Success, Relationships, Country Life, Goals

As we head into February it’s time to reflect, renew, and keep pushing toward our goals. Keep striving to become a better you.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

~Winston Churchill

2019 seems to have begun with a jolt. I’m excited about the momentum I have and I aim to keep it going. However, I have so many friends and family that have been struck with adversity. I hope they can keep going despite the challenges they face.

“Success is not final…” Even though things are rolling in a good direction for me, right now, I won’t call it success. I’m on the road to success and it’s possibly never ending. When I think about the meaning of success, I define it in various ways. It could be achieving a goal. It could be filling a tag. Maybe to some it’s about being rich or out doing someone else.

In my mind the last one on the list is a definition of failure. We should make it a goal to help others, not outdo them. Of course, there are competitions, but in relationships it’s only an achievement if it’s a Win-Win.

If someone doesn’t want to have a 4,000 square-foot mansion, then that shouldn’t be required. If they want to have a pasture of horses, let them. If they don’t want livestock but instead want to grow crops, so be it. We live in a day and age where so many people try to define you by their expectations — Totally discounting what yours may be.

Do you ever wonder how far this tangled endeavor of rules and boundaries and definitions may go? I sure do. We’ll see what covenants happen this year in our beautiful little ranch/farming community. We just might be told how many and what color animals we’re allowed to let roam in our front pasture. Think I’m joking? I’m not.

Why don’t these people care about your or my opinion? Because they don’t know us. They’re not connected to us. They only care about themselves. They’ll approach a conversation with their story, their perspective, their feelings.

How do “Me” and “I” help in your relationships? They don’t, yet that’s how many people approach others nowadays. For the month of
February I challenge you to pay attention to how many times you add your story into a conversation, discounting that of whomever you’re speaking with. — Test it out. Give it a try. Let me know how it goes.

Try the challenge in the virtual and the real world. Remember, last month I challenged you to engage in conversations with the people you come across in person. I hope that’s been going well. While technology may build some sort of report, we need to nurture the relationships that are right before us — in real life.

“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.”

Anthony J. D’Angelo

8 Ways to Improve Your Relationships

  1. Listen – How many times have you attempted to engage in a conversation only to see that your counterpart’s eyes are glazed over? Have you ever spoken about an experience, challenge, or idea only to have the other person(s) cut you off to tell you their thoughts or stories? Conversations aren’t always about you. Learn to listen.
  2. Be Curious – Do you know it all? My bet is that you don’t. If you’re a good listener your curiosity should become aroused. Start asking questions and be interested in others. You’d be surprised what you could learn about them. Your interest in other people makes them feel better. Your listening and questioning will save you money since you’ll know the gifts that they actually want.
  3. Communicate – Listening and asking questions is a start to good communication. As you practice these skills, you need to learn when it’s appropriate to interject your ideas and opinions. Check your emotions and learn what works best; Communications strategies will vary with each individual. The challenge is being diverse in each conversation.
  4. Be Respectful – The number one relationship mistake I witness people making is neglecting qualities one, two and three (listed above), followed by digging in their heals and fighting to be right. Children are to respect adults and adults need to reciprocate. We are all entitled to our opinions and shouldn’t decide to cut others off if they don’t see things the way we do. Respect the views of others.
  5. Remember Your Manners – One of the best places to visit with family, friends, and colleagues is around the table. There are books you can buy if you didn’t have a mentor to teach you good etiquette (try THIS FOR LADIES or THIS FOR GENTLEMEN). Manners are imperative is at the table, and it’s a great place to enjoy good fellowship; Don’t ruin it. If you’re shoveling food into your mouth, talking with a mouth full of food, or other forgetting to clasp your hands and bow your head in prayer (whether you believe in God or not), others may likely wish you weren’t there and fear to engage in conversation because they don’t know what other atrocious actions you’ll display. NEVER stuff your napkin in someone’s face whether in jest or not. — NEVER!
  6. Be Present – This point refers back to number one, above. If you are present, you’ll know what is happening, what protocol the host is calling for, or what you’re guests may need. Put down your device, come back from day-dream land and work on the steps listed above.
  7. Value – Count your blessings and value the people you have in your life. If you forget to follow tips one thru six, you just may not have them around.
  8. Be a Gift – Be someone who is remembered with a smile, not just after life but here and now. This year, I challenge you to learn how you can be a blessing to others — Not in the ways you think are great, but in ways that they will love too.

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Stop With the Excuses by Save the Cowboy

I came across this image and message of “stop with the excuses” a while ago. I found it inspiring because don’t we all come up with reasons, blame, justifications, and ways to whitewash an outcome? As we head into the week, read the piece from ‘Save the Cowboy’ and think about what ways you’re inhibiting your progress in life. Let’s do our best to keep going but quit those nasty excuses.


“You’ve reached your limit when you reach for excuses. – Save the Cowboy

So what excuses do we make?

  1. I’m afraid – Afraid of what they may say. Afraid of what might happen. Afraid that it won’t happen. Have courage, stand up, ride the horse, ask the girl, go anyway.
  2. I’m broken – Yes, we all are to some extent. But being broken and remaining broken are two different things. If you want to become unbroken, don’t make the next excuse.
  3. I can’t… – You’re right, you can’t. Of course, you’d also be right if you said you can.
  4. I don’t know how – Then make mistakes. Find someone that does know how. Do something besides whine.
  5. But I’m too… – You’re too what? Shy? Old? Young? Skinny? Fat? Whatever word you use is a lie.
  6. Someday I will… – No, you won’t. The passage of time changes nothing except the date on the calendar. Do something today that will be a step towards who you want to be in the future.
  7. But they… – No one is to blame but you. Take responsibility. Take action. Take control.

I’m sure some of these hit home, but just in case — what’s your excuse? Because remember, “A valid reason doesn’t mean it’s a good excuse.” Background photo by Brandee Gillham.”

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Handbags for a Country Girl Who Goes to Town

I’ve had a struggle that past few months and it’s not the typical one of lugging a huge satchel around with my computer, camera, chargers, and gear. I’ve retired that messenger style bag but also had to retire the old heave MacBook Pro (MBP). I have new, smaller, more sleek, easier to travel with, MBP. Don’t you think I now need a new handbag?

The old computer bag was of adequate size to tote my gear however, it alone sported some weight. I may have an indentation in my shoulder from the burden I carry around the world.

I’m looking for something stylish, yet not quite as bulky. Something with character but not too flashy. It’ll have to go to classy events and to hunting camp. It needs to be something with a couple compartments, or I’ll need to also shop for pouches to segregate my cords, cards, pens, and other small items.

Is that too large a criteria for a new handbag?

I assure you it isn’t because there’s more. The strap needs to be hefty enough to support the weight of a laptop, camera, and more, yet thick enough so it doesn’t cut into my shoulder. Of course, it needs to be large enough to hold the new 13″ x 9″ laptop in its sleeve but not too big as to allow me to throw in the kitchen sink.

There are many perks to living in a rural area, but great shopping isn’t one of them. I’ve been sorting through millions of bags via this cyber-store we all have access to now-days. The bad news is I can’t touch and feel and try the bags. The good news is I think I’ve narrowed it down to three.

Can you help me decide?

All three are large enough to fit the technology I pack around, but there are plusses and minuses to each. Right off the bat, I’ll say they’re all a bit pricey but won’t break the bank. They’re leather so that ups my expense but increases the longevity of the bag. The look they have would allow me to retire my purse. I think I’d be able to use one of these as a universal handbag. I think they’re classy, yet casual enough to go to hunting camp. What do you think?

  1. American West Rio Grande, All Leather Tri-Color Tooled Zip-Top Tote- Turquoise

    Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 5.47.03 AM
    This one is the most affordable. It has an ornate appearance, but I don’t think it’s too flashy. I wonder, with the blue-tone accent, will it match every outfit? I’m not too much of a fashionista, but I do like to look good at conventions. Is it too “country goes to town”? $178
  2. All Leather- Dual Entry Concealed Carry Zip Top Half Moon Tote- American West

    Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 5.57.18 AM
    This bag is less ornate than the one listed above. I love tooling, and this presentation highlights it. A plus to this one is that is has concealed carry pockets. Yep. I probably need those, since I travel with a handgun. $204.50
  3. American West Dual Entry Concealed Carry Full Grain Leather Tote + Wallet

    Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 5.53.01 AM
    This has a look similar to the first bag, minus the color. It has the tooling I admire mixed with the smooth leather. Do you think that gives it too casual a look? It too has concealed carry pouches. It’s the most pricey but comes with a matching wallet. $290

Of course, this isn’t the toughest or most important decision I have to make this week, but it’s one that will be with me for quite some time. The last Fossil satchel lasted about five years. Honestly, it’s still kicking but has a few freys around the edges and a look of oilskin instead of canvas. I suppose it has character, which could tell stories from around the world. Boots and handbags — Oh, the stories they could tell.

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Ranch Life – A Red Head in the Pond

So, some days things don’t go according to plan around the Anstine Ranch, including days when red heads end up in the pond. Today I planned to get my Thursday YouTube video edited and uploaded, so you can view it tomorrow. Let me tell you how my plan got …  maybe not derailed, but off-track.

I woke up, as always, before the rooster, er-uh- ducks, geese and turkey quacked, honked and gobbled. The morning started off as any normal day. I tripped over four-legged ones and headed to the kitchen. Tapped the “power” button on the coffee machine as I shuffled by, with one dog herding me, one dog dancing under my feet and another “woo-wooing” me, as I made my way to the pantry.

I quickly poured the food into the three sister’s bowls and slapped my coffee cup under the brewer, remember today to put coffee in before pressing “go.” In no time at all, the dogs had eaten, done their outdoor duties and we sat, cozily inside as the sun awakened all outdoors.

I savor this quiet time. It’s when I read the daily devotions, sip my coffee and check in on all my social media friends.

A while later, H came shuffling out of the bedroom. He wasn’t sitting down long when he said, “Hey. Billy got a bull. He’s going to stop by in a minute to show us.”

I jumped from my location and ran to get dressed. Company? Before 8:00 am?! In our neck of the woods? This has GOT to be GOOD!

So, you see. Here is where the wheels started to come off the tracks.

The whole family, including the four-legged ones, headed out to see this magnificent

After our morning socializing concluded, we had to round up the horses. The farrier would be here soon.

Getting the horses into the pen went smooth as could be. As I proceeded out of the front pasture, I giggled at the sight of our tom turkey, Brutus and our old-man horse, Geronimo (aka G-man). Brutus strutted beneath G-man and the old man just stood there as if to say, “Please put me out there with all of them. I’m a horse, no a turkey.”

I quickly added a pic of the pair to my SnapChat and headed on my way. I proceeded into the house to get back on track with my day and edit a video for you, only to be interrupted by H.

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“Hey, wife. Come out here.” He shouted from the back door.

I scooted my chair back and headed for the door. As I peered out, H stood pointing toward the pond. “Do you think it can get out?”

“Think what can get out?” I replied.

H, with a bit more excitement in his voice, “He flew up into the tree and then all of a sudden the flew down and into the pond.”

Still not quite following the situation, I finally caught sight of what he was pointing at. A large black object swam, or maybe walked, or traversed, across the pond. It had a red head.

Okay. You hunter friends may know what it is now.

I made it to the deck rail, wide-eyed, and finally put 2 + 2 together. “BRUTUS?!”

“Yes.” said H. “Pinky chased him, and he flew up into the tree and then ended up down in the pond. Do you think he’ll be able to get out?”Brutus wads across the pond with awestruck ducks looking on.

Pinky is one of the farrier’s dogs. He comes to see us all the time, but today he obviously had fun, at Brutus’ expense.

I spent much of the next hour first watching Brutus, and keeping all dogs clear, so he’d feel safe enough to come out. Then attempting to get the big, fat bird out of the pond after he began shivering. Finally, after the geese decided to attack, we had to get in, pick the fatso up and boost him out.

But wait. That’s not all.

Next, we spent goodness knows how long searching for H’s phone. It’s not in the tack shed. Not in the truck. Not in the horse pen. Not in the house. Not near the pond. In the end, I turned on the “Find My Phone” option* and watched my steps on my phone’s screen as I walked right up to it, laying in the middle of the driveway, near some brush.

*Note: If you’ve ever had the conspiracy theory that the government can spy on you via your phone, or even locate you, you may be correct. I was able to turn on his location services from MY phone to find his. Hmm??? Thoughts? Do you buy into the Big Brother theory?

Needless to say, phone found, I’ve put together a little video of Brutus in the pond. See below. Hopefully, I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled program and get you a video, tomorrow.

Ranch life – It’s always an adventure!

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Tom You Will Be Missed – Life on the Ranch

Tom the Turkey

We acquired Thomas at a 4-H auction. He was intended to be a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and ended up with our family for three and a half years. Tom had a couple of friends who were eaten by coyotes, bobcats and shredded by raccoons.

4-H turkey
A young Tomas struts for his friend.

Tom always managed to survive the attacks and he became an icon at the ranch. A mascot so to speak. Tom was always there when we would shoot targets or skeet. He would stand in the background, always behind the line, and cheer each time you would fire a shot. . Anytime there was action, Tom could be found close by. Tom the turkey stays behind

He would follow us out to the back field as we went to search for prairie dogs or coyotes. He would come and show our company his pretty feathers every chance he would get. Tom was friends with the hounds, the goat and even the horses.

We have been busy with hunting season and are fortunate to have many people who help us care for the ranch. While Hank and the hunters were out yesterday, one of our very good friends dropped items off at our house. Tom quickly went to greet him and strutted his fancy feathers as items were unloaded. When they were finished, they backed out of the driveway and the unthinkable happened. Tom was squished under a truck tire. Our friend had admired and laughed at Tom for years. He frantically called to attempt to notify us that our friend had suffered a horrible accident.

Today we remember Tom and say thanks. Thomas, aka, Tom, you will be missed at the Anstine Ranch. You gave us lots of laughs and lots of smiles. We’ll be telling your stories for years to come.Tom the Turkey

Be sure to click on the links throughout the post and read about Thomas’ adventures.

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“Spend more time with your family and friends, whether it be outside, hunting, at the shooting range or around the table, savoring all life has to offer.” MM

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Thomas at the Range

Thomas the turkeyThomas, aka, Tom is the resident mascot at the ranch and key socialite.  He always enjoys keeping company with family and friends. Thomas enjoys the sound of gun fire and is always close by when the shotguns, rifles or pistols come out.  Today he & the kids learned an important rule of safety at the range.

Be aware of your surroundings. When you are handling a firearm, always be aware what is in front of your gun.  When you are at a shooting range, always stand clear of the firing line.

Thomas needed to be aware that the kids were shooting and stay behind the firing line.  The kids needed to be aware that the range wasn’t clear.

An excited Thomas dancing in front of the firing line. Clearly breaking the safety rules.

A shooter must make sure the range is clear before even lifting the firearm to shoot at their target.  Thomas and The Little Gal learned that it is not safe for Thomas to stand in front of the shooting bench.

The Little Gal waiting for Thomas to clear the range.

The rules were explained to Thomas and the kids.  Always stand clear of the firing line.  Thomas stepped behind the fence and quietly watched his friends as they practiced good, safe shots.

Thomas standing safely behind the firing line.

Firearm safety rules (according to NRA gun safety rules):

  • Always point the gun in a safe direction
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
  • Always keep your gun unloaded until you are ready to use it
  • Always know your target and what is in front of or beyond
  • Always learn how to use the fire arm safely
  • Always know your fire arm is safe to use (undamaged, clean & operable)
  • Always use the correct ammunition for your firearm
  • Always wear eye and ear protection

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