Tag Archives: goals

Conclusion: Because

I recently came to an important conclusion about my riding. I am sure you are waiting with baited breath to hear what it was. But to I think I should give you a little background first.

It started when I finished a few knitting projects I had planned on for quite some time. I had, in rapid succession, quite a few knitting projects I had planned to give away as gifts. I, of course, have many more I wanted to do, but I didn’t really want to start on them yet and none of the gift deadlines were particularly looming. So I felt a little depressed. There are so many beautiful projects in the world to be knit, how could I knit them all, and if I couldn’t knit them all, why should I bother knitting anything? Thus went my completely ridiculous line of reasoning. So I listlessly flipped through my knitting books and magazines thinking how fabulous it would be to knit this sweater, or that hat, but I just didn’t have the right yarn. Then I started going through my yarn stash and feeling the beautiful yarns and thinking of how I would love to knit with this yarn or that yarn, but darn it, I just didn’t have the right pattern. And then it hit me. I madly grabbed the two skeins of homespun yarn my mother had sent me ages ago that had been sitting in my stash begging for the perfect project and then lunged for the issue of Piecework that I knew had a pattern I had been longing to knit if only I had the perfect yarn. I knit a test swatch (but only a very small one because I generally don’t believe in them and because it is a shawl pattern for heaven’s sake) and then I paused…I realized I had no real reason to knit this beautiful shawl pattern from 1930, that perhaps Miss Marple would have knit. I had no one in mind that I would give it to, and I had no real use for it myself, though I suppose I could use it at work. Why would I knit this project? That was when it hit me- why not! I would knit it, as huge and ridiculous as it may be, because I could and it was there and I wanted to do it. I would enjoy it, the yarn was just right for the pattern and vice versa, it would be beautiful and special. Of course it will take ages and I am praying I have enough of the unique yarn that I cannot get any more of, but I am doing it because it will be knitting for the sake of knitting. What does that have to do with my great conclusion about my riding?

Well, of course, though I qualified for our state’s dressage championships at training and first level I decided that I wouldn’t go. It would be fiscally unwise for me, I haven’t been able to take as many lessons as I would like, and aside from the shows at which I qualified I haven’t shown Strider at all. And did I mention those shows were at the barn where I board? He usually travels well and winning certainly isn’t everything, but I want our first trip to championships to be over the moon wonderful. I don’t want to be worried that I am not prepared and that I can’t really afford it. But I still have been riding like a crazy person. At least 4 days a week, no matter what, I am at the barn riding. There was a brief time I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. Was I trying to prove something? Was I determined to get to second level by next year? No and no. Well, kind of no. Mostly no. I realized that right now I am riding religiously for the sake of riding. Because I love riding and my horse and the barn where I board and the experience of it- and I didn’t really need another reason. So my great realization is that goals are wonderful. Having a reason to do something can often be very important. But sometimes it is just as important to do something for no reason at all.

So, I hope you do something you love not because you have a goal to accomplish, but just because. And until next time, RAWR!!!!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Look Behind You

I have a picture on my desk at work of when I first started riding Strider. It was taken at a schooling show literally about a month after I started riding him. I remember I knew it was nuts to take him to one so soon since I could barely even get on him I was in such bad shape from RA and he hadn’t been ridden for a long time. The riding he had before that hadn’t sat well with him (that is a good part of the story of how he came to be given to me- yes I said given…though at this point in the story I was leasing him) and before that he had been on the track. Basically it was silly to do, but I wanted to try. He is the shaggiest I think he has ever gotten, his feet were a mess; the best description I can give of him then is of a rather refined looking mule with ears that didn’t want it enough. Brown horses that haven’t had fabulous grooming and care just don’t look good- and I am referring to the true brown horses that everyone calls dark bay with bleach spots. There is so much wrong in the picture: girth cover because the only girth I had was ancient and had no elastic, Strider isn’t tracking up, mismatched neoprene splint boots I borrowed, my position is atrocious, and I was considerably heavier than I am now. But I love that picture. Strider still wasn’t convinced about me yet, but I was thrilled and it shows. The joy in being able to ride again, even if it was terrible, was obvious.

That picture is also a reminder of how far we have come. I don’t have many pictures of Strider and me, but I know how he looks when he walks up to me in the pasture. I know he trusts me now and even usually will leave his food and his “hole” (that’s what we call his shed ha-ha) when he hears me call him. He is sleek and shiny now; his feet are in great shape (for a TB type horse- no cracks and good wall. His angles are much better and his front feet are up a shoe size.); he is incredibly muscled; his personality is really showing and I think every time I see him I am in awe that I  get to ride him.

So what’s my point aside from that I like looking at a terrible picture and I adore my horse? Well, I think sometimes on the middle of struggling and pushing so hard to move forward and prevail over hard things sometimes we forget to remember from where we came. Whether in dressage, hunter jumpers, or fighting RA sometimes it helps to remember how far you really have come. It may seem at times like we only move backwards, especially when treating RA, I know, because I remember what it was like to be on a treatment that worked. But sometimes we have to remember what it was like to before we were diagnosed, or when we were diagnosed in order to see that, though it may feel like I have no options, at least I have a great rheumatologist on my side now. Or in dressage, sometimes we get hard on ourselves (ha! Sometimes? Maybe always?) and our horses because we can’t seem to perfect a certain movement, reach a goal, or we let our minds get the better of us, but where were we and our horses 6 months, a year, or 2 years ago?  If we look back maybe we can find the hope and faith to keep moving forward; it isn’t a new thought at all, but I know I needed the reminder. Just don’t get stuck looking behind you- you never know when you might run into a wall or a tree or a manure pit or something- trust me on that one.

Until next time- RAWR!!!!!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Guilty as Charged- Ambiguous

“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.”   -Winnie the Pooh

Please read this blog post from the Owl City blog entitled, “You are Braver than You Believe.” I have read it at least four times; I keep coming back to it because each time it catches me in a number of ways. Some are too hard for me to put into words, and some are probably nonsense, but after a rough few weeks…make that months….years….oh heck, I think if we are honest most of us don’t really have easy lifetimes at least in certain respects, it hits home every single time I read it.

First: the Winnie the Pooh quote. Don’t we all want a friend like that? A friend who is so close to us in spirit and in thought that they can see the words we need and speak them and even when they are apart, they are with us in our thoughts, memories, etc. by virtue of being such a part of us. I don’t want this to be a spiritual debate but I feel that if you have faith then of course this should be very much how faith is as well. Recently, upon realizing that a person I had very much counted as a friend really wasn’t one anymore, made me really think on friendship and how it should be. Shouldn’t our friends respect and honor us? Support us but be willing to tell us when we aren’t behaving as we should? No friend will ever be perfect; I know that, but I think at least sometimes we all need someone who sees us better than we can see ourselves to give us a reality check and someone who can cheer us on without condemnation when we are losing perspective. I hope I am that friend to my friends…

The rest of the post is where I become rather convicted. I know that there are so many things in my life right now I am struggling to change, to fix, to improve. I get impatient with my situation; I get tired of fighting battles that, when I am honest about it, I know will not end or if they will, it won’t be soon. I get tired of pain and struggle. And before I know it, I am wishing things were different. It is so easy to lose sight of the opportunities I do have, and the blessings and the reasons for hope. One thought acts like a spark in the middle of a field of dry grass- it is rapidly out of control. And yet it is a waste of energy I am ridiculously short on in the first place and often such thoughts pull me into not wanting to try- to just give up. I know- not a pretty picture.

So what does it come down to? I don’t have a perfect solution unfortunately; I wish I did. But I keep coming back to this blog post- how preposterous is it for me to wish for things to be the way I want rather than the way they are? Who am I to think I have a right to these things I don’t have? What should I focus on? What should I do? What do I actually have the power to control? Why would I have been better off if things were different? How can I presume that?

I won’t say it is easy- I will readily admit that if someone told me that there was a moment in life that tipped the scales as it were and made me get RA, or that I could prevent the accident that changed my sister’s life forever, or any number of other moments, and gave me the chance to go back and make everything different, I probably would jump at the chance. Even though I know it wouldn’t really make me content. But I guess all that is to say that peace, hope, and contentment- they all come when I embrace the life I have instead of fighting it. I just wish I could remember that more often.

So….today here are some things that are blessings for me- to remind me why things shouldn’t be different. In no particular order:

-My husband: and not just because I am married to him and think I need to put him on the list. There are too many reasons to list.

-My true Friend: because there are so few people who get so much about me and don’t think I’m bonkers (or if she thinks I’m bonkers she still seems to like me anyway lol)

-My Family: I include really all my family in this (it is a rather funky and odd family believe me…) as they have either supported me in the past or are supporting me and cheering me on now.

-My Horses: I can’t believe I have TWO still and they are both the best ever. Vanya was my companion growing up and Strider…well…hard to put into word but I will just say he is amazing.

-My Cat and Dog: because when I am not able to do much at all they can still make me smile and feel a tiny bit better.

-Knitting and spinning: few other activities can hold my attention as well, make me patient, and somehow produce something anyone else would want to use! And there is something therapeutic about fiber that can make even the worst pain or stress fade…

-Faith: I am blessed to have a Savior who cares about me, forgives my failures, and shows me by example how it’s done.

-Good Doctors: I have some amazing doctors working to reduce pain, prevent damage, etc. They also take the time to listen to me and make sure we are working towards the same goals.

 I know this was a bit of a deviation from the usual more news type of post, but it had been swimming in my head for a while and finally I decided I should just post it already. Well, until next time…..RAWR!!!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

She Shoots- She Scores!

 Ok, so not quite…I have never played basketball, or soccer, or anything like it in my life. If the game involves a ball, I probably can’t play it, I seem to be magnetized to balls; by that I mean balls repel me. Where the ball is, I won’t be. That doesn’t work well except for dodge ball. But, in order to “get a goal” you have to have one. Therein lies the rub.

I look at the girls that ride my older horse, Vanya; they both have some pretty awesome goals. Jennifer wants to get to our local Dressage Championships next year at Training level. It is a great goal. It’s achievable as after riding the horse for times she got a score that was within 3% of the score needed to qualify. So, given a few months she should be well on track to get that extra 3% that she needs, and probably more. She is planning how she will reach the goal; what memberships she needs and how much money she needs to save for shows, what equipment she needs, and what shows would make sense to attend. She is also taking more concrete action and riding and taking lessons to get the improvement she needs. She has an achievable short term goal of getting a score that would be a qualifying score (60%), and is taking steps to get there.

Similarly, Nicole, who also rides Vanya, wants to be able to show in Jumpers rather than Hunters next year. The lowest jumper division height is 2’3”-2’6” and since I am helping her, I am asking that she be jumping at least 2’9” comfortably at home before she does 2’6” at a show. Again, this is a great goal; she is working hard towards it and making good progress. She rides every chance she gets and is putting in the work she needs to achieve her goal. In fact, in her ride last night she did a course that was entirely 2’3”-2’6” very well. She even took her first oxer set at 2’3”!

However, I am not doing as well. I would love to improve my dressage scores with Strider, but I don’t really have a clear goal on it. And once I improve my dressage scores at First Level, what then? I don’t have the skills for Second level and I know that (I mean hey, I barely have the skills for First!) I want to jump bigger jumps, specifically I want to get to 4’, but I seem stuck at 3’9” and don’t have a plan to get past that. I want to get more consistent lessons, but again, seem somewhat stuck as far as finding a trainer I am happy working with and can afford and get my horse and I in contact with regularly. I am making more progress on that front than on some others, but still am nowhere near reaching that goal. If I want to get somewhere with my riding I should probably set some clear, well thought out, achievable goals. I am debating trying to qualify for local Dressage Championships at First Level with Strider next year, but can’t make up my mind as Jumping is still a priority. Any ideas? Please feel free to comment if you have any good ideas on good goals as I am open to suggestions.

All that being said, I realized where one of my big problems with RA has been lurking like the glass of milk you forgot in your guest bathroom last week. (You can smell it but can’t for the life of you figure out where it is…get my drift?) My Rheumatologist and I don’t have the same goals. My goals for me with regards to my RA are being mostly pain free most days, having energy, being able to sleep through an entire night without waking up because I have to change positions, and preventing as much joint damage as possible. My measurement of that is simple, do I hurt today? Do I have the energy to ride my horse and go for a run? Did a get a good nights sleep recently? Are my joints popping? Can I set my elbows on a padded elbow rest without pain? Can I stand up after sitting for twenty minutes without pain? Lately the answers to all of these questions have suggested that I am definitely not reaching my goals. I have called my doctor, since he is over an hour away, and talked to his voicemail and his assistants about it. We tried a burst of corticosteroids, we have increased my methotrexate dosage (and can I say that I really wish my hair would stay ON my head?), and neither approach has worked. I told him this and gave him a suggestion provided by my wonderful GP…his assistant simply said, “You will have to wait until your next appointment for the doctor to look at your joints.” Interesting; I admit, the not very charitable part of me wanted to say, “Go hold onto an electric fence for a day, imagine feeling like that all the time, and then tell me I should wait. And I’ll tell the doctor how my joints are- red, swollen, inflamed, painful and stiff.” But, I am not that uncharitable or rude I promise, so instead I said, “Isn’t there something we can do before my appointment?” Basically pleading with her. She said no. So I learned that my doctor has different goals than I do, and that is part of my problem with RA. I plan on addressing this at my next appointment, as I know, not all my goals are entirely reasonable, but at least we could try to get on the same page. And how else can you possibly reach a goal if you don’t set it in the first place?

 So, sorry if today’s post was a bit of a downer, but I hope it might be enlightening…I prefer entertaining, but I suppose enlightening will do the trick. Until next time, RAWR!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized