The Jame I was driving the team of draft horses below is not the Jame on the spicy chocolate mare next to her. No one ever stays who they were, of course, but I feel utterly different from everyone I graduated college with, all 40 odd of them. I had a visit with a mental health resident today and had to explain why I was there, besides the *wildly gestures at literally everything, all of it, all the time*.
After hearing the abbreviated form of my life story and my best guess at what I needed to find with her help, she told me about “self-compassion”, and leave it up to a professional to immediately find your sore spot. So much of my life and my focus has changed since I graduated from a school that was intensely focused on sustainability, social equity and conservation, it’s hard to still count myself as part of the good guys. Alumni from my graduating class hold positions on farms, in nursing, at Greenpeace, in mental health fields and government agencies like Department of Fish and Wildlife. I’m one of the few that works for a for-profit, private company. Sure I work in health and safety, with a goal to keeping folks alive within the job, but what I do doesn’t always move the world forward in direct ways. Even my time volunteering for Oregon Equestrian Trails isn’t a perfect fit, nor do I have time to really do the role the justice it needs. My two biggest goals for the year, new truck and new trailer to better fit the future adventures I’m aiming for with Tarma and Benny, are utterly selfish and unhelpful to a world that needs folks focused on tackling every issue from women’s health to voting rights to clean water.
I graduated with super vague plans, something to do with draft horses, kids and camping, no real direction. Then immediately along came Kade and the needs changed, as kids do. Life flexed and bent, brought joy and uncertainty and change and stages. Everything stabilized, more or less, when I met Tom; we started building a life that was utterly different from the vague plans college Jame had. I found other things I was good at besides driving drafts and climbing ropes courses. I was able to help build another family, Ragnar is just over a year old and having an amazing time running his dads around Minnesota. The pandemic hit and exposed every vulnerability in the world, those that get glossed over for some. We evacuated our home due to a fire, lost family members and beloved pets, and the stress at my job cranked up when I built the quarantine case management team, with no end in sight for that. Kade has soccer, Tom’s always been working in person, and now we have the puppy, who while utterly delightful has led to a lot of interrupted sleep. I love Tarma, but she’s not a point and click kind of mare.
I’m not alone in all this, countless others have a lot more going on than I do, with a lot less support. That I’m able to see a mental health professional, albeit one in training, makes me luckier than most. As soon as she told me about self compassion, I realized that’s where I’m struggling right now. Hitting a wall and curling up on the couch with Criminal Minds episodes isn’t self compassion, it’s just overload. It’s part of the reason I can’t maintain consistency towards my fitness goals, it’s the easiest thing to give up in a crowded life and something always comes along to knock me off my game. I have solid goals and motivation, an understanding and past success (I had to loose and keep off 65 pounds to complete the surrogacy), it’s just being able to keep things up that I’m struggling with. My aim over the next few weeks between visits is to ride twice a week and swim twice a week, which I think I can do. I’ve also arranged and booked a “tired moms only” trip out to on of my favorite places, Crystal Crane Hot Springs, in a few weeks. The weather folks predict a weekend of dumping, soaking rain, just the ticket to put out our summer’s fires.
We’ll see how the next few weeks go, now that I have a clearer idea of what I need to work on. I’m trying to accept where I am now with more grace, which I talk about making space for everyone else, now I just need to do the same for myself. I may not be on the front lines of making the world a better place, but I’m doing my best in the circle I have and that’s okay. I’m supporting and helping Kade grow up solid and smart and careful, my animals live utterly spoiled (but species appropriate) lives, my boss tells me every other week I’m kicking ass with managing my team, and my husband and I are solid, though the yard could use a bit more TLC. I’m enough and this is where I’m at, and it’s good.