No is a complete sentence

Find the Joy

JoyAn online buddy of mine posted recently about his decision to quit fiction writing. He was depressed and miserable trying to push though the struggle to force words out. Of course people came out of the woodwork to tell him to stick with it, that it will get better, that he should try a, b, or c. What he has figured out though, is that if something is causing you heartache and misery, even if you love it, then it’s time to let go. It’s not right at this point in his life.

This has nudged me to look at much of my life and some of the same struggles I’ve been facing lately. Many of the areas of my life which I love completely, have been more challenging than they should be. I’m tired of being drained by the things that should be building me up instead. I’m not going to give up what I love, but I’m realizing it’s time to revamp my approach. Find a new rhythm, a new dance. Find the joy.


Anyone who knows me realizes I’ve loved these animals since I was young. I walk into a barn and it feels like home. I love the soft noses that nuzzle and the sweet gaze that follows me around. However, after being thrown, leasing horses that weren’t right for me, riding with folks that have different focuses and styles than I do, never regaining my confidence and not having the right fit for instruction and philosophy for me, I’m rethinking my approach. I appreciate everyone that I’ve worked with and those that have helped me along the way.

I need to keep seeking the right approach/fit/style that works for me. Currently that means taking a break and easing back into the horse world slowly. Not trying so hard. Finding the enjoyment of just being with these magnificent animals. Putting aside goals, even the one to have my own horse, until I’ve found the joy again. Letting a natural fit happen instead of trying to force it.


Ah, yes. Another love. I have made everything from art quilt wallhangings to full sized bed quilts to wedding gowns, creatures and bags and costumes. If it’s fabric, I generally can figure out what to do with it. I also love paper crafts and have dabbled in crochet.

It was natural to try and turn those creative ventures into businesses. I did for a while, first doing the craft show circuit for a couple of years, then an Etsy business online. Although I learned a lot from both, and had fun, they were failures. Why? Lack of business experience/knowledge notwithstanding, the bottom line is that I hate production work. I prefer to work on one of a kind pieces that I can really get into. Plus working full time really puts a crunch on the preparation time needed for shows. So, I shut the businesses down, and besides the immense relief at not trying to prepare for craft shows or produce inventory for an online store, asked – now what?

Now what, indeed. I’m trying to learn how to create just for myself without thinking of sending the piece somewhere or needing to make multiple for sale. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I’m trying to finish some of the projects that were set aside in favor of production. I’m finding I love creating for friends, family, and exchanging work with other artists.


This is the hardest for me to talk about. From the second grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Growing up and into college, I took workshops and classes. Wrote poetry and short stories. Alternated between hearing that I was a brilliant writer, or I sucked. Listened to those stupid, annoying, and wrong people that said I sucked, and didn’t write for ten years. The stories wouldn’t let me go though, and with a nudge from my best friend – ok, actually a push – I jumped back into the world of stories.

I’ll admit that I haven’t finished any of them yet. There are eight total, all carrying varying degrees of weight around in my head and heart. I realize part of it is still dealing with my friend’s passing, as she was a constant catalyst for forward motion. And my beta reader. And the one I gave my work to first with complete trust. Finding that inspiration to write again is challenging.

The other aspect to all is the desire to fulfill my dream of becoming a full time writer. I’m realizing that all it’s doing is putting pressure on my stories – are they clever enough? Am I showing, not telling? Are the characters real and developed? Do the plots zing? Is there enough humor in the writing? And on, and on, and on. It’s enough to drive a writer mad and stop the creative flow. Performance anxiety, or something of that nature.

The only way to stop the pressure it to dissolve the dream. Take away the parameters, and the cage, that my writing is surrounded by. Decide not to care if I ever publish anything or if anyone besides me reads my work. Let it go. Does that seem counter intuitive? Perhaps, but it is the only thing that makes sense. I’ve tried everything else. I’ve listened to advice, followed it, tried other ideas, discarded them. The only thing left is to just let go.

It’s actually a freeing thought rather than a disappointment. My terms for creativity is that there are none. I’m not giving up creativity – it’s a part of my very essence. To be clear:

  • I am a horsewoman
  • I am a crafter
  • I am a writer

Just on my terms, and without the pressure. I am joy.


No is a complete sentence

It takes another fall to be okay

jake-at-versatility-clinicLast Saturday I decided to try the Chris Lombard Horsemanship versatility clinic again. The first time was in February with Navajo, the steady horse that I rode last summer, and that turned out to be quite an experience. Navajo let me know in no uncertain terms that versatility clinics were not her cup of tea and she would have none of it. Watching my normally “don’t care” horse have a mental breakdown and rear up multiple times when being asked to accomplish a task was an eye opener.

So I pulled on my courage cloak and decided to try again, this time with Jake. I will just mention that if you’re a horse person reading this, and ever get to do a clinic with Chris, do it. He’s an amazing horseman, and his compassion for horses and people, as well as his insight into horse/human relationships, is something to behold in person. I’m so thrilled for the opportunity to benefit from his experience.

We started out reviewing the course without the horses. It is a bit of sensory overload. All I could think to myself was that if I got through a couple of obstacles with Jake I would be happy. If he was calm I would be happy. If he kept all four feet on the ground when he was supposed to I would be happy.

He exceeded my expectations. We practiced the course together with halter and lead rope then from the saddle, and attempted every obstacle. We still have plenty to work on – we need more communication with side passing, and he refused to go near the gate or the water hazard. To go through all the rest of the obstacles together when we’ve only been working together for three weeks just astounded me.

So then after lunch we get to the individual timed runs. I knew Jake would be a bit upset going into the arena without his buddies, which he was, but once I got on he settled right down and we focused on the course. We worked the course together and then got to the little kiddie pool that he was supposed to walk through. After dancing around the pool for a good fifty seconds, as timed neared for the obstacle he decided to jump. Without warning. And not just a little jump – he soared over the pool and even tucked his back legs up to clear it. We landed before I even realized we had been in the air, and then…I rolled off him. Yep, there I was on the ground, and I rolled right back up. I was fine.

It was an ah ha moment for me. I could fall and be completely fine. Not every fall had to end like the one I had back in November where I was carted off via ambulance. And even more amazing was that while everyone was checking on me to make sure I was ok, Jake wouldn’t leave my side. No one was holding onto him. After wanting to get back to his buddies so badly, for him to stand quietly and let me know that he wanted to be with me was an awe inspiring moment. Even better, I mounted again and we finished the course! I was a little shaky, but Jake took everything in stride and we did some of our best work then.

It’s hard to fall at any time. This time though felt like a reset for me. It told me that everything will be ok, and that there is a horse out there that wants to be a partner and remain by my side. I couldn’t be more content with how everything turned out.

No is a complete sentence

Trying Again

I’m paraphrasing, but I’ve heard that courage is trying again in the face of fear. That’s where I’m at with horses right now. After my fall and subsequent concussion back in November, a lease with a horse that was just too much for me, and a clinic with a trusted horse that turned out to be too much for the horse, I’m ready for a good experience.

I may have found one too, in the form of a sweet quarter horse that’s just come up for lease at the barn I ride at. Jake has a sweet personality, is steady, and very versatile. We’ve already been to the beach together, and I’ve ridden him quite a few times.

At the beach, he was fantastic. I was not. I’m still dealing with the fear of being able to let go and trust the horse I’m riding, even if they’ve given me no cause to not trust them. Relaxing on a horse is beyond my capabilities currently. I’m frustrated by this realization. I got back on after my fall (well, when I was cleared by the doctor), I’ve been to the barn riding and working on ground work, and my head is already planning the summer season.

My heart’s being cautious. It says that I need a lot more time before I can trust. Its telling me to hold back.

So how do I heal? How do I get back to the rider and horsewoman that I was before? How do I let go and believe in the horse I’m riding?

I don’t know yet. I think it’s going to take more time, and lots of baby steps along the way. I’m frustrated that I haven’t been able to bounce back like I used to. I hope this new horse is the right one to help me find my way again. I really want to enjoy my time with him, and if him meeting me at the gate when I arrive is any indication, he enjoys his time with me.

That may be the best healing I can find.