About Me

My photo
Denver, Colorado, United States

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lessons From Pooh

"If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater."---Unknown

I find inspiration in some of the weirdest places.  Saw this posted on Facebook this morning and loved the quote.  I decided to Google "Winnie The Pooh Quotes".  These are some characters I can relate to. 
I think I've got a bit of all of them in me.  I'd say 60% caring friends Pooh and Piglet, 25% neurotic perfectionist Rabbit, 10% wise Owl, and 5% alternating between high strung Tigger and mopey Eeyore.

 I think the reason that post this morning caught my eye is because someone has been on my mind a lot lately and it reminded me of her...and the lessons we've learned.  Sara and I had a "Pooh & Piglet" relationship.  We were best friends and we learned a lot about what was important together.  Unfortunately, most of it was learned after she was diagnosed with cancer.  It's sad that it takes something tragic to slap you across the face and say "wake up...life's short...if someone is important to you tell them, and more importantly, show them".

Over the past 11 years, since Sara's diagnosis and passing, this showing and telling has become more second nature to me and seems to scare the hell out of some people!  Lol.  My intent is not to freak anyone out (although it is sometimes fun to watch...people panic so easily). My goal is to make sure that if I get hit by a bus tomorrow (hey it could happen...check out my track record) that person knows the impact they had on my life.  That's it!  Not because I expect anything in return, or to guilt anyone into saying something they don't mean, or doing something because they feel obligated.  I do it for me, so I won't have any regrets and I just hope it means something to them. 

I don't see how that can be a bad thing.

I know it's not easy for everyone (I'll let you practice on me, if you want *wink).  It took me years of practice just to tell my daughter "I love you" without fear of her rolling her eyes at me...but just because it isn't easy doesn't mean it's not worth it. 

Trust me, if any of us are lucky enough to be "the smallest thing that takes up the most room in someone's heart" it will be so worth it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Three Wishes

"What makes the difference between wishing and realizing our wishes?  Lots of things, and it may take months or years for a wish to come true, but it's far more likely to happen when you care so much about a wish that you'll do all it takes to make it happen."---Fred Rogers

I have a few other blogs I follow and today I saw one titled "Three Wishes".  The title alone got me thinking.  If I had three wishes...what would they be?  Hadn't thought about that for years.  You always think about that as a child and the first wish was always for more wishes.  As an adult you're much more realistic.  You can't have eveything you want and it might be kind of boring if you could.  So I started to think...as an adult and being realistic, having only three wishes, what would they be?

My first two wishes came to me pretty quick.  They are two things I think about every day.  The third, however, took a little more thought.  I have a general idea of what I want for number three but it isn't etched in stone.  Actually, even number one and two are getting less specific with the passing years.  I've found that being too narrow minded in your focus can sometimes cause you to overlook some pretty special things that are right in front of you. 

So, here it goes. 

My Three Wishes for October 25, 2012.

Number 1:  To live in the country.
I have the ranch and my dream to build, to have horses, dogs, and lots of farm animals.  To grow a garden, milk my own cows, collect fresh eggs, make homemade cheese, and soap.  I want to learn to can my own fruits and vegetables so dreaded trips to the grocery store are few and far between.  I want to watch the sunrise each morning and sunset each night.  I want to be surrounded by these things I love and to fall asleep each night with a smile on my face :)

Number 2:  To have someone who wants to share Number 1 with me.

As much as I love everything in Number 1, it would all be less meaningful if done alone.  I never realized how important it was to have someone you love around until I lost Sara.  The last six years has been all about me.  Which is nice sometimes, but mostly, it's very lonely.  I miss coming home and having someone there to talk to.  I miss getting a hug when I've had a bad day or having someone to celebrate the good things with.  I want to wake up each morning with a smile on my face ;)

Number 3:  Make a living doing what I love.

This one is the most flexible.  I love a lot of things.  Especially if it doesn't involve getting dressed up each day and following rules.  I want to be my own boss, dress comfortably, take my dogs to work with me and the only rule would be..."be nice to people".  I don't care about being rich, having a fancy car or the biggest house I just want to leave work each day with a smile on my face :)

These are my "Three Wishes" and I would love to have them all come true but I'm an adult...and realistic.  I may have to compromise on the details and I'm willing to do that.  The ultimate goal is to leave this world happy, loved, and with a HUGE smile on my face :D

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Two Loves

"A dog is the only thing that can mend a crack in your broken heart"---Judy Desmond
Every morning and every day at lunch time my heart breaks a little.  As I walk away and close the door I have two sets of adoring eyes, staring at me, confused.  "Where is she going?"  "When will she be back?"  "Why can't we go?"  I imagine them thinking that...and it tugs at my heart.  I want so badly to stay.

Freckles & Patch at the ranch
As a child I'd never had pets (gerbils & fish don't count).  When I became an adult I had Sara to keep me company and, when asked if I had pets, would always say "That's all I need...another dependent who doesn't do chores".  Sara would always roll her eyes when I said that but she knew it was true. 

It was Sara who convinced (guilted) me into getting a dog.  I could be wrong...but a part of me thinks that Sara knew, during her last eight months, that she didn't have a long life ahead of her.  All the previous treatments had failed and she was on an experimental treatment that really took it's toll on her. 

In September 2006 Sara asked for a dog.  All I could think of was the added work.  I was already working, taking care of Sara, spending countless hours at doctors appointments with her, and days on end in the hospital.  I told Sara it wouldn't be fair to bring a dog into the home when we didn't have the time to devote to it.  "Maybe", I said "when you've finished this treatment...after the first of the year."  Tears welled up in her eyes and she said (ready for the guilt) "Fine, I'll just never have a dog!"  (She would have been right too.  We had no idea she would not make to the next year)  I broke down...we started looking for a dog and I began arranging pet sitters for our next few hospital stays. 

We had done some research and decided on a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel which were sometimes called the "Comforter Spaniel".  How perfect!  Sara was so excited.  I wanted to go the responsible route, research reputable breeders, see the parents firsthand, question the breeder on the dogs health.  Sara just wanted one FAST.  She did as I asked, though, and called breeders in our area...no puppies for at least 4 months.  One night, at the end of October, Sara met me at the door after work and said "Let's drive to Jacksonville. The pet store in the mall has two Cavaliers."  I went through my whole "pet store dogs come from puppy mills and we don't want to support that" routine.  It fell on deaf ears and all I got was "Please mom, can we just go look?"  Again, I broke down...and I'm so glad I did.

Sara holding tiny Freckles

We named her Freckles, for the few spots she had on her nose.  She was tiny, only two pounds, and completely adorable.  Sara was in love, and I admit, so was I.  At that point, however, I had no idea how important this dog would end up being to me.  We took her home and quickly discovered that all the reading in the world doesn't prepare for how much work a puppy is...or the joy that they bring.  There were nights I would come home from work and Sara would be asleep on the bed with Freckles snuggling beside her and I swear they were both smiling.

Sara doted on Freckles and worried about her all the time.  She was very frail and had kennel cough we discovered on our first vet visit.  The pet store offered to treat her or take her back.  We opted for treating her...there was no way we were giving her back now.  A few weeks later, while we were in the hospital, we saw on the news a consumer report on the store we bought Freckles from.  They reported that the puppies all came from puppy mills in the Midwest, most had been under investigation, and many of the puppies became sick and died, causing heartbreak to their new owners.  Sara burst into tears..."Freckles isn't going to die, is she?"  (This, coming from a girl who was in the hospital to have a lung removed due to cancer.  She was amazing.)  "No, she isn't going to die" I said, praying I was right...

Freckles pulled through.  She and Sara would have three more weeks together before Sara lost her battle with cancer.  Those last weeks were so hard on Sara but having Freckles, always by her side, made it a little easier.  When Sara passed away she was in ICU at Wolfsons Children's Hospital.  A friend was watching Freckles.  I remember the heartbreak I felt when we brought Freckles back home and she kept wandering around the house.  We assumed she was looking for Sara.  That night I did something I swore I'd never do...I took Freckles out of the crate in my bedroom and put her in bed with me.  It was such a comfort to both of us...she's been there ever since.

Freckles and I became inseparable.  I continued to work part-time for a year after Sara passed away and it gave us lots of time together.  She needed me and I needed that.  I had devoted the last 19 years of my life to taking care of Sara...I needed time to adjust.  When I finally decided to return to work full time I worried about Freckles being alone.  I decided to take her to "doggie daycare" a couple of days a week so she could get out, play and socialize with other dogs.  I loved going to pick her up and watching her outside playing with the other dogs...she looked so happy.  I wanted her to be happy like that all the time......so........I bought her a pet.  :) 

Spoiled Patch learning to beg early

Along came Patch.  This boy I got from a breeder the showed Cavaliers.  His daddy was a Champion show dog and he was extremely healthy.  A butterball since day one :)  He is the most loving (and spoiled) dog on the face of this earth.  Freckles wasn't too sure about him at first but they soon became best friends. Although, I occasionally get a look from her as if to say "Seriously? Why do we keep this pain in the butt around?"

I look back over the last six years and I can't imagine what my life would have been like without them.  I've had so many things happen, both good and bad, and they are always there to make me smile, comfort me and to give me a reason to be excited about returning home.  I can't wait for the day we all move out to the ranch.  One of the first things I plan on doing is getting another dog.  Freckles is 6 now and has had Mitral Valve disease (a heart defect common in Cavaliers) since she was 2.  Most don't get it until they are older but indiscriminate breeding can make it appear sooner.  The vet said as long as she stays fit she could go years without a problem.  I want to get a third dog so that if something were to happen to either of them the other won't be left alone.  From the sound of things you would assume it would be Freckles...but Patch...bless his heart, while pretty, does not have a lot going on upstairs.  He'd be the first one to try to "kiss" a rattlesnake or "play" with coyotes. (I laugh as I write that.)  The big doofus! 

Over the last six years I have discovered these two "dependents that don't do chores" are so much more. 
                                                              I love you babies!!!!

Freckles, where she belongs, on the bed.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Crazy Perfect

"People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it."---Edith Schaeffer

Take a look at the top two pictures above.  Notice anything "missing" in the second picture?  I posted this quote on my Facebook page last night and I've decided to "Step Outside My Comfort Zone."   The first picture I took at the ranch and posted it right after I took it.  The second, after realizing that my arm (or lack of) could be seen, was never posted.  I didn't appear perfect...so it didn't appear anywhere...until now.

I always thought perfectionism was a good thing.  Recently, however, I've started to see how damaging it can be.  I wonder (or obsess, like so many perfectionists do) about things that I missed out on because of my waiting for the ideal time, place, or situation to occur.  I can think of several in just the last year...

One that truly stands out.  Turning down an invitation for a weekend away because "it wasn't enough time"...I wanted to wait until I could get a week...a missed opportunity I'll always regret

To make matters worse, not two months later I do almost the same thing...and again, I believe, that ship has sailed as well.  Why did I turn down the offer this time???  Stupid perfectionism on my part.  I needed time to prepare...to build myself up to the standards I thought were necessary to impress this person.  I could go on and on...but I don't want to leave you all with, mouths hanging open, looks of disbelief in your eyes, thinking "seriously, what's wrong with this girl?"  I do enough of that for all of us.

I've read all these books trying to explain why I do the things I do.  One rather enlightening book,  The Birth Order Book, says all Oldest Children are this way and even breaks us down into two categories...The Controller and The Pleaser.  I have the great pleasure of being a Perfectionist and a Pleaser (sarcasm).  Not only do I have to be perfect for myself, I feel the need to make everyone else perfectly happy too (yippee). 

Why, you might ask, is she telling us this?  It's simple.

I'm scared. 

I've started not doing things because I'm afraid it won't be good enough.  It won't live up to the unrealistic standards I have set for myself.  THAT really scares me.  I've always had that in me, even as a kid I would obsess over stupid things, but it has been magnified over this last year.  I find myself trying harder than ever to maintain the illusion of perfection and having even a harder time keeping up with it. 

I just want to be IMPERFECT and not afraid that anyone will care.  By showing you my "flaws" and "imperfections", I'm taking steps to escape the crazy lady in my head :)  I'm stepping outside my "comfort

AND next time I'm invited to go anywhere...I'll say... "Screw perfect timing...I'll be there!"

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Creative Juices

"Cooking is like making love, you do it well, or you don't do it at all."---Harriet Van Horne

WOW,  it has been a busy past couple of months...but I am very proud of what I (with help from my amazing family and friends) have accomplished.  At the end of August I finally completed the cookbook I started over a year ago.  It's actually a blessing that I didn't get it done as planned, for Christmas 2011, because so much has changed since then and so did the focus of the cookbook.  Santa Sara Ranch Family & Friends Cookbook isn't "all about me", as the previous one was planned to be...all my recipes, all my design, and all my credit for it's success.  If I've learned anything in the last year, it's that I can't do it all myself anymore...nor do I want to. 

I asked for help on this one, which is still hard for me to do, (A stubborn "I'll show you" streak wasn't quite knocked out of me.) but I did it because I had a deadline and I feared I wouldn't be able to make on my own.  I was right too!  There were three of us working on it, 36 recipe contributors, and quite a few early mornings and late nights to complete the last minute details.  WE did it, WE made the deadline and I'm so proud of how it turned out.  I also learned a few things and got some ideas for a "Volume II".  "Hey, Julia? Nan?...where are you going?"  LOL

I am also very pleased with the success I've seen with the cookbook so far.  I've only had the books on hand for 1 week and have already sold 116!   I ordered 200, praying that I wouldn't be stuck with 150 unsold books, and now I'm thinking I may have to reorder before the holidays :)  I can't thank you all enough!

The whole purpose of the cookbook (and everything I've done for the last six years) is to make good on two promises I made to Sara when I said my "goodbye".

#1)  I'll never let anyone forget you AND if they didn't know you, they will, by the time I'm done with them.

#2)  You will have a ranch in Wyoming!

Those promises are in the cookbook, along with her picture, her story, and the story of the ranch. 
You will all know her. 

Something that isn't in there, but I have to share, is that Sara greatly appreciated "fine dining".  (Hence the occasional gourmet recipe).  Her favorite restaurant was where we used to live, in St. Augustine, FL.  
Le Pavillion was a charming little restaurant that served French and Bavarian food that was delicious.  We always felt so elegant when we went there and ordered things like Duck Breast, Seafood Crepes, Veal Francais, Trout Almondine, Chocolate Mousse, Creme de Minth Parfaits and one of our favorites, Oysters Rockefeller.  She always wanted to take me there when she would get her check and "throw down mad cash", as she would say, on an awesome dinner.

So at least two of the recipes in the cookbook are reminiscent of Le Pavillion.  She would be so pleased :)

***To order cookbooks you can contact me at WyoCowgirl66@yahoo.com  The cost is $15.00 each, plus $3.00 shipping for the first book, $1.25 for each additional book.  Payments can be made via Paypal, check or money order.