The Queen of Me

Delray the Wonder Pony

You might think that saddles are much the same. Girth, stirrups, a place to put the old fundament, some padding for the trusty steed’s back–not too complicated.

You would be in error. The wrong saddle can back-lame a horse, blister a rider in the worst places, and ruin a riding relationship. You might ride your horse for years, thinking he’s stiff when going to the right–many horses are. Then you change saddles, and all of a sudden, Thunderbolt moves like he’s trotting on clouds. The saddle was the right size, you paid good money for it, the trainer said it fit… but Thunderbolt begged to differ.

After a few years on the same horse, I had a saddle specifically made to fit his back, my butt, my weight, the way he moved, and the work we set out to do. Then we added a few more years to the saddle–different seasons, different exercises–and it became ours in a way only another equestrian can understand.

Somewhere along the way (probably in a therapist’s office), I came across the idea that when you’re on the path you’re supposed to pursue, your regalia–your symbols of office–will come to you. I did not buy Delray the Wonder Pony for myself. I bought him for my daughter at something of a fire sale. Darling Child moved on, and Del was left without a job at the same time I was without a horse.

I know that a marriage of convenience can turn into something wonderful, because Delray proved it to me. My daughter sent him my way, and then–then, my friends–I began to ride.

I’ve since kept an eye out for regalia. For items that cross my path that bring me something special. My late mom’s purse, a silk scarf my niece bought for me in India, the ball cap from my former riding instructor’s barn.

I don’t like having a lot of stuff. My car is eight years old, I didn’t buy a bed until I was facing motherhood (sleeping bag = more money for books), and when I travel, it’s one suitcase or do without. But some of what I own is precious to me. The Scotland With Grace book my 2016 tour members put together for me. A pretty bookmark my sister Gail gave me. An outfit my mom bought for me about twenty years ago (that still fits!).

These objects help anchor me to who I am and who I want to be. They are symbols of strength and goodness, and I try to keep them close at hand. If anything embodies the love in my life tangibly, it’s these icons of other people’s generosity and respect.

Do you have regalia? Have you bestowed regalia on loved ones? If you were to grab one object of sentimental value to take with you on a big adventure, what would it be? To one commenter, I’ll give the first ever spotted-in-the-wild copy of Too Scot To Handle.





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69 comments on “The Queen of Me

  1. On my dressing table in my bedroom sits a very old wooden jewellery box.In it lies items that mean so much to me they are not of high value in money terms but to me they are all that I am.My mum’s very thin wedding band my dad’s ring which he wore during the second world war my elder sisters silver keyring that had a small pill box attached to it and inside housed a small music box which she loved.My elder sister was born premature on V E day(victory in Europe)May 8 1945’Mum was celebrating the end of the war when she suddenly went into Labour,my sister’s birth was so quick and dramatic she suffered brain damage and was not expected to survive being 12 weeks early.Mum named her Veronica Elaine because she was born on V E day.Survive she did but she had cerebral palsy and could not walk her speech was not clear but what an amazing elder sister she was to me and my younger sister.In that old battered wooden box are my memories of my family who loved little old me and I loved in return.We did not have a lot but what we did have each other.How I miss them.

    • That is exactly what I’m talking about. More than a “memento,” if the house caught fire, you’d grab that box on the way out the door, and to heck with the jewelry that might appraise at a much higher value.

  2. A few years ago, I had a beaded leather leash made for my Irish. It’s very light weight and fits perfectly in my hand. We had a lot of luck showing in Veterans using the leash. I have used the leash on everyone of my dogs.

    I have a few pieces of my Nana’s Waterford crystal and I think of her when I look at the candy dish on my dining room table. I can imagine it being filled with peppermints. Two of my father’s wool shirts were given to me after he passed. I think of my Dad when I see them in my closet or wear them on a cold winters day. I also have 2 wool blankets that Nana brought home from a visit to Ireland. One of them will go to my daughter when she moves out.

    If I went on an adventure I would bring my phone to look at pictures and a bracelet or two to remind me of home.

    • I’ve seen whole quilts made out of “Dad’s shirts,” and I think that’s a particularly lovely way to keep his memory near. My dad has some lovely sweaters (he’s always cold), but not enough for each kid to have one. Ah, well.

  3. moms wedding dress, even though my sister and I will never fit in it. My sweet kitties ashes. I little cup that my grandpa used to drink his mountain dew in. Grandmother pearl necklace.Big heavy quilt I got from a dear family friend

    • Thanks, Lona. When I went into labor nearly thirty years ago, I had a copy of Judith Ivory’s “Angel in a Red Dress,” which was called “Starlit Surrender.” I was my first keeper–I was re-reading it–and if I had to take only ONE book with me through four days of induced labor, that was the one.
      I still have it.

  4. I love to travel with my sewing kit. I started sewing for fun 3 years ago to make a stocking for my then newborn. By the time I finished with his stocking, and one for my husband, and one for me, I was hooked. I’ve since completed a Santa wall hanging, an autumn wreath, and recently took up cross-stitching! I have made a cross-stitch for my son, and my mother so far. I am now hooked on cross-stitch as well. Sewing, like reading, is in my blood. It anchors me and brings me piece while doing it, and at the end I have something beautiful for myself or a loved one to hang up. I see every day, just like I read every day. So to be fair, my sewing kit…and my kindle!

    • What a lovely combination! Watch out for that cross-stitch, though. It can pull you in and never let you go. Every time I drive down P. Buckley Moss Boulevard (Stuart’s Draft, VA), I wonder how many marriages, retirements, illnesses, and long summers those designs have stitched somebody through.

  5. I honestly think the one thing I would take is my green and black plaid as I can use it as many different things, scarf, shawl, bkanket, and so on. I love it. If I had room for two I’d grab the red, fringed, wool plaid I recently found at Goodwill to use along with the green one, together they would work wonderfully as a blanket.

    • Blankies. I still have some of my daughter’s though SHE has “favorite blankie,” who went by simple moniker, “Favorite.” “Where is Favorite?” she’d ask. “I can’t find Favorite.” And whenever we had a cuddle in the rocking chair, Favorite would be there too.

  6. My most precious regalia is a very tiny three handled cup. Embossed on this tiny pewter cup is the seal of the ship RMS Canada. My Grammy won this cup playing Pinochle, on board the RMS Canada during her journey from Scotland to the United States. She was coming to the States as a bond servant. This was back in 1920.

  7. I have my “grandchild” quilt, a “Road to Philadelphia” pattern that my grandmother made for me (she made 12 different quilts, one for each of her grandchildren.) I love this one, but the one quilt I cherish the most is the only quilt that my late mother, who was an army nurse during WWII, ever made. I can’t imagine her having the time to craft this unique quilt, but looking at it brings back wonderful memories of my very dear mama. And the diamond from my mother’s engagement ring is now the one in mine.

    • I’ll have to ask my sister where Mom’s wedding rings got off to. They were modest, beautiful, and much loved. I’m guessing one of the grand-daughters got that little bit of family history.
      My mom sewed–seven kids, of course, she sewed–but never quilted. My sister, though, made me a quilt when my daughter was born, and I still have it, and it’s still winter-proof.

  8. My grandmother’s cookbook is never far from me. It’s about 50 years old and filled with her notations about recipes. In addition, she kept different newspaper articles of interest to her and had notes on them. She’s been gone 24 years and I was 15 when she passed away. I didn’t have very long with her and would have loved to have known her as an adult. This gives me a part of her that I never got to know.

    • One of my friends lost everything in a house fire. I asked her what she missed most: The photos, and the recipes. They came from family, friends, her own experiments, and a recipe box is like a secret stash of inspiration. You forget seasonal favorites, you have to look up a few ingredients for an old friend. And there are memories tucked between the note cards.
      So an annotated cookbook would mean a lot. Guard it well!

  9. Love to see you on your horse and things you hold dear! I have too many things–large plastic bins of things that only see the light of day every decade or so. But of things I wear often that comfort me are Mom’s diamond cluster ring, one of a dozen pairs of earrings I love and Elizabeth Arden Green Tea perfume. Ready for the day!

    • Hiya, Julee! I need to get back on a horse. I’ve been saying that for months. Even if I just toddle around the arena, muttering, “The horse goes on the bottom. The horse goes on the bottom…”
      I was transcendently happy when that photo was taken. My horse and I were finishing up a test that was going well, and he knew he’d been a good boy–he was always a good boy, not always a calm boy. What we accomplished that day was nothing to most riders, but a big step for us.

  10. My fountain pens – Dad and my fifth grade teacher got me started on a life long addiction. A dictionary my mom gave me in grade school, still bearing the faded address and phone number of my childhood home in her looping cursive. A leather and fox fur coat purchased for me in Berlin by my parents as the wall came down and still keeping me warm almost 30 years later. (Gawd, am I THAT old?!) Diamond stud earrings gifted to me by my parents on my birthday my last year of college to commemorate my passage into womanhood and a stellar GPA despite an obscene overload of classes.

    • What a cool collection. I’ve also kept a letter from my mom–barely legible, because she could barely see–but HER handwriting, and her unique style of X’s and O’s.

      I must write to my daughter, lest she not know my handwriting.

  11. The majority of the things in my house have sentimental value. If I had to pick one it would be the photographs and videos of family.

  12. My biggest problem is that I find most things sentimental. I’m an admitted pack rat. I keep many things for their memories. But I also keep things because I was raised to be very thrifty and everything should be saved because it can be used for something or given to someone to use. I really have to work on that part. My mom was recently moved to an assisted living facility and my sister is in a hurry to clean out the house. I hate the thought. Although logically I know it has to be done, I just like knowing my mom’s stuff is where it’s always been. Things will be divided or sold. I really have no room for most of it and on the other hand I’d want way too much (sigh). Eventually it will happen and I’ll have to accept it.

    • You’re so right, though: It’s often not about the thing itself, it’s about what symbolizes. The years when Mom was home in her own digs. The house where you grew up. The paring down we all know we should do but… And it is hard. I could barely part with my ten-year-old truck, even knowing it was not an environmentally defensible set of wheels for me.
      It was my truck. I was a horse girl when I drove that truck, not just another little old lady in a Prius.
      You’ll dig through Mom’s stuff, at your own pace, when you’re up for it. Not like anybody is going to steal Mom’s old magazine collection.

  13. I carry my Dad’s rosary with me always. When he passed away, I found it in his pants pocket, seemed he carried it with him at all times.

  14. Jack gave me a diamond tennis bracelet 25 years ago. We couldn’t afford it, but he bought it for me for Christmas because I wanted it. That’s what I would take. It means so much because Jack is not a “gift giver”. He actually went to the jeweler and bought it. Very rare, lol!

    • Makes me wonder if you play tennis. I never understood jewelry for sporting activities, but then, I’m not much of one for tennis. I wonder what Jack would say if you asked me why he bought it (and when will he get the matching earrings?).

  15. After having lost literally everything of material value in hurricane Katrina, my perspective on regalia is probably a little different than most folks. After years of grieving, and battling with lawyers and insurance sharks, what I realized is that it wasn’t the everyday items that I missed but the antiques. My grandmothers sewing machine, my great grandmothers bible. My husbands grandfathers plantation desk. So much more that spoke of our history. Where we came from. Who we’ve become. Items that I could show my children and hopefully have them connect with our heritage. It wasn’t items that were lost but our identity.
    So knowing how a great loss can effect the lives of those who will be left to deal with the aftermath there is no doubt that I would grab the hard drive that I have so diligently backed up our photos onto and the family bible.

    • That’s how I look at regalia. If I smelled smoke, what would I wish I’d had time to grab on the way out the door (because I probably WOULD grab my purse and as many cats as I could catch). It’s personally valuable, not something the insurance company could understand.
      I’m sorry you went through that, glad you MADE IT through that.

  16. There is one thing beyond precious to me; the *bling* of my Mom’s rhinestone necklace and bracelet set she gave me several years before she died. Mom, coloratura soprano, had four sets of rhinestones, as it turned out, one for each of her daughters. Each set has a necklace that sits very nicely at the curve right above the breast and all adjust to make it higher or a bit lower. Each set also has a bracelet and clip on earrings. I have pierced ears so I had hers made over so I am able to wear them.

    Mom wore those sets on stage and in the concert hall. We have pictures of her wearing each set. They were similar, in that they were all rhinestone and each had three components, but some were more ornate than others. Mom gave each one of us the set she felt *fit* us best. I took my last head shots wearing my set because they were perfect with my black conducting regalia.

    My youngest sister sheepishly came up to me the day of Mom’s funeral as we were about to get into the limo to take us to the funeral home. She had her hand at her throat. She took her hand away and she was wearing her set of Mom’s rhinestones. Kate wanted to know if she leave them on or take them off—was it disrespectful? NO, in fact, I told her I wished I had worn my rhinestone! Mom would have loved it and all of us remarked how perfect it was she wore them that day.

  17. My mother gave my daughter,her first grandchild, her favorite scarf when she was born. It was initially used as a soft blanket before it became the scarf that it was meant to be. My daughter is now 20 and takes great care of the scarf.

    • I’m a scarf person, always happy when the temperature drops and I won’t look too goofy with my plaid scarves, my silk scarves. The wonderful thing about scarves is you can FEEL them, not only admire them visually. I wonder if that scarf will be passed on to another grandchild?

  18. I don’t think I have regalia like you do, maybe just a cuff bracelet I got for myself when I finished high school. Besides books, I don’t get attached to stuff either ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I try not to get attached. Better to invest in relationships and experiences rather than things, but… when somebody gives me something that has meaning, I try to take care of it. Often, it ends up taking a little care of me too!

  19. Yes, I have regalia. My husband of 37 years teases me about having items “since high school”. It’s funny how certain items can cause a rush of memories and emotions when you see them. Those are keepers!

    • My dad used to keep a sticky note in his closet: Can I do without? Can I use something else? Can I fix what I’ve got?
      He had an allergy to acquiring anything new (grew up during the Depression), but he also STILL (at age 96) has a cribbage board that belonged to his uncle. If none of my siblings call dibs, I want that cribbage board. One of very, very few things I could do WITH my father was play cribbage, throughout my life. Yes, it’s the memories.

  20. I recently visited my Aunt Jane’s house in Western NY. She is the keeper of all my late grandmother’s things. On Jane’s table of “stuff that must go” was a cut glass candy container, about 12″ high. I don’t ever remember candy in it, but it stood on my grandmother’s entry hall table for all of my life and I instantly remembered all of the lovely times with my Grandma Doll. (Her real name was Catherine, but I nicknamed her that when I was a toddler.)

    I wanted to bring the candy container to Texas, but UPS would not guarantee its safe shipment. So next year, we will drive up there, travel trailer in tow, to retrieve that and other treasures from my grandmother’s house.

    • I have a painted vase from my grandma. Same thing–it graced her home, I had a great time there, and I think she’d like knowing I have it. I like knowing it have it, anyway.

    • wow your words brought tears to my eyes making me think of my grandmother too. i have an Italian blown glass bowl in my bedroom that sat on her entry hall table too.

    • I have a 5 candle stick that is the anchor of my memories of my gramdma’s kitchen. I totally get it! It is inexpensive, probably tin so thankfully not fragile.

  21. It would be great to come up for this! I’d probably give it to my Mom, since she’s the person who got me reading your books.

  22. To go on an adventure I would take one of my mother’s head scarves. She had such pretty ones, but one in particular she used more than others. She yearned for adventures, and taking this scarf would be a way to take her along with me.

    • Like my mom’s purse. We didn’t have the same tastes in much of anything, but this is a great purse, exactly ME, and my sister was the one who said I should have it. Double love.

  23. Even tho my horse died of collic in 2009 I still have my Dressage saddle. It took me too long to find the perfect fit saddle. I also have a ball cap that says Palmetto Equestrian. Being from South Carolina it’s my favorite hat.

    At work I have a pink hardhat that says “Princess”, that a contractor gave me. It’s become a huge joke but I would never get rid of it.
    Those are just a couple things. I have many. My husband says I keep too much stuff. I say i have stuff with many great memories.

  24. I have my grandmother’s ‘magic blanket’ – she was born in 1889 in Banbridge, Northern Ireland. It’s worn very thin and I don’t know how old it actually is. We lived with my grandparents for my first six years, and when I didn’t feel good she would put the blanket over me and tell me it was magic and would make me feel better. My grandfather had a small cap which he said he had snatched of the head of a ‘wee one’ (aka leprechaun) – so I assume the blanket got it’s magical qualities from the ‘wee ones’ too.

  25. One of the mementoes that grounds me is an unusually shaped graceful plate that looks rather like a flower that my great Aunt Vera painted. I have it pegged to go to one of my nieces as a “relationship ” family history object. I’d also grab my jump drive with genealogy records and family photos. Some were painstakingly saved and dried after a flood during which we list many others. I’d throw into my tote a travel jewelry bag i always keep packed in case of fire, travel or emergency of favorite jewelry given to me by my parents and grandmother, and 4 books: a family photo album my great great grandmother brought over from Germany and kept traveling on a wagon train to Nebraska, where they lived in a dugout while building their first cabin; 2nd book- the Golden Book of Fairy Tales, which started off my interest in reading , travel, different cultures, and the commonalities we share amidst the differences; 3rd book or maybe two- a book of Shel Silverstein’s poetry and another poetry anthology favorite that inspired and comforted and awakened me while growing up, and my kindle. That could all fit in my tote. Throw in my cat and a Dr Pepper, and i would be in 7th Heaven btw, seeing how you cherish the Scotland with Grace memory book brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my lips, Grace. .

  26. That’s not easy but perhaps I’d take the (antique) compass, a necklace, my parents gave me when my husband and I bought our boat 25 years ago. They bought that compass in London where they were on holidays (I’m German) as a “backup” to keep the right course while sailing. That might be handy on an adventure as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. I would take the charm heads of my sons my husband gave me when each was born. I couldn’t stand the jingle noise of a charm bracelet so I went to a jeweler who knew what he was doing and had loops attached. Now I wear the charms on a lovely chain around my neck. When I do wear them I’m reminded how blessed I am to have them in my life and the honor of being their mother. I can take them with me wherever I go.

  28. I am a modest crafter. That is, I’ve crocheted a blanket or two but been baffled by mittens or hats. My mother was one of those who could grow anything, sew anything, cook anything and craft anything. When I was 21 and she was 63 a brain tumor was slowly taking her from us. At the fabric store I purchased a printed pattern for a teddy bear – the kind you cut out, stuffed and sewed shut- easy. She and I held the scissors together as we cut it out, I pushed the needle in and she pulled it out as we sewed it by hand, and together we pushed in the stuffing. She lapsed into a coma before we could sew it shut. It was many years before I could bring myself do see it closed.

  29. I had a tiny little rosary that my great aunt gave to me while she was still alive. She would let me use it when I was a small child when she took me to Mass. It was nothing special – rather plain really – but I loved it.

    I’m almost 73, and not really planning on going anywhere soon (smile), but I have already passed it on to one of my nieces. She has learning disabilities and will always have a challenging life, but I have no doubt that she will always treasure it as much as I did.

  30. There are many things I have that others don’t understand the significance of. An old, flat, formerly stuffed bunny that is my childhood lovey. My grandmother’s sewing box with the hundreds of buttons still inside. Almost 20 years later, I still can’t bring myself to get rid of the buttons, Oma would haunt me. I still have the comb a friend gave me for my birthday, because it had my name on it. That comb is over 30 years old. A little Asian looking box sent by a friend of my mother, who passed away several years ago. It sits on my vanity and I think of her each time I see it. I could go on, but it will be very interesting to go through things, if I have to move.

  31. Some electronic gadget I can use to reach all my family pictures, research, and books. It’s all online, I just need to be able to access it.

  32. I have a glass box with pressed flowers in the lid. Inside is a pink silk flower and two pink dried flowers. The box was a bridesmaid gift when one of my closest female friends married one of my closest male friends. She was taking dance lessons and was going to a nightclub for the last class. I asked my best male friend from grad school if he would go with her. They obviously hit it off. The pink silk flower was part of my mother’s dress when I got married. One of the dried flowers is from my wedding bouquet and the other is what my groom had pinned to his pocket. Several years later we started expanding our long Cape May weekend to include husbands and male friends. This resulted in my best male friend from college marrying another one of my female friends. We now have five married couples. I and another wife were roommates in college and three wives were roommates at another college. My roommate from college was roommates in grad school with two of the women from the other college. One husband is my best male friend from college and one is my best male friend from grad school. All five couples have marriages in the 30 to 38 year range and all of our children are out of the house but none have yet married. We are all nearing retirement. We are trying for a week in Cape May and hope that for at least a few days all ten of us can be together. That glass box and its contents are very precious to me and full of memories.

    mate who was the grad school roommate of my married friend invited our best male friend from college.

  33. Oh dear… the thought of taking one of my precious things with me to travel has never occurred to me. That is sad. Then again, looking more closely at this summer I traveled with my silver gecko watch: given by my friend off her own wrist just because I admired it. In addition a silver colored “mom” bracelet given to me by my older daughter and a similar one with a paw print charm in memory of my beloved past pets. I wore them constantly and never forgot to take proper care of them. Well good for me ๐Ÿ˜€

  34. There’s one piece of my personal regalia that I wouldn’t take out on an adventure with me. It’s a poem my son wrote for me for mother’s day the year he was in 1st grade. My daughter – his little sister – picked some wildflowers from our yard that year to go with the poem. I pressed the flowers and framed them. They’re 18 years old and pretty fragile now.

    The other items of my regalia are almost always with me: my wedding ring; a cross necklace my husband bought me for one of our anniversaries; and the item I’ve had the longest, the thin gold wedding band that according to family legend is the one both my great, great grandmother and grandmother were presented with on their wedding days. My grandfather couldn’t afford to buy a new ring, so my grand mother’s grandmother gave them her band. I inherited it 33 years ago and have worn it on my right hand middle finger since then.

  35. Hmm… I tend to be a pack rat. I have a throw blanket my aunt gave to my mother. I think it goes back to 1960. I have the sleeping bag my mom gave me when I was 12. I wear every day the ring my father gave me when I was 20.

  36. Things are not important to me, yet I have a difficult time parting with things that have memories attached. Even when said items are broken beyond repair. When my mom passed and my sisters and I were sorting out her things, a broken “saint” without a head that had belonged to her grandmother was relegated to the trash box. It should have remained there. Instead, I wrapped it in bubble wrap and put it in a box that traveled 2,000 miles to my home in Georgia. I unwrapped it a year ago and, again, thought to myself I should toss it…ceramic fragment of something my mom had touched daily as she prayed.

    It’s sitting in a basket, waiting for my children or grandchildren to toss away. I can’t.

  37. Lets see..what would I take with me, hmm, problably a picture that I have with ALL my grandchildren.. Now, we’re going to have to have a new portrait of the children done after granddaughter coming.

  38. I am the type of person that never has and hopefully never will be attached to an item. My family jokes to hide anything you may want because turn your back and I will throw it or give it away.

  39. When I was pregnant with my 2nd child, my husband worked with a jeweler to design a sapphire necklace for me. It simple yellow gold in a tear drop with the stone in the middle surrounded by a thin circle of white gold. When my husband went out and bought an expensive toy without discussion (I handle the money, so a big no-no money wise as well as relationship wise) I told him I got to spend an equal amount on something for me. After much thought, I had the same jeweler make matching earrings. They represent my roles as mother and wife, but also the give and take of a marriage and how necessary it is to stand up for yourself, even to the ones you love.