Tuesday, December 24, 2013

.A Tale Of Two Sams.

Christmas is not a great time in our family. All of the holidays are rough, but it seems like Christmas is the worst. We decorate, we shop, we cook a big dinner, we open presents, laugh, and, on the outside, it appears that all is well in our world. But on the inside, there's a big hole in all of our hearts.

Four years ago last September, we lost my uncle Sam. It was unexpected, the last thing anyone ever expects. He was the very glue that held our family together and, since his passing, it's as if the distance between everyone is exponentially and irrevocably greater even though geographically we're all in the same place we were on that very day; the nucleus which the close-knit cell that we revolved around died, and so the cell died with it.

For the first couple of years we didn't even bother to celebrate the holidays. My grandma just couldn't bear the thought of purposefully celebrating anything without her youngest child there. And even when we did begin to put effort into marking special days, it was more for form than because there was any joy in it. It's been hard. But do things like that ever get truly easier?

This year, though, I'm feeling differently about things. I can't speak for the rest of my family (my mom or my grandma, I should say, as the rest are so far removed), but for the first time in four years I'm looking forward to tomorrow, to Christmas day. That's because today, Christmas Eve, I saw my almost-ready-to-be-born son on an ultrasound and, though he'll miss Christmas by a matter of weeks, it feels like there is something special in our home again...someone that just might bring the family together again, even just one time.

The very first time I saw the little guy, an anatomy scan the very day after I found out I was pregnant, I learned he was to be a boy. In that very moment, the literal second of it, I knew his name would be Sam too. It wasn't a conscious decision or anything that I had ever planned...it was just his name. On the ride home I ran it by my grandma and she liked the idea, which only confirmed what I felt in my very soul.

That doesn't mean that I expect him to be my uncle. My uncle Sam was one of a kind, and I hope my Little Sam will be too. I hope he'll be his own man and live his own life, but I hope the few things he'll learn from the legacy of my uncle is how to be a GOOD man, a good friend, a hard worker, know how to laugh, and laugh often.

There will be an extra stocking laid out tonight with the rest of ours. It'll be Sam's...one Sam or the other; one for the both of them. One for the spirit that is always with us, and one for the new little soul who'll join us soon, and who I hope can bring us all closer again.

In Memory of Samuel Lloyd Morse
1 (800) 273 - TALK

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

.Odd Duck Stuff.

A couple of days ago, Liz from Buckaroo Barbie posted a blog of all the little quirky things that she celebrates about herself (read that post here), and Erin from Diaries From The Dirt Road made her own list based on Liz's original post. I loved reading them both, and decided to hop on the train as well. I sat down with pen and paper to do mine, and realized that I have so many habits that others might think are strange or silly, but to me they've never been anything but normal. Just goes to show that your perception of yourself is what really matters, as long as what you do makes you happy! Here are a few of the things I wrote down:

  • I have to put my pants, socks, shoes, jackets, etc. on left side first...no exceptions. If I do it in the wrong order, I take it off and start over.

  • I feel incredibly naked and self-conscious without earrings in or my toenails painted. Everything else can be a hot mess, but I've always got to have just a little bling and polish.

  • I went to cosmetology school. I love makeup and hair products and tend to hoard and collect them, and spend hours reading beauty articles and watching beauty tutorials on YouTube. I know ALL the tips and tricks. However, I rarely wear makeup or do my hair and, when I do, I always wear the same trusty products and styles no matter the occasion.

  • I like plain sorrel horses. No, I love them. The more orange and ordinary they are, the more pleasing to my eye.

  • I have a hoard of drawing pencils, charcoals, colored charcoals, and colored pencils...but I only ever use a plain HB drawing pencil or a #2 mechanical pencils to sketch with.

  • I collect metal ear tags. I find them everywhere on my place...my favorites are the ones that have names on them because it's kind of a map of the cattle industry of the area many decades ago.

  • I freaking LOVE trucks, especially cow trucks. I love riding along and have since I was a teeny little thing going in the truck with my grandpa.

  • I feel emotions toward inanimate objects. I'm afraid they get lonely, and I worry about what might happen to them.

  • In my opinion, cacti are prettier than even the most delicate of flowers.

  • I can't eat fresh eggs, except those from one awkward black hen we have. I can't explain why either.

  • The most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me was while checking cows during a blizzard...I got off my horse to run into the calving barn for something or another and before I got back on, this particular fellow wiped the caked snow off my saddle seat for me. Give me little gestures like that over any rose bouquet any day. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

.The Newest Adventure.

What is it about learning that you're becoming a mother that changes you so completely?

I don't know, it hasn't happened yet.

In the five days since I discovered that I am expecting, I have waivered in between various states of shock, panic, and sheer terror. THERE IS A TINY HUMAN BEING INSIDE MY BODY. I, the girl who forgets to feed the dog and has spent my entire life floating from place to place with no cares in the world, am going to be responsible for a little baby boy.

Oh, sweet Jesus, bless his teeny heart...I apologize in advance.

But underneath the anxiety, I know that we're going to be okay. I have a great support system in the form of my momma and my grandma who have been holding my hand through the whole process, easing my paranoia and laughing at my discomfort as only a woman who has been there can...I think I'm dying half the time, but they assure me that I'm not really, and that this is nothing compared to what's coming in the next few months (thanks, thanks a whole lot).

I find myself worrying when I lay down at night. How will I teach this little boy everything he'll need to know about being a good man? Will his daddy someday be around to teach him, or will I have to figure it out on my own? How will I protect him from all the bullshit in the world that surrounds him, when it seems that there is more and more sadness and anger and negativity and pure evil every single day? Will there still be sagebrush country for him to ride when he grows up? So many questions and I have no answers.

Still, I look at the women that raised me and the men that served as father figures to me, and all the wonderful people that helped me through life and taught me the things I know and I am confident that my son will be surrounded by the best people there are to grow up with. He'll have a few good wings to huddle under and a few good brains to pick, and somewhere along the way I'm sure he'll grow up having learned all he needs to be okay in the life he'll make for himself one day.

I used to pray to God to bring me a good cowboy to love forever. I had no idea that he'd make one from my own heart. It isn't what I had in mind, but He knows what he's doing. So for now, I'm going to get used to the flutters in my tummy and not being able to button my pants, and look forward to what's coming. After all, it's only once in a lifetime that a girl goes on the adventure of being a brand-new momma.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


I don't owe you an explanation.

You don't owe me one either, but I never asked.

My choices are mine alone; I am the only one who has to live my life in my body in my world and be content with my actions and the people and things that surround me. I don't have to tell you why I'm not friends with this person, why I love that person, why I don't like getting drunk anymore, why I'd rather spend my time alone with a book than trying to impress people who don't even like themselves. I don't have to explain my gut feelings to you, my hopes or my dreams, my beliefs or my relationship with my higher power.

I don't have to tell you why I use the gear I use on my horses, I don't have to tell you who my family is or where they're from so you can judge whether or not I belong; I don't have to tell you about the scars on my face or my body or how many bones I've broken or why my pinkie toes are crooked or why I never got braces on my teeth.

You are not entitled to every detail of my existence.

It's a privilege when someone decides to share a part of themselves with another. It's a privilege when a heart is opened and a stranger is invited in. It isn't a right, and the invitation can be revoked as quickly as it was given...without explanation.

The only person anyone owes anything is themselves, and the biggest promise one can make to oneself is to be discerning when choosing what and who to allow in. Treat yourself like a treasure...not everyone deserves to have the map.

Monday, July 8, 2013

.Dream Catcher.

When is it time to give up a dream? Or is there ever a time to give up?

Do you struggle for so long before you decide that it just isn't meant to be, or do you keep struggling, pushing, reaching, grasping...even if you can't see what you're reaching for?

There's a dream catcher in my window. I don't remember where it came from or exactly how long it's been there, but I see it every single time I walk into my bedroom. Tradition and lore say that bad dreams get tangled in the webs of dream catchers and are held there, while good dreams flow freely through the center, drifting down the feathers hanging below and floating gently to the dreamer they're intended for.

Sometimes I don't wait for sleep to find me...I imagine all my dreams passing through my dream catcher, loosely, fluidly, ever-changing. The dreams are always there, even when I'm afraid they've left my heart. They may not always look the same, they may not always travel in the same directions, but at the root, they are the dreams that have always followed me. Some get stuck in the sinewy web, as if to say, "Not right now...it's not time yet." Some buzz around my head like fireflies begging to be chased and caught and held.

Perhaps there's never a time to truly give up on a dream, any dream. Maybe there are only times when you need to watch your dreams shift, take new forms, follow new paths, and be open and willing to chase them in whatever directions they fly. The best adventures are the ones that happen when you get lost...maybe your dreams know better than you do what they are meant to become.

Maybe the best way to honor a dream is to let it run as wild as your heart is. Maybe that's where true freedom is waiting...

Monday, June 17, 2013

.About A Dog.

“A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his." ” --  John Grogan, Marley & Me.

There are times in life that seem unbearably lonely; times when it's as though there's nobody a girl can trust with her heart, her soul, her troubles, or her triumphs -- it's like everyone is just waiting for her to become vulnerable and then take advantage of her when she's down. It's times like this when I'm glad I have a dog.

I've had my dog, Pepper, for eight or nine years now -- I lose track of the time, but it seems like he's always been with me. He rides along with me on most of my adventures unless it's too hot or too cold for him to sit in the pickup should I have to get out, and he gets shotgun -- rarely does he ride in the back. He likes to play tug of war with bailing twine, and he likes to run fast. He always gets gravy on his supper, and always half of my tater tots every time we go to Sonic. He sleeps next to my bed every single night on a fluffy pink (yes, pink) rug -- unless I'm having a bad night, then he sleeps next to me up on the bed.  I swear my entire existence is covered in white dog hair. I don't mind.

He always seems to know how I'm feeling. When I'm having a bad day, he'll come put his head in my lap and lay there quietly while I fiddle with his ears and tell him my problems. When I'm having a good one, he's always down for a long walk somewhere to run and explore and see what we can see. His calm and quiet demeanor somehow manage to quell the anxiety in me when I feel a panic attack coming on...I've always joked that he should be able to go everywhere with me and save me the cost of  my anti-anxiety medication. Sometimes he'll put his paw on my leg as if to say, "It's all okay, Mom. Just pet me and everything will be okay." And it always is.
I know there are some out there who don't understand the bond between a person and their dog (or horse, or any other pet for that matter). I don't understand those types. Studies have proven that owning a dog is actually good for the health of your heart, and I totally believe it. In my opinion, the love of a dog is like the love of God (is the spelling just a coincidence?). It's unconditional and ever-forgiving, and you are never alone with either -- or both -- by your side. Every single night when I go to sleep, I thank One for the other without fail.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

.Things I Wish I'd Learned Sooner/Things I'll Teach My Future Daughter.

Fear is liar.

Your worst enemy is your own head, and your biggest ally is your own heart.

When your gut tells you something, LISTEN TO IT...it is never wrong.

The "what ifs" will eat you alive.

Looks really aren't everything.

If he gets mad because you say you don't want to, lose his number...you will not be alone forever if you stick to your principles. I promise.

The right people honestly will love you exactly as you are. I promise that too.

So what if you don't live up to their expectations...do you live up to YOURS?

Be the kind of person you wish you had in your life -- be the best friend you want, the love you need, the role model you'd want your little girl to look up to.

Talk to God like you're having a conversation, He'll answer.

Forgive yourself, and do better next time.

And, above all else, Happiness is more important than perfection.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

.Never Too Old.

There's nothing I'd rather do than spend an afternoon in the dirt with my mom. I can watch her work a horse for hours. I soak it in when she takes the time to watch me work one, pointing out where I could use more finesse, more patience. When I was younger, it used to drive me crazy because I thought she was nagging, but now I wish I had paid more attention...how much better a horsewoman would I be if I had? We're such different minds. She has such energy and presence, I am timid and soft. She has patience. It's no secret that I have none. But she can teach me, if anyone can.

She knows my strengths and my weaknesses like no one else, she knows how to guide me to compensate for them. She makes me laugh when I'm so frustrated I'm about to cry. She does her best to tread lightly and let me figure things out in my own time, but she doesn't let me forget that I am tough enough, strong enough, smart enough. She doesn't push or force, and she doesn't hold me back when I'm ready to try something new. She handles me like she does her colts, her outlaws...she sets me up to succeed, but she expects me to try.

 "My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true." I don't remember who wrote this, but it's from some book I read somewhere. And it's the most accurate statement I can make about my mom. She is my backbone, never letting me forget that I am capable and intelligent even when I don't feel very much like it.

I used to think there'd come a time when I wouldn't need her or when I'd be old enough to stop being told. Now I don't ever want that time to come, because that woman is so full of things to know and I want to know everything that she knows. I want to be as able as she is. I want to be half the woman she is (I can hear her making a smartass comment about pant size right now).

I will never, ever be too old to stop learning from my mother.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

.Fluorescent Pink.

I have accepted the fact that no matter how much time I spend painting my nails, at least one of them will end up chipped or smeared.

I have accepted the fact that, when I'm nervous (and sometimes when I'm not) I babble about the most random and useless things.

I have accepted the fact that I worry too much about things I have no control over.

I have accepted the fact that I will never, ever, ever, ever be a cheerful morning person.

I have accepted the fact that I have a crooked smile and a goofy laugh.

I have accepted the fact that Aviator sunglasses do not do me any favors.

I have accepted the fact that my nose is funny shaped because it has been smashed a couple of times.

I have accepted the fact that my hair will never be either pin-straight or smoothly curled, and will most likely always look like a range horse's tail despite my best efforts to wrestle it into submission, and that a few of the hairs are now silver instead of dark.

I have accepted the fact that I will never be a size 2 or have a flat stomach.

Most of all, I have accepted the fact that none of this matters in the slightest. In fact, I am almost certainly the only person who notices any of it, because the thing about mirrors is that they only reflect what we choose to see about ourselves...and that is almost always something completely different than what others see. Every time I look in a mirror and start picking myself apart, I have to take a deep breath and a step back and remind myself of the things that really matter, like how my eyes are green like my mom's and my body is stout and healthy like my grandma's; like how my lips have never been afraid to wear bright pink lipstick and how my legs are long and made to wrap around the middle of a horse. My scars and bruises and funny nose are a picture book of stories of my adventures. If I sleep in until 9 a.m. when I have nothing more pressing to tend to, the world won't stop turning...and if, when I do get up, it's on the wrong side of the bed, that's okay too because sometimes you just have to be grumpy for a while. And no matter how crooked my smile or loud my laugh, they are beautiful just because of what they represent -- a happy, blessed girl.

The older I get, the more secure I am in the knowledge that I would not trade a single day of my life of fishing trips, tan lines, cold beers, rope burns, horse wrecks, pizza slices, Dr. Peppers, bad hair days, late nights, shots of whiskey, long flights, desert drives, knock-down-drag-outs, first kisses, slow dances, bonfires, girl talks, hard work, fluffy pillows, ugly cries, good dogs, flat tires, and countless memories for even a minute of "perfection."

Because if everything was perfect, what a mundane, boring, colorless life that would be.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

.I Should Be Sleeping.

Dab on perfume before bed…wrists, knees, neck, hair; lilacs and rain under an old t-shirt, the origin of which I don’t recall but probably some ex-boyfriend’s drawer. If there was a memory attached to it, I’ve forgotten it. The perfume’s a new thing. The forgetting was probably on purpose.
I trip over boots and trip over the dog, stub my toe, say a dirty word. Feel bad for my unladylike sailor mouth and try replacing the four-letter exclamation with something tamer, but it doesn’t have the same effect. Say another dirty one. The dog gives me the stink eye.

I pick up my Bible from the nightstand, all soft leather and delicate pages, and take in those letters in red to soothe my heart. Sometimes I wonder if there’s any saving this gypsy soul of mine – I’ve always been a little more Jack Daniels than Jesus -- but I guess it was the Lord who made me hard to handle in the first place, and He knows what He’s doing.

I say my prayers. None of them are for me. “Just take care of the people I love and care about.” A friend once told me, just talk to God like you’re talking to me. I told him I don’t think God would appreciate the innuendos -- always the smartass. I decided a long time ago that since the Lord knows my heart, it’s better to let that do the talking than muck it all up with words.

And I know this is His doing, the wandering mind, the long-dormant butterflies now awakened. Mysterious ways and perfect timing indeed. It all happens for a reason. I'm no stranger to looking like a fool, to leaping before I look, to falling fast and free without worrying about what's waiting below to catch me. This well-worn heart knows the way. It's in the hands of the Lord, to do with what He pleases. I trust Him implicitly.
I say another little prayer, just in case it makes a difference.
And I wish you were here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


They say, "Pride always goeth before the fall."


Pride usually goeth when you're laying flat on your back on the ground watching your colt buck away from you, when you're not sure if you should try to get up or just lay there a minute until you get your wind back. It goes when you get a little too big for your britches and start thinking you've got things figured out. It goes when you get cocky. It goes when you stand up and feel the bruises forming on your hip and your rear end where you bounced when you landed. It goes when you have to call your grandma to come doctor you up after you get your horse caught and notice the rope burns on your hands are starting to bleed on your starched pink shirt.

Before the fall, my ass.

But you pick yourself up anyway. You pull your hat down low over your hot, beet-red face and brush the dirt and shit off your pants. You pick your coils up out of the dirt. You get back on even though your back and hips and hands are complaining. You line out your goosy colt because if you don't, he'll just figure out that if he can get you off his back, he can be done with his work for the day. You get back on because Grandma's watching you, and you'd hate to let down the toughest, bronc-stomping-est old lady you've ever known. You finish out your ride, because that's just the way it's done. Wrecks happen, colts buck, ropes burn, the ground never gets any softer. It's life. You were born a cowboy lady and you'll be one through every breath you take until your last.

I guess pride never really goes anywhere. It gets bruised, it gets stung, but it really never gets wiped out. And it grows and swells each time the job gets done in spite of the obstacles and the falls. That's where the real pride is...in getting back on when you get thrown off.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

.Nothing Good Gets Away.

I have discovered an amazing website called Letters Of Note and it is literally a blog of transcripts of personal letters and vintage correspondence. As a lover and letters and notes, especially from the time when that was the way in which people communicated with each other, I devoured pages and pages of letters, and stumbled upon this one, written by John Steinbeck to his son. I've read it many times before and it has always been one of my favorites. It's so simple, poignant, beautiful, and such very sound advice...enjoy ♥

New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First—if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second—There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply—of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it—and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.



Thursday, April 4, 2013


Insecurities are inescapable. Some days they lie dormant, waiting, just under the surface. Other days they stare you right in the face. I wrote this almost exactly a year ago, and to this day I can’t escape the feelings that inspired it. No matter what I do, what I accomplish, who I’ve come to be, there’s so much still missing.


I wish I could be someone else.

I wish I could be prettier. I wish I could be more witty, more charming.

I wish I was the type of girl that people miss when she’s not around. I wish I was someone worthwhile.

I wish I had important things to say, so that when I speak people want to listen. I wish I could have a conversation.

I wish I had talent, so people would look at what I do and think, “Wow, that’s really great.” I wish I could do something important.

I’ve always wondered if maybe some people on this earth aren’t meant for great things. I know we’re all temporary, but I’ve always wondered if some of us are more temporary than others. If some of us are just stepping stones and fillers of space in the lives of those who are destined to be great. If we’re only here to help them pass a certain amount of time until their true purpose comes to call, or show them all the horrible things they must avoid in order to reach their potential.

I have never been brilliant. I have never been the kind of girl who captures the attention of everyone in a room when she enters. I have never been a holder of great discussions, the creator of a great work of art, or the great love of someone’s life.

I am plain. I weigh a little more than I should. I can be slow to catch on to jokes, oblivious to things that are right in front of my eyes. I cry too easily. I talk too much. I’m not strong enough.

I have a big heart – bigger than most. I have more love to give inside this little body than most, and an intense need to give it. I am loyal. I can take anything you can throw at me, and I will never waiver in my love or my loyalty.

Maybe that isn’t enough.

I wish someone would tell me what is, because I would give anything to just be enough.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

.Peeing On Tires.

I’m going to start this off with a teeny, tiny disclaimer lest I offend anyone because I’m pretty good at that – this is JUST FOR FUN, something that popped into my mind and made me laugh. I’m sticking with that story.

Men are like dogs…that’s a scientific theory I’m working on. And it’s not a derogatory statement on my part because I love dogs. I’m a total dog person.

But really. Here’s my theory:

Have you ever seen the way a dog acts when it wants something another dog has? Even though it may never have shown a speck of interest in a particular item before, when another pup gets a hold of it, it suddenly becomes the most fascinating object on the face of the planet. I have been this object. I’ve always noticed that when I’m single I seem to be invisible…it’s as if I cease to exist as soon as I become available. But literally the minute someone shows a little bit of interest, I become inexplicably interesting and irresistible.

There are those men that I have dated that seemed to be unable to make an “official” commitment. We hung out regularly, talked regularly, spent more time together than apart in many cases, but when I’ve started to broach the subject of exclusivity, I got the same old standard line – “Why does it have to be so serious? Can’t we just have fun?” Sure. Fine. Whatever. I’m totally down with fun. Love fun. In fact, some other cute puppy – er, guy—wants to take me out, and I think it would be tons of fun!

And this is where the shit seems to hit-eth the fan. Apparently, dudes get jealous. Despite their protests to the contrary, they don’t like other dogs – I mean, dudes—playing with their toys. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t looked at that toy in ages, or have moved on to some other toy…by golly, they already slobbered on it and it’s theirs and what if they want to slobber on it again someday?? It should be there waiting for them, not being slobbered on by someone else!! I actually asked a member of the male species about this particular phenomenon, and his answer was profound: “I don’t know why. Even if I don’t give a shit about a girl, it pisses me off when I see her with another guy after I hang out with her.”

Very insightful.

I’m pretty sure I know what a tire feels like at this point. I’m forever running around after my mom’s Pomeranian, flapping at him like a mad woman trying to keep him from lifting his stubby leg on the tires of my pickup. He never rides in my pickup. Ever. Yet, if I wash my pickup and soap his markings off of my tires, or if I happen to go somewhere and another male dog pees on my tire, Hank is rabid about the reclaiming of the territory. But here’s the thing: once he finishes, he never gives so much as a sniff or a sideways glance to them again until the next time his tinkle spots are removed or covered up. And just like Hankie and the kicks on my GMC, I see this pattern in men and the girls they chase around with. They’re perfectly content to float through as long as their “markings” are still intact, but as soon as another testicular-ed being comes sniffing around, the legs start lifting. It’s enough to make a girl crazy.

So here’s my word of advice (for girls as well, because women can be real bitches); there’s nothing wrong with just having fun or chasing around with someone…life is short and there are plenty of opportunities, and as long as everyone is on the same page, it’s pretty no-harm-no-foul. But people aren’t tires or chew toys or “territory”. If you’re not willing to make it serious business, you have no right to get all pissed off if someone else comes around to check things out.

 (Pepper...aka, this girl's BFF)

Friday, February 1, 2013

.The Dreaded M Word.

There’s a word my Grandma likes to throw at me, pretty carelessly, in my opinion. I call it “the dreaded M word,” and even though I’ve railed against it as violently as I can ever since I was of an age to start being accused of it, it has snuck up on me in bits and pieces. Most people call it maturity. Shudder.

I am also not the kind of girl that likes to be alone with my thoughts undisturbed. I’m not a social butterfly by any means, but I am not a solitary creature either…in fact, I consider myself the queen of distraction; always music playing, always a book to read or the television on in the background, always with the dog by my side. I like white noise, and I like the comfort of my little bubble being full of familiar clamor.

Recently, though, a lot of shitty things have happened in my life and the aftermath has left me craving to be alone with everything cluttering my head and my heart. I want nothing more than to sort it all out and learn what my true, deep feelings and motives are and what’s just the pressure and influence of my surroundings. Even though I am pretty sure of the path my life is taking right now and I’m very happy going in that direction, I have the urge to know more about myself and figure out my innermost workings. And I’m beginning to see that maturing doesn’t have to be a death sentence for spirit and creativity, that maybe it just means I’m a creative, free-spirited person who is getting better about stacking my dirty dishes in the sink. It could be that I’m ready, at least in some areas of my life, to accept that particular label.

It’s strange the things I find comforting now, things that were tedious to me before, like reading the newspaper cover to cover instead of just the horoscopes and the funnies or actually cleaning the lint filter of the dryer after every load instead of just when dust comes puffing out of the trap after six or seven loads. I put real pants on to run errands rather than heading to the Wal Mart for nail polish remover in my SpongeBob Squarepants pajamas. I make lists for things to keep myself on track. I am actually looking forward to doing my taxes this year.

And I’m not really afraid to be alone with my thoughts anymore. In fact, I’m beginning to find that I relish the absolute quiet of being completely by my lonesome. I have discovered that I love my own inner-dialogue and that, usually, conversations with me, myself, and I tend to work out my personal issues faster than involving anyone else. It doesn’t make me antsy if my phone doesn’t ring for hours on end; I don’t have to take off and go somewhere if there’s nothing on television, and I don’t have to have the radio blaring when I’m driving…I can just sit with myself and feel what I’m feeling without being uncomfortable with what I might discover. I think that might be a bigger gift than always having a distraction, even a happy one.

I don’t know if this is all a side effect of one’s life being turned upside down, or simply a part of getting older, but I intend to ride the wave and see what comes of it.

There’s no point to this post, really, other than giving myself a sounding board, but truly, I’m excited to find out if this little phase is going to stick. I think it will. I think I’ll be pretty okay with that. After all, aren’t you supposed to be your own best friend?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

.She Loved Cows.

All I can remember about her right now is that she loved cows.

Isn’t it amazing? You spend almost your whole life knowing someone and when it comes right down to summing up a life in a few words, it’s all a huge blank. All I can remember is a feeling…just a particular feeling deep in my heart that is the very essence of what she was to me.

We met in the third grade. It was in the park across from Horizon Elementary school in Jerome…I crawled in one end of a cement tube and she had crawled in the other, and we met in the middle. We were both chubby little brown girls with glasses. We were wearing the exact same outfit – purple tie-dyed stretch pants (her favorite color was purple) and a white top with fringe around the bottom. Instant best friends.

But I loved horses and she loved cows.

No matter what she wore – polka-dotted vintage-inspired pumps and red lips or her curly hair in a ponytail and shit-covered muck boots, she was always the same girl. She was always laughing, always joking, always texting. I always teased her about the fact that her phone never left her hand…it was constantly buzzing with incoming messages and calls. She was everybody’s friend, everybody’s angel, a ready shoulder to cry on, a girl with a huge heart who just wanted to help. She was a farm-raised, punk-rock Mother Theresa.

We were always on an adventure…we never had a goal or a plan. We’d just put on our mascara and head out the door, ready for wherever the night would take us. She called me Marilyn, I called her Audrey. She was classic. She was the most scattered, crazy, free-spirited girl I’d ever met; she always encouraged me to open up and live life and have fun. She used to think I was crazy because I wanted to settle down and be a ranch wife. She had no use for love in those days, so when she ended up married and domestic and I ended up a gypsy, wandering around unsettled, we laughed so hard at our Freaky Friday switcheroo. I called her my pin-up Betty Crocker. I remember when all we ate was chocolate pudding for a whole week because I bought an entire case on sale at Wal Mart…now she was whipping up culinary masterpieces in her little kitchen. She wanted a white picket fence, a clothesline, a ruffled apron, tattoos, piercings, and a closet full of heels.

And she always dreamed of having cows.

I love her with all my heart. No matter how far away we were or what arguments we had or how long we spent apart, we could pick up a conversation in the middle like we had spoken five minutes before. She’d text me the most random things and say, “I saw this and I thought of you!” and she’d always be right on. She knew my heart, sometimes better than I ever knew it. She was so much wiser and stronger than I think anyone ever gave her credit for. She could be in so much pain and she’d put a big smile on her beautiful face and laugh and find one tiny thing to turn her situation into a positive one. I always wished I could have her strength.

How do you write something like this? How do you say goodbye to someone you could never imagine your life without? When I sat down at my computer this morning, this was not what I had in my head to write. Life changes in an absolute instant.

I will always have that girl in my heart. I will always remember driving down the back roads in my 1988 Toyota Corolla with her riding shotgun, and every time we’d pass a bunch of Black Angus bulls in a pasture, she’d yell out “THEY’RE SO CUUUUTE!!” And we’d make smooch faces at them as we passed.

There are far too many memories and inside jokes and incidents and stories to tell…there’s no way I could write them all, or obviously even write a few of them into a coherent thought. There are no coherent thoughts to be found when someone is taken from the world so quickly and unexpectedly. There’s no way to prepare. We all have our memories of her, and I promise you there isn’t a one of them that’s bad. You couldn’t NOT love her. You couldn’t not feel better when you were with her. You couldn’t not have fun when she was around.

She wanted to be Holly Golightly. She wanted to be a Playboy Bunny (not to be naked, but just because they were so glamorous). She wanted everyone to know that her last name is pronounced Schul-TIES, not Schul-tees…and when she got married, she was adamant about hyphenating because she was proud of who she was. She wanted to be there for her little sister; she wanted to be the best Army wife that ever wore her husband’s dog tags. She wanted to be everything to everyone she loved…what she didn’t know was how much she was to all of us.

But what will always stick in my mind when I think of her, is this dazzling, glitzy girl in red lipstick and polka dot heels putting a big, crimson smooch on the snot-covered nose of an unsuspecting Angus bull.

She never stopped loving cows.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Although I grew up in what was historically a male-dominated world, I was lucky enough to never really experience chauvinism on any grand scale. I come from a family of very strong, very handy, capable gals and it never occurred to me that it wasn’t the norm everywhere for women to take the lead in any given situation. Of course today isn’t uncommon or unusual at all…women are running ranches, starting colts, featured in western magazines, riding broncs, cowboying on outfits, experts in agriculture, and they’re doing pretty much everything else that had been conventionally done by men and being recognized for it. It’s an awesome thing. But something I’ve noticed is that, even though it’s now widely accepted that we are just as able and competent as our cowBOY counterparts, we still get a lot of flak for being GIRLS.

Sure, we can trot out with the guys in the morning and work alongside them all day long, but if we take a few minutes to swipe on some eyeliner beforehand, we get shit for it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been heckled when I show up somewhere with my pink spurs on my boots, pink gloss on my lips, and pink nail polish on my fingers. Now, I’m not the type to get up two hours early to put on a full face of makeup before I go out to roll around in the cow shit, but I do like to remind everyone that I am still a lady and can be feminine without being any less tough.

I LOVE being a GIRL. I never leave the house without earrings on. My neck rags smell like Victoria’s Secret vanilla and orchid body mist. I keep a tube of lip gloss in my duck coat pocket. And though my hands are scarred up, my nails are ALWAYS painted…even if that polish is chipped 99 percent of the time. I like to soak in long bubble baths with pretty-smelling candles burning at the end of a long day, and I like to doll up, curl my hair, and pile on the bling for a night on the town. I don’t like to be told how to ride or horse and I don’t need to be babysat pushing a herd, but I do like to be led around the dance floor. I can drive just about anything and in pretty much any weather, but I like when a man comes to pick me up for a date. I don’t need him to saddle my horse, but it is nice when a guy holds a door open for me. I don’t think it makes me weak…I think it means I have class.

I don’t think we’ll ever hear the end of it from our buckaroos about our girlish ways (and I know we dish out as much as we take in good humor), but that makes no difference to me. My tack and gear will always coordinate, I’ll always take a few extra minutes in the morning to moisturize and spritz on perfume, and I’ll just wink when one of the boys makes a joke about my mascara’d eyes when I climb in the pickup to go feed, because I’ll know he’s paying attention ;)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

.Those Who Matter Don't Mind.

This is kind of a hard post for me to write because it’s something that has never happened to me before, and it took me a minute to reconcile it in my own mind.

Recently I was talking to someone I was just getting to know on the phone for the first time, and it wasn’t five minutes into the conversation that things went really far downhill really fast. Almost immediately, this person was telling me that I needed to change my approach and be nicer and sweeter. It took me by surprise and honestly offended me a little bit, because I hadn’t thought I wasn’t being nice. I was just being myself…I can be shy and standoffish when I talk to new people, but I’ve always been told I’m a sweetheart. During the course of what was actually quite a long conversation (over two hours), this person kept saying variations of the same thing to me, and it was extremely frustrating because I wasn’t being anyone different than I ever am. I really tried to stick it out and steer it in a better direction since first impressions aren’t always correct, but I ended up hanging up on this person in exasperation. It wasn’t a polite thing to do and it wasn’t very mature, but at the time it was definitely better in my mind to do that than to lose my temper and say things that I wouldn’t normally say to someone.

This person later told me I was a horrible person, and the most miserable, negative person they had ever spoken to.

I thought about this a lot and replayed the conversation over and over in my head trying to figure out what exactly it was I had said or done that was so awful. The human being in me felt horrible…even though I felt I didn’t do or say anything that was mean, I don’t like when people feel bad, especially on my account, and I wanted to apologize and do whatever I could to make it up to them.

On the other hand though, the realistic one, I know in my heart that none of it was true. I do my best to be a positive and happy girl. I have a big heart and one of the things that brings me the most joy is sharing that heart with others. I have worked hard to better myself and become someone that I can be proud of, and to be someone that I can be happy about being. I am by no means flawless or perfect, but I definitely do not go out of my way to put others down or make them feel bad. It is one of my strongest beliefs that everyone has the right to follow their own bliss and live the lives they want to live for themselves, and I would never look down on someone for doing that if the life they live isn’t harmful to others.

One of the biggest lessons that is recurring in my life right now is that you can’t please everyone. Not everyone is going to like you, not everyone is going to agree with you, and no matter what you do, there will always be people who will look for the bad things about you instead of seeing the good things. It certainly doesn’t feel good, and I’m still not great at just letting the negativity roll off my back like water off duck feathers, but when I think about the people that do know me and do care about me for exactly who I am, I know that I must be doing something right. I am surrounded by more wonderful people than I could ever wish for, and that can’t just be a coincidence.

It’s such a cliché, but you really only have to answer to yourself and do what makes YOU content with yourself. The people who disagree with that or try to make you feel guilty for doing so are people that do not need to be in your life, and the people who truly deserve to know you are the ones who will be supportive of that no matter what.

As Liz from Buckaroo Barbie tweeted me, “…if you’re pissing someone off, then you’re doing SOMETHING right!”

And you know what? That’s pretty damn true.

I don’t have any anger towards the person that said those things to me…they have gone through their own trials in life and have worked hard to become the person that they want to be just as I have. It’s their right and privilege. They didn’t have to take to heart what they perceived as negativity towards them, and I don’t have to either. We’re both free to forget that ugly conversation ever happened and get on with life. I wish them luck.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

“Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow.” – Fernanda Miramontes-Landeros

“Always when judging who people are, remember to footnote the words ‘so far.’” – Robert Brault

Thursday, January 3, 2013

.An Introduction.

I’m just a girl.

I loathe to use the word “woman” when I talk about myself because I simply don’t feel like I’m there yet…never mind the fact that I’ve reached the quarter-century mark and I’ve had a stray silver hair here and there since I was twenty.

When I think of a woman, I think of someone who has her shit together – steady career, car payment, and steady man; maybe even a baby or two. When I think of me, I think of this wayward gypsy soul who more often than not forgets to brush her teeth before she goes to bed. My nails are always chipped, my bed is never made, and my laundry is rarely folded. “Real” jobs (read: in town) give me massive anxiety attacks because I’d rather talk to cows, horses, dogs, and sagebrush all day than have to wait hand and foot on another human being…I’ve been suffering from depression since I was 15 years old and I still haven’t quite gotten a handle on it.

I write my every thought down in a 98-cent notebook from Wal Mart (covered in peace signs, by the way, because I am inexplicably obsessed with them) and without it I’d go crazy from all of the things that bounce around in my head on a daily basis. My camera is always within my reach and my only goal in life is to take photographs that will show the rest of the world what I see in my adventures…I want to tell the stories of my life with my pictures. I can’t stand coffee but I drink Dr. Pepper like most people drink water. I refuse to eat pickled beets.

I drive a hand-me-down GMC pickup which currently has a broken heater (but the radio works!) and there’s usually a spotted dog riding around in the back. I have a hand-me-down colt that is the absolute best thing that ever happened to me. I have a hand-me-down Resistol and a pair of hand-me-down chinks – both given to me out of love (or something like it). My boots were brand new a lot of years ago, and I can’t bear to part with the pink Kelly silver spurs I’ve worn since I was a teenager…even though I get crap wherever I go just because they are pink. I can’t rope worth a damn.

I am drawn to men who are as wild as the desert I live in…the kind that make me think, “he ain’t right but he’s just right for me.” I’ve never had a “normal” relationship and I think that if I did, it would never work out. When I’m with someone, I know we’ll never settle each other down but I think that’s the beauty of it – we’ll run wild and free together and I tend to see so much of my own soul in them. I’d be ashamed of myself if I ever tried to tame them, and I’d never tolerate them trying to change me.

Sometimes I wish I could be a grown-up woman so that I never had to disappoint anyone and could always do what’s expected of me, but that’s just not who I am at my core. I did my best to be her for a long time and I was miserable at the deepest part of me – if I tried to be that person again, I’d probably smother and turn to dust.

I’m just a gypsy cowboy lady.

I’m just a sunflower growing out of control along a gravel road.

I don’t think I’ll ever grow up, at least not in the “traditional” way of growing up. But over the years I’ve grown a soul that can’t be tamed, a heart that cannot be stopped from giving all the love within it, and a pile of wisdom that only can be earned through real experiences. I’m sure this life is not what my dear parents had in mind when I came into this world, but the good Lord built me from a mold that He saw fit to break when He was finished -- the only thing I can do is live how He put it in my heart to live and hope that someday everything I am will create something that makes my loved ones proud.

After all…I’m just a girl.