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.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Today is my birthday and I planned to make some resolutions for my 59th year on this planet. So far, today, I've broken every one of them....BUT my 59th year doesn't officially start until after 6PM so I figure that I've got a few more hours to be as bad as I want....it is my b'day afterall! ;-)

Blanketed in Love

Gratitude day 6: It's my birthday. My 58th year on this planet has not been an easy one for many reasons but in the midst of troubles and heartache, have been both lessons and hidden blessings. I find myself at the close of my 58th year and the beginning of my 59th feeling very blessed and so loved. There are two subjects that I avoid on Facebook, politics and religion, but I'm going to direct this gratitude directly to God so if that offends you, look away. It might surprise many of you to know that I am basically a very private person. Sure I share stories about my horses, usually funny, almost daily, sweet and funny memories, even a lot of what I eat whether it's good for me or not and very often my gratitudes even when it's not during the month of November but despite all of my sharing, it is mostly just "surface stuff." The very personal things, the things my heart speaks and often the things there just aren't words for, those stay between me and my God. Every morning, I try to say a prayer of thanks and prayers for all of the friends and loved ones who I know need them before I get out of bed. It's just a good way to start my day. This has been a very difficult year for me and during the most painful times, I was feeling broken in heart and spirit, I was feeling hurt and hopeless and I was wearing that pain like a heavy cloak. Then one day I woke and my spirt felt lifted, I felt unburdened, and most of all I felt overwhelmingly loved. I know that was God and I believe it was the direct results of friends' prayers because I never pray for myself. I know of many friends who kept me in their hearts and prayers while I was walking that dark road and I thank you. If you were one of them, I want you to know not only how grateful I am but also that your prayers were answered. I hope that God sees fit to answer mine, too, and that he surrounds you all with that love, joy, comfort and healing. I love you all more than words can say and I love God, too. I'm sharing this very personal thing with all of you because I sometimes wonder if my prayers are answered. It's not a matter of not having faith, it's just not knowing God's will and not always seeing tangible results. But know that all the prayers for me were answered and for that love and tender blessing and comfort, I am eternally grateful. I somehow knew, at the beginning of my 58th year, that it was going to be a difficult one but now, as I begin my journey into my 59th, I am filled with hope and love and gratitude for answered prayers.
Google actually wished me a, "Happy birthday," this morning....how cool is that? When I clicked on
the photo....because I couldn't believe it at first.....it actually said, "Happy birthday, Sande!" That made my day. :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Trials by Fire

Gratitude for today, day five, I'm thankful for the trials as well as the blessings. The trials of life are like fertilizer, they enhance our growth. We learn from them and once we walk through the fire, we become stronger, better. A friend told me it is like putting clay into a fire. It goes in soft and easily damaged and comes out hard and strong.  The blessings are what makes our lives worth living but the hard times are what make us worthy.

Little Sande's Down the Stairs

This doesn't work with dogs either. Several years ago,  I fell down the basement steps. My dog Fred just stood there and whined and licked me. He was concerned and he was a very smart dog but telling him to go get Steve.... well evidently that only happens when Lassie is around and little Timmy is down the well. ....... oh, and husbands can't be trained either because Steve was watching TV and I think I yelled for thirty minutes before I finally felt like I could move again and hobbled through the house with several broken toes (you have to understand, I went head first so I'm laying upside down on the stairs and a bit dazed, it took me 30 min. to get to the point where I could get up much less walk.) I was not a happy camper and I did my own interpretation of the Verizon commercial by yelling in his face, "Can you hear me NOW???!!!"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Good Morning Sunshine

Day four in this month of gratitude and I'm grateful for a simple thing, a gorgeous sunrise, the breaking of dawn on a beautiful day full of hope and possibilities. I was feeding my horses, still wearing my pjs and being around their sweet spirits at the start of my day is enough to make me happy but turning toward the East and seeing that glowing, cotton candy colored, soft sky, speckled with golden sunlight, gently waking up the landscape filled my heart with joy!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Two Hearts

Gratitude, Day 3: I'm grateful today and everyday for being blessed with the best husband and best friend for what he says is "all of our lives." It has certainly been most of our lives but he can still make me laugh after all these years. When something happens to me, whether good or bad, he's the first person I want to tell. I know that I can depend on him to always support me, encourage me and believe in me. And the twinkle in his beautiful blue eyes still makes my heart flutter. He's the best person I know and what a blessing to have shared a lifetime with him.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day Two of Gratitude Month

Month of gratitude day two...... on a very lazy and peaceful day for me, I realize how lucky I am to have my health. I try to eat healthy but I do fall short of that goal occasionally.....that bag of Hersheys that mysteriously disappeared is a case in point..... and I do keep "trying" to exercise. But the point is, I could do much better with my efforts and I am blessed with health probably far better than I deserve. I think back over the years and I think how many times I've "dodged a bullet." That's what the doctor who did the surgery when I had malignant melanoma said; my cancer was large but the growth was lateral so it hadn't moved to my lymph nodes. "You've dodged a bullet." She said. "I'm very lucky." I said and she said, "You are very, very lucky." Then there are all of the accidents I've had from bike to car which, all things considered, should have killed me many times over. But every time, it seemed I was protected, saved, spared. The fact that I'm still around at nearly 58, this is my birthday month, is a miracle in itself and I am extremely grateful for not only that fact but how good I feel. I could feel better if I'd work out more so there will be a goal, a promise attached to this gratitude. And a bit of superstition, too, because I'm knocking wood right now. 

Rabbit, Rabbit

I learned something new today. It's a fun fact not necessarily a useful one. It's a British superstition that I've never heard of but might actually adopt since just the idea of it makes me think of bunny whiskers and smile. You have to say "Rabbit, rabbit" or Rabbit, rabbit, white rabbit" on the first day of every month, as soon as you wake up and before you speak or put your feet on the floor. It is supposed to bring good luck. I was just thinking about some of the superstitions I was raised with and how most of them were more about warding off bad luck than inducing good. I think that's why I like this sweet tradition so much. Maybe it won't make me any luckier but it sure makes me smile.  "Rabbit, rabbit!" to everyone even though I'm a day late.

Friday, November 1, 2013

What I did Accomplish Today:

My new Tennessee Equestrian website. Lots of work completed on this today.




Teaching this Old Dog Some New Tricks

I can't say that I've had a bad day because I accomplished a lot on my website. I only tore myself from this chair to eat a quick lunch and then again for a 25 minute break. My hands are cramping, my neck is stiff and my behind is tired, lol. Still, when you have so many things that need to be done, you can end up feeling like you failed even on a day when you've actually worked hard and done a lot. I feel that way today. It was beautiful and I didn't get outside for two minutes even to enjoy it. I didn't spend any time with my horses since Steve fed both morning and night for me. I didn't get the first thing done on the house that I so want to get straightened and painted and just plain cleaned. I didn't even wash my breakfast dishes or.... so ashamed to admit this....change out of my pjs! Still, I made so much progress that I should be feeling accomplished. My problem though is that I seem incapable of compartmentalizing. Sure, at the start of every day, I make that list of what I want, hope, think I can get done in that day. Every day seems to start off great but leaving a task only partially done before moving on to another just doesn't work for me. I keep thinking, I'll stop, I'll move on as soon as I get to this next step, as soon as this is finished, as soon as I've looked for mistakes one more time. That goes on and on until the end of the day comes, darkness falls and I've only checked off that first thing on the list once again. Oh well, tomorrow is a new day and I will try again to "move on" and move forward and hopefully, I'll spend part of my day out in the sunshine, with my nose buried in horse mane that smells like sunshine and honey. 

A Month of Gratitude, Day One

My beautiful niece, Ashton Dahn, has reminded me that this is the month for gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for that I have a hard time deciding on one thing and especially the first thing so I think I will steal Ashton's first reason for thankfulness on this first day of November. I am thankful for the wonderful people in my life. I've been blessed with so many amazing people that I call friend and who are all truly really there for me when I need them, who really care. It makes my heart swell with joy just thinking of how blessed I've been with good friends. I love you all and I'm thankful for all of you. I lost my dearest friend this year, Candis Snow Nicely, and I still miss her every day but I also feel as if she is with me every day. And her loss has just taught me to appreciate and cherish each person in my life that much more. I won't name names not only because the list is too long but also because I fear my faulty memory would have me forgetting someone dear. So, I'll just say thank you for being you, thank you for caring and supporting and encouraging. I love you all so much and I'm grateful to each and everyone who's made my life just that much sweeter because you are part of it.