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Erica Louder for Progressive Forage Published on 05 January 2022

One of my family’s favorite holiday traditions is watching the National Finals Rodeo during December. It signals the start of the Christmas season for us.

During those 10 nights for rodeo, farm work finishes early, the fireplace is stoked and the five of us settle down for a night of Western entertainment. My husband has always been a rodeo fan, but I wasn’t fully converted to the sport until he took me to Las Vegas for the big show several years ago. Seeing it in person, and, of course, shopping at Cowboy Christmas, won me over.

In our household, barrel racing is the fan-favorite event. This year, we were cheering on barrel-racer Hailey Kinsel to win her fourth straight title on her horse Sister. My girls love seeing Hailey’s spunky palomino run the barrels. However, in the end, Hailey Kinsel finished in second place behind newcomer (to us anyway) Jordon Briggs. Jordon won the average, which pushed her over the top to win the title. The fantastic thing about Jordon and her horse Rollo is not an extraordinarily fast time; it’s that during the entire 2021 season, they never knocked over a barrel. That is almost unheard of in that level of competition. Talk about consistency.

It’s January, and I should reflect on last year and my goals for this year. However, the effects of the pandemic, the ongoing drought, divisive politics and an overall sense of unrest have made the last year hard. To top it off, a few days before Christmas my grandmother died. Honestly, the idea of New Year’s resolutions seemed a bit out of touch.

For my grandmother’s funeral, my mom asked me to collect and share grandkid memories of Grandma. I emailed my 22 maternal cousins, and the memories flooded my inbox. Most were simple sentences with a couple of ideas and feelings around Grandma, nothing earth-shattering. There was a strain of similarity in all the memories; Grandma was consistent. She showed her love for us by doing what we expected her to do. For the 30 years at her house, we had clean sheets, wholesome lunches, frank opinions and practical advice. Talk about consistency.

Rather than resolutions, I know that some people pick a word. They reflect on that word throughout the year and apply it in their lives. With all the craziness, that simple approach feels right. My word this year is consistency. Like Jordon Briggs and my grandma, I want to be consistent. I want to show up in my writing, on my farm, with my family and the community, and do the job I’m expected to do. For me, it will be important to remember that consistency doesn’t mean perfection (remember, Jordon wasn’t always the fastest racer).

And for you, what word feels right for the new year? If nothing comes to mind, borrow my word and choose to be consistent. It’s hard to say what 2022 will bring, but a bit of consistency won’t hurt this crazy world we are living in.  end mark

Erica Ramsey Louder is a freelance writer based in Idaho.