Lisa Jones had no idea she would be broken by her Smithsonian magazine assignment to interview horse-breaker Stanford Addison, but she was. Oh, not during those few days, but in the years following. Lisa was drawn to Stanford in a way she didn’t understand, in a way most of us wouldn’t understand. Stanford Addison “gentled us,” horses and humans alike.
When Lisa met Stanford, he had “emerged from a small life into a big one.” That emergence included emergency. A bad boy Northern Arapaho clad in native beauty, Stanford was a player in his tribe in Wyoming until a car accident left him quadriplegic. Watching him train people to break wild horses, Lisa learned a valuable lesson, “The only way to endure confinement is to accept it.” It was perfect wisdom—for the horses who were indeed easily, and some, not so easily broken. It was also a perfect explanation for how Stanford dealt with his post-accident life—eventually.
What Lisa learned was to “wait and watch.” She learned that what she thought she was learning from outside herself was really inside herself. Stanford was a shamanistic mirror. He showed horses and people who they really were and he dealt with who they really were rather than with whatever they thought they were.
Lisa had grown up in a broken family, never really feeling like she belonged anywhere. Enter the Northern Arapaho, and more specifically, Stanford and his immediately family. It was a family that showed up for one another—always. And a tribe that did the same. Lisa was caught out in her own longing for belonging. Eventually, she did.
Stanford Addison is descended from “White Antelope, a prominent Cheyenne peace chief.” From the time he was a young man, he had repeated encounters with nature spirits. He didn’t like it, and he continued in his playboy ways until the accident changed everything. His spinal cord was severed at the neck. As with all cataclysmic events, it took time for the young Indian to adjust, to figure out his new way of living, supremely different from his former way. In that process, he became a healer.
Lisa was “taken with his combination of gentleness and power.” She travels on the road with Stanford and others to Iowa to make a healing ceremony for a tribe ripped apart by anger. She drives back and forth to Wyoming countless times just to be in his presence, and to wait and to watch. She struggles with her partner and their commitment through this growth journey.
Lisa encounters loneliness, depression, alcoholism, diabetes. She sees devastating life on various reservations. She meets sisters, mothers, nieces, daughters, many of whom tell her their stories. He boyfriend moves to Asia to see if he wants to be a Buddhist monk. He betrays her with another woman. She nearly betrays him with another man. And all through it, Stanford sits in his wheelchair in silent, and sometimes, not-so-silent witness to her process of becoming herself.
The subtitle of Broken is A Love Story. And a love story it is. A love story about bodies, no matter how “well,” or how “ill.” A love story about health, a love story about healing, a love story about gentleness, a love story about truth. Stanford says, “Our word is more powerful than our body. That’s how we communicate with the Creator. We need to get our word as true as we can ….”
Lisa Jones has written a transformative book about a journey of transformation. Her word is as true as it can be. If you ever need a reminder that you can, as Stanford calls it, “find your center,” read Broken—A Love Story. I can guarantee you’ll find it, and you’ll remember who you are.
Learn more about the remarkable work at the Stanford Addison Ranch—Intuition. Compassion. Persistence.
For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso’s website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook. And discover your own Inner Peace at, To Me Peace Is … What is Peace to You?