Sunday, January 30, 2011

Good Horse Sense

     Horses, horses, horses, were my life when I was young. Seeming to put away your fun when you sign up for adult life, riding horses and owning a horse was a pleasure I couldn’t afford anymore. Besides, riding horses is something you give up when you let obesity take over your life! I couldn’t even lift my leg high enough for the stirrup, say nothing of lifting my fat behind into a saddle! One of the things on the top of my bucket list is doing some riding with my kids.
                                      Me on my brothers horse Amigo

      We Stave kids learned to ride on huge draft horses. Daddy always had a matched team of horses that he would harness up to a stoneboat with runners in the winter, or a buggy with wheels in the summer. A lot of times he would even be the horse, pulling us around the yard for fun. In the later 60’s, he got into the PMU business, which was collecting pregnant mares urine for birth control and hormone pills for women. I often brag, ( that’s when you know your scooping low for something to brag about ), that I had the worst chores in the world as a kid. Dumping a hundred and ten little jugs of urine into big barrels…glug, glug, glug!

My Dad dumping the jugs, and showing how a horse was harnessed.

     When I was ten, one of the happiest days of my life happened and it had to do with….a horse. I had watched my brother, Sonny, compete for a year or so in horseshows around the area. We were members of The Rolling Hills Saddle Club. As part of that club, a point system where you traveled to hosted horse show events by other saddle clubs in the small towns around North Dakota, was part of the fun. You entered events such as barrel racing, pole bending, keyhole races, trail class, western pleasure and many others. Depending on if and where, you placed in the events, you received points at every show. I had been riding draft horses, ponies, and mares that my dad would take in for breeding fees, since I was four or five. When I was eleven, my Dad, who’d been down in the barn, poked his head in the front door and yelled, “Pam, come down to the barn I have to show you something”. That never happened before, so I ran to the barn to see a bay horse tied to a post in the barn. He had a white star and snip on his face. Dad prodded, “ you know who that is don’t you”? I didn’t. He exclaimed, “its Cowboy Clarke, and he’s yours IF YOU CAN PROVE TO ME YOU CAN HANDLE HIM THIS SUNDAY AT THE FAIR“! All I knew about that horse was that he had been ridden against, and even beat Sonny’s horse from time to time, in some horse shows. I would handle him, no doubt about it!

Dad said, “saddle him up and meet me over in the alpha, alpha field”. he drove off with the pickup truck loaded with barrels and wooden posts. By the time I got there, he had the posts driven in the ground and the barrels paced out and set up. I didn’t know I was going to be in for the ride of my life in a just few seconds. I expected to lope around the barrel, steering wide, same being said for the pole bending. That’s what Kathy and I had been doing with our other horses.

             Kathy, Me( already look like I swallowed a watermelon), and Dad getting ready to go to a horse show. Saddle strapped to the stockrack, horse in truck box ha..

     When I turned Clarke toward the first barrel, out there in the field, he took off like lighting! I was thinking of nothing but gopher holes…. don’t fall in a gopher hole! He knew the pattern, and could have run it without me,  and the steering was more about steering him away from the barrels! I managed to stay on, and when i finished my Dad was laughing, like he did when we just got scared silly! Now it was on to the pole bending. This time I was a little better prepared for the ride ahead. Clarke raced down beside the poles, weaved in and out and I was more concerned about losing a knee cap than falling off! Most people had poles that were built for this, they were a pole with X’s on the bottom,  that just tipped over if you hit one to practice with. But that would be time consuming, so he just drove ours in the ground with a post mall, and if you hit one you knew it! I had a little more trouble stopping the horse than I did the first time, but Dad thought I did ok. This was Friday, the fair competition was Sunday!

     Dad entered me in the youth division in barrels and poles at the fair. I could not believe I was actually riding a horse at the fair! The state fair, the biggest event of the year for us! I placed fifth in pole bending and came home with a pink ribbon, and broke the pattern in barrel racing because he circled a timing post on the way to the first barrel! Dad was happy with me, and Mom was relieved I didn’t get hurt, and I was happy because I got to keep the horse!

     That horse became my life! The next summer came and I got on the little saddle club circuit and did well all summer winning trophies and looking forward to Sundays and seeing my friends I’d made from other small towns who rode every Sunday too. I felt good at something and I even overheard people saying I was the one to beat! At the end of the year, in November they always had the a Northwest Saddle Club awards night. They gave out the awards and trophies for the whole year. These awards were the sum total of all points, from all the saddle clubs, from all the small towns. We always went to that and I really wanted to go this year in case I won something.

     My Dad got hurt the end of the summer before the awards night, tying up a mare in a stall. He was getting ready for the new season of collecting urine. The mare was new and he didn’t know her. She reared back and lunged forward pining him up against the manger. He staggered out of the stall, and Mom rushed him to the ER. He had internal injuries, spent three weeks in the hospital, and died October 16, 1967.

Me on Clarke, Marcy on Poco, and Kathy on Plowgirl

     Without getting into how painful that was, or how many days I cried into Clarks’ neck, it was really painful when on awards night. Sonny and I went to the awards night alone. Kathy had the flu so Mom stayed home with her.  I won smaller trophies, for barrels, poles and trail class, and a huge wooden trophy for All Around Jr. Horsemanship! My Dad would have been so proud! Driving home from Kenmare, Sonny and I didn’t talk about Dad, no one ever talked about Dad, but there was a huge emptiness for us. Mom proudly displayed my trophies on the writing desk, and tried to be happy enough for two parents.

     Sonny lost interest in going to shows, he had his own little family now. Mom tried to take Kathy and I to the shows, so we could continue with the life we loved. During one show, in Powers Lake the events were running late, and it was getting dark with no lights in the arena. As Clarke pranced into the arena I hoped he could see the first barrel because I couldn’t! It was too dark! Turns out he couldn’t either, and we charged through the metal fence, both Clarke and I falling. That shut down the events for the night! (I just had a thought, that would be a lawsuit these days for some people).

     We loaded our horses in the grey pickup with a red stock rack ( didn’t even have a horse trailer back then) and started home. My horse nervously pranced back and forth, rocking the pickup and making it hard to keep it stable on the road. To top it all off, we had a flat tire and had to unload the horses in a ditch and change a tire in the dark! That was the end of horse shows, unless they were right around home. Mom cried, and told us, she was sorry but we just couldn’t do it without Dad.

     I kept Clarke until a fourteen year old girl called me and wanted to buy him for $500, in 1980. He was fifteen years old by then. She was going to take him to horse shows again. I weighed what $500. meant to my little family, the fact that Sonny didn’t like keeping him apart from the mares and stallions because he was a gelding, and I ask myself, do I want to keep him just for me, to find him dead sometime? Or do I want that girl to feel what I had back then, and Clarke to get to do what he loved, and that was going to shows and being with a human. So, I sold him, ending of my horse years.

Brendon riding Clarke in the corral the day I sold him :(

      I shut out thoughts of horses for a long time. But when I look back to who I was, before I was a wife and mother, and what I loved, horses were my life. I found myself feeling sad when Sydney came up with loving to ride, and went riding with her friend her first time other than clomping along on a trail ride. I was sad that I couldn’t teach her what was so much a part of me, and still is in there somewhere.

      Don’t worry, I’m not going to be one of those old broads trying to be young dressed with a hat and tight jeans, or entering the rodeo circuit anytime soon. I just would like to make peace with how that all ended and do some riding again.

      That’s one more reason to stick with my "sparkle program". You can’t regain time lost, but if you do the same thing you get the same results. Do I want to lose more time being too out of shape to ride a horse? Do I want more of the same, or want my life back? I’m a month into trying feel better inside and out and I lost ten pounds this month. I ask myself was it really so hard? Its not, its all a mind game. The hardest part is mentally getting on and keeping myself on the treadmill! Sydney wants me to join her at Zumba. However, I should probably wait till I could do more than one number before I'm slumped against the wall! Maybe that will be more fun than the treadmill I don’t know, I’m not a gym rat in case you missed that ha!

     Brendon sent me a link for a Quarter Horse ( the only horse for me ) horse show in Scottsdale yesterday. I enjoyed walking around, watching the events and looking at horses that cost as much as a house, some of them. They are awesome creatures for sure! I miss them.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Never Trust a Naked Man

 I heard Maya Angelou speak here in Phoenix at Gammage Theatre a few years ago. That talented lady has been blessed with a God given ability to use words in a powerful, powerful way. Sometimes too powerful for me, and it whizzes right over my head! I was taken in with her phrase, “Never trust a naked man who wants to give you the shirt off his back”. I have thought of that quote often, and wondered exactly what did she mean, but whatever it meant, I knew it was profound at the time.

        Reflecting on that monologue that she performed here, while walking the other day, I have decided it means several things. It was my job to take care of everyone. That was a given. My Mom took care of everyone, and naturally it was my job too. In the seventies, when you graduated from high school, you either got married and made a home, which then became your job, or you went to college. I chose to get married, so it became my job to take care of my husband. As the family size increased, my responsibilities increased, as it is for most of us wives and mothers. I loved taking care of my family and there’s not a day I would change. I know I did a good job too of taking care of everyone, but myself.

        Self care is different from selfishness, I finally get that. Now that I turned fifty five, I definitely don’t want to catch that old people’s syndrome so many old timers seem to have! The all about me, entitlement, attitude you see often. I want to find a happy medium between being an isolated, stressed out, overweight, depressed  Sr. Citizen and the one who's entitled to head to the front of the line , asks for every discount under the sun, has something to say on every subject ( yikes I have done that my whole life). Maybe that’s the end result of not taking care of yourself until the end of life is visible, and the pendulum swings to far. I’m not sure.

       If people are mistreating you, misusing your time and you’re allowing it, you are cooperating in it! And wow, I’ve been good at cooperation! I have realized that when I don’t set boundaries for myself, then the kids don’t set boundaries for themselves and that’s harmful to all of us. They need to struggle and become stronger as they work out their own problems. That’s one thing Mom’s generation did well. I don’t know how many times I heard Mom say, “they made their bed now let them lie in it”! Seemed cold to me, and I never liked it… but I understand it finally after all these years. You get stronger when you are allowed to struggle. In the bible it says “even steel has to be fired to be strong”. I always liked that analogy.

        When Kerry and I got married at 18 and 20, he had a hot rod car he didn’t allow me to drive, and a stereo. I had a registered quarter horse and my little black and white 13 inch TV. Literally that’s what we had between us. I drove an old car for many years and finally got my only new car in 2007. Rarely, do I drive that car that I don’t remember the days of being stalled at stoplights, or rumbling up beside someone in a newer car avoiding looking over because I was ashamed of my vehicle. Driving a pickup truck with a rod through the floor instead of a shift knob helps me appreciate and thank God for my car now! I have even kissed the steering wheel and said thank you God for blessing me with this car! More than once I’ve done that! The struggle didn’t hurt me I guess ( but I think my fingers are crossed) , it made me appreciate what I have that’s for sure. I never wanted my kids to feel that way and tried to take care of everyone so they never had to experience what hurt me worst in my life. The thing is they have a list of their own hurts, different than mine, that happened anyway…. so it was all pretty much a waste of time.

      To set boundaries for ourselves we could take the quiet time to ask ourselves, what do I like or dislike? What do I want or need? Once we learn to value ourselves the ability to listen and trust that voice should strengthen up wouldn‘t you think? I really need to work on not caring what others say or think about where I belong. I have heard from so many people, some brave ones directly to me,  but most through someone passing it along to me, why... I’m not sure. These people have no clue what my life has been like or is going on now but throw their two cents in about where I belong. Kerry too has his rail road cronies telling him what they would do if their wife was in AZ., and he was in ND. Setting boundaries about what you will or won’t tolerate isn’t about putting up walls, but more about having the security to be close to people, but not so enmeshed in their lives, you lose yourself or smother them. I’m working on being supportive and helpful but not doing for them what they will figure out themselves. Setting boundaries is understanding where I end and someone else begins and not moving into their space unless I’m invited to, and not to see that as a rejection if I'm not invited in. I will admit I still need work on that one.

      I’m sure my kids, Sydney especially, is reading this and thinking I think Mom is finally getting this! Seeing Sydney bruised and beaten, did something to me I can’t even kick out words for yet, it upsets me so still today. I wanted to protect her at all costs and I did by coming here and giving up the life we had there. However she was 14 then and now she’s 22. I still have a hard time with not wanting to make her decisions and the need to protect her from any thing I feel is a wrong decision, or to keep hurtful people out of her life. Sometimes, I still treat her like a child, and she lets me rather than hurt me. Or she sets me straight and it hurts me, because I always have her best interests at heart.

      Micromanaging is exhausting and if you do it long enough, you feel used up, resentful, exhausted and you’re not helping anyone. Maya Angelou’s, “ Never trust a naked man who wants to give you the shirt off his back”, tells me if you are not taking care of yourself, how can you help anyone else? Like they say on every plane trip to ND…in the event of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first, because you’re of no help to anyone until you do. Setting boundaries is the respectful, loving and healthy thing for yourself— and everyone else in your life besides. Thank you Maya Angelou!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

“For Every Minute Spent in Organizing, an Hour is Earned

Have you ever faced a garage full, and I mean FULL, of your own “stuff” -stacked way over your head? It’s quite a feeling, and not a good one! I had our garage in Minot filled halfway up the walls in rows with all the belongings of a family of five, and from fifty something years of living. I was overwhelmed, absolutely overwhelmed! I will never forget that feeling!

One of the saddest things to have ever happened to our family was when Sydney was stalked and chased around Minot by some jealous, crazy girls. You really don’t want to get me started about girl bullying because that could be the longest blog you ever read! I will write about it sometime but I get really emotional still and have to be in the right place to even go there mentally. I am an advocate for bullying laws, they are finally coming up with some in North Dakota. After about a year of harassment up in ND, we were coming here to Phoenix for Jennie’s wedding, and my sister Marcy said, “why don’t you stay with us, and let her finish here”. She is so much happier here where there are a lot of pretty, popular, successful girls, rather than the few low life girls are jealous of.  That’s how I came to live in Phoenix.

 We were going to sell the Minot house, so Kerry hauled everything from that house out to the house at the farm. I didn’t want him to throw anything just pack it up. Mom’s house was full upstairs and down when he got done!

When I’d go up to ND for visits, I would go to the farm and the house looked like a hoarders house on TV. Just paths where you could walk. I felt horrible the house was like that, Mom was always a neat housekeeper. Part of the beginning of my depression was the “what the heck are we doing, staying or going, selling or keeping"? After we decided we’d be staying and Kerry couldn’t transfer here without losing his seniority there...that was really a mind bender as to what to do.

Mom’s house bulged like that for a few years. Laying in my new bed alone here in Phoenix, I was scared at first. I later got so depressed and numb after people started telling me where I belonged and acting disapproving about my being here, that I didn’t feel anything! In between listening to sirens or helicopters looking for criminals at night(which was totally foreign to me, and wondering if the new friends Sydney was with were good kids, I’d worry about the material things I knew I had there in Mom‘s house. I wondered if the house had been, or would be broken into, and someone would take my precious “stuff”.

It wasn’t the big things I worried about… but the sentimental things like all of Sydneys’ dance trophies, Brendons’ Kiss memorabilia, Shelbeys’ sound system, my collection of Hallmark ornaments I have collected with the kids for years. I didn’t know if I was staying here or how long so I only hauled down here what I really needed and would fit in one trailer load.

Finally in 2010, Shelbey and her teacher friend Cheryl, said they’d fly up and help us clean out Mom’s house. They did thank God because Kerry and I alone, could not have gotten all that done without them. They had to go back to Phoenix and I was going to have a garage sale and get rid most of the stuff, I knew that. It was a huge relief to finally be rid of the guilt of crapping up Mom’s house with my stuff ( even though its our house now, its still Mom’s house!) Mom passed away a few years earlier and hadn’t lived out there since 1994 but I don’t know its just home to everyone and I didn’t like feeling like I’d messed it all up. So Kerry, Shelbey, Cheryl and I rented a 26’ Budget truck and hauled two full loads of stuff back to Minot. Kerry grudgingly participated, because he’d hauled it there, now only to haul it back, and he hates parting with anything. We had to stack it half way up the walls and way over our heads to get all that in the garage!

In the house in Minot, the garage sits lower than the main floor, so when you step out onto the step in the garage, you overlook it. The first couple days that all that stuff was in the garage, I did the new car thing all day! You know when you get a new car, you open the garage door just to look at it several times a day? Or when you redo a room, you stick your head in there several times a day just to look at it. I did that, except this was not a happy thought but a “ oh my gosh, how am I going to clean this up now”! I was having surgery in a couple weeks to fix my bladder so it should have been done yesterday, before I couldn't lift anything after the surgery. I have allergies to dust and mold so every time I got out in it I coughed and coughed! Coughing and bladder don’t belong in the same sentence by the way.

Making myself sound even worse after the last blog, besides being lazy, I am not an organizer. You know how some people can compartmentalize things mentally, and physically be organized and actually think its fun? Not me, I stand there overwhelmed, and anxious because I don’t know where to start and coughing from the musty smell!
Kathy came down and she brought her pitchfork….no I’m kidding about that, but she helped me start and helped me finish. Thank God for her help! Things hadn’t changed much since we were kids, she’d call me and say lets work out there in your garage today and I’d say well ok…if you drag me out there…ha, ha.

For days we worked out there and started having the sales in the driveway. Kathy handled all the people out front, while I kept going through all the buried treasure. Kerry would come out every so often, check how much money we’d made and take a couple of his things off the sale. I guess he’s having his own, or something, not sure. Every day there was a little less in the garage. What didn’t sell we donated at the end of the day every day.

The point of todays blog is to ask you when I ask myself, how much stuff do I need to be happy? At some point it actually takes away from your happiness. I have just a few things that I really hang on to and value now. I gave my kids all their papers and report cards and things I saved for them over the years. These days with digital cameras we can take a picture of some special something and get rid of the actual thing. The picture takes a lot less space!

I love Peter Walshs’ advise - “if something is really special then give it a place of honor in your house and enjoy it”. I have a shadow box on my wall, filled with my grandmas crocheting, her wire rim glasses and letters she wrote me in the 70’s asking me to get bread that week when I came to Palermo from Minot. Bread was 5 for a $1.00 at the bread outlet store! My Mom and Dads wedding picture with the old curved glass I have hung( and stick tacked to the wall), by the door. Mom is wearing her double stranded wedding pearls. The ones I took apart and added crystals to, for all of us girls in the family last year. I have my Nanas family dolls I’ve collected for years displayed in my bedroom. And I have my Hallmark ornaments I take out at Christmas. I do have Sydney’s dance trophies taking up space in the garage down here. I wanted those for her from Mom’s house so bad. To me it represented the life we were forced to leave, which was horribly sad at the time but she is so much happier here. Karma always comes back on people, because I wish I could share these girls’ lives today with you but I’m trying to be bigger than that.

I learned a lot about myself when I saw all that stuff in the garage and had to get rid of it all. Most of it I’d forgotten about untill I saw it. I watched my Mom go from living on a farm for forty years and having a yard full of stuff, downsize to an apartment full of stuff, downsize to a nursing home room full of stuff.

We don’t need all the stuff we have. I don’t shop like I used to, and when I do I ask myself do I really want or need this? If I get something new I get rid of the old right away. I’m still working on myself to be more organized. I literally have to say out loud to myself when I pick something up, “a home for everything and everything in it’s home, a home for everything and everything in its home, a home for eve….” . Its not a natural thing for me. I prefer to throw everything around, live freely, make a mess and then clean it up when I can put on some rockin’ music and clean. Problem with that is I have been caught with a mess more than I want to be so…to be my best self I need to work at this a little because it does cause me stress which isn’t living your best life.
I am adding some fun websites and blogs about organization on the end of this …I hope you enjoy them! Enjoy your day above all else, life goes by fast! ~
Organizing websites:
Organizing blogs:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Top Five Reasons to Sparkle This Year

My Top Five Reasons to Sparkle This Year

1. My Own Health - If I had one wish I would wish for my kids and family, it’s to take care of themselves along the way while you live life. Personally I think your days are numbered, but how you take care of yourself can impact how healthy you live out those days. You hear Dr. Phil, and so many counselors, preach to always keep yourself healthy you must “take care of yourself first.” For many in my generation, we were taught to always think of your elders first. We didn’t like that as kids so we adjusted that so far that it was all about the kids, to the point of actually hurting ourselves. Hopefully today’s parents have it just right. Putting myself first, still pulls some guilt up to say that, but I’m going to try it for this year and see how that works for me since I’ve been listening when Dr. Phil says, “How’s that past been workin for ya?”

2. God wants it for me. Whenever things are hard, you’d think I would go towards something that makes me feel better…and I do eventually, but first I run away from God and stay away from church. I don’t even say my prayers regularly, and the more time goes by the less I feel worthy to show up on his door step a mess again…. but eventually I do. When he lets me back in he always seems to show me a grander plan than I had on my own but only after I’ve wandered awhile. Kind of like when you’re a parent and your child runs off in a store. You watch protectively and hope they learn a lesson when they realize they are lost.
When Brendon was little he made a pin in Sunday school that says, “Never Run Away From God”. The pin managed to stay in a safe place and even made its way to Phoenix when we moved. I have it by the kitchen door, and admire it often. You know what they say about “out of the mouths of babes”.

3. My husband. Kerry and I have always been like oil and water one minute, and madly in love the next. The kids would tell you while they were growing up,  we were either screaming and fighting or snuggled up on the couch. The last few years the oil and water part is still there - but the madly in love has been… ehhh not so much. As the songs on my I pod played through on my walk the other day Paul Overstreet came on. He was singing A Long Line of Love. It goes, “when times get rough we don’t give up... forever’s in my heart and in my blood, yes, we come from a long line of love”. Kerry hates Paul Overstreet, he calls his music “candy ass”, so I snickered when I thought of that but, teared up at the sentiment of it. Most older couples who kept the knot tied will tell you, there have been times during their marriage that they wondered if they’d make it through the rough times and there will be rough times if you're married long enough.
      I am proud of myself for sticking with it, and proud of Kerry for sticking with it because it would have been easier to walk away, and probably still would be at times with this distance thing. However, I hope we can always love each other, be the kind of companions that share a bond that you can count on to the end. Long marriages are rare these days; nearly extinct. Kerry and I both need to accept where we are now, realize that our marriage today is different than what it was, learn to be kinder and be the couple that’s right for us, not what or where the world thinks we should be.


4. My Kids. Anyone that knows me, knows my kids are my world. From the time I knew I was going to be a mother, I knew what I was here to do. We have our warts and moles like all families, but I know that all three of the kids would say I have always been there for them and loved them above all else, probably too much, if anything. You can lose your own life in them, and I have been good at that.
    Brendon’s one of the most sensitive men I know and I can tell him anything. I admire him so much for the way he’s played the hand he’s been dealt which is a tough one.
Shelbey is just so easy to be around, kind and always looking out for others. She's so good to me. Sydney is my soul sister. We are really close and two of the same, so that makes for love and WAR but its all love in the end.

5.  My sisters. My older sister Marcy has lived here her whole adult life. She was fourteen when I was born, and my second Mom. She takes on my problems like  a Mom would. I can tell her something in the evening, and by morning she has an idea for me... because she cares that much. She’s somebody I’d choose for a friend even if she wasn’t my sister. Marcy has four beautiful daughters inside and out. They have included me in their lives since I came here and I don’t know what I would have done without them and their families. I even get to go to all the birthday parties and enjoy being able to see them often.
     I have already written about Kathy previously. She and I were only eighteen months apart and as different as night and day. We shared the same life at home, because we were so far behind the other two kids. We have a unique bond to have been there since the beginning.  She means the world to me as does her family.
     I also had a brother who was died as a result of a car accident and he has two daughters that are very important to me.


That’s my top five. I have a lot of aquaintences, and a few good friends as well, that give me reason to be a better me.  I don’t know if one should need any reasons to push yourself toward your best self but it doesn’t come naturally for me. Instead, I guess I like to wonder around the store, lost, till I’m in trouble.

Friday, January 14, 2011


     Mental health experts say, “before you can change a behavior you have to admit it.” Own up to it.  “I’m the laziest person alive when it comes to exercise.” There, I admitted it to the world! I have a creative head that has been both a blessing and a curse, and I wouldn’t trade my head,  however my behind… couldn’t be lazier! Only my love of beautiful surroundings spurs me to keep my house somewhat nice.

     It started when my younger sister Kathy came out of the womb a workaholic! She probably cut her own cord and cleaned up the delivery room after herself!  She was six when she raked up all the lawn grass in a pile like a haystack. Standing out on the clumpy lawn, Staring down the flip open view finder, Mom took aim with her top of the line, brownie camera. With the Sylvania bulb spit on, tightly placed the funnel looking flash attachment,  Kathy posed for the picture complete with a pitchfork! The blackened, bubbled, bulb popped out of the camera onto the ground. I watched shamefully from the house.  I wish I had a nickel for every time that picture was brought out for every visitor that came to our farm.  I never heard the end of how ambitious she was! I didn't think I'd ever want to see this picture again but the blog wouldn't be complete with out it!

         Kathy wasn’t  just ambitious, she’s organized too.  I sat in the middle of my, “path to the bed and back” bedroom, making music, with my Cher sideburns cut into my long hair. That would have been a total waste of time to Kathy, she was busy rubber banding together everything in the junk drawer.  Ever seen a junk drawer with every paper clip in place? Go to Kathy’s house, pick any drawer at the end of her counter still today. 

     There is no way a lazy person by nature,  can compete with a workaholic. I just gave up and tried to make it work for me. Kathy would want to saddle the horses about three times a day and ride. Are you kidding me? Corner and catch the horses,  drag the saddles off the cream cans on the wall, hoist them up on the horses, cinch them up tight, switch out the headgear, ride, walk them out, curry them off, hoist the gear back up on the cream cans…three times a day? ( Ok I might be exaggerating a little there, but not much). In an attempt to get her off my back using my laziness and her ambition, I’d say, “sure I’ll ride, but you have to saddle my horse and yours, and drag me to the barn on the sled”. Sure enough, she saddled the horses, and attempted to drag me to the barn on our red sleds with runners. I was already chubby, (no idea why) and I think she made it half way. I forgot to say this was in the summertime!

     My new campaign to sparkle this year is going really well for the most part!  I have lost seven pounds, my classes are interesting, still liking the church,  and am up to 22 minutes on the treadmill - except for day before yesterday. I had the devil on my shoulder  from the time I woke up about walking on the treadmill. I found every reason I could to put off climbing on that thing, till night time.

     When I couldn’t find anyone to drag me to it, I finally got on. I was obsessed with watching the time. Eight minutes, oh gosh twelve left! Eight minutes and thirty two seconds… still twelve. When I hit ten I tried to pep talk myself by thinking, “hey, you’re half way and this is as much as you could do the very first day! You’re doing good Pam, just keep going! At eighteen minutes the devil got the best of me and I got off.  I beat myself up the rest of the night. I’m surprised I didn’t eat something to dig myself in deeper, but I didn’t. Yeah, I’m happy about that too.

      I have always said music is my saving grace. I could not have lived with no music. When I had panic disorder really bad back in the early 80’s, I used music to divert myself from thinking negative thoughts. So yesterday, and today, I got on the treadmill and decided I’m closing my eyes to the time until I’ve listened to at least five songs. I say five because six could be over and Lord knows I cant go over ha-ha. I probably look like a white version of Stevie Wonder, but that’s how I’ve kept my lazy butt on the treadmill the last two days. 

     On a positive note I already have more energy for my creative things I feel like doing - just not for walking on the treadmill. That’s not creative.  The exercise part is going to be hardest. I admit it, I wish Kathy would come down here and do it for me but she resigned half way to the barn, so guess I will have to stick to the five songs and ramp it up to six or seven come Monday.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Commit To A Healthy Life

      It’s a new year. What will you do with it? Resolutions come and go. The way you choose to live shouldn’t. Don’t throw in the towel, grab one and break a sweat. Lets do it together! Those words were on the cover of an invitation from Lifetime Fitness inviting us to their facility. I thought it was a great choice of words urging people to commit to a better life!

     I already wrote about what I planned to do with my year, and how I felt about resolutions. The catch for me in the words above, is that the way I choose to live shouldn’t come and go. I have always been a yoyo dieter. My joke is I haven’t even been able to yo, however for 15 years! The numbers have been gradually creeping up and up.

     Take it from me, losing weight isn’t hard. What’s hard, is getting your mind in the right place to stay disciplined. Exercise is a huge part losing weight and being healthy. I’d do well for awhile and then fall off the mark.

     I absolutely hate the TV show The Biggest Loser! I cannot believe someone doesn’t die and I can’t imagine the injuries that must happen when people that large are driven to exercise like that. In my opinion, it sets the bar way to high for the overweight people watching it. To me, it sends a message that they are going to have to practically kill themselves to lose weight. Excessive exercise is not likely to happen for most of us, because by the time you allow that many pounds to add up most of us are limping and ill. I heard a good analogy once that compared a wagon carrying a light load to a wagon carrying a heavy load. Naturally the heavy wagon’s wheels are going to give out first! Interesting, but didn’t spur me on to any success. I hope it works for you.

    You don’t have to kill yourself practically to lose weight just concentrate on getting healthier and I really think it will just happen. Maybe I’m delusional, I’m not sure. Its about feeling better, doing some things like horse back riding I haven’t done for years and just being who I am and living my days instead of acting like they are unending and just wasting my time here.

     I am eleven days into my campaign to sparkle. I have lost five pounds in eleven days, far from the biggest losers success if your measuring by pounds but I don’t care. I have my walking up to 20 min. and I started at ten. I haven’t been sore or stiff, and my back is holding up well. I have never been thin and don’t plan to be, it is not about looks for me.

    I’m writing blogs because I love to write, and I want to help someone else. I’m not going to write all year on weight. Life is way bigger than that! I have lots of ideas, but this one is in my face at the moment. Or should I say in my back?
So tomorrow, God willing, I will grab a towel, break a sweat and enjoy my day. I’m staying strong in my commitment to live better.  

Ps…Scotty is doing ok. He has surgery today to put the port in his chest for chemo.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Little Friend


 Sometimes, bad things happen to others that you care about that really puts your own problems in perspective. Is the two and a half pounds I lost a big deal when someone is fighting for their life? A child, no less? My daughter, Shelbey, moved here to Phoenix from Branson, Mo. where she was working and singing, to accept a position as a music teacher at an elementary school. Of course, I enjoyed having her here, with me and our other two children. After she started her new job at the school, at her urging, I accepted a job as an classroom individual aid for a little boy with Downs Syndrome.

     During the interview with the Principal, she took me to the Special Needs classroom I’d be working in, and we peeked in the door window. She pointed to Scotty sitting under his desk sucking on his finger. She told me I would need a firm hand and a lot of discipline as had been having a terrible time getting along with the last couple of aids they had hired for him and eventually they had quit.

     When I was introduced to Scotty he just looked up at me with his little brown eyes, sort of wrinkled his forehead, then his eyes darted off in another direction and he went back to sucking his finger. I looked around the room. I had never been with any special needs children before, say nothing of a room full or ten or twelve. I expected to feel scared or uncomfortable but I didn’t. The first time I saw how unpredictable they could be with their emotions I was like, “Hey I have a lot in common with these kids”! They are just like any other kids, they just have areas where they need some assistance and I’m good at assistance!

     My first few days with Scotty he was really wary of me. He had some shut downs and behavior I didn’t understand because he didn’t talk, but I tried to. I surely didn’t use a firm hand and I surely didn’t use a lot of discipline. I used reasoning and genuine “I want to make your life a better place“. Only one time he hit me, and I just looked him in the eye and said, “Hey you and me are friends. We don’t hit friends. I don’t hit you and you don’t hit me”. Two big tears rolled down his face and he hugged me.

      Every morning I would get him off the bus, and by day four he smiled when he saw me there to get him and reached out to take my hand, that warmed my insides on a chilly morning! His teacher always had a packet of work for the students to do first thing in the morning called “sign ins.” Students practiced writing their name, address phone numbers, a little math, matching and letters etc. The first few days he sat under the desk, sucking his finger and I coaxed to no avail. One day, I just moved my chair over to help another student and he got right up and moved a different chair beside his desk for me to come back over. Every day after that one time, as soon as he got his backpack hung up he’d get me a chair and put it by his desk!

     I used humor to diffuse his temper tantrums, (so much for the firm hand), and the reward might be chance to listen to a song on my I pod, ( he loved Laurie Berkner songs), to get him to let go of the swing set pole and come in from recess. To help him with his math problems I would put dots beside the numbers in the equations for him to count. For example ::4 + 2: = ?. One morning, I had a quick meeting with his teacher, and was over at her desk and he was working on his sign in alone. I was astounded when I came to his desk to see he had dotted all his own math problems! I felt so proud to have taught him that!

     During art class instructions he didn’t understand, he’d get restless. Giving him the finger massages I'd give my own kids during church,  I’d take his hand and massage each one,  and then playfully wiggle each finger one at a time when I was done. He’d always smile at the wiggle part! After a week or two of my famous massages,  if I didn’t take the initiative to do his hand massage,  he’d give me his hand!

      We both packed our lunches so I’d bring him something in my lunch I knew he’d like, such as a pickle or fresh orange slices from my tree. That boy loved to eat! During assemblies that were too loud I’d always cover his ears because loud noises bothered him.  I had him try to address everyone we ran into to encourage him to talk. Before long regular classroom teachers, janitors and front desk personel were stopping us in and saying what a changed kid he was! He and I had a bond that I really needed in my tough times and he really needed for somebody to try and understand him.

     His parents are some of the most wonderful people I know. They love their son more than anything and have fought for him and given him the most normal life they could.  He’s taken karate, hiked South Mountain and every year he looks forward to a convoy, when he can ride in his Dads’ Wal-Mart truck to benefit Special Olympics. He’s even been zip lining in Mexico! How many of you can say that?
After getting to know his parents I see why he’s grown up to be such a special caring young man. He has his Dad’s sense of humor, and his Mom’s loving spirit. He’s has the best parents any child could have. 

     I don’t work with Scott anymore, he’s in junior high now.  I have kept up with his family and see Scotty several times a year.  Earlier this week, his parents let us know he has leukemia and a blood infection besides. He is in the hospital and very sick. Since that news, I feel a little shell shocked honestly. My losing weight and thinking of my own life went to the back burner. Although I’m still on my plan for myself too, his well being is in my mind constantly.

     I went to see Scotty yesterday. As sick he is, he put his hand out waved it back and forth and said, “Miss Pam”! That fragile, painridden, swollen, little boy laying in that bed changed my life and I’m better because of him, and all those kids in that room for that matter. What a blessing they were for me. Help me pray for a positive outcome for Scotty and for his parents.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Looks A Lot Like Jenga

     Have you ever played Jenga? I haven’t actually played it because…. ok this may sound strange, but I don’t like games where there’s potential for aggravating noise. Kathy and Mom used to play Yahtzee and I never joined in. Listening to five dice hit the table three times for each play was not my idea of fun, let alone some people shake it five minutes before dumping them out! Today, I decided working on myself and finding the real me after all these years is a lot like a game of Jenga.

     My initial fired up feeling over adding some sparkle to my life, ebbed a little today. I’ve not had a Coke in three days and I’ve exercised every day. So, besides admitting that I need a higher power to keep me from my Coke addiction, the exercise part confirmed that I’m the laziest person on the planet! When it comes to physical exercise, I’m a wuss!

     I have back problems, but I’ve complained about that so much I can’t stand to listen to myself even, so I’m going to skip whining about that. My heels however, I am going to whine about! I have not had tennis shoes on them in a couple years. I’m the croc queen and before you start gasping some of them are really cute! They have attractive flats that no one even knows are crocs, and for my back problems they are the bomb! But my heels have gotten to be so tender I can’t wear real shoes.

    Yesterday, I walked around the neighborhood. Today though, I got Sydney to help me pull my treadmill out of the corner and after only a couple gouges in the wall, we got it laid down and positioned. I purposely waited until Sydney went to Zumba before I started my exercise “routine” (eleven minutes, hush now) so she couldn’t say anything about how long I stayed on there. If it was up to her, she’d train me like Jillian Michaels on the biggest loser! Refer to paragraph one…I’m a wuss remember? Nobody’s screaming in my face to push harder! This is a sparkle campaign not torture!

    After grunting and struggling and that was just getting my shoes on, I was thinking, these don’t feel to bad! I got on the treadmill and hunted around for where the key goes in. That’s telling how long since I’ve used it and there was a time I never missed a day walking 4 miles on it. I’d go home from a holiday and walk. After I got the key in, I dusted off the dashboard and thought to myself this thing is as dusty as I feel right now!
     So I started on my walk thinking….“ my shoes don’t feel to bad, YET!” So, I walked eleven minutes which is nothing I know but I do not want to hurt my back so I decided I’m going to add a minute a day for the first couple weeks. I’m going over to Marcy’s tomorrow to help with the kids, and I want to walk thru the door without a cane when she meets me with her neck brace.

    On the bright side, which is the only side that matters, I ate healthy all day, got my pantry cleaned out, signed up for three more drug classes {not for myself, for my education ha), and a jewelry class. Brendon called me to have dinner with him Friday. That invitation made my day, I really love to hang out with the kids.

    Back to Jenga, you build your way to the top a little at a time. Sometimes your only move looks shaky and the top seems a long way away. Other people might think you’re making a wrong move, but it works for you and the tower still stands! Even in the worse case scenario, it makes an annoying racket and tumbles down. If that happens players just start over and build it back up! The game goes on, the game can always go on.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday Sparkled

     So where would you begin your journey to sparkle? I woke up ready to give it my best, one day at a time, because for one thing, I promised you all I was going to. Writing a blog about my plans and losing weight is even more public than getting the pig to take home and put on your fridge for a week. That was the penalty back in the 80s when you went to Tops if you were the biggest gainer! After stepping on the scale and feeling momentarily disgusted with myself for gaining five of the twenty pounds I lost last fall, I decided five pounds wasn't worth losing my new shiny spirit over.

     At noon, I went to a new nondenominational church. As I drove there I wondered what to expect. Like I said, I'm Lutheran and love the hymns and order of service and all of that but right now I need spiritual meat and potatoes (sorry I'm missing them already ha), to get me through the week! I parked and was happy to see a lot of people wearing all different types of clothes and the volunteers that day were super friendly! I also saw a huge U-Haul truck and people loading bags into the truck. I found out later that with this cold weather snap many homeless people didn’t have the cold weather attire they needed. When I rounded the corner there was a little coffee tent and volunteers were selling coffee, tea or bottled water for a donation AND get this, THEY DO IT EVERY SUNDAY, AND YOU COULD TAKE THE COFFEE INTO CHURCH WITH YOU! That's heaven already! The church on the inside was a huge semi round sanctuary, complete with theater seating with cup holders! The contemporary gospel band that opened and played was inspiring and every song spoke to directly to my heart! The sermon was informative, interesting, scriptural and funny at times! More moving music and it was time to leave already. On the way out, I saw a man take the coat off he was wearing, and fling it on the truck for the homeless on the way out of church. I loved the whole experience! I will be passing through those doors carrying coffee, with three creams, again next Sunday for sure!

     Next I went to Sams Club for healthy food shopping, in the biggest and cheapest quantities, for our eating plan. I got fish, chicken, vegetables, nuts, Atkins bars, tea and bottled water. Probably needless to say but, we had fish and vegetables for dinner, I know what a shock!

     Tomorrow is Monday, and you know what that means. It’s the day you really kick it up a notch and no I’m not thinking of Emeril or food! I challenge you to give some thought to your personal sparkle and take a step to do just a little better than yesterday! We don't have to be a 4th of July sparkler all in one day, just forward progress instead of being stuck in neutral or going backwards. What do I have on my face book page? Something like, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.. It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” On with the journey!