Trust your heart and ignore the naysayers: “Buck” director Cindy Meehl on following your midlife passion

Midlife News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses Women and Horses

When Cindy Meehl, the 52-year-old first time director of the award-winning documentary “Buck,” first came up with this idea, it was the beginning of a  midlife dream we can all get our hearts around. Cindy, an artist and a housewife, had never made a film of any kind before — in fact, she didn’t know the first thing about documentaries. Except that Buck Brannaman’s story needed to be one.

Cindy describes this  pivotal decision in her recent interview with freelance writer and horse enthusiast Jennifer B. Calder: ” I didn’t go into it because I wanted to see my name in lights or make the great American film,” Cindy says. “I went into it knowing what this message was about and knowing if something moved me this much, to where I had that passion in my heart, then I should really think about it.” And I didn’t tell anyone—it was just this little thing, a little voice in my head, ‘”this should be a film; this should be a film…”

Cindy Meehl’s dream became major motion picture “BUCK,” Winner of U.S. Documentary Audience Award–Sundance Film Festival 2011

So how in the world would you go about making a documentary when you don’t know the first thing about film making? Cindy is a big believer that the right people come together at the right time to do the right thing if given half the chance. (I actually experienced this phenomenon while writing The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses!) “Where your mind goes, energy flows,” is Cindy’s favorite descriptive quote of this process. I couldn’t agree more.

So what idea, dream, or impulse do you have that deserves your passion? What changes are you willing to make — and what risks are you prepared to take to follow a certainty that something MUST be done and you are the right one to do it?



Is today “Take Your Joy to Work Day? It can be!

Midlife News The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses

This story comes to us from my feed store friend and was just too good not to share. And, paired with my recent participation in Terri Maxwell’s Finding Your Purpose Workshop last Saturday, got me thinking about jobs that are, as one famous baseball player once said (I forget who . . .anyone remember?), “like getting paid to eat ice cream.”

So here is is. On touring Purina’s mothership in St. Louis, my friend discovered that every species of animal Purina makes food for is raised from birth at this giagantmo facility (she said the baby dairy cows might have been the cutest), and there are people whose full time job it is to handle baby animals from the second they’re born, just to get them used to being handled, examined, and evaluated  as the  humans who work there seek to document the effects of their feed formulations on things like performance.

This, she said, was impressive enough until she was ushered into a large room for a presentation on a new high performance horse feed. As the crowd watched, Purina scientists strapped monitoring equipment on a full-grown horse and then put it on a treadmill for a demo.


I think at this point any detail about their new high-performance feed were lost on her as she watched with fascination the horse on the treadmill. On cue it walked, and then trotted, and then cantered. Yes, you read that right. A full grown, full-sized horse,  cantering on a treadmill. With monitors and a crowd of people watching.

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble even walking on a treadmill — with only two feet to keep up with. And yet, this horse wasn’t even bothered.

So of course, my friend raised her hand to ask the obvious question (that, probably much to the presenter’s chagrin, had nothing to do with the new feed formula they were so proud of) “How do you teach these horses to do this?”

With a why-do-they-always-ask-this-first expression, the rep answered, “Oh, we have a full time vet tech staff whose job it is to handle these horses from the time they’re born. They just play with them on the treadmill every day and get them used to all the people and equipment and testing protocols.”

Really? People get paid to play with baby animals to get them used to their job? Doesn’t the very fact that there IS such as job as this make you wonder what other kinds of fun jobs there are in the world — particularly in the horse industry —  that you’ve never thought about?

Not coincidentally (Intrigue Expert Sam Horn calls this “Serendestiny”), since I just spent all last Saturday trying to boil my strengths and passions into a two-word, verb-noun construction (easier said than done!), I was still pondering the concept of  finding and creating work opportunities that create that “sweet spot” pairing between what we do and what we love. (I’m going to resist going off on a Starkids and Farm Planet riff here. I do have a fourteen-year-old. So smile if you get this.)

So with this concept in mind, I challenge you. What brings a smile to your face and fills your heart with joy every time you think about or do something related to it? How can you get more of that into your life? What if there was a job out there that would pay you well to have that feeling every single day? And, on the flip side, if that thing that brings you such joy becomes “work,” will it then be less fun?

Let me hear from you!  (If you want to know more about this workshop and its related programs, check out Terri’s book, Succeed on Purpose, Mindy Audlin’s book, What if it All Goes Right?  and Terri’s Website, I think it’s easy when we get to this point in life to consider work as “what we do” and our passions (things like spending time around horses) as “what we love.” What if you could have both?

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