Beautiful Ride

The somewhat self-indulgent rantings about the beautiful ride that is my life!

A Season in Time October 23, 2013

Filed under: beautiful ride,Cowgirl,Family — beautifulride @ 3:23 pm
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imagesCAGPS4SFChilly nights, clear days, crunching leaves and color…everywhere color. One plus of life in the Northeast is the beautiful season of autumn…the fiery reds, the brilliant yellows, the glowing oranges…all set against a backdrop of the bluest skies and the sunniest days. Sometimes it feels like a little trick of nature though…a season so beautiful that you forget what’s coming next…the cold, dark winter. You know what I mean…kind of the same way that nature tricks us with the sweet cuteness of new babies, never quite revealing the “joys” of the teen years that are right around the corner (yes, true words from a Mom of several teenagers….). But right in the middle of the challenging years of parenting a teen, you will get a glimpse of that young adult they will become sooner than you’d like to admit…and it makes your heart swell. And in the middle of the coldest, darkest winter, you might wake up and find your world covered in a blanket of the purest, whitest, most shimmering snow. That’s just the way it is with seasons….seasons of the year, seasons of our lives, seasons of time. Each one reveal beauty, each one presenting challenges.

Today I’m quietly celebrating my own little season in time. Today is an anniversary for me. A three-month anniversary. A quarter of a year ~ and by my calculations, that equals a season. It was exactly three months ago today that I opened the door and welcomed the public into my own little space…revealing a dream that I had been holding in my heart and soul for quite some time. In my first “season” here in the boutique, I have packed up some light and airy summer items and moved in the warmer colors and decorations of autumn. I’ve restocked and rearranged, added new merchandise and considered discontinuing some old. I’ve grown comfortable behind my little counter, and confident in my merchandising skills; and yes, I still get as giddy as a little one on Christmas morning when I put the key in the lock every morning, and as happy as I can possibly be when a customer likes something so much that they decide to take it home with them.

Beyond the happenings inside of my four sand-colored walls, I’ve learned a great deal as well. I’ve memorized my train schedule and my family has learned to fend for themselves just a little bit more than they used to, because they know how important it is for me to be tending to the store right now. My wonderful husband has taken over cleaning duties, my boys are getting themselves to their after-school activities, and we are all learning to cope with the “catch as catch can” dinner scenarios and the sometimes challenging” cash flow” issues that are all part of starting an adventure such as this. Are they thrilled every single minute? Probably not. But when push comes to shove and I’m melting down over a few bad days in a row, they are the first to step up and remind me how important it is to chase your dreams, and that they will stand beside me while we figure out how to make this all work. They seem to already know that even in the most successful companies, there are still “seasonal” challenges to overcome in business as well. Good days and bad; profitable ones and some that are not so profitable; smart business decisions and decisions you wish you could take back almost immediately.  And that each season is just that…a season. Beautiful in most ways, a little dreary in a few, but an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.

It has been a joy and a privilege to meet the people of Summit, NJ and the surrounding communities who have taken the time to come inside during my first season and see what “Cowgirl in the Sand” is all about. And it has been a blessing and an honor to receive such strong support from my close friends and family and the online community that has followed me through my social media and website posts. Your encouragement has been strong and unwavering. And I hope you will stick around for the next season of Cowgirl in the Sand ~ I know it will be challenging and exciting and absolutely a dream come true. And many years from now, we can all look back and say, “Wow, remember when…remember those early days…the good old days…when you were just finding your way and learning the rope…wasn’t that first season a great little season in time.”


carousel_image_bd972dafe0630709949f_photo-64Me and Mayor Ellen Dickson cutting the turquoise ribbon on opening day!

*Photo courtesy of The Alterative Press

If you are new to “Cowgirl in the Sand,” I invite you to read the local article regarding our opening, which took place just three short months ago!


Independence Day July 5, 2013

Filed under: beautiful ride,Cowgirl,Faith,Family,Friendship,Holidays — beautifulride @ 11:18 am

fireworksYesterday was a holiday, and I did, for the most part, take an actual day off. After getting my youngest son up and around and off to a dance convention and workshop…at 5:30 a.m., no less…I settled myself back down on the sofa with a steaming cup of coffee in my hands, the early news on the television, and the promise of a peaceful morning on my mind. Just as a thought I might close my eyes and steal a few more moments of sleep before the rest of the house came to life, I remembered exactly what day it was. It was the Fourth of July. America’s birthday. Independence Day.

My mind immediately wandered back to precious memories of past July 4th celebrations. When I was very young, we would start the day by walking up to the fireworks table at the corner gas station just a few blocks from home. My brother and two sisters and I would  have about $5.00 each and we could spend it on whatever combination of cap guns and snake bombs and sparklers we wanted. We’d go home and play with our Independence Day treasures; and Dad would set off this little table top cannon that he had, to the delight of all the neighborhood kids! The we would head over to my Grandma and Grandpa Hessert’s house for a picnic where there was always potato salad, cake and homemade ice cream! After dinner, my Mom would take our hands and a blanket, and my Dad would grab some lawn chairs, and we would start the 10-minute walk to the Market Street Bridge, where we would find the perfect spot to watch the fireworks over the Susquehanna River. Except for one of my younger sisters. She would always say she didn’t like the smell of the fireworks, but we always knew she was afraid of the loud noise. And every year, my Grandpa would say he really didn’t like the smell either, and was kind of tired, so maybe she could keep him company on the front porch so he wouldn’t have to be alone. The older I get, the sweeter that gesture seems to me.

As we got a little older, we would travel to Harrisburg to spend the 4th with my Nanny Moore, and my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Red, white and blue sundresses, burgers and dogs, punk sticks, popsicles and sparklers. And if the weather was good, we would pile in the station wagon and drive downtown to sit along the banks of the river once again, and watch the capital city’s fireworks extravaganza.

Before I knew it, I was grabbing the hands of my own children and watching the party in the sky through their big-wide eyes. In the days before the kids outnumbered the parents, we would spend the day at Point State Park in Pittsburgh, still the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen, right there where the three rivers meet. As the kid count grew, we opted for less crowded venues–the 2nd floor deck of our neighbors gave a great view of the fireworks at Kennywood Park, or perhaps the parking lot of a local strip mall where sleeping babies could stay in carseats while older siblings could sit on the hood of the car. And sometimes we’d travel to Longs Park in Lancaster, where Grammy and Aunts and Uncles could all pitch in to help wrangle our kids and their cousins.

And then I started thinking about our time here in Maplewood, NJ. By a stroke of luck, we managed to buy a home across the street from Town Hall and Memorial Park, where all the Fourth of July festivities happen. The first few years, we would walk over to the park for the circus and camel rides, ice cream and music. Now, they are older and the days are full of the things teenage boys do ~ but at the end of the day, they still come across the street with us, sit on the blanket and look up at the celebration in the night sky. As we sat there last night, with the fireworks exploding in the patch of sky between a beautiful tree and the American flag waving in the breeze from the top of the flagpole on the lawn, it struck me. Not only was this day an Independence Day celebration for our country, but it was an Independence Day celebration for me. You see, on July 3rd, I said farewell to a full-time job that I have held for the last 7 years. With tears in my eyes for all that I had learned, and for all that I had grown, and for all of the wonderful people that had become so much more than just coworkers to me, I turned in my key and I stepped out the door. And in that moment, I not only stepped away from the security and the dependence of that job, but all the jobs that I’ve held in the past. And even though I’ve been working at my own business for the last three years, it has been secondary. I have nurtured it and tended to it and poured my heart and soul into into it, but from the sidelines…on my own time, I had an obligation to the company I was representing, and a responsibility to give them my full attention and my best work. And I believe that I did just that. But more and more, my heart was screaming out to reach higher, dream bigger, and embrace my own dream. So on July 4th, 2013, I celebrated my first Independence Day ~ my first day of being a full-time, self-employed, small business owner ~ in a land where dreams like mine can still come true, I don’t know what’s in store for me or my Cowgirl in the Sand boutique, and I know that I can’t take this opportunity lightly. With the freedom to start my own business, there is also a responsibility to make the very most of the chance I’ve been given.

And to my friends who have supported me and to my family that believes in me, I want to say thank you. Your faith in me gives me the courage to embrace my dreams and reach for the stars. And I hope you will stick around for awhile, because I think this whole adventure is going to be a beautiful, beautiful ride!


Lending a Hand September 30, 2012

It has been quite some time since I posted a blog…quite some time indeed. No reason other than time, or rather a lack of time. I’ve been busy…busy with the kids, busy with the business, busy with work, busy with life. It’s been a juggling act on a tightrope trying to balance schedules, meals, orders, laundry, etc., etc., etc. I will even admit that while I feel immensely and unbelievably blessed to be doing the things I’m doing (ok, maybe not the laundry), I also sometimes feel like I just cannot take on another thing. With a husband that travels weekly for business and the sons that can drive living in different states, the daily run of dance classes, voice lessons, theatre practice, groceries, doctor’s appointments, etc., etc., etc. has left me feeling a little out of breath!

Facing the daily tasks we have to do, or want to do, can be exhausting, but we generally find a way to tackle the beast and get it done. Until that one time, that one time when we are faced with that one thing that we didn’t plan for … that we don’t want to do … that we just might not have the energy to face …  certainly not alone.

And that’s when your friends step in. And that’s why I’m finding the time to post a blog today. Today, my friends, and my little community of little businesses are working together for one cause. Under the dierction of the dear, sweet Barbara of Shabby Cowgirl, we are lending a hand to a family that just doesn’t have the energy to think about the busy-ness of daily life. A few days ago, Barbara used the power of social media to reach out to a small number of businesses that have been extremely supportive to each other. Although most of us have never met face to face, we have developed real and lasting friendships through our facebook connections. We’ve discussed our businesses, our families, our hopes and dreams and frustrations. We may be forging our friendships over virtual cups of coffee, but it is no less real than if we were sitting together at the kitchen table or at the local cafe. And when one friend falls, we want to do all we can to help pick her back up.

So when Barbara reached out to let me know that our Amy over at  Junk Love and Co. was sitting by the hospital bed of her son who had been injured, along with her father-in-law, in a severe accident, miles and miles from home, I was more than happy to help her in any way. Not because we’ve met, not because my sons have played with her son, but because she was suffering. And afraid. And she needed our help, even if we could only do the smallest of things. We wanted her to know she could lean on us.

Miss Shabby Cowgirl had an idea, that maybe a few of us could donate an item to an online auction, and we could raise just a little money to help with the cost of gas and food while Amy’s son was being treated in the pediatric intensive care unit of a hospital far from their home. Maybe we could just lift the burden a little bit so that they could focus all of their time and love on getting their family well and home. One little idea…the thought of one friend reaching out to a few more friends…has grown into an amazing online auction with well over 30 businesses participating with donations.

So won’t you join us on the facebook page of Shabby Cowgirl today, September 30th. The auction will run from 12 noon until 7 pm, PST. You’ll find the bidding rules and payment instructions, along with the amazing auction items, all listed on her page. Everything from jewelry to baked goods to autographed books and so much more, including a few items from my very own Cowgirl in the Sand shop. If you aren’t able to participate in the auction, maybe you could lend a hand by sharing the Shabby Cowgirl link on your facebook or twitter page. We can all lend a hand, and together, we can do amazing things!


Peace…and Giddyup! July 9, 2010

I remember back when I was in my early teens, my sisters and I had a plan…a dream. One day we would open a little shop, full of craft items and assorted treasures that had meaning to us at the time. Our little store would be in a great little house, converted to retail space, like you would occasionally see in our little town.  Maybe it would be downtown, maybe close to Lycoming College, or maybe even in the Historic Millionaire’s Row District.  We dreamed that we would send our future husbands off to work, gather up our children, and meet every day in our cozy little home away from home, where our babies would play together while we collectively peddled our wares. We had a great name too….We would name our store E.S.P. (not only for our initials–Elise, Sharon, Pam–but also for the paranormal phenomenon that we were always a little fascinated with!). By the way, E.S.P. was also going to be the name of our musical sister-act, which was going to bring us fame and wealth beyond our imaginations! Ah, youth!

We never opened our store…or went on a concert tour…instead, we grew up, got married, moved away, and settled into the responsibilities of jobs and families.  But the dream of a little store was always in the back of my mind. A little something that I could grow and nurture and make my own…something that I could put my heart and soul into, something that could reflect my style, and something for when my children leave our home and move on to lives of their own.

And now, after a year of planning and months of hard work…really hard work…I have a little announcement to make. I have a store!  I am a business owner… a fully licensed, tax-paying, hard-working business owner! And tomorrow, at Maplewoodstock, I will be launching Cowgirl in the Sanda unique little shop featuring a variety of fun and funky items for the whole family, offering an entertaining mix of apparel, jewelry, bath and beauty products, music/concert-related merchandise, and gifts and accessories … all brimming with western flavor and hippie flair. 

Right now, the focus is on street fairs, music and arts festivals, and an online store. I still dream of an actual brick and mortar store someday…in Maplewood Village…but I’m not there yet. I still have a family to raise and a day job that deserves my full attention…and I am completely committed to both. But I’m also thrilled to be stepping out of my comfort zone and reaching for (actually more like jumping into…to the deep end…without a life-preserver…) a dream that’s been with me for so long.

And to my dream team…my sisters, who shared my spark all those years ago, and who support me still; my brother, who had the courage to start his own business and has been guiding my steps through the whole process; my Mom and Dad, who support all my dreams, all the time; and my sons, who think I’m crazy woman, but are already planning to be the first customers in line tomorrow,  and who have brought humor and help to the whole process….thank you, thank you, thank you…I love you all.

Most importantly, thank you to my husband. Rick, this would have never happened without you. You say “yes, you can” when I say “no, I can’t.” You remind me to pace myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed. You encourage me, push me, temper me, and love me. You give me courage and wings, and when you tell me that you are proud of me, I feel strong and confident and free. I’ve said before that you came on a white horse for me, what I didn’t say was that you never asked me to sit behind you on your white horse…instead you brought one for me too, so that we could experience life’s ride side by side. And what a beautiful ride it is!

Want to know more about Cowgirl in the Sand? Go to to get all the answers…why Cowgirl…why launch at Maplewoodstock…why western spirit and hippie funk. The merchandise/shopping page is still in the works, but we are launching anyway…in time for tomorrow’s festival.  Hope you’ll stop by and say “Hello Cowgirl in the Sand.”

Peace…and Giddyup!


Hello Cowgirl In The Sand May 19, 2010

Filed under: beautiful ride,Cowgirl,Family,Home,Music — beautifulride @ 11:26 am
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Music is huge in our family. At any given moment on any given day we may be playing opera, classical, country rock, rockabilly, blues, jazz, world beat, alternative, bluegrass, rock and roll, crooners…the list goes on. Often on a Friday night you will find various members of the family wandering between the rooms of the house or on the front porch looking for someone to listen to “this awesome tune that you have to hear.”  The boys play guitar, banjo, trombone, baritone, drums, and an endless supply of small percussion and “jug band” instruments—even a didgeridoo (affectionately referred to as “The Didge”)! One style of music that makes its way into almost every jam session is that of the “Woodstock” era…Dylan, Grateful Dead, Neil Young…you will find artists like that on every iPod in the house. It’s the music the boys heard playing in the background while they were toddlers, and it’s the music they play with their own bands now.

A favorite for us all…and one that Zach’s band “Quantum Codpeace” has played live…is Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand.” There has been much speculation about what the song “means” and who that “Cowgirl” is. Did you know that he wrote the song, along with “Down by the River” and “Cinnamon Girl” one night while he was suffering with a fever of 103? Under those conditions, maybe HE doesn’t even know what the song represents! And maybe, like so much of the music that weaves in and out of our lives, the meaning is fluid, subtly changing with time and circumstance…much like standing in the sand…much like life itself.

During the short time that I lived out west, I really connected with the cowgirl spirit. Cowgirls are strong, solid women with an enormous respect for the wide, open spaces of the western landscape. They work hard and play hard, keeping up with the boys, yet they somehow still remain feminine. They have a spirit of independence and strength, yet know the value of teamwork. They face a challenge head-on, eye-to-eye, and win or lose, they get up, dust off, and go at it again. And that  strength and determination stays with them always, even when they are unexpectedly plunked down in the ever-shifting grains of sand under their feet or riding straight into the whirling sand storms of life.

I strive to be that “Cowgirl in the Sand.” A woman who keeps her footing when the ground shifts below her. A woman who courageously rides into that sand storm with drive and purpose. A woman who works tirelessly to keep her herd together and safe. A woman who can take her dusty boots off at the end of the day, wipe the grit off her face, smile and say, “Well, wasn’t that something…let’s do it again tomorrow.”