Wednesday, November 24, 2010

“Giving Thanks BEFORE Thanksgiving”

At my home church, our pastor challenged us to write down one thing we are thankful for every day for the whole month of November.

It is said that our actions naturally gravitate toward our self-talk: how we process information shapes how we will respond to situations. So, in theory, if we visualize and verbalize our thankfulness of things, then we should naturally live thankfully. So this was more of an experiment I suppose. Well, through the wonders of Facebook – I, and a few others, have been faithful to the challenge and I've been recording every response I see every day.

I am surprised that the results, actually. I expected something other than what this experiment reveals. Take a look at the list I have compiled of all the "Thankful" posts:

Thankful For: Stats
A Home10
A Good Job9
God's Blessings8
God's Promises7
Good People7
There were many many more, but all the rest fell at 5 times or less. Here are some of the more memorable ones:

The Bible, Hands & Feet, Salvation, Pastor, Peace, Friday, Chocolate, Pain Meds, Coffee, Tacos, Military, Mac N Cheese, Being At Home, The Challenge, Bark Collars, "Do-Overs", Miracles, Xanex, a Bed, Patience to deal with neurotic people, God's Timing, Nature, Sleep, Peanut Butter Pies, Music and Facebook.

Just because these things were not thanked for more than five times certainly does not mean that the one or fifth person to be thankful for it wasn't truly and deeply sincere in their thanks (I know for a fact the people who voted for Coffee and Chocolate would not be alive without it today!)

Not only are these stats interesting, as they give insight into the types of friends I have….(Animals before Good People….before Health…hehe…), but it shows us how people have not taken for granted the little and easily unnoticed things in their lives. Family especially – I believe there are many, many people who have members in their family, close or not, whom they don't realize how much they need them or how much they love them or appreciate them. Sadly, it's most often realized after that person is gone. But look what the stats say! Family was given thanks a whopping 18 times! I did not have 18 friends doing this! So it was thanked multiple times on multiple days!

Now, as for my friends, I have ALL types, ages, genres, locals, genders, religious views, attitudes, professions and living standards. It wasn't just people from my church that did this.

It's so encouraging to see what people are thankful for; like I said, not what I expected. And you want to know the most interesting thing about all this? NOT ONE PERSON said, "I am thankful for money." Yes, it was referenced in the things we see on the list, but it was always phrased as 'blessings'. Even when people were thankful for a job – it wasn't about the money. The words they used in describing their thanks were ones such as 'enjoyable' and 'rewarding'.

I hope this month has been full of things for you to be thankful for, and if you've forgotten to slow down and tell someone 'thank you', be it God, a friend, family, or just some random person, it may not be too late. Be thankful for what you've been blessed with, before It's gone, after it's gone and before you even get it. Be Thankful – Live Thankful!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

There’s always tomorrow…. (part 2)

That became my life motto – and I had no idea until someone put it into words for me.

When left my job (back in April 2007, remember?), I had visions of becoming a world-renown author, with a side-business of internet-renown sewing. However, those visions are certainly taking a LONG TIME to come to pass!

The first week began slowly and life became instantly sluggish. I told myself I was recharging after holding such a physically strenuous job for 1 ½ years. Well, my 'recharging' continued…for the better part of a month.

Between treatments for my shoulder, reactions to new medications, moving, and constant suffering from migraines and Fibromyalgia, I was chock full of excuses for why I wasn't accomplishing…well….anything. I constantly renewed my vow to better myself, physically, spiritually, mentally and financially – but it rarely lasted more than a week or two. I had no motivation to keep myself going.

My old boss, from the equestrian center, called me about 6 months ago to invite me to a barbecue with 'all the guys'. I couldn't go (for some reason that I can't remember now), but chatted with her for a while, telling her what I was up to lately. It seems I blabbed for a good 5 minutes and by then end of my blabbing, I had said nothing. That's when I realized it and just got a little quiet. My boss, being a wise and experienced woman of the 'way-the-world-works', says to me, "There's always tomorrow, right?"

That hit me so hard, I don't even remember the end of our conversation. I sat quiet for the longest time pondering this after I hung up the phone (I hope I said goodbye). She summed up my previous unproductive days in one little sentence. I realized I had been using that excuse from day one! Why do it today? Why do it now? I'm not working, I don't have any pressing plans - and tomorrow is the same.

There's always tomorrow…..

Once I realized that I got more done in my life when I had a work schedule, I tried to find another job. HAH! Not only are there so few available, but none of them even seemed to follow through. God was up to something; I am convinced He had something to do with the non-response.

I have accepted my lot in life as a 'homemaker' (which is still weird to write down in the slot that says 'Occupation?') and am moving forward. I have a schedule now –very strict schedule where I reward my productiveness with a few hours of 'fun-time'. When I am unproductive, or get off my schedule, I punish myself with cleaning the baseboards or ironing (YUCK!). So everything eventually gets done.

I still have some days (or weeks…) where I don't do ANYTHING AT ALL….until Scott has no clothes left to wear and there is not a clean cup in the house. I have good excuses for those days too! But I am a work in progress – and God has plans for my life (just wish He would inform me).

I am dedicating as much time as I can to others. People that I don't want to spend time with, going to church more often because I know they need the help, and not procrastinating the things I hate to do (dishes!!!!) I still have my dreams to be a published writer and I still sell a few hand-made things here and there in my online shop. So mark another 'First Day' in the book - I am learning how to live all over again.. And it's taking forever. But…there's always tomorrow….

"Honor her for all that her hands have done,
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
The Proverbs 31 Woman
my role-model

Friday, November 5, 2010

There’s always tomorrow….. (part 1)

We talked about 'First Days' last month; well, this was another one of those – but I had no idea it was a 'First Day' until about 2 years later.

In April of 2007, I had the best job in the world; I scooped poop for a living! My position was technically called "Wrangler", but the days of 'wrangler-ing' at Bear Valley Equestrian Center were over – mainly due to insurance and legal ramifications. The dusty old wranglers now had the job of either, clearing the trails, or scooping the poop. Most took to clearing and monitoring the gorgeous rambling trails of the area. A few of us, some may think we were the un-lucky ones, moved into the 'equine waste removal' business.

But, like I already said, it was my dream job. On a daily basis, I took care of up to 75 horses and 50 cattle. We watered, fed, groomed, cleaned, exercised, medicated and basically monitored all these amazing animals every day. There is nothing I enjoy better than the smell of sweet horses in warm barn (Is there a candle for that scent? Or a perfume? Eau De PooLeather HayDust? Probably not – but I would buy it if there was).

We had all types boarding at the facilities, ranging from sleepy old cow mares to high strung, 2-year old warmbloods. The latter were my downfall.

Poor things; these babies trapped in a 12'x24' stall. Their owners would buy them for more than I could ever hope to amass in a lifetime, stick them in a stall and 'plan' to get to them eventually. "Oh it will be so fun!" they would say, or, "This horse is going to train so easily and beautifully!" Maybe both statements could have been true –if the owners would come out and work them every day. But sadly, it rarely happened. These high-headed, intelligent, stunning young creatures paced their stalls from day to day, gazing longingly at the other horses being walked and worked.

Their only trainers were us 'pooper-scoopers'. We trained them to respect our space while we cleaned their stalls, to not be scared of our buckets (only our rakes!), and not to scream or kick the walls during feeding. Soon – we had to ask that their owners pay for them to at least be put on the turnout schedule so they could get some form of exercise other than pacing. Here began the youngster's first form of handling – yes I'm serious.

After the first few episodes turning into disasters that ended with these million-dollar-ponies racing loose down the valley by themselves, we invested in some nice Clinton Anderson Rope Halters, the ones with the knots on the nose band and 12ft long lead lines with a little quirt at the end. At $80 per set, it was well worth it!

The real training began – respect my space, respect the tension of the leadline, please do not jump into my arms when you are spooked by a leaf blowing behind you, DO NOT tear yourself out of the halter once in the pasture (even though your owners think it's perfectly ok to do that), etc, etc (say those last words with an accent like Yul Brynner in "The King and I").

Long story :short (yes, this has been a short story, so stop complaining!), one of these youngsters gave me an unexpected tug and me, being heroic and fearing for my job over losing a 75k horse, held on. My shoulder, strained and/or torn (it's still undecided), still hurts today, despite injections and treatments and uncaring doctors.

I quit my job that month (When? You mean you've been reading this for so long you've already forgotten? 2nd paragraph…); because one cannot scoop poop or lead bad horses with a bad shoulder. I was terribly sad to leave my dream job, but I felt an inner peace over the situation. I had no idea why either. What did God have in store for me that He would ask me to leave my job and stay home?

So…..where was I going with all this?!?! Ah yes, the title of this blog – 'There's always tomorrow….' (I suppose I need to rename it now that I've gone so far off my original subject – but that's what happens when I get to talking about horses.) (There – I added part 1).

Now that I've re-read that date up there, I suddenly realize how long it's been that I have been a 'stay-at-home-mom'. Wow. I have learned so much about living, but not nearly as fast I should have. The good Lord knew I'd need plenty of time for learning and preparation. For what – I still have NO IDEA. But HE does. So I don't have to worry about it. Right? Right!

Thank you for listening to me elaborate upon my favorite subject (horses – not pain). Until 'Part 2'….. there IS always tomorrow.

"…for HIS compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
   great is Your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
   therefore I will wait for Him."
~Lamentations 3:22b-24

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The First Day of The Rest of My Life

Have you had a lot of those ^?  (First days?)
Sure does feel like it.  These kinds of moments set a course for our journey; they provide a point in time where we can take a new direction and run!
  There's other kinds of moments too though.  Those ones that sneak up on you, then they slip right by without you barely flinching and 5 years later - you have no idea how you got where you are!

  This blog WILL BE (I'm determined, can you tell?) one of these 'First days'.
I am a writer.  I love to write; I live to write.  Unfortunately, I am easily distracted and....a spastic procrastinator.(is that a word -spastic?)  I hope a blog will be easier to keep up with for now.  At any rate - it is one more distraction to keep me on my course of procrastination.

  My first 'First Day' -that I can remember.  It was monumental, earthshaking, epoch-making, profound, world-shattering, remarkable and a bunch of other long words in my thesaurus.  Here it comes - I was going to get MARRIED!!!!
  Well, that fact wasn't so monumental, because I planned to get married almost my whole life.  However - it was my plan to marry my horse.  My beloved Cisco, whom I raced in all the rodeos and playdays, was the lucky man.  So me getting married was nothing too shocking.  The shocking part was that I changed my mind and married a human instead!
  Poor Cisco - he has moved on to younger women who are obsessed with him as I used to be.  'Twas a sad day when I had to leave him - but I found out the hard way that there can be only one man in your life when you are first married!
  You see, I was wholly devoted to destroying the male race, as long as I can remember.  I beat up boys during recess, beat up boys in church - well, I just plain beat them - senselessly!  I beat them in burping, and farting, and running, and hitting.  They hadn't a chance in a million!

  So now you're asking, "What happened?  Where did She-Ra-Man-Hater go?"
  The answer is still not easy for me.  I found out that I had a heart - a 'woman's heart'.  I nearly vomited the moment I realized it.  I wrote it in my journal, only to go back the next day and black it out with a sharpie (I still have that journal).  I wrote it again a few days later, only to repeat the same blacking-out.
  *sigh* -Suddenly, two years and only 3 dates later, I was driving to Las Vegas!  (That's another long story I won't divulge in at this time)
  That was definitely a 'First Day'.  I have never been the same.  I have never regretted it either.
God has blessed me with the only man in the world who could ever put up with someone like me.  Six years later - here we are.  New 'First Days' are headed our way and we've seen a few in between.  I'll still take the same approach I did 6 years ago - venture from the paved road onto that narrow dirt trail filled with cactus and thorns and rattlesnakes - and run!

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J. Cutright still beats up her husband on a daily basis (and in a controlled karate class) in the mountains of Kern County, where they live in 800sq ft with 2 dogs, 6 cats (want one?), 3 snakes, 1 dragon, 1 gecko (want him?) and a half-dozen loose crickets (another story).
"Please tell me if you like my blog!  I do!"