Wrangler Dani

Writer, editor, marketer and communication strategist. I'm also a wife, mama, hiker, cowgirl and experimental cook living in beautiful Central Oregon.

Archive for the ‘business chronicles’ Category

August 24th, 2017 by Dani

The Wilderness

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Last week I went to a writer’s conference, the first one I’ve attended in years. Before going, I asked God to show up – years ago I felt silenced by the expectations of others, by my own imperfections and my need to be understood, so I wandered away from the professional communities of writers. For several years, I wrote to myself, to paying clients and to no one in particular. I wandered in a creative wilderness, sometimes even finding myself in silence, with nothing to write at all.

wilderness. But recently I’ve been working hard at this new project, which I submitted to this conference’s contest, and I was a finalist. Just like that, I booked a hotel room and bought a conference ticket, hired the incomparable Mick Silva to help me prepare. Predictably, I dove head-long into this adventure, praying all the while that God would reveal a pillar of cloud or fire to lead me out of my wilderness, or least show me a town in the desert where I could get a decent cup of coffee.

Let me tell you: it turns out the wilderness is called the wilderness for a reason. There are no lattes here, no smiling storekeepers to lighten my load or give me a rest for the night. There is a lot of beauty though – craggy rocks that show God’s handiwork, the bright galaxies taking my breath away each night. I was inspired by the tales of fellow travelers in their own wildernesses, and guides who had finally made it to a homestead somewhere out there. Inspiration was everywhere, taking my breath away. But my larger aspirations were not realized – no agent who wanted to see my book, at least not as written. I did not win the contest. The wilderness stretches on before me and my only choice seems to be to keep writing, keep walking, or quit. No one can tell me how far away my homestead is, or if I’ll ever reach it. The wilderness teaches us only lessons of endurance and persistence, not of safety and home.

I’m disappointed, because I wanted someone to tell me how to do this and where home is, which is of course an impossible expectation. I’m a little tired of walking and I am tempted to feel quite sorry for myself, as if this experience doesn’t make me better at my work, as if all artists don’t struggle with the tensions between honesty and bill-paying and good taste. But here’s what I know about creativity – it blossoms in the wilderness. The most poignant works of art are always made by someone who cares enough about the art itself to weather a little rejection, a little mockery, a little dismissal. I don’t mean to suggest that I am that kind of stalwart, self-propelled artist, but I would sure like to be.

So I’m writing. Today, every day. I am writing. I am writing what I like to read. I am reading the work I aspire to. I am writing what I can be proud of, that feels authentic and unabridged. I am going to remain teachable and humble, but I won’t bow to every suggestion or whim, or be intimidated by every well-intended piece of advice I receive. Yes, I am in the wilderness and home is a long way off, it might be over that ridge or around that bend, or it might be so far I never reach it. But I have sturdy shoes, a God who knows my name and gives me a story of hope and redemption to tell, which is why I’m writing in the first place. I didn’t get a pillar of fire or smoke, but I did get a still, small voice, a quiet encouragement, the hugs and shared experience of new friendship.

Here’s to the wilderness wanderers. May we find beauty as we search for home.

January 10th, 2017 by Dani

Top Five Moments of 2016

I was going to write a New Year post that I’ve written before (inspired by the ever-lovely Valerie) about my top three movies, books and moments. But I feel like 2016 has been full of moments more than anything else, so I’m eschewing the regular protocol for something more apt.

seattle

Chandelier Mamas Seattle Trip

Within a few minutes of reuniting at Pike Place Market, we were snorting with laughter and eating too much seafood. This group of girls are fun, honest, thoughtful, adventurous and opinionated and I love them ever so much. Baller alert: we rented a minivan and went thrift store shopping. WE ARE SUCH COOL MOMS. (Side note: It feels indulgent to go on a girls’ trip – heck, it feels indulgent to read a book some days – but it is SUCH a good thing. Nobody wants a burnt-out exasperated version of you and we all need a break whether we have kiddos or not.)

Trips to Texas

These two trips get to be together in one moment because it’s my blog and I say so. In September, we went to Fort Worth to meet Addy’s cousin, precious Stella! We also experienced an incredibly hot TCU football game (there’s a famous quote that goes: “Fight ’em until hell freezes over, then fight ’em on the ice!” from legendary TCU coach Dutch Meyer. I do not understand this. Why is TCU football talking about ice when most of the time they play ball ON THE SURFACE OF THE SUN.) Anyway. It was hot. But being in Texas was fun, as always and we love our family so it’s worth it.

Then, in December, we went for Christmas, which was full of warm weather, delicious food, fun gifts, lots of laughter, enjoying family and, OH YEAH – a DALLAS COWBOYS FOOTBALL GAME! Adam and I got to have the experience of a lifetime in a Ring of Honor suite thanks to my lovely in-laws and it was just as epic as you imagine. No, more epic. I mean, Dez Bryant threw a touchdown pass to Jason Witten in the endzone RIGHT BELOW US and wow! My brain couldn’t handle all the awesomeness. It was also amazing to get to share this experience with Adam – babysitters and date nights have been scarce around these parts and this was a date night to eclipse all date nights.

Jacksonville, Oregon

We rented an adorable AirBnB in downtown Jacksonville and had a lovely weekend together as a family. We tasted wine, we went on walks, we exclaimed over the cuteness of the historic downtown (OK maybe that was just me). It was a perfect getaway and a good start to the new reality of Kid Weekends, which are delightfully different than anything we’ve done before.

my baby

Addy’s First Birthday

My baby is one year old. Actually, at this writing she is 18 months old, which is blowing my mind. We had a little BBQ for her (and America, let’s be honest) on the 4th of July, and she ate cake and got a sand toy set and a new truck to ride on and was generally adorable. A few weeks later, the Do family came to visit and SHE WALKED for the first time! I wish that hundreds of people had told me that my life was going to change forever. Oh wait, they did. And it did. But it’s great and I am grateful for it.

New Endeavors

I joined a Creative Non-Fiction writer’s group in 2016 and it is the quirkiest, loveliest group of opinionated scribblers you’ll ever meet. I love them so much. We meet at a home and talk writing and critique each others’ work and drink tea and laugh kindly at our foibles. We range in age from 30-80 and we probably don’t agree on anything except this: good stories well-told matter deeply. That’s enough.

I also became the freelance food writer for our local newspaper’s special projects department, as well as did some more magazine work and communication coaching. I also spoke in public about adoption (Camp Morrow!) and it went really well. God has been pushing and pulling me into uncomfortable places, and with a trembling heart and quivering voice I’m striving to say yes to Him.

nashvegas

Speaking of new endeavors, I went to Business Boutique in Nashville with my dear friend Kate and then-copywriter Hannah. We were inspired and educated, uplifted and given focus. The conference was worth every penny and was truly life-changing – but being in Nashville was extra fun. We ate so much great Southern food, we laughed ourselves silly, we honky-tonked and blues-clubbed, we Ubered and walked down charming sidewalks to little cafes. Kate heroically drove us home through the night after a cancelled flight got us in to Portland at an ungodly hour, and even that was bearable with camaraderie and the reality that everything really is funnier at 3 a.m.

Honorable mentions:

SoCal baby shower for Adelay, a trip to the coast with the Nichols, hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, a lovely pampering spa weekend at Brasada Ranch for my 33rd birthday, getting to have my parents visit for several days/weekends, Labor Day weekend with the always-wonderful Annie P, a new practice of getting regular massages from my dear Kate, an entire weekend with horses at Camp Morrow, teaching at Healing Reins, reading (and comprehending!) books with Addy and getting to have Major here (even though I had to say goodbye, I loved that wonderful old fella).

All in all, 2016 was a heck of a good year. I know that’s not a popular idea these days, but from my corner of the world, it’s very, very true.

November 16th, 2016 by Dani

Honesty and Love

I am a mother and a wife. I am created to love my child, my family, my friends. But that is not all I am.

I am also a writer. I’m a business owner. I’m passionate about adoption and hospitality.

Did you cringe when you read that? Does it seem self-serving for me to assert my talents here, as though I’m asking for validation?

It felt awkward to write it. I want to delete it, to tell you a cute story about how Addy is carrying around a baby doll everywhere she goes or how I need advice on what to do with my hair.

But the truth is, I am better at love when I am honest about who I am. A friend of mine and I were texting the other day and she said “there’s no time for chit-chat” and I wanted to run across town and hug her. Because there’s not, is there? We have only a few precious years on this earth and we dare to waste them on long conversations about the weather and the price of milk? No, heavens no.

Let’s be honest about who we are – who we were before we got married, or without our kids, or in spite of our job. Who are you and why are you here?

Only when we rip off the false humility and say the words “I am __________” can we give others the love we’re called to offer. You might be a warrior for the underdog, a hospitable helper, a creative soul, a joy-bringer, a thoughtful observer, a passionate pursuer of justice, a caretaker of the small and the weak. But you are not just an employee or a mother, only given worth by the people around you. You were not created to work 9-5 and collapse on the couch every evening. You are not just a wife or a girlfriend or a professional person. Don’t misunderstand – those are good things! But you are more than that. You are a mentor. You are an honest friend that we desperately need. You are created by an infinitely creative God to serve a purpose that no one else could possibly serve.

I’m mostly writing to myself and other moms, because we so often get lost in the massive needs of our family, but I think most women can relate. We are so relational that we lose ourselves without a outside sun to guide us – a job, a relationship, a family – and while that makes us hospitable, loving and nurturing, it can also leave us worn out, shallow and yearning.

Let’s quit the chit-chat. There just isn’t time for it, and frankly, it was never that fun anyway. Let’s embrace the creative, passionate, unique, hilarious and profound gifts God has given us – as we do, I think we’ll learn a new, deeper way to love.

April 8th, 2016 by Dani

Stress-shopping and Plastic Breakfasts

Today I stress-shopped online, bouncing from swim suits to place mats in a desperate attempt to feel better. The trouble with stress-shopping online is that I rarely actually buy anything – it just makes me feel worse about my messy house and fat rolls, and I waste valuable hours that should be rejuvenating, browsing Williams-Sonoma instead. Stress-shopping is a lie, a silky seductress who beckons me with new stuff and pretty pictures, taunting me as I prop up my soul with her instead of a good talk, a good book or a good walk.

It’s not that my stress is so bad, either. I’ve had some upheaval in my professional life that is causing anxiety, but I know it’ll be OK. Addy is teething, which is a fussy process and I admit I’m tired, but we’ll get through it. She’s still wonderful, she just hates her teeth and I don’t blame her.

For many years I’ve believed the falsehood that I can fix anything. I can bootstrap that problem right up, if you just give me half a chance and some leftover baling twine. When life starts running off-kilter or when the unexpected comes, my response is to power up and FIX IT, by golly.

But now I’m a mama to a little person who needs me to power down quite often. I don’t get to set my own hours or run my own show – as every mother knows, this show is now running me. I still have plenty of time to work and play and be Mama, but I don’t get the luxury of a frantic, powered-up pace when life feels out of control. I don’t get to work until the job is done, I just work until she wakes up or we need to eat lunch.

What does this mean? Well, it shouldn’t mean anything, other than a bit of a new schedule and more flexibility in my life, but I find myself feeling stressed and desperate: desperate for control over my schedule, desperate for time and space to think this through. This is silly, I’m well aware. My life is wonderful, my free time is still there, I’m still working, my baby is easy, my husband is supportive and loving. So, why do I feel this way?

I think my identity as creator of my own destiny and maker of my own future is coming unraveled, probably for the best. The truth is, I’ve never been in control of my destiny or my future, I’ve just pretended like I am, like a child with a play kitchen making breakfast for the family. We all play along, but the plastic bread and fruit aren’t actually delicious.

Today, I can fret and freak out because I’m worried about my plastic breakfast and whether it’s good enough for my family, or I can recognize that maybe this breakfast doesn’t matter after all, that maybe the real breakfast is coming from somewhere else. Maybe all of my striving won’t make me successful, any more than worrying makes me healthier or happier.

It’s hard to learn a new way of living when the old way feels so empowering. It’s hard to remind myself that I will still have time to get stuff done after the baby is rocked to sleep or after I’ve cleaned the smushed strawberries out of the carpet. Maybe, if I can figure this out, I can be one of those awesome zen-like yoga moms who wears an adorable outfit with a matching workout headband to the kid-date in the mountains and somehow manages to squeeze in a professional life while planning imaginative educational activities, making homemade jam from handpicked blackberries and doing pilates. I’m joking, although if you are one of those moms, teach me your ways!

As nice as it sounds to be an adorably put-together yoga mom, it’s probably more important to be content to be me. I’m not in charge, sometimes I’m unsure and scared. My scary moments aren’t mitigated by the intensity and take-charginess that used to make me feel better, but hopefully I’ll learn to live with a little uncertainty and a little patience. After all, it’s just a plastic breakfast. Stress-shopping doesn’t make the plastic breakfast become real, and banging my toy saucepan on the painted burner doesn’t either.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” -Jesus (Matthew 6:25-27)

December 28th, 2015 by Dani

A little list about 2015

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

Became a momma. It’s the most wonderful, difficult, beautiful, fulfilling, terrifying thing I have ever done and I can’t wait to keep doing it for the rest of my life.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I actually did! Adam is big on goals, and so we make new goals for each new year. This year, we both did really well on our goals (things like taking Sabbath, writing, house projects, parenthood, farm stuff) and I can’t wait to see what 2016 has to offer.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

2015 was the year of the Babies. SO MANY BABIES, including my own, made this year really special. More are coming, too!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Donna’s sweet mom passed away at Christmastime last year, and we still miss her.

5. What countries did you visit?

We stayed here in the good ol’ USA.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you didn’t have in 2015?

I have some significant career-related goals that I’d like to reach in 2016. For the last couple of years my free time has been consumed with moving, house-shopping and adoption, and so in 2016 I’d like to focus that energy back to my business and creativity.

7. What dates from 2015 will be etched upon your memory, and why?

July 6. November 10. Adelay Joy.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

We adopted our sweet girl, and we did it without any debt (a miracle). Through hard work, lots of money saved, tons of generosity from friends and family and countless miraculous blessings, God made it very clear that this was the right path for us, that our faithfulness would be rewarded in an unbelievable way.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Eeesh. I am not patient. I am not selfless. I am unsure of myself at all the wrong times. Luckily my sweet husband is still in love with me, and God is not through with me yet.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

My baby is heavy. My wrist hurts. Send bourbon.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A new pair of jeans. Honestly!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Oh man. I feel like I was given a front-seat to the kindness and sincerity of the human race this year. From our friends who prayed with us and helped us prepare for Addy, to the friends who filled our living room with diapers, to our family who supported us, loved us, paid for things for us, to the strangers who helped me lift heavy things in Costco because of the baby on my chest, to the husband who has gotten up at every hour of the night to comfort our baby, to the countless prayers, donations, presents and visits that kept us afloat during a tumultuous year. You are the hero of our story. Thank you for showing us the love of God, in tangible ways.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton. We’re doomed.

14. Where did most your money go?

Remember that little story about adoption? Yep. That.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Adelay laughed at me! She laughed! Adam and I both saw it, it was real. And then she did it ALL THE TIME, and it was no less exciting.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

“Ooh Child”. Adam sang this to Addy every night during her first couple of weeks of life. She still lights up when he sings it.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier. Fatter. Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Praying.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At my folks’ house, playing in the snow, and letting Adelay chew on wrapping paper with impunity.

21. Did you fall in love?

Her birthfather placed Adelay in my arms and I knew with complete clarity that my life would never be the same. Yes. Also, seeing Adam as Daddy to Adelay and Hero to me has been remarkable. When you’re picking a fella, girls, pick one who will change poopy diapers without complaint and dance with you and your babies in the kitchen and tell you you’re beautiful when you haven’t showered in three days and have been crying uncontrollably because you’re SO TIRED.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

We started watching “Parenthood” and are totally in love. We plan to keep adding children until we have a massive family ala Braverman and then keep them around forever.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Nope. My hate levels are all very static.

24. What was the best book you read?

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Seeing her speak was a spiritual and emotional awakening, and her book has been a refresher course.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

We’ve been listening to country radio, the old-fashioned way. It’s refreshing and simplistic and I like the small-town ads and the drawl and the prank phone calls and the DJs walking around local events like celebrities.

26. What did you want and get?

Adelay Joy. New jeans. A white Christmas. A lovely summer.

27. What did you want and not get?

A vacation? A book deal? Everything I might want is silly and way too big for my little self. God knows this, which is why 2015 has been perfect.

28. What was your favorite film of 2015?

Creed. (Close behind was Cinderella.)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Denver and Chelsea made breakfast for the family, then my folks and Adam and Addy and I braved snow and sleet to wander the Old Mill and shop and drop hints about Christmas gifts. Then Adam took me to Pine Tavern for a very special meal and to a live rendition of The Messiah while Grandma and Grandpa watched Adelay. It was magical. Oh, and I’m 32 now, and my joints and fat stores like to remind me of this sad fact.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Nothing – 2015 was plenty satisfying – any more and I would burst!

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2015?

I’ve been back at the therapeutic riding barn this year, which has lead me to start wearing more western/cowgirlish styles again. I love an excuse to wear a little bling, boots and a big hat!

32. What kept you sane?

Writing. Friends. Family. Good food.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Abortion. There is no such thing as an unwanted child.

34. Who did you miss?

I wish my grandma could’ve met Adelay. She would’ve loved her, and I hope she’s proud of the way her legacy of motherhood is being passed on.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

We got more involved in our church this year, which has been fun. We know everything about marriage (sarcasm alert) so we’re now on the pre-marriage mentoring team. Come to us with all of your problems and we will look at you with compassion and likely confusion.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.

Trust. I worried that we wouldn’t have enough money for the adoption fees. I worried that we wouldn’t be able to work and parent. I worried that we would be alone. I worried that our house wouldn’t be safe for a baby. I worried that our baby wouldn’t like us. I worried that I would be mean, or impatient, or selfish. God provided everything we needed, and then some. All we had to do was ask.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government
Shall be upon His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful,
Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

-Handel’s Messiah

January 26th, 2015 by Dani

Our 2015 Goal: Sabbath

Last year, Adam and I set a goal to hike 365 miles in 2014. It seemed very do-able when we were living in a two-bedroom apartment with free weekends to hike – it became a lot less do-able when we became home-owners in March, a title that was quickly followed by pet-owners, expectant adoptive parents and house-project-doers. Needless to say, we didn’t come close to hiking 365 miles last year.

So this year, being lovers of goals and ambition, Adam and I wondered what the next goal should be. Of course, we set ones for ourselves individually, for our family and our home, sensible goals like “adopt a baby” and “figure out what to do with our ugly fireplace”. But we wanted a goal that we could accomplish together and grow in together, and after a very exhilarating but exhausting 2014, we knew 2015 needed to be different – not completely, but in a few serious ways.

Thus was born our goal for 2015: Sabbath.

The idea is simple – take one day, out of each week, to truly rest. No home-ownery projects, no career work, no chores unless absolutely necessary. If possible, we want to spend Sabbath together (hiking, watching TV, making fajitas, you name it) and we want to go to church. That’s it.

Sounds simple – even easy, right?

Let me tell you, despite a world that constantly tells me to take what *I* deserve, to treat myself (what’s the line? “Because you’re worth it”) our culture actually hates the idea of Sabbath. An indulgent, expensive pampering day is one thing, but a simple time-out from the barrage of to-dos and expectations is very counter-cultural. Time spent at church, with my husband and taking my dog for a hike is one thing, but blocking off an entire day for such slowness is something else.

We don’t like to slow down and we don’t like the parameters of a Sabbath day. We’d like a Sabbath hour, maybe, or a Sabbath vacation once in a while, but a full day once a week is hard to stomach. I can only say all this because I know it to be true – if we talk about our goal with others we get questioning looks and even protestations – “that would never work for me” – people say. I can tell you that it is MUCH harder than we thought it would be – hard to be intentional with our time, hard to plan ahead and take that full day of rest, hard to silence the critical voices in our heads, telling us to get something done already.

But you know, I’m starting to realize that maybe that’s why God gave us a Sabbath, and why we felt so drawn to practice it this year: because we can’t do it all, and “getting something done” isn’t as important as we think it is.

Maybe God uses Sabbath as a way to remind us that only he makes all things new. Maybe our Sabbath time is an act of faith, that our relationships mean more than our accomplishments. Maybe Sabbath gives us a chance to stop striving and acknowledge that we aren’t actually in charge of our destinies, that one more day of work isn’t going to give us the control we long for.

Sabbath is a fitting word for 2015, and good goal. I don’t want to miss this year because I failed to look carefully enough, because I didn’t take time to notice the beauty around me. Work resumed on this Monday morning and we plunge in with vigor and hope, not because we have to keep running out of fear, but because our glimpse of rest makes us energized, grateful, humble people.

November 17th, 2014 by Dani

Gratitude Project: Grace

My first thought when I opened my computer this morning was, “wow, I’m really terrible at blogging every day”. Of course, that makes me grateful, because I’m so glad for grace.

I’m terrible at rules and rigidity. Even fun goals can feel restraining to me and I absolutely hate being pressured. I do not create New Year’s Resolutions, I generally despise artificial timelines and I want to murder my to-do lists on a daily basis. My happy place is a pleasantly busy day in which I am never bored but never pressured, nothing is left undone but nothing is nagging at me either.

Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, I live in a world of speed limits and calendars and to-do lists and limited time. Every day I am hungry whether I have time to cook and eat or not, and every day there is housework and workwork and all kinds of thoughts flitting in and out of my head, messing with my ideal day. So today I’m thankful for grace. The grace of extra socks when I can’t finish that last load of laundry, the grace of sunshine sparkling on snowdrifts and interrupting me with beauty, the grace to do tomorrow what I can’t finish today. I’m thankful for a flexible job that plays my strengths, for a puppy who makes to-do lists fade away, for the grace to write at my own pace, on my own blog, in my own way. Grace pours over every day and gives blessings we don’t deserve and could never earn – health and love and joy and peace. Today, it is obvious that it is all grace, and I am grateful.

November 5th, 2014 by Dani

Gratitude Project: Small Victories

Sorry that I’ve been quiet lately, even after promising to blog the Gratitude Project every day. This bum shoulder of mine decided to take a painful turn; when I started crying and couldn’t seem to stop, Adam decided it was time for us to try actual medical advice, rather than just The Google.

The kindly doctor at Urgent Care hooked me up with “the stuff they give to quarterbacks and ball players”, a sling and good advice, and Adam bought me a Venti Extra Hot Pumpkin Spice Latte, which is clinically proven to ease any kind of suffering. Sadly I did not get injured by throwing a touchdown pass, but more likely tweaked something when working on our kitchen and then slept on it wrong. Even still, I feel like I have a kinship with serious athletes, with my hard-core-looking kinesiology tape and meds.

But today I’m grateful for little victories, like my big Starbucks drink and a flexible job that lets me take it easy if I need to. I’m grateful that my husband took me to Urgent Care and that my shoulder is healing. I’m grateful for our pets, who love us unconditionally all the time – I felt like such a gross-looking wreck (you try doing your hair with one hand) and Bandit and Guinness both still wanted to be petted and snuggled by me, such a comforting feeling. I’m grateful for TV to distract me. Most of all, I’m really, really grateful for Adam. Taking care of a fussy, pain-wracked wife is probably the least fun thing I can imagine doing, and he has been an encourager, a cheerleader and a caretaker like no other. Today I’m typing without pain, so it seems fitting to rejoice in that. Small victories are sometimes the best kind, and I’m so thankful.

October 11th, 2013 by Dani

Writing On

2013-09-30 09.36.17This post is sponsored by Grammarly. Sometimes I use Grammarly for proofreading because occasionally, you just need to be reminded that you’re not crazy: English is.

I have a problem. I’m basically married to the Most Interesting Man in the World. He’s a walking hobby: sketching, woodburning, carpentry, biking, fishing, hunting, running, golf, basketball, add in some handy survival skills and a healthy dose of curiosity and Adam’s lucky he has time to do anything but hobby it up.

This leaves me sometimes feeling a bit uninteresting, because, well – I like to cook. I ride horses when I get the opportunity, I paint my nails sometimes and I get pretty excited when a new magazine comes in the mail. And I write. The trouble is, I also write for a living. So my only real, quantifiable, useful hobby is also my job, which means that by the end of the workday, my hobbies are really laying on the couch with Real Simple and contemplating nail polish. Sounds fun, right?

I’ve been considering how to fix this – how to stay inspired when the day-to-day dronings of my mind seem overwhelming and it’s much more tempting to flip someone else’s pages than create something of my own – and that’s where Jane comes in. I bought this little piece of wisdom at a shop in downtown Bend, and it hangs above my desk, egging me on when I don’t feel clever, when I can’t string two words together, when I convince myself that mediocre is my destiny.

Sometimes, even when we have a grand passion, something to say burning within us – we still have to put one foot in front of the other. We still have to write on until the humor comes or doesn’t, passes or grows, staying true to a calling and not a feeling. My husband does a lot of interesting and creative things and he has enough hobbies for both of us, but I’m happy with a good cookbook, a long walk and some inspired words that are all my own, even if the work of “writing on” is slow or daunting.

May 24th, 2013 by Dani

Am I Good Enough to Say This?

I took a day off yesterday (not of my choosing, a nasty bladder infection laid waste to all sensible thought or ambition) and it gave me time to think. Actually, I’ve been thinking for a couple of weeks now – what am I doing?

The only thing I’m good at is now the only thing I do, frighteningly enough. I realize that I’m a decent writer, but I’m certainly no Jane Austen, and maybe it’s just sad to toil at something every day only to be mediocre at it. It’s slightly unnerving to think that I switched my major in college from a marketing communications degree to print journalism, and that heady, sudden decision at 19 changed my life forever. Did I really know what I was doing then? Do I now?

I still do a lot of “marketing communication” – after all, that is most of what Wrangler Dani offers, so I guess maybe I’m overstating the point. But inside of the workings of this little media company I’ve built, with my corporate blogging accounts and social media presences, is my own voice, wondering if it still has anything to say. Better yet, is it talented enough to say it?

Desire is one thing, talent is another – together they are formidable, and make our giants: the Brad Paisleys, Elizabeth Gilberts and J.J. Abrams – those people who somehow have sweated long enough and thought hard enough (and been given enough natural gifts) to make us swoon at their revelations and hang on their words. They speak for us, they say what we never could, what we aren’t talented or gritty enough to declare ourselves.

I guess I’m having a completely normal artistic crisis – where I feel boring and dumb and supremely under-talented for the story I want to tell. The funny thing about blogging is that you can see the rolling hills of my angst – from feeling fresh and inspired to dejectedly wondering why I would ever choose a profession which is best known for “bleeding on the paper”. So I won’t even try to pretend that this is some original moan or logical level of blah.

But it’s there, nonetheless, and I’m stuck with a degree and a decade of work and really nothing else that I’m even remotely good at. I don’t have a conclusion, other than I’ve been itching at this for a couple of weeks now and it’s hurt like a peeling scab until this moment, when I put it on paper and mused in print. So that has to count for something.

Right?