first you make a roux

This was everywhere in New Orleans. After a while it felt not only like a cooking rule but a life mantra.

If the roux is no good, don’t worry, just toss it. Start over. Don’t fret over it. Same with life goals. People get too caught up in making sure life goals go exactly to plan. If it doesn’t work out, don’t fret, just make a new one.

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That was the attitude in that city. Don’t fret. Just keep going.

My last adventure to the city was an amazing one. I went with a great friend who is just full of life and I feel full of life when I’m with her. We have amazing adventures when we’re together- whether we go someplace fantastic like New Orleans or hopefully one day Japan or Paris or just her backyard of Washington D.C.

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We went on a cocktail tour of New Orleans that took us around the city and introduced us to bars that had been there since New Orleans became a city. Drinks that got their start there in the Big Easy. We made friends on that tour that we’re still friends with via Facebook as they were on a world tour from Australia.

We went on our own walking tour of New Orleans and found fantastic bookstores and little hidden nooks of stores that revealed fantastic stories of the city. We went to The Court of Two Sisters for a birthday brunch. Morton’s Steakhouse where she had a ton of gift card’s and we made a server’s whole week. Went to the boardwalk where I threw my wedding band to the river.

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start with a roux.

its a life mantra.

I did the thing that I hate – I wrote a blog post before a recipe- only I didn’t actually say this was about a recipe in the beginning… I am now! I made chicken étouffée tonight and that was what brought back a flood of memories of New Orleans. I love that city. I found the recipe in the treme cookbook. It was really good. I suggest it. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings.

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This is it- the year I commit

2016. The fire dumpster of a year. The year of any outcome. The year that claimed over 70 celebrities. The year that defined a country. Or 2. Possibly more. The year that I kept lying to myself.

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Even when I finally got a group of doctors to finally diagnose me and not shy away from it (the dreaded fibromyalgia diagnosis) and get a team together to work on a plan to help provide me with the best quality of life from here on out, I continued to lie to myself. I have known for YEARS that gluten was a trigger. That it would cause the joint pain and stiffness to be even worse. That it would cause sluggishness and brain fog. But I continued to fall off the wagon because it was jut too damn hard to stay on there with the subpar flavored foods and expensive ingredients.

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pretty much.

I became comfortable with the inflammation. I didn’t mind that it caused me excruciating pain – I had pills for that. Days off that fell conveniently in place to deal with the worst of it. And so I continued to be ok with being gluten free when it benefited me and eating gluten tainted foods when it wasn’t so convenient to be gluten free.

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But I can’t continue like that. Its not healthy for me nor is it good for my well being. And a bunch of other bs that the doctors at the pain clinic would have you believe. But ultimately, I’m just fucking tired of the pain. And if I can minimize it even a little by this most inconvenient diet change then so be it. I’ll claw my way back on this most expensive band wagon with its still unappetizing breads and baked goods and “who are we kidding” crackers and be gluten free. I’ll give up the convenience of “just going with it” and being that obnoxious guest and asking “is this gluten free?” I can espouse to everyone and their brothers’ sisters’ wife the benefits of being gluten free but put a loaf of freshly baked sourdough bread in front of me and tell me I can’t have any you may as well just set a timer and see how fast I can actually make that loaf go away. Yes. I’m the worst Devils’ Advocate you’ll ever meet. But I can do this. 2017 is a year of new beginnings and something positive and all that bs jazz. Because being 34 and moving and creaking and squawking like an 89 year old isn’t very fun. And if its something this simple (HA!) to quit I can do this. It’s always easy the first few weeks or so but then something so stupid will break me. But this time no. I have to be strong. Strong like bull. Thing is, this isn’t new- I’ve known about this for years. I just can’t commit. Because no one can make gluten free breads as delicious and evil and horribly bad for you as the likes of Pepperidge Farms and Bruggers Bagels. But, new year, new you right? Right.

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But some things will never change. A little Captain for you …

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I hate being gluten free

Absolutely hate it. I have finally made the move to be 100% gluten free as I have been working with doctors that finally believe I have chronic pain and have the official diagnosis of fibromyalgia. And being gluten free doesn’t completely alleviate the fibro pains, but it does help. And does it suck!

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Gluten free foods generally suck. There isn’t a brand of crackers that taste like crackers. I finally found pasta I love- but I have to order it from Amazon. Bread as well- only one Harris Teeter carries it around here that doesn’t taste like the plastic its wrapped in.

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And convenience? Bitch, please. There is nothing convenient about being gluten free. Every meal has to be considered, thought out, and planned. There is very little room for impulsive “ooh lets go here!” Because if you’re lucky, you’ll get a sucky salad… again. And be hungry again in an hour.

And I’m a grumpy, annoying gluten free person. I don’t like the “alternate grains”. Quinoa? No freaking thanks. I know it’s a “super-grain” but nope. Can’t do it. I’ve tried it a dozen ways, a dozen times and I can’t do it. And the mixing of 5 different flours to get the consistency of normal, all purpose wheat flour? yeah, super convenient. And cup for cup gluten free mixes is a joke. You have to go by weight, not by volume or you end up with ridiculously dense, not risen, and dry food.

Don’t come at me with the “healthy” aspect of gluten free diets. Not even a bit. I can be healthy and I know how to be healthy. And yes, being gluten free, I have naturally gone a little lighter on the carbs. Because the gluten free version of carb loaded foods suck.

I want “normal” foods with just a gluten free option. Why can’t I order in a restaurant and have a gluten free battered whatever? My options on most menus is relegated to the salads (minus croutons and most dressings) and burgers or chicken dishes without the buns. Why haven’t restaurants made it possible for gluten free people to enjoy same foods? P.F. Chang’s is the closest chain restaurant I have seen that mimics their menu items for gluten free patrons.

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And paying extra for gluten free! As an example, we like to do frozen pizza once in a while, and the bf’s pizza- I can get 3 for $10… and one of mine would be $11! and it’s smaller. and its’ usually just cheese. Because gluten free is just “so much more effort”. Come on guys, whether or not people need to be gluten free, there’s enough of us to justify having gluten free products and keeping the cost down.

Having gone my whole life not being gluten free, then having to make that change it is difficult. Having to read labels, and scrutinize all kinds of foods, its hard. To turn down offers of people who bring donuts or baked treats to work … that just sucks! of all companies, why hasn’t Dunkin’ Donuts done a gluten free donut!? Why is that not a thing?!?

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I hope as I get further along in both my treatment at the Duke Pain Clinic, and adjusting to being gluten free, *gulp*, forever, it’ll get easier. Something I won’t have to think about every time I go out- go out with friends, out for dinner, grocery shopping. But I will always hate it. Until someone (or hell, me) comes up with a spectacular Sourdough loaf that tastes exactly like sourdough … just gluten free … I will despise being gluten free.

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when you finally get diagnosed

I have always suspected I had fibromyalgia or connective tissue disorder or some other auto immune disorder that doesn’t show up in bloodwork or on any scans. But is a diagnosis of elimination is what my GP would call it and I don’t really even think it is that. It is what it is- it’s pissed off nerves that hold on too tightly to something for far too long then get their signals crossed and set something off. I may have very simply explained a very complex disorder or may have greatly made it more difficult to understand.

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When explaining it to a co-worker one day, and having read it myself- Fibromyalgia can be triggered by traumatic injury. I had such an injury- I’ve actually have had several. But I can trace a lot of the pain and even migraines back to this one event. So while I could see her trying to grasp the intricacies of the disorder, she finally looked at me and goes “oh so its kind of like PTSD for the body?” Yes. It kind of is. The way the body reacts to stimulus and the way the nerves fire off differently than one without fibromyalgia could be the way someone with PTSD reacts to a triggering word or event. At least that’s how I feel some days. Someone reaches to touch me and my entire body tenses up for this painful moment- I know in my brain it shouldn’t be painful, this little touch, but it will be anyway.

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I had finally gotten into my appointment that took months to get at Duke Pain Clinic. They sent in the resident with the intern, and he took my whole history and he was very attentive to everything I had to say, and put me through what I can only describe as minor torture. I would have told him more if only he asked the right questions. Then the doctor came in and she went over again briefly what the resident had come up with. She concluded that my symptoms over the years amounted to fibromyalgia. we talked about how my GP “protected” me from the diagnosis, and came up with a treatment plan. She increased my dose of Cymbalta and took me off all the anti inflammatories I have been taking for the past 7 years as I don’t have an inflammation problem per se I have a nerve problem. Well, as with anything stopped cold turkey comes the super fun withdrawal.

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I felt like shit.

Tried to go about my day, but 24 hrs after my last dose of naproxen, (which I was up to 1500mg at this point to basically mask the pain) I had the dizzies and tried to go to work. Nope. Brain had a different plan. I had to pull over and throw up. Made it back home (only had made it about a block) and called work and told them to go on without me … they should be ok. Crawled back into bed and tried to sleep. Kept jerking and shaking but finally got to sleep and slept. As I’ve said before, sleep is the absolute best medicine. Surgery? Sleep it off. Migraine? Sleep it off. Bad day? sleep it off!

Yesterday I managed to make it to work … I still felt like something Satan’s dog threw up on the sofa but I was good. Shaky and medicated with caffeine. Today was better. Still working on getting to a “therapeutic level” with the Cymbalta but once I’m there I think I’ll be ok. And once my sleep patterns level out and get normal (what is normal for one who doesn’t sleep?) I’ll hopefully learn how to function better.

Things are actually starting to look bright. Not an endless cycle of dreariness and sleepless nights!

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stop assuming you know how I feel

The internet wars are funny. In that they are funny because they are sad. Mommy wars. Wars between parents and non-parents. Dog people and cat people. People who live with chronic illness and those that don’t. Pokemon Go players and those that have no idea what a pokemon is.

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Another morning and another meme telling me I don’t know what exhaustion is because I don’t have children. Excuse me? I don’t know what exhaustion is? Just because I voluntarily chose not to have children? Because I am already exhausted from working retail with chronic illnesses? Because of those chronic illnesses I am either kept up all night tossing and turning because I can’t get comfortable, or if I do sleep, it’s not quality sleep, again because the server that is my brain is sending pain signals all over my body because nerves misfire and keep saying wtf?

Tell me again how I don’t know what exhaustion is because I don’t have some pain in the ass toddler waking me up at 5 am. Oh wait, I do. It comes in the form of a 5 month old puppy and he at least lets me sleep until 630 am.

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You my dear friend of this horrible and judgy meme, are exhausted because you have become a slave to your toddler.  Because you don’t know how to say no when the king toddler demands roasted chicken at 10 pm and you have to roast a chicken because you can’t say no. What are you teaching your kid then? That they can have whatever they want? Now you’re just raising an asshole. This is why you’re exhausted. I am exhausted because my body hates me and nothing can really be done. End of story. But tell me again how your exhaustion is worse than mine.

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Why can’t it be equal? Or the same? Or even different? Why must it be worse? Why must there be this war between parents and non parents? I’m more tired than you because I have kids. Ok … you chose to have kids. Or maybe you didn’t, whatever. but you have them now, you have to suck it up buttercup and deal with it. I do with my chronic pain. and my migraines. and my other issues. But I try not to make others feel less than because they don’t have those issues and when they mention they are exhausted, I don’t respond with “oh yeah? try having xyz disorder”. I ask “oh yeah? what happened?” or depending on the person, “oh yeah? whats her name?”

So take your judgment and put it in your back pocket and take that time it took you to make these memes and type out your hateful responses to us “non parents”, and take a nap.

if you need motivation, pretend this fella is your body pillow

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i didn’t shave for a month … and i felt nothing

except hairy, my deodorant worked overtime and my hair looks manly.

I love those click bait-y articles that are all “I tried this for a week… and the results …wow!”

Well, this isn’t one of those times.

I did not feel empowered, more feminist, or any of that other bullshit some other women say they feel when they give up shaving their armpits or legs. I felt gross. I felt dirty. And not in a good way.

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I ran out of razors and I just kept forgetting to pick some up and its a “eh whatever”. I wear blazers to work and I am mostly in pants anyway so it wasn’t like “lets see if a chefs knife will do this or maybe that rusty blade at the bottom of the tool box…”

For me, growing out body hair is not a sense of empowerment or a stand for feminism. If it is for you, go for it. It does cut out time in the shower and if your growth factor is anything like mine, you need to go at it with a weed whacker anyway.

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Empowerment and feminism should be more embraced in actual acts done by women for women. Helping others, holding each other up. Not growing out body hair. Or posting nude selfies. Not quite sure which either of those prove. Other than the obvious- you’re naked and hairy. But celebrating women who achieve great things- thats empowerment. That’s celebrating feminism.

So hairy or not, nude or not, true acts of feminism and women empowerment have nothing to do with these things. Go support a women’s cause, read a good book by a woman author, and just support each other.

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and because he’s just too pretty for words…

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Its where my demons hide

About 2 weeks ago I received a letter from the DA’s office that they could not prove all the elements of B&E so they would not be pursuing a case against the little urchin that broke into my apartment – twice- last September. First, lets review all the elements of B&E in the state of NC:

A person is guilty if they:

  1. Break and
  2. Enter
  3. Without consent
  4. Into the dwelling house or sleeping apartment
  5. Of another
  6. While it is actually occupied
  7. At night
  8. With the intent to commit any felony or larceny therein

They couldn’t prove these 9 steps in either break in. I did not roll out the red carpet while I was SLEEPING or while I was out at work. And when does night end? When the sun comes up? Or could they not prove #7? because they could not prove when exactly it happened because I used to be a heavy sleeper? Now I hear a weird sound outside 3 buildings down and I’m up walking around the apartment checking every lock on the windows and doors.

Whatever. All I know is karma will one day catch up to this young fellow and his accomplices. I have to believe that. Because so much was taken from me that week and I have no way to repay this young man for it. So I have to trust karma will do it for me.

I just now know too I have a new demon. One I have to get used to. I only recently learned how to play nice and accommodate all the other ones. They sleep quietly, or we even get along now. We take naps together, we take walks together and we read books together. They rear their ugly heads far less frequently but now I have this new one- this bright shiny one that likes to go bump in the night. I say get used to because I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it. How does one “get over” having their very home being broken into while they sleep? The one place they expect to be their safe haven, the one place they know is their sanctuary. And to have my furkid taken from me so violently? And things … such random things. And then the additional violation of having cops comb through everything looking for any sign of a lead to show them who might have done this.

I can call him Frank. I always imagine my demons look like little dragons that can’t control their saliva and have defunct wings. And when they sneeze a little fire comes out. And each demon has a fancy little silver sign engraved with what they represent: divorce, bullied as a kid, panic attacks, sexual harassment in high school, anxiety, and now, stolen security.

Wonder what kind of world we’d live in if we all walked around with our little defunct dragons on our shoulders.

 

I don’t normally wade into political territory or hot button topics on the blog- I tend to stick to topics that are harmless, and well, about me. Because what is a blog but about oneself?

But recently my beloved state of NC did something atrocious and I cannot abide by it. In a “special session”, NC General Assembly signed into law a bill that basically restricts protections against the LGBT community.

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article67845317.html

Charlotte went as far as allowing those that identify however they do to use whichever bathroom they are comfortable with. This was to go into full effect April 1. This bill just invalidated that. It also allows private businesses to discriminate against LGBT community who hold “sincere religious convictions”. really? What about sincere religious convictions against those who have been divorced? or living together before marriage? or women who are single mothers? or who have children out of wedlock?

But no, thats not part of this special group of “Christians'” creed. Only if you’re gay, transgender or bi. I am so tired of people cherry picking the Bible and Christianity as a whole to satisfy their own biases and hatred. To justify their own prejudices and pettiness. You realize it would be more acceptable (not really) to just say you don’t like gays because you don’t like gays than to say “God says you shouldn’t be gay”. Don’t use God to justify your own hatred. and don’t ever say Jesus said it cause he didn’t. Show me in a traditional, not printed by the Westboro Baptist Church bible, where Jesus EVER spoke against homosexuality. I’ll wait…

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Oh you can’t find it? That’s right cause it doesn’t exist. Cause Jesus never said it. Lets remember Jesus hung out with the depraved, the outcasts and the unwanted. His “posse” were those that were cast out by their families. sound familiar? yeah. Those of the LGBT communities are generally cast out by their families and friends as well. it is our jobs as real christians who believe in “love and accept everyone” to help those who cannot help themselves.

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I appreciate businesses who have abhorred this law. And Disney and the NFL threatening to pull business from GA if they pass a similar law. At least big businesses have their heads on straight. Because when we make it legal to treat an entire group of people like second class citizens, again, we are basically telling the world we have learned absolutely nothing from history. And we are damn fools. Because our lawmakers would rather worry about what people are doing in the bedrooms and bathrooms rather than worry about poverty, our veterans (who in my opinion are some of the most important people in the country but that’s another soapbox moment), children, the state of our education system, defense, healthcare, elderly, mental healthcare, economy, foreign relations, terrorism, shall I go on? but no, we would rather let the world know we care more about how to regulate women’s uteruses and what people do in the bathroom and bedrooms.

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What is this sick obsession these lawmakers have with this? Is it because it is something they don’t understand so they must regulate it? Are they afraid we will be glitter bombed if it isn’t controlled? It isn’t scary. It isn’t hard to understand. Some people are just wired differently. Some are straight some are gay and some are just put in the wrong body. Big whoop. They are STILL HUMAN. treat them as such and guess what? They’ll spend money, they’ll rent apartments, they’ll open businesses where they won’t ask your religion, if you’re straight, if you’re married, they’ll treat you as an equal because they (generally) aren’t dickfaces like the lawmakers that are treating them like second class citizens.

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This isn’t about a bathroom just like it was never about a water fountain.

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The issue with Bridget Jones

Ok, so I know I’m way behind on getting around to reading Bridget Jones. And I never bothered watching the movies. I shocked the shit out of people when they found out I’ve never read/seen Harry Potter either. But anyway, I of course followed the stories of how Renee Zellweger packed on all that weight for the role. because it was very in your face. Then lost it. Then gained it back. Then lost it. Then gained it.

The issue I have, and I hope other women had/have with Bridget is that in the books she takes issue with weighing at most 130 pounds. Granted, its never revealed what her body type really is- is she a Renee where she’s a waif and typically 105 dripping wet? but then packed it on out of depression of her shitty job, overbearing parents/friends of her parents, being 30 and without a boyfriend/children, blah blah blah? And society tells her she needs/should want all those things at her age? Or just succumbing to societal standards of what women should look like? Because I know in the movies, Renee would look portly at 130 but I’m pretty sure she packed on more than that … *quick Google search reveals she gains between 20-30 pounds each time to play Bridget* I don’t know what her starting weight is but she can’t be more than 110. She’s tiny. And I get different body types carry weight differently.

But its just another book, another story, that perpetuates the tale of a girl obsessed with her size. We’re all already having serious issue with body image, do we really need to read about it?

I personally struggle with it every day. Granted I’ve heard lately how I look like I’ve lost a few pounds which makes me feel great considering the evil little thing in my bathroom says I’ve gained 3 pounds despite my best efforts in recent days. But it’s all good- if I look like I’ve lost, I’ll take it!

Maybe, and this is going to sound so sound-bitey, but it just sounds so good, maybe we should work on body acceptance and not worrying about counting every calorie (i haven’t seen the movie but in the book, Bridget worries over every calorie, every drink, every sniff of something she comes across) and just work on being happy, working on finding what makes us happy, (i like to hike and ride horses for exercises; I HATE the gym) and finding balance between “good” and “bad” foods. It is a daily struggle for those that did the calorie counting, did the ‘DON’T EAT THAT!’ diet, and so on. but I’ve given up all that and eat what I want when I want and listen to my body. if I’m hungry, I eat, if I’m not, I don’t.

I’ve never been a stress eater which is what seemed to be Bridget’s issue if I remember correctly. That and you know, sleeping with her boss. Which I can only imagine will cause a great deal of stress, which leads to an intense amount of stress eating, and drinking.

But I also know for a lot of women this is their go to movie for whatever reason, while I have zero reason to watch the movie after reading the book. I did chuckle at a few spots and one of her best friends did seem like she’d be my spirit animal but I couldn’t see myself sitting through this movie. I’m good. Even though there is a very pretty man in the movie …

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you get more than you bargain for

I have an Equine Science degree with a focus on business management. I think my B.S. actually reads ‘Equine Business Management’. The two are and are not mutually exclusive. But in the 4 years I was off at this magical school that gave me this wonderful degree I learned more about everything than anyone could teach anywhere else.

And its shit I can’t put on a resume. Why? cause i don’t have degrees in them.

In one class we learn all about nutrition. and while it applies to horses, it can apply to humans as well. I’m a nutritionist. I can tell you what you need and what you lack based on what you currently eat and your activity level. But I’m not licensed nor do I have a board certified specialized plaque saying I went to school to be a nutritionist. but then again neither did that quack the “Food Babe”….

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In another class we learn all about breeding and reproduction. We even have to volunteer at a vet clinic for foal nurses. And not just any foal clinic… the best damn foal clinic in the state of NJ. I learned so many skills I’ll never use again- nursing mares, getting kicked in the ass (literally) by a newborn foal, how to give a mare an enema, the general mechanics of a colic surgery, what to do when a horse that may or may not have brought in some foreign disease bites you…

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In still another class we had to design our own barns. and not just go tra-leee-la here’s my barn. but it had to have to scale drawings, ideas, mock ups, business plan and 1 year forecast of business income. So that makes me an engineer. I can’t put engineer on my resume because I didn’t go to school to be an engineer. but i can design a building on proper land and aqueducts for water and proper sewage. But, not an engineer.

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we also have skills the horses teach us. How to read language that isn’t spoken. the body language. I can tell when a person is lying, bluffing or just plain being an ass. just by the way they’re standing. but how do you put that on a resume?

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I can train just about anyone because I used to command 1200 pound animals with a gentle word and a squeeze from my thigh. Pretty sure I’ll eventually get through to the head case. Just gotta learn her language.

We don’t know intimidation because again, we work with 1200 pound animals. Horse is out in the paddock, ears pinned back and has grump face most people would be apprehensive approaching this animal… we “horse girls” just look at her (cause its most likely a mare giving us this look) and tell her to wipe that look off her face and get to work.

We’re stronger than we look. Seriously. We’re beasts. Trust me on this. The guys I’ve personally worked with over the years have accepted this fact and may or may not tell their wives/girlfriends/bestfriends there’s a chick at work that can out lift them.

We have a mad strong work ethic that is unbreakable. We can follow direction and will follow it to the letter. we may or may not find a better/faster/easier way to do it, but we will follow the spirit of the direction. Most of us have been taking direction our whole lives and are just used to it. We will show up to work with broken bones, runny noses and tweaked out backs. the only thing that may stop us is free flowing bloody injury, fever or active vomiting. Pretty much anything else is just a flesh wound and can be fixed with duct tape.

Speaking of duct tape, we are master at McGyver technique. We can fix something and it may or may not be right, but it’s fixed and it will hold. Don’t worry about that. it definitely won’t be OSHA approved and it won’t be safe by any means but it’ll hold.

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We can operate heavy machinery. Don’t know really how this applies to other areas of industry but we can.

We can work hard, and play hard. and sleep hard. Cause we know how to get hurt hard. But that’s ok cause we just brush that shit off and get back to work.

Who wouldn’t hire us?

I bet he’d give us a shot…

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