“Farm Kids”

Ok so I am having a hard time “Finding the Good” in my schedule!! Summer is here for me and with it comes the horse shows, hay season, and a lot of early mornings! I will, however be happy when school is finally out. Our boys are a great help around the farm and to not have to make sure Jarred doesn’t miss the bus is always a bonus.

Raising your kids on a farm has its benefits for us and for them. Who wouldn’t want to hang out at a place with acres of trails to four wheeler on and shoot paintballs at each other? Often there are enough friends around the chores can get done in minutes and none of them seem to mind to help in exchange for a ride to soccer or hockey in the winter. One night we had to take two trucks to transport everyone to the soccer practice! The other parents help too by taking them to games when we can’t or trading one kid for another when we have each boy playing at two different places. We also have one family who takes our boys camping with them  – something we are never able to do in the summer. So my boys never miss out on things and I think the most important part of being a kid is just that – being a kid.

The farm has also taught my boys to be generous and helpful. We have literally opened our home to the people who board here and the students who ride. They have learned to like each one for who they are and help those who need help. It is a great feeling to see a ten year old carry a saddle down the hall for someone with their hands full or a 13 year old give advice to an adult about tack. Owning animals is always a good lesson for kids. I love that my boys care for their animals with understanding and love – but best of all they care for everyone’s the same. Sure they likely favour their own but they treat all of them with equal respect.

The farm has taught them to accept disappointment and loss also. Not a lesson anyone wants to teach their kids but definitely one that needs to be taught. We have dealt with a great deal of sadness in the last couple years and it seems like when we just recover from one thing another takes its place. The boys seem to handle it ok – no one really knows how it affects each of us. It is the one thing I wish I could avoid but they seem to have learned that even though you work hard and do your best we can’t control some things.

The other thing that is hard to teach your kids is how others behave. We teach them to be kind and caring and treat others with respect ….but sometimes others don’t respond the same way. It is hard to explain to them how to handle those situations when your first instinct is to react poorly. I try to tell them if you stay true to yourself and those close to you then others will appreciate who you are. If they don’t then it just means they haven’t taken the time to get to know you – and that is too bad for
them. All you can do is work hard and set goals for yourself – the people who support you are the people who matter. I must say that between my students parents and most of our fellow competitors they are awesome. It is so rewarding to see them all work together and support each other. I am proud of every one of them!!

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Just a Girl and a Dream

I just realized today, maybe a bit naively, that the things I say or put into my blog are taken personally by some of the people close to me. I guess I never really stopped to think that sometimes what I print could be taken more that one way….I know I didn’t stop to think. First I apologise for the comment on being disappointed on the feedback – with the comments closed on the blog how could anyone possibly respond. Keep trying though I do think I fixed it although – I not kidding when I say anything beyond turning the computer on and typing words, is a great mystery to me.  The other thing is the comment I made about being tired and busy. I didn’t mean I was tired of everything or everyone I just meant I was tired of being too busy to not be busy. Make sense?? I’m not tired of people just the word busy. Remember my blog about just being a kid? The one where I totally encouraged everyone to play with their kids instead of work? That’s the me I want to be. I want to be the me that is never too busy to be tired..ok now I agree I am just talking in circles but I think you get the idea.  I decided this week to let everyone in my head a bit – proceed carefully.

I don’t think there is a rule on what a writer is like or how their minds work. But I once read that writers are observant and take in everything in their surroundings – so here I picture a person with a notebook and pen walking aimlessly and staring in awe at the things around them  - boy was I in trouble. If I am walking around like that I am probably looking for the horse I just fell off of. Obviously, at the time, I had the wrong idea but you tell me why I was worried… I can forget a name exactly one second after someone has given it to me. I don’t remember what people wear, unless it is something I think is neat, but I don’t judge them by it either. I can forget an appointment for my own doctor but remember the vets instructions without writing it down. I will also remember a horses name and colour after having only met it for a few seconds.

I have been accused of not being a people person, even from my own lips. I do believe that is true but having said that I have my reasons. I believe everyone has their own personalities and ideas – we won’t always agree with everyone or get along – but that is what makes each person an individual. I also believe avoidance of those personalities now dodges an argument later. I don’t like conflict and I really hate drama. I can love an animal instantaneously where a person it can take months or even years but I try and find the good in everything and everyone. I can hold a grudge about some things forever but if I get mad and say what I feel its over and we move on. I try not to say anything mean but I seldom sugar coat anything. I will, however, not say anything at all to avoid confrontation.

I’m not afraid of hard work.  My favourite time of year is the fall. I like big trucks and loud music, but nothing beats the sound of a big block chevy with a 4 barrel carb and dual exhaust.  I like fishing with my family, going for hikes in our woods, cutting wood when we are all together. I enjoy 4 wheeling,  getting muddy and bathing the dog when we are done. I have three favourite appliances – coffee maker, leaf blower and the vacuum. (listed in order of importance) I like watching hockey – especially if
my kids or husband is playing. I would rather play soccer with the kids – even though I’m not as good as Diesel – then visit with the adults. My favourite food is cheese. My favourite song changes all the time. My favourite vacation would be one without cell service. I would be more comfortable walking in the woods in the middle of the night than in a busy city during the day. I name everything from Fergus the tractor, Lila the GPS, to Bubba the bird. I married my best friend and I never want time away from my family but more time with them.

Ok so there are a lot of I’s in this blog but you asked… I told. I also learned some stuff about myself! One thing is the reason I struggle with detail is that I don’t stop long enough to absorb it. LOL something to work on.

I don’t get personal very often so feel free to take advantage – if I didn’t answer a question you have go ahead and ask me! Look forward to hearing from you!

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Just a little encouragement

Some days I get tired of being busy, tired of telling people
I am busy, tired of hearing others are busy…just tired…just busy……

Sometimes just talking to someone different and getting their viewpoint on a situation can give your stale mind just the spice it needs. Today I got a new perspective on some things just by listening to a new voice. First off I started getting frustrated with my marketing checklist. I loved writing the book but getting it out to more readers has been a huge challenge for me. The process is long, and for someone like me who wants everything yesterday, slow. I was starting to second guess my choice in publishers when one of my supporters told me a story of another iuniverse author who had been rejected. Even when Darcy Chan’s novel appeared on the bestsellers list she still couldn’t find a publisher. She sent her novel to 100 literary agents and they all rejected it. Still having great faith in her book she published anyway and now she has over  400,000 copies sold. Wow – I was inspired so I decided to see who else was on thelist. They actually have a list of the one hundred famous rejections and naturally I wanted to see who was #1. F Scott Fitzgerald – for those of you who don’t know him – he is the author of The Great Gatsby. He is now ranked #2 in Modern Library’s 100 best novels of the 20th Century. As not everyone will know Fitzgerald I looked on and was shocked to see Nicholas Sparks, Stephanie Meyers, Meg Cabot and Dr Seuss – yes Dr Seuss. But the most shocking for me was Stephen King. By the time I was fourteen … the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing. He says. Now he has over 350 million copies of his novels and stories sold – not to mention movies.

Once I read theirstories I was much less discouraged. Sometimes we put these famous people in such a place we forget they were once in some of our situations. They all started with a dream and chased it. I guess it is up to me what direction I
chase mine…..

 

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Positive Inspiration

I must say I was a bit disappointed with the feedback on the blog..but its okay. I have come to the conclusion that either not to many people are reading it or those who are are afraid to respond. Either way the feedback I did get was great and, even though it was divided, it gave me some insight.

I am going to start by saying that I am doing what I love -
some days I have to remind myself of that but it is true. The picture I chose
puts it all into perspective. I realize by doing what I love I have touched a
lot of lives and made some dreams possible and I am thankful for that. I also
realise that along the way I have moulded my life to keep the things that cause
me grief at a distance as I am not a person who likes conflict or drama at all.
I am also uncomfortable with praise (I sound like I’m talking about a horse)
but I am working on that. There is a saying on my desk that has stuck with me
for years it reads..IF YOU ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU HAVE ALWAYS DONE, YOU WILL ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU HAVE ALWAYS GOT.  I believe this is true – but I also believe that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you like what you get why change a thing?  Or if you like some of it then only change some things – but you have to change them. I also believe that positive thinking is key although I have been known to say things that haven’t went through my “positive” filter first. I definitely communicate better  throughwriting.

Many people who read my book have asked me if my main character, Jackie, is me. I quickly answer no as I have not had to experience the things she has had to, but as I think more about it I realise we have more in common than I thought. Like me Jackie loves animals – horses especially.  That I am sure was the obvious one. She did what she needed to do when she made the decision to change her life and truly believed that she could “find the good” and be happy. She was guarded with who she accepted as a friend but unknowingly befriended many just by being who she was. She wasn’t afraid to change some things around in her life to eliminate the grief but still stay on track to do the things she loved.

I don’t think that all things that happen have good in them – or at least sometimes it is impossible to find it – but if you manipulate it enough you can come up with something. If not time will work away at the bad things. I have a plan with the bad things that have happened in the last year…maybe my experiences will inspire my next book. There I just found some good!

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Getting your advice.

Okay – so last you heard from me I was anxiously awaiting babies…finally one out of five!! She was only 2 weeks over due – but Maggie is three weeks over I can’t believe she is still holding out. Two more are over due, and one is a week away. I was sure I was going crazy two weeks ago – do we have to mention the lipstick??

Anyway – I promised to be on track with the blog and so far my life has steered me in every other direction but the one I am supposed to go with it. I am torn on which way to go…my publicist – who I paid to teach me how to market my book set me up with topics and ideas about how to keep the blog related to the book. She advised me to write about the issues in the book like runaways, alcoholism, parenting, relationships and of course the animal relationships. I did, then as things got busy, as they do from March to October, I branched out and wrote about everyday life. I seemed to get a lot of positive feedback on the crazy stories about life on the farm. Don’t get me wrong it is great that someone can find some humour in my craziness but I am unsure whether it is helping to promote the book. Right now I feel torn between the two worlds I live in. In one I run a 30++ horse operation with many entities and in the other I am an author trying to entertain with my stories and dazzle you with my insight. Then there is the wife and mother of two, hockey/soccer mom, maid, taxi…..yada, yada. Oh and not to forget dog owner – the picture is of what Diesel does when I write.

So do I continue to write about my everyday life on the farm? Do I return to book related topics or do I write about something else? Here is where you all come in – yes there is a point to all my babble. I want to know what you want me to write about. Give me topics, ideas and inspiration and let me know if I can mention who sent me in the direction of my topic.

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Just be a kid!

Last time we got together I talked about the kids and how they made me think about the simple things and appreciate them. Their ability to live in the moment amazes me. I do know that running a successful business or being successful requires a lot of hard work, determination, and time. I also understand that making ends meet sometimes requires multiple job titles and multi tasking – sometimes to the point of insanity. If you were a kid you would just skip the homework and go play ball – if only it was that easy. Unfortunately growing up is a part of life.

Lately I have run in to several people who have been stressed. They are tired, irritable and quick to bite people’s head off. Is it the time of year? You would think that the arrival of spring and warmer weather would calm people’s nerves and instill some sort of happy feeling…not the case. I must confess lately I have been the same. I blame the lack of sleep mostly - we have five mares close to their due date.   Also most people around me panic that spring brings those first horse shows and they may not be ready and with me being their “fearless leader” I must answer all of their questions. Just think if 10 people asked 10 questions a day……yes that requires 100 answers! I am not sure when it happened but over the years I have learned not to panic and when I get stressed out I just think more like a kid. Maybe I got it from my own children or maybe my husband…who knows but it has kept me sane.

For example just the other day I had one of those days in the barn where everything that could go wrong did and 30 horses seemed like 100. I left frustrated and irritable so I came into the house and got the vacuum cleaner out, cranked the stereo and settled into some vicious cleaning. Once I was three rooms into my cleaning frenzy I found an old tube of lipstick that I had worn at my wedding – I put it on. So I had on a pair of yoga pants, an old t-shirt of my husbands, my hair was piled on my head in an unbrushed mess and I was wearing no make-up other than the “dusty rose” lipstick I had found. Crazy? Maybe, but as I continued to sing at the top of my lungs and clean, I felt great. Sometimes when things get too busy and I need five minutes I pretend I’m late for something, jump in my truck, crank the radio, and race (the speed limit of course) around the block of our farm. When I get back I can usually get a better perspective on things. Taking ten minutes to play soccer with the kids helps also…it feels good to kick the crap out of something. Of course I was talking about the ball. We all have our own things that can safely clear our head of the things that cause us stress – you just need to find what works best for you.  Me, the constant seems to be violence on some object be it the vacuum or the soccer ball, and loud music – sorry mom. Yours may be something more simple like a five minute time-out in the restroom at work or a ten minute nap in the sun. Or if you are brave enough take an afternoon of and play laser tag with your kids.

Life is definitely too short to stress the small stuff! When we are happy we do things we like or we like what we do. A happy me writes and a me that writes is happy!! Besides we need to “Find the good” in it all – like my lack of sleep will soon be rewarded with five babies!!

 

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Children are our Future

Every year at this time I struggle weary-eyed out of bed at 5am (which only a few days ago was 4am thanks to daylight savings). I get dressed,pull my hair into a ponytail, brush my teeth and make my way down the stairs with the dog right behind me. No need to be quiet – the other three are still in sound slumber. I make a pot of coffee while Diesel, the dog, makes himself comfy in his chair. I pat the dog on the head as I head to the laundry room and take the clothes out of the dryer and pile them on top then remove the clothes from the washer and put them in the dryer. I fill the washer with a load of dirty clothes and turn them both on then head back for my much needed cup of coffee. I take my coffee to the computer to answer some emails. I ignore the paperwork all across my desk then back to the kitchen to feed the dog and drop a slice of bread into the toaster. I fill my thermos, a bottle of water, grab the phone, my knife then slap some peanut butter on the toast and head for my boots. When I finally make it out the door I have still managed to be late. My friend and employee never complains but I’m sure her dog is giving me the “what for” as he barks his greeting. I quickly fall into step and into the morning routine of feeding horses, turning them out, watering, cleaning stalls and discussing the previous day. These three hours before our march break camp starts are crutial to getting everything in order before the children arrive.

Great Horses – Great Kids

Its not until I see 12 eager little faces listening to Robin’s lecture that I realize I could learn a thing or two from these kids. I watch as they listen in awe at the different kinds of horses and the different colours and markings. I smile as they quiz each other on each horse in the barn. I listen to them giggle as they groom and compare whose horse is dirtier. The horses are extra patient as the kids learn how to pick feet and use the brushes in the right direction. They learn together how to saddle and mount, then ride. They offer each other encouragement with playful digs and seem to marvel in each others accomplishments and I smile again as the horses don’t make it entirely easy. It does not matter if the ride goes perfect – each child leaves the arena happy. They untack, groom again then put everything away just in time to help feed. 12 eager children make feeding 30 horses seem easy. As the parents come to collect them they chatter excitedly about the day and rush to show mom or dad their favorite horse. Then they are gone. So what did I learn? I learned to never take for granted that I love what I do. Remember that children look up to us for guidance and assurance – take a minute or two to show them what you know and watch their minds grow before your eyes…it is truly amazing and will leave you with a smile.

Thanks to this years March break campers for the inspiration. The blog will be back on track next week.

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Patience is For the Birds

“A good trainer needs to bury his ego and respect the wishes of
his equine students. Find the thing they want to do most and help them do it,
even if it doesn’t involve you personally. A selfish attitude in training
horses will eventually come back to haunt you, as in human relationships.” 

Monty Roberts

I read this quote a long time ago and it has since stayed with me. I chose to share it this week because it not only touches on the equine relationships in my book, but it also rings true with the human ones.

Those of you who have read the book have gotten to know Jackie. Hopefully you learned from how she interacts with the horses that she is patient, kind and understanding. She has slow, gentle approach. What is not in the story is how she had trained him originally but Jackie gives hints of it through her retraining. She let Texas choose the pace, only teaching him the things he was able to learn at that moment.

Kindness, patience, and understanding is even for the birds.

She started out with trying to establish a relationship at first just by being present. Texas learned that her presence was not threatening, even though she was merely sitting reading, he accepted her. She used his stomach also – Texas found it easier to accept her when her presence was always accompanied with a tasty treat. Once she established his acceptance she “pushed” him a bit farther and challenged his curiousness. As much as he though he wanted his freedom, he was unsure why this girl would speak so softly and react so differently then most. His curiosity soon allowed touching, which was then rewarded by food.  As soon as Jackie established the trust between her and Texas she was able to remind him of the things he once knew. Jackie didn’t force Texas, she let him choose the pace.

Dusty, in a way, plays the same role for Jackie as she had for Texas. He had to let Jackie choose the pace of their relationship. Like Texas Jackie had built a wall and had no intentions of allowing anyone past. Dusty just hung out and spoke about things that were comfortable.  After she grew more comfortable with him he started to challenge her with different things like going out in public, and having fun with friends. He made her feel needed and okay to need. Even though Dusty didn’t understand everything that went on in Jackie’s mind, he let her choose the pace.

Sometimes we walk into a situation thinking we know the solution and have a set plan on how to solve it. Having said that and going back to training horses………

  • I start out with an idea.
  • assess the horses background and present
    situation.
  • I meet the horse and get to know his/her
    personality.
  • I find what they are good at and how they learn.
  • Then we learn together.

Each horse (and human) learns differently. Patience and trust goes a long way to help them learn.

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Healing Scars from the Bottle

This week I chose alcoholism as a topic to share. Alcoholism was one thing, other than horses, I wrote about a lot when I was in school. I decided to dig up some old papers I had written and read them for inspiration. After about the fifth paper I realized that I kept every piece of writing I ever wrote. I also realized that I was a bit more passionate back then than I am now.

Don’t get me wrong I still think alcoholism is a serious issue; I just no longer believe that everyone who has a few drinks will end up with a problem. I am okay with casual drinks with friends or family especially after a long week of work. I used to go to the same parties my friends drank at – I just chose not to drink. I usually provided my friends with a safe ride home. Peer pressure was never an issue because I never let it be, and in the end my peers appreciated the ride.

Our friends aren't always exactly like us...but friends nonetheless.

Alcoholics view alcohol in a different way than non-alcoholics. Regardless of how they got to this point, their reason for drinking is usually beyond a social activity.  When alcoholics have only a couple of drinks they tend to feel anxious or confused so they drink more. Soon their moods change to one of the quiet and depressed kind or an angry and violent drunk. This is why “controlled drinking” doesn’t always work – it is not the fourth drink that bothers them, it is the first. Drinking can cause people to do things they normally wouldn’t do. Arguments are started, fights caused, and someone often gets hurt. Usually the ones they love the most get hurt the worst, even if that is not the intent.

The angry voices, smashing bottles, blood and tears are often a too vivid image in the eyes of a child, as they were for Jackie. These kinds of scenes a child will remember forever, and they become a painful occurrence to store in the back of one’s mind. It is an indescribable feeling of being helpless and alone – one of pain and confusion. Children are often innocent bystanders in these kinds of scenes. They don’t always understand that the alcohol is behind it all – they just hear the angry words, see the angry faces. They suffer from the violence of it all and often blame themselves.

Alcoholism is a disease with no relevant cure or medication. It is something that affects almost all of us in some way or another – but at a time when cocaine, date rape drugs, LSD and other illicit drugs fill the public imagination with horror, alcohol seems mild by comparison; besides it is legal. If all the illicit drugs were put in a basket and magnified ten times, they still wouldn’t come close to the physical and mental health problems and social disruptions that alcohol causes.

My character, Jackie, turned to her horse for escape and comfort. She had no one else to turn to or talk to that would understand it on her level. Often teens won’t confide in a stranger even when those close to them are unreachable. Jackie used the power of animal healing until her horse was gone then chose to run away from her situation. For reasons only clear to her she chose to protect the very person who was causing her pain. It wasn’t until she could finally confide in a friend that she was able to start to heal.

I don’t have an answer as to why this all happens or how to “fix” it. My only hope is to maybe add some awareness or offer some encouragement. Healing is a long road of help, helping, forgiveness, acceptance, and admittance. Jackie was able to find the good in her situation.

 

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How horses and writing relate

1993 Tanya and Kristy - the one who started it all.

I have been often asked how my experience as a horse trainer played into the book….well I must say its as simple as you write what you know. For as long as I can remember horses have been what I know. In grade school I read about them and did speeches, book reports and projects on them; my life revolved around them. When I got my first horse at the age of nine I spent every minute I could with her. As the years came and went I can’t remember a moment when there wasn’t a horse in my life. I found myself choosing jobs around my shows. My friends and boyfriends were chosen for their tolerance of my being gone to yet another horsey “thing” or just being in the barn.

It wasn’t until 2003 that I started my official career as a horse trainer. I decided, like many, to take something I loved and try to make money at it. Now Windy Ridge Ranch (the name of our farm) houses 30 horses. I train year round and, with help, run boarding, breeding, training and lesson programs. We basically eat, sleep and live horses.

To answer the question on how my “horsey” lifestyle plays a role in my book, I can say I didn’t have to do much research. Jackie, Dusty, Brian and Kate all live the kind of life I do. Their lives revolve around horses – simple – as does mine. Like Jackie’s, my best friend as a teen was my horse. I did homework with her, I sang to her, I talked to her. If she could talk back she would be able to tell more about me than anyone else. She didn’t judge or criticize; she just provided me with the things every teen needs – friendship and love.  Although Jackie’s relationship with Texas wasn’t based on mine and Kristy’s; her love for Texas was just as strong as mine for my horse.

For as long as I can remember, I was creating stories and writing things down. I don’t remember having a particular goal for my writing, but I do remember it all having been about horses. I am sure as long as I keep horses in my life I will never run out of things to write about.

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