Saturday, January 7, 2017

PRESENCE

You'll hear the word presence tossed around at horse shows and events everywhere.  There will be a certain energy that surrounds the horse that just makes you turn your head as you pass or stop as you watch the test, the round or the simple move into the start box.
Sugar - Lucky Me

It may be beauty, a sense of power and grace, an ease and confidence or a way of going that reminds you of a prima ballerina or running back gliding through the defense to score a touchdown.  And, you may not be able to name what IT IS but you know it is something special, something wonderful and you know you're lucky to have witnessed it.

Presence - something extra ordinary, something that can not necessarily be named and yet, something that when you're in it or have it, you know it's a gift.  Sugar had presence and by all appearances, Maisy may also have the spark too.   A Maisy spark all her own...

Maisy - Lucky Me - Too!
This morning, I remembered a friend who died just under a year ago.  I did not remember her death from a rare cancer nor did I really spend much time remembering her wake where hundreds of people lined up to pay their respects and how I could not speak coherently for my tears filled my words.  No, those were flashes of thought.

Mostly, I remembered her laugh and how she lit up a room when she walked in and said hi.  I remembered her beautiful art even if it was contained in the boring world of insurance marketing.  She loved deeply and when her friends struggled, she worked on causes to improve their lives and those that suffered similarly. 

Her energy was boundless and her eagerness infectious.  You could be lifted by her childlike enthusiasm at approaching a problem and finding a solution.  And, as any person to belong to the human race, she had a primal response in those rare moments of anger or frustration.  Moments that worked themselves out but moments that made this angel real. 
Searching for presence

This is a soul presence not aided by physical beauty but by a deep soul connection to love and joy.  My friend had a presence that made a person richer for knowing her.  I do not mourn her loss as much I revel in the fact that I KNEW HER.  And, Facebook memories offer me moments where I can still feel her.  Lucky were we...

Presence... something special... something full.  What kind of presence will we leave when we're gone...  Yes, not sad but inspirational...  Thank you, my friend!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

CHRISTMAS STORIES

It only takes one word, one look, one encounter to make a difference.  How simple is that?  If change is all about me and I truly believe that, how simple life would be...

I've been traveling and suffering a true relapse into Workaholism.  Soon I tell myself, soon I'll be able to rest, take care of myself, play with Da Boyz and ride Her Greyness.  Soon...  And, as each day passes, soon does not feel any closer but I lie to myself...  Soon, maybe this weekend... soon

The affect of that longing and that "holding off on living", is an increasing feeling of grumpiness, a slight intolerance when "things don't go my way" and a distinct lack of patience with anyone not working as hard as I.  I struggle with keeping an upbeat positive demeanor and when I fail, I isolate because I do not want my "failings' to be recorded by others.

So, in my second business trip of the week, I entered the plane noticing the crying baby, the little boy running up and down the aisle, the person with three bags (rather than the two allowed), groaned at the woman who could not lift her own overstuffed bag into the bins above.  I kept catching my anger and impatience and took steps to change my attitude but it was weak and relatively unsuccessful.  You see, I was grumpy pants and maybe, god forbid... pouty.

We landed in Detroit late.   It was snowing and 15F degrees.  I waited in the cold for 20 minutes before the hotel shuttle arrived.  I was starving and in no mood for niceties so I sat in the front seat and said nothing after thanking the driver for taking my bag.  The other passenger, a businessman, remained silent.

Our driver smiled at us, turned the radio up slightly and off we went in the dark, snowy night.  The van was silent, except for the radio tunes.  I watched the industrial complexes as we passed by and then, found myself singing (silently) Jingle Bell Rock and I smiled.  I wasn't on a sleigh and she wasn't Santa but the beautiful lights of the chemical plants, the snow falling and the Christmas carols  felt so homey and warm.

I broke the silence.  "Do you like Christmas carols or do you have to listen to them?"

"Oh are they bothering you!  I'll turn them off! I am so sorry!"

I love carols!  I was curious if she loved them or was required to play them for the season.  She told me that she loved Christmas.  She loves the lights, the color and begins to play carols on December 1.  When she is alone in the van, she sings "loud and clear for all to hear." She told me her story of car trips with her family and how singing brings her closer to all those memories.

Car Caroling is something close to my heart.  My mom and I love to sing along as we drive around South Jersey searching for Christmas.  And, I could feel my dad in that van as I remembered our Christmas car drives visiting my brothers and sisters way back when.  We shared stories and laughed.

Then, this voice from behind me, asks to be heard.  We had forgotten the tall businessman in the back seat.  He said to us both, "Can I tell you a secret?"  {OF COURSE!}  "I love Car Caroling and on the day after Thanksgiving, I'm listening to them and singing "loud and clear for all to hear!"  

LOVE!
She does not know it or may never remember that I said it to her.  That evening in Detroit, this van driver whom I never got a name, changed my dismal, grumpy self, into a human being full of love and gratitude.  And she united three strangers... Truly a beautiful soul and I am a so grateful for that encounter.

When you think your actions or words have no meaning or that your energy has no affect on others...  think about the beautiful souls who have touched your life and look for them.  Angels are everywhere in all forms.

I believe I hear a bell ringing... one is getting their wings right now!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

WISHING FOR THE WRONG THING

May our dreams come true!
Are you the wishing type?  Do you ever find yourself on the eve of the big lottery wishing for all the things you could do with the big win?  Or how about leaving for work just a tad bit late and wishin that the traffic gods are in your favor?  Sometimes I find myself wishin that Da Boyz will have dinner waiting for me... 

Maisy and I completed our very first Horse Trial together this Sunday.  Ok, it was a schooling show and I entered Advanced Elementary (2'3") but it was the first time in 2 years for me.  That is a big deal... a very big deal!

There may be a day in the future where I tell you that I greeted the day with lightness of heart and eagerness of mind and body.  But, it wasn't this day.  My morning's coping skill was tearfully asking the Barn Owner why I was doing this and what was the point of putting myself through such agony.  Yet, I still kept moving forward with the many tasks needed to just show up.

Hey, can I tell you something?  Maisy is not Sugar.  Wow!  Our dressage warmup was... boring.  Well, it was workman-like and flowing but without the airs-above-ground Grand Prix movements performed by a displeased Mariah Carey wannabee. 

When I finished my test, the Happy Young Professional asked me what it felt like to focus on straightness, the quality of the gaits and the accuracy of the test rather than containing or managing explosions.  WOW!

Shhhh, don't tell anyone...

As I walked cross country, I missed Sugar.  I wanted to be riding her over this course and not Maisy.  You see, despite all of our missteps, I knew what was under me.  Whatever version of Sugar that showed up, I knew I could handle it.  Maisy?  I was going into the great unknown.
The HYP riding Maisy's version of the Head of the Lake

"Dear god (not a prayer), it was only 2'3"!  Get over yourself!"

My pre-show pep talk was all about telling my Horse Peeps (and anyone who'd listen to me) that the worse thing that was going to happen was that I would be mad that I trotted everything.  I know that Maisy can trot a 4' wall.

I could feel the enthusiasm drain from my body as the anxiety flowed in.  Rescue Remedy and EFT (tapping) did not seem to be helping.  Anxiety, for me, feels like body weakness and the more anxious I am, the more physically weak I feel.

Help me stay present!

Did I mention that Maisy is not Sugar?  I have never ridden a horse who just jumps whatever is in front of her without spooking either at something around the course, near the jump or over the jump.  She is enthusiastic and sometimes charges the stadium course... but...  Wait!  She jumps!  Everything!
video
So proud of this! 

I lost my grrrrr after SJ and did trot most of the XC course...  And, I do think... I wished I cantered more!

BUT,  I. CAN. NOT. WAIT. FOR. 2017!!!!!  That kind of wishing... is the good kind of wishing.

Rest in Peace my beloved Sugar, loving you for all you were will never change.  Now it's Maisy's turn!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

So, this little confessional could simply start out as an apology to the blogging gods for falling flat on all the stories left untold.  Yet to do so would assume that what I write is something someone would miss.  And really, a little humility goes a long way... 

And, I'm not really sure that going on about my confidence issues or the little PTSD moments that find a way to surface or acknowledging the demons that still live in my brain are even remotely interesting anymore.  You see, even I grew tired of their presence... 

So, no apology..  just a picture...

Used with permission - Spotted Vision Photography
This is the moment, our first competition together, that I realized that I was riding Maisy...  really riding Maisy and not the ghost of my beloved Wild Thing (may she rest in peace).

I was galloping cross country on a horse who sees the world as a curious place.  Her body held eager anticipation of fun and of the joy of jumping da jumps. 

There was no fear, nor were her ears on high alert for danger.  She was happy to be outside on a beautiful day and looking for the jumps. 

I started the course with tense anticipation, worried about whether I could balance her or if she would jump me out of the tack in a green moment and I wondered what I would do if she stopped.  I worried out of habit.  For ten years, I had to have my honey badger grrrrr going on to convince Sug that cross country schooling was fun and that the zombie apocalypse would not happen over a jump.

That smile says it all.  The door has opened wide and I can't wait to gallop through!

Used with permission - www.connecticutphoto.com
So, our start for recognized events will be next year.  The Happy Young Professional has done an amazing job teaching Her Greyness the eventing ropes.  She still has some serious green moments that need some aging.  Like jumping off a Novice bank like its the Head of the Lake.

I believe there will be a schooling horse trial in October on my radar...  Yeah, I think that would be good!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

ATTENDING THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY INDOOR

The barn was quiet this early Sunday morning... a beautiful, cool, dry, bugless early summer New England morning.  The barn girls were busy and almost silently going through the morning chores with their ear buds tightly replacing the songs of the morning with the sounds of an iPhone playlist.  {{{Or, maybe, just maybe they were avoiding my overenthusiastic early riser good cheer... hmmm}}}

Where was everyone?  Why sleep when the very weather screamed for one to get up, get out and play?  Rainy or hot and humid days call for longer bedtimes or house elf activities.  The gloriousness of the morning can not be wasted behind four walls.  It must be savored with all the beauty of a barn, the power and grace of one's pony partner...

Wait!  Isn't it Sunday?  If I recall, some people refresh their spirit in a House of God.  Perhaps, my barn peeps were somewhere quietly or joyously celebrating the morning... um... at Church.

Hmmm, I just completed my first year in Seminary and am now an Initiate for ordination as an Interfaith Minister.  {{{Don't ask me what I'm going to do with it.  I still don't know.}}}  And yet, here I am grooming Ms Maisy and preparing for some dressage butt kicking (mine not her).  What does that say about me?  Do I confess this lapse (among many) to my fellow seminarians?

Do you know that feeling when you open the door of the indoor and the footing is newly groomed and watered?  Our steps will be the very first and everything we do will mark the start of a new day with all its new possibilities. In honor of the moment and the glory of the day, I tune the radio and allow Gospel music to guide our way and set our pace.

Our kick off song:



Maisy and I had a wonderful ride being lifted lighter in gaits and in song.  It was a perfect way to celebrate the goodness in life and be grateful, truly grateful for the good in life. 


God can be found any where as long as you look for him.  So, for me, God is at the barn and makes days like this even holier!  TYG!  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

THE LAST CROSS COUNTRY WALK

Smiling with a zest for life albeit a bit slow
Jonah got up this morning with his tail wagging, his eyes eager for the adventures of a Sunday morning and lame in his right front foot.  His breakfast contains a pain reliever and his dinner a glucosomine/chondrotin supplement to support his aging joints.  He is a 10.5 year old Labrador Retriever who is living in the moment while his person is staring at the twilight of a long adventurous life.

Way back when!
Yesterday, I believe, that this gentle soul with a huge eating disorder and selective hearing walked his last cross country (XC) course.  It makes me sad to have to be the responsible parent and take care of him when it is his very nature to go to extremes until he is exhausted or worse, hurt.  Yet, yesterday, I wanted to give him that one last time to walk the course, bathe in the water jump and greet everyone walking by.

Another lab testing out the water complex!
Jonah hurts today and as a dog, he lives in the moment.  As a human, I feel ok with giving him that one last XC walk even though there is a hint of guilt at seeing him so lame.  He is not going to remember this last time when I leave him home with his beloved dog sitter while his young brother walks many, many more courses.  No, he lives in the moment.

Sometimes and somewhat reluctantly, you have to be the parent.  And sometimes, I just want to be the neighborhood kid that gets everyone in trouble and then, goes home without a care in the world leaving chaos in her wake.

Today, I am the responsible one and acknowledge that my beloved Convict may have completed his last cross country course walk.  Today, I am the parent and grateful for that one last time.

Parenting is tough!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

SOMETIMES, IT JUST HAPPENS

A rider lost her life on Saturday while competing at the Upper Levels of the sport I love so much.  She did not start her day thinking that it would be her last.  And, I'm sure that her friends and fellow competitors did not think for a moment that she would not return.  The volunteer that checked her bit, the warm-up steward or the starter counting her down all wished her a good ride and expecting the very same thing.
Those ears...

Sometimes, it just happens.

And one rainy morning, stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, I came up to the accident that caused our delay.  My timing was "impeccable" for the rescue team carried from, the little Corolla, a body bag.  It was the first time I ever saw something so final.  Later that evening, I read in the newspaper that a 26 year old girl never made it to work that morning.  Her tire blew and her car spun off the road into a guard rail.  She did not start her day thinking this was going to be her last.

Sometimes, it just happens.

What if?  What if that rider pulled her horse out of the stall with a nasty cut that morning?  Would it have saved her life?  What if she threw her leg over the back of a western pleasure horse, would she be home that evening kissing her daughter good night?

Folks that I know who walked that course did not feel that that particular fence was tricky, set in a way to confuse the horse/rider or offered a question so technical that it would prove to be fateful. Yet, in this case, the horse hooked a leg and tumbled over and onto its rider.  No one knows for sure...

Sometimes, it just happens.

My heart is so heavy for the loss of this beautiful young rider and mother.  The stories surfacing from her friends, associates and riders are of a person with a good, loving heart.  No, this shouldn't happen to anyone but it does.  Just like that young girl who never made it to work that day, this shouldn't happen.

But it does...

Equestrian activities are dangerous and there is an element of risk every time we ride.  Horses are unpredictable.  Years ago there was a rider at an event that left the door open to her horse's stall and she threw herself in front of her escaping precious pony and died from the blow to her head.

Sometimes, it just happens.

So much is being done to make Eventing safer.  There has been constructive talk and plans to do more and there have been the haters.  Much of the hateful commentary are from folks who are not keeping close to all that is being done - research on cardio-vascular events, frangible pins, course design.  And, the improvements are there and will continue to improve because we want to do what we can to prevent injury and death.

Yet, sometimes, it just happens.

In no way am I minimizing this life lost so young.  It is heartbreaking.  And in no way am I saying that all is good and doing nothing is the right thing.  What I am saying is that sometimes, it just happens.  Sometimes, you bow your head and you pray for the living and the ones that have to go on.

And sometimes you have to truly be thankful for your own life and know, that today is the day to live life well.  This is your moment for it is all you have... Live it well...

I will donate to her child's college fund and I will match my donation and send it to the USEA's safety and research arm.  And if you feel so inclined, the links are below:

Millie's College Fund

USEA Rules and Safety