More Than Surviving

I just received a new follower to my blog, and when the notice came to my inbox, I admit I was super pleased!  My little blog is still alive and kicking even though I’ve neglected it in the worst of ways for the past three months.  Oh, my gosh, and WordPress has changed things, too.  At first I shuddered, but now I appreciate how easy it is to maneuver!

In addition to the other fall festivities, I moved Chief to a new home where I can spend more time with him!

This was my first harvest working in my new role as a vineyard technician, and thus, my first harvest running what is affectionately called “The Sugar Shack” where we test all of the grapes for their acid and sugar levels prior to being picked.  Yes…ALL OF THE GRAPES, covering approximately 1,600 acres plus of fruit over 12 ranches, traversing the rows via quads and trucks to pick and crush bucket-fulls by the dozens each day for two solid months.  And, with record breaking heat, many of those days were spent in triple digit temps-unheard of for the Central Coast.

I never get tired of harvest.  Ever.

In conjunction with harvest, this year my daughter joined AYSO soccer for the first time as a newbie U-12.  One of my dearest barn buddies offered to coach her team and take her to practices, so how on earth could I say “No”???  Every single Saturday from August through November I played the soccer mom role, and also ended up being the steadfast snack bar gal before several games, as no other parent stepped up to help.  Maycee LOVED playing soccer, and while I LOVED that she LOVED it, the season seemed never-ending, and lord knows I was one tired mom.

First-time soccer kid!

Through this busy-ness I realized something very important, however.  No longer was I simply surviving my life.  No longer was I so exhausted (at least not 24/7) that I couldn’t enjoy the harvest or enjoy the Saturday soccer games.  Once upon an earlier time, say about five years ago, this was not the case.  I often began each morning dreading the hours ahead, sometimes feeling as if my feet were made of lead, and putting one in front of the other appeared fruitless for the catastrophes to come.

Harvest was a blast being in and around all of the hustle and bustle for the first time, and soccer was a budding new experience (for both me and Maycee).  Balance was fleeting during the past few months, but as the dust settled, the balance returned.

Patience.

In a chaotic world in a country that thrives on instant gratification, the history of my single mom years has proven that patience and perseverance are key.  The old addage, “Good things happen to those who wait.” rings true.  Sure, rough things happen, as well.  But, this is the seesaw of living.  Keeping the faith when the mountain seems insurmountable is crucial.  I know, and we all know, that life can change on a dime.  Never once did self-pity project me forward into positive outcome.

I took this photo while I was filling my car with gas.  Here these ducks were, waiting patiently.  Not sure for what, but, nonetheless….

I’m a single mother.  I’ve been a single mom since 2008.  I didn’t want to be a single mom.  I didn’t choose this path, but it was laid before me.  In the beginning I fought it, about a third of the way in (to present) I truly surrendered.  Now I look back and feel gratitude for the struggle, for the scary moments, for the strength that came from nowhere, for each piece arrived me here today.  Those who helped me along the way gave me hope and heart not only for my own situation but for humanity.

When it feels like you’re hitting a wall, all it means is you need to change direction.

And, to those who said, “You can’t do this (to many different this’s)!” I retorted, “Yes, I can!”  I did and I will.

So, thank you to all who read here and to my latest follower who inspired me to share once again.

Remember: life is short, and time is a-wastin’, so give a chuckle and don’t give up!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

 

Pop Tarts & Coffee

I guess I could have titled this post “Candy & Soda Pop”, too.

Hiya, All!

I have a post waiting in the wings (actually, on my laptop waiting to be moved to a flash drive so I can put it on here) that explains where I’ve been the past couple of months.

To preface, I have been diligently scouting the vineyards as we inch closer and closer to harvest.  This job change has been the best thing I could have asked for and received at this juncture in my life.  Being outside on a regular basis and in and amongst nature has fulfilled me in a way I never could have imagined had the Universe suggested it personally many moons ago.

My “office”.

But, on top of being one busy single mom working two physically demanding (at times) jobs, I’ve had quite a few thoughts rolling through my mind that I figured I would share just because I can.

For instance, Maycee is growing up too fast.  TOO FAST.  She is testing make-up as soon as I turn my back, she prefers “laying out” to building sand castles on the beach.  She would rather stay home during summer break than go to the B & G Club and play “kiddie” games.  And, she is asking me way too many grown-uppy questions that make me want to crawl into a rabbit hole, even though I woman-up and answer them because it’s important to be open about these things.  Oh, and let’s not forget Instagramming and the fact that she receives requests from boys that were “just friends” last year in good ol’ 5th grade who now would like her to QUOTE-UNQUOTE date them because they will be entering 6th grade soon.  You know what that means?  If you do, please message me because I don’t see the difference from two months of summer, darn it.

Okay, the good news I’ve been pondering related to the previous paragraph is this: my budding pre-teen has informed me she is grateful her mom has had a crappy life when it comes to men! Ha!  Not that she is glad her mom endured a lot of heartache, but she IS glad I’ve shared everything from my past (to a degree) with her so that she knows not to make the same mistakes.  Back pedal, back pedal, back pedal.  Truth be told, I am an open book for a reason, and the reason is crystal clear based upon these rapidly developing situations.  She also has informed me that she thinks “dating” in grade school is “stupid” (agreed), and while she likes boys, she is not interested in following this peer-pressure-induced concept.

*Proud mom smiles.*

That’s right, honey, you just focus on your horse and all those ribbons!

Speaking of my crappy love-life, in a mind-blowing weak moment back in late spring I decided to re-open my Match account.  What was I thinking?!?!?!  Two years later, two years older, and one short-haircut into newfound freedom here’s what I’ve experienced: tragic humiliation with a capital HHHHHH.  Let me be clear that if it were not for the wonderful [married] male friends I have who prove that decent men exist on the planet, I would lose complete faith in the opposite sex.   Stomach-curdling only partially describes many of the profiles I’ve read.

Jimbob, 45-year-old man seeking 22-year old woman.  I’m athletic and toned and work out 8 days a week, consume 100 calories a day, and only drink to oblivion once in a while.  I’m not interested in a NSA (No Sex Allowed) relationship, so if that’s you-do not message me.  Oh, and speaking of messaging, because I am the most awesomest man on the planet, I’d rather we just meet in person and skip the messaging because if you are anything less than a Taylor Swift look-a-like, you are not worthy of my time.  Thanks, and best of luck, 40-something, short-haired single working mom-you’ll need it!

Match.com stinks.  Totally stinks. Half-way through my esteem-busting 3-month membership I stopped looking.  I had to remind myself of the definition of insanity…”Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”

My Match.com profile pic. Nope, no resemblance to Taylor. Shoot! Well, just bring me another Pop Tart, then!

 

SWM+Online Dating=Insanity.

Ahhhhh, back to my new old self, again.

Let’s focus on the actual love of my life.

You guessed it.

Chieeeeeef!

Yes, I have been loving my horse.   Loving, loving, loving!  I’ve taken to singing songs while I ride.   I think Chief likes it.  He seems to walk in time.  One of my favorite songs to sing is to the tune of Macho Man, only I sing Macho Chief.  You can hear me now, right?  “Ma-cho, ma-cho, Chief….You’ve got-ta be….a Macho Chief!”  Maycee is mortified when I do this, only making it that much sweeter.

We went horse camping and rode trails up rocks and the edge of mountains, and along (dry) riverbeds.  My kiddo and I are riding together, even.  TOGETHER.  Without discourse.  It has been exhilarating, and I have so much gratitude for the two horses we were given and for the riding journey we are traveling.  It is mind-boggling-at the very least- considering from where we came over the last several years.

I’ll be heading up Maycee’s 4-H Horse group this year, too.  Say what?! I know, I know…I don’t have enough on my plate, really.  And, the kid will be starting AYSO for the first time in August.  4-H leader and a soccer mom?  Goodie!  Maybe I’ll learn to referee the games just so I can wear one of the bright yellow referee outfits.  Hmmmm, that sounds like a grrrrreat idea!

So, I’m back in writing action for a little while in between bug hunting, checking grapes,  mucking stalls, and trying to get a little summer beach action.  Once harvest arrives, I will disappear again, but for now, I’m going to enjoy hitting the keys, eating Pop Tarts, and drinking coffee.

After all, I know I don’t have to worry about getting a date.

[Wink!]

Single and content. See that lady behind me? All I’m missing is the umbrella!

Life is short, folks, so be happy, sing a song, and don’t blink lest your 2-year-old becomes a soon-to-be 6th grader.

Love, hugs, and chuckles!

XOXO,

SWM

Many Titles….Horse Cookies

Each week I think about writing here many titles go through my mind.  I have lots of stories that also go through my mind that I would like to share, and these stories prompt titles. If only there was more time, of course.

I thought that I would write about my experience in church this past Sunday.  I was going to call the post “When in Church, I Cry”.  It doesn’t seem to matter how long I’ve been a Christian (and compared to many-not long at all), but when I enter a church-any church-I get emotional.  I can be in a good place, a bad place, or an indifferent place, but when I enter the sanctuary it happens.  The preacher may stink, but I still hear a message.  The music may not be “my style” but I still sing a song.  I may feel an outcast, but I know deep down I’m not.  My daughter has taken to watching me to see how long it takes before the tears start flowing…

I also thought I might write about the rain.  It’s falling now, right now, pouring in gushes and cleansing the earth.  We’ve needed it so badly, and I love listening to it.  Last night we had a huge wind storm as the rain came, and it was scary.  I envisioned the trees behind our house crashing down on the little Yellow Submarine, or the water lifting us up off the jacks and carrying us away down a newly formed river to another town.  Once Maycee was asleep I turned off the TV and just listened.  Snuggled up in a Christmas blanket on my tiny couch with the tree lit, I listened. The wind settled down, and the rain fell quietly as the night tick-tocked minute by minute. The title might have been….”Listen to the Rain”.

I enjoy my time to write as if I were a thief stealing a precious jewel and hoping no one notices.

Today I went to run an errand on my lunch break and found the grocery store to be closed due to a downed power line from the storm.  This changed my plan, so I ended up buying grain for the horses instead of Christmas cards for the family. In the store my favorite clerk, Liz,  was working.  Liz has known me since we rescued our horse Fancy.

She asked me how I was doing and if was surviving the holidays so far. I looked at her with a cringed face and muttered, “Kind of…”  I told her how when the holidays come my shoulders raise and I get so worried about how I’m going to keep up financially and still provide something nice for my kiddo under the tree.  I put on a happy face and hum along with the Christmas Carols, but inside my tummy churns until December 26th.  She said, “I know, I know.  My husband and I keep things real simple since it’s just the two of us.  We see what all of this (referring to the sale racks) does to people.”

I said that I try to do the same since it’s just me and Maycee, but it’s hard when I enter a store and find my eyes wandering, my hands touching, and my mind thinking “She’d like this” or “She’d like that” or “I wish I could just buy it!”  I have to stay focused and shop like a speed demon-in and out-to avoid collapsing under pressure.

I reminisced about how when I was married to her dad, and we had two incomes, buying gifts was never an issue.  Liz asked me, “And, how long ago was that?”  I answered, “Almost seven years ago, and it’s never been easy since.”

Liz looked at me, smiling.  She always has a twinkle about her.  Then she said, “You hold on here a minute.”  She walked away and grabbed a bag of horse cookies, my favorite brand, and said, “Here….give these to your daughter for her horse from me.  You’re such a nice person; you deserve it.”

And, here goes the title for this write.

I may not have time to blog about every thought that crosses my mind, but whenever I can share the kindness of another, human nature so rarely experienced amidst a world of chaos and commerce, I must.  It may be small to some, but it’s huge to me.

Horse Cookies.

Readers, I hope you enjoy the weekend ahead, and remember: life is short, so be happy, and give a chuckle.  Ho, ho, hooooooooo!

XOXO,

SWM

Of friends and friendship

Friend: a person who you like and enjoy being with

Chief, you can be my BFFAAF!

Chief, you can be my BFFAA!

I have had many different friends over the years.

When I was a little girl, I had one true friend, my BEST friend.  Back then we didn’t use acronyms like “BFF” or call each other “besties”.  We were simply spelled out: best friends.  Our parents were married (no, not to each other), we didn’t have to keep up with numerous sports or after-school activities, and our summers were spent at home doing “kid stuff”, eventually getting bored , and that was fun!  She lived next door to me, and we were the same age-well, six months apart, but in the same grade. We did just about everything together, and no matter which house we were playing at or in it was home.  We spent every Friday night having sleep overs.  We liked the same things: Barbies, playing house, drawing or coloring (although I enjoyed getting a little dirtier playing outside sometimes), and eating my mom’s homemade pizza.

Oh, the good ol’ days of stylish hats and glasses!

When my best friend’s dad got a job in another state we were in the 4th grade, and we were devastated.  Honestly, in grade school I was SUPER shy, and I had no idea how I was going to survive without her.  They moved, life changed, and that same year the grade school we attended, conveniently located at the end of our block, was closed, and I had to be driven several miles away to a new school.  No best friend to help ground me.  No friends, period.  Just a shy kid wishing she could disappear into the cracks and hide until it was all over.

Friends are the best!

My kid is NOT shy.  Friends are the best!

It took me many friendships to understand that they are sometimes fleeting, sometimes steadfast, but each one has a contribution to make in my life.  I used to get so upset when friends would stop being friends.  When they’d move onto someone new, or leave town, or turn into someone I didn’t know anymore.

As I grew older this ebb and flow of people into and out of my life got easier.  I was able to see the connection we all had in one way or another as the timeline moved along.  I could step outside of myself and watch the relationships as parts of a whole.  I think this began to happen about my mid-20’s when all of a sudden changing friends didn’t necessarily mean disappointment or hurt feelings.  It only meant “change”.

Grade school friends, long gone.  Junior high and high school friends, not far behind.  College comrades, co-workers, church friends saying, “We gotta get together!”, “Let’s keep in touch.”, “I’ll call you soon!”  I’m sure their intentions were real, or not–maybe it’s just what people say.  Even me.  But, either way, I knew that when one set of friends was heading to a new frontier, another set was on its way back into mine.  Certainly, I have maintained contact with some of my “old” friends–back in the day we used letter writing and phone calls, now we maintain with Facebook technology.  My best friend from childhood will always be my dearest BEST FRIEND.  We haven’t seen each other in several years now, but the bond is forever.

My best friend from childhood, my best friend for life. XO

Best friends all grown up and passing it on!  XO

Last year I opted to move away from one particular friendship that had become toxic.  Once ready, there was no fear, as I knew it was the right thing to do.  I’d say only a handful of times have I had to DECIDE to end a friendship for this reason.  Maybe not even a handful, maybe only a couple, one being when I got sober over 15 yeas ago.  It’s nice that situations typically have a way of handling themselves (providing I’m not the road block), but this one was lingering, and the longer I let it the worse it became.

It’s hard to consciously break away from someone you’ve grown to care about and love like family, but maturity and faith have given me the insight to take heed. It was even harder because this person was also our horse trainer-the only one we knew.

Not long after this decision I rescued Fancy, and I pride myself in this choice today.  Again, as I look back I see the connection.  I see a beautiful panorama of images showing me the transition from one part of my life to another.  One set of friends to another.  It’s so perfectly clear.

Tell me more...but can I have a treat first?

Chief says, “Tell me more…but can I have a treat first?

Recently we had a barbecue at the ranch along with a horsey play day for all to enjoy.  Everyone showed up, and we had 11 horses and riders in the arena together, cheering each other on as we each tried our hand at the obstacle courses laid out.  Fancy, I know, was up in heaven grazing on healthy green grass and looking down at us, celebrating the spirit of horses with our barn buddies and new horsey family of Chief and Star.

Fancy, we miss you but know you're happy!

Fancy, we miss you but know you’re happy!

The ebb and flow of friends and friendship brought us to this place.

As I rode Chief and observed the group my heart welled with gratitude for these wonderful women (and girls) who’ve become so important to us today.  Once new friends, some will pass, some will be forever like my best friend from childhood.  Either way, they are an important part of our journey-a piece of the puzzle what would be missing had not earlier lessons been learned and paths chosen.

I'm gonna win!

I’m gonna win!

Me n Denise 2

Almost ready to begin the games.

Good friends, great view!

Good friends, great view, while Maycee and the others practice their moves!

 

Chief & Star enjoying their goodies.

Chief & Star enjoying their goodies.

Enjoying pulled pork sandwich!

Pulled pork sandwiches-yum!

Chief, what do you think?

Until next time….now let’s ride!

 

Readers, blogging FRIENDS…do you have friendships that have lasted a lifetime as well as new friends who you cannot imagine having never known?  Please share!

And, as always, life is short, so grab a buddy and give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

 

Full Circle-Classic SWM

Chief the Ham

Right now, here, today, I’m breathing a little easier.  It’s nice to share that.  I don’t know how long it will last, and truthfully, it has no bearing on what is happening in this moment.  A moment when I am breathing easier.

Last week was a full week.  We began harvest, which in and of itself is enough.  Maycee also started school.  The 5th grade.  I CANNOT believe it!  She was super excited to return, which as a parent, is a blessing.  She loves her friends, loves learning, and loves the environment.  And, with her anxiety at an all time low, she is able to fully enjoy everything a new year brings.   I also celebrated a birthday and felt the warmth and kindness of family and friends who sent cards, Facebook messages, and gifts.  In addition to all of this, I welcomed a roommate into our home-a decision I’ve been toying with for a few years but never felt 100% sure about trying.  How would it affect Maycee and our world as we know it? I’ve been needing/wanting extra income, but was this a viable solution?

Maycee 5th Grade 2

Right now, here, today, I am in awe of the happenings within my life lately.  Single parenting isn’t for sissies.  A single parent takes on two jobs with one body.  Unless you are in a situation of 50/50 custody or have family next door to help out, (I’m not, and I don’t) the day-to-day stress builds up, naturally, and finding balance is a struggle.  I’ve said this before.  I’ve experienced both sides, married with child and single with child, and I can honestly attest that there are significant differences.

This past year has proven a turning point for me.  Turning points can happen at any time.  I believe they are the result of faith, persistence, and surrender.  They don’t necessarily happen at what are deemed to be milestones in life such as reaching  a certain age, graduating from school, getting the perfect job or perfect home, getting married.  No….turning points come when least expected-when we aren’t looking.

I’ve spent the last seven years as a single mom trying to stay afloat, trying to do what is best for my daughter under any circumstance, keeping one foot moving forward even when my ankles feel shackled.  As I watched (for the umpteenth time) a favorite movie of mine last night, Under the Tuscan Sun, one of the characters in the movie said, “Terrible ideas….don’t you just love those?”  It made me chuckle as I thought of all of the “terrible ideas” I’ve had.  Some have been truly terrible.  Others….not so much.

Rescuing Fancy was a not-so-smart idea for a SWM like me, and at the time, met with scrutiny by plenty of people, myself included.  But, when I went with that decision last year, it was a turning point.  After putting her down in March due to illness, the turning point continued until it came full circle. Rescuing Fancy, going with a “terrible idea”, allowed so many fruitful situations to occur in my life, and by “fruitful”, I don’t mean solely financial.

We began riding two horses, one of which was offered to Maycee to ride for free; the other one I lease.  Just a few weeks ago, the owner sold Star to Maycee for $1.00 because she could see they had bonded and felt it was the right thing to do.  Along with the horse sale came most of her tack and gear worth hundreds of dollars (probably more).  Generosity abounded, and the essence of “pay it forward” was defined! Of course, now I was going to be paying for two horses…A TERRIBLE IDEA for a SWM, right?  But, I knew I couldn’t let Maycee down.  I work off the board for my horse at the barn, so I just had to figure out a way to cover the second.

New horse owner, Maycee!

New horse owner, Maycee!

I put an ad on Craig’s List offering my master bedroom for rent,  and within hours I had multiple inquiries.  After a couple of days I talked to the woman who is now our roomy and knew she was the right fit.  She’s an honest hard-working young woman who is pursuing a career in pharmacy and just needs a cheap space to call “home” while she finishes up her credentials and begins a new job–relocating all the way from Chicago to California!  The much-needed income from renting out the room ensures I can afford two horses, while the cheap price helps this gal out.  Win-win.  Maycee loves having her, too!

All of the friends we’ve made from rescuing Fancy are more than we can count.  These friends help babysit for me when I have to be at work during the holidays or “extra” days off during the school year.  They’ve helped freely with our horses and been there to listen when I need to let off some steam. Our bestest barn-buddy, K, takes us trail riding, works with Maycee on her horsemanship, makes us laugh, and relieves some of the pressure I feel just by being there for us.  BALANCE.

Right now, here, today, I’m breathing a little easier because many prayers have been answered in a way I couldn’t have imagined.  It is neat to look back over the years and see things in hind sight, see the progression, the connection, and the turning point come full circle in its own time.  Waiting hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it.

Readers, life is short, so be happy, and take a chance on a “terrible idea”.  Your turning point may just be around the next corner!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

Into the Trees

Happiness

Sunday morning I awoke with anticipation.  All night long I was up and down, coming to, in and out of eyes closed, wondering what it would be like.  I didn’t have the stomach to eat breakfast once out of bed.  I showered , got my boots on, and grabbed a granola bar and an apple to take with me.  With no appetite, I ate the granola bar on the way simply because I knew I should.

At the barn I felt the excitement stirring within, and I couldn’t wait to see Chief.  We are bonding, he and I.  Everyone says we are made for each other, especially my daughter, and coming from her makes it all the more true.  (Kids have stellar intuition.)  He was finishing his breakfast when I approached.  Slowly he moved back, turned around, and then looked at me.  I held out my hand and said, “Come on, boy.  Today is a big day.”  Then, he approached bringing his nose right up to my palm for a loving scratch.

Chief and I are a lot alike.  He can be a leader when he needs to be, but is just as good of a follower.  He’s not aggressive and doesn’t like to argue unlike the mares that surround him.  He’s strong and stoic when protecting his fellows but also likes to be protected in return.  He’s experienced many things in his life but is also still teachable and always willing to learn.  He loves affection and returns it fully.  When his basic needs are met, he’s content; there are no games to be played or hoops to jump through so he “behaves”.  We speak each other’s language when we are together, and the longer this lasts, the stronger it will grow.

My friend and I saddled up our ponies-she, the well-traveled trail rider, and me, the single mom with horsey dreams.  As we ascended up the hill I’ve so often watched all the other barn gals do, waving good-bye and hollering, “Have a great ride!”  I felt like a child who finally gets to hang out with the grown-ups.  Everything was fresh and new: the asphalt street, the house with the noisy neighbors,  the fields–as if I’d never seen them before.  The “big girls” told me about the trails, told me how much fun they were and how much I’d love them once I went.

But, to be told a story is one thing….to live it is another.

Well, look at that!

Well, look at that!

We crested the hill above the barn, Athena, Chief’s sister, leading the way, and there it was….the trail head.  Like waters parting for Moses it felt like the field was parting for us.  The brush spread into two parallel sandy paths twisting and turning….a little to the left at first, then to the right, and to the left again.  The long wild grass tickled Chief’s nose, and he couldn’t resist grabbing a snack here and there as we entered into the trees…eucalyptus trees-nature’s towers.  Beautiful towers that majestically accepted us. “Welcome to our kingdom!”

As we walked along I gazed out into the surrounding palace.  Serenity hugged me tightly with each step, and voices hushed.  Slight rustling of leaves, a little breeze picking up in the treetops, and bird songs.  Over logs and through crevices Chief kept me safe with each step.  “Wow, this is so amazing!”  I couldn’t hold my wonder in any longer, and my friend answered, “Isn’t it, though!”  She knew, she already knew, and now, so did I.

At times I was nervous, at times I was mesmerized.  There were moments I had to stop and take deep breaths.  This wasn’t trail riding of the pay-your-way variety.  We were on our own with only the unexpected to expect.  I was proud to be riding Chief.  I was proud of myself.

About an hour later we were back at the trail head beginning our descent, and we came across two other riders from our barn, one of whom has become a good friend of mine.  “So, how was it? That is a pretty big smile on your face!”  And, it was.  If she could have seen the smile in my heart, it was even bigger.

Descending down the hill my partner exclaimed, “There’s the barn!  See?!  You did it!”

Needless to say, I let out a whopping, “Yahoo!” as Chief and I rounded into the barn alley.  More gals were out by then and were able to celebrate the “newest trail riding member” with us.

Once I pulled Chief’s tack I hugged him around his big ol’ neck , kissed his nose, and gave him a couple of carrots to show my appreciation.  He looked pretty darn proud of himself, too…

Yep, made for each other.

It may not seem like much to any of you who have ridden horses all your lives, but for someone who just began this journey three years ago with no horse knowledge in the least, it was super exciting!  Friends, it’s never too late to try something new.  It’s never too late to follow your dreams…to allow yourself childlike wonder.  So, chuckle a bit and answer me this….anyone up for a ride?

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

 

 

On my way to work

There is a little trip I like to take when I have some extra time in the morning on my way to work.  I usually take the longer drive when Maycee is visiting family down south since there are no school lunches to make, no “hurry-up, we’re gonna be late” agendas to keep. I look forward to this trip.  A trip along the back roads that twists and turns in and out of beauty. Farmland

And, as I drive I look around at the farms and ranches.  I dream of what I hope to have some day, probably after Maycee is grown, but one never knows: a little land of my own with a corral for the horses, some goats,  a big old dairy cow named Betty, a ranch dog with a bandana tied around his neck, some barn cats keeping the mice at bay, and a vegetable garden to make my own salads.

Ranches

I drive slower than normal when I take this trip.  I don’t look at the clock and think, “Gosh, only 5 more minutes until I make it!”  The ocean is just over the hill, and I’ll see it again tomorrow.  But, for today, I’m taking a trip.

Tree tunnel

I meander.  My mind doesn’t race.  I’m focused on my surroundings and the tranquility of it all.  Respite.

Greengate

Coming out of the tree tunnel and enjoying a few more turns I crest upon the first vineyard that we farm in the valley.  Freshly planted last year, the vines are already growing up.  I see the big restored barn, and the corners of my mouth automatically widen into a smile. My trip is almost over….but, not quite…

Greengate horsies

Gotta pull over and see the horsies before arriving at one of my homes away from home.

Vineyard

And, here we are! Traveling is a state of mind, not necessarily an expensive way of seeing the world.  I’m so grateful I get to take trips like these right where I live and feel like I’m on vacation within minutes.   I’m even more grateful for the destination that is my life.

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I haven’t posted in a month!  What the heck!?!  But, we’ve been battling illness in my house-the grueling chest cold that won’t go away.  Slowly, but surely, we’re both feeling better now.  Then, there was spring break.  And, as I explained in my post “Why I Believe in Taking Chances”, we had to put Fancy down.  I needed time to grieve.  Time to sort things out with God, once again.  To get to a place of peace and plant my feet on solid ground.

The circle of life has shown itself again.  There are two horses in need of some extra attention right at our own barn, and the owners have been gracious enough to let us ride them and “play” with them every chance we get. I’m still able to work at the barn, also, and keep our tack and supplies on hand.  I will begin leasing one of the horses starting in May, allowing me to get my checkbook back on track after all the vet bills have been paid.

I’ve also been reading the book “Heaven Is For Real” and feel convinced more than ever that I will see Fancy there, along with every other animal and human I’ve ever lost.  This has settled my heart.

So, Happy Spring everyone!  Happy Easter!  And, if you can, take a trip this week in your hometown.  Meander.  Dream.  And, when you see something sweet, give a chuckle.

XOXO, SWM

Fancy 111513

I’ll see you in Heaven, girl!

Why I believe in taking chances

We all take chances.  I mean, just stepping outside of the front door is taking a chance.  Every day there is the unexpected in life.  Nothing really is certain except that it’s UNcertain.

But, there are some of us who take contemplated chances.  We know the odds are against us…the outcome weighs more heavily on the negative than the positive, on the difficult rather than the easy, and opposing forces are screaming from the outside and within, “YOU SHOULDN’T DO THIS! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!”

I tend to be one of those souls.  I roll with my heart.  I believe in the maybe’s, the what if’s, the you never know’s, and the anything can happen’s.  Even when I get knocked down hard to the ground, eventually I make may way standing, the pain subsides a bit, and I become ready to face the next challenge or welcome the next opportunity.

I’ve been like this when it comes to romantic relationships, jobs, moving, even haircuts…Go ahead, cut it all off!  It’ll grow back if I don’t like it.  It’s only hair!

Taking chances can be costly. Costly financially, costly emotionally, and costly physically.  I’ve lost a lot because of my chance taking.  I know I have.  I’ve struggled because of it at times.  I’ve been down to pennies in my bank account and brought to my knees in heartbreak and devastation on my own accord.

But.

I’ve also lived.

I’ve also loved.

I’ve also learned things I would have never learned about myself and the world around me had I not taken those chances.

I’ve thrived on the rhythmic pitter-patter of an adrenaline-prone decision made with a quick “let’s do this!”

My first year in high school I went to a football game and ended up sitting next to the drum line in the stands.  The cadences rumbled through my body, and my hands began to tap my knees in sync.  I had ALWAYS wanted to play the drums, and whenever I busted out my Go-Go’s albums I’d turn over the trash can in my room and grab two pencils as drumsticks and try to keep a beat with Gina Shock.  I had been taking piano lessons since age 7, and my dad told me that when I turned 14 I could try the drums.

I was with my best friend at the game, and I told her, “I want to do that!”  She looked back at me with a twisted mouth and raised eyebrow and sarcastically replied, “Good luck.  You’re not even in the band.”

Most drum lines consisted entirely of boys.  I started taking drum lessons and told my teacher my goal: to make the drum line at my school.  He gave me every chop-building exercise he could and by my sophomore year I made it.  By my junior year I was lead snare drummer.  All because I took a chance.

Don't tell me "You can't do it!"

Don’t tell me “You can’t do it!”

This is only one of many, many examples in my life.

Many of you know I rescued a horse last September.  Fancy. She is the first horse I’ve owned after taking up riding along with my daughter three years ago.  She was for sale on Craig’s List, and I was only beginning to look around at horses-one that would fit the riding and confidence level of both of us.  I knew the risk was great in horse ownership, but the urging within me was strong.

Fancy was out in a field up in North County, and on what was supposed to be a super fun day meeting new horses and getting a feel for all this adventure entailed, we found her….starving and neglected…not what we expected.

I took a halter the crazy owner had on the fence and walked the horse out of the pasture.  I rubbed her dry and dusty coat with my hands.  I ran my hand down her blaze.  I stared into her eyes.  My daughter started to cry when she saw her.  I couldn’t hold back the tears, either. The friends who were with us, our trainer and her daughter, looked on, horrified, at the bones showing through the horse’s skin.

Her gaze haunted me as we left that afternoon.   I felt it was saying, “Don’t leave me.  I am so much more than what you see here.”  And, then the following week I took a chance.  I took a chance on Fancy.   Against just about every piece of advice from close family and friends, against the knowledge that my checking account balance wasn’t nearly what it should be for this task, against the odds running through my head that I could actually pull this off, and with my little one’s pleading that we couldn’t just leave Fancy there to die, with gusto and resolve, I exclaimed:

LET’S GO GET HER!

Totally worth it!

Fancy after 3 months of feeding, supplements, and love-Totally worth it!

Fancy was diagnosed with brain disease this past Friday.  We’ve been advised that we’ll need to put her down sooner than later.  It’s been a roller coast five months with Fancy re-gaining her health and weight and yet having seizures and other inexplicable neurological symptoms, despite being the best horse a single mom and her daughter could ever want-gentle and kind and loving.  Bringing Maycee out of some of her worst anxiety, building her confidence again in riding and bringing us both an immense amount of joy as we head to the barn every night to groom and feed OUR horse.

Joy in learning, joy in new friendships, joy in knowing we CAN do this horse ownership thing.

Just like the timid teenager who made drum line 25 years ago, this single mom will keep testing the odds and setting the example that life is too short to sit on the sidelines and watch.  There are times that despite what makes logical sense, it’s ingrained in some of us to act.

I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t been crushed by this recent news.  I’m not going to pretend I’m not sad and dreading what has to be done.  I’m not saying I haven’t questioned my decision and doubted myself and cursed God and wondered “why me, why us, why our horse, why now”?

However, when asked, “Would you do it again?”  My answer without hesitation is “yes”.

I believe in taking chances.  I believe in taking chances because even if the ending isn’t the happy one we hoped for, there’s a silver lining woven in every cloud.   If clouds take over the sky, more silver sparkles, shining ever so brightly if we look for it.  I need to remember this.

Fancy's 1st day with us-appropriately-eating lots of hay!

Fancy’s 1st day with us-appropriately eating lots of hay!

XOXO,

SWM

Musings of a 4th Grader

Never a dull moment when you're a parent!

Never a dull moment when you’re a parent!

“Mom?”

“Yes, Honey?”

“I feel sorry for Noe.  He doesn’t have a very good life.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.  He said that when you come pick me up from school you seem like such a fun mom.  Then he said, ‘All my mom ever does is spank me.'” (Sinking heart of mine.)

“Oh, that’s terrible!  Well,  unfortunately I think many more kids than we know have a rough home life.”

“Yeah.  And, sometimes he cusses at me and Pamela.”

“He does?”

“Yeah.  He calls us the “B” word.” (I restrain myself from looking startled at the notion.)

“Geez!  That’s no good.  Do you tell on him?”

“No.  I don’t.  I don’t take it personally because I know that he doesn’t have a good life.  He just does it to try to be cool.  It doesn’t bother me.  I just try to be nice to him.  I feel really sorry for him.”

(Smiling inside at my daughter’s compassion.)”That is a wonderful way to look at it, Maycee.  Really.  We never know what people are going through who act out against us.”

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“All my friends think you are nice, Mom. And pretty.  Pamela says you look like you’re 29!”

(Twenty-nine is good.   I might have been insulted if she’s said 30. Wink.)

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“I hate P.E.  It is SO unfair!  They make us run in the heat and the sun!”

“Well, no one can control the weather, Honey.  And, you have to do P.E.  It’s a necessary part of school, even though I know you don’t like it.”

“Well, it’s NOT FAIR, and I mean it!  All the teachers just yell at us to, ‘Do this!  Do That!’ and then they sit around and watch us and don’t do anything themselves!”

“When you get into high school you can get out of it.”

“How?”

“You can join a sports team, or do marching band, or some other physical activity like I did.  I played on the drum line, and therefore I didn’t have to do P.E.  It was great!”

“Do they have team roping in high school?”

(And, all the cowgirl mamas in the crowd yelled, “Yeehaw! Go get ’em Maycee!)

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“Wow, gas has gone down quite a bit.  Thank goodness!” (Mommy sigh.)

“How much?” (Maycee chomping on carrots and ranch dressing.)

“Well, it’s like $40 to fill up a tank.”

“Forty dollars??!!   I thought it was only 50 cents!!”

“Fifty cents a gallon?”

“NO! Fifty cents for the whole thing!”

(Oh, child.  I wish.)

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“MOOOOOOM!” (Loud, obnoxious scolding cry.)

“What?!”

“Stop crinkling the grain bag!  Fancy almost stepped on me!”

“Sorry, Maycee, but I had to put the new grain bag in the bin.  She has to get used to hearing the sound and not thinking she’s getting fed anyways.  Oh, and by the way, we need to reduce her feed to one big scoop instead of two.”

“Why?”

“Because she’s got enough of a belly now.”

(I offer Fancy another carrot.)

“Then WHY are you giving her so many treats?!”

(Got me there.)

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And, my all time favorite from the archives of a couple of years ago:

(Listening to Taylor Swift’s album, Red, that Maycee got for Christmas and fiddling around in her room.)

“Do you like Taylor Swift’s songs, Mommy?”

“Sure.  They’re pretty good.  Especially the one that says, “And, We are NEVER, EVER, EVER getting back together!” (The words I uttered to a previous boyfriend when he suggested we take yet another “break”.)

“Taylor Swift is just like you, Mommy!  She can’t find the right man either!”

(Ouch.  So glad that’s in the past!)

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Have a wonderful weekend Readers!  Remember: Life is short, so be happy, and give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

Listen

I’m 40.  I need to say this (okay, write this) out loud (on the computer) because lately I’ve been eluding myself that I’m “that age”.  Not that I honestly think about it often or anything like that, but certainly, sometimes I do.  40. It seems like only yesterday I was 10 years old and had a plan….to be a “garden worker” (aka, gardener).  I didn’t want children, didn’t want to get married (I mean, after going through a nasty divorce with my folks, didn’t seem worth the try).  I just wanted to work outside in the yard with my pets.  Simple, huh?

Then came 6th grade, and I upped my ante to “teacher”.  I wanted to become a teacher because my 6th grade teacher roomed with Medusa.  She was scary, she was mean, and we shared the same last name, “Clark”, oh, and she dated my dad a few times.  Yuck.  No teacher should ever date her student’s dad, unless he’s not MY dad, and unless the teacher is super COOL.  Mine wasn’t, so in order to make the world a better place with less mean and devilish teachers I decided I’d become one myself.  Age 11, I had a plan.  Still no marriages, still no kids, just teach and live my life.

40.  Obviously, plans change.  And, change. And, change again.  Over and over and over.  I’m not a teacher; I’m an admin assistant for a vineyard management company, and I love my work.  I’m also not married, but I have been, more than once, and I’ve learned my lesson.   I have a daughter, and I can’t imagine my life without her, ever.  And, my life is anything but simple, pretty much like the rest of the world.

This past Friday I celebrated 15 years clean and sober.  No need to go into my history…you can enjoy early blog posts if you want to catch up a bit.  Please do!  But, 15 seems strange because it was at 15 my drinking truly became a problem, and not only did my life’s plan change, the options did, also.  I’m grateful I’m sober today.  I’m grateful my daughter has never seen me drunk.  I’m grateful I have a slight fear of ever taking a drink again…a healthy fear.  I’m grateful I enjoy life with a clear mind and a clean heart because for me, sober is the only way I can do that. So, now at 15 I begin anew and apart from who I was at my first 15.  Pretty darn awesome!

40.  One thing about celebrating sobriety birthdays is I tend to reflect.  More-so than my belly button birthday I think about what I was like before, the choices I made, the behavior I displayed, and the constant turmoil I felt every time things got out of hand.  A co-worker of mine offered me 2 bottles of wine last Friday because he had an abundance given to him this past Christmas. Ironic? Sure it was.  I reminded him that I don’t drink, and he said, “Really?”  Obviously this tells you that I can act just as ridiculous as the next girl at a party with or without being intoxicated, ha, ha. (Love it!)  Then he said, “Well, it’s over-rated anyways.”  Interesting.  I thought about his comment, and I shared his sentiment.   As the day went on I felt immense joy fill my heart. 15.

I’ve learned to listen a bit.  I’ve learned to listen to my gut, my heart, and my own mind, but I’ve also learned to listen to those who’ve gone before me.  Those whom I trust.  Those whose intentions are not self-seeking but rather knowledgeable and caring.  It was in my early days of sobriety I believe this transformation began.  Instead of doing everything my way no matter what (look where it got me) I had to rely on the suggestions of others to make it through one day at a time without drinking.  I held on for dear life.  I went breath by breath, moment by moment sometimes waiting through the nerves and the discomfort as if every hour was filled with 120 minutes instead of 60. And, I realized it pays to listen.  It pays even bigger to follow what is laid before me from the right folks with the right intentions-my mom, my closest friends, my boss.  I don’t always do it, of course, but when I do I find more times than not these wiserthanI people are right!

I got a call from my kiddo Thursday who was down south visiting Grandma and then going to her dad’s for the remainder of the weekend.  She’d been gone the entire week-only the second time we’ve done this, and for the same reason: lack of childcare during winter break.  She was upset and crying and said she missed me and wanted to come home.  Now, she did miss me, this is true, and I know she wanted to come home. But, truthfully, she was also upset because Grandma had put her foot down about a certain situation, and Maycee didn’t like it.  I texted her dad, “Maycee’s having a rough time.  Might need to get her early this weekend.”  Then, I told my boss about the call.  She said emphatically, “She’ll be fine.  You don’t need to rescue her!  You need to enjoy this last bit of Kasey time. Ride your horse tomorrow-alone.  Don’t go get her early. She can handle it, and her dad can handle it.”

I went home that night and thought it over.  I called Maycee and talked to her only to hear the sadness entirely gone from her voice.  “I don’t think I can get you early, Sweetie.  You have the birthday party to go to with your dad, and it’s at 5:00 on Saturday.”  “That’s okay, Mama (chewing in my ear as she had her dinner), I’ll be fine!  I’m better now.”  My boss said she’ll be fine…I trust my boss…she has been where I am.  Her dad texted me, “You can get her early on Sunday, otherwise, we’ll be fine this weekend.”  The confidence in his voice affirmed his words.  I listened. FINE, FINE, and FINE.  Well, okay, then!  Three “fines” makes an A-Okay in my book!

At 40 and 15 what’s the new plan??? To keep doing what I’ve been doing.  To keep working towards the simplicity desired in my childhood years.  To be open to change because it’s always waiting; it’s the only thing that is guaranteed.  And, to keep listening and following when I know it’s the right thing to do.  The results speak for themselves.

And ride!

Fancy says, “And, to ride! Don’t forget to ride, Mom!”

Life is short, Readers.  Listen carefully, be happy, and always, always give a chuckle!

XOXO-SWM