Friday, May 30, 2014

Some serious couch time and randomness

My daughter was sick all last weekend with some sort of nasty cold/flu thing with a fever for three days and lots of coughing and sleeping.  I'm feeling like I was run over by a small ATV this morning (not a truck per se ... just a small ATV) and I'm not sure if it's because I'm coming down with it or I'm just old, tired and have RA.  But I'm enjoying time on my big, plush purple couch with my coffee and looking MLS listings for houses and farms for sale.  Seriously, everything is so expensive and this is from an Eastside software developer family.  Sheesh.  Or as my daughter has started saying, "Oh Jesus!"  (she got that from her dad).  I told her there are an awful lot of conservative Christians in our lives who take very literally the "thou shalt not use the Lord's name in vain" commandment so whenever she accidentally blurts out "Oh Jesus!" she has to quickly follow it up with "Please, help me,"  so I don't get any lectures about raising a 10-year old heretic.  It's also funny because I'm starting to get my husband (the majorly anti-religion agnostic) to follow up with "help me" too after he says, "Oh Jesus".   Of course my profanity of choice when I'm really angry or frustrated is "Oh Jesus fucking Christ" which pretty much no follow up will help me get out of.

FYI ... I believe that "thou shalt not use the Lord's name in vain" means that you will not commit acts of hatred and then attribute it to "God's will" or say it told you in the Bible to do it or whatever.  I believe that homophobia is a direct act of going against that commandment because no where does Jesus say that being gay is a sin.  He recognizes that it is not allowed in that time and place and there are laws against it, but he does not say "God hates fags" or even says gay folks are going to Hell.  He pretty much says no one is going to Hell except if you're a greedy bastard it will be harder to get into heaven than fit a camel through the eye of a needle.

I had a dream last night that I brought home a pet camel and my husband was a good sport and let me keep him in the house.  No idea where that come from.

Regardless of all that, I am enjoying my couch/sloth time and really enjoying this weird, little foot roller ball thingie that I got to see if it would help with the RA in the connective tissue at the bottom of my feet.  And it really does help.  I also got orthotics specifically for folks with arthritis to put in my boots when I'm on my feet 8+ hours at work and they helped too.  Granted they are made for people with Osteoarthritis (which is caused by break-down of the cartilage, usually by over use) as opposed to what I have, Rheumatoid Arthritis (inflammation and joint/tissue damage caused by immune system attacking and breaking down my own body), but they still work.

I only have a week left after this week at my riding instructor job.  I've had some calls about massage jobs at spas and a bookkeeping gig so I'm not too worried about finding a part-time job that will pay the bills.  But I will miss working with my students and the horses.  I know someday I will take up teaching kids again, just not sure when and how.

On that note, here is my cheesy song of the day.  I heard this on the radio a couple weeks ago and it reminded me how I feel about my own, personal concept of God ... which is too long to explain in one blog post/paragraph, but he is not a judgmental jerk, and he's not a doormat who lets evil folks walk all over him, and he does not hurt people or "let bad things happen" to "teach them lessons", and he's not a "him" or "her".  It (I suppose) is all the strength of goodness in the universe which can kick any evil ass in the long run any day.  But it still nice to have around and infinitely comforting and hopeful.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Your ritual sacrifice appears to have worked ...

The weather has been weird the last couple weeks - sunny when it says it's supposed to rain and not raining enough when it does (and they said it was supposed to be sunny).  So when it finally poured down rain the other day I thought of the pilot episode of the original Dr. Who series when the Dr. and his cohorts somehow end up in an ancient Aztec village where they are about to sacrifice some guy to bribe the rain gods.  I was thinking how I could kind of understand where they were coming from because I was frustrated for my garden's sake at the lack of substantial rain and they did not have the luxury of hoses the just had to pull around the house.

Before I forget I have to write down my "a-ha!" moment at my lesson today with Geir.  Our on-going issue with him is his balance in the turns and especially going to the left he really leans to the left and then counterbends his body to the right so does what Gerd Heuschmann described at his clinic last week "a false bend".  We've been working on that and when he's feeling stiff he will start to lean so far to the left I feel almost like I'm on a motorcycle taking a tight turn and I've been putting my weight more in my right leg to both keep me upright and in hopes of convincing him to straighten up a little, and then because he's drifting into the middle of the arena, I'll try to leg yield him over.  I've got my body turned the way I'm supposed to, and reins doing what I'm supposed to (inside rein up slightly but not pulling).  But when I told this to Trainer KL that I'm having to lean a bit to the right to keep myself balanced she suggested I not do that for the sake of Geir's balance issues and instead of bringing my leg back for a leg yield, give him a leg aid at the girth and ask him to engage that inside shoulder.  So, it wasn't a "Wa-la! He is now doing perfect corners!"  but I saw a big improvement in him immediately trying to engage that inside shoulder a little more and not leaning so much to the left which made me not want to lean to the right to compensate.

I also realized I was trying to force his body upright by leaning to the right a little also.  Something I know intellectually not to do - we ask for movement from the horse, we do not push or shove.  So, that was very cool and reminded me how much I have to learn about which part of the body to encourage movement from and how to encourage that movement in the way that I can ask the horse to do the movement himself instead of trying to push his body into doing it.  I'm not sure if that makes sense to anyone who doesn't ride but it was just another piece in the puzzle of how to perfect this "dancing with the horse" type of riding I'm trying to achieve where I'm leading the dance, not throwing his body around the room.   I love "a-ha moments"   :)

In other news I've been very cranky with social media sites the last few days.  Especially so with all the postings of how the phrase "not all men" is just another way to oppress women.  Good lord, people.  Do you honestly believe that if the killer was a psychopath woman who wrote a giant manifesto on killing rapist pigs and the sluts that enable them, that women would not be saying "Not all women" are like this?  I thought this blog post expressed what's been bothering me all week.

The chickadees in the birdhouse outside our kitchen window have had quite a dramatic time of it.  One of the babies died last week and the dad was trying to push/pull it's little dead body through the hole in the birdhouse.  I told my husband the dad chickadee needed help so he went out and pulled the baby out for him.  There were still some babies left though so the parents were busy bring food and taking away little fecal sacks (I didn't know they did that - it was pretty cool watching them clean house like that).  Yesterday one of the dogs found another baby (but this one more full grown) in the backyard and the bird house appears to be empty. I know there were more than one baby in the bird house so I'm hoping that it just means the babies left and only one did not make it.  It's been far more emotional for me watching this little chickadee family than I'd expected it would be.

And in completely unrelated news, I have a crush on Judge Abernathy from the Good Wife.  Not the actor - the actual character.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The end of an era ...

I knew this day would come eventually because this wasn't a permanent endeavor from the start, and I was already feeling burned out on working Saturdays, but somehow the pieces fell together and I gave notice at the pony school.  Mainly, I need to not work Saturdays and have more time with my family and I need to find a part-time job while I build my equine massage practice that pays more, especially because Maiden is coming back from Montana soon.  Apparently, she's been exhibiting chronic lameness the weeks while she's been there and her new owner can't afford it.  I'm bummed that I'm getting back a chronically lame horse but I have hope that since she was doing well with what I was doing with her before, she'll do well again when she's back.  But it's going to be a lot of extra expenses I hadn't budgeted for.

So, I'm very sad about no longer teaching.  I'm hoping this is not a permanent thing to not teach either, I'd like to go back to it someday when it's more practical for my life.  I know it's the right time though because I was extremely worried about what my boss would do to cover my shifts over summer and within an hour she was able to move things around and completely cover all of them.  So, that to me is a sign that it is the right time.  Also, there are a bumch of spas hiring part-time LMP's  right now and if I picked up one shift a week that would cover all my horses expenses plus some.

And I will be working one hour a week still at the pony school.  I have my one special needs student who I am good friends with her family and I know she doesn't acclimate to change well so although I think Miss C. or Miss T. would be perfectly fine with her, I'm not sure she'd be perfectly fine having a new teacher.  So my boss asked if I would mind coming in to teach one lesson a week and I jumped on it like some freaky chocolate addict who someone said, "You have to never eat chocolate again but oh hey - do you want this last Hershey bar?"  So, I guess that is a sign that my days of teaching are not completely over with.

So, this is good. Change is a good thing and it's been a good year of just teaching and going to school but now it's time to start earning money again and following new opportunities to new adventures.  But my heart is feeling pretty heavy too. 

On a less intense note Mr. Geir and I had a great lesson this morning with Trainer KL.  Probably the worst part of the lesson was that it looks like it's snowing from all the cottonwood seeds blowing around, and when I'm thinking really hard I usually breathe through my mouth and that didn't go so well with all the cottonwood seeds flying around.  I had to cough and spit a few times and add  "keep your mouth shut" to all the stuff I was thinking of doing.

My daughter and I are a making a mix cd for her BFF because she (her BFF) is getting a MP3 player for her birthday this weekend.  So, we've been picking out songs that she thinks her friend will like.  It's cute to have a little 10 year old girl describing her friend's musical taste, "She likes accoustic melodic stuff ... kind of country but not too country ... with lots of pretty singing.  No Rockin' stuff like I like.  And no rap like I like, she doesn't like that either.  No Pitbull either, and just one of the Macklemore songs, just the Thrift Shop one, the version without the swear words, but no other ones." She takes it so seriously, it feels like I'm talking to myself as a teenager.  I also realized that this song could easily have been my teenage anthem.  Thirty-five years late but still, it speaks to the 12 year old that hovers around in my mind.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Running away from my problems

I started up my Couch 2-5K runs again today after a few months off.   For one, the arthritis flare-up in my feet has gone down a lot, another reason is my jeans are really tight and I don't like tight clothes.  Plus one of my teachers from equine massage school posted photos from running the Beat the Bridge run this morning and that was the last straw of inspiration.  It also helped that I found out that on my app I don't have to use the "chipper and supportive" Constance which is the default audio track for telling you when to walk and jog.  Instead I can use Johnny Dead who just happens to be a zombie.  That worked much better for me.   I made an agreement that if I do this consistently for two weeks I can buy myself a pair of Asics.  I'm hoping that will give me more support for when my RA is attacking my ankles and the connective tissue on the bottom of my feet.  It certainly brightened my mood even if my feet and ankles are killing me now.

I had a stressful week and could barely sleep a couple of nights during the week and had one hell of a terrible headache one morning.  I was wondering if there was anything in the world that would cheer me up and sure enough when I rode Geir it cheered me up.  Today he worked hard and was a good sport about it the whole time.  I was riding bareback and it took me a few minutes to get comfortable with it because I haven't ridden bareback in a few months.  By the end I had found my groove and was really pushing him to find his groove and not counter-bend on his turns.  I decided to try everything that I had heard at the Gerd Heuschmann clinic and it seemed to work well.  Unfortunately, without having much work at all last week Geir was out of practice with not counter-bending but eventually combining stuff I learned from the clinic to stuff I learned from Trainer KL I managed to get two corners without counter bending! Or as Gerd called it "false turns".   Yay!  I rewarded him with stopping at the big water trough (which had just been refilled with fresh, cold water) and realized he was breathing quite heavily, so we just walked around and practiced our stretchy walk that he's starting to get good at. 

Geir hasn't been getting turned out with his friends because he's so fat (I can relate with the whole jeans not fitting thing) and can't be out on pasture grass for very long.  I was thinking of taking him out to the pasture with his friends after our work-out but then the head of the school would have to bring him in later when she came to do chores and I didn't know if she wanted to do that.  But then she showed up she asked if he'd been cooled down enough and I said yes and she cautiously asked if he wanted to go out with his friends and I said, "Definitely! You don't mind bringing him in later?"  There are a few pastures at the school but the big one is on the other side of two very large fields used for growing crops by the neighboring organic farm.  So you have to walk down a long path we call "the chute" to get there, but once you're out there it's a huge pasture of several acres that goes all the way to a line of trees that runs along the Sammamish River Trail.  Our eight big horses were already out there munching away and when Geir got to the end of the chute he trotted happily out to the middle of the pasture and when Pal saw him, he twirled around an cantered as fast as he could to him (I love how bonded Pal is to him) So five of the other horses followed him  until they were all circling around him.  As quickly as they came, they turned to disburse, all except Pal who stayed with his butt practically touching Geir's butt while they ate grass together.  If I ever move to a farm and bring Geir home I'm going to have to beg the school's owner to let me buy Pal and bring him with us.  Besides being so bonded to Geir he is one of those rare truly sensitive, gentle, kind Quarterhorses who hasn't got a mean bone in his body.

Last week my daughter went to her training to be a volunteer for the school and although I was working that day I really didn't see her the entire four hours.  She loved it and did her first official shift Friday after school.  I made a point of not being anywhere near her because I was feeling anxious about her being in charge of ponies by herself (without another volunteer helping her - now she was the one in charge).  Luckily Miss C. was in charge and she's pretty devoid of fear and thinks of my daughter as a lot more mature than I do (she's only 10 years old and can't weigh more than 62 pounds so I feel like she's this tiny, helpless little creature despite having a reputation for pushing her to face her fears and challenge herself - inside I am still freaking out).  Her jobs include bringing ponies in for classes and taking them back out to their paddocks afterward.  She needs to help the little kids in class with grooming and making sure they follow safety rules, and she needs to be in charge of keeping the pony on lead line during the class for safety for the little kid student.  She also has to pick out stalls, paddocks and clean and fill water buckets (which she's helped me do for a couple years now so I'm not so worried about it).  Although the pitch forks are taller than she is!  Needless to say, when I asked Miss C. how she did, she said she did great.  It really is very cool to see her branching out and being more independent and responsible. She's the youngest of the volunteers except for one who is only a year older than her, but the rest are mostly 13-16 year olds which is good for her to be around.  And she of course thinks that's super cool.

A photo of Pal and Geir ... Geir is actually closer to the same height as Pal but the angle of the photo makes him look much shorter.  Pal is really quite beautiful when he's not covered mud (well, I think he's beautiful even covered with mud!)

A photo of the "track" I am running for my Couch 2-5k.  Some of it is gravel but a lot of it is the boardwalk over the wetlands and the creek.  Today I went just under two miles with walking/jogging.  The plan is to work up to doing a 5k in 8 weeks I think.  I find it hard to believe I could do that because I've always been pretty bad at running and endurance - but we'll see.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Things I get excited about ... and not ...

I got to do a ground lesson with one of my students yesterday which I was both excited and nervous about.  The nervous part was more that teens would rather ride a horse in a lesson than do a ground lesson.  I would rather ride a horse in a lesson than do a ground lesson, come to think of it.

But my student and the horse were not particularly getting along.  She's been doing very well with the riding aspect as far as not kicking or pulling on his face as much and he balance has become much better, but the dynamic that she doesn't like him and he is wary and defensive was getting in the way of truly successful rides.  He did not see her as the leader of the situation in our lessons. He saw me as the only leader so when he would get confused or not understand he would rush over to me (he's a very sweet, sensitive horse) so I thought a ground work lesson would help establish a better relationship between them.  And I was happy that my boss was on board with that idea.

Thankfully, my student did not think it was boring or annoying as I had worried she would.  We started out with some basic ground/liberty stuff to talk about intention and body language.  I tried my best to describe what I was saying but getting my conceptual thoughts out into words coherently is still a challenge so not sure if I succeeded at that.  Then we did some free lunging and I started teaching her the concept of leading a horse with your body language, which is hard to explain in one session because there are so many subtle details - it's like you are molding the horses movements by your body - like you're dancing together - and anyone who has done a lot of dance and been the lead in dancing knows there is a lot of subtly you can't quite express all of in just a half hour.

But I felt like it was a great lesson and at the end of it I asked my student to lead the horse across the arena to the door just by having him follow her (no halter or lead rope) and he lowered his head in his relaxed way and followed her licking and chewing and didn't even look twice at me.  Which was a huge improvement from the beginning of the lesson when I was on the other side of the arena and she was to interact with him but he had his eye on me the whole time and was mostly ignoring her - waiting for his cue from me on what *I* wanted him to do.

In other news I apparently seem to have developed Sjogren's syndrome, which I'm none too happy about.  I haven't had any formal tests but I have all the symptoms and my eye doctor tested my eyes a couple days ago and said they are severely dehydrated.  So, now I need to drink more water and put eye drops in my eyes several times a day along with after every half hour I read or am on the computer.  She's going to check again in two months and see if my eyes are less dehydrated and if not "ramp up the treatment" ... not sure what that means except putting eye drops in my eyes every five minutes.  I actually haven't noticed any difference in my eyes yet (they've been stinging a bit for months now and on really bad days feel like I have grit in them which drives me crazy).

The RA has been acting up again too.  By the end of the day I'm hobbling around with a lot of pain in the bottom of my feet - so much so I feel like whining and am constantly wanting to sit down.  It helps that I have a job I like (despite I'm on my feet the whole time) because it takes my mind off of it.  Although I think I'm going to need to soak my feet in hot water for awhile when I get home.  Also, the fatigue is kicking my butt! Good lord.  I finally pushed myself to go back to pilates after three weeks yesterday and I felt like just lifting my arms to do the warm-ups was going to crush me.  But I also felt a lot better and had more energy by the time the hour was over so I'm glad I did it.  I just need to be really conscious of making sure I do lots of self-care.  I'm keeping up on my Humira right now which is helping, my eye doctor said to up my Omega 3 intake and that will help, up my vitamin D and I'm going to start making fresh ginger tea in the evenings because that helps inflammation too.  And this too shall pass.   And I really need to lay off the critical thinking like how I should lose weight to look better and I should be accomplishing more ... blah blah blah.  I'm doing pretty damn well for having what some what call "physical disability" (I don't like to use that term in regards to myself because it gets me down and freaks me out) but I do need to realize that I am doing great for where I'm coming from and be kinder to myself and not so critical.

And in Geir news, he is doing wonderfully.  My daughter struggled with riding him a bit last week in her lesson because he is very "friends oriented" and when her class was lined up on the wall and it was her turn to take him out in the arena to trot he turned really fast on her and trotted back to the line and she got frustrated and said he "wouldn't listen" to her.  It's not that he wouldn't listen, it's that he is like a very large, strong, little kid with very strong ideas.  And when he wants to be with his friends, he needs a rider to be "bigger and stronger" (conceptually - not physically) to tell him "No, we're going to do this work and THEN you can go back to hang with your friends".   So, he will listen, but you have to let him know he needs to listen to you.  That's why he is not good for beginners alone in a class because if you're at all insecure he'll (in a very friendly way) say "Oh, well, if I'm in charge I'm going to stick with my friends!" and galumph over to his friends no matter what the timid little rider is trying to say.  But if you catch him *before* he does that he will listen.  But you have to catch him as he's giving that subtle cue of asking "Hey - can I go back to my friends?" before he is turned around and heading toward them.  So, my daughter and I talked about it and sure enough, when she paid a lot of attention and was able to hear his body language when it said, "Can I turn and go back now?" and she said "No, listen to me," before he had turned to go back to his friends, she was able to ride him successfully even when all the other horses were lined up on the wall and she had to take him out in the arena to trot.  I was so proud of both of them!

It's time for my daughter to choose a new song to work on in voice lessons.  We just had a recital and she sang Katy Perry's "Roar" and did a surprisingly good job (she comes from a long line of non-talented singers).  She chose this song.  Which means I will add it to my repertoire of pop songs I am learning to play on piano so I can accompany her when she practices.  Oh my.