First of (hopefully not) many to come?

It is a peaceful morning at the Cowboy’s ranch.

The sun is shining.  There is a slight breeze blowing.  No tv or music playing.

It is just quiet.

My daughter and I a few minutes ago, sat down to the coffee, bacon and waffles the Cowboy made for us before leaving for an appointment.

We had slept in, rolling in early this morning after a much later departure than I had hoped for last night.

………….

This is the start to our spring break this year ..

Well, I wish this were the start.  I like this start better.  We are instead going this morning, with .. the ‘do-over’ I wrote about a few posts ago.

…………

“Mom, can I have a hug,” my daughter asks as we were still lying in bed this morning.

She’s lying on her side, looking at me with one eye.  The other eye is buried in her pillow.  We are mirroring each other in that respect.

I give her a hug.  “I love you, honey..” I say.

The hug rounds out one of the first big fights we have ever had.

Well, actually, that she had with me last night as we were trying to get the car packed and actually get out of town.  I had a long time on the drive here last night to think about what set it all off.  And, we’ve talked about it since.  But ..

This was truly the first, and quite honestly, impressive (not in a good way) rant I’ve seen from her.

Normally we might have some pouting.  Some name calling.  Some assertiveness and being bossy.  She hasn’t been terrible about that.  She’s usually a pretty great kid and under control.  But this was a no good knock down drag out throw every nasty name in the book and do what I can to hurt mom kind of fight.  That was before the threats to throw yogurt all over the car (I almost doubled over laughing about the thought of that one as she threatened while I put gas in the car), dump my coffee (gasp! she knows my weak spot) and pinch me as hard as she could.

The “I don’t love you anymore I just want my dad the rest of my life and I wish you were never born,” kind of fight.

And it all started with me simply asking her to clean the cats litter boxes before we left.

“I tried,” she fussed at me, as I went to pour in more fresh litter and discovered there was still a lot to be cleaned.

I went to look for the scooper.

It was hiding in a corner, freshly snapped in two.

“Child (insert name)?” I ask .. “How did the scoop get broken?  Did that just happen?”

“No.  And .. It just broke,” she replied.

“It didn’t ‘just break‘ honey, what happened?  We have others coming to care for the cats and now the scoop is broke?” I say, increasingly frustrated at this point.  Frustrated my child (my fault at this point) isn’t better at handling a few simple chores.  And that we’re not already on the road.

“Why are you being so mean to me,” she asks.

I try and take stock of how I’m talking to her .. thinking, uh oh, did I push her too far?  Am I that frustrated trying to get out the door I’m taking it out on her?  Or, is it that I’m holding her accountable for one of two relatively simple tasks she’d rather not do, that’s has her so upset.  But it’s too late.  She’s in a full fledged rage, screaming bloody murder as she scoops the last of the clumps out of the litter box with half a scoop saying she doesn’t want to go with me now, and just wants her dad.  I keep doing what I’m doing, trying to stay focused and let her have this moment, hoping meanwhile that the neighbors aren’t getting concerned something else more traumatic is going on.  Next thing I know she’s unpacking all of her things from the car.  And on the phone.  To dad.

Now.. thank goodness he and I are in a place where .. even in divorce .. this no longer even remotely pits the two of us against each other.  If anything, her growing up and trying to play either of us has us talking and getting along better than we perhaps ever have.  And he knows she has called me at the slightest point of upset on his end.  It’s good to know we’ve got each others backs here.

(If I have learned anything important to pass along through my own divorce, it’s that .. if there is even a chance as a mom or dad you can present a united front .. despite separate homes, it makes a huge difference.  Not always in the moment, but in the big picture.  That’s for just about anything that may come up.)

But it was brutal.  For quite some time.  I let her keep going with it and ignored her for the most part, wondering how long she might keep it up.  And I was generally impressed with the steady stream of insanity that flowed from her healthy vocal chords.  I didn’t realize she had that in her to be honest.  At a few times I had to hold back a smile.  Which upset her even more.

It only ended as we were finally on the road about 20 minutes from home and she was furious I hadn’t started to cry.  My 10-year-old took off her seatbelt and threatened to open the door and jump out because it would be better than staying in the car with me.  And then she went for the gear shift and power button.  (Yes, my car has a power button.)

It was time to put this to an end.

She begged me to stop so that she could go to the bathroom and I told her that was perfect because she had gone on long enough and I was concerned now about both our safety.  And lucky for us, I knew that State Patrol headquarters was right next to the string of restaurants and gas stations we were heading for.

“If you can’t get this under control for yourself,” I said .. “perhaps we need to go and talk with the police.  Because I’m worried you’re going to hurt either yourself or both of us and  can’t let you do that.”

Snap.  She’s out of it.

“Are you hungry?” I ask.

We pull up to Culver’s and get out.

“I’m so sorry, mommy…..” she says as she walks around the front of the car toward me offering her arms for a hug.

“I think it’s puberty.  I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m doing this.  Can I have some ice cream?”

………….

I pray this is not a regular occasion.

But I also know, I gave my own parents a few doozies when I was her age.  Probably not to the extent I got last night, because I knew there would be a hand on my face at the first utter of some of the words she chose last night or a hand mark on my behind.  But I’m sure my words at that time, cut close.

I’m not proud of that.

In fact, and my daughter and I have talked about this already this morning.  If I have any regrets from a life otherwise well lived .. it is that I ever said some of the things I did to my parents.  That I know had to have stung .. just a bit.  In particular, to my own mother.

She used to say .. “I can hardly wait until you have your own kids…” with a smile on her face.

I am learning, day by day .. what she meant..

…………

It is still quiet here at the ranch this now Saturday afteroon.

The dishes are cleared and put away after a late brunch..

And I’ve had a few wonderful moments to sit and write again after a chaotic week…

I can hear the truck coming up the drive ..

The Cowboy is has returned.

And we’re going outside to learn how to ride a bike ..

Which, she also doesn’t want do.

Let’s see how this one goes..

Help wanted: Someone who can …

There are about 10 topics I’d like to write about given the events of the past few days .. 9 of them serious, and one totally frivolous but life changing.  For women anyway.  I swear.  About shaving.  A fun fact my own mother never knew, but that I feel .. now that I have had the knowledge handed down to me, I should pass on .. especially as my own daughter starts to consider whether or not she has enough hair on her legs to start.

But I haven’t had time yet to really sit down and write about any of them.  The pace has been non-stop for days.  I think that’s what happens before you leave on vacation in general.  But it’s also because, it’s just been ridiculously busy.  Spring seems to be that way every year no matter what, doesn’t it?  I don’t know why.  Can’t put my finger on it.  But it is.  And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way ….

Regardless.

Because of how busy it has been, the overarching thought in my head the past 3 days has been:

Living on caffeine and out of my car too often ...

(sorry for inside glimpse of my coffee mug .. just painting the picture here)

I would really love a personal assistant.

…………..

I work in a business where you have to be incredibly self-sufficient to get done what you need to everyday.  Not always.  I am surrounded by great people who are hard workers and get a lot done that, I won’t lie, in turn, helps me look good each day.

Don’t most of us, really, in some capacity have that as our scenario?  We’re part of a team that comes together to produce whatever the product is for our business.  Each day.  That’s just what teams do, to be successful.

But like any profession, mine happens to be news… there’s a lot of individual responsibility.

I’ve always managed it.  Not as well as some others.  And far better than some others.  But I’ve managed.

When I look back, I have worked – hard – relying on my own performance since I was probably 12.  I delivered papers.  I mowed lawns.  I babysat.  I worked in a feed mill.  In a cornfield de-tassling.  Shearing Christmas trees.  Waitressed (much of my adult life) for years where I – at times – was the only server on the floor.  I know how to get a job done.  I can and will do what it takes to get a job done.  And I take pride in doing it well.

So when I left news for a few years, went into another profession and was given an assistant to work with ..

I had NO idea what to ask of this person.

………….

I went overnight from having only a reporters notebook, a desk phone, a computer, a small quarter cubicle wall big enough to maybe post a few snapshots in a tiny shared workspace, a deadline daily and people that shouted across the room to each other when they needed something to get done – and now .. to two beautiful, spacious offices, a long range multi-million dollar fundraising project, all of the electronic devices I might need to make that happen, access to some of the most influential people in the field I was trying to raise money for .. and, an assistant to make it all happen.

“What can I do to help you,” my awesome assistant (and he really was) would sincerely say.  Daily.

I had no idea what to tell him.

Ever.

Until …. that is, the day the lightbulb went on and I realized how much better two working together could be .. how much more I/we could get done .. how he could potentially help with the monumental tasks at hand .. behind the scenes .. taking care of the always important little details that I hate dealing with .. so that in turn, I could do what I think I do best and that is focus on the big picture… and that it was okay to ask for help.

But by then, he was gone.

He was working for others who did know how valuable he and the work he was capable of doing and loved to do .. was.  And still is.

And, while I am talking about all of this now in terms of the world of work..

At this particular moment in time .. again, I would give anything for a personal assistant.

…………..

Do people really do this?  Is there a niche career here?  Personal assistants?

Yes there is.  In fact .. I may give http://www.justaskchelsea.com/index.html a call tomorrow now that I’ve finally taken the time to google something I’ve been pondering for years.  Because I’m pretty sure me paying her for one hour .. even two to do something like .. run to the DMV for me would have been far less than the ticket I found on my windshield yesterday for expired plates.  Just one example of where I would sincerely appreciate some help.  A partner of sorts.

Many of you have them in the form of a spouse.

Know that I understand how pathetic it is I feel I could use an assistant.  To help me manage my time/life outside of work.  But I’ve gotten to the point I don’t really care what anyone else thinks in certain areas of my life.  It is what it is at this particular moment.  I am doing what I can to work toward more time with family and friends and less time with everything else.  But much like spring cleaning .. sometimes you have to make a bigger mess in the process .. to get to that cleaner house.  That’s kind of where I feel I am at in life.

Someone to help .. (the Cowboy and I .. I know, would do this for each other, if we actually lived closer to each other .. or in the same place) would not only make the chaos more manageable.  But also, more fun.

‘Want more fun and less stress?  Do less,’ you say.

If it were only that easy.

There is a huge market here.  Why are so few doing this?  Do running other people’s errands stress out those doing it for work, too?  Is there not enough money in the world someone could pay you to run errands because you have enough of your own?

Budding entrepreneurs – just a thought:  If you are looking to start your own business, have a clean driving record, can be trusted, are good with confidentiality, love kids, and are happy to work with people who might really appreciate your work..

Consider.  And please apply, within.

Not a pretty sight this morning …

I was halfway through an entirely different post here ..

When I heard it.

You know.. the sound animals make when they’re heaving .. getting ready to throw up and just lay it all out there.

And if you have pets, you know it’s usually in the worst possible place.  For instance, they may have just gotten in the trash, devoured all your leftover pesto, garlic cloves and tomatoes to boot (no pun intended.  well, maybe it was) and they find the middle of your white plush rug to get sick.

I know better anymore than to have a white plush rug.  And yes, from experience.  Because out of an entire house of hardwoods, which I have always had, the one area rug I might have in the house, has always been the preferred site for my animals to gather and look for comfort apparently, when they are getting sick.

……………….

Back to the events of this morning.

I hear it happening .. And as I make a mad dash to get her to the hardwood floors before she actually throws up.. There it is.  The heave.

………………

My parents, as I was growing up, wanted just one pet.  We usually had one small breed dog.  And that was it.

I, on the other hand, wanted them all.  I’d bring home cats.  Ask for a horse daily.  Rabbits.  Goldfish.  A parakeet.

Our dog Bugsy growing up and the parakeet ..

Even rats.  God bless ’em.  I started with one.  One rat.

I eventually ended up, thanks to a breeding mishap in the back of our 7th grade science classroom, with 24.

“No.”  

That is what my parents said when I asked if I could bring more than the one home.

So, at the end of my 8th grade year, the rats were fed to the eagles at the MacKenzie Environmental Center.  Because no one else wanted them.  Or maybe they did, but their parents didn’t want them, either.  Traumatic for me, but apparently a wonderful treat for the eagles.

……………..

One pet.

I never understood why one was great .. but more wouldn’t be even that much better.

Until recently.

Don’t get me wrong, I love them all.  Dearly.  The two dogs I have (one that I share with a friend… I’ll explain that one later), the cat (we used to have 3) .. the horse (used to have 2) and the goldfish (which recently passed, and this reminds me, we have yet to ‘bury’ him.  Oops.) have all been wonderful companions.  I’m so grateful we have been able to give them all a home and a family and I wouldn’t trade their company for the world.

And if I made even one trip to the Humane Society or saw a stray running down the street .. chances are I’d do everything I could to save them all and make sure they found a good home.  Mine or otherwise.

My daughter is exactly the same.  In fact, she may be worse than I am in the animal lover department.

But it’s been increasingly exhausting .. the constant level of care, the upkeep, the running home everyday at some point to get the dogs out no matter what the day looks like or how tough it may be to get there .. the financial strain .. and the constant hair, cleaning, picking up after, litter, poop bags, paper towel, vet appointments, I could go on.  If you have pets you know what I mean.  It all gets to be a lot.  For anyone.  But especially for someone who is single, gone much of the time and wanting post-divorce, to rebuild financially.

I now understand why my parents said, ‘No’.  And wanted just one.

I’m exhausted.

…………..

After a funeral this morning .. I have to stop by to pick up the cat who is at the vet.

Off to the vet ...

Yesterday was cleaning up after her.

I finally realized, after trying to deal with certain issues she’s been having myself here at home, she needs more help than what I can give.  Chances are, my aging cat has issues that are medical.

I’m fully expecting a significant bill.

The fish still needs to be buried.

The ants are now gone from the kitchen.

But the trash I took outside to get rid of the ants brought raccoons.  A whole other thing to clean up this morning.

Which I discovered, taking the puke I cleaned up from the dog, out to the trash.

Feeling better ..

She’s feeling better ..

I on the other hand, if I didn’t have a day full of running around already, would be ready to go back to bed.

NPR and the rodeo …

It’s late .. I’m still up.  And I know once my feet hit the floor in the morning, I will be on the run.  So.. I’m going to just knock this out tonight.  Today.  This morning.  Whatever you want to call it.  It’s 2:40 a.m. and while I was wiped out around 10 p.m., I missed my window.

But because my brain may not be functioning at ‘full-well-rested’ mode, I admit I’m going to slack this Monday.

Not just because I want to or need to .. but because after all this talk about the rodeo, I thought it interesting that as I was listening one morning last week to NPR, a promo came on for a piece All Things Considered was doing.

(NPR as in National Public Radio .. not to be confused, which could be easy at first glance, with NFR.)

It caught my attention.

And because I haven’t had a chance to hear it yet, I thought I’d search for it and at the same time, share my find …

………….

My parents, from what I recall, didn’t listen to much NPR at all as we were growing up.  I’m not sure my dad does now.  Many of my friends don’t .. while others are avid followers of anything and everything NPR.  They live, breathe and devour all of the programming they possibly can.

And, there’s a lot to digest, regardless of how you feel about the venue.  I hear people complain all the time how ‘too far to the left’ NPR’s programs are.  But it makes me smile that the person who really introduced me to it and loved to listen, is one of the most staunch republicans I know.

Anyway ….

From All Things Considered.

The Rodeo Circuit: Bucking Bulls And Broken Bones 

The Rodeo:  I thought it might be interesting to pass along…

…  Pass along for the likes of perhaps, my daughter, who is excited to someday do something besides ride/walk her horse around in circles inside of a barn.  For the person who knows nothing about the rodeo and is just curious to learn .. or for those of you who just appreciate a good story about anything.

If that doesn’t interest you .. try this.

The “Goat Rodeo.”

http://tinyurl.com/7wc9y85

Perhaps classical music is more your style than ‘bucking bulls.’

Either one or both, I believe .. work for me.   But perhaps the latter will best help me get to sleep.

Don’t expect much, if you don’t put in ….

The Cowboy’s daughter said to him last night, “Good job, dad,” as they were leaving the rodeo..

He replied, “No, I didn’t.”

“Well,” she said, “you tried your best.”

The Cowboy, doesn’t like to miss.  He missed last night.  His partner broke the barrier. Disappointed, he thought this might be an opportunity to remind himself of a good lesson.. and one to teach his kids.

“I’m a little rusty,” he told her.  “And I didn’t prepare.  You do your best by being prepared, by practicing.  Not by just doing your best the one day you go do something.  That’s true of a lot of things.”

I’m getting a recap this morning via the videophone .. it’s good to see him again.

“I didn’t even rope on my horse before I went.  It’s my fault.”

……………..

According to the Cowboy, his horse hadn’t been roped on in six months.  He himself, had roped only a few times the past couple of weeks.

He said he had been thinking on the drive there last Friday, not to expect much.

“I can go to the practice pen right now and never miss.  When you’re a team roper you have a  partner that relies on you.  You feel bad.”

………………

The past year has meant big changes for the Cowboy, changes that had him scaling far back from a whole lot of roping and riding.

Until that point however .. his family and the rodeo had been his life.  He spent most of his time, from what I gather .. on the road working, roping, hosting schools.  Things were tough at home because he was gone.  When he was home things were tough.  Something many of us, in various ways, can relate to.  We wonder .. how much more could we have put into a marriage, a job, a hobby or a sport .. and where would that leave us now?  Or would it have changed anything.  Had we ‘practiced’ more.  Focused.  Been better prepared and known then what we know now.

One can only guess – sometimes.

What we do know for sure is, and we were chuckling about how universal the message is this morning.. you can’t change anything looking back.  In life.  Or in the rodeo.

“Don’t expect much if you don’t put out much,” said the Cowboy.

More laughter.  That can be taken so many ways ..

I think the old saying goes, ‘Don’t expect much, if you don’t put in the work’ .. but his phrase might be more fun to use.

Either way .. as I sit here eating a cupcake for lunch .. wondering why I’m struggling still to lose weight.. I’m thinking, touché.

I’m off for a run.

Back in the saddle ..

Since I’ve known the Cowboy .. he’s taught roping.

He’s practiced roping with friends, on occasion.

But I have yet to see him rope.. or heel is what he usually does, in an actual rodeo.

Watching afternoon practice ..

Despite the fact he essentially dropped out of his career as a team roper to get through his divorce a year ago, to be home more and spend as much time as possible with his kids..

He still made the Minnesota Rodeo Association Finals  http://www.mnrodeo.org/ this weekend in Fergus Falls, MN.

Unfortunately…

He didn’t get notice that he qualified, until I had something on the books already for the weekend.

Very bummed about that.

Now … this brings up a dilemma each person/couple/family has to face and make decisions about on their own.  But after years of essentially not worrying all that much about someone else having something on their calendar besides my daughter, that might conflict with my own insane number of commitments .. I wasn’t sure what to do.

I wanted to go..

But at the very least, four other people were relying on me to be not at a rodeo in the middle of nowhere, Minnesota.

Completely torn, I was asked a couple of months ago to make a decision so that everyone knew where I stood and could adjust accordingly.  The Cowboy and I had a long talk .. and for a number of reasons, we decided it was best I kept my current commitment.

“I’ll be roping plenty of times from here on out for you to come watch,” said the Cowboy.

I’m looking forward to it.

And while I’m enjoying the much needed down time alone this weekend in-between commitments..

The kids are with him .. so are his folks.

Selfishly, I am wishing I/we were with them too.

…………….

It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of a good life .. the opportunities to go and see and do and be a part of .. and there is never a shortage, especially when you live near so many good friends and family.

This weekend however..

Friday night dance after the rodeo ..

…has been a beautiful reminder of how nice it might be..  to not have a calendar completely booked out for the rest of the year.  Or at least time, set completely aside for whatever may come along.  Is it possible?  I don’t know..

But I may just give it a try.

The ‘Do-over’…

While my ex and I had a tough time with a lot of things..

We did a few things well.

One of them… was the ‘Do-over’.  (Which, for the record, was his idea.  I want to give credit where credit is due.)

If we had had a rough start to the day or the week or the whatever .. we’d recognize when we had come to an impasse.. or just a better place.  Of understanding.  Of compassion. Of wanting to move forward.

One of us would say .. ready.. set..

Refresh

And in an instant, we let go of whatever was nagging at us.  Give each other a fresh start.  Smile and come back at the day.

………..

The Cowboy and I have needed a do-over all week.  And we’re finally there, I think.  We hit the refresh button a few times.. but much like my computer these days.. we’ve gotten stuck halfway, loading any page .. and out of frustration we’ve both shut down for the day.  Feeling in need of a good repair person to come tell us what the problem was and fix it for us.

I’m pretty sure this time we’ve officially rebooted the whole system and are back at 100%.

………..

Spring is kind of like that ..

A time to hit the reset button. It has been a beautiful spring throughout many parts of the country.  Things which usually don’t come back to us yet for months are already in full bloom.  Life as we know it, in nature anyway.. has returned as well.

But the cycle of life.. always includes challenges.  And sometimes with the beauty of spring, come some very terrible storms.

It has been a tough week, not just for the Cowboy and I .. we have been quickly reminded of how small a storm we are weathering compared to others around us.

Some very dear friends have announced divorce.  Have lost a child.  A father and grandfather.  News has come two others are now managing end-of-life care, losing their battles to cancer.  And a second mother to me is back in the hospital.

It has been a challenging week.  One that reminds me there is a cycle to life and to relationships.  That along with the good I always look for and try to hold constant, the constant spring..

… that there are seasons.

And every chance we have for our own spring .. our own reset .. or do-over with those we love and hold dear, much like the time with the delicate magnolia blossoms on this tree, is a gift.