A new kid in town for the summer…

Meet JP.

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He’s not mine, but he needed a place to spend the summer and I needed a companion for Gypsy while I take Trinity out and about. (Selling Brisa was absolutely the right thing to do for *her*, but I underestimated the impact it would have on Gypsy.) He has a minor health issue – but then, so do I. Maybe we’ll be good for each other (and maybe he can teach me how to ride Western :D).

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I never thought I’d bring a papered Quarter Horse to my little mustang ranch, but I suppose stranger things have happened. 😉 (No offense intended to any QHs or their people. I’m just passionate about mustangs.)

Anyway, he’s a cool horse and I’m looking forward to getting to know him better during the next couple of months. More pictures to come when it’s not raining.

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On ambition, nostalgia, and regret…

The problem with having high ambitions is that falling a little short sometimes feels an awful lot like failure – even when you know you’re on the right path, even when you know it takes so many steps to climb a mountain.

I recently had the chance to reconnect with a group of bloggers I first “met” ten – twelve? – years ago, and while catching up has been wonderful, I’ve noticed that nostalgia can carry whispers of regret, too. Especially when you see people climbing higher, going farther, moving faster than you are.

There are so many things I thought I was going to accomplish by my fortieth birthday – things I’m still working on. (I’ve done plenty of other things I never dreamed I would, too, but the misses still sting.) I was feeling kind of rough and wobbly about it all, wondering if I’ve wasted the past decade or so, and then I spent time with my kids. Conversational time, where we laughed and talked and shared.

I’ve been a mom for seventeen years. During that time I’ve written grants, school policy handbooks, stories, poems, articles, essays, advocacy papers, and a book. I’ve homeschooled. I’ve raised dogs, sold dogs, adopted and tamed mustangs, ridden mustangs, gotten brave, lost my confidence, and started finding courage again. I went to my first (and so far only) horse show and came home with an armful of ribbons (even though I’m not at all competitive). I’ve crop scouted, learned to drive tractors, and started an environmental stewardship program on our farm. I’ve been a freelance editor, a volunteer, and a secretary.

But, really? I’ve mostly just been a mom. I put all my effort into being the best mom I knew how to be, even when it meant setting my own ambitions and goals aside for a while. Motherhood – parenthood – is hard and heartbreaking and hopeful. There are no promotions for motherhood – no awards, certificates, raises, paid vacation, buckles, ribbons, or trophies – but, man, the rewards and benefits are priceless.

Talking to my kids – my brilliant, creative, hilarious, independent teenagers – makes me more proud than anything else I could have been doing with the past seventeen years. And while watching them grow up brings its own bittersweet nostalgia, I am so looking forward to seeing where the future takes them – and me.

The view from my “office” today…

Spring season has (finally) started around here.

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That’s my kid in there.

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And my other kid, riding with her dad.

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The old red barn has a bit of a lean…

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And now I’ve got to get back to my pre-plant scouting reports. (If anyone knows how to get rid of sticky weed* in a hay pasture, let me know…)

*I’ll look up the scientific name when I’m in the real office. 😛

Recovery and resurrection

Two months ago, I got sick. I assumed it was a reaction to something I ate or drank in Mexico (though I was very, very careful) and figured it would eventually work its way out of my system. Unfortunately, it overwhelmed my system instead, and I ended up bouncing from the clinic to urgent care to the emergency room and back (several times).

And, after weeks of tests and drugs and misery, I was finally told I had a virus and I just needed to wait another couple of months for my body to heal.

I lost over ten pounds in six weeks (and, since I’ve always had a small frame anyway, that  made me feel even worse…), but I’m on a tightly restricted diet (no gluten, no sugar, no caffeine, no eggs, no dairy – other than yogurt – and very little red meat) so I’ve had to put more thought and effort into the food I do eat than I ever have before. It’s frustrating and discouraging, but I am slowly starting to feel better. My weight has stabilized, and now I just need to work on recovering my strength and stamina as I regain what I lost.

But, oh, have I struggled. I’m an active person with no patience for forced rest. I couldn’t ride my horses, couldn’t keep up with my kids’ activities, couldn’t clean the house or participate in the half-dozen community activities I was asked to help with. I was stuck in survival mode for months and it felt miserable.

This is the season for new life, though. For waking up, growing, blooming. I’ve been soaking up the sunshine, spending as much time as I can outside. I’ve started riding again (I’m like a noodle in the saddle, so I’m sticking with my trainer’s lesson horses until I’ve healed a bit more) and I’ve been working with Trinity on the ground. We’ve both been practicing patience – me with my fatigued body, her with everything that requires standing still. 😉 She’s shedding – her buttercream winter coat has gone, and the mouse-brown under coat is only left in ragged patches – so her gorgeous grulla coloring is starting to shine. She’s learned to let me braid her hair (sloppily), and today she proved that she can move off from a point of my finger in any direction. We have some other things we can refine while I recover, but I’m really happy with how well we get along.

I have some plans for her and I, as soon as I feel better, so I’ll be writing a lot more about our work and progress in the weeks to come.

I’ve also been writing – the silver lining in the dark cloud of prolonged illness is that I felt no guilt about sitting at my computer for hours – and I’ve taken on a new project I’m really excited about. I may share more about the process here, too. We’ll see.

Anyway! It’s spring, and I’m looking forward to coming back to life.IMG_2528

(This is what she usually does when she sees my camera. :D)