What I learned from Babe.

Babe

I knew I was beyond “rusty” with my horsemanship skills. I had a horse when I was young for a few years, but I had only taken a few lessons here and there over the last few years. Horses had remained a staple in my dreams but not realistic for my life.

So I knew when I signed up for an intensive horsemanship clinic in the mountains led by a well-known trainer / “horse whisperer” that I would be learning a lot.

But I had no idea what I would learn about myself in the process.

Babe was my horse for the week, as she was when I came to this same ranch a few weeks ago. I remembered that she was hard-headed and we struggled a bit, and that I had much to learn with her.

As the trainer introduced the horses who the twelve of us students would be riding for the week, he mentioned that Babe was one of the most sensitive horses in the arena. A great horse, but very sensitive. I took a nervous gulp. I wondered why the trainers wouldn’t think a more easy-going gelding instead of a quirky and sometimes hormonal mare wouldn’t be a better fit for someone like me?  But I soon realized there was a reason Babe and I were together again.

All of the other eleven riders had more experience than me. Many of them had their own horses and were simply here to fine-tune their skills. I was intimidated from the start as I tried to rein in my self-doubt which began to run wild at the start of each new exercise.

But in the end, as I released Babe from her halter that last day and the snow was falling all around us and she nuzzled her head into my chest, I realized that I had learned much more than horsemanship that week. And that Babe and I had truly bonded and learned from each other. I smiled as I gave her a kiss on the cheek and remembered that I too have been called hard-headed and sensitive on more than one occasion.  It had all been part of the plan.

What I learned from Babe choice

– Sometimes it takes a while to connect.  Babe seemed irritated as we groomed our horses that first morning and would hardly engage or acknowledge me while all of the other horses seemed to be loving the attention. (We’re not all hard-wired the same and some things take time.)

– If you’re having trouble, it’s a good idea to look inside yourself before you blame anyone else. (It’s hardly ever the horse’s fault.)

– Positive energy is key to everything. (I knew this stuff, why had I forgotten that like attracts like, negative thoughts attract the same, positive attracts positive?)

– Horses are smarter than people, and way more perceptive. (It’s always beneficial to leave your ego at the barn door and be truly open to learning.)

– Overanalysis can lead to paralysis. (The brain simply can’t be open to learning new things when it’s bogged down and you’re not breathing and giving it fuel.)

– Everything is relative. (Comparing yourself to anyone is never a good idea.)

– Expectations have got to make sense. (Appreciate a little bit of  improvement so you can be thrilled when you experience more.)

– Know the direction you’re wanting to go and make it happen, even if you’re told otherwise. (As a quote I saw recently says: You have the power at any given moment to say “This is not how the story is going to end.”)  Babe just wanted to make sure I was serious first.

– Visualizing success before you begin calms your soul and primes the pump. (Wow does this ever apply to everything.)

– When you’re leading anyone, they must know you are in charge to feel secure. (They need your guidance and confidence. And it can be given with love and appreciation at the same time.  Balance is a beautiful thing.)

– Never end a day on a negative. Figure out a way to make sure of this with kids, spouses, employees, friends, and yes, animals. (The way we end a day has a lot to do with the way we start the next.)

– Relax.  (When you’re tense others can sense it …  and it affects everything.)

– When things come easily we don’t appreciate them near as much. (The strongest love is born from struggle and sweat.)  Ain’t that the truth.

– Sometimes we’re presented with just the exact challenge that the universe knows we need. (You just have to be open to seeing it.)

Have you ever learned about yourself in a most unexpected place?

A big slice of gratitude with a side of nature.

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very inspiringversatile_blogger_award

I’m feeling quite lucky to have so many reasons to be grateful today.

I just realized that not too long ago my little ol’ blog reached over 10,000 views!  Thank you dear followers for being with me on this journey as I figure out life (Do we ever really figure it out?).  You are the reason for this blog’s success.

I’m also truly grateful to have had the opportunity to experience one of the most beautiful places on earth over the weekend at a guest horse ranch in the mountains.  Nothing like nature and animals, along with a lack of cell service, email and television to help you recharge.

I’ve also been remiss in formally thanking some wonderful  fellow bloggers out there who have nominated me for two awards. I am always honored and humbled to be celebrated by fellow writers out there.

Special thanks to Food Flavor Fascination for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blog Award and Glad to Be Alive  and Dressed to Quill  for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  I’m nominating them today for whichever of these awards they don’t already have. These are all great blogs you should check out, by the way.

Here are the rules: 1.  Copy and place the award in your post.  2.  Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.  3.  Tell 7 things about yourself. 4.  Nominate 15 fellow bloggers and let them know.

redrhonebaby

Now for seven things about myself which you don’t already know (I’m afraid there may not be much left to tell since my blog is quite often a large window into a chunk of my soul, so forgive me if I repeat myself.)

1.  I really can’t stand the overuse of exclamation marks.  More than one at any time seems way too overboard to be sincere.

2. I have almost completely quit drinking diet coke.  This is huge for me.

3. I will probably never quit drinking coffee or martinis.  If I owned two horses I would name them Folgers and Hendricks.

4. The smell of horses and even what they leave behind (pun sort of intended) soothes my soul, as does the gentle sway of their walk with me in the saddle and way my heart  skips in a canter.

5. The velvety soft tip of a horse’s nose is one of my favorite things to feel.  I had a few nibble on my hands this weekend when they were looking for treats as I did this.

6. I am quite possibly more saddle sore today than I have ever been.  Age is a funny thing.alhorses

7.  I am grateful as all-get-out (Okie term) to be this saddle sore and for the fact that MacGyver rode horses with me and now just might be a convert.

Next, there are so many blogs that I enjoy, but I have to narrow it down to 15 bloggers to nominate for these awards (choose which award you would like because you all inspire me and your blog is versatile or I wouldn’t be following it).   Forgive me if you have already received these awards.  There are also many blogs not listed here that I love to follow but may have already given a shout-out too.

Each of these blogs, and many others, inspires me, refreshes me or makes me laugh so hard that I spit out my Folgers. And often they give me a necessary kick-in-the- pants perspective-check right when I need it.

Lifestyle Tea

Fresh Hues

Cancer Killing Recipe

Amy Unjaded

Alzheimer’s Speaks

Enchanted Seashells – Confessions from a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

The Savvy Senorita

Lady Romp

Cresting the Words

Susie Lindau’s Wold Ride

Food Flavor Fascination

Glad to Be Alive 

Dressed to Quill

Diane Gray author

Keeping the Glass Half Full

Thank you for reading.  What are you grateful for right now?  Gratitude truly rocks, but it often requires awareness, practice, and sometimes a sore bum.

sunset

Making a Splash of a Different Kind. PS: I take back every blonde joke I ever wanted to make about Daryl Hannah.

Daryl Hannah TransamAs MacGyver tells me when I get riled up about how unrealistic movies can be, “Honey, it’s only a movie,” I should know better. But back in the day, most movies I saw Daryl Hannah in depicted her in a way that did not make me think of her as a potentially intelligent and interesting person. I fell for her movie typecast, and she in turn raked in some paychecks with that role she was so good at playing.

Today I heard her in an interview on XM radio discussing her new movie project, “Greedy Lying Bastards,” which she produced.  I haven’t seen it yet, so I’m not promoting it.  But I liked listening to her and I was pleasantly surprised. (For those of you who want to quit reading now, you can skip to the best part of this post at the end – look for the asterisks.)

But before you quit reading, know that I am not an over the top liberal.  But I am open minded and I do believe that every action has a reaction.  And there is no way that we can keep increasing our pollution and not expect any consequences. (I did recently trade in my beast of an SUV for a smarter version with much better gas mileage  –  but that’s for selfish reasons to boot.)

I know some of you will automatically be offended by the name of this movie alone and therefore never see it, which makes me question the naming because it would seem to defeat the purpose of getting people to open their minds to at least learning other views of what’s going on with our environment. And to consider why it might seem logical that efforts to change how we consume energy might be thwarted by those whose pocket book would be affected negatively by such change.  To me that makes sense, as does having an open mind to this concept – and to opposing concepts, quite frankly.

(The rest of you who have no problem with the name and are instead checking to see when it comes out and where — it opens nationally March 8.)

Lest I get all political, let me just wrap up by saying  that the best part of listening to that interview was to learn that Daryl practices what she preaches, she makes good practical sense and is she is realistic when she discusses the need to be aware of simply taking care of the world we live in a little better.

*******But the best of all….. I learned that Daryl Hannah owns and drives that TransAm she drove in Kill Bill.  She’s had it converted so that it runs on pure ethanol.  I wonder if she keeps her eye patch in the glove box?

Green Eggs, Some Ham and a Side of Life.

circus

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

A fellow blogger reminded me of the sheer genius of Dr. Seuss and his books —  joyfully rhythmic and seemingly silly, yet all the while spinning wonderful life lessons about the challenges of life and what we can achieve if we set our minds to it.

My boys’ favorite Seuss book was “If I ran the circus” which was originally my husband’s book when he was a child.  I so vividly remember reading it to them and how we would all recite certain parts in unison upon each reading.  Those days went by so very quickly and I had no idea just how quickly the months and years would pass.

Lucky for me, they have turned out to be quite wonderful young men.  And I must give Dr. Seuss partial credit. 🙂

Theodor Seuss Geisel surrounded by his literary works. He holds one of his most popular, The Cat in the Hat.

Theodor Seuss Geisel surrounded by his literary works. He holds one of his most popular, The Cat in the Hat.

About Dr. Seuss

Born March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist most widely known for his children’s books written under the pen names Dr. Seuss, Theo LeSieg and, in one case, Rosetta Stone.  He died in 1991 in La Jolla, California, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

He sold over two million books including some of his most popular: “The Cat In The Hat,” “The Sneetches,” “Green Eggs & Ham,” “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Yet, even Dr. Seuss was rejected.

His first book, “And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street” was rejected 27 times before he finally got a yes. 

One of his most famous rejection letter excerpts read, “This is too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”  Wikipedia

Good for Seuss for not giving up. And good for us, indeed.

Related p0st:  http://samanthamcgarry.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/a-letter-to-dr-seuss/

 

 

Facial Fuzz Friday

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My friend who I have known since grade school called me in horror yesterday, laughing and shrieking at the same time as I picked up the phone.

She had just been to her regular aesthetician for a quick eye brow shaping when the woman explained to her that it was time for a chin wax.  She was horrified.

After our call, I opened the community paper to a lengthy article by a regular humor columnist about midlife facial hair and her disastrous experiences with facial microplaning after her daughter told her that her face was furry like their puppy.

And then there’s Little Red Riding Hood’s  “fu manchu”  beard, as  I call it.  Mom’s Alzheimer’s is in full-on fast forward motion (so much so that it’s been hard for me to even think about writing about it lately) and I can hardly bear the frightened look she gives me when I come at her with the scissors to trim her little grouping of silver chin hair.  She would be mortified if she realized, but I’m not sure terrified is much better at this point.  Trust me, I question this judgement call for reasons I’ll explain later.

At my request, MacGyver installed a lovely 5000- power lighted magnification (I’m exaggerating a bit) cosmetic mirror in my bathroom.  And I’m telling you, if I catch my reflection too early in the morning at that strength, I’m convinced Sasquatch is in my bathroom.  I’m tempted to rip that puppy back off the wall, but it might hurt MacGyver’s feelings.

This midlife physical change thing baffles me.  And to be coincidentally timed right as we lose our near vision … so that we can’t even notice our facial fuzz and fur?  Now that’s just cruel.

I’ll add this post to my vanity diaries. I know I’m lucky to even have hair and to be alive to notice.

But I’m even luckier to have close friends who have sworn to me in blood that if I end up not realizing that I have fu manchu facial hair at some point one day, they will chase me down with tweezers in hand, no matter what.

Deep thought Friday … Is your compass in tune?

Katharine-Hepburn

“We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”

― Katharine Hepburn

An old friend posted this on Facebook today and I had to share it because it is spot-on.

So many times in the world we find excuses and others to blame, when it is in our power to make a decision to change just about anything in our lives.  We are the ones steering our own ship, deciding how to take the waves – head-on or at an angle, with a course, or without.

We decide how to allow others to treat us. If we let ourselves get taken advantage of or treated like we don’t deserve, it’s because we need to look inside and figure out how to set boundaries. And better understand our self-worth.

We decide whether to allow circumstances to affect us in a negative way, or to use them to help spur our emotional our growth and move us forward.

We decide what excuses will impede our goals.  When we say we’re too busy or “it just won’t work,” we are making a choice.

We decide how that guy in traffic who cut us off will make us feel.  Or how someone who was dishonest, who hurt our feelings, or who was even downright creepy, will make us feel. We have a choice … to carry that around with us or throw it overboard.

Compassion and self-awareness are points on our compass.  And sometimes it takes a painful event or two in life to help us establish these bearings.

One thing is for certain, stepping out of ourselves and looking in objectively is the only way to chart our true course.

Here’s to another inspiring bad-ass of a woman who said it right.

Out of the Blue …

swirlMade it out of the blue and the brown … not a drop of brown or blue paint can be found on this latest funky painting.

As far as being out of the blue … ever have ideas come to you out of the blue?

My best ideas for writing usually come to me in the shower.  And therein lies the problem, as I am usually far away from my computer or notepad and clearly soaking wet. And then there’s something about stepping over that shower threshold after a shower that sometimes wipes my memory bank clean.

I decided to turn to my trusty Amazon in search of a solution — or of the discovery that a solution didn’t exist and my goldmine of an invention (a waterproof notepad) awaited.  Not surprisingly, I  found a nifty waterproof notepad and pencil set which sticks onto the shower wall so that I can capture ideas before they are lost. It’s absolutely genius.  I love it.

Where to you get your best ideas?  Any tricks for remembering them later?aquanote

Tell me your secrets.

peptoI’ve been blocked with my writing for the last week, so I’m trying something different today. Also, since my parents are coming this week to stay with my kids while we are away, a few of these things have been on my mind as I assess the areas of my house that might frighten outsiders.

Below are some random household and life challenges for which I would love any ideas or secret tips. How do you:

blueberries

1. Keep your medicine cabinet looking somewhat organized? (Mine is actually pretty organized by type but still looks like a nightmare.)

2. Clean and store vegetable and fruit and keep them visible enough to remember to eat them before they go bad? (Do you clean them before you put in fridge or clean as you eat them?)

3. Maintain a neat and orderly physical desktop while not forgetting about papers requiring action? (I am a stacker but the visual chaos unnerves me at the same time.  There has to be a happy medium.)

4. Keep the incoming mail/ junky area in your kitchen organized?

5. Remember to take your eco-friendly fabric grocery bags with you into the store?  I’ve tried keeping in the car, on hooks inside my laundry room door where I can see them, all to no avail.  Every time I get to the register I could have had a V8  and realize that I forgot my bags once again (as the checker and bagger shoot me looks of disdain and the plastic bags begin to rustle).bag

6. Unblock your writing (when you’re not feeling inspired and you’re worried you’ve forgotten how to write)?

7. Drink more water?  (I’m surprised I function with as little H2O as I consume).

8. Exercise regularly with no excuses?  (I go through bouts of great routine exercise but then when I fall off the rails, why is it so hard to get back at it?  Need ideas.)

9. Make yourself write on a regular basis? (The public challenges I proclaim (like the 100 day gratitude experiment) have worked for me.  But how many challenges can one really do?)

10. Find easy recipes.  Anyone have a website or app they love?

Georgia on My Mind…

GeorgiaOKeeffemusic
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”
“I have already settled it for myself, so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free.”

― Quotes by Georgia O’Keeffe

O'Keeffehands

Oh how I would have loved to have met Georgia O’Keeffe.  From what I’ve learned about her over the years, she was an inspiring bad-ass of a woman.

And now some of her works are being installed in Denver for an exhibition coming at the end of this month.  I am giddy.

desertokeeffeskyscraperOne of the greatest American artists of the 20th century and the very first female American Modernist painter, O’Keeffe didn’t play by any established rules.  She made her own.  Gotta love that.

skullShe was born in Wisconsin in 1887 and knew and told others that she wanted to  be an artist by the eighth grade. (And now that I too am obsessed with Downton Alley, I’m picturing O’Keeffe starting her career during that period since the dates are close. This makes her even more inspiring to me.)

I had the great pleasure of seeing the largest collection of her work in the world years ago at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.  I remember one painting so huge – an entire wall – of rich, vivid clouds that it literally took my breath away. (She said she painted her skies and clouds so large so the world would see them the way she did.)

A college friend gave me a print of her Music in Pink and Blue (top painting in post) which was proudly displayed in every college house where I lived.

O’Keeffe created her own style of art, blending abstraction and realism, along with cropping techniques she saw in photos, to create iconic paintings of the American artistic landscape. Her huge-scale abstract flowers, her bold 1920s New York City skylines, and her intoxicating perspectives of the deserts, bones and skies of New Mexico… are simply unmistakable.
mynameisgeorgia
What’s your favorite O’Keeffe painting?
PS: if you ever want to give a wonderful and unique gift to a child, the book  “My Name is Georgia” by Jeanette Winter is a wonderful illustrated book about being daring enough to pave your own path.

How to Recognize a Close Encounter of the Personal Kind.

space invader

You know who I’m talking about.

Those people who get so close to you that you almost feel their breath on your neck as you stand in line at the grocery store, post office or drug store.  Anywhere there is a line with people who think that you’re too slow and they’re more important,  or who were seriously raised by parents who did not teach them about respecting the personal space of others.

This often takes place as I am paying and I want to offer them a piece of gum out of my purse since they can see inside it so well.

A grown man in the next line over at the store yesterday was so up in this lady’s business and being such a spaz about it that I could feel the energy in the next lane over. (This photo does not do the situation justice and I was trying to be discreet.)  I wanted to ask him if he had to use the restroom or something since he seemed in such a hurry.

Often these space invaders have one hand on their hip, their arms crossed or even their legs crossed like this guy.  And some sighs and heavy breathing might take place. Sometimes body odor.

Naively, I always think that making some dramatic eye contact with a semi-sneer will make it clear to them that they are invading my space and they need to back off.

Or sometimes I think that if I just hold my ground and not move a single inch until I’m good and ready, they’ll get the message.

I’ve even tried slightly backing up to throw them off, to no avail.

I always want to say something like “You seem like you’re in a hurry since you’re up so close and personal with me right now, want to go ahead of me?  Or do you just want to get to know me better?”  Or “You seem like you need a hug … is that why you’re getting so close?”   But I worry that I would start something that I’m physically unable to carry through.

Any attempts I make to help space invaders realize that they are bucking  this social norm are futile.  I’m baffled.  Or maybe I’m delusional to think that I can really change another human being’s behavior? ( Logically I know this to be the answer but I still love to analyze it.)

How do you handle Close Encounters of the Personal Kind?  Any tips?

Silent in the company of sisters.

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At weekly yoga class.

Two sisters, there each week.

Next to each other, happy and harmonious.

Could be twins, alike but different enough.

One comment starts the chatter all around the room,

How lucky they are to have a sister nearby to enjoy.

I nodded silently as I agreed,

Tamping pangs of envy down deep.

Then one by one … the others lamented over their sisters faraway,

Poor them.

I had a choice,

Bring down the entire room with “Bummer, mine died.”

And freak everyone the hell out,

Or keep quiet.

I chose the latter.

Act first, think later. Story of my life in 5 examples.

CreativeLeap

Photo from http://design-seeds.com, a really cool site I just discovered.

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4737533/?claim=kq3dbtxznfw”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Act first. Think later.  Story of my life. Luckily it’s working relatively well for me so far. My dad does it too, and even admits it, so I come by it honestly.

This ‘creative leap’  idea is how I justify it.  Similarly, I enjoy any quote about procrastination being a good thing.

Here are some examples of how this is the story of my life:

1. Hanging pictures –  Not sure if I’ve ever used a ruler or tape measure when hanging things on any walls – and I have a LOT on my walls.  This makes many people CRAZY.  (And I love it.)

2. Painting –  When I have gone to those places where you paint as a group while you have a cocktail, and everyone paints the same stroke with the same color in the same order, I go for the wine and pretend like I’m following directions or like I’m just confused. The conformists in these groups whose paintings look exactly like the teacher’s painting in the end always look at my painting with sheer disdain and disbelief. Once someone told me that my painting of wildflowers might indicate that I need therapy.  (Which tells me that it’s good.)

3. Trimming  – As in my bangs, or anything I’m cutting for that matter.  Again, I don’t measure or think it out too much when cutting ribbon, fabric, dog hair, my hair, etc. This has not ended well on several occasions. (Starting at age five when I gave my doll and I a haircut at the same time using my dullest kindergarten scissors.  Also in college when I used to make my own wrap skirts – my room mates are still laughing.)

4. Giving my opinion – How boring and untrue would I be if I edited my opinion before I spoke of it?  Besides, it would take far too long and I would get distracted by the time I thought it through and then I’d forget my point.  I’ve gotten in trouble with this one.  (Fortunately those who love me can handle it.)

5. A plethora of injuries, bruises and cuts at all times – Whether I’m carrying sixteen things down the stairs to save time, or teetering on the edge of a chair because I don’t want to take the time to find a ladder, or using a knife that is dull.  You get the idea.  (Luckily I still have all my digits.)

Do you ever act first and think later?