dog walk in the snow

dog walk in the snow

I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon. I’ve had nine days off from work and am trying not to ruin the one remaining day by thinking about going back to work tomorrow.

Late this morning, Steve and I did our run to church, Costco (creating a lunch out of free samples) and the Avant Garden coffee shop for coffee and a scone. I’m now finishing up the remaining coffee at my desk before Steve and I head out for a winter walk with the dogs.

dog walk in the snow

It’s getting to that end of year time when we start to think about another year gone by. We wonder what next year will be like and what we want it to be like. What do we need to do or change to make next year better than this year?

dog walk in the woods

But I don’t know, 2015 was pretty good.

Steve and I had fun with our first overnight bike touring experience last June. I want to do it again in 2016, only maybe a two night stay, or I could see doing an even longer trip if we could find dog care and figure out a route that we and our non-touring bikes could handle.

bike tour


The train trip to Oregon we took in late September-early October and the time we spent exploring that state was amazing! It may be awhile before we can take another trip that grand.

Mt Hood

Another year!

2015 was an expensive year for me with surgery on Luke’s eye and all the followup medications and doctor appointments. Luke’s doing very well but it will take me awhile to recuperate financially from that experience.

But still, it’s been interesting the changes that have come about because of the demands of Luke’s care.

I was getting really sour on the whole horse thing. I missed the friends I used to ride with and the trail rides we went on. Riding had turned to drudgery and loneliness rather than enjoyment, so I was only going out to the barn two to four times a month. I was thinking about trying to find another home for Luke and focus my life on other things.

But suddenly, I had to go to the barn almost every day to check on Luke. Once Luke was feeling okay, I wasn’t going to the barn every day, but I was still going there three to four times a week to keep tabs on him and to ride.

horseback riding

Somehow, the time I spent with Luke reminded me what horses (especially this horse) have meant to me. No one at the new barn we’re at has become my “riding buddy,” but I rarely ride alone. The enjoyment of being around horses and horse people is gradually coming back for me. And once again, I plan to conquer my fear of backing up my trailer so I can go trail riding (even if it’s by myself) during trail riding season. I know I’ve had this plan before, but something inside me says that next year, I’ll follow through.

Because I’ve had a reminder that things happen. Live now.

Don’t put those dog walks and coffee with friends off until tomorrow or next month — when you’ll have time. You’ll NEVER feel like you have enough time. But, really, you do.

dog walk in snow

You make time for what’s important.

I’ve been busy writing a couple hours a day, which is why I took a week off from work, to build up a good head of steam. I resisted the urge to put in more daily writing time, as I just wanted to get a rhythm going and avoid stressing and burning out.

I’m close to having a full rough draft put together. About the only thing I’m not sure of is how to end the story. But for now, I just need to get it together good enough to apply for a manuscript workshop that is only accepting four people. My application has to be in by January 11th. I should have a decent outline and goals put together by then plus a couple chapter samples to mail in.

If I don’t get into the workshop, that’s okay as I’ll have that draft pulled together and I’ll look for another way of working on the revision.  But being a part of that workshop for five months would be super helpful.

I think this is the first year that I’ve ended with a feeling that I did a lot of what I wanted to do in the past year. I don’t think that’s because I was more productive this year. In fact, I think it’s because I was less productive and took more time for having fun.

dog walk in the snow

It finally snowed here!

dog walk in the snow

fat biking

dog by branch of Mississippi River

dog by branch of Mississippi River

First of all, thanks to everyone for their comments on my last blog post.

As difficult as it’s been lately to see disturbing beliefs and opinions come out on high-emotion topics, it has also brought out some voices speaking with reason, care and concern.

I’ve seen people who are generally quiet, who like to observe and study something before they voice their opinion, becoming restless.

I see such people still taking it all in, still listening, still reading everything they can get their hands on, but they aren’t waiting until they have the whole thing figured out before they say what they are thinking or take some sort of action.

There have always been people in our midst working quietly behind the scenes delivering for Meals on Wheels, tutoring kids who are having trouble at school, sitting with their friend during chemo, cooking and serving up food for those in need  and so on. They are the heroes that no one hears about.

I have this picture in my mind of a movement that happens without fanfare or gimmicky calls for attention. Where people simply do what needs to be done by being conscious in their consumption of energy, products, and media; by being informed and participating in the political process; and by doing what they can to give those who need it a “leg up.”

I used to work at a stable leading trail rides where we used English saddles. I literally had to give people a leg up by cupping my hands and having them use me as a mounting block so I could give them a lift up into the saddle. This meant getting my hands dirty and some people were hesitant to allow me to help them.

But I’ve never had another job that I enjoyed so much. I was able to help people up onto the horse and give them a quick balancing and steering lesson. Because an English saddle has no horn to hang onto for balance, my advice before hitting the trail was always to grab the horse’s mane when they felt unsteady. Thank goodness all the horses had thick, shaggy manes!

During the ride, I felt so happy to be able to share the experience of riding that I loved so much. And from the laughter that always came on such rides, I believe the riders were able to share in that same sense of accomplishment and enjoyment that comes from being outdoors and connecting with an animal.

That kind of “leg up” action and the connection it brings to our shared humanity, rather than how we differ, is what I wish more people understood and looked for.

It does feel good to work together.

trail riding on horseback

fat tire biking on trail

bridge across river

I’ve come to rely on my GPS to get to my destination. It’s a safer way to navigate than the paper maps I used to use — looking down at the map, up at the road, down at the map — all the while losing my place amongst the list of turns.

When I would miss a turn, first I’d swear a lot, then hysterical call someone, expecting them to gather immediately where I was and be able to get me back on track.

Now I pull out my GPS, plug in an address and follow the route the electronic voice calls out to me. But sometimes the directive to “Take exit 35C” cannot be followed because the exit is blocked and some orange detour sign is telling me to keep going straight.

Those signs don’t tell me how much farther I’ll need to go to get back to my original route, if that’s even where they’re going to take me. And when I drive too long in one direction without seeing another detour sign, I wonder if I missed it and should turn around. I don’t have any idea where I am and just drive on blind faith that I’ll eventually find my way. What other choice do I have?

And the whole time I’m following the detour, the GPS keeps bellowing out directives to get me back to my original course because it’s unaware that such a route no longer exists.

I spent a great deal of the summer thinking about what I want more of in my life and what I want less of. From that, I was setting priorities on how I would spend my time and making sure I created enough space for the things that really matter to me. I was also working on a financial plan to pay down my mortgage and put more money away for my retirement.

Then Luke put his face in a bur bush. This has meant four vet visits, eye surgery, many tubes of eye antibiotic ointment and Banamine (horsey aspirin), switching from pasture to stall board and daily trips to the barn.

It appears my route has changed — both financially and in how I spend my time.

fat tire biking on trail

My initial reaction was to say that all that work on naming my priorities and looking for ways to live according to my values was pointless.

  • I haven’t written for weeks and I’m not sure when I’ll find time to write again (although I did eek out time for this post).
  • And I’ve gone from working on skills for the job I’d hoped to move towards (which would mean lower pay but more job satisfaction) to working on skills to up my value in the job I’m already in because it looks like I’ll be there much longer than I’d planned.

After having an internal (and sometimes external) tantrum over what, in my tantruming mind, is “unfair,” I am searching for what can be salvaged. In other words, can I find the gift in this?

I know, being Pollyanna is not like me. I’d rather rant.

But this hasn’t been all bad.

The lesson is this: caring trumps expertise. I have a tendency to pull back and trust other people’s knowledge, experience, opinions, and actions over my own. I’m afraid to say what I think or what I want because, in my mind, I don’t have the right. Because everyone is smarter than I am.

And then, totally unrelated to this situation, I started taking a course in Negotiation because I have some things I need to negotiate at work. And I got something unexpected out of the lecture videos…

You need to identify the pie.

The pie is what you are splitting up with someone else. What do you want? What is at stake?

fat bike


I’ve never been very clear about what I want. I rarely believe I have the right to “want” anything.

  • Wanting is selfish.
  • Wanting is thinking I’m more important than someone else.
  • Wanting leads to someone saying “No.”

You repeat those messages enough and it becomes very difficult to even allow yourself to think about or recognize what you want.

And you know what? That is really annoying to the people around you. No one likes a martyr or being forced to guess what someone else wants.

I’ve had to say what I want done with my horse. Yes, that means paying for it but that’s better than letting other people decide what’s necessary. It also means taking more responsibility for the outcome because I have asked for what I want. If I end up not being happy with what I get, I can’t blame someone else for the results, like I can if they have to guess or make decisions for me.

I still don’t know where this detour is taking me. And I don’t know if my rambling is making any sense to anyone but me. But I’m not feeling as lost today as I was yesterday or the day before that.

I expect that I won’t come out on the exact road I had planned on taking, but I’m learning a new way to travel.

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