Namesake

Lately it feels as if I’m paralleling my namesake, Jamethiel, more than ever, in terms of the level of crazy this year has held.

(For those who don’t know, I’m named for the main character in a beautiful, convoluted, complicated, epic fantasy series The Chronicles of the Kencyrath. The author makes George RR Martin seem a speed writer; my mother first picked up the series as a young girl, and now that I’m raising my son the series still isn’t finished).

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Life is unusually charmed; husband newly hitched, house pretty much ours (signing all the things next week!), a job that suits me pay and temperament wise, steady riding and weight creeping off, no broken bones on the kid yet this year. I’m not yet 30, and in the space of a season I’ve hit a ton of the major life milestones. Marriage, house, career job…I’ve already covered the kid part, though I need to rededicated myself to the raising v. keeping alive and in clean clothes mode we’ve been in as the school year draws to a close.

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But as my namesake does, I must test things, push and prod and question the limits. It’s not a wonder then, that I’ve embraced, made my internal peace and found a smart direction for that testing part of my nature. As I’ve settled ever more seriously into the domestic bliss or at least settled happiness life I’m carving out with my boys, I seek just a piece of release and fun and crazy, those questing things I gave up for Kade when most of my peers were out doing the weird, the stupid or the ill advised.

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That I’m juggling both at once-settled happiness and pushing the details-perhaps suits me more than it should. There are the inevitable doubts, fears, questions and cautions, but so long as I embrace the fun and not the rest of it, I should hope it provides the stress relief I seek, not the drama or complications.

I’m referring, of course, to endurance riding. (You thought I meant gambling or skydiving or something didn’t you?) This was supposed to be my year for my first 50 mile ride; I’ve paid dues to both PNER & AERC; I’ve ridden at least four times a month since January. I’ve got my camping and riding gear organized to the nines, and can toss stuff in the truck and be ready to take off in a half hour flat, kid and dog included!

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Between the new job being temp to hire (no paid vacation time) and buying the house, both my ability to take Friday’s off and the funds for rides has evaporated. My focus is shifting; from endurance as a “get it done now!” activity to horse riding as stress relief, at least until next season. Moving, painting, setting up a pantry,  epoxy for the garage floor, dog door, cleaning out the rental, all the other little projects to make this house into our house will take any spare cent and mental space for the immediate future.

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This is both a little disappointing and also freeing, as was my earlier revelation that horse camping without the endurance ride part is relaxing. Endurance is about miles, yes, but also the details, from tack fit to how many miles to training gaps. Now that my day job and personal life is jam packed and an actual endurance season is off the table, I have more time to use those detail oriented skills on setting myself up better for endurance, rather than “just” chugging through conditioning miles.

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I can focus on riding a good horse, relaxing either in a group of friends or just me, the horse and the dog. I’m building a solid relationship with Ray, who pushes me just enough to be a better rider, while leaving me happy when I’ve put him up with an extra treat for his efforts.  There will always be tack fit, gear and other things to futz with. There’s also other things I can try closer to home, like cattle sorting or Competitive Mounted Orienteering, wine or poker rides.

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“An hour spent in the saddle is never wasted.”

 

Joy

I write this with joy in my heart. A tired joy, comfortable and welcome. I set everything aside yesterday and played hooky from work (using up leave time) to spend the day sans phone and any responsibilities with my son.

I can get too caught up in my goals, keeping the house clean, walking the dog, paying bills and all the rest of it and forget to enjoy the whip smart, silly kid I’m raising. I know a good chunk of the rest of the world can’t just turn things off for a day, but I can only live my life.

We spent the day in our swim gear at the Winds N Waves Waterpark, and it was quite simply one of our best days in a long stretch, and badly needed. We swam in the vortex pool, flew yelling down the water slides and relaxed in the crowded hot tub. Never once did I have to raise my voice or an eyebrow; we just hung out and enjoyed each other, only giggles, no cross words or chores.

On the drive home we were both quiet, sipping our Dutch Bros drinks and trying not to fall asleep. I was happy, and so was Kade. I was happy, without reservation or worry or anxiety.

I hadn’t realized how big the weight I’d been carrying as a result of my job in the psychiatric hospital has been. Now that I’m leaving, I can finally take a deep breath. Not only have I turned in my two weeks notice, but the job I’m going to is a complete 180 from the hospital. I’m supporting my old boss and doing the work I’m discovering I’m best at, logistics and organizing and making things smooth and straight forward. It’s a relief to be working for someone who thinks I kick ass, instead of those who hate the change I bring.

Joy is also tasty homemade food with best friends, hitting up the nickel arcade and super tasty ice cream to announce and celebrate our upcoming elopement.

Life is rainy but good!

Stressed Out

Today’s post is brought to you by the six year old’s current favorite song, “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots. He informed me of this as we drove home from our favorite burger place, Mike’s in Oregon City, all the windows and sun roof open to the mostly smoke free, blessedly cool night air, singing at the top of our lungs to the dusky sky.

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

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It’s been a stressful first week; trying to find a routine to settle back into, our backyard of the beautiful Columbia River Gorge is on fire, ash is falling from the sky,  Tom’s work is going through changes, and I started with a new department to discover a bombshell; the manager who hired me is out for a month long FMLA leave, with three days of training! I had a few more interviews and still no bites outside of OHSU, so looks like I’m settling in for a few more months at least, at which point something’s gotta give.

But it would remind us of when nothing really mattered
Out of student loans and tree-house homes we all would take the latter

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So many others have written about the very real grief about the fire in the Gorge; all I could do is echo them. I’ve had the privilege to have worked, travelled through, camped, hiked, and photographed that beautiful, carefully protected area for half my life. Kade’s been visiting there most of his young life, including several hikes, even the haul up to the top of Multnomah Falls! He’ll never quite remember it’s full glory, but we’ll help with the efforts to restore it to health.

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What more needs to be said at this point, while the fire still burns and we wait to see if some teenager’s lives will be upended by their stupid choices and the actual witch hunt out for (unreasonable) blood? We can mourn the loss of such of treasures, the tragedy of such choices and their impact without ruining lives. We can take time, a pause to reflect on what the actual best course is from here, not howl our anger at the universe.

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A good caramel milkshake and a dance party at full volume with the kid helped set things to rights, and there is at least one thing to look forward to: A dog! The landlord approved us to adopt a boxer, so now we’ve just got to scrub and rearrange every corner of the house, tell an uncomprehending Wilson a thousand times he’s not an only pet anymore, purchase a bunch of stuff and wait for the right dog for us to be found. So if anyone has some dog gear I could snag for cheap, let us know, it’d be a huge help!

We used to play pretend, give each other different names
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away

 

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Yesterday

The song I’m turning to most recently to keep my spirits up is “Yesterday”, from Imagine Dragons. It has just the right combo of upbeat musicals and slightly somber vocals that matches where I am about now.

Here’s to my future

Here’s to my yesterday

Here’s to change

Oh, here’s to my yesterday

No tomorrow without a yesterday

Here’s to my future

Goodbye to yesterday

I’ve had close to twenty interviews for various administrative positions in the last few months, and exactly zero offers. My cover letter and resume are impressive enough to get into the room, but not enough to reach the final offer. As one can imagine, it sucks large to know I can do a kick-ass job, but not be able to convince people of that.

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On the other hand, training is picking up. I spent a weekend in heaven, riding no less than four different horses, and working with riders and their horses in six different riding lessons. I spent two full days on horseback or in the barn, helping horses or their riders with various issues, strength building, saddle fit, and helping people be more comfortable with their horses. I found a better bit for a young mustang; reminded a beautiful palomino that standing is preferable to being bugged about moving; saw a smile bloom on a rider who finally found a comfortable trot out of his large Quarter Horse gelding.

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I made a joke to Tom that clearly, the universe is trying to tell me something…but we all know how unreliable the universe can be. Building a business is hard, let alone a horse based business, in these times when fewer and fewer have the money and time for such a money and time intensive animal. Pesky adult things like insurance, regular non-equine bills, and a child starting up with sports and swim lessons and whatever else he’ll grow to be interested in to find money for also need to be accounted for.

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I have a decent base to start from, however. A supportive partner with a solid, decent job; a happy go lucky kid; a lifetime of experience with varied horse pursuits and training philosophies, from Pony Club to working draft horses to kid’s camps. I have a good handle on my own strengths and holes as a rider and horse person (don’t ask me much about nutrition, ask a vet!) I have a much better sense of business, of organization, of customer relations than fresh faced college me ever could.

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The path forward isn’t clear, and rejections sting, but I’ll keep plugging along at it until something gives. A steady paycheck has something to be said for it, although being home to send Kade off to school and pick him up is a large draw for me right now, just being available when he needs us. I have the feeling first grade is going to be a bit tougher than kindergarten was for the short blonde dude, so I’m really hoping/planning for the time we can bring a dog home to give him a friend, a playmate, a warm shoulder to lean on when the parents just can’t understand. Wilson is a very good cat, but he’s still a cat, and I’m a firm believer in the right kid/dog combo. Plus, it’s hard to sleep in or give into laziness with a talkative dog that really needed a walk an hour ago singing in your ear at 5am…though it’ll be interesting to see if “dog needing to pee” or “cat DEMANDING to be fed NOW” wakes us up first!

 

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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!

Shifting skies


Scene set: I’m typing this up on my ‘new’ phone, which in reality is Tom’s old phone, but it’s an iPhone 6 so its one of the newest pieces I’ve had since…my parents were buying my technology probably. I’m at the MAX (Portland’s light rail) station accross from whete my mom now works, under looming grey skies waiting for the train to take me home. 


Plan: Finish this post on the train; finish the drive home in the Emerald Queen (who is in desperate need of a quality detailing), change into workout clothes and put in my second run in months, in my pursuit of my new goal: to ride (to hopefully complete!) a 50 mile endurance ride in 2017. I haven’t even picked a ride yet, but I know it’s the most motivation I have to trick me towards my ultimate goal: regaining the strength & weight of my college days. Or at least much closer than the rounded, easily winded, cubicle dwelling not fit for much beyond a nice Netflix binge version of Jame I currently am. 


Obstacles: The hot water heater is broken (or the breaker is broken) but I have no hot water at home. The piled up dirty dishes will have to be handled the old fashioned way: via boiling water on the stove. How pioneer! It also means hot showers are available at Tom’s sisters house, who thankfully lived three blocks away, but who has a shower which eats Jame’s and makes her fall down and jam her finger. As one does.

Also, all those other things like being a working mother (which carries with it the stress load of work and commute and budgets and mommy guilt), plus I am fatter and slower and the couch is comfy and the boyfriend makes hella good food and I haaaaaate running…but it’s the cheapest way to get fit quickly that I’ve seen, self paced wise.


All I need is a few sets of comfy workout clothes, some decent shoes, my Iphone and an armband and headphones (all of which I have, minus the armband which those nice folks at Amazon are sending me now).


The obstacles which have (mostly) been removed are my prior goals of new house and new job. The house we are mostly settled into (minus minor things like consistant access to hot water) and the job is fantastic, where both my coworkers and my boss are super psyched about me and what I’ve accomplished in my first month. 

Oh, and if I haven’t shouted it across social media enough: TOM IS HOME! 


Bring on the 50, I’ll be ready!….

Now to find a horse…

Chchchchanges…

When other people say it’s been a crazy month, it’s a highly subjective thing. When I say it’s been a crazy month, I mean Tom’s still in Cali (coming home for goodish tomorrow!), we’ve moved to a new house & a new town (well, new to me & the kid if not Tom, seeing as it’s his hometown), Kade started kindergarten, I haven’t talked to my dad at all though I bumped into my mom once, & I finally, after months of searching, multiple resumes & interviews, started a new job! So if my blogging has been worse than usual lately, & my writing just as bad, at least I have a handy multitude of excuses right?
It’s the middle of my fourth week, & yet I can’t stop grinning. I had lunch with a friend who is also now an ex-coworker, & she could see how stupid with happy I am right now. The learning curve has been like hauling myself up Everest, but at risk of sounding like a cliché, this place is much more my speed.


Even though I work in what feels like a basement & I’m usually cold (although that’s better since a new coworker leant me her little desk heater!) & my commute is always over an hour now, my to do list is miles long & intricate & technically I’m a temp for now….those don’t stack up to what I’m doing, or the level of responsibility I’m finally at, or my awesome new coworkers!


Not even a month & I’ve already attended one happy hour, supported the Research Safety Fair, attended one training with three more at bat, collected access to everyone’s calendars, run all over campus, sampled the various eateries, set up a weekly check in meeting with my manager, seen the sunrise each day from the Tram, & my bribes of introducing the candy bowl & daily quotes have been fully accepted. That list isn’t even complete!


Even though I spent three years of my life at another company (I know, hear the millennial talk as if that’s a long time!), other than seeing my friend every day, I haven’t missed it one iota. Nope, no more listening to vicious gossips, no more fighting with the stupid jamming printer, no more clueless (if sweet) boss, no more “We don’t need you for that {basically anything more than paper-pushing}”, no more vastly unpredictable traffic.


The biggest thing I miss is my commute buddy. Kade’s preschool was five minutes from work, half an hour or more from the old apartment, so I had him with me for the majority of my commute, chatting, watching the iPad, cursing at traffic, the whole bit. Now he’s either sleeping on his aunt’s couch (mornings) or tearing around the neighborhood with the other kids (afternoon) as I drive up to Milwaukee, catch the MAX train, walk to the Aerial Tram, catch the sunrise, & finally start making coffee in my office & hunting up a nice daily quote to write on the community white board.


It’s hard in some ways, as much as I love my new job, but we’re both hugely looking forward to having Tom home for good!

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! 

  

Oh, those whiskery muzzles!

On Saturday while driving to the barn to muck stalls & work with horses, I had one of those insights that comes so seldom to me. I’m not an introspective person by nature, but with good parenting, life experience, therapy & writing, I can usually take a gander at what I’m feeling at any given moment.
This thought was triggered by the fact that I’ve “rediscovered” music I used to listen to in college- Big & Rich, Owl City, Modest Mouse, etc. I’m that type of person to listen to a song incessantly for months…& then not for years. So I was listening to Big & Rich on the drive over, & it reminded me that I use to belt out with these same songs years ago, driving to another barn to muck stalls & work horses. The wheel turns & turns again, but certain things follow you. I was a relatively carefree college student with a pretty clear life plan; now I’m a mom & an office peon with wants & needs but a murkier path. But the horses are still there, though I never imagined them quite this way. I don’t own a horse or even have regular riding access right now, but I still get to handle some every week, & I’ve just signed up for a 12 week ground training course to keep learning.
When I became a mother, then a bit later when I “gave up” horses for a while, I was determined not to be a 40 year old re-rider, those girls who grew up horse mad & lost them while they pursued careers & raised children, got married & couldn’t find time or money to fit the horses until near retirement or the kids were in college. I’ve formed good friendships through endurance riding, & now through the local horse rescue. I am working towards taking regular dressage lessons again, time & money permitting.
Even though I don’t own horses, I’m not driving a carriage or working on a draft powered farm, I haven’t lost the horses, & now I’m just about able to start introducing them to Kaeden. He actually came home early from his grandparent’s house to go to the barn with me (though I think that’s more because of the trampoline & mud puddles, but still!) In a year or two he’ll be old enough to take lessons of his own, & we’ll see if this kid has even half the horse fever of his mother!