Month: August 2016

Toot, Toot, Toot My Own Horn . . . I’m Right, I’m Right, the Belly IS the Master Brain . . . Dr. Mate Says So!

“The nervous system of the gut contains about one hundred million nerve cells — we have as many in the small intestine alone as there are in our entire spine!  These nerves do more than coordinate the digestion and absorption of food and the elimination of waste — they also form part of our sensory apparatus.  The gut responds to emotional stimuli by muscle contractions, blood flow changes and the secretion of a multitude of biologically active substances.  Such brain-gut integration is essential for survival.  Large volumes of blood, for example, may need to be diverted from the intestines to the heart and to the muscles of the limbs at a moment’s notice.”

“In turn, the gut is abundantly supplied with sensory nerves that carry information to the brain.  Quite to the contrary of what we believed until recently, nerve fibres ascending from the intestines to the brain greatly outnumber ones descending from brain to gut.”

“The brain relays to the gut data from sensory organs such as the eyes, the skin or the ears — or more correctly, relayed to the gut is the interpretation of such data by the brain’s emotional centres.  The resulting physiological events in the gut then reinforce that emotional interpretation.  The signals sent back to the brain give rise to gut feelings that we can apprehend consciously.  If we lose touch with the gut feelings, the world becomes less safe.”—-“When The Body Says No; Understanding The Stress Disease Connection” by Gabor Mate, M.D. — Page 146 paragraphs 3-5

So the head brain and the belly brain are in cahoots!  Saying that out loud makes me also say to myself, “Of course they are, what else could they be!”  It sounds to me like Dr. Mate is saying the head brain is an extension of the belly brain . . . a sensor and interpreter of information for the belly brain . . . information the belly brain uses to make judgments . . . gut feelings . . . intuitions.

Is this what Dr. Mate is saying?  I think so.  What do you think?

My Horses : Honey is Ridden, But Bae Gets the Workout


Honey giving my grand nephew a ride.

Honey and Bae have different personalities when it comes to many things.  Leaving the other horses is a very different experience for each of them.  When Honey goes out with us, even to take the kids for a ride in the yard, Bae panics and whinnies and runs around the corral, non stop, until we put Honey back in with her.  She gets a harder workout than Honey!

Bae getting her workout in the corral.

When we take Bae out without Honey, Bae does not want to go.  She stands stubbornly as if to say, “No, I’m not going, and you can’t make me.”  I have been working on the steady pull on the lead rope until she moves her feet forward, even a step, and letting up on the pressure immediately when she comes forward, praising her.  She stops again and I repeat.  Over and over we go through this.  The method paid off, though, and we have been able to get her out to the street where we exercise her.

Last time we returned to the corral, Honey was calmly eating hay.  She had whinnied at first, but had calmed down pretty quickly.  Of course, I latched the gate this time so she wouldn’t escape again!


“When The Body Says No; Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection” by Gabor Mate, M.D. A Book Review

I am reading, for the second time, “When the Body Says No; Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection”.

The connection between the emotions and the physical body play a more important role than many people realize.  Dr. Mate recognizes and writes about this in very definite ways.

The first time I read this book I was looking to find my own symptoms and understand what is going on with me, and skimmed through most of the text.  Now I am reading for greater understanding of how emotions affect all our body systems.

According to Dr. Mate, many diseases these days are diagnosed through a process of elimination, when the physical cause cannot be determined.  Auto immune diseases, cancer, nerve pain, IBS, and fibromyalgia, to name a few.  The medical professionals are not sure what causes these diseases, but there is a connection to emotions according to Dr. Mate.  Why do some smokers get lung cancer and others don’t.  Emotions and stress play a role.

To seperate the treatment of a physical condition without taking into account the whole picture, including the emotions and levels of stress, is like looking at only a part of the picture.  What is not seen is often an integral piece of the puzzle in understanding the disease, and in prescribing treatment.

Like with me, to take medicine is not enough.  When I continued to live my life with the same stresses I had previously been experiencing, I was only getting worse each year.  To get better, I believe, I have to stop worrying.  In fact, I am not “allowed” to worry or stress any more; my brain scrambles when I do and I can’t think straight.  In order to think clearly, I must focus my attention on relaxing, appreciating each moment, and loving myself.  To do this, I relax into my center and stop living in my head.  I find I am not so concerned with doing, I am more aware of “being”.  In this state of “being” I still have desires, and act on them, but in a more centered and relaxed way . . . I guess I would say in a more Zen like way. Many of my old ideas, what I thought I should be doing, or needed to be doing, have fallen away.

I wonder what would happen if everyone in the world could only function in this way.  Would everything crumble or would we all begin to live better?  I wonder.



My Horses : Honey Escapes!

Yesterday, Juliana took Bay out for a ride because Honey’s right front foot was a little tender due to a thrush infection.  Cheryl walked along with Mairsiedotes, for the exercise, and I followed.  We went out to the field at the end of the street and explored a little.  As we started for home, I got a phone call from my daughter Melanie who was visiting us with her children, “Honey got out!  She’s at Penny’s house,” was her frantic report.

Penny is our neighbor at the end of the street, by the fields.  She has two Tennessee Walking Horses who have whinnied to our horses as we have ridden by.

I took off running.  My grown son Matthew was entering the yard where Honey was reported to have gone.  She was there, touching noses with the two Walkers, geldings, sweet gentlemen.  Matthew and I approached slowly and she allowed herself to be caught.

Honey had pulled the unlatched gate open, I heard, and let herself out.  The gate stays shut because it is a tight fit, and it is difficult to latch, so I left it pulled tight but not latched.  Now I know better.

Jessie, my nephew’s wife, said Honey opened the gate, stood there awkwardly at first, as if to say, “Am I really out here?  What do I do now?”  Then she began trotting across the yard.  She was on a mission now, to find her herd.  The children scattered as she whinnied and took off.

I guess Mairsiedotes is not the only smarty pants among the horses here.  I won’t underestimate any of them again.

Is Someone Shoulding on you? Are You Shoulding on Yourself?

One of the words Patricia Evans talks about in her book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” is the word “should”.  To tell someone they “should” do this, or “should” do that, is a controlling way of communicating.  Shoulding is of the ways we abuse ourselves and others.  Shoulding suggests shame if you don’t do what you “should” do.  A less abusive way of communicating with others, or with yourself, is to say, “You might like to do this,” or “Have you considered doing that.”

This approach may sound mambsy pambsy, but in reality it is simply more respectful.  To tell someone they “should” do something is implying you know better than they do and have the authority to tell them what to do.

Changing the way we communicate can be challenging.  I should on myself all the time, and on other people too, and don’t realize it.  My daughter Melissa, the amateur psychologist in the family, catches me doing this and calls me on it.  She was visiting the other day and pointed out that not only was I shoulding on myself, I was shoulding on everyone else as well.  When Melissa pointed this out, repeatedly, I began to catch myself and correct myself before she could chime in with, “You’re shoulding on yourself again.”

Shoulding is a way of putting pressure, or putting power over on someone else, or on yourself.  Shoulding can kill happiness, making life a chore instead of a joy.  This nerve condition I have (see My Very Spoiled Nervous System) is teaching me the evils of shoulding.  I had a conversation with my husband last night and he was directing me by using sentences beginning with, “You need to . . . ” and, “You should . . . ” etc.  All the things he said were valid things I “should do”, but because he was shoulding on me, I began shoulding on myself and woke up with burning skin and scrambled brain.  I overloaded myself with shoulds.

Honestly, a person could think of so many things they “should” do, it would take them many lifetimes to do them.

The only cure for my burning skin and scrambled brain, aside from increasing my medication again, is to relax, stop shoulding myself, and ask myself, “What is most important to me today?  What would bring me joy?  What does my heart long for?”

This sounds idealistic, I know.  I have a difficult time letting myself do what I want to do and not what I think I should do.  It’s working for me though.  Even though there is a very angry dragon inside me (see The Dragon and Guardian of Memyselfandi), I am happier than I have ever been in my life because I am learning to follow my heart.


The Difference Between A $5,000 Horse and a $300-$1,500 Horse


Yesterday I called in the Veterinarian because Bae Bee had puffy eyes that were dripping a thick yellowish white ooze.  “It’s pink eye,” the Vet said.  He checked both the horses out and, while they cooperated very well, and he complimented them on being very nice horses, he said they were dangerously close to foundering.  That basically means they are obese and could easily get equine diabetes unless they loose weight.  He instructed me on what type of hay to give them (low sugar content like bluegrass hay), and how much per day (10-12 pounds).

He suggested we exercise them daily, beginning with 1/2 hour of walking and trotting, gradually increasing their exercise so as to not over do it until they are in better shape.  Overdoing the exercise could cause injury, just as in people.

Cheryl and I went for our first ride on them since bringing them home.  I rode Bae Bee and Cheryl rode Honey.  The saddle I tried to put on Bae Bee had no cinch.  I should have checked that when I picked it up at the garage sale for $1oo!  I wondered why they had a row of cinches for sale along side the saddles!  Instead of a saddle, I used one of the bare back pads I got for $10, and yes, it was very much like bareback riding only you don’t get as dirty.

Cheryl had the rocket saddle I got for $225.  Off we went.  Cheryl was unfamiliar with the cues Honey is used to, and was having a difficult time directing Honey where to go.  Bae Bee would not go anywhere without Honey, and on a bareback pad, I wasn’t about to try to make her.  So we meandered around the yard with lots of starts and stops.

Finally we got the horses out onto the road and started down our dead end, rural street.  We made it a few houses down before an ancient looking dog laboriously lumbered slowly out of it’s open garage door and tried to bark at us.  The bark sounded something like a deep, heavy, “Owwwww, Owwwwww, Owwwww.”

As non threatening as he would have been to me, if I had been walking, the horses were not taking any chances and began shying and rolling their eyes.  We turned the horses around and went the other way.

On the other end of our street, as we neared the busier country road, where traffic was speeding by, they shied again.  So much for them being accustomed to traffic, as we were told. We turned back to the house just in time for Honey to leave her droppings in the middle of the pavement.  Luckily it was not in front of the perfectly manicured yard of our neighbor across the street, who asked my husband to move our old truck off the street in front of our house because she didn’t like seeing it when she looked out her front window.

The ride was short but it was a start.

I told my husband, “The difference between a $5,000 horse and a $300-$1,500 horse is the $5,000 horse is well trained and physically fit.”  I’m Ok with these horses though.  They are providing me with the smell, feel, and joy of having horses . . . they are not perfect, but they are very sweet girls!

In looking at the following photo of me riding Honey, I realize I am in danger of foundering too.  I would benefit from a very strict diet!


Bringing Honey and Bae Bee (aka Dixie Mountain Gal) Home


Bringing my horses home was eventful.  Our old ’89 Ford pickup truck did the job but not without a few senior moments.  Oldsters need naps now and then.  The old truck has the muscle but gets a little hot on a climb, or on a hot day.  Yesterday was both.

By the time we got to the top of Dixie Mountain Road, the old truck had had it.  Boiling over furiously we let her rest while we went to collect the horses.  Not only did we load the two large plump horses (my daughter Juliana called them BBW-Big Beautiful Women) into the horse trailer we rented, we also loaded several bales of hay and bags of grain and boxes of other assorted horsey things the previous owners threw in for good measure.

Although we filled the radiator up with water before leaving the ranch, the truck was not as game as earlier in the day.  It was too hot altogether.  We got down the mountain and had to pull over into a neighbor hood while John went to get some antifreeze.  After refilling, we started out again only to pull over a few minutes later, in a Walmart parking lot, to buy more antifreeze.  This time I bought 4 containers of it, just in case.  We put two and a half in before it was full.


Starting out again, we overheated.  The day was just too hot and the traffic too slow during rush hour near Portland.  We found another shady spot, a lovely little oasis, opened the windows of the horse trailer so both horses could stick their heads out, and let the traffic go by.  We fed them some alfalfa nuggets, and gave them more water.  We entertained a few little girls coming out of day care, with their fathers in tow.


Juliana and I fed some ducks as we relaxed in the grass under a shady tree.  At 6:30 we decided to try again.  Traffic was better and the day was cooling off some.

The window where Honey was tied kept falling open as we drove.  We would shut it securely each time we started out, but a little bump in the road would send it falling, BAM!  Open again.


Honey was delighted to stick her head out the window and watch the other cars going by.  She reminded me of a dog.  She got some waves, and smiles too, from other drivers and passengers going by.


Finally we were home and we led them out of the trailer, one by one.  They were so alert; sniffing the air, looking around, taking in everything.  They were so different in their awareness compared to when they were at their old home.  This was a huge adventure.  In fact, every time we stopped to rest the truck, they had the same reaction when we opened their windows and they looked around.  Then they would get a little bored and be ready to go, stomping their feet and snorting out their noses.  Their personalities were beginning to show.

Juliana and I led them to the back yard as they continued to look all around, stopping suddenly to look more closely, or sniff at something.



We put them into the smaller corral with the lean to.  Mairsiedotes was in the little pasture, out of their way for now, but not out of sight.


They did a lot of sniffing and getting to know each other.

Our Mustang Rescue Project : First Little Pasture Finished

We finally got the little pasture ready for Mairsiedotes and let her into it today.  She began grazing immediately, and was peacefully making her way though the tall grass, when suddenly she started bucking and snorting and running around.  Mairsiedotes went a little crazy like that several times.  I wondered if she got stung by a bee or something.

When she was jumping and bucking, she kept farting explosively!  Then I wondered if that sound was what was spooking her!  She was fascinating to watch, cavorting around.  Reminded me a little of watching a kitten play.

I hope she gets along with the two horses we are scheduled to bring in tomorrow.  I’ll let you know.

Alone in the Woods : Part 4 – Unexpected Relationships

When Grandfather Coyote finished speaking, he retreated back into the shadowy woods.  Dinner was called and the drizzling rain came heavier and faster.  Little Girl knew she had to do something about her sad little tent and the puddles inside, so she grabbed a tarp, some twine, and a shovel, and ran to her tent site.  This time, she slowed before entering the area, apologized whole heartedly for her rudeness before, and asked the plants and ground in the area if she could stay there.

The mood changed, from disconnection, to warmth and friendship.  Little Girl stood, awestruck.  The feeling saturated her.  Approaching her tent she threw her tarp over the top, and worked the cords through the grommets and around the little branches of the blueberry bushes.  As Little Girl wrapped the cords around the branches, she asked permission.  The thought that returned was, “Yes, you may use my branches, but please remember to untie me when you leave.”

“Of course!” Little Girl promised as she worked.  Next she began digging around her tent to help the water flow away.  There were many roots from trees and bushes in the way, so she carefully worked with her hands to create little trenches through the roots without cutting them with her shovel.  “I’m sorry to disturb your roots,” she said, “I promise to put the dirt back when I leave!”

Little Girl sensed the trees and bushes were all right with her and her promise.  She felt a connection she had never felt before.  She began to understand why some Native American’s call plants “the Plant People.”  To Little Girl, the bushes and trees no longer felt like greenery in the background, the trees and bushes she spoke with felt very personal and friendly.

Later that night, when it was time for Little Girl to walk the path to her tent, she had a very different experience.  The rain was falling, like the night before.  It was very dark, like the night before.  Little Girl had her flashlight, like the night before, but everything was different.  No longer did the blueberry bushes grab at Little Girl’s coat and pants as she pushed by.  No longer did the shadows jump and menace, frightening her.  No longer did the tall pine trees moan a warning.  Instead, Little Girl walked freely through the paths to her tent, without any trouble.  The shadows were calm and still.  Even the trees, swaying in the wind, rain falling in the darkness, seemed to be saying, “You’re home.  Welcome.  Come rest with us.”

Little Girl walked on in wonderment, amazed at the change.  She got into her tent and settled in for the rainy, wet night, but this time Little Girl drifted off to sleep to the sounds of gentle rain playing softly to her sleepy head.  What love and comfort she received by giving so little.  Through her small acts of respect, and kindness, and awareness, of all that was around her, Little Girl discovered unexpected relationships that would remain with her, for the rest of her life.

Our Mustang Rescue Project : Part 9 – She is So Smart!


This morning, Cheryl went out to check on Princess Mairsiedotes, and found her in the gated stall, the stall she is not supposed to go into.  The stall that holds all the hay, grain in a closed barrel, tack, etc.  She looked up from munching on the open bale of hay as if to say, “Good Morning”.

Cheryl led her out of the stall and shut the latch.  The next time she looked over, Mairsiedotes had unlatched the stall and was inside eating the hay again.  Cheryl led her out again and shut the latch, this time putting a wire through the lock hole and twisting it so she couldn’t get in again.  Cheryl admitted to me that she couldn’t help being proud of how smart Mairsiedotes is.

Later, at dusk, I took Mairsiedotes out of the corral to let her graze on some nice grass in the yard.  She loved that!  When it started getting too dark, I put her back in her open stall with some hay, and turned to go out of the corral.  I had forgotten to shut the gate though, and Princess Mairsiedotes was out of her stall and around me before I knew what was happening.

I hurried after her, but the faster I hurried, the faster she went.  I had flashbacks of when my shetland pony got loose in the alfalfa field one day and didn’t want to be caught.  I had visions of my neighbors and what they would say if I couldn’t catch her, and her galavanting around the neighborhood, through their flowerbeds.  Fortunately, she allowed me to catch up to her when I walked slowly.  I put the lead rope around her neck and coaxed her back into the corral and Cheryl shut the gate.

This horse is no dummy!  One look at her and anyone can see her intelligence.


Mairsiedotes keeping her eye on me the day Denise brought her to her new home.

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