Monday, December 30, 2013

Goodbye 2013

Finally got an answer to yesterday's challenge which was to add some new crunch to our salads. I'm adventurous with my salads already so I didn't know if I could think of a thing. Then I saw a show on PBS where they were adding apples to a salad in a whole new way. Although I've added apples to a salad before, for our Sunday lunch, I julienned the apples (the thin strips added a whole new level of texture and crunch), added the last of the smoked turkey, green peppers, chopped onion, celery (that's a new one in the salad for me...except for chicken salad), walnuts, a bit of bacon (low fat, lean bits from Hormel), carrots and romaine. I then did something I hardly ever do but I think I will make a habit of, I made me own dressing and then did something I have never done before, I tossed the salad with the dressing....and we loved it!!! I will do this from now on, not only will I know what is going in our bodies (no chemicals) but I used far less dressing and every ingredient was lightly coated. It was definitely good and something I now plan to make a habit of. We've always been salad eaters but we were talking yesterday about making one week a month, salad month and having nothing for dinner all week but salads.

I got some good news on Friday. I was "double scoped" and discovered some interesting things. All of my tummy problems have been caused by a lot of tummy ulcers. That is good news because it brings not only an explanation but hopefully, a cure. Also, no damage found from Celiacs so that probably means that I'm just gluten intolerant like 78% of the population. It also means that, although I will continue to be cautious and watch what I eat, I no longer have to worry that a small amount of gluten or the rare splurge is going to kill me. I might be uncomfortable for a while but no permanent damage to my body. No, I discovered that I'm healthier than I deserve to be and it's time I stop taking that for granted.

Yesterday, I set up a new blog.....I know you're thinking that I don't keep up with the too many blogs I already have. But honestly, this blog is a good idea. I've decided to make 2014 the year of artistic growth for me. I'm just finishing up my little studio...photos to come soon!!!.....and I'm ready to get started making art once again. I thought that this online diary would not only help motivate me but also chronicle my growth. I'm not only anxious to get started but looking forward to the end of another year so I can see how well I've done.

Okay, I have work to do this Monday....which is a good thing, three orders to get out the door...yay!....so I had better get down to the challenge at hand, name a way you save on toiletries. I buy tissue paper and paper towels in bulk....I know, those aren't officially toiletries but they are used in the same room. We also buy the large containers of hand soap at the discount store. I do try to buy our other items on sale but I'm picky about the brands I use with shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste. I have bought our toothbrush heads for the electric in bulk...not always a great idea because some of them didn't work. We use a water flosser so that is saving. I'm interested in reading the tips everyone else posts. I'm hoping I learn some new ways to save money.

Have a great last week of the year, everyone! I know this hasn't been the best year for many of us but we are about to began a new journey with loads of possibilities!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Smoked Turkey Salad

Salad made with leftover smoked turkey, julienned tart apples, chopped green peppers, sweet onion and celery, walnuts, and slivers of carrots tossed with romaine and a homemade dressing....yummy!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

List 3 healthy snacks you can reach for in the evening, such as fruit, nuts, or popcorn.

ahhhh, I needed to be reminded of this one. With all of the rush and hubbub of this time of year, my diet has become a mixed bag of very healthy combined with very...very...very bad. Yesterday, I ended up talking with a friend until late and then deciding I wasn't sleepy and would watch TV for a while. I also had eaten very little for dinner and so was hungry. I had peanut butter and rice crackers....not so bad but not so good either especially that late at night! I'm going to have a load of New Years resolutions this year. The only problem with that, I see my doctor on the 6th and I know she is going to expect the needle on the scale to have gone down significantly over the last three months not risen to new heights.....yikes.......sooooo, my three healthy foods to reach for? 1) raw veggies either by themselves or with a yogurt dip. And occasionally forgo the carrots for other vegetables like sliced turnips or cauliflower. 2) I don't think peanut butter is a bad choice especially just a little bit since the protein will stop your hunger faster. Instead of the rice crackers I used last night, why not celery or an apple? 3) Finally, I have to say the popcorn. I love popcorn but I don't eat it very often. Try making it in the microwave. There are bowls made for that that are just dandy. Then spray it with a buttery cooking spray just so your seasoning will stick....yummy. :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Everything Old is New Again!

Today's DHC Challenge:

Share how you saved money by buying an item used rather than new.


Up early working and it feels good. I'm making so much progress on my house and other projects lately. I have orders to get out with my work which is something I haven't had in plural for a while now....darn, dipsy doodle economy, lol. And I have the perfect answer for this challenge question.... I've been working hard to revamp my office/studio. I started this project a long while ago and then it just stalled. Things began to pile up into a disorganized mess and I never seemed to have the energy or enthusiasm to tackle it until now. I'm very proud of me because I've been working hard for several weeks and now, I've finally reached the end of this journey. There are still some things to do but today, I'm working on my first work in my new digs. I'm hoping to paint some shelving, my work bench and drawing/drafting table this weekend and then this will be the room I've dreamed of for so long. It's a small room but is bright and cheerful and now, free of clutter and organized....yay, me! So, today's challenge brings me to one of the last projects I'll do but one which is definitely saving me money. I wanted a stool to sit on at my drawing table. I looked on line for the best bargain, went to overstock.com and found several possibilities but I kept thinking that the price tag, even discounted, was still more than I'd like to pay for what might turn out to be a "pig in a poke" (good ol' descriptive Southern saying.) Everything looked a bit spindly and not worth the asking price.Then I remembered an old wooden stool I'd bought years ago to refinish and sell that was still sitting in my basement. It was missing several rungs that I'd planned to replace in an "artful, creative" way but it was still solid wood and extremely comfortable. I found it in the basement, covered with spider webs and brought it upstairs where I sat down on it and discovered that it was very comfortable, perfect for long hours sitting in front of that table. Currently, it is the ugliest shade of gray I've ever seen but when I paint it and add new decorative rungs to replace the missing ones, it will be perfect. Not only will I have saved a hundred dollars or more but I will have something that is special to me that I can use and enjoy every day....win-win!

Hey, just thought of something else in this room that I'm revamping instead of buying new, the furniture....all of it! I looked at shelves and those in my price range were either   cheaply built or ugly or both. Then I remembered the shelves my husband built for me when I was selling retail. Like the stool I talk about above, they were being used in the basement but after taking some measurements, I discovered that two of those units would fit perfectly with a computer table he also built for me which is being turned into my workbench (it is also very sturdy and large.) So, I'm repainting all of that. An ugly old chair which will provide extra seating in here, I will make a nice slipcover for that matches the rest of the decor. And then there is my drafting table which is small but perfect for this room that I have had since my college days....ancient.....I plan to repaint it this weekend, too. And my current and permanent desk in here is an antique library desk complete with lion head drawer pull and metal claw feet! It could use refinishing, too but I kind of like its bumps and bruises and battle scars. It reminds me a lot of myself, lol.

Photos of the finished room and stool to come!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How NOT to be a Wedding Photographer

Several months ago, I was convinced by a friend....I hesitate to put I decided because I was really railroaded into it...... to start photographing people as well as horses. I know that most of the time our friends, our true friends, have our best interests at heart when they make suggestions like these but it's been my unfortunate experience, that these suggestions usually end badly. The "people" photography is a prime example. It started off well enough, with high praise for the work I did but I was having a problem getting bookings. My sister told me that my prices were way too high (compared to J.C. Penny where she always gets the grandkids' photos and is well satisfied with them) and I'd never make it. My prices were half the price of any other photographers out there especially the ones doing location shoots like I was. So, when the chance came to book a wedding, I jumped at it. It sounded perfect... it was a small, outdoor wedding and the bride was mature so I wasn't expecting a bridezilla. I was right about the bride, she was very sweet but I was still awake and sick the entire night before the big day. I suddenly remembered why I stopped doing this when I was younger, the pressure to get it right and not make any mistakes is just too great. Well, the bride didn't book until a few weeks before the wedding so I didn't require her to follow the rules and pay me at least half in advance despite the fact that I was only charging her 300 for the shoot (way more than half the price of other photographers but I figured it was my first so I'd cut her a break). Despite my anxiety, the wedding shoot went off without a hitch. I stupidly told her that she could wait until after I finished the edits to pay for the shoot and also told her that I'd have the photos within two weeks for her to view (obviously she'd never dealt with a photographer before or she would know what a gift both of those statements were.) So, I start working on all of the edits but this was also during the last two weeks of my best friend's life so I was away and terribly distracted most of the time. Two weeks and two days later, my best friend was laid to rest and the very next day, even though I didn't feel like it, I finished up the edits on 149 photos (!!!) and posted them online for her to view. The bride complained to the wedding planner that I was late! It will be obvious how ridiculous that is when I tell you that the wedding was in late August and I finally received a very small order of prints (it has dwindled down) and a promise of payment last night. Evidently, the bride has never dealt with a photographer before and evidently, did not check with any other photographers before contacting me. She loved the photos, everyone loved the photos. I captured the intimate moments that she asked for and I am known for..... I've found that I can bring the best out in the people I'm photographing even if I do say so myself. She started out wanting a dvd and a ton of shots and asking for a deal....of course. After I quoted her just 650 for all of that and the initial shoot, she waited another two weeks and the order dwindled to 5 small photos and I'm hoping, the initial 300...or she's not getting her photos. I'm through with weddings, I've learned my lesson. I've completely removed the option from my website and I've now removed the bride's gallery and the wedding video from my page and from youtube so she doesn't get the benefit without paying for it. I worked hard on those photos, I did a good job and then I spent an entire day just putting together that video she'd said she definitely wanted. She's said that she will get the check off to me pronto....a check for 380 (which dwindles down once I pay for photos and shipping and all of my other costs + Uncle Sam's cut....oh, and the worry over ever getting paid) for over 40 hours of edit work; payment of which has been delayed for nearly four months. This "great idea" my friend had was definitely not worth it. I'm back to working on my art and now jewelry....which in a few short weeks has already made me more than the wedding and all these months of stress. So, if I ever make the mistake of agreeing to shoot another wedding, please just go ahead, shoot me and put me out of my misery!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The List

Lists are the bane of my existence. I've been making them for most of my adult life and I've yet to conquer or complete them. Instead, I end up, at the end of the day, feeling defeated and discouraged and often as if I'm never going to dig myself out of this mountain of tasks and obligations.

Yesterday, I was taking care of the horses when, totally unprompted, I received the sweetest horse kiss and affection from Django. I realized how happy I was in that moment and I also realized how seldom I feel that way any more and I suddenly asked myself, why?

I've talked before about the vast difference I felt between how some people have perceived my life and what the reality actually was. It's always been this way and the sad part is, the life they imagined I lived was the one I so desired. The life of the artist, living with the animals she loves and a husband who is both loving a supportive, while creating wonderful whimsical, spirit lifting art and constantly happy. That person would find the time each day to wander out the door and explore the outdoors or just spend time with her horses or walking with her dog. That person would always be cheerful and happy. Sigh............. Instead, I've spent most of my life feeling miserable because I couldn't live up to that standard. I was too busy, too covered up with things that had to be done to have any fun, any joy in my life. Somehow though, I was always behind, no matter how hard I worked. Somehow, I was always in debt and worried about money not matter how many ways I tried to make money. Somehow, there was never time for my horses, my dog, my husband, myself but I had time for others...others who sadly not only didn't appreciate my efforts but were ready to turn on me at the least infraction, the tiniest breaking of the rules that they'd established and I doggedly followed.

So, that has been my life.......at least until yesterday's epiphany brought on by the touch of a gentle, fuzzy muzzle. I suddenly realize that I actually already possessed all of the elements that make up that happy artist's life described above. All it took was a different mindset and a decision to do what makes me happy. Your state of mind isn't determined by what you earn or what you owe, what you own, where you live or what you wear, how educated or successful or popular you are. None of those things determine whether you are happy or miserable because either is a conscious choice.

So, I realized three things and made three decisions based on those epiphanies: 1) whether I'm happy or miserable is a choice so I choose happy, 2) worry never accomplished anything and neither does a list so I've reevaluated my goals, my expectations and my daily list, and finally 3) doing something I hate to try and make money wasn't making me any more money or paying off my debts any faster than doing something I love. I can be broke and miserable or broke and happy but either way, I'm still in debt and broke so I might as well be happy!

And speaking of that last thing, as many know I started doing "people" photography this year in an effort to make some extra cash. Well, aside from the fact that I still haven't been paid for the last wedding I shot, I literally hated every moment of it. It makes me so nervous that I actually get physically ill before every shoot....especially weddings. And by the time you add in all of the hours editing and fooling with clients who keep changing their minds and not paying, I made practically zilch. But that is still dwelling on the money thing when what I want to talk about is the happiness thing. I felt as if God or the universe was trying to tell me something. It seemed that everyone was asking me the same thing, "Do you enjoy doing that?" Even total strangers, when asking what I did, would add the question. Not only had they never asked that about any other creative endeavor of mine but they never asked me if I made money at it only was I happy doing it. My dear friend Candis passed away on September 5th. Two weeks before she passed, she asked me, "Do you enjoy photographing people?" I honestly told her, "No, I don't . I actually hate it. I dread every time I have to do it." "Well then," she asked, "Why are you doing it?" She added, "At our age, Sande, we shouldn't be doing anything that we do not enjoy, anything that doesn't bring us extreme pleasure and satisfaction. Life is too precious." She told me this when her own life was no longer measured in years but in hours and yet, it has taken over three months for her message to soak through my thick skull.

This week, I finally started doing something I've been intending to do for over a year, I started making jewelry. I put up a hand carved bracelet on my facebook page on Monday night and on  Tuesday, I sold four! That may not sound like a lot to anyone else, basically a little less than $100 made in one day once Etsy and PayPal get their cuts especially since I still have to make the bracelets but to me, that's the most I've made in a day in quite a while....certainly this entire year. And it isn't just that great response, it's that I'm getting paid to do something I love doing again. So, in a year full of epiphanies, this was a big one. I feel like I've taken another road in my life and it's a beautiful journey.
Mouse constantly amazes me with her reasoning powers....especially where food is concerned. I have two small shelters for them to get out of the weather but still haven't gotten the large barn I was promised nine years ago...hint, hint, Steve Elkins. With a barn with individual stalls, I could easily separate them at feeding time. As it is, Mouse and the three boys go into the round pen to eat while Brandy eats her massive meal (their ration is measured by handfuls and hers by pounds) in a huge round pan outside of the pen. You know the others have taken notice of this, especially Princess Mouse. Today, I was shocked when the three boys all agreed to go into the round pen without encouragement. There was a reason, the protagonist in the usual meal time drama and conflict is the Mouse. Riley is so intimidated by her that he waits until she is busy eating before he'll even consider going into the same small space as her. But today was different because Mouse was the one and only who refused to enter the round pen. Instead, she walked down and stood in front of Brandy's bowl and looked at me with this sweet, innocent look that reminded me of the look I'd give my mom every year around this time when I was trying to procure a seat at the big people's table. Mouse had decided, if she just looked innocent enough and as if this were normal enough, I'd screw up and give her the Brandy sized helping. She was wrong but I thought it was a valiant and praise worthy effort, hahaha.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

 It's been one of those weeks for me. You know the kind, where it seems everything that can go wrong does and all at the same time? It's not  any major problems thankfully but it is what feels like a million little ones. Last week at this time, I had a list. It was a very long list of things I wanted to accomplish in the next seven days. I had all sorts of confidence in myself but I forgot to factor in Murphy's Law which has been in full force this past week. I won't go into the irritating details but there was enough distraction and so many interruptions that I accomplished very little on that list. So, here I sit at the end of yet another week to be disappointed in myself for how little I've gotten done but I've decided not to think of it as the end but the start of another week. And this is a new week which is full of possibilities and opportunities for us all to grow, learn, and fully live our lives. I also think I will resolve to stop writing lists, they are just proof of disappointment waiting to happen. :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My first offerings from my jewelry designs created from my own original art. The art work is framed in metal and glass. I will be using stones, metal, leather, tokens, totems and trinkets to create unique, wearable works of art. I have lots of ideas and should be adding new designs to THE STORE steadily over the next few weeks.
Back of pendant contains the quote,
"And thou shalt fly without wings, and conquer without sword, oh horse."

Sail on Silver Girl

Sail on Silver Girl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.

Angel Feathers

Feathers are a reminder that our Angels are always near and watching over us. This is an example of my custom made, just for you, memory pendants. These two by two inch metal and glass frames are viewable from both front and back and will have unique art work on both sides that is designed just for you. I will take your personal photo, treasured quotes, a snippet of a letter, invitation, announcement, song, locks of hair, feathers and other precious memories and created a unique and very personal piece of jewelry. Your personal photos and other paper memorabilia will not be damaged. I will make copies of them from which to create your pendant and then I will return the originals to you, with your pendant, unharmed.

There is a long story behind these pendants. The one shown contains a photo of my mother as a baby. On the back is a poem written for me by my dear friend, Renee Fukumoto: 

He spread His arms
to die
and, rising,
Gave me wings
to fly
~ r
Glory in the wings He gave you Sande!!

Included with the poem are a few small feathers and it is with them that the story begins and the idea for these memory pendants was born. When I lost my mother twenty-three years ago, it devastated me. She wasn't just a parent, she was my best friend. I'd toyed with the idea of seeing a psychic for years but I maintained an open minded skepticism where such things were concerned. Finally, I decided to make an appointment with someone who claimed to be a medium but I went into that meeting quite expecting to be disappointed. We talked about many things and the medium brought up things about my life, my plans and dreams that no one else could have known. Finally, I asked about my mom. He described things about her also that he could not have known and then he told me that she still watched over me and that she sent me feathers as a reassurance. I left the meeting still not quite convinced and then as I parked my car later, a beautiful blue feather with white spots....quite an unusual site....came floating in the window and landed gently in my lap. Suddenly, my disbelief was swept away and my faith in the feathers increased each time one appears. It seems I never see them until I am troubled or upset over something. When I'm very sad, the feathers seem to just magically appear. This has been going on for many years but this past September, I lost someone who'd been my best friend since we were wee little girls. She told me, a few weeks before she died, that soon I'd have another angel watching over me. On the morning she passed away, I was rushing to take care of my horses so I could return to my friend's bedside. Her brother had called me a little earlier to tell me that she wasn't doing well. I was understandably upset as I hurried through my chores and then I see floating down from the sky, two feathers, one larger and one small. I immediately put the larger feather into a locket with the handwritten message, best friends forever and love you. I took it to her but I was too late for her to see it. Her brother tied it to a prayer quilt the Methodist ladies had made for her and the feather locket and quilt were buried with her. At her funeral, I was nervous because I had to speak. I was walking to her gravesite with her cousin, Suzy, when Suzy suddenly gasped and pointed to the ground. There at my feet was a beautiful white feather. I knew she was watching over us all. I kept looking for feathers over the next few weeks but didn't spot any until I was at the barn with my horses one day and thinking about my friend. I said out loud, "I miss you so much!" and what should appear but a lovely feather, perfect and undamaged despite the recent rain and all of the mud around it. So, you see, my own feather locket holds more than precious memories; it is a daily reminder that I am loved and I continue to love these two precious angels who watch over me. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Depressing as the subject of death is to talk about, the following excerpt from an article about death and grief is certainly true and should be very motivational to all of us:

 "Death is the ultimate deadline.

I’m a True Blood fan, but from watching the show and seeing how vampires handle the understanding that they’ve been granted everlasting mortality, it occurs to me that none of them really accomplish all that much.

Take the case of Eric Northman, who was a Viking when he was turned into a vampire. He’s been roaming the planet for 1,000 years, give or take a few hundred. You’d think that with all that time to dream, plan, and accomplish he could be a motivational speaker, prolific author or artist, or a talk show host with success that rivals Oprah’s. So what is he? He’s a bar owner.

Death provides humans with the ultimate deadline. Behaviors that hasten this deadline, health-destroying habits like sloth and overeating, are a means of living suicide, of acting dead, and distracting us from fully living.

When we’re presented with evidence of our own mortality, so many of us wake up and decide that we’re going to cast aside these old habits, figure out what would make us feel happy and fulfilled, and then go do that."
http://tinybuddha.com/blog/dealing-with-loss-3-uplifting-truths-about-death-and-grief/

Monday, December 2, 2013


DHC Challenge for today: Mix it up: Do 1 thing differently today, such as walking a new route or eating in a new spot.
I wish I could say that my change was finally getting to the horses on time but that ship has sailed. I had great intentions and rose before 4AM. Unfortunately, I waited until sunrise and time to feed the horses before I realized that I needed to make some changes to some settings in my online store. Then I felt the need to post all of the new items to my Facebook page. It would have been so much easier to have done this all at the same time but I thought, I'll make it quick and just post to my personal page for now. So, after that was done, I checked my personal page and decided to share with my business page....where I should have put them in the first place. After sharing all of them....I think at least 15 items....and posting prices and details for each one, I checked the business page and realized that FB had me posting as a visitor instead of page administrator which means, my posts were not showing up on the main page. Which means, I had to transfer them all again and then realized, the details and pricing weren't transferring with them........aaaaaaargh! So, it is nearly 10AM and I haven't fed the horses yet! I know they aren't happy and despite my good intentions, nothing was done differently since these distractions are becoming habit.

So, for my thing to do differently today, I think I'll take a walk at lunch. I work from home so my lunches are often...or usually....an hour long even though I don't eat for that long. I usually catch up on one of my favorite TV shows but most of those are in hiatus now so that will give me even more motivation to get up off my duffus and walk! That would be a good habit to start today and tomorrow, I promise I'll get to the horses much earlier......but don't tell them because I hate for them to be disappointed. If I make it, it will be a nice surprise for them. :)

Happy Monday, all.....we're starting not only a week but a new month full of possibilities!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Law of Attraction

My DHC challenge for today: Find a picture that represents 1 of your physical activity goals.
It's odd because a friend just sent me an article about the law of attraction. That "law" is basically what Oprah Winfrey's secret was all about. The idea is if you imagine what you want for you, your life, your health, your profession and you concentrate on it every day, that thing will eventually come to you or at least the path to take to achieve it. It reminds me of a story I read as a child about a little one who desperately wanted a pony so they began to not only imagine that pony but acquire the brushes, buckets, blankets they needed to care for the pony. Each day they would carry those things out to a little shed behind their house and in the story, the pony gradually started to become a reality until one day, there was a stocky, fuzzy, warm and very solid little pony standing in front of them. It sounds really odd but basically that was also the story told in the article but with a grown up lady and the horse she dreamed of owning and in the end, she got the horse. Somehow, despite all of the celebrity hype and that story of its success, it just doesn't seem possible that it could be that easy. I know that the dream and imagining the dream as real can be an amazing motivator and perhaps that's all it is. Perhaps there is far more inside of each of us than we realize. And perhaps, believing in ourselves is where we really need to start. We are so much more capable than what we imagine. We can achieve our dreams. And believing that, believing in our own strength and ability to overcome the obstacles in our path and each day accomplishing just a tiny bit more and moving a little bit closer, perhaps that is what that law of attraction is all about. So, today will be my first day to start looking at the many things I want to change about my life and not see the problems, the things holding me back but instead seeing what I know I can accomplish if I put in the effort. It's time to stop worrying about those negative "what ifs?" and instead to believe in the positive "what ifs." I'm going to try doing this for a week and see what a difference it makes. If the results are as positive as I imagine they will be, I'll do it for a month...and then another and another. I'm really starting to get excited wondering and imagining where I might be a year from now with my fitness, all of the repairs I need to make to my house, my career and business, those poor horses currently unridden and somewhat neglected (not with food, water and shelter which they are well supplied with but the things lacking are my time and attention.) Those are my goals for the next year, improving all of those is my dream. So, let's see where I'm at, what I'm feeling and seeing about all of those in a year. I keep seeing these huge obstacles when I have the ability and the good health to clear most of that away with time and patience. None of this will happen over night and none will happen without a lot of effort on my part but none of it is impossible either and achieving it doesn't have to involve a miracle but just a lot of hard work, drive, and belief in the possibilities.

I got off track on this one (when do I not?) because the challenge was all about physical fitness but I can see how this and the motivation it encourages applies to many factors in my life. I'm grateful today, the last day in the month of gratitude, for all of my blessings and the ability to turn those things that are not so great in my life around. I know I can with God's help and direction. And I think I will start a book of motivation where I put all of those sketches I make of how my house will look when it's finished, photos of me when I was fit, very healthy and happy, me riding my horses which will motivate me because I've come so far from those early days and its time that I start finding the time for my horses, me and the things I love to do, and as for my work, just this morning I was thinking about past success and how I won't achieve that again unless I not only put in the effort but the confidence and belief in myself.... in other words, I have to stop hiding away and put myself out there again, start promoting me...and not just with my work but in all areas of my life. I've done this before; I can do this again. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Back on the diet and yes, I know that is way too much food and I overdid it on sugar but it's just my first day, cut me some slack.
I tracked my diet on a site called myfitnesspal.com. If you don't know about it, you should check it out. It allows you to keep a record of not only your diet but fitness and calories burned during normal activity. I signed up for it at the first of the calendar year but did nothing with it really. Now, after my b'day and the start of my new year, I've made new resolutions concerning my health and my weight. So, here we go again! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Facebook Ads: JUST SAY NO!!!

I got off track on my healthy goals for this year. I was doing great and then a little bit of stress raises its ugly head and hisses at me and I go running for the chocolate to defend myself. Yesterday was a day for chocolate overload.

Today is off to a good start. Nice to have a good Tuesday to offset a Monday which seemed determined to not only live up to its reputation but surpass it for things going wrong. There is an old superstition in these Southern hills and valleys that my mom use to tell me about, if your ear itches, you are going to hear news - right ear is good news and left ear is bad. Well, I woke up yesterday morning feeling like I had poison ivy in my left ear which is not a good sign for any day much less a Monday.

If I'm being honest, even though my logical, educated side says all this old folklore is just so much baloney, there is part of me that still gets a bit nervous when my "nose itches for company" when the house is a mess, my "ears burn to let me know someone's talking about me" and especially when I get that rare itching ear that most certainly means I'm going to get some significant news, good or bad. I know I probably just read too much into coincidence but it does seem that when ever my nose itches, company does arrive unexpected and unannounced. So, the ear itching, even though it was most likely caused by some allergy or the dryer inside air caused by turning on our heaters, still set my nerves on edge and I soon found out there was a good reason for it.

Of course, I started worrying, that is my nature. I was concerned about my sister who is very ill but not talking to me so I truthfully worry about her constantly. I was also stressing over Steve making that 45 minute drive to work, how my horses and dogs weathered the severe drop in temperature from the night before and a dozen other things that were totally out of my control. But let's face the truth, worrying and stressing is just a constant state with me anyway.

I discovered that all of those previous worries were unfounded as soon as I opened my email. There were two messages that caught my eye right away, one was a notice of payment from my PayPal account and the other an invoice from Facebook ads. I knew that I hadn't recently taken out an ad on Facebook and that my last ad ended a month ago. I thought something smells fishy but I didn't realize how rotten this stinker really was until I opened the first email and had whatever sleepiness which remained in my morning shocked out of me. The bill was for $250! That may not sound like much to many of you but to me it is not only a major expenditure but it is made worse from the fact that I had not placed an ad and so was paying them for exactly zippo in return.

I spent the next hour on Facebook trying to straighten this out but if you've ever tried to deal with a problem or issue on Facebook, you know that is like trying to find a lost penny in the middle of the Amazon jungle without a map or a paddle for your boat. I finally found a way to notify them of this problem. I received the response that they would get back to me shortly. Shortly ended up meaning twelve hours later. Even taking the time difference between the East and West Coast, you have to figure that Facebook must be having lots of issues if it takes that long to hear from customer service.

I know you're probably asking if I got satisfaction or a refund. Well, I don't mean to insult your intelligence but really, what do you think? When I finally got their response, it turned out to be a tutorial on how to place an ad and how to follow the expense of that ad in your ads manager. Del replied to my inquiry, I hate when people sign business letters with just their first name and even worse when they start it off with "Hi Sande!" as if we're old friends exchanging pleasantries instead of a big business whore telling me to go screw myself.......so sorry for the crudeness but Del spoke to me, explaining each detail of the ads process as if I were a three year old which majorly pissed me off....ooops, sorry! I'm being crude again. So, this is how I responded to Del. Still haven't gotten a reply but as my husband, Steve, told me, "You might as well pucker up because you're kissing that $250 bye-bye."

Dear Del,

What I was trying to tell you is that I DID NOT RUN THIS AD. 

I have run ads successfully in the past. I know how the process works. I know how to set an ad up and how to set a start time and an end time. 

I did run an ad for the page in question that had a specific start time and was scheduled to end at the end of seven days. That ad ended nearly a month ago. 

I did not initiate this ad. I did not extend this ad. And I certainly would NEVER run any ad continuously.

My point being, since I have run ads with you in the past and I was well aware of the process, I think I would know whether or not I placed this ad and I did not. 

True, I did not check my account for activity but that was only because there should not have been activity to check for. I am the only one who has access to this ads account and also, I am the sole administrator of the page the ad was run on so the only explanation I can think of is that someone must have hacked my account. There was evidence of this on my personal page several weeks ago and I changed my password at that time. 

Thank you for your lengthy and thorough explanation but I assure you, I know how to read a receipt and I know how to place an ad and I also know how to examine my account for activity when I know there is activity on it. But I did not place this ad and I contest being charged for it.

If this has pointed anything out to me, it is how pointless your ads actually are since an ad running continuously, with or without my knowledge, should have driven more traffic to my page than it did. 

Sincerely, 
Sande Elkins

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What's Cookin'

Homemade chicken soup for lunch today. Not only was it a very appropriate dish for this chilly and blustery day but it was also delicious if I do say so myself.

I bought a family pack of chicken breasts and put them in the crockpot yesterday with a can of low fat/ low sodium chicken broth. When the chicken breasts were done, I removed them from the crock, skimmed off the excess fat that the chicken had left behind and then added another can of broth, chopped red potatoes, sliced carrots, celery, green pepper and corn kernels. I also added numerous spices but I can't remember exactly what. I cooked all of that over night and then about thirty minutes before lunch, I shredded two of the chicken breasts into the soup and let it cook until warm....then ATE it! It was very good.

That used only a quarter of the chicken breasts. I used two more of them last night to make a nacho casserole with chopped tomatoes and peppers added and layered with beans and cheese. The remaining half of the package of chicken will go into making barbecue tomorrow night. I'll serve it with roasted sweet potatoes and a kale salad.....double yum and all very healthy!


Friday, November 22, 2013

I forgot to tell you about Danny entertaining all of us by demolishing yet another "indestructible" ball. I have video proof, too. I will try to post that later since it was shot, like the photos, from my phone and I'm still not too sure how to download video. But, in the mean time, here are some photos of the attack on the Jolly blue ball.
















Today has been a very good day. True, as is par for the course, I did not accomplish a fraction of the list I compiled at dawn, the kitchen is still not cleaned and Steve discovered what was making our wood stove smoke and it is a disaster resulting in a shopping trip tomorrow to buy heaters for the house...that do not require wood or a chimney since ours is totally blocked with no chance of repair.  I did, however, finally get a price quote off to the bride whose wedding I shot in August....before you think what you're thinking, the delay was not my fault. I'd planned on doing this yesterday but I'd lost the original price sheet that she was using. I've since changed my pricing structure and I've done away with all of the confusing packages but that is a story for another day. The point is, that one task is finally done even if it took me ten times longer than anticipated and even though, she's still thinking about it and has changed her mind about what she wants. STILL, it was a very good day.






After lunch, Steve suggested a walk and went across the way and walked through the woods for the first time in a long time. We saw many fascinating examples of Mother Nature's amazing handiwork. I love that bright, misty green moss and the ground pine always fascinates me. I don't know if you can see them in the photo but we encountered some wild, white turkeys, an entire flock of them. The climbs ,up and down the steep hills, left me a bit breathless but they didn't seem to bother Miss Sadie. She was running around like a pup only pausing long enough to give me a quick snuggle. When we came back out of the woods, we found the horses waiting and watching for our return. I spent the next hour giving each of them a little grooming time. I was mainly removing cockle burrs from manes and tails but it was a needed chore and one they seemed to appreciate. I got lots of snuggles from them, too.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Pretty Mask

I've been thinking a lot lately about perception, how we see ourselves versus how others see us, the image we try to project to the world and what is actually seen. And that, in the end, none of it matters. I'm on a quest to discover the real me. I think I'm going to like her but she is a tricky little devil and keeps hiding from me under all of my own preconceptions of who I really am. Most of that image was given to me by others over the years and not usually by people who even liked me much less had my best interest at heart. That DHC challenge to write a movie poster about the next 12 months of your life and what you want to achieve?....I wrote that I wanted to discover me and I was surprised by how many people understood completely what I meant by that. It's really hard pulling off these masks. I loved doing Halloween art because it is the one time that you are allowed to be a bit wicked. I did a very large witch one time. She was very ugly and she was holding a princess mask in front of her face. I called it Isadora and the Pretty Mask. It was funny but I also think I was saying more with it than I realized. I'm Isadora and I've been hiding behind the pretty mask for years but l don't think I was fooling anyone, most of all me. The "pretty mask" for me has been trying to be and behave the way I thought everyone else wanted and expected me to. I was seldom true to myself and I think the real me got lost along the way. But I think she's still there, just hiding. As for Isadora, once she lays down the mask of perfection, I think she'll be surprised that she looks much better than she thought. I think Isadora is beautiful in her imperfection and not a witch at all. 

None So Blind As She Who Will Not See

My gratitude for today is for creativity, art, and the woman who opened my eyes to all the possibilities that they hold, Anne Scandlyn Powers. I told you that I'd get back to you.  I remember drawing stick figures before I could barely walk or talk. They weren't simple figures with match stick limbs but elaborate creatures with hats, boots, and various other accessories. Art education in our school system way back there in the dark ages was nonexistent at least here in the wilds of East Tennessee (a tip of the hat to my friend Pamie whose mother's family thought that her father was taking his new bride to the land of Lil' Abner which was filled with moonshine swilling hillbillies. Okay, we'll discuss that and probabilities another time.) The only art education I received was via Jon Gnagy and let's face it, there is just so much that you can do with a cone, a sphere and a cube. Art became a sanctuary for me. It was where I hid away from the realities of my life and the secrets. It was my safe place deep inside my spirit where no one or nothing could reach me. I told my mother that I didn't want to study art because I thought that might ruin something for me. A teacher in high school had gotten me a scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta. My parents told me that I wasn't going to Atlanta for school or anything else; Atlanta had a bit of a reputation in those days as a wild town, lol. My parents refused to let me grow up and keeping me at home was their way of holding off that inevitability for as long as possible. At eighteen, I don't think I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up anyway but unfortunately, time was not going to remedy that. Still, to break loose from the iron fisted control of my parents, I got married. I'm lucky that I chose a good guy as my escape plan because we've been married now for 38 years but in the beginning, he was simply the vessel that carried me to freedom. But I went from being someone's daughter to someone's spouse and although I didn't know it at the time, I needed to be my own person instead of someone else's possession. It was several years before I realized that I was never going to be satisfied with just being someone's wife. I needed my own identity, I needed my own path. It was when I realized that I only introduced myself as Steve's wife or my parents's daughter that I decided to go back to school and try to actually find myself. I didn't know what I wanted to major in, I just knew that school was the one thing I'd always been good at. I chose art because I'd always loved it, always felt it was part of me. I went into it very naive. On a personal level, there is a good side and a bad side to the study of art in college. The good side, you are finally surrounded by people just like you, who think like you and see like you. It's nice to finally have that sense of belonging. The bad side, you are surrounded by people just like you, you are no longer the one colorful clown fish in the aquarium; now you are quite literally, in a school of equally lovely clown fish. I very much enjoy learning and I was eating up all of my classes with gusto and relish....all except my art class. Oh, I enjoyed it immensely but I had all sorts of preconceptions that I'd built on my own over the years. I wasn't quite as bad as the woman who showed us with great pride her drawing of Mickey Mouse on the first day of class but I was pretty darn close. My first art instructor was Anne Powers. She taught my Art, Basic Design 101 class and she had her work cut out for her with me. It was a large class but I think I was the most resistant to change probably because my art itself had been a barrier protecting me from the world for years and I didn't want anyone tearing that barrier down. It took Anne a while but she was up to the job, she finally got me to open my eyes and see the world in an entirely new way. She got me to not only break down that wall but to let out all of the creativity and vision that had been hiding behind it. It wasn't an easy process for either of us but I think she got as much satisfaction as I did on the day when I finally tore away the blinders and saw the world around me for the first time through an artist's eyes. I don't know if I've done her justice over the years. Even though I've made my living in creative ways for many of the years since, I still had to conform to society's wants and expectations in order to sell but I'm having a new awakening in my old age. I still need to make money from my work but I also need something for me. So, I'm breaking down a new barrier to artistic freedom and I'm going to start doing something for me, art for art's sake. I realize now, looking back over all of these too many years between now and then, just how vital Anne was to me finally finding my own identity. She is important to me for far more than just artistic direction. Anne is a rare creature because she is a very talented artist but she is also a very talented educator. So she can do and she can teach and she has done both extremely well. She was able to see something in me that I couldn't see myself and she worked like a miner digging it out of me. I both admire and I thank her today for all that she's given to me and I know numerous other students over the years. She taught me much more than the three elements of art; she taught me to see.

My DHC challenge for today was to write a movie poster describing what goal you want to reach in the next 12 months. Mine is a doozy....hope I'm not expecting too much, lol:
58 YEARS IN THE MAKING!!! An epic adventure awaits as A Woman finally rescues herself and breaks down the barriers that have held her prisoner for so long. She lets loose the blindfold and sees her path clearly for the first time that will lead her forward in her quest for balance, peace, creativity, artistic fulfillment and accomplishment. She encounters many monsters along the way, Ennui, Self Depreciation, Naysayers, Disorganization (which has grown into a goliath after many years of being ignored), Lethargy, and the largest most fearsome monster of all, PROCRASTINATION!!! .....BUT SHE DEFEATS THEM ALL!!! And after 12 long months of struggle and growth, SHE finds herself TRIUMPHANT standing on top of that mountain that once held her prisoner and surveying all of the treasure that surrounds her. She has found much more than success and gold; SHE HAS FOUND HERSELF!!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Truly an Inspiration! Augie Nieto

Augie and his children and grandchildren. He hopes to walk his daughter, Lindsay, down the aisle next summer.
Augie and his children and grandchildren. He hopes to walk his daughter, Lindsay, down the aisle next summer.
An article by Scott Stump on www.today.com :
"Augie Nieto cannot speak or move, but that doesn’t mean he can't inspire others.
TODAY’s Natalie Morales met Nieto seven years ago when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative condition better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, at age 46.
While many only live for a few years with ALS, Nieto’s passion for life is still going strong. 
Nieto and his wife, Lynn, have founded Augie's Quest, which has raised nearly $40 million to fight ALS.
TODAY
Nieto and his wife, Lynn, have founded Augie's Quest, which has raised nearly $40 million to fight ALS.
“The last time I saw Augie, in 2009, I honestly feared it might be the last I would see him,’’ Morales said on TODAY Wednesday as part of TODAY's week-long #InspiredBy series, in which anchors and fans on social media share their inspirations. “But today, miraculously, he seems to be thriving by leaps and bounds.”
"I feel very fortunate to be at the place I am in life,'' Nieto said via the computer he uses to speak. 
Nieto, the founder of Life Fitness, a company that produces some of the first cycles and treadmills used in gyms, was in peakhealth when he was first diagnosed with ALS. He felt powerless, and tried to take his own life.
He came back from that dark time with the help of his wife, Lynn, and teamed up with the Muscular Dystrophy Association to found Augie’s Quest, organization on a mission to eradicate ALS. Augie’s Quest has raised almost $40 million, and Nieto’s spirit is stronger than ever. He is the chairman of both Augie’s Quest and Octane Fitness and just joined the board of Curves, the national chain of weight loss and fitness centers.
Augie and Natalie Morales, who says he is thriving, "miraculously."
TODAY
Augie and Natalie Morales, who says he is thriving, "miraculously."
He uses a roller ball to type on the computer with his foot, and the computer speaks for him. For the first time in years, he is working out again at a recovery facility called Project Walk.
“I saw him move his hand for the first time in eight years,’’ his wife told TODAY. “To me, it’s a miracle.”
Nieto is training with a single goal in mind — walking his daughter, Lindsay, down the aisle at her wedding next summer.
“I think he acts from a place of significance now,’’ Lynn Nieto said. “It’s not success-driven. It’s significance: ‘How can I make a difference?’’’
Nieto has inspired not only inspired Morales, but others like Corey Reich, 27, too, who is battling ALS.
“Augie is an amazing inspiration,'' Reich told Morales. "Definitely a hero. Augie has never allowed the disease to keep him from doing what he wants to do." 

TODAY
“I get so much strength from you and your family,’’ Nieto told Reich.
Rather than dwell on his limitations, Reich lives every second of every day to the fullest.
“If he can do it, the rest of us certainly can,’’ his wife said.
Nieto still exudes the same spirit he did when he first met Natalie in 2006, when he told her, "You can either celebrate what you can do, or mourn what you can't." "

Inspiration and Smiles

My DHC Challenge for today was to list three people who always lift your spirits. I had to list four not three and I thought I should use them all as my gratitude for the day.

First, my husband of nearly 40 years, who is also my best friend, Steve. We still have our spats but we are more like quarreling siblings than battling spouses. After all of these years, we not only still love each other but trust, respect and admire each other over anyone else. He not only always has my back but the twinkle in his beautiful blue eyes still brings me a thrill and a smile.

Two, my cyber buddy (we cyber chat daily) and just all round good friend and spiritual advisor as well as inspiration, Gary. Gary and I met through another dear and very old friend of us both, Daryl. I think we were always supposed to be friends. He's helped me through some dark times by not only lending his advice, support and encouragement but also by sharing his wonderfully wicked sense of humor.

Three, my friend Pamie because no matter what's going on in either of our lives, however sad or depressing, we always seem to end up laughing. Pamie has been through some very devastating events over the last few years. I'm so happy that she cares enough about me and trusts me enough to share her heartache, frustration and anxiety brought on by things out of her control. But despite all of that, she still laughs, she still jokes, and she has the most infectious smile.

And lastly but certainly not least... and yes, I can count and know this is four.....my dear friend, Huston. He's 89 and up until a major stroke two years ago, he was still riding and training horses. He is the wisest, kindest person I know and he has the most tender heart. He's given me so much amazing advice over the years and he once said something that has had a profound effect on my life, "I had faith in you when you didn't have faith in yourself. I always knew what you were capable of doing." We use to talk at least once a week but usually much more than that. Our conversations have had to be shortened over the last two years as he's had more and more strokes but we're still talking and he still lifts my spirits more than anyone else and always, always makes me smile just when I hear his voice. Huston, for all that you've given to me over the years but mainly just for your friendship which is so precious to me, I thank you.
Communication..... Huston with our foal, Danny, meeting for the first time.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Grateful today to all of the men and women who have served to protect us all. Special thanks to my brother, James Ronald Jones or as most of you who know him, Ronnie. He served in Vietnam as did my late brother-in-law, Bud Tilley. My sister-in-law, Veronica Jones and Brother-in-law, Grady Bingham also served state side. My father, James Howard Jones served in the Pacific during WWII. Many ancestors, many friends and neighbors have served and sacrificed. For what they've given to us, there are not words to express the gratitude.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Start each day with HOPE

Grateful today for both hope and possibilities. Our potential is not determined by our age, our gender, our wealth or lack there of, the place we live or were born. We are only limited by the roadblocks we ourselves raise. So break down the barriers. Stop listening to the negatives, the you can'ts, and stop saying them to yourself. Live with hope and find joy in all of the wonderful possibilities that lie before you. You might just surprise yourself and all those other naysayers. Just what would happen if you said,"I can," instead of,"I can't? There could be endless possibilities and for those I am grateful!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Gratitude for Gratitude's Sake

Day 9 and I find myself wondering what I'll write as my gratitude today. That isn't because it's hard to think of something but because there are so many things I'm thankful for. So today, I'm just grateful for being so blessed. I often wonder, how did I get so lucky? So, I'm grateful for gratitude. Grateful not only for the blessings but for the awareness of just how blessed I am and the expansion of heart and soul that being thankful and aware brings to you. Gratitude is not a selfless thing at all because it blesses the giver as much as the one it is directed at. When I was in school, my art teacher, Anne Scandlyn Powers, had a motto, "Art for Art's Sake." Well this thank you is kind of like saying, Gratitude for Gratitude's Sake because it becomes a beautiful circle that never ends and is a blessing in itself..... oh, and I'm also grateful to the above mentioned teacher because she opened my eyes to a new world of beauty and possibilities but I'll save that one for another of the 30 days. :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day Two of My New Year and Horsie Pedicures

Wish I'd had my camera with me this morning for two reasons. One, I'm starting up the Tennessee Equestrian once again. The TN Eq. is a comprehensive guide to equine businesses, services and organizations for the Tenn. horse owner. I first had the idea for it four years ago but then, I planned to publish it as a beautiful print magazine. What a time for the American economy to take a nosedive. I sank too much of my own money into the project and borrowed far too much on my credit cards...which I'm still paying on....both of which were very bad ideas. The thing is, although my methods were bad, I still believe in the concept and so I'm revising it as a strictly online publication. I'm still adding free listings and a few paid ads. All of my close friends and associates are getting free ads because after all, I need something to show potential advertisers. I was hoping to get a shot of my farrier, Dale, working on my horses so that I can give him a large full colored ad. He is so good with the horses and an excellent farrier. I've been using him since I got my first horse and he is amazing. But, alas forgot the camera so he told me that the photo will have to wait until probably January when we'll have our next trim. The second reason that I wish I'd had my camera is because a small miracle happened....I'm so happy for small miracles :)........Riley, who has been extremely head shy and halter repellant since an apprentice at a stable where I kept him for a while left his halter on and turned him out with it. He became entangled in some limbs and not only wore sores on his face but a deep gash around one ear. Since that happened, I have only been able to get a simple rope halter on him and that always with great difficulty. We arrived at the pasture at dawn because Dale was due to arrive as soon as he dropped his kids off at school and at first, it appeared that this morning was going to be no different than any other. Django went into his halter like butter, Danny was his usual rude self but I still managed to halter him, Brandy was stubborn but it didn't take long to slip her halter on as well but Riley and Mouse.....forget about it! I told Steve that we'd do Brandy first, then the two boys and then I'd again try to halter my two rebels. Dale arrived and everyone was cooperating really well. With Brandy and Django done, I decided to let Steve hold Danny while I tried again to halter Riley and Mouse. First I tried Mouse and she still kept turning away from me. I even tried putting food in the feed bucket but she still moved away. Then I notice Riley standing in front of his feed bucket and looking shyly towards me. I walked over, put a little feed in his bucket and then gently wrapped the rope around his neck.....he didn't even flinch! Then, for the first time in over three years, I slipped a real halter over his nose and he didn't move!! I tell you, I needed the camera because it was a minor miracle. I've only been able to get a makeshift rope halter on him when I get one on at all. I led him over to where Dale was waiting and Riley was a perfect gentleman. By the time we finished, Mouse had figured out that putting on the halter meant getting food so she, too, let me halter her and lead her to Dale. I managed to get two birds with one stone because I asked Steve to hold her while I finally got the burrs out of her mane while she was forced to stand still. The morning didn't get off to a good start because I was awake and sick most of the night and had started off the day feeling miserable but those two little victories just rejuvenated me and my spirits. Now, I'm off to finally get my kitchen straightened and cleaned. Doing pretty good on the resolutions for today. Still haven't officially exercised but I have been moving all morning. I think it's going to end up being a great day!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Okay, if I am going to be all Bridget Jonsey about this, I have to share more than her last name (maiden name, Sandy Jones.) So, here goes with the honesty....although I have to admit this hurts.... Day One...weight 209.2.....ughhhh.....wonder if it would be less painful if I used stones instead of pounds?.......hmmmm?.....that's 14 stone and 13 pounds. Yes, definitely sounds better although I imagine it will take me longer to lose one stone and actually show progress. Oh, what a dilemma!

Day One of a New Year or I Can See Clearly Now

I've decided to make my resolutions today since this is really my "new year." It is the first day of my 59th year on this twirling globe. I feel a bit like Bridget Jones but I probably won't be nearly as entertaining.

My resolutions are simple ones and I hope achievable ones:

1) Start getting out to take care of the horses very early.... at least by 7AM every morning.
Okay, already broke this one. It is now 9:42 a.m. and I'm still sitting here writing in my blog/journal. And it rained and stormed earlier so definitely not already done. Right now, the wind is blowing so hard that I'm afraid I'll be off to see the Wizard soon. Something heavy just hit the roof and lots of little things continue to pelt the house. The sky is almost black and yet the sun is shining...weird. Also, even though I do need to go feed the horses, they will be BSC with all of this wind.....for those who don't know what that is, it's my friend Gary's favorite phrase or description of certain people, bat sh*t crazy.

2)Start riding the horses again and working with Danny...... I was reminded that I need desperately to do this and stop putting it off when Danny pinned his ears at me and threatened to kick. It still took several hours before I could get away from the house and the phone to actually work him. He was really showing himself at first, throwing his head up and laying those ears back. He even fake threatened to charge me once but I kept his hooves moving and he finally started relaxing and listening. I was only able to work him about 15 minutes but every little bit helps.
I just have to start being consistent and working with him at least once a day. My b'day gift to myself yesterday was a call to my friend, Huston Jenkins. I not only adore Huston but he knows more about horses than anyone I know. He had a stroke two years ago and he's had several since. He's using a walker now and unable to work with his horses. That breaks my heart. We use to talk for hours and at least a couple of times each week but since the stroke, he's not always up to it. It's been two months since we last spoke and that time, I discovered he'd had another stroke just the day before. He was able to talk but he didn't really know me. Yesterday's conversation was a wonderful gift because my old friend did know me and we talked horses for over 35 minutes. He told me not to worry about Danny that he was just being a typical "teenager" and pushing those boundaries. He said that he would come around quickly because he's from good stock. Which is true since not only did Huston pick out the stallion that sired him but he raised his mama, my mare, Mouse. You can't get a better horse than a Huston Jenkins's horse!

3) Healthier diet, healthier lifestyle.......... translates to: exercise more, eat a more balanced diet and floss at least once a day. So far, I'm three for three in the fail column on my new resolutions. Oh well, it is just day one.

4) The biggie is to lose 59 pounds by my 59th birthday in 365 days! I think that is doable especially if I keep the other three resolutions. If I'm up early taking care of the horses, that should mean that I'm sleeping better, more and getting into bed at a decent hour for that 4AM alarm. Getting enough sleep is essential for not only health but weight loss. Then there is riding and working Danny....trust me, that will burn some calories and I believe working toward one goal can help you to achieve another simply from that feeling of accomplishing something. Besides, it will be fun and I get to spend more time with my horses so win-win. Of course, how resolution number three helps toward my weight loss goal is a no brainer.

I still have other goals for this year but they are the same ones from last year that I didn't do so we will wait until these new rules turn into habits and then try to accomplish some major strides with both my work and the remodeling, repair and clean up of this house.

I have to admit, this past year was a real stinker. There was more heartache than joy but with all of that came lessons and enlightenment. I think I am more capable now of actually working toward and achieving my goals. Also, like the old song says, "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone." Now, I have a plan and despite today's false start, I have all confidence that I will achieve all four of my "new year" resolutions.