Bad computer. Good people.

Sometimes life gives you lemons, broken computers and untrustworthy characters…

After a nightmarish battle with my 6-year-old laptop, who decided to make me age a few years in a matter of days, today marks the end of my two-week blogging hiatus. Said hiatus can only be partially blamed on the absence of my laptop. In all honesty, I needed a bit of a break.

The week after the Clásico Club Hípico de Santiago was spent typing approximately 11,300 words. After transcribing interview notes, writing an article for thisishorseracing.com, finishing a lengthy blog, and then hammering through a 5-page (single spaced) paper for a class that makes watching paint dry sound fun, I was plumb tuckered out.

By Saturday, May 28th, I had almost everything finished aside from the school paper, the very last item on my list of writing subjects (the racing articles were obvious priorities). My computer had auto-updated to Windows 10 two days prior with little problem. I continued working on my laptop all day Friday, powering down in the evening to head out with friends. Continue reading

Lessons from Pigeon Man

Some of the most beautiful things I’ve experienced in Chile can’t be fully captured in a photo, because it’s not the image itself that’s important. It’s the way I felt in the moment and the lesson I learned. One of the reasons why I like to write is because it allows me to describe the way things make me feel and build pictures with words.

One of these life snapshots and the respective lesson I took away has to do with an individual whom I’ll call “Pigeon Man.” Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know who I’m talking about. This is an elderly gentleman who sits in an alley-way I pass to and from my apartment building.

He perches on a white plastic chair next to a little cart laden with odds and end items – newspapers, packages of cookies, water bottles – random things that people might want to purchase as they hustle off to work. Plastic bags hang off the sides of the cart, most likely holding his meager belongings, and a giant white umbrella sticks out the top. Continue reading

Winter Horseback Riding

I love riding in the winter.

The snow absorbs sound, creating an eerie peace interrupted only by the crinkling of branches as the wind blows them together. Hooves crush through the surface of it, leaving prints behind.

The color palate is stark. Trees appear black, the snow white, sky gray.

The wind is either calm or nonexistent, allowing the land to lie still – or wicked and disruptive, biting at cheeks and making the horses blink their eyes fiercely.

The smell, if you can stand to breath in the cold without freezing your lungs, is dry and sweet with frosted earth tones.

The pent up energy inside the horses, created from standing idle when the weather is too harsh to ride, makes them keenly aware of their surroundings. As deer jump into view from behind trees, the horses stop and stare intently, following the bounding creatures with their eyes.

When they disappear, we proceed along the woods that line the snow-covered field. My horse’s thick, wooly-mammoth coat radiates warmth through my snow pants. Their movements are exaggerated as they labor through the snow, lifting each leg purposefully over drifts. Their back rolls from side to side, shoulders and haunches swaying, lifting, pushing.

Swaying, lifting, pushing.

Sometimes they decide that trotting is easier than walking, and jog off in elevated bounds that threaten my grip without a saddle. They might even throw in a quick crow hop or two… or five if it’s Larry.

It reminds me of my favorite poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost:

IMG_7107Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Crazy flights. Good people. Unfailing God.

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Snow all around!

In the past five days I have experienced canceled and missed flights, what it feels like to run through an airport and stand inches from American Pharoah, and how to deal with yearling Thoroughbreds throwing temper tantrums (a bit more intense than human toddlers).

I have to start at the beginning.

On Thursday the 7th, Fargo, Moorhead and the surrounding area awoke to a lot of snow. Fourteen inches fell at our home, and that is absolutely not a joke.

I was packed and raring to head off for Kentucky to hang out with a friend, tour stallion farms and work for Taylor Made Sales as a horse handler during the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with horses or horse racing, this is essentially a very large auction for young Thoroughbreds who are prospective racehorses, or Thoroughbreds used as breeding stock who will hopefully produce future racehorses.

My plans skidded to a halt when I arrived at the airport on Thursday and discovered that my flight out of Fargo had been canceled – not due to weather, but a lack of de-icing fluid for the airplanes. I was rebooked for the following evening, setting me more than a day behind schedule. Continue reading

Dad, you’re the best.

DSC_0925Yesterday, I learned an important lesson the way many important lessons are learned.

The hard way.

I was half way into town when the alert light came on in my car. It’s the same light that illuminates when I need an oil change, but having just had an oil change not long ago, I ignored it and proceeded on my drive.

Well, it turns out that the light comes on to alert me of tire problems as well, because when I hopped out of my car to pick up my dry cleaning items, I was greeted by a very flat tire. I mean, it wasn’t flatter than flat, but it was pretty flat. Continue reading

2015 Year in Review: I would drive 5,000 miles

Hard to believe that a year ago today, I was preparing to move to Amarillo, Texas, in 3 days. Okay, so I didn’t walk 5,000 miles, but over the course of the year I have traveled approximately 5,268 miles by car, and to or through 17 states plus Canada.

It’s been a busy, awesome, fun year – sometimes stressful, but filled with incredible learning experiences.

I had the fantastic opportunities to live in both Texas and New York (about as polar opposites as you could possibly get). I saw mountains, valleys, prairies and big cities. I missed my family but met new friends and other memorable people in the process. I represented my college riding team at the IHSA Zone 7 Championships. I saw Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and worked at Saratoga Racecourse for The Saratoga Special.

Here’s a bit of a timeline and year in review of my 2015. Continue reading

Final Exams: The beast must be conquered

Finals. Yes, they are upon us. And if you’re a fellow student who feels anything like I do right now, you might be wondering whether listening to Disney princess music while you study will magically teleport you to a kingdom far, far away. But take heed, my friends, for break is almost here!

My countdown:

Three days of classes, 3 final exams, 3 papers and one final project remain.

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My superb vantage-point from a library window.

By Thursday I will have one exam, one paper and the project checked off the list. The project and paper are actually finished, but they’re burning a hole through my binder and they need to be removed, graded and never seen again. Continue reading

Homework and the little things

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I look forward to Mondays or Tuesdays, depending on which day I decide to blog. There’s something incredibly relaxing about settling down on the couch with my laptop. I tap away at the key board with a steaming cup of tea or hot apple cider next to me. I’m generally a hard-core chocolate girl, but when it comes to choosing between hot chocolate and hot apple cider, the cider feels decidedly more festive.

Some nights the writing comes naturally. Blogging can be a form of reflection, a way to get my thoughts on paper. Other times I have stories to tell of travels or horse racing or all the cities my mom and I have been lost in. But tonight I can’t bring myself to write anything overly reflective or adventurous.

Eight days of classes remain. Three papers, one project and two final exams stand between me and a 2 month break that I will fill with catching up on life and traveling, before I leave to study abroad. In 16 days I will be completely finished with the semester. It seems as though my life is a jumble of numbers and countdowns at the moment. Continue reading

That’s Why I Pray

In 2012, the band Big & Rich released what I believe is one of the greatest songs of all time: “That’s Why I Pray.” If you’ve never heard it before, or even if you have, I recommend you take a listen before reading on. Regardless of your religion or whether or not you believe in God, the song is both humbling and uplifting.

I don’t need to tell you what’s going on in the world today. We’re bombarded with bad news every time we turn on a TV or tune into the radio. Terrorism attacks, shootings, riots, protests, refugees fleeing violence. This storm cloud of misery seems to hang over our heads, pelting us into submissive hopelessness. If you’re like me you might wonder if it’s even safe anymore to go to class or board a plane.

Now let me ask you, when was the last time you prayed?

And I don’t just mean at the dinner table, when you were really only thinking about food rather than giving thanks (I’m guilty of this).

In this day and age, it seems more important than ever to remind ourselves to pray. When our world was astounded by the devastation in Paris last Friday, it made me think about the last time I prayed – not just a little prayer thanking God for a sunny day, but the kind of prayer where I stopped what I was doing, closed my eyes and prayed with all I’m worth.

In all honesty, I can’t remember the last time.

So today I pray for awareness and change. I pray for peace and comfort. I pray to give thanks for all I’ve been blessed with. I pray for those in despair and those left with nothing. I pray for bravery and courage and guidance for you and me and our world leaders.

The approach of Thanksgiving grants us an opportunity to open our busy lives and remind ourselves to pray. Even if you’re not into praying, practice mindfulness and simply give thanks. Count your blessings, write a letter, donate money or blood or send a care package. Whatever it takes to make the world a little bit better place. Because the problems in this world probably won’t get better any time soon and they’re more than likely going to get worse in the near future. But praying is one small thing you can do to take a stand. And even small things can make a big difference.

I’m begging for forgivenessI wanna make a difference even in the smallest wayI’m only one person, but I can feel it workingI believe in better days (1)