Three weeks ago, as I shared in recent blogs, I had the pleasure of visiting Nashville for a fan event with some of my Days of our Lives castmates. And this week, I was excited to find that my suitcase from the trip had finally arrived back at the studio. Not my actual suitcase, but one that was thoughtfully assembled by some amazing fans. Inside was literally a treasure of goodies that these wonderful ladies brought from all over the country – each one representing the area in which they live.
The thoughtfulness and generosity of people continues to astounds me at events like this … it’s always unexpected and very much appreciated. But, in the rush of Nashville, I hadn’t really had time to go through all of the wonderful things. So, as I sat in my dressing room earlier this week and began to unpack this big suitcase, I was amazed – inspirational t-shirts and coffee mugs, hot pads, dishtowels, bracelets, a cookbook, pictures, sweet notes and delicious foods from all of these wonderful places. Each and every item stood out to me, and I could tell how much care went into to putting it all together.
And then there were these spurs! I love boots, but I’ve never had a pair of spurs … never really had a cause to wear them. But here they were … super groovy and clearly custom built for me! How cool! Then I got a video from Cindy Nelson about the making of this special gift and I just had to share it with you.
So we reached out to Cindy to get a little more background, and what we found was even better than I could have imagined.
When I started PLANK, I envisioned a platform for inspiration … not just a place for me to share my own stories and advice, but a place where all of us could learn from and inspire each other. And since the beginning, I’ve loved reading your comments … to hear from you about how a topic resonated with you or helped you in some way in your own life. I remember reading Cindy’s comments before … but hearing her whole story makes me so proud of what we’ve created here (and by we, I mean all of you too!).
Cindy Nelson lives in Lubbock, TX … a place where rodeos are a way of life and spurs are just a piece of the trade.
“I’ve rodeoed my entire life, and in that world everyone wears spurs,” said Cindy. “My granddad made my first pair and I watched him make them. He’s my idol, and when he died, I retired the spurs.”
In need of a new pair, Cindy contacted a friend about making her a pair of custom spurs, but he said it would be more than a year before he could get to them. So, Cindy took matters into her own hands.
“I decided I would just make my own. So, I Googled some information and watched some videos, then a friend’s husband agreed to teach me the basics.”
Cindy worked at it and eventually had her own pair of custom spurs. In the years since then she’s made about a dozen pairs for friends and family. But the process isn’t quick. “There isn’t any electric machinery, except the drill to make the holes. Everything is cut out and soldered by hand,” Cindy explained. And because each set is designed and detailed to the specifications of the owner, the entire process can take up to 20 hours.
So why spurs for Mary Beth?
“I found PLANK last year and read it regularly,” said Cindy, an elementary school special education teacher whose students have autism. “But when Mary Beth wrote the What Happened to the Crayons blog back in March, I was inspired.” Cindy shared the blog with her students, many of whom are bullied at school, and they discussed what they’d learned from it. “Our class had always been seen as the different one, and most of my students didn’t have any friends. So I challenged them to see if we could change that. From there launched our own little #KindnessIs campaign.”
Cindy gave each student a weekly assignment – write down, on an index card, a quote about kindness or something that represented kindness to them, and then share that with a student outside of their classroom. Her students loved it … and so did students throughout the school. By the end of the year, the project was such a success that the principal recognized the class at an assembly, giving each of her students a certificate.
“I stood there crying, watching these kids get something they’d never had before – recognition. The whole school gave them a standing ovation, and many of them shared with me that, for the first time ever, they had friends.”
And PLANK wasn’t just a one-time thing in Cindy’s class. “They look forward to reading it every Thursday. I was even able to use it as a reward for good behavior,” she shared. And Cindy class’ “kindness cards” have carried on too! “At the beginning of this year, I got a call from a teacher at the middle school wanting to know what these kindness cards were that her kids were talking about,” Cindy shared with a laugh.
So when the announcement came that Mary Beth would be in Nashville, Cindy knew she had to go. And when she learned from some friends that they were putting together a gift bag, Cindy thought about spurs. But she was unsure.
“Here, they’re a way of life, but what in the world would Mary Beth do with spurs in Los Angeles? So I asked my kids, at school and at home, and everyone said spurs.” And when she was at a loss for what to put on the spurs, Cindy turned to her kids again. “After reading PLANK for so many weeks, they all had ideas and suggestions. So together we put together a design that we thought fit Mary Beth.”
But after 19 hours of work and second–guessing her decision on more than one occasion, Cindy’s spurs almost didn’t make it to Nashville. “When I got to the airport they said I couldn’t board the plane with them because they were a weapon. I pleaded and finally they let me board, with the condition that once I was on the plane I immediately hand them to a steward for safe-keeping.”
The spurs did make it to Nashville, and now finally to L.A., where they await the spur straps needed to attach them to Mary Beth’s cowboy boots. “I didn’t think she’d actually wear them, so I didn’t include straps,” says Cindy. “But I can’t wait to see a picture of her wearing my spurs!”