Beautiful Ride

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

We’re All Stories in the End… April 29, 2014

Filed under: beautiful ride,Family,Home,Married Life — beautifulride @ 3:00 pm
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Once-Upon-a-Time-photoDo you have favorite story, one that you would read over and over and over again?  One with characters and a plot and a message that speak to your very soul. I know I do. My favorite story, like so many stories, begins with “once upon a time.” It’s an adventure tale, for sure…full of drama, laced with comedy. It’s set in a few exotic locations, it has quite the cast of supporting characters, and even has a few chapters that I would have liked to skip over…sometimes boring, sometimes sad. But at it’s core, it’s a love story…about a boy and girl…who met and fell in love and got married and built a life. A crazy, wonderful, beautiful, amazing life. And even though it’s not finished yet,  I can tell you how it ends. It ends like so many of my favorite love stories. How do I know? I know because it’s our story, mine and Rick’s. It’s the story of us. And today is a special milestone in our story…a milestone that shines like silver in the sunlight…a milestone 25 years in the making.

It’s hard to believe that it was 25 years ago today…almost to this very minute…that we stood there in that church, in the presence of everyone who loved us the most, and promised to do just that. Love each other the most. For 25 years, he has been my rock. My best friend. My heart and my soul. For 25 years he has given me the greatest gifts I’ll ever receive. And I don’t mean diamonds and pearls and vacations to faraway places. Yes, I’ve been given a diamond or two. Yes, I’ve been given a strand of pearls. Yes, I’ve been whisked away on an adventure now and again. But I would take those pages out of my book in a heartbeat, because while they are fun and shiny and very much appreciated, they aren’t really the things that make a great love story great.

What makes a great love story great are the quiet moments between the big events. The way he laughs when you can’t tie your shoes because your pregnant belly is in the way…and then he gets down and ties them for you. The way he reaches for your hand during the Christmas Eve service because he knows that every year you are weepy with the ghosts of Christmas past. The way he brushes the hair from your face and brings you a cold beer when you’ve been working in the garden all day. The way he wipes the tears from your eyes when your babies leave home, and quietly reminds you that you’ve done a good job, but it’s time to let them go. The way he’s willing to work with you, and for you…and the way he smiles at you and says, “all I need to be happy is to know that you are happy….”

Twenty-five years is a long time. And yes, there have been dark days and raised voices. Moments when I shake my head in disbelief that he still hasn’t mastered the laundry and can’t quite remember the kid’s schedules. And I’m sure days when he winces at the passive-aggressive way I handle anger and disappointment, and days when he wishes I loved cooking breakfast or maybe even wonders if I’m ever really going to cook anything again. It would be crazy to believe that in 25 years there hasn’t been hurt and anger and frustration. Every good novel has conflict and resolution…but what makes our story a great story is that somehow, through all the crazy ups and downs and challenges that we’ve encountered, we’re still here. Still filling in the pages. Still writing new chapters. Standing together, hand in hand, just like we were in that church 25 years ago. A little older. A little wiser. Still crazy in love with each other. Still promising to love each other the most. I knew after 25 seconds that I wanted to be a part of his story, and I’m beyond blessed to know that after 25 years, he still wants me to be the leading lady in his story. And if I could live 25 lifetimes…or 50…or a million…I would still want this story to be our story. Good times and bad, challenges and successes. Laughter and tears. And love. So much love.

This is our story. And even though it’s still being written, I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you skip ahead to the ending, it goes something like this….”and they lived happily ever after. The end.”



Pistol Annies ~  I Hope You’re the End of  My Story

I hope you’re the end of my story

I hope you’re as far as it goes

I hope you’re the last word I ever utter

It’s never your time to go

Sometimes this road that we travel

Feels like it’s leading us on

Spinning our wheels just stirs up the gravel

Before you know it, it’s gone.

I hope you’re the end of my story

I hope you’re as far as it goes

I hope you’re the last word I ever utter

It’s never your time to go

I’ll keep on turning the pages

Oh what a story to tell

You’ll still be my sweetheart when everything ages,

We’ll be the last book on the shelf

I hope you’re the end of my story

I hope you’re as far as it goes

I hope you’re the last word I ever utter

It’s never your time to go

I hope you’re the last word I ever utter

It’s never your time to go




To Love, and to Be Loved February 15, 2012

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Remember Valentine’s Day back when you were a young, school-aged child? Staying up the night before to make sure you had all of your cards filled out, ready to be delivered to the little hand-made “mail boxes” of your classmates. Remember the feeling of opening all of the cards, hoping maybe the special someone you had a little crush on would write “love” instead of “from” when they signed their name? How it made your stomach jump just a little, even in the 4th grade?

Remember Valentine’s Day when you were in junior high? Like so much of being a tween, you were never quite sure of how you were feeling, and moods and emotions could change on a dime during those years. On the one hand, you were grateful that you no longer had to pass out cards to everyone in your classroom, that kind of Valentine celebration ~ a party of cupcakes and “Be Mine’s” on 3 x 5 cards printed with super heros, princesses, and Winnie-the Pooh ~ well, to a 7th grader that was definitely beneath you. That was for little kids. But on the other hand, maybe secretly, you hoped that someone would slip a little note into your locker that said “I think you’re sweet, be my Valentine.”

Remember Valentine’s Day in high school? I remember in my high school, you could order flowers for your classmates. White meant “friend,” pink meant “I like you,” and of course, red meant “I love you.” I remember hating that day. It was so stressful, because it was all so public. Would you get a flower, would you get several, would you get none. When you’re in tenth grade, getting that flower means everything. At least in elementary school, you go down the list and you hand a Valentine to everyone in the room. By high school, Valentine’s Day, and the number of “flowers” you were given, could be a very defining event.  Were you the “lucky in love” girl that got many flowers, all reds and pinks; or were you nice girl that got some white ones from your friends; or were you the girl that went home flowerless, convinced that love and romance and that very special boy would never come your way.

For many, what happens on Valentine’s Day is a test. A test of whether or not we are liked…or loved. A test of how much we are liked…or loved. A test of whether or not our significant other loves us enough to remember the flowers, or the candy, or the card. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and a lot of pressure on our loved ones, in the middle of every February. And why? I think it is because, deep down, we are all looking for the same thing. The reassurance that we are special. The promise that we are loved. And I think that we believe this outward expression of love from another to us will put to rest all of the self-doubt that we are worthy of that special love that we all wish for.

When I started this post, I thought I would write about my own Valentine. How special I feel, how loved I feel, how lucky I feel. And, as I started writing, I realized that instead of writing about how wonderful my Valentine’s Day was, I really started to remember how less-than-wonderful many of my past Valentine’s Days were….because a fourth grade boy didn’t sign my card “love”….because a seventh grade boy didn’t slip a note inside my locker…because a tenth grade  boy didn’t send me a pink or a red flower.

I wish I knew then what I know now. That not having a date on Valentine’s Day does not mean I’m not special. That not getting flowers or a card or candy does not constitute a broken promise of love.

I wish I knew then what I know now. That I should treat every day like it’s Valentine’s Day. That I shouldn’t wait for the middle of February to come around to tell my love how I feel about him. That I should be grateful for the smallest gestures ~ the look that says I understand, the steady hand that calms my fears, the warm embrace that brings me comfort, the gentle kiss that promises love.

I wish I knew then what I know now. That diamonds and romantic dinners are wonderful gifts, but the most amazing gifts are to love, and to be loved. To love and be loved by our friends. To love and be loved by our families. To love and to be loved by our children. To love and to be loved by our soul mate, our one true Valentine. In the every day, in the quiet, in the messy, in the funny,  in the real. That’s what I wish I knew then. And that is what I know now…what I have now. I love, and I am loved. And that’s what makes every day Valentine’s Day.


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!


Twenty-One to Twenty-One May 2, 2010

When I was twenty-one years old, a friend of mine at Millersville University asked me to go out with her and celebrate the end of finals.  I didn’t really want to, but I did; after all, she had done countless things for me over our four years together away at school (not to mention the 6 years before, during Junior and Senior High). Anyway, as we sat at the bar, she kept staring at this guy…kept saying she knew him, but couldn’t quite make the connection. Long story short, as we were getting ready to leave, which was conveniently the same time that mystery man and his friend were leaving, the lightbulb went off.  Summer camp!  For several years, they went to the same summer camp. Teenage romance?  I can’t even remember. And it doesn’t matter.  Because while they were reliving their past, I was meeting my future.

We spent the rest of that spring evening together, talking into the wee hours. We exchanged numbers and said goodnight. A few days later…no call.  Well, not true, I did get a few phone calls from this “other guy.” Nice enough guy–we had gone out a few times–but this time I said no. There was just something about this friend of a friend’s friend that I couldn’t stop thinking about.  So I dug deep into my “I am woman, hear me roar” reserves and decided I would call him. Unfortunately, according to his little sister on the other end of the phone, he had gone back to the University of Pittsburgh to take his own final exams.  Seems he was only home for the weekend when we met. I think my heart actually broke a little bit!

I stayed in Millersville that summer.  Should have graduated and gone home, just like my friend Gina. But, I had one more phys. ed. course to take in order to graduate. So I worked at the library for one more summer, and got those last credits by going canoeing a few afternoons a week. Graduation would be in August for me and a few of my friends were staying for the summer, so it wouldn’t be so bad.  One night early in the summer session, as I was sitting in my apartment, there was a knock on my door. I opened it and there he was! And I have to say “he had me at hello!”

Rick had come back from Pittsburgh to spend the summer in Lancaster. He remembered where Gina’s apartment was and went looking for me there. Trouble was, Gina had moved to Florida with her family and her roommate, Sandy, had no idea who Rick was. He convinced her that he was not looking to do me harm and was convincing enough that she told him where I lived. He came looking for me…and he found me. And I know many of  you think I’m way too mushy about my husband, but that day, when I found out how he tracked me down, well, let’s just say he may as well have come on a white horse with a glass slipper because I felt like Cinderella meeting her Prince.

We spent every day together that summer and then I graduated and moved home to Williamsport. We spent as many weekends together as we could, but by New Years I was moving to Pittsburgh to be with him. That spring he asked me to marry him and the next spring, we were married. Twenty-one years ago. He still takes my breath away and I still feel like Cinderella. Hope I get at least twenty-one more.