Mother’s Day Musings

It’s Mother’s Day 2018, and I am sitting in my pickup trying to stay warm. At a high school rodeo.

Not any shocker. The last ten years, every Mother’s Day has been spent in similar fashion.

Do I mind? Not really. Only when my ex doesn’t bring my son to my house after the rodeo is over. A couple years in a row, he opted to take Garris with him, one year to take calves to the stock yards. And last year, to Dillon. In fact, last year, Garris didn’t spend a single minute with me on my day.

That’s when I told them both that wasn’t going to happen again. I understand that there is always a rodeo. But once he’s done with his events, Garris is supposed to spend the rest of the day with me. I’m not sure why my ex thought it was okay to interfere with Mother’s Day.

This year, Garris told me he wanted me to come to his rodeo, and then he’ll go home with me.

As a rodeo mom, Mother’s Day is an interesting holiday. I feel like I earn the holiday all year long. I love the life I have. I love that my boys have the rodeo bug. I love that we spend such a large amount of time in and around arenas. I love that we are part of a bigger family of rodeo folks. I wouldn’t trade my moniker as rodeo mom for any other.

I also feel like we moms put in a great deal of effort to get our kiddos to this point. Yes, dads tend to foot the bills for horses and practice cattle and entry fees. But in my case, my kids had great rodeo horses because of me and because of my folks.

I spent hours and hours every summer teaching my kids how to ride. How to rope. How to run the barrels and poles patterns. For me, horsemanship was the most important lesson they learned. Only after that, did they get to move on to actual rodeo events.

And when my boys first started competing, I was usually the one who hauled them. I helped them get their horses cleaned and saddled. I helped them get mentally prepared for each of their events. And again, I wouldn’t trade any of those things.

But sometimes moms get overlooked when kids start listing the people who helped them. It happened to me. A couple of years ago, Garris did a newspaper interview before he went to his national rodeo. When asked about who helped him the most, he immediately answered his dad. Later, I called Garris out on that. He was thinking only of the previous year. He wasn’t thinking about all the years from the time he was three years old and who had been with him all of that time.

When he realized what he had done and how badly he hurt my feelings, he gave me a hug and told me how sorry he was. I’m not trying to make myself more important than his dad or than anyone. But I think it’s important that he recognize the time and effort I’ve put in getting him to the point where he can compete as a freshman against older kids.

Rodeo moms, take heart! Our kids do appreciate what we give them and what we offer. It’s just sometimes not in their foremost thought. After all, we just always step up and do what they need us to do. We give everything we have to them, without asking anything in return.

So, sometimes they do need a little reminder about all the support they get from their moms.

We take videos. We cheer. We order pictures from the photographer. We offer hugs when runs don’t go well. We offer a high five or a fist when the runs go well.  We listen to their successes and to their misery.

When my oldest son was as senior in high school, his state rodeo did not go well. He had been roping calves really well all spring, but he had two long times at state, which eliminated any possibility of going to Nationals. He was sitting at the trailer, absorbing the moment. I sat down beside him, told him there was nothing I could say to make things better, so I just gave him a good hug. We sat there for several minutes, until he was ready to face the world again.

I salute all the rodeo moms who, like me, sit through rain and sun, snow and wind, good runs and bad, to  continue propping up our kids in order to help them be the best people they can be.        There will come a day in the future when I won’t be sitting at a rodeo on Mother’s Day. I’m not sure I’ll know what to do when that day comes. Maybe by that point, I’ll be watching grandkids instead of kids.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Breakaway and Break the Rules

This past weekend, I attended a breakaway roping clinic in Helena. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have always wanted to learn how to rope. I’ve spent the last couple of months getting my horse legged up and trying to get myself in shape as well.

Being an older participant – fifty – I was excited, but apprehensive going into the clinic. As someone who had never roped, I just didn’t want to look like an old fool trying to recapture some long-forgotten youth.

I was more than pleased with the outcome of the weekend. Within the first hour of the clinic, I knew I had made the right decision in attending. Not only did I feel welcomed and accepted, I felt like I belonged in that group of people. I didn’t feel like an old woman. I felt like someone trying to learn a new skill.

The two instructors were friendly and engaging, and though they expected everyone to pay attention and put effort into the clinic, they offered help and plenty of individual instruction. They each answered questions and one-on-one tips, whether it was specific to roping or horsemanship. The hours flew by.

I normally hate people watching me, especially when I’m trying something new like that. But most of the other participants were friendly as well. Only a few had been to a previous clinic.

Because I was the only one who had truly never roped before, I felt like I had an advantage over those who had. I didn’t have any habits to break or any other instruction to un-learn. I’m not going so far as to say it was ‘easy’, but the way the ladies presented their method was simple and made sense to me.

They emphasized the ‘feel’ of the rope, and for some reason, that clicked for me. I picked up the swing pretty quickly, by the end of the second day, my swing was faster and more accurate. I was even getting my slack figured out, at least on the dummy.

I didn’t chase any actual calves this time. I wasn’t ready for that. And I don’t think my horse was either. If there had been any trotters, I might have jumped in and tried chasing a few. But the calves were way too fast. Next year.

I know enough now to practice more on the dummy, then transfer what I learned to my horse and work on those skills at that level. By next year, when there is another clinic, I’ll be ready for live calves. And who knows, maybe by next summer, I can actually compete.

I can understand how roping becomes so addicting. Even for us old-timers!

 

Boys and Noise

As the mom of three boys, my house was usually filled with all kinds of noise. Yelling, jumping, wrestling. I got used to it. I say that, because I was always a very quiet person. Growing up, I rarely spoke unless someone spoke to me. I was shy to the point of pain. So, my life in a house full of loud males was a bit unsettling for me. Even my oldest son told me once that I was out-numbered and he felt sorry for me that I didn’t have any little girls.

I tuned out the noise, most of the time. When all three boys were home, most weekends, they had friends over, when we weren’t at rodeos or sports events. I got used to fixing huge pots of whatever we were eating, because invariably there was at least one extra kid at the table.

I never minded. I had lots of extra kids at school that called me ‘mom’. It was a term of endearment that I liked. Slowly, there have been fewer kids around the house. Partly, because my older two boys are now away at college, so their high school friends are away too. I don’t see them as often. And I don’t know as many of their college friends.

Partly, the divorce has played a part as well. I live farther from town, so Garris’ friends don’t make it to my house as often. And truth be told, he doesn’t have as many close friends as his brothers did. He’s more of a loner than his brothers were.

But he’s loud in his own way. When he comes through the front door, the noise level in the house increases exponentially. He almost reverberates sound. It’s almost like he can’t help himself. He has to sing or yell or make noise if he’s conscious.

He has to antagonize the dogs or the cats. He has to throw a ball, even if I just told him not to. He has to throw his backpack on the floor instead of place it.

In short, he pushes my buttons to the point where I lose my patience. And then my voice gets louder. That seems to be his goal. That seems to make him happy.  And we have found our own groove together. I let him think he really annoys me, when in reality, I look at this as our little game. It’s one last way that we can play together now that he’s a teenager.

On the weeks I’m home alone, I remind myself that in three short years, I’m going to be in a very quiet house 24/7 and I will be craving the noise and the movement that Garris brings with him. I need to find some patience on those days that he pushes my buttons and remember that his persistence is his boy way of showing me that he loves me. He pesters me to remind me that he’s in my life and that he’s full of piss and vinegar. He has brought me out of my shell since the divorce.

On my darkest days, it’s his noise that has gotten me out of bed and forced me to join the world. It’s his pestering that has kept me grounded and kept me focused on what really matters: my boys.

Oh, what would I do without him and his noise!

The Spirit of Sport

Growing up, I loved watching the Olympics. I waited for the games. Back then, summer and winter were still held during the same year, so it was a four year wait between those wonderful sporting feats.

Like any little girl, I dreamed of being a gymnast and a figure skater. And I did compete in gymnastics, but I was never going to be at the elite level. I loved watching track and skiing. One of my favorite Olympians was Dan Jansen, an awesome speed skater. I loved Scott Hamilton and Kristi Yamaguchi. Of course, there was Flo-Jo and Jackie Joyner Kersee. Dan O’Brien. So many awesome human beings who did awesome things.

I think one reason I loved the Olympics so much was because they were a sense of national pride. It didn’t matter if you were black, white, brown. It didn’t matter if you were a male or a female. It didn’t matter which part of the country you grew up in. If you were an American, competing at the games for America, the whole country cheered for you.

The competition of the Olympics was pure. At least it was supposed to be. Naturally, there were athletes from certain countries who did try to cheat with drugs. But when the Olympics were strictly amateur athletes, before professionals were allowed to compete, the games were truly a celebration of the human spirit.

As I’ve gotten older, many things have changed in regard to the Olympics. One of the biggest changes was alternating summer and winter every two years. That took some adjustment on my part. So did the inclusion of professional hockey and basketball players. For me, that kind of tainted the results of those sports that allowed the pros.

The pageantry of the opening ceremonies; the lighting of the Olympic flame; the coming together of athletes from all around the world. Those are the images I remember from growing up. And now, with the internet, you can watch almost constant feeds from wherever the Olympics are happening. When I was a kid, it was fun waiting for the nightly broadcast.

Today, the Olympics are becoming more and more like any other professional sport. The athletes themselves no longer compete for the glory of their country. They compete for medals, but also for endorsements. They compete for air time. They compete for money. Some athletes choose to use their status for their own politic rants.

My enthusiasm for the games has steadily declined in recent years. I’m disappointed in so many of our athletes, who look at this competition as nothing more than another win. Those athletes who disrespect our flag should not even be in the games.

Too many of the Olympic athletes are becoming too similar to the multi-millionaire professional players in football, basketball, even baseball. These people make their living playing children’s games and complain about how hard their lives are.

I’m tired of seeing athletes take their gifts for granted. I want to cheer for them again. I want to be proud and tear up as they show medal ceremonies. But I’m afraid by the time another cycle or two happen, my cynicism will have won out and I won’t even watch them any more.

And to be fair, there are still athletes who embody the Olympic ideals: Shaun White, the Shibutani siblings, and Gabby Douglas are just a few. Those people seem to embrace their role as Olympic competitor, not just for themselves but for their country. In this angry world, I’d love to see more of the athletes revert back to that simpler time I remember from my childhood. I want to fee the pure spirit of sport once again.

The Day the Crud Came to Town

Garris has been sick for over a week. It started at his dad’s house last week. He had been coughing enough during wrestling practice that his coaches had him sit out, then told him to go home. By Wednesday, he was out of school.

Garris has had asthma since he was little, and he has almost grown out of it. But when he gets a cough, it’s a deep, seal-like cough that hurts to hear. And it usually takes him a long while to get over that cough.

So, he was out of school Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of last week. He had some medicated cough medicine, as well as antibiotics, and I figured he’d be better by Monday.

He came to my house Sunday night and didn’t look or feel great. He stayed home Monday, and I took him back to the doctor for blood work. It came back normal, so then we figured it was a waiting game.

Long story short, he was home all week. I was concerned about how much school he was missing, and contacted the school for homework. Only two teachers responded with anything, so he will have a lot of work to make up when he goes back.

Another aspect was wrestling. Today is the divisional meet in Columbus. Obviously, he missed it since he missed so much school and so many practices. He’s just a freshman, so he’s got plenty of time to as he gets older. But I do feel bad for him that his season ended with him flat on his back with the crud. He worked his little butt off this year, and it was a disappointment to miss out on this meet.

He lost over fifteen pounds this season. But he did it sensibly, through workouts and cutting out junk from his diet. But I think he may have stressed his body enough to get worn down. He fought taking any vitamins unless I shoved them down his throat! And he didn’t sleep well.

I told him next year, he needs to get into shape before the season starts. And He’s going to take some iron supplements, to try and avoid getting stressed. He promised to start taking his vitamins every day without reminders.

He is feeling better today, but he has no energy or strength. At one point this week, his legs actually gave out and he fell down. His muscles shook uncontrollably. I confined him to the basement unless I helped him up the stairs. I haven’t ever seen him this sick. And I was relieved when he started having a little bit of his normal spunk.

He should be back to school Monday, and then get himself back on track with his school work. His wrestling season is over, obviously. But rodeo season starts in a few weeks, and his focus will shift to that sport. I’m hoping the crud is on its way out and never shows its face again.

Absolute and True Beginner

Well, I did it. I signed up for a breakaway clinic. I have wanted to learn how to rope since I was about twelve years old. At that time, my folks didn’t have any rope horses and really didn’t have the means to buy one. None of us knew how to train a rope horse. When I was growing up, I broke a lot of colts and showed horses, but I didn’t compete in rodeos. I did some barrel racing and pole bending. But I also did hunter/jumper classes, reining, trail – just about everything except rodeo.

One of my goals for this year is to learn how to rope. I’ve been roping the dummy for weeks, and with Garris’ help, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable throwing the rope. But I knew I needed some actual lessons.

Last week, I was scrolling through Facebook and found a breakaway clinic that is going to be held in Helena March 24 and 25. It was like a sign. I called about it and asked the woman putting it on if it would be appropriate for someone like me: an absolute and true beginner who has never chased a calf.

After I explained my situation, she thought it was awesome that I was willing to go to a clinic. And she thought this was a great way to get started ‘right’, with a solid technique so that I didn’t have to correct bad habits later on.

I checked with Cyris’ girlfriend, Regan, to see if she’d be interested. She was. Long story short: we’re going to this clinic together. I’m excited about it and hope I learn a lot in the two days. And I’m excited for Regan. Her roping has improved so much in the last four years, with Cy’s help. But she’s at a point where she needs someone besides her boyfriend coaching her. She’s talented. She rides his calf horse. And I know if she can get things figured out, she’ll be able to take her roping skills to the pay window beyond college.

I know I’m going to be the oldest person at this clinic. And I know for that alone, I’ll probably have a lot of people staring at me, wondering why this old woman is out there with a bunch of kids. But I truly don’t care. Everyone has to start at some point. I’m starting now.

Do I wish I had honed these skills earlier in life? Sure. And I do envy the kids who pick up a rope before they can even read, like my boys all did. But I decided that I either start now, at the point I’m at, or I’m not going to ever try.

I may go to this clinic and absolutely hate chasing calves. I may decide that’s all I need to do and not pursue breakaway any further.

But I may fall in love with this event. I may do well enough and learn enough that I take a chance with competition this summer.

Who knows? No one, yet. But I’ll be sure to let you know. In about two months, I’ll have a better idea of whether or not breakaway is for me.

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.