I write every day. What I write doesn't always feel public or worth sharing, but I strive to improve as both a person and a writer without fail.
To that end, I've developed a space for more online writing, working, and thought-sharing. To stay current with me, The Writing Rancher, please follow my work at thewritingrancher.com!
Judging a life well-lived
Everyone has opinions, and like many others, I generally share mine. Those who love me tolerate my musings because they know my heart is in the right place. Those who don't love me, well, they don't love me so who cares, right?
I get a migraine and have chest pains at the mere thought of admitting this, but I do care what others think. I care about it to a terrible fault. I take painstaking care to analyze almost every situation in an attempt to guess what someone might be thinking or saying about what I say or do. My fear of disappointing anyone often paralyzes me into inaction. That's crazy, right?
Absolutely! Unfortunately, my insecurities occasionally win.
I know what others think shouldn't matter; you know it, too. But, we also know what others think DOES matter.
As a freelance writer, whether I work or not depends on what people think. In a traditional business setting, raises, promotions and more hinge on what at least one other person thinks. The world is full of "starving artists" because of what others think.
My husband and I are even raising our children to love an industry based almost entirely on what other people think. We can raise awesome crops or cattle, but they are only worth what someone else is willing to pay based on market projections of yet another group.
Oddly, we’re also raising our children to not care what others think—to be strong in their own preferences—which is especially clear when you take note of our daughter’s attire.
She doesn't give two hoots whether you think her striped leg warmers, polka dot leggings, fluorescent tank top and patterned sweater complement her neon tennis shoes. I’m proud of her confidence. I've even caught myself wishing I could borrow some of it.
However, the irony of our beliefs didn't strike me until we really started talking to our oldest two about what it means to compete in a showring.
We’ll soon send our children into the ring where they will, in fact, be judged—on the quality of their livestock, on their appearance, on their presentation abilities. This reality has led to some interesting conversations that neither my husband nor I had considered.
Yep, what other people think matters to a degree. I maintain, however, it's the degree of separation that matters most.
If you think my writing is horrible and you don’t read another column, my feelings won't be hurt (really). Such opinions might mean I won't become a syndicated and sought-after writer. But, those opinions won't lessen the quality of my life. Unless, of course, I base my quality of life on becoming an acclaimed writer. Then, your opinion must become the fuel to my fire for greatness.
Likewise, our children can choose to show cattle from our herd. Their life will be no less meaningful nor will their work be any less important if those cattle are not judged greater than average in a show ring. But, if they dream of becoming players in the show world, their success will depend on learning and growing from what others think.
In the end, I think all of that’s ok.
People judge everything; we are flawed. I never want our children to judge another human’s value based on what our children think or believe, and I’ll try my hardest to make sure they don’t. Yet, judgment and opinions are necessary parts of life.
Our opinions become both our sword and shield. In the process of judging, feelings can easily get hurt ... I don't like to hurt, and I don't like to hurt others. Hurting is uncomfortable. It's messy. It's scary.
On the other hand, having to evaluate yourself and your goals based on what other people think doesn't have to bad. Maybe, that type of evaluation is where real opportunity to grow lives.
If our oldest son maintains his appreciation for “herd markers”, he may indeed show a Longhorn-influenced calf. I will probably shudder, but I will also be proud of his confidence in what he likes.
Perhaps taking the road less traveled will lead him to one day build an acclaimed, unique herd filling a niche market in our industry. Perhaps, he’ll uncover a new passion and develop an appreciation for creating cattle that represent the best of both worlds.
Regardless, the best any of us can do is be comfortable and confident with who we are and where we’re going. Sounds simple enough, but I learned long ago—the simplest lessons are often the hardest ones to learn.
As spring dawns, I wish each of you the confidence to be great in your own right! May your goals be lofty, your efforts be honest and your life be full of purpose.
Living up to her legacy
Tonight, as I tucked our second son into bed, I looked into his eyes and immediately felt tears spring to my own. We’d had a rough night—one of those ‘why did I choose this?’ kind of nights. Yet, as he laid down for sleep, I saw only the sweet, generous and thoughtful little boy who was loaned to me from heaven.
He was the first to speak and asked me, “Mom, how long ago did Gramma Lois die?” He caught me by surprise, and it took me a few beats to be composed enough to say, “Almost one year ago.”
I could see his lip quiver, so before tears could fall, I said, “She really loved us all, didn’t she?”
Remembering his great-great grandmother’s love brought an instant smile to our five-year-old’s face. His eyes sparkled at memories. We shared a couple favorite stories. Then, I challenged him.
“Son, we all made Gramma’s heart very happy, didn’t we?” Yes, he nodded. “Would Gramma’s heart be happy tonight?” He offered a small shake no. “Well then, I have an idea. Before you make a choice, you ask yourself, ‘would Gramma Lois be proud of me about this?’ If the answer is no, don’t do it.”
Apparently, that made sense, and he readily agreed. Before I could kiss him goodnight though, he caught me.
“Mom, would Gramma have been very happy with you tonight?”
Ouch! “No, son. She would have felt a bit sad to see me making bad choices.”
“Well, you better ask Gramma if what you’re doing is ok then, too. Right?”
And so, it’s agreed. Before we speak or act, we need to check with Gramma first. I can see her chuckle!
My parenting methods surely aren’t for everyone; sometimes, they aren’t even for us. However, that’s not the point of this little story.
The point is this.
Nearly one year ago, our family said good-bye to a truly beautiful woman. A woman who smiled and whistled softly even when she probably should have smacked someone upside the head. A woman who lived more than a century without complaint or fuss.
Gramma was very much human; however, to her great-great grandchildren, she was a vision of perfect love. They not only knew but also saw her love every time we visited. Wrong or right, Gramma was a tangible image of God—a higher power you don’t want to disappoint, who offers forgiveness even when you don’t deserve it.
The kids and I spoke to Gramma on the phone not long before she slipped away. We got to hear her say, “I love you”. In turn, we each got to share one last story, one last thank you, one last “I love you”.
She always used to tell me, “Oh dear, if I can just live to see you graduate high school, I’ll be happy.” Then, it was “graduate college.” Next came get married; then came have children. She was there for it all—the good, the bad and the ugly. Like all my grandparents, her time was the best gift ever.
I can’t mourn for my great-grandma. Despite pain, sadness and challenge, she lived a long, beautiful, full life. She doesn’t deserve my tears and sorrow.
Instead, she deserves my gratitude. Gramma Lois set an example, and the greatest testament to her life would be that we live up to it.
Gramma would say neither I nor anyone else owed her anything, but she’d be wrong. We owe her everything. Our payback should be to choose happy even when it’s easier to choose angry. We should choose family even when they make it difficult.
As the anniversary of her death approaches, I’m remembering her with a smile, a thank you, and a big plate of fresh pancakes … after all, if you left Gramma’s hungry, she must not have been home!
How did it get late so soon?
The beloved American writer Dr. Seuss is credited with saying:
How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?
I don’t recall it getting late so soon in my younger years, but the past decade has most certainly ‘flewn’ by in a hurry!
Looking back shocks me a bit. So much has changed—for better and worse—in the course of years. Personally, odd years have marked happy occasions for my family. The hubby and I started dating in 2003 and married in 2005. We welcomed our twins in 2007 and followed them with two more boys in 2009 and 2011. Then, I left my fundraising career behind in 2013.
If all continues healthy and well, we’ll maintain the trend in 2015 when we enjoy our 10th wedding anniversary, my hubby’s 45th birthday and a few other special celebrations along the way.
Though I know we've experienced loss and challenges in those “odd” years, life’s happy milestones have overshadowed the heartache. Even years have been kind to us as well; however, I can absolutely say years like 2012 and 2014 were marked by indelible losses.
I’m not necessarily a superstitious person, and I haven’t put real stock in our yearly trends. However, I don’t take the reminder of life’s cycles lightly.
Maya Angelou once said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive but to thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” The great American author and poet died in 2014, and I believe she completed her life’s mission. She left a powerful, beautiful mark on the world. In doing so, she left each of us the precious gift of hope through her words.
I admire Dr. Angelou’s life mission; yet, I have to wonder … am I merely surviving? How about you? Are you thriving in a world that could consume you in a blink?
For me, it’s a struggle, and because I’m a truly blessed woman, my perceived struggles are quite merely minor annoyances—realities of life. There are days when I feel like the piles of laundry, mountains of stuff and rivers of ‘to do’ lists have reduced me to a survivalist; I get stuck in the yuck of monotony and fail to see the big picture. I catch myself interacting with those I love most without thought, without compassion or without the style they deserve.
Those are the days I despise. Nothing in the piles, mountains or rivers is so important that I should lose sight of what I can really accomplish in this life; yet, I do. My children suffer because of me on those days; they don’t see the examples they deserve. In those moments, I fail my life’s mission.
Even the great and wise Maya Angelou couldn't have always been on top of her game though, right?
With the knowledge that we’re all imperfect humans—no more, no less—I look forward to finding new joy in each day that lies ahead. I know there will be moments when I falter, but I also know my life—and yours—has a great purpose worth fighting for.
Perhaps the greatest challenge is staying simple and humble enough to actually realize that purpose.
I’m often guilty of over-complicating things. My husband is forever asking me to just enjoy the moment … to let go of the minor annoyances and embrace the joy. I try—really, I do. But, as the New Year dawns, I need to try harder.
Living a life of purpose isn't about living a life packed with stuff while we run busily from one activity to the next. When our time is over, I don’t believe any of the stuff or the running will matter. All that will count is the compassion, humor, style and grace we left behind with those for whom we took real time.
To me, Dr. Seuss wrote it best in his final book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose. …
So be sure when you step,
Step with care and great tact
And remember that life’s a great balancing act.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
May the year ahead be filled with bountiful blessings, abundant joy and enough faith to carry you through life’s valleys!
Smack! Life's calling.
Life has an uncanny knack for smacking a person right between the eyes. The smack can be good and positive—like finding love when it’s least expected. The smack can be sad and devastating—like the tragic death of a loved one.
Regardless of the smack’s type, it gets your attention.
As an introvert in every sense of the word, I often get lost in the wonder of why life’s most profound moments smack most of us with the force of a sledgehammer. I certainly don’t know the answer for you. For me, however, I get smacked the hardest by situations I take for granted.
For instance, our third child recently headed off to Kindergarten. I’ve known this milestone was coming. It’s been something I secretly imagined for years.
Yet, the moment I sat down to read him all the wonderful notes his kind teacher sent in the mail, I got smacked.
Suddenly, I couldn’t finish the words in her exciting poem about the joys of leaving mom and dad in order to experience a new world. I couldn’t look at him without trying to soak up every single detail of his changing and growing little face.
The rational me is appalled at the gravity I find in this situation. The emotional me—which pretty much dominates everything I do—can’t believe I have actually taken the past five years for granted.
Instead of a sweet, playful baby who loved to snuggle, play tractors and read, our middle child is a little man who loves to wrestle, dig in the dirt and work just like the big boys. He reads to his little brother. He’s grown big enough to strong arm his older siblings. He enjoys cooking exotic suppers (think mixing up whatever’s left in the refrigerator) and hanging out with his Uncle Clay.
Just like that, my husband and I are sending him off to be influenced, molded and guided by a whole bunch of people and standards we can’t control.
Yep, I got smacked by a beautiful reality.
Our four children have been given the opportunity to grow to great heights, enjoy milestones many children never reach and flourish in the care of many who love them. And in the midst of that beautiful reality, I find a strange sense of sadness and guilt.
You see, as I’m tearing up at a ‘normal’, exciting milestone, I can’t help but think of all those times I, or ones I love, have been smacked by much harsher realities.
In April, four young men—four shining stars—died in an unimaginable plane crash. In June, a well-known showmom and ag advocate succumbed to the devastating diagnosis of Cruzefeldt-Jakob’s Disease. Each day, my social, respected, intelligent grandfather falls deeper into the horrific grip of Alzheimer’s.
These situations smack us. They hit us hard and rock our worlds because we take youth, health and time for granted. These life events are not ‘normal’. They are not how we have each come to expect life to be. Yet, at the end of each day, these events are how life is.
While I prefer the normal of my oblivious comfort zone, I refuse to let all of life’s smack-downs pass without learning.
Life is short. It is precious, and the only absolute guarantee we have is one of unpredictability.
Tiny children should not bury their fathers. Young brides should not bury their grooms. Brilliant minds should not fall silent in a dark abyss. But, they do.
Each of us has a profound opportunity to grow when life smacks us. The growth process won’t be easy; there’s a solid chance it will hurt like hell. But, in the end, when our lives reflect through the memories in our hearts, we can rest peacefully knowing we gave it our best.
For those who have gone before we were ready to let go, God-speed and rest peacefully. For those left to grow and change, God bless and good luck.
Living on faith
Recently, a dear friend asked me why I believe in God ... why I have faith. "I just do" was not an answer he would accept, and we launched into a deep philosophically scientific discussion. Like he knew it would, our conversation has plagued me.
My answer to his question hasn't improved, so I'll work on that. In the meantime, all I can think about are the decades of events leading up to July 2012. That thinking brings me back to this article, which was published in August 2012. Though time marches forward and I find myself replacing "drought" with "bitter cold", I need the reminder ... maybe you do, too.
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Faith can be defined in many ways. To some, faith simply means having complete trust or confidence in something or someone. Personally, I prefer the classic Bible definition: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV).
Now, I couldn’t be much further from a preacher, and I’m not writing a sermon. But, given the challenges being thrown at folks in agriculture, I can’t think of a more fitting topic than faith.
A lot of us in God’s country hope for rain. We haven’t seen it in a long while; yet, we know it exists. Some of us even have faith that it will come again.
Many of us have watched helplessly as crops and pastures withered away. We’ve eaten dust, baked in the sun and made tough decisions. Some of us maybe even cussed the entire situation. But, we persevered. We pushed through the challenges, took a break when we couldn’t stand anymore and started all over again the next day.
To me, faith lies at the heart of why many of us continue to move forward, especially in times of devastation, but also in times of celebration.
This summer, I shared in two wildly different life situations. They were occasions that forever altered my perceptions and deepened my faith.
In late July, after a healthy nine-month pregnancy, my best friend and her husband unexpectedly welcomed their beautiful daughter to the world in great distress. Just over 17 hours after her arrival, she returned to heaven, and two people I love dearly were left reeling. Every day, they endure a loss more horrific than I can imagine.
I don’t pretend to know or understand their pain for it is not mine to know. Yet, without understanding it, I do know every day presents a choice. A choice to live in faith or die in sorrow. Though being consumed by sorrow may be an “easier” choice, my friends find the substance in their faith necessary to move forward.
At the very opposite end of the spectrum, mid-August brought my great-grandma’s 100th birthday. My contribution to her milestone was a small article for our hometown papers. I’ve been very close to Gramma my whole life, and I thoroughly enjoyed the three hour chat we shared as she thought back over her decades.
Her 100 years have been far from easy. Gramma has experienced loss, heartache and struggles beyond many people’s comprehension. She has buried family and friends and watched helplessly as loved ones struggle. Her body fails her a bit more each year; however, her mind remains sharp.
She raised four children as a rancher’s wife during the Great Depression and can vividly recall grasshoppers devouring wood fenceposts as dirt blew through every nook and cranny of their home.
But, even in her life’s darkest times, Gramma’s faith in God, her family and good friends carried her through. She became a pillar of strength. Gramma celebrated her milestone birthday with the humor and resilience many of us have come to treasure, and in doing so, she displayed the power of having faith behind your hopes and dreams.
As the drought rages on and varying degrees of life continue to surprise us, I pray each of us can retain perspective and hold tight to our faith.
Times are tough, and the months ahead could get a lot harder. But, if you look around, there is also much joy in the world, and where there is joy, there is hope. With hope, we find faith, and with faith, we can endure anything.
So take a moment to step back. Celebrate the ag industry’s youth as they participate in events at state fairs, winter shows and school. Take time to appreciate why young people are so treasured. They represent our past, our present and our future. They carry our hopes and our dreams.
And, as you do all that, remember we all have a choice. A choice to live in faith or die without it.
Coming out of the darkness
For just a moment, think about the last things you saw and heard. Write them down. Now, imagine if those sounds and images were the last you ever enjoyed. Would you be grateful or regretful? Could you really even recall them?
It’s easy to stop and imagine for only a few seconds, but what if what you imagined was reality?
There’s a four-year-old boy in Rapid City who lives the reality of a silent, dark world every day. Just over a year ago, he was a vibrant, healthy little boy who loved preschool. Then, he was struck by meningitis. Doctors told his parents they’d do everything they could, but he wouldn’t live.
To his parents’ great joy, their son Liam survived. Nothing could have prepared them, however, for their new reality.
Liam awoke from a coma asking for his parents. They responded with joyful voices, but Liam kept asking for them. Finally, he said, “Where is everyone, and why won’t you talk to me?”
Soon, his doctors and parents realized the strong medications that saved his life robbed Liam of his ability to see and hear. Though he could speak, he soon gave up. He retreated into the quiet dark while his family and a host of professionals scrambled to help him.
Liam is surrounded by love. Of course, where there is love there is also hope. Today, doctors believe he can see shadows, and Liam has learned more than 200 signs in an effort to restore his ability to communicate with the outside world.
My sister-in-law knows Liam and his family well. She says his one true joy is food. With two senses stolen, his senses of touch and taste have been heightened. He savors food in a way most of us can’t understand.
Can you even begin to imagine what must go through that little boy’s mind? Can you comprehend the amount of strength and faith it must take for his family to get through each day? Personally, I can’t think about Liam and his family without tearing up.
Selfishly, the hardest part about Liam’s story for me comes when I try to imagine him as one of my children.
Would the last thing they heard from my mouth be something I want them to remember? Would it have been kind? Would their last image of me be one where I looked at them with love, or would they only remember a mom annoyed by their latest childhood antics?
Even as I write this, I’ve been interrupted by our six-year-old at least three times. I’m ashamed to admit this, but before Christmas, I probably would have snapped at him, said something short like, “Mommy has a deadline. You need to go out.” Then, I would have dismissed him without another thought until I was done writing. I would have gone to him afterwards and asked what he needed, but he would have responded with a quiet “nothing.”
Thankfully, my sister-in-law reminded me of Liam’s during our Christmas celebration. A week later, I turned 35 and had an event that caused my life to flash in front of my eyes. I didn’t like most of what I saw and vowed to change.
I’m not perfect, and there will absolutely be times when my children have to wait. But, on this day, I took a breath and gave our son the 30 seconds he needed. Thank God I did!
In those brief moments on this one day, I learned so much about the boy he has become. I saw a side of him I hadn’t taken time to acknowledge, and as my heart softened, I gained a new appreciation for our particular, determined and solitary son.
Parent or not, it’s easy to get swept up in the activity of any given day. As technology advances, thoughtful, caring communication with others seems to be decreasing. Too many of us treat daily interactions with other human beings as throw-away moments; I’m certainly guilty of that, and from what I’ve witnessed around me at times, I’m not alone.
I’ve always been proud to be part of the livestock industry, especially in rural communities. As a whole, I feel like the industry is made up of good people who care about others. Nothing is perfect, of course, but some of the latest testaments to folks in our industry have come in the wake of natural disaster.
People across the nation have opened their hearts to support those affected by the October blizzard in western South Dakota. Millions of dollars have poured in with the hope of bringing some relief to those in need.
Here’s what humbles me … some of those families in greatest need, especially some young families just getting started, have turned away financial help insisting it go to a neighbor who got hit harder. At a time when there’s no shame in taking help and paying it forward as they rebuild, these kind souls are putting others before themselves.
I don’t know if I could be that selfless in the wake tragedy.
As we move forward in a New Year, my hope for all of us is to keep little Liam’s story close to our hearts. Whether we’re putting kids to bed or waiting for an old man to walk down the stall aisles, I pray we all take a breath and think: “What if what I say and do is the last thing this person hears and sees?”
The origin of this quote is up for debate, but one of my favorite sayings is, “The true measure of a man is how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”
What’s your measure going to be in 2014?
What's a picture worth?
Like many people, I'm rarely shy about snapping photos of my life and sharing them via social media, text or email. Family members tell me how much they enjoy "watching" the kids grow up despite the distance. Friends say pictures are a great way to stay connected now that we're all miles apart and busy with children, careers or both.
While I appreciate what my family and friends say, my reasons for snapping and sharing pictures are really quite selfish.
I'm a pragmatic, obsessive/compulsive personality with Type A tendencies. As such, I'm easily overwhelmed by feelings of failure when situations don't play out perfectly ... Guess how often anything my family does goes off without a hitch? You're right--never is a long time, so occasionally seems a realistic answer.
There are days when my own insecurities and shortcomings collide with lifetime activities to create the perfect storm of dysfunction. Being part of these days is like watching a car wreck in slow motion ... you know it's scary, and you want to stop it all. But, before you can blink, someone hits the play button. In one fell swoop, there's disappointment, frustration, anger, tears, more frustration, a bit of yelling, more anger and a lot more tears.
Worst of all for me, I'm the reckless driver colliding with a bus full of innocent victims--my husband and my children.
It's on these most dreadful days when our pictures go up in value.
Before I run from it all. Before I utter one more word. Before I fall apart in a heap of remorseful sobs. (Okay--sometimes "AFTER") I look through our pictures.
During those peaceful moments of bliss, I see the beauty in my world. Rather than drowning in the imperfection of it all, I marvel in the miracle of my children and in the dedication of my husband. I am able to sort through the day's rubbish and uncover the gem of a child's smile or my husband's gentle manner.
For a moment, my life is perfect because I take the time to cherish the perfect moments in my life. I can feel stress, anger, depression and hopelessness melt into peace, contentment and appreciation.
Looking at pictures, for me anyway, is a lot like catching up with an acquaintance or friend. I don't belabor the imperfect. In fact, I rarely even think about it. Outwardly, I'm not shy about expressing my multitude of blessings.
Honestly, I don't think I focus on the good in order to keep from "looking bad" to others. Rather, when given the opportunity to take a breath and step back, I have absolutely no doubt that I am a blessed woman with a strong faith.
I want to take more time to appreciate the beautiful moments in my life. I want to find an inner peace that dissolves my impatience and dissatisfaction. Of course, until I make the time to change what hurts, I'll continue getting lost in the weeds of an imperfect daily grind.
Here's to learning how to run a weed whacker and taking time for more pictures!
Finding warmth in a storm
If you live in South Dakota, you know the weather can be an unforgiving witch. If you don't live here, go ahead and trust me.
Farmers and ranchers across South Dakota know Mother Nature's wrath well. Days of calm, peaceful beauty are rare, but they are treasured in the hearts and souls of all who live them. Though South Dakota ranchers, especially those far west of the Missouri River, are a hearty bunch, nothing could have prepared them for the catastrophe on October 4.
Mother Nature unleashed a relentless and hellish fury of rain, snow, ice and wind with little warning. When she was done raging, Mother Nature had left behind unimaginable carnage ... tens of thousands of livestock--cattle, horses, sheep and wildlife--were decimated ... generations of blood, sweat and tears were chewed up and spit out. Some ranch herds made it through unscathed while neighboring herds were destroyed.
In South Dakota and neighboring states, we deal with blizzards and blizzard-like conditions on a regular basis; it's called winter. There was no discrimination in Mother Nature's wrath that night, and it seems wholly unfair to call this horrific event "a blizzard".
This unpredictable beast was a storm of unprecedented destruction. This storm brought even the most independent, hardened and dedicated rancher to his knees. Tragically, some of these hardworking, gentle souls won't get back up.
Images of the carnage are horrific. Personally, I can't look at pictures or read a story without goosebumps and tears.
Yet, amid the death and sadness, hope rises at every corner. Live animals are being found in the most bizarre situations. Sick animals are recovering, and neighbors are pulling together.
Perhaps most heart-warming though is the way people from across the state, region and country have pulled together. Personal opinions and political agendas are being put aside. Two sides of South Dakota, which are often divided by more than just a river, are coming together for some of our state's most forgotten people.
Fellow ranchers in the region have launched an organization to manage the donation of live animals. Another group activated social networking communities to help re-connect lost animals and their owners. Auction barns across the state are organizing roll-over auctions with all proceeds directly benefiting producers in need.
While the outpouring of support has been heartwarming, did you know all of these efforts have yet to make a dent in the need? Did you know you can help change that?
The SD Rancher Relief Fund was established by the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to provide support and relief assistance to livestock producers impacted by the early October blizzard. Though obvious, replacing livestock is actually one of the smallest challenges. Immediate needs include things like carcass disposal and operating loans. Long-term needs include replacing decades worth of genetic investment and more.
One way I have chosen to help is by creating a T-shirt campaign, which you can find at www.booster.com/sdranchers. For your $25 donation, you'll receive a T-shirt proclaiming your support of our state's ranchers.Your gift provides much more than just a T-shirt to you though ...
With your gift, which will be directed to the SD Rancher Relief Fund, you can help bridge the gap between town and country, east and west. You can proudly remind others of the men and women who tirelessly dedicate themselves to the safe, nutritious production of your food.
Please consider getting involved to help support our neighbors in the west!
Ready. Set. Go? Maybe not.
Writing because someone asked me to makes sense. Writing because doing so is easier than talking is reality. Taking a chance to write a blog? Let's just say, "I'm not convinced."
Everyone has opinions, and like far too many others, I generally share mine. Those who love me tolerate my vocal musings because they know my heart is in the right place. Those who don't love me, well, they don't love me so who cares, right?
I get a migraine and have chest pains at the mere thought of admitting this, but I do care what others think. I care about it to a terrible fault. I take painstaking care to analyze almost every--yes EVERY--situation in an attempt to guess what someone might be thinking or saying about what I say or do. My fear of disappointing anyone paralyzes me on occasion. That's crazy, right?
Unfortunately, even at 34, my insecurities occasionally win.
I know what others think shouldn't matter; you know it, too. Funny thing about "knowing" something is that you also have to "feel" it in order for it to be true. I tell myself it doesn't matter what other people think, but we both know that's not entirely true.
As a freelance writer, whether I work or not depends on what people think. In a traditional business setting, raises, promotions and more hinge on what at least one other person thinks. The world is full of "starving artists" because of what others think.
Yep, what other people think matters ... to a degree. As with everything, though, it's the degree of separation that matters most.
If you think this blog is a horribly stupid idea created by a sleep-deprived mother--and you don't read another entry--my feelings won't be hurt (really). Sure, such opinions will mean I won't become a syndicated and sought-after blogger. But, those opinions won't lessen the quality of my life. My family will not love me any less because of what you think. My faith in God will not waiver because of what you think.
I think that's ok.
People judge everything; we are flawed. Our opinions become both our sword and our shield. In the process of opinion-sharing, feelings often get hurt ... I don't like to hurt, and I don't like to hurt others. Hurting is uncomfortable. It's messy. It's scary.
On the other hand, where pain exists there also lies opportunity to grow. Hurt can give way to discomfort, and thanks to discomfort, change can be allowed to happen. With change, innovation can take hold and unlock doors for amazing success.
May your outlook be rosy and your journey be blessed!
I'm passionate, driven and dedicated to my family. Connecting with people through my writing brings me joy and purpose while leaving a legacy for my children. Visit www.thewritingrancher.com for more writing and information!