Tag archive: Lifestyle
I hope you continually:
Chip away at the obstacles that prevent you from doing what you love
Add to the myriad of layers that make you unique and interesting
Ignore how society attempts to define you
Seek counsel from others
Spend quality time with old folks
Listen to everyone’s opinions and then formulate your own
Learn from the negative experiences in your life as they will shape you as much as the positive ones
Embrace grief and pain but don’t let it mire you in depression
Tell and show people often how much you care about them
Roll with the changes
Let go of the past
Find new tribes
Try new things
Eat weird foods
Take care of your body
Experiment with your hair
Do things that frighten you
Expand the borders of your comfort zone
Acknowledge your fear but don’t let it confine you
Recognize that life is short; breathe each breath as if it were your last
Live in the moment and find contentment in the now
Look for beauty in the mundane
Connect with nature
Laugh at yourself
Laugh a lot
Take a stand
Defend your choices
Admit when you’re wrong
Find joy in bargain hunting
Permit yourself to spend some of that savings
Know that you are a work in progress until the day you die
Smile even when it hurts – it’s more for you than other people
Recognize when you’re not gifted in the thing you have passion for
Find passion for the things you are gifted in
Share your gifts and talents
Say NO when it’s warranted
Say YES because you can
Ask for help
Be brave and courageous
Allow yourself to make mistakes
Show kindness, mercy, and compassion
Grant others grace when they’ve screwed up
Allow yourself to ugly cry once in a while
Choose honesty over deception
Don’t let others take advantage of you
Build a reputation for being a person of your word
Give your very best effort in everything you do
Ignore both flattery and criticism
Desire to keep learning
Believe in your own worth
Build a relationship with God
Live YOUR life
And finally, a word from my dad for when that horse bucks you off and you get the wind knocked out of you:
Get up out of the dirt, brush away your tears, and
Get your ass back in that saddle!
#adaywithoutwomen #adaywithoutawoman #nothingwasanydifferent
Congratulations feminist “activists” – hijacking International Women’s Day for your political objective was a resounding flop. I mean on an epic scale. The floppiest flop to every have flopped. The 1980’s called, they want their floppies (discs) back.
From my limited vantage point (my social media feed, TV news coverage, and personal interaction) I saw absolutely no change or effect from this supposed massive strike designed to bring the world crashing to its knees because of the lack of women in the workforce. Zero. Zip. Nada.
NO ONE WAS AFFECTED
Oh sure some of you wore red in solidarity – that took real guts and showed them who’s boss. (Oh, and because women need another excuse to wear red. Can you see my eyes rolling?)
But what really happened, was that every single woman in my news feed went to work and conducted business without even a hitch to her giddyup and without any ill effect to her male counterparts, or to her immediate circle, or to the world at large. I didn’t see a single post in my feed from any woman who did NOT go to work. In fact, I saw LOTS of women hash-tagging #adaywithoutwomen” furiously while making their excuses as to why they had to, or needed to, (or best yet) why it was a “defiant” move to, ACTUALLY GO TO WORK. As incredulous as it seems, they purposefully hash-tagged #adaywithoutwomen in the same post telling the world they were working. LOTS of them too; not just one or two FB friends. My FB feed was FULL of these posts. I didn’t hear a peep on the news about how soooo many businesses were negatively impacted by the day’s strike to the point of begging their women workforce to come back and never leave them again. Or about how the men in their lives just melted into puddles of tears over the realization that they can’t live without a woman for a day. I just saw lots of media coverage, emoji high fives, and lip service, but NO REAL PROTESTING and NO REAL EFFECT.
WHAT IN THE WORLD….??? Have y’all lost sight of what “protesting” is? In reality I mean. Ho hum, I guess we live in a virtual world now and protesting can be done from our safe, virtual platform, sipping our Starbucks without any need to get uncomfortable, or sacrifice something, or just freakin’ DO anything.
Did you see the episode of Portlandia in which the characters were posting about protesting and then finally decided to actually protest something but they got so caught up in the act of preparing that they didn’t end up doing anything? Oh do watch it, it’s an hilarious and spot-on commentary about yesterday’s non-event:
In light of women’s ineptitude at following through on a simple concept of striking to “show-the-world-that-women-are-such-massive-contributors-to-society-that-society-can’t-function-without-them-for-just-one-day”, I propose that MEN strike for a day. What if, ALL men, ALL OVER THE WORLD, just stopped doing everything and anything for a whole day? Think about THAT! #adaywithoutmen
At least half, if not a significantly higher percentage, of our mechanics (got car trouble?), plumbers (pipes sprung a leak?), firefighters (house on fire?), police officers (domestic assault?), security officers (need someone to walk you to your car in a sketchy parking garage?), doctors (headed to the ER?), pilots (flying home for a dying loved one?) and on and on and on, are MEN. I think a true strike by men would be a reality check for all women who like to pretend they are strong, empowered, warriors, blah, blah, blah and don’t need no stinkin’ men in their lives.
But the truth is, women can be all those things (strong, empowered, warriors, and more) AND need men too.
Can we just admit we need EACH OTHER and celebrate EVERYONE, EVERYDAY? How much better could we make this world if we focused on encouraging all the people we meet in a day – regardless of their gender and regardless of past damage done to us by a particular person of a particular gender. Instead of an “I’ll show you what it’s like without me” mentality, we could show the world by example what incredible contributions we are making by stepping up our game. We could all (regardless of gender) inspire others to be their best because we choose to always be OUR best – even (or especially) in the face of adversity! And in case you haven’t learned yet, forgiveness is a powerful tool and can be a motivation for change – in ourselves and in others.
The future starts NOW. Let’s go out there and be good examples and positive role models for everyone.
And if a protest IS in order, by God, get off your ass and actually protest.Details
Have we recently become a two-faced society or have we always been that way?
Is this my real face?
Or is this?
Years of online interaction has yielded discoveries about my world and shattered my illusions about what I used to think about myself, other people, and the accepted norms of what it means to be a member of society.
From the dawn of civilization until only a few years ago, we could (would?) only divulge those parts of ourselves we deemed worthy of sharing, mostly through our “in person” associations and to some extent our written correspondence. Fortunately for us, fading memories serve us well when we have unwittingly shared the worst. For the most part though, we were more guarded with our innermost thoughts and feelings, cared very much about how others viewed us, and took great measures to protect our reputations and relationships.
Not so much these days.
For better or worse, by willingly participating in social media, we have unintentionally revealed ourselves in unflattering ways and have shaped and changed the definition of “community” for future generations. These days, it’s far too easy to hide behind a computer. Like alcohol, our magic box gives us a sense of liberation from our inhibitions and unfortunately, many people use their devices unwisely, wielding keyboards like swords. With our screens shielding us from the outside world, we feel much freer to bully, create a pretend life, justify our actions and condemn others, brag incessantly, etc. But I call this, “hiding in plain sight.” Everything we post reveals a little something about our nature regardless of the content of what we post, but astute observers will see the “you” that you don’t even know you’re projecting.
For many of us, our online persona doesn’t align with the impression we present in person. You know what I’m talking about: The mousy girl who smiles politely and practically hides in a public setting, but then incessantly rants negatively on her Facebook page and calls shame on the “terrible” people she observes (and assumes she knows their intentions), or the crusty curmudgeon of a guy (get off my lawn!) with whom you’d go out of your way to avoid if you see, but who only posts pictures and links about saving puppies and kittens on his Facebook page because he’s really a big softy.
As it turns out, I don’t really know the people I’ve known in real life. Their pages, comments and messages show a side I was previously unaware of. Some online relationships have uncovered a kinder, more thoughtful person than I ever imagined existed and I’ve developed a stronger bond with them than I thought possible. And I’ve sadly had to let go of others due to their negativity and/or hostility in their online life. It’s rather crushing to find out that a schoolmate with whom we have shared many a playground laugh now has diametrically opposed values to our own.
Both sides of the revelation spectrum begs this question though: “Is it me or is it them?”
- Is it me who has been too self-absorbed in my own life that I’ve failed to elucidate their true nature or have they always been this way?
- Is it me who has dug in my heels in opposition to their values or have they resolutely refused to acknowledge my point of view?
- Have they, through their life experiences, evolved into the person I’m seeing now or has my perspective towards them changed based upon my own experiences?
If we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is a combination of all of the above.
But there’s more to navigating this online world of social media than evaluating the true (and sometimes depressing) nature of our existing acquaintances. There’s a plethora of people we’ve never met and it’s only because of the interwoven web of friends of friends that we catch glimpses of who those people are and, if we’re adventurous enough, connect with.
Willing to see the best in people, I have been daring enough to seek out and accept total strangers into my online world and have uncovered a bevy of virtual (and literal) strangers with whom I share a great deal of commonality and have come to count among the closest of allies. We’ve found our way together via mutual friends or interests and would have never crossed paths if we were to rely solely on an in-person rendezvous (either accidental or intentional). Most of these online-only friends of mine are hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of miles away; some are in far off lands which I doubt I will ever visit in my lifetime. However, some are right in my own back yard and I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with them and getting to know both their online projection of themselves as well as the in-person self-portrait they’ve chosen to paint.
Ours is a great, big, marvelous world with continents of uncharted territory of man’s inner workings, and multitudes of dusty corners hiding untold fortunes of man’s immeasurable ability to find common ground with others regardless of culture, ethnicity, place of birth and current place of residence. I am continually intrigued, delighted, surprised and yes, even disappointed at times, by the people who co-inhabit this planet with me.
By observing how social media has changed my perspective of what I thought I knew, I’ve come to realize that I have bigger goals in mind when I choose to commune with my fellow man than simply abstractedly scrolling through online posts or putting in obligatory time at public gatherings.
With every interaction:
- I hope to continue learning about the world through all of my varied relationships,
- I hope to grow in knowledge about who I am and who I want to be,
- I hope to use my presence to emit a source of positive (or at least entertaining) energy in your life,
I hope to mend my own fractured portrait and present a united
(and honest) face to the world.
There are no shortages of clichés regarding the passage of time. Some center on how fleeting it is and others ask us to patiently wait for it to pass. Human beings spend a lot of it just trying to understand it. When did it begin? How does it work? Can we travel across it? Perceiving time is as simple as watching the ticking of the second hand but understanding its complexity is beyond comprehension. Perhaps the key to utilizing it well in our reality lies somewhere in the middle of those clichéd phrases and not in trying to harness it. We ought to be willing to put in time doing something productive in small increments over the long haul while knowing it’s evaporating with every breath we take.
But try telling that to the eager, starry-eyed kid who just bought his first beat up Strat asking his guitar teacher how to play Cliffs of Dover in his first lesson. Or to the student who thinks getting their college degree will yield the same results as spending 10 years working in their desired field. Or to the middle-aged mom who spent years allowing their body to get out of shape and expects miraculous results in only weeks from the latest slimming fad. Wanting to be immediately adept at something new is no different for anyone with dreams of achievement. But asking people to put in the work and be satisfied with modest yet measurable gains over a long period of time is a tough sell to the majority of people in any endeavor. In a world where instant gratification is available and expected these days, there’s one commodity that just cannot be bought, sold, borrowed, lent, ransomed, given, stored, stopped, or manipulated in any manner – time.
How can I teach someone to do what I do? I learned it over the course of years by accumulating knowledge and adding new skills to those I already had. My position was built, not taught.
That’s how my mom puts it.
Did you ever have a boss ask you to teach another co-worker how to do your job? Or have you ever had a pupil or admirer of your talents ask you to show them how to do what you do? My mom is right. To attempt to quantify, condense, and disseminate your expertise into a quickie training seminar after having the luxury of building upon your skill-set and honing your talent over the course of time is ludicrous. It would be overwhelming and discouraging to dump all of your years of knowledge on someone’s plate and expect them to remember it and become as proficient as you without granting them the benefit of time to learn. Yet this is what is often asked of us and what we ask of others.
The concept of apprenticeships seems to have fallen by the wayside in our 21st century charge towards instant fulfillment. We ought to be teaching our youth to accept that there are no shortcuts to greatness – in anything: work, music, art, relationships, etc. And if we’re honest, we need to come to grips with that fact ourselves. Too easily we get caught up in the magical thinking that one day we’ll be who we want to be, where we want to be, with the skills we want to have, through no investment of our own. It will just “happen.” But hard work is only part of the equation. Time is a critical factor that is seldom talked about. It takes time for skills to become fluid and second nature. It takes time for your brain to be ready to accept additional training. And it takes time to build a past that you can reflect upon.
Time is a resource that will be used – one way or another. No one knows how much of it they have been allotted. Am I spending my precious ration of it on activities which serve to advance me closer to my goals while patiently waiting for the fruits of my labor to ripen? Or am I only wishing for the unattainable while frittering away my days and years with meaningless actions, frustrated that a short-term investment hasn’t fulfilled my lifelong goals?
Time. What are you doing with yours?Details
“I used to ride for many years when I was younger,” she said to me with a wistful look in her eye. When she was “younger”, I thought – how old could she possibly be with her waist-length, gorgeous blonde curls, and her trim athletic build?
Outside the post office, I was getting back on my bike (a 2011 Suzuki TU250 that my husband artfully chopped into a killer café racer!) when this vision of a woman approached me, imparting the camaraderie that passes between riders. I couldn’t have known by her manner of dress (blue jeans, sneakers, flowing button down blouse), or by her breezy way of sauntering up to me, that she was going to start a conversation about motorcycling. Most women don’t approach me when I’m on the bike (men, however, can’t contain themselves – biker or not… ), so I just assume most women aren’t riders and I don’t take an interest in the ladies I cross paths with unless they too are on a bike or dressed in motorcycling gear.
“Why don’t you ride now?” I asked her. With great pride, she told me that she’s 64 years old (NO WAY!), still surfs and participates in other physically challenging activities, but faltered when she couldn’t put her finger on why she hung up riding. I could see her contemplating and questioning it in her mind. So I let it go, letting her think that her “I’m 64 years old” answer was sufficient, and we chit-chatted a bit more about riding, outdoorsy things, and enjoying life to its fullest. Naturally I also had to fawn over her age/appearance disconnect. I REALLY wish I had taken her picture – she was that stunning!
As she walked away, I called after her, “You know how it feels; get yourself back on a bike before you regret it.” She turned her head over her shoulder (the wind catching her luscious, long locks like a scene out of a Bo Derek movie), smiled wide and called back, “I could you know….I still surf…”
She walked away and I sighed. She gave me hope for my future. While putting on my gloves, still grinning to myself about the exchange with that beautiful woman, another woman – this one quite professionally dressed – came out of the post office. Imagine my surprise when she too approached me and started talking about my gear, specifically asking about my gloves.
“Are those Icons?” she asked as she nodded her head towards my hands, which at that moment more resembled twigs having a wrestling match with leather and nylon straps than graceful fingers skillfully putting on gloves. I looked up at her in disbelief (which was hopefully well-hidden behind my sunglasses and full face helmet) and said, “No they’re not but Icon makes great ones; my husband owns a pair.” Instantly disarmed for the second time in a matter of minutes, I excitedly conversed with her about cold weather gear and the pros and cons of different materials, some of the great deals she’s gotten over the years, and her extensive helmet collection. Prior to this conversation, I would never have guessed by her attire or demeanor that she was also a moto rider (or even a passenger) but indeed she was. She told me she loves to ride her bike all year but that her husband doesn’t like the cold. She laughed and said, something to the effect of, “you can’t keep me off the bike.” And I whole-heartedly agreed with her! We chuckled about our mutual hard-headedness, passion for the ride and said our goodbyes.
Basking in the glow of these brief, back-to-back encounters, I rode off with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart. These ladies made my day. It was endearing and encouraging to have two women stop to talk to me about their experiences. As I reflected upon the scene later, I realized a few other things:
Firstly, neither one mentioned my bike. At all. Nothing!
And that is the first and usually only thing men ever talk to me about when they see me riding. It was refreshing to have meaningful conversations about the riding experience and not the particular machine under me for a change. Not that I mind talking about and showing off my TU – she’s my little mountain goat and I LOVE her – but it was unique that they not only didn’t broach the subject (even though the bike was sitting there big as life), but that I didn’t even notice the lack of it until after I got home.
Secondly, neither one of them felt the need to tell me to “be safe” or convey some other cautionary parting remark. That too was powerful. As if they both knew there was no need to state the obvious.
Thirdly, I am guilty of making assumptions based upon circumstance and appearance. Had they not said anything to me first, I wouldn’t have given those women a second thought. They would have disappeared into obscurity as far as I was concerned and I certainly wouldn’t be blogging about them now. We should all take a risk and just randomly begin conversations with strangers more often. We could learn a lot about the people we pass every day and by listening to their stories and watching their eyes sparkle as they talk about something special, we come away blessed, if not richer, people in return.
Fourthly, neither one of them apologized for anything. In any way! There wasn’t even a hint of verbal or visual communication that smacked of excuse, concession, or justification. I often find myself making self-deprecating remarks following a compliment bestowed upon me. Take my bike for instance. Instead of simply saying “thank you” when someone shows interest and proceeding to talk about its merits, I always feel the need to apologize for it’s diminutive size.
I am grateful for these two empathetic and kindred spirits who, by sharing something more than a passing nod today, taught me several life lessons and gave me something I hadn’t felt before on the bike.
Today, I was a peer.Details
Have you ever loved a horse so much that your entire life was altered by his very existence?
And have you gone to bed dreaming of him before you ever met him and then spent the rest of your life reminiscing about him after he was gone?
I have . . . and so did my father.
The following is an essay my father wrote in 1946 when he was thirteen years old and home sick with the measles. It tells the story of a boy who desperately wanted a horse of his own to love, ride, and teach tricks to, and the little black stallion that fulfilled his childhood dreams.
About 2 years after he wrote the essay, his 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Brooks, read it and asked him to re-write it for an essay contest, which he never did do. It’s worthy to note that Mrs. Brooks was quite fond of my father because he and his trusty stallion chased down her runaway horse and saved her one day, quite like another story he relays in the essay.
My dad and mom are full of tales about life with their horses but it’s a special blessing for me to have a copy of my dad’s original handwritten account regaling his love for and adventures with his all-time favorite steed. I didn’t edit the content of the essay; I only added some punctuation marks and a few stray words here and there that he inadvertently left off in his original writing. I’ve even left the paragraph structure intact exactly as he had written. He’s fully aware of my additions and has approved the minor edits. I wanted to leave the story as original as possible so that we are reading exactly what he, as a thirteen year old boy, had written in 1946.
There are footnotes below which give insight to the timeline of events and offer details rounding out some of the circumstances of which he writes. Of special note is number 9 – he’d like the reader to be sure to understand that he knows you don’t beat a horse to train it. Those words came from an inexperienced child and he went on to learn the finer art of communication with his horses. If reading footnotes aren’t your “thing;” I urge you to at least read that one.
And now, I present to you….
A True Story of a Horse
Written by Stephen Loren Illsey, 1946
Edited by Colleen Ann Guest, 2013
This is a story of my colt and I. But I must start at the beginning.
I was a boy at the age of thirteen  and I had always wanted a horse of my own. My mother had had several horses since she was a little girl and she thought that it would be nice for me to have one of my own, but little did either of us dream that it would come true.
My mother went one day to visit her sister who also lived on a farm. They got to talking and she told my mother about a little colt they had on the farm. He had been tied there most of the winter and they carried feed and water to him because they were afraid as he was a stallion, and he had tried to strike them when they tried to lead him.  Then mother went to the barn to see this little fellow who was only six months old at the time. On first sight she fell in love with this pretty little black colt for he was black as coal. Mom wanted to take him outdoors but her sister said that he would strike her; but Mother took her chances and fixed a twitch and put it on his nose and in no time she led him from the barn.
Oh yes, he did try to act up, but Mother was too smart for him, and the first thing he knew was that he was sitting on the ground. Then she called my cousin who was about thirteen, very light for his age, and sat him on the colt’s back. Once more she started leading him but what happened is he laid down. My cousin jumped and rolled away from him; he was scared. Mother said to him, “Where are you going? I’ve still got a hold of him.” But he only answered back, “I’ve heard stories about stallions before and what they’d do if they got you under them.” Mother laughed and said to herself, “They are really afraid of this little fellow.” Then she thought to herself, “Why don’t we buy him for ourselves?”
Someone had named the colt “Highboy” so we kept calling him that although the name didn’t quite occur to me. 
Mom came home and talked to Dad about getting the colt, but Dad didn’t seem very enthusiastic about it. Then Mom, seeing that she wasn’t making any progress with Dad, said, “He is a nice little colt and has the most intelligent looking head and every bit of him is pure black.
It was about a week after that and Mom and I hadn’t been making progress with Dad about the colt, or at least we didn’t think so, when one evening Dad and Mom were reading the paper and my brothers were playing or something, and I was thinking about how good it would seem to have a colt of my own to teach tricks to. I never realized how hard the task would be.
Then before anyone realized it, a truck stopped in front of the house. A man knocked on the door and my father went to see who it was. I could hear them talking in low tones but I did catch a few words. “Surprise” was one, and then I heard “he” and “fine” and a few others that didn’t make sense.
Then Dad called Mother and me out to the truck. And there it was – a small horse about the size of a pony. “There,” said my Dad “is your colt. Now let me see you unload him.”
At first I started to walk right up in beside him, but then I stopped all of a sudden, thinking, “What if he should kick?” Then I looked at him again and said to myself, “Well, if I’m going to handle you, I better start now.” Again, I started to walk up in beside him, but this time I didn’t hesitate. I untied the rope that held him and thought that I could push him out of the truck backwards, but that was useless. So I turned him around and tried pulling him out, but still, he wouldn’t budge. Then Mother said, “Here, let me help you,” and the next thing I knew was that he was standing right on the ground beside me. “How did you do it?” I asked looking very much puzzled. My mother explained, “Oh it’s quite easy when you know how.”  Come to find out, Dad had hired the man to go and get the colt. 
About a month after that, Dad told me that I had better start teaching my colt tricks because pretty soon he would get too big for me to handle, By the end of five months I had taught him quite a few tricks. Each one taking more patience and time, until I thought that he was the dumbest animal that ever lived; but one by one he caught on, and finally I had him so that he responded to each one of my commands. 
Soon after that I thought that it was about time I started in riding him, so one day I went to the barn and fixed my mother’s saddle and bridle to fit him. He didn’t mind my putting either one of these funny looking things on, but when I got them on him, boy, did he ever look awkward! Then I took him outside and before he realized what was going on I jumped aboard and hanged on for my life, expecting any second to go flying and hit the ground, but to my great surprise, nothing happened. Then I patted him and tried to urge him on but that didn’t go so good. So I kicked him in the ribs and yelled but he still wouldn’t move. So I got off and took him to the house to show my mother how he acted but this time, things were different. Instead of me jumping on I just took my time and the moment I was in the saddle I was out again. I picked myself up out of the dust and blinking my eyes, I looked around and there stood Highboy. I think that if he could have laughed like a person he would. “Why you tricky little mule,” I hollered as I went up to him. “You wait until I get a strap, I’ll teach you to buck when I’m not expecting it.”
So I got myself a strap and once more got on. But instead of just standing still or bucking he took me for one of the scariest rides I’ve ever had. All of the way down hill he ran just as fast as he could go, jumping everything in his way until he finally reached the main road, but not stopping for cars or anything. Neither talking nor pulling on the reigns did any good. But finally he did stop and when he did, he did it so quick that I found myself on the ground sputtering and yelling at my colt. I was so confused and puzzled about my new experience that I hadn’t stopped to think about what would have happened if we had collided with a car or if he had fallen. I was still so shaken up and every bone ached that I decided not to beat him and the expression on his face showed that he was sorry. 
A little while after that I got a new bridle and pretty soon I had him responding to each turn of the reigns.
After that my mother and I rode often together because she also had a horse.
One day two of my mother’s friends came up and wanted to ride although neither one of them could ride very good. We had four horses, so we let the girls ride, but we only had two saddles so we let the girls ride in them, so my mother and I rode bareback. Mom warned me that I shouldn’t ride Highboy bareback, but I finally succeeded in telling her that nothing would happen; but I was wrong.
We were riding through the fields, when one of the girls started running her horse. Then we all started.
We were going pretty fast and Highboy was in the lead. I wanted to see if anyone could catch me. I had forgotten that the girls couldn’t ride too good but I guess that luck was with them. All of a sudden highboy turned around without me expecting it. I didn’t have time to catch my balance before he turned again and then I fell.
All that I remembered is that somebody was talking to me. I woke up again to find myself home. The doctor was there. I asked what had happened but before anyone had time to answer I found out. Pains shot through my right arm and into my head. The doctor told me to lie still; that my wrist was broken.
Three or four weeks after that, my arm healed quickly. Highboy was turned loose in the pasture. My brother was walking in the pasture when all of a sudden Highboy started to chase him. My brother turned and ran toward our dump rake in the pasture. First Highboy would run one way and then the other way around the rake. My brother yelled and hollered hoping that someone would hear him.  Just by luck, I happened to be outdoors and I ran to see what the trouble was. I crossed the fence and ran down to the rake. Highboy stopped all of a sudden and looked at me. I knew at once that he meant to chase me also, so I ran right up to him before he had a chance to move and hit him. At once, he cowered and moved back .I hit him and then I had him in my power because sometimes if you show a stallion that you’re not afraid (of) him, he’ll calm down.  After I assured Highboy that I wasn’t still mad at him, everything was alright.
One day when I was riding, my saddle appeared too tight for Highboy, so I got off and loosened it. My mother said that we had better water the horses so we rode over to the creek. Highboy naturally just put down his head to drink. All of a sudden I felt myself slipping. Before I could do anything about it, I landed into the creek. I never heard anyone laugh before like my mother did. I guess that she laughed all of the way home.
Another time my mother was riding a horse that we boarded on our farm. The horse got to running with her towards home and she couldn’t stop him. We had ridden up to the neighbor’s house to buy a dozen of eggs and I was carrying the eggs when the horse that my mother was riding got to running. I didn’t know what to do, so I started after her on Highboy. Luck certainly must have been with us both that day. The road was slippery but yet I urged Highboy on. I knew that if the other horse ever tried to turn into our driveway at the speed he was going, he would fall down. Faster and faster Highboy ran. The wind blew hard against my face and made tears come into my eyes. But before I knew it, I was reaching out and pulling on the other horse’s bridle. I guess Highboy saved the day. Oh yes, I mustn’t forget tell you that not a single egg was broken.
Not many more things happened after that. Highboy was conquered and was at last ready to obey me.
Not hardly a day passed last summer but what my mother and I had ridden.
We are looking forward to a colt from our mare of which Highboy is the sire. 
It’s my great misfortune that I never knew this horse because he died in the spring of the year I was born. The mares on our farm had several foals sired by him, so I knew quite a bit about his temperament through his offspring. My mom had a feisty horse named Penny and the foals they threw were quite mischievous. I remember vividly one incident in which my brother and I had gotten chased down by one of those horses; it seems that chasing was apparently in their blood! She was a mare named Pride and I fondly recall her living on the farm and even which stall she occupied in our barn. At some point she had been sold and we went to visit her a few months after she left us. My dad sent my brother and me up the hill in her new pasture to call her down, and when she saw us, she came barreling down the hill after us. No matter which way we turned she snaked behind right on our tails. We thought for sure she was going to catch us and KILL us! We ran for our lives and bolted through the fence rails just as she was about to catch us. But when she got to the fence, it appeared that she was in fact happy to see my dad, despite how antagonistic she appeared to my brother and me. He had her trained to rub her muzzle on his cheek when he asked her to “give him a kiss,” and she happily obliged when he asked her on this occasion. It was the last time we visited her, and although I really liked that mare, I was glad we didn’t have to go through the chase ever again. Whew…my heart still beats fast in my chest when I think about it and I can almost feel her breath on the back of my neck to this day. I’ve got other, perhaps more harrowing tales with horses, but I was never more scared of a horse in my life as I was that day running for my life down that hill. If you ask him, I think my brother will attest to the same.
For the Love of a Horse
I am so very blessed to have been given a legacy of the love of horses and the ability to communicate with animals. When my dad speaks of his mother saying that it’s easy to handle a horse when you know how, I get it! My grandmother and parents taught me how to communicate non-verbally with all of our animals and that knowledge transcended simply training them. A phrase my dad used while working with me and the horses was, “Horses and kids – it’s all the same. If you can raise a horse you can raise a child.” I took that to heart and I’d like to think that it was valuable information which aided my parenting skills. But before I was a mom, my horse Sugar was my child, my best friend, and my soul mate. When everything else in my world went wrong, my horse would always be there to make it better.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my mother is an accomplished horsewoman herself and she spent countless hours helping me train the new foals on the farm and breaking the horses. She too has her own stories of how horses were the saving grace in her life. Long before I did the same, my mom, being troubled and not able to sleep, would go to the barn in the middle of the night and grab her horse for moonlight ride. I find it humorous and fitting that I sought solace in the same exact way.
Growing up on the farm with a barn full of noble creatures at my beck and call was an enviable position and I can’t imagine how different my life would have been without horses. It’s a shame that we’ve come so far in our civilization that these beautiful companions have been relegated to either occupying a place in history or their company is only enjoyed by a select few. They could teach us all so much about life, love, and loyalty, and their mere presence is therapy enough to give us the courage to face life and tackle our mental, spiritual, and physical foes.
The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears. ~Arabian Proverb
 My dad was born in January of 1933 and he and his family moved to the farm (the same farm I grew up on) in 1944. He was 11 when he got Highboy in 1944 shortly after moving to the farm, despite his telling that he was 13 in the story. He is about 6 months younger than his cousin who he also tells is 13. But after confirming the details in a phone conversation on 02/09/13, my dad and mom agreed that Steve must have been 11 at the time of acquiring Highboy and not 13 as he wrote, which means that his cousin was probably 12 and not 13 either. Steve must have written the story at age 13 which would make sense given that the horse had matured at least two years during the course of events he described. This time frame works out as my mom is certain Highboy was put down in the spring of 1966 which would make Highboy 22 years old at the time of his death. And that rings true to both of my parent’s recollection.
 Another of my dad’s cousins lived in Pennsylvania and raised Standardbred horses. One of his mares had been bred by a Morgan stallion and Highboy was the resulting foal. And there was a reason his aunt and her family were a bit scared of Highboy even though he was just a young colt. He had reared up and struck his aunt’s husband in the head and they had wanted to get rid of the horse after that incident.
 The truth of the matter is that the horse was named Highball, after the alcoholic mixed drink. My dad strongly disliked that name and had a devil of a time convincing his father that he had to change it. They finally came to an agreement and the name Highboy was settled upon.
 My grandmother had a gift of communicating with animals. She could seemingly talk to any animal she came across and I recall many instances where she would have wild creatures eating out of her hands. She took the time to observe their body language and respond to them in ways they understood, and she was patient beyond measure. Several of us have inherited her gift and have benefitted from her mentoring, but she was truly was The Queen of the Animal Kingdom.
 My grandfather traded a tag-a-long trailer for the colt is how my dad’s family came to acquire him.
 I asked my dad to tell me about some of the tricks he had taught Highboy as that was such an integral part of the early pages of the story. He said that he taught him to shake hands, kneel, lie down, sit up, and stand back up. While the horse was lying prone on the ground, my dad would back up several paces, run at him, place his hands on Highboy’s body, and doing a handspring flip over him and land on his feet on the other side. This was a favorite trick among the neighborhood kids in town. He also taught him to answer yes or no questions. To teach him that particular trick my dad had to prick Highboy in the chest with a pin. Highboy would bend his nose to his chest to rub it as if he had been bitten by a horsefly. After some time of repeating this he got so that my dad would only have to make a motion towards his chest and he would nod his head in a “yes” fashion. Similarly, my dad would take the pin and prick him between his ears and Highboy would shake his head as if to shake off a biting fly. Again, after he was trained my dad just had to make a slight motion towards his head to get him to shake his head “No.” My dad’s very close friend helped him and together they taught both their horses to do all kinds of tricks. I believe one of them was putting them both on a teeter totter together, but they stopped doing that one for fear of hurting the horses as Highboy had slipped off the board a couple of times. They took their horses to perform at schools and other local events and the kids would love to ask Highboy questions and get his yes or no answers. If the children got a yes or no response they weren’t expecting, my dad would quickly reply that Highboy didn’t understand the question and they needed to ask it again. And this time he would come up with the right response much to everyone’s delight.
 My dad also told me more of the story surrounding his first “ride” on Highboy. His father slapped highboy on the rear which launched him on the runaway ride. They ran down the hill, across the road and continued down to the creek on the other side. The creek wasn’t as deep as it is today but it was still quite deep. The reason they came to a stop is that Highboy couldn’t jump out of the creek and slammed his chest into the side of the creek bed. This sent my dad over his head and landed him on the ground.
 I’ve been raised around a lot of horses with my dad and mom, but my dad maintains that Highboy was by far the smartest horse he ever knew. My dad could take Highboy to the horse shows and never had to worry about him being a stallion around mares. Even when a mare was in heat all he had to do was whistle and Highboy would always come right to him. Apparently though, he was also the craftiest horse he’d ever known. Highboy would chase someone down in a heartbeat and he just knew a non-horse person when he came across one. My uncle, who was chased in the story, was apparently a constant target of Highboy’s and he was chased quite often. My mom recalls a few incidences when Highboy was being devilish. One time they were fixing fence and my dad set a hammer on top of a fence post and Highboy took the hammer right off the post and ran off with it. Another time my dad set down his shirt and either the dog, Samson, or Highboy picked it up. One thing led to another and shortly the two were playing tug of war, each with the shirt in their teeth, which culminated in Highboy lifting the dog off the ground while spinning around in circles.
 It is very important to note that this story is written from an inexperienced boy’s perspective and that he didn’t ever really “beat” his horse in a manner in which would be considered harmful or abusive. My father has long since gained knowledge and understanding of how to communicate with and train horses that don’t require hitting, beating, or other methods of intimidation. He would be mortified if the only impression left after reading his essay is that he understood little more of horse training than physical violence and brute force. Horses are highly intelligent creatures with feelings and are quite capable of understanding what we ask of them if we ask in a manner they can comprehend.
 The mare was a large, gentle work horse; perhaps a Percheron, named Mary. She had actually been pregnant with twins and gave birth to a filly and the remains of the twin were found in the afterbirth. Highboy had also been kept for stud purposes and besides the horses on the farm I remember, there were plenty of his offspring spread around the community. Through them, I know he lives on today.
“…and Kirchstein’s final look, a fiery dress, was a showstopper.”
WHAT WHAT? HOLY COW!!! The reviewer was talking about the dress I was modeling!! Whoo hoo – I wore a showstopper!! Let me tell you, hitting the catwalk to sounds of cheers and cameras flashing is a pretty heady feeling and but to see the accolades in print is out of this world. Not bad for an old lady who JUST started this modeling thing! OK, not old, but middle aged. Just goes to prove that you’re never too old to try something new! I’m so excited to be part of a world that traditionally doesn’t recognize women if they aren’t 17 years old, skyscraper height and rail thin. I do believe that there’s room for REAL women in the modeling world after all and I’m living proof!!
Last weekend I was so very blessed to be asked to walk a runway show for the “Fashion a Better World” event at Top of the Hill Distillery in Chapel Hill, NC. It featured women entrepreneurs in North Carolina focused on sustainable fashion whose aim is to encourage artistic minds to bloom where they are planted, creating an ecosystem of creativity within North Carolina. Brooks Bell, entrepreneur and champion of women-led businesses, was the keynote speaker. They also featured a surprise celebrity guest which you can read about here. The event was sponsored by UNC as part of Global Entrepreneurship week, along with Triangle organizations, to give designers a platform to talk about the significance of their work and promote the growth of the fashion industry in NC.
I modeled for the fabulous Kim Kirchstein of Leopold Designs who is not only an amazing artist but she is one of the sweetest, most down to earth people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I’m proud to call her my friend! Check out the UNREAL dress I got to wear. It’s actually 108″ x 45″ of hand-batik silk, with wet-into-wet dye and brushed-on wax strokes which create the soft textures in this design. Kim tied it around me in what she called “the pantsuit” tie. The feeling of silk enveloping my body was heavenly and then to wear it down the runway was just icing on the cake! Read this awesome review from Scope Magazine and the wonderful blog from Pretty Little Snipets to find out more more about all the brilliant designers and how incredible the night was. BRAVO to everyone and a special thanks to Symbology for hosting the event!Details
I constantly post on facebook or twitter about my grain free living but rarely do I take the time to post recipes of what I eat in place of all those poisonous grains. Today I’m going change that. I will share an amazing ginger lime veggie bake I just whipped up on a whim this afternoon but first,
Grain free eating and living is a way of life for me. It has to be! Grains are poison to my body and most likely they could be to yours too. But when people turn up their nose at the thought of not being able to eat pizza or give me the sad puppy eyes of pity, I just laugh to myself. They have NO IDEA how well I eat or how tasty my food is! My husband and best friend have been lucky enough to experience my cooking and they will tell you – it can be restaurant quality AMAZING!
This week my husband has voluntarily chosen to give up grains for one week to see how it makes him feel so I’ve had to think a bit more creatively to keep his interest. He’s on day 4 and hasn’t cheated or felt deprived; on the contrary he’s LOVING IT! So far so good… Today I offered to make some roast vegetables for him since we totally pigged out on eggs and grass fed pork sausage from our local farmer’s market yesterday, but I wanted to change up my usual veggie bake. Normally I throw some veggies in a casserole dish, drizzle them with olive oil and shake some Italian spices over them and let them bake for about an hour. Walking around the grocery store on my lunch break, I had a stoke of brilliance! I was going to make a ginger lime Oriental flavored dish…but I didn’t know how. But how hard could it be? All I needed was ginger, lime, and veggies right? Easy! Well, I got a bit more creative than that and I’m glad I did. The results were worth it.
Now “Recipe” is a VERY loose term in my world. Keep in mind that I don’t have a culinary degree and I don’t measure. I just wing it but I usually make out OK. You’ll have to be brave and trust yourself to add just the right amount of spices and ingredients if you choose to replicate my creations. I rarely replicate them myself!
1 sweet onion – cut up
1/2 bulb of garlic – peeled & pressed
2 red bell peppers – cut up
2-3 heads of broccoli – cut up
1 bunch of asparagus – woody ends cut off
sliced raw almonds
red pepper flakes
coarse ground black pepper
1/2 cup or more olive oil
Saute the onions and garlic in a frying pan with some olive oil until soft and a bit caramelized. Place the broccoli and red peppers in a casserole dish and add the onions and garlic. Place the asparagus on top of the other veggies, keeping them all lined up in one direction (I don’t know what that does for the flavor but it keeps my OCD from spazzing out!). Sprinkle plenty of sliced almonds on the top. Mix together in a bowl about 1/2 cup olive oil, and the spices – I cannot begin to tell you how much; I don’t measure remember?!. Squeeze the juice from the lime into the mixture and then zest the lime over the veggies. Pour the oil/spice mixture over the veggies. Place in a 350 degree oven for about an hour.
My husband RAVED over this dish and I honestly was pretty impressed with myself too. I imagine a few sesame seeds would be a tasty addition too. So if you try it yourself, you’ll have to let me know how it turns out!
As for me… I’m stuffed! Where’s my glass of wine….
The professional shots are starting to roll in and you can see some incredible shots of all the fashion and models! I have to say though, I’m especially partial to the designer I walked for: Margo Scott of Rocket Betty Designs! She has a Facebook page too!
If you have any Redress Raleigh sightings, then by all means post them in a comment here! I’ll post more links as I find them too.
- Thank you to Elizabeth Galecke Photography on Facebook for the featured image on this post! Go see the rest of her shots on her facebook page here: Elizabeth Galecke Photography Redress Raleigh Album or go visit her website at www.elizabethgalecke.com
- SimplyDPhoto.com website
- Facebook photo album by Qlint Chesney
- Michelle Smith’s blog
- Artery Blog in the Independent Weekly
- NC Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research Center Grand Opening photos on Facebook
- WKNC 88.1 Blog
- Sarajane Case Photography
- Side Yard Studios slideshow
- New & Well blog
Sitting in the barber chair, I felt my head get significantly lighter as the barber snipped away my long tresses. It was a liberating feeling! It was like something intangible was lifted away along with the weight of the hair. I couldn’t help feel a tiny little bit of remorse though for what I had just done when I gazed down at the pile of freshly shorn locks that used to be attached to my head. Yet at the same time I felt giddy with a sense of daring bravery – like I had just broken out of prison. I had spent the majority of my life adorned by, enveloped by, and defined by long curtains of hair. I loved my long hair. I still do. And it will be back. But for now, it’s fun to be sporting a sassy crop of spikes haloing my face.
So the burning question on everyone’s lips these days is, “Why in the world did you do it?” (I bet some people think I’m having a midlife crisis.) As to the short hair, there seems to be two camps of opinion out there. Some people can’t fathom that I got rid of such pretty long hair and think I’ve made a huge mistake. Other people think it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve gotten lots of compliments and the majority of them center around the phrase, “you look so much younger.” THAT, I find extremely humorous. After reading the rest of this, you will too.
Alright, so is it a midlife crisis? In a way, yes. But not in the traditional sense. I am 45 years old and that most certainly qualifies me as middle-aged. I can see and feel the signs of an aging body, face, and hair every time I look in the mirror or tackle a set of stairs. My children are grown up; my daughter is married and my son has graduated from college. I am getting older and it’s a reality. When I look back at pictures of my former, youthful self, I see and recall a crowning glory of long, vibrant, silky, full-bodied hair – dark brown with red and gold highlights. It was a thing of beauty which never failed to garner attention.
But in my mid 30s I discovered (oh the horror) a few nasty, wiry, silver hairs poking up through my luscious strands like a gleaming pitch fork tines. Um…WHAT? This couldn’t be happening to ME! So I plucked them . . . and they re-grew . . . and apparently multiplied. (Word to the wise – plucking gray hairs is like dowsing water on your Mogwai – see, I told you I was old – you are too if you get that reference) So one day, I did the unthinkable – broke down and bought a couple of boxes of hair color. “This is it,” I thought, “say goodbye to the beautiful hair forever.” I actually cried. The thought of having to color ALL of my hair when all I wanted to do was cover up a few gray strands killed me. I still had TONS of beautiful locks! But I took a deep breath, wiped away the tears, and did it. And for the last 10 years I’ve been doing it. At first I could get away with going 3-5 months without re-coloring it. Over the past decade that time has diminished to its current range of about 3 weeks between colorings.
Over the last several weeks I’ve had a revelation. Life is short – and no, that’s not the revelation – I’ve known that for a while. What I mean is, our lives can be defined in 5 (yes FIVE) 20 year phases:
- youth/school aged = birth-20
- young adulthood = 20-40
- middle-aged = 40-60
- senior = 60-80
- elderly = 80-100
That’s it. Only 5. I’ve lived and enjoyed the heck out of the first two phases but suddenly I find myself in the third phase. Five years into the third phase at that. I only have 2 more phases after this one (if I’m lucky)!!
Revelation – I WANT TO LIVE while I’m alive (Thank you Bon Jovi for those words of wisdom)! I embraced the first two phases with gusto and made the most of them and I want to do the same with this one, and the one after and the one after that. I don’t want to wake up when I’m 60 and wonder why the heck I wasted what could have been the most vibrant phase of my life in denial and pretending I was still living in the previous phase; desperately clinging to it like I was hanging from a rope over the edge of the Grand Canyon.
God, in his infinite wisdom gave us a graceful transition to the last two phases – not an abrupt screeching halt. We do that to ourselves. Why on earth don’t we just allow ourselves to age gracefully and embrace every moment of who we are? I for one do NOT want to wake up one day and suddenly be a wrinkly, gray-haired, little old lady and have arrived there as if a train smashed into a concrete wall. I want to make a gradual change and welcome the new beauty in my body, face, and hair, at every age. We only get one chance to live our lives. I don’t want to live mine as a lie. I’ve blown almost 10 years of it already in denial. I’m not going to waste once second more!
So back to the burning question, “what’s up with the hair?” Well, I’ve had it. I’m done! No more hair color for me!! I want my crowning glory back in whatever color and texture it happens to be. After several weeks of investigating my options, it appeared to me that the fastest way to accomplish my goal would be to cut off all my hair and let it re-grow. I’m far too impatient and frugal to spend the next several years trying to highlight, lowlight, tweak, or whatever-it-is-they-do to my hair to mask the line of color growth. So off it came.
THAT was phase 1. Phase 2 is the color change you’ve all been guessing at, but now you know it’s not what you thought it would be. Growing and snipping away the old color will take several months to accomplish, but my hair grows fast so it won’t be a long wait. I can already see real hair! Phase 3 is the re-growth to restore those long tresses to a new-found beauty. That will surely be the longest phase but one I’m going to have a lot of fun with. There will be lots of great hairstyles to play with along the way.
Hopefully my journey of hair transformation will inspire other people (especially women) to grab hold of life and live it to the fullest. My advice: embrace who you are and where you are – right now! Don’t live in the past and don’t live for the future. You’re missing out on LIFE if you do either.
Colleen Ann Guest
September 14, 2011
Phase 1 complete . . . Phase 2 underway . . .