Merry Christmas To All

Facebook is quite a tool. It’s a great way to share news, and find out what’s going on with your friends and family instead of actually spending time with them.  It’s a great way to read between the lines and find out more about someone.  At times, there’s no need to read between the lines—some posts can be un-mistakenly clear.

Yes, Facebook sure can be a tool, and a weapon. A place to blast people that may or may not even know you, with criticism or judgement.  Once in a great while, I’ve put a big toe out there and chimed in on something personally important to me, only to have that toe snapped off by someone who disagrees—letting me know about it both barrels.

I’ve been holding out, and holding out, and trying to stay on that tightrope of not speaking out of turn so I can keep all my toes. Well, I guess today I felt like being offensive.  So here it is:

MERRY CHRISTMAS! MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

JOY TO THE WORLD!

PEACE ON EARTH!

MER-RY CHRIST-MAS!

Ha! How’s that for being totally inappropriate and offensive?  Well, screw it, it’s Christmas and I’m celebrating a beautiful time of the year and don’t give a gnat’s ass who it offends!  You want somma this?  Come and get it.

 

I intend to stand tall and shout out:

“Merry Merry Merry Christmas to ALL!”

PERIOD!

It is simply tragic that our country has allowed religion to be all about politics, judgement, suspicion, money, and who’s infringing on who’s rights. For the life of me I cannot understand or appreciate how our culture seems to be moving so very far away from allowing the expression of faith. NO matter WHAT a human believes, the origin of that belief stems from a human thought, communicated to another human.  Scripture can be interpreted in a good or bad light with any religion.  Yet, somehow the Christian faith is being called out on the chopping block.

Seriously… what? It’s not politically correct to say Merry Christmas anymore?

Tragic indeed. And, utter bullshit.

Intolerance of faith is simply intolerable.

Yup I’m here to say loud and proud———

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!

There was a time I practiced Existentialism. There was a time I practiced Buddhism, I studied Islam, embraced Judaism, Christianity, joined the ranks of Hinduism, Mysticism….my life journey has included walking many different paths, searching for a broader meaning in life, and believing in something greater than me.  Consequently it’s easy for me to appreciate that all faiths have merit—there’s room for them all.

At the same time, I keep in mind that the United States of America was founded on Christianity. The first settlers needed a blueprint to follow as a civilized society.  Giving thanks, showing respect, encouraging fellowship and stewardship.  What in the world is so dreadful with having just a smidgeon of that influence for a foundation? I disagree things need to be “changed” to represent the current times.  I am straight up grateful there’s still an outlet for the many, many people who still would otherwise have no blueprint, and am befuddled by those who would like to strip it away.  I am able to express my own faith without feeling somehow infringed upon by seeing signs of Christianity and the melting pot of other options out there– why can’t others?

Even though I am not a participant of organized religion, I support ‘Amen’. I support continuing the “In God We Trust” message.  I support allowing kids to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with hand over heart.  I support saying out loud “Merry Christmas!” and appreciating everything it stands for.  Why?  Because I am strong enough in my own beliefs to be gracious, understanding and aware of the need to offer a “starter story”.  Christianity has been a good story to believe in—and many people continue to need a story.  Without it, there may be no built in core belief system for countless lives, young and old, to turn to, to learn, develop and instill important building blocks that encourage healthy ethics, morals and values.  Christianity continues to be a worthy means to bring people together in unity.

At the end of the day, no religion, no spirit, no human, no anything is perfect. Not a one of us has the right to judge or define faith for all.  One of the great things about our country is that we do have a melting pot of religions and spirituality directions and the freedom of choice.  Personally, I feel like once you have a positive foundation, if one specific path doesn’t move you, there are always options.  We all have the ability to choose what we want to believe in as individuals, while still respecting others choices.

For me, the difference is that I firmly believe in the need for a basic core foundation to start with. Just take a look at the hundreds of people who reach out in their most desperate hour and enter into the MN Adult and Teen Challenge program. There’s no denying that embracing Christianity changes lives for the better.

If a person needs to believe in a God or Goddess or some supreme being in order to live right and do right, I’m all for it. If they can be a stellar person simply by believing in the importance of choosing good over bad, that’s great too.  If you find your path by meditating on a concrete statue of a fat belly bald guy, go for it.   If, like me, you find your faith in the middle of a quiet forest with nature, looking up at a grand pine tree, that’s simply fabulous.  If your God says Jesus is “just a guy”, well fantastic—maybe he was.  If your God tells you to cover your body in public, then wrap it up, baby!  If you are satisfied believing in “nothing” but free will, well, okay then.

But December is a very special time. It is Hanukkah, and the birthday of Jesus, the son of God.  It’s the time for Christians all around the world to celebrate belief in an amazing story of miracles, and hope.  A story that deserves to be shared openly, without apology, or fear of insulting someone.

So,

Joy to the World,

Peace On Earth and

Merry Christmas to All!

 

Thank you for reading my post. Did it strike a chord for you or did it seem far and away from your own perspective?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  All comments are greatly appreciated.  You can read about all sorts of ideas, opinions and feelings from the heart and soul of an outdoorswoman… there are lots of topics covered in my blog category, “Girl Outdoors”.  If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website.  You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’.  As always, please feel free to share my information with others who may find interest and value in PR Brady AdVentures!  Thanks again!

 

A Chance To Succeed

achancetosucceedI remember as a little girl, my parents intently listening to the radio, or hovering close to our little black and white TV watching the announcements of who would be our new president. Each election, my parents would discuss the candidates platforms with each other, friends and family, sometimes getting into heated arguments.  They would consider how our family would be effected by each candidate, worry, make their decision after laborious analyzing, place their vote, and finally on election day, absorb the news with bated breath.  They would either celebrate enthusiastically their champions win, or with quiet resolve, find a way to look at the positive side of an outcome they weren’t expecting.  When that day of decision came, they demonstrated  courage, grace and eloquence, understanding that regardless of the position they personally held, they were obligated to show their support for the majority, and newly elected leader. They respected the democratic process, and understood that “United We Stand” was the cornerstone of our great nations success.

They understood, our great nation is founded on Peaceful Transfer of Power.

But that was then.

Our country seems to be split either consoling or celebrating today. What an epic, unexpected race this election has been.  Whichever camp you’re a part of, hopefully you can keep in mind that indeed, our country has been seriously divided for far too long.

Now, unfortunately, it seems there is no regard for any Peaceful Transfer of Power among the masses.  But the reality is, a decision has been reached by the people of this country.  Attacking those that don’t share your perspective will not change anything, or help make anything better moving forward.  Disputing the results publically and or violently, does not help make anything better moving forward.

Right now the leaders of this amazing, free nation are demonstrating to the best of their ability, an effort to see beyond the “sides” of this election and work together to support the decision that has been reached–urging everyone to do the same.

Can you?

Are you mature enough to step outside your own personal self to embrace something bigger than your own beliefs? Are you willing to become part of the bigger solution?

Our great nation is founded on Peaceful Transfer of Power.

That doesn’t mean rubbing it in, stirring the pot or questioning the decision that our democratic nation has reached.  Rioting, protesting, demonstrating……none of those actions are appropriate.  At all.  SHAME on those who choose to take part in those destructive, divisive  actions.  For SHAME!  If you think those actions are warranted, clearly, you have not learned what it truly means to be an American.

Our great nation is founded on Peaceful Transfer of Power.

Period.

Now is the time for us to take the gloves off, put on our big girl and big boy pants, shake hands, and with chins up come together and give this new direction a shot to succeed.

As my mom would say; “If you can’t find something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Indeed.

The eyes of the world are on the American People. They are watching our every move. Don’t give them anything more to judge us poorly by.

Seems pretty simple…

United We Stand.

Divided We Fall.

I am so very grateful to be taught by my Ukrainian immigrant father and half Native mother how to win, and loose, showing poise and character.  The importance of looking beyond pride and self to the greater picture—the picture that our leaders are right now striving to find ways of uniting together on.

Our great nation is founded on Peaceful Transfer of Power.

We are expected, as Americans, to stand behind the decisions our democratic process provides. I, for one, intend to show them all that I, too, have the courage, grace and eloquence to move forward with this new day, this new leader, and with a watchful eye, give this historic change in direction a chance to succeed.

For shame on those who don’t.

 

Thank you for reading my post. Did it strike a chord for you or did it seem far and away from your own perspective?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  All comments are greatly appreciated.  You can read about all sorts of ideas, opinions and feelings from the heart and soul of an outdoorswoman… there are lots of topics covered in my blog category, “Girl Outdoors”.  If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website.  You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’.  There’s a place to do that right on my website homepage.  As always, please feel free to share my information with others who may find interest and value in PR Brady AdVentures!  Thanks again!

 

Broke and Broken

Just completed my 2016-17 business season. It’s done.  It looks great.  It’s all positive.  Now I can let out a heavy sigh and relax for a second.

It’s been a rough 2016.

My elephant is kicking my butt.

One step forward, three steps back.

I’m tired.

I’m disappointed.

I’m worried.

I’m worn out.

Swinging into the air, not hitting a thing.

The negative list is about burying me alive.

And then there’s today.

Two years ago today, lost my hunting partner. Still miss him so.

This spring, after barely a year, lost my new hunting partner.

With just those two things, I’ve lost that important piece of unconditional love and willingness to be with me come thick and thin. The hole in my heart is epic.

Lost my vehicle–it died, leaving me stranded across the country.

Lost financial security, gained a truck and a debt I’ll die trying to pay.

Lost good health, got super sick, and it’s still taking months to recover.

Lost over half of my business tangibles.

Lost trust of many things.

Lost respect for…certain things.

Drowning in worry about ongoing problems with Angel and Sunny Girl.

Slammed with financial strife I wasn’t expecting or able to deal with.

Pummeled with mega costly home owner issues.

Everything seems to be breaking all around me, including me.

Lost a huge “window of opportunity” to launch new business ventures.

Knocked down with new, painful, and frustrating health issues.

Feeling vulnerable, isolated, overwhelmed, alone, helpless.

I am broke, and I am broken.

Feels like a good time to throw in the proverbial towel.

But I just can’t.

I won’t.

After all.

It could be worse.

It.

Could.

Always.

Be.

Worse.

As I sit here with my leg elevated on ice, wishing I could be somewhere, anywhere else, my mind fills with thoughts of back to the days not so long ago, when I didn’t feel like this. Back when I was on top, upbeat, strong and independent.  Back when I felt normal.  After all, I have an exciting new business season to implement.   I need to be normal again.  I need to be strong again.

And I will.Broke

Strong independent people are a strange breed. Sure, we’re together, confident and usually positive to be round, but we are still human. I think most of us also have a dark side.  Some of us perhaps a secret side, one we don’t even admit to ourselves.  A part of us that just can’t accept defeat.  So we push harder to do more, achieve more, conquer more. We don’t often ask for help, no matter how bad we need it.  We will go to the ends of the earth to ‘get it done’ no matter what.  Find the answer.  Achieve the goal.  Maybe we will invite others along for the ride, and oh what a fun ride it is, but it’s always our ride.  Hands gripped to the wheel and steering the ship, we will lock into that determination mode whether it’s good or bad for us.  And we will push aside any indication that we’re entering the “overload” zone until we’re about crazy. We hang on to our crazy like a pit bull on a mission, writhing and clawing until we’re about spent. The more we excel, the more we do, or achieve, the higher the risk for something to go wrong.  So when we’ve maxed out and something does go wrong, all hell has the potential to unleash.  Too stubborn to give in.  Once we get an idea into our heads, too stubborn to give it up.

Strong independent people aren’t supposed to cave. Then we’re no fun to be around. No one wants to go on that ride. We’re not supposed to fall down and not be able to get up.  We’re supposed to magically never have a down day.  Never struggle, be unhappy, or question our purpose in this world.  Just keep all the balls in the air.  Have all the answers.  Unlimited energy. Just keep doing.  Creating. Initiating.  Planning.  Managing.   We’re the ones making things happen, making the calls.  Putting it all together.  After all, if we don’t do it, who will?  It’s not like there’s someone to “hand the baton” to.  Strong independent people are expected to be…strong independent people.

And when the day comes that we do fall down…

And the dust finally settles…..

Yes, the echo of our own voice is often all there is.

We find ourselves on the ground in a pathetic little heap, baton clutched in hand.

Alone.

Again.

When we crash, we really, really crash.

Like a tree falling in the woods. Who knows?

As I sit back with my leg elevated on ice, I realize what makes me so strong is an unexplainable inner drive. Almost an “I dare you to get through this” inner challenge to myself.  Perhaps it’s from being a resourceful, only child growing up.  When you’re an only child, you learn a lot about what it means to be alone.  You learn to assume that the only one you can truly count on is yourself at an early age.  Anything you receive beyond that at any time is a gift.

We are on our own. So deal.

That realization is what helps survive these occasional hiccups. Every time I have to face difficulty alone it strengthens me more.  It validates my core belief system, and feeds my fearlessness, and confidence. It reminds me of what I can and cannot count on—keeps me in check and reels me back a little more from my enthusiastic desire to go overboard celebrating life with abandon.  The occasional “gifts” are what keeps my heart from turning completely hard and losing faith in others.

It’s just a lot harder when there’s so much difficulty to wade through all at once. It becomes easier when I focus on what’s possible at that moment, and simply let go of the rest.

Yes, I’ve most certainly crashed.

But I know I will bounce back to good health and get back on track with my normal life.

I’m confident I will weather this difficult storm out, catch up and start fixing what’s broken. Things are slowly improving daily. Projections for the future look great—at least on paper.

And I’m so very thankful, grateful, and appreciative for the ‘gifts’ of a few kind souls that so bravely reached out, butted in, and stuck close by me these last few months, helping make the impossible days all a little more bearable. Not sure where I’d be without you.  You are like angels, and the best gifts I’ve been given to help recover from being broke and broken.

Thank you for reading my post. Did it strike a chord for you or did it seem far and away from your own perspective?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  All comments are greatly appreciated.  You can read about all sorts of ideas, opinions and feelings from the heart and soul of an outdoorswoman… there are lots of topics covered in my blog category, “Girl Outdoors”.  If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website.  You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’.  There’s a place to do that right on my website homepage.  As always, please feel free to share my information with others who may find interest and value in PR Brady AdVentures!  Thanks again!

The Installation Of Love

Love.   We search for it. We find it, feel it, share it, and sometimes loose it. And then the cycle starts all over again. At least for some of us. But for others, the process is not so simple. For others, being able to open up oneself to the opportunity for love is next to impossible. How closely they hold up that wall, protecting themselves, determined to not be hurt. Not feel pain. Until they stop knowing how to even begin.

I found this in my archives, from a very long time ago. Not even sure how I got a copy of it. But I think this plug-in still works today….if you need to, feel free to give it a try!

The Installation of Love

TECH SUPPORT: Yes…..how can I help you?

CUSTOMER: Well after much consideration, I’ve decided I should probably install Love.InstallationOfLove Can you guide me through the process?

TECH SUPPORT: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?

CUSTOMER: Well, I’m not very technical, and I’m a little scared, but I think I’m ready. What do I do first?

TECH SUPPORT: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?

—-silence—–silence—-silence——

CUSTOMER: Yes…Yes I think I found it, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?

TECH SUPPORT: What programs are running?

CUSTOMER: Let’s see, it looks like I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentment running right now.

TECH SUPPORT: No problem. Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory but it will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off?

CUSTOMER: I don’t understand! I don’t know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

TECH SUPPORT: With pleasure. Go to your START menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been completely erased.

CUSTOMER: Okay, I’m doing it right now. I’m doing it. Okay….it’s done! Love has started installing itself. Is that normal?

TECH SUPPORT: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You will still need to begin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.

CUSTOMER: Oh no! I have an error message already! It says, “Error—Program not run on external components.”   I don’t understand! What should I do?

TECH SUPPORT: Don’t worry. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.

—silence——silence—–silence—–

CUSTOMER: Oh. So, what should I do?

TECH SUPPORT: Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files:

Forgive-Self; Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge Your Limitations.

—–silence—-silence—-silence—–

CUSTOMER: I’m scared. Okay….here goes….I’m doing it…..Okay, done!

TECH SUPPORT: Now, copy them to the “My Heart” directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming. One more thing; you also need to delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

CUSTOMER: Got it. Oh my! Hey, it’s working! My Heart is filling up with new files! Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?

TECH SUPPORT: Yes, sometimes. For others, it takes awhile but eventually everything gets it at the proper time. So Love is now installed and running. One last thing before we hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules back to you.

CUSTOMER: Thank you, God!

——–Author Unknown

Thankyou for reading my post. Did it strike a chord for you or did it seem far and away from your own perspective? I’d love to hear your thoughts! All comments are greatly appreciated. You can read about all sorts of ideas, opinions and feelings from the heart and soul of an outdoorswoman… there are lots of topics covered in my blog category, “Girl Outdoors”. If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’. As always, please feel free to share my information with others who may find interest and value in PR Brady AdVentures! Thanks again!

 

Umbrella Girls

One never knows when they may stumble across a treasure. It seems my mom took steps to make sure my life would be sprinkled with intermittent little surprises long after she was gone.

And mom has been gone a very long time. But she left me with twelve lovely ladies.

When I first discovered the girls, I was afraid to handle them. There they were, hidden under a stack of paired, embroidered pillow cases.

Ah, yes, I can remember sitting at my mothers feet many a day as a child, watching her work. She would sit in her special chair in the corner of the living room, methodically poking her needle and thread through a bakery flour sack-turned-pillow case, creating beautiful colorful threaded scenes on the stark white fabric.

I was just a child, with no interest or patience for sewing the days of the week on flour sack-turned-dish towels, or “his” and “hers” on pillow cases….I just wanted to go outside and play….but they were beautiful works of art; a combined effort between her skill, and dads foresight to bring home the empty flour sacks from his bakery, and I was mesmerized.

Mom was an embroidery freak.

Even though she has been gone a very long time, a part of her remains throughout my house; on table cloths, dresser scarfs, and various uniquely decorated fabric items. Yes, I’ve got enough embroidered this and that to last me a life time. Pillow cases and dish towels I’ll never use up. And on rare occasions when I’m feeling a little blue, I might tap into a stack of her embroidered linens, brush a melancholy hand across a colorful peacock and think back to those days long ago. Spending time with her, day after day, as she sat anchored to her chair, sewing with such passion, waiting for her to let me go play outside.

Way back then, moms creative juices didn’t stop with embroidery. She fancied crochet, and ceramics, too. She even did some quilting, sewn all by hand. Which brings me back to my twelve lovely ladies.

When I lifted the neatly folded pillow cases up out of the drawer, there they were. A stack of perfectly flat, perfectly aligned colorful ladies with big full skirts. Twelve ladies. Each a different printed vintage fabric, all uniquely beautiful. Their heads were separate pieces and each had a big matching umbrella.

Moms Umbrella Girls.

I gasped in awe. Look at these precious women! All this time they’ve been buried under flour sacks! I laid them all out in a parade of Umbrella Girls. They were beautiful! They are beautiful with their puffy short sleeve, tiny waist southern bell gowns and Mary Poppins umbrellas! I couldn’t pick one favorite.Umbrella2 Then I noticed some of them were not completed.

Oh my.

It all came back to me.

The project. Mom and her sister started working on a secret project right after she was diagnosed with cancer. This is that project. The quilt. She was making me a quilt.

Somber would be a good descriptive word for starters, followed by long span of time without breathing. Feeling a little queasy, a little lightheaded, a little like bursting into tears, I picked up one of the Umbrella Girls. I held it to my face, deeply inhaled, and smelled the vintage fabric.

Mom.

Memories from 30 years ago pierced through my heart like yesterday. We missed out on a whole life together.

I know Mom had hoped I would be as passionate as she was about embroidery. Every time she would hand me a small starter project I would last about 15 minutes tops. I tried. I really tried. But my efforts paled in comparison to hers. Her stitches were so perfect you couldn’t identify front from back. My work looked like “connect the dots”. To this day I never did get the urge to embroidery. What can I say? My passion is to spend my free hours hunting, fishing or something exciting in the outdoors. I’m just not one to sit anchored in the corner of the living room and sew for hours on end.

Umbrella1Now here I am, trying to explain all this to my twelve lovely ladies. Spread out across the table, they cry out for a purpose. A life. “Bring us to fruition!” they plead. They deserve to be showcased. But I’m no quilter, or sewing guru.   So once again they are delicately folded and stacked together, carefully tucked away until I can come up with a plan.

Eventually I will come up with a plan.

A few ideas have been brought up to me. Perhaps create a collage of them in a large picture frame or two, or hang them individually throughout the house in some creative manner. Truthfully I’m not sure what to do with my Umbrella Girls, other than love and appreciate that they exist in my world, thanks to my mom.

If it was you, what would you do with twelve Umbrella Girls?

Thank you for reading my post. Did it strike a chord for you or did it seem far and away from your own perspective? I’d love to hear your thoughts! All comments are greatly appreciated. You can read about all sorts of feelings, opinions and ideas from the heart and soul of an outdoorswoman… there are lots of topics covered in my blog category, “Girl Outdoors”. If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’. As always, please feel free to share my information with others who may find interest and value in PR Brady AdVentures! Thanks again!

 

The Game Tracker, Part 1

In the beginning, I was the girl in the background, ease-dropping on the “guy conversations”, wanting to know more.

Oh, but I wasn’t invited into those dialogues. Instead my curiosity was met with sarcasm. I endured smirks and taunting’s, like “What?  You want to shoot Bambi? Awwwwe, you wouldn’t shoot Bambi, would you?”

Once I finally expressed interest to a more temperate boyfriend, I became the girl wearing mismatched, oversized men’s camo clothing.  Clunking along through the woods with my size 7 feet in a men’s 11 Sorels.

From there, I trailed behind several boyfriends, trying to do exactly as told; walk quietly, no sudden movements, sit still, stay down wind. Oh, how cute I was.  Oh, how patronizing things were sometimes.  I was “darlin” and “sweetie” and “hon” a lot.  I would be told “horror stories” about field dressing and blood trails, challenging my sensibilities.

Then I built my own bow.

I was given a hodgepodge assortment of 5 arrows.

I practiced daily.

I became a really good shot.

In 6 years and 4 boyfriends, I spent many days in the field, but had yet to bag my first deer. It was in those early years that I discovered a few important things, like; not all guys were good hunters, and watching a guy take a 250 yard “Hail Mary” shot across an open field while screaming out obscenities might not be the thing to emulate, and what it took to unwrap and eat a snickers bar without getting caught. It was in those early years that I discovered my paralyzing, unconquerable fear of heights, and my intuitive comfort level being alone in the woods.

I discovered hunting was my calling.

Shortly after those 6 years of trials, tribulations and “ah ha” moments I landed the dream job that would shape the rest of my life: selling ads for a leading hunting magazine. The floodgates of knowledge and opportunity opened up for this girl in a matter of weeks, as I met virtually every major manufacturer and personality in the hunting industry over the winter.

I found a new circle.

And it wasn’t at all like the one I started out with.

The first “real” hunting attire I was given was more exciting than getting a diamond ring. A complete TreBark camo outfit—still the most cherished articles of clothing I own.  And although I was proud as punch to show off my self-built “compound bow in a kit”, Olympic Champion Ann Clark had other plans for me.  Suddenly I was the proud owner of a Hoyt Specta bow, which I still have today.  Then, Jim Dougherty presented me with a dozen (yes, a whole dozen!)  matched arrows. Clearly, my new colleagues were determined to have me “dressed for success”.  Soon I was to find out why….

That next fall I was invited to be part of the Inaugural All Woman Bowhunt, hosted by Bob Eastman, President of Gametracker Company. An elite group of a dozen women from the outdoors industry banding together for a week of media blazed deer hunting on Bobs private property; the “Tens Or Better Ranch”.  The group included amazing women like Ann Clark, Ann Hoyt, Jeanne Dunn, Kay Richey, Marilyn Nicholas, Kathy Beutler, Jan Bobsine, and my dear friend Loral I Delaney.  I confided to Loral I that I felt out of my league. I could barely contain my excitement to be surrounded by such fabulous women in a hunting camp.

Talk about going from rags to riches–surely I was dreaming! Was this all just a Cinderella fairy tale? I packed up my fancy TreBark outfit, a few other mismatched items, my new bow and arrows, and by then I had acquired a dozen Rocky Mountain Broadheads from Barrie Archery….

And I was on a plane to Michigan with Loral I.

Bob Eastman’s “people” picked us up and brought us to his home. Stepping into his house was like walking into a wildlife museum.  Dozens of stunning exotic mounts were displayed throughout the main floor.  Animals he had harvested from all corners of the earth were there.  It was truly breath taking.  I was in awe of Bob Eastman before I even met him.

And then we were introduced.

He was bursting with energy; a complex, articulate, innovative, creative man with a serious passion for the outdoors. I watched him bounce back and forth from playful banter with his guests to stepping aside with his staff to talk business.  He approached me squarely, enthusiastically, and addressed me by name.  He never once called me ‘darling, sweetie or hon’.  He pulled me aside and asked me questions about my work, and told me about his company.  He talked hunting with me on purpose, as an equal.  He was genuinely excited that I was a part of the group.  He made me feel welcome, but more importantly, he made me feel worthy, when, admittedly I was wondering why, with all the women to choose from, I was invited to be a part of this group?

1stLadiesGroupBob Eastman became my first outdoors idol.

One of the criteria for Bobs hunting event was agreeing to use his String Tracker product. Like most hunting accessories, I’d never heard of them until stepping into my new career, and I had much to learn. I was becoming a sponge for devouring information.  He spoke about the String Tracker with such conviction that by the end of the week, I was ready to go out and convert every bowhunter in the country.

By the end of the week, I was the only participant to arrow a deer. And it was my first deer, ever! And it was harvested using the String Tracker.  Cameras snapped image after image of Bob and I, Loral I and I, and just me.  The inaugural event wasn’t even over, but Bob was already talking about setting up the next one.

He made me feel accomplished. I was showered with lavish gifts including a hand painted wildlife scene from Chuck Denault. I was celebrated at dinner the last evening of our event, and my confidence as a bowhunter simply rose off the charts. That confidence has stayed with me for years and years.  And through the years of working in the hunting industry, Bob always treated me like a good friend and colleague.  He bragged about my first deer to everyone he came in contact with, even years later. 1stDeerWithBob

I am blessed to know Bob Eastman and have shared our passion for the outdoors in business, and hunting camp. His supportive, confidence boosting nature has made a lasting impression on my heart, and in my life.

 

You can read about all sorts of ideas, opinions and feelings from the heart and soul of an outdoorswoman… there are lots of topics covered in my blog category, “Girl Outdoors”, and “Words from the Wild”. Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in my personal perspective, and PR Brady AdVentures.

Hunger, Hunt Harvest

Fall has arrived. What a beautiful time of the year. What does fall represent to you?  Do you find special meaning in it?  Or is it simply the end of summer? The coming of winter?

Hunger1Fall is my favorite season. I wait with great anticipation for September to arrive every year.  As the days get shorter and the evening air starts to get that cool crispness, I start to get restless, and feel bursts of energy and adrenaline rushing through my veins.  I can’t wait to get to a wild place–celebrate the Kaleidoscope of brilliant colors splashed across the landscape. The perfect, magical collision of greens, yellows, reds, oranges and browns seem to shout out “this is what nature is made of!”   An amazing fanfare “goodbye for now” to the migrating birds, hibernating bear, and the scores of the summers young adult animals that will soon be facing their first winter.

Most people I am close to don’t share my excitement. They feel quite the opposite, for many reasons.  Apparently one reason is because I tend to disappear come fall time.

Well, um, of course—-after all, it’s hunting season, right?

And although it’s not been pressed by anyone, I am sure there is a dumbfounded struggle for some to understand why, oh why, why, why, do I choose to go out and trudge through the woods, fields, prairies and swamps, in search of wild animals like pheasant, turkey, deer, and more? Why am I so devoted to getting out there, long before the sun is up to long after sundown, day after day, after day…..after day……

How can I be gone for weeks upon weeks all alone, foregoing all else, choosing a solitary life away from civilization, focused on eat-sleep-hunt until the seasons close?

Gee, I don’t know. I just know I have to do it.

For me, it’s not at all about just getting out there and killing something. It’s a passionate lifeline to the outdoors.  A simple walk down a logging trail can unfold into hours of humble awareness and appreciation, reveling in feelings of peace, security, resilience, and forgiveness.   Standing alone in a forest—are we really alone?  Every fiber in my body zings with aliveness, super charged senses.  I am dialed into the animal tracks in the dirt, the breaking of a branch, the aroma of earth and dry rotted wood.   Aware of the snap of a raccoon branch, versus the snap of a deer branch.   Aware of the incredible blending of grouse feathers against a cluster of stumps.  Aware of the most delicate crunching of leaves just 10 yards to my left, for the last 10 minutes, and when I stop, it stops….the exhilaration is indescribable.  No, I am not alone.

Sure, I suppose whatever it is could be hunting me as well. That’s part of what makes it all so enticing.  I accept natures challenge.  The rules of the game, the consequences for playing.  There is no other place on this earth where I feel more like I belong.

Time becomes irrelevant in wild places. “Things” become irrelevant.  Opinions, issues and ideas, all become irrelevant.  Surroundings and choices become beautifully simple.  Spending a day alone with nature can be an earth shattering, deafening-loud experience, with the crashing of waves to shore, the clinking of leafs falling to the ground, the cries of the birds, howling of the coyotes,  scores of buzzing insects, wind ripping through the woods and the thunderous crack and thud of a falling tree.  The landscape surrounding me is what’s relevant.  Nothing more.

And if I am so fortunate as to be presented a shot, it is with grace and gratitude that I take it. We are both doing our best in this wild environment.  My quarry is trying to survive.  I am too.  If in fact we are at this point where everything is exactly as it should be to execute a perfect shot, then it was meant to be, for both of us.  While my heart aches for the loss of a beautiful precious life, I also rejoice in knowing I am sustaining my own life. My opportunity to take game may present itself in one day, after several days, weeks, months, or not at all. But either way, I’ve connected at the core to the very heart of nature.

There is no describing the feeling of self-sufficiency, whether it’s harvesting a crop of beans, a hillside of wild blueberries, a pheasant or a big game animal. I take humble pride in knowing I can provide for myself.  The planning, the endurance and execution of the hunt, not to mention the enormous amount of work afterwards, the physical strength to bring that game home and then prepare it…well I wouldn’t trade that world for anything.

On a purely rational level, I can’t explain it. But I can tell you that 24-7, 365, there is a hunger inside me, an all-powerful, all demanding hunger to immerse myself into an authentic realm of being one with nature.  It’s been there as long as I can remember.  Most of the year, it can be nurtured with virtually anything outdoors, not just hunting. It could mean fishing, gardening, hiking,biking, canoeing, or simply sitting on a log and breathing in the wild around me.  But come fall time, that hunger rules my very soul.

To suggest I not go, or not go as often, would be like saying “just don’t breathe air for the next few months.”

I’ve met many women frustrated with their husbands each fall because they take off for a week during rifle season in November.   Or they book a hunt with “the buddies” out west for 10 days.  Or, they grab the dog and take to a field every chance they get….

I can’t comment much about that. You see, there was a time in my life where I was just like those women.  It tore me up inside when the man I loved took off to the woods without me.  When he didn’t want me with, over and over.   Leaving me to take care of the house while he did the very thing I live and breathe for.

Yes, I can relate to that feeling of being left.

Well, that doesn’t happen anymore. For years, it’s been just me–and my dogs.  Sure, it would be awesome to haveHunger2 a great guy to share the outdoors with.  Sure, but until that day happens, I’m living my life as I was meant to, walking those serene trails with or without that guy.

Connecting with nature is a critical component to making me who I am. I understand it’s not just a hobby—it’s a way of life—the very core of my life.  It feeds me, physically, mentally and emotionally.  Those who truly know me, know and respect that although I will disappear for weeks on end, eventually I’ll be back.

First and foremost, I am a passionate outdoors woman. I will always live to fulfill my hunger to hunt and harvest.

 

You can read about all sorts of ideas, opinions and feelings from the heart and soul of an outdoorswoman… there are lots of topics covered in my blog category, “Girl Outdoors”. Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in my personal perspective, and PR Brady AdVentures.

 

Big Black Bird

The Crow Pose.

As I hunker down on all fours, place my hands on the ground in front of me, shifting all of my weight forward, trying to hoist my knees up onto my elbows,  and balance all of my body weight on my hands my mind begins to wander. How in the world this Yoga pose ever got its name is beyond me.

“Even if you only raise one foot from the ground, it’s okay. This is your time on the mat.  Listen to your body.”

Right.  My body is telling me this is not how a crow stands.  Ever.

But I continue to try, as futile as it seems.  Try is the key operative word here.  I teeter and fall over, focus, reset, and try all over again, and again.  My intention is to eventually be able to achieve this pose, although at times I’m not sure why it’s so important for me to do it.

Perhaps it has to do with accepting and embracing the challenge.

Life is full of challenges, and not just for us mere mortals.  Life is challenging for all beings on this planet.  At the top of the food chain, we humans claim to have a leg up advantage with our keen intellect that separates us from all other forms of life. But there are other species out there that also seem to have it all figured out.

Take the Crow, for example.

As I lay peacefully slumbering in a quaint little lakeside cabin in the great north woods, the sky slowly begins its transition from night to first glimpses of mornings light.  All is peaceful.  All is at rest.  All is…..

“CAWWW!   CAWWWWW!  CAWWWW!”

And so it begins.

I am haunted, and downright taunted, by crows at the crack of dawn. They are relentless. They do not give up.  They have accepted and embrace the challenge.

“What challenge?”  You ask.

Well, the challenge of getting me up and out the door to feed them peanuts.  Yes, you heard me, they want their peanuts.

I am highly irritated.  ARGHHHH this wouldn’t be happening if they hadn’t been trained to expect daily peanut feedings whenever humans are present.  I had no hand in this, mind you.  I don’t believe in interfering with the circle of life by feeding wild animals. But to those big black birds, we humans all look the same.  They don’t care that I’m not their normal food giver.  They know I’m in here, and they want their breakfast now!  They continue to caw, and caw and caw, with no breaks.  Mother crow has several babies to feed, and those are some big babies.  She has things all figured out.  She knows I am the human that can pull the lid off of that big metal can and fetch peanuts for her family. Resistance is futile.

“CAWWWW!  CAWWW! CAWWWWWWW!”   She flits from tree to tree, trying to peer into the cabin as I roll over and bury my headBlackBird2 under the pillow.  Her kids perch in branches on the hillside, close to their “feeding area” eagerly awaiting a signal.

“CAWWWWWWWWWW!” Dad chimes in from a distance as if to ask “did you get her ass out of bed yet?  Where’s breakfast?”

I’m not doing it.  I’m just NOT!  And I try to shut out the incessant cawing of the big black birds.  But now, they have wrecked any hope of me falling back to sleep.  Round one goes to the black birds.

Eventually, I do roll out of bed— to take care of my own family’s needs, and head to the outhouse.

“CAWWW!  CAWWWWWW!”  Mama Crow hollers to me from the trees.  I look up to see big black blobs dotting the mighty oaks along the property line.

No!  I am not allowing this to happen!  I ignore her cries, all the way to the outhouse and back, and through most of the morning. This does not make her happy.  They finally fly off, filling the sky with black feathers.  Ha, round two goes to me!

I do a little work, a little housekeeping, and a little relaxing.  After taking the girls for a walk and bringing Buddy up to the Gazebo it’s time to pull out the lawn chair for some tanning time.  Ahhh, I’m horizontal.

“CAWWW!  CAWWWWWWWWWW!”  She is back again with the entire family of 6, and let me tell you, the natives are getting restless.  They are dropping down from the trees to the ground, just 20 yards away from the lawn chair, picking at the ground and empty hulls and giving me dirty looks.  She struts over to the magical metal can on the side of the cabin and eyes it up and down.

“Caw! Cawww!” the kids begin to chime.  She is staring me down with her beady black eyes.  She opens her wings toward me like a scene out of ‘Dominion’ or something, then she gently rises up to the cabin rooftop, looking down on the peanut can.

“CAWWWW!  CAWWW! CAWWWWWWW!”  She demands again.  She is relentless.  She will not give up.  She has accepted and embraces the challenge.

Oh yeah, I am one tough human.   I am just waiting for her to start trying to wing check me on the lawn chair.  She would have a pretty good fly at me from the corner of the rooftop.  I glance over to the babies.  Those are some big black baby birds.  I look over to her again.  Suddenly, I feel sorry for her. Dang. She’s really got her ‘wings’ full with that brood.

She cocks her head sideways at me…..“CAWW.”

“Ohhh….FFFFFFFFFFFINE!”  I reluctantly get up and storm over to the peanut can, grabbing two fists full of them. Then I turn to their “feeding area” and sprinkle them across the ground.Blackbird4

I barely escape to my lawn chair before the frenzy begins.  The 6 big black birds cover the hillside, mom dropping down, grabbing a peanut and pecking it open.  The kids all standing there with their heads tipped back, cawing like mad for a food drop.  That poor mother crow about wore herself out running from baby to baby trying to feed them all.  Aren’t they big enough to feed themselves? Dad stayed back, grabbing for an outer edge peanut, then would hop off out of sight to enjoy it in peace.  How typical.

I had placed the last few peanuts on the black iron patio chairs facing the lake.  One of the babies hopped up on a chair.  Mother crow quickly scolded the baby to get down.  When he wouldn’t, she glanced over to me.  As I witnessed the dynamics of this family of big black birds, I developed a new appreciation for the Crow Pose.

BlackBird3Oh yes, my dear, if you are going to demand something from me, I want something from you.  By the end of October, you will be taking peanuts from my hand on that chair.  I will focus, and set up a plan, and try.   Remember, I am the human that can pull the lid off of that big metal can and fetch your peanuts.  My intention is to eventually be able to achieve this connection with you, although I’m not sure why it’s so important for me to do it.

Perhaps it has to do with accepting and embracing the challenge.

Resistance is futile.

She hops up on the chair and pecks open the peanut, glancing nervously at me.

I accept and embrace the challenge.  So begins the taming of a big black bird.

 

What’s the latest challenge you’ve taken on?  I’d love to hear about it!    Feel free to check out more posts under Girl Outdoors, and share with others! 

To Build A Fence

This past spring a whole jumble of good and bad things occurred just as I returned home from my winter adventure season.  I tried to push through the spring.  I tried to show gratitude for the good stuff.  I tried to understand the bad stuff.  I tried to come up with other plans.  I ran out of tears, tolerance, and ideas.

One of many things that have been difficult to find time for has been to erect a better structure to define my back yard. My current fence is slowly falling apart.  It is failing to serve its purpose.   It has become a priority of late.  Functionality.  Safety.  Privacy.  Esthetics.  All good reasons to build a fence and yes, I can check all those boxes as reasons in my case.  And now it’s time.  It cannot wait another day.

Unfortunately I am unable to afford to do as much as I’d like to.  I can’t afford to build a brand new structure right to my actual property line, therefore I’m sacrificing the use of some of my own property until finances allow.   But I am going to do what I can for now.  Something good enough to bring me resolve about what has made this effort such a priority.

To build a fence with raw materials and no directions is a challenging act of mental ability, dexterity, determination and physical strength.  I’m finding that at this time, to build a fence translates into recognizing that right now, I’m feeling a little fragile.  Or a lot.

To build a fence means erecting a structure that will provide some much needed seclusion.fence1

To build a fence means emotional protection, blocking out the bad vibes and negative energy, guarding  me and my family from what’s lurking on the other side.

To build a fence means defining my sacred space.  My terms.  My parameters.  My wooden line in the sand.

To build a fence means rekindling my confidence by tackling something bigger than normal.

To build a fence means accepting help.  Help from people who care about me and my well-being, no matter how raw and tired and ornery I’ve become.

To build a fence means feeling gratitude for having more than one person’s perspective of what can be, or how it could be.

fence3To build a fence means team work on something to be proud of together, no matter how self-reliant and closed off I have allowed myself to get the last few months.

To build a fence means facing and overcoming obstacles, whether they be weed infestations, or tree trunks gnarled into metal, ominous weather, or letting go the pain of a lost relationship.

To build a fence means feeling power, satisfaction and inner peace through a hard days work.

To build a fence means creating something beautiful, functional, and sturdy enough to carry me through a difficult time.fence2

To build a fence means tearing down old and rebuilding new can be a bright, exciting positive experience.

To build a fence means resurrecting an environment where flora and fauna can once again flourish.

To build a fence means taking pride in knowing I have accomplished something important, and have done it well.

fence4

To build a fence means being thankful.  Thankful for even being able to build a fence.

What have you built lately?

 

 

One With The Bow

Archery.  A practice I’ve enjoyed well over 25 years; as a competitor, a hunter, and just for the sheer fun of being around people who enjoy aiming at a target and hitting it.  Anyone can shoot the bow.  Anyone, whether you’re 5, or 95 years old.  YOU can shoot a bow.  There is no age limit for the stick and string.  No arduous strength requirements, except for those we unnecessarily place on ourselves.

Simply pick up the bow.  Place the arrow.  Draw the arrow back, aim, and let go.  A series of steps that can become…dare I say….addictive?

It’s time to prepare for this year’s hunting season.  Time to make sure my gear is tuned, and most importantly, that I am in tune with my bow.

Being a confident archer requires knowing as much as you possibly can about your instrument.  I know my bow, and body well.  Years of conditioning, years of shooting 120 arrows a day, 5 days a week and tournaments on the weekends.  Picturing bulls-eyes on the ceiling in bed at night.  Thinking perfect shot placement.  Shooting with my eyes closed at an empty bale at 7 yards.  To shoot well, is to have perfect form.  Become one with the bow.

I can close my eyes, feel the bow in my hand and be aware if it is resting too high, too low, or fitting just right to my small hands grip.  When I go through my mental checklist, I open myself to be conscious of how I’m standing.  Are my feet slightly apart, at the correct angle to the target?  Hips over the feet, weight slightly forward, standing tall, shoulders down.  Holding the bow straight out from my body like a capital T, I feel for the correct posture and stance.  There it is.   Elbow out, slightly bent, loose grip on the handle.  Nock the arrow onto the string, gently placing it onto the arrow rest.  One finger above, two below the arrow on the string, fingers locked into positioned as though they are curled extensions of my hand and arm.  My arm, an extension of my back.  My back, the source of my power.   Deep breath in, exhale and squeeze the shoulders together– drawing the bow back.  I am at full draw.

With my eyes closed, I methodically recall the specifics of where things are when I am at full draw, and go through the checklist of where they should be.  Where the string touches my skin at full draw.  How my peep aligns to my eye.  Are my fingers wrapped around or clinging to, the string?  Is my bow hand relaxed?  I calmly breathe, noticing nothing but where things are at full draw.  Elbow slightly bent, shoulders squeezed together, I should be able to hold this position for a very long time.  It could take a while for the deer to step into perfect shot placement range.  I open my eyes.  I can see a perfect sight picture from the peep, to the sight pin, to the target.   I am an extension of the bow.  There is nothing more but the arrow, and the destination.  Pin is on the target.  Holding steady on target until it’s time to release the string.  Feels comfortable.  Feels balanced.  Feels right.  Wholeness.   Emptiness.  Nothingness.

Release the string.

Into the center of the target!

I was no different than anyone else when I first shot a bow.  I fought with every shot, trying to put arrows in the center of the target.  Archery frustrated me.  Sometimes I hated it, especially if other people saw me shoot poorly.  The harder I tried to make things happen, the less they did.  It wasn’t until I completely changed my approach, closed my eyes, and listened to very wise coaches that things finally changed.

Archery is all about meditation, actually.  Archery can provide a zen-like state of mind if you let it.  If you allow the practice to work its magic, everything around you will disappear as you shoot the bow.  Repetition, doing everything exactly the same, every single time, becomes so much more than a learned habit.  It becomes a natural part of you, found and reinforced in meditation.  All that will remain is your breathing, the arrow and the destination.  There have been many days I couldn’t wait to get to the indoor range so I could relax from a busy workday.  Escaping into archery, practicing perfect form tunes out the people, the chatter, the activity, and brings me to the center of my breath, much like Yoga.

Not bad for the first day of practice!

Not bad for the first day of practice!

And now as I prepare for Septembers season opener, I realize how much I’ve missed this feeling.  It has been some time since I last drew my bow.  Am I able to bend at the hips to take an uphill or downhill shot without altering my form? What if I have many more layers of clothing on—how will that change my shot?   I will set up many shooting scenarios in the next few weeks, to awaken and remind me of everything I have engrained into my form.  Nothing will be left to chance.  It’s all there, waiting to come back.  As I draw the arrow across the rest, I feel that confidence.  I feel that peaceful confidence, I’m melting into the bow, becoming the bow. I am an extension of the bow.  Picturing the perfect shot placement.  The arrow and the destination.  The target.  The bulls-eye.  The fall harvest.  Tenderloin venison steak.

My self-imposed  rule as a bowhunter is to be more than 100% ready physically, technically, and emotionally to step into the field and harvest my quarry.  My rule as a conservationist is to do my due diligence, hunt and dispatch my game legally, quickly and ethically.  My rule as a spiritual person is to always be thankful for what has been presented to me and my family, never taking life for granted, or more than what I need.

SONY DSCArchery as it relates to hunting brings me to an astounding realness in the wild. The combination of my abilities as an archer and my abilities as a hunter, manifests an experience well beyond the expectation of fair chase.  Tuning into the softest step crunching the leaves, tuning out any thoughts of work or friends or expectations at home.   Noticing the circling crows above and the flattened grass trail to the swamp.  Finding that funnel where the bucks run through, flanked by a scrape and rub line.  The feeling of being watched, the surprise of a rogue squirrel.   I cannot imagine not being able to spend time in the woods filling this insatiable drive to be as one with the earth, and, one with the bow.