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My Story

It was just about a week ago that I finally sat down, and opened up the envelope with my horse Lucky’s hair, and it was almost a year since I lost him. I wasn’t home that day – I was on my way to Kentucky for work and just about an hour from the Horse Park when I got the call that he was injured in a pasture accident (Lucky was a master at pasture accidents, so initially this wasn’t a huge shock as he could get injured in a padded room most days and hadn’t been rideable in well over a decade). The vet was on the way. The rest of the circumstances surrounding that evening and everything that happened are lost in a blur of phone calls, text messages, juggling work responsibilities and checking in at the park, and, of course, the final outcome. He was gone. I collapsed in a heap of tears and despair. Not being there to triage and attend to him myself, and be there with him in his final moments is something I am gutted over to this day. Opening the envelope with the lock of his hair was the first step in realizing that everything happens for a reason, even when that thing that happens is sad and tragic, or jolting, or shocking, or something you never expected. Or maybe it was something you did. But somewhere in there, there’s a reason in everything. You just have to look for it.

live without a paddle live your story

Lucky’s hair alongside my “comfort travel cat” Chococat <3

What followed next was a whirlwind of change that lead me to where I am today. On my own farm in a long term situation surrounded by one of my lifelong best friends who I can trust not just with my own life, but the lives of my animals as well. That alone is a peace of mind that is priceless. Since moving, my cats are fitter (Caspian is even less fat!), the horses are fatter (free choice hay + low stress environment will do that!), and my dogs are in heaven (figuratively, not literally!). Finally, I’m learning to breathe again. And I mean really breathe, not just survive. I realized that a lot of life is figuring out which bridges to cross, and which bridges to burn, and the move last summer started for the first time in my life to make that clear to me.

I’ve been able to take a step back and when things started to feel overwhelming, I had a safe space to be that I could retreat, regroup, and heal. And that’s exactly what I did. I took time for me. I took time with friends. I took a mental health day from work. And I was able to remember – from the reassurance of my own self, as well as the support of true friends – that even when someone wants me to be their scapegoat, no one can change my own reality but me. And with that, I was able to let it go.

Let it go. Stop holding on to worry and concern. Stop fretting over who was saying what about me, if someone really thought I did this or I didn’t do that, and making sure that everyone heard my side. I realized my side doesn’t matter.

My story does.

And so I sit here to tell my story, only to realize that I don’t need to tell it. As my sister always says, “live a great story.” That’s exactly what I am doing – living. A great story.

My great story.

Thing is, the truth always seems to have a funny way of coming out. Stories, you see, have a life of their own, and what you spin into story comes to life. It would seem that all those years of staring at this poster believing I really could climb through the wall and ride that unicorn to go on great adventures was every bit as true as I believed it to be. Because it was part of my story, and so it came to life for me, in its own way. The same holds true of any other stories you put out into the world. You breathe energy and life into them when you tell them, so make sure the story you’re telling is a great one. But also an honest one. Because if it’s not, those elements of untruths will start to fall apart. They can’t hold up in the light as well as the truth can and their little bits of darkness start to seep through the cracks, and eventually they crumble under the light. When that happens, those spaces the untruths leave behind start to open up gaps in the story. Gaps that will be filled by other people in the stories, and they’ll start to plug those holes with their truths, or perhaps, their own untruths. But if they fill those holes with their own untruths, over time they too, will crumble and so the cycle will continue until all the dust has settled and all that remains is the truth.

stop writing negative people into your story

So unless your story exists in a vacuum, or perhaps in a cabin in the woods with no interaction from others akin to Walt Whitman’s humble abode, it’s always best to tell your TRUE story.

Be honest. Be raw. Be real.
But above all, be you.

I’m me. It’s the only person I know how to be. And I want to live a great story, so I am. This story of mine is one of friendship and courage, of mistakes and fuck ups, trials and tribulations. It also includes heartbreak, juvenile mistakes, and adult lessons that all lead me to where I am today. And I’m not done yet. My story moved with me to New York last summer. It went with me to the Western Beer Garden Winterfest in Callicoon yesterday. It was a part of me when I forgot to unplug my aftermarket car seat heaters from the cigarette lighter and killed my battery in the middle of a snowstorm and needed a jump, forcing me to go back inside and maybe, give my number to that fun guy I was talking to all night. Maybe. It was with me when we *almost* made it over the mountain to Shandelee and just about did then Squirrel Nut Zip Car overheated and we had to slide back down in neutral and go the long way through Roscoe. It was with me today when I cleaned the house, and when I played with the dogs and cats, and when I went outside and did the barn chores for the whole of 20 minutes a day it takes me thanks to my awesome setup here. It was with me when I took a little longer to relax and spend some time with my horses, and when I came back inside to change so I could soak in the hot tub, and it was still my story when I got out of the hot tub and then decided that chocolate covered fruit and sweats and an afternoon on the couch watching Daytona was so my thing today.

My story is also one that I tell to be inspirational. To serve as a warning to others to help them from making the same mistakes that I have made. To help everyone who’s manic know that they’re not alone. We’re never alone even when we are. That’s the beauty of a great story. It has a life all its own. My story also has you in it. Because you’ve been here for me. All of you. Even those of you that I don’t necessarily want in my story are in my story if I give you words, or tell your tales intertwined with mine.

Suddenly, I realized, that if I didn’t want you in my story, I just had to stop talking about that part of the story and, like an actor on a television drama, let it be written right off the show.

That leaves the rest of it. The friends I have. The life I lead that I hope can be inspirational as well as encouraging. Humorous, different, a little off kilter even, and always without a paddle. And I know not everyone will like my story, nor will everyone want to be a part of my story. But that’s okay. Because sometimes you’re too much for people and that’s okay too. Those people aren’t part of your tribe, so don’t waste time trying to write them into your story.

Live a great story. Live your story.

And believe in yourself because it’s an amazing life when you write your own story. After all, no one else can write your story but you. What are you waiting for? Me? I’m here living my story. Write with me and let’s see if our stories intertwine.

Heaven Home

I was going to bed just now to have Iris by Goo Goo Dolls come up on my newsfeed with them playing in the rain and I had to stop and listen. Because I couldn’t sleep, and it’s raining, and because that’s a song that spoke to my soul years ago in my teenage years, and still speaks to me today.

Because there are days that you don’t want the world to see you, and you don’t think that they’d understand. When everything’s meant to be broken, I just want you know who I am.

I don’t want to to go home right now, but I’m home already and I know home now like I never have before. But I also miss you with a heart that’s been broken since I was a misunderstood teenager and you and your mother took me in, broken and all, no questions asked, and called me a part of your home.

Fuck. It’s been 23 years this July and it still hurts. I guess at this point it’s safe to say that it never doesn’t hurt, because if “time heals all wounds” by now you’d think I’d be healed. But I’m not.

I’m still every bit as much that broken 18 year old who lost her best friend. That fucked up twisted teenager still figuring out what it means to have people you can trust, learning to cherish the ones you can and spot the ones you can’t – and dealing with the fallout when you’re wrong. Again.

Sure, I’m a little bit wiser. A lot less manipulative. A whole lot more aware of myself and my actions and how they affect others that I care about, and how to become a better person and live a better life while not trampling those around you. Despite a fun online persona, I drink and party a whole lot less. I think and contemplate, and even meditate a whole lot more. And I’ll tell you the opposite because it’s all about appearing cool, while those of you that know me know that I’d rather be at home waiting for my Moulin Rouge Ewan MacGregor to come sing to me our song than I am actually interested in going out and finding some guy at a bar because it’s better than being alone.

Truth be told, I’d rather be alone. Because at this point, after this many years, I have little reason to believe that anyone else would understand me like you did and that was 23 years ago. What’s the chances that lightening strikes the same place twice? I already found you once. And that’s only counting this life.

Somehow I tend to believe that I’ll never find anyone who can understand my manic passion and crazy life the way you did. To be fair, I’ve never really given anyone a chance. Not even you. But I was a kid then. And we were kids together, riding subway cars talking about dreams and how the whole world misunderstood us. The only difference now is that I’m misunderstood all on my own. All because I won’t let anyone else in, but to be fair you set that bar so high that any time I tried no one compared.

I miss you, forever. For always. And I miss the friends that we had around us that you were the glue that held us all together. And I recognize my own part in some of us falling apart – mostly myself and how I managed to isolate myself from the very people that loved me – and I’m sorry. Of all people, I never meant to let you down, You really were the closest to heaven that I’ve ever been, and I’ll never stop missing you, my friend. But I promise to keep working on being a better person. Today, tomorrow, and always. Because you’d want me to be, and you’d be kicking me in the ass right now for sitting right here sleepless and alone all of my own doing.

If only I could see where I was going.

CJ’s unquiet mind home life without a a paddle

 

In Between

They say that often the truth lies somewhere in between. They’re right, you know. Even though I don’t know who “they” really are. But that’s not really what matters. What matters is not what others say about you, or what you think they think about you, or even what they actually think about you. What matters is how you live your life, and that’s something no one else knows the truth about other than you.

Also in between is this sense of life. Where we are going. Where we’ve been. Where we are now is always in between that. It’s not a bad thing, really. It just is what it is. And sometimes, in between is just a step along the way and you can feel like you’re stuck there even when you’re not. It’s always just a matter of perspective. Whether you’re in between things, in between here and there, yesterday and tomorrow, or solidly on the road to tomorrow. And sometimes the difference is just a matter of making up your mind.

I’m on the road for tomorrow. Firmly. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, I know where I am going. I also know where I’ve been.

Even when I don’t like admitting where I’ve been, I can always admit that I’ve learned from it and whether I saw it at the time or not, it had its purpose in my life at that time for whatever reason or lesson it was I needed to learn. And so I’m happy to say I’ve learned, and moved on, moved forward, and no, I am not looking back.

Some people like to dredge up the past, point fingers and blame, and talk out of both sides of their mouths. Saying on one hand that this is the situation or circumstance, but on the other trying to also own the results without the blame. Or maybe they want to own the blame because playing the victim works for them. In some cases, it’s about attention. In other cases it’s about things I can’t even explain or understand, nor do I care to try. Reality is often in between, and always personal. If you can’t own your life, stop, make changes. And then own it. Not later, not tomorrow, not when there’s more time. Now Do it now. Because you’ve got fucking time. This is the most important shit you can deal with so do it right this minute before you do anything else. Understand the difference between delegating and shirking. Delegate to grow and learn while still owning everything under your umbrella, whatever that umbrella may be.

I’m still learning. Life is all about learning and every day I am learning more. It’s been a long time since something threw me in such a tailspin as so many recent events have (and no, it’s not just one thing, and it’s more than you think), but it’s also never been something I’ve been so readily able to own. To say this is me – I am manic – and I need some time but I’ll be okay. And it’s okay to take a mental health day. And it’s okay to talk about it. Or not. You do you. No one needs to tell you how to live your life. Just own it. Own yourself. Own your body. Own your rules. Own your life. It’s okay if you color outside the lines, or prefer math to magic, or magic to monotony, or unicorns to horses, or a pet rock to a pet anything else.

You do you. No one else can.

Just remember that. When you’re down and out, or struggling with the whys or hows or who’s, or in a twist to put what you thought you knew as reality back together because someone pulled the rug out from under you, just stop and remember. Nobody else is you. Not here. Not there. And not anywhere in between.

In Your Skin

There are days that life doesn’t even feel comfortable in your own skin. And others where your mind can be a scary place. I’ve lived in both places, and while I try not to dwell there anymore, there are days that things are what they are. Sometimes you need to just look around, realize what is going on, and move on.

find your tribe

Recently I’ve had several people come in and out of my life. People that I thought were good – but that’s a fault of mine, always seeing the potential irregardless of the person that potential inhabits – that turn out to be anything but. I’ve learned over the years that there are friends, and there are givers, and there are takers. Friends are a two way street. Givers give to appease some sort of guilt or need for self worth that, no matter how nice it may seem up front, slowly sucks away your soul. And takers, who only see things from their point of view and want only to leech from you whatever it is that benefits them.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. Sometimes you think a pauper is a princess, or the other way around. But eventually, everyone’s true colors show through.

And so here I am, at my desk at near midnight, with a glass of wine and a side of insomnia, spilling my guts on a blog I haven’t looked at or even logged into in over a year. Well fuck me.

And then sometimes there are days when your family doesn’t feel like they even know you. Like you’ve built your own traditions on who you are, irregardless of who you are related to, but you still love them just the same. Or maybe there’s something they do or somewhere they go and they forget to invite you and it hurts. It hurts like fucking hell and you’re the oldest so you don’t want to really tell them that you cried at your desk when you saw the posts on Facebook about that awesome time you were never invited to. Maybe it’s when your friend who you trust with your whole life makes a joke, an innocent joke that you just happen to be the brunt of, and they have no way of knowing but the result of that night was you. In a hotel room. By yourself. Throwing your phone into the wall wishing it would break because then you’d have something tangible to be mad at which made a lot more sense than being mad at yourself for being so weak/hurt you were in tears for the first time in who knows how the fuck long.

Maybe there’s just that nerve exposed just enough that it hurts in ways you can’t ever anticipate but that when it happens you want to scream. You know it’s not anyone’s fault – they didn’t mean it – but it hurts just the same. Then your perception of someone is totally changed and someone you called a friend and trusted turns out to be one of the most pathological liars that you have ever met and you start to not trust yourself.

No. No, that’s not good. Because when you stop trusting yourself you end up typing a blog that no one will read and all of a sudden it’s 2am and you’re still at your desk in your home office alone with your cats and dogs. #winning #ornot

#fuckthis

And then you take a deep breath and calm down. Sip some more wine. And reread what you wrote about Robin Williams two years ago. You remember what madness is, why you have it, and how it makes you great even when no one else in the world believes in you. And then your friends reach out to you – not the crazy ones, the real ones – and you remember that you really have found your tribe. It may not be a big tribe, and you may not be blood related (but maybe you are), and either way it doesn’t matter because you realize that you’ve found your people. You can hear thoughts, and theirs never make you paranoid. They just help you remember that you are, truly, loved.

Then all of a sudden it’s okay to be in your skin. And

Just.

Be.

You.

Thank you, guys. I wouldn’t be here without you.

#findyourtribe #liveyourlife #loveyourfriends #beinyourskin

in your skin

Welcome Home!

Thanks, AirBNB and Stay Local Nashville! I just got here today, and already got my first Amazon / UPS delivery (thanks Amazon Prime), had a dinner guest, and a bottle of wine. I’m now watching TV on a couch more comfortable than mine at home, with wine, computer, and ID TV on (what else…really? do you know me at all???).

because wine

It’s kinda like home. As long as I don’t go outside. And in central air. And suburbia, but it’s like okay suburbia because it’s cute and unique and next to an old southern mansion. With more modern appliances.

Seriously this makes me want to move here. Or get home and totally gut and redo my house. Or both.

Good news is, I can “live” here the 4x a year I’m going to Nashville from now on, and steal some of their awesome ideas for redoing my own home. OMG this bathroom – the tile is to die for! I’d take a picture but I have wine. And a couch that’s more comfortable than mine. Have I mentioned this already?!

Okay, back to work, then bed, so I can get up early and check out the mansion and wedding grounds and gardens next door jog. Have you seen this place? It’s amazing! I should live here…Amazon and UPS already thinks I do. And there’s the same sign on the wall in my room here as there is in my bedroom at home. It’s a sign. I’m moving in.

 

This same exact sign hangs over my bed at home. It’s a sign. I mean a philosophical one. Clearly it’s an actual sign lol.

 

 

I blame Fitbit

I now officially look like one of those crazy people obsessed with steps and goals. I’m here at the airport and my flight is delayed (it’s Newark, really this isn’t a surprise…) and pacing in front of my luggage because it’s almost noon and I’m not even halfway to my steps goal. Eeps! 

Yup I’m taking this seriously! And all this time on a plane and sitting around means I need to get those steps in wherever I can. Including pacing back and forth in front off luggage waiting for my now delayed aircraft to land so we can board. I blame Fitbit. Which I suppose is a good thing considering normally I’d be nose deep in a book by now. But I suppose I can do that on the plane. So back to walking/pacing like a looney around my luggage. Gotta get those steps in! Let’s see how I fare this week because we all know Nashville has amazing food and whiskey. Whiskey!!! Mmmmmm. 

I’m gonna need a lot of steps to make up for this. At least we rented a house so if it’s too hot to walk and jog outside I can do sets up and down the stairs. As long as my business companions don’t think I’m too crazy. 

Eh, who am I kidding, they already know I’m crazy! Okay enough typing and back to walking. Have a Fitbit? Friend me this way I feel less alone in my crazy! 

CJMillar82 now go! Keep moving!   

 

Note the distinct lack of plane at my gate. Kinda makes boarding difficult.

 
 

Shit Creek Survivor

This blog started back in fall of 2013 when I unexpectedly got laid off of work. I was let go just after returning from vacation and Labor Day weekend with nothing. Literally nothing. Just SURPRISE! Sorry but we don’t have enough work for you. I saw the writing on the wall because I’m not stupid and they are bad liars, but it sucked nonetheless. Nothing like going on vacation and coming back to….more vacation, just the unpaid type.

 

 

But hey, up until that point, it was income, right? Wrong. I mean right it was income, but was it really worth it? Was it worth the stress, the long hours, the constant running?

 

And that’s when I realized within hours of losing winning my way out of this relationship, I was all sorts of busy from former clients, friends, coworkers, and people across my vast digital network. There’s a reason I’ve stayed connected with nearly every client I’ve ever worked with in the 15+ years I’ve been in this industry.

 

That, my friends is called business integrity, and it most certainly does not require a paddle. It does, however, require a conscience, a sense of humility, and a desire to work better/do more rather than be better/own more. There’s a difference there. It’s the difference between loving what you do, and loving the money you make. I far prefer to be in the former category, even if it seems I’ve misjudged some people over the years. If you have to preach to me about your business ethics, chances are you have none. For yo see, ethics and integrity are some of the things that just speak for themselves. 😉

Happy #FreedomFriday! Sometimes to find freedom, you’ve got to stop and get off at the next exit, even when it feels like it may be the wrong one, or you may be lost, or you really have no idea whatsoever where you’re going. And sometimes the only way to freedom is being able to say goodbye to those toxic things in your life and move on. Because it’s really not about how much money you have, it’s about how much you love your life, and my stress level in the past 2 years has dropped so much, it’s amazing.

 

I no longer work on Fridays, because I said so. I tend to run errands during the day, hike or ride my horses in the mornings, and then work the normal night-owl hours that come naturally to me. I don’t miss deadlines, I have a roster of happy clients, and a team of amazing people I work with every day. I choose who I work with and for, because I learned life’s too short to work with assholes, or waste time in a career or job or company or situation you hate. So change that shit, now! Really. I’m telling you, it’s totally worth it.

 

What’s your road to freedom? You know, I really have to thank that former employer (and ALL my former employers) for showing me the exit ramp I’ve been looking for all along – you know, the one that led to working for myself. And for that, I thank you!

 

So what’s your next move? Ready? GO!

happy

 

Red Velvet, If You Please

I really wish I had a boyfriend. Mostly because I want someone to bring me something red velvet right now because I’ve had a rough weekend so far and red velvet makes everything better. And wine. But I already have wine. Please don’t think for a moment that I need a man to bring me wine, ha!

But red velvet something would be nice right now. Only with vanilla icing, not cream cheese icing. I never understood why red velvet and carrot cake always comes with cream cheese icing. That shit is gross! Vanilla please! And I know I’m right because my brother agrees with me and he’s right pretty much about everything so therefore I win.

In other news, I have a selfie with the top ranked eventing rider in the world. And there’s a flying squirrel in my freezer. #truestory #sorrynotsorry

Yes, I realize these two items are not necessarily related. Nor is the want for red velvet with vanilla icing. But I have red wine by Dave Matthews called Crush, and it’s amazing, far better than his song. That should be a given, of course, since it’s wine and wine is amazing.

I may also be punchy from very little sleep because for the past few days I’ve been dealing with two sick cats and a sick horse. Anyone who says that owning animals is way easier than owning children has never checked on a colicky horse every hour around the clock for 2+ days straight while cleaning up cat vomit at regular intervals between treks to the paddock.

Have I mentioned there’s a flying squirrel in my freezer? No need to call the SPCA, he was already dead when I put him there, though he looked pretty alive when I took his picture. I assure you he was long dead, and just somehow managed to rigor mortis as if he was mid-flight, which I gather is how he died because he wasn’t a very good flying squirrel and missed his mark. Or perhaps he had a heart attack mid-flight and that’s why he missed his mark. Either way he was dead when I found him, remained dead for this photo shoot, and is presently chillin (pun intended) in my freezer to see if he’d be a good addition to The Bloggess’s collection (if you don’t know who she is, you are seriously missing out. Google her – or just go read her blog TheBloggess.com. NOW!).

I guess it’s good I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m trying to lose weight anyway and red velvet would totally get in the way of that. Even if it did taste like heaven. But then I’d get annoyed with my boyfriend because he got cream cheese icing and doesn’t he already know that I hate cream cheese icing? See? This is why I am single. And independent. And celebrating Independence Day. Well that and because of our troops and those who have served and saved us and given us the freedoms we have, like the freedom to have a selfie with the top rider in the world and keep a dead flying squirrel in your freezer. Beat that, Europe!

#freedom

flying squirrel michel jung selfie

See? It’s all true! (I PROMISE you he was dead in that photo! No no, not Michael Jung the event rider, the flying squirrel. I also promise you that Michael Jung is very much alive, and kicking everyone’s asses around the world at eventing.)

 

Finally Live!

The new website is finally up. It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and it even kinda sorta has a logo. And a favicon. That includes the universal image for canoeing apparently – you know the kind you see on signs around lakes at campgrounds and state parks and all that. Only I realized the dude in the image doesn’t have a paddle. IDK if that means that you can canoe on that lake but only without a paddle, or if whomever designed that logo just thought that it looked better for the guy to be paddleless, or if someone just forgot to give the poor bastard in the image a paddle and he’s now stuck in a canoe floating through live on this damn lake, with no paddle and he’s stranded hoping that it doesn’t thunderstorm again (it’s been thunder storming non stop here) otherwise he may be hit by lightning and die. Or there will be so much rain that his canoe will fill up and he will drown, also leading to death.

canoe_icon_2

See? Dude doesn’t even get a paddle.

Either way that sucks, because the dude in my logo is going to die. But that’s what you get when you’re floating along in life without a paddle. Sink or swim, baby. Maybe he can swim and then he’ll survive. Or maybe he’s a she, not a he. I shouldn’t judge. That’s what got this country into such a mess anyway these days. Maybe he doesn’t have a paddle because he is praying. Or she is praying. Praying that they can swim and it doesn’t storm and they don’t get hit by lightning and die. Because that would suck.

Is it Friday yet? No, huh? Well in the meantime, check out the new site and let me know what you think!

 

How To Win At Business (or at least how not to be a douchebag)

After dealing with a lot of really stupid, mean, selfish, rude, cheap, and even abusive clients, I’m about done. No, I AM done.

1) unlimited rounds of revisions are NEVER in scope
2) it is not YOURS until you pay for it (try that in WalMart and see where that gets you…oh right, JAIL)
3) be nice and i’ll do more for you. be a condescending asshole, and i’ll fire you.
4) i have no hesitations in firing asshole clients (please refer to item #3)
5) even if i fire you, you are still responsible for paying me for the work that was completed under contract
6) not giving you your website, files, work i’ve done for you, etc. because you haven’t paid is NOT extortion. it’s work for hire, and it’s not YOUR work until you pay me for doing it (hence the hire part).
7) if you are stupid enough to argue the above, i’ll not only fire you, i’ll also take  you to court for what you owe me

that is all. #winning