Need a dirt road.

Need a dirt road.

Not to be confused with Makes Me Want to Take a Backroad.  Which is a great song and true to.  Can relate to that as well.  But for now …

When I wrote this it was about 1am and I was trying to unwind.  Had been a long day.  Have had a lot of them lately.  So was listening to music late at night.  And dreaming about how wonderful it would be to just get in the car and take a road trip to one of my favorite places on the face of this earth, Big Sky Country.

Some random thoughts:

Am loving right now, the Band Perry (along with throngs of others, I know).  Have been working on learning All Your Life on the guitar and Backroad from above (but not sure how that song sounds with a chick singing it) along with a bunch of others including a few from one of my favorite bands, Little Jane and the Pistol Whips who I believe are out of Bozeman, MT ..

Talked with the Cowboy for just a few minutes tonight on the video phone.  He was wiped out and was falling asleep as he was also playing guitar.  He figured he better call it a night before it was lights out either way in the armchair.

It’s Rodeo Bible Camp week in SD.  Heard some fun stories last night and was only the first day of camp.  Already done with school, the kids are with him for their first full week – he’s bummed they don’t have more down time together, but they seem to be having run regardless.  The four of them seem so happy to all be together for an extended period of time, and the kids that they are getting to go to camp with their dad.  One of the twins, who until now, has had a tough time getting his rope going in the right direction, gave us a demonstration this morning that he’s got it down and can now do it the way he’s supposed to.  Nothing like the look on a kids face when they realize they’ve learned something and really got it down, and they can now work on improving that skill.  Priceless.

Talked with my own daughter for a bit.  She’s still in school but excited there is now officially less than a week left for the 2012 academic year.  They had picnic lunch today and a presentation of poster boards they put together on a state.  Remember doing those?  She, no surprise, had Montana.  She really wanted me to see a couple others, including the boy’s that she has a crush on and her friend who had South Dakota.  To which she excitedly made some comments about the state, the Cowboy and possible life changes.  I gave her a squeeze, smiled and told the sweet girl who’s project we were looking at great job, and we moved onto the next.

As if I don’t have enough to do .. my workouts are suffering over getting other things that ‘need to get done, done.’  Think I need to find a triathlon this summer and start training.   That usually helps, but I’m not motivated.  Wanted to go to the gym for a swim tonight (last night).  Feeling like schlep that I chose not to and had glass of wine instead while going through paperwork and watching Wisconsin’s historic recall election results and speeches come in.

Feels like trying to get caught up is a never-ending battle.  Or trying to fit everything in, between family, friends, work, each other, etc etc etc .. is never possible without disappointing someone.  The Cowboy and I are trying to figure that out .. as we have events, graduations and various other commitments in towns hours apart this weekend for family and good friends, all of whom are important to us.  But that we know we can’t spend enough time with.  How do you juggle successfully?  Or, do you even try?

Is that ever possible anymore?  Feeling caught up?  Fitting everything in.  Getting things done?  Feeling like the important thing are taken care of so that you can take care of yourself, or your/our family in this case?  We know we could be so much better if we could all be under one roof.

But because for now, that’s not the case ..

Spent awhile last night trying to find the comfort of a dirt road or a small town in the middle of, if not South Dakota with the Cowboy .. Big Sky country (Even Bayfield will do, where I took the photo of my daughter and the Cowboy, below.) .. in my mind at the very least, since it’s the best I can do at the moment.  Looking at a big open sky.  Feeling the gravel and dirt below my feet.  Not seeing anyone or anything for miles.  Feels like there’s room to again breathe.

That whatever it is on the to-do list or that has me stressed isn’t all that big a deal, in fact, it’s small in the grand scheme of things.  And the busyness of the day-to-day is my/our choice.

Maybe I just need a good session of yoga or a massage.  But I like the dirt road theory.

Dirt roads usually take you somewhere more simple.  More quiet.  Calm.  It all re-grounds me.  And has me coming back at it all again today, refreshed.

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Mindless blogs and Making the most of our time ..

Leave it to a man,  I am laughing to myself, to point out the obvious.

(Well, to be quite honest, I know a lot of women that do that better than many a men.  But that was still the first thought that popped into my head)

While I don’t get a ton of comments on my blog .. which is fine .. I love and appreciate the ones I do get.  Even critical ones.  Which so far, I guess it’s nice I’ve only had one.  But I work in a field where I’m used to them.  I can usually take whatever gets thrown my way.

So when I saw the following response to my “Help Wanted” post from a week ago where I mentioned I could really use a personal assistant, something I’ve believed I would be much better off with since college, I about spit my coffee out laughing:

“Perhaps if you weren’t writing mindless blogs you would have more free time to do what the rest of us do??”

First of all, thank you, Mr. Obvious.  Or, what one might think is obvious.  It’s 2:23 a.m. and I’m up writing because I don’t sleep much, not when I’m alone anyway.  This is my usual time unfortunately, to be up yet doing things I simply want to get done.  Mindless or otherwise.  Because during the day, I’m busy.  Apparently according to your best guess, not making good use of my time.

Trust me, James .. I wish the DMV were open right now because I’d be the first in line late at night take care of what I need to get done.  In fact, I might call the appropriate state officials first thing tomorrow morning to suggest at least one office stay open 24 hours .. because I bet a ton of others would be right there with me.

Are you among the uber organized, incredibly efficient and ultra successful?  I do hope so and I am glad you have it all figured out.  If not though, perhaps it’s the opposite .. you don’t have a whole lot going on in life that you have time to read mindless blogs and then point that fact out?  Or best reality might be that you are lucky to fall somewhere in-between?

I could take a guess .. but I hate to ever assume I know a thing about someone else’s life let alone make a remark about it.

Life for most people, is hectic.   And for women it seems, more and more.  Women who might work.  Care for a child.  Try and maintain some level of health and fitness.  Take care of things around the house.   Volunteer.  Manage family time & relationships and friendships.  Take care of an aging parent.  Help a child with homework.  Visit a friend in the hospital who just had a baby.  Console another friend going through divorce.  Spend time on your own marriage to keep it on solid ground.  Or, exert far too much time and energy dealing with an ex who can’t seem to move on and blames you for everything that has ever gone wrong in his life.  Go to church.  Cook a meal for a family who’s going through a loss.  Make your own family dinner.  Run a child to their activities.  Shop for a child’s friend’s birthday present.  Take the dog to the vet.  Attend a fundraising event you feel obligated to go to because your friend with that organization just came to your benefit.  And if you’re lucky .. find time for a yoga class or a good bar where you can hide out for an hour and try to remember what it’s like to actually breathe and get over the guilt you’re just not doing enough .. or doing it well enough and you need to try harder tomorrow.  Finish that beer or wake up after the final yoga stretch and cool down.  And then kiss those you love goodnight.

While I truly am enjoying responding to James in this particular post, this is actually a discussion I do want to have with my daughter .. most likely routinely .. as she is growing up.  And one we have already started to have.

We want it all.  Or think we do, especially when we’re younger .. just starting out in life and career.  We try to do it all.  Women, especially.  But it’s tough to have it all.  Something’s gotta give.  And women tend to be too hard then on themselves when that happens.  They feel they somehow failed.  Well, that I know is a gender neutral issue.  Everything’s got to be, look and feel perfect.

I fight this myself although I’ve gotten much better about it over the years through time and life experience.  But I see it so much now in close friends and colleagues, especially.

Life’s not perfect.  At all.  We do the best we can and hopefully learn to let the rest of the chips fall where they may.  We may want to save the world, or the whales, or .. oh, this list could go on and on and on but I don’t want to give anyone any more ideas or items to put on their to-do list… but it’s okay if you can’t.  Still we try.  And that’s okay too.

But, James, this is why some of us would appreciate an assistant.

……………

Now I’m not done with James just yet.

From ‘Help Wanted’ to ‘No soup for you’ .. I wrote yesterday about good customer service and how at a very young age, I learned working service jobs that the customer is (almost) always right.

What’s wonderful about a blog is that the writer gets to determine who the writing is for.  Kind of.  Perhaps its better said, who is your audience?  Do you know the customer you are going for?  And are you making sure they are the intended target in your work?  For some bloggers the target may just be for themselves.  A creative outlet.  Others hope for a much broader audience.  And money coming in through ads.  But what is “right” here in the blogosphere, often means what is ‘right’ by the writer.  (Try saying that 10 times fast) Not necessarily by the audience or readers .. or in other words, the customer.

I have been meaning to write a better ‘About me’ page for awhile now, to explain why I have taken this blog, this personal project on.  A project James feels is meaningless.  An opinion he is certainly entitled to.  But many others have encouraged me to continue to write.  I am so honored so many of you are stopping in to read, offer support, comments and just plain time of yours to connect.

Anyway, James’ note prompted me to finally get the ‘About me’ page done.

If you’re so inclined to further care about why I am blogging/journaling/channeling my inner writer that I don’t typically get to use for anything other than 30 second copy .. please check out the tab.

It’s cool if you don’t, too.

Who I would like to see it and who will get a copy of all this when it is done.. is my daughter.  Because this is for her.  She may not appreciate it now .. but I’m hoping somewhere down the line my daughter loves the memories I’m able to record, the parts of me she will someday want to know more about when I’m gone and be able to look back and sincerely track the big changes that may or may not lie ahead for us all this year.

If anyone else might appreciate some of my random thoughts or days along the way, I am blessed.  Sincerely, thank you for stopping in.

But like anyone with a remote .. or a mouse on their computer .. you get to vote with where you click and spend your time.

On your TV, you don’t like the program, change the channel.  Online, if you aren’t interested in a site, keep surfing.  Lucky for us all .. we live in a time and place where there is infinite content to choose from.  And each of us gets to decide where our time is spent most wisely.

Best to you all ..

Calving season ..

Along with truly wanting to take some down time while here on vacation.. we have wanted to get a lot done this week at the Cowboy’s ranch.

My 10 year old has been out each morning ..

Chores in pajamas ..

.. doing what she can to help.  Not necessarily anything that we need or want her to do, but that she wants to do.  And the fact she is out doing anything .. I’m happy with at this point.

She’s actually learned how to do quite a few things so far this week:  Make a fresh pot of coffee.  Go out in the field and get her own horse to ride.  Or goat to rope.  Oil a saddle.  Pull weeds.  Hang laundry on the line.  Take better care to watch after the Cowboy’s twins (not that they need it) and .. today, she added .. give encouragement to a mama cow giving birth.

Offering words of encouragement ..

She took her job so seriously … that when the time came after about 45 minutes of watching, waiting and Neighbor J pulling on the two feet we could see, she almost missed …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLI_AxJbNYY&context=C4eb3dfeADvjVQa1PpcFNgrE7DfEEyp6rtXAshDJjXHtVvAfksEEk=

A beautiful sight .. (if you don’t mind all the blood and other bodily fluids that come with a newborn calf/large animal.  Heck even a person.  It’s just messy.  But also, a miracle.)  Something I would recommend you be present at at least once in your lifetime, if at all possible.  Just remember to either stay back.  Or apparenty bring plastic wrap and duct tape for yourself (arms, especially) if you want to get up close and personal through the process.

Appreciate the call, Neighbor J.  We all loved it.  Plus, it was a nice break from a ‘hard days work’.  Especially for my daughter.

She was happy though, to get back to the ranch .. because there was still much to do.

At the top of the list .. concerned it was feeling neglected after all the attention and time spent with the horses this week, show the donkey some love.

 

Setting fear aside ..

“I can’t believe she doesn’t know how to ride a bike..”

That is the reaction we would get from just about everyone who happened to come across the little tidbit of information that my 10 year old didn’t know how to ride a bike.  Not only did she not know, but she absolutely refused to learn.

“That’s just crazy,” they would say.  “Why doesn’t she want to learn?”

It’s been this way for years now.

She will go 40 mph down a mountainside on skiis despite having rammed head on into a tree when she was probably 4 years old.  No fear to get back up.  She will ride on a scooter.  A skateboard.  She will get on any horse and enjoys not just a leisurely walk.  But an all out run.

Yet she won’t get on a bike.

I don’t know if it was the 4th of July neighborhood parade incident years ago that scarred her when she fell and the decorative red, white and blue pipecleaner on the handlebar went clear through her hand ..

Or if she .. for some reason .. has just truly not wanted to learn.

“C’mon…” I used to say.  “Everyone knows how to ride a bike.  It’s just something you do.  It will be fun!  We can go together.  You have to learn.”

“Not me,” she would reply.  “Not unless it’s the law.  Is it a law?” she used to ask.

I was getting ready to call the Governor’s office.  Who I knew perpiherally through work and who used to live in our modest little neighborhood. I was certain would help me out.

“It is a law, my law.. ” and would say, laughing.  “Would it help to have a call from the Governor?”

“No.  I’m NOT RIDING A BIKE.

………..

The Cowboy and I were determined with some lovely downtime for us this week .. that she would learn.  And she’s been softening to the idea more and more .. especially since the handsome young boy she often hangs out with now and who lives next door to us rides his bike all the time.

“What do you want to do today,” we asked as she woke on Saturday.

“I want to ride,” she replied.

“Well, if you want to ride the horses later today, you’ve got to first try to ride a bike,” the Cowboy and I said, united.

“Ok.”

………

She didn’t want either of us to help, at least not at first.

The Cowboy tried.

She got off, came back to the porch and said, “I want to do this alone.”

“And two minutes.  I’m only going to try for two minutes.”

We left her alone.  For awhile.  Two minutes came and went and she was down at the end of the Cowboy’s gravel drive still trying.  I went to see if I could help.

We went down the road and back.  A couple times.  The dog in tow ..

“You can do this,” I said.  “You just need some momentum.  It’s hard to start from a dead stop.”

She actually listened.  Didn’t get mad.  Didn’t fuss.  She tried.  And after a few more attempts ..was up and pedaling.

For about 15 feet.

Next try, just a little bit more.  And a little bit more.  By this time, we were coming back up the drive and nearing the porch.

“Ok.”  I tried.  “Can we ride the horses now?”

………

The Cowboy asked if I could see the smile on her face.

I couldn’t.  But knowing that made my heart smile.

So did the fact that Sunday morning, when we came back in the house after returning from town, she wasn’t behind us.  The Cowboy looked out the window …

“She’s on the bike,” he said.

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.

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.

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.