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How I Got My HighJoy Horse...Getting... Really High!

Recently, I shared with you a timeline of my life and my position in the family constellation and the angry, Godless home into which I was born. Except for Grandma Bidwell praying for us til the day she died, atheism and spiritism and fighting dominated the scene. The sisters were 4, 5, 6, and 10 years older than I the day I was born. Their fighting habits were deeply ingrained. Both Victor and Marie had given up on trying to stop them. Victor had turned cold-hearted toward them all for their refusal to respond to his attempts to stop the fighting. So when I was born into the family, an innocent and new baby girl, I received all of his attention. And this drove the 4 girls into fits with jealously. Ever since I can remember, my sisters frightened me with the ways in which this jealously manifested. My earliest memory of these girls is my looking up at them and asking: "Why are all these people so mean?" By the time I crawled out of my father's protective and attentive lap, I was deeply afraid of my sisters. But since I could not stay in the lap forever, I had to survive. And since I could not defend myself against these big people, I became a master at defense. Of course, the day I got physically large enough to fight back and win, the sisters stopped attacking; instead, they continued with emotional abuse.

My life on the homefront was absolute hell. I feared for my physical welfare at all times. I never knew when an attack would come or from whom. The parents were at work. The grandmother had no control. So I was left at the mercy of my wits. I know that you all have tales of fights with siblings. But this went beyond: bruises and teeth marks that took weeks to heal, hair pulled out at the roots by the handful, blood frequently drawn. I developed a capacity to endure physical pain that served me well throughout the years. But my capacity to endure emotional pain kept me in relationships, both male and female, alike, from which a healthy person would have quickly extricated themselves. All of that is another story. I just want you today to get the background picture for the momentous day that an 8-year old, wind-broken mare was brought onto the property. Everything forever changed!

I remember the moment like few other. I was 6 years old, a slim-figured, little child. Victor lifted me onto Kitten, a huge, broken-down Morgan. And I looked down on my 4 sisters for the very first time! It was the most tremendous moment of my 6-year old life! Sisters and parents stood around talking, more or less forgetting about me while I was having this powerful, liberating, creative, Godsend moment! For it was then that I knew: if I could just learn to ride, I could #1 trample any sister who came at me to do physical harm or #2 escape "the sister-uation" at a full gallop! When Victor reached up to take me down, I began crying; and all thought I had become frightened by being up so High on that horse! Little did they know: my "fearlessness as a stance in life" was being born with those tears of anguish! At that very moment, I ruled out "going crazy" as an alternative to the many years of life

with the Bidwells, as Sister Sandy had years earlier chosen. And I learned to ride in a flash!

Only 1 of the sisters presented competition for the horse. And she soon outgrew it. From that day until I was 30, except for 2 years in college and the first 2 years of teaching, I owned a horse. And I rode. At age 6 until my sisters left home, I would hurry home from school, run up the driveway and up into The Barn to yank off my clothes and to put on riding clothes, rush out to the pasture and catch my horse, jump on bareback, and race out the driveway our hearts racing with the hoofbeats, our adrenaline raging like untamed rivers, my natural brain and body chemical messengers High with opiates and endorphins, my imagination soaring with freedom and adventure! Gone... Gone... Gone... out the driveway, never to return til dark through ALL kinds of weather escaping the fighting and hatred until bedtime! I had it made! And my High-spirited horses were never bored!

The first horse, Kitten, with the broken windpipe, could only canter for a block and then had to rest. But she was good for friendship. Part of my everyday routine would be to bury my face in her neck and mane and have a good, long, wailing cry! (This outlet saved my life during my mother's death period.) By the 8th grade, I got a thoroughbred, from true racing stock. She had never been trained or ridden. And we would fly! And so, from age 6 on, the horse in my life became my outlet, my escape, and a living, breathing creature to love without the danger of retaliation. I was so grateful for horses! I look back and can see clearly that God provides animals to help some of us through otherwise unbearable periods in our lives.

Riding was much more than just an escape, though. Those long hours, virtually everyday from ages 6 to 30 were spent in the fresh air, in the sunlight and the moonlight, and in the breath-taking, natural settings of Skagit Valley, Washington, tucked in the foothills of The Cascade Mountains. And these year around hours with nature through ALL kinds of weather and through all 4 seasons gave me a love for America, The Land, that grew and grew and finally blossomed with GetWellHStayWell, America! The riding adventures also carved me rugged. I rode home with scratches, bruises, cuts, scrapes, sore muscles, sun-burned skin you name it. I rode home after falling off, being bucked off, stepped on, wind knocked out, and bit. But once the ride began, there was no turning around! And once I started down a trail, unless the blackberry vines grew thick cables, there was no turning around, either! The sounds of nature, the sights, the smells, the tastes, and the feel of nature mesmerized me during those early years. I was an animal-lover and a nature-lover. Long, long before I became a people-lover and a Lord-lover. And it all prepared me not for Pantheism but for my present day appreciation of the beauties and wonders of nature which are God's Great Gifts of Love with which He inspires and comforts and woos us!


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"Who Is Captain HighJoy America!?" 3