While I sorely tempted to provide another simple daily recap, sprinkled with juicy & fun tidbits from my day, today must be remembered as something special – as each day should, but today was one that was spectacularly sad for a family and a community connected to a beautiful, magical place in the Shenandoah Valley. My beloved Camp Strawderman.
Today the universe decided to send us a message to savor each day, each moment, each person, creature and opportunity. Make the most of the day! Be grateful! Carpe diem!
My heart is with all of my friends from Camp Strawderman – those with whom I shared my childhood, those who remain in my life today, the strong women who brought me to Camp, who taught me at Camp and who gave me the space and the setting to grow into the person I am today – at Camp. My heart is broken for the loss we have all suffered through the tragedy of this day. 💔
The Ideals of Camp Strawderman are
to make girls so happy they will share their happiness with others.
To make friendships which shall last through life.
To develop strong, healthy bodies
through regular exercise, good food,
and rest in the pure mountain air.
To create a love for God’s out-of- doors, and a reverence for his handiwork.
To bring out the hidden possibilities which lie within each girl and to help her find herself.
It’s another 11pm Post, with 7% of my phone battery and probably less of my brain remaining – so another short, but not-breaking-the-streak effort.
Today was measured in costume changes:
7:30-10:30 Backstretch in jeans (both tracks)
11:30 -2:30 Fashionable Fillies Luncheon (fun dress from Paris & strappy sandals)
3:30 -5:30 Sundress for visit to Reading Room, then the Races & NYRA box seats from the Smithwicks
6:00 -7:15 Shorts & tee for snack & power nap on couch
7:30 – 10:30pm Jeans & sparkly top for Jockey Karaoke for the PDJF.
…and somehow, lucky me, this is all work – wonderfully, weirdly, work!
Today I felt a pretty big wave of new-girl fatigue, just so much being new amidst crowds of people who all know one another. It’s exactly what I looked forward to after so many years of sort of knowing everyone…but it does take a toll.
Closing before my phone croaks with a quote from my happiness journal –
“Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.”
I also loved this one on FB today from Natasha Hennessey –
“Thou shalt not let weird ass energy penetrate the aura.” 🙂
Sunday afternoon and we’re getting ready for an afternoon at the races – Maven & Magpie, bestie Doodles from VA and her awesome BF Paul, and meeting up with teammate Jennifer and her buddy Marco. Sun is shining and it has all the makings of a great day. But before we launch, I wanted to try for my 5th post in 5 days… and have it be longer than one sentence. I definitely have some work to do in figuring out when to write, and sadly there’s just no juice left in the tank by the time I hit 10pm… the happy consequence of very, very full days.
So, today – two little snapshots:
The AMAZING Team at the TRF… at least an initial intro.
A SPECIAL OFFER for all blog-readers! TRF Gear alert!
I’ll start with the gear, as I fear I won’t get very far with the team before I turn into a pumpkin. Here’s the deal – we’ve arranged to have TRF vests available for purchase for TRF staff, board and friends – at cost ($38). We aren’t ordering inventory, but you can place an order and we’ll ship to you when they arrive. We’re putting in our next order on Monday AM (7/30), and this may be our last “at cost” offer. We have a link on the www.trfinc.org website, but that includes a portion of proceeds to TRF.
If you want to buy at the “friends & family” price of $38, I’ll heartily encourage you to add a modest gift to the TRF herd (which you can add to your order), and I’ll cover shipping . See goofy photo below of me sporting the vest on Capital OTB, and click here to order.
And then, the TERRIFIC TRF Team… I’ll write about each of them later, but I’m going to post this for any inquiring minds that might check this afternoon :-). We’re off to the races!
It’s a delightfully rainy Thursday AM here in Saratoga, a perfect setting for a less hurried post (day 2 of 2) – despite the fact that my Mac is acting up so I am typing on my phone. So, here we are!
I think I am going to share the Maven and Magpie blog on FB soon (gulp!), and perhaps use that as my distribution mechanism (at least for a while). With that in mind and because the timing seems right to do so, I am going to step back and set the stage for where we are in our journey – Maven & Magpie pretty much settled in and shifting into full gear here in Saratoga. Not so much the “how did we get here”, but the “what are we doing up here” for folks who may just be joining us now – and also to lay a bit more solid foundation for the stories & snippets that will follow.
Perhaps the Q & A approach might make this easier to structure…
Question #1 – what is the Magpie up to job-wise?
Kim’s role is Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF). She started on May 1st and to say this job is a dream come true is an absolute understatement. The specific objective for this role is to develop and solicit large dollar gifts (over $10K) for the lifelong sanctuary we provide to our herd of 750 horses, and the many more we will save over the years ahead.
Question #2 – so what is the TRF exactly?
Here’s our mission:
Since 1983, the mission of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation has been to save thoroughbred horses no longer able to compete on the racetrack from possible neglect, abuse and slaughter.
The TRF was founded 35 years ago by a group of women (yay!) who cared passionately for the horses at the heart of the racing industry. I had the opportunity to go to our flagship farm at the Wallkill Correctional Facility (aka prison) with one of our superstar board members last week, Maggie Wolfendale-Morley, who is an analyst for NYRA and who brought her cameraman to film a segment on the TRF/ Second Chances program. See photos below! By way of further introduction of the TRF, here are the speaking points that I prepared for that video:
35 Years Ago the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation was founded by a handful of visionary, forward-looking and dedicated individuals who cared about the horses and were active within the racing industry. These individuals included Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat, and Allair Dupont, the owner of Kelso. They were led by a woman named Monique Koehler, an animal lover and marketing executive, who saw the plight of horses after their racing days had ended and jumped in to start addressing the systemic issue with the industry. These women, with many others, devoted their energies and their focus was on providing for the long term welfare of the race horses after their racing careers had ended. Together they created the first charitable organization devoted to thoroughbred aftercare, they gave generously of their resources and worked tirelessly to raise funds to create a sustainable and scalable organization that would provide a safe haven for horses whose careers had come to an end.
In 1983, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation was founded with the express mission of saving Thoroughbred horses no longer able to compete on the racetrack from possible neglect, abuse and slaughter. In 1984 the first horse, named Promised Road, arrived at the TRF Second Chances Program at Wallkill Correctional Facility. Since then more than 400 horses have found a safe and peaceful retirement at Wallkill.
Today, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is the largest TAA (Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance) accredited charity providing lifetime sanctuary to Thoroughbred racehorses no longer able to run. The TRF herd of 750 horses live in farms located in 12 states, from New York, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and California, and 8 of those farms are Second Chances programs located at Correctional Facilities where the horses serve as teachers in vocational programs for the inmates. The TRF is proud to play a specific and important role in the community of thoroughbred aftercare by providing sanctuary to horses who cannot be retrained for new, athletic careers. Together the aftercare community is working to provide the best possible life for these beautiful animals when their racing days are done.
On behalf of the TRF, I wish to thank every individual who has supported our work for the horses over these 35 years with their time, talent and financial resources, with your continued support we look forward to a long and bright future ahead. We are celebrate every individual and organization who has done the right thing for the horses over the years, by caring for these beautiful animals when their days at the track have come to an end.
Question #3 – so what exactly are you doing (are you really working)?
While I’ve spent the first couple of months in my role learning alot from our staff and board members, and planning a number of new outreach initiatives, my whole orientation for the next 7 weeks is outward facing – meeting as many people as possible through our TRF events, media outreach, going to the backstretch in the morning and going to the races, while “everyone who’s anyone” is in town. The racing season began here for the summer meet on Friday, July 20th and with it a whole new routine!
Much more to share, but I’ll finish for now with the flurry of media opportunities I’ve fallen into this week – feeling very, very fortunate to have friends who find our Maven & Magpie story interesting and who think it somewhat “newsworthy” to have me tell our tale, and in so doing, raise awareness of the TRF. To that end, I found myself on the set of the Capital OTB “Racing Across America” television show this week, thanks to an invitation by my friend Seth Merrow (the host) and Teresa Genaro (who helps him book guests). I was on Monday AM and then again as a pinch hitter on Wednesday – what fun! I also anticipate an article in the Daily Gazette this week, thanks to good friend Mike MacAdam. I’ll share that when it runs.
Here are the links to my TV appearances (crazy!!):
Monday, July 23 (start at 24:00): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFtTmVn001M&t=116s
Wednesday, July 25 (start at 56:00): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wSHCl2MOQ0&t=149s
Thank you for all your kind support & I promise to share the Maven’s story soon!
So we begin again with day 1 of 1 for the blog, after missing 2 days, but they weren’t missed for lack of action. 🙂 It’s now Wednesday, Day 5 of the racing meet, and our first morning to wake up in a quiet home with just the 4 of us in 10 days. We’ve so enjoyed all of our guests, and the fun of sharing our beloved town with friends & family (and a bunch of newbies in this recent batch), but it’s also a welcome bit of peace to have a few days to recharge and regroup. Very much looking forward to Doodles & Paul arriving on Friday, and possibly seeing a few of the Oldfields family on Thursday as they come to town for the Smithwick memorial race.
I’ll be out the door in a few minutes to go to the backstretch for coffee, visiting with folks and hopefully doing a tour around with Tommy Bellhouse from Westpoint Thoroughbreds. I have a list of trainers I’d like to meet, and I think Tommy might be really helpful in breaking the ice.
On the work front, it’s been a big week already – with our major fundraiser event on Monday night “Hay Oats & Spaghetti” at the Saratoga Automobile Museum. By all counts from folks who have been to others, this one was a success. It sure seemed like we had a great turnout – and the food and setup went well, I’m hopeful the financial impact comes through positively. The other big highlight from Monday was my first ever appearance on TV – live TV – with my friend Seth Merrow. I need to dash now to get to the backstretch, but for any dear friends who are checking the blog… here’s the link. (I’ll likely add a bit more on this later).
This is the on-my-phone-in-the-dark-just-before-midnight version of the blog, simply trying to nurture this baby Streak (now 3 for 3) despite my burning eyes.
With little time & energy, I will simply say how pleased I am about all of today’s logistics. From feeding horses, to breakfast sandwiches from Five Points, tickets at The Stretch, lunch at Shake Shack, invited to go on air with Seth Merrow, Hattie’s fried chicken on the porch, 4 new dresses from Le Marais from Megerly – perfect sizes & colors, and a walk to see the ponies.
All that to say, I definitely need to run in the AM…so goodnight!!
It’s a beautiful Saturday, Day Two of the racing meet and the house is abustle – we have dear friends en route from just north of Montreal, and loved ones (thank you Padre for all the projects you’ve tackled this week) waking up to pack and get rolling on to their next venue. The Summer of Saratoga 2018 train has left the station and we’re rolling – 39 more days of this incredible ride. We’re off!
I’m happily here in my writing room, proud of starting the makings of a “streak” with two posts in two days, but struggling a bit to quiet the racing mind that wants to jump in to all the to dos on my list this AM. That will likely be the battle to over these early weeks of trying to write daily. Much like the practice of meditation, which I’ve now quite firmly established in my daily routine (it took about 3 months and a commitment to Headspace to get there, with the invaluable “cheering” of my meditation-mate, Lisa, in AV) it takes discipline to value the long-term benefits of something thoughtful versus the short-term payoff of doing something tangibly practical. However, I’m sticking to the belief that there will always be a never ending list of to dos – and if I don’t sit back and reflect on this experience and these precious days in our new life, I might risk missing some of it – or forgetting some of it – in all the flurry and frenzy of day to day life. This is one of those times that I think the Maven’s quote applies very well:
Discipline is Remembering What You Really Want
So, Day 1 – wow! It was a huge day, it was a good day, it was a beautiful day and it was an exhausting day. The learning curve was steep (and there’s surely more ahead), but it was wonderful. Lot of pics to share, but the big takeaway was one of those tried by true nuggets – pace makes the race (a.k.a. it’s a marathon not a sprint). As my wise friend Kendra once noted “a good pace and good company make all things possible” – so true!
Much like this exercise of writing every day, and my meditation practice too, the key (I think ) to successfully navigating this new and fabulously complex circus-like routine over the next 39 days will be to sort out a reasonable schedule, and to set the pace in the reasonable range – which actually isn’t my comfort zone. The danger here is my penchant to want to and try to literally do it all… and we all know that doesn’t end well. 🙂
So, a quick recap of things I learned about my weekday routine (as the to do list beckons) –
I need to wake up by 5:30 to have a chance of doing all that I want to do, and next year I might aim for 5:00 – both of which are totally wimpy compared to most people involved in the horse-side of racing, but I’m a rookie.
I need to figure out which days to run – because I can’t do backstretch walkabout and running on the same AM. I think Sunday (tricky with feeding the horses), Tuesday, and then…maybe Friday?
Big lesson, when I go to the backstretch in the AM, I need to plan to be out for a long time and to go directly to the office from the track.
The fun thing is that this means lots of hours in the office in jeans, a baseball cap and pre-shower, it’s a brave new world.
The unexpected things are that I need to have a better, bigger breakfast plan, I need my wallet, and I need to plan to drive to the track (which seems crazy when we live so close), because I need to drive to the office (or other errands) after the backstretch, and then drive home to shower and prep for afternoon at races – to get there for the feature & some networking. Ah logistics!!
And, all this reinforces how important it will be to have our dinner plans in some sort of shape before the day begins, because there’s just not much wiggle room in this sprint.
Above all, need to be heading for bed by 10… or earlier!
Highlights from Day One included so much – a beautiful backstretch walkabout with Jennifer, a couple fun errands (pies!), some focused time at the office, a mad dash back to the track to see Adam & Alyssa, a quick hello with OS friend, Erin, and a first race in our new seats – a wonderful gift from my Madre, and a lovely evening to soak it all in on our front patio.
Following the foreshadowing of my last post, I’m very focused on the process of building habits in this new life – with the motivation of the fact we simply have no excuse if we can’t build the lifestyle we’ve dreamed of here, where there are next to zero external factors preventing us from structuring our time as we wish, and accomplishing the things we’ve decided are important. Much as we’ve repeated throughout this journey, this our moment – if not now, if not us who – we simply have to make the most of it in honor of all that we left behind (if nothing else).
(I started that little bit a week or so ago, and here I am – 6:40am on Opening Day 2018, July 20th, determined to give some effort to building a new habit: writing!)
Here we are!A glorious morning in mid-July, Opening Day has arrived – and the anticipation has been wonderful. I think of each of my wintery walks in March, chatting with Meg in Paris, looking down Crescent Ave toward the track and imagining horses there. By May it seemed like they might appear any moment, but then I learned they don’t start working on the Main track until the last days of June… but still things were slowly, but surely coming back to life – not only all the glorious flowers of the Saratoga Spring, but barn by barn along Gridley Ave, a few more stalls were filled and a few more sets were walking across Nelson to trek over to the Oklahoma to stretch their legs. And how many times have I greeted Mr. Bond and his exercise riders? It’s really going to be fun – at least for me – when we finally meet “officially” and I can offer my name along with my always crazy-enthusiastic grin and my shock of blond (I suppose I’m rapidly moving toward platinum) hair popping out of my visor.
I vividly remember that last Friday in June as I walked back from my morning jog along Nelson and realized the first horse I’d seen on the main track, was there, jogging backwards along the first turn. I think there were 3 or maybe 5 that day, a very rare and special day indeed. And in a flash of summer fun – my auntie’s visit, Cynthia’s rainy weekend visit, and the girls coming up from VA & NC for our hot & steamy 4th of July with the Doobie brothers, a parade, fireworks and lots of horsie fun – we’re now here on July 20th. Wow.
Yesterday, Jennifer and I made our reconnaissance trip around the frontside of the track to give our press passes a spin. To my amazement, I learned that at the beginning of the meet there’s a rather lush carpet of grass all across the backyard and under all the picnic tables. Something I’d never encountered in all our August visits over the years! We oogled an absolute herd of beauties schooling in the paddock, each set of grooms greeting us and a few making sure we knew their baby’s name. Gorgeous! And then, we spotted TRF Board member and New York racing’s favorite hometown hero, Richie Migliore in the paddock (with Barbara Livingston), and popped in to say hello and attend to a fun bit of TRF business. The stories he shared about his childhood and the pony races were amazing. I really do want to write down a draft to see if there’s any chance I can help him turn his story into a book – I can’t believe it’s not already been done.
After a fun visit to the Jock’s room, gathering our loot for the TRF Open Barn, we headed to the press room – and in a very auspicious twist, we were greeted by Dave Grening’s trunk and our good friend Mike MacAdam typing away in his own private office – offering a warm welcome to this newbie. Of course, we had to go up to the roof, and it was positively spectacular – straight up PINCH ME – when Richie and Jennifer and I had been chatting earlier, we were talking about a certain scene that we all agreed must be what heaven looks like… and then suddenly, we’re up on the rooftop of the Saratoga grandstand… and I’m pretty sure I have my own clear vision for what that the view from that happy place might be.
So, in the spirit of starting a new habit – my goal is to write at least 20 minutes a day, ideally 30, and maybe on a rainy day more and just because I love to share, and it will kind of keep me accountable, I’m going to write straight into the blog – for any of my dear peeps who might want to follow along.
Thanks for joining me on this adventure. We are now entering a new chapter, an exciting one, 40 days of a new life – lots & lots of new people in my world, a new routine for both Bobby and I, as we find our place in the racing community that is now our home.