Day 11: Not for nothin’ …and the afternoon “gig”

Tack Room

frequently heard phrases

I love language, phrases, vocabulary and accents. Perhaps that’s why I found myself teaching Spanish all those years ago at Oldfields, and I continue adding to my vocal list on the racetrack every day. As we’ve settled into our new home here in Saratoga I’ve been enjoying noticing some of the very subtle examples of the regional syntax. One of the phrases I realize I’d never heard before, but hear all the time now, is “Not for nothin'”. I credit our dear friend Fran LaBelle for likely being the first to say it to me, but I realize that it’s nothing short of ubiquitous. I have no insight into where it comes from, but it makes me smile. New Yorkers!

Back to the backstretch, here are a few phrases that punctuate the mornings of a hot walker:

  • Hold Up!” – used in a variety of situations, synonym for “whoa/ heads up”, used to stop other horses around you because whatever you are doing needs to go first. Interesting to me, because it is the “Esperanto” across the English & Spanish speakers to communicate perhaps the most important request: WAIT/ STOP/ LOOK OUT.
  • Coming Out” – the call of the exercise riders as they are approaching the gate on Nelson Ave, to cue the NYRA security guards to stop traffic so the horses can cross the road
  • Coming In” – a bit less frequent, but as a rider is coming around the shed row and making the final turn into the horses stall, this is called to alert all in the barn (especially groom & hot walker, who should already be there).

And then, the one that I guess is just the thing that has been said to every hot walker since time began… and which I had absolutely NEVER heard before starting my education on the backstretch:

“Keep Turning Left!” (Or “Turn Left, Turn Left”).

John Dallas, you get credit for being the first. Since then, Dr. Reid McLellan of Groom Elite, and most recently, Dave Grening. What’s up with that? While it’s certainly a true statement – it is absolutely what “we” do, for hours on end, walking in circles, turning left constantly, I’m just not sure I understand why everyone keeps telling us to do it. A light hazing ritual perhaps? Funny! Just a racetrack thing, I guess?

Hotwalking fun fact: Cyndi Lauper

Over the past few weeks, someone had mentioned to me that Cindy Lauper was a hotwalker for a short time. Just now I ran across an article about her experience at the racetrack… and chuckled to see who had written it! Enjoy

From Hot Walker to Rocker, Cindy Lauper Still is Unusual (2003)

Hotwalking 201: The Afternoons

As green and novice as I am, I sort of seem to have passed a test last week. To be clear, this isn’t some incredible accomplishment. There’s no risk that I’m considered a hotwalking prodigy, but the labor shortage is VERY SEVERE on the backstretch. So severe, that many barns simply don’t have enough help to send the 2 people who are allowed (max) to accompany each horse to the paddock for the races in the afternoon (groom + hot walker). Cue – my new gig!

As 9pm approaches, I think I’ll save the “intro to afternoons” for my next post. Who knows? I might get to walk one tomorrow!

For now, signing off – 4:30am comes quick!

View of the Nelson Ave Gate from our shedrow
The very scary corner (cars & Clare court)
Saturday AM – let’s get started

Day 9: Hot Walking 101 – A primer

So, what exactly am I doing?

It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot. So, let’s break it down into the KPIs of my new hot walking job:

  1. Show up on time (5:20am)!
  2. Walk (cold) horses to their bath.
  3. Hold horses for their bath.
  4. Walk horses around the shed row until they are dry.
  5. Put them back in their stall.
  6. Repeat, until all the horses have done their job and returned to their stalls.
  7. At all times: Don’t get hurt. Don’t let the horses get hurt. And don’t get in the way of someone else doing their job.
  8. NOTE: As horses start to come back from their workouts, they will be “hot” and thus the job title “hot walker”. Horses that just walk without a workout are known as “cold” (and they are much, much harder to walk).

How Does it work?

There’s a rhythm to all of this. The music is written by the trainer and the tempo is set by our exercise rider. The trainer posts “the list” the night before so that when we all arrive it tells us the order of the horses, and from there we sort out who is doing what. The tempo is set by the exercise rider and the grooms are the drumbeat (says this totally not-musically inclined person), as they prep each horse in order, while cleaning stalls while the horses are out, and being poised & ready to bathe and care for the horses when they get back. At the end of the line, you find the hotwalkers. We wait and we walk.

Except sometimes. Sometimes we find ourselves in between horses. That’s when things get a little dicey (at least for me). Waiting is really hard, and when there’s so much work to do, it always feels wrong. However, with my limited experience there are really not a lot of things I can do to be truly helpful without possibly screwing something up. So far, I’ve found just a couple “extra tasks” that I feel confident about: cleaning buckets (water & feed), filling & hanging the water buckets, and pulling manes (which only happens after all the morning work is done).

and then there are all the many things that happen…

More on this later, but suffice it to say there are a lot of things that can throw off the perfectly crafted plan and/or just a myriad of ways in which the simple harmony can go off key. Some of these reasons are equine, many of these reasons are human, and a bunch of them are just random variables….

I’ve heard a saying that goes something like “music is the sound between the notes” and I think that this captures a lot of my job.

My job is, at its best, when the horse and I are happily, peacefully and quietly walking around in circles. It is peaceful when we are doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing, doing it quietly and until we reach the end. I am investing a good deal of attention and energy into being aware of these moments – watching for them little gems, noting when the sun is shining, soaking in the velvety calm of the happy & relaxed horse, and feeling grateful when we’re just “humming our happy tune”.

Vuelta por Vuelta.

More soon!

Day 8: I feel like a vampire

9pm – the witching hour is real

Boston Scones – one of my barn faves.

Hi Friends!

Every day that I am at my new & very part-time new job as a hot walker, I think about the lessons I am learning and the observations I want to share… and I look forward to sitting here at my laptop to share them…

And then, suddenly, it’s 9pm and my brain stops working, I can’t focus or even finish posting my daily pics on Insta. It’s a wall that takes no prisoners, and even as I type this I am on borrowed time. It struck me today as I was enjoying a chat with a new acquaintance while waiting for my pizza at 8pm that I was starting to look at my clock, racing the minutes to get home, to eat dinner, to try to post or write, and get in bed before 9. The analogy that popped to mind was the vampire racing to get “home” before the sun comes up and he or she turns to dust.

I feel you vampires, I really do!

The Why – i.e. Why am I doing this?

This is the topic I’ve wanted to write about, soonest, because it’s the question I’m asked most often. (And on an unrelated note, I’m going to try to get myself to write more “single-topic” short posts, so I can keep up over the days ahead – wish me luck.). So, just to get this rolling – here it is;

To Learn

To Be Helpful

To Grow/ Test Myself/ Prove My Capacity

To Experience Life through a Different Perspective

Can’t wait to ruminate on each of these… but for tonight, I’m going to try my new short form approach. And to add in a few photos.

List of Names to Thank

  • Amira – my boss, for giving me this opportunity to learn & help & grow
  • Robert, Tito, Reena and Matt – the squad
  • Dave – NYRA Security (and Tracy too)
  • Maria – hiring me to walk in afternoons
  • Alfonso – took me under his wing for my first walk in the afternoon
  • Amado – 2nd groom to take me to the paddock in the afternoon, and even invited me to join him tomorrow (only daughter is Katia, 20)
  • Emilio – Linda Rice’ hot walker (gave me a hash brown)
  • Luis – Vet for our Shed Row
  • Keith – 3rd groom to take me to the paddock in the afternoon, cool as a cucumber through our unfortunate series of events with Sea City
1st Day Walking to the Paddock – Licensed and ready!

Day 4: Summer 2020 Adventure on the Backstretch

The morning commute 5:20am.

TGIF is not a thing on the backstretch.

As I’ve started to share this story with friends, I’ve started getting questions like “how’s it going?”. My answer: “too much to text”.

But really, here’s how I’m feeling 4 days in.

It’s intense. Humbling. Challenging. Exhausting. Terrifying. It’s hard and I’m really, really glad to be doing it. The perspective, education and experience are just what I was craving – and more.

I wrote this to a friend “It’s no picnic, but I’m super glad to be here.”

A few scheduling notes:

  • First, my decision to start this new “gig” the week before the TRF’s major fund-raising event was questionable at best. For the record, the timing was not totally in my hands, but – ouch, it’s been rough. Big thanks to my TRF teammates who are dealing with me at less than my best as we come down the home stretch.
  • Second, so as not to misrepresent, I’m not planning to do this 7 days a week. I owe it to my teammates and the horses of the TRF to give them a full measure of my effort each week. My plan is to work Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon starting next weekend. This week I opted for a 5 day “crash-course” to try to get my sea-legs. Working Tues-Sat, with a break Sun – Tuesday, but not totally sure I can wait til Friday… for fear of losing my confidence. We’ll see!

Lessons of the Day

  1. Taking pictures with my mind – a new habit.
  2. The horses keep you in the moment. Very.
  3. Always bring your rain jacket.
  4. A McDonald’s Hashbrown can really make your day.
  5. Easy does it. (If you just spit out your cocktail, I get it. This has not exactly been my M.O. in life, but hey… the horses, they are great teachers!)
  6. Vuelta por vuelta…

Thoughts on the above –

  1. Pics: I’ve made myself a promise that I’ll never play with my phone while I have a horse in my hands. I have one job to do, to attend to the horses, and I’m not going to dial it in or multi-task it, no matter how tempting it may be. Thus, I’m working on the “taking pictures with my mind” to capture the scenes I want to remember.
  2. Mindfulness: As I rework on my early morning routine on barn days, I’ve not given myself the “treat” of my 10 Headspace meditation because I think it’s better to just get myself out the door, not rushing and getting to that shed row early… so I’m trying to let the walking itself be my meditation. Above all, the horses are teaching me to really enjoy the “vueltas” (or even just partial vueltas) when they just relax and walk… it’s such a gift, and often fleetingly so.
  3. Rain: It happens. Why not be prepared? Lesson in life – when it’s easy, just do it.
  4. McD’s made my day: Wow. This really was special. The “new girl” was offered a treat by Emilio, from Linda Rice’s barn, from Tito (head groom at our barn). It was cold & greasy and absolutely made me glow with a feeling like I might just, sort of, belong!
  5. Easy Does It. It sounds so simple, and yet, it’s really the hardest thing. From my days of showing in the hunter & equitation divisions, to watching PGA golf, so many skills are best displayed when it looks like the person is doing nothing at all. And so it goes with hotwalking. The horses chill out when you do, and man oh man, that is sometimes a very tall order.
  6. Vuelta por vuelta. This is simply how time passes. Sure there are variations, changes in the schedule, an occasional new task or request, but for the most part… the life of the barn is measured, for me, Vuelta for Vuelta…. hasta mañana!
Hello Handsome! This pretty boy let me pull his mane yesterday – first one I’d done in… 30 years??

Day 2 & 3: Summer 2020 Backstretch Adventure Underway

Hello Friends!

It’s amazing how short a day can be that starts at 4:30am.

Here’s how my schedule is shaping up at this very, very early stage in the journey. Fully aware this will evolve, but not quite sure how. Certainly hanging on for dear life between now and when we host our TRF “Drive-thru” BBQ at the Barn on Tuesday (Aug 11th). I have to think/ hope this will be more manageable after that… here’s hoping!

A Day in the Life (as of Day 3):

  • 4:30am. Alarm. Still not sleeping well, anticipating the alarm.
  • 4:30 – 5:00am. Trying to maintain a bit of my regular routine. Making coffee for my thermos, one small espresso, spending time doing gratitude journal and sending texts (oh so close to doing my headspace, but haven’t quite had enough time).
  • 5:00am. Prep for departure. Coffee in thermos, check my bag, decide on any layers, take Claritin, put on boots (and pack extra socks).
  • 5:10am Head out. Park on Nelson Ave. Navigate Security.
  • 5:20am. Sit on trunk in barn awaiting the day to begin.
  • 11:30/12:00pm. Depart from the barn.
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm. Transition Time: shower, lunch, 15 min power nap if possible.
  • 1:00pm. Land at my desk. Begin normal day of TRF work.
  • 1:00 – 9:00pm. Try to squeeze in real life: work, hubby, dinner, walk.
  • 9:00pm. Bedtime. Falling asleep while trying to post pic a day…

Lessons Learned Day 2 & 3

  1. Accept help when offered.
  2. When there’s nothing to do, do nothing.
  3. Pride has no place on the backstretch. (See #1)
  4. It’s always a good idea to empty a wheelbarrow full of dirty straw.
  5. Being quiet takes practice.
  6. The horses mostly speak Spanish.
  7. It is weird & wonderful to be the lowest woman on the totem pole.
  8. New ways of measuring time: “vueltas” around the shed row, 5 minutes, horses walked, horses going out & coming back, shots of adrenaline managed and more!

Still Smiling – today was a good day!

Wrapping up Day 3 – a Good Day! (Billy, my buddy)

Major Life Experience: Day 1

Hi Friends!

5:25am ready to go!

And just like that, I find myself headlong into a new adventure – right here without so much as a moving a mile. Grateful for the opportunity, I dove into the deep end and now I’m in.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Define Success Specifically. Today my goals were threefold: do not get hurt, do not lose a horse, do not get fired. Success!
  2. Bring Extra Socks and/or Footwear. When your job involves “walker” in it, your feet are going to matter. While I didn’t remember to bring my back up shoes (paddock boots), I sure was glad that all my cycles around the sun had taught me to bring extra socks. When I had a blister from my bean boots while still mid-way thru horse #1, I sure was glad I could go to put on the extra pair (both socks) on my foot with the blister. Problem solved!
  3. Don’t Use the Boss’s Office as your Locker. Oops! Bad call on my part to somehow assume that it made sense to put my personal items in La Jefe’s office. A corrective comment was issued to me along the lines of “not letting the others think I was sneaking in and out of the office” – and that lesson was learned. Boom.
  4. Remember how to sit and wait, without playing on the phone. Much to my surprise, there’s a good bit of “waiting for the horse to come back” in this new gig. An opportunity to just sit still, be and not fidget. Not easy, but great to practice.
  5. Above all, the animals teach you the power of the energy you project. Wow. I won’t lie, I had at least 3 pretty fully terrifying moments with 3 of the horses I walked. It’s quite amazing how powerless I felt standing next to the animals who I’m much, much more comfortable being on top of. The moment they knew I was scared, we were in trouble… and then it was up to me to breathe deep, calm down and convey confidence – on the drop of a dime. No small task and pretty darn exhausting. Just the process of forcibly shutting off the adrenaline is a really hard and challenging task.

More about the journey to get here, the day, the tasks, the dynamics and the players as I find time. My goal is to capture at least a little bit of the growth, day by day, but now – to sleep!

Wish me luck – I need it!

The scene – waiting for the next horse to come back.
It’s a wrap!

And on this day…

Socially distant walk through Saratoga Spa State Park (April 11, 2020)

Vivid Memories

Despite the frosty early morning temperatures, the birds remained committed to informing us that Spring is here with their enthusiastic singing starting about 6am. Their gentle, but insistent chirping was soon followed by the playful pouncing of our early-bird Mookie, punctuated by her trademark velvet-paw poke to encourage us to start to stir. Thanks to daylight savings time the sun herself joined in the parade as she rose over the Saratoga racecourse (6:17am) to our east and painted the walls of our bedroom with dapples. The universe was making itself heard, loud and clear, it was time to get up and see what the world had in store.

With a profound sense of gratitude to be waking up in our safe & cozy home, healthy, safe, with our beloved furry children, and all of the creature comforts we’ve accumulated over so many years. Slowly it sunk in that we were in Saratoga Springs, the very town we’d dreamed of living in for so many years. Our good fortune was, and remains, bewildering.

As we shook off the last gauzy layers of sleep, the butterflies began. We began to remember that the day ahead was one rife with uncharted waters, uncertainty and a myriad of unknowns. While we felt much like the people we’d been the day before, the world around us had shifted and our day’s challenge would be to find our purpose, our plan, our true north to navigate whatever the unstructured hours and days and months ahead might hold. We had taken a leap and now it was up to us to make something of the new day, the first day of the rest of our lives. Everything was possible, nothing was promised and the choices were ours to make.

The question is… what day was it?

An Anniversary

Two years ago today, April 11, 2018, the Maven and I woke up for the very first time, together, in our new home in Saratoga to begin this new chapter in our lives. We were grateful to be in our new home, with our cats, our possessions and to be here together. Our leap was complete. Our house in Alexandria was sold, our previous careers had concluded, our friends and family were supportive, but far away. It was up to us to chart our path, to make choices, to find our way and to realize the potential of this new life. It would be the first day, of many, that would test our sense of self, our resilience, our patience, our vision, and our faith.

By now, I trust you see where I’m going with this little game. The passage above describes that date, and today. Deja vu!

Looking Back and Looking Forward

So much has changed, and yet, so much seems so similar. We arrived here in our new life with a total of 3 friends (our beloved realtor + our amazing former landlords from our summer rental) and with one part-time job between the two of us. We were excited, we were hopeful, but we were absolutely putting on a brave face and marching forward into an unfamiliar new world.

The gifts we have found in Saratoga are simply countless. It was the horses who brought us here, and it is to the horses to whom we owe our endless thanks for the people – the friends and colleagues – who have made our life here such a joy.

Professionally, we marvel at where we’ve landed.

  • The Maven has found his place amidst a group of individuals who have tapped into his unique talents, who appreciate his gifts, and who challenge him to apply these gifts to the sport he loves so very much.
  • For me, to speak for the magical and majestic animals who have made me who I am (the good parts) is a calling that I know to be my highest purpose. On behalf of these creatures, and the good they bring to our world, I bound out of bed every day – eager to do as much as I possibly can to carry their message and engage those willing to hear it. I believe they deserve no less.

Over the course of these two years, we put one foot in front of the other and created the life we’d dreamed of. Truly, we shake our heads in amazement every day.

What comes next?

So, now, the cycle begins again. As we start year 3, we take stock of who we are, we give thanks, and we “make the leap” once again into whatever this new world – changing by the day – may hold in store. This time we have our home, our friends, our careers in place to support us, but the world has shifted beneath our feet. Nothing can be taken for granted. Each of us around the globe, must face the same question: “What will I do with the day I’ve been given?

As we’ve done before, the Maven and I will put on a brave face and go face the world outside our door. For all the uncertainty that lies ahead, we can rest assured that the future will test our patience, our resilience and our sense of purpose. It is up to each of us to look inward to find our vision, take the gulp of air and jump. Heck, practice makes perfect. Right?

Look out world, here we come!


In January 2020, the Maven started his first paid handicapper gig for Sportsline
With super amazing TRF Second Chances Instructor, Heidi Richards, at Pleasant Valley State Prison in CA (Oct 2019)

Spring 2020

Springtime morning at Saratoga Spa State Park (March 26, 2020)

musing on Mornings

My favorite moments of the day are early, but not too early, before the demands of the day require me to rise and shine. I just love it when the sun comes through our eastward facing bedroom window, dappling the walls and bedspread, and our early-bird kitty, Mookie, is bouncing around the bed sharing a hopeful chirp and an encouraging velvet-paw poke to encourage us to shake off the sleeps and get on with our morning routines. This time is such a gift. On normal days (what do we call this now – the past?), I savored such mornings as a treat when I had the option of moving slowly and not shortening this gentle time of awakening.

Nowadays, there are no rushed mornings, no places to go. My-oh-my do I savor these moments, even more so, because now they are the moments when I can pretend that the world hasn’t changed.

And then, the fog clears and I see that we are waking to this new world – a very hard and changed world. As I accept that this new world is not the nightmare I hoped would be chased away by the dawn, I say a prayer of gratitude for the sameness of my gentle mornings. And then I say a prayer for the world and all of those who are waking up to face its hardship in so many challenging ways.

A Season of New Beginnings

Hello Friends!

It’s been quite a while. My last post was dated June 2019, and while I see a few drafts that I’d begun in July and December, today is the day I have chosen to restart this project: The Maven and Magpie Blog. Thanks for joining me!

Since we last left off so much has changed. How’s that for an understatement? Truly, a lot had changed in the world of the Maven and Magpie even before the virus turned the world upside down… but, as we all know, one of the most profound and immediate impacts of the virus has been the creation of abundant time in our days. Pre-virus, time was the resource we were always running short and now, in a blink, we’re all but drowning in it.

With that, like all unexpected gifts, we have a choice in our response. What is the role we are meant to play? What is the role we choose to play in the face of this new reality?

For so many heroic individuals, the choices are among fewer and much harder options than mine. The doctors, nurses, hospital staff, ambulance drivers, homeless shelter staff, correctional facility staff, community organizations, and so many, many others who are bravely doing their work in the teeth of this disaster simply do not have the luxury of wondering what to do with their unstructured time. These heroes among us have only the choices of how to keep themselves going, and what attitude and level of grace they can bring to each moment of their perilous days.

I especially love this example set by Dr. Elvis Francois at the Mayo Clinic... taking a page from the Italians on their balconies, and inspiring so many others to bring joy to the frontline of these terrible times. Please share your favorite example in the comments (we’ll see if they work). Whether it be the #518rainbows, the Colorado Symphony’s Ode to Joy on Zoom, #HamAtHome or one of so many so many other minor miracles. They each make an impact. #SpreadJoy

But for the Maven and me, our choices look much different. We are incredibly fortunate in more ways that I can count. We are safe. We are healthy. We live in a comfortable home in a quiet, peaceful, prosperous and caring town. We have no immediate responsibilities for lives other than our own and our two beloved cats. Our loved ones, thus far, are safe and healthy. And we have work to do – which we can do from home. While we fully understand that each of our respective professional roles have uncertain futures, in the world that awaits us after this crisis, for now our work gives our days purpose, structure and connection to others. Above all, we truly have the gift of time. We are here and we are able, together, in our happy home. Able to do what? That, my friends, is truly the million dollar question.

It is on our shoulders to determine what this gift is intended to teach us, and how to make the most of it. And I guess that’s what I’m going to write about over the coming days.

I’d be honored to have you follow along and share your own path into the forest that we are waking to this memorable Spring 2020.


Sharing A Few Ideas

With each post, I’m going to intend to share a few of the resources, words, ideas or other tools that I’m finding helpful… nothing new under the sun, but these are things that are keeping me going. And, as a new twist, I’m also going to try to “squeeze” a few nuggets from the Maven into this section. He’s doing an amazing job exploring the possibilities of this new era… and lucky for me, much of this exploration happens in the kitchen. Stay tuned!

Magpie Pick: Oprah + Chopra 21 Day Meditation Experiences – I love these! And I thank my Suzanne for introducing me to them years ago. Together Oprah and Deepak Chopra offers a series of these each year, the first offering is free (but you have to keep up) and then the recorded version is available for purchase (I’ve purchased two so far). In timely fashion, they launched a new one this past week “Hope in Uncertain Times”. In a word, perfect.

Maven’s Magic: The Maven’s Frozen Bagel Secret

  1. Start with a fresh bagel, individually wrapped in foil and frozen.
  2. Place in toaster over, still wrapped in foil, 15 min at 400 degrees.
  3. Open it, then lightly toast.
  4. Perfect!

Closing Quote: “Be the rainbow in someone’s cloud” – Maya Angelou

And so it begins, again! Embracing the adventure of year 2, summer 2.

Winding down Iris season… bring on the Peonies!

Hello Friends! Remember me?

Time to start anew

Yes, it’s been a while since I settled into a blog post and it’s nice to be back. Reflecting on where I was – physically, mentally, professionally – when I launched my first post (December 2017), it really does seem like a lifetime ago. And yet, as I have been gathering my thoughts about this post… and perhaps those that follow, it’s a little bit like groundhog’s day in that all I really have to offer is an intent to chronicle the journey. Today, June 9th, just another day at the beginning of a chapter – the eve of our second full summer in Saratoga, one month into my second year at the TRF, and on the cusp of marking the close of my fourth decade circling the sun… and the dawn of a new digit in front of my age. A season to begin, again!

But first, a quick look at where we’ve been

All through the Spring, I’ve been pondering how to best commemorate the 1st anniversaries that we’ve noted, celebrated and given thanks for over the course of February through May. Three months chock-full of milestones in my ledger as we found ourselves one year since: closing on the house at 123 Madison (Feb 16), my last TechBUZZ, buying the Subaru & making my first solo trip to Saratoga (with my mattress & laptop), saying farewell to the house at 301 S. Henry (March 19), driving the cats to Saratoga, the movers arriving with our furniture in Saratoga, Bobby’s last day with SAIC, my last day with MAVA, our first day waking up together “all in” to our Saratoga live (April 11th) – and, my first day with TRF (May 1). Phew! Alot to process, alot of ground covered, and above all, a great sense of relief and satisfaction that we have made it through that first big year of transition – reinventing our lives, our careers, our home, and our routines. We did it! Wow.

The anniversary game

As B and I went to Happy Hour on April 11th (at Mexican Connection), I inflicted one of my somewhat infamous “games” on him. The rules were simple. We’d make & build 3 lists, in 3 rounds, consisting of the following: 5 things B is proud of himself for accomplishing in our first year; 5 things I am proud of myself for accomplishing; and 5 things we have accomplished together. The goal was to take stock and celebrate how far we’ve come. This is something I’m always something I’m quick to suggest everyone I love do more often…. and occasionally admonish myself to do so too, when we all know how much easier it is to work on the list of “still need to do” – whether this be at the end of a workday, a workweek, a season, a year. I truly believe we recharge our batteries by looking (at least briefly, and very intentionally) in the rearview at these milestone moments to note, respect and appreciate how far we’ve come… before, the inevitable looking up, ahead, and over the horizon at all that lies ahead.

In case you might be inspired to give this little game a try, I’ll tell you – it’s not easy, but it’s quite satisfying. I’ll caution that I’d originally thought we’d try to think of 10 things for each list (B’s, mine, ours) and I’m glad that I revised to 5. 🙂 Also, I found it easier to give ourselves a little “assist” by starting each other’s list with my by adding one to B’s list with something that I’m proud of him for accomplishing, and him doing the same for me. Food for thought!

So now, where do we go from here?

Indeed, that is the question. With my mind very focused on the process of reinvention these days (more on that in a bit), I think the pause in my writing throughout this season of anniversaries has been due to my strong sense of, really, now what? After all the effort, energy and upheaval we initiated and powered through in 2017 – extracting ourselves from our wonderful old lives, believing we were ready for a new adventure; then after all the firsts of 2018 – arriving in our long-beloved dream place, dream jobs, fresh start and blank slate; we find ourselves in year two… with no excuses. No more rookie status, we’re year-round, we’ve seen (and loved) our first winter, our first Spring… and now?

Well, the answer is simple – if kind of daunting. I believe that now we simply must…. make it awesome. Make it worth it. Make this our best moment, be our best selves, make our greatest impact… carpe diem, with no excuses. How fortunate we are that we are here, that we were able to recreate our lives, to do it on our own terms, to land so comfortably (if not entirely comfortable), to find our callings (both of us, it’s amazing), and to have all the support of friends, family, colleagues and, at least so far, no interruptions from making this our best year ever. That is the challenge. When nothing is stopping you from being your best, truest you, you simply have no where to hide – you just have to go, do, be, shine, give, act, express, and make the world a better place. GO! (Gulp!)

Some sources of inspiration – fuel for the journey

I’m excited to share what happens next, and I think my plan is to deliberately focus on sharing my personal approach to making this next year – starting with the summer – my best ever. I’ll share the highs and lows and doldrums of how I’m going to try to make the most of all of it, and to make my greatest impact. This means I’ll be writing alot more about my work, my approach to my work, my activities/tactics and hopefully some of my successes (as well as, inevitably, my failures), but also how I want to incorporate my work life, which feels so much less like work now that I’m doing what I believe I was absolutely meant to do, into my whole life – integrating home life, health life, spiritual life, community life… all of it into one fabric with many interrelated threads. So stay tuned – it’s going to get really horsie, and race-tracky, among other things!

But, before I start sharing all that, I thought I’d mention a couple of really terrific resources that I’ve been leaning on throughout my reflection on “what next”.

Podcast: Oprah’s Master Class My faves so far have been – Ellen DeGeneres, Condoleesa Rice, Stevie Nicks, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah’s (two part) story, and really, all of them I’ve listened to have been great and left me thinking. What would I teach as my personal Master Class?

Quote from website: “Oprah’s Master Class tells the stories you’ve never heard from the people you thought you knew best. Hand-picked by Oprah Winfrey for their unique impact on the world, true modern masters from Academy Award-winning actors, to Grammy-winning musicians, to ground-breaking athletes, share the greatest lessons they’ve learned along the way. In an intimate setting, they share their successes, their failures, their triumphs, disappointments and heartbreaks.”

New Book: Reinventing Greatness- Leading Yourself & Others Through Change with Confidence by Shari Goodwin. You’ll be hearing more about Shari and her charming retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Lemon Squeezy from me over the coming days – as Shari and I are hosting an event at her beautiful farm in Marshall, VA on June 22nd. For now, take a look at my review of her book on Amazon (link above), consider buying the book for yourself – and any/all friends going through a chapter of reinvention! It’s terrific!

I’d also encourage you to invest the time (1:20) in watching Shari and Lemon Squeezy’s “Reinvention in the Round” workshop on YouTube. It profoundly impacted me, as I experienced it in February this year, right as my season of anniversaries began and as I started asking myself… “after all this change, now what?”

More soon, and a promise to keep in touch

Time’s up for this writing session, as the Maven’s bus is arriving in Albany in 30 minutes, but I’m intent to get this posted tonight (almost!) and to make a habit of sharing my story as it unfolds over the months of June, July and August (for starters). Writing will be a way to hold myself accountable for some guiding principals, and to hopefully encourage my friends out there in blog-land to share their own journeys. I think we’re all in the process of reinvention all the time, it’s just a matter of paying attention to the process and trying to set some intentions for where the journey may take us. We’ll find out!



P.S. Lots of pics of the past few months on instagram #mavenandmagpie

My daily walk thru Congress Park – ducklings!!
Peonies – so brief, but so pretty!

Brain on Fire – Sharing a few of my Current Influences & “Go To” Resources

Hi Friends!

So many thoughts to share these days… I should probably check my zodiac to find out what the heck is going on that my brain is in such a frenzy of writing, thinking, creating. I’m very grateful for the energy that seems to be flowing through me of late, and I want to make the most of it. And, to share it with you!

Today’s post is just a chance to share a bunch of resources that I’m finding very helpful and inspiring lately. I would love to talk more about any one of these things (My awesome tech support team seems to have unlocked the comment feature. Yay!)


  • Optimal Living Daily – perfect to listen to while making the bed in the AM!
  • In the Money: Players Podcast – the Maven and I have listened to Pete Fornatale for years and find his show really helpful for staying up to speed on the big races in the Thoroughbred world that we’re both now a part of. Plus I made my personal debut earlier this month (episode #21) – more on this soon!
  • Oprah & Deepak 21 Day Meditation – the next FREE 21 day experience starts on March 25th (each episode available for 5 days), I highly recommend. I’ve purchased two of the earlier programs and relisten to them regulary (Manifesting Grace through Gratitude and Desire & Destiny)
  • Oprah’s Masterclass – I started this by just listening to the two episodes about her own life story, and that was simply amazing. Then, she really lets her guests just tell their story. Totally inspiring.

Videos/ Shows to Watch:

  • PBS Equus: The Story of the Horse (2 part documentary) – an absolute MUST watch for anyone with any interest in horses, horse-racing or the impact of horses on humans. Sadly, it’s no longer available for free on the PBS website, but it is so very, very worth hunting down. I plan to buy a copy (to inflict on all guests at Casa Weir, especially episode #1)
  • Reinvention, the story of Lemon Squeezy – this 1 hour and 20 minute video, is well worth the watch for all of us as we each continually “reinvent” ourselves. My friend Shari Goodwin is the teacher of this seminar, with her amazing and inspiring assistant, the adorable Lemon Squeezy – her retired Thoroughbred racehorse, who shares his own reinvention process with all of us. Much more to be shared about Shari and “Squeezy” – and a beautiful partnership that we’re building for Lemon Squeezy to help us speak for the horses of the TRF!

Apps that I rely on:

  • Headspace – every day meditation, I just love Andy, his voice, his techniques and all the different themes & packs. Have really committed to my “daily 10” since our move to Saratoga, and look forward to deepening my practice over the year ahead.
  • Red Cross Blood Donor App – if every person in the US who could donate blood did so, once a year, our country would have a surplus
  • Wunderlist – this is the app that organizes my life, and facilitates communication between the Maven and I (and minimizes the “honey dos” & “nagging”)
  • Google Drive – it took me a while, but I am totally ALL IN on having my key documents saved as Sheets, Docs and Forms on my Google Drive so I can access things (RSVP trackers, perfect!) from anywhere – and especially from my phone.
  • Paperless Post – I’ve always been a big fan, but now they have an adorable new FREE invite format called “flier” which you can send via text, and I love it!

And as a footnote and preview –

I started this post more than 3 weeks ago, and it’s been a busy & fun month which has kept me from the finishing up (adding all the links)… so two closing thoughts that reflect updates on the crazy brain as well as a look ahead.

Footnote: Tylenol PM – simple but effective, and thanks to my bestie in Bend and my Auntie in Atlanta, as messengers of the universe – I’m taking this direct approach to calming the frenzy that has settled in as my nightly challenge at 3am. So far so good! NOTE: I have simultaneously proven that I cannot ever have a double espresso at 8:30pm again… ACK, Saturday night disaster!

Preview: I’m going to dedicate my next post, or posts, to some “deep-dive” into my work world. Now that I’m embarking on my first full year in the role, with the ability to make my own plan, execute a plan and be measured by the results of my plan… I’m dedicating all of my available energy to making sure I make the most of this important, foundation year in my work for the horses of the TRF. I’d love to share this plan with my friends, to get feedback and to educate everyone I care about, about the world I now work in. Also, in preparing for the year ahead – and a number of exciting opportunities to make myself more visible and familiar to my new ecosystem – I’ve been reworking my bio, my LinkedIn summary, my Facebook Bio, and really…creating my horsie-CV. As a bit of a soft-launch/ focus group, I’d like to share it with my Maven and Magpie readers, to see how it sounds and what reactions you all may have.

And.. one more thing! When I first launched the Maven and Magpie blog & website in Dec 2017, I created a bunch of pages where I planned to capture and all sorts of things I enjoy & projects I hoped to pursue… admittedly, most of these have been woefully unattended for some time. However, as the Maven and I “buckle down” into exploring our new home, the NY Capital Region, I am going to get serious about documenting all the places we’ve been spending time – eating, absorbing and enjoying our new home. It is also where I park all our faves (especially eats) from our travels.

Here’s the page where most of this will live, so you can take a peek from time to time: Sharing the Love!

With the days getting longer, the birds chirping louder and the 1st Day of Spring around the corner… I hope you’re enjoying the new energy of this time of renewal. As the earth wakes up and the shoots appear on the trees, we each have a chance to begin anew. I’m awfully excited about all that lies ahead and to sharing it with you!