The Power of Negativity

There will always be haters.

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.

AudiobooksNow - Digital Audiobooks for Less

Advertisements

Finding Home

Breeches.com Banner

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 with me.

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.

One of the Bald Eagles I have been blessed to see and photograph in my yard

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.

AudiobooksNow - Digital Audiobooks for Less Hawaii Coffee Company

Remembering to Breathe

Breeches.com Top Equestrian Brands

While many people were eating chocolates and enjoying the smell of flowers, I had an important Valentine’s date here at the ranch with my beautiful horses and my veterinarian and friend, Nancy.

I am blessed to have a wonderful veterinarian that I have known for several years now. I am always amazed at her knowledge and insight, and quite frankly, she has the patience of a saint because any other veterinarian would have fired me as a client years ago.

I didn’t grow up with horses. Having them isn’t second nature to me, like it is for other “horse” people. I was 38 years old when I bought my first horse, a thoroughbred mare that I bought at the race track and retired because she had no interest in running anymore. I had always wanted a horse, and I was determined to have one.  

That was ten years ago; I am still learning about horses, and I can honestly say that I learn something about these amazing creatures every day. And God bless Nancy for her patience and kindness with me over the years. She has endured my tears, panic attacks over nothing, and late evening phone calls with ridiculous questions and, of course, more panic.

On Monday afternoon, I had to call Nancy and ask her to check on Baby Note. I noticed she was rather lethargic and walking around her paddock with her head down. The little spitfire that had been bucking and playing only hours before didn’t seem quite right. When I called Nancy, she had just saddled her own horse and was getting ready to ride. She told me she would unsaddle immediately and head my direction.

As I got Baby Note and her mother, Note This, into their stall, I noticed that Baby Note had a runny nose. With the crazy fluctuations in temperature we have been having, I confess that I was worried something like this might happen.

Nancy arrived shortly thereafter, and it took some doing to get Baby Note’s temperature. Not that I blame her. Being held in place and having a thermometer placed in my rear-end isn’t my idea of a good time either! After a rather eventful examination of Baby Note, my worries were confirmed. She had a rather high temperature and would need antibiotics for several days, the administration of which was challenging each time.

Fast forward to today, and I am pleased to report that Baby Note is doing well. Nancy looked in on her yesterday and she had her last dose of antibiotics. Today, she is bucking and playing and even jumped over her mother while Note This was trying to rest in the paddock. Baby Note is back to her independent self, exploring the paddock and playing with an energy most of us could only wish to possess.


As for my Valentine’s Day date with Nancy and the horses, Nancy inadvertently reminded me of something very important – to breathe. Yes, I said breathe. Nancy observed that another mare, Snow Bunny, is showing signs of getting close to giving birth. While these signs had not been lost on me, for whatever reason, having Nancy voice them out loud made me panic. And I mean panic! I must have looked terrified because Nancy hugged me and said everything would be fine. Once I calmed down and remembered to breathe again, we talked about Snow Bunny’s care in the days ahead and I felt better because we had talked out a plan. And while we cannot control everything, it is nice to have a plan in place and know that I am doing everything I can for her. Just remember to breathe.

As I cleaned up the paddock last night, I had the feeling of being watched. I looked to the sky just in time to see a big hawk land on the roof of the barn. It tucked its large brown wings at its sides and watched my every movement as I finished my task. I could feel its eyes on me, ever watchful. I felt protected in that moment, mindful of the knowledge that I am being watched from above; everything happens in its own time, and worrying about things serves no purpose. The hawk also served as a reminder for me to be ever watchful with the horses, especially Snow Bunny. She will be “watched like a hawk.”

Sandy 

100% Kona Coffee from Hawaii Coffee Company