Roped in at the Rodeo

I met a guy when I wasn’t looking to meet a guy. I was innocently walking around Cheyenne Frontier Days when I got roped, literally, by a 3 year old kid walking behind me. I felt the rope come over my boot clad ankle, then heard a giggle. I looked behind me and a cute kid in a cowboy hat was holding the end of the rope. Next to him was a laughing older gentleman who hollered, “Look Tripp, you caught her!” He stuck his arm out, pointed ahead of us, and said “There’s my son, he’s a cowboy about your age…you should go say hi.”

I look ahead and sure enough a guy in his 30’s had a slightly amused grin on his face and I could see his blue eyes under his cowboy hat from 5o feet away. I looked at my friend Alison and we smiled knowingly at each other…this guy was cute. We picked up the pace and walked up to the cowboy. He had a dimpled grin and was walking toward to barn to water his roping horse. We asked if we could meet his horse and he said sure.

After watching him fill water buckets for his pretty roan gelding named “Roan”, we mosied to the horse trailer where other rodeo contestants and kids were practicing roping. The cowboy gave me a roping lesson and I learned he’s a professional steer roper. He showed me how to rope the fake horns on the hay bale while Alison watched approvingly. When we left the fairgrounds that day, and the cowboy, Luke, and I exchanged phone numbers and I knew I wanted to see him again.

Fast forward a month later, I have been to Texas, he has come to Colorado, and it’s been a helluva ride so far. Sweating in the humidity of the northeastern Texas summer heat, I learned they do things much differently in the Lone Star State. Cowboys don’t ride for leisure, they ride for work. They ride to win roping competitions so they can pay their truck payments. They travel from rodeo to rodeo, then come home to the ranch, and work like dogs to brush hog the weeds from taking over the pastures.

Luke has opened my eyes to new things. He’s taught me how to deworm heifers and yearlings, shoot a 223 rifle and hit clay disks, keep my toes down in the stirrups while swinging a rope on the back of a horse, and how to effectively herd cattle without yelling “yeehaw” (I was getting cows worked up with my enthusiastic hootin’ and hollerin’). Patiently, and with a smile, he showed me another way.

Conversely, I’ve taught him what gelato is, how to order an Uber cab, introduced him to his first comedy show, and what the breakaway rubber bands on English stirrups are for.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had someone teach me new things and get outside my comfort zone. I like it, and I like him. There’s excitement not knowing what’s ahead on this long distance trail and I’m happy I got roped in.

Heads Texas, Tails Colorado,

Devon

Life is about how you react to what happens to you

Growing up, my mom used to tell me that quote and I’d roll my eyes.

Now, I realize how true it is.

Earlier this week, I was supposed to meet a blind date for coffee. This was a blind date I was excited about. His profile pictures looked great, his online messaging banter was witty and fun, and he used just the right amount of smile emojis without overdoing it.

Alas, when I sent him an online message confirming where to meet, I got no response.  I had just raced home from Walgreens after buying Instant Dry pink nail polish so I could wear my open toe wedge sandals. I turned my attention toward painting my toes, and tried not to worry about my date’s lack of response. An hour went by and still no answer.

My mind started to race. Had he met someone else (in the past 2 hours?), had I said the wrong thing?, did he decide he didn’t like me? I’ll never know the answer.

As a slew of thoughts raced through my mind, I decided to get out of the house and take my main man, Namo, for a walk in the park. I took off my wedges (at least my freshly painted toes looked good), slipped into flip flops, put a baseball cap over my straightened date-ready hair, and headed out the door. I was not going to let this ruin my mood for too long.

Truth is, twinges of loneliness started to creep in as I stood alone in the house staring at the phone, waiting for a response. I needed to get out and be among people. Any people.

In the past, I would have raced for the refrigerator and downed whatever high-carb, high-sugar numbing food I could get my hands on to numb the sharp feelings of rejection, sadness, and disappointment. Now, I have well-practiced coping tools but still…I was hurt and a bit miffed.

Namo and I took a slow stroll through the park  and after a few minutes, we plopped down in the grass and watched people walk by. I was acutely aware of every couple holding hands although I’d never noticed it before. Kind of like buying a red car, and then seeing red cars everywhere.

Thank goodness for Namo. He sat by my side and I gently stroked the top of his head as I thought about his unconditional love. I don’t know where I’d be without animals in my life.

I’m glad we went for a walk and I didn’t let the thoughts of rejection consume me. I figured I had it handled.

Later that night I made myself dinner and zoned out while watching Scandal. After dinner, I sat on the couch with a belvita Soft Baked breakfast bar in my hand, and realized it’s not what I was hungry for.

I was hungry for someone to cuddle with, someone to cook with, and someone to laugh with. The breakfast bar in my hand wasn’t going to give me any of that. After unwrapping it, I took a deep breath, and threw it away.

As a recovered bulimic, I haven’t binged in years and it caught me by surprise that those subtle tendencies were rearing their head again. Then I remembered what my mom said, “Life is about how you react to what happens to you.” She is so right.

I’ve learned we don’t have control over other people but we DO have control over our thoughts, which lead to our behaviors.

By consciously choosing how to react, my loserville feelings passed and I reconnected to the truth of who I am. A woman who is courageously putting herself out there to meet a kind, reliable, loving man who doesn’t care if my toenails are painted or not.

Life is unpredictable AND we can choose how to react when things don’t happen the way we want them to.

I’d love to hear from you…how do you react to situations when they don’t turn out as you’d hoped? Post in the comments below!

Choosing my reaction,

Devon

Back in the dating saddle

I’m a 33 year old woman. I live in a chicken coop turned cozy cottage (see pics below).

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coop-1

I have two horses named Detail and Playboy, one dog named Namo, and one cat named Charley. I love to ride horses and help people. I like open spaces and feeling free. I like being myself. Wow, yep, I just said that. I have come a long way although I still feel like I have a lot to learn in the romantic love category…only a few layers of that onion have been peeled back.

I’m dating a guy named Monte and he’s helping me peel back the layers. I wasn’t looking to date again but he showed up one day on my doorstep at 7:20am and I answered the door in my fuzzy horse bathrobe. He asked if I had the phone number of the ranch owner because his construction crew was going to be dumping dirt to build a new horse paddock. So I gave it to him and quickly crossed my arms over my chest when I realized I didn’t have a bra on.

Then he got in his red pickup truck and drove off. I saw him a few days later driving a truck full of dirt and I waved at him to stop. I wanted my horse’s runs filled with soft dirt and he seemed like the guy to do it.

He stopped the truck and we started talking while I was feeding horses wearing Chacos, which he later referred to as my “Jesus sandals”.

The rest isn’t history; it’s still the first chapter. I’m scared to open my heart again and I didn’t think I was ready but here I am. I wasn’t looking for anyone but he showed up and we started spending more time together. I learned he’s a construction foreman/cowboy and has 5 horses, 200 cattle, and a ranch. A RANCH. That’s always been my dream, to have my own ranch. Some women’s hearts go pitter-patter when they hear “ring”, my heart goes pitter-patter when I hear “ranch”.

I like him and I don’t know where this trail is going to lead but I’m glad we are on it together. It’s softening my heart and allowing someone to see beneath the layers of a tough, independent woman who is perfectly content doing her own thing.

ranch

I like holding hands. And having someone teach me about elk bugling. And being looked in the eyes so deeply that I have to look away because I start blushing.

This guy sees me…Shit. What a feeling to be truly seen.

Back in the saddle and falling hard,

Devon

Grieving the loss of my relationship

I currently have my laptop on my right and The Right to Write by Julia Cameron, on my left. I also have my phone playing Tim Wheater’s flute music which the book suggests. I know two things for sure in this moment: number one, I feel called to write and number two, I’m stuck on what to write about. There are a few significant topics in my life right now and I’m scared to write about them. The biggest topic that keeps coming up and brings tears to my eyes in this moment, is my recent breakup.

It jolts me when I think too long and hard about it. The loss of a wonderful man in my life. The loss of our dreams together. The pain and ache in my heart that hits when I think about the memories we shared. The gut-wrenching feeling before I open my eyes in the morning, knowing he’s not there.

The grief is raw and the tears come in waves.

For the first time in my life, when someone says. “How are you doing?”, I don’t answer “Fine” or “Good.”  Instead, tears start to leak before words come out. My body won’t let me hide the truth.

I can’t deny how I feel and my vulnerability defenses are down.

My mantra fluctuates multiple times a day between “You’re going be ok” to “God, please help me.” I have wailed into Blue’s mane. I have screamed in my car. I have beaten and sobbed into pillows.

It feels messy and cleansing at the same time…allowing my heart to ache and express itself. I’m not shoving down the feelings I don’t want to face like I have in the past.

What I am learning is to let grief move through me. To not resist it or put an expiration date on sadness.

I’m not in the place of “getting over it”, nor is it time to move on. It is time to honor and mourn the heart-opening love I experienced. Grief is teaching me to listen to my heart and what it needs. I know “Strong Devon” and in recent years I’ve gotten to know “Soft Devon” but “Openly Sad and Hurting Devon” is a new one for me. Allowing my sadness to be heard, seen, and acknowledged is what my heart needs to heal.

By writing about it, I no longer feel stuck. I feel open and connected.

light through

“Grief is a matter of the heart and soul. Grieve your loss, allow it in, and spend time with it. Suffering is the optional part. Love never dies and spirit knows no loss. Keep in mind that a broken heart is an open heart.” – Lousie Hay

Allowing it in,

Devon

He had me at howdy…my FarmersOnly.com date

You’ve seen the commercial….

Scenes of a couple holding hands while horseback riding into the sunset, snuggling by the campfire together and staring up at the stars in the bed of a pickup truck.

These picturesque scenarios spoke right to my heart and said, “You too, can have all this…at FarmersOnly.com.”

So, being single in the country, I signed up for the online rural dating site and submitted my profile.

Side note: Although the site is called famersonly.com, it is for anyone who enjoys the country lifestyle such as cowboys, cowgirls, ranchers and other animal loving, outdoorsy folk. I checked to see if there was a singlecowboys.com, no such luck.

As I scrolled through profiles pictures of single guys, I noticed majority of the pics included an animal or some kind of machinery.

A guy with his truck. Or tractor. Or a guy with his dog. Or horse. Or the ultimate…a pic of a guy with a horse and a dog.

In no time, I came across a certain profile pic that stopped me mid-scroll.

It was a guy in a cowboy hat holding the lead ropes of three beautiful horses and two cute dogs sitting at his feet. PERFECT.

My mind quickly jumped to merging our furry  families and I pictured our future together, complete with my dog and two horses. Our Christmas card would be adorable.

Without delay, I clicked on his profile. Mutual virtual winks were exchanged followed by emails over the next few days. There was country chemistry, so we decided to meet in person.

farmersonly

We decided to meet at his ranch because it’s a well known property that’s open to the public so I felt safe. Plus, I trust my intuition and I had a good feeling about this guy.

I pulled up to the ranch place and my jaw dropped. Gorgeous white fences, pristine paddocks and a tree lined driveway…he had quite the spread.

As soon as I saw his four-door dually pull up to the main gate, I knew I was in trouble. How did he know I have a thing for duallys? My heart started to race.

Feeling nervous and excited, I took a deep breath.

He got out of his truck, flashed a big smile and we exchanged greetings. I was blushing. He had me at “howdy”.

From the Stetson hat to the Wrangler jeans, he looked just like his online pictures. This was a good thing.

He took me on a tour of the ranch and right off the bat he showed me his indoor arena…it was huge. I swooned, I couldn’t help myself, the footing was perfect! Fantasies of horseback riding together began to canter though my head.

To seal the deal, he walked me to the back pastures and showed me his ten foals.

Most of them were four to six weeks old. My heart went pitter-patter and a warm and fuzzy feeling took over. The foal goggles officially kicked in. This guy was good. Talk about a way to win a horsewoman over…showing her foals on a first date! He knew exactly what he was doing.

Then we ventured to the local watering hole where we played horseshoes outside while sipping Coors Light.

Our conversation included typical date topics such as, “Ford or Chevy?”, “Does your horse do flying lead changes?”, “What rodeos did you go to this year?”

Then it got personal such as, “Who’s your farrier and which vet do you use?”

As the evening winded down, he tipped back his hat, smiled and asked when he could see me again.

It was a match made in rural heaven.

We proceeded to go out a few more times although it soon became clear that we were headed down different trails in life. We eventually rode our separate ways which was for the best.

I thank FarmersOnly.com for expanding my horizons and giving me hope. Living in the country is a unique lifestyle and I’m keeping my heels down, eyes up and heart open for someone to share it with.

How about you, have you ever tried an online “niche” dating site? What was your experience? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below…

Country Juliet seeking horseback riding Romeo,

Devon

 

WANTED: Intimate love, holding hands and long country drives

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about L.O.V.E. and questioning my old defiant attitude toward staying single.

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Maybe it’s because it’s summer and everywhere I look I see couples outside, holding hands.

Maybe it’s because my girlfriends are bringing along their boyfriends, fiances and husbands on our former “girls only” happy hours.

Maybe it’s because I’m listening to a lot of George Strait.

Maybe it’s because as I drive my truck down the romantic country backroads, I’m, well, alone.

Summer is the hardest season to be single (if you’re thinking you want something more).

Yesterday I went horseback riding with a new friend.

As we were going down the trail we were talking about how we are both single and big risk takers when it comes to certain things.

We have both been bungee jumping, lived abroad (she owns a home in El Salvador), we are independent, smart, capable women and yet, no mans.

We halfway joked that we take bold, adventurous risks in life yet when it comes to love, being vulnerable and letting our guard down, it scares the living daylights out of us.

We are petrified of being hurt, rejected and not approved of.

It’s old fear I’ve had forever. Putting my heart out there.

I’ve always enjoyed dating because I love meeting new people, having fun and going on new adventures.

Dating is very safe for me. It’s surface level and I don’t have to get too attached… if I’m not having fun anymore, I move on.

I don’t set myself up to get hurt, hence I stay safe. The other side of that coin is that deep down it can get pretty lonely.

The two times I fell hard and did let my guard down in relationships, the guys stampeded over my heart and rode away.

I was heartbroken. It hurt too much.

So I recoiled.

I became fiercely independent telling myself, well I’m never going to let THAT happen again, huff! (Arms crossed, heart covered.)

Yikes. Now at age 30, I know that’s not the way I want to live the rest of my life.

With intimate love, there is risk of the unknown, failing, (succeeding!), being rejected, etc…all the factors I can fully embrace when it comes to my business and being an entrepreneur yet frightens me when it comes to being in a relationship.

No matter what happens in other areas of life, I know I can bounce back.

But when it comes to romantic  love, I feel like a shy, awkward newbie.

Will I bounce back if my heart gets crushed again? The answer is I don’t know but I’m starting to TRUST that it’s worth the risk.

What I do know for sure is that I don’t want to continue my old pattern…avoiding intimacy, staying safe and keeping out the hurt which also keeps out the love.

It’s a double-edged sword. Walls can keep us “safe” but the cost is that it’s pretty lonely in there too.

I can’t control my heart. And that’s what scares me. But I’m willing (palms sweaty, butterflies in stomach, heart racing) to see where the ride takes me.

I know deep down that there’s a man out there who is a fit.

It’s up to me to open my heart, give my love and receive his love when we cross trails.

And that thought makes me soften my heart and smile on the inside.

I trust divine timing and what the Universe has in store.

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“Girls like us go with the wind. We risk it all and if we fall, we risk it all again. We burn hot and we fall hard. Girls like us are are like the stars.” ~ Rebecca Folsom

If you are single and petrified of being hurt again, I want you to know you’re not alone. It is scary as hell to put our hearts out there again AND again.

I believe it’s worth the risk…that’s what my intuition tells me and that’s ultimately my guide. Can’t ignore it these days, it seems to be getting louder.

In the meantime, please don’t close down forever…tend to your past wounds, heal your beautiful heart (horses are the BEST at helping us with this btw!) and mount up again my friend. We never know who’s out there on the trail waiting for us.

Keep me posted and I’ll do the same for you.

Here’s to driving down country roads with a special someone at our side,

Devon

My Match.com Intervention

I recently had an intervention from an obsession that crept up on me so fast, it hit me like a ton of bricks when I finally felt the reality of it.

Being single for a while, and frankly, just curious, I joined the online dating site, Match.com. I took my time, finding the “best” pictures I had of myself, which I hoped portrayed me as an ideal date for the right guy: Sporty Devon (wake boarding pic), Outdoorsy Devon (hiking pic), Glamorous Devon (in a dress pic), Animal Lover Devon (grooming a horse pic) and Family-Oriented Devon (holiday family pic). With the picture sections completed, I moved on and filled out my profile. After describing myself in 400 words or less, I had to answer questions such as “What do you do for fun?” “Do you want kids?” “What color eyes are you looking for in a man?” and more.

Once I filled in the blanks, I hit the “Confirm Profile” button and took a deep breath. My profile was now exposed to a ton of strangers, and although my name and contact info remained anonymous, I felt vulnerable and excited–like a nervous teenager waiting for a boy to call.

Pre intervention

Here’s me in a neurotic state, pre-intervention

What started out as fun, however, soon became an obsession. I found myself checking the damn site every hour on the hour to see who had viewed me and if I had received any virtual winks (no joke) or emails from potential dates. My days became a highway of emotions with Match.com driving the bus. My heart would leap with excitement when I’d get winked out by skiCO4998 and then I’d feel grumpy and rejected if doglvr77 didn’t respond to my email.

I had completely allowed this external force to dictate my moods and how I felt about myself. For a woman who prides herself on being independent and grounded, with a healthy self-esteem, I almost didn’t recognize me once I’d become part of the Match.com community. Instead of being confident in who I am and what I have to offer, I questioned everything about myself. I wondered if I looked good enough, seemed smart enough, or appeared social enough (without looking too much like a party girl of course!)

ENOUGH! A close family member confronted me and declared an intervention. She had picked up on my fluctuating moods and called me out on what I had been feeling and denying to admit–that I’d become stressed out and neurotic. She encouraged me to only check my Match.com emails a few times a week.

Immediately after her comment, I balked and felt huge resistance rise up in my body. OMG, I was obsessed with this site! I felt like she was tearing candy away from me and I wasn’t eager to give up this “high.” That was it–my body told my everything I needed to know. My stomach felt tense, my head felt nauseous and my cheeks immediately flushed at the thought of giving this up. And that was my wakeup call! My body always tells me when I’m off–when I’m not paying attention to my intuition and what will serve me best.

With my family member on the phone, I took a deep breath and hit the “Deactivated Profile” button on the computer screen. I promptly closed my laptop, thanked my family member for her support and went outside to take my dog for a walk. Time to get back to my life and the truth of who I am! Being in the fresh air, I felt lighter and more clear-headed. I took deep breaths and smiled to myself at how goofy I had become in the past week over online dating. My inner strength returned as I walked away from the computer screen. Most importantly, I felt a wave of compassion for myself. I want to love, be loved and find a romantic partner, and I trust the universe will hook me up in a way that doesn’t involve neurosis.

Post intervention

Here I am in a grounded, centered state, post-intervention

With support, self-compassion and self-awareness (thanks to an intervention in this case) I took action on what no longer served me.

What external force controls your emotions and moods on a daily basis? What does your body have to say about it? I’d love to hear your comments and what helps you when external forces dictate how you feel.

Here’s to self-compassion,

Devon