The Death of Debt

We will never be debt free.

That is a crushing fact to someone who has spent the last 2+ years attempting to pay off debt and live a debt-free lifestyle, to pay back that which was borrowed, to pay it foreword, to live simply, to experience much and to love greatly.

I realize that, as a matter of modern convenience, debt has become an every day, run of the mill, non issue. Dare I say non-payment of those debts through bankruptcy or other means (however valid the situation may warrant it in some cases) has become the norm for people who want out of debt, but don't want to take the long (and sometimes painful) path to paying the debt off month by month.

Need something? Charge it.

Want something? Charge it.

Without the means of immediate payment, yet with the entitlement mindset of our modern day, debt has become the norm.

We are no different. Debt is not only present in our lives, it is a primary determining factor (though thankfully a much smaller factor than it was 2 years ago!) of where each paycheck goes.

We, like many of you, each trade 40+ hours of our weekly time to someone else in exchange for money. However, we am no longer in control of that money because we traded that freedom of choice to someone else when we decided we wanted things that we did not have the immediate ability to pay for.

A tragic comedy that, if on the big screen, would leave viewers laughing yet pitying this family who cannot seem to grasp the simple concept of living within their means. That is, the viewers would laugh until they realized that they are most likely living the same sad story.

And how does this classic tale end? In death.

Hopefully not your death, or our deaths - although the real story of debts left remaining after one passes is far to common - rather, I'd like to write this story to end with the death of debt.

For my family that has meant saying no to new consumer debt and attempting to pay off as much of old debt as possible. It has been slow, it has been fast, we've had successes and failures.

Recently we had a major failure that has redefined our view of debt. 

We decided to pay off an 8+/- year old private debt. A "purchase" we made, yet didn't pay for, lost contact with the seller, and put it on the back burner of priorities. Sadly, when we tried to contact this creditor we were informed that she had passed away about 2 years ago.

A debt that cannot be paid.

Our reality is we will never be debt free no matter how many other debts we pay off, no matter how much we donate to charity... nothing can pay back this debt.

If you are in debt, pay it back as quickly as possible... you never know when it will be too late.

If you are considering going into debt - is it possible to wait and save for said purchase? If not, such as making a major purchase as a home, does your monthly wages easily allow for the new payment without sacrificing other areas? Can you realistically make the payments, even on one income?

We are not deterred from our goal... we will continue to strive to be "debt free"... hopefully except for just that one debt.  In honoring that un-payable debt I share my story and offer up toast this "To the death of debt!"

Girl Rising - Education of the world's young women

Incredibly powerful movie trailer - For an incredibly important cause:

From their release:

The film spotlights unforgettable girls like Sokha, an orphan who rises from the dumps of Cambodia to become a star student and an accomplished dancer; Suma, who composes music to help her endure forced servitude in Nepal and today crusades to free others; and Ruksana, an Indian "pavement-dweller" whose father sacrifices his own basic needs for his daughter's dreams. Each girl is paired with a renowned writer from her native country. Edwidge Danticat, Sooni Taraporevala Aminatta Forna and others tell the girls' stories, each in it's style, and all with profound resonance.

These girls are each unique, but the obstacles they faced are ubiquitous. Like the 66 million girls around the world who dream of going to school, what Sokha, Suma, Ruksana and the rest want most is to be students: to learn. And now, And now, by sharing their personal journeys, they have become teachers. Watch Girl Rising, and you will see: One girl with courage is a revolution.

"Skinny Love" by Birdy
"Shake It Out" by Florence + the Machine

Richard Winter's Horsemanship - An Interview

As with many clinicians and professional competitors, Richard Winters spends a significant amount of his time travelling. A family affair, Richard’s wife Cheryl and daughter Sarah often travel with him participating in the family business “on the road” for weeks, sometimes months, at a time.  We caught up with Richard just before they left for a 2 month tour and he was kind enough to sit down and tell us a bit about what it is like on a day to day basis around his ranch.

Q.    Richard, can you tell us a little about yourself and your start in horses?
A.    I've been involved in the horse business for over 30 years. All I ever thought about ever since I was a little boy was being a cowboy. I was a horseshoer for many years and then began training more and more horses as time went on. I taught my first horsemanship clinic about 20 years ago. Although much of what we do helping average person get along with their horse, I specialize in reined cow horse competition.

Q.    So your program today is a dream come true from your childhood - that is wonderful!  Who else is involved in Winter’s Ranch?
A.    My wife Cheryl is the one that keeps our business together. All of the bookkeeping all of the organizing for clinics as well as much of the video and editing for our TV show falls on her shoulders. She is amazing. We are also happy to have our daughter Sarah back in the family business. She grew up working for me training horses. She was gone for three years working for other trainers and gaining more experience. She is now back home and we are team teaching and presenting at clinics and expos around the country.

Q.    Do you have a typical daily schedule?
A.    When you run your own business every day your schedule is a little bit different. There are no set hours we start our day depending on what the need is. If we have a big trip planned we might be loading up horses and heading out before daylight. This is definitely not a union shop. You take care of business and then you rest. Unless you're my wife Cheryl, then you never stop. She is wonder woman!

Q.    Do you find you spend more time doing non-horse work these days?
A.    As technology advances in our business grows it is interesting how much time we spend doing things that are not on the back of a horse. Writing articles, answering emails, developing new brochures and other promotions do take a lot of time. For example here I am in the middle of the day talking into an iPad and my horses are out sitting in their stalls!

Q.    I bet that is a big difference from how your business first started... what did business look like back then compared to now?
A.    As I mentioned I began making my living shoeing horses. Then I began to split my time between shoeing and training. I would go out and shoe horses in the morning and come home and ride horses in the afternoon. As training got busier I started being a little more selective about how many horses I would shoe. Now I still shoe horses, but only my own and the few that we have in training. Thankfully, I was at the right place at the right time to capitalize on creating horsemanship clinics. That is now a big part of our business. People are hungry for knowledge and if you are good with horses and have people skills horsemanship clinics are great venue. We are also being asked to do more expos around the country as well.

Much of my business is coaching and teaching people. Horses really don't have problems but often times, people have a lot of problems! That's where the clinics are very helpful. It's rewarding to put tools in people's hands and see them be more successful with their horses. Many people are very limited in what they can do with her horse. I like to expand their possibilities help them gain confidence and do more than they thought they could do.

Q.    You are not only a clinician, but also a competitor.  How many horses of your own are you currently developing?
A.    I currently have three horses of my own. I train and show these horses in the reined cow horse discipline. Showing western performance horses is really my opportunity for professional development. Needless to say I oftentimes eat humble pie! However, I always learn something.

Q.    Is there anything that has surprised you in your horsemanship journey? Things you never thought you’d experience?
A.    I recognize more and more what a blessing it is to be able to make my living doing something that I love to do. To be paid money to work with horses is a great thing. The doors that are now opening to present at expos around the country and around the world is amazing and very humbling. Last year we were in Australia Poland Mexico. This year we will be going to Sweden as well. I never dreamed that we would have these kind of opportunities. We are truly blessed.

Q.    What is your favorite part of the day?
A.    My favorite part of the day and favorite work activity is when I am riding a horse and getting close to perfect partnership with them. I don't always get it done. But when you get close to perfect harmony it's a great feeling. Also helping a student have a big breakthrough with their horse is also very rewarding.

Q.    Do you have hobbies outside of horses?
A.    Not too many serious hobbies outside of horses. My wife would say that I am addicted to horses. Too many days away from them and I get a little uncomfortable. I do play my guitar a little, but I'm not very good.

Q.    What does the average work flow of your day look like?
A.    For us every day is different. We find we need to be extremely flexible. First thing in the morning I will check my email and make sure that there are no big fires I need to put out. After that I'm probably going to ride some horses. Lunchtime normally stretches out and becomes some office time as well. More riding and perhaps lessons in the afternoon. Then possibly shoeing a horse before coming in for the night. If you are person that has to have a set schedule, this might not be a business for you. If you like some variety and can be flexible then it's not a bad deal at all.

Writers write

It's a pretty simple concept.

It is not the consumption of the writing by others that drives the writer to write. Instead, writers write because that is what they do.

Most, I believe, write material that they never intend to share. Journals, notes, comments, lists, scribbles here and there. Even blogs - as public as they are, often serve as that personal journal on the coffee table - open for your guests to review at their leisure.

Shared words, even in the most casual of settings, are prone to criticism....

"Too Bold" or "Not Bold Enough"
"Not Right For Our Audience" or "It Will Not Sell"
"It's Too Amateur" or "It's Too Sophisticated"
"Thanks, But No Thanks" or, perhaps worst of all.... no         response         at          all.

Each criticism stabbing at the writer's heart taunting the writer to believe what they already fear - "my writing is not good enough."

I shall stand on my virtual pedestal and shout - YOUR WRITING IS GOOD ENOUGH! YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH!

If the pull of writing beckons to you, then by all means write... and in whatever style speaks to you regardless of what others might say.

The critics will criticize.... it's what they do. But allowing their criticism (or your fear of their criticism) stop you from writing only keeps you from following your dreams.

Stop checking your blog stats, obsessing over a rejection letter, and refreshing your email box looking for response to your latest proposal.

Use that energy to write.

Write and write and write... let the words flow as the inspiration guides and allow the critics to come and go without sapping your energies.

Write from your place of truth, not what you believe other's want you to write. The people who love your work will read it... or not. It doesn't matter.

All that matters is that you wrote, for you, because you are a writer.