Tuesday, December 22, 2009

night mares in the barn

Every night, but especially on nights when it's hard to sleep, I lay awake in bed thinking. I'll toss and turn for hours unless I lay still and decide to go to the barn. I don't get up and go outside. The barn is a place in my mind. As long as I can remember I've had the same calming meditation right before I fall asleep. I imagine myself in this same situation and within minutes, I am breathing slower and grateful. I know it works because I can only remember what I'll share with you in a moment, and then it's morning. Maybe it will help some of you when your mind is loud. Here's where I go:

I turn over on my side, close my eyes, and imagine I'm in a high loft of an old gray barn on a rainy autumn night. I've been riding a horse for miles and besides the mare and I, the only other soul traveling with me is a black sheepdog. I have made a handshake deal to rest my horse in the stall below while I sleep in the hay storage above. The owner has offered me three quilts and a pillow and told me I could rest on the loose hay piled in a sheltered corner. I lay the biggest, thickest, blanket down first on a giant pile of hay and create a nest. (Sometimes it feels so real I can smell the dead grass and feel it crinkle under my mattress.) A lantern shines above me, flickering from an old beam. Besides the occasional quiet lightning outside—this is the only light. Outside a constant, inconsequential rain falls. I watch the shadows the lantern casts dance across the gray walls. Sometimes the light sneaks in-between the cracks and paints an old oak tree outside. Below me I can hear my small horse's gray hooves shuffle. She is a night mare keeping nightmares away. I am so weary from traveling the loft feels like heaven. I am so relieved to be dry and warm and have finally stopped moving. I curl my spine and sink farther into the nest. The black dog rests his head in my chest and sighs. We're warm. The mare lays down. Tonight will be okay.

I've imagined this nearly every night before I've fallen asleep for over twenty years. Long before I ever wanted to homestead, or ever considered a Fell Pony, this was my ritual...an imaginary oasis of my most comforting things: shelter, companionship, and warmth. I went to the barn in sixth grade, in college dorms, in cities, and on snowy nights in Idaho. I'll go there tonight too. I feel particularly weary.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


December 22, 2009 at 9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it. Thanks for sharing your special place Jenna, it's beautiful and sounds very restful!

I have a similar ritual for falling asleep, but every night my "story" is usually different.... it generally follows along similar lines. It's good to know I'm not alone. :)

December 22, 2009 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Kirsten Smith said...

That was wonderful!

December 22, 2009 at 10:44 PM  
Blogger Single Serving Jack said...

I read that and was overwhelmed with loneliness and empathy for you. I am glad you have your shelter from the storm and good company there.

December 22, 2009 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Maggie May said...

this is so much of what i also have dreamed since childhood.

December 22, 2009 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Lil'Green Bird said...

Sleep tight Jenna and wake rested and refreshed with strength for a new day.... Beverley

December 23, 2009 at 4:01 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I didn't mean to share that to sound sad or draw any sort of sordid pity... I'm also not lonely, just impatient. I want to find home. I think that's what it's about.

December 23, 2009 at 7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like this may be a flash of a past life experience for you, and apparently, it left a very strong effect on your soul. Thanks for sharing your peaceful place.

My peaceful place is always a beach or a quiet grove of trees. I use it at the dentist's office :)

December 23, 2009 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

Sounds like a beautiful place to rest for the night. I hope you find your home soon, Jenna.

December 23, 2009 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Jenna: That is so beautiful and you literally paint a picture with your wonderful skillful way with words--that is always the case when I read your blog. You are such a gift to all who read your words. Just beautiful and magical. Mimi

December 23, 2009 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Rois said...

Interesting, I have had almost that same story in my mind for many years now.My pony is black and I travel with a mother wolf and her two pups. My story ends at a cottage gate,then I am "home" and all is well.
I wonder what it means.
Merry Christmas kindred spirit.

December 23, 2009 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Mmm sounds wonderful. I think I'll go have a nap....

December 23, 2009 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

for me, when I'm laying in bed: it's a very cold, blustery and snowy night, I'm cold and wet, the winds are howling, I enter my barn and cuddle up with SweetPea and my other goats does, now I feel warm, dry, toasty, snooze...

December 23, 2009 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

No pity, just empathy. I think most of us are in the same metaphorical boat as you. I own my home, but it's in the suburbs and even though it's nice( I have trees and wildlife) I still find myself longing for a home in the woods with some goats or dexter cattle(maybe both :) ). A place where my children can run and play freely.

I actually dreamt last night of finding a beautiful old home with a small orchard and plenty of space for a garden and livestock. It's crazy how a dream like that can effect you.

So, thank you for sharing your dream with us. It helps me keep perspective on my own.

December 23, 2009 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Beautiful. Keep dreaming about "home" and you'll manifest it.

My can't-sleep comfort for years was pretending I was sleeping at my grandparents' home, tucked under that quilt grandma made, where I felt 100% safe and loved and cared for. Thanks for bringing up the memory for me.

December 23, 2009 at 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


December 23, 2009 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

I've been in a hay loft in the rain with my horse in the stall. It's just as you describe it...awesome.
I used to go riding with my grandpa every Sunday afternoon. One day it began to rain when we got back. We went up to the hay loft and watched the sheep play in the back barn below.
The rain from there sounds like music.
I hope to relive that again with my children someday...when we find our farm.
Patience is so hard, but always worth the waiting.

December 23, 2009 at 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like heaven to me! :)

December 23, 2009 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Jo Spurrier said...

I use a similar trick when I have racing thoughts and can't get to sleep, but my place is a tiny cabin where I'm curled up in soft blankets listening to a fire crackling on the hearth. Outside, rain pounds on the roof and the wind is moaning in the pines.

December 23, 2009 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger Lilac Cottage Homestead said...

That was beatiful! I like to think about things like that to help me get to sleep too. Thanks so much for sharing.

December 23, 2009 at 6:46 PM  
Blogger Single Serving Jack said...

The empathy was for the weary riding out the storm. The loneliness is my own issue. I like being alone and so rarely feel lonely that it shocked me. Your writing is beautiful and evocative. I miss the family farm and the horses and dogs so much but hadn't tied it with the storm I am riding out until I read your post.
I do enjoy your blog immensely and wish you the best.

December 23, 2009 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Ms. Brenda said...

I can picture the barn you describe.
My nephew, who is now 18, had an imaginary farm when he was 4, with a barn. He even put a washer and dryer in the barn, for his mom. When he was about 6, he "sold" his imaginary farm. I think he'll be a writer someday. He has rural roots, will probably have some farm summers.

December 23, 2009 at 10:37 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hello Jenna. I too have a ritual is my head is too loud. Years ago I went to see a hypnotist and she taught me how to do a relaxation technique similar to the one you use. I have done it for many years now and it works every time. I love your website.

December 24, 2009 at 2:03 AM  
Blogger tigress said...

i too have had a meditation for as long as i can remember when i can't sleep - and it always puts me to sleep.

i imagine i am my great grandmother on the boat she took to get her from slovakia (then czechoslovakia)to america. cramped and weary laying down to rest but excited about the new world and life ahead of her.


December 25, 2009 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Tigress, my great grandmother came from Slovakia too! WE're from Presov! Her name was Anna Junbar

December 25, 2009 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Wouldn't it be freaky if they came over on the same boat?

I loved this post, mostly because it gave me a great idea of how to make myself fall asleep, because I do have trouble sleeping and refuse pharmaceutical help. They say that visualization helps to make reality, so I am going to try imagining my yard as the mini farm that I want it to be. Thanks for sharing your ritual with us.

December 28, 2009 at 6:45 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

That is so beautiful and you literally paint a picture with your wonderful skillful way with words--that is always the case when I read your blog.
Instant Garage

March 2, 2010 at 8:23 AM  

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