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Fueling Up at Home

I’m an early riser. Part of this is because I’m married to a cattle rancher and have been conditioned over the past 23 years to believe that getting up after the sun has already come up means the whole day is pretty much wasted. We’ve had summers where we were up before 4:00 am every day for a month straight, and I’ve looked sleep deprivation in the eye and buckled under the weight of its stare. At this point in my life, I couldn’t possibly sleep past 7:00 a.m. even if I had the opportunity to, and usually I’m up and around much earlier than that. Even when I go to Colorado for vacation and don’t “have” to get up, my eyes still open around 5:00 a.m. Again: I’m conditioned!

The plus side of this is that I have gotten to experience many miracles in the form of sunrises; the most recent one (above) happened a couple of days ago. It was breathtaking in the literal sense of the word, and neither my phone nor my real camera could possibly capture the majesty in the sky that morning. I felt it in my bones. I actually shivered at the beauty. It was powerful!

It’s funny, through the years I have heard lots of cowboys get asked the question “What do you like most about your job?” Across the board, the number one answer is something like “I love to watch the sun rise while I’m on my horse.” It’s definitely a universal sentiment, at least among the cowboys I know. And while I have been on a horse at sunrise and agree that it is a uniquely beautiful experience—more beautiful, I imagine, if the person on the horse is a skilled rider, which I am not, and doesn’t have to worry about staying in the saddle, which I do—I’m content to experience the occasional magnificent sunrise in the comfort of my yoga pants…and in the comfort of our backyard, overlooking the peaceful pond that Ladd’s dad built when he raised a family here with my mother-in-law, Nan. Something happens to the soul when being flooded with the fiery drama that is a sunrise. It has a way of setting everything aright.

I’ll tell you what else sets everything aright, at least for me: Uninterrupted time at home. A few months ago—actually, well into last year—I looked ahead at 2019 and decided to clear a block of time this summer. And by “clear a block of time this summer,” I mean I marked a violent, bright red line through part of May, the entire month of June, and half of July, with the unambiguous phrase DO NOT SCHEDULE! in capital letters. Not that I haven’t been working during this time (hello, cookbook!) but it was a (slightly aggressive) reminder to myself not to fill these calendar days anything—filming, travel, events—that would take me away from home, so that I could enjoy the things that I knew would be going on during this block of time. And here’s what’s going on!

* The boys are starting their intense football training and practice leading up to the fall. They need food, man.* Alex is home after graduating from college, and will be here until she starts her new job in Dallas mid-July. She hasn’t been here continually like this since she left for college four years ago, and I love it.* Paige is also home after her first year of college, and will be here until she leaves for her camp counseling job in July. It’s so great to have girls back under our roof.* My nephew Stuart is with us this summer, helping Ladd on the ranch and just being the great kid he is.* I’m finishing my new cookbook—dotting i’s and crossing t’s and feeling so thankful that I’ve had this time at home to dig in and give it my all. I am feeling good about this darn book!* Sunrises. Lots and lots of sunrises. Which, again, remind me of all that’s good.

Beginning in mid-July, things will get busy again, and I’ll feel ready! I’ll be filming more shows on the ranch, school will be gearing up again, football season will begin, and I’ll be getting ready for my cookbook launch and book signing trip, which kicks off in October. And while I know it will be quite awhile before I’ll probably be able to carve out another 7 to 8 week “break” like the one I’m taking now, I think this time at home is going to refuel me in ways I have yet to see. Ladd always teases me that I never fill up my vehicle all the way, and he’s absolutely correct. I don’t. I drive until I’m just about out of gas, then hurriedly stop and add just enough fuel to get me through the next day or two. Not to be all symbolic—and actually, scratch that; this is completely symbolic: I realized the other day that I often take that same approach with myself. I’m typically in the day, dealing with the day I’m in, and sucking the resources I need to get me through until bedtime. Funny correlation, but the vehicle/fuel analogy really helps me see the value in taking this long pit stop this summer.

I wonder if Ladd and the kids can handle me with a full tank of gas? Haha. I can’t wait to find out!

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