Pretend I’m laying on a couch and you are sitting beside me with a pencil and notepad in your hands.  Yes, this is therapy.  And I’m going to spill my guts all over you.  I’m doing this because you probably suffer with the same thing I do.  I know this because I’ve had lots of conversations lately with people all complaining about the same thing as me.  Holiday depression. Ok, depression might be too strong a word.  Rut might be a better choice for you.  But whatever you’re feeling, you’re not alone.  I’m in the trenches with you.

I feel fat.  Yes, Wendy Damonte feels fat.  But what’s worse, I feel unmotivated to change it.  I’m eating like crap.  I’m drinking more than I typically do.  And all of these factors feed off each other making each individual problem worse.  And at the end of the day, there’s me;  a mopey, fat, unhappy slug who can’t change things.

Now… here’s what I think happens.  The holidays hit… and in my house, that means October 8th.  That’s my daughter’s birthday.  Somehow, she parlays that one day into a two-week ordeal. Always fun, always with lots of friends, parties and typically, with my family, lots of wine.  So now, it’s mid October and Halloween shows up.  Again, lots of pizza because we’re out late getting costumes, adding to costumes, tweaking costumes, etc.  Well hello November!  Now this is where I should suck it up and be as healthy as possible for at least the first two weeks of the month.  But the bad, unhealthy, fast food rut has already grabbed hold of me.  A nightly glass or two of wine is killing my morning motivation to work out.  And Thanksgiving is just 24 days away, so why try??  And then December hits and any chance of getting back to a normal, healthy routine flies out the window like Santa up a chimney.  At this point, I’m way too busy to even fit in a 30 minute workout.  My daily diet consists of grazing on the food table at work (yes, we have a food table at work that overflows with cookies, fudge, cake, See’s Candy… pretty much you name it… during December) and then eating whatever I can quickly throw together for dinner… think frozen lasagna!  And now, it’s the new year and I can’t move!

If I were to put all this into a cycle for you it would look like this:

We get busy… we eat like crap because we’re too busy to cook… we drink more because there are more parties… we start to feel fat… we wake up slightly hung over and that zaps all motivation to work out… we become depressed (get in a rut)… and once you’re depressed (in a rut)… this cycle repeats over and over again.  And eventually, we get sick… which is what I did on January 6th… the very day I was determined to stop the cycle.

20140109-163835.jpgSo you know what I did??  I went on a walk anyway!  I was hacking and coughing and wheezing the entire hour I was in the hills.  But you know what?  I wasn’t going to allow  myself to make an excuse.  Any excuse.  Even one coming from my phlegm laden lungs.  I had to start somewhere.  So instead of a run, I walked.   Instead of going for 2 hours, I went for one.  And you know what happened?  My body felt worse, but my soul felt much better!  I finally had an endorphin or two flowing through my body.  And you know what happened next?  I had a salad for lunch… and it tasted great!  By the time I got off work that night, I was exhausted because I was still fighting a virus, but I didn’t feel like a bowl of  pasta and a fishbowl of wine.  I ate lightly and went to bed.  And guess what?  The next day I woke up headache free.  I had motivation to fit in another quick workout (which I did on my windtrainer bike inside my house).  I’m laughing more.  My mood is lighter.  My depression is easing… in fact, it’s disappearing.  And it’s only been four days!  I’m now back on track.  So what’s your excuse?  Early morning meeting?  Go for a 10 minute walk if that’s all you can fit in.  You’re sick?  Reread the start of this paragraph… I don’t want to hear it!  You’ve got young kids at home? Figure out quick at-home workouts you can do.   (One of my favorite websites is www.marksdailyapple  Search that website for quick workouts!)  You’re too fat and out of shape to start?  You’re never too fat or unhealthy to try to make a chance.  Drink one less soda a day.  Eat donuts only once a month instead of weekly.  You have a leg injury?  Swim.  See, you can throw any excuse my way and I’ll come up with a healthy option.  Start today.  It doesn’t have to  be huge.  It has to be one step.



This past weekend, with the kids in tow, I drove down an unfamiliar ladder of switch-backs that ended in a shooting range in Carson City, Nevada. I was meeting a man I hadn’t seen in 30 years… and I was terrified of him.

The year was 1981. After church, my mom took Jer and me to sign up for the St. Mary’s CYO basketball teams. Jer signed up for the 5th grade team. I looked around for a 3rd grade team. There was only one. The all boys team. I looked up at my mom and shook my head. She looked down at me, shrugged her shoulders and said, “Give it a shot, Wendy.” So I did. I was 9 years old and to be honest, I looked like a boy. At Macy’s, whenever I asked a sales person where the bathroom was, I always got directed to the boys bathroom. So quite honestly, I figured maybe no one would notice I was a girl and I would fit right in. That was until day one of practice. The coach’s name was Bill Picton. He was an ex-marine and we were his new recruits. If you’ve ever seen the movie Great Santini, Coach Picton was our Great Santini. I was terrified of him from that first practice. He had these steel blue eyes that pierced through you with intensity. He yelled and slapped his hands until they were red when we didn’t set the right screen. He made us run endless lines as punishment for not making free throws. Once, when I didn’t block out boldly enough, he blocked me out so hard I flew off my feet. I was a girl playing in a way too tough boys world.  But my parents wouldn’t let me quit.  Bill Picton coached with the same passion he lived his life. With 100 percent of his being, he believed in integrity, hard work, dedication and fundamentals. And if you practiced the way you wanted to live, then you would be successful no matter what. And successful we were. I don’t remember exactly how many wins and losses we had, because those aren’t the things that stick with you later in life. It’s the moral lessons that do. And without warning, Coach Picton instilled in all of us 3rd graders life lessons we still carry with us today. One went on to be a NBA great. Another formed his own company to recruit the best corporate leaders in America. Another had the strength to survive the passing of his beloved dad at a young age and grew up to be an amazing father to 2 beautiful daughters. Sometimes your hardest experiences in life are the ones that teach you the most. Those were our days together on the basketball court.

And last weekend, I was just moments away from seeing Coach Picton.

I pulled up to the shooting range and, even though he was wearing dark glasses, I could tell it was his same steel blue eyes looking back at me. I got out of the car and was enveloped by a warm hug from a man I rarely touched in the three years I played basketball for him. Age had done amazing things for him. Although he still wore a Marines hat, his tone had softened. He was still a coach, helping my son and daughter shoot everything from a A-R 15 to a 40 caliber handgun. But he was a softer, more patient coach. And I got to sit and watch and observe a man who taught me so many lessons at age 10, teach my 9-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son new lessons. It was a beautiful circle completed.

Coach Picton told me one of our other teammates had found him online and sent him a message years ago. It said something like, “I’ve just watched a special on John Wooden’s teams and how special they were.  It reminded me of our team.  Thanks coach for making us the people we are today.” Coach Picton told me this story as he quietly held back tears. They were tears of pride someone can only feel from knowing they truly helped others in this world. Bill Picton’s “others” was a group of 10 year old boys and one girl who had no idea of the treasure who was coaching them. In the words of John Wooden, “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Thanks in part to Coach Bill Picton, we all became that… the best we were capable of becoming.  And that’s what defines the world’s best coaches.   














One of life’s greatest pleasures, ok maybe I just see it this way, is having an ice cold beer after a dirty workout. Now, I say dirty, because the beer only tastes sinfully good to me after a trail run, mountain bike ride or any other outdoor activity where you finish back at the car filthy. Mud on shoes, dirt like warpaint on your face, fingernails black. I love those workouts. And I almost love the post beer just as much. So imagine my pure pleasure when Darrin and I discovered The Brewing Lair.




It’s Blairsden’s (about 70 minutes outside of reno) newest gem. But unlike the bakery, which is right on mainstreet, the brewery is a bit harder to find. It’s off Highway 70 about a hundred yards to the east of the turnoff into Blairsden.




There’s a small sign on the highway…








and then this guy…


to assure you you’re on the right dirt road. And at the top, a beer lover’s haven.


The building is small, but hip. The conditioning tanks line the walls, beermaster Rich never stops moving as he does everything from pouring beers to washing the glasses, and then there’s the tour.








It’s a self guided tour that takes you around the property as you sip on 5 different beers Rich is highlighting. On our stop, one of them tasted like a bite of pizza! It was earthy and herby and finished off with a hint of oregano. Oddly delicious! The IPAs, which is my favorite type of beer, were all fantastic. Be sure to try the red. And you know why this is such a great brewery?? Yes, the beer… but because of this!








You got that right. A frizbe, or the cool cats call it disc, golf course.  And Rich even thought of things for the kids to do.










Eva and Domi love slack lines and sure enough, The Brewing Lair has one. Dogs are even allowed here, off leash! The property expands into the timber so there’s plenty of land to explore. But most, just sit at the picnic tables enjoying the beer. Oh ya, and there’s no food. But Rich is fine with you bringing in your own!








So here’s your plan the next time you head up to the Graelge area. Drive to main street Blairsden. On the left, there’s a new food truck (I’m guessing during summer only) that has great pulled pork sandwiches. Grab enough of those for your party, head back to the brewery ( a 2 minute drive) and enjoy your afternoon.


Stay thirsty, my friend.















20130620-172942.jpgI am that lame. Yes, I am that girl who sits at home watching infomercials… and actually buys the stuff. Especially when it comes to “It will make you look 120 years younger” facial products. Example? I bought Meaningful Beauty by Cindy Crawford. I used it for about 6 months before admitting to myself, “I bet Cindy doesn’t even use this stuff!” So I dropped my subscription (oh yes! every three months they would send me more!) and went back to my plain old tub of Cetephil. I use Cetephil because several dermatologists have recommended it to me. But it’s just not sexy enough. It’s too cheap. It can’t be that good!







So imagine my excitement when my friend, Sarah Sommers, said she was selling Rodan and Fields ( and wanted me to try it. It’s the same company that developed Proactiv® Solution.  And if that’s good enough for Jessica Simpson it’s certainly good enough for me!  So here I go again. Switching up my facial regimen and trying something new. I’m so excited!  I’ll let you know what I think in a few weeks.  But between now and then, if you see a 22 year old anchoring the news, it’s just me!




 This spring, Darrin has 130 heifers at the home ranch and in about 3 months time, they will all have their babies.  When it rains, it pours.  In one day, Darrin had 11 heifers calve out… and at 9pm, he had to go pull a 12th.  Yes, I said pull.  Darrin gives heifers about 1  1/2 hours to calve on their own.  After that time frame, both mom and baby are in danger.  To save both their lives, Darrin literally reaches up into the heifer and with his hand pulls the calf’s hooves out of the mom.  I should note, this heifer is in an extremely odd position which made it tough to have her baby, but easy for Darrin to walk up to her.  Typically, he has to get the heifer into a squeeze chute (I’ll show you that next!).  On this night, he was able to pull the calf right on the corral. 


Next, he puts chains around the calf’s legs and every time the heifer has a contraction he pulls…with all his might.  Keep in mind, the calf is stuck. Every minute that passes, the calf is losing oxygen.  Darrin has to get the baby out. 


 Finally, the calf begins to slide out and Darrin now gently pulls it from the heifer.










 Once born, he immediately checks to make sure the airways are clear and the calf is breathing.  I’ve literally seen this man give mouth to snout resuscitation… that’s how much he cares about his animals.  This little guy was breathing on its own just fine. 


It was actually the heifer Darrin was worried about.  You can kind of see how she’s laying on her back.  Very unusual.  Cows give birth laying on their sides.  Darrin had to pull her over to get her onto her side.   As he did this, there was a huge roar of laughter from his truck where Eva and Domi were holding the spotlight.  Seeing that heifer rolled over struck their funny bone hard! 


After he pulled this calf, we started to finally go home but NO!  This day was never to end.  A 13th heifer started to calve out.  Darrin got home, waited for 90 minutes and drove back over to the corrals to check on her.  Thankfully, she did it on her own!  Darrin has got to be the most underpaid obstetrician around!   

 Blogger’s note:  Sorry these pictures are so hard to see.  Domi was holding the main spotlight about 30 yards away.  I was holding a flashlight with my left hand and trying to take pictures with my right.  Multi tasking at its best!  More to come from the nursery soon!


I came home at 9pm one night last week thinking, “Ugh,I’ve had a long day.” That is until I passed this on the road into my house.20130315-234119.jpg









And then I realized my husband was having a much longer day. “What are you three doing??” I asked? “Wendy, I’ve had 12 heifers calf out today and I’ve got another one calving out right now. Follow us. I need help holding the flash lights.”

Seriously??? A glass of wine was so close to my fingertips and now all they will be holding is a million candle watt spot light focused on the vagina of a heifer. Welcome to my world.


 Yes, it was 9 o’clock at night. Yes it was a school night. But when you’re in a ranching family, kids work late too.  So there we were, in the middle of the ranch, all working together, to make sure one heifer didn’t die while giving birth to her calf… we call that calving out… I should probably have a ranching dictionary with these posts.   And on this night, we sacrificed our good night sleep for the lives of our animals. Just wait until tomorrow to see what happens! Pretty sure this will be a first for you!









To answer the question about when to stop running, I had to seek out a Sikh.  And look…I found one!  Amazingly, Fauja Singh and I have something in common.   We run to save ourselves. We run because it’s our therapy.  We run because that’s how we deal with pain.  I lost my parents back to back.  He lost his wife and son back to back.  Both of us turned to training to continue living life.  At one point, we both faced a fork in the road.  The path to the left led to depression, saddness, hopelessness.  The path on the right lead to peace, therapy, hope.  Fauja and I CHOSE the right path.  We CHOOSE to stay on that path.  Every day, we all make decisions.  Fauja and I make a conscious decision to live a life where endorfins flow freely through our bodies lifting our spirits, our hearts, our minds and our sights.  I do believe the path of depression would be easier.  But it’s not the right path.  The right path is hard and takes determination and grit.  But if an 89 year old man can choose to stay on that path for more than 10 years, I have a lifetime ahead of me on the right path.  And in the end, running saved Fauja’s life… just like it’s saving mine.  So I guess the answer to the question of when you should stop running is simple.  When you’re 101. 


101-year-old vegetarian runner completes his final marathon

, NBC Sports

Feb 25, 2013, 11:00 AM EST

2013 Hong Kong Marathon Getty Images

Fauja Singh, the oldest runner ever to complete a full marathon, finished his final race on Sunday, and now will hang up his competitive running shoes for good. From now on, Singh, who will soon be 102 years old, will run just for fun, “to inspire the masses.”

Singh ran in the 10k division of the Hong Kong Marathon, and completed the 6.25-mile race in 1 hour, 32 minutes, 28 seconds.

The Indian-born runner, nicknamed the Turbaned Torpedo, took up running at the age of 89 to help with his grief when both his wife and son died. A great-grandfather, he unofficially became the oldest man to run a full marathon when he ran in Toronto in 2011, at the age of 100. But he is not recognized by the Guinness Book of the World Records because he doesn’t have a birth certificate. Danged birthers.  “I will remember this day. I will miss it,” Singh said minutes after crossing the finish line.

Singh completed nine full marathons after the age of 89.


20130226-181759.jpg When can you start running with your kids?  I don’t know, but I recommend BEFORE THE AGE OF 7!!!  And I highly recommend this if you have ANY athletic pride at all.  Let me explain!  Last week, my kids were off from school for “winter break.”  It’s not a “break” at all!!  It’s a week when all us working moms juggle and struggle to figure out what to do with our kids while they get a “break.”  I NEED THE BREAK!  So along about Thursday, I was climbing the walls and so were they.  I said, “kids, get your shoes on.  We are going for a run.”  I had to get them out of the house!  So we started off at a slow trot. I gradually increased my speed… and so did Domi.  I put the pedal to the metal… and so did he!!!!!!  Finally he stopped and said, “Hey Mom, wanna race?”  I didn’t dare tell him I already had been.  So we identified a 20 yard dash race course.  From this tree to that tree.  And off we went.  The race started neck in neck, stride in stride… and it stayed that way the entire 20 yards.  I could not believe I couldn’t drop my 7 YEAR OLD!!!  So we did it again.  And again.  And one last time where I was really serious.  This time I got him!  By a nose.  Dammit!  Am I getting old or is he just that fast?  Or should I have started racing him when he was 4? Surely I could best him at that age… right?  Or maybe it’s just that he was more afraid of the Easter Bunny that was clearly chasing us.  So next question.  When should you stop running?  How old is too old?  I’ll answer that question tomorrow!



my family12 years ago my husband and I stayed with his family in Italy during our honeymoon.   This summer,  we went back to the same house. Funny how some things have changed and others (the wall) are exactly the same!