My Father moved us from Texas to South Florida when I was nine. I am the oldest of four children. Upon moving to South Florida my mother decided to home school because she was not thrilled with the Florida School System. I studied during the week and played hard with my new best friend Kelly. Before we had left Texas I was given a pony named Ginger and my weekends in Florida consisted of going to the stables (accompanied by Kelly whenever possible) where my pony was boarded. Kelly and I rode and climbed trees and hung out as only the young can do. Life continued in this way for about a year. Then my mother, preferring a more country environment, moved us away to a little South Florida town called Davie. Two acres situated at the end of a dead end street gave my mother what she was looking for. She now felt comfortable sending her hooligans outside when they were getting too rowdy where they could get properly dirty on a regular basis, not just weekends.
It didn't take long for my brother and me to go exploring. Behind our new house, at the end of the dead end street, was a 50 acre pasture with a ten stall barn situated right in the middle of it and every stall was occupied. Pregnant mares and proud stallions and foals playing chase in paddocks. They were all within my reach and I could think of little else. My mother was home schooling my two siblings and struggling with her willful ten year old who didn't want to be cracking books when she could be mucking out stalls. The woman who owned the horses was named Cheryl. Cheryl paid me two dollars a day to feed eleven horses every morning, five days a week. It was my first job. Cheryl saved herself four dollars a week by feeding the horses on weekends but I was always there helping anyhow. I would have done it for free if she’d have asked me to. My structured homeschooling days were over. My mother ranted and raved that she was going to put me back in school. I, in turn, promised her I would study. I was scared to death that she would put me back in school thus taking me away from my beloved horses. We compromised. As long as I did SOME sort of study, she would stay off my back and more importantly, leave the foot path to the stables unobstructed. I was an avid reader and she knew it. She threw history books at me and told me to read. She would toss in government, social studies, and always more history. I would read and read and read. She´d see me devouring books, both text books and always fiction, and she was satisfied. As long as I read, I could go.
You may see where this is headed. I was an eleven year old who could read with the comprehension of an adult but the only fractions I learned were the ones printed on feed scoops at the barn. Time passed as it has a way of doing. Cheryl and her horses became my reason for living. I started showing. Cheryl had one mare named Noblaza that was doing well in the show circuit and one year we traveled up the east coast following the shows. I was competing in all the youth divisions but because Cheryl was older and didn't ride much, she also entered me in the adult divisions as well as she was trying to earn her horse as many points as possible. When I look back, those days were probably the happiest childhood days I remember. I bought my first horse from Cheryl. He was a big palomino named Mag. I paid $2,000. I had $200 saved up which I used as my down payment and promised Cheryl that I'd work the rest off. In a roundabout way, it’s because of Cheryl that I ended up in Horseshoe Bay.
When I was 14, my father brought home shocking news. We were moving back to Texas. One may imagine my displeasure. I was horrified. I wasn’t going. I would stay with Cheryl, thank you very much. I’d figure out a way. On top of that, I hadn’t worked off my payment to Cheryl yet. I simply could NOT go. My parents packed me up anyway. Picture a girl waving out of the back window of a station wagon as it pulls out of the driveway for the last time, tears streaming down her face. Yep, that was me. The only good thing about the whole deal was that my parents paid off monies owed to Cheryl for Mag and he was being shipped to Texas.
My grandmother had purchased a Ranch North of Uvalde, TX and she wanted her daughter and grandchildren close. The old family car was loaded with kids and luggage and we headed west. My Dad had written “Texas or Bust!” on the back window of the station wagon. People would point and smile and wave but I didn’t smile back. I had never felt so miserable. Cheryl promised to keep in touch and she was as good as her word. I received weekly letters and replied just as often. As children (even teenagers!) tend to do, I adjusted. Mag was waiting for me in Texas and I soon made new friends. Although I missed Cheryl and the rest of the horses, I quickly fell in love with the Ranch. Pecan orchards, oak trees, lush valleys and mountains, bordered by a river. My grandmother knew how to pick land. Cheryl came to visit and was besotted. She decided that one day she would move her horses away from the South Florida City Life of a Stable and into the lush green pastures of Texas.
I became educated in Ranch life although I was lacking far behind my peers in traditional education. I was fearless and rode horses constantly. These two attributes combined made me a perfect candidate for breaking colts. By the time I was 16 I had one to two horses a month I was consistently breaking. About that time, Cheryl called me and told me that she’d like to send down three horses for me to board until she could work out a way to get the rest down to me. I had a pretty good little horse training and boarding business after that. My mother asked me what my plans were as far as college. I hadn’t thought about that. I looked into classes at the local junior college, took the GED when I was 16 and signed up. Although I passed reading and writing in the college entrance exam, I couldn’t pass math. The little Junior College in Uvalde set me up immediately in remedial math courses. I would be lying if I said I jumped into college and was on my way towards a career in accounting! Math was a struggle. The whole idea of tests and deadlines and structure and studying was foreign and difficult for me. I had a wonderful remedial math teacher who really cared. He made me want to learn the material in order to please and I studied long and hard. It was the beginning of a habit throughout college. My remedial math teacher was someone I remember well. There were two other teachers that really shaped my life and they were both accounting teachers.
The Ranch was an hour away from college. I drove and studied and attended classes and trained and took care of horses. Two years flew by and I was walking across the stage in cap and gown having attained my Associates. I registered for Sul Ross State University classes to start work on my Bachelors in Business and enrolled in the Master’s program before my 19th Birthday. I put myself under a lot of pressure at college when it came to grades but once I found my groove a pattern fell into place.
As I worked my way through the University Master’s program I applied to teach accounting back at the little Junior College and was accepted. I loved teaching accounting. Debits and Credits were second nature to me by then. Explaining it and watching the light bulb flicker on with my students was gratifying. I taught accounting in the very same classroom I had my first accounting class. On the wall was the same tattered poster of a group of young 20 something’s in casual suits smiling down at a spreadsheet. BECOME A CPA the caption read. When I first stepped foot into that classroom, I remember looking at that and thinking, "No way would I ever want to do that!" But as I progressed in college, the idea didn't seem as impossible as it once did.
After graduation, my life got busy. I studied for the CPA exam, got a full-time job as a staff accountant at a CPA firm in Uvalde and continued working as an adjunct professor and horse trainer during my spare time. During that time in my life, I also got engaged and subsequently married to my husband Joe. Three years disappeared. It was time for a change. Joe followed work to Kingsland and I started looking at jobs in Austin. I still had my horses and refused to move into the city. I wanted some land. In addition, I was still boarding Cheryl’s horses from Florida. She came through for me. Because of her generosity, we were able buy some acreage and build a house in Round Mountain. If it wasn't for Cheryl, we probably would not have settled in the area but figured out a way to stay on the Ranch for the sake of the horses.
I got a job at a mid-sized accounting firm in Austin. The change was great for me. I learned a lot and loved the people I was working with. It took me about three years before I started getting antsy again. I was tired of the hour long commute and craving something else. I considered law school and started studying for the LSAT. My days felt stagnant. I needed to do something different. Challenging. New. I had a CPA friend in Marble Falls who worked as an independent CPA in the area and he kept encouraging me to hang my own shingle. He offered me such a good deal on leasing some office space one day that I jumped. I was scared. I didn’t really have a plan. I literally put an ad in the paper and sat at an empty desk waiting for the phone to ring. My husband Joe helped network with me at first and sent quite a few people my way. My initial clients were wonderful and generous enough to tell their friends about me. Slowly, my practice grew. After several years in Marble Falls, I out grew my space and moved to Horseshoe Bay. The area is beautiful. I am not saying that every day of my life is peachy keen, but I can honestly say that I love my office, the people I work with and work in general. The challenges of keeping the firm running definitely keep me from getting bored. My clients do a good job of keeping me entertained with constant business ventures, plans, moves and always my favorite, their stories.