Fruition Friday: Snowed into stillness

Do you have certain books that you can or cannot read at certain times of the day? For me, I am reading Crushing it! by Gary Vee and Present-over-Perfect by Shauna Niequist right now.

Whenever I read Gary Vee’s hard-hitting, expletive-littered book, I am ready to kick some ass creatively and shed all of my concerns about what others think. I can’t read this book at night, otherwise I am up, working and planning world domination. Actually, looking back, I should have been bought the audiobook instead so I could get my daily dose of Gary while folding laundry and doing the dishes. I need a little push in those departments.

Given that I am a recovering night owl whose decent sleep window has been severely limited by ranch life and raising young children, I need all the help I can get. Enter Shauna Niequist and her book. It’s honest without being too heavy and the chapters are short. Not that it puts me to sleep, not at all. Rather I am able to quiet my mind, skipping the night time anxiety. Niequist is also beautifully eloquent about her faith and God’s hand in her life. She weaves in great quotes from scriptures, music lyrics, and poetry and classic literature.

The chapter I’m on in Present-over-Perfect is about stillness, more specifically about God’s call for us to be still in our spirit, to cultivate an inner stillness that we carry with us. Physical stillness is no problem for me. Left to my own devices, I am really good at relaxing and recreating. Spiritual stillness or mental/emotional stillness is tough for me and a lot of people in this day and age.

I can hear all of the parents of young children laughing hysterically at the idea of stillness given that their lives are ruled by little humans biologically wired to run until they collapse. And is mental/emotional stillness even possible in a time of smartphones and social media, and play dates and meetings? Errands and ballet and gymnastics? And traffic and driving and driving and driving? Or if you are a cattle rancher, you are trying to get feeding done before the snowstorm hits and a cylinder on your tractor goes out, and your cows start calving a week earlier than they are supposed to? And you need to get your permits done today and the accountant is asking for your tax info because it’s already the first day of March?! I have to hope that it is.

So the big question: how do we, people with kids, jobs, spouses, cultivate stillness in our lives? Specifically, how do we cultivate stillness in our lives while working in ranching? Niequist answer for herself is silence and prayer. Maybe Sunday at church is your still time, but I would challenge you to find a way back to God every other day of the week too. I know that many people use meditation and yoga to find their stillness. My sister finds her quiet center by running (what a weirdo).

I do think that many ranchers find their stillness in their work and I have experienced it myself, specifically the tasks where there is nowhere else for me to be and nothing but the task in front of me, like waiting for cows and calves to pair up when the weather is good or harrowing fields in the spring.

This week, we have some serious snow here on the ranch, at least two feet. The interstate was closed and school has been cancelled. And the kids and I have been together a lot in the last week. It’s been an incredibly good opportunity to practice cultivating stillness. Did I mention that I am snowed in my little house with two bored kids? Please send wine.

I would love to know how you are cultivating stillness in your life, please leave me a comment below.

6 a.m. at the Ranch

This post was one of my very first on this blog, back in good ol’ 2009. Resurrecting it ten years later is both nostalgic and a little embarrassing. I was writing and sharing without agenda, simply as a creative outlet. I started The Montana Cowgirl as a way to share my new life with a cowboy on a ranch in the mountains of Montana. We were young and wild, and sometimes pretty dumb, but the living was good. And now, it’s better than ever and I am ready to step back into my creative space here. We have moved to a new ranch, we have two ranch babies and I no longer sleep in. Like, ever. Some things are the same however; we still live at the base of the Crazy Mountains and those two ranch dogs are still with us. And we are still blessed to be enjoying life, love and wild times under the Big Sky. Cheers!

For those of you not permanently attached to a ranch cowboy, let me tell you about a cowboy’s sense of time. Unless it is hunting season, my cowboy is up at six o’clock in the morning. Up for breakfast, up to check cows, up to beat the heat during the summer. It is a rare occasion that he sleeps in, and by sleep in I mean anything past seven. On those rare days, he will lament not getting up earlier and therefore, is a crabby cowboy (never a good thing.)
I will admit it, I am not what you would call an early riser. I believe that when I have the opportunity, there is not a single thing wrong with getting out of bed whenever I damn well please. I tell him, “Cowboy, I get alot done while I’m in bed!” and it’s true. Phone calls, reading, journaling, planning, coming up with ideas… I’m a big fan of letting your thoughts wander — my theory is that devoted “daydreaming” time allows for more room to concentrate on getting other stuff done.
My cowboy likes to tease me about my late rising habits. Anyone who talks to him for more than five minutes probably thinks I am incapable of waking any earlier than noon. He thinks its hilarious to let the dogs in at dawn to “say good morning” — which consists of lots of licking and tail-wagging on our precious puppies’ part and a good measure of cussing and yelling on mine.
So, this morning I decided to just give in and wake at 6 a.m. with my cowboy. He didn’t say anything as I made breakfast, or while he got dressed. As he filled his super-tanker coffee cup, he looked over at me, gave me his best, most handsome smile and said “See, isn’t waking up this early great?!” He said this with such genuineness, I just smiled and kissed him goodbye. As I watched him and the pups get into the truck and drive off to check cows, I could not help but be so grateful for these early mornings under the Crazies, even if I only see them every once in a while.