Florida

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Hello to my long lost blog. It’s been extremely hard to even consider talking about my life for the past 8 months now, but I will give it a shot in order to celebrate the present! April finds me in Northern Florida with my 2 favorite ponies, exploring the woods and riding the rolling wildflower fields outside of Gainesville. I am finally swimming at ease, diving into the dream ocean and manifesting some pretty amazing circusy horsey types of things. Like for instance…the magical residence I have found for the ponies, with acres of private woods and beauty to explore, through a woman who just happens to have aerial silks and a trapeze hanging in her house!

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Training with stilts in Mississippi

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It can be so hard, humiliating, excruciating to talk about one’s struggles. I actually came back to Gainesville, one of my hometowns where my lovely mother resides, to get my feet back on the ground. Or to get my wings back maybe. It has been a long, hard, cold, lonely winter of pure endurance, and I am truly happy to find myself now here in this beautiful place with so many gifts. I am newly inspired to continue with making art and performing, and the ponies are newly energized with sleek summer coats. And fuzzy noses of perfection.

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I stopped the ride in September because Jesse James was too tired to keep going like we were. He loves the lifestyle so much and will never admit it, but I could feel his pain and he was stumbling so much that I just couldn’t keep going down the road for miles on him, day after day. Which isn’t to say that we can’t do other amazing things- and I still have a traveling horse circus in mind- but one with wheels. So I had the brilliant idea to just get a truck and trailer, and keep traveling, work on performance, and camp out like that instead of on hoof. Well, the 3 of us ended up stuck in Mississippi for the winter after that idea proved harder than imagined. First, it’s an expensive endeavor to own vehicles. With little money and little knowledge of trucks, I ended up getting what I thought was an excellent deal that then never left the driveway. After a lot of mechanical fiddling around, the engine ended up being a bum, and I was out of resources, stuck in a nowhere town, and winter was coming.

In the meantime, I was in the mist of a really difficult relationship and very sad a lot of the time. I felt completely isolated and alone, which was partly real circumstance, and partly me closing myself off from anyone or anything. Nightmares and monsters, the doubt, insecurity and negativity we go through and are faced with can be huge strengthening tools once you make it out the other side. And everything is temporary…everything.

Come spring, I had worked my ass off and was able to get a small and reliable spaceship, otherwise known as a ’91 Honda civic hatchback so I could freely get around. Soon after, I ALSO magically scored another cheap Ford F250, this time in great condition. She is an ’86 and I call her Peaches and so far she has been a really great old truck. Sea (my friend and pony-sharer, for those of you who don’t know her) came back to Mississippi just in the nick of time and helped me find a (somewhat questionable) 2 horse trailer, and also helped me get where I am now by driving the ponies while I followed in my car. And good thing I was following, cause when the trailer wheel started sparking at 1am in the morning, I was able to catch it so we could pull over just before the wheel fell off. Yes, it was a precarious trip with many “adventures” along the way. We camped out with the ponies at a gas station, and help came the next day leading us to wheel barring solutions. Never trust a Mississippi mechanic, EVER, to get your truck and trailer safe for a road trip (or just in general).

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So, ’tis a time of many changes for the good.

And how are the ponies? After that long rest, every time I get on Jesse now all he wants to do is trot and canter. So I let Finehorn free so she can run like a brumbie, and Jesse takes me cantering bareback through the fields, and shows me where the fireflies are. He is still feeling a little stumbly at times, and I feel the truck&trailer combo is still key to our future traveling, but now that we are not walking all the time he has so much energy!

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Grandmother Oak

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the ponies graze in the woods while I climb trees

 

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Finehorn trots to catch up. you know what she’s been doing.

I have been training full time at the local aerial studio, and am doing 3+ performances in June on aerial silks and as a clown. I am so excited about new creative projects this summer. Weaving in lots of playtime with the ponies and brainstorming acts for Finehorn’s Fancy Circus.

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Our Many Faces

A snapshot from the farmlands back in Arkansas

A snapshot from the Arkansas Farmlands

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Jesse James the Great Copper Dragon, scratching an itch on his back

Jesse James the Great Copper Dragon, scratching an itch on his back

Springtime in the Berkeley Hills. Photo credit: River Sol

Springtime in the Berkeley Hills. Photo credit: River Sol

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Playing at Crew’s Rest Farm

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Playing at Crew's Rest Farm

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Where have I been?

I think it’s high time for an update from the herd!

I know you are wondering where I have disappeared to……

First day- on the Eleven Point River

First day- on the Eleven Point River

Camping on the river

Camping on the river

Freedom and bravery reduced to panic when I rode into Powder Mill campground almost 4 weeks ago in a rain storm and noticed the saddle sore on Finehorn’s shoulder. We had been riding in 3 days of rain, soaked and tired of trying to stay dry only to be defeated by permeating wetness over and over again….

The river rose and flooded the campground and the road. I wasn’t supposed to be there anyways, knowing that horses weren’t allowed on that particular section of the trail, and I felt totally screwed.

Well, the herd has moved 4 times since then and managed to stay together through this particularly rocky and jagged road.

As long as I am passing merrily through someone’s life, I am seen as a heroine, brave and magical and giving. I am seen a someone doing something awesome and amazing, someone that a person can vicariously live their dreams through. As soon as I stay too long, in real need, it seems that I become the thing to which one can target their endless blame and resentment and judgment and jealousy.

I know, I know, Michelle Shocked: “The secret to a long life is knowin’ when it’s time to go”

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Well its been time to go for awhile now. It is important to note that much of my misery over the past weeks has come from my own insecurity and helplessness: I can’t leave. I can’t just pack up and go, no matter how insane things get or how threatening or uncomfortable. As it happens, I am much more afraid of people now that I have experienced what I have in this time of waiting for a recovery, a window, a chance to prove to myself and others that this journey is still real.

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There are so many things that scare me more than the average criminal. I scarcely think of the escaped rapist or murderer in the woods ready to get me- I will admit that those thoughts have crept into my mind in the worst of times (cause people keep putting them in there!). I have been called naïve countless times on this journey (to which I point to my nose, think about the comment, and say, “well, no, but I am a clown!” (secretly thinking that at 26 I have way more life experience than you could even imagine up at 65 buck-O). Why should I chose to tell myself the same story that most women are told to believe in, a story full of fear that makes human beings weak and vulnerable and uninteresting? A story devoid of real life whatsoever- Yes, Humanity is insane- but as we destroy this planet as a species and poison ourselves and endlessly consume a plague of plastic and blindly support war and a government system based on lies, can’t we see that we have far more to fear than an escaped convict? There are killers on the road (talking on their cellphones), there are killers wearing uniforms, there are killers that run America, that spatter the news with stories of murder (is this a weapon of distraction, so that people don’t think about what is really going on?). I don’t doubt that there are psychos on the loose, but that’s small change, and they certainly aren’t after me, I say with a wink at chaos. I wonder if they could even see me? A lot of people don’t. I call the fear that comes out of almost everyone I meet (that comes out to judge me and criticize my “innocence”) brainwashing. What does scare me? The minds of the average civilian is pretty damn scary. I try to laugh it off, but it gets in. Person after person after person, all brainwashed by the same channel on the TV (literally and metaphorically). It makes me angry and sad, it makes me feel weak and terrified that I am not actually strong enough to hold my own- my own story, my own creation, my own belief in love and magic and determination to embrace mystery.

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I just choose to live differently! I want the ecstacy I feel when I am inhabiting my dreams and what I believe in to be contagious…..I am too curious to just sit and scoff with contempt at the things I believe are ruining humanity, this country, the earth- the things that mostly sit ignorant in their own self obsessed bubbles, having a hay day in their gluttony. I really do believe love can change the world, and though a complete critic, I am a critic healing myself from the inside out. I want to analyze things, and then laugh at them, and then have them inspire me. Blame will never save you from yourself. Art matters to me, creating something positive in our culture and connecting.

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I certainly outstayed my welcome with the last people who hosted me. I am fairly certain there wasn’t a thing I could do better other than leave sooner, which was impossible, especially at the particular juncture that I was thrown out. The timing couldn’t have been worse: I had just gone into town for a huge resupply and made plans to ship this food off to the next 2 pickup points weeks ahead on the trail. Also, I had a trailer ride offered and planned 2 days hence to actually leave, once the supplies were shipped out (My plan being to take the rest of whatever recovery time Finehorn needed alone in the woods with the ponies, at a spot that would have everything we needed). Then a flip switches and the wraths of all hell are suddenly set upon me. And these are the people that treated me like a celebrity only 3 days before, all gathered around the pickup to talk about my newly arrived adjustable pack saddle, excited and interested about my life. I guess the new saddle arriving was supposed to my magical ticket out of there. It seems pointless to try to explain such a situation from so obviously one side of it, but these people seriously were insane. Suddenly I am a liar and a freeloader, a lazy bitch that has taken too much advantage of nice people. They think they know better than I do, they think that one can pack up a horse with a healing sore and just ride out into the unknown wilderness day after day after day (no pasture to go safely back to). They suddenly want to tell me exactly what I am doing, no questions asked, no room for an interjection as to my real situation or my knowledge of how things actually work on a long ride. I have learned that most peoples idea of a camping trip is loading down their saddle bags with cans of Bud Light, riding 20 miles into the woods, and returning their horse to the pasture the next day. That’s cool, but don’t tell me how I should be doing things.

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The fact is, I am made constantly aware of what this lifestyle looks like to some people. I try to be compassionate to their judgments that I am lazy, a bum, knowing that behind these judgments are jealousy, resentment that they have been roped into doing some shitty job that robs their lives and dreams- a choice they have made because they were convinced that is what life is- until I come breezing through, supposedly living everyone’s dreams. That’s the way it can be seen anyways, despite the fact that this is Hard Work–so hard that sometimes all I want to do is quit and go back to a lifestyle where I can take a shower when I want, not live out of packs, and not talk to anyone at all if I don’t want to. The balance is so delicate, and I try to not upset people into banning me into an inaccessible category or label, to encourage people to think and be joyful and open themselves up to all the magic possibilies that a blink of a lifetime can offer.

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Anyways, when I wouldn’t leave right then and there -because I literally couldn’t- even if I were to pack Jesse and walk us into the evening, there was too much supplies to pack out- I pleaded my case to the most sane member of the family for a trailer ride out. I loaded up my messy unorganized giant heap of gear, loaded up the ponies, and sat in the back of the truck in the twilight wondering where they were taking me (the course and location where also not open for discussion). By dark, I am dropped off down a small dirt road where the creek crosses. “3 miles up this road and you’ll hit the Ozark Trail”. I’m alone.

Thanks.

Turns out it’s really 7 miles, but that’s the least of my worries.

I try not to freak out. It turns out I really don’t have things as together as I thought, but I still have the ponies and we are all sound and sticking together. What happened? Am I a freeloader? Am I too much of an awkward introvert to gracefully communicate with people? I know that I am not perfect in any sense, but to me imperfections are charming and I try to be honest with myself about issues I am working on, take note of what isn’t working, remind myself that no one owes me anything, and try not to blame others for everything that goes wrong. Some things about myself that seem to piss people off I have no control over and wouldn’t want to change, like my physical body, freedom, and resilient faith in myself and the universe. But- do I respect these people at all or give a rats ass what they think they think of me? NOPE.

Theres a few pastures, but it’s dark and I’m running into barbwire fences. I see a light up the road, and head for a house, keeping hope in the box, trying to keep it all together. The woman who answers the door is kind and hears me out, but keeps asking me if she is going to get jumped. She’s too old to get jumped, she says. At least she lets me camp in the yard for the night. I tie Jesse on the normal 40′ tether, but he keeps his nose right next to my head- Finehorn right behind him.

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Spying on the ponies with zoom lense

Spying on the ponies with zoom lens

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I realize that my circumstances and recent experience aren’t in my favor, but what comes next is more begging whether I like it or not. At least until I can make it to the post office to get rid of all this extra food, but it’s Sunday. So a beggar I am, down and out, emotionally wrecked, terrified, begrudging and angry at myself and my own situation. I am trying to remember the uplifting energy of this journey before we got stuck due to injury.

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This place has been redeemed by a trail angel who has paints and canvases, reads Ed Abbey and plays the piano. She sees my journey as amazing, sees me as competent, and has given me a minute to catch my breath and strength. It scares me how much the views of others can run ones life. I still feel restless beyond imagining. I took a short 3 mile trial run with the ponies, trying out Finehorn’s new Canadian adjustable pack saddle for the first time, unpacked. It went well and didn’t disturb her recovering, still delicate, shoulder. Good news! So we will actually be ready to go soon- I plan to take it slow- shooting for departure this week, lamenting that I have not been out in the woods to celebrate the full Blue Moon.

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That’s my rant for now, ya’ll!

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First week of the Ozarks

 

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These are the most rugged trails I have ever ridden- narrow, steep, very rocky in sections, and beautiful. I rode for 5 days without seeing another person, forging babbling creeks, riding in rainstorms, and slowly ambling through forests blooming with greenery and cool air. I saw one great blue heron, one box turtle, one snake (identity unknown), one ruby throated hummingbird, various birds and dragonflies and butterflies, one baby raccoon napping in a tree, several frogs and chipmunks, three white tailed deer, and heard the crazed coyotes celebrating the hunt at twilight. The 3 of us were not conditioned for this sort of terrain, and arrived into civilization Thursday sore and beat. I have had 2 blessed days of rest with a member of the Show Me Missouri Back Country Horsemen (drinking home brewed beer!) and depart tomorrow for the Ozark Trail again, gearing up for another much longer trek into the wilderness. Well rested and looking forward to 2 weeks of solitude with the ponies, I think we are ready for this next challenge….Jesse let me know he was ready by cantering around in the field when I was trying to catch him today.

Drying out all our boots- the ponies are barefoot with Renegade Hoof Boots

Drying out all our boots- the ponies are barefoot with Renegade Hoof Boots

Finehorn takes a roll in the pond

Finehorn takes a roll in the pond

I am so happy to be spending the summer months somewhere cool and open. Sleeping outside with the ponies every night feels natural and good. The owls sing me to sleep at night, along with the creeks and streams if I should be so lucky to find one with nice graze. Jesse and Finehorn seem to agree well with this life in the woods, and are getting into shape fast. I am learning how to be a better rider everyday, attempting this trip bareback and learning to move with Jesse through the ups and downs…it’s difficult, but so rewarding and interesting to feel like such a part of him, more centaur than human. Keeps me alert and curious.

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Into the wild with us again, to attune with the stillness and witness the brilliant faces in and of nature.

A Circus Manifesting on the Hoof

When I first got to Mississippi a month ago, I spent as much time as I could out with the ponies, riding in the heat and conditioning them for our ambitious adventure only 2 weeks ahead. We were out one day on a busy road and a truck full of guys pulled over, dying to ask me a question: is it true that cowgirls don’t cry?

I don’t know about cowgirls, but clowns cry! was my response.

Cowgirl, clown, circus freak, girlcreature…I cry all the time.

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We have now been out almost 2 weeks- riding through Arkansas rain or shine, and I admit I have pushed us all a little too hard trying to get through this state. It’s been a challenge, and since being completely ready to just give up 2 days in, the herd has persevered and I am finally starting to feel more in sync with the purpose of this trip, and more confident in it as a piece of unique art— driven to find a clown’s perfect balance between brazen comedy, satirical absurdity, and breathing poetry.

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Arkansas is one of the buggiest places I have ever been- the ponies and I have been eaten alive, and getting caught in a thunderstorm is preferable to the blazing heat. I have been riding through endless flat farm land, stripped of earth and pumped with industry. Crop dusters that make my throat burn show off overhead; poison haunting the air, grass, and water. Fish float belly up in the irrigation ditches. I think of the Lakota people’s vision about the brutalized earth being rolled up like a giant carpet, revealing a pure lifebreathing planet below, untouched by humanity. Greed and ignorance push the planet to the extremes of what it’s lifeforms can endure, if they endure at all. How will it all play out in this age of the Kali Yuga?

Part of me feels too saddened to witness it, too ashamed that I would put myself and my horses in a part of the country so toxic. But let’s not kid ourselves…everywhere is toxic, and we are tough. I am fighting to bring a different way of thinking, through laughter and play and in re-invoking the belief in magic.

To quote my dear boon Sea G. Rhydr, “The Arts have lead civilization, and therefore have an obligation to play at the wake.”

And who better to play at the wake than the resilient clown? It’s a completely backwards thinking society we live in, so a clown should fit in perfectly!

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Anyways, I have met some real characters and great people along my way. As Fishbelly, I have riden down the road and given people some great surprise and good belly laughs. I have been rescued by trail angels when I was falling apart and barely making it down the road, and taken in by all sorts of people, from a generous family of great Rednecks to the State Trooper.  And, best of all, I am almost to the mountains! The country is getting much better now, and I am only a days ride from the Missouri border. I can’t wait to get into the Mark Twain National Forrest- the ponies and I are ready for some trail riding and change of scenery.

posing with a random Fishbelly admirer

posing with a random Fishbelly admirer

Jesse James and Finehorn are both doing well and extremely happy to be out on the road again, even despite our bad days. As my riding horse, Jesse has been taking really good care of me and we are all bonding as a herd- these 2 ponies are beings I most want to spend time with on the planet right now, living this lifestyle while they are still able. We love each other. Someone I recently met wrote to me, “I wish people loved one another as much as our pets love us.” Not that I think of Jesse and Finehorn as my pets, but they teach me so much love and patience- for both myself and others.

This is only the beginning of a great adventure, full of curiosity, compassion, laughter, creativity and discovery.  A circus is manifesting on the hoof! Stay tuned.

Love,

Finehorn’s Fancy Circus

San Francisco

San Francisco, it has been a wild ride.

Immersed in clown school, I may have not been blogging but I was learning and living in ways that have changed my life. I feel like entire lifetimes have been condensed into these past 6 months.

The view from my roof top

The view from my roof top

My little nest in Chinatown has served me well. It’s an old part of the city that has many memories and shadows, ancient faces and alleyways with stories in the cracks. I wade my way daily through the trash and treasure, the fumes of fishmarkets and gasoline. The native language floats on the breeze into my window, a comforting melody and the echo of what I have called home. It hurts a little bit to be close to goodbye again, moving on to the next adventure: taking circus on the road via horseback. Yes- I am finally attempting to gather the scratch ingredients of my dream and actually mix them together in real time. I feel like the fool walking off the cliff, the dreamer who believes more in magic than anything else. Jesse and Finehorn wait in Mississippi, where I will be meeting them in another few weeks. I’ll pack Finehorn with a few necessities, costumes and props (keeping it to the bare minimum) and ride out on Jesse James, headed East to the cooler mountainous parts of Georgia.

I suppose I can partly blame it on clown school, which knocked a lot of the fear right out of me. The Clown Conservatory has given me infinite tools and skills which I am just dying to test out in the bigger scheme of my dreams. My wonderful teachers and friends have inspired me endlessly and have made me want to be the biggest wildest performer I can possibly be- they have taught me the values of simplicity and the values of failure, and most of all they taught me the values of play!SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

As a sometimes very serious and introverted person, I certainly have my doubts and fears as to how any of this may actually play out. But I think I have much bigger questions than “will it work?”. One of those questions has to do with what will happen, and the person I would be if I never tried. It has been hard to make this choice. I have built some really lovely connections in this city this time around and I can see all the different paths of fruition that could come by continuing to build a life here. There are infinite performance opportunities working with amazing teachers and friends, there is an entirely different ecosystem of Weird that I cherish and take wellsprings of inspiration from. But in the end…it will probably still be here for me later. I am ready to experiment with playing and connecting with the world as a clown- To take off with my two most beloved equine friends and make some magic- inspire and provoke and play- to make some living poetry that affects people (and makes them laugh). Most of all, I am ready to take one of the biggest risks I can think of because that is the experiment that will be the most fulfilling in the end, whatever happens. SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA 11041474_760062926192_665068328_n

Gryphon Migrating Season

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Tomorrow is the first day of fall, and it’s Gryphon Migrating Season. I am going to stick out my thumb and wend my way westward to San Francisco, where I shall attempt to establish residency in preparation for Clown Conservatory.

While training at San Francisco’s Circus Center in 2013, before Circus school at NECCA, I didn’t expect the clown classes I attended at night to be my favorite part. I created a video to audition for the Clown Conservatory this summer and to my joy and delight, was actually accepted! This is a 5 week intensive, studying character development and improve work, starting November 1st. The teachers that created this program are some of my clown heroes and really push my boundaries in terms of where I want to go as a performer. I am really excited about this opportunity- the last time I was in San Francisco I met some of the most inspiring performers and friends and felt very much alive in the magic of the city.

My biggest hurdle right now is financing this venture. It cost $2500, plus living expenses, which is way more than I know how to come up with in the next 5 weeks.  I’ve been doing a lot of painting this summer, and have a few new paintings up for sale (more in the Art Portfolio).  Selling some of my paintings would be a huge help and encouragement at this stage!

I’m really scared, but I trust the path I’m on and have some experience at this point in trusting the  magic of the story. Wish me luck and Bon Voyage! I will post from San Francisco.

 

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