The Monkey on my Back

From the moment I arrived at Black Beauty Ranch, I felt Uncle Cleveland’s spirit — his pragmatism, his joy, his expansiveness, but mostly his love. 

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Black Beauty Ranch

This week I celebrated my birthday with the perfect present — an invitation to spend two days at Cleveland Amory’s Black Beauty Ranch. As the largest animal sanctuary in the United States, the ranch is the forever home to abused and abandoned horses, donkeys, cows, camels, goats, sheep, an unexpected newborn lamb, pigs, wild boar, elands, ostriches, tigers, bobcats, chimpanzees, capuchin and macaque monkeys, two kinds of gibbons, bison, a baboon and an Asian water buffalo. The twenty-four hours I spent with these animals and their caregivers proved a gift beyond measure.

This two-part blog (today and next weekend) is the story of how the joy one person found with animals changed the world — and how reconnecting with Cleveland’s legacy has reminded me that joy is a circle that connects all of us through the giving and receiving of it.  

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Take the Back Roads

I love to drive. Before the idea of a daily practice of joy even came to me, I drove to design projects in other states or to public speaking gigs halfway across the country. I’ve put 30,000 miles on my car driving cross country twice and to Canada once — and that’s just in the last 16 months. Whenever I can, I drive — often ridiculously long distances, and usually alone.

Driving makes me feel like I have just enough of a “job” to assuage my need to “do". But of course, other than keeping my eyes on the road and getting to my destination, what I really have is a long stretch of open road and open-ended time ahead of me. About halfway from wherever I’ve come from and wherever I’m going, I always feel a moment of absolute elation. Always. There, on the open road, I inevitably reconnect with my joy.

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Go to the Birds

This week's blog is about how I've gone to the birds. . .and found joy every day!

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