A Confident Space

Want to create a room that builds your child's confidence?

- Posted on May 11, 2009

I was 15 years old and just as proud as could be—a sure sign that a fall was on the way.

In my black suede chaps, a spotless red shirt and a brand-new Stetson, I rode into the arena on my sorrel quarter horse mare, Silent Step. We were trotting along when we hit a slick spot.

Step’s legs slipped out from under her and we fell smack into the mud. But I had to do what any cowgirl would do: get up, shake off the muck and get back in the saddle—even if I felt a lot more like Lucy Ricardo than a rodeo queen.

Another time at a rodeo, Silent Step’s bit broke and we tore around the arena until, finally, we careened in­to the fence. I was mortified—but that wasn’t the worst.

The most embarrassing moment came when I swung into the saddle and my pants ripped, popping stitches so loudly I bet everyone could hear! But on those occasions, I sat tall in the saddle and finished the event.

I learned early on what it means to Cowgirl Up—to get back on that horse and keep trying. My perseverance paid off the year I sold my horse (by then she was a champion) to help finance my college education.

I had taken my cowgirl lessons to heart, and it’s profound how much those lessons have helped me in all kinds of situations.

As a designer I’m often reminded of the cowgirl ethic when I work with families. Parenting isn’t easy, but we can’t give up. Take Jeanne Brandmeyer, an extraordinary mom of eight and grandmother of 25.

“When you’re a young mom you can feel so overwhelmed. But I kept trying! Raising eight kids has made me feel I can do anything,” she says. Her latest challenge is keeping her clan close, even as they pursue their own dreams.

Jeanne wanted to create a space devoted to her grandchildren—a room that would delight their souls and strengthen their self-esteem. She’s kind of a Western gal herself. The family even owns some horses. So her home, in Vail, Colorado, was the perfect location for a “Cowboy Courage” bunkroom.

With so many grandchildren, it was essential to come up with some projects that would personalize the space for everyone. I gave the kids a worksheet to fill out. I wanted them to tell me what they admire most about cowboys and cowgirls.

Then we had belt-buckle nameplates made for each child, engraved with their favorite cowboy characteristics—things like bravery and strength.

And we enlarged photographs of the kids to make the most amazing window blinds.

I hope your family gives these crafts a try. You’ll be amazed how a little cowboy courage rubs off on everyone.

Make it yourself!

Instructions for blinds:

• Measure the blinds.

• Get your photo enlarged and printed on adhesive paper, sized to the length and width of your blind.

• Measure the width of the blades (the individual slats of the blinds).

• Using a straight edge, draw lines on the enlarged photo at 2-inch intervals, or the width of your blades.

• With an X-acto knife, score the lines so the pieces will peel off. Peel off adhesive backing and apply to the blind.

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