Wordless Wednesday- Cozy Space

In the middle of a rearranging/updating of my room and feeling particularly cozy during such a snowy week.
In the middle of a rearranging/updating of my room and feeling particularly cozy during such a snowy week.

FOO Blog Hop: A Day in the Life

I’m so excited that Tracy from Fly on Over started this blog hop- all us working ammies share so many things, but we each come at it a little differently. So here’s a typical day:

6:50am – Alarm goes off. Wake up, browse Facebook, check Instagram, see what e-mails have shown up, squeal over a cute video of a baby otter

otter_nonsense

7:09am – Realize that I’ve been squealing over that otter for way too long and am running late. Again. Dash into the shower, get dressed, and throw together some burritos for lunch (because that’s all I eat).

7:35am – Hop in the car and immediately call Dad to share our commute time. Ask other drivers where they got their creative interpretation of traffic rules and receive wisdom from my father.

8:00am – Get to work, turn on EVERY SINGLE LAMP in my office, put lunch in the fridge, get water, check e-mails, slowly start remembering where I left off yesterday.

10:30am – Wonder if 4 bags of M&Ms in two hours is too much. Take a walk around the office to get away from screen glare and bug pregnant coworkers about what they’re naming their kid. Try to convince them that “Leonardo” is a great option, and no it doesn’t matter that they’re not Italian.

12pm – Break for lunch! Bring my book to read but end up leaving it on the table while I chat with coworkers. Soundly abuse the manager who planned a lunch meeting with our buddy. Scavenge cookies off someone.

12:45pm – Go through blog posts and chuckle at everyone’s antics. Go through my own and cringe at the writing style. Attempt to edit some sentences to make them more entertaining. Give up in a fit of pique.

2:30pm – Realize that there’s way more to get done today than I realized and buckle down hard.

5:00pm- Get changed into barn clothes and spend a few minutes explaining to straggling coworkers that yes, I am going to the barn today, and no, I have not washed this coat in weeks, so yes, that odor is coming directly from me.

5:30ishpm- Call my momma on the way to the barn to catch up on the state of things up north and receive mom wisdom. Get to the barn and wonder why I got here so early. Waste gas so I can keep the heat on for just a little while longer.

snowy_outdoor
Stare forlornly at the snow-buried outdoor.

5:45pm – Get Addy on the crossties and start the transfer of hair from her body to mine. Wonder if I’ll ever be warm again and conclude that it’s not likely.

addy_crossties
Snuggle up to this little bugger because she’s so darn sweet. And warm.

6:00pm – Hop on! Either lesson or hack depending on the day, almost always sharing the ring; mostly cool juniors with stupidly nice horses so it inspires me to get Addy moving nicely. Nothing like that competitive spirit to get you going.

7:00pm – Hop right back off and start exclaiming that I can’t feel my toes OR thumbs. Shiver my way through putting Addy and her tack away, then hop in the car with the heat blasting. Call manfriend to inform him that I likely won’t make it through the night, so he should say his goodbyes now. He tells me to drive safely and he’ll see me in a few. I ask him why he doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation.

8:15pm – Stagger in to my apartment after stopping for gas, going to the grocery store, picking up more shampoo, and generally doing every other errand I’ve been putting off. Try to get things put away before it can stink up the house. Fail spectacularly and thank the heavens for an understanding roommate.

8:45pm – Eat another burrito. Because seriously- I don’t eat anything else these days. Manfriend watches me eat since he had dinner at a reasonable hour. I can see the admiration in his eyes as my dirty-fingernailed hands shove the burrito into my mouth- a vision of grace and beauty.

9:00pm – Ponder if today is the day that I give in to the pile of laundry that’s begging to be done. Decide it isn’t and debate with manfriend whether Criminal Minds or Parks and Rec is a better Netflix choice.

10:30pm – Figure that it’s late enough that no one can make fun of me for going to bed, so put my ultra-sultry retainer in and snuggle into my amazingly comfy sheets. Set my alarm for 6:50am the next day, telling myself that tomorrow I’ll squeal over that otter just a little less.

This is just on riding days. On non-riding days it usually goes (1)wake up (2) work (3) get home directly after work and wonder what non-horse people do all day (4) go hang out with manfriend’s mom for funsies (5) go to bed even earlier than usual hoping that the next day is a horsey day. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Slow Days

Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!

Sadly, mine did not go as planned. Our work-hard flatwork didn’t happen on Sunday because of the bitter cold, and because of this snow storm we’re getting tonight, it looks like no riding today either.

Combined with some sort of virus that won’t go away, I’m feeling more than ready for spring to come around!

I’m headed to the docs during lunch to see if this could be a mono relapse, but I’m hoping it’s just a version of the flu. Whatever it is, I just want to treat it so my energy can come back.

More iffy news: because of our inconsistent work due to the weather, I’ve decided to postpone our first show. We would probably be fine, but I want to go into it feeling super prepared and ready for anything, and I need some more consistency in my own riding before I feel that way. It doesn’t hurt that postponing means it’ll be warmer when we do go out… I’m hopeful that a little extra prep time will get us both feeling great!

With luck, we will return to our regularly scheduled programming very soon!

My Madly Magnificent Manfriend

This weekend is mine and Manfriend’s anniversary, so to celebrate I’m going to take a little break from my usual posts and properly introduce this guy of mine.

longwood_nick
Ain’t he handsome?

If you’re wondering why he’s always simply “Manfriend” here, it’s because it sometimes freaks me out that I’m dating a full grown man. Like, not a boy. A full grown adult man. Am I seriously old enough for that? Anyways, we’ve established that he’s a man, not a boy- hence manfriend. And I’m always seeing bloggers refer to their SO simply as “hubs” or “PC” (Prince Charming?), and I wanted to give my guy his own blogging moniker.

How we met: My good friends had just asked me to be a bridesmaid in their wedding, and after exchanging some sly glances told me, “there’s a groomsman we need you to meet.” I tagged along to a party that he was at, we began chatting…and then nothing.

We had a pleasant time talking, but I got no vibes from him at all. No numbers were exchanged, and when my friends left I headed out with them thinking that was the end of it. Too bad ’cause he was cute and actually taller than me, but life goes on.

Fast forward two weeks, I got a message from him asking if I wanted to go to his house for a party he was hosting. I said yes, showed up, we had a blast, and a week later we went on our first real date in the middle of a snowstorm.

That very first party. I absolutely insisted on the selfie. We were Team Australia for the Beer Olympics, so I had the brilliant idea of taking the pic upside down. 'Cause, you know, Australia is upside down.
That very first party. I absolutely insisted on the selfie; we were Team Australia for the Beer Olympics, so I had the brilliant idea of taking the pic upside down. ‘Cause, you know, Australia is upside down.

I thought that date was a disaster- he had to come find me after I went to the wrong place, we couldn’t find a restaurant that was open because of the storm, and then I got so nervous I started telling cheesy jokes (e.g. what’s the internal temperature of a Tauntaun? Luke warm!). I couldn’t imagine that he would ever want to see me again. Thankfully he didn’t see it as a disaster, because we’ve been getting into shenanigans together ever since. I’m just as giddy to see him every time as I was for that first date and by some happy coincidence he seems pretty pumped about the whole thing too.

What he’s like: Imagine Prince Charming as an utter goofball, and that’s him. He spoils me like a princess, pushes me to work hard to achieve my goals (he’s the only one that can get me to run), and makes me laugh every single day. If he hadn’t encouraged me to go for it, this blog wouldn’t be here now and I wouldn’t be back in the saddle. Of course now he pays the price of hauling tack around for me and listening to me yammer on about site views, but he does it all with his usual smile and enthusiasm.

There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his friends and family- I call him Mr. Dependable. Guns are his biggest passion (he taught me how to shoot on our second date! His huge focus on safety made it much less scary) but he also gets excited about anything outdoors; no sitting behind desks for him. Instead of a desk job he’s in executive security (and working towards becoming a bodyguard) and in his other life he’s in the Marine Corps Infantry Reserve. It’s a running (terrifying) joke between his mother and me that he only wants jobs where there’s a possibility he’ll get shot at.

He’s my unofficial horse photographer, my own personal comedian, and my best friend. In short, he’s the funniest, sweetest, best person I know and even that is an understatement.

horse_whisperer
He’s also an accomplished horse whisperer, but Addy doesn’t seem very impressed with what he has to say.

What’s your funniest first date disaster or favorite meet-cute? Share your story in the comments!

Snippets of Wisdom- Wiper Fluid

I know it’s tempting to get the $3 wiper fluid they sell in front of the gas station, but resist. That stuff is basically water, and if it gets cold enough it will freeze up and clog the sprayer. Then you’re stuck with a salt encrusted windshield which just seems vaguely unsafe. Go to AutoZone and get the more concentrated stuff so you can keep your vision clear this winter.

Those of you in warmer climates can go gloat together.

PS- Happy Valentine’s Day all! Hope you’re giving lots of hugs and smooches to your horses, your families, your friends, your significant otters, and spreading love all around!

dis-ma-significant-otter

Don’t tell me what to eat!

I hate being told what to do. Hate it.

Growing up, my parents rarely made demands- they expected me to respect their authority and in return respected my right to question. On the rare occasion that Mom or Dad said “Do this now!” it was clear that it must be too important at the time to question. As I was a generally good kid, this system worked well for us and kept us away from any major blow-up fights.

But an unintended side effect of this is that I absolutely cannot tolerate demands. This is quite selective- I’m more than happy to receive assignments at work or be told what repairs my car needs or that the course I’m riding goes like this not like that. Pretty much anything else? Nope. Will not respond. Even if I was about to do what you just told me to do, I will now do the opposite.


source: giphy

Admittedly this is childish. There is no harm in doing what I was going to do anyways just because someone told me I need to do that. It’s just this knee-jerk reaction to the assumption of authority that rankles. Even my own parents- the ultimate authority to a child- didn’t assume total supremacy, so why on earth should some other person order me around? Manfriend learned this very quickly and (bless him) never tries to boss me. He knows it simply wouldn’t work. Suggestions, advice, anecdotes are all welcomed but I tune out as soon as it crosses the line into demand territory.

Just wait, it gets worse.

I can’t even tell myself what to do. As soon as I say “I NEED to get this done right now,” I head off on a tangent. Or I get paralyzed and don’t do anything at all. Or I come up with a thousand reasons I don’t actually need to get it done. Demands are unacceptable from any quarter, even my own brain.

This especially carries over into my food habits. The very instant that I swear off junk food is the very instant I get in the car to grab a dozen doughnuts. As soon as I forbid candy, I load up on Reese’s and start stuffing my face. Even when I was using a calorie tracker, I got rebellious and started eating more just so I could punch stuff into the app. You don’t have to tell me  how insane this is- trust me, I know.

The only way I can keep myself from eating junk food is by letting myself eat junk food.

Despite how nonsensical that sounds, it’s how I work. Defiantly cutting out all junk just makes me focus on and crave it more, so I have to give myself a free pass at all times to eat whatever I want. When I’m not thinking about it, I eat the way I’ve always eaten: pretty lean with the occasional splurge. Isn’t that a “healthy” diet? I tend to stick with foods that make me feel good physically; I know that too many carbs makes me feel sluggish, and I really like chicken and veggies. Sharing meals with health-conscious manfriend helps too- he’s an exponentially better cook than I am so he keeps us healthy and full. Then when I get the 4,000 calorie cheeseburger from Cheeburger Cheeburger one day during lunch, I don’t feel bad. When I say “it’s just one day, it won’t ruin me,” I can actually mean it because I know the next day I’ll be having my usual lean burrito and yogurt for lunch.

Overall I eat pretty well- low in carbs, high in veggies and protein, not too much salt or sugar. But I have a desk drawer of Hershey’s Kisses at work and never miss an opportunity for doughnuts. Manfriend and I are ignoring Valentine’s Day, but you can bet I’m taking this as a perfect excuse for a salty, sugary, bacon-y brunch of epic proportions. After all, I told myself I couldn’t.

How do you try and eat healthy? Anyone else stupidly stubborn like this? (It can’t be just me)

Sweet and Sticky Spots

Huzzah for quick farrier visits! Wednesday morning saw me grinning at my phone as I read the text from our assistant trainer: “farrier is coming out this morning, you’ll be good for your lesson tonight :)” Smiley face indeed. I was ecstatic!

And then I realized something: Addy had not been ridden since Saturday. Not even a little. Thankfully she had been going outside to play pretty much every day, but no work under saddle in three whole days.

That probably doesn’t sound like a huge deal to you- if three days was our regular gap it would still average out to riding more than once a week. But Addy has plenty of energy even when she’s worked every day, and I can always tell when she’s had a single day off. Three whole days of sitting on her butt and collecting her energy? I was prepared for a rodeo.

So I got to the barn a little early and set her up on the lunge line in the outdoor (with lots of assistance from our awesome assistant trainer). I wanted this pony nice and tired before my butt hit the saddle. She happily trotted and cantered around in circles, pausing every so often to look in at me as if to say, “I mean, I’ll do it, but why aren’t you on my back yet?” So I hopped on about 20 minutes before my lesson to give us plenty of time to warm up together.

I’m a worry-wart for nothing. If anything, she was lazier than usual! Thank goodness for ponies that surprise you with their good brains, and thank goodness turnout seems to be more of a factor than under saddle work for her (we know how much she loves her outside time). We were able to stay nice and balanced while we were warming up, and our canter-trot transitions were much smoother than usual. She framed up into a gorgeous collected trot when I asked, and kept that impulsion and balance going. Have I mentioned that I love this horse?

Sadly I will not be including a professional diagram today; I don’t think the course warrants it. There was a nice easy bending line, an outside line of skinnies, and then 47 4 diagonal jumps with long approaches. Those darn long approaches.

This all went really well- I even managed to stay on over a crossrail with no stirrups! It wasn’t pretty by any stretch, but it’s progress! She listened extremely well when I asked her to move up or collect a little, and even when the jumps went up a bit higher she listened like a champ.

One sticky spot: the skinny line on the outside came up out of that corner REAL fast, and Addy pulled her whole “eh this is mildly uncomfortable, I’ll pass” duck-out shenanigan. This is why I need to actually start carrying a crop. She wasn’t being nasty or scared or dirty, it was just a little bit out of her comfort zone and she needed some extra encouragement to put in the effort. We did eventually get over it a couple times. Not pretty, but effective.

Getting over it was fine for me to end on a good note; my self-esteem can take a bit of a hit and I’ll be fine. I proved to both of us that I can get her to a good spot and MAKE her go over that fence, and that’s all I really wanted. But I wanted Addy to end on a really positive confident note, so I asked the assistant trainer to hop on and school her through the line once or twice.

A little description: our assistant trainer is this tiny little woman with legs of steel. Seeing her on this large draft cross was so crazy- I’ve only ever seen one rider (myself) on Addy, and that’s always in videos! She was able to strongly support Addy to the base and get her over that jump beautifully, and did it a couple more times to get her feeling really good about it. By the end she was doing with much less support and carrying herself to the base. We both got to end on a good note!

I know some people are reluctant to have others hop on their horse, but I’ve never hesitated when the rider is clearly better than me. Riding is a constant conversation between the horse and rider- if I know someone speaks the language better than I do, it makes sense to me to have them hop on and clarify what I’m trying to say. I’ve been extremely fortunate to spend time around so many skilled riders who are willing to help out!

Take-away lesson: just because I get Addy to the sweet spot does not mean I can take my leg off and throw my reins at her. She needs and deserves strong support from me to help her up and over, especially when it’s something out of her comfort zone. One more reason to boost my no-stirrup work!

What do you do when your “conversation” gets confusing? Do you prefer to work through sticky spots yourself, or do you like to have a trainer hop on to help?

Dusty Troxels, Internet Fame, and Horse Show Plans

This past weekend was chock full of awesomeness on the horse front! After a bit of a roller coaster last week, I’m so excited to share the awesomeness with you.

  • Addy and I had a bareback day. This may sound super minor to most of you, but I haven’t had a “goof-off” day since I owned my own horse in high school. There just isn’t the time to do that when you’re lessoning once a week on a school horse. Getting to hop on and bump around the farm a bit was so relaxing and made me feel like a “real” horse person again! I rode in street clothes and a dusty old Troxel (the dead bug was removed from the helmet before I used it) and got absolutely covered in hair, but it was totally therapeutic.
  • I’m on the internet! I submitted a picture from a recent lesson to Judge My Ride and I got a really quick response from Rob Gage! He didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t expect- I know Addy has perfect form, I was pretty happy with my upper body, and my legs desperately need strengthening- but it was awesome to get that feedback from him. Check out my post on their website here, or see it on Pinterest! Having my picture in two places totally makes me internet famous, right??

  • We have scheduled our first horse show!!! We’ll be attending the LTD show at Morven Park in Leesburg, VA on February 21. The plan now is to do the 2’6″ Schooling Hunter division, but that’s still under discussion. It’s right down the road from our barn and a fairly small show, so I think it’ll be a perfect low-key low-pressure way to enter the show ring. A little nervous and a whole lot excited.

Lots of good things, but as always in the horse world, something had to go wonky. Owner Lady said that Addy was a bit of a nut on Saturday, so Sunday I showed up (crop in hand) ready to WORK. She clearly had excess energy and I was going to flatwork that right into the ground. I was ready to go, and I felt that I needed a grueling ride to get my mental focus back- so of course I went to pick out Addy’s feet to get her ready to rumble. And she was missing a shoe.

Argh! The farrier will be there this week so we won’t lose too much time, but I have a feeling that these days off are going to make her even more energetic. I did stay on Sunday and groom her for a solid hour, so I still got my horse therapy that day and Addy got her scratches and treats.

Not the best wrap-up to the weekend, but lots to look forward to! Wish me luck when I do get back on…

Who else has a post on Judge My Ride to share? When’s your first show of the season? Anyone heading to Morven Park on the 21st??

6 Ways I Beat the Winter Blues

I’m a list person and always have been: from the days when I would check off every article of clothing I had to don for a horse show, to the neatly filled out homework planner in college, to my detailed moving checklist a few months ago.

When I found myself facing the winter blues (this deserves its own post) yet again, I decided to tackle it in my favorite way: make a list. For your viewing pleasure, here are 6 ways I came up with to stay cheerful when the sun is hiding.

6-ways-i-beat-winter-blues

  1. Stay active. Don’t skip out on barn days or gym days just because it’s cold or you’re tired. It’s going to be cold and you’re going to be tired for months and you can’t stop doing the things you enjoy just because of that. Don’t stop moving and fidgeting and going on walks.
  2. Get some inspiration from others. I’ve mentioned before that I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated solely to beautifully positive thoughts– it’s great to lean on when the positivity isn’t flowing internally.
  3. Stay hydrated. I can’t stress this enough; when I don’t get enough water I start to slow down, my skin gets uncomfortable, and I feel like a blob. This was my single most influential lifestyle change that helps me feel better mentally, not just physically.
  4. Get a creative outlet. It doesn’t have to be a watercolor masterpiece and it doesn’t have to be advanced digital design, but creative streaks still need attention. Getting to write for this blog and my new nightly journal are ways I’m fostering that. (Side note- my new sister gave me this journal for Christmas and it’s the perfect balance of guided creativity! I never miss a night)
  5. Make friends, and then make plans with those friends. I am embarrassingly terrible at making friends as an adult, Dear Reader. It’s hard! There’s no automatic shared bond of the same stressful school, people have crazy work schedules, and established groups of friends sometimes aren’t looking for another member. Spending time at the barn and with similarly-aged coworkers has me slowly emerging from my shell.
  6. Fake it ’til you make it. Smile, laugh, and joke until your face hurts. This almost never fails to give me a boost, even on down-days. On the rare occasion that this doesn’t make me feel entirely better, there is at least the satisfaction of knowing that other people get cheerful attention instead of sullenness.
  7. Give yourself a break. Pushing myself to be active and happy and cheerful when I’m fighting against brain chemistry isn’t always going to work. No matter what, there will be so-so days. And that’s fine. Like Annye from An Amish Warmblood said, those “zero days” are needed. On those days it is OK to curl up under a blanket and ignore all the to-do lists. It is OK to read for 6 hours straight instead of grocery shopping and folding laundry. Binge watching Criminal Minds won’t ruin your month. Giving in for that one day makes it easier to push the rest of the time- I call them “mood cheat days.”

That last point is probably what’s allowed me to relax into happiness more easily this winter than I ever have. I’m going to push myself to get out there and keep my mood up, but I’m not going to fight myself to do that.

Just a little bit longer until the sun and warmth comes back, and I can’t wait!

How do you beat the winter blues?