In the 1930s, Eleanor McClintock Williams was a champion trick and bronc rider, traveling in Wild West shows and performing on the high trapeze for Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus.

She was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1986 because of her contributions to rodeo and Western life.

Williams, the daughter of wealthy artists, spent her childhood in Pittsburgh. She met her first husband, a rodeo cowboy named Walter McClintock, after watching him compete at Madison Square Garden in 1928. 

They eloped two weeks later and joined a Wild West show heading for Chile. The show had a short run because the manager ran off with the gate money. They had to return to the U.S. on a Japanese cargo ship.

The couple had dreams of owning a ranch and in the 1930s they bought 300 acres in New Mexico, for $2 an acre.

They established their ranch headquarters and named their spread the Rising Sun Ranch. The ranch served as a dude ranch for a number of years and in the 1940s was re-named the Williams Ranch.

Her marriage to McClintock ended after six years in 1934. They had one child together.

Williams refused to rely on her wealthy parents and paid off the ranch without their help.  

In 1938 she wrote in a letter.  “This year has been a nightmare of financial worry,” she wrote. “I finally got desperate this spring and took a job on a big Wild West show that opened in Chicago in April, riding bucking horses. The show is headed by Col. Tim McCoy, who made a minor name for himself in moving pictures and whom I worked under on the Ringling Show.”

By the mid-1930s, women’s relay racing was gone from most rodeos. Trick riding had become a contract event for entertainment instead of competition. 

The Madison Square Garden Rodeo was the first to cut women’s bronc riding, and financial problems during the Great Depression made it hard for the event to continue in smaller rodeos throughout the country. Bronc riding for women has never returned to the traditional rodeo circuit.

In 1940, Eleanor married Frank Williams. They raised a family of four and ranched together until their deaths in the 1970s. 

Eleanor went on to run for the New Mexico Senate, became a published author and a recognized artist.
 
 
 
 
 
 
What determines your success or failure, and whether you direct your life’s change or feel like a victim of it, comes down to CHOICE. You can choose to continue on with your life as you currently are living it, letting the external world and your past dictate what you experience, or you can choose to create your life to be everything that you have ever dreamed it could be.

Even if your excited about transforming your life, there is an important obstacle you need to address in order to be successful. That we are often our own worst enemies!  We let our own negative thoughts and actions keep us from living the life of our dreams.  We limit ourselves, which is why we seek personal growth, to be free of the pain we cause ourselves, to make better choices, to feel better about who we are becoming, to give ourselves permission to be our unique, powerful, authentic selves.

We all have changes we want to make in our lives and goals we want to reach, but often get stuck repeating the same “change cycle” over and over again. We experience this process of inspiration and resistance when we face a decision to change. 

Change Cycle
1.  Discontent--You grow increasingly unhappy and discontent with an area of your life. You “hang in there,” tolerate, ignore, repress, or otherwise deal with the circumstance because it is comfortable and familiar, and you fear change. 

2. Breaking Point—Eventually your level of discontent builds high enough that you cannot take it anymore. You reach a “breaking point,” either through exhaustion or due to a dramatic event occurring that triggers the break. 

3. Decision—You decide you’re ready to change and declare that you will no longer tolerate the undesirable situation. You take the first step toward change, giving you a short-lived sense of hope. 

4. Fear—Usually, shortly (or immediately) after your feelings of empowerment, you encounter your fear. You become uncomfortable and anxious about the idea of changing. You doubt your decision. Both options look bleak. You feel helpless, empty. 

5. Amnesia—The fear of change grows strong enough that it makes the original situation look much better than you originally thought. You perceive the original situation as less anxiety-producing than the change. You’re used to it; it’s comfortable; it’s familiar. Plus, it has become part of your identity, so you resist letting it go. You temporarily forget why you wanted to change it so badly. 

6. Backtracking—Most people choose to go back to or stick with the item they wished to change. You essentially talk yourself out of changing. 

Inevitably, you soon will find yourself unhappy and discontent once again. Your level of pain will continue to increase until you reach another breaking point, this time even more extreme and more painful. This cycle will continue until one of two things happen: 

Extreme Pain: You have a breaking point that is severe enough to push through the change cycle. For many people, unfortunately, it takes an extreme circumstance to push them to evolve, such as major financial loss, job loss, loss of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, a severe accident, or a nervous breakdown. 

Your True Self knows what you truly want and will lead you to it. If you resist changing long enough, something will happen in your life that will put you in a position where you have NO CHOICE but to change. 

Self-Honesty: You have the humbling experience of realizing that there’s a part of you that doesn’t really want to change. You are comfortable with your habits, with what you know. You have a lot of fear that holds you back. You have many self-limiting beliefs. You receive some sort of benefit from staying where you are. You are unhappy because you want to be unhappy. You are addicted to the situation. You believe your pain is you; it’s your story. You can see your resistance to letting it go. Only after reaching this level of self-honesty can you truly choose to change.

Personal power is directly related to personal responsibility.

Can you see how this change cycle has impacted your life? Are you ready for it to stop? Have you experienced change amnesia before? If so, you know that the more you move toward the changes you want the stronger your fear and resistance will become. Are you ready to take full responsibility of your life, even if it is hard, because you are tired of being dissatisfied? Are you ready to take responsibility for your life and create the life you dream of having? Are you at the point where you will accept nothing less than what you truly want? 

Consider the following reasons you may have been allowing yourself to fall victim to this cycle: 

You don’t want to change. You don’t really want the thing you think you want. You may be trying to convince yourself to change to appease others or conform to what you believe you “should” do. If you don’t want to change, accept it. This is very common with people who say they want to quit smoking. They don’t really want to quit, they simply think they should quit. It never works. You have to want it. 

You don’t know what you want. You don’t know what you really want or you’re not allowing yourself to think about what you really want because you don’t think you can have it. So, you end up thinking you want things that aren’t what you TRULY want, and your True Self knows it. You’ll never feel inspired enough to follow through on change if it isn’t even what you want. Try imagining what you would want if time, money, and people did not limit you. 

Your dream isn’t big enough. The reward isn’t big enough. You aren’t excited. Happiness is excitement. Passion is what makes you willing to endure to attain a goal. What would you do anything to attain? 

You’re letting your fear be bigger than you. You don’t believe you can do it. You don’t trust yourself. You put everyone else before yourself. You’d rather tolerate severe pain than face temporary discomfort. Are you really willing to settle? Isn’t the fear of being stuck in a life you don’t want and missing out on your dreams more painful than the temporary experience of changing? 

You are attached to your problem. Your ego and identity are wrapped up in your problem, and you fear that if you let go of your problem you’ll have nothing to talk about. Who would you be? Would it be better? 

You’re benefiting from your problem. The benefit you’re receiving from not changing is bigger than your perceived benefit from changing. It gives you an excuse and something to talk about. It allows you to hide deeper issues from yourself and others. 

What are you holding onto? How does it benefit you to not change? Failure no longer has to be an option. Neither does doing nothing and staying stuck where you are. If you’re facing a potential change that’s nagging at you to be made, take some time in self reflection and be brutally honest with yourself. Is your desire for more, for fulfillment, for happiness finally strong enough that you are willing to encounter the obstacles and endure the fear? If so, congratulations, you will succeed—you are ready to break through!

If you have signed up for this blog you received with it a change worksheet. If you would like to receive these worksheets please sign up for this blog and they will be sent to you. 

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There comes a point in all of our lives where we have to look at ourselves square in the eye and honestly ask ourselves if we are living our lives fully, authentically, and courageously. 

The horse symbolizes personal drive, passion and an appetite for freedom.  No other animal has played a more significant role in the history and development of mankind.  While we no longer need the horse to conquer new lands; the horse plays a new role, in the field of Equine Assisted Learning and calls us to conquer new territory within ourselves.

We, like the horse are meant to be wildly passionate, fiercely independent, the creators of our own lives, chase after our dreams with a ferocious passion for life and create our own legacy.

We are meant to express our power, freeing our lives from the social, emotional, creative, financial and spiritual chains that enslave us.

We have allowed situations, circumstances and others to dictate, direct and control our lives and reality for far too long.  We have given our power away.  Only you can allow people and things to have an unhealthy level of control and influence on your life.

Because  like the horse, we all want acceptance, approval, connection, security and love of the herd.  In order to get this we continually compromise ourselves eventually losing our True Selves.  We’ve allowed others to tell us what we can and can’t do.  What we should think.  What we should believe.  What our future holds and even what our life purpose should be.
People can only take our personal power if we give it to them.
At some point we have to stop worrying about what others think, open more and more to the direct experience of our own lives and no longer settle for mediocrity.  Our desires to play it safe and be accepted only dull the full experience of life.  

Those who are obsessed with power, money, or adoration have to constantly wear the mask of the false self in order to succeed.  When we can’t be who we truly are, we create insecurity in ourselves and in our lives.  They are constantly trying to figure out who they have to please in order to get what they want.  There is no true joy in living someone else's life.

In our society today there also seems to be an overwhelming movement toward entitlement.  These people live in a lie that the world and this lifetime owes them something.  The reality is by choosing not to be the master and commander of their lives, their lives will unfold by default.  Will your default be to continue to experience the same old patterns and to allow the outside world - your family, friends and society dictate your life?  

Living a life that is not your own is the ultimate suffering in life!

It is only in being your True Self, having strong boundaries (which we discussed the last three weeks), and choosing your own path in life do we find integrity and the foundation of happiness in life.

It’s not always the easiest path, living your life fully takes grit and courage. But the rewards are authenticity, empowerment, unbounded independence and self-reliance.  

Are you content to play small in life?  Are you ready to live your life with full presence and personal power?  Are you ready to set clear goals and intentions that steer the course of your life?  Are you ready to live your dreams and voice your desires? 

After surviving breast cancer I had to get really honest with myself and ask myself these hard questions.  I wasn’t living my life fully, knew I wasn’t living up to my full potential and was miserable when I looked at living the rest of my life the way I had previously been.  It took me awhile to work through all the excuses I had rationalized in my own mind as to why I couldn’t be living life fully.  I found I was the only one holding myself back from having the life of my dreams.  Which we will discuss in detail over the next several blog posts.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” 
Marianne Williamson
I began by declaring the life I wanted to live without apology, using only my intuition and True Self as my guide which became The Cowgirl Manifesto on the About page of this website.

Nothing external can save us or make us happy and the fateful hour is at hand when you decide to stay trapped in the life you’ve created up to this point or create the amazing life you’ve always dreamed and deserved!  

If you have signed up for this blog you received with it a Personal Power Inventory worksheet and a guide to help you create your own manifesto. If you would like to receive these worksheets please sign up for this blog at - http://cowgirlgritandgrace.com/thoughts.html

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Last week we discussed what unhealthy boundaries are and how we can be violated by them, but what are healthy boundaries?

Someone with healthy boundaries is able to identify how they feel, what they think and chooses how they will react or behave in any given situation; taking full responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and behavior.  They do not blame others for what they think, feel, or how they behave because, they are able to stand up for themselves calmly and intelligently, without using intimation or manipulation.

A person with healthy boundaries does not allow others to control how they think, feel, or behave, nor do they try to control others through manipulation, guilt, blame, or by being bully.  They refuse to play the role of the victim or the martyr. 

They are able to recognize their own needs, take responsibility for those needs, and ask for what they need honestly and openly without drama or mind games.  They are also able to accept "No" from others without having their self-esteem demolished. 

They have a strong enough sense of self that they don't absorb others negative emotions or personalize another’s bad behavior.

Our culture romanticizes love as being totally absorbed or enmeshed with another.  This is not love and can’t be sustained without losing yourself.

A true partnership requires that each person be healthy within themselves before they can form a healthy relationship together.  In order to be healthy within yourself, we have to have a clear definition of who we are in order to clearly communicate that to another.  It’s impossible to do this if you are carrying someone else's emotions, blaming others for your behavior, or practicing someone else's beliefs.

We set healthy boundaries in relationships to protect ourselves from being manipulated by the emotionally needy or by those who are self-aggrandizers.  When both people in a relationship have healthy boundaries all the “games” are eliminated.  There is no need for blame, guilt, manipulation, victimization, martyrdom, or scapegoating. 

It also makes the resolution of problems clear and simple.  If your partner hurts your feelings, we can take another lesson learned from the horse.  The horse will experience the hurt, get the message behind the emotion, set the appropriate boundaries, release the emotion and go back to grazing.  
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We can do the same if someone hurts us, knowing that we have a right to protest the hurt and stand up for ourselves.  You can do this in a respectful manner without guilting or blaming, but by simply stating that you are feeling hurt and asking that the behavior not be repeated.  If the person who caused the hurt, decides to keep hurting you, healthy boundaries will allow you to walk away from them.   

While boundaries should not vacillate wildly according to what is happening around you, it’s important that we have the ability to adapt and change when it is needed and appropriate.  Boundaries are there to protect us but, they can also imprison us if they become too inflexible. Healthy boundaries include awareness of your emotions, the situation you are facing, and your ability to set or relax boundaries in response to your needs.   

It’s also important to remember that what is healthy for someone else may not be healthy for you.  Everyone has to determine what feels "right" for themselves.  Some people have very thin, permeable boundaries and are comfortable with this.  Others require more rigid boundaries to feel safe and comfortable.  Define for yourself where your boundaries are and what feels comfortable for you and stick up for your right to feel that way.  

We all inherit different sets of family rules that determine our boundaries.  No one is right or wrong.  They are simply different and have the right to have that difference respected.  Realizing that you come from two different, but equally "right", ways of doing things validates both of your feelings and avoids the blame game.  Communication about how to negotiate these differences and the willingness to compromise is crucial.

Healthy boundaries are not selfish.  They allow you to have a clear sense of how you experience the world around you.  They also allow you to have empathy for others, without taking responsibility for them.  Healthy boundaries create a good balance between taking care of yourself and being there for others without being manipulated or exploited.

Healthy boundaries lead to empowerment.  They empower us to make healthy choices and take full responsibility for ourselves.  Learning to sense and articulate your own needs and choosing where and when to share them might be the single most empowering life change you can commit to.

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The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."
~Alice Walker
 
 
Fern Sawyer was an all-around champion cowgirl.  Growing up her father insisted she perform as well as the men if she was to help with the ranch work. She applied this same philosophy to her rodeo career, competing in men’s events in rodeos because she found women’s events too "infrequent and uninspiring." Her proudest moment was  her performance at the 1945 Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo where she claimed first place against a large field of men, becoming the first woman to win the National Cutting Horse championship title.
 
 
 
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