My Voice, Part One

Every attempt I’ve made to maintain steady blogging, especially post college, has slowly petered off and eventually abandoned. Unlike some friends and almost friends that also blog who manage to keep one single blog going, every time I return is more starting over, new name, new fonts, a fresh face that follows the same pattern. I’m not committing to anything this time around (even though I paid for WordPress again), but with everything going on in the world and my personal life I still feel that itch to get my voice down on paper or through the keyboard.

I have noticed that the blogs I enjoy reading the most have a more or less coherent theme, whether it be about books, long form essays, or horses. For myself, there’s two main things I want to write about; I have my own horse now (for the first time!), so there’s a ton to explore and keep track of and learn there. But, back to the whole “state of the world” thing, I want to toss my voice into the void about such fundamental things as the state of our democracy, the world I want my son to grow up and become an adult in, and where my life and choices fit into that larger (and undeniably privileged) framework. Plus random other things like book reviews, fumbling attempts at cooking, navigating home ownership, setting up my rig for horse camping…things I want to share without FB owning and playing corporate games with my stuff. Sounds like two totally separate blogs right?

Being only one busy lady and based on my past attempts, keeping up blogging is an uphill battle between my time, my desires and everyone in my life I jiggle around, so we’ll see how this one goes.

Pretty horse photo cause blogs without photos aren’t as fun usually

To start with the second topic (since I’m travelling for work and stuck in conference rooms 700 miles from my horse), my boss and I grabbed dinner after an 11 hour day for both of us. I support my company’s EHS team, which is heading our response to the corona-virus outbreak (we have customers and therefore employees supporting those customers in Wuhan), so that’s led to long days with no signs of slowing for my team. My boss tossed me into the daily meeting with folks whose titles are no less than two to three levels above mine for, quote, “Being the most reliable and up to date on this stuff.” His confidence helps mine, but man can it get rough!

Decompressing at Claim Jumpers over bourbon and a mock-tail, respectively, we touched on such light, work appropriate topics as our families genetic history, career plans and trajectories, and of course politics…but not about the current impeachment clusterfuck or specific policies.

My high school boyfriend had a karate teacher who was friends with an akido instructor who had a huge influence on how I deconstruct arguments and what points I dig for in such discussions. Even as a teenager I picked up not to go after the fluff of things or get overly sidetracked by tangents, but to dig until the root cause or point was found. Debating with him over email on such topics as religion and politics helped immensely, and I remain grateful for those conversations to this day.

Not to say I didn’t go through the typical teenage and young adult growing periods of false logic, grasping at straws and taking uninformed or ill-informed stands, but we all have to go through that so I try not to beat up myself too much for those much more idealistic days.

Last night with my boss, I wasn’t going after the fluff-my questions (in part informed by this recent series by ‘The New Yorker’), were along the lines of “Can a true, fundamentally fair democracy thrive with a capitalist economy?”, “How do we move on from a two party system?”, “How do we teach our kids to debate and disagree without hating the other person or group?” The point wasn’t to stump each other or argue for one side or the other, but to inch towards that last point; disagreeing without relegating the other side as a bad person.

I’m about to board my flight home (woot!) So more on this vein later!

View from the ground

Life has tossed a few loops at me this summer, from Kade's second broken arm, job loss and Tom hopping back and forth to Phoenix, not to mention the unreasonable heat and wildfire smoke hanging over everything. I'm writing this on my friend's living room, PNER Green Bean mug full of coffee in one hand, kid playing on his iPad and stuffing his face full of bagels and remarking on the ducks once again taunting the dogs.

I picked up blogging (again!) as a way to remain somewhat publicly accountable for my new exercise plan. Since my last post I've only put in two solid bike rides, although I've been working out a different way; horse back riding, schooling horses in the ring, on my feet or in the saddle a good chunk of the day.

I have so many horse people I look up to, from the newly Tevis buckled Jala Neufeld to my old Fjord and Dales farm owner Marcy Baer, still going strong in Vermont. I have long held an educational view, accepting I will never know everything about horses, but by golly I'll spend a lifetime trying. Due to this I always look around the horse world from a learner's mindset, hoovering up everything and filing things away for later. I rarely toss anything out as complete hogwash, always mindful of the
occasionally huge leaps between disciplines.

There are a few basic things I hold to as someone whose goal is to be called 'horsewoman', mainly being mindful of the horse's point of view in what we ask them to do; letting predators on their backs, trailering to strange places, tolerating everything we toss at them, and always trying to keep their comfort levels in their terms in mind.
So for someone who still and always views themselves as a learner, it's taken some doing to gracefully accept that in a small way, I do have some wisdom and knowledge to share.
(I swear this isn't a humble brag post, stick with me!)

Since my day job was cut, I've been spending the bulk of my days helping a friend with her still relatively new boarding facility up in Washington. And by helping I mean giving lessons, evaluating horses, and giving horses some tune ups. Me, giving lessons! Helping other people not only be better riders, but figure out how to enjoy their horses more.
Despite the heat, long hours on my feet, a general weird feeling to be teaching people *cough* mildly older than myself, and a weird case of what was probably pink eye…. I've loved every moment of it, of watching concepts click in someone's mind or seat, of hearing owners gush over how much calmer their horse is. Even Tom has seen how much calmer and happier and flat out excited I am, and is fully supportive of trying to make this training concept work, however we can.

I've been in full on research mode the past few weeks, reading and plotting and mulling ideas about *gulp* setting up an actual horse business. I have already identified my niche- kids and reriders or older new riders, people who want to work on themselves and making their lives with their horses easier and more enjoyable. I know where my gaps are as a rider and horse person, which is why I'm as dedicated to learning as ever. I still have big goals for myself (Tevis 2020 anyone?) but this doesn't discount what I do know.

Part of this post was to finally process how I feel about the whole experience (weird! Excited! Happy!) but also toss my little shingle into the wide ring of horse people in the Pacific Northwest. If you find yourself looking for lessons or boarding near Olympia Washington, give T and A Ranch a look. It's the facility I would build given the time and inclination, and it's a fantastic place to learn to ride or keep working on things 🙂

See ya on the trail!

Dig for options

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Back in college, we used to play many a game to fill the long, winter dark, New England howling snow blizzard nights, willingly trapped in the middle of beautiful Nowhere, Vermont. One of our favorites was the zombie game, which took on many permutations and made up rules and scaring me witless in some dark, utterly creepy basement.
At the time I was newly Wilderness First Responder certified and creepy zombies in dark basements withstanding, thought I could handle anything tolerably well emergency wise. I was, after all, at a college that grew a good chunk of our own food, with the emphasis on infrastructure which could withstand petty things like power outages, of which we had our fair share on the worst days. We milked cows with our hands, broke iced over troughs with sledge hammers, kept our axes sharp and useful, pulled firewood out of the woodlot with draft horses and oxen. My WFR class covered the bare basics of everything from scene safety to stabilizing an impaled patient for a five mile evac over rough terrain. Bring it on, world.
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Today I’m a bottom of the rung office peon struggling to loose weight and get fit for two main reasons, tackle the laundry monster, and keep the daily tally of self-inflicted injuries on my five year old to a minimum (this was a rough weekend, walls run into, a nice bee sting, a new tooth coming in which hurts to tears, copious amounts of pool water swallowed, plus a Nerf gun to the eye).
Who would you turn to when the world goes to shit? Who would you expect to know what to do, where to start in the event of being evacuated for a flood, wildfire, respond to a car accident? When my son’s school does a unit on work and the kid’s response is “All my mommy does is shuffle paperwork and use the computer all day!”, what the hell kind of answer is that?
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A few years ago, I had enough encouragement, help, and wild hope to go back to school. I bombed the community college placement test in math so badly, I was relegated to Math 65, the college equivalent of “You know nothin’, Jon Snow!” Through a combination of self defeatism and floundering, I squeaked a miserable D out of that class.
To even apply for the paramedic program at PCC requires passing Math 95 with a C or better. That’s not to mention being able to figure out ratios of drugs to give to different patients under pressure, among everything else. So I gave up on that and moved on with other things.
Now I’m three years into office life and gaining steam on the mid-life, loosing my marbles crisis that I’d hoped to hold off, oh, until Kade graduated high school. It’s not enough for me, despite years of trying, to just bring home a paycheck, to keep the two areas of my life separated. I need work that matters, in some form or another, beyond the almighty dollar. When your own parents accuse you of being selfish, it tends to drive you either to bitter acceptance or overcompensation. But it’s hard to wiggle in decent volunteering time between said job, commute, bills, laundry, and trying desperately not to miss the best years of Kade’s life to said rat race.
For the straw that started panicking this poor camel of my life, my child care costs are going to double this fall when Kade’s in kindergarten. Oh, school is ‘free’, but it’s only 815-230 every day. Minus 28 days off of school for various things, plus, oh, summer! The plain fact is, I can’t afford good care for my son at my current salary, so something has to give.
Now it’s time to dip my toes into the possibility of more school, for something along the lines of paramedic or vet tech or something overall useful. I just have to fight with the math, not just to pass a test but to really grasp it, which I haven’t been doing since about middle school.
Or I could go be a hermit. That sounds fun to. I bet they don’t have to worry about intermediate algebra…
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It’s always something

I wasn’t quite sure where to start this post, or more like journal entry, but stream of consciousness has usually been my go to, so here goes…
  

 
This week I turned 27, which compared to most of my coworkers leaves me the baby of the office. And yet I don’t feel like a kid, or even a young adult really. I don’t concert or bar hop or look for the perfect Instagram shoot; I drag my boyfriend through Ikea & worry about my kid’s insurance so he can be seen at the hospital I grew up at (last year it took four nurses to hold him down & draw blood for a lead screening, hopefully we can trim that down to one for his shots this year!)
   
More & more lately, with that teasing, bright south wind blowing & reaching corners of myself I’ve let lay in the winter dark, I’ve been considering my career. If you had cause to glance at my cubicle, you could surmise I’m here for the long haul, plants lovingly set up, a snazzy standing desk, pictures & cards & receipts from adventures outside these basic blue walls. I’ve been promoted & managed to find a bit of a niche here, trying to get myself comfortable with fully employer covered health insurance & utterly reliable hours. As much as anyone has these days, baring the normal life disrupters, I could stay fairly secure at this company for the 20+ years over half the company has been here for, inching my way up some ladder or other.
   
One of the issues that came up with the recent counseling with my parents (yeah, like just saying that out loud doesn’t totally bite ass) was that I don’t want to make the same choices my mother made. She turned away from horses & into corporate life for all her various reasons, spending her life within four walls & weekends hiking with her fluffy huskies. Such is where I’m at now, & the circumstances & choices that led me here, barring one or two, were pretty solid, & all based on getting myself to a place where I could support Kade without panicking about the rent money every month.

  
 
This weekend I’m heading to my first endurance ride in almost two years, & it’s fairly likely I won’t be riding at this point, seeing as how I haven’t been able to ride for months & I’m bringing the kid along to get out of the city for a while. I’ll be surrounded by one of my favorite groups of people, endurance riders (I will be bringing my helmet along, because it’s nearly impossible to go to a ride & not ride, even if it’s just a quick spin around camp, that’s how awesome these people are!) Most of these people (read: 99%) are a decade or more older than me, & made choices & decisions to fight & sweat for lives that allow them horses & three day weekends to come put miles under hooves in beautiful country.
 

  
So I look at my cubicle, commute filled, fighting to lose weight life & ponder how to get from point a to point b, considering such things as soccer camps, school schedules, always bills, & the ever so patient but far more concerned about security boyfriend. This also speaks to the balance between my wants-horses every day or at least a lot more often, not living in a cubicle, doing good work instead of just work; & the more practical needs, like a roof over our heads & not being driven crazy & snappy by stress.
I’ve toyed for several years with the thought of pursing a farrier business, but such requires me to live without or with a tiny income for years while I train, learn, & build a business, not something we’re set up for currently. A newer idea is vet tech, but I’d like to shadow or at least have coffee with one before making that kind of jump.
But for now its time to put these thoughts on hold again, to load up the Emerald Queen for her first road trip through the Gorge and up on the plateau!