Empowerment of Women

I wrote this article almost a month ago, but I wanted to share it with all of you today.

Empowerment of Women

By the time this article comes out it will be October. This month has a special place in my heart because it symbolizes empowerment for women. That may seem odd to some since October is officially Breast Cancer Awareness month, but the reason behind my sentiment goes back to when I worked in retail in the big cities. October was the time for girlfriends to get together to celebrate life and their health by getting makeovers, having mammograms, and taking part in charity walks, etc. The awareness of one of the biggest killers of women somehow brought us all closer in a positive way.

What does empowerment of women mean? According to various sources, empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social, or economic strength of individuals or communities. Throw the “women” part in there and I bet you know what it is focused on. Women have come a long way over the last 100 years, but the path we have carved for ourselves is still being built. Each of us takes part in our progress every day. That may not seem realistic, but I believe it’s true. Everything we do in our lives is witnessed by those around us. It’s important to never forget that especially as women.

Living in the agriculture world can sometimes take the empowerment of women part away. I don’t mean that in a negative sense. It’s common knowledge that living on a farm or ranch is hard work for everyone. There is no “fairer” sex when it comes time to getting things done. It’s hard to get away for a spa day with the girls (if it ever happens at all). Life takes over for us ranch gals when we get married and have children. We are the caretakers of our families and they rely on us to be there every hour of the day. It’s easy to lose sight of our own aspirations and dreams if we don’t pay attention. This is where women’s ranch rodeos came into play for me. I had been looking for something to get involved in for some time. I was looking for something that “empowered women” in a cowgirl sort of way and boy did I find it!

This past summer WRRA (women’s ranch rodeo association) members have been going down the road to various sanctioned rodeos competing in our 5 events: doctoring, branding, sorting, trailer loading, and tie down/mugging. We have all been trying our hardest to cinch up a spot in the world finals. We will be vying for the coveted titles of Year End Champions, Finals Average Champions, and Go Round Champions in Loveland, Colorado at The Ranch Events Complex on October 17th and 18th. One of our three performances is even themed for Punchy in Pink (breast cancer awareness). With women’s ranch rodeos being so close to my heart, now October means that much more to me!

The women competing come from a collection of states: Texas, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Florida, and Montana. We have had sanctioned rodeos in Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, and Wyoming. We have experienced a lot of growth up here in the northern region this past year and we look forward to even more in 2015. If you want to see some fun, action-packed events come on down to the world finals. It’s guaranteed to be unlike anything you have seen before. Plus, the association’s main purpose is to support empowerment of women in agriculture while we represent our way of life. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t get any better than that in my opinion! www.womensranchrodeo.org.

Like I said, I wrote this for my column in The Wrangler Horse & Rodeo News almost a month ago. The WRRA World Finals is now over with. How did it go? GREAT! It was a lot of work, but it ran quite smoothly. We experienced a few things that we learned from, which will allow us to make it even better for next year. Here are a few pictures from the World Finals (thanks to Tanna White of Western Lifestyles Photography for the great action shots!):

World Finals Branding Singletree Ranch

World Finals Doctoring Cowgirl Swank

World Finals Doctoring Y Six Livestock

World Finals Sorting Antelope Springs Ranch

World Finals Sorting

World Finals Tie Down Ranchn Rebels

World Finals Tie Down

World Finals Trailer Loading 4 Random Hands

World Finals Trailer Loading Ranchn Rebels

When it was all said and done, the Push Hard Cattle Company were the winners.

Champions Push Hard Cattle Company

My team, Turkey Track Livestock, didn’t have the greatest weekend in terms of winning, but we had a great time, worked together as a team, and came out of it stronger than before (also we were more sore than before too….see the pictures below)!

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock 2

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock 3

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock

A full week later, my hip is still majorly sore (I’ve been to the chiropractor twice). Bridgit (my teammate under the steer) had some horrific scrapes and bruises when it was all said and done. It’s crazy, but we LOVE doing this! 🙂

I think that is the most important thing in life….having fun…..and loving what you do! The women of the WRRA certainly love what we do….or we wouldn’t be doing it! It’s an amazing thing to be a part of an association that builds women up. We perpetuate the role of women in agriculture and ranching, while showcasing our lifestyle. I can’t think of anything better. The WRRA will soon be holding its elections. I have submitted my “Letter of Intent” for the position of President. I would love to have the opportunity to be a leader in the WRRA. 2015 will be an amazing year for our association which will include growth, awareness, and new partnerships. I will write about what we stand for until my hand falls off….if that’s what it takes to get the word out to the far ends of the earth. I guess you could say that I am quite passionate about the WRRA. What we stand for is an amazing thing! I believe the empowerment of women is vitally important. I’m so glad that I’m getting a chance to make a difference and to help make positive strides in our industry!

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CAN

I used to say the word “can’t” a lot and while I was doing so I didn’t understand the effect it was having on me. The magnitude of such a small word is absolutely astounding. Just by uttering “can’t” I was telling myself that I couldn’t do something for some reason. I was giving power to that word and letting it limit my abilities. In a sense, I was giving up and letting “can’t” control my destiny. I was too ignorant back then to understand that I was setting myself up for failure just by saying “can’t”.

The first person I met who absolutely abhorred that word was my husband. I mean he would get downright furious if you said it. At first, I was taken aback and almost wounded when he loudly proclaimed that “can’t” didn’t exist and that he wouldn’t accept that excuse. It took some time of being around him and conversation to totally understand where he was coming from. He explained to me how “can’t” has such a negative effect on our minds and most people don’t even know it. He just looked at me and said, “You CAN”.

The second person to absolutely give no power to the word “can’t” is World Champion Team Roper Walt Woodard. I’ve been to several of his roping schools and I thoroughly enjoy reading his column in here. He is a positive force to be reckoned with and I can tell you that “can’t” doesn’t exist in his vocabulary either. In fact, it doesn’t exist in any winner’s vocabulary. If you don’t believe me, hang around some of the guys and gals who go to the NFR. I bet you don’t hear “can’t”….ever (and if you do I will be surprised).

This past year I have heard of some amazing people who also don’t accept the word “can’t” into their lives. There is a college barrel racer and breakaway roper who doesn’t let the fact that she is in a wheelchair slow her down. She races and ropes with the best of them. There is also a young boy who was injured in a roping accident who is working hard every day to make it back to where he was before the accident. I have seen their progress and results on Facebook. It is absolutely inspiring and amazing. These are the kinds of people who deserve our admiration and our deepest respect. They are proving what CAN looks like!

It’s amazing how the human mind works. If you allow negativity to creep inside (even in its smallest form) it can wreak havoc on your ability to overcome the smallest of obstacles. However, if you replace negativity with positive thoughts and goals it is amazing what you can accomplish. You CAN accomplish whatever you set out to do. You CAN leave behind the excuses of “can’t”. You CAN allow negative comments to slide right off when others say them to you repeatedly (after all, you “can’t” fix stupid – I may agree with that one).

The fact of the matter is this: the days are passing by quickly and there is only so much time we are allotted here on earth. If there is something undone for you go after it…what have you got to lose? Let “can’t” slip away and realize that you CAN!! We all only get one life to live so my thoughts are to go out and live it to the fullest. Will it always be perfect? No. Will it always be a winning outcome? No. Will it be worth it in the end? Heck yes! Get out there and do it. I know you CAN!!

The Anniversary of Atlas

One year ago today I remember exactly what was happening…..a storm was raging. A winter storm…..the kind that has the weather guys all in a fury……the kind that affects everyone in the area…..the kind that has livestock owners worried beyond belief……the kind that leaves devastation in its wake.

One year ago today was just the beginning of the horror that would ensue over the next few days leaving thousands of head of livestock dead……leaving our region crippled and in a state of shock. One year ago today we lost a sort of innocence that shrouded those of us not old enough to remember the last horrific blizzards in the 70’s.

I remember hearing the term “Storm Atlas” on the Weather Channel. Not long before that I had started hearing blizzards and other winter storms with names. At first I thought it was strange. I could understand naming a hurricane, but a blizzard? I now look back at the irony of the name chosen for the storm of the century.

“In Greek Legend Atlas was a Titan who took part in the revolt against the gods. As a punishment he was condemned to hold the heavens aloft forever. Atlas was usually represented as a human figure bearing the heavens or the celestial globe upon his shoulders.”

How symbolic that is…….Storm Atlas literally held the state of our world in its grasp.

As I sit here typing, I can hear the wind howling outside. My mind has gone back to a year ago as I listened to something similar. The difference is that we are dealing with rain this time and not snow. I’m thankful for that……more than you know.

So much has happened over the past year. I can honestly tell you though that I am gun shy when it comes to the weather now. I don’t think I am alone in that capacity either. I half winced when October rolled around. The wound left by what happened is still very fresh in everyone’s mind. It has been talked about, written about, covered on the news, and visualized by everyone who went through it…..countless times. I got in on writing a story about a surviving family in northern South Dakota a month or so ago for a publication. I literally had tears rolling down my face and the gal told me their story. The feelings and memories are still so raw. I truly believe that only time can heal this kind of wound.

Not all has been lost as there has been hope. Hope in the form of friends and neighbors bonding together to help each other, the farm bill finally going through, livestock donations, a plentiful year of rainfall, and the livestock markets are strong.

Going through something like Storm Atlas has given everyone a completely new perspective on things. It was a sharp reminder that we, as humans, don’t control things as much as we’d like to think. Mother Nature proved that she is still holding the reins. We can prepare for things as much as we can, but in the end prayer and hope is all we really have…..and each other. Without that……..everything would truly be lost.

My faith in humanity was restored in the aftermath of Storm Atlas. The outpouring of help from people in the communities was amazing. And while it couldn’t bring back the livestock lost it brought back a sense of caring and compassion that is sometimes lost in our busy lives in the 21st century.

I am proud to be a women in agriculture. There are so many awesome things that happen around us everyday. It’s easy to get lost and to lose your perspective when you live out in the sticks, but I, for one, am glad that I have the solitude to reflect on the things that are truly important in this life. There will always be storms……there will always be horrible things that happen……there will always be life as we don’t want it…….but there will also always be folks we can count on, family, and faith. I am most thankful for those things.

Here is to an uneventful fall……one full of golden leaves dancing in the breeze, fat calves going to the sale barn, lots of bred back cows, and a chance to truly be thankful for all that we have.

With that, I will leave you with my poem “The Storm Atlas”. I wrote it on the 8th of October one year ago. I still cry when I read it……Blessings to you all.

The Storm Atlas

By Cheyenne Glade Wilson® – written on 10/8/13

The storm came in hard and fast,

Like nothing anyone remembers from the past.

First came the rain, so cold and wet,

At this point, nobody would fret

Then came lots of snow,

And the wind began to blow.

The rancher began to pace,

A look of worry crept to his face.

“How are my animals out in this mess?”

It was his only concern that he cared to confess.

Those animals help to pay the bills,

They are fending for themselves out in those hills.

But his concern was far more than for money or such,

He cared for those critters so very, very much.

He shed blood, sweat and tears,

For them over the years.

They were all partners and relied on that trust,

They needed each other, which is why he cussed.

“Damn you, Mother Nature, and the fits that you throw,

The hand that you’ve dealt us is a might low blow!”

As the storm passed, the rancher did look,

At what he saw, oh, how he shook.

The dead and the dying were all that was seen,

The few survivors were gaunt and lean.

The losses were huge, far above his worst fears,

Soon began more discovery and then came the tears.

Sorrow came next and soon disbelief,

Followed by regret and undeniable grief.

How will they recover many do ask,

It’s what ranchers do, they tend to their task.

They work hard day and night,

And no matter what, they don’t give up the fight.

But the good times outweigh the bad,

So we keep that in mind for better times had.

Things like this are very hard to take,

So many lives lost are hard to forsake.

Just know that this too shall soon be in the past,

Ranchers are a tough bunch, which is why they last.

Prayers are free; there is no cost,

So let’s bow our heads and remember all that’s been lost.

Let’s pray for better days and for the heaviness of heart,

Let’s pray for strength and for another start.

The Storm Atlas