This blog is devoted to my love of horses & wild birds. It chronicles my journey through grief, healing, personal growth, and moving forward with the adventures of life. Birds, Boots, and Brews is the original work of Eloquent Editing, LLC.
There is an old adage that says “a pony is a childhood dream. A horse is an adulthood treasure.” These words ring true for me as I sit down to write and reflect on this last week and provide a short update.
I am pleased to report that Miss Music Major and her little colt are both doing well. The little guy gets stronger every day and is now bucking and playing on legs that are much steadier and straighter with each passing day. Miss Music Major is a very good first time mother, doting on him and watching over him constantly. The two seem very happy together; watching them run and play in their small paddock is a miraculous joy and fills one with happiness and wonder.
Although he is still tiny, he is mighty! I think the little guy is going to make it…
It has been a crazy couple of weeks here at Birds, Boots, and Brews.
I am starting to think of life as one giant rollercoaster, filled with endless
ups and downs. Or perhaps that is life with horses – the highest of highs and
absolute lowest of lows. It is taking some time for me to put the last few
weeks into perspective, let alone words.
So, in the meantime, here is a small update that may explain part
of my tardiness in getting a post on here.
It’s a boy!!!
At approximately 12:30 am on April 15, my beautiful mare, Miss Music Major, gave birth to a handsome, but very tiny, colt. The birth itself went well. Unfortunately, the baby was struggling to nurse and Miss Music Major wasn’t producing enough milk at the time, which resulted in a sleepless night for me, my dear friend, Lisa, and my veterinarian. It also resulted in a very early morning SOS call for my best friend, Raina, as I had to bring her in for further assistance.
After numerous steps were taken, which will be written about
at a later date, I am pleased to report that so far, mom and baby are doing
well. The colt is very small; much smaller than other babies. In fact, his size
is rather worrisome and it is possible he may not make it. If you believe in
the power of prayer, it is definitely appreciated at this time for the little
However, he continues to gain strength and I am hopeful that he will be okay long term. Luckily, the milk situation has been resolved and he is able to nurse, although getting to this point was no easy task.
I have been calling the new edition my “little string bean” because he is tall and so very skinny! Newborn baby horses always have ribs that are showing, but he really does. I do hope that will improve in the days ahead as he continues to nurse and gain strength. He doesn’t have an official name at this time. Suggestions are welcome.
This little colt is a blessing and a joy for me. I am filled with gratitude and hope whenever I look at his beautiful face. Life is truly a miracle and a gift.
I tend to ask this question of myself daily, usually when I
walk into a room to complete a task only to realize I have completely forgotten
what I even went in there to do. It happens. Other times, I ask this question
when thinking about my life.
I wonder sometimes if I am doing what I am meant to be doing with
my life or if I have veered off the correct path of destiny somehow and lost my
way. Will I find my way again, or I am just randomly spinning out of control
into the great beyond, never to find my way back to what is or was meant to be?
Am I on the right course? More importantly, what is the right course? Where am I supposed to go from here? What am I doing?!
It seems as though I find myself asking these questions more
and more often of late. When my husband was alive, we had a plan. We knew what we
were working towards and why, and although we occasionally got off track, our
goals and dreams were intact and we knew what we wanted long term. We had a
plan for our retirement and things were in place to make our plan a reality. My
life was set, so to speak.
When my husband passed away unexpectedly, my life was turned
upside down and the path set for two no longer made sense. It wasn’t attainable
on my own. Even worse, I had no contingency plan. I didn’t have a plan for
being on my own, because honestly, I thought my husband would outlive me. Instead,
the universe threw me a curve ball and I was forced to move forward with a life
I never expected, and in turn, forced to reinvent myself, an ongoing process
that has proved to be exceptionally challenging. No one prepared me for this,
and there is no manual for the path of my life. Like this story, I am still
attempting to write it.
I was contemplating the many questions of life one day in a rather in-depth and enlightening conversation with my best friend, Raina. As usual, we found ourselves analyzing our lives over a glass of good Pinot Noir. We had been “wine-ing.” This is not to be confused with traditional whining. “Wine-ing” is a term I have created that means “drinking and enjoying wine in good company.” Traditional “whining” is not allowed to take place over a bottle of good Pinot Noir. Save the whining and crying for beer. Pinot is sacred.
Raina and I tend to discuss everything. On this particular
day, we talked about our lives and the different paths we have taken over the
years, our successes and failures, the people that have influenced us, and the
roads we see ahead of us. It’s
interesting to stop and look back at our many life choices and wonder what
could have happened with different choices and why we have ended up where we
are. It’s also interesting to think about the life experiences that have shaped
who we are and why we view and do things a certain way. At the moment, we are
both on a quest for success, something everyone views differently but longs for
all the same. I left our conversation with the realization that success has
more than one definition. I need to be more open to receiving success, as well
as expanding my horizons in terms of what is and isn’t success.
The day after my conversation with Raina, I was taking a much-needed walk and enjoying nature at a small lake located near my place. As usual, I had my camera with me, hoping to see some of the many birds of prey that frequent the area. It had been a slow day in the bird watching department, but it still felt good to be out and about for a few minutes, enjoying a little fresh air before my nightly barn chores.
I was contemplating my life and some difficult choices I need to make in order to continue moving forward and find both happiness and success in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Lately, for whatever reason, things have been harder than they need to be and every challenge is a bigger battle than anticipated. We all go through these times in our lives and they often pass after some difficulty. This, however, doesn’t seem to be passing. As I was lost in thought and contemplating some of the more difficult questions of my life, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and noticed a small, colorful bird in the trees above me. I quickly snapped a couple of shots with my camera before it flew off to a much higher venue where it could barely be seen by my eyes as I squinted into the sunlight. I had no idea what I had just witnessed in terms of a bird sighting, but I intended to find out.
I was intrigued by the beautiful little bird. Somehow, I knew its sighting had some spiritual meaning. It was unlike any bird I have seen before. To call it unique was an understatement. Its head was slate blue and its wings were a rust colored brown with some black accents. It had a sharp look to it and obviously preferred to be very high up in the trees, unlike the little blackbirds and chickadees fluttering about. It seemed to have the qualities of a bird of prey, but it was rather small.
Upon returning home, horse duties called and by the end of the evening, exhaustion took over. I’m not a bird nerd or member of the Audubon society, so searching for a bird species on the internet can be tedious and time consuming for me, especially when I have no idea where to start looking or what bird species I may have encountered. My quest for figuring out the type of bird I had witnessed would have to wait. As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait long.
The following day, the universe answered my curiosity for me. I was watching the morning news when a segment came on featuring a wildlife bird expert. He had several birds of prey with him, the second of which happened to be a carbon copy of the colorful little bird I had photographed on my walk. I couldn’t believe my luck. The morning news had just saved me several hours of searching and potential frustration. I learned that the little bird is an American Kestrel, the smallest member of the Falcon family. A small bird of prey, the American Kestrel is the smallest, most common Falcon in North America.
Those of you that know me realize I find birds and their sightings inspirational and meaningful, so my next endeavor was to determine the spiritual meaning behind seeing this particular bird. What I discovered resonated and hit home. From what I was able to gather, the Kestrel Falcon usually appears when you are trying to figure out what your life goal is or when you are struggling to understand and decide on your life direction. I had just had this very conversation with Raina! How incredible that this bird was presented to me twice – first on my walk, then inadvertently on the newscast I happened to see.
The Kestrel Falcon tends to perch in the trees high above
other birds, giving itself an advantageous view of its world. From a spiritual
perspective, it is thought that when you see a Kestrel Falcon, it is a sign
that you need to analyze things from a higher perspective and be in a place
where you can have a clearer, more enlightened view of your world. In other words,
find a view that gives you a clear perspective on the end result you desire. The
Kestrel Falcon tends to present itself when you need to plan well, have a
clearer understanding of yourself, and have a better perspective of what is
happening around you. It’s crazy, but my conversation with Raina had hit on all
of these things. Having nature drive the point home has made it even more
It may sound strange, but seeing the Kestrel Falcon and thinking about its spiritual meaning has provided me with comfort. I have been asking myself “What am I doing?” for a long, long time now. As simple as it is, it’s actually a very challenging question. I do not have the answer(s) yet. I have not exactly found the place that will give me the enlightened view of the Kestrel Falcon. I am still defining success and the result(s) I desire, but I believe I can figure it all out with time.
It is reassuring to know that once again, love and guidance was offered to me via wings from the sky above.
A special thank you to my friend, Lissa, for inspiring this
blog. Although it is not about one of my usual topics, it is a noteworthy
subject that came about from a recent text messaging conversation we had. Thank
you, Lissa, for your friendship, inspiration, and most of all, your incomparable
Autocorrect. How did we ever live without this gem of
humanity? But more importantly, how do we live with it? For me, autocorrect has
created some embarrassing situations and an endless entourage of incoherent
messages I may not ever be able to decipher. Has autocorrect created these situations
for anyone else, or is it just me?
Autocorrect has become the self-appointed grammar police of the
written word in our technology driven world. It doesn’t matter if you are
sending a text, an email, or writing a report, it appears at inopportune
moments and changes everything. Literally. At times, it completely alters what
one has to say. And I mean really
changes what one has to say. Incoherent sentences appear where coherent ones
used to be. Words get changed. It’s
amazing how changing one word alters the entire context behind a message. Have
you ever received a message from someone and had to decipher what they were
trying to say? There are times it’s like a jumble puzzle that can’t be solved.
When you really need autocorrect, it completely misses what
you needed it to catch, and you look like a moron for what has just appeared as
your words or the obvious words you mist. I mean missed. See what I mean?
Is it just me, or does anyone else get frustrated with autocorrect? Better yet, has autocorrect embarrassed you? And is anyone else as dumb as I am and can’t figure out how to turn it off?
Recently, I was texting with a good friend and wanted to wish
her luck in an upcoming endeavor. I wrote to her “Good Luck!!!” and hit send
immediately. It was a nice message to send.
Or so I thought.
Autocorrect decided I needed to say something else. Substitute an “F” for the “L” in luck and you have the articulate message I sent. Apparently, autocorrect thinks that cursing should be a part of my every day texting vocabulary and that it should be used at inopportune moments. Thankfully, my friend is very forgiving and found it to be rather amusing. I still find myself blushing with a bit of embarrassment.
Not long ago, I met a rather handsome man and we exchanged phone numbers. We began texting, and over time, some fun, light hearted text messaging began. We were joking around one evening and the conversation was amusing and very enjoyable. We were exchanging what I consider “witty banter” when autocorrect came crashing down around me with the utmost in humiliation.
In response to a funny message he had sent, I replied with
“Don’t make me kick your butt.”
Or so I thought. The
response I received left me puzzled for a few moments. The response: “Well, I
guess if you’re into that sort of thing…”
That response seemed out of place until I looked back at my
message. Autocorrect had changed “kick” to “lick.” I cannot remember when I
have been more horrified or embarrassed, especially since sexual innuendo was
completely inappropriate for the conversation we were having at that moment. He
understood when I explained that autocorrect had made the change and we had a
good laugh. It’s something we joke about now, and it’s probably one of those
things I may never live down. And for the record, I’m actually not into that
sort of thing.
I had an equally embarrassing conversation
via text with my brother a few years ago near Christmas time. I was asking him about a potential Christmas
gift for his wife. We were talking about jewelry and I asked him if his wife
likes turquoise. He responded with “no.” I then asked if she likes opal. His
response: “Yes, she does enjoy that, but I don’t see how that’s any of your
I looked back at the message I had sent. Oh, dear lord, I had
asked if she liked “oral” and not “opal!” Thank you, autocorrect, for the
colossal embarrassment of that moment. Like I needed to hear about my brother’s
sex life! And for the record, I don’t recall giving jewelry for Christmas that
year, either. In fact, I am still so embarrassed about the text message that I
don’t remember what I gave. But I certainly remember the message! And my
brother loves to tease, so believe me when I tell you that I will never live
that one down.
Let’s suffice it to say that if you are reading anything I have
written electronically, keep in mind that autocorrect will come creeping in
from time to time. There will be future riches of embarrassment and deciphering
galore to be had by all. It is, after all, the world of autocorrect.
It’s as though a precautionary sign is in order.
“Autocorrect in Use – Proceed with Caution and Read at Your Own Risk.”
P.S. If you would like a downloadable or print version of Birds, Boots, and Brews, you can purchase the top 5 most popular blogs to date on Amazon. Check out Birds, Boots, and Brews Volume 1.
A friend of mine told me that I should write about the epic snow storm that hit Colorado recently because it would make a good blog. I jokingly told her that reading about me whining and crying because I thought I was stranded on my property until mid-June really wouldn’t make for great reading. So here it is.
Lisa, this one is for you, my dear friend!
“I will not get stuck. I
will not get stuck.”
I have heard these words in my mind again and again. This has
been my mantra for well over a week now, and I believe it will continue to be
until at least mid-June. Between the snow and mud left in the wake of the cyclone
snow bomb that hit Colorado last week, if I get my car or my little tractor
stuck, it’s safe to say that I won’t be going anywhere for a long, long time. And
believe me when I tell you that I have plenty of snow and mud.
The month of March has offered its fair share of challenges
and sadness. March 1 is my late husband’s birthday, a day that I always find
myself reflecting on what might have been. I think about what our lives would
be like if he was still here, and I often wonder what he thinks of my life now
and if he approves of the direction and course I have chosen thus far.
The “horse” life I have chosen isn’t for everyone, and plenty
of people have told me that I am crazy and that I should be doing other things.
Even my husband had his doubts when he was alive. He liked the horses and
enjoyed them, but he was interested in having a couple of horses and not making
a lifestyle out of it. My dream has always been a bit different, and now I am
trying to live that dream on my own, something that has proven to be challenging
Raising horses isn’t easy. It is the type of work that never ends, something non-horse or non-animal people do not understand. You don’t get to stay inside because of the storm. There are no “snow days.” You don’t get days off. You will have the privilege of working on Christmas day, and if you’re not feeling well or made the mistake of having too many brews with your friends the night before, too bad. Your horses need you and their care comes first. Horses require a lot of sacrifice, and they are not an endeavor to be taken lightly.
That being said, I had been watching the news and knew the storm rolling in would be a bad one, but I do confess that it ended up being far worse than I ever imagined. I went to town the day before and loaded up on grain, shavings, and other supplies and did my usual storm preparations in the barn area. The storm started on Tuesday night with intense rain, which eventually froze, leaving the ground covered in a solid sheet of ice several inches thick, then quickly turned to blizzard conditions with hurricane force winds. It was a virtual white out for most of the storm, creating treacherous conditions that went on and on for well over 36 hours.
During this time, I had to make many treks to the barn and paddocks and back to the house. Although I have water tank heaters, the severity of the storm kept freezing the top of the water tanks, so it was necessary to keep breaking the ice for the outside horses as well as trying to make sure they had access to their feed. The latter task became impossible as the storm went on because of the total and complete loss of visibility. More than once, I would have cried upon reaching the barn and paddock area had my face and tear ducts not been completely frozen.
When mid-morning hit on Thursday and there was finally some
visibility, I was looking out upon a sea of snow with wave after wave of giant
drifts between my house and the barn area. I was snowed in. Literally. There
was no getting in or out of my property any time soon! It was an obstacle
course I wasn’t sure how to handle, but I knew I needed to figure it out
because the horses needed me. I looked to one of the paddocks and panic set in
when I couldn’t see one of the horse shelters because it was buried in snow.
I took a deep breath as I headed outside to tackle mother nature’s obstacle course. My dogs, Cody and Max, bounded outside with enthusiasm and jumped into the snow drifts, snow flying into the air as they leapt and ran from drift to drift. If only it were as easy for me. It is probably less than 300 feet to walk from my house to the barn area; it felt like 3 miles as I tried to navigate my way through the giant drifts, almost getting myself stuck multiple times when I would take a step and find myself buried to my waist and stomach. I found myself wishing I could attach a sled to Cody and Max and let them pull me around like the poor little dog “The Grinch” had.
When I made it to the paddock area, I was able to see the two horses in the paddock with the shelter buried in snow. They were in another shelter in the paddock area where the snow had not drifted as much and seemed fine. However, one of their hay feeders was completely buried in snow, so my first priority was getting hay to them and making sure they had access to water by breaking the ice on their water tank, yet again.
In my brilliance before the storm, and I am using “brilliance” here rather loosely and with sarcasm, I had used my tractor to place hay for the outside horses and had left my hay moving apparatus on my tractor. Unfortunately, where I left my tractor bucket had a five-foot snow drift in front of it, making it difficult to try to get the bucket on the tractor and start digging myself out. A friend of mine came over, something that was no small feat with the terrible road conditions and lack of access on many of the usual roads to get here, including the road and driveway into my house. He had to walk part of the way into my place or risk getting his truck stuck. He helped me get to the tractor bucket and get it on the tractor. I am truly grateful for his help. Unfortunately, at this point it was late afternoon and I needed to clean stalls and feed, so I wasn’t able to start digging out right away. The wind was also continuing to drift the snow, so it would have been a pointless task anyway. But at least I knew I could start working my way out the following day, which was comforting and offered me a glimmer of hope.
The next day, I went outside and went to work. Everywhere I
looked, it was snow and more snow. There was so much that it seemed
insurmountable for me and my little tractor. I started working on one of the
large snow drifts that was keeping me trapped from the outside world. After 4
hours of digging, frustration got the best of me and I started to cry. It was
hopeless. I had only made it about 4 or 5 feet through the giant drift. I was getting
nowhere at the slowest speed humanly possible. My feet were freezing and I desperately
needed a cup of coffee, so I went inside and poured myself a large Irish coffee
and had a good cry.
What was I doing, anyway? What was the point? Why am I trying to live a life meant for two people by myself? I found myself questioning my goals and dreams as I cried. Finally, as I looked upon the giant, white sea of frustration that was laid out before me, the realization hit me that I needed to put my pride aside and issue an SOS call for help. I didn’t have to do this alone. I am blessed to live in a small town where people still wave, say hello to one another, and help one another out when it is needed.
I am very pleased to say my pleas for help were answered by two
wonderful men that I consider good friends. The first young man farms my wheat
field for me and helps me keep my horses fed all winter by selling me hay. He
came over with his much larger tractor and cleared my road, driveway, and a
path to the barn and around the house so that I can get in and out, providing I
can navigate the mud, which is now the biggest challenge.
On Sunday, another good friend came and helped clear the
paddocks in the barn area so the horses can move freely, barn doors can be
opened, and I can move hay into some of the paddocks that were blocked with
giant drifts of snow. One paddock was completely buried in snow, literally trapping
three horses in the barn. It was beautiful to see their happiness and
excitement once I could finally get the barn doors open and let them outside in
their paddock. I felt the same excitement when I was finally able to drive to
town on Monday and have a change of scenery for a few hours.
As I was driving home from town, my SUV packed from floor to
ceiling with horse supplies and groceries, I found myself lost in thought. I remembered
the excitement of buying my first horse and the happiness I have found since
being able to call this place my home. As I drove through the beautiful
countryside that surrounds my place, I was mindful of the fact that I chose
this life and although it isn’t glamorous or easy, it is mine, and most days, I
really do love and enjoy what I have built here with my horses and my lovely
It’s easy to lose sight of goals and dreams with twelve-foot
snow drifts standing in front of them. Perhaps “Seasonal Affective Disorder” is
for real. The storm made me realize that I shouldn’t allow myself to get stuck,
be it in snow, mud, or in my mind. It’s time to stop spinning my wheels in self-doubt
and negative thoughts and get myself out of the mud. I can do this, and I will.
One way or another, I will be okay.
From this point forward, I will do my best not to lose sight
of life’s blessings in the face of insurmountable snow and mud.
“I will not get stuck. I will not get stuck.”
P.S. If you would like a downloadable or print version of Birds, Boots, and Brews, you can purchase the top 5 most popular blogs to date on Amazon. Check out Birds, Boots, and Brews Volume 1.
For once, I am at a loss for words. I have spent endless days
and nights struggling to put into words what I want and need to say, and yet
inspiration has eluded me and continues to do so to a certain degree. This is
unusual for me and typically occurs when sadness and grief have taken over.
Recently, during an extremely cold and miserable night, my big gray mare, Snow Bunny, went into labor. I have been anticipating the birth of her foal for months, excited to see a little “Bunny of Joy” arrive and hit the ground running. I had been remembering to breathe and stay calm as I awaited the arrival of the little one. I was, however, on high alert, checking on her every few hours throughout the night via video surveillance.
The night she went into labor, I remember telling her to
please not have her baby that evening since it was going to be -10 below zero.
Famous last words. She went into labor shortly after 2 am. I called the vet
immediately and my best friend, Raina, and her husband, Adrian, were kind
enough to come over and offer assistance. That’s true friendship!
Unfortunately, it was a very hard birth for Snow Bunny, and
sadly, her foal was still born. Snow Bunny went into shock and it was a very
long process of getting her to a point that she was stable and on the road to
recovery. At the advice of both the Veterinarian and Raina, I left the deceased
foal in with Snow Bunny so that she could spend time with her and come to the
realization on her own that her baby was gone. Snow Bunny licked her foal and
pushed her around her stall, encouraging her to get up and move, but it never
happened. Watching this broke my heart, but I could also see the realization
slowly setting in for Snow Bunny.
When it was time to remove the deceased foal from her stall, Snow Bunny let out a very loud, shrill whinny; the high pitch hurt my ears. It was the loudest I have ever heard her whinny. It was the sound of a broken heart. I recognized it immediately because my heart made the same sound the night the sheriff deputies arrived on my doorstep to tell me my husband was gone. Once the baby was out of sight, Snow Bunny settled down and, in true horse form, started eating hay. I am always amazed at the ability animals have to stay in the present. They don’t dwell on the promise of what might have been or relive the past. There is definitely a lesson to be learned there.
Why is it so difficult to stay in the present? I am filled with tremendous grief. There are no words to describe the sadness I felt that night or in the days following. This incident made me think about my late husband and his tragic passing more than usual, and I started to feel like I did in the immediate days and weeks after the crash that took his life. I couldn’t stop crying, and the only thing getting me out of bed was my horses and providing Snow Bunny with the best care possible. Grief is a powerful entity once it firmly has you in its grasp.
Once again, I find myself trying to rise from the ashes of
death and move forward. Although Snow Bunny’s baby is gone, I am reminded that
life is beautiful and not everything is meant to be. I have been told that nature
has a way of correcting itself and taking care of its own, even if we, as human
beings, cannot see or understand why.
I was also reminded of the wisdom shared by the Pastor that resided over my husband’s funeral service. He spoke about how there are certain things that will happen in our lives that we are just not meant to understand, but to have faith that there is a purpose behind everything.
As for Snow Bunny, she is currently on a course of antibiotics and a special feed program while she heals. I am pleased to report that she acts better with each passing day, and it is a wonderful sight to see. There are brighter days ahead.
Recently, I received a private message on Facebook informing me that there is nothing spiritual about seeing a hawk or eagle; it is merely a bird sighting and to stop forcing my religious views about birds onto people. Another person informed me that my opinions and actions towards pigeons are unfounded and that I am cruel to these birds. While I am not opposed to constructive criticism, I do feel the need to point out a few things.
First, my blog is not about religion nor is it intended to be.
Anyone that knows me personally will tell you that I am the last person they
expect to see in church on Sunday. I am spiritual, but I am not religious.
There is a difference.
Second, no birds have been harmed during the writing of this
blog. And if I want to use pigeons as an analogy to describe poor human
behavior, I am going to do so because it is my constitutional right to use Zoomorphism in writing.
While these messages had negative intentions behind them, I found them to be entertaining because it’s obvious that these comments were made by people that either didn’t read my blogs in their entirety or they have less than stellar reading comprehension. Or, like many people, they simply wanted to spread their negativity with the world and decided I was a good target to start with. I am guessing it is mainly the latter, and these messages did inspire some thoughts on the power of negativity.
How many negative messages do you think you receive in a day? I
don’t have any statistic to share, I am merely asking the question because it
is worth pondering. When you stop and think about it, we live in a very critical
world. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, someone is lying in wait,
ready to pounce on you and spread their negativity at a moment’s notice. These
people are everywhere and show up freely at unforeseen, random times.
Sometimes, it is downright crazy what people choose to be
negative about. I recently ran into a couple of acquaintances at the grocery
store and was surprised at the negativity that came up from a seemingly
harmless subject and how quickly it killed what started out to be a fun,
friendly exchange. For the purpose of this story, I am simply going to refer to
the individuals involved as acquaintance one and acquaintance two.
To give you some background, these two women couldn’t be more
different. Acquaintance one is a pretty, bubbly young lady that has two small
children. She loves being a mom and she is very good at it. Her children are
her world. Acquaintance two is an older lady that lives to watch news programs
and frequently spends her time dwelling on world events and complaining about
things that none of us can control or change. Thankfully, I know from some of
her rants that she isn’t online or believe me, I wouldn’t mention this story
here because I would never hear the end of it.
The conversation began between me and acquaintance one. We had
exchanged pleasantries and I had just inquired about her two young children
when acquaintance two showed up and joined the conversation. I asked
acquaintance one about her daughter’s upcoming birthday. She excitedly told me
that she and her husband were planning a birthday trip for their kids to
Disneyland, the first trip of its kind for them. I mentioned that I had not
been to Disneyland since I was in college. I jokingly stated that my favorite
ride used to be “Pirates of the Caribbean” and that I wasn’t even sure if the
ride existed anymore.
Without missing a beat, acquaintance two spoke up and firmly
declared, “someone died on that ride! That place isn’t as safe as you think it
is. I would think twice before taking a trip there.”
In my mind, I heard “wah-wah” in response to her comment. What
a downer! Why bring that up and squelch the enthusiasm of acquaintance one, who
was visibly excited about taking her kids to Disneyland for the first time? As
fast as the mood changed, you would have thought we were in conflict about
politics and someone’s wardrobe had been insulted.
I wanted to tell acquaintance two that I was hosting a parade
next week and ask if she could show up and rain on it, but I held my
tongue. Some people have no sense of
humor, and she’s one of them. I wasn’t in the mood for a debate with her, and I
know her well enough to know that any sarcasm or humor would have started just
that. And like the adage goes, “if you have nothing nice to say…”
Sadly, the conversation was awkward after that and ended
sooner than it needed to. I felt bad for acquaintance one. All enthusiasm for
her upcoming trip was destroyed in that moment, and I could sense the
conversation upset her.
As I was driving home from the store, I couldn’t help but
think about the conversation and the power of negativity. How does a
conversation about Disneyland become negative? Is it necessary to be negative? Why
are some people negative for the sake of being negative?
When you stop to think about it, negativity is truly toxic. How
many times has the negative perspective of someone else ruined your enthusiasm
for something? How many times has a negative person ruined a social event for yourself
and others? On the flip side, how many times have you gone into something with
a negative perception and the event seemed to drag on and on?
Negative thinking is an easy mind set to fall into, and we have all been guilty of it at one time or another. Everyone has a bad day, after all. But perpetual negative thinking creates a space in our mind that allows depression, anger, sadness, and anxiety to nest, grow, and take over, much like pigeons in a barn. Negativity is very destructive.
It may be hard to stop negativity in your mind, but it can be done. Instead of being the person that brings “wah-wah” to the conversation, bring a ray of humor or sunshine instead. In the end, negativity is like a pigeon that has performed an air raid and pooped all over the barn, saddles and all – it is unpleasant and not enjoyed by others. Please keep your negativity to yourself.
I looked to the sky one day and there they were – large, white
birds with black accents on their wings, flying overhead. It took me a few
moments to identify them. Pelicans. I found it unusual because I didn’t expect
to see Pelicans flying over my yard. In fact, I had not seen Pelicans in this
part of the state of Colorado before. I couldn’t help but follow them and
watch. They landed on a nearby pond, enjoying the afternoon there, swimming
around and fishing. They showed up again the following morning and again the
next afternoon. I was fascinated.
A few days later, I mentioned the Pelicans to my best friend,
Raina. “Pelicans?” She asked. She looked doubtful. “I don’t think we have those
“I’m telling you, I keep seeing Pelicans,” I insisted.
“That’s odd,” Raina replied. “There has to be some meaning
behind seeing those. You don’t just see Pelicans every day.”
Allow me a moment to explain my best friend. Raina is
incredibly insightful and more in tune with the universe and her surroundings
than anyone I know. She is a gifted horse woman; I tease her about being “the
Horse Whisperer” because every horse magically bends to her will. To take it a
step further, I am continually impressed at her unwavering spirituality. When
the rest of the world is falling apart, she is steadfast. She is dialed in to
meanings, like animal behavior and bird sightings, unlike anyone else.
Raina left the room for a moment then re-emerged with a book
in her hands. The book was about the spiritual meaning of animals and what
seeing these creatures represents to you and your world at the time you see
them. It is an ideology that is Native American in origin. I was intrigued. If
the Pelican sightings meant something, I wanted to know what. I had been
searching to answer a myriad of things since my husband passed away, so I was
looking forward to the insight. Or so I thought. I wasn’t prepared for what she
Raina started to read the pelican description from the book.
“Pelicans represent forgiveness. Pelicans signify a situation that you need to
come to terms with…” She continued reading, but I didn’t hear another word
because my mind was racing, and I felt sick to my stomach. Forgiveness. That
was the one thing I wasn’t ready to grasp at that moment in time. Quite frankly,
I had been struggling with forgiveness.
As I drove home that day, I got within a few miles of my house and there they were again. Pelicans. Dozens of Pelicans. They were flying all around me, and I felt as though the walls of my car were closing in. I was being swarmed by Pelicans, and I was starting to hate them and their message of forgiveness. They were showing themselves to me because I needed to incorporate forgiveness in my life or I wouldn’t be able to move forward. But how do you forgive the unforgivable?
There were a lot of things in my life that this applied to. I
was struggling to forgive the young man that had killed my husband, an impaired
driver that lost control of his car and hit my husband head on. I was filled
with resentment, frustration, and overwhelming sadness for his irresponsible
behavior and actions on that fateful day. I was also worrying about the
sentencing and the justice system, thinking that the justice I wanted would not
be served. To say that my world was upside down at that time was an
understatement. I was traumatized by the situation and unable or willing to
accept that my husband was truly gone.
Sadly, I had also been dealing with “Pigeons” since the night
my husband died, and it had taken a serious toll on my health and overall
well-being. For those of you not familiar with “Pigeons,” they are defined here
as creatures that fly in, crap everywhere, make a huge mess while trying to
nest in your space, wreak total havoc on everything and everyone around them,
and are extremely complicated to eradicate. Any horse owner will tell you that pigeons
are a nightmare if they set up shop in your barn. Once they are in, they are
nearly impossible to get rid of and cause a type of frustration that is beyond
measure. Sadly, there are people that behave like pigeons; everybody knows one
and every family has a few. Pigeons appear in our lives in many forms.
But I digress. How does one find forgiveness when the actions of
others are truly deemed unforgivable, especially those that are narcissistic in
nature and take place within hours and days of your spouse passing away? Dealing
with these “pigeons” is an overwhelming burden that breaks you mentally and
physically when their wants and expectations are unfairly placed upon you when you’re
trying to grieve, understand, and accept an insurmountable loss that is beyond
Grief is a difficult journey, and I have learned that
forgiveness does go hand in hand with it. But let me be clear – I am not going
to sit here and preach the old “forgive and forget” adage. Not even remotely!
If you are looking for that kind of writing about “forgiveness,” what I have to
say here probably isn’t for you and we will have to agree to disagree.
My thoughts on forgiveness are quite different. Quite frankly,
if you have a grudge against somebody, go ahead and hold it if you want to. It
is yours, after all. I say this because there are circumstances where a grudge
is warranted and can be healthy, specifically if forgiveness is simply going to
open a door that allows the same abusive behavior to take place repeatedly
without any change. I don’t see the point in forgiving someone if they aren’t
sorry, and in my particular experience, the “pigeons” hassling me after my
husband’s passing are repeat offenders and they are not sorry for their
behavior. I have learned the hard way that not everyone has remorse for their
actions. Furthermore, there are some doors that are meant to be closed and it
can be healthier if this occurs and it stays that way. Why allow the “pigeons” back in if you
finally have their crap cleaned up?
So how do you find forgiveness? For me, I had to find the type
of forgiveness that would allow me to accept the situation “as is” and move
forward in peace. Forgiveness was (and
still is) a difficult journey that has required a lot of introspection. I
wholeheartedly admit that I tend to be very hard on myself. I beat myself up
internally for my flaws and imperfections. I acknowledge that I am my own worst
critic, and I do tend to allow the negativity of others to have space in my
head sometimes. Unfortunately, other people know this and take advantage of it.
Acknowledging this about myself has allowed me to move forward in a positive
manner with respect to my feelings about the “pigeons” that were wreaking havoc
in my life amidst the tragedy of my husband’s passing.
While I cannot, and likely never will, forgive the “pigeons”
themselves for their inappropriate behavior, I do forgive myself for not setting
boundaries with them and standing up for myself sooner. I thought I was being a
good person by showing them kindness and tolerating unacceptable behavior that
was a norm for them. Instead, I was enabling them, something I didn’t realize
at the time but can see clearly now. Looking back, I should have set boundaries
with them years ago instead of allowing myself to be bullied for years on end.
I was continually criticized, put down, disrespected, made fun of to my face
and behind my back, and belittled. While this sounds like some bad childhood
trauma, it wasn’t. I was an adult, and I allowed this to happen. I often look
back and wish that I had been a stronger person. However, it was easier at the
time to try to blend in with the wall paper than it was to defend myself and set
firm boundaries that didn’t allow this to happen. It was too uncomfortable to
set boundaries, so instead, I endured things I never should have and paid a
high price for it with my health and sanity later.
Sadly, there were times I used to resent my husband for not defending me. Looking back, I realize he was in a difficult position – defending me would mean setting boundaries that made him uncomfortable, and let’s face it – it would mean starting an endless battle that couldn’t be won on dysfunctional ground. For him, it was easier to try to make a joke and diffuse the situation, a talent my husband had in spades that I can only dream of possessing. I used to be angry with him for not defending me and trying to play everything off as a joke, but looking back, I understand why he did it. Most importantly, I forgive him. I understand and respect his desire to “keep the peace,” even though it often came at my expense.
As for finding forgiveness for the young man that killed my
husband, that has been extremely difficult too. He expressed remorse in court,
and I do think he was sincere. He is also serving time in prison. And while
many people may not feel the sentence he received is just, I was steadfast in
my resolve to see to it that justice was served. I did my best, as did the
amazing people in the office of the district attorney. I am forever grateful
for their tireless effort and their kind, caring support throughout the legal
process. Justice does not come easy, and I have a new-found respect for the job
these people perform every day. I know
it is something I could not do.
For what it is worth, I have learned and accepted that there
is the justice you want in your heart and your mind, and there is the justice
the court can give you. They are not one
and the same. As soon as you can accept the justice the court can offer,
you can move forward. It sounds simplistic, but it isn’t. It’s actually a very
big step emotionally. The endless hours I spent focusing on justice would now
have to be filled with something else. The judge that resided over the case
told me this would happen, and he was right.
As I was contemplating forgiveness, my mind kept coming back
to one question. I found myself asking if my husband would forgive the young
man that ended his life and if he would be accepting of the sentence he
received. That question went through my mind repeatedly and robbed me of
countless hours of much needed sleep. I thought repeatedly about the remorseful
words spoken in court and the sorrow showed by the young man. I also thought
about the many mistakes I have made in my life. They are plentiful. I
acknowledge I am not a perfect person, nor will I ever be. And as amazing as my
husband was, he wasn’t perfect either. No one is.
A few months after the sentencing, I was taking a much-needed
walk with my camera at a small lake near my house. I was thinking about forgiveness;
I was contemplating my husband and the court case, questioning his acceptance
of the verdict and sentencing and wondering if he would have forgiveness. I was searching my mind for answers when my
thoughts were interrupted by a pair of white birds with black winged tips
swooping down to land in the water in front of me.
Instinctively, I picked up my camera and started snapping away, not caring what type of birds I was photographing. The birds reminded me of a pair of figure skaters on ice, their wings moving in sync as they glided onto the surface of the smooth water. A few moments later, I realized what I had just taken pictures of – Pelicans. I was photographing Pelicans! Tears filled my eyes as I watched the birds swimming in the water. I knew then I had my answer from my husband, sent from above on the wings of Pelicans – forgiveness, acceptance, and perhaps even peace.
I have learned that forgiveness is a rather powerful entity. I have forgiven myself for a lot of past mistakes. I’m also trying to be less critical and harsh on myself. What can I say? Old habits are hard to break. I have learned to forgive myself for feeling broken, having moments of weakness, and being too trusting of people with less than honorable intentions. I like to think that there is good in everyone, and that is a principle I still try to embrace, although reality has punched me and my naivety in the face with that one more than once. All creatures exist for a reason, even pigeons. I forgive myself for not setting boundaries in the past, and I am working on being strong enough to set boundaries now when they are needed.
I am learning to forgive myself, and as crazy as it sounds, the pelicans are leading the way. Now when I see the pelicans, they are a sight of beauty and peace for me. They also serve as a reminder that forgiveness starts from within.
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Deadlines. We all have them, and for one reason or another, we have all missed at least one. Life happens. It can get in the way with overwhelming obligations and expectations placed upon us by other people. This week has been no exception for me. I try to have a new blog post every Tuesday, but for whatever reason, life got in the way this week.
This is a very hard week for me, and the weekend ahead will be
challenging too. More snow and frigid temperatures are scheduled to hit my home
state of Colorado, and I am dreading that. I have a mare that could give birth
at any time, and as any horse owner will tell you, things like a full moon or
bad weather will bring about the blessed event with the force of a freight
train that has lost its brakes going downhill. But I digress. While the weather
may create challenges for my weekend, something else is weighing heavily on my
mind. Friday, March 1, is my late husband’s 51st birthday.
As my husband’s best friend has said numerous times, “We are the
ones serving a life sentence because we have to live without him.” Those words
ring true in my heart and my mind as I write this. I find myself bursting into
tears at random times, and I keep hearing some of his favorite songs in my
head. This is the third birthday of his I have had to celebrate – and I use
that term loosely – without him, and it is not getting easier. If anything,
this birthday is bothering me worse than the others, and I am not sure why. I
cannot get him off my mind, and I cannot help but wonder what we would be doing
to celebrate his birthday if he was still here. Not that we always had
extravagant birthday celebrations, but we did try to do something special for
As I was watching one of our horses buck and play in his
paddock this morning, a horse that my husband was particularly fond of,
Ichabod, I was reminded of one of the last trips we were able to take together
on his birthday several years ago. We only had the weekend for a getaway, so we
were pressed for time, which ruled out going anywhere extravagant or warm, like
Hawaii, and we had a limited budget. We did agree that we wanted to get out of
Colorado if it was possible, so we started looking online. After a quick search,
we found affordable tickets to fly to Kentucky and boarded a plane shortly after
work on a Thursday night.
You are probably asking yourself, “why in the world would
anyone choose Kentucky the first of March?!” We chose it because it was an
opportunity to take in live horse racing at Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky,
a track we had never been to before. We had made a pact a few months before to
try to visit as many tracks in North America as we could, and this was as good
of a place as any to start.
While Florence, Kentucky, may not be everyone’s idea of a
dream weekend getaway, it was for us. The hospitality at our modest hotel exceeded
our expectations. The kind people at the hotel had their shuttle take us to and
from the track so we didn’t have to worry about driving, and the hotel manager
was kind enough to help me surprise my husband with a bottle of champagne and
some birthday carrot cake cupcakes in our room when we returned from the races.
We were able to take in one evening of races – something that
was foreign to us since none of the tracks we go to offer racing at night – and
2 days of afternoon racing. Thanks to a wonderful family friend, we had a nice
table in the horse owners’ section with seats near the finish line. It turned
out to be an incredible experience. My husband was amazing at handicapping
races, and this trip was no exception. His long shots were coming in, and we
basically ended up eating and drinking at the races all weekend on his
winnings. We shared so many laughs that my sides hurt, and I couldn’t stop
smiling. It was one of the best trips we ever had, and quite frankly, it was
one of the simplest and most relaxing.
We returned to Colorado after our weekend feeling rejuvenated
and refreshed. Our only regret was that we couldn’t stay in Kentucky longer,
but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. We were both back
at work on Tuesday morning and normal life resumed.
I never dreamed I would be celebrating his birthday by myself.
I wish I could go back in time to that particular birthday in Kentucky, as well
as a few others, and enjoy our adventures again a second time. I would hold my
husband tighter and laugh even more during our escapades. Those are the moments
I miss the most.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. There is no going
back in time. Instead of enjoying life and celebrating, I find myself overwhelmed
with grief and sadness, longing to hear his laugh again. Words cannot describe
how much I miss him.
As I was walking from the barn to the house this morning, my
heart was heavy and I had tears in my eyes as I thought of my husband. I caught
movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see a bald eagle, sitting in
the field in the snow, its sharp eyes surveying its surroundings. I stopped and
watched the magnificent bird for several minutes until it flew away, tears
streaming down my cheeks. Hello, my husband! I immediately thought about how he
used to tease me about my struggles to photograph bald eagles, and I found
myself laughing through my tears.
I believe my husband is still with me. Like an eagle, he is
watching from above.
Happy Birthday, My Love.
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Fresh air and a change of scenery was calling out to us. I was
longing to look to the sky and see a hawk or an eagle overhead, while my dad
just wanted to be outside. There had been far too much “together” time in the
confined spaces of my house, and although it was rather blustery outside and
the cold air felt like it might snow, me and my dad loaded up in his truck – a
loud, white dodge diesel pick-up that he has named “Bob” – and headed down the
road. Dad turned right as we left the neighborhood, so I knew we were not going
to town. He was heading out to the countryside to enjoy the sight of farmland
and small, rolling hills. We had no destination in mind. For several minutes,
there was nothing but the sound of Bob’s loud engine as we drove away from the
house. Eventually, we found ourselves bouncing along on a dirt road.
As we rambled down the dirt road, the scenery was changing,
and I loved it. I felt myself relaxing as we drove along, something that was
much needed. I had just survived the holiday season, something that has been
challenging since the passing of my husband. Although it was winter, you could
tell we were driving through farmland. We were surrounded by fields planted for
winter wheat and a few fields with the remnants of sunflowers. Although they
were dark, slumped over, and starting to crumble, a far cry from their bright yellow
glory months before, they still held an allure that kept me looking at them. I really liked the area. Something about it
felt like home to me. I had spotted a few Harris Hawks overhead, flying free,
their sharp, watchful eyes on the lookout for prey below.
I finally broke the silence with my dad. “You know, there are
a few nice-looking horse properties for sale out this way.” I had casually started
looking on the internet at new places to live and had been doing so for a few
weeks. With my husband gone, I simply couldn’t afford the house we were living
in, and it was too large and difficult for me to maintain by myself. I also
wanted something with more acreage for the horses and far fewer neighbors. And
the house was filled with my husband. Endless memories of him, our marriage,
and everything we had shared. It was also a painful reminder of everything I
had lost. Not that memories shouldn’t be present in a home, but having a memory
around every corner and in every room was proving difficult to handle
emotionally and it wasn’t helping me move forward. There were also some very traumatizing
memories related to his passing and his funeral service in the house that I
wanted – and needed – to stop reliving.
Dad responded to my comment with, “Get some addresses and
we’ll do a drive by on a few.” I took out my phone and did as he instructed. A
few minutes later, we were driving by a place that had potential, but something
about it didn’t feel right. We drove on to another place a few miles away. A
nice place, but the barn area looked run-down and the fencing was dreadful. I
could envision my horses running through the fencing and being loose on the
prairie there. Nothing like trying to run after a champion thoroughbred
sprinter in a wide-open space. No! Running along behind has never been my
thing. Not my future home. Moments later, we were driving on to the next one.
It was a new build. The house looked wonderful from the outside, but there were
neighbors close by and no fencing. The place across the street had pigeons
sitting on the fence posts and the yard looked like it should be on an episode
of the tv show “Hoarders.” Dad vetoed it immediately.
We continued down the road. As we were driving along, a large
bird with a wide, dark brown wing span swooped directly in front of the truck then
veered off to the right. Another bird swooped in behind it, and the pair flew
together, just ahead of the truck. “Dad, look at the eagles!” I exclaimed. It
was a pair of big, beautiful bald eagles, and they looked magnificent. They
flew alongside the road, gliding through the air in front of us as if they were
guiding us to our destination. We watched them in awe as we drove along,
marveling at their size and beauty. The pair eventually flew upward and landed
on a power pole. Below the power pole was a real estate sign for a property
that was for sale.
Eagles have tremendous significance for me. If you read one of
my first blog posts, you know that the Bald Eagle was my unicorn, the elusive
creature that cannot be captured. For the longest time, it was the one bird that
was too elusive for me to photograph. I could never take a decent picture, and
it was a source of amusement for me and my late husband. He teased me endlessly
about my quest to take a good photograph of a Bald Eagle. I took out my cell
phone and snapped a picture. Although it was starting to snow lightly, the picture
turned out perfectly. I couldn’t believe it. I finally captured a Bald Eagle –
and it was with my cell phone! I looked to the sky and told my husband thank
you. I cannot explain what I felt at that moment, but I knew my husband was
My thoughts were interrupted by my dad. “Let’s check out this
place for sale.” He turned the truck onto a small dirt road directly in front
of the power pole the eagles had landed on, and we headed towards the place for
sale. We had to drive about a quarter of a mile to get to the house. I couldn’t
stop thinking about the eagles and how they had guided us. I knew in that
moment my husband was with us, and I couldn’t help but feel he was behind the
steering wheel of this journey, especially when the eagles followed us to the
house and circled overhead as we drove around.
As we pulled up to the house, my heart sped up. It was
perfect! It was a quaint, lovely ranch house with columns on the porch and a
beautiful wood front door. It fit the picture I had always had in my mind of a
perfect “ranch” house. The place was lovely. It even had a wheat field! There
was plenty of space for the horses. I would have to build the appropriate
fencing, but I could see me and my herd living there. I loved it, and I had not
even seen the inside of the house yet.
We called the numbers of the real estate agent on the sign and
left messages. Since we couldn’t get a hold of the agent to see the house, we
decided to go grab a much-needed late lunch. We had been driving for hours at
this point, and we were both ready to eat. We weren’t far from the town of
Hudson and one of our favorite restaurants, so we headed that direction. The
eagles were still there as we drove away, circling overhead as if to guard and
watch over the property. We also noticed a herd of mule deer in one of the
nearby wheat fields. This area was definitely feeling like home!
Not long after we ordered lunch, I received a call. It was
from a real estate agent who works for the agent that had the house listed. The
listing agent was out of town, so this agent was filling in for her. We made
plans to meet the agent and see the house in 2 hours. Another showing was
scheduled right before ours, so we had to wait. I was nervous because a snow
storm was moving in and I hate being out and about on snowy roads, but my
desire to see the house far outweighed my desire to be off the roads and out of
the snow. The eagles were calling me.
After our late lunch, we slowly headed towards the property. As
we drove there, we observed the herd of deer not far from where we had left them.
The Bald Eagles greeted us again near the power pole, flying next to the truck,
almost as though they were welcoming us and guiding us back in. We stopped at
the corner near the power pole and waited a few minutes, as we could see the
other people still had not finished their showing. The eagles swooped and flew
around, surveying one of the wheat fields for prey. I was struck by their raw
power and incredible beauty as they flew in the lightly falling snow. Darkness
was setting in.
At last, we saw a vehicle leaving the property and my phone
rang. It was the real estate agent telling us we could head to the house for
the showing. As we pulled in the driveway of the house, I could hardly contain
my excitement. The house was even better than I had remembered.
Walking up to the beautiful front door, I couldn’t help but
think I was home. As the door opened and I walked in, I knew instantly I was in
my future home. It was perfect! The
living room, dining area, and kitchen had a warm, inviting, open feel and it
suited me. Everything about the house was exactly what I wanted. I couldn’t
have designed it better myself. I made an offer that night and the rest is
history. It is my home.
In addition to the beautiful home, I was struck by the women I
met there that night. The owner of the property was present, and as it turned
out, she was also at a crossroads in her life where she had to make changes and
move forward somehow. Selling the place was part of moving on for her, although
it was very hard for her to do. Hopefully she has been able to move forward in
a positive light and find the happiness she deserves.
The real estate agent, Tabatha, became one of my very best
friends. In conversation that night, I poured out my heart to her about the
tragic crash that had taken my husband’s life and my need to move forward in a
different environment and start anew. Tabatha told me about the passing of her
sister years before, also at the hands of an impaired driver. We had an
immediate bond, and to this day, I am blessed to call her a best friend and
confidant. It is amazing how alike we are and how much we have in common. I am
so grateful I have her and her family in my life now. I cannot help but think
that my husband and the eagles guided me to a friendship I know I will have for
the rest of my life.
When I stop to think about that day, I find it amazing that a
simple drive changed my life. It led me to new friends, a new version of home,
and a new path in life. When I see eagles now, I think of my husband and wonder
what he is trying to show me or where he is trying to guide me. I often see the
Bald Eagles in my yard or flying overhead, and I am thankful to them for
showing me that I am, indeed, being watched over from above. And as with most
eagles, they have proven challenging to photograph, although I have gotten
lucky a few times.
Most of all, I am grateful to my late husband and the Bald Eagles for showing me the way home.
"Birds, Boots, and Brews ~ Volume 1" is now on Amazon! ISBN-13: 978-1799235361. If you like the pictures from this site, visit the artist stores for Sandy Shiner-Swanson on Redbubble and Fineartamerica.com! Dismiss