Progression by Beth-Marie Gardner

the future is female Jan 24, 2018

My greatest desire as a child was to be a Mother and Wife and have a farm filled with animals. That sounds embarrassing to admit. It is so provincial, base, primitive. But its the truth. I'm deeply grateful to be living my cowgirl dream. But damn, its not all I thought it would be.

I never factored in the daily smashing of ice in the water tank for dozens of livestock. Living off grid means no heater to keep the water from freezing. What young idealist couple can understand that before they live it?

I never factored in that I wouldn't be able to save my beloved milk cow that slipped, fell and froze into the ground this January. I never factored that our heat lamps, blankets and warm tears would not be able to warm her out of a coma. We would have to put her down ourselves because the ground was too frozen to bury her body if she was put down by the vet's euthanasia.


I didn't factor in how much these cherub children would fight with each other and never put their dirty socks in the laundry. That my kids would experience darkness and sorrow that I couldn't heal. I never factored in that a meeting a marriage’s needs takes much more intention then meeting my children’s needs. Children scream and yell for what they want while a marriage can silently wither and die.    

Some days the daily barrage of the farm and motherhood chip away at my sanity and sense of dignity. Even though it is precisely what I have desired. I do not want to be ungrateful. But living the dream looks really different on the outside then the inside. Sometimes progress looks like showing up even when you want to hide. Sometimes hiding and shutting down is progress. Sometimes radical progression is simply not allowing motherhood to annihilate your dreams.

When teaching a horse. It’s important for the session to have a beginning, middle and a very clear end with a positive shift in the direction of the intended lesson learned. If you rush into another session too quickly the horse will become overwhelmed, confused and insecure about the point of it all. A horse needs a moment or 10 to digest what has happened and integrate the positive shift neurologically. If you skip that part, the horse can become fractious and uninterested in your next offer. If we offer our horses a positive experience and then offer total release by tying them to a rail or just taking all predatory energy off of them by looking away from them and respecting their bubble, the horse will integrate and be ready for your next offer. Kids need recess to be able to learn. Progress can’t happen without release. We need to shift down, to be still, to find silence in order to find emotional collection and mental fitness in our next try.

I'm looking for that downshift. I'm looking for moments of the centered, settled silence. I'm looking to give myself and marriage more of the sweet deal I offer my children and horses.

I’ve acquired a ton of skills and careers over these 37 years but none of them look very fabulous in the college alumni newsletter. Sometimes, I feel bad about that. I should have been a better feminist and powered into a power suit career instead of being a commercial fisherman in Alaska, cleaning toilets for the rich, second home owners, slinging drinks for pushy tourists, mucking stalls and riding colts no one else will ride. So far, a mainstream career doesn't suit me. I’m open to change. I love being a beginner. I look into grad programs every other year and then realize, nope, I don't want it.

I was always a women with loads of ambition. My ambition wasn't modeled in our culture. I wasn't ambitious for wealth, power, status or an amazing career.  I’m ambitious for a juicy, life long marriage, for life long friendships, to grow the best radicchio, to let the horse change me. At some point I will find a way to tap my gifts and skills to help more people and make more money. I'm ambitious, I measure progress through the quality of my relationships and if I can rest easy at night knowing I did my best and that I showed up.

Thank you for reading,



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