Be Light and Healthy

Feeling Alive

Posted on: November 28, 2010

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  Thornton Wilder

Ten years ago, we celebrated my husband’s 50th birthday at Grapevine Canyon Ranch in Arizona.  Earlier this month we returned to celebrate his 60th birthday, which gave me an opportunity to reflect on the changes that have occurred in my life during the intervening years. 

Ten years ago when we arrived at GCR, I was in tears as we drove up the 5 mile dirt road to the ranch.  Surrounded by hills and set in a valley, it seemed that we were driving to the middle of nowhere.  This is truly a rustic vacation best enjoyed by nature lovers, and the primary guest activity is horseback riding.  I was frightened of horses and feared getting my head stomped on if I fell off, an unrealistic fear that had originated in childhood.  Since I exceeded the 230 pound weight limit for riding a horse, it was fortunate that I had no desire to ride.  I was uncomfortable with the rustic surroundings.  It was less than ¼ mile walk on a sandy trail from our casita to the cook shack, but I found it physically challenging.  Between being out of breath and fearing that an animal would leap out at me as I trudged back and forth on the path, which was unlit at night, I was a nervous wreck.  I remember spending my time doing laundry since I wasn’t interested in walking or spending time outside in nature.  I truly was living in fear the duration of our stay and couldn’t wait to leave.  On more than one occasion, I was in tears because I was so miserable.  Ironically, a couple of months before this trip I had started incorporating some of Dr. Weil’s suggestions into my life and had lost approximately 8 pounds.  Little did I know at the time that I had embarked on the path to transforming my life.

We returned to GCR three years later after I had lost 100 pounds, and I had a completely different experience.  After losing the weight, I had a new outlook on life.  I started to believe that I could do anything, and it was time to face my fears and try something new.  Prior to losing the weight, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would ever ride a horse.  Moon was a gentle, black horse who was ridden by handicapped children, which eased my apprehension.  I was shaking as I got on Moonie, but I did it.  I suspected Moonie had an eating disorder, which seemed very appropriate given the path my life had taken.  She constantly stopped to graze, and I responded by telling her that I could relate.  Little by little, my uneasiness diminished; and I learned to trust the horse.  In fact, I even went on a very memorable day-long ride to Fort Bowie, which my husband still says is his favorite ride of all time.  When I wasn’t riding, I spent time walking the sandy trails of GCR instead of doing laundry.    

On our subsequent trips to the ranch I’ve ridden and spent a lot of time walking the dusty paths.  What I realized on our most recent trip is that I hadn’t truly absorbed the beauty of my surroundings.  As we drove to the ranch this time, I was truly overwhelmed by the magnificence of the scenery in stark contrast to our first trip where my vision was clouded with tears.  We spent the early mornings sitting tranquilly on the deck gazing at the bright stars against the jet black sky.  The chill in the air was invigorating as the darkness surrounding us gradually disappeared.  The sky slowly changed colors as the sun rose in the distance, and the earth gently woke.  It was not unusual to encounter a ½ dozen white-tailed deer grazing as we meandered the path to breakfast. 

After the horses were saddled, we’d head out riding with a wrangler.  As we traversed the flatlands and rocky trails in silence, I was filled with a sense of wonder.  The magnificence of the vast flatlands dotted with cacti in bloom, manzanita and mesquite trees against the backdrop of the Dragoon Mountains and the radiance of the blue sky filled me with serenity.  Due to a wet summer, the desert grass was higher and greener than we’d ever seen.  As we rode along with the breeze gently caressing our faces, I felt in harmony with nature.  I trusted my horse, Clovis, and felt safe as he solidly connected with the earth every step of the way.  I had learned to trust the horse like I had learned to trust the evolution of my life.  My heart was filled with a sense of gratitude for this experience, which never would have happened if I hadn’t chosen to get on a path that led me to good health.   

Being healthy is the ultimate natural state.  I believe that eliminating processed junk food from my diet in favor of whole, unprocessed, natural food has fostered my connection with nature.  Eating food that is essentially alive and full of nutrients enhanced my energy and helped me synchronize with nature’s vibration.  It makes sense that a lifetime of consuming highly processed junk food contributed to my disconnection from Mother Earth.  Spending time sitting or walking in nature and letting the beauty and peacefulness seep into my consciousness has also helped me to reconnect with my natural state of being, an ongoing process that continues to this day.   

As we sat on the casita deck overlooking the horses in their corrals, the constant drumming of a woodpecker permeated the stillness.  I could not help but wonder if the woodpecker’s drumming was a symbol marking the passage of time and a reminder that time is fleeting.  As we grow older, time’s passage appears to quicken and beckon us to pursue our dreams.  What ended up being a 2 ½ year investment of time in getting healthy has changed my life, and I continue to reap the benefits everyday.  I shutter to think of the experiences I would have missed if I hadn’t taken those first small steps to change my life.  Any initial discomfort I felt as a result of abandoning my unhealthy habits pales in comparison to feeling alive.  Had I not started down the path to wellness, I fear that I would have continued to merely exist and remained unconscious of the treasures in my life. 

I invite you to make a change that will bring you closer to your natural state of good health.  Eating whole, unprocessed foods as well as exercising, quitting smoking, and/or spending time in nature will help you feel alive and be aware of the treasures that could be yours.  In addition, I invite you to sign up for weekly e-mail updates to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.


2 Responses to "Feeling Alive"

I just finished reading your blog and it gave me chills. I felt like I was at the ranch myself enjoying the outdoors. What an unbelievable change in your outlook on the ranch. That was a great post.

Paula, what a wonderful article! I had no idea you were such a talented writer. I also had no idea that you had spent your first visit here doing the laundry! I’m so glad that your experience here helped you overcome your fear of horses and introduced you to a whole new way of life.
Thanks also for the wonderful honey – every time I eat some, I think of you and our recent time together.

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