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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.

Face

refuge sign

Despite the best of intentions, it’s been awhile since I posted here and will probably be awhile before I post again. It’s been an interesting summer — strange and perplexing and directionless and maybe a better summer because of that.

As a try this thing and then that, and vow to do better this week but end up doing worse instead, I have tried to pay attention to the why’s and what’s of it all. And there are a few things I’ve noticed…

road bike
I hate driving a car during rush hour.  I mean, who actually likes it? As though crawling in traffic isn’t bad enough, you have drivers that appear hell bent on killing everyone around them. Even when riding a bike makes me race to make the train, I end up more relaxed when I ride. And even though the train rides can be crowded, without enough room for all the bikes on board, and it takes longer to get to work, it’s still better than driving. The train is like a mini-community. You see the same conductors and riders every day and people joke around and talk to each other. They hold doors for you. They’re just plain nice. And the commute is the high point of my work day. So if I can ride my bike more often, I’ll be better for it.

I’m saner when I fit writing time into my day, even if it’s only 30 minutes. Not writing makes me very cranky.

Face

I love the way my dogs greet me when I come home from work. No matter how bad my day has been, they make me laugh. Latte has this whole conversation going when I walk in the door, “Where’ve you been? What’cha doing? Hurry! I’m starving!”

She barks and she play bows. She dashes away to her food bowl, does a sliding stop, then dashes back to me, spins in a circle, then dashes back down the hall. Sometimes she break dances with head spins and all. It’s very entertaining.

dog

In the meantime, Java has either her zebra or dragon toy that she is madly squeaking and whipping back and forth, slapping it on the floor. She stops occasionally to do a howl, which comes out muffled by the stuffed toy in her mouth. Java’s dance is a bit more like the shy guy on the dance floor that just bobs in place and throws a side motion in every now and then.

dog

Things are going well at the new barn Luke is at. I like having other people around. It’s nice to chat while grooming and talk about our horses and the type of riding we like to do. One woman is a fellow gardener so we exchange ideas of how to use up our over-abundant tomatoes. Most everyone there is working towards a goal of showing or improving their riding. When asked what Luke and I do, I reply, “We just goof around.”

I usually ride alone in the outdoor arena, but that’s okay because that’s my time with Luke to enjoy the outdoors and watch the hawks that circle overhead. Once in awhile, we ride around in a grassy field and I pretend I’m trail riding.

horseback riding

I have come to realize when things go awry that it’s not the situation I’m in that makes me miserable, it’s thinking about the situation I’m in that makes me miserable. That’s an over simplification, as some situations are in themselves truly miserable. But obsessively thinking about how bad something is makes it even worse.

There are other types of destructive thinking. There is comparison thinking, where everyone else is madly happy and successful, and only you alone are struggling.

There is future thinking where you obsessively think and plan how the future could be different than your now. Such thinking leads to madness.

I’m taking a clue from Luke…

While there is grass, eat it. When there is no grass, eat hay. Whatever is before you, is what you got, so go with it. And if you are really fortunate, someone will put a goofy hat on you to keep the flies away. ~ Luke wisdom

horse grazing

Truthfully, I don’t know where people without animals find their daily wisdom. I would truly be lost without my gurus.

I’ll end with a few photos I took while riding in the St. Paul Classic Bike Tour. The event was put on by BikeMN, and AARP was one of the sponsors of the event.  I was introduced to the AARP MN Communications Director by a friend and wrote a post for their site about riding in the Classic. So rather than repeat all the details, you can read about my ride here.

Steve and I rode thirty-three miles, but with the rest stops along the way, where there was food, music and lots of fellow bicyclists to talk to, it didn’t seem that far. It was a super good time!

St. Paul Classic Bike Tour

St. Paul Classic Bike Tour

St. Paul Classic Bike Tour

St. Paul Classic Bike Tour

Porcupine Creek Musical Group

Roe Family Singers

Roe Family Singers

It’s almost October and summer is wrapping up. I hope you are enjoying what’s left of this gardening, fun-in-the-sun season!

airplane
airplane

“If you are filled with anxiety, fear, depression and disturbance, there is no space for the Spirit…You have to risk letting go of the things that do not work for you in order to gain the things that will.” ~ John Roger, “The Tao of Spirit”

So many books that I read make it sound so simple — “Just let go.”

kayak

It’s like letting go of a leach attached to your leg and expecting it to slither away.

Someone might say that faith in God and prayer are the answer. Another person might say meditation and yoga are key. I prefer to throw all of them into my “Go To” self care recipe topped off with a bit of wine and chocolate.

Some days I think, “Wow Maery, you are really depressed.”

Other days, I think I am just disillusioned and exhausted.

Many days, I think I’m just old.

Disturbance: the interruption of a settled and peaceful condition; the breakdown of law-abiding behavior; the feeling that comes from life simply not going as planned.

I look happy, don’t I? And that’s the confusing thing. For the most part, I am. Or I should say I am when I’m outside doing the stuff in these photos or sitting on the sofa with a good book and a couple dogs cuddled beside me.

Marshan_Lake-19-5

But I’m just as likely to break out in tears off camera because of a difficulty at work, a sad song on the radio, because I feel cutoff from friends and family, or simply because I haven’t been able to sleep and that’s putting me on an emotional rollercoaster.

I’ve heard that happiness is a decision. Each day is a gift and everything depends on how you greet each day: with dread or with delight.

No matter how wonderful I think such a way of facing life is and how much I admire such people, try as I might, I can’t seem to incorporate this view of life into my own brain. At least, not by force of will or by doing things like writing down three things I’m grateful  for at the end of the day. I’m grateful for a lot, but that doesn’t seem to mean that I’m happy.

kayaking

This summer, I wanted some quiet time to think and to do the things that are most important to me without distraction. I wanted to find what I needed to do and what I needed to stop doing.

I wanted to stop running from here to there and then turn to run back again. But my mood hasn’t miraculously lifted as a result. And THE PURPOSE for my life hasn’t magically appeared at the door and thrown its arms around me in welcome.

It doesn’t help that I’m geared to be anxious. “Just let go,” they say. And I say, “I do,” about a hundred times a day, every day.

But what I know about this way of feeling is that it can’t be changed by trying to change my attitude. Because the ‘disturbance’ is telling me I need to change my path and that means action, not thought. Action, especially action you know you should take but you don’t want to, makes you feel anxious.

floating in pond

 

It’s strange to look onto yourself, watching your body turn against you. I pull out my usual bag of tricks to try to level my chemistry back out again. Usually that means getting busier so I don’t have time to think too much. I thought I’d try something different and slow down instead. That hasn’t exactly worked but I don’t think getting busier would have worked either.

It feels like my body is caught in a loop that is etching its way in like a stream cutting a groove into rock. I need to break the pattern as it will only get harder the longer this lasts. At least I can be logical about it. I’m still frustrated and worried, but with a dollop of calm that comes from a belief that I can figure this out. I always do. And I hold on to that faith like a lucky penny.

Plus I’m giving St. John’s Wort and a cup of Kava tea before bedtime a try. I’ve even cut back to only one cup of caffeinated coffee in the morning. These things seem to be helping, along with listening to mellow music and being silly and finding those laughable moments (having dogs helps).

horseback riding

There are a lot of photos here as a sampling of what I’ve been up to while I’ve been taking a blogging break. It’s been a great summer really, thus making it even more difficult to explain where I’m at. If you suffer anxiety, I don’t have to explain.

I do think things are leveling out for me. I have a plan and I’m working it.

I do miss having a record in photos and words as time marches on. It is a good way to relive and treasure the goodness of life so I hope I’ll be back to blogging more regularly again, even if it’s only for myself. I have a lot going on that may take priority, so we’ll see.

Maery’s Summer

FYI – If you hover your mouse over the photos, additional comments appear about the photo.

Camping Trip to Beaver Creek Valley. I loved seeing the trout swimming in the creek and watching Java enjoy laying down in the water to cool off. Did not so much enjoy the narrow, slick trails up the hills that I thought I was going to plummet to my death from. A warning about the trail conditions would have been nice. Even the dogs were losing their footing. Thankfully I had walking sticks to help keep me upright but since my hands were occupied, that meant attaching Java’s leash to my waist. Coming downhill, I put her behind me so she had to stick to my slow pace. We did a lot of work on commands like “Woah!” and “Easy!”

dog camping dog camping dog camping

dog walk

Rides on Luke. The heat and humidity of this summer hasn’t been great for horses or riding. Not to mention the storm that flipped the run-in. Most of the time we’ve been riding inside where the riding arena insulation keeps it cool and dry.

run-in shed horseback riding

horseback riding

Bike ride to Stillwater. We rode on the Gateway State Trail for the first time and loved it. Gorgeous views and a well maintained trail. The trail ends at Stillwater, a place I love to visit for the restaurants, view of the river, and to watch the old lift bridge go up and down for the boats.

bicycle in Stillwater Stillwater Liftbridge Stillwater Gateway State Trail bicyclistWalk with the dogs in the park. The bridge to King’s Island and trail across it is complete. It’s a mixed blessing – it will be nice for road bikes and to connect up trail systems but the increased traffic could be rough on the wildlife and it’s taken away the rugged fun of off road riding. Although I think it will continue to be a challenging ride in the winter.

dog dog walk

Backyard Garden, Pond, & Clothesline. There’s been quite a change from early summer (first two photos) to now (the rest). I seem to have a jungle going. I love the new clothesline Steve built with it’s Morning Glories and wind chimes on one end and a ledge to put the clothes basket on the other. Thank you Carola for giving us the inspiration for this on your blog! I have a lot of tomatoes, kale, and lettuce growing right now. Thankfully the zucchini and cucumbers are winding down. Still waiting for the squash and hot peppers to ripen. And spending time sitting on the patio reading and listening to the waterfall in the backyard pond.

Garden in May 2015 Clothesline in April

Tomato Plants Clothesline Salad table Tomatoes Grape Tomatoes

garden harvest

 

Backyard pond

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