There are a million reasons to celebrate in life today and on this day I am choosing to celebrate the ending of my sabbatical from a passion that has burned from within since I was a young child. I was somewhere near the 4th or 5th grade and the highlight of my days was picking up the new issue of “Horse Tales” a local equine enthusiasts newspaper published by Mrs. Elois Shackleford. As a child I was ate up with a love of books and by this point I had already read every horse related book at our school library and our town’s public library, at least twice. “Horse Tales” was my opportunity to read something horse related that was new and fresh but it also had a section about local horse events that I looked forward to most (of course this was in the “pre-internet” days). Then one day, I thought I had somehow struck the lottery when through a series of events I was blessed with the opportunity to meet the owner and publisher of “Horse Tales”, Mrs. Shackleford at her home near Gary, South Dakota. I remember this very keen twinkle she had in her eye and being in awe of her big black horse. The sun glistened off his coat in the evening sun like a reflection of shiny black pearl. I seem to recall his name being “Sundance” although it’s been many years now so I could be completely off; however, I can tell you for sure that he had a twinkle in his eye that said he was not only intelligent but a bit of shyster. Elois provided me an opportunity of a lifetime and allowed me to be apart of an article she was writing about the Silver Sage Ranch. My mom permitted me to travel with her to the ranch to shadow the interview process and I got far more than I bargained for, making many memories I’d cherish for a lifetime, including having my first up-close interaction with a draft horse, whom they affectionately called “Frank”. I was fortunate enough to be afforded the opportunity to write a couple articles for Horse Tales over the next year. I fell in love with writing as much as I had with reading, and the process of producing a paper so it was only natural that being a budding entrepreneurial spirit, I would do what would come next…….
Much to my classmates dismay, I pitched the idea of starting a school newspaper to my 5th grade teacher and she LOVED the idea! I was made editor and publisher and the paper was named “The Lancer Local”, after our school mascot. For two years I was blessed to write articles and piece together this publication. Mind you, this adventure too was pre-Adobe Photoshop so publishing the paper was literally proofing and formatting the margins of the articles in Microsoft Word, printing them, cutting them out and physically arranging them on the master copy which was then used to make a multitude of copies to be dispersed around the school. My paper publication days came to a close when I finished the 6th grade and moved to the “Jr High” which was at a different school and where I started more vigorous course work and athletics, leaving little to no time for my writing. We did put a copy of the paper in the school’s time capsule though and I believe someday when I’m in my 40’s some young kid from Canby Elementary will be trying to find me to invite me back to the school for the opening of the capsule. This will undoubtedly bring back painful memories for my fellow classmates when the Lancer Locale is once again unveiled…..I can already hear the groaning and grumbling that will ensue (if you could only see the smirk I have right now, I nearly belly laughed at the mere thought of this occasion, if you haven’t guessed by now they were not a fan of the extra workload).
The next several years brought a lot of projects, sports, extra curricular activities and horse adventures; but aside from required course work, little-to-no “free lance writing”. I had always hoped I’d write a book one day, as did my parents and teachers who were frequently telling me “I would miss my calling as an author” if I became a veterinarian. However, the closest I came during high school to becoming “said author” was while in Mrs. Anderson’s English class, she had a love of the literary arts like no one I’ve met to this day. She had a way of reading a book that made the words dance off the page and encompass you in the story; so much so, that it was as if you were living the book and not just sitting at a mediocre desk on the 3rd floor of Canby High School listening to it. Mrs. Anderson had spunk and treated her students with respect while holding them to a high standard of being young adults. I do believe it was her love of theater that combined with her passion for reading and writing that allowed her to put her students in a trance every time she would pick up a book and start turning the pages. Even “those” kids who were always misbehaving and getting into trouble would shut up and pay attention. I was then, and still am now (thanks to Facebook) eternally grateful for her mentorship and friendship throughout the years. I’m sure if she reads this, she will start laughing because she will realize that I still have the inability to write a short and concise article, my ramblings and rabbit trails always prevail. So back to my English class, for our senior project we had to design a “shield” and a poster which would represent all of our passions and a “story” we wanted to share about a lesson we had learned. As I worked through this project I started to see the outline of a trilogy….to which I will go no further in explanation because whose to say I won’t one day still write said books and if I tell you about them now….well that’d just ruin the fun! For now though….the story ends there and said triology remains on my life’s “to-do” list.
I was pretty darn set on becoming a equine veterinarian and as such my course work and the height of the “bar” for which I completed it only grew with intensity as my collegiate undergraduate education ensued. My imagination was put on hold while I dedicated my time learning bodily processes in physiology, ways of the world in physics and of course “fun” organic chemistry structures (my apologies to Dr. Crittell if you’re reading this lol) and equations (that I still have never actually used…..). Although each instructor I had during my undergrad left a special impression (some good,some not-so-much) and many I am still proud to call friends and mentors to this day. Uh-oh….rabbit trail…….one instructor/mentor in particular deserves special mention, Dr. Williams, my physics instructor and boss throughout my undergrad. I will never forget the first day of undergraduate physics class when this tiny woman came skateboarding into our classroom, the chaos of creative learning through a multitude of toys and fun that ensued over the next several years was…dare I say? GLORIOUS! It could have easily been a different story, I remember breaking down and crying my guts out on my futon in my office trying to complete my first physics assignment, thinking I was never going to accomplish my dreams because I could never pass that class. I also remember the overwhelming sense of pride that followed the storm of whaling when I realized I had just figured out how to solve my first physics problem, more importantly I figured out how to approach the problems! When I say the professor you take for those tough courses MATTERS I couldn’t mean it more! I not only passed both my mandatory physics courses with an "A” but also took an elective and student-worker position in the physics department because of this one professor. I became a “geek” who enjoyed physics and surprisingly find myself still using it frequently today! She was then and still is the most “bad ass” professor any university could ever have and ECU should be so dang proud they landed her (even if she is a Arkansas Razorbacks fan (#haha). Truly speaking, very few collegiate professors take their teaching to the level that she does, she was always bringing in new toys to teach concepts (we had a closet full of stuff that makes Toys R Us look boring, which perhaps is a bad analogy given recent events….maybe Apple or Google would be better?). Being timely and prompt with grading was of the utmost importance and she somehow found that perfect balance of knowing when students are lying about their dog eating their homework and when their dog really did eat their homework and responded accordingly. Okay okay back to the story…..so long story short, my collegiate career had me reading text books and writing “scholarly” (aka: non-fiction and boring….) articles and papers at such a high rate that I had no desire to attempt writing or reading outside of what was required.
My life took a turn in my first semester of veterinary school at Oklahoma State University and I began to feel for the first time ever that I was on the wrong path. I denied it for several months but I never could shake the ill-feeling and wondering thoughts of what-if. It was undoubtedly God saying “you only THINK this is what you want but trust me”. In a traumatic turn of events I recareered to a master’s program in business and entrepreneurship instead. Looking back at the many struggles I had getting into vet school, the poor feelings I had while there and ease of which I flew through the acceptance process and course work in my Master’s, I can not attempt to deny that God didn’t have His hand on my journey. I am so grateful He has because I can honestly say I have never been more happy than I am right now. He has provided me a life I love, a career I enjoy and find value in, a business I truly love and path to travel that I look forward too (even though I know it has a few Mt. Everest’s on it, those mountains no longer scare me but instead excite me! Challenges are not to be feared because although they sometimes cause stress and pain, they also promote growth)!
He merely opened my heart and my schedule to do the many things I enjoy in life! Of course if you know me at all, that first and foremost means riding, training, showing and competing with my horses. However, as you probably guessed….this also includes writing again! I’ll leave it up to your imagination if a book will be in my future but for now I am proud to announce that my first free-lance article, post literary sabbatical, has been published in Oklahoma Horses Magazine! I do hope you will check it out! It is nothing special….but it is something very important….a “start”.
This article highlights a program called the LG Legacy Project, a multiple world champion barrel racer has chosen to leave his legacy in a big way that involves coordinating with other very successful barrel racing industry titans to teach talented youth how to recareer some black-type, high dollar race horses from the track to the barrel pen….and doing it all on a timeline! He’s providing the students a learning opportunity and experience few get in this lifetime and giving reject race horses a better chance at life through a second career! I hope you’ll check it out! Oklahoma Horses Magazine is a fairly new publication but is gaining stature quickly, they have seen great support in the equine industry and provide not only some entertaining local equine stories but also are a great resource for finding what equine events are going on in Oklahoma. It’s the start of many adventures I have coming down my pipeline, rest assured I’ll keep you posted.
***SPOILER ALERT*** Double M Performance Horses has some exciting news to be released in a few weeks! (No mom….I’m NOT pregnant, if this should ever happen I wouldn’t tell you over a blog post!) Those are my “thoughts from the barn”! Check out our “News” page and check back frequently to see updates on what’s going on here at the Double M Ranch!
You can view the online version of Oklahoma Horses and purchase subscriptions here: www.http://oklahomahorsesmagazine.com/