About Me

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Carpenter, Wyoming, United States
In 2005, a trip to the Cowboy State changed my life. From the moment our airplane decended and the Grand Tetons came into view, I was hooked. It was remote, wild, and above all, beautiful! Someday, I vowed, this will be the place I call HOME.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Famous Last Words

"Get over it!" ---Sara Cronin
"Get over it!"  Seriously, the last thing my daughter said to me besides "I love you" before going into surgery for the last time.  I think about it all the time, that, and two other things she said during her final 2 weeks with me.  I sincerely thank her for that.  Those words have become even more meaningful during this past year.
***(I'll share the other things she said a little farther down this post.  The girl was wise beyond her years.)
I haven't posted in a very long time.  My posts during the first couple of years were full of hope.  I was embarking on a new journey...to fulfill a dream.  I felt like I had a purpose!  I needed to have a purpose!!!!
The last year has been really difficult for me.  It's been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs (mostly downs) that were, nearly all, self inflicted.  I was giving up...on everything!  I was plagued by "Should haves"!  "I should have listened to my realtor in the beginning."  "I should have given up on the condo sooner instead of pouring more money into it."  "I should have built here right away."  "I should have pulled over before I looked at that text."  "I should have listened to my gut."  Those "Should haves" ended up eating away at my confidence.  I didn't trust my decisions anymore and I was starting to "settle" figuring that something was better than nothing.  I was so wrong!!!!
During the last 4-5 months I've been doing a lot of soul searching.  I don't want to settle!!!!  For anything!!!!  Ever!!! I have, however, learned to ACCEPT that everything I want may not happen immediately or exactly how I've planned.  I may have to take a few detours long the way.  Just accepting it has relieved a huge amount of pressure that I put upon myself.  The pressure was distracting me from all the good things in my life and taking all the joy out of things that used to make me happy.  I felt hopeless! 


Then, during one of my many turning points, Sara's words came to mind...the first one was "Get over it!"  I was tired of placing conditions on my happiness.  I'll be happy when..."I get move out to the ranch", "I love my job", "I make more money", and "Fall madly in love".  I needed to "Get over it!!!" If her life taught me nothing else, it would be, life is short.  There may not be a tomorrow.  If you put off being happy...you may never be.  Another thing she said to me came to mind  "I'm so happy!"   Big deal you say?  How is that significant or meaningful in any way?  It wasn't what she said, as much as when she said it, that caused me to think. THIS was the first thing she said to me in ICU, coming out of anesthesia, after she had one of her lungs removed!  I knew exactly what she meant!!!  Prior to that surgery I had to help my 19 year old daughter complete a Living Will in case a decision had to be made.  She was "so happy" because she got to live another day! 
I've decided I need to adopt this attitude.  "I'm so happy"...I'm here, I'm alive, I'm grateful.
The final Sara quote that helped me get things back into perspective was "I'm not afraid of dying.  I'm afraid of leaving you."  She wasn't focused on herself...she was thinking (and worrying) about me!!!
I spent the last year so focused on how things affected me.  Worried that our dream will never come true.  I felt like I was letting her down. 
I stopped thinking about myself and started thinking "What would Sara want?"  "If she could say one thing to me now...what would it be?"  I thought about an exercise I did in a therapy session after Sara passed away.  It had been three years and I was feeling worse than the first and second year combined.  The first part of the exercise was for me to write a letter to Sara telling her how I was feeling and to read it aloud.  Turns out I had a huge amount of guilt I was holding on to.  I felt like I didn't spend as much time with her as I could have, that I let her go too soon, and that I should have done more.  The second part of the exercise was to write a letter from Sara to me...what would she want to tell me in reply to my letter???  I cried as I read it because I knew what she would say..."Mommy, (No matter how old she got she always called me Mommy) you always did the best you could.  You worked hard so I could have all I needed.  You stayed single because I wanted you all to myself.  You always stuck up for me and supported me...you did not fail...and now I WANT YOU TO BE HAPPY!!!!"  I knew that's exactly what she would have said. 
It is no different now. 
Sara would not say that I've failed.  She would be proud of all that I've been through for her.  She would want me to be happy and enjoy life while I have it.  I haven't accomplished what I set out to do almost 7 years ago and it may be even longer before it finally happens.  "Maybe", she'd say, "it's time you step back for a while, do some things that make you happy.  Sometimes the best things in life happen when you're not trying so hard." 
I know she's right.
I'm really enjoying NOW, hopeful for the FUTURE (whatever it brings) and looking forward to a few DETOURS along the way.
Thank you Sara!  My little Buddha (teacher).



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

We're Family....That's What We Do

 "I love you"
 Star of the Dream...The "Sara" in "Santa Sara Ranch"
The Mom/Cowgirl/Promise Keeper...Sara's Dream Will Happen!  I Promised...
(My sister's contribution...We're Family...That's What We Do)
Thank you for taking a look and sharing :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Reality Check, What I Learned

"Sometimes I'm confused by what I think is really obvious.  But what I think is really obvious, obviously,  isn't  very obvious..."--- Michael Stipe

Well this is it!  The follow up to my Reality Check post.  I promised to tell you what I learned by giving up Facebook for one week.  I am...not sure

The first two days were hard, not because I missed it so much, it had just become a habit.  Every time I had a free minute I'd start to click that Facebook button on my phone or computer.  I didn't know what else to do with those little pockets of free time.  Standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for someone to reply to my text message, sitting in the laundromat while my comforter was drying...all times I would normally check in to see what I was missing...which is usually nothing!  

I had a really hard time writing this (that's why the post is several weeks late) because my feelings are mixed.  

One part of me missed the daily chit chat, funny and inspirational postings, and the "daily news".  I rarely watch TV so the news I get on Facebook and Yahoo are pretty much the extent of current events knowledge.  Not very reliable sources, but then again, what is?   I also missed seeing what I fondly refer to as the "corner of validation".  "Oooh, they 'like' what I said, OMG a 'comment', and finally (this one causes heart palpitations)...a PRIVATE MESSAGE." 

Another part of me, however, almost didn't want to sign back on when the week was over.  I even held out longer than I had to Saturday morning to contemplate "maybe I should go for another week" but I had seen (during on of my accidental sign-ons) that I had a private message.  It was more than I could resist.  I couldn't wait another week to see what it was and who it was from"Someone missed me and was telling me to never go away like that again" maybe????  There goes my imagination again...sadly "no".  I should have known better.  I had given an open invitation before I signed off for the week "if anyone would like to talk...here is my email address".  I got two emails...both from my aunt (Thank you Aunt Mary!).  I guess everyone else knew the Lure of Facebook would be too much for me and I would be back.  They could wait.  LOL.  ;)

One of the objectives of my experiment was to have actual face to face human interaction.  That part was pretty successful.  Had a couple of evenings out with friends and I wasn't on my phone the whole time.  Problem was, most of them were also Facebook friends so the conversation mostly revolved around Facebook and how I was handling my Facebook withdrawal symptoms.  Almost felt like I never left. 

Well, so now you know...and once again my idyllic picture of what life should be like is crushed.  ;)         I'm being overly dramatic, of course, but I really did hope someone would agree with me.                     Guess not...so I'm back...but not giving up.  New goal, try to MEET and HUG all my Facebook friends!  You are SO going to wish you never friended me!!!!  :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Reality Check

"We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality."---Seneca

I read an article the other day that kind of hit home.  It was in on www.huffingtonpost.com by Wendy Sachs titled Facebook Envy: How Cruising Can Kill Self Esteem.  A lot of what the article said I had felt myself at one time or another.  I have had my feelings hurt more on Facebook than I have in face to face encounters. Many times, I'm sure, it has nothing to do with me but I "suffer more from imagination than from reality".   Face to face encounters give you so much more to work with...you see what's going on behind the words. I can usually tell if someone is being honest, I can feel if they are sincere, and if they are just teasing...a smile usually gives it away. Online, you see the words...a posed picture...and your imagination does the rest.

My first experience with Facebook was when my daughter was in high school.  She was going through chemo and was home schooled which really only took up a few hours each day.  The rest of the time she was on Facebook.  I would come home from work and see her sitting at the computer.  "Have you been on all day!" I would say and she always responded "No!" (but from all the heat coming off the computer, I knew better).  I had a hard time scolding her too much about it.  She never learned to drive, her friends were at school, and she spent most of her time in the hospital or with me.  I wanted her to have contact with friends to make her life more like that of a "normal" teenager.  There were times though I regretted that decision.  She called me at work, more than once, crying over something that was said about one of her friends.  She was very sensitive about things like that.  On one call she was crying about something that was said about someone she didn't even know.  A University of South Florida student had committed suicide and everyone was giving there opinions of the situation.  Sara was hurt by the number of people saying horrible things about the boy and his family. 

When Sara passed away I kept her Facebook page open.  I like to read the comments her friends would leave on her wall...it's nice to know she's still remembered.  I did, however, nearly close it when shortly after she passed away someone got on her page (signed in as her) and was attacking her father and his family...something Sara nor I would have ever done.

With the exception of occasionally reading her page (I could hear her voice in so many of those posts and her "About Me") I refused to break down and start one of my own...until I moved to Colorado.  I justified it as a way to keep in touch with family and friends. 

Two years later and I'm sad to say I'm slightly addicted. Admit it...we all are.  For me, it's about being     "out there"...like the pathetic little kid jumping up and down saying "look at me, look at me" AND did you "like" what I posted?????  Ooops, there goes that self esteem.  Hey, at least I'm honest!  :)

                                           (Look At Me, Look At Me)

Lately, what has been getting to me though (and not just on Facebook but life in general) is that we have all these "friends" and "relationships" but no personal contact with any of them .  I could write a whole post on 3 hours of texting each night..."Oh, you don't have time to go out but you can text me for 3 hours?" Seriously!  When was the last time you (if ever) talked to them on the phone?  Do you even know what their voice sounds like?  Seen them in person?  Given them a hug?  Personal contact has been erased...it's messy...it's uncomfortable.  What if they find out I'm not as perfect as I make myself up to be? 

                                                (Facebook Relationship)

SCREW IT...I'm to the point where I'd rather have a REAL...messy...uncomfortable...imperfect friend or relationship WAY MORE than an imaginary one with a computer screen.  WOW, that may have sounded a little harsh.  It is definitely not meant that way, in fact, it's quite the opposite.  I don't indiscriminately make people my "friend" just so I can say "Ooh, I have 943 friends"...you, my friends, are all there for a reason...I want you there. 

Here lies my problem.  I also want someone here.  That's the point of my little experiment.  One week (beginning midnight tonight) no Facebook.  I'm already having withdrawal symptoms but I've got to do it for several reasons.  #1:  I'm tired of doing things alone and posting it on Facebook because I have no one else  to tell.  #2:  I want to see how much time I free up to do other things.  #3:  I want to spend time with friends without constantly checking on my phone to see what other people are doing.  The people with me cared enough to be there...I should respect that.  #4: (and least likely, so I've been told) I'm hoping that others are feeling the same way or will at least think about it a little more.  We all crave a personal touch.

                                          (Real Relationship)

I made it...started to think I wouldn't get this post done in time.  The experiment starts in 46 minutes.  I'll miss my morning coffee and eclectic mix of perverted and inspirational "shares".  Hopefully I'll have something to report back to you next week besides "OMG, I was so bored...please POKE me." 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Birthday Lessons From A Five Year Old

"The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.”---Ben Stein

I has taken me 47 years to figure this one out.  In the beginning it was simple...I wanted to be a Princess, I wanted to live in a castle with land all around it, I wanted to marry a Prince, and I wanted to have a horse.  That was it!  Oh, to be five again...

In my pre-teen years I wanted to be a singer and marry one of the Osmond brothers.  I used to watch the Donny & Marie Show and fantasize about standing with them all at the end when they'd wave and say, with their huge, toothy grins "G'nite everybody!"  There's a reason they call the the "awkward age".  I had a hard time even admitting that one.

High school was all about glamour, excitement, and money.  It was the 80's...that's what it was all about.
I remember one "spirit week" (or some other dorky high school excuse to get out of the Catholic School uniform) there was one day we were supposed to dress for the career we wanted.  I wore this white jumpsuit with a popped collar and had a 35mm camera hanging around my neck.  I was a National Geographic Photographer.  A worldly traveler who went to exotic places and made piles of cash (or so I thought).

College, as usual, is when you get creative.  Again...hey, it was the 80's.  I was going to be an Artist, and not just any Artist...one that would be remembered as someone truly unique a la Andy Warhol or Salvador Dali.  In high school I had the usual 80's blond, feathered, big hair and preppy ensembles but towards the end of my senior year I morphed into an artistic, punk rock look, that got me A LOT of attention during my freshman year of college.  Big hair was replaced by a 'Til Tuesday look.  Short blond hair with a long rat tail, sweatshirts with the collar cut out (think Flashdance), army fatigue pants, white leather ankle boots, handcuffs for a low hanging belt, a big ol' Swatch watch with a swatch guard, and safety pins in place of earrings.  AGAIN, have a hard time admitting that one...  I was remembered though!  One of my first A's was in my painting class.  I took off my top, painted myself with swirls of color, and layed down on the paper making a "bust" of myself.  It was a hit with the class and my professor!  (Oh, BTW...I did it in my dorm bathroom NOT in the classroom.  Just wanted to clarify that.)

Junior year of college I was forced to make a BIG, rather unexpected, decision.   I was pregnant and I had to choose between being a mom or giving her up to continue my career path to becoming a starving, although memorable, artist.  The first ultrasound made that decision for me...I heard her heartbeat and I saw her tiny foot...I wanted to be a mom.  I spent the next 19 years doing exactly what I wanted.  I was poor, it wasn't glamorous, it was difficult, and it was AMAZING!  We were so close that it was almost scary ;)  She was my "Mini Me".  When she passed away, for three years I really struggled, I felt like part of me went with her.  She was my life and once she was gone I didn't know what to do with myself. 

Once again...I had to decide what I wanted.  It wasn't that hard to do once I got past the grief.  "Mini Me" was my inspiration. 

You all know the story from "New Beginning", my very first post, (if you're new...check it out...it explains a lot) about my whole Wyoming Adventure/Dream and Santa Sara Ranch.  The dream we shared together has changed a little, for example, I threw in a Prince for myself (she'd understand...she didn't want to leave me alone).  What I never realized, however, until I began writing this post, is how similar the dream is to what I wanted as a 5 year old.  OK, maybe the Princess part is a stretch, the castle has become a cabin with land all around it, the Prince is just someone fun who would treat me like a Princess, and the horse...well...that is non-negotiable.  Every Princess needs a horse.

The lesson it took me 47 years to learn?  When trying to decide what you want more than anything...think about what you wanted as a child before there was anyone around to tell you it's impossible.  I bet you'll find your answers there.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Early Mornin'

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."---John Burroughs

You know the Benjamin Franklin quote "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise"?  I really think there is some truth to that, although, so far the "wealthy" has eluded me. 

I've been a morning person for a couple of years now.  It started shortly after moving to Colorado and was caused, I believe, by both the dogs still being on Florida time.  Before sunrise, every day, the two of them would start moving around on the bed, whining, licking me, and Freckles would do her usual...sneeze and spray of dog snot in the face. "Alright, I'm up!" 

I was never one to sleep late...but 4:00 AM seemed a little too early to be awake.  At first I grumbled about it.  Going back to sleep was not an option, I would just have a harder time waking up when the alarm went off.  After several months, however, I noticed I was grumbling less and really began to enjoy my early morning rituals.  Snot in the face, "Alright, I'm up!", let the dogs out, make coffee, and all of us back in the bedroom (me with my coffee and laptop...them back to sleep next to me).  I would open the curtains and watch the sunrise while I worked.  I had a patio in my Greeley apartment but the street noise disturbed the morning peace (something I began to love about the early mornings) so I rarely used it.

I'd use this early morning time to catch up on emails, research ranch ideas, work on "social networking" and write my blog posts.  My head is clearest in the morning.  I always wake up each day more hopeful than I was the night before.  It's as if each morning is a fresh start...all the negativity, stresses, bad attitudes, and worries that were piled on fom the previous day are wiped away and I'm left with a clean slate on which to write today's story.
I look forward to the day when I spend this time on my patio at the ranch.  Watching the sunrise, photographing the wildlife (pronghorn, mule deer, jack rabbit, coyote, hawk, and various birds all reside out there), listening to the sounds of the local cattle, and have fresh clean air to clear my head of any cares.  I'm not there yet...and already...I don't want to leave.  It may be quite a while, I'm afraid, before I'll be able to enjoy (full time) my mornings at the ranch. I'm confident, however, I'll find this early morning peace somewhere...and as long as I do...I will wake up each day hopeful.

Started writing this post at 3AM this morning. LOVE Early Mornin'

Sunday, November 25, 2012

You Go Girl!

"It is important that you recognize your progress and take pride in your accomplishments. Share your achievements with others. Brag a little. The recognition and support of those around you is nurturing.”---Rosemarie Rossetti

A friend of mine pointed out, that while she liked my "One Year Later" blog post, that I focused too much on how my life has changed and what I can't do and not on what I had accomplished.  Sure she was wrong (because I'm usually such a positive person), I went back and read the post.  She was right!!! 
She even began listing some things that I should mention and be proud of!!!!  "Thank you Amy...I intend to fix that now."

"Wow, where do I begin..." 

I guess the first accomplishment was returning to work 2 weeks after having my arm amputated.  That was pretty big.  I had asked the surgeon when I could return to work...figuring he'd say the customary 6-8 weeks.  He asked "what do you do?"  I replied "loan officer".  He said "two weeks" (seeing the shock on my face he followed with) "I'll write you a note for whatever you want but the sooner you go back the better you'll be".  I hesitated but agreed...I had no vacation or sick time and couldn't afford to be out of work anyhow. 

Next accomplishment...driving.  I was pretty traumatized after the accident and not very eager to get back behind the wheel.  I kept having mini flashbacks of going off the road.  My first 3 days of work, friends drove me...but being the independent control freak I am...3 days was about all I could handle.  On the 4th day I rented a car.  Looking back it was pretty funny.  When the rental agent got the information from my auto insurance company (who was paying for the rental) he gave me this sad look and asked if I would like the additional rental coverage (sure that he had me)...I declined..."Nah, already made my deductible", I smiled.  I acted all confident while I was there but drove about 10-15 miles under the speed limit for about a month.  I was scared but determined.

Next big step for me was dating again...good thing I don't get discouraged too easily.  The first date never called again and the second stood me up on New Years Eve.  I wouldn't have been so ticked about the second if he would have had the decency to just cancel.  I drove 60 miles round trip in snow and ice to meet him half way (still scared to death of driving) to get stood up...ass!  Lol.  The third person I went out with (technically second since real second was a no-show) restored my faith in men.  He was a gentleman.  No kiss until the 3rd date, flowers at work, a weekend getaway, met his family, and drove me to and from the airport when I went to Chicago for work. (When I returned home I was greeted by him standing in the airport holding a sign with my name on it, lol, dork!) It was a great couple of months, ultimately the timing was off, but at the time we were both what the other needed.  He also gave me the confidence to continue and, for that, I will always be grateful.

When I moved to Wyoming, 3 weeks before my accident, the plan was to live at my friend's ranch, have a home built on my land, and move out the following spring.  The accident, a disorganized builder, and finances finally put the house on hold.  I was welcome to stay at the ranch but I was itching to get back out on my own.  I needed to prove to myself that I could do it without any help.  I looked at it as "if I can't do it on my own, living in a small house, in town...how the hell did I think I could do it on my own, on 40 acres, in the middle of nowhere".  I'm proud to say it's been almost 7 months, I have a beautiful little house, I'm happy, the dogs are happy, and we're all still alive :)  It's not the ranch but it's a wonderful stop-over...and now I'll be much better equipped to handle whatever the ranch throws my way when that time comes.

That brings me to my final two, ranch related, accomplishments (I'm sure there are more but these are the biggies). 

The first one was buying a sturdy, wooden, 10' x 12' shed to put out on the property.  I was looking for a "base camp" for the time I spent out there.  I hate using the term "shed" because it brings to mind a flimsy, unattractive, catch all, used for storage.  I chose a 10' x 12' because it was the largest I could have without getting a building permit.   "Little House", as I call it, has 2 working windows with screens and flower boxes, a shingled roof, and high ceilings.  At first I just outfitted it with a card table, an air mattress, and a barbeque grill.  I'm in the process, now, of refinishing a real bed to put out there, a cafe table, a fire pit and patio for more upscale camping.  I spent two nights out there this past summer and loved it!!!!  I can't wait until spring when it's all finished.  Building may be on hold for a while but I can still enjoy the ranch while I'm waiting. 

My final accomplishment was finishing a cookbook I planned to do a year ago.  Why now?  I needed to feel like the financial setbacks with the ranch could be turned around.  I also felt the need for another creative outlet (this blog is a HUGE one for me) that could earn me extra money.  Before, I had made soaps, bath products and went to craft shows.  The soaps and bath fizzies are a little hard to make one handed but typing, writing, and taking photographs I can do.  I returned to the cookbook idea in July.  The problem?  I needed everything done by the end of August in order to have the completed books, in hand, and in time for the ever important holiday sales and craft shows.  We did it , and it has been a bigger success than I imagined.  So much so, that I'm considering another one for next year.  I've only done one craft show so far but have 2 more planned.  I wasn't sure how a cookbook would go over at a craft show but was pleasantly surprised.  I noticed there were two types of people that came up to my booth.

The first type, picked up the book, looked at the cover, said "how much?" , set it down, and walked away. 

The second type, looked inside, saw Sara's picture, read "The Dream", looked at the layout and the pictures, some teared up, said "how much?", and "I'll take three!"

Many thanks to the second type!  :)

The last year has flown by and, to be honest, it hasn't all been easy and I've gone to bed EXHAUSTED almost every night but most nights before I fall asleep...I take a moment and "I recognise my progress and take pride in my accomplishments." 

Thank you again, Amy, for reminding me to brag about it more often!  :)

                                  OK, just pretend that lady only has one arm ;)