The Instructor


12.7.17 011

I’ve lived so many lives. I’ve been so many different people.
But my biggest change has been my body.
I started out a normal size 6-8; but then food allergies began. We solved the food allergies and I slimmed down drastically with little to no muscle tone.
We bought a farm.
People always say that they’re “big boned” or “built sturdily.” In my personal case, I disagree. My body changed to accommodate the workload I’m doing.
The first photos are at the Hell Creek Ranch before we bought the farm. I have middle photos that are in-between. The last photo is me now. My chest shrunk but my arms grew. Maybe I’m no longer seen as the “Idealized Barbie Doll,” but now, I feel like a Warrior Woman who can take on anything. I’ve never felt this strong in my entire life. I’m proud of my body and the fact that I can shoot arrows from horseback (We’re gonna do it again soon), pound in t-posts, build and rip down fences, dig post holes, and pick up 50lb sacks of feed without trouble. I can and will do/fix/build anything around my farm.
I love my body. I try to be a positive role model in everything I do, sharing Unconditional Positive Regard for all of my students and reinforcing the idea of taking initiative. Be the best “you” that you can be. Be helpful, honest, kind, and above all, “Do Good.” (-Mr. Feeny, Boy Meets World.)

I’m grateful for the life I lead and appreciate every day as it comes. If you’re interested to see how I think, keep reading.


1. A supportive husband who was willing to help me accomplish my dreams

2. A no-nonsense best friend who tells it like it is, and who I love better than a sister

3. The most entertaining, exciting, interesting and intelligent horses anyone could ever desire

4. The sweetest, kindest dogs

5. A beautiful, spacious barn with an indoor arena and acres and acres of land

6. A kind next-door neighbor who uses our manure to fertilize his corn

7. The chance to play with other peoples’ ponies and get paid

8. The opportunity to teach children about horses

9.  New Beginnings for a business in a rough economic time–but we’re doing it anyway!

10. The fact that while many businesses fail within the first year, we’re going strong.


11. Caffeine for helping with migraine headaches

12. Cement so there’s no mud in front of the run-in stalls

13. My new outdoor arena!

14. My John Deere tractor

15. Amazing friends who are willing to schlep me and my horse to shows

16. The Kindness and Generosity of others–I always get what I need, and much of what I want

17. Television, especially the History and Discovery channels

18. My car works and gets good gas mileage

19. Plenty of fresh, green grass in all the pastures for the horses

20. The lovely impatiens on my back deck



21. Warm showers

22. Indoor plumbing

23. Minions

24. Paper and the ability to write

25. Cryptozoology

26. Dinosaur bones

27. Elastic hair ties

28. My laptop!

29. Electricity

30. Rice Cheese  (Fake cheese made with rice.)



31. My debate classes in High School and College

32. Dr. Walker from Olivet College

33. The handymen who fixed my fences

34. The fact that they found a NEW Mayan calendar that says the world won’t end this year

35. My new farrier, Vaughn Parrish

36. Stickers. I loved stickers when I was growing up. They brought me a lot of joy.

37. The sunset

38. The beautiful lilies a previous owner planted outside. They’re lovely right now.

39. Braveheart’s perfect heart on his tushie. “Someone” somewhere in the cosmos had to enjoy painting that on his tush.

40. The perfect smell of the White Pine trees on my property. They remind me of camp.



41. That I have Jimmy Buffett and Lionel Ritchie concert tickets!

42. The heat. It makes me appreciate how lucky I am to have a roof over my head, even if we don’t have air conditioning.

43. Margaritaville Sirius XM radio on my television. I listened to a Jimmy Buffett concert replay this morning that was phenomenal from last year’s Welcome to Fin-Land tour. Ah, memories!

44. Ceiling fans

45. The Supreme Court upholding Obamacare. Thank you!

46. Did I mention those concert tickets are in the VIP section?

47. Minions who help with chores–even in the heat and extreme cold.

48. That my body has normal sweat patterns. I cannot imagine the inability to sweat.

49. The breeze. It’s perfect.

50. The morning off for the next 3 days. I’ve cleaned my entire kitchen!



51. My husband reached another birthday this year

52. Glue-on horse shoes. Some horse feet are too brittle for normal shoes, and they become lame without them. I’m grateful these have been invented and we live in a time when they’re available.

53. Air-conditioned movie theatres.

54. The DVR. This morning I have the pleasure of watching the husband indulge in the baseball game he missed yesterday.

55. Love and Passion. These extreme emotions drive my life every day. I love my husband and am passionate about my business.

56. Cold Water. There’s nothing like it.

57. Lucas McChicken. He’s adorable. I didn’t know I’d enjoy owning a bird, but I love Lucas.

58. Socks. My shoes would be disgusting otherwise.

59. My John Deere tractor. I’m grateful I don’t have to mow with a push mower!

60. The dishwasher. (And a husband who loads said dishwasher!)


61. Mike, the neighbor who lives in the brick house next door, who not only uses the horse manure our horses create, but also trimmed the trees hanging over the arena. Thank you, Mike!

62. A husband who took off work early to come watch a camp horse show

63. The campers at camp

64. A best friend who puts up with my pet names for her horse–I call Phoenix “Fifi.”

65. The Bank. They keep track of my money so I don’t have to.

Blessings, 8.30.12

66. That I knew Savannah for many wonderful years.

67. That I’m best friends with Savannah’s owner.

68. That Savannah’s owner found Phoenix before Savannah passed.

69. That I had a whole wonderful summer with the girl before she fell ill.

70. That we were able to keep Savannah and Melody, best friends, together until the end.



71. That I have a caring, kind husband to keep me calm in times of need, crisis, and pain.

72. That even though there are hurtful people in the world, I can rely on my dear, wonderful friends and husband to see me through.

73. The KSRP family, who “gave” me Twist. He’s the boy in the photo. He’s a true delight and more than any one person should be blessed to own. He’s my sweet, darling boy who loves to cuddle and give me kisses.

74. Dena, who has recently come into my life with the donation of Huxley and Thisbe to our cat clowder. She’s gentle, warm, and caring.

75. My little dog, Bandit. How could I ever live without my black and white shadow-baby? Puppy kisses heal the world’s ills.


76. My friends. Without my friends, I’d forget what’s important and what’s nonsense.

77. Donald Maas. Writing is rewriting. Writing is Rewriting! Thank you, sir, for your wonderful book and workbook.

78. Scrub brushes. I’m grateful for brushes to help me clean without sacrificing my fingernails.

79. Again, I can’t stress how wonderful my best friend is to me. She made a second cast of Savannah’s hoof for me to keep. I treasure this cast more than she knows.

80. Today is a month since Savannah passed. Thank you, Savannah, thank you God, and thank you, Martina, for letting Savannah be a continual presence in my life.



81. Erika, my coolest (actually-related) sister.

82. My husband’s constant vigilance–he always watches out for me.

83. Friends, some I’ve met in real life, some I know well, and others who profoundly affected my life without knowing it at the time. Thanks to all the people who keep me sane in an insane world.

84. Trudie. One of the Best Henchmen in every respect. She loves the horses, she’s sweet, kind, and understanding.

85. Twist. He’s a joy and a delight every day.

86. Rain. I’m grateful the drought appears to be over.

87. The ACFW. Thank you for all you do.

88. My Little Ponies. I love them.

89. Riley, our hay supplier. He’s a great guy, and he works hard to keep his customers happy.

90. The Boy Scouts who are cutting trails through my neighbor’s trees. It’s a kind gesture, and much appreciated.


91. The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. I’m easily entertained by kids shows.

92. Gordon Korman. He is a very nice man and an excellent author.

93. Robert Brent. I love my painting of Twist. The color blending and use of light enhances Twist’s incredibly unique horse-inality.

94. My best friend. She’s always entertaining, unique, and fun. She’s the best friend everyone else wishes they had.

95. I’m grateful for hot water and a heated house. I’m cold-blooded and feel frozen in the morning if it’s cold. Instead of waking up and feeling like a human Popsicle, I can wake up feeling warm and snuggly up until the moment I go outside.

96. I’m beyond grateful for My Little Ponies. I love those ponies. They make me smile. They make me happy. They make me want more.

97. I’m grateful for the lovely rides I had this morning. I had a perfect time on Honey and Phoenix.

98. I’m grateful for Jeannie and Terry, who I spent time with this morning. They helped out with Thisbe and Huxley after Jeannie’s daughter was forced to give them up, so the two kitties ended up here. They’re delightful people. I wish we had more time to spend together.

99. I’m grateful I never, ever, ever have to spend another minute behind a desk in a cubicle. NEVER.

100. I’m grateful that I have opportunities in my life that I enjoy and take advantage of. I appreciate them. I love meeting new people and having possibilities stretch in front of me like paving stones. I’m grateful I’ve been given so much in this life even though many people have so little. I have my health, strength, love, laughter, and a partner I’d die for. For people who actually read all the way to 100, perhaps this seems somewhat cheezy–but if you know me in real life, you know how deeply I adore my husband.



101. Friends who willingly share their delicious Allergy-Friendly recipe finds on Facebook. Thank you, Erin!

102. The glorious painting of Twist, as illustrated by Robert Brent. I swear, though the man has never met my horse, he captured Twist better than the photo. Since this is my list I’m mentioning it twice (#93 and #102)–because I really, really love the painting.

103. My camera. Words can’t describe the loveliness in and around Firefly Farm.

104. Avenue Q the musical. Thank you for saying in music what I can only jokingly think in my head.

105. Tennis balls. I love playing ball with my dog. She’s so excited when I open the cabinet door where the tennis ball is kept.


106. Thanks again, Donald Maas. I appreciate your workbook.

107. My wonderful Lance. I love this dog so much. He comes over and gives me puppy kisses at the sweetest, most unexpected times. I adore his gentle, nurturing personality.

108. Stephen Colbert and Jon Stuart. I love these guys.

109. I’m grateful I married a man who makes me laugh every day.

110. I’m grateful God allows me to laugh at myself and enjoy life as it is, come what may.


111. I’m grateful I’ll host Thanksgiving–one less holiday I have to travel. Hooray!

112. I’m lucky to have Twist in my life. He brings me joy.

113. I’m grateful we found Suzie Q for Judi. I love having them both at my farm.

114. I’m lucky to have a best friend who explains things to me even if the things are simple but my brain wants to make them difficult.

115. I’m grateful for random people who help me put items into my car at Family Farm and Home. Thank you, random strangers. I appreciate you all.


116. I’m grateful for Sage’s little whinnies every morning–they remind me of Savannah.

117. I’m delighted for Thanksgiving–the only major holiday I don’ t have to travel anywhere and can stay home.

118. Thank goodness for Midwest Power Equipment. When my tractor acts strangely, they fix it. I’m grateful!

119. I’m blessed with a husband who takes me seriously–but not TOO seriously.

120 . I finished re-writing a second draft of my masterpiece. Someday you’ll read it, love it, and share a copy–if you’re under 18. (If you’re over 18, you’re not in my demographic. Tough noogies.)


121. We need to buy a new tractor for lawn mowing and moving random things around. I’m grateful that, with a few sacrifices, we can afford it.

122. I’m glad we have time off together around Christmas. I love spending time with my husband.

123. I feel so happy each time I go to the barn and see a new gift, no matter how small. I’m touched that people think of me at Christmas time and give me tokens of that friendship.

124. I’m happy that Melody pulls a sled for me each morning and night. Hooray!

125. I’m grateful for my husband–we’ve been married 10 years now. (The man is a saint. How anyone could willingly and happily stay with me for 10 years is beyond my imagination–but I’m grateful he has!)



126. I’m grateful that there are no bugs during the winter.

127. I’m grateful for Rue kitty–she caught a mouse yesterday. That way I didn’t have to use a mousetrap.

128. I’m proud of my numerous Minions. They’re wonderful.

129. I’m grateful I’ve lived to (almost) see 31. I hope in my next 30 years to be even more productive.

130. I’m proud of my boarders. They make me happy. I adore them, and am grateful for their friendships. They are dear to me, and a few are very close friends.



131. I love my fuzzy horse slippers that my best friend gave me a while back for Christmas

132. I’m grateful to people who tell me they enjoy this section of my blog–it makes me feel loved.

133. I’m grateful for my home, my dogs, my horses, my barn with its indoor arena, and my life. I live this every day!

134. I’m grateful for Martina, her mother, and her grandmother. I don’t care if two of the three are in Germany–I love them all. Thanks Grandma Ella for the pasta maker; thanks to Martina’s Mom who knitted me a hat, and thanks to Martina, my best friend, for all she does.

135. Thanks again to Martina–tomorrow night she’s doing chores so I can have the night off for my birthday. Hooray!



136. I’m grateful for my chickens. I love my chickens!

137. I love knowing that spring is “here” (somewhat…?) and summer’s on it’s way.

138. I’m so grateful to be in another musical. I love musicals. I love going to sing and dance with my friends each night.

139. I love my dogs. They’re fun.

140. I’m grateful that I learned how to cook. The husband is partly to thank for that, but others are responsible, too. I’m indebted to anyone who ever took me on as a project case–apprentice–or sous-chef. I was not easy to teach. I’m a dropper. I thought I was a hopeless case, in all honesty. I’m pleased to say I’m a good cook.


141. I’m grateful for a husband who cooks for me

142. I love my chickens, and I’m grateful they’ve all learned to enter the coop each night without having to be cajoled.

143. I’m grateful for FRIDAY!

144. I’m delighted to occasionally have days off from teaching

145. I’m grateful for Cappy, and getting to know/train/ride him. It’s a great honor and privilege.


146. I’m delighted to enjoy tapioca pudding. It’s delicious.

147. I’m grateful for Thanksgiving–the only holiday that I don’t have to drive anywhere.

148. Thank goodness for MP3 players. I’m currently reading “King Solomon’s Mines” by H. Rider Haggard. It keeps me busy as I muck stalls.

149. I’m grateful for Donald Maass. Thank you, thank you. (Yes, I’ve thanked him 3 times–but that’s what I do.)

150. I love my students. They make me laugh.



151. I’m grateful for the Badgley family. They’ve made my life so much easier!

152. I’m excited that I have 2 weeks off of lessons starting today.

153. I’m grateful for the water line leading into the girls’ pasture. It was AWFUL when we had to use hoses all winter.

154. I’m grateful for my online friends, who keep me sane even when I feel crazy

155. I’m excited for the tack sale at the Ingham County Fairgrounds again this spring. It’s exciting!



156. Thank goodness for Erin, Danielle, Ali, and their family. (Yes, now you’ve been thanked twice in here!)

157. I’m grateful for Zeus and his amazing owner. They’re wonderful.

158. I’m grateful for the Brents (you, too, have been thanked at least twice now; plus your photo is in an entry above, Nancy!) I’m so glad for my adopted ‘Mom’ and her wonderful husband. Who else could illustrate so beautifully?

159. I’m grateful for spring, which is only 42 days away.

160. Thank goodness for my husband. He puts up with A LOT. (Really. You can’t imagine. Now, he’s been thanked more than anyone mentioned here besides God.)


161. Thank goodness for my delightful baby boy, Applejack. I love him so much.

162. I’m grateful for days off. TGIF!

163. I love fresh eggs. I’m glad for my chickens and the gifts they give each day.

164. I’m grateful for Jimmy Buffett and Jack Johnson’s CD’s. They help me get through the day every day.

165. I’m grateful for the new paper shredder provided to me from a friend, Brad Rutledge. I use shredded paper in some of the stalls for bedding, and the horses seem to like it. Free bedding is wonderful!

165 1/2. Thank you, junk mail providers and mormon church people who give me pamphlets. They work to clean up horse urine and manure after they’re shredded into tiny, tiny pieces.


166. Thanks for Aaron Sorkin. I love The West Wing and Newsroom.

167. Thanks for Melody and my lovely Isabell Werth saddle. They’re super comfortable.

168. Thanks for the pain pills that help with my currently broken foot. They help me function. I need a little less medication each week–and for that, I’m grateful, too!

169. I’m grateful for eBay. I’m selling off random pieces of my past and/or childhood (a Fluppy Puppies coloring book? I don’t even remember them) in order to pay my staff.

170. My staff–I’m so grateful for Allena, Isabella, Erin, and Rebecca. They’re keeping me sane while I’m healing.

171. I’m grateful that my broken foot isn’t worse. I was stepped on (I’m not sharing by whom!) and I broke my fourth and fifth metatarsal long bones in my left foot. Oops.


172. I’m grateful for awesome minions.

173. I’m grateful for Facebook. Recently, one of my posts went viral with over 43,000 people seeing it and 780+ people sharing it. The post was about how we shred paper for animal bedding, and it was a call asking people to bring me their wrapping paper for our animals.  People are so generous it’s astounding.

174. I’m grateful for the soft, gentle winter we’re having. It makes life so much easier.

175. I’m grateful The Husband is easygoing, fun, and funny. He lifts me up when I’m down and brings me back to earth when my head’s in the clouds.

176. I’m grateful for the puppy kisses I’m getting right now (yes, at this very moment when I’m trying to type), even though they scramble my words and make typing very hard. I love my puppies.

177. I’m grateful that The Husband enjoys reading with me. I love to read books aloud to him, and I got him 3 new ones for Christmas. I can’t wait to start.

178. I’m grateful for credit cards. I just bought a whole bunch of Minion jackets, and the kids will be super excited to get them. This generosity wouldn’t have happened without a credit card to put it on so I could pay it back after the board checks come in.

179. I’m grateful for all of my adult helpers–Sherin, Rebecca, Erin, Isabella, Janet, Sandy, and Allena. Some of these guys volunteer here for an awful lot of hours.

180. I’m grateful that I have horses in my back yard. Thank you, Universe, for allowing me to have such a perfect setting for my life. I’m grateful and humbled every day by the presence of these amazing beasts.

Every day is the Best Day Ever. 


181. I’m so grateful I found Cupcake the Teacup Belgian.

182. I’m delighted and grateful that Tammy the new Henchman brought me aloe vera for a burn on my arm. Originally, her mother, a friend of mine, just sent her over with the gel for pain relief. Little did she know that her daughter would end up with a job here at my farm. I had no clue I’d end up with an adopted little sister in the bargain.

183. Thank you, Universe, for the 80F degree day in May. “Tra la, it’s May…” -Camelot the Musical (Which I’ve been in twice and played the same character.)

184. Thank you, Universe, for Bubbles the Border Collie. She’s perfect and wonderful and full of fizzies.

185. Thank you, Universe, for Schrodinger’s Fairies in my garden. (They’re the fairies who may or may not live in my garden. We get lots of mileage out of poor Schrodinger’s paradox.)

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