Help? Or Handout?

I just read a long post on Facebook about a teenage girl whose horse got its leg hung up in a panel. Long story short: the vet bill was extremely high and a friend of the family was asking people to donate money to help pay it.

A woman made a comment, asking if the girl could sell one of her other horses to pay the bill. The response from the neighbor? No, they’re like family; she couldn’t do that. The woman commenting thought that was selfish and irresponsible. The woman posting the request quickly took the other woman’s post down.

I have to agree with the woman’s comment. Anyone who is involved with horses knows that they get hurt. They can be the dumbest animals on the planet at times. Knowing that, if a person cannot afford vet bills or other maintenance on horses, they really shouldn’t own them.

I see these types of posts daily. Someone is broke and needs money. They ask other people to donate to help them. The reasons are ridiculous. They don’t have a job, but won’t work fast food. They are sick and don’t have health insurance. They need to buy presents for their kids, but they don’t work.

And those posts make me angry. I get so tired of people with their hands out, asking for money. It’s like the people who can’t afford the children they already have, but they are continually pregnant and looking for others to help support them.

I have had horses all my life. And they get hurt. For example, when Cyris was a senior in high school, his calf horse stuck his front foot through a panel. He almost sliced the bulb of that foot completely off. The vet had to stitch up his foot and cast it. Fritz had to have shots for about two weeks. It was a very long recovery. And the bill was extremely high!

But I never asked anyone to help me pay the bill.

Sometimes, when you have responsibilities, you do what you need to do in order to pay bills. I’ve had to sell things. I’ve had to make arrangements to make payments. And I’ve had to make the tough decision of letting some of my animals go rather than spend a ton of money on a frivolous procedure.  Sometimes you have to weigh the reality of their injuries to the expense and likely outcome. Frankly, if a horse is hurt to the point of not being able to be sound again, it makes more sense to do the humane thing and put them down.

That isn’t a popular decision, but sometimes it is necessary. I love all of my animals, and even my horses become part of my family. But a horse a very large pet who can live into its twenties or thirties. It doesn’t make sense to spend several thousand dollars repairing severe injuries on horses that won’t have a useful purpose again.

But some people think every animal deserves the most extreme care, regardless of whether the owner can pay for that care.

I’m not sure exactly when this entitlement state of mind started, but it is prevalent in our society now. GoFundMe accounts and similar online fundraising sites have made it commonplace for people to ask others for money. And honestly, I don’t know why people are gullible enough to give to some of those ’causes’.

The tear jerking sob stories have gotten out of hand. Everyone has a story. Everyone struggles at time with money and unexpected expenses. Instead of expecting other people to dip into their pockets and save the day, people need to return to a sense of self-respect and honor. Figure out a way to pay their own bills without turning to handouts.

Contributing to these types of requests just makes the problem bigger. Adults have to act like adults and take care of themselves. And as the woman commented about this teenager: if she can’t afford to care for horses, she shouldn’t have them. Why aren’t her parents stepping in and helping her pay the vet?  Why isn’t she finding some type of job herself?

Injuries to horses can be heartbreaking and grisly. But that’s part of life when you share it with horses. They are always unexpected. They are never at a good time financially. But if a person wants to be a horse owner, then she needs to accept that risk.

And when the time comes that she needs a vet, its on her to pay the bill. Not her neighbors. Not her friends. Certainly not strangers. I’m tired of others asking for handouts. The kindest way to help them is to ignore their pleas and force them to find the money another way.

 

 

You Slob!

Over the past few years, I’ve read a lot of studies and articles about how creative people tend to be, well, slobs. At first, I dismissed those ideas. After all, cleanliness is next to godliness, or so I’ve been told since I was a kid. I always tried to be a ‘good’ person, so how could being sloppy equate to anything good?

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve re-examined the notion that creative people need some clutter around them. And yes, that is a generalization. But I know for me, it’s definitely true.

It has taken me a long time to realize and to accept the fact that I’m on the ‘slob’ end of the spectrum. That doesn’t mean that I leave food sitting out or that I have piles of filth in my home. It means that at any given time, there is probably at least one room in my house that needs some attention. I’m not obsessed with keeping a perfectly spotless house. I don’t get up at four a.m. to clean toilets. I can put up with some mess around me.

When I was a kid, my room was hardly ever clean. It wasn’t that I was trying to be a messy kid. I just didn’t think about putting my toys away every time I was done with them. But I was reading books before kindergarten. And I was making up and performing plays before I started school. I can remember always making up stories and songs and talking to myself in my room while I played with my dolls.

I still do that. Not playing with dolls. But I talk to myself. A lot. My mind is constantly ‘on’. I play with characters in my head, that translate to characters in stories. I ‘write’ my blogs and short stories in my head while I’m walking or riding a horse or going through my day.

When I was married, my ex just didn’t understand my indifference to clutter. He grew up in a house that was too clean and too perfect. There was never a mess. Everything always had to look exactly ‘right’. I didn’t grow up that way. My childhood home was clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy. I love that saying and philosophy. Dirty toilets will wait. Sometimes, the characters in my head won’t.

But he would get upset if I left my dirty clothes on the floor of the bathroom. When I change my clothes, I leave a trail in my wake. It’s not something I think about; it’s just the way I am. Then I scoop everything up and throw it in the hamper. To me, it’s not a big deal.

He would get upset if I didn’t do the dishes every night. If I left them on the counter, or in the sink, for the next day, he would tell me I needed to do them. Same with the vacuuming. If I didn’t run the vacuum every day, he’d get upset about it. Interestingly, one time when he complained to a friend about my housekeeping, the friend asked him, ‘If it bothers you so much, why don’t you run the vacuum? Or do the dishes? Or run a load of laundry? Why is it always up to Jodi to do those things?’

You see, I wasn’t refusing to the housework. I just wasn’t necessarily going to do it when he thought I should. I had other things to do that took precedence. I didn’t expect him to do laundry or dishes or vacuum, but I also didn’t allow him to dictate to me when those things should be done.

And to be fair, my house was always clean when we had company. I don’t brag about my messy traits or expect other people to embrace them. When we were expecting friends or family for a visit, I always invested the time to clean up the house before they arrived. And I like having a clean house; it’s just not imperative that it be clean 24/7.

I once told him that my messiness wasn’t something I was consciously trying to maintain. It was just part of who I am. I didn’t leave a pile of papers on the counter to piss him off. I just got distracted by an idea that popped into my head. And that idea needed to be pursued. Right then.

And that’s where a lot of researchers have gone to. It’s been proven that allowing someone the freedom to be messy encourages creativity. It has something to do with less constraints on thinking processes. And that makes sense to me. If I worry about making sure every single thing in the house is where it should be, I don’t have time to write. Or paint. Or take pictures.

And I’ve seen that in my kids as well. My oldest son is a slob. And I say that lovingly. But he cannot keep his room, his car, or his apartment clean. I honestly don’t think it’s something he has control over. It’s just who he is. He’s also a very creative person. He’s studying film in college, and he definitely enjoys making up stories and films and taking pictures. He participated in drama when he was in high school and had talent for entertaining.

My youngest son has trouble maintaining order as well. His room usually looks like a tornado went through it. His sports bags are always full of dirty, wet socks. And his back pack is a nightmare. But I’ve found that when he’s allowed to be who he is, he does better on his homework and at his sports.

Don’t get me wrong, he has to clean up his room once a week and he helps me do some of the house work. He cleans his own bathroom each Sunday and he runs the vacuum. But I’ve never been a stickler on doing those things every day. Like making the bed.

I never made my bed as a kid. It wasn’t a priority for my mom. And I don’t make my bed now. My kids didn’t have to make their beds when they were growing up. It just wasn’t a necessity for me. It feels like an artificial way to try and appear superior.

And in recent years, studies have shown we’re better off NOT making our beds. Dead skin cells and microscopic bugs get trapped in the bedding while we sleep. By making our beds, those things stay in our sheets. By leaving our beds unmade, the sheets air out and have a chance to refresh.

So, I no longer apologize for a being a bit messy. Yes, clean clothes tend to sit in the laundry baskets for a few days before they get put away. And there will usually be a pile of papers I need to go through. Clean dishes may sit in the dishwasher until I am forced to put them away because I need to re-load it. For me, those things are minor. No one is harmed if the kitchen floor isn’t swept every morning. The earth will keep turning even if there is some dust on my furniture.

I could spend all day making sure my house was absolutely, perfectly clean. But I would never sit down at the computer or pick up a pen to work on new stories. Now, I embrace the slovenly part of my personality and acknowledge that I need some clutter around me to encourage all the little voices in my head to come out and play.

After all, it it’s too clean, they might get scared away. I like to think they are all a bit messy, just like me.

Mid-Winter Mornings

Every morning for the past week or so, when I’ve gone out to do chores, a bald eagle has soared above my head, against the backdrop of mid-winter skies. Every morning, I stop what I’m doing and simply watch the big bird. I’m positive it’s a female, hunting for mice and small animals in the fields.

As I watch her, she flies overhead, searching the ground below her. And I watch as she ends her flight by perching in a big cottonwood tree in the corner of my pasture. I haven’t noticed a nest, but I’m sure there’s one in all the tangled branches.

Every morning, the sight of this mama eagle fills me with delight and wonder. I’m reminded just how large an eagle is, and how powerful and majestic she is as she spreads her wings and takes to the sky. This beautiful national symbol is a perfect fit for this country.

And then I’m reminded of how grateful I am to live in this country. I wake up every  morning in a lovely house. I work from home, pursuing a career that I’m passionate about. I’m able to share my life with wonderful animals: horses, dogs, and cats. I am able to raise my children the way I choose and allow them to play sports and participate in activities that they are interested in.

All three of my boys grew up riding horses, playing in a pond, and catching frogs. They all competed in rodeo, two still are. And they have enjoyed a carefree childhood that, too often, is something of generations past. And I love the fact that I was able to give them that type of upbringing.

And I love the lifestyle I am able to live. I know how fortunate I am, and I know that not everyone in the world is able to enjoy the type of life that I do.

So, I am thankful every day for the wonderful eagle who allows me a moment to take pause and give thanks for the good things in my life. And I hope she sticks around to raise her own babies here through the summer. It would be a hoot to watch some little ones learn to fly and grow into their own beautiful eagle bodies.

The Smallest Blessings

It’s amazing how the smallest good fortune can bring about the biggest blessings.

Yesterday, the horse waterers stopped working. They run off a separate pump from the house. They each have a heater, and the murdock in the quonset barn has heat tape wrapped around it.

I was so disappointed that they stopped. And I worried that the pump froze up, which could lead to busted pipes or a trashed water line. But, instead of throwing a fit or cussing, I took all the horses over for drinks before I fed them last night.

I had accepted the reality of dragging the hoses out twice a day to run water for the horses until the water started running again. I had resigned myself to the next two months of drudgery. I checked the little pump room, cranked the heater up inside it, and crossed my fingers that nothing would burst before winter was over.

This morning, I checked the murdock first. To my surprise, it turned on. I gave a little ‘yippee’ of joy. And I said thank you to the universe. I fed horses and checked the two waterers. Both were running again, sans ice, and the horses were able to drink at will.

As I practiced my roping. I caught myself smiling, feeling so thankful that I didn’t have to hoist all the hoses back and forth. I actually laughed a little and a giddiness flickered through me.

It really is true: when something happens unexpectedly, it feels like the universe is looking out for you. At least that’s how I feel. I find myself saying thank you each time the water is flowing and I don’t have to chop ice.

Anymore, a good day is one in which the animals are all healthy, there is food in the fridge, everything mechanical is working properly, and all of the people I love are safe and well. When I was younger, I can remember assuming all of those things were true at all times. I can remember being ungrateful for those simple things and wanted bigger, better favors from the world.

And I promised myself I wouldn’t take those waterers for granted again. I really do count my blessings and say my thanks to the universe for the life I’m living. It takes a lifetime to learn the lesson: appreciate the small blessings in your life. Those will lead to the bigger rewards.

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights . . .

It’s 4:30 a.m. I’ve been awake since about 3:00, fighting off a migraine. I knew it was coming; I had an aura all day yesterday.

These headaches are just a part of my life. I’ve dealt with them since I was five years old. When I was little, I’d have hallucinations with these headaches. After a couple of years, they went away. We assumed I’d outgrown them.

After I had Cyris, my migraines reappeared. A smell could set me off. Or stress. I can remember trying to sleep sitting up in the recliner because it hurt too much to lie down. My head would hurt worse if I was horizontal. And my nausea would increase until I couldn’t stand to stay in bed.

Once, when my ex got home from three days away, I was lying on the bathroom floor. I had been throwing up and just couldn’t be that far from the toilet. I had put the boys to bed and asked them to be quiet. On that day, I wanted to literally curl up and die. I decided to seek some medical help with my headaches.

Long story short, I was exercising wrong and causing my neck muscles to tighten up and cause a headache. When I changed my workout routine and added massages into my week, the number of headaches dropped dramatically.

My ex never really understood my predicament. He never had headaches. He used to tell me I needed to buck up and just get on with my day. Easier said than done when your head feels like it’s going to blow up and explode off your shoulders.

When a bad one hits, light affects my stomach and my balance; I spend hours throwing up; smells make me nauseous; and my entire body aches. I usually lose at least a day. Just moving from room to room makes my head pound harder.

After 20 years of migraines, I can tell which kind of headache is coming. If my neck and shoulders are tight, my entire head will hurt. If my eyes get puffy, the headache is centered there. If my head feels heavy, then I have a pukey day ahead of me.

I’ve learned coping mechanisms. Heat – in the form of heating pads or rice bags – helps hugely. It relaxes muscles in my neck and shoulders. And it helps me sleep. Lots of water, ice cold, keeps me hydrated and my stomach full. Most of the time, I can’t eat anything because I throw up everything that goes down. So, the water helps. I do eat a few saltines, just to keep the pills in my stomach. And sometimes a hot bath will help me get back to sleep.

And I’ve learned I can’t rush my recovery. If I try to continue with my normal day’s routine, I will get sicker and the headache will last longer.

Cyris inherited these awful things from me. He’s learned that as soon as his head starts hurting, he needs to take some medication and hit the bed. Garris takes good care of me when I am suffering. He’ll try extra hard to be quiet and will keep me supplied with water.

Until the day arrives that I don’t have to put up with these headaches any longer, I’ll continued to manage them as well as I can. I wouldn’t wish these on anyone (not even my ex!) And until that day, I’ll have more wasted nights where I can’t sleep.

 

 

Season’s Blessings

Once your kids start leaving home for college, it’s a rarity to get them all home again at the same time. This year, for me, I had all my boys home on Christmas Eve, as well as Cy’s girlfriend, Regan, who has been a part of the family for several years.

For one night, all the bedrooms were full. All my kids were under one roof. And everyone got along! I got to fix a few big meals. And the house was loud and wonderful with boys’ voices and games and nerf guns. They were allowed to be silly. I was allowed to sit back and just enjoy the spectacle.

And my folks were able to drive over to celebrate with us. We all enjoyed a nice prime rib dinner. We exchanged gifts. And we shared a day that was as perfect as it could be.

A couple of months ago, each of my boys asked me what I wanted for my birthday (December 1) and for Christmas. I told them I didn’t want any actual gifts. I just wanted them to spend time with me. Visit me. Help with something around the place.

Cy is really good about driving over from Dillon every couple of months and helping me with tasks I can’t do myself. When he can, he spends the night, and we have a chance to just be with each other. Sometimes Regan comes with him. Sometimes he comes alone. Either way, I’m just glad to see him when he gets here.

Sylvis doesn’t make it over very often, pretty much at holiday time. He’s busy in Bozeman, going to school and working weekends. When I get that way, I try to have lunch, or at least coffee, with him. It gives us a chance to catch up and at least talk for a bit.

And of course, Garris is at my house every other week. But, it’s becoming apparent as he hits high school that time with him is limited as well. In four years, he’ll be away at college, and I will have an empty house.

So, I have to enjoy whatever moments I get with my kids. And make the most of them. That’s why I always say yes if Cy or Regan need a bed or a meal. Or if Sylvis needs time with me.

And I know the day is coming that I won’t get all my kids at the same time for Christmas. We’ll have to start celebrating separately. That’s just part of life and part of growing up. It won’t be the same, but it will be fine.

I’m looking forward to someday having little ones running around the Christmas tree. But I can wait.

For now, the best gift I could ask for is the gift of time with my boys. I’ll take all the time I can get with them. That’s the blesssing of the season.

Happy New Year

I don’t really believe in resolutions. When I was a kid, I’d make a list every New Year’s Eve. I’d put grand goals down on paper, convinced I would reach them. Not one year did I ever achieve my goals for the year.

But I do believe in improving myself. I do make goals for myself each day. Instead of making grandiose plans, now I put some long term and short term goals for the year. I break them into monthly and weekly goals. And I chart my progress.

For example, I am tired of being out of shape and over weight. I’ve been fighting this situation for a few years, since I was at my lowest point during my marriage. I just can’t seem to find my motivation, and I’m in an unhealthy cycle of depression, sedentary living, and the habit of grabbing whatever is quick as a meal. I want to reclaim my fitness. I want to purge my closet. And just get back to my former self.

So, for 2018, I’m determined to get my life back on track. In the past, I’ve tried to change too many things too quickly, and all at once. Starting with January 1, I always try to change my diet, my exercise, and my writing output. I try to make over every aspect of my life in one day. It never works. After about six days, I’m overwhelmed and discouraged. And I revert back to bad habits.

So this time, I want to simply replace some of my bad habits with good ones. And once I have one of those accomplished, I will move on to the next one. Over the past few weeks, I’ve worked on a new schedule for myself. Starting Monday, I will start with my diet. I need to make healthier choices. Several years ago, I stopped consuming sugar. For eleven months, I didn’t eat any sugar. I read labels and I was diligent about deleting it from my food. I felt better. I looked better. I lost weight without really trying. That’s one change I want to make, and I know the first few weeks with be tough. But it will be worth it.

I will start charting my day more strictly. Working from home, I find myself wasting too much time and then feeling crappy at the end of the day. And part of that, is scheduling in time to exercise. It’s too easy for me to put off exercise until later in the day. So, I’m going to make sure and do that in the morning.

My big goals are to get back into shape and lose weight; to ride one horse each day; to learn how to breakaway rope; to finish the writing projects I’ve left opened.  If the first few months go well, then I could add some additional goals. But I don’t want to overload myself before I get started.

Some of those other projects are to possibly compete in some barrel racings over the summer; attend a writer’s conference in late summer or early fall; start working with water color painting.

I know that seems like a lot to accomplish. And it is. But I’m hoping with each day of success, the next day becomes a little easier. And with each small success, my mood will improve as well. I just want 2018 to be a happier year than this one was. Succeeding with these changes will lead to fewer depression days for me, and that’s my biggest challenge for this year.

So, as I say goodbye to 2017, I welcome a fresh start. A clean slate. I look at this year as my do-over. I just pray I can take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.

 

Back to the Future, of Sorts

Garris really wanted a hover board for Christmas.

Luckily, Santa left him one under the tree. Right out of the box, he jumped on it and started zooming around the basement. No fear. No hesitation. I was impressed.

He went forward, backward, did turns. Even accomplished some spins.

Unfortunately, one of those spins was right beside the end table beside the couch. I watched as he put his arms out to his sides and then picked up speed. Just as I was about to caution him, he went flying off the board. His cheek came down on the end table, throwing things in the air. I thought he broke his jaw or some teeth. He thought I was going to yell at him for breaking a few things.

He picked himself up, grabbed his cheek, and then started laughing. So did I. I couldn’t help myself. I should have checked him for broken bones. I should have looked at his teeth. But I couldn’t. It was just too funny to see him flail as he hit the ground.

He plugged in his board and left it alone for a couple of hours. Then he was back at it, but he stayed far away from the end table. And he quit spinning so fast.

I even tried out the hover board. The first time, I just about broke my ankle. But after a few days, I was actually moving around the basement. And it was addictive. I was nowhere near as proficient as Garris, but I was competent.

When Cyris and Regan stopped by on their way home, Cy jumped on the board. He was tentative at first, but after about ten minutes, he was moving around the upstairs. Not as fast or as fearless as his younger brother, but he didn’t want to get off it.

Regan tried it too, but she insisted that Cy keep a hold of her hand. It was like teaching a kid to ride a bike. You promise over and over again that you won’t let go, then you just organically allow the kid to take off by themselves.

Back to the Future movies started the craze for hover boards. When Marty goes to the future and uses his board to literally fly around town, people couldn’t wait for the board to become a reality.

Today’s hover boards don’t truly fly, but they are a fun new technology. I can actually feel a difference in my abs. Because balance is needed to ride one, your body is constantly working. Small muscles keep your body in the right line.

Garris has spent the past few days at his dad’s, and he’ll be back to my house once school starts again. He’ll be raring to get back on the board and see what new tricks he can master. Who knows? I may have to get a couple more of these so we can have some hover races next holiday season. Maybe by then, I’ll be flying around the basement as well as Garris.

Musical Chairs

Cyris qualified for the CNFR last summer, which was a great accomplishment for him. AS a proud mom, I made arrangements to go to the rodeo and watch him. Because Garris was headed to Tennessee with his dad right after the CNFR, I traveled by myself to Casper.

The first day there, I got to the arena early and chose a seat. About an hour later, I noticed that Garris and his dad had arrived and sat about two sections away from me. Garris came over several times to see me during the slack. When Cy could, he also came up to the seats. Because I was sitting away from Garris and his dad, Cy and Regan had to keep moving between us.

The next morning, I got there and noticed where Garris was sitting. I asked if it was okay with him if I sat near him. He said sure. So, I sat near Garris. Pretty soon, Cy and Regan came up and sat between us. Cy was able to speak with each of us without having to play musical chairs all day.

After about an hour, his dad tapped Garris on the shoulder and motioned for him to follow. Cy came back and asked where they were. I told him I didn’t know.

Later in the day, Garris told me that his dad moved them over to a section at the end of the arena. I was stunned. I had tried so hard to make things easy for Cyris. I didn’t want to sit by my ex husband. I didn’t want to be anywhere near him. But for the sake of my son, I was willing to put my feelings aside. I was willing to rise above pettiness and childish behavior.

I asked Garris if that happened again to please let me know. And I asked him to put himself into my position. He and his dad disappeared without telling me a thing. I felt abandoned. And I felt unwanted.

I apologized to Cyris. I told him I tried to make things easy for him. But I had no control over what his dad chose to do as far as the seating arrangement. He shrugged and gave me a hug. And then he continued to split time between my seat and his dad, spending a few minutes at a time with each of us. That had to add stress to his already tense week.

After that week, I vowed to do whatever it takes to put my sons at ease while they are competing. I want to make things easy for my kids. And if that means I’m a bit uncomfortable, I’ll deal with that. It’s better than forcing my kids to feel uncomfortable or have to choose who to sit with. It’s certainly better than forcing them to play musical chairs while they should be concentrating on their performance.

Diet of the Grapplers

Garris chose to wrestle this year. He had to sit out the last two years because of his grades, so I wasn’t sure how he would fare as a freshman.

He has never been a skinny kid; he’s always been bulky and strong. But I wouldn’t call him heavy or fat. He started the first practice weighing in about 158. He wanted to wrestle at 152, so he started watching what he ate.

He cut out sugar. He cut down on the amount of carbs and bread. He started eating mostly chicken. And he started drinking copious amounts of water.

By the first competition, he was at the 152 weight, one of two boys. The other boy is a junior, and Garris accepted his role as a JV wrestler.  He has worked hard all season and taken it upon himself to maintain a healthy weight.

A couple of other freshman on the team like to tease him and call him ‘fat’. I’ve told him to ignore them, or offer to arm wrestle them. His arms and legs are much more muscular than any of the other freshmen. They like to call him fat to get him riled up. A couple of weeks ago, one of those boys was teasing Garris, and his dad told Garris to go ahead and beat the tar out of his son. Garris obliged. The funny thing? That kid didn’t make weight that week when they went to Anaconda. Needless to say, the coach was not happy with him.

A month into the season, Garris was challenged to drop down to 145. He was weighing about 148, so it wasn’t a bad call. He had to challenge another kid for the right to wrestle varsity at that weight. And Garris won the challenge.

He has the opportunity to continue wrestling varsity at this weight, and he has worked hard over the break to keep his weight down.

I’ve never believed in boys starving themselves to make weight. I’m all for eating healthy and cutting out junk food. But I don’t think boys should have to limit their food to a meal every other day in order to wrestle at an artificial weight. That leads to eating disorders and issues later in life.

When Sylvis was in high school, I had an argument with the then-wrestling coach. He wanted Sylvis to stop eating for two days so he could drop a weight class. I put my foot down and said absolutely not. I would support him eating well, but I wouldn’t support a starvation diet.

When I was in high school, one of my best friends was a wrestler. He never starved himself. He never did crazy things to make weight. And he was a state champion four years in a row. He was smart; instead of trying to keep his weight low, he just moved up a weight class as he grew. That was the smartest thing he could have done. He was never a big kid, and he could have done irreparable damage to his body if he had tried those crazy diet schemes.

Garris looks fit and strong, and he has an advantage over the boys starving themselves. He’s eating every day. And he has fuel in his body. He’s set to go into the second half of the season in the best shape of his life.

I hope that carries him into divisionals and that he continues to focus on healthy eating.