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Monday, October 24, 2011

The truth, without guilt

Honesty is the policy right?

This is me being totally honest. 

I haven't done any riding

I haven't done any mounting exercises

I haven't done any pony cuddling

I paid my sister to pick up manure for me last week.

I pay someone else to feed.

I paid someone else to come up with a solution to keep Farley from killing a tree that's in her pasture.

It's been a week since I saw my horse from a distance of closer than 50 feet.

It's been a week since I touched my horse. 

The truth is that I have been having a hard time taking care of myself.  The problem isn't time, or ability, or motivation. 

I thought that I had handled the transition from being single-my-time-and-money-is-my-own to most-definitely-committed rather well.  From a salaried part of the work force to a full time graduate student.  From no commute to a 1 hour 10 minute commute.  From a full time endurance rider, to an endurance rider of uncertain status. 

But the truth is that I have a lot of mental housekeeping and clean up to do. 

It's nothing new, but it's been exacerbated by the major changes.......

So, I wiped the slate clean.  Obviously my mental and physical health comes first, and while ponies and blogging are important to that mental health....there are some more basic needs that need to be cemented first.

You could call them my "foundations".  (remember how much I love foundation work?).

My foundation work is based in running.  Recently I was formally diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder.  Medication, which I tried, is not an option.  Running is the ONLY activity, besides sleeping, that my brain turns off.  Thus, when I realized I having a lot of trouble focusing in school and following through, as well as a very low frusteration threshold with Tess, I asked the question - how good is my foundation?  Where did my running go?  Why can't I manage this disorder as successfully now as I have in the past? 

The answer was it had somehow the most important foundation in my life, running and physical exercise, had disappeared in my life transitions. 

For the last 2 weeks I have focused on my physical well-being - specifically running.  With regular exercise, other parts of my foundation have clicked into place - nutrition, sleep, other physical activities and there has been a dramatic difference in my tolerance towards puppy behavior and significant others, and my focus in school.

With running now consistently a habit (the 'ole 14 day rule), I'm ready to add back the pony piece to my little "Mel's sanity pyramid".

Just like when I added the running piece - it doesn't matter WHAT I do as long as I do it and reestablish the habit of ponies.  Here's my plan.  Pony days (defined as any day I get out of school before 3pm) will include a ride.  A ride is defined as getting on Farley's back and actually exiting the gate on my parent's property.  Riding in any form seems to be the foundation piece of my pony time - so I fully expect that my mounting exercises and hoof care will fall into place when my riding does.  Just like my other "physical care" activities fell into place once I was regularly running. 

As usual, I will continue to blog the journey and continue to relate with honesty my endurance journey.  Blogging is important - feeling guilty because I've put ponies on hold for a relatively short time is unnecessary and not helpful.  So, I'm resisting the urge to fill the blog with contorted tales of woe and guilt.  I know what the issue is.  I know how to "fix" it.  I'm doing my best to do so.  I write of these struggles not to garner sympathy - but to share a very real part of my endurance journey -  Balancing my endurance riding with the other needs in my life, including the need to keep myself healthy and sane. 

I know that the stages of my endurance "journey" are not unique and it is my hope that by "keepin' it real" here at Boots and Saddles, inspires and comforts those readers and friends that are going through similar "valley". 

I'll see you at the top!  :)


  1. More than anything else, it's good to have a list of "fixes" that you can return to when your (mental or actual) sky goes dark. For me, as for many of us, the #1 fix is to hang out with the pony. Riding is, of course, ideal...but sometimes that's not possible. So it's good to have a backup plan.

    During times of big change and stress (and I'm pretty sure we can toss your current situation into that heap) it's sometimes good to have a "first-aid kit" handy to patch your mind and soul together temporarily until you can take care of some of the big fixes. For you, that kit should definitely contain a pair of running shoes (have you considered throwing an extra pair in the car for an "emergency" run around campus? Also consider: a small supply of "comfort food", a paperbook book that you've read before and enjoyed, a t-shirt you got as a completion prize at a ride, a CD of great fiddle music, a packet of photographs that will make you smile, or even a comic book (I'm fond of the old "Far Side" cartoons, myself).

    Keep your self-designed kit in your vehicle, and give yourself permission to dive into it whenever you need a little extra support from yourself. You would do this for Tess or Farley, so you should absolutely do it for yourself!

  2. Having an official "first-aid" kit for my "dark sky days" is a GREAT idea. I think I'm actually going to put together one. Actually 2 - one for the house, one for the car. It will go in a plastic container, taped shut with the instructions that it is to be opened "ICE". LOL - I LOVE it. Here's my list so far - and when I'm done I think I'll blog a picture - since we all know that the kit will be HIGHLY horse oriented.

    My home ICE kit: (minor variations for the car one....)
    1. New running socks (nothing is more motivating....) and an extra pair of running shoes in the car kit.
    2. Copy of the black stallion
    3. Picture of my first solo backpacking trip, fav pic of Minx, fav pic of Farley, fav pic of Tess.
    4. 2 tea bags (an herbal and a black decaf)
    5. The coffee mug I got at my first 50 completion with Minx.
    6. DVD of national velvet
    7. Some sort of goodie - one of those mini bottles of red wine, or dark chocolate, or one of those fabulous nut mixes from trader joes (seseme honey almond is my fav), popcorn. Maybe mentos.
    8. A brand new, shiny, blank notebook with colored gel pens or colored pencils.

    LOVE this idea - thanks AareneX

    Any other ideas of what should go in the kit? Does anyone else have an ICE kit for a mood lifter?

  3. Go girl. Do your best. Take of yourself. Live.


  4. Seeing this post yesterday, plus reading about the ghetto weight set, totally got me out to Home Depot and putting my weights together today. Thanks :)

  5. ghetto weight set???? Do tell!

  6. I am also the someone else who feeds your horse apples and steals her affections :)


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