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!




The Power of Places and the People they bring you – A love letter to Oldfields School

Oldfields School 150th Reunion (April 2017)

Hello Friends!

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I’m newly afflicted with the “wake up in the middle of the night with my brain on fire” syndrome – and yes, I get that this is part of the “magic” of my age which I’m totally game to embrace. However, while I’m still trying a myriad of techniques to get through the “hour(s) of awake” so that I don’t turn into a total zombie during daylight hours – I’m also trying to not lose all the vivid images that fill my brain in those weird, wee hours of the night. If only I could figure out how to get/let folks comment on my blog, I feel certain everyone reading has a suggestion of what to do or not do. I can feel them! (Sign up for wordpress Reader app and read me there?)

So, this past week, I had one of these dreams… but since I wasn’t asleep it wasn’t actually a dream, it was really just a technicolor clear flashback to a special series of days in the Spring of 1991. I remember the day (and series of days) in bright detail because they were “moments that changed my life forever” kind of moments. I’m forever grateful for the magic of that time which opened the door for me to meet to an incredibly special handful of the most important people in my life – all at once. They, in turn, brought me to a place where I grew up and became much who I am now and where I met a flock of the most amazing people who I hold most dear in my life to this day. It was such a big day. It was 28 years ago. And, I feel like I just went back in time to watch it again… and I’m reliving it, reflecting on it, and of course, sharing it with you!

Here’s the flashblack as a thumbnail (I apparently have big thumbs) –

March 1991: The magpie is in her 4th year at UVA, applying for jobs that will scratch her “make the world a better place” itch, while reflecting her post-Spain epiphany that working in development in another country is not as compelling as she thought it was (because from overseas, our country looked like it needed plenty of help). These included Teach for America, US P.I.R.G. (is that even around anymore?), one random marketing job with the tiny startup on Capitol Hill that became the Advisory Board (and would’ve paid 10 times the rest), and a number of independent school teaching jobs. The private school idea really came of my belief that Teach for America would never select me due to all the incredible good fortune, excellent education and every imaginable advantage I had enjoyed over my first 20 years of life – what could I possible offer to them? So, I answered the call of the independent school placement agencies (Carney Sandoe etc), and decided to go to the annual conference of the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) where they ran their annual cattle-call of hiring in the Spring.

In 1991 the conference was held in NYC, so I took a field trip from C’ville to the Big Apple! I am a bit blurry on how I got there, I have to guess it was the train because I know I flew from Newark to meet my parents for Spring Break in Steamboat, the only time we’d ever gone there together and the first time I’d skied in March (so warm & sunny!). The super-fun part of that trip was that I stayed with my SUPER AWESOME Kappa Delta Sorority Sister, “Big Kim” and her roomie (another awesome KD) Colette. I have very fond, if fuzzy, memories of going out with them near their apartment the night I got there… thinking it was a Friday. Then, on Saturday I went to NAIS which was hosted in some big hotel (would be fun to figure out where). As I recall, there was a very low-tech sort of communication system where you looked for your name on a sort of bulletin board, covered with little envelopes and schools would put their names in your timeslots if they wanted to meet you – in sort of a speed dating setup. I recall sitting in a big ballroom with lots of tables and people having quick conversations (this part is fuzzy), and I THINK I met Nancy Maslack at one of those tables. What I KNOW happened next, is that I was invited for a 2nd conversation with the team from Oldfields School. I had never heard of this place, ever. The 2nd meeting must’ve happened the following day, sort of like “call-backs”.

That fateful next meeting was upstairs in the hotel, in what felt like a suite, and that’s where and when I met and spent time with 3 people who changed my life: Hawley Rogers, Nancy Maslack and Jan Scott – the leadership team of Oldfields School in 1991. This is the moment that my life changed. It’s clear as could be now, looking back. But, I wonder, did I realize it then? I remember that I felt so at home with them, so honored to be meeting with them (in their fancy suite!) and it just seemed so clear that I’d found where I was supposed to be. It might have even seemed a little too good to be true. Of course, like all big days… you rarely know it’s big until it’s over. And, as a 21 year old child, I was as enamored by the whole “big city” experience of interviewing in NYC as anything else – so I don’t know whether I knew I’d found my home, but I certainly had.

April 1991: As I recall, the next step job-wise was that I scheduled to go to Oldfields and drove there for the next round of interviews. With some lingering version of walking pneumonia (I think), I drove there on April 1st. I remember that date and that drive so clearly, in the original CALIHOO (1985 White Grand Cherokee). It was a grey & rainy morning, driving up from Arlington, taking exit 24 – Belfast Road- off of 83 north and loving the mist, the green, the rolling hills, the horsie-ness. It was literally a drive into the next chapter of my life. While I don’t recall that much about the day of interviews as I do about the drive, I do everso vividly remember sitting in the Papa-san chair of my now dear, dear sister-friend, Wawa, in her apartment above the Admissions Office (later my dear friend TAG’s apartment)… and thinking I’d just me someone who I hoped would be in my life forever. And she has been! Love you Wa!!

Thankful beyond measure. All of this just leads me to offer this post as a “love letter” and a prayer of heartfelt gratitude for the Place that is Oldfields and the People who both brought me there and found me there. Thank you Hawley! Thank you Nancy!

And thanks beyond thanks to the amazing woman, Jan Scott, who invested so much of herself in helping me become the best me I could be. One day I’ll just write an entire post in her honor, with my love and gratitude for her extraordinary mentorship. It is her beaming smile that I most miss. I still feel the warmth of her. Such a teeny little person, packing such a huge punch in the world … like a great big ball of super-charged sunshine, bursting with energy, light, ideas, enthusiasm and life. All these many years since she left us to watch over us like an angel above. Reminding us to “breathe” to “dance” and, always, to “go for it”.

The five years I spent in that amazing community were powerfully transformational. I am really just in awe of how deep the relationships are that I formed there – such that I can wake up in the middle of the night feeling the connection to each of you like a physical bear hug. I am profoundly thankful to each and everyone one of you.

While a big part of me wants to just start typing a huge long list of all the people who fill my brain with the memories of those 5 years (teachers, students, parents, colleagues…fellow travelers, prospective students…), I’m going to forego the exercise and instead, bury you in photos I dug up and took in celebration of the 150th Anniversary at OS in 2017. Enjoy! (And beware, I’m seriously in tears of love & joy & nostaglia as I’m posting them.)

Closing with a shameless PSA – I’d really love to start getting some comments on my posts, but it seems the only way to do this is for folks to install the WordPress App, log in and read & comment there. Click here to read how to do this. I’d love to hear from you – especially if you are one of the many, many gifts that Oldfields gave to me.

Looking ahead to future reflections, I’m starting a list of the places that have helped me become who I am – and if you find a way to reply to this post, I’d love to hear your lists!

  • The Barn at the Brumfields, Carmel Valley, CA
  • Bishop’s School, La Jolla, CA
  • Camp Strawderman, Woodstock, VA
  • University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
  • Semester Abroad in Valencia, Spain
  • Oldfields School, Glencoe, MD
  • Riggs Bank, Washington, DC
  • Virginia Economic Development Partnership
  • 301 S Henry Street, Alexandria, VA
  • MAVA
  • ….. now, Saratoga Springs, NY!