Ready to Relay?

Jordyn with the red cap before starting backstroke.

Some of you may have seen that my granddaughter, Jordyn, at age nine, tried out for swimteam and made it.  I was a swimmer for most of my youth, swimming on summer and winter teams in the Chicagoland area.  I was actually shocked when Jo made the team.  She could swim but wow, to get in and compete against kids who had been doing this for a few years already, is hard.

First meet, Jordyn did not have a quality dive or a good turn but she got in and won a second place and some other ribbons.  Excellent start.  Her coach clearly believes in her and pushed into the relay space (filling in for an absent swimmer) at this last meet.  Oh, goodness, barely a dive and now has to wait for the other swimmer to touch and dive off into the pool to swim the relay race.  She was worried sick and having a panic attack but she listened to her coach and focused on what to do.  Guess what, the relay won first place!!

Jordyn ended up with three firsts (swimming freestyle in two relays and 50 yard free) and a second place for the day! I can’t help but think where she will be when that dive becomes routine and those turns are flip turns.  Wow, this lean, tall girl is going to be (or has become) a swimmer!

I love Seth Godin on any day but this blog about relays was certainly appropriate for me (and Jordyn).  I hope you enjoy it too!

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2017/06/mental-load-and-the-worry-cache.html

Mental load and the worry cache by Seth Godin

It’s well known that the team that wins an Olympic relay isn’t the fastest at running or swimming—it’s the team that handles the handoffs the best.

The same thing is true of your job. The tasks could be done by many people, but someone who is great at your job embraces the mental effort necessary to do task switching, to read between the lines, to keep many balls going at the same time. Strategy and tactics both.

Sometimes, we think that these are the things that get in the way of our work. In fact, they are the work.

Writing a sentence is easy. Deciding what to write in the next sentence is hard.

Making decisions is exhausting. It involves perception and analysis and most of all, taking responsibility. Pretending to lead and manage is a trivial task, because there’s no, “what if?”

It turns out that the mental load of management is primarily around experiencing failure.

Actual failure, sure, but mostly potential failure. Imagining failure in advance. All the current things that could go wrong. And more important, the things you’re not doing that will be obvious oversights later. Our brains work overtime to cycle through these, to learn to see around corners, to have the guts to delegate without doing the work ourselves (even though that creates more imagined points of failure). Scan, touch, consider, analyze, repeat.

The other thing that’s a huge load: Worry. Unlike all the things I’ve already mentioned, worry isn’t actually part of your job. Worry (expressed through non-productive pessimistic cycles over things out of your control) is antithetical to the work you’ve agreed to do.

Clear your cache of worry.

It’ll free up your processor to focus on the useful stuff.

A Chance

IMG_6449Day by day, I have been getting a little stronger and walking about a little further.  I have had some great visitors that have filled up the hours and some beautiful flowers that are filling the air with sweet scents.

Thursday Ally was over early to mow.  She thought she saw a small dog at the top of my neighbor’s driveway.  Lauren came back from her trainer’s around noon and spotted the same little one lying deathlike in the driveway.  Lauren went to investigate and found the neighbor’s other mini-pony had given birth but mommy and baby were separated and the baby was much worse for not having mommy by her side and milk to drink.

A little investigation found the first time momma with her placenta half-delivered locked away down in the pasture.  The baby had wondered up to the road herself.

Lauren would have investigated more but for the bull that chased her out of the pasture and through the wire fence.  It had been a brutal week for Lauren anyway having suffered a badly injured forearm that took her to the ER and a fall through a palm tree (you do not want that story) so getting chased by the bull was icing on the cake.

IMG_6450.JPGLauren and Ally teamed up with our neighbors to try to help out the tiny baby that was quite dehydrated at that point.  Couple with a syringe and water, the foal got some much needed fluids and started to gain back some ground toward living.

Lauren kept mumbling that she wanted to take the foal on the road with her to Tyron (North Carolina where she is headed to show this next week) and I was was fine with that but I was not agreeing to nurse it around the clock.  The owner of the property and mare were gone and not reachable to help us save the baby.

The girls called the sheriff’s department and four officers arrived pretty quickly.  They took the baby in their arms and went in search of the new momma still hoping she would accept the baby and the baby would have a chance.

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We all left out about that time leaving the matter in the capable hands of the officers.  Last night Nancy arrived for Jordyn’s lessons and I was telling Jennifer about the bad news of losing the little foal when our eyes were riveted towards the little sorrel pinto streak of a foal galloping next to her momma in the next pasture.

Never did I expect this baby to live and flourish.  I guess she just needed a chance.  Thank you ladies for work well done in his service!

Thanks for riding along!

Coming Home-Lent Writing#2

Last night, for Lent,  I chose to do something to make me a better person instead of my usual give up red meat thing that I have done for the last several years.

I will write a new post everyday until Easter -45 days away now. Last night’s  blog went off like a bomb. Big, booming and wounding those I love. So, trust me I wrote it (you can even read some comments about it) but the post is down.

My daughters surprised me with a wonderful birthday cruise.  So, let’s move on.

Today we got off the boat in Galveston to chilly late winter weather. The skies were crystal clear but the north wind was strong and unrelenting. The walk from the ship to the parking area was a little over a mile. Lauren and Amber had on shorts. I was rockin’ some capris. But by the time we reached the car I had lost all thoughts of the tropical paradise we had recently left and wasn’t sure I could feel my legs either.

But in the short five days we had been gone, it was noticeably greener and flowers were everywhere especially the early blooming azaleas.

Our tree lined road was fully in bud. It was all the color I would call  new spring green, almost as fluorescent lime green, adorning all of the branches. The piercingly cold blue sky set a perfect picture.

Is always a thrill to turn through our gate and look down towards the pastures I identified a horse laying in the field. But I couldn’t quite get my head around whose horse it was. Then an A HA moment struck me and I thought “you’re so stupid, that is Sims!”

I am gone five days and I do not recognize my own baby. It was great to see them all happy and healthy and enjoying the sunny day. As we pulled up into the garage, Lauren quickly went and opened the door so the dogs could come out.

You know I always say no one can ever love me with as much exuberance and adoration as my own dog. A human being is never going to jump up-and-down excitedly, whipping their body back-and-forth in ecstasy upon just seeing you return. No one is ever going to do that. But my joy that I got from watching their Joy was tremendous.

Even the cats seemed to be standing at attention spread exactly 12 inches apart as they lined the countertop. I could hear their meowing from even outside the door.

As I grabbed a jacket, I rushed to follow Lauten out to the barn. Just checking up that everything was OK and everyone was all right. Things looked good and we were blessed to have great house sitters in Lisa and Jordan.

It took a while to get back inside and get started on those chores with all the swimsuits, coverups, shorts and T shirts to be washed.  It was a long afternoon of work. I got everything finished and put away. I got my bed made with fresh sheets, all the horses fed and put away for the night. Amber, Ally, Jordyn  and Kendyll came over so Jordyn could ride. My daughters and I had our last meal together for probably quite some time. It is always so hard for me to have Amber leave.

I am happily home and have no intention of going anywhere unless it is to see my wonderful Flexible  baby due in early July.

Thank you for supporting my 46 days of Lent write-a-thon. More tomorrow!!

From the mouths of babes (or in this case Kendyll)


It’s that time of the year for too many commitments and even less time. My daughter Ally found herself having to regretfully tell her four year-old daughter, Kendyll, that she would not be able to attend the pre-schooler’s Christmas party.  Guilt got the best of Ally and she took off halfway through her work at our family farm today to attend the party.
Surprisingly, she was greeted as she walked in by a couple of staff members.

“Kendyll said you were working at the barn today and couldn’t come” the one teacher said.

“Well, as long as you are here-we have some questions for you” chimed in another.

“Does Kendyll really have her own horse and ride all by herself?” was the first question.

“Yes, she does. She has been riding since she was little” Ally told them (most would think four was young, but I digress).

“She said that her granny, aunt and you ride as well” came the next question.

“We do” Ally answered.

“Kendyll says her granny is the best rider because she can ride in snow, jumps and does dressage” (what four year-old knows that word?)

But then came the best question of all!

The teacher leaned forward intense on Ally’s next response, “Kendyll says her aunt Lauren rides with the Marines!”

“Is she in Afghanistan?” the other teacher eagerly asked.

Ally was a little confused.  Lauren and the armed services are not things that go together naturally. Then the light came on.

From the mouths of babes, Kendyll had heard us talk about Trapp (Lauren’s trainer) being a Marine.  In her head, she had put together that Lauren was in the Marines!! Wow, that is the best thing ever.

Lauren might argue that training with Trapp is like being in the Marines.  Everyday is boot camp.

And just as an aside, while my step-father was proudly in the cavalry, what exactly would Lauren being doing in Afghanistan on a horse?  Maybe she and Feather doing reconnaissance missions in the mountainous regions?  Leading patrols through the shattered streets?   Just asking…

Anyway, precocious, articulate four year-olds are always listening and picking up way more than we think.  Guess we better watch what we are saying because Kendyll is on a listen and tell mission.

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These roses are blooming next to the barn right now.

 

Anyway, I hope you all are staying warm as this cold front descends on the nation.  Slow down and enjoy the season.

Thanks for riding along!

Positano & a BIG Surprise

 

back-handIn 1953, John Steinbeck wrote, “Positano is dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”  Positano is my word for having my family home for the holiday.    It was amazing after so long (maybe two years) to have everyone from the grandkids to son-in-laws all together at once.

This is what Amber wrote as they headed south for their visit (this is not about me helping them to get home but about how badly we all needed the love of our family so much).

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Feeling blessed and excited! My momma is flying us ‘Newski’s down to Texas for Thanksgiving. It’s been a really tough year with broken bones, pain, loss of my beloved 13 year old dog, loss of income, and near loss of loved ones. I can’t wait to be with family and enjoy their spirit. My mom is always trying to bring me joy and I’m lucky to have her. She brought us our new Lola puppy girl full of love and joy and now she is bringing my Colorado family to Texas. I love you mom. Can’t wait to see you Cindy

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We were blessed with a Thanksgiving visit that started on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  We had a lively schedule and yet plenty of time to visit, play games and re-connect. Ryan and Amber also got a chance to get to the Equestrian Center and watch Lauren compete.  Lauren has had several good months as she has learned the ins-and-outs of new mount KY but it was at this show where things really started to come together.

As the Denver family was only getting home one time, we had to combine Christmas and Thanksgiving (in that order) to spend it in person.  Our schedule included Christmas on Monday and Thanksgiving on Tuesday.  A little odd but no one seemed to mind (especially the kids).

I also was determined to re-enact the Holiday photo from two years ago (our last time all together) into a new photo for this year.  Previously, I had my steadfast mare Kalani who was great at standing still but this year the photo was going to be on my mare Nova while quiet-standing still is not her best thing.

Although you could not tell by this picture Nova is a bigger mare.  I was just glad no one fell off.  Nova started to move around.  Jordyn and Kendyll wanted off now!!  They have gotten pretty wise.  Lexi and Riley were like, no problem Granny, take some more pictures!

Moving on to Christmas Monday (Nov.21st), I felt the usual excitement around the kids and presents but there seemed to be more.  As everyone rushed to open presents (I felt like no one was giving fair attention to what was being opened) a huge box suddenly appeared in front of me. Clearly, this was about me and everyone was carefully watching my reaction.  I hate surprises.  At least most surprises.  I was scared opening this box.  I am not often caught off-guard but I had NO idea what was going on.  I thought something was going to jump out at me-like a llama.  But as I tentatively opened the box I saw a huge suitcase not an animal.  That surprised me even more.  I did not need a big suitcase.  I had not left the farm except for small suitcase adventures in years.

Then I had to open the suitcase.  That was scary too!  I saw this cleverly crafted sign inside.

WHAT??

Yes, the girls had been planning for some time (and I had no hint) to take me on a Mother-Daughters’ Cruise for my 60th birthday in February.  Oh my goodness.  I was shocked and SO pleased.  I know all three girls have struggled with finances these last years and to see they had done this for me was amazing.

They had even cleared it with my boss and set up coverage for the animals.  I am going on a CRUISE with my daughters!!  WOW!!

What a birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving surprise.  What wonderful girls!


It was a wonderful time and here are some of the best pictures.  Enjoy.

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Texas Thanksgiving in the pool.

                          Lexi and Kendyll 

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Maui Jim and Kona sharing a stick

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday whatever one you were celebrating.  Mine was totally unreal!

 


Oh, and I might have adopted two cats.  I know, I know.  But I am running out of time.  If I am going to be 60 and these are teenagers, then they might well out live me.  I had to help them when I saw their faces.  I intended to get the girl but the boy was wearing a bowtie so what was I to do?

They are settling in well and are totally beautiful.

Thanks for riding along!

Return in time

This weekend I returned to Breckenridge where I had not been in 19 years.  Back then, my mother was marrying Jim and we augmented the trip to Denver with a family ski trip. While the pictures are not reproducing very clearly, Amber has a collage of the photos from that trip hanging in the guest room where I stayed.  It was one of our last family trips before we were a family no longer.


First picture is of Amber and I skiing exactly where the Spartan Race was. The second is young Amber and the last is Amber, Ally and very young Lauren. (apologize for the low quality)

Then, I was married with children. At the risk of spinning off song lyrics, I got a divorce and chestnut horse.  Ally, Lauren and I started life over in Texas.  Years, miles, family lost, family gained have rolled on by re-setting my life.  It was quite interesting to find myself back on the Breckenridge slopes.

There I was, standing once again, on the same slopes of Breckenridge that we had skied all those years ago, now as a mother-in-law and a grandmother, watching Ryan, Riley and Lexi compete in Spartan Races was quite a trip for me to take, literally and mentally.


It was weird in many ways to me.  First, I was standing on the lush summer green grass where before in the same spot I had stood on 30 or more inches of snow. The lifts standing still in the soft summer breeze.  I looked up and down the mountain, taking in the view, remembering the many ski trips here. Now, I was here to watch and support a crazy new kind of race.

The Spartan Race is a leader in the sport of obstacle racing, offering open heats for all fitness levels, as well as competitive and elite heats for those with something more to prove. The first of its kind to feature timing and global rankings, Spartan Race provides a proving ground for beginner and professional obstacle racers looking to test themselves in new ways across the world.

In Ryan’s race Saturday, he ran over 14 miles but faced daunting obstacles the whole way.  It was super compelling to me as we watched the runners approach the finish line.  I am almost lost my voice cheering them on.  Anyone that has heard me at a horse show is no stranger to my yells and cat calls.  This group was made up of serious athletes and I wanted them to hang on and finish their race.

Prior to rolling downhill under barb wire, the contestants are dumped in a tank of icy water.  Ryan is in front.  Good times!

Ryan jumping the fire pit (seriously!)

Ryan after he crossed the finish line with Amber, Riley and Lexi.

Riley headed off in his own Spartan obstacle race!

Lexi conquering the web.  She told me it was easy for her because she is a gymnast!

 Riley and Lexi will their medals post finish!

I spend a lot of time with Ally and Lauren.  I cheer on Jordyn’s riding pursuits.  I acknowledge four year-old Kendyll’s reported wins in the Grand Prix ring (that’s what she tells me anyway).

I was so happy to be back in Colorado with this set of my family cheering them on.  Especially for something so difficult.  Riley had no problem with his race at all.  He paced along, conquered the obstacles and headed to the finish line.  Lexi was one of the smallest competitors.  She mastered the balance beam, hauled herself over any solid walls that came her way, but drew the line at the mud hazard.  Although she lost points, she told me clearly, “Granny, I am not going in the mud!  I don’t like to get dirty!”  We will need to work on that!

I enjoyed a wonderful weekend with my Denver family.  It was nice to feel the cool air and mountain breeze.  Wearing jeans for the first time in over six months was kind of nice, too.  The mountains will always be first love and my home.


Amber and I made a trip to the cemetery as well.  I had not seen my mother’s head stone before.  It was sad and a little overwhelming to see the headstones of my entire immediate family laid out before me.  I saw my final resting spot.  I don’t know when I will join them but plan to live my life to fullest in the meantime.

As always, thanks for riding along.

Here’s a link to my chestnut horse.

 

https://exechorseluver.com/2012/04/23/meet-the-horses-mr-kid/

Exceeding Your Reach


A photo from Lauren’s recent trip to tropical Malaysia

I certainly have felt this before with Amber and Ally as they have made their way through life.  I am proud of them, their families and their accomplishments. It is that moment as a parent or a grandparent that you see your family member meet or exceed what your accomplishments have been.  It is certainly a moment for introspection.

These are little examples in my life not like the proud families watching their child’s head to Olympics or achieve medals but moments indeed.

I grew up as the daughter of a United Airlines executive.  We traveled frequently and to many places.  I have enjoyed traveling to many countries.  But never have I boarded a plane for many hours to head to Asia.  The fact that my “rather stay home” daughter did so was remarkable to me.  Her album on Facebook of her trip shows modern cities and high rises juxtapositioned amongst jungles, monkeys and secluded beaches.

 

Lauren and Mia barefoot on the wobbling sky bridge looming high over the jungle floor. 

While Lauren is still recovering from her 20 hour return flight I can tell by her comments to others how the wonder, strangeness and exotic power of travel has changed her.  She will be richer all her life for this opportunity to see how others live and what her country  offers her in every day life.

  Many stairs head to the beautiful waterfalls


Super exotic and ultra-modern

My child has now ventured almost around the world. Certainly exceeding what I thought was well-traveled for me and mine.  And that she flew home alone, negotiating a plane change in Taipei makes it even more wild.  I will never think of Lauren the same again.  Many, many thanks to the wonderful Kuchner  family for making this opportunity a reality! We are forever indebted.

 

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Jordyn on Mickey and I am on Feather with Nancy guiding us along

 

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Taking a dressage lesson with my granddaughter-what a thrill!
Again, in the category of exceeding my reach is my eight year-old granddaughter Jordyn saddling up with me to take dressage lessons together.  Jordyn has been pining away with desire to join the grown up dressage lessons that take place a couple of times a week at my barn with dressage master, Nancy Lindsey.

Jordyn, through her summer with working student camp, days and days spent at the farm and on horseback was ready for a few new steps to her riding repertoire.  Also, with our usual dressage rider Jo Ann out-of-town, Nancy could focus on Jordyn and not  slow the group down.

I was interestingly effected by the addition of my granddaughter to my lesson.  I have ridden all my life but just recently started learning the nuances of dressage.  I am a beginner in many ways just like Jordyn

As we made our twenty meter circle and worked on leg yielding in and out, there was something special and captivating about having my granddaughter there to share it with me.  I really don’t remember ever taking lessons with my kids.  I was either way better than them or they were way better than I.  But we were never at the same place at the same time.  While I can out ride Jordyn for sure, in these new tasks we were equals and she was even better than I.

The best part?  Jordyn was overcome with JOY to be part of this lesson.  Her smile never wavered and her enthusiam never stopped. An hour later,  I was out of breath in the corner as Nancy took Jordyn and Mick through one more serpentine.  With the 117 degree heat index, it was all quite remarkable. Jordyn told me, “She works you hard, huh, Granny?” She does indeed!

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Nancy giving Jordyn some words of wisdom

It was a new step for both of us and one that I think both of us equally treasured.  Hurrah, for the little blessings of life.

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Thanks for riding along!