Diane Dustin

Always an adventurer and one looking for a challenge, I got the bug from my father at a very young age. I was attached to his hip, following him anywhere and everywhere he went. Growing up under his tutelage was not for the faint of heart. As a career military man, my father served as both a survival instructor and drill sergeant (think Full Metal Jacket, no joke). From him, I learned everything about the outdoors and about survival. I learned how to shoot, hunt, fish, build shelters (everything from lean-tos to teepees to snow caves). I learned about spiders and snakes (what was poisonous and what was not, what was safe to eat and what was not). I learned about environmental exposure and treatment and other basic wilderness medicine. And most importantly, at the tender age of 8 years old, I learned how to pour coffee from a thermos while bumping down the road in an old Willys jeep, working hard to show my father what I was made of … while trying not to scald myself. The takeaway is that I learned how to improvise, how to persevere, push myself and never give up. I learned how to make the best out of difficult situations in some of the very harshest of conditions: from the frigid wilderness of Alaska to the blazing heat of the Arizona desert.

At the age of 19, when opportunity presented itself, my independent and entrepreneurial spirit drove me toward the freedom that comes with being self-employed. I owned and operated a small boutique by day, and worked like a slave at night to support myself and my business. Although sleep deprived, I could not have been happier for those three years. I cherished being held accountable to myself and owning the responsible for my own success and failure (which this one was due to lack of experience and support). In the years between then and now I have owned and operated several of my own, and I have been involved in the start-up of other businesses.

As it can, over the year’s life took more than its pound of flesh. On several occasions, I have been forced to navigate the twists and turns of some seemingly hopeless personal situations. In the face of two failed marriages, the powerful muscle memory from my survival upbringing remained, and while it may not have always been pretty, I managed to pull myself up and out, and move onward. And, as usually happens, two beautiful diamonds emerged from that rough. While I wasn’t the drill sergeant that my father was, both of my daughters certainly did catch that contagious bug from their mother, and enjoy lives filled with adventure.

I have a knack for picking things up quickly, particularly in the physical realm, and, I have been known to take risks for the experiences I gain. Some view me as likely to conquer with more bravado than skill, and others claim I adopt a “fake-it-till-you-make-it” style. Whatever it may be, a cool fifty years later I feel as though I have finally settled back into the eight-year-old adventurer that has always resided in my soul. I feel I have grown wise: I have settled into a life filled with everything that fills me up; I have chosen wisely a companion that is cut from my same cloth; I have invited equine partners into my life, a passion that somehow has eluded me over so many years. As it is said, it all came to me when I was ready, unencumbered by worldly things ... when I was ready to receive. With my father passed, I will continue on with the legacy of adventure that he blessed me with as George and I and our horses venture out on our long ride to Canada, June 1, 2018.

Strive to be a compass for compassion and guidance and love.

Sophie Allen