt, the ending of a great era. A day I truly called bittersweet. As I took the last trail ride with my daughter, riding Buddy, it was like he was telling me, “Thank you Sarah, for allowing me to be your daughter’s best friend.”
Derek and I wanted to raise our children differently. Bringing them up in old fashion values in a rapidly changing world. Buddy is a symbol to us as not only the beauty that his life taught our children, but what he taught us as adults.
This round fat little pony was my daughter’s education and he had prepared her in every way for adult life, college, her future. The lessons she learned from him, were far greater than anything she had learned in school.
I had many thanks to give this horse. Somehow, when I looked into his eyes, I knew he could read my soul, and bowed his head as if to say, “Your Welcome.” It was like he knew we didn’t want him to go, and he was teaching us the word – sacrifice. He loved my daughter so much, he wanted her to conquer the world, even if that meant he couldn’t go with her.
What was like confirmation from heaven above, that we had found the right home for Buddy, was this kind woman who was purchasing Buddy started to message my daughter privately on Facebook. She let her know that anytime Whitney wanted to come and see Buddy, she could.
God had answered our prayers. We found the best home for him.
When the day arrived, we loaded Buddy up for the last time, drove him to the beautiful farm with rolling pastures as far as the eye could see, is when it hi me. The time had come, to let go.
Watching Buddy meet his new horse friends, he remained so calm and sure, as if he was reassuring us, it’s going to be ok.
The next reassurance came when this kind woman offered Whitney to come any time and see, even ride Buddy. She even offered Whitney to come and work for her on the farm. For she hosts, trail rides for small and large groups, corporate events, weddings, to even proposals on her farm. www.appyorseacres.com
Buddy, was at peace when he left him, just eating grass in the pasture, as if to say, “Whitney, I’ll be waiting for you right here, go, become what you were destined to be, and I will wait right here for you.
I’m not just sending my daughter off to college, I’m also sending another part of our family off. Leaving Buddy at his new home, was harder for me than leaving her at college. Because the day we took Whitney to college, I knew, she was prepared and ready.
She was the Alfa. Strong, courageous, fearless, a young woman who will persevere through anything. Her values speak for themselves. When adversity arises, she will overcome. Buddy had prepared her for this moment. Buddy was her angel sent from heaven above.
There was nothing left for me to give her, for she was ready.
It was in this great reflection, the day I took my second daughter to college, I didn’t shed a tear that day. For I knew she was confident in the direction she was now headed, and that God had great plans for her.
Life isn’t about the ending of era, or saying good-bye, it’s about moving forward to the next chapter. I cannot wait to write about the next chapter of Buddy and Whitney’s life. Somehow, I know it’s going to be magnificent.
Reflection was truly healing for my soul in every way and calmed an anxious mother sending her baby off to college. My encouragement for you, is that no matter what you are faced with, change is frightening at first. Before you take the next big step, look back, reflect, and learn from the past. Then, shed your fear, be willing to sacrifice to move forward, for the best is yet to come.
Sarah Hein, The Pioneer