Haters are going to hate

haters

I was looking at a Facebook friend’s page today, and I came across it.   The thing I knew I would see eventually.

A post making fun of non-binary individuals that prefer a gender neutral pronoun.  Good ol Tucker Carlson from Fox News and his followers being hateful.  Again.

It would appear this person has a good christian heart.   She goes to church every Sunday, has church meetings at her business.   She is always asking for prayers for those in need.   She would be one of the first to try to help someone in trouble.  And that is what is so confusing to me.

She not only posted this hateful piece, she deleted my comments when I pointed out that my child was born this way, and that this kind of post is hateful and hurtful.   Love thy neighbor?   I guess only if they are like you.   Created in His image?   Only if it agrees with your image of Him.

She changed her comment on it from “stupid people!” to “some people should not force their opinions on others” after she deleted my comment.

So many times our prejudices can be changed when we have our eyes opened to real people and real stories.   Putting a face to someone that is different, understanding that love and acceptance are so much better than hate and exclusion.   I had hopes that my story, Keely’s story, might open their heart.

Nope.  Closed mind.  Closed heart.

I know, with all my heart, that my Keely is the way they are because God created them that way.   I know because I have been with them every step of the way.   God doesn’t make mistakes.

I dare someone to make fun of my child anywhere in my presence.   I dare someone to say anything hateful and cruel to her around me.   Do you want to experience a mother’s righteous rage?  Just try it. I am still furious.

To be fair, this was her post, her page.  Her “living room” so to speak.  She has the right to her opinions in her “living room” and I was an uninvited guest speaking up in defense of my child.

I also know that we all have our stories and culture and filters that make us what we are, that cause us to believe what we believe, behave the way we behave.  She is coming from a place of fear, not love.  A place of exclusion, not acceptance and inclusion.    That is on her.  Her choice.  Her beliefs.

I can love and accept all kinds of people that are different from me.  I can respect their right to their opinion even if I think their opinion is misguided or wrong.

What I will not accept is deliberate cruelty and hatefulness.  Hypocrisy.  My sincere hope is that one of these days her heart will open with love and inclusion.   But I’m not going to be around to see that happen.

One less “friend” on Facebook.

And if any of my other friends on Facebook know this person and feel I am wrong, there is an “unfriend” button as well as a “block” button that you can use on me.   I’m very picky about who I chose to spend my time with now.

 

RIP RIO

This is a guest post from my husband Steve.

After several months of declining health, Rio (Pepper) made a quiet exit and moved on to greener pastures.   When we moved to Colorado and Rio came into my life he graciously agreed to show me the ropes on mountain trail riding.  I think it’s safe to say that I learned more from him than he did from me. We rode many a ridgeline exploring the next valley.   Both of us enjoyed wandering the trails and mountains.  We were NEVER lost.

In his prior years Rio was in a movie, The Postman.   He carried many a rider and was lucky with owners as far as I know.   I don’t know of a single person that treated Rio badly but then Rio never treated a rider badly.  He made many friends and was always fun to ride.   You did need to understand that Rio had one motto.  “Let’s go now, and I want to be in front. The rest of you try to keep up with me.”

He put up with costumes and stuff hanging off him that was unbecoming to a horse of his dignity.   Suffered with grace.  He could strut his stuff.

Before I put someone on Rio for the first time, I always said Rio will take care of you.    He might challenge you to slow him down because he did want to go.   But you don’t need to worry about him getting you in trouble and if he turns back and asks, “Do you really want me to do that”?   You should think seriously about what you are asking.  Even riding up the side of a mountain on a trial with snow and ice, I wouldn’t worry.

He blessed many lives and brought smiles to kids and adults alike.  He made indelible memories and time spent with him on trails will always make me smile.

RIP friend!

 

From Michelle:

When we decided to get Steve a horse, I asked him what kind of horse he wanted.   He didn’t know.   I didn’t know what kind of a rider he was, but I did know his adventuresome and risk taking personality.  I had a feeling that a low key horse would not be a good fit.

I found an online ad for a Paso Fino, the same breed as my Maestro.   We have a term in the Paso Fino world, we love to see first timers demonstrate the “Paso Smile”

That “Paso Smile” is what I saw on Steve’s face as he came back from his trial ride on Rio.  That smile never went away.

We would joke about trying to find Steve and Rio on a ride.  One minute they were with the group, the next minute we would look up and see movement on a ridge line, and there they were.  Rio with his ears pricked as he carefully picked his way over rocks and around cactus.   He hated cactus.  Smart horse.

If we came across an obstacle or an area of the trail that caused the other horses to balk, we would call for Steve and Rio to take the lead.   I don’t think I ever saw Rio refuse Steve anything.   He might turn and look at him with an “are you sure?” look, but if Steve was sure, Rio trusted him enough to go ahead.   He truly was Steve’s heart horse, and the love was mutual.  Rio was never an affectionate horse, he would stand to the side as others came up to us.  Unless Steve was there.   If Steve was around, Rio would quietly approach, sometimes with a nudge.  He never did that with me.  Just Steve.

As Rio got older, and I got a younger horse, we felt that it was best to put him into semi retirement.   He became our “guest horse” that we put friends on when they came out to visit.  We trusted him that much.  Riders did have to know how to slow him down, but that is all.  He took care of the rest.

Rio was in two parades.  Our friend Beth Calhoun rode him in both.   I don’t think anyone would say that Rio enjoyed them, but he did his job beautifully with quite a bit of the equine equivalent of eye rolling.

He didn’t get the point of going in circles in an arena.  Neither did Steve, so that worked out well.

And then Ann Piscopink came into his life.  Ann needed a horse to trail ride, and we offered Rio to her to use.  I saw Ann change from a tentative, distrusting rider to someone confident enough to take the lead over a scary bridge when the rest of us were dealing with balking horses refusing to get close.   I saw her ride on the side of mountains with her eyes squeezed shut, because she knew Rio would take care of her.  I saw her gallop hell for leather on that little horse, both of them having a blast.

Rio’s last trail ride is a perfect example of who he was.   We went into the mountains, it started snowing and our group were riding a pretty scary narrow trail that was unfamiliar to all of us.  Have I mentioned that Ann is scared of heights?

There were several times that my heart was in my throat on that ride.  Think narrow, rocky, icy trail with a long steep drop off.  A misstep would be a disaster.   Ann vocalized her fear frequently and vocally (she was not the only one btw) but Rio just kept carefully picking his way on the trail. He took care of her, as he always took care of his rider.  He kept his cool and his focus and did his job.

As we walked inside yesterday after our vet put Rio down, we were sad but confident that we did the right thing for our Rio.  No more pain.

At the end of the day, I think that the best gift we can give our animals is the knowledge that they are loved.  With Steve holding him, Rio passed.  And he knew without a doubt that he was loved.

 

 

Happy Birthday Steve

This isn’t one of those milestone birthdays, that was last year.   And he really hates being reminded of the day, and he doesn’t want a fuss.  When he turned 60 he was out of town.  On purpose I think.  Last year when he turned 65 I surprised him with a party.  He handled that pretty well but let me know not to do it again lol.  

This is just another year.  But as I was looking through some pictures to post on Facebook I realized I wanted to do something more.  

We met late in life.  We had a very tough path getting together.  We made the decision to stay together.  Neither of us is going to change who we are.  But both of us are willing to compromise.

It’s not always easy.  We are two fully formed Type A personalities with a deep, strong, passionate love for each other.  And we drive each other nuts on a frequent basis.  

But.

I am married to a loyal, intelligent, caring man who is human.  

I am married to a man who loves to try new things (except dance lessons) and is always ready for a new adventure.  And we have certainly had some adventures in the seven years we have been together.  And I know there will be many more. 

We agree on more than we disagree.  We make each other laugh.

You have nursed me through several surgeries.   You washed my hair and dressed me, held me when I cried.  Helped me walk. 

You are the one person that I would want to have around if the shit hit the fan. When we lost an engine in the plane I never for one minute doubted that if it was possible to land safely you would do it. Never a minute of doubt.   Now I do have to remind myself sometimes that you don’t want to die either when you are playing NASCAR in the jeep or taking Clipper up a cliff, but that is a discussion for another time.  I love your impulsive risk taking side.   You are also calm, methodical and analytical.  Brilliant in many ways.  Of course those same qualities drive me up the wall if all I want you to do is listen and agree with me!  But you are who you are and that mixture of analytical and  impulsive is one of the things I love the most.  

You welcome everyone. You always says “sure!” when I tell you I  just invited someone else to stay with us.  Usually the only questions are “who, when, and for how long?”Or a group over for dinner.  Or scheduled a ride.  And you are pretty gracious and long suffering about usually being the only guy with a gaggle of women on rides and social occasions.  I know we all depend on you fix things and keep us safe when we ride.  Or to answer electronic questions, or weather, or…the list is long.  How many times do we say “ask Steve”?

You spent the majority of your  working career living in hotels and apartments, far from home and family.  Long long hours in difficult and dangerous circumstances.  That scarred you in many ways.  It also strengthened you in many ways.  

Now that you are retired we are building a home filled with friends and family.  I love that we enjoy the same books.  We agree on politics (thank God!). You suffer through  some shows I like, I suffer through NASCAR.  I love sitting in our house, reading, enjoying our time together.  

Steve I don’t say enough how much I respect and admire you.  You know I love you with all of my heart and soul. I am so glad that we met that day seven years ago, and I am so thankful for every day that we have had together since. Thank you for the love, joy and adventure you have brought to my life.  

Happy birthday my Love.  
 

Are you living the life you chose?

One cold December night I hosted a Christmas party at my house in Little Rock.  One of my friends arrived at the door in a sweater over her party dress.  It was bitterly cold.  I asked “it’s freezing outside, where is your coat?”  She smiled and explained that she had three boys and they needed stuff, so she was going without a coat that year.

I was hanging out with a group of women that were into “stuff”.  Not the “stuff” like warm coats and cars to get to work, but expensive “stuff”.  We would have lunch and ooh and aah over the new diamond bracelet, or the new Mercedes.  There was disdain over a fox fur coat, and even mink.   Sable was what was desired.  The love of friends and husbands was shown by gifts, and those gifts had a hefty price tag.

I am ashamed to say I got caught up in that.  I had a Christmas list that year that read like the Neiman Marcus catalog.

My friend standing on my front porch with a genuine, not self pitying smile, while she cheerfully told me she could not afford a winter coat was like a splash of needed cold water.  I had a closet full of coats, yet still I wanted, “needed” more?

She left that night with a warm coat.  She left that night haven given me one of the most important gifts of my life; the understanding that THINGS are not what is important.

I’ve lived in a mobile home.  I’ve lived in a 10,000 sq ft mansion.  I cried tears in both.  I’ve owned a 1964 Volkswagen bug that I had to push to get started on a regular basis.  I’ve also owned a Porsche and numerous BMW’s.   NONE OF THOSE THINGS MADE ME HAPPY.  And none of those things are still in my life now.

I now understand that the valuable gifts are not things.  They are people, love, laughter, experiences.  They are what give me joy that cannot tarnish or breakdown.

I see the sunrise and sunsets reflecting on my Colorado mountains.

I ride my heart horse Bali with friends old and new on a perfect crisp fall day.  I notice the sun sparkling  of the creek we cross, and I see the trout darting through the crystal clear water.  I hear the laughter of my friends as they fight their way through the trees because I accidentally led them off the path.  Hugs and smiles as we part at the end of the ride.

I sit on my deck, bundled in a coat and blanket, drinking coffee with new friends from Germany.  They are riveted by the night sky full of starts, which they havent seen in 20 years because of the light pollution in their city.   Think about that.  We gave them their first ride in a truck and their first ride in a Wrangler.  They were full of joy and awe as we drove Shelf Road through fall leaves as they stood in the back seat taking pictures.  Peter and Magda popped into my life unexpectedly (thank you Helene) and I am so grateful for the gift of time spent with them.

My children are smart, funny, loving human beings.

Not only does my husband love me, but we get to share our love for horses, riding and adventure.  He always, always says “great!” when I tell him more people are coming to stay with us.

Then there is my “Tribe”.  There is something magical about finding those people that just really “get” you.  There is no negativity, no backbiting, no jealousy.   Just love, support, acceptance and lots of laughter.  I had that with my peeps in Little Rock.  It wasn’t so easy to find after our move to Colorado but I sure have it now.

I don’t take these things for granted.  I am so very aware of how short life is.  I’ve lost friends this year to death.  I’ve cried while hearing about the loss of a child or a beloved pet.  There are people hurting because of fire, hurricanes, tornadoes, loss of a job, loss of a relationship.   Sickness, hardship, death, hurt.  All of those have been in my past.  Many will be in my future.

Being aware of my gifts, appreciating them, gives me the strength to get through those tough times.  I CHOOSE to emphasize the good in each day.   I CHOOSE to see the best in my friends, and to move into an outer circle those that want to drag me down.  I CHOOSE to savor the many little things that can bring a smile.

Now don’t think I’m all rainbows and unicorns.  I get frustrated.  I get hurt.  I get angry.  But I’m finding that if I am aware of all that I have to be grateful for, its easier to get over the bumps.  So every single day I breath deep and am grateful.

We went to a Jason Isbell concert at Red Rocks a few weeks ago.  Talk about a gift to really savor; sitting in that venue on a perfect Colorado night is about as good as it gets.  He played one of my favorite songs that includes these words:

Are you living the life you chose? Or are you living the life that chose you?

I smiled through tears.

I’m so lucky to be living the life I choose.

IMG_1989

 

 

14468196_10202157319292431_6658472572931752894_o

 

14322197_10211220076286229_4498135645998258196_n

Parades and the Meaning of Life

I have a birthday coming up this week.   The number doesn’t matter, and I’m at a place in my life where I can say that with a straight face.

As I get closer to social security age, I realize that my happiness is my responsibility.

I’ve gone through some difficult periods in my life.   I’ve been alone.  Scared.  Hurt. Angry.

That is life.   Really, if you think you are going to get through this journey without anything negative or challenging happening, you are going to get a big surprise.

I was in a few relationships where the guy met everything that happened   with a “why me?”  It was always someone else’s fault.   Luckily I didn’t stay in those relationships very long.   I really don’t have a lot of patience with that attitude to tell you the truth.  Sometimes you just have to suck it up and get through it.   Which is not to say that I don’t wallow in self pity at times.  But I get over it.

Have you read any of the writings of Timber Hawkeye?

“I was drawn to the simplicity of Buddhism, which isn’t a religion at all but the philosophy that you will not be punished for your anger, you are punished BY your anger.  And if you’ve ever been really angry with someone then you know it’s punishment enough!  It is toxic and it terribly affects you and everyone around you.  Buddhism keeps reminding me that I’m the one responsible for my own mood; whats more liberating (and annoying) than that?  lol…sure it’s easier to blame other people but it’s not their fault!”

I still struggle with this one.

Steve is retired.  We spend virtually 24/7 together.  We both are Type A personalities and we both are used to managing people.   That, my friends, could have been a recipe for disaster.   And I’ll be the first to tell you that we have had some struggles in this past year learning how to boss each other around without offending each other.  Because trust me, neither one of us is going to stop being bossy.  Or a control freak.  And neither one of us likes to be bossed around.

I read recently that we are wired with a negativity bias .   That is why we focus on the prickly parts of relationships, the responsibilities of our job that aren’t fun, the little annoyances of daily life that can set our mood for the entire day.

Many years ago I realized that I gave to much weight to the little things, without creating balance with the positive.   The trick, however, was to be aware of the positive.   That took work to become a habit.  Being negative was easy, being positive…not so much.

But I had one of those aha! moments a few months ago and I started putting more effort into finding the positive than in wallowing in the negative.

I take deep breaths of my horses smell when I walk outside to see them.   I love watching the sunrise with my daughter as we wait for the bus, and she still wants to hug me as she gets out of the car.   I’m so appreciative of the good relationship with my children’s father Charles, we talk frequently and stay in each others home when we visit.  There is so much good in my life.

Steve and I now make it a habit to talk to each other about how happy we are, with each other and with out life.   Those conversations give us balance when we are pissy with each other.  The good times and good things overwhelming balance out our little annoyances.   The reality is neither one of us is going to make any big changes.   I like who I am.   Steve is who he is. Getting angry is a waste of time.

I have found my tribe.   My tribe of strong, intelligent women that I can laugh and cry with.  We have similar stories, similar interests.   But the important thing is that we accept each other as we are.  Let’s face it, we are most of us in our 50’s and 60’s, how much changing are we going to do?

Our Paso Fino club rode in a parade on Saturday.   Since I was a kid watching the Livestock Show Parade in Little Rock I’ve wanted to ride in a parade.  My daughter and her friend Amber were there carrying the banner. They filmed the parade for a Netflix movie with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.   And my tribe was with me as I rode.  It was a gorgeous Colorado day, both of my horses were in the parade, and I cried.  I actually sat on my horse as we lined up, looked around and really soaked in the experience and cried. And then we were off and I grinned and laughed the whole time.   How very lucky and blessed I am.

 

That afternoon we drove to Denver.   On the way traffic slowed to a stop.  Then a crawl.  We passed a group of people in the middle of I-25 Southbound performing CPR on an individual.   I couldn’t tell age or sex, but it didn’t look good.   A truck was upside down on the side of the freeway.  Ambulances had not arrived yet.

I cried again that day, with the realization of how quickly everything can change.  I don’t know if the person survived, or if they did with what injuries.  There was such a stark contrast to the joy I felt that morning, and the agony his loved ones would be facing.

More from Timber Hawkeye:

“Do you agree that we essentially create our own heaven or hell right here on earth?  If we go through life witha negative attitude, judgmental, opinionated, rude, mean, angry and resentful, then our lives would be miserable (though we’d blame everyone around us instead of taking responsibility for our own attitude).  But there is another way;  we can admit that it’s not other people’s job to maintain our inner peace, it is our own.

I choose to believe that we are all blessed, not cursed, and that everything is a lesson, not a punishment.  People aren’t obstacles in my way, they are all gifts for me to learn from and grow from.   But that’s just me…you can choose whatever attitude you want :)”

Not being in control is hard for me.   This philosophy puts the responsibility on ME to be happy.   I have to find what mantras work for me.  I can choose to get angry, or dissatisfied, or I can choose to be grateful.   Grateful is a lot more pleasant. I can’t control what others do or say, but I sure can choose how I react.  And I can choose my own self talk.

So my friend that has moved across the country and you haven’t found your tribe yet, keep looking.  Hug your horses and enjoy the beautiful green that you see.   And post more pictures of that beautiful grand baby.

My friend that is finding that your friend is not really your friend;  be grateful that you are wise enough to see through her and not be manipulated anymore.  Keep doing all the great work that you are doing, and don’t forget that you have a tribe that loves you.

I’m so very grateful to call you both my friend.  I’m so very grateful to being living this life that I have.

 

Pioneer Day Parade

My Sister Is A Cop

My little sister Tracey is a cop.  She started with the Little Rock Police Department as a cadet, and is now a Lieutenant.  She chose to spend all of her working career as a police officer, and God willing she will retire in a few years.  There is no way to express how proud I am of her.

I’ve watched her leave our house while we were all having dessert on Christmas because she had to go back on patrol.  I learned to never call her during the day when she was working night shift because she struggled so much with sleeping.  I’ve rearranged lunch dates because she had to testify in court, or got called out on an emergency.

She has worked patrol, undercover, homicide, robbery…the list goes on.  She has seen the very worst of humanity and what they can do to each other.   She tells me the crimes against children are always the worst, it never gets easier.

She has problems sleeping.  Do you wonder why?

How many of us leave our homes everyday with the knowledge we could be killed on the job?

She was married to a cop.  She is dating one now.  Who else would understand the pressure she is under, the hours she works except another cop?

So when I see the video of those police officers in Dallas running TOWARDS the gunfire, I think of my sister.  When I see the video of police officers pulling the bodies of their fallen brothers to safety I think of my sister.  When I see the video of the families of police officers crying at a funeral, I think of my sister.

And I cry.  Hot, wet tears for the pain that those families are going through.  For the realization that every day my sister goes to work could be her last day on earth because of what she does for a living.  I cry because I realize someone could target her because of her job, her chosen career to help others and to keep our society functional.

There is a problem in our country.  I know that there are some cops that make bad decisions, that are prejudiced.  I know for a fact that good police officers like my sister have a deep disdain for bad cops.  But the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers in this country are good people like Tracey.

I cannot begin to understand what it is like to be a person with non-white skin in this country.  I’m not black, or Asian, or Hispanic.  I’m a white middle class female and I know that it is different for me.  I’ve seen the sidelong looks when my “daughter from another mother” Kira is with me.   Kira is black.  I know that Kira, an active duty soldier with several tours in Iraq has experienced racism and prejudice.  But she doesn’t blame all whites.  She doesn’t blame all police officers.

As furious as I am about the hatred and blaming of police officers, I am equally furious that black people in our country are still discriminated against simple because they are clothed in different skin than I am.

Kira, Tracey and I have traveled together.  We have had many meals where we laughed until we cried.  We trust each other.  Because we know, really know, each other.

We aren’t unique.  Many people believe in racial equality and also support our police.

What does it take to put a real face on that person in uniform or the black man or woman walking down the street?

There is a video circulating on Facebook right now.   Watch it.  Please.

Then read what my sister Tracey said.

Wow. I don’t talk about my job very often on FB, but this video makes me want to say this….

I have been a proud member of law enforcement for 28 years. I am someone that loves my job, through all the ups and downs, this is what I was meant to do. I wanted to help people, I have done that. And I am proud of the work that I do. Yes, there are officers that abused their authority, there are officers that have made the wrong decisions. I have supervised officers and have recommended everything from oral reprimands, everything in between, and terminations. 95% of the officers I have worked with in the past, and work with now, have been professional, caring, and diligent officers. Numerous holidays/birthdays/family events have been missed because of shifts, emergencies, call outs-off duty jobs because kids needs braces/medical work/college, etc. these officers would do everything again for this job. Most of all, we have felt the loss and devastation when we have had an officer killed in the line of duty. A member of our family has been killed, so do not tell me I (or any officer) don’t know what you are going through. We do. On every officers mind-everyday when we put on the uniform (or in some cases, plain clothes), and we kiss our loved ones goodbye when we leave for our shift….will this be the last day I have with them? And yes, I would do it all again because this is what I was meant to do. I am of the belief-“All Lives Matter, Including Blue Lives”

michelleandtracey
Michelle and Tracey

I wish I had a solution.  I don’t.  But I do know that love and friendship between races and between cops and non-cops is possible because I see it in my family.  Maybe if we started looking beyond the surface we could see our family isn’t just black, or blue, or white.  It’s all colors.

And Tracey?  I love you and I am proud of you.  Stay safe.

 

Bucket List Item-Bryce Canyon on Horseback

IMG_7630

We traveled with Bali and Clipper for about eleven hours to get to Panguitch, Utah.  They stayed at the Triple C Arena in covered stalls while we stayed for the first few nights at the Adobe Sands Motel and the last night at the Marianna.   I have to tell you, Adobe Sands was awful.  Dirty, small outdated rooms, and the pillows were the smallest, hardest piece of material I have ever tried to sleep on.   My backpack made a better pillow.  We moved to the Marianna when we decided to stay an extra night and the Sands was already books.   Although a hassle, it was well worth the additional $5.00 per night.

Our friends camped at the equestrian camp site in Red Canyon.   Next time we will camp also.  Four sites in a private area with water for the horses.  We made great new friends that we hope to ride with for many years.  Judi and Brad Bradbury, Shannon Whetsell and Jerry and Patti Boone were all camping so we spent several evenings at the campsite, and several at various places in town.  What a great experience it was!

I’ll be posting another video of the first two days riding, this video is of our Bryce Canyon ride.   Jerry and Patti had to head for home and were not able to make this ride, so it was just Judi, Shannon, Steve and I.   Arrangements had been made by Judi, our ride had to be scheduled with the park.  We met with a Park Ranger two hours before our start time.  He checked our paperwork and weed free hay, then sent us on our way.

So here is the video of one of my bucket list items.   Bryce Canyon, Utah while riding my boy Bali.   It doesn’t get much better than this.