Since I have been blessed with the amazing opportunity to have some of my Cowgirl Soul Prints displayed in the halls of St. Anthony’s Shawnee Hospital. I’ve been asked several times in the past couple of months what exactly “Sparkle and Spur” means and why do I put it on everything.
Wellllll, already feeling vulnerable having the world pass by art, that comes from my heart, everyday in the halls. I figure why not share a little more into what makes up the core of Cowgirl Soul and how my mantra “Sparkle and Spur” came to be. Why I sign every piece with it, sign every letter, put it on my engraved jewelry and even have considered a tattoo of it, …….It’s tough to put the words to paper.
I came across a poem from circa 2006 (below) and was going through a sort of personal cleanse – but it’s right and it’s real. Although it needed a little revision – and an ending 🙂 call it “poetry in motion”, call it a season of truth, call it what you will…… i choose transparency to help others and honesty. I’m in a season of it.
So the short version if you care to know is this: I was a 20 year old college student at OSU going through normal 20-year-old college girl things things. Studying for school and in my free time studying for Miss Rodeo USA. I was home from Christmas break in 2002 when I got the news my dad was involved in a fatality auto accident. I was faced with all kinds of things – but one choice that needed to be made was if I was going to continue with the pageant or withdrawal with less than one month away. It was a battle of the mind and the heart. It all seemed so vain in the scope of life at the moment, but I felt called to pursue the crown – with a new motivation and a new inspiration.
First I needed a way to channel the grief I was stuck in. So that is how “Sparkle and Spur” became my tag line, and my mantra for life. It‘s like a duck that is cool and smooth above water but below he’s paddling like hell under the water. I needed to be able to Sparkle and Spur no matter what – and it has stuck ever since.
If you’re still reading 🙂 and you’re interested in the long, read between the lines and around the block poetry kinda read. Below is a poem I wrote in 2006 and have revised in 2018 – just trying to purge words onto paper. It is what it is – until it isn’t anymore –
“Sparkle and Spur”
Innocent, fresh and right off of the Farm
She was a “good girl” graced with southern charm
Little Blue Chevy Truck with big muddy tires
Cowgirl soul, livin on dirt roads with rusty barbwire
Rural Route fields and gravel roads under her boots.
Ambition, bright eyed and planted deep in her roots
Green as the tractor she grew up on,
Those days behind her and now long gone –
One more summer hometown party before hitting the books
he turned her world upside down — all It took was one little look
On the high of her life, riding fast without the reins
Reckless and young with him running in her veins.
Nothing could stop her, so young and so free
Ready to run and ready to flee
The visit home from college break
One trip she wished she hadn’t made — A knock on the door and everything changed
“I’m sorry to tell you there’s been an accident,
and there’s not much good to tell you – you’re dad’s been in it.”
The rest is a blur – a complete tailspin
Although at that same moment a heartbeat within
My whole being was shaken and reeling with grief,
Questions and worry – internal grieving makes time a real Thief
I did a lot of things out of fear, ego and pride –
it’s not who I wanted to be or how I wanted to die
I hurt people I loved, selfishly did things I can’t take back
thankful for mercy and grace or I might not have found my way back
on a downward spiral slide, chasing dotted white lines,
jumping from vice to vice and paying the fines.
Too fuzzy to remember
Too painful to resist
Too embarrassed to be transparent
Too ashamed to revisit
With a pageant coming up – one I’d worked for all year long
It had come time to come up from drowning — it was time to be strong.
But it all just seemed so vain – all of the glam and the glitz
and I needed a sign or a mantra to get me past calling it quits
My confidence was lacking, it had only been a month
I was anxious to fall flat on my face –
I was afraid the emotions would overflow from my cup.
More like hot choked-down whiskey that I swallowed down tight
pushed down deep – tried to cover up with a chaser –so they didn’t see me weak.
I just kept marching on – cowgirls don’t look back
so much emotions – so much drama
Time would surly cut me some slack?
My dad didn’t appreciate quitters – we had that common ground
now wasn’t the time for victims or pity – it was time to win that crown.
I felt called to “Cowgirl Up” but that seemed so cliché
and I felt a load of responsibility so I kneeled down on my knees and prayed
Boy did I pray, I think the heavens surely heard it – I shouted and I lost my pride
Let it all out – not my normal – usually pushing pain aside.
When it came time for the buckaroos to ask for signatures, smiles and photos
I could not just stand like a statue and go through the motions
I would rise to the occasion
So I drafted and doodled and brainstormed on pages
and I dug and I dug and I dug down deep
for a mantra to carry me through the times that felt too dark and steep
I would pack up my sequins, my leather, boots and fringe
Leave my phone on the charger, because outside communication is a sin
and I would be the best Damn Miss Rodeo Queen runner-up, empty handed or
with a win.
I needed a slogan that was catchy – one that was light and Dustie Bill
One that incorporated the cowgirls and the cowboys and wasn’t overkill
Something that reminded me of the good times
and pushed me through the grinds
I closed my eyes up tight that night and I said my prayers for sure
I thanked God for just pushing me to that point and asked him to will my heart pure
I woke up at peace and out of my grief stricken blur
and I knew it was damn time to “Sparkle and Spur”
My dad named me Dustie because it shined on the back of a western belt
and I’d be more disappointed in myself if I didn’t make it count
‘Dustie Bill’ belts aren’t made to be sit upon no shelf
So I painted my lips and I shaped up my hat
threw back a shot, gathered my baggage and that was that –
I signed program after program “Sparkle and Spur”
and the more that I prayed it – the more that it worked.
I needed something just for me that I could tuck close to my heart
so that when the going got tough I’d know just where to start.
Right here in my heart where the good Lord knows he’s close
gotta put up with the thorns to enjoy the beauty of the rose
Sparkle and Spurrin a place into their hearts
The Rodeo Queen just doing her part
Nothing fancy or fake – just a girl practicing grit and grace
only with the Lord on my side could I get to that place.
Long after that time of pageants and lights
sequins, glam and all the photos
I still go to that place when life gets down low
there’s times in life where it rises up again slow
Sparkle and Spurrin is all that I know –
Perception is never reality – real reality is too honest to share
Hit the books, hit the glass, hit the neon lights
Earrings, smile, everything tight
That’s not how “good girls” act right?
But that’s just a chapter not the end.
And although it still stings
long over the years it’s been replaced by things
like blessings and babies and love stories
I sign all my pieces of art, carry it deep in my heart
It reminds me I can make a fresh start and be stronger in the dark
Helps keep me to steady when we are apart
and teaches me to spread love through Art
Sometimes half past too late, sometimes the plane is delayed
things don’t always go our way – and we may suffer, and we can sway
People make promises that they don’t keep, we find out the hard way talk is cheap
We have to stand up for what is right, even when we don’t feel up for the fight
Sometimes the trail has to be blazed
whatever may come your way – always, promise always –
Life isn’t meant to be lived in a blur
Life teaches us when the going gets tough we gotta
“Sparkle and Spur”