From Here to Here – Lessons from a Wyoming Sunflower

Journeys have been defined as a “trail of experience from here to there.”  This sense of journey as having a start and finish, a trail’s end so to speak, fails to capture the essence of journey as taking us from here….to here.  Journeys take us to new starting points – from where we can say “here I am!”   As D and I travel on this journey, each section of our trip starts us anew and I realize that as we go from one location to the next that we go from “here to here,” always in the present.

Born in Wyoming to a family with generations of history in the state, I lived here for two periods in my life, birth through age 7, and ages 12-14.  During 7th grade, my parents sold everything they owned, including our house in Phoenix, and cashed in their retirement accounts to move back to Wyoming and buy a herd of dairy cows and attempt to build a sustainable dairy operation.  It was a shock to my system to be uprooted from a suburban life in the desert and placed on a cold and windy prairie with a lot of stinky cows. 

At age 12, I learned to drive a 2-ton pick-up truck, herd cattle, throw bales of hay, milk cows (with machinery), shovel manure, and bottle feed baby cows.  While I resented the disruption to my pre-teen life, upon reflection I realize my core values were being instantiated during this period of my life.  I witnessed tireless physical labor on the part of my parents and relatives, self-sacrifice, and love of family.  Their legacy will never leave me. 

Touring Wyoming this July, including what remains of our old dairy, has reminded me of my roots, refreshed by visits with family and time for reflection.  One day while on our bikes, we rode by beautiful sunflowers blooming on the side of the roads and billowing wheat fields, and they reminded me of some of life’s lessons:

  • Bloom where you are Planted.   In Wyoming, sunflowers grow by the gravel roadside, having been spread by birds, and manage to thrive on the edges of fields, outside the reach of irrigation.  They remind me to draw nutrients / inspiration from my environment and grow wherever I am. 
  • Always Face the Sun:  Look to the light – God – for your source of inspiration and fuel; seek and choose JOY.
  • Embrace the clouds and rain – they provide growth, nourish our roots, and help us appreciate the sun.
  • Be strong and flexible (but unbreakable) – With deep roots, we can be both.

And most importantly for me: Remember your Roots.  Being in this state has been a homecoming in many ways for me  – spending time with family, visiting our old dairy, and being awed by the rugged beauty from one side of the state to the other.  Part of my heart will always be here.  From here….. to here.

Big Horn Mountain – hike to a lake
The Dairy – the calves were kept in the corner on the left. The field beckons.
Wyoming’s Table Mountain – view from my cousin’s home west of Cheyenne.

7 thoughts on “From Here to Here – Lessons from a Wyoming Sunflower

  1. Beautiful sentiments, I strive to face the sun, even though not always easy. Thx for the sunflower story! God bless you both on your journey.

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  2. It’s how amazing how such a short time we spent on the dairy had such a lasting impact on both of us – and for many reasons. When we visited the old dairy a few years back, Mike was struck by the landscape. In all his travels, he’d seen nothing like this. So glad you were able to retrace some of these important steps in the journey to here.

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  3. What beautiful memories and expressions of the woman you have become.

    We are all shaped by our life experiences.

    Some of us are better than others at expressing ourselves in words.

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  4. Heide,

    I missed reading this entry when you first wrote it. Just read it now and was moved by your lessons learned! So simple, yet so poignant. Thank you for taking us on your journey and helping us all to remember some of the most important lessons in life❤️🌻🌟

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  5. Heide –

    Loved all of the stories of your 5 month adventure, and I’m so glad everything worked out and you returned safely to VA. I can most closely relate to returning to your roots. In my short life and minimal experiences to date, I have found nothing more comforting than returning home to my roots. My life/time on the farm (and my career working with farmers) instilled values, connections, qualities, friendships, and work ethics that remain an important part of my life that I have yet to find/feel anywhere else. Your adventures were certainly amazing, and now I await your choice of ‘retirement’ living so I can come visit.

    Sharon

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