Empowering Girls
Loving Horses
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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Twas' the Night Before Preakness...

There's something unique about the night before Preakness. Maybe it's simply my own excitement for the entire Triple Crown season finally finding its way to appropriate anticipation--AGAIN. I mean, what's more exciting than the proposition of another Triple Crown winner? 37 years (Thanks Affirmed!) is almost more than a girl can take. As any race horsing fan knows, it's clearly been WAY TOO LONG, since the humans enjoyed celebrating that outstanding victory with their horse companions.

Look at this happy horse snoozing away while I'm too excited to sleep! 

Fret no more, wait no longer, the big day is upon us. Saturday, May 16th, 6:18pm est, (thanks Bleacher Report for that info) on the NBC network. Just to be clear, the main one, not one of the multiple secondary NBC's that currently pepper network and cable channels.

Eight horses are in the 2015 race. Maybe that's part of my ridiculously unexpected late-night anticipation? The idea that there are so few competitors in the field this year to steadfastly challenge racing team Zayat Stable's American Pharoah, (thanks Boston Globe for that helpful link) trainer--Bob Baffert. Not that competition isn't sound. As with all races, something unforeseen always lurks behind any turn. It's simply a matter of the right unknown element, taking flight at the exact moment and while nobody's looking, wreaking havoc (in a good way, a good way) on one or more unsuspecting horses. Like what? Say a rogue crazy bird taking flight off the rail as the horses barrel towards her. Something at the last second makes her uncharacteristically swerve into oncoming traffic. Now that would be crazy to see. It's an option. It could happen.

Oh, it so could.
The best secret ingredient of any formidable horse race is that unknown factor that could come into play at any moment and altar everything right or good or certain you see in front of you.
Thus, the fun of betting. Right when you think you know exactly what will happen because you've been oh-so-savvy about listening to and analyzing all the experts' analysis and claims, wham! here comes that crazy pigeon whose lifelong dream has been to interrupt a Triple Crown race.

The full Preakness field includes: American Pharoah, Dortmund, Firing Line and Danzig Moon, Mr. Z, Diving Rod, Tale of Verve and Bodhisattva. American Pharaoh is the fan favorite and front-runner as of tonight. Firing Line showed heart and determination in the Kentucky Derby. I wouldn't be surprised if he takes flight and upsets favorite odds.

Regardless of who wins tomorrow, I'll be glad when I can finally get some sleep again, because this night-before-running-of-the-race, over and over and over again in my head, is plain wild. What is that? If I'm lucky, when I finally do fall asleep tonight, I hope to dream of beautiful, brilliant two-year olds who show promise now that warrant following their careers until Kentucky Derby 2016.

Some people like to say, go big or go home. I'm down with that. I also like to apply that idea to betting. If you can afford it in a way that won't stress you out and ruin your fun for the day, make it happen. Place that $50 or $100 bucks on your favorite horse and for two minutes imagine, envision or plan for the big moment...when your big guy jets his nose across that line first and makes it happen for you. Allows you to walk away from Baltimore on May 17th, with cash in your wallet to treat your friends to drinks while you discuss the fabulous third Triple Crown race of summer season, the Belmont Stakes.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


AmericanPharaoh, jockey Victor Espinoza win the 141st Kentucky Derby

CONGRATULATIONS!!! to AmericanPharaoh and his humans. What a beautiful horse. His steady, forceful, constant stride and pace paid off at the line. I kept waiting for Gary Stevens to edge Firing Line ahead and inch his nose over the finish first, to no avail.

Great job, AmericanPharaoh! What an exciting race. It never fails, no matter where I watch the Kentucky Derby, I always end up standing up, jumping and screaming at the television. I love you, horses.

If you missed the race live, what's wrong with you? How could you? Try to get it together in the next two weeks. In the meantime, here's a link to the Kentucky Derby 2015 replay.

And seeing as how it just seems wrong to congratulate the gorgeous equine athlete and not mention his human supporters at all...Yay! Jockey Victor Espinoza, trainer Bob Baffert and owner Zayat Stables. Well done.

Can't wait to see what happens in Baltimore in a few weeks when the Preakness takes center stage. Curious what challenges the new field will offer AmericanPharaoh. Would love to see another Triple Crown.

Let's go HORSES!
Thanks for today's fun.
Don't forget to tune in May 16th for the second leg of the Triple Crown series, The Preakness.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Overcoming Writer's Block--and not funk as in funky the good kind...

On Bad Writing Days I feel like this! All bone, no essence. 
I've been in a bit of a writing funk lately. This is an oddity for me. Typically, when I fail to know what to write, my answer is to keep writing. Write whatever comes to mind, as long as I keep writing. The past month that solution has done me zero good. Made me zero productive. Made me feel zero percent like a writer.

It wasn't until tonight that I realized I'm stuck in my own head. Worrying, concerned unnecessarily about characters and the details of their lives, the situations and circumstances that make their days swirl and twirl into a flurry of wanted excitement and curiosity. Not that I don't think it's important to consider my characters as deeply and strongly as I do my own favorite friends or family members, they definitely deserve my full attention, energy and effort. Rather, giving into every single little concern, every single moment of every single day can be dangerous. It can produce restlessness and worse, results that are ineffective and undermining to a natural routine of everyday writing.

So, what's a girl to do in a situation like this? Go back to what she knows...go back to a safe place where creativity flows freely and inspiration can again take hold. I love journaling. I don't share my journaling with anyone and I don't feel bad about being selfish about that. It's my safe place to do what I want, how I see fit, without concern for opinions other than my own.

Realizing the above makes me want to think that the solution to writer's block or a "writing funk" is as simple as journaling. But the longer I live and grapple with this creative monster I think of as writing, the more I realize there is no simple answer. No black or white solution. Just a bunch of parts of different things that will hopefully enable creativity to once again take hold and flourish into a sensible, inspiring, authentic story.

If you're reading this post because you too have found your writing well may be drying up, try a few of the below links to trick your brain into writing when it thinks it doesn't want to anymore:


This ^ blog is regularly updated with all sorts of helpful information to inspire and keep you writing or working on publishing goals.

> http://patriciaannmcnair.com/journal-resolution-a-daily-prompt/

This ^ fabulous blog offers journal writing prompts. If you're mind is as empty as the Grand Canyon, worry not, Ms. Patty McNair's prompts will give you something to mentally and creatively sort through and ponder.


Literary agent Janet Reid's blog is a great place to distract yourself from the craft of writing and plunge into the business of it. I often find that when I get stuck if I shift my perspective from the immediate task at hand (writing the best chapter ever written in the history of humankind) to something somewhat related [publishing goals] then it alleviates pressure to create from an empty space. It gives me a focal point. Focusing on the outside stimulates the inside.


I love letting my mind steep and brew with all the possibilities that it means to call myself "a writer." Yes, writing is clearly, definitively an important ingredient to mastering this life-long journey. But what of the unlimited possibilities that accompany the more creative mental meanderings surrounding what it means to be a writer? A good psychology site and blog posts that offer insightful, practical solutions on a deeper level is always a welcome distraction that leads to writing. Eventually. If all else fails, write about the blog post you read to avoid writing. Hello! Writing is writing.

> http://www.bookpeople.com/event

When all else fails and you dare leave your house to venture outside yourself and find inspiration once again, head to your local bookstore and attend a writing discussion by published authors. I find it oddly comforting to listen to strangers talk about writing, even when I can't seem to figure out how to do it.

Take heart if you're writing juices are not flowing as heartily as you would like. You are not alone. You are not a freak. You are not a failure. You are quite simply a writer finding your way.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Can I Get Google Maps Sent to My Inbox Every Day, Please?

It's official: the individuals responsible for maintaining Google Maps are complete and utter geniuses. And they've worked hard this time to prove it.

First things, first. In spite of the fact that the above video makes it sound like this is an April Fool's JOKE, this IS NOT an April Fool's joke. You can really do this. (Didn't want you to be disappointed. I am not mean. Even on a national holiday that allows me to pretend I am. No way, no thank you.)

Gone are my days of griping at my monitor because I can't figure out how for the life of me to navigate ACROSS my map with my touchpad. I swear one day it's a single finger, the next, oh no, use two when I swish and swipe. But I digress, obviously, there's nothing genius about frustrating a busy woman when she's simply trying to get out the door and drive somewhere.

I do not know how, and I do not know why, but if you are a lover of that fabulous 1980's video game, Pac-Man, sit down, or at the least brace yourself against a tall, sturdy table or bookcase, because you are about to have your mind blown.

Play Pac-Man on Google Maps by clicking here.

You heard me correctly, you can now play that ridiculously fun game on your route on the Google Maps site/pages. Not all cities are available but don't fret. There's nothing like racing through Time's Square and eating ghosts in the middle of the night. The page even pops up arrows. That's your sole source for movement around the screen. I swear all I'm missing is my joystick to feel like I'm home again. Cookies to my right, milk to my left, my mom in the kitchen cheering me on in my efforts like she knows what the heck I'm doing, even though her back is turned to the TV. Eyes in the back of her head. I'm absolutely positive it's true and that that is where that phrase comes from.

Check out this Guardian article for a list of optimum cities to conquer on your path to world domination.

Have fun, good luck and remember, don't break your keyboard trying to get those arrows to turn where they don't seem to want to go. You can only push the buttons so hard before they'll pop out, jump up and smack you right in the face.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vince Vaughn, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Don't look at me that way, Vince Vaughn! I was thirsty and you wouldn't stop yakking. 
I can not tell a lie. I know that statement is often followed by some scandalous, lascivious additional statement of elaborate proportions that is totally untrue. Thank goodness I'm not a politician or I'd probably combust into fiery flames the second those words escaped my mind. That's the good thing about simply being a fan of some funny man's work. Today, I'm talking VV.
VV, what's that, you ask? Admittedly, visually I agree it could look like a few different things when unleashed side by side without his full name attached.
Vince Vaughn! I'm not saying I'd want to play a game of hoops with him (the man's 6'5"!) but I sure wouldn't mind seeing bloopers or behind the scenes footage of the filming of his new movie, Unfinished Business, due out March 2015, courtesy of 20th Century Fox studios.
I'm also not saying 20th Century employs psychics or anything but I will admit that their new advertising campaign for this flik is genius. If you've ever longed to have daily routine or task type pictures that highlight this hysterical comedian, act fast. At this point, the stock images available for free online are allegedly available for only one week.

Here's a link to view or download the pics.
And a second link to alternate silliness.

Hope you have as much fun mangling them as I have. I suggest adding captions when you post your new photos to FB. Extend VV's silliness and some good mood vibes.

Thanks for the laughs, Vince Vaughn!
I don't often say this, but today, I'm oh-so-ever grateful for the internet. Otherwise, I never would've caught these photos.
And just for the record, the marketing folks at 20th Century definitely earned their paychecks on this project working their magic. I'm sold, I'll definitely see the film now. I might even make a game out of it. Every time VV makes a ridiculous face I'm inclined to think that could be a good opportunity to take a sip of wine. Heads up Austin...if you're looking for the perfect movie theatre to do both of these things check out, Moviehouse and Eatery at The Trails. Full bar, good food, recliner seats, love that place.
Vince Vaughn...funny man...Chicagoan...every day guy. What's not to love?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Horse Of the Year [2013], Wise Dan, to Meryl Streep: Call Me!

"Hey girl, got some awards advice for you!"

Hello Ms. Streep,

          In the off-chance that you don't already know me, I'm Wise Dan, the Meryl Streep of the horse racing industry. Me and my humans seem to get nominated left hoof, right hoof for Eclipse Awards. And I, like you, WIN!

I know you probably think you already hang out with studs, but none of them are as studly as me! I mean, I may not, technically, be a stud. But that's only because my humans demanded I be a gelding. (Boo, humans! Fillies are fun.) If you personally knew me though, you'd totally agree, I'm still a stud. My status was once again proven tonight, at this year's Eclipse Awards. (Think Academy Awards for horses and their handlers.) I won THREE AWARDS in one night--Champion Older Male, Champion Male Turf Horse and 2013 Horse Of the Year! I'm also the first horse to win the same three awards in two consecutive years.

I say this, not to toot my own horn, but to prove to you, that I've got merit when I say, I can help you win your upcoming Academy Awards nomination, Best Actress for August: Osage County. Congratulations, by the way, pretty cool! Not as cool as winning HOY but not everybody can be fortunate enough to have been born a horse. As far as human awards though, pretty darn awesome!

Winning Horse Of the Year for the second year in a row was a dream come true for me. I mean, I'm seven years old. Lord only knows how many years that is in human terms? (I don't want to figure it out because my mind is way spry and my limbs still way limber, don't even get me started on my heart--it's BIG! That's how I win all those races.) I'm going to run down those younger horses on the racetrack as long as my humans allow.

The way I see it, Meryl, it's like we're twins separated at birth. I mean, sure, I have dark brown hair and you have blonde. Brown eyes. Blue eyes. But beyond these two shallow differences, our similarities are undeniable.

Number one...A horse diet is very much like a starlet diet. (You, you're the starlet, wow are you pretty! If I weren't a gelding, I'd be demanding retirement ASAP and requesting you visit my stable.) But I digress...we racehorses have to keep our weight down too. Oats and hay, every day. (Boring.) Peppermints for dessert, should you be so lucky to get some from your fans. Dished out, of course, by my handlers. I never decide my own diet or portions.

Number two...You've been nominated for Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Emmys. I've been nominated for the Secretariat Vox Populi (human equivalent, People's Choice Awards) and the Eclipse Awards.

Number three...You've already won THREE Academy Awards and I just won THREE Eclipse Awards tonight! Small world doesn't begin to explain it. One of us should do our family tree on one of those heritage ancestry sites. Hair color can be misleading.

If you want to win that Oscar, I know how to cross the finish line.

Number one...The appropriate shoes are a very important aspect of being a champion. I'm stuck with ugly metal horseshoes because that's what my farrier gives me, but you should wear sparkly, pretty ones. Make sure they're adequately affixed to your feet. Don't want to see any spills as you're walking up to accept your award. I recommend a sturdy nail pounded into the sole of your shoe. (Don't worry this doesn't hurt me. Hoof edges are like fingernails and my farrier is very gentle.)

Number two...Fix your hair real fancy before you step onto the red carpet. I demand my humans braid my mane. It makes me look regal and it really distracts the fillies when they're chasing me down on the track. Truth be known, they don't always chase. Sometimes, we're neck and neck. I don't look them in the eye, then. You should do the same with your competing nominees. Don't smile at them when you make eye contact with them at the next table. Just raise your eyebrows, knowingly. They'll wonder what you're thinking. It'll confuse or unsettle them. It'll also move your nose up higher which always gives me an edge in any race.

Number three...Preening doesn't end there. Winning a big race or award isn't all about running. You've got to intimidate, spook and wow! your competition. Make them dizzy with your magnificence. Strategy. I do this in the Paddock ring. I nudge my humans' hands and make them pet my face and stroke my neck. It feels good. Then after I'm relaxed, I step outside my ring slip and demand my humans walk me around in circles so I can swish my tail or buck or do whatever else I deem appropriate to push my competitors off-balance. You've got all those fingers and toes. You should easily be able to come up with a way to scare your opponents. (You're so lucky. I can't do that. I have hooves.) Twirl on the red carpet, in between interviews. That's a good one. That'll really lull them into a false sense of security.

Well, that's all my advice. Good luck! I hope you win! Again. It's good to be Champion. After your awards season is over, give me a call and let me know how things went. Better yet, stop by the barn and bring some apples. We'll do lunch. (They don't call me Wise Dan for nothing. I know how to treat a lady.)

Wise Dan

UPDATE 10/14/14: Sorry to hear about your front fetlock injury Wise Dan! All your fans will miss you in the Breeders Cup. Take your time healing and let your humans spoil you good. You deserve it! Can't wait to see what you decide to do next you gorgeous guy!
Thanks to the Seattle Times for the injury details. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Best Book of 2014--Book Review


I know I'm a little late but still had to say it. Hope your holidays were filled with surprises and adventure. Now breathe, breathe, so we can get on with 2015 and make this new year shake the rafters with joy-filled anticipation.

I need to admit something...I LOVE BOOKS. All different types and shapes and sizes. Funny ones, scary ones, sad and hopeful. Poignant ones, ones that sneak up on me with their beautiful melancholy and ones written so beautifully that I feel like I'm being transported to another universe on a fluffy, thick cloud, while I absorb their language.

It's never easy to answer the question: What's your favorite book? Because the only fair response is: So many. It's like picking your favorite child, I just can't do it. They're all unique and wonderful in their own way. I've decided to pick my favorite book of 2014 instead. I should be clear, I read this book in 2014 but it was actually published in 2011 by Atheneum.

Drumroll please...yes, it's that good; it deserves its very own drumroll. Preferably one thrusting it into the collective spirit of humanity. It's a book that lovely...

Where Things Come Back by one Mister John Corey Whaley.

It's so many things all at once that I have a hard time deciding where to begin. I'm not going to spend much time on the plot because it's easy enough to read a brief synopsis. Just click on this link, for example, and you can read that on Amazon.

I think what took me most by surprise about Where Things Come Back was equal parts tone and beautiful language. The language didn't overwhelm the story but it was impossible not to notice how adeptly the author used pretty sentences to convey specific emotional tags.

Two stories seamlessly woven into one. I don't want to give away the many enjoyable twists and turns in hopes that when you read it, you too will be easily moved and awed by the feelings stirred in your heart for these very endearing characters.

But I will say, the main character, 17yr. old, Cullen Witter has more than his share of heartbreak the summer between his junior and senior year of high school. I don't know how he manages. He's a braver, hardier spirit than myself. If I suffered the way he did, I'm pretty sure, I would've just stayed in bed and watched trashy TV or movies all summer long. Luckily, for the reader, Cullen Witter keeps on keeping on, searching for understanding and answers.

The reasons to read this book are vast and varied. I happened upon this author by bookstore recommendation. If you're local to the Austin area and looking for solid suggestions from a bookseller, check out The Book Spot in Round Rock. Owners Danny and Julie know their stock and are very helpful.

I don't know how John Corey Whaley came up with the idea for his novel. Nor do I know how he so beautifully connected with the languishing yearning that held my heart captive like a Russian prison for the entire 228 pages. I hope it has zero to do with personal experience and everything to do with talent and insight.

The last thing I need to address is the ending of Where Things Come Back. I'm not going to ruin your read by stating the obvious, but, must point out that the story at the end of the book is almost more tragically mesmerizing than when things start unraveling for Cullen Witter in the beginning. The summer between junior and senior year in high school is supposed to be exciting. The anticipation of ruling the school when you return in the fall is something to be revered. Poor Cullen gets to savor none of the anticipation he is rightly entitled because of horrid personal events that capture and sustain his attention.

No one deserves such treachery.

At the end of the story, John Corey Whaley used a technique that originally left me thinking the story had ended one way. Call me an optimist but I forever retain my hope, especially when I love the character in question. Brace yourself reader, because if you are like me [at all] and walk around for days on end after finishing a book, wondering to yourself what the heck has happened to your poor sweet character since you read the last word the author offered up on it in his version, they you may be shocked or disgruntled, or simply in awe when you realize what actually happened.

I thought the book ended one way and then three days later realized, no, no, no!!! I was all wrong. This other thing really happened. Say what? Believe me, I was sad and unsettled. So I read the ending again to make sure I understood the writerly technique used to simultaneously imply two things. As the reader, I think you can honestly believe that the story ends either on a happy note or a sad note. Initially, I went happy but then I had to accept the fate of my character maybe wasn't so hopeful.

Sad, sad, sad...I love this book. Touching, endearing, melancholic, and enjoyable to read. I don't know he did it, but John Corey Whaley wrote a beautiful, unforgettable story and this is why, Where Things Come Back, is my favorite book of 2014.