The New Year’s Tally and a New Season of Rodeo Cowgirls

A few years ago, a friend gave me a little book, Cowgirl Saddle Pals, by Gladiola Montana. The book consists of brief aphorisms, humorous snippets, and pearls of wisdom. One entry that particularly resonates with me is “if you’re too busy for your friends, you’re too busy.” Friends, I have neglected you and more in the past two years. As a professor who worked non-stop on remote classes, I cast aside goals toward research, conferences, and yes, this blog. In January of 2021, I knew I needed more balance in my life, thinking it would include somethings I enjoy like this blog. However, shifting requirements to accommodate for the pandemic resulted in another year of procrastination.

I often wonder what, beyond sheer determination, kept the cowgirls I research moving forward. All of them faced challenges, some more extreme than others. Did they make New Year’s resolutions? Or did they tally the previous year’s accomplishments to reset their goals for the next season? My grandmother, Mam-maw, always told me to count my blessings and it has become an important practice for me to keep myself moving forward. Over the holiday I was able to visit the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Now as always, I am drawn to the back corner where the rodeo cowgirls’ display is tucked away behind the chutes of rodeo history. Among the trophy saddles and silver cups are some of the top rodeo cowgirls in American history. Their accomplishments, and my Mam-maw’s wisdom inspired me to “get back on the horse” so-to-speak. I did carry out some research related goals last year:

  • On March 5th Pacific Northwest Broadcasting aired my piece, “How Northwest Women In Rodeo Changed Perceptions Of Ability” on Past is Prologue. This program organized by a colleague, Dr. Karen Phoenix, in the WSU History Department and Sueann Ramella, Morning Edition Host and Producer, highlights historians of and historical research in the Pacific Northwest.
  • In May, I presented “CowBelles A Callin’: from the Kitchen to Congress” and chaired a few panels at the virtual Rural Women’s Studies Conference (RWSA), Kitchen Table to Global Forum.
  • The RWSA Conference hosted the book launch for Backstories: The Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook from the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota (edited by Cynthia C. Prescott and Maureen Sherrard Thompson), which includes my chapter, “At Mam-maw’s Table.”
  • Last September, Oklahoma Rodeo Women was featured on Shepherd’s “Discover the Best Books!”

All things considered, my tally is good—and shows me that there’s a bit of room for more Chasing of Rodeo History in 2022. Here’s to the sun setting on the procrastination of things I enjoy.

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