Defying Time: Connie Douglas Reeves

I first met Connie Douglas Reeves in a newspaper headline on August 21, 2003. It read “Woman 101 Years Old Thrown off of Her Horse Dies.” Now I had never heard of Connie Douglas Reeves and I would bet that most of you have not either. However, I was immediately struck by the fact of a 101 year old woman who died in such a remarkable manner. It is not often that 101 year old people are riding horses. I picked up the article (on the web) to read further and found one of the most interesting people I have ever known (at least through what I have read about her. I only wish I had met and known Connie in person). If ever there was anyone who has Defied Time, Connie was that person. A few facts about Ms. Reeves who was born on September 26, 1901:

• Oldest member of the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
• Obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications in 1922
• One of the first women to study law at a Texas law school.
• Author: “I Married a Cowboy.”
• Taught over 30,000 girls to ride over 67 summers at a residency camp
• Motto: Always Saddle Your Own Horse

An article posted in the Floridian after her death had this to day about Connie:

“She wasn’t just teaching about riding, she was teaching about life,” said Clark, who learned to ride from Reeves. “She was teaching the girls you can be afraid of something like getting on a horse, or you can just go out and do it and get out there and ride that horse and know that you’re going to be okay. Even if you get bucked off. And she got bucked off every year.” (Sept 7, 2003)

She died in a hospital several days later from the injuries sustained from being thrown from her horse. Doctors were at first outraged that anyone would let a 101 year old woman get on a horse. They were quickly disabused of the idea that anyone would be able to “let” Connie do anything she did not choose to do. Connie was a woman who valued her independence and self-reliance as well as her responsibility to help other people.

Ms. Reeves was not a surveyor or observer of life. Ms. Reeves lived life to the fullest. She continued to be an engaged and active participant contributing to help build confidence and self-esteem in young girls. She found her passion in life early and stuck with it. I doubt Connie ever woke up and thought life was boring or uninteresting. I doubt she could not wait for Friday each week or that she often wished it were not Monday morning. I doubt she was counting her days until she could “retire.” I doubt she had any regrets over the work she had chosen as her profession.

What can we learn from Ms. Reeves, apart from the fact that you might live a great deal longer if you stay active and live a healthy and engaged life style? This latter fact alone should give most of us something to ponder. Speaking for myself, I have learned that a passion about life and living for that passion, whether riding horses, writing or playing music is key to making a contribution to the world. Napoleon Hill was famous for his speeches on success coming from providing value to the world. Connie was providing value by helping to build confidence and self-esteem in over 30,000 girls she taught during her lifetime. When we find our passion and use the talents that God has given us we are able to accomplish remarkable things. We benefit and the world benefit. It is a win-win. There is no paradox.

What are your talents? What do you wish you could do every day and get paid to do? What training or skills do you need to follow your passion? Are you thinking it is too late? Why? What if you knew you would live to 100, would you think about life differently? Perhaps you will if you live a life like Connie Douglas Reeves.

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