A Young Widow and a Horse

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After I bought Gigi I boarded her a local facility outside of town. I was there almost every single day. It was the highlight of my days and it just didn’t feel complete until I at least checked on her. I was so grateful, and still amazed, that I finally owned a horse again after so many years.

Spending time with Gigi was like a form of meditation. No words were spoke and we were always in the present moment. No matter how much was happening or how I was feeling before I got to the barn, it would all fall away when I got to her. Even if I was having a tough emotional day, it was quickly overcome by the peace and focus that Gigi’s presence brought.

Eventually I would nickname her Super Gigi, not just because of barrel racing with her but because of the incredible impact she had on my life. She now even has her very own hashtag, #SuperGigi.

A lot of time together was spent riding, but the time spent together during her massages and PEMF blanket treatments was also a wonderful time of bonding and healing.

While I was moving forward with my life, I was still healing after the loss of my husband, Tyler. More than anything Gigi brought my focus to the present. She drowned out the pain in the past and worry of the future. She helped bring my focus to the blessings in the moment.

After being around horses for a while the magic can wear off and complacency can take it’s place. Some people don’t stop to think that this 1,000+ lb animal has the power to easily hurt you and that it is a pretty amazing thing that they allow us to do so much with them.

So many people have benefitted from the power of the acceptance and love felt by a horses willingness to trust and follow them. It is a powerful experience especially to people that have never interacted with horses.

Beyond those magical experiences, the energy of a horse is healing in itself. Just to sit quietly in their presence can drown out the world and break through even the most calloused of hearts.

It has now been over 2 years since I found Gigi and she has been a beautiful blessing to me. She continues to help me grow, to conquer fears, to take my own unique path and remind me to never give up. Every day I walk out to the barn and her whinny I am so grateful.

Horses are truly heart healers and Super Gigi has helped heal mine.

Never Give Up,

Chelsey

http://www.facebook.com/chelseystimson

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Veterans Day 2014

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Happy Veterans Day! Is that the correct greeting? I am not sure. Either way, today is Veterans Day, a special day meant to honor our past and present Veterans. I can’t not thank my fellow Veterans enough for their service and sacrifices. As well as the families that supported them through their service.

Yesterday was the Marine Corps birthday, which also is Tyler and I’s wedding anniversary. It would have been 7 years. I did pretty well with it this year. It is getting easier to smile at memories, rather than cry. I have so many blessings in my life today to be grateful for that I try to focus on.

Time is the most precious and valuable things we can possess. To sacrifice time with family and friends to serve is something see as extremely important to recognize. After losing someone, every last second with them is precious. Every lost  moment with them is painful. Veterans often miss holidays, anniversaries, the birth of their children, celebrations, weddings, funerals, and the many “firsts” with their children. Not to mention that many put their lives directly at risk to serve. The risk never having any of the moments ever again, so that those they love may live their lives fully and free. It is no small matter and I take it extremely personally and to heart. I hope that you take every opportunity to say thank you to a Veteran today or support them in some way.

I have been really busy, but in a good way. Today an interview I did with Alyssa Barnes, of the Earn Your Spurs podcast for Veterans Day, went live. You can listen here:

http://www.earnyourspurs.com/episode13/

You can also find the interview on the Earn Your Spurs Facebook page. Give them a like and check out the other awesome interviews Alyssa has done. I really appreciate her reaching out, support Veterans, and helping share our story with the rodeo world. Thank you Alyssa!

There are some really great things coming up here quickly that I will be sharing on Facebook as well, so get on over and visit my page at: www.facebook.com/chelseystimon

I am also on Instagram and Twitter so find me there!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day celebrating our brave men and women in uniform,

NEVER GIVE UP,

Chelsey

American Widow Project Weekend Retreat

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So I am back after my first Weekend Retreat with the American Widow Project. It took me 3.5 years but I am so glad I finally signed up for an event.  After Tyler died I started searching online for some kind of help and information on being a widow. AWP was one of the most unique and helpful resources that I came across in my search. I then requested their AWP Pack that they offer free to military widows, that included the documentary that Taryn Davis, the founder of AWP, had made early in her experience.

AWP has been on my radar since the very beginning and they helped me immensely, though it was from afar, they gave me one of the most important things that I needed, to see other military widows LIVING again. They were going beyond just existing. They were smiling, they were traveling, they were going out and sharing their story and hero with others. They were trying new things, pushing past fear and building a new life…..and they were doing it proudly. They were not hiding that they could smile and that they wanted to still live an incredible life after their loss. That meant a lot to me, especially in the early days of my journey. The women I saw became my role models and I was inspired to not hold myself back, but to go do more with my life than I ever had before….and most importantly that I could do all of that and honor Tyler at the same time.

My intentions for the weekend originally were to get more involved and see what it was all about, but I needed it more than I knew. I have been in Nevada a while now and while there are so many great things that have come out of it, I have missed my circle of friends back in Virginia. I had not been to an event with just military widows in a long time and I had never been to one like this. What makes the American Widow Project (www.americanwidowproject.org) so awesome in my opinion, is that it is for military widows, BY military widows. While there are so many scholarship programs out there and some foundations help with the immediate needs after loss (usually financially if you are in a bind), there isn’t much in the way of support like the AWP offers. Really, I don’t think there is anything like the AWP. They fill a very specific niche and I think it is because Taryn, the founder of AWP and a military widow, obviously is aware of where there are gaps.

The Weekend Retreats offer military widows a chance to meet and spend a weekend together in an intimate setting (the group size is limited to ensure this). You get to know everyone, their story and their hero. You have a roommate, which encourages building a relationship and sharing even more. There are activities to help everyone bond and to open up. It is a weekend that encourages healing, true understanding and camaraderie. All these things are SO important. Some widows don’t know any other military widows until they participate in this event. Some finally feel comfortable after having to pretend everything is fine because no one in their life understands. And we all learn from each other’s journey.

I was just amazed that in such a short amount of time I felt completely comfortable and willing to share with all of these amazing women. We all now have a connection and I am sure that we will continue to be in each other’s lives from here on out. I needed this weekend more than I knew. I learned a lot, but overall what was really highlighted was the importance of these kinds of friendships, having the right people in your life, and how necessary it is to give and receive empathy. Experiencing that with other military widows is on a whole different level.

On another note, it is impossible not to be inspired by these women and their heros. To see these women walking the same path as me and identifying with their stories, challenges and victories so much, was incredibly validating and encouraging. It was an amazing experience to receive support and advice from those further out than me and to encourage those that are a little newer in their journey, and to see yourself in both.

I hope you will look into the American Widow Project if you are a military widow looking for support or if you are looking to support a great organization that helps our military. American Widow Project is different to me because they are doing real and tangible things to help our military widows. (www.americanwidowproject.org)

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity this weekend and I am more energized than ever.

Never Give Up,

Chelsey

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Lone Survivor, A Widow’s Quick Review

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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

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Expanding on The Widow of ‘Downton Abbey’

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I came across a great article on being a young widow today. (The Widow of Downton Abbey). I am also looking forward to seeing this episode of Downton Abbey so it caught my eye. The author points out some important issues that young widows commonly face today and I thought it was great to see someone writing about them.

“A widow is rarely allowed to be a lead character. More typically, she is a helpmate on the sidelines, an object of pity, a grateful recipient of the protagonist’s generosity or, worse, an object of scorn. She’s not considered major character material because she’s pegged as someone with no desires of her own, no future, no plans for change, and therefore no potential for a heroic journey. Why would anyone waste an episode on her story?”-Widow Of ‘Downton Abbey’ Article

I have learned to dismiss the stereotypes that still hold to widows in our culture the hard way, by actually experiencing it. I remember being so lost and not knowing what to do in the early days following Tyler’s passing. It was easier to conform at first since I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I eventually realized that I wasn’t really living, just existing and just trying to do what others were comfortable with me doing. Not only did it feel wrong, I didn’t see a point in wasting my life like that.

And yes, some people really do have a problem with that.

I struggled with that for a long time, but eventually I became strong enough to stand on my own. Lord knows Tyler didn’t let anyone tell him what he should be doing! It helped to think of him when I was really having a hard time with the fact that not everyone from our life was going to be in the life I would have to build alone. I soon learned that life is a lot easier once you have the right people in it and those that don’t come with you into your new life make things really difficult because they aren’t supposed to be there. I learned that sometimes you just have to agree to disagree, let them head down their path and continue making your own trail. And most importantly, stop worrying about how others think you should be living your life! Have confidence in yourself and your decisions. Yes, you might make mistakes, but so does everyone else! You can’t let fear be your driving motivation or it will take you places that you don’t want to go. 

I was lucky to have found widow role models like Taryn Davis of the The American Widow Project to look to who didn’t just buck the stereotypes, but went on to thrive and enjoy life while making a huge impact helping other military widows do the same. When I saw that the light went off and I thought “YES!”. There was no more uncertainty or just knowing what I didn’t want. I gained confidence and started to go after what I wanted. I will always be grateful for that.

My experience of loss is a significant source of motivation for me today and I like to say I am living for two! And I know Tyler wouldn’t be satisfied with the ordinary. I aim to experience all I can, achieve all I can, and help others all I can. I don’t just want to exist, I want to LIVE as much as possible. 

“So here’s to Lady Mary taking up aviation, or wildlife photography, or a lover. Maybe she can demonstrate that a widow, facing an uncertain future and a need to remake herself, need not choose between the poles of lady and tramp. Neither maudlin nor wanton, but real, a widow can be a vigorous, noble and complex heroine in art and in life.”

 

I hope to demonstrate the same with my journey.

Never Give Up, Chelsey Stimson

 

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