A Horse-Of Course

I suppose that with the big “half century” looming before me, it is a great time to begin some reflection. As I contemplated what I wanted to write about in the New Year, one subject kept coming up on top:  my horses.  Ever since I can remember, I was one of “those” little girls.  Each night when other children were saying their prayers which included pleas for toys or dolls, I only prayed for a horse… even a little horse.

One day that wish did come true.

Since I was 7 years old (approximately 43 years in total), I have lived with and loved many horses. At the high point, I owned 47 of these amazing creatures, but today am back down to 2. I have competed in events ranging from speed, to pleasure and even tried my hand at endurance riding.  I have tied a goat, turned a barrel and jumped standards while aboard a beautiful grey Saddlebred. I even painted a horse to look like a zebra.

Many of the horses I have trained myself, others have been rehabilitated, but every single one of them has been a joy to share my life with.  Some have been used to share my love of riding with


my own children or to teach others to ride themselves.  Many of my best friends over the course of these years have come into my life as a result of being on or around a horse. I owe them so much.

When I need a shoulder to cry on, a side to lean on or someone to listen without judgment as I proclaim the way I feel about the world, the constant has always been my equine friends. So, as part of my musing in this blog, I will be introducing you to many of the great horses of my life.  Very soon I will begin with Trinket – my very first horse.

UW Stout Graduation – 2012

Almost two years ago, I was sitting among a large group of graduates at the University of Wisconsin Superior getting ready to receive my college degree. I never dreamed that in my 40’s I would take the plunge and go to college to get a Bachelor’s degree in Communication. I was so proud, a bit teary eyed and then something happened.

I looked at the next tiny group marching up the stairs to receive their diplomas and noticed that there was something different about them. Their

gowns had additional elements to their sleeves and they carried over their arm a multi-colored hood.  But what was more striking was that this group of men and women marched forward with more of a purpose – their strides and presence conveyed a sense of confidence that spoke volumes.  At that moment, I just knew that I had to become one of them. These were graduate students.

So, here I am – graduating from the University of Wisconsin- Stout with a Master’s Degree in Technical and Professional Communications.  Can you tell from the pictures that same additional confidence and purpose?  I can!  Having my friends and family around me only made this day all the more wonderful. With this being said, I just cannot thank my family enough for their support over the last seven years.  It takes a special husband to tackle the extra duties that I could not and to share me with classmates, professors and books. The support I received from both my husband and daughter made it possible for me to attend school full time while working and trying to have a family life.

What happens now is really another great adventure.  I will continue to work hard and love my family; however, now I am set on a new road of discovery and excitement.

I plan to write – a lot!  I also intend to take a bit of time to relax, read a book and not write a paper on it and reflect just how amazing this entire process truly has been. I just can’t wait to see what happens next!

Christmas Cookies 2012

Who doesn’t love Christmas cookies?  Even if you are watching your weight, the sight of decorated varieties of home-made cookies just seems to fit around the holidays.  In our family, it has been a tradition to bake, and each year we produce an ever-increasing variety.

This year was a rebellious year. Our house has been on the market and even though I have put off having a garden for two years running, I was not about to forego the cookie making fun just in case someone called at the last minute for a showing.  My feeling is that if they want to come visit at the holidays, they will just see how functional this kitchen is!

Of course, we bake cookies around here for more reasons than to gain the proverbial 10 lbs over the holidays – heck, there is a world of good food this time of year to help out for that.  Another reason we bake is to give as gifts to our good friends.  By sharing a gift that was made, not bought, there is that special connection of caring that only this type provides.

So, if you are stumped with how to make this Holiday season special, or want to find that perfect gift for a busy friend – maybe it is time to don that special apron (I got one as a gift already this year).

And if you are looking for recipes to make cookies like the ones I have here, this is an easy fix as well. The cookies pictured in this blog were all made with recipes I got from free programs on my iPad.  The internet has amazing sites like:

All Recipes 

Taste of Home

Very Best Baking

Mom’s Who Think

So don’t hate me because I bake at the Holidays, get up and throw some flour around!

Knowledge Management System – Initial Survey Complete

My final semester is underway and with that, the beginning of my final Thesis Field Project.  Because this project is research-based, I will not be able to share specific information regarding subjects; however, I can chronicle the progress and overall information as I move along.

First step: Pre-Survey

Yesterday, I sent out over 1,000 emails to graduate students asking for participation in my initial survey. Of that number, so far over 15% have taken the survey.  The letter format is as follows:


My name is Robin Gotch and I am a UW Stout Graduate Student in the Master of Science in Technical and Professional Communication Program.  More than that, I am a member of a very elite team – a team you belong to as well. As Graduate students, we share a common goal to achieve excellence in our chosen fields. Because of this, we are all in a unique position to assist one another while at the same time providing opportunities for ourselves.

I am providing just such an opportunity.

As a Graduate student working on a December Graduation date, I am working on my final field project. In order to accomplish my goals, I am asking my Graduate Team Members to take a few moments to complete the following survey.

Your participation would involve completing a 5-minute online survey about your study habits and course load, and then – optionally, trying out a study tool and giving some feedback on it.


At the end of the survey, is a final question which relates to becoming an active member in my larger project. If you are interested in providing additional feedback on a study tool I have devised, as well as receiving a free copy of that tool, please respond accordingly.

Because I am a student myself, I know quite well how precious time is. By helping out a fellow student, you pave the way for a team concept that can be enjoyed by yourself and other students in the future.

As an additional Thank-You for your time, I will be choosing 3 participants at random to receive a $10.00 ITunes gift card.

Go Team STOUT!!!

As I go through the responses, I will be able to ascertain how many participants are interested in progressing to the next stage. Of course, I will also be awarding the iTunes gift cards to the lucky random winners around the first of October as well.

I want to especially express gratitude to the participants who emailed questions, comments and suggestions for future surveys. Many thanks go out to the Elite Forces of UW Stout Graduate community!

Why do I use Social Networking?

I would imagine that almost every person who utilizes the internet and social networking will at some point in time wonder why they do so. I have thought often why I have chosen to join the revolution myself.

For me, Facebook presents opportunities for communication, enlightenment and personal presentation. I can populate my Facebook with organizations and elements that I would like to follow on a daily basis.  I receive information about political candidates both local and national, show activity from my favorite horse organizations and even specials announcements for vendors when something is on sale.  Of course, there is also the opportunity to keep in touch with friends and family that I was not able to do before.

Overall, there must be some value in social networking; otherwise, it would be foolish to risk the damage that can be done under certain circumstances.


I have personally heard horror stories about potential employers catching wind of Facebook activity resulting in a not-so shining opinion of a potential employee.  There is also no doubt that Facebook can be a brain-drain, drama polluting, time-wasting element in a person’s life that can present more negatives than positives – if not handled correctly.  So why do I spend time on Facebook?

The answer is simple – no matter what the venue, the moment we present ourselves in public, we are at risk. As long as I feel the benefits outweigh the inherent risks, I will move forward.  So what benefits do I gain from reading Facebook and participating in the culture?  As I said above, I am able to keep in touch and take advantage of opportunities, but after thinking about this more, there are other benefits as well.

Have you ever seen a person post and simply NOT agree?  Do you contemplate removing them, or do so just because of this fact?  This scenario represents an amazing side-benefit in perspective that I have begun to acknowledge.

Reading posts of friends and friends-of-friends can provide for an enlightening opportunity much like visiting a dinner party and listening to different viewpoints in conversation. If all we did was listen to posts about familiar subjects or viewpoints that mirror our own; what would be the point? So, if someone posts a position regarding religion, politics, social activities or whatever, it may be best to try to see their point of view before dismissing them. You do not have to agree to gain some insight and perspective.  In the end, I tend to think these opportunities can help to make me a better person.

WOW Facebook may actually have a GOOD side!

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