Sunday, December 23, 2012


'Tis the season!!! The season of rushing around, worrying about what to get for whom, dreading dinner with people you would rather not spend time with ... oh wait ... is that not what it's about?? Of course I'm writing this 2 days before Christmas when it's been in my head for a month. Let's just say I'm following my own advice. Mostly.

Tips for mentally healthy holidays:
  • Don't fight it.  Especially if you're an introvert (and I don't mean shy or antisocial, I mean energetically pointed inward) the Holiday season is taxing.  Parties every weekend, less down-time . . . it's TOUGH!!  Know what you're doing.  Know that if you plan to attend a gathering every weekend, you'll be tired.  Here's a great article about how to manage the holidays as an introvert!  Personally, I have used the bathroom option MANY times!!  Shopping, activities, etc. take a huge toll.  Pace yourself.  I have started a sticky note list that I use to write down all the times I think "next year I ought to . . ." and stick it on next October.  I did this for the first time a couple of years ago and it really has made a difference.  Of course last year's note suggested that I have the Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving ..... maybe I should stick that note to July.
  • Avoid a hostage situation:  You will not die because you don't go to Aunt Sally's house for her homemade fruitcake on Christmas Eve.  Everyone involved will survive.  However, expect some backlash if you suddenly decide to forgo the family traditions.  Eventually, even that will fade.  Seriously.  Your mother will only mention it in every conversation for a couple of months.  You have to make a choice:  which is worse?  Sitting at Aunt Sally's for hours chewing the same bite of fruitcake in hopes it will at some point become swallow-able or dealing with the backlash from your mother?  If you decide to skip it, accept the backlash.  Be prepared to have really great boundaries with your mother, and extend your sincere regrets to Aunt Sally.  This might sound like "Hey Aunt Sally - I am just not feeling up to a bunch of people right now.  How about I give you a call next month and we'll get together for dinner?"  (you can leave out "without fruitcake") "Mom, I understand that Aunt Sally is disappointed.  I have just come to the realization that I need to conserve energy so I'm not so worn out, and this is a place I decided to cut back.  I hope you'll understand and respect my decision."  If you decide to go, don't sulk.  Be aware that you have chosen to attend the gathering, and be gracious.  Awareness of our choice in a situation helps us feel empowered.  Empowered is good when dealing with mothers and Aunt Sallys. 
  • Avoid gift extortion!!  Closely related to not being a hostage to events is not being a gift hostage.  Don't spend money you don't have on gifts for people you don't genuinely want to give to.  Again, there is no HAVE TO.  Instead of spending a bunch on something they will throw away, why not get something small (everyone loves lip balm and pens!) and attach it to a certificate letting them know you've made a donation in their name to ABC charity!  Bonus points for donating to a charity that you think THEY would support.  Here's a website to get you started.  How often do you get to say "I gave my boss a camel for Christmas??"  If you give someone a gift card for their local supermarket and they get irritated, shake the dust off your feet.  However, be aware of the fine line between frugal and stingy, and between busy and lazy.  Be honest with yourself.  If you're going to give, be generous and genuine.  If you're strapped this holiday season, don't be afraid to say so.  Announce ahead of time (see, this should have come a month ago) that you will not be giving lavish gifts this year.  For those you'd like to give to, offer coupons for services:  babysitting, housecleaning, yard work, toilet scrubbing . . . any of those would be more than welcome at my house!!  Give a gift that will make a difference, not end up in a closet.
  • Practice good boundaries!!!  You do NOT have to tolerate Uncle Monty's off-color jokes or wandering hands.  You also do not have to show Uncle Monty the error of his ways, or elicit an apology from him (odds are you won't get one).  You can exit stage left in a number of different ways.  Excuse yourself to the restroom.  Go help with the dishes.  Quietly just leave the room, or better yet, just roll your eyes (internally) and remind yourself you only have to tolerate this for a few hours a year and think of anything you like about Uncle Monty.  Notice I'm not advocating sending a message with the exit.  We would call that passive-aggressive behavior.  If cornered by Uncle Monty about why you're not laughing at his jokes, you can simply say "I guess I just didn't find it that funny" or "I guess I didn't get it" and then exit stage left before Uncle Monty has a chance to have to push back on you calling him on behavior he knows is inappropriate in the first place.  If you're going to take it on and push for permanent change, do it privately at another time.
  • Don't make a pre-emptive strike.  Don't sit around thinking of what zinger you're going to lay on your brother Hubert when he chides you about those 20 pounds you haven't taken off yet.  Don't spend your energy fashioning cutting remarks designed to peel the skin off his body.  Think about ASSERTIVENESS.  Think about ignoring it.  Think about not responding at all - just smile at Hubert, let the uncomfortable silence hang in the air and remember that those 20 pounds are YOUR issue, not his.  His mentioning it is about power, not concern.  (Concern sounds like "Hey sis - please don't hear this as judgment, but I've noticed you've gained some weight.  I love you so much and with your diabetes I'm worried about you.  Is there anything I can do to help??"  And by the way this conversation does NOT take place at Christmas dinner.  It happens privately.  )  You can even say, if needed "Hubert, I'm not even going to acknowledge that." 
  • Don't be a brat:  If you're reading this, I'm assuming that you are an adult.  In fact, I'd apply what I'm about to say to anyone over the age of about 15.  There is NO EXCUSE for creating drama at a family gathering.  If you can't play nice, stay home.  If you're going to act out and create a big mess, you might as well put on your big-kid assertiveness skills and piss everyone off in a healthy way.  Yeah, I get it.  You don't like the way so-and-so treats you.  Be descriptive.  Say "it is not OK for you to make fun of me," or "even though you say you are trying to be 'funny,' I find your comments very hurtful.  Please stop."  People who are used to walking all over you generally aren't going to congratulate you on your new found boundaries.  Christmas dinner isn't the time to insist everyone change their behaviors.  Wait till January 2.  If you're not willing to create a healthy scene, then smile inwardly and plan for the quiet, respectful conversation you'll have later.  Don't shout something nasty and run out of the room and slam the door.  You can get away with that up to about the age of 8.  And that's pushing it.
  • Give a nod to your bod:  This holiday season, I have decided I could live the rest of my life very happily eating only gingerbread cookie dough.  I bake the cookies for my friends, but I don't usually eat them after they are baked.  I think that's just a waste of good dough.  During the holidays we eat (and drink) more than we need to, and differently that we usually do.  We put all kinds of toxins IN to our bodies . . . and spend January in detox mode.  Lessen the impact on your body by maintaining some regular exercise, and throw in a few salads here and there.  Believe me - I'm not going to be the person with the plate of vegetables while everyone else is eating pecan pie, port wine cheese and Swedish meatballs, but I am working on trying to find balance on my plate.  I don't need to keep going back to the tray of pigs in a blanket.  I don't need 5 of those delicious canapes.  I can snack on celery.  No, it's not as fun, but I will be happy about it later.  While you're at it, throw in some exercise.  Relax now, it's not that bad.  Think about 10 minutes of stretching, or 20 jumping jacks.  The more we keep blood moving through our bodies, the more efficiently it can clean out the 10 pounds of peppermint bark we can't believe we ate. 
I'm going to take my own advice now, and move on to my next task instead of finding lots of pictures to fancy up this post.  Get out there and enjoy your holiday :)

Tis the Month Before Christmas

Lovingly Lifted from the "Appleseeds" website.  CLICK HERE for lots more fun versions of Clement C. Moore's Famous Poem!
Tis the month before Christmas, we're all going nuts;
With so much to do, there's no ifs, ands or buts.
Buy presents, hang tree lights, pop cards in the mail,
Send gift packs, thread popcorn, find turkeys on sale.

Decorations need stringing up all through the house.
And you haven't a clue what to buy for your spouse.
School concerts, receptions, open houses with friends,
Long lineups, short tempers, tying up the loose ends.

With all our mad dashing, we're reeling from shock;
Let's stop for a minute and really take stock.
It's crassly commercial, the cynical say;
If that's true, that our fault-it's us and not they.

Take time for yourself-though hard as that seems
Enjoy your kids' laughter, excitement and dreams.
Take a moment out now, don't get overly riled,
Instead make an angel in snow with your child.

The shortbread can wait, and so can the tree;
What's important to feel is a child's sense of glee.
The holidays aren't about push, rush and shove;
They're for friendship and sharing and family love.

Hear the bells, feel the warmth, light up with the glow
Of a message first sent to us so long ago:
Peace, love and goodwill, and hope burning bright.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Happy Holidays!! (And I mean that!)

I just decided I don't have a problem with wishing people "Happy Holidays!"  I went in to my local corner convenience store to buy the Diet Coke I'm not supposed to be drinking because it is sooooooo bad for me, and as I was leaving, I started to wish the cashiers a Merry Christmas . . . and that's when I realized that I had absolutely no idea if that would be meaningful to them.  I mean somebody could comment on my blog in Swahili, telling me that my blog saved them from the depths of despair and they think I'm the best thing since sliced bread, and it would mean absolutely nothing to me because it's not within my frame of reference. 

I found myself leaving the convenience store thinking of the term "Namaste."  The light in me recognizes and honors the light in you.  Happy Holidays is a way of saying "I don't know what your tradition is, but I wish you happiness in it."  Sounds like good boundaries to me.  I have decided that I want to wish people happiness in whatever holiday they find it - not just mine. 

Photo Courtesy of
My wedding was held during Hannukah once upon a time, and my very dear friend lit the menorah every night and we all celebrated together.  This is one of my favorite memories of the weekend, being able to celebrate with him in HIS holiday.  Last year, one of my clients gave me a little dreidel for my kids and we had a blast learning how to play. 

I love Christmas.  I love the lights, and the music, and the nativity scene.  This is my tradition.  I have to say though that I get possibly even more gushy when I hang the same bells up on my door that hung on my parents door, and my grandparents door.  I love the sense of connectedness to those who came before me, and those who will come after.  I don't have the same connection with Kwanzaa.  I'm pretty sure that someone who has celebrated Kwanzaa feels the same way about their holiday.  I don't know any Kwanzaa songs.  And I don't have a problem with Kwanzaa in general, even though in writing this blog I learned that it was developed as a slap against Christmas.  That gets into my soapbox about visiting or living in another country and expecting that culture to adapt to yours, which I like to call the "Ugly American" syndrome.  Another blog, another time.

Photo Courtesy of
I'll tell you what I do have a problem with though.  I have a problem with having to worry that my celbrating my holiday traditions will step on the delicate toes of someone else trying to celebrate theirs.  I remember growing up and thinking it was cool to see wrapping paper with a menorah on it.  Currently, I mildly resent having to go into a special "Christian" store to buy wrapping paper that has anything to do with CHRIST.  Looking my local supermarket for wrapping paper, I found Santa, I found trees, I found Mickey Mouse, and I found puppies.  I found a winter scene with a country chapel.  Nowhere to be found was the word "NOEL."  No stars, no wise men, not even the word "Christmas."  And not enough of it is green.  But that's probably just my issue, so I'm thinking I won't make a fuss over it.  Now granted if I were able to find Christmas wrapping paper in the supermarket, it probably wouldn't have dawned on me that there wasn't paper for Hannukah, or Kwanzaa.  There's a word for that.  It's "ethnocentrism.

Here's my REAL beef:  My 9 year old was in a "Winter" play at school last week.  The subject?  All the different holidays and how they are celebrated.  They talked about Hannukah, the festival of lights and I have to admit I was messing with trying to figure out the camera on my new phone, but I'm pretty sure they mentioned the Jews.  For "La Fiesta de la Posada," they talked about Mary and Joseph going house to house searching for a room.  For Kwanzaa, they outlined the 7 principles.  When it came to Christmas, the question was "What is Christmas about?"  Not one word about Jesus.  Not one.  Not even a socio-cultural reporting of the traditional aspects.  Christmas, according to this elementary school production was about presents, and santa and wrapping paper.  Even my 9 year old noticed the slant. 

We are so all-fired afraid of offending someone that we water everything down.  I'm not going to.  Out there in the world, I'm going to wish people a Happy Holiday - cause most cultures are celebrating something this time of year.  I might just start year round, wishing people a happy Arbor Day . . . or what the heck?  How about Happy TUESDAY!!  I'm going to think about it every time though, and not let it become rote and insincere.  Every time I wish anyone ANYTHING, I'm going to take a moment to really wish it.  Throw a little goodwill out there, just willy nilly.  

When I'm at Church tomorrow, where I am surrounded by people who share my traditions, I will wish people a Merry Christmas.  Because I know it is meaningful to them.  And if someone wishes me a happy holiday, I'm going to say . . . "THANK YOU."  And be grateful they cared enough to wish me anything at all.

So Happy Holidays.  Happy Hannukah (except I missed out on that really) and Happy Kwanzaa.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all ....
a good night.  :)  Namaste.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


This post might not make me very popular. 

It's taken me a day to get to the point where I can even put thoughts together. 

Yesterday I just had a sick, empty feeling in the pit of my stomach and didn't know where to file this in my head.  I cannot imagine (thankfully) the horror being experienced in Connecticut right now.  I cannot imagine sending my kids to school and getting a call that they have been shot.  I cannot imagine the mind of a person who would do this.  I hope he was psychotic.  I hope he was on drugs.  I hope he was absolutely "bat-shit crazy."  Because if a "sane" and "sober" person did this? 

Unpoplular point #1:  Folks, we're in trouble.  We are pretty comfortable blaming terrorism on this religious sect or that political group, but the way it's happening here in this country is way more scary.  I can't help but think about countries around the world where this is the norm.  We sit in our nice, safe little houses and think "oh golly those poor people in Afghanistan - never knowing when the bus they're riding will be blown up . . ."  Guess what?  That's US now.  That's America.  Land of the FREE and home of the brave, where we dare not limit anyone's freedom to ... well, do whatever the hell they want, including walk into a movie theater or elementary school and shoot fish in a barrel. 

The presumption of innocence in the legal system has been RAPED and EXPLOITED.  You can't get a restraining order until someone has done something harmful.  You can't limit a person's contact with a child until you have PROOF they have done something that damages their little psyche forever.  God forbid we limit freedom - but it's hard to legislate responsibility.  I'm not advocating the return to a society that burns people at the stake or forms a lynch mob, but the pendulum has swung too far.  You may be thinking about all my posts against judgement and drawing exclusive lines.  There's a limit.  Killing people is WRONG.  It's BAD.  If there were ever a black and white, this is it.  I'm stopping short of evil, for those who would like to hide behind the whole "Satan" thing.  It's not evil.  It's the result of the permissive, narcissistic society we've created.  We've done it to ourselves.  We're so afraid of offending someone that we let people get away with . . . MURDER.

Unpopular point #2:  Plain and simple, assault weapons need to be illegal.  I'm not some anti-NRA wacko.  I have guns in my home.  They are for keeping the coyotes away from my chickens.  But there is absolutely NO reason for the average person to have a weapon that will fire 15 or 30 rounds without reloading.  Want to know what it sounded like in that school?  Take a listen.  Click Here.  There is NO WAY you need this for hunting turkeys or deer (which I support - and anyone who wants to send me some venison is WELCOME to do so.  I have recipes and am not afraid to cook it.).  Now is the time, folks.  How many movie theaters?  How many malls?  How many ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS??  Oh - but what about our precious freedoms?   What about people who are responsible with their guns?  I beseech you, responsible gun owners, to make the sacrifice for the safety of the rest of the country, to surrender your semi-automatic weapons.  Every morning you wake up and don't see headlines about 28 people being gunned down, you can feel proud of your contribution to the effort. 

28 people. 


It's worth it.  In fact, let me know who you are and I'll send you a personal thank you note on behalf of my children who are 6 and 9 and attend school.  Frankly, it would make me feel better to know that some kid who got pissed off at his mom could only get hold of a gun that shot a few rounds.  And I'd hope that some of those MISSED. 

One argument against gun control is that if we ban the legal sale of these weapons, only the bad guys will have them.  I don't claim to be an expert on such things, but in my experience, the bad guys typically kill each other.  Occasionally, one or two innocent people get caught in the crossfire.  I doubt this number would change much if assault weapons were banned.  Maybe this is naive and over-simplified.  I just can't help but notice that the people who are slaughtering rooms full of innocent people aren't "the bad guys."  These aren't gang members and criminals, these are college students and people of relative affluence.  Let the bad guys kill each other off with the assault weapons.  Make it harder for everyone to get their hands on them.  I'm wondering if any of the recent shooters would have made it past the background check.

THIS is ridiculous

When the theater shooting happened in Colorado, someone posted a response to my aching heart status on my facebook page that they wondered how things would have been different if someone in the theater had been "packing."  (Seriously?  PACKING??)  I wonder what that person is thinking now.  Then again, if one of those 6 year olds had been "packing . . . "  Eventually I gave up with the debate, because there is no reasoning with someone on their self-righteous high horse.  I love it when opinionated, short-sighted, judgmental people get some comeuppance.  Funny that there hasn't been a bunch of pro-gun propaganda on facebook after this one.  (UPDATE:  That lasted about 72 hours) Go figure.

And returning to my softer self, unpopular point #3:  There are a lot of parents out there who aren't paying attention, and even the ones who are don't have any idea what to do with a kid who they're afraid of or worried about.  No doubt the view is pretty good from the cheap seats, but I hope I'd notice if my kids were building bombs in my basement.  Teenagers are sullen and withdrawn.  Yep.  I get it.  My 9 year old is already giving me flack about having the password to her email account.  The deal is, I don't have access, you don't have email.  I don't check often, and I'm not going to address what I find (DRAMA) unless I need to.  I respect her privacy, but you can be DAMN sure I'm going to monitor my kids.  And the more withdrawn they get, the more I'd monitor them.  I've got it easy right now.  My kids tell me more than I want to know about their day at school.  When that stops, I will snoop.  I will be all over their space because it's my JOB to know what's going on with my kids.  I will be honest about it, and careful about how I use the information.  They will hate me from time to time, especially when I catch them about to do something they're not supposed to do, but I didn't sign on to be their BFF, I signed on to be a PARENT.  Sometimes that means kids tell you they hate you, but I'm not going to put my 6 year old (the one who balls up her fists and says she hates me - to be honest it is just so darn cute because in 5 minutes she is sobbing and wants to make sure I know she doesn't really hate me) in charge of my self-esteem. 

Here's the bigger problem:  There's nothing to DO with a kid you're worried about.  The mental health system has been cut back to the point where it's hard for anyone to get help.  And these aren't kids, they're adults, so there's no way to MAKE them get treatment.  The legal system won't touch them until they've done something, and what we're seeing with this new breed is that they don't get in a lot of trouble.  They don't give much warning, other than maybe being seen as a little weird.  Raising a child like that is a huge challenge for parents, and most don't have the resources to provide the counseling and monitoring they really need.  All I can say is that from my vantage point, I see a lot of parents who would go to the ends of the earth to make sure their child gets their needs met - but can't find any services for them.  And I see a lot of parents who sit by and blame others for their child's behaviors.  They blame the other parent.  They blame the kids at school.  They say they just can't seem to impact the kid.  I spend a lot of time convincing parents of entitled teenagers that their child will not actually DIE if they are without their cell phone/electronics/car for a few days.  Then there are the kids that need more than limits and consequences (notice CONSEQUENCES not PUNISHMENT - there's a very important difference and it has to do with power.  Future blog).  Read "I am Adam Lanza's Mother

This blog is so long because the answers aren't easy.  The most simplistic summary is about the imbalance between freedom and responsibility, and the lack of connectdness in community. 

We've gotta turn this bus around, people.  We're in danger here. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Miss "NZ Nancy"

I'm not much for publicly baring my personal soul (no, not even on Facebook - ESPECIALLY NOT ON FACEBOOK!)  I've gone back and forth about whether to post about this, but decided my blog - my rules. 

I've lost one of my faithful readers this week.  My amazing aunt, "NZ Nancy" died last Thursday.  She was a hilarious lady.  Once told my mother to look in the end of the garden hose to tell her when the water was coming.  Word on the street is my mother did it.  She lived by her own rules - as far as I could tell without apology - which I always admired.  For the last 20 plus years, she lived on a sheep farm in New Zealand.  For years, she had a rooster for a pet - and he lived in the house.  She had a beloved dog named Ben,and a horse named Star.  She adopted ducklings.  She was considered an expert in the field of Mastyocytosis, founded "MastoKids" and helped countless people in their struggle with this disease.  She will be missed by many. 

When I heard she went into hospice, I thought I should write her a letter about how much she meant to me.  I got interrupted.  Over the last month, I thought about it many times.  I got busy.  Composed it in my head, but never quite got around to writing it.  I got distracted.  I didn't want to email.  I wanted to write.  With a pen.  And mail it.  With a stamp.  And now this note paper sits where it has for a month, with no one to write to. 

Don't wait. 

Tell people you love them.  Tell them today because there aren't enough tomorrows. 

Aunt Nancy, I want to be just like you when I grow up. 

Love, Karen


While I'm at it, maybe I'll do another book review.  Terrence Real, mentioned in my last post, has written an amazing book about relationship in today's world.  It's not 1950 anymore, folks, and marriage is struggling to change with the times.  This book is full of GREAT tips, techniques and exercises to turn your relationship around.  Not just for the married, I kindof wish Terry had called it "The New Rules of Relationship."  Don't let the "M" word scare you off. 

Terry's straightforward, brass tacks style goes right to the heart of the matter.  No wasting time on fluffy feel-good psychology here, just straight up help for relationship packed into every page.  Find your bad habits and FIX them.  Yeah, I'm a groupie.  But I didn't drink the Kool-Aid!!

More Boundaries . . . Since we have some time

Terry Real says (something like) "Contact over time creates connection.  Connection over time creates relationship.  Relationship over time creates intimacy."  You may develop a relationship with the barrista at Starbucks who makes your coffee every day.  One day, you might go in at a slow moment and have more of a conversation than "Grande Bold please."  If that conversation goes well, you might have another . . .  and then you might get together outside Starbucks.  By that time, enter the possibility of conflict, because your relationship is deeper than "Grande bold please." 

Conflict in a close relationship is inevitable.  Get that?  It's gonna happen.  It's not if, it's when, and how well we'll work through it.  Confllict doesn't equal fighting.  Fighting is ONE way to respond to conflict.  Not one that works well, might I add, if the goal is to RESOLVE the conflict.Conflict doesn't have to be scary though.  It can be simple.  Boundaries make conflict safe. 

Boundaries is being able to say things like:
  • "I understand that my actions stepped on your toes.  I'm sorry" without dying of guilt and shame, needing to defend yourself, or needing to outline 57 reasons why the behavior wasn't your fault, or was somehow expectable.  Fact is I hurt you.  Fact is I care about that.  We'll just assume you know that I am not the kind of person who maliciously does that on purpose because if I were, you wouldn't want to be in relationship with me. 
  • Image courtesy of Carlos Porto
  • "I would like to have Chinese tonight" (trusting that if the other person has a REEEEEALLY strong objection, they will say so instead of agreeing to Chinese and then complaining about it all through dinner)
  • "I enjoy spending time with you.  I get that you're looking forward to some alone time.  I'm wondering if there's a way I can spend time with you AND meet your need for a conversation-free TV coma?"  Respecting the person's right to say NO. 
  • and the grandaddy of them all . . . "Have I done something to upset you??"  Anticipating that the person will be honest, but allowing them the freedom to clam up and continue to act out without re-ACTING to their acting out. 
Boundaries is being able to call first, say "I love you" first, and let someone know how much they mean to you without fear of being engulfed by the relationship or being somehow vulnerable because now they KNOW you like them.  It's about being able to be fully you in relationship, with the knowledge that YOU  may or may not be the person the other person is looking for - NOT BECAUSE THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU, but because it's not a good fit.  And recognizing that if you're not the peson they are looking for, then they are not the person you're looking for either.  And you acknowledge that fact respectfully and part ways with neutrality.  Boundaries isn't about the other person, it's about you. 

There's no drama in good boundaries.  No fights at 3am, no calling all your best friends instead of talking to the person with whom you have an issue.  There's no anger, no pouting, no throwing things, and no stomping out and slamming doors.  There will never be a blockbuster movie about a relationship with good boundaries.  No one would go see a movie about that.  However, out here in the real world, life has developed a tendency to imitate art, and that's why I have a job.  I often joke that the title of my future best-selling self-help book will be "Being Healthy is Really Boring."  But it's a good kind of boring.  I'll take it any day over angst and drama. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Father's Explanation of Why He Had Horses for His Children

I thought this was so great I had to repost.  Author unknown, unfortunately.  All I know is that the author is NOT me!
My daughter turned sixteen years old today; which is a milestone for most people. Besides looking at baby photos and childhood trinkets with her, I took time to reflect on the young woman my daughter had become and the choices she would face in the future.

As I looked at her I could see the athlete she was, and determined woman she would soon be. I started thinking about some of the girls we knew in our town who were already pregnant, pierced in several places, hair every color under the sun, drop outs, drug addicts and on the fast track to no-where, seeking surface identities because they had no inner self esteem.

The parents of these same girls have asked me why I "waste" the money on horses so my daughter can ride. I'm told she will grow out of it, lose interest, discover boys and all kinds of things that try to pin the current generation's "slacker" label on my child. I don't think it will happen, I think she will love and have horses all her life.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has compassion. She knows that we must take special care of the very young and the very old. We must make sure those without voices to speak of their pain are still cared for.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned responsibility for others than herself. She learned that regardless of the weather you must still care for those you have the stewardship of. There are no "days off" just because you don't feel like being a horse owner that day. She learned that for every hour of fun you have there are days of hard slogging work you must do first.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned not to be afraid of getting dirty and that appearances don't matter to most of the breathing things in the world we live in. Horses do not care about designer clothes, jewelry, pretty hairdos or anything else we put on our bodies to try to impress others. What a horse cares about are your abilities to work within his natural world, he doesn't care if you're wearing $80.00 jeans while you do it. -

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned about sex and how it can both enrich and complicate lives. She learned that it only takes one time to produce a baby, and the only way to ensure babies aren't produced is not to breed. She learned how babies are planned, made, born and, sadly, sometimes die before reaching their potential. She learned how sleepless nights and trying to out-smart a crafty old broodmare could result in getting to see, as non-horse owning people rarely do, the birth of a true miracle.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she understands the value of money. Every dollar can be translated into bales of hay, bags of feed or farrier visits. Purchasing non-necessities during lean times can mean the difference between feed and good care, or neglect and starvation. She has learned to judge the level of her care against the care she sees provided by others and to make sure her standards never lower, and only increase as her knowledge grows.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to learn on her own. She has had teachers that cannot speak, nor write, nor communicate beyond body language and reactions. She has had to learn to "read" her surroundings for both safe and unsafe objects, to look for hazards where others might only see a pretty meadow. She has learned to judge people as she judges horses. She looks beyond appearances and trappings to see what is within.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned sportsmanship to a high degree. Everyone that competes fairly is a winner. Trophies and ribbons may prove someone a winner, but they do not prove someone is a horseman. She has also learned that some people will do anything to win, regard- less of who it hurts. She knows that those who will cheat in the show ring will also cheat in every other aspect of their life and are not to be trusted.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has self-esteem and an engaging personality. She can talk to anyone she meets with confidence, because she has to express herself to her horse with more than words. She knows the satisfaction of controlling and teaching a 1000 pound animal that will yield willingly to her gentle touch and ignore the more forceful and inept handling of those stronger than she is. She holds herself with poise and professionalism in the company of those far older than herself.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to plan ahead. She knows that choices made today can effect what happens five years down the road. She knows that you cannot care for and protect your investments without savings to fall back on. She knows the value of land and buildings. And that caring for your vehicle can mean the difference between easy travel or being stranded on the side of the road with a four horse trailer on a hot day. When I look at what she has learned and what it will help her become, I can honestly say that I haven't "wasted" a penny on providing her with horses. I only wish that all children had the same opportunities to learn these lessons from horses before setting out on the road to adulthood.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Cover image, Pop

Have to say, WOW and double WOW. 

My 9 year old has been talking about this book for weeks now, and had reserved it at the library.  She brought it along on a car trip today, and finished it early in the drive.  I commented that I wished I had time to read all the things she reads, and she handed me the book, insisting I would love it.  I reluctantly put down the other book I'd brought, in the name of gaining mom points.  (Reading for pure pleasure and not work is such a rare luxury for a mom of 2 with a more than full time job!)  She was so right.  This is a must-read for parents and kids about the true meaning of "gifted," and the need for balance as we educate our kids.  Loved it!!