Good morning Ellen!
Fifteen hundred words aren’t enough to say all that I want to tell you about an incredible woman that my wife and I have recently met. Mary Howe is a person who truly believes in your philosophy of “Be kind to one another” and proves it constantly on a daily basis. Not only being kind to other people but to other beings. Mary has owned horses for years and has recently started to adopt abused and abandoned horses too. She’s not just a collector of animals though. She feels that we are all here to fulfill a purpose and that we all need a purpose in life not just to survive but to thrive. Life without purpose is liveable but not enjoyable. She feels the same of her horses and that they have come to her for a reason, for an opportunity to fulfill their purpose. To that end, Mary has just received “not for profit” status for “SonFlower Stables”. Mary is Grief Resolution Specialist in Ontario that incorporates horses, Equine-assisted therapy, to help people with overwhelming life challenges learn how to cope. Whether it be from abuse, neglect, mental illness, addiction or any affliction that takes away from their quality of life. When we mention “grief” most people immediately think of death but “grief” comes not only from the loss of a person or animal but the loss or lacking of something in life. Mary is the eternal optimist and you come to learn that shortly after meeting her. Initially to me, she was a dreamer but I’ve come to realise that she is a visionary. Maybe that’s why Mary and I were meant to cross paths. She is the eternal optimist where I have always been a pessimist but she is even having a profound effect on that part of my life only having known her for about a month now. Mary gets no compensation from the organisation and depends solely on the financial support of her husband and proceeds from her daughter’s art work. Everything she does for people and the animals is from the heart. In fact, there are no employees at SonFlower Stables and it’s run completely by volunteers like my wife and me, from the founder and board of directors on down. I’ve never done anything like this before but feel compelled to do so now for such a giving person. Knowing Mary has made me want to be a better person and has already had a profound effect on my way of seeing other people. This letter serves only as a means to an end and my real motive is to peak your interest so you say to yourself, “I have to meet this woman and help her build her community of healing.”
Mary and her team of twelve horses along with several therapist practitioners help anyone and everyone. Mary has even adopted a goat which she named “Hopeful” or “Hopie” who came to her in dire straits, inherited a stable cat named “Squeak” and taken in a mini rabbit named “Mr. Orange”, who is now lovingly referred to as the office receptionist. She turns no one away simply because they can’t afford help. Everyone is welcome regardless of gender, race, religion, age, sexual orientation or ideology. People seeking help are not considered clients but are referred to as participants. Mary doesn’t want SonFlower Stables to be seen as an organisation but instead as a “Community of Healing”. If you look on the walls of SonFlower Stables, there are two noticeably absent things: a clock and a schedule of fees. From the moment that you arrive, time stands still. You are in the “now” where past and future worries have no effect on your being. Remuneration comes in unorthodox forms such as donations according to what people can afford on any given day. If you need counselling and you need food or shelter, but can only afford one, rest assured with Mary you’ll get both. No one is made to feel any less deserving of care based on their current circumstances and every penny goes to the maintenance and betterment of our healing community. All funds go toward the feeding, care and maintenance of the animals and their surroundings. Everyone has worth at SonFlower Stables whether through donations, fund raising, maintenance, caring for the animals or steering the organisation. My wife and I simply volunteer, not only to benefit from the healing power of the horses but to help the horses heal also. It’s a symbiotic relationship. They sense that we aren’t asking for anything from them and they in turn give back freely of themselves. It’s a meeting of the mind and soul which I’ve never found quite the same from any other animal. We have the opportunity to serve our community while serving the need in ourselves to have purpose in life which is why we all exist. For the horses that have lived a loving and balanced life, they feel useful and are giving back. For the horses that have lived an uncaring or misunderstood life, this is the greatest opportunity for both parties to aid the other in the healing process. My wife and I live a humble life, we are “happy” and that’s all that anyone should ever want and everyone should have that opportunity to enjoy. You are also so very fortunate and I wonder if you might somehow find it possible in your heart to help Mary achieve her vision.
When you speak to Mary on the phone you hear a vibrant voice with a desire to help. You get a strong sense of her caring nature but you also get a sense that she has a lot on her plate. In return for a loving home, Mary asks Hopie to be an animal companion for the adopted horses that need down time. Hopie is also a great source of comedic relief for Mary to get her through any rough days. Even for me to just write this letter is so emotionally upsetting that I’ve had to walk away several times to regain my composure and continue. The thought that some people are so willing to give of themselves beguiles me. It’s instinctive of her to think of others before herself. At the end of it all there is still the staggering amount of daily work involved with caring for the animals, cleaning stalls, feeding and stable upkeep. Mary is quite often alone in her work but with a smile on her face and love in her heart, she takes it all in stride as part of a regular day no matter how long it is.
I first learned of Mary and SonFlower Stables through a local newspaper article. I sent her an email and the first evening that we met, shortly thereafter, was quite spur of the moment. She was in a stable office, getting ready to go out to bring the horses in for the night when we arrived but dropped everything to greet us. I don’t think that Mary is a very big woman but I couldn’t tell because when I saw her, she had a winter parka on top of layer upon layer of sweaters with knee high rubber boots. Her hair was up in a “messy bun” so when she turned to me all I could see were her bright eyes and smiling face. It’s easy to tell that Mary is a passionate woman about all life and her reason for it. With Mary, what you see is what you get. She has no airs which is why you feel so at peace when talking with her as she listens intently and without judgement. She has purity and finds the good in everyone while understanding that we are all unique in mind, body and soul.
Ellen, you have also been blessed in life with a wonderful personality and understanding that there is a way to be happy through being kind to one another. We watch your show all the time and have seen how supportive and generous you are with worthwhile causes. We live in a small community with a lot of small surrounding communities and SonFlower Stables is providing a much needed service to all of these communities asking for nothing in return. Mary’s mission is to create a world where everyone has purpose. Her vision for SonFlower Stables is to own sufficient property to allow for the stables, paddocks, office and future growth. She wants to eventually build self-sustained living quarters for participants on the property. Bed and Breakfasts operated by participants for participants that may be able fund themselves and future endeavours. Mary never says “If we can” but rather “When we do”. Her constant enthusiasm amazes me!
I would be honoured if you could please find it in your heart to consider this request and help Mary and her team continue giving to our community. We look forward to meeting you soon.