The Unknown


I have been thinking about life altering changes, mostly those that are unwanted and unexpected. There are a lot of challenges in life, but there are a few that can truly spin us around and leave us totally disoriented. They also take away our security and sense of our future. When your future becomes a black hole and you lose everything in a moment, what do you do next?

Death, divorce, and cancer…unexpected losses, life threatening challenges or tragedies are some of the life events that will test us to the max and kick us out of our every day comfort zone and rip our known future away. Of course these things happen all the time, we just don’t expect them to happen to us.

It is really bewildering to go from an everyday couple with a routine about to start a fun summer weekend to the 26 year old widow. At least it was for me. I know that other serious life events can have a similar feeling when it comes to where to go or what to do next after these experiences.


For me, I felt frozen. I wanted to go backwards, definitely not forward. I felt it would take me further away from my comfort zone, my life that I knew, the husband I loved with all my heart, my best friend and the life we had planned out together. Our future. When I looked forward it was just black.


It was like when you first enter a unfamiliar dark room from the light and you can’t see anything. You put your hands out in front of you and squint to try to see. But there is nothing. So you try to shuffle backwards out of the darkness…..but then you realize that the door you came through is now a solid wall and there is no turning back.


So here’s what I figured out, you better get used to the unknown. Just like in a dark room, your eyes will adjust. Let go of the need to live in routine. Let go of living only in the familiar. You will adapt, but you do have to open your eyes and face it to overcome it.

I now believe that as terrible as these life experiences are, they are also blessings. Perhaps there are some people who get by in life with only experiencing minor loss and challenges, but will they ever really know who they truly are? If you are never pushed and tested, you can never know what you are capable of. A few naturally test their limits, and some, are forced into it by life.

Whatever has happened to you may be the absolute worst, terrifyingly devastating experience that you barely survive, but at the same time, it also can be the best one, that leads you to finally truly live for the first time.

What do I mean by that? You will learn to value every second, be grateful for every small blessing, feeling happy or one carefree minute in the light, once you get back to it. Laughing will become a cherished past time, as well as those that partake in it with you…because you have died while living, you now have the knowledge to know what it is to truly live.

The truth is, your future has always been unknown. You and others just convinced yourself otherwise. That is why these events are such a shock. People die? Marriages end? People are not perfect? I am mortal and not guaranteed a 100 years free of tragedy or suffering? What a revelation, right?

So, embrace the unknown. Then kick it’s ass. Learn to try, learn to take a risk, learn to make mistakes. Avoiding mistakes will lead you to living to only a fraction of your potential. You’ve already been locked into the darkness, open your eyes and step forward. It’s the only way to find the way out.

And as always, NEVER GIVE UP.





Part 2: I’ve Never Been A Widow Before


Sadness. It is a useless emotion. I believe that it is necessary and has to be indulged to make it through our grief (and believe me, I indulged) but, it will not help you get anywhere new. Now anger, anger is a motivating emotion.

I was a walking ball of sadness and grief I was devoid of energy especially the first months after Tyler’s death. I could barely function. I was just surviving as a dehydrated, never hungry, zombie with bloodshot, aching eyes. I was lost. I had no power and I let others take care of me. Which is fine, that is what friends are for but at some point, I gave up all of my power to be me and had few opinions on anything or that I could muster the energy to express in contrast with someone else’s when it came to me, my husband, or our life.

This would have some detrimental repercussions in the long run because one day, I would be strong again and the sadness would finally be overtaken. I would finally regain full consciousness and some people weren’t going to like it. It was more change and we had already had quite enough of it by then. They were used to the widowed and broken me. Really I was just a shadow of my real self at the time.

Around 6 months, I woke up. I remember exactly when it happened. I was at the bank talking to them about finally taking his name off the accounts and all of a sudden it was like I snapped into the current time after living the day he died over and over…every, single, day. I would waiver back and forth after that, but never again would I go back to being completely overtaken by grief for months at a time. It was then I realized how much I had let go and how much I wish I wouldn’t have. I then realized that while I had many people supporting me, my weakness had also been taken advantage of by a a few.

Then I was angry. With myself, my situation and those that I allowed to take over. The good thing was I was finally awake and I realized I wanted to live not just exist. I wanted to live my life fully like I knew Tyler would have wanted me to. One thing about him was no one (except maybe me) ever told him what he was going to do. I knew this and knew he would say “who gives a damn what they think!”. I would smile and gain a little more confidence every time I thought of him saying that. He was well known for his bluntness.

I finally wanted to make the most of the time I had and now I wanted to do it in my own way.

Of course, after all this time of being an agreeable pile of moldable clay, obviously, it was going to be a tough transition for those around me to handle my sudden desire for independence. Even more difficult would be the courage for me to speak up and muster the courage to actually DO what I wanted and thought was best for me. Many people wouldn’t give this so much thought or struggle with just doing what they decide to do, but I was too worried about doing what others wanted me to do or thought was what I should be doing. Even with Tyler’s words ringing in my ears, I was struggling.

I would liken that time to a baby deer learning to stand. I was going to give it my best but there was no way around the fact that it was going to be awkward (VERY awkward at times) and I was going to make mistakes.

But hey, I didn’t know what I was doing! I had never been a widow before.


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What I Never Should Have Given Away


Part 1:

Even before my husband passed away, I was never good at confrontation. Well, he would probably argue that in relation to him like most husbands! Usually, I would have to be pushed to it though and only if I could not find a way to avoid it. I am sure, also, that I can be categorized as a people pleaser. Mix that with some Christian sense of duty and I’ll give you everything I have…well, maybe more like let you take it right in front of me without saying anything….Or while mumbling to my self like Milton in Office Space about my stapler.

At least, that is what I used to be like.

Of all the things that I let go of or let people take without asking when my husband Tyler passed away, the thing I would miss the most would be my power to decide how to live my life. It is one thing I would get back after letting it go, however, I would have to fight for it.

I was so broken, so collapsed inside myself the day he died, I lost all sense of direction. My compass was spinning wildly as I sat surrounded by the ashes of my previous life. I was overwhelmed by the weight of my grief and the reality that my husband, my best friend, the center of my world, was dead. I would never speak to or see him again. I couldn’t imagine a life without him. Everything else lost it’s meaning and no longer mattered to me.

It was so strange, when he died, he was the person I wanted to talk to. He was the one I wanted to comfort me. He was the only one who really could. The reality was that comfort would never come. I would have to rise up on my own and deal with the pain.


My Mission


For those of you who are new to my FB page and blog, I want to tell you a little more about my mission here. I am a Navy Veteran and Gold Star Wife. I lost my husband, Tyler, in 2010. It has been a long journey to get to where I am today and I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support of my military family.

Currently, I am living out one of my dreams working with horses and competing in barrel racing. An endeavor that has also brought much healing. My heart is still very much with my military community and I want to do more with the amazing opportunity I have to pay it forward. There are so many great non-profits out there I don’t want to start another one. I decided instead to help those that already exist accomplish their mission.

I am striving to be an ambassador for our Veterans and Gold Star Wives in the rodeo and horse community. I travel to races and rodeos I want to share and support the great organizations and Patriots that support these special groups of Americans. I am adding patches of those organizations and memorials to my race shirts. I hope to expand that to stickers/banners on my trailer as well. My goal is to start a dialog and share the many ways to support our Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and Gold Star Families. Of course, honoring the memories of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice is extremely important to me as well.

My Blog and Facebook page is intended to serve as a place to share my journey as a Veteran, Gold Star Wife, and Barrel Racer. I hope that my story will inspire others facing life changing difficulties to #NeverGiveUp and follow their calling.

Please help me with my mission! Follow me here and SHAREthis page .

If you are an organization or business that supports our Veterans or Gold Star families that would like to work together please contact me on Facebook!

Many thanks and God Bless!

And #NeverGiveUp!



Putting the Trailer Before the Horse


In June 2012 I moved to Nevada from Virginia. I was only supposed to be here one year. I had joked about getting a horse when I moved but in no way thought that would ever happen.

It is funny how you see how you are being nudged and guided as you look back. I had met a friend in Virginia Beach who would ride every now and then at a local boarding/pony club facility. She invited me to go with her after Tyler passed away in 2010. It was great to be around horses again and of course, the healing powers of horses are incredible. It had been quite a while since I left my horses in Montana for the Navy and it was perfect to getting back into the horse world a little.

In 2011, I was lucky enough to attend the U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Memorial Team Roping and  bought my first pair of cowboy boots since high school that weren’t just for wearing with dresses. For some reason I knew I wanted actually riding boots, though I was not riding often at all at the time. I also got to take a little ride around while we were at the roping. We (Widows) were given some awesome goodies from Cavenders. One was a NFR 2009 Gear bag and a big Cruel Girl bag that held all the goodies. I had no idea what I would do with that bag and almost didn’t keep it when I moved to Nevada.

Once I got to Nevada, I started looking up horse events and barrel racing……not sure what I was thinking but seeing that there were quite a few barrel races going on around the area my mind started working. Then I went to the Reno Rodeo. I watched the barrel racers. I didn’t imagine I could ever be at the level but maybe I could at least go to the small local clubs. My ambitions were just to ride again and just be able to participate in a race. We did not live in a house where a horse could be kept so I started looking at boarding facilities in the area and started researching horse care. It had been a while.

One thing lead to another and I started looking for a horse. July 5, 2012 I bought a Trails West two horse slant trailer. I did not have a horse. I was putting the trailer before the horse you could say. I talked to some friends who had lived in the area a while and they just happened to know a very good barrel racer who usually had a horse or two for sale. I ended up meeting her and indeed, she had two for sale. That is how I found Gigi and a mentor.

The rest is history you could say but really there was still a long ways to go for me. That could have been incredibly overwhelming and kept me from even taking the first step. So many people asked me why in the heck I bought a horse trailer without a horse. Well, I knew I was going to have one and if I wanted to get to barrel races I needed something to transport my future horse. I didn’t realize how powerful this way of thinking would be.

It can be incredibly scary, but a tiny step is still a step in the direction of your goal. You just have to do it. How will it all come together? Well, that depends on you, time and God. Don’t let fear be the driving force in your life! Envision what you want and keep it in mind. Make sure you share your dream/goal with others. They will help you and introduce you to other people who you need to know. AND you should be looking for opportunities to help others reach their dreams and goals at all times as well. You get what you give!!I

So if there is something you are being called to and you don’t know where to start. Just start. Put that trailer before the horse and make it happen.



My Trailer

My Trailer

At the U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Team Roping 2011

At the U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Team Roping 2011

I ended up using my NFR gear bag a LOT! That Cruel Bag? PERFECT for storing my hay and not making a huge mess in trailer.

I ended up using my NFR gear bag a LOT! That Cruel Bag? PERFECT for storing my hay and not making a huge mess in trailer.


Reno Rodeo June 17, 2012


My boots bought in 2011 in Texas at the U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz Memorial Team Roping. Still wearing them today!


Meeting Gigi 2012

2013 Winning Our First Buckle

2013 Winning Our First Buckle

Take Pride In How Far You Have Come And Have Faith In How Far You Will Go…Blog Entry From June 1, 2011

“Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out”
John Wooden

My blog/journal Entry from June 1, 2011

So I have been absent from the online world for a couple weeks. It was kind of nice to rest my eyes a bit. For the first time I can say I was so busy that I really didn’t have much time to obsessively be on the computer.

It has been a roller coaster (as per usual I guess) the last month. I am still in that outgoing tide motion I guess. I am feeling okay and optimistic, then find myself stalling and being slowly pulled back out to feeling overwhelmed and helpless. There are new challenges as time goes on. It has almost been a year and life seems to be waiting on the other side, which I know many have discovered that on day 366 there is no miracle recovery….but I also feel that after 12 months of being in limbo and feeling that I have a good excuse for not having my life together, will run out. This is mostly a self-imposed feeling of course, but really I wonder….

What I am going to do with the rest of my life?

There it is.


I imagine it like a cat in the dark waiting to pounce, and all I can see are it’s expecting eyes as I am forced towards it by time. I know it is inevitable and that I am crashing head-long into it, sometimes with fervor and sometimes being drug behind Father Time on a black horse. I wish I could say I am 100% in at this point, but a lot of the time I am half-hearted about it. My motivation has not fully returned.

I try to focus on the potential life that I would like to have if I still have to be here, but sometimes it just seems impossible to attain and then I hit a wall of sadness and helplessness. My motivation comes from hope for the future, and it is hard to maintain that hope. I am constantly battling the winds of doubt, fear and the past from snuffing out my flame of optimism.

I am also laughing, joking, accomplishing small goals, taking risks, and feeling a bit of my old self from years ago that has a bit of mischief and adventure in her eyes….thinking of possibilities, dreaming, and taking steps towards making some of them happen.

I want to make something out of this life I have left. I don’t want to go on unsatisfied, disillusioned and settle for less than what I started out for years ago. I don’t want to hear that it may never happen, that this is the way things are now, that life is unfair, or that wanting or doing any of these things is wrong or unrealistic. I want to try, I am going to take risks, I am going to take life by the scruff and have it follow me instead of being mauled and defeated.

Isn’t amazing to look back to when we couldn’t even imagine where we are today? I know the day I wrote this I couldn’t have imagined my life as it is today! Horses, love, confidence, and an opportunity to help and encourage others. Yes, there has still been challenges, loss, and tears since then, but I have come far from the darkness of the early days.
Journaling is such a great tool to help us express ourselves and heal in the moment, but also to encourage and heal us in the future when we look back and see how far we’ve come. Widowhood can bring a particularly vague vision of the future. Hang in there and believe that great things are just around the corner and God has amazing plans for you. Take action, be open to opportunities, take risks and have faith in God. Great things are coming your way. Never give up. *Chelsey

Lone Survivor, A Widow’s Quick Review


I watched Lone Survivor this weekend and I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

FIrst, I couldn’t help but think of the spouses and families of these men that watched the movie. It had to be incredibly emotional.

Overall, I thought they did a great job with the movie, there were some things changed/added, that I don’t think were necessary but those that haven’t read the book won’t know any different. It was a little disheartening to hear people in line say “What is Lone Survivor?” and as the movie started “This is a true story?”.

Then I realized, the movie is doing exactly what it should, bringing awareness to those that don’t know much about our military and making the legacy of these men known on a huge scale so that they will always be remembered, as well as inspire the next generation. There are, of course,multiple reasons why this is so important to me.

The part of the movie that made me most emotional was after it ended and real photos of men and their families were shown. I couldn’t keep it together through that. Make sure you stay through the entire thing and show your respect for all the men and families after the movie. It is my hope that from this film American’s gain a new understanding and respect for our Military men and women.

#NeverGiveUp Chelsey Stimson