Believe, Trust and Never Give Up!



Believe, Trust and Never Give Up.

I have to say these are some of the most important things I have learned in the last 3 1/2 years. Sometimes I am surprised it took me so long and such a huge life event for me to learn to finally believe in myself. I also learned to appreciate everything I have and every small accomplishment.

At first it was  simple as just leaving the house and not crying. I learned to appreciate the giving and compassionate people in my life. I learned from their incredible kindness in the days and months after Tyer’s death. I learned how important that even the smallest act of kindness can be to someone. I experienced it first hand. I will NEVER forget those people or what they did for me. I am now devoted to paying that forward in my life.

Like a lot of people, I look to continue accomplishing more, continuing winning and improving myself, but I don’t get so caught up in those things that I lose appreciation for where I am. When I lose, when things go wrong, I understand that it is just one day, one race, and that these things happen. I don’t fall apart, lose all my confidence, or get embarrassed. I just say “Dang! Oh well, I will try again!”.

I think that the power of perspective has given me these things. I KNOW what it is like to really lose EVERYTHING. Surviving that has taught me that I can endure, adapt, overcome and thrive if I DON’T GIVE UP. There will be hard times, disappointments, mistakes and things that make me wobble a bit, but then I just forget it. I have a short term memory problem anyway so it is not too difficult for me to do ;).

What is really important is that I have a wonderful fiance, a warm home, a reliable car, plenty of food and the incredible opportunity to pursue my dreams. It is so important to really look around this world and be aware of the suffering that so many people are faced with. I often am reminded that people lose their spouses everyday. There are people waking up that first day after losing their husband or wife to realize they aren’t there. I know what that is like, how painful it is and I take a moment to say a prayer for everyone that is waking up to that terrible “Day 1” and I am grateful to be where I am today after all that. Take the time to really understand how blessed you are. Give yourself the gift of perspective.

If you really believe in yourself, in your potential, your abilities, and if you are REALLY putting your best out there, you WILL succeed. I think you will be surprised at the results you will see in your life from this. I know I was! So many things in the last couple of years have just blown me away! From finally earning my degree, to taking a chance at dating again, to my first jackpot barrel race, to winning my first check, winning my first buckle, sharing my story for the first time and winning Cowgirl Tuff’s “How Tuff Are You?” Contest, and now being engaged to a great man! It all took me believing in myself, taking risks and trusting that it would happen in time (patience) and never giving up.

I admit, at first I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like. I had to trust and take risks. It paid off. I learned an important lesson, don’t let fear hold you back. Most of it is completely unfounded and you will be amazed at how wrong you were for letting your fearful thoughts stop you from go after your dreams. In reality, you are only standing in your own way!

I almost didn’t even enter the Cowgirl Tuff “How TUFF Are You?” Contest. I entered the last day and wrote a quick synopsis of my story. To my surprise, I was chosen as a finalist! Good thing I took the risk to enter, even though I almost let my fearful and negative thoughts keep me from doing so! Then, I was super far behind in votes. It seemed it would be impossible to win. I knew if I wanted it bad enough I was going to have to ask others to help me. I sent out messages to multiple people even though I felt embarrassed asking. But it paid off! I got help from the SEAL of Honor page. They shared my story and the link to the contest. All of a sudden I went from 500 votes to 3,000!

I learned another important lesson, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Believe that you are good enough! Trust that you can make amazing things happen. Don’t Give Up!!

A great quote that I have come across says “The moment you are ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens. Don’t give up”. I have found it to be 100% true.

I hope that this post finds those who need it and encourages you! I’d love you hear from your stories of learning these lessons as well!

Never Give Up!



Thanksgiving Engagement


Well, I certainly had an eventful Thanksgiving!

Ryan surprised me with a trip to Tahoe yesterday and proposed at King Beach, a special place for us. It was perfect! 

I said yes! 🙂

We are happily engaged and feeling very blessed this Thanksgiving.

I try to be aware of all I am blessed with every day and not take for granted all I have. I am so thankful for all the amazing people in my life that helped me get through the hard times, for all those that had gone before me and helped show me the way and the amazing people in this world that inspired me to not just exist, but really LIVE. I’m grateful for my dogs that have been my faithful companions and made me feel like I was never completely alone in the worst moments. I am grateful for Gigi! We have learned a lot together and accomplished some great things this year. I am so grateful to have such a special bond with her. I love that horse! I am also grateful for our other horses, Lynx, Fire and Ringo.

I’m thankful for God being with me every step of the way and for helping guide my feet to where I am today, even when I didn’t realize it.

I am also SO grateful for this amazing man that changed my life! And I am lucky enough to call him my best friend and now, fiance!

Wishing you all the best this Thanksgiving and sending prayers and love to those that are struggling through this holiday today away from family or missing a special someone.

And of course, we are sending support and love to our troops serving away from home this holiday season and their families carrying on the traditions while they wait!




How To Be Alone


Every time I share my story I go through all the events, people, mistakes, decisions and risks in my mind that brought me to where I am today. Every time, I am amazed. I still can’t believe it sometimes that this is my life and this is my story.

When I first lost Tyler, the future was non existent to me. I think it is fair to say that I had lost hope, I had lost my dreams and I could not even imagine what my life would be a week from then. It was like staring into the dark. I didn’t know where I was going and I was afraid to step forward when I couldn’t see anything ahead of me.

As time went on, the darkness started to lighten up as I attended my college classes and spent time with friends. Eventually, I had transitioned into my “widow” identity. It wasn’t where I wanted to stay, but it was more of an in-between what was and what was to be. I still didn’t know what I wanted or where I was going, but I was starting feel stronger. I started to have an opinion again, I started to care. I was rebuilding my life and myself.

I remember when I started to really revolt against the idea of being a lonely widow for the rest of my life. Part of it was reading the stories of those that insisted on that path and I didn’t like what I was reading. It wasn’t appealing to me to feel terrible for the rest of my days. I knew what happiness was like and I decided that day that I would have it again. I wasn’t sure that it was possible, again it was like staring into the dark, but I was feeling more confident each day in my journey.

I adjusted to be alone and even started to like it. I went out to dinner by myself and people watched. Sometimes wondering if they were trying to figure out my story like I used to do when I saw people dining alone. I always felt sad before when I would see an older man eating breakfast alone, or a woman drinking a glass of wine by herself. It never occurred to me they may be content with their company.

I went to Barnes and Nobles to study and read alone. Again, I quite enjoyed myself. Occasionally, I would meet interesting people doing the same thing. We would have great conversations and then return to our coffee with a knowing look of contentment in our singularity. What an important life lesson this was. To learn to be okay with being alone.

This lesson was essential in gaining the confidence I required to take those steps into the darkness, to discover and follow my passions and to risk falling in love again. It is a firm foundation in life no matter your story, I think, and many people could benefit from learning how to be okay with being alone.

Here is a wonderful video that I came upon at that time that is titled “How To Be Alone”.



Barrel Horse Connect Contest and Our Story


Gigi and I’s Photo in Barrel Horse Connect’s Contest “Barrel Racing Inspiration”

Welcome everyone!

To get this blog started I will share a contest I am currently in put on by Barrel Horse Connect (

Here is the link to our entry:

This is not just a photo contest! Every horse and rider in these photos has a story and they are sharing their challenges and triumphs along with their photos! I am so excited to have another chance to continue sharing our story and help others. Attached is our photo for the contest. Our story should be up here shortly. As usual, we need likes to win, but also take some time to read all the stories and get into that Thanksgiving spirit! There are some pretty amazing young ladies in this contest!

Here is the story I shared with the photo of me and Gigi at the Northern Nevada NBHA Finale Race:
In 2002, I left home just a few weeks after graduating from high school for Great Lakes, Illinois. I was headed to Navy boot camp and for the start of a new journey. I left heavy hearted, leaving my horses and dreams that I thought were unrealistic behind. I had been riding for years and participated in some open shows and a youth series in barrel racing, among other events. I was not competitive in the speed events, though I dreamed of it.As I headed to Great Lakes I had no idea I would meet my future husband, Tyler, there at Navy boot camp. He was the most accomplished and driven person I had ever met. He had a big goal, to be a Navy SEAL. When I met him he had already had quite a few accomplishments under his belt, but he was going for his ultimate dream. I never doubted that he would accomplish it!From that time forward we were inseparable and I was blessed to witness what true drive and determination can do. He achieved his dream of becoming a SEAL, something very few in this world will do. We were married five years after we met and spent almost another three living military life. I had finished my enlistment in the Navy and began working towards my goal of earning my college degree.In July 2010, everything changed, forever. Tyler was killed in a base jumping accident. One of his many passions was skydiving. I was devastated and lost from that day forward. It took me six months just to be able to really function again. The next six moths after that I worked toward living, not just existing. I managed to finish my degree with the support of our friends and the leverage of Tyler’s desire for me to graduate.

In 2012, I graduated from Regent University with a degree in Psychology. During that time I began to see that I still had the rest of my life ahead of me and I was now charged with living life fully for two. I became open to new experiences and opportunities. This timing was perfect, as I soon after met a man who made me believe that it was okay to go after my dreams and be happy.

I then moved to Nevada to explore those possibilities further with him, and fate took hold. Within a few months, I found and bought Gigi, my amazing mare. I completed an equine sports massage therapy course and went to my first jackpot ever with his support. Gigi and I got a few races in before the season ended, we didn’t do anything spectacular, but my heart was bursting in amazement that I even had a horse again, let alone that I was actually barrel racing!

Then, I started to notice that Gigi was having some gait issues and after visiting the vet found that she had Intermittent Upward Fixation of the patella. Barrel racing was out and I focused on rehab for Gigi and working on my horsemanship with an amazing trainer that just happened to be in my area. When you look back, it is amazing to see all the puzzle pieces come together.

I thought we might be out of racing forever and even bought another horse. By May, it was clear that Gigi was thriving and I took her around the barrels. She did amazing, no stifle issues and that was the start of our 2013 season.

We had terrible runs to start. In the 20’s and even 22’s. We kept at it. I tried to learn all I could and work on the mistakes I was making. I thought Gigi could be amazing if I could be a better rider for her. We never gave up, no matter how bad we did, and eventually we started to improve. We even went to Las Vegas, not because we were clocking great, but just for the experience. We did place in the 4D the first day though!

We won some money throughout the season, but what I wanted most was to win a buckle. Every race that had buckles that we attended, we didn’t win. But, then, at the end of the season, we won the 4D buckle in the Northern Nevada NBHA series! It was a dream come true! It was so satisfying to accomplish that goal.

As the season was winding down we were starting to get faster and I believed even more that we could be great team. We just recently made it to the 2D and I couldn’t have been more amazed or proud!

This whole journey has taught me many things, but a few that stand out are NEVER GIVE UP and you really have to BELIEVE that it is possible. Lastly, no matter your goal, enjoy the ride. Make sure to keep perspective and be grateful for your opportunities. I want to help others every chance I get and strive to inspire those that might be sitting where I was a year ago.

I feel blessed to have this opportunity after a ten year hiatus from horses and I am looking forward to what Gigi and I will achieve together in the future!


There are plenty of other great stories too if you have time go read them! In the meantime come visit to read more about what Gigi and I are up to.

Thank you for visiting!


Blessings, Chelsey Stimson