Sleep Together

Waking up is hard. Especially at 4:00 am.

Steve and I have been getting up at 4:30am ever since we started living together.

This week he voluntarily changed his wake up time to 4:00am. The earlier time allows him to get to work without any traffic (no surprise!) and most importantly spend some time with his other crew.

It was tough when I had the Taekwondo school in Little Rock. Steve would come to the school after work and hang out in my office while I taught class. Many times I’d walk by and he would be asleep, head tilted back, in the chair. He could easily have gone home and been in bed by the time I got in at 8:30 or 9:00. I could have stayed in bed when he got up. We both sacrificed sleep to be on the same routine.

I realize some couples work different shifts and have to accommodate childcare, and getting up and going to bed at the same time is impossible. Since I’m retired, I have the luxury of adjusting my schedule to my husbands. But I know other couples that seldom go to bed or get up at the same time. By choice. And I’m just going to say I think that is a very bad thing for a relationship.

Here in Colorado our family has a routine. Steve and I both go to bed at the same time. Once we are settled, Keely does her special knock on the door. Even if the door is open she does the special knock, because that is part of the routine. Then she comes in and lays her head on Steve’s chest and we talk a little. They exchange “I love you” and “goodnight” then she comes around to my side of the bed and repeats the process. Next she stands in the doorway and we start the recitation of “night, night, don’t let the bedbugs bite, if they do, take a shoe and hit them til they are black and blue,”. One more “goodnight, I love you” all around and Keels goes to bed.

Steve and I usually read for a while, feet and legs intertwined. The important thing is we make contact, we touch. We might talk a little, share something with the other from Facebook or email, or just read. Its a time when we reinforce the fact that we are a couple, that we love each other, that we want to be together. This is not about sex, this is about our need to feel loved and wanted. Sometimes one of us continues to read while the other one sleeps.

Once, early on in our relationship, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I got up and went into the other room to read so I wouldn’t bother Steve. A few minutes later he came out and said “what are you doing?”
“I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t want to bother you”
“Michelle, I can sleep while you read. I can’t sleep if I don’t have you in bed with me.”

That was a pivotal statement for me. We have since talked a lot about how important that touch and sense of comfort during the night is to each of us.

In the morning, the alarm goes off and we both stagger out of bed. Steve heads to the shower, I pack his lunch and make our coffee. There is always a hug and kiss, “I love you babe” then he is out the door.

Ok, so why in the world am I telling you all of this?

I think going to bed and getting up together reinforces that we care about each other and WANT to be with the other. I’ve been guilty in other relationships of living a schedule different from my partner. Pretty soon it seemed like I was living a different life.

A friend talked to me about her resentment of her husband who stayed up for hours after she went to bed , he was playing on the computer. He of course was still asleep when she got up for work and she had to take care of kids breakfast and getting ready for school. She would ask him to come to bed and he would say ” in a minute”. She would wake hours later and his side of the bed would still be empty. And she would get angry. Then she would be more angry when he was still asleep when she got up. Think that resentment filtered into their relationship?

Another friend told me yesterday that he felt he had all the childcare burdens because his wife got up at 4:00am for work. He was responsible for the morning routine and getting his little guy to daycare. His wife went to bed earlier than he did so he had the bedtime routine also. My advice? Get on her schedule. Why? So you will have a marriage.

Take a look at this article by Psychology Today. “10 Habits Of Happy Couples”
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/just-listen/200911/10-habits-happy-couples

Number One is Go To Bed At The Same Time.

So yes, we go to bed when the sun is still up during the summer. Our 11 year old stays up later than we do. Our guests are told that we have dinner early (6:00pm to 6:30pm) because 8:00pm we head to bed. My friends have figured out that I don’t respond to texts after 8:30pm because I am snoozing away. Of course they don’t respond to my texts at 4:30am either!

Mothers Day Without Mom

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It’s Mothers Day. Keely made me a really great card. We had a long hug.

Facebook is full of Happy Mothers Day wishes.

I miss my mom.

So it’s been kind of bittersweet. The joy of being a mother, coupled with the reality that I’m now one of the many who don’t get to hear their mom’s voice on this day.

My former sister in law Kate Day lost her mom unexpectedly this week. Her children, my nieces and nephew Lauren, Beth and Paul lost their grandmother. I think there will be some very fierce hugs in that family today.

Other friends are celebrating their first Mothers Day as a mom. I remember that feeling.

No matter how old I get, when I’m down or feeling sick I want my mommy. I want to crawl into her lap so she can rock me. I want that feeling of love and security, of peace, that I always got when my mom wrapped her arms around me.

It used to be easy to capture that feeling. I could meet her, or go to her house, walk up to her and put my arms around her. There was never a hesitation, her arms wrapped me in love and acceptance without a word being spoken.

I hope my kids feel that way about me.

It’s harder, but less complicated now to talk to my mom and get that hug. I have to dig deep into memories to recapture those feelings. But I don’t have to pick up a phone or get in the car. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and feel my moms love all through my soul.

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Renovation Week 3

Mike got all of the electric and gas lines placed. The pony wall that separates the kitchen from the living room and dining room was built and the area for the fireplace was framed in.

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On Tuesday the fireplace was installed. That did not go as smoothly as hoped. Mike had called the store to get the frame out dimensions and where the gas and electric lines were to be placed. The guy gave him the wrong information. When the installers got there Mike had to make some last minute changes. Once that was done the installation went pretty smoothly and we now have a working direct vent Napoleon fireplace.

Napoleon gets good reviews and there is a dealer in Pueblo if we ever have a problem with it. I paid $600 to have them install it. Mike could have done it, but a fireplace is one of those things that I feel more comfortable having the experts do so that they can cone back and make it work and not blame the problem on my contractor.

Granite people were supposed to come out on Friday to do the templates. But we had problems with the cabinets. As I’ve mentioned, we went through Costco and used Tuscan Hills Cabinetry. The materials are great, the workmanship not so much. Mike spent the day sanding down the cabinets to make them even so that the granite can sit straight. There were globs of glue on the back that kept the cabinets from sitting flush to the wall. I’m going to wait until we get everything installed , but so far Tuscan Hills does not get high marks.

We had an antique sideboard the I bought for $125 in Florence, CO.

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Rather than spend thousands of dollars on a island I decided to recycle this piece. Mike built another side out of finished pine. The “new side” will have a prep sink, compost hole set into the counter and an area for me to sit and do vegetable prep.

First I sanded the old piece, then I lightly applied Sherwin Williams primer to both old and new sections. I purposely left parts of the pieces unprimed. Then I put in a coat of the aqua toned Sherwin Williams paint “Watery”

I sanded down to the finish and to the primer in some areas and on the edges. I took a wrench and banged up the new piece.

First coat of polyurethane. Well. No surprise the poly turned golden brown in spots on the old piece, giving the paint a greenish tinge in places with brown streaks in others.

The new piece didn’t get all the color variations. So the challenge became how to get the new section to look old

Without going into the boring details, I used a red oak stain pen, lots of layers of satin poly, lots of sanding, and then mixed a tiny bit of an orange/brown paint leftover from another project with some poly to create a glaze for the new piece. It took a week.

I’m pretty happy with the end result.

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In the last picture you can see the new and old sides placed together awaiting the granite.

So at the end of the week we have the bottom kitchen cabinets placed. Sheet rock finished.

Next week there will be more visible changes and I’ll try to document more often.

I Am Not Shy Anymore

For a long time I was shy. Yes, I know, that is shocking to many of you. But it is true.

I functioned, and I think I hid my anxiety pretty well, but I felt I was wearing a mask of self confidence every day. I experienced the normal insecurities of high school, but it didn’t end there.

Go to a party? Make small talk to strangers? Ha! No way!

Martial arts changed me. I developed confidence as I learned to overcome challenges. I started to walk with a certain kind of confidence. It’s a good thing no one every challenged me because I sure didn’t have the skills to back up my swagger.

Owning a surety bond agency forced me to talk and interact with a wide variety of people; contractors, insurance agents, SBA and surety underwriters. I was on the board of a surety organization, traveled around the country by myself meeting agents and contractors, had offices in several states. And I always had on the mask of self assurance.

Then I bought Little Rock Taekwondo. Teaching classes, a lobby full of parents, speaking in front of hundreds of people at our Christmas party. Tournaments and camps where I was the low rank, and a woman. Self defense classes with all eyes focused on me. Radio and tv interviews.

The move to Colorado. I didn’t know a soul. And after living in Little Rock all my life I had never practiced how to insert myself into a new community.

So my life was pretty quiet for a while. And that was ok.

Somewhere I lost my shyness. Somewhere I changed from dreading new situations and agonizing over how I looked and what to say to looking forward to the opportunity to make friends.

We had dinner last night with new friends. I enjoyed getting to know Helene and Sherman and hope there will be many more dinners, lots of horseback rides with Helene, maybe some plane flights with both of them.

I went to a girls only retirement party last week and the only person there that I had met more than once (if at all) was Tina. And I went. And I enjoyed the heck out of it.

The old Michelle would have backed out of those invitations. The old Michelle would have happily read a book rather than attend a gathering with people I didn’t know.

I can’t really put my finger on when I changed.

But here is what is different about me.

I know my truth. I know who I am, good and bad. I make mistakes, I learn from them and I move on. I laugh at some of the stupid stuff I have done rather than being embarrassed. With those mistakes I’ve learned to be strong, and I’ve learned that stuff is not important. People and love are important.

I’ve learned. Which means I’ve changed. Because I don’t think you can gather wisdom on this life journey without profound change.

I hope people will like me, I hope people will accept me. But if they don’t? I don’t care. It’s not that I’m so egotistical to think that everyone should like me. It’s that I have enough sense of self worth to feel that I am good enough the way I am. I don’t have to try to be a gumby and bend to others expectations.

During the burgers and beer retirement party, I was telling a story about being told that a person didn’t like me. Jokingly I said. “She doesn’t like me? How could she not like me?”
I can laugh about it now. A few years ago I would have been agonizing over it and trying to find the secret to making her like me.

There are people that don’t like me. I can understand. They don’t really know me, and have only seen part of who I am, and will be closed to the better side of me forever. There is absolutely nothing I can do about that. I’m not going to agonize over it. I’m not going to make them into bad people, because the truth is NO ONE is all bad. Or all good.

There are people that I have met that I will never feel close to. It’s not that I dislike them, it’s just that our personalities don’t click.

Then there are the people that I instantly feel at home with. Those people I want in my life, and I’m willing to invest the time and effort to help the relationship grow.

So I realize that much of my shyness was tied to my feeling that I needed others to like me. That the acceptance of others created my value.

I’m really glad I got over that.

Maestro

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I bought Maestro from a lady that had bought him from another lady who bought him
from another lady. So I really don’t know anything about his past. He is obviously pure bred Paso Fino with a lot of brio. The woman that I bought him from said ” riding him is like riding a Ferrari and he is too much horse for me”.

I loved him at first sight and at first ride.

That was four years ago. And I still love him fiercely but he drives me nuts.

I don’t think he had much, if any, trail experience. I think he had a lot of rides in the arena, and I think he was told to gait all the time. It took me a year to get him to walk.

He is 21 years old and is fiery and proud. He also has temper tantrums like a two year kid. I’m talking foot stomping. snorting, spinning, bucking and rearing, refusing to move temper tantrums. He has stood in the middle of the road refusing to move for 15 minutes while I smiled sheepishly and directed cars to go around. That is embarrassing.

I’ve tried backing him up. My neighbors brought chairs out to watch the show the day it took me an hour and a half to get hIm to travel two blocks. Rearing, circling, stomping and refusing to move for an hour and a half. It was a battle. I’ve tried circles. I’ve done more ground work. He has a custom saddle. I’ve tried making him stand still and soothing him. He gets better, then worse. There is no predicting when the tantrum will occur, or why.

He has helped me learn patience. He has also scared the crap out of me a few times.

A few weeks ago we went riding with Tina and Sidnee to Grape Creek. Maestro pitched a really good one at the beginning of the ride. So I told Steve to ride in front so I could keep Maestro on Rio’s tail. I ‘m beginning to think that Maestro gets scared being in front. Now he also gets pissed being behind another horse but that is easier to cope with on a trail ride.

We rode through the canyons of Grape Creek. We crossed the creek 20 times and he did fine. Until…

Steve took the road less travelled when the trail split. The road was a trail that was actually a deer track that disappeared over the crest of a hill. Not good. Scary. Steve and Rio took an alternate route down a very steep, rocky and wooded side of the hill, maestro started to follow. I wanted to evaluate the situation so when Maestro started to follow Rio I halted him.

Well let me tell you what that little bugger decided to do.. If he couldn’t follow Rio he was going to go back the way we came. Now we were on a narrow footpath on the side of a steep hill and that sucker decided to rear up, pivot all the way around and haul ass back down the trail. Thank God Tina and Sidnee had already backed up or I think we would have all gone crashing down the hill.

It took a while to get my breath back. We came very very close to falling off the hill. And while I love him, this horse of mine does not have any sense of self preservation when he is in the throes of a temper tantrum. I’ve put up with sideways dancing on the side of a hill. I’ve navigated on rocks when he had his head up in the air, snorting and tossing his head, his front feet beating a fast staccato rhythm in pissy fit. We have slid in ice because told him to slow down, he got mad, and decided to start spinning in circles.

Nothing had scared me as much as that day.

Driving home, horses in the trailer, Steve and I talked about what happened. He said “I’ve seen him throw tantrums but I’ve never been scared like I was then. I could have lost you.”
I said “Steve, I can’t trust him. I can’t trust him to keep a calm mind and take care if himself and me if the going gets tough. I can’t keep riding him on trails like this. Not only could I have been hurt but I’m putting my friends in danger.”

Steve told me to start looking for another horse.

Two days later we purchased Aliente.

Maestro has a forever home with us. He is loving and calm in the pasture. I rode him bareback in the arena at Heath’s for an hour last week and he did great. I’m not giving up on him. We are going back to basics with ground work. We are going to do some easy rides. We may try putting him on a line and letting him pack when we go camping. Maybe some of the Paso people I’m now meeting will have some insight to help me help him. But we aren’t going to throw him to the unknown for a 21 year old horse.

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Renovation Week 1 and 2

I’ve been planning this renovation since we bought the house four years ago. We are creating an open floor plan, replacing laminate flooring with porcelain hardwood look tile. A gas fireplace will warm the living room dining room and a new entry way storage area will help control clutter

Mike Baier with Get R Done flooring is the contractor. Mike did all of the work on our downstairs renovation and I think he is the greatest. Talented, creative and honest. Everything you want in a contractor.

After several estimates from other sources, we decided on Tuscan Hills Cabinetry through Costco for our kitchen cabinets. More about that later.

There was a lot of demolition the first few days.

Before
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After

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And now the frame in for the fireplace.

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Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.

Grape Creek
Grape Creek

Every day we have a choice. We can use our hours on this earth in a positive and fully engaged way, or we can exist. I don’t want to have regrets when my time comes.

That’s not to say that every day is full of butterflies and rainbows. If I expect that, I’m naive and sure to be disappointed. There is drudgery…packing up the house in preparation for the renovation was not my idea of how to spend a happy week. There is stress, worry, frustrations big and small. There is deep, heart wrenching sorrow when friends or family members are sick or die.

But the more positive and happy times that I hold, touch and savor, the easier it is to pull back from the shade of negativity.

Steve loves to fly his plane. It is his passion and joy. He starts getting antsy if he can’t fly. I love watching him focused and doing what he loves. I have fun when he plays around with steep turns, I laugh when my butt leaves the seat when we hit an updraft. But I don’t enjoy flying the plane at all. Flying is Steve’s passion, not mine. Flying is important to Steve, Steve’s happiness is important to me, so I want him to fly as much as he wants.

Now horses…horses are my passion and they have been from the time I could walk and talk.
I’ve had my Paso Fino Maestro for several years. I’d ride every once in a while, but didn’t have any friends that were really into horses to ride with.

Then I met Lilly, the teenage daughter of one of Steve’s coworkers. She reminds me so much of myself at that age. Totally horse crazy. Lilly started riding Patches, our pony/horse. Then we met Ann my neighbor across the street and the three of us started riding together.

Through Ann I met Heath Marshall, a mustang trainer here in Penrose. That is when things really changed. There are a lot of people that come to Heath’s to hang out, and take his clinics. That is how I met Monte and Tanya Zimmerman and boy do they know a lot of people, and they ride A LOT. More importantly, they are friendly and welcome others to ride with them.

So suddenly I had the opportunity to ride more often. Which was fine durning the week when Steve was working. But if I rode with my friends on weekends I left Steve home, and obviously we weren’t spending as much time together.

Steve didn’t get to fly for months. I had hip replacement in September and couldn’t get into the plane. Then we went to California for Christmas. We we got back, Steve was sick for the rest of his Christmas break. For the next few weekends we had winds gusting to 60mph which is not good flying weather. Next, I got bucked off a friends horse and had a concussion and three broken ribs.

After not flying for a few months Steve was getting down and a little cranky which is not like him at all. Since the wind here in Penrose was always going to be a problem, I suggested he get a horse so that we could ride together. We talked it over for hours. Riding will never replace his love of flying, but it would allow us to each share our passion with the other.

That discussion was on a Friday. Saturday I drove to Denver to try out a horse for Steve while he did some work from home. I rode the horse on icy roads one week after the ribs were broken and as confident as I am I knew that really wasn’t a good idea. It was a short ride. The horse was a 20 year old Paso, just like mine, and very energetic. I told Steve he really needed to ride him himself. Some people do not like forward and energetic horses to trail ride. I do, but I wasn’t sure what Steve would like.

We drove back up to Denver on Sunday. Steve rode the horse, and fell in love. A check was written. The gelding was named “Pepper” which wasn’t going to work because we already have a dog with that name. Steve took a couple of days to think about it and came up with the name “Rio”.

On Monday we traded our wrangler for a Ram 1500. On Wednesday Rio came to his new home. On Friday we bought a used two horse trailer.

To say our life has changed is an understatement.

We are having SO MUCH FUN! Steve loves his Rio and loves to ride. He rode when he was a kid, is a confident rider and has no fear. We ride out just the two of us, we go on awesome rides with friends. On Friday we rode for seven hours following a narrow trail that criss crossed Grape Creek with a group of 12 other riders. We had a blast and made even more new friends. Driving back Steve said “you know, today was one of those days you could only dream of”. We are already discussing where to go horse camping with friends this summer. How cool is that?

The next day we took the plane to Moab for the weekend. Gorgeous scenery and we got to play on rocks and drive down a hairy scary trail on the side of a cliff. And Steve got to indulge in his passion.

Life is so darn good. And I know how incredibly blessed I am.

What is your passion? Are you balancing the drudgery and stress of life with fun? Whatever your passion, whatever feeds your soul, I urge you to give yourself permission to experience joy.

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