A boy and his horse.


Last weekend we moved the horses to their new home. It’s one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made and, quite honestly, I expected it to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And yet…every step of the way, an extraordinary sense of God’s love has been present. Colorado and Dakota have made themselves easily at home with Taevon, a 9 year old boy who is the reason I feel good about all that is to come. I’ve never seen the horses love anybody as easily as they love that little boy. They loved Carl, too. They melted into his arms the moment they met him. But this boy, Taevon…he brings out their gentleness and curiosity in a way that I’ve never before seen. It’s strange and downright breathtaking to watch. His mom and dad and extended family are pretty fantastic too. My heart still lives inside of these horses and I will miss them more than anything or anyone else on this side of the planet. In a way, I get to pretend that they’re still mine. But…this heart of mine knows…they’ve found happiness. They are ready for this next stage in their lives. And, truth be told, maybe I am too. They changed me forever. They healed me and are the reason I stayed around long enough to reconnect and fall in love with Carl. They’ve breathed life into me since the moment I met them. After Carl’s passing, they were the only thing that got me out of bed each day. I grew close to them in a way that I’ve never experienced with other animals. Colorado especially. I’m certain that he is the most special horse I will ever know. They will always, always be a part of me. I don’t know what it is about this little boy…but I trust his love for these horses with everything in me.

God knew that Africa was going to swallow me whole. But He also knew how much I love these horses. With an uncertain and anxious heart, I pleaded, “God, please protect my heart, especially when it comes to my animals.” I begged Him not to break me. I knew I couldn’t handle the loss of anything more.

And so God sent Taevon and his family into my life. Thank you Drew and Samantha. I’ve never felt better about anything. I know this isn’t a goodbye…but rather a hello. May God bless your new life with Colorado and Dakota. May they teach you more than you ever thought possible. May they change your lives as much as they changed mine.  ❤

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ~1 Corinthians 13:13


{originally posted on Facebook Dec 3, 2016}

brown rice and spanish horses.


My eyes are tired. My heart aches. I’ve cried a lot these past couple days. It comes unexpectedly, in waves. It began last night with a remark about remembering a time when you heard the desperate, all-too-real sound of sorrow. I was watching a video with a group of women, half of whom I don’t even know. Oh God, please no. Not now. This hits too close to home. I brace myself against the inevitable. Carl’s sister, Christine, is sitting next to me.

I set my coffee cup down on the floor, grab a Kleenex from my purse.

I accomplish neither before I’m sent colliding into my own internal, wailing memory. The phone call. The one that has replayed itself in my head every single day since it happened. It was morning. I was out walking my dogs in the woods, at a curve in the trail, surrounded by pine trees, the ground covered in new snow. The whole world unraveled and all I hear is my own nightmare-stricken voice…NO-NO-NO-NO-NO-NO-NO…even before I hear what is needing to be said. Something inside of me already knows what I’m going to hear and I’m screaming NO, trying to stop it, undo it, make it not real. Please God, don’t let it be real. Tell me I misunderstood. I didn’t hear right. Please, stop the terrible, unthinkable wreckage that is happening inside of me, my whole world. Stop this loss of everything in my heart. Gone. Please, God, no. Let me out. Let me out of this horrible, unthinkable, impossible news. NO-NO-NO. This cannot have happened. But it did.
It did.

The sound of my own sorrow. All these months later, the memory still deafens me.

I feel Christine’s arms around me, hugging me. I think my body might crumble, but somehow we manage to create a soft net in the outreaching of our arms that holds us through. I hear someone behind us crying also. These losses, they’re all too real. And we’re all too human. Profoundly fragile, even the strongest of us.


Revelations 21:4

Today though, the sun is out. It feels good/It makes me sad. Sunshine mixed with the warm weather of spring confuses me. My emotions come too close to the surface. I feel like Carl should somehow be a part of all this sunshine, but he’s not. At least, not in the way I expect him to be. My make-up was wiped away by tissues and tears long before I even leave the house. I go to an early morning appointment and then the studio. I drink my coffee with cream. There is something comforting about that, a little luxury, since I more often drink it black. The studio is aglow with the warmth of sunlight.  I sit on cushions on the floor. I write for awhile, but don’t paint. I feel gratitude for the canvas sitting on the easel and its willingness to wait for me until tomorrow.

These tender days, they still happen. The sun continues to shine. My heart travels entire continents of emotions. I’m peaceful, then agitated, then grateful. I get swallowed whole with sadness, then decide to give up on whatever I’m working on and instead give myself over to editing some Lusitano and PRE photos from Spain. Yes, horse medicine. Sadness gives way to the grace and strength contained in those images. I am in awe of the beauty I’ve witnessed in this world. I wonder where life without Carl will lead me. My heart has been forever altered. Surely, this could be a gift if I allow it to be?

I try to imagine what heaven feels like. I attempt to plug into this feeling as directly as possible. This feeling of Home, I turn it into a map. A conduit, a pathway for every next step. In these moments, I feel closer to God, I feel Carl’s tremendous peace and happiness. I feel some of heaven’s presence on earth. It does exists, in glimpses. Only glimpses, all along. It is all our earthly selves can handle.

I get hungry. I make brown rice. Eventually, the cabin fills with it’s warm scent. I intended to make a vegetable curry to go along with it. But the rice smells so good. I eat it straight from the steamer I cooked it in. I am satisfied in it’s simplicity. I remember that I will be ok. I will make it through. I experienced God in a hundred different ways today. Brown rice and Spanish horses. Little by little, my heart begins to mend.

I was wrong about Valentine’s Day.


There are moments when unexplainable connections occur. There are gifts that go well beyond words. My friend, Char, and Dakota.


Double love with a friend in the middle. Some serious horse medicine occurred today. Char with Colorado and Dakota.

I thought that Valentine’s Day was going to be miserable. I was wrong. Instead, it has been filled with love and goodness from top to bottom, left to right, inside and out. There are moments when unexplainable connections occur. These are gifts that go well beyond words. Sometimes I feel like Carl’s love for me has magnified and multiplied itself many times over and in all directions.

God is good.

{originally published Feb 14, 2015}




I feel sick today. Last night there was a huge, startling KABOOM that shook the house and sent the dogs running to me for protection. I didn’t know what it was. I decided that it must have been snow sliding down from the roof. Although I did not make the connection at first, it wasn’t much later that the road outside began filling with the sounds of sirens. We don’t get much siren traffic on this road and, when we do, I think all of us begin to worry what might have happened. It is one of the blessings of this somewhat rural neighborhood: we care about each other.

Police cars, fire truck, ambulance…my God. This must be what PTSD feels like. I’ve never known it before, but since Carl’s accident, it seems that I know it now. Before Christmas, I was pulled over for speeding. The police officer was nothing but nice, but as I sat in my car waiting for him to run my driver’s license, I nearly came undone. Those lights flashing in my rear view mirror. Flashing, pulsing, unrelenting in their consuming brightness. For the first time, I imagined all the lights that must have been on the scene of Carl’s wreck. My mind screaming, mentally pleading with the cop to PLEASE turn off those flashing lights!!! Pleading with myself to pleasepleaseplease hold it together, the edges of a full blown panic attack growing imminent. I’m let off with a warning. He thanks me for being a good driver. The cop has no idea of my crushing brush with panic until he hands me a Random Act of Kindness and I burst into tears. Will you be ok, he asks with kindness in his voice? Yes, yes…I will be fine. I thank him and I mean it. I drive the rest of the way home, crying my eyes out. The trauma, the kindness, the wanting Carl, for just…everything. And so it begins again last night. My quiet little world fills with flashing lights and sirens. Again, my imagination takes me to the scene of that horrible night that I wasn’t there to see. Then it loops over on itself, back to the present. I begin to worry if I might know people where all these sirens are headed. Is it my dear friends next door? Where is this dire emergency that requires so much attention? What has happened? Is anyone hurt? Dear God, has someone lost their life?

Meanwhile, Carl’s sister is on her way to pick me up. She is seeing all the flashing lights and having a similar experience of anxiousness and worry. She doesn’t yet know if they’re going to my house or somewhere else or what is even happening. When she pulls up to my cabin, I get in the car, we exchange thoughts and, for a moment, I become grateful that I am not as crazy as I feel. I’m not the only one struggling with some of these startling ways that life keeps happening around us. I become extraordinarily grateful that we have something soulful and good planned together for the evening.

I question whether I should even write about this here. It is too raw. I would prefer to reach towards optimism and hope. I want to contribute something positive to this world. Instead, all I’m capable of this morning is worrying about the house down the road. It exploded, completely obliterated. There was a man who was injured. I don’t yet know who it was and I probably don’t know him, but I worry about him and his family, too. I worry about the blizzard out east and all of the good friends I have who live there. That storm is both beautiful and ugly. I worry about the homeless people. I worry about the elderly and the sick. What will they do if they need help and can’t get it?

I feel traumatized. Like I am disintegrating.

But my spirit won’t let me stop here. I attempt to lift myself out of this. And I am hoping that it will have the circular effect of helping to lift you up, too. Over and over and over…this is perhaps the best thing we will ever do for each other. We’ll take turns. Here is my hand.

I step off my downward spiral of worry, back onto solid, snowy ground.
I take a deep breath.
I realize that I am not alone.
And neither are you.

Suddenly, the path becomes a little bit easier again.

The horse photo? Well, that is just a little gift to you and to me. A reminder that all is well, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

I love you, Carl. You pull me thru…in ways that I sometimes don’t even realize.

{originally published Jan 27, 2015}



I just opened up a shipment of photos that I ordered the day before Carl died. Inside the box I found this. A 4″x4″ Somerset Velvet Giclee test print of my equine photography that I was daydreaming of doing something more with. It turned out beautifully. Even better than I imagined, really. Thank you for this, God. I needed it today.

I love you, Carl. Thank you for continuing to show up in the way you do.

{originally published Jan 10, 2015}

the steep part of the mountain.



…as if, all along, you had thought the end point
might be a city with golden towers, and cheering crowds,
and turning the corner at what you thought was the end
of the road, you found just a simple reflection,
and a clear revelation beneath the face looking back
and beneath it another invitation, all in one glimpse:
like a person or a place you had sought forever,
like a bold field of freedom that beckoned you beyond;
like another life, and the road still stretching on.

Excerpt from ‘Santiago’
From PILGRIM: Poems by David Whyte

*photo credit: a photo of me in the Tetons of Wyoming by Dawn Norris Photography
*poem shared by Cynthia Eckren Jan 9, 2015}

wild horses.


“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” ~Kurt Vonnegut

This photo is from a somewhat recent adventure into the wilds of the Pryor Mountains of Wyoming. We crawled out of our tents at sunrise, drank a hearty dose of camp coffee, and then headed out by foot in search of wild horses. We followed a herd most of the morning, but they were restless and we were often left on the mountain with no horses in sight. It didn’t matter. We’d find them again.The morning was cool, but inviting. We walked to the edge of the earth and then we walked some more.

My friend, Sage, shared this quote today and it made me think of this photo. I decided to dig it up from the archives and share it with you tonight. Today started out its rough and usual way…but it got better. I received and then wrote a message to Carl’s brother, Andrew. It had the miraculous effect of somehow lifting my spirits. I tended to more of Carl’s life details with his mom and then we went out for a hot chocolate. It felt good to spend some time with her, just the two of us, without the usual commotion of kids and a houseful of chatter (which I also love!). I connected with several friends, took care of the horses, tended to some Stray Dog Arts business, took a bath, gathered information for a grief counselor, unpacked more of Carl’s things, did two loads of laundry and played with the dogs.

This is what I would call a good day. Good days make me a little nervous because the few that I’ve had have been followed by even more difficult days, but…I’m going to take this day for what it is: a gift. Perhaps these gifts will start building on each other and a breathing space will occur.

These mountains and wild horses are something that Carl would have loved. I looked forward to bringing him there with me, but it never happened and now it never will. There are a lot of things that I will never get the chance to do with Carl. That is, except in spirit. I lived an adventurous life before Carl and I don’t have any plans of changing that about myself.

Everything feels craggy and broken. It’s sometimes hard to breathe. But then…there are these vistas. If I am brave, I will continue giving myself to the very edges of things. And, in this way, I will know that I have lived and loved well.

I love you, Carl. Always, you are with me. Always, you will be my most precious mountain.

And for the umpteenth time, I’ll share my very most favorite song. This song…it’s about unconditional love. Oh, this life…it has offered me much.

{originally published Jan 2, 2015}