Over the next pages, you will find samples of a few of the stories that are found in Out of the Gate.
The weather could not have been more beautiful. The sun was shining. There was zero humidity in the air. You could sense the familiar smells of freshly cut mint and newly poured bourbon, roses, and clean-cut grass. Even though there were no fireworks, foot races, parades or steamboats ushering in the big day, it still felt special.
It was Derby Day 2020.
There were a lot of imperfections to the seemingly perfect day starting with the date. Instead of waking up to the first Saturday in May, we awoke to September 5. The COVID pandemic had taken hold of Derby just like it has hundreds of events around the world, causing a delay of the running of the Kentucky Derby for the first time since 1945. The glorious Churchill Downs was quiet in the stands due to a band on spectators —-again thanks to COVID. There was the realism of the social unrest happening in our city as well around the world. Peaceful protestors stood outside the track, eager to have their voices heard.
Despite all the uneasiness that was surrounding this surreal day, there was still a feeling of anticipation and excitement leading up to that greatest two minutes in sports. We sat glued to our television, watching the remarkable horses prep for the races…
Our financial advisor introduced us to the methodology of GO GO vs. SLOW GO as it pertains to living within your means today in order to maintain your preferred lifestyle in your later years. The general premise is simple. When the cash flow is solid you should keep your bills paid, support your long-term investments, and enjoy some of life’s pleasures with the remaining monies. That would be GO GO mode.
As you would expect, SLOW GO is the gear you shift to when frugality is needed. The focus is on the basics versus the bright and shiny objects and experiences we desire. It’s about the needs not the wants. As my husband can attest, I have a difficult time embracing a SLOW GO frame of mind. I guess I just am not naturally wired that way. I can always find a way to rationalize a spend; whether that’s a new pair of shoes or spur-of-the-minute weekend getaway. Needless to say, credit cards are not my friend. However, when it comes to taking care of the kids’ needs, my husband and I have never slacked in that area. Those needs were always taken care of first and foremost. Even as all our children are adults with lives of their own, we make sure they know we are always there for them. That we both can agree on!
We’ve been blessed with relatively stable incomes throughout our marriage. But when we had an unexpected financial interruption, causing our financial position to slip, it was time for us to push a reset button. Looking back, it was a much-needed wake-up call in more ways than one……
As I’ve mentioned earlier, Kentucky is horse country. I’ve found it can be fertile ground around here for horse racing analogies around personal and professional matters. May phrases and terminologies are ties to this ‘sport of kings’. Get to the next turn. Cross the finish line. At the starting gate. Stay on the backside. Hit the trifecta, etc. I had the privilege of hearing Donna Barton Brothers, a famous female jockey; deliver the keynote at a recent symposium. Throughout her speech, it struck me how closely the sport of horse racing compared to the sport of life.
Literally, the dirt horse track conditions and descriptions correlate with life’s phases:
FAST—dry, even and resilient
Life is good. You’re humming along at a brisk, even pace….
I have very fond memories of my Grandma Pepper’s cast iron skillet. It was the vessel of so many delicious Southern dishes. The iconic fried chicken resulting in just the right amount of crunch without being greasy. The straight up perfectly cooked bacon and eggs. (No “foo foo” fancy crepes or omelets at Grandma and Papa’s house.) Fried bluegill or crappie fish was the bomb. Delicious cornbread served with sorghum or maple syrup.
During special occasions, we could not wait for the freshly baked pies and cobblers. My personal favorite: the sausage and milk gravy served over those homemade biscuits only Grandma could bake from scratch. I can’t forget the infamous “coffee milk”; which was 90% cream and sugar with a dash of coffee. Are you kidding me? Heaven.
As I would watch my Grandma at work over the gas stove, the care and effort that went into cast iron cooking appeared easy and almost natural. Thinking back on those simpler of times, what was it about that singular skillet that was so magical? How does an analogy emerge to relate to current state? I (again) went straight to the vernacular I grew up with…
The next pages contain excerpts from the Section Introductions found in Out of the Gate
Rise Above It! My Grandmother Retta expressed this mantra throughout my childhood, and it still lives on in our family’s vernacular today. It actually is at the core of my inspiration for writing this book. Not a week goes by that I don’t have some connection with those three words. I was brought up with the philosophy of God first. Family second. All the rest falls into place as it should. You have to work at life. After all, if life was all easy it wouldn’t be as interesting. They call it “Work” for a reason. It ain’t easy to hold a job and excel. Relationships take work. Working on yourself takes work. This section is all about taking the high road, accepting hardships, getting real with our emotions, and doing a reality check on where we stand in this lifetime. Sometimes we need to take a hard look at ourselves in the mirror and Rise Above It!
It Takes A Lot to Scare Me After What I’ve Been Through
Holiday Cookin’-Southern Style
Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda
The Hot Mess Express
Why Do We Worry So Much About What Other People Think?
Sometimes You Need a Good Talking To
Some of us consider ourselves born leaders, while others see ourselves as natural followers. Then there are hybrids. Regardless of which category seems to fit you, there is so much value in bringing people with you. For the “leaders” bunch, we sometimes have a tendency to want to “do it ourselves” rather than cultivate a teaming environment. For the folks who prefer to play a supporting role, it can be intimidating to try to find your own space where you can succeed. This concept applies to business environments as well as family units. Whatever the scenario—whether it is the role of worker, partner, spouse, sibling, or congregation member— we should all find peace with bringing people into our inner circle and being OK with the fails that might occur. Because we know at the end of the day we won’t let those individuals become failures.
I’ll Do It Myself
Coming Home Y’all
Who Loves You the Most?
The Wisdom of Wine
“There” is a Moving Target
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get overwhelmed with life. Time seems to fly by at warp speed. Even when things are humming along smoothly; distractions pop up and we tend to get pulled in a hundred directions. When we run up on a rough patch, we try to plow through it to live another day. But isn’t that just the way life rolls? We just need to do our best to roll right along with it.It’s a natural tendency to attempt to map out a well-defined clear pathway for life. And then life gets in the way. If I only knew then, what I know now is a phrase that comes to mind. Sure, there are things I would have done differently or decisions I would have made sooner (or later in some cases). But when it’s all said and done, isn’t the best course of action to just try to stay the course? Life gets sloppy. There are interruptions. Yet, if we can rally around the idea of staying true to ourselves and grounded in our personal beliefs and values, navigating the seasons of life will seem more purposeful. Staying the course is tough, for certain. It’s also doable and worth it—–one day at a time.
When Life Gets Sloppy, Pull Down Your Goggles
The Back Pew
What Is Happening?
I’m Sorry Syndrome
Made of Cast Iron
Are You Really Busy or Are You Going Ghost?
Life is a series of twists and turns. We transition through different seasons. We navigate through uncertain times. Journeying from our childhood days to adulthood, powerful learning takeaways emerge and become foundational to evolving our hearts and minds. The stories handed down to us helped build our character and shape our culture. Today’s shared stories will be woven into the fabrics of generations to come.
We can all benefit from leaning into the life-living experiences and stories of the past. Reflecting on our personal stories provides the opportunity to pause and take stock of our lives. Where have we been and where are we going? What story creation is underway? There is such power in storytelling.
There is even more power in story sharing.
Out of the Gate: What Inspires Us Drives Us Forward is a compilation of stories rooted in the blended life of faith, family and friends. Kentucky author, Henrietta Pepper, shares her relatable stories which readers can absorb and embrace through their own personal lens.
Join the Conversation…
Soak it all in. Connect with what drives you forward. Get inspired to share with others.
A self-described serial entrepreneur, Henrietta Pepper has built a successful career in marketing and advertising spanning more than three decades, including owning and operating a successful brand communications firm, the pepper group, ltd. for 14 years. After selling that firm in 2018, she founded GCJ Consultants and serves as Chief Strategist for the firm today. Henrietta has authored her first book Out of the Gate: What inspires us drives us forward, a compilation of powerful stories rooted in faith family and friends.
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