Friday, August 21, 2015

How I Got Stung

When I brought my first batch of honey bees home–the buzzing box headed for my backyard on a warm night in May–I was skeptical that my new hobby made any sense. Would my bees starve? Would they get sick? Would they annoy my neighbors?

Luckily, and by this point, I had been working part time for a bee removal company for a couple months, so I was somewhat seasoned by the job. And upon joining a local beekeepers club, I discovered both bees and urban beekeepers were multiplying in Prescott and the quad-city area. I also learned bees in a small backyard, such as mine, amongst the houses, schools and churches, have just as good a chance as anywhere else to thrive. Neighborhood trees, my giant Pyracantha bush, the neighbor's Russian Sage and any overgrown yards provide enough nectar and pollen–not to just sustain my bees throughout this summer season–but to score me some of their surplus honey!

My closest neighbors hardly noticed how busy the hive situated only 60 feet from their house became, even after I added a honey super (where the bees but the honey as opposed to eggs). In fact, they welcomed my bees when I first told them about it. They were only reminded again of my hive with a gift of bee goodness (honey) I gave them across the fence on Tuesday.

Jumping back to my bee removal job, I get asked a lot: “How did I decide to do this type of work?” Truth be told, there was no “Eureka!” moment, but I believe the Universe must have been dropping seeds here and there, starting with a home exchange I did in Sweden last fall 2014. My friends there were beekeepers, foodies and artists, and owned an art gallery called Honey Gallery in Bromma, Stockholms Lan. The apartment I lived in was next to allotment gardens, which I strolled through most days to appreciate the precious undiscovered glory that is life: birds, bees, moths, butterflies, flowers, apple trees, wild deer and the people that nurtured it.

Another invisible seed was dropped early 2015 while visiting the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension office armed with a couple gardening questions. They gave me a local beekeepers and master gardener's business card and said to call them. So I called Cliff, and he and his wife, Nancy, invited me to their property in Prescott Valley for a show-n-tell. I cannot remember now how the conversation went, but Cliff and I got into bee suits and headed out to the yard where all the hive boxes where buzzing and see how comfortable I was handling frames full of bees, honeycomb and honey. I was comfortable, and so I had to know more...

Things started to really change when I found myself casually interviewing for a job with Cliff's company, Last Shadow Apiary, in his kitchen that I had no plans for. But life as it so happens, has a funny way of sometimes bringing the right path to you even if you are too oblivious to head down it on your own. After apprenticing on four bee removal calls end of February/March, it was in April that I signed a contract with Cliff and started getting calls to remove and relocate bee swarms and hives from water boxes on my own. I travel all around Prescott, and the quad-city area, performing this noble service. I have my own bee suit and all the necessary equipment needed to capture/remove the bees kept in the back of my car. I can feel the spirits of generations of bees emanating a loud buzz as I drive down the road and turn them over to Cliff's. He keeps as many batches of bees as possible and puts them into vertical stacking hive boxes in his bee yard and then re-queens them so they are less aggressive (long story short).

I had never understood just how interesting bees were, but through Cliff's generosity and sharing his life-long knowledge of bees that I learned the ins and outs of keeping a bee hive, honey bee anatomy, procuring a new queen and how to handle her, and the most exciting part to me at this stage: harvesting the honey. What I revel in most now is located under a native Juniper tree in dappled light in my own backyard: the opportunity I have took for myself to have my own hive of honey bees for real! I wanted more than just an occasional purchase of agave nectar I was using for my various baking projects; I deeply desired the real deal with all it's fantastic nutrients from live cultures: the pollen, bee bread, honey in the wax, and the raw honey itself. Luckily, it has all been successful, as I continue to feel at ease working outdoors, being connected to the natural world in this special way and having a real sense of home in Prescott. Bees are such magical creatures that they do so much for us and ask for so little in return.

Looking ahead at 2016, I might expand my home apiary to 2 hives and maybe start to offer hive setup and management for other people too: restaurants, animal sanctuaries, urban farms, ranches and even a bee yard on the Prescott-Yavapai Indian reservation—why not? While putting a “maybe” and an “I might” in front of this last sentence, I find myself evolving as I go along trying to decide what works best in the context of my lifestyle and for the bees. It is also my hope that after you've read this (and maybe other parts of my blog) that you'll grow confident in your own wild and crazy plans like I did! Love, Sharon

Monday, May 11, 2015

I Hope You Don't Mind

"It's a little bit funny, this feeling inside I'm not one of those who can easily hide I don't have much money, but boy if I did I'd buy a big house where we both could live. / If I was a sculptor, but then again, no Or a man who makes potions in a travelling show I know it's not much, but it's the best I can do My gift is my song and this one's for you. / And you can tell everybody this is your song It may be quite simple, but now that it's done I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind that I put down in words How wonderful life is while you're in the world."

My MP3 player has a fairly eclectic mix of songs. Sometimes I want to be revved up, sometimes I want to be taken back in time, and sometimes I want to hear my feelings summed up by a great lyricist. "Your Song" by Elton John fulfills a favorite "song duty" of mine, and it is beautiful. This song is just so genuine and sweet. In a very simple, honest and raw way, the person singing confesses that they may not have everything to offer, but they want to extend the best they possibly can.

This song makes me think of the immeasurable things in life and how they are a clear and effective representation of what I like to create, in being the gift I give that I think I might be lacking if I were the gift myself. I am for you. You know who you are. Love, Sharon

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Once || my try at writing poetry

Once the warm flow of horses
Dried up under the locked mind
that held me from them
changed by friskiness, played
havoc on my senses,
flamed, re-flamed me where I made
my architecture of bedrock in the
naked light.

Then beyond the conscious mind all
was at ease.
Cotton batting stopped up the fence line
where a horse neighs of delight, comforting,
had kicked holes through.
A late summer I could never know
traveled the cut-up road with
an evil called loose rock.
It was so pure, though dusty
from nowhere its crumbles flying.

Beyond the mind all was resting.
I bowed in my lonely ritual.

26 March~~Love Sharon

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Very Special Interview: Horse-hearted Woman Diane Olsen

Diane and Stormy
Today I am so excited to be sharing with you an interview with certified personal life coach, "horse-hearted woman" and artist, Diane Olsen. It was amazing to learn how much she's accomplished in her life by continuously following her horsemanship path and sending a message of inspiration to all women. She is known for her unique ability to reveal a horse's unique spiritual and emotional presence through her exquisite commissioned horse portraits, and in working with clients through her horse-facilitated personal life coaching practice.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? I have been an artist for over 25 years and have been creating something my whole life. I've owned horses for 11 years (Stormy is my second horse, a very special horse that has brought a lot of positive change to my own life), and have been a trained personal life coach for 4 years. I consider the kind of coaching I do a unique art form within itself, where I guide my clients to experience deeper personal discovery, spiritual growth, healing and creative expression. Coaching can be with or without the presence of a horse, with or without art,whatever is the client's preference. I also coach clients on the phone. In the last year, I have developed two very fun, meaningful, and rewarding coaching and painting workshops that combine horses with personal and creative expression through painting.

Who inspired you/who are your mentors? It all started with Linda Kohanov, who writes and teaches from a human-evolution perspective and is the author of several books I adore, including The Tao of Equus. I attended a workshop with Linda in 2003 and was greatly moved by the experience and potential of the horse/ human connection. More recently came Kathy Pike, with whom I did my coaching training. Another beautiful person who influenced me greatly because of his wise and gently insistence on "softness" when being with and working with horses is Mark Rashid from Colorado.

What previous life or work experience applies to what you do now? I guess it is no surprise that everything I have lived and learned so far in my life has brought me to this meaningful and rewarding work, so it’s been wonderful to have it all come together this way. My personal spiritual life has expanded and grown, too. Over the last ten years, my horse has taught me how to truly love myself and to know that I, and we, all matter greatly in the bigger picture of meaning and Spirit.

You mentioned the term non-predatory so do you think we (humans) are naturally predators? Me: I am fascinated by the psychology of animals, especially horses, and you spoke about us (humans) moving away from the predator-oriented world we now live in toward a more non-predatory orientation, and how this allows not only for us to have a better way to understand the horse, but also for horses to fulfill a greater spiritual purpose with humans.

Can you please expand a little more? Sure. This whole non-predatory idea is at the heart of what I do and what I myself am patiently striving to become. We as humans are predators and have been since the fall of man as described in the Bible. We changed from being non-predatory to killing our way through life for food, emotional release, and justice. Horses are prey animals, which means they do not kill other animals for these reasons, but rather can get eaten by animal predators such a mountain lion, and used by humans in a variety of dominating ways. Many women resonate with this understanding and that is why they are often so quickly drawn to horses. Both predators and prey live in a world of relationships. To be non-predatory is to consciously choose to act in non-predatory ways even though as a species, we are predators. To do this, to make this choice, changes us gradually from the inside out, and can change the world into a much more cooperative, peaceful, and loving place.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your work? Helping others feel heard by gently examining and exploring the aspects of their lives they want to change. Also to help others feel inspired, see and experience greater dimensions in life and their relationships through being coached in the presence of horses. I believe in the beautiful spirit of horses, their requirement for honesty to survive, and their innate abilities to "read" our thoughts and feelings, to clearly sense their environment and elements in nature, making them amazing companions and vehicles for our advancement as human beings.

Would you like to share anything else for others reading my blog, wishing to make a transition and follow their dreams? Our lives are all about the choices we make. As a coach, I encourage your readers to listen to that still small voice inside them that wants to show them their deepest desires, purpose, and dreams. And then I encourage them to choose to seek out someone who can help them find their own pathway to make those things real and to come true, to find a better way to be and enjoy life. As an artist, I encourage your readers to see creative expression as a blessed avenue of choice and discovery that awaits each one on their own unique journey.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Happiness is Resting on Water

I noticed that I've been resisting to post because I have been waiting for that extra special something to take the main stage in my life. (Although going to college for a semester has put me "on stage.") On the other hand, there is this curious lightness of being in the air and a lack of eventfulness that is quite nice, actually. So I began to wonder… Why do I always harp so much about my search and desire for the inner calm, but when it actually comes my way, I easily dismiss it as unimportant or feel a little too plain within myself? The answer was in looking back on my pictures from Eden the other day. And right now it really feels as if I have been suspended by a calm and floating bliss: happiness is resting on water.

The reason I chose the image above is because it illustrates what I see from this state of "happy resting." From here I see my life as a beautiful collection of small compartments filled with seeds, gardens, trees, food, water, animals, rocks and soil. Some of these containers are filled with prettier parts, some have had more time to germinate, and some are more colorful than others. From this point of quietude though, I'm not choosing one thing to focus on. Instead, all these living boxes only prevail to form a big picture with a "You are Here" sign that places me on a trail-side map sign with random veins and arteries coming in.

Sure there are things that still need attention and work (piles of homework). Besides, we always feel the need to push forward no matter what, don’t we? If I could begin to tell you how that anticipation has burned and consumed me in the past few months and years. But not now. Now I am just sitting in this pool of tranquility, while all this other stuff remains out there to be solved, fixed and taken care of. Yet, I am content going on walks, taking the time to bake, watering the seedlings, loving my 2 hens, Luna and Night, eating mashed sweet potato yams and reading a magazine not pertaining to my classes. Not much indeed is happening. But somehow this mellowness warms me like the the floating sun on a winter-ish Friday. It rests on water, and it is enough. Love, Sharon

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Year of the Goat

The History of the Holy Goat Ranch recorded an anecdote involving their three female goats: Miss Brown, Prissy and Dot. Miss Brown had mistaken Dot's high heel shoes for her own, and so Dot gave the shoes to her. Later when Miss Brown found her shoes out in the dump pile, and decided to give Dot's shoes back to her, but she would not accept the returned shoes.

A similar event occurred one and a half years prior between Prissy and Miss Brown. Prissy took Miss Brown's shoes sitting by the stanchion by mistake. Miss Brown smiled saying, "Are they yours?" and gave the shoes to her. Soon Prissy found the shoes she had lost and gave Miss Brown's shoes back, feeling bad because they looked rather worn-out. Miss Brown asked if they weren't really hers, then smiled while she scraped the edge of the souls with her knife and a brightness of gold shone through clearly, and then took the shoes back.

These are trivial matters amongst goats and for us people too, however, the question arises: Is it better for us to act as Miss Brown or Dot?

Well, I hope you like my story. Lots of symbolism can be pulled out, with my favorite one being that in a society based on capital, other peoples' motives are not always well understood. And without amicability, we are marooned, and all the goats know it. Love, Sharon

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review

Greetings from Prescott, Arizona, where snow is falling as 2014 comes to a close...

2014 included one of my biggest and most anticipated travel goals: I went on a double home exchange to Denmark and then Sweden. There were a few things I lost during the year, but what I gained was way more valuable: a state of deeper happiness, a more savvy adaptability, new friends that instilled and returned to me the interconnectedness of our humanity (imperfect or messy as they were), some killer dinner parties, playtime and celebration with ranch horses out in pasture, practical experience at an equine facility/horse ranch, time with canine pal, Otis, soaking at Eden Hot Springs, and lots of Real Love encounters = being a better steward of this lifestyle.

I am going into the new year living life a little slower than I have for the past several years. I'm shifting my extra time towards homesteading in my backyard and classes at the local college, while I continue to sell beautiful things online. I'm finding myself more content with what I have, learning to sit with loneliness and not run from all of the feelings that come and then go. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I do the best when I let my heart be broken for the world around me to see and focus on all the good I have. Gratitude and hope are the "drugs" that get me through.

I have also learned that the value other people communicate to me does not have to speak louder than the value I find in myself. This has been work, but it's so worth it. It'll keep being worth it. If you've been following my blog, then you've seen my recent posts of the events mentioned above. Just me, saying thanks for being a part of it and I hope to thank you in person over the next couple weeks. With much Love, Sharon

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