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February 1, 2019

PTHSD

I'm not sure what is tougher, losing a loved one or watching them suffer until you ultimately lose them. For months, I had watched, stressed, and researched Doc's condition- trying everything from modern medicine to voodoo tricks to make him feel better, all to no avail. 

A few days after losing him, I found myself lost. We'd welcomed a new equine beauty to our farm, partly to help our unicorn with his separation anxiety...partly to help with my own. Harry, the beautiful, gentle giant with the sweetest brown eyes I've ever seen- partnered with Tristan, the equally beautiful, scared of everything, majestical unicorn. My hope was they would quite literally be the yin to each others yang, all while helping to distract my brain.

The loss I felt was not just in sadness- I literally felt like I was forgetting to do something. I over-checked everything, retraced my steps, etc. but it was only a loss felt in regards to the horses. I began somewhat obsessing over their health- are they drinking enough? do they need extra supplements? the weather is changing, I need to make sure they are wearing the right blankets... I was waking up in the middle of the night, or not sleeping at all, because I was obsessively worried about my horses. As a horse person, this isn't exactly abnormal. 

One warm evening at around midnight, I couldn't sleep. I tossed, turned, and finally decided to go outside and check on the horses. (Because at midnight, certainly, they needed me...and I would absolutely be able to fix anything that ailed them alone, in the dark. Stop judging me.) I peep out the back window- Tristan, goats....no Harry. Granted, Harry is black as night, so he isn't as easy to spot as the unicorn.

I check the barn. No Harry. My heart starts beating in my ears. I call his name....nothing. #yourwelcomeneighbors

I'm sweating, nauseous and tears are welling up in my eyes...borderline about to lose my shit.

Tristan approaches me, calmly, as if to say mom, you're losing your shit. I give him a treat and walk around the back side of the hay-hut, where there is absolutely no light. My gait somewhat brisk b/c again, I'm losing my shit. My foot catches on something and I'm tossed into the air. Treats fly in the opposite direction...Tristan takes off, the goats start yelling...and I land on a startled Harry- who is now scrambling to get up from his slumber with me sprawled out ontop of him.

"Well there you are!!" I squeal, hugging him. #maybecryingalittle

"Ugggggggh" Harry lets out an aggravated sigh, while stretching.

Tristan continues to prance and snort as far as possible away from the hay hut- certain a monster had taken both me and Harry out. #cautiousunicorn

After we all calmed down, I returned to my bed- laughing a little at myself. I hadn't expected Harry to be curled up like a cat sound asleep. I guess it's good he didn't trample me, considering no one else in the house was up. 

Is Post Traumatic Horse-Stress Disorder a real thing? I wondered.

Probably. All cowgirls are high-maintenance in the most unconventional of ways. PTHSD would make perfect sense. 

January 11, 2019

Doc

If you're ever given the chance to own your dream horse, take it. Sell whatever you have to in order to make that dream a reality. #advicefromacowgirl

My daddy and my husband would share similar reasoning in saying that any horse that walked into my life would quickly become my dream horse. Each arguing that any equine in my line of sight, is the most beautiful, magnificent creature that ever walked God's green earth. They're both correct. 

I remember the day so clearly- where I was sitting, what I was doing- when I was offered the opportunity to own a dream horse. It was a bittersweet text sent from my friend, saying her husband had found his dream horse and was ready to rehome Doc. 

Doc is so special to us and needs a good home. He still has many trail miles left in him...do you know of anyone who would love him like we do?

I responded, "I do. I want him! I have to sell Kirk's mare...but I want him. I mean, you know, for Kirk."

We were in the middle of planning our surprise wedding. I responded without even talking to Kirk. I knew he would be on board because....it was Doc. Doc was the horse we would see at trail rides- hell, anyone, horses included, would see at rides and bow down in respect to his authority. #seriously

The day after our wedding, we brought Doc home. (Yes, when most people pack up to head out on a honeymoon...we traveled west about 45 miles to pick up a new horse.) As excited as I was to marry my dream-man the day before, I was just as excited to bring home our dream horse.

Doc settled in quickly to our little farm- quickly letting Tristan know he was the boss of all things. He enjoyed the extra snuggles, treats, and kisses. Nothing phased the big man- the opposite of his pasture-mate. He often looked over at Tristan as if to say, "Seriously, man...get it together. You're supposed to be a majestic creature."

A few years into our journey, I noticed some labored breathing in my sweet man, Doc. We began jumping through hoops to try to make breathing not so much of a chore. Rides were halted until the frigid winter months, when he seemed to breathe easy. We soaked hay, gave steroid injections, oral medication, and an ocean's worth of tears on the bad days. In true Doc-style, he was a gentleman through it all. 

Owning horses is not for the faint at heart, especially when it comes to making decisions like the one I knew was coming. Doc's breathing was steadily getting worse and his body was covered in sweat, even with the cool temperatures. We made the call- knowing it was the last kind thing we could do for our friend.

The nights prior, I had the same dream during the few minutes of sleep I managed to get. My daddy was sitting on Brandy, my childhood horse, in a huge field. Brandy was eating grass and Daddy was waving with both hands. (Like Lane Frost in 8 Seconds...if you haven't watched that movie, stop reading now and go watch it.) He wasn't smiling necessarily, he was just waving like he always did. Just seeing him made me smile- but I was too preoccupied to put much thought into the meaning behind the dream.

The day we had to say goodbye- also known as the absolute shittiest day of a cowgirl's life. (And ya'll, we deal with some shit. #punintended) Doc did it his way...and we let him. We held his head and gave him all the treats he could stand. We kissed him and cried over him in the rain.

He laid down gently...and I saw his ears move forward and his hooves begin to move. My heart sank...he's having a seizure. His hooves moved into a canter, as his body lay still...our vet grabbed my hand.

He's already running in the meadow. {my dream} Daddy's waving him over.

In that moment as the tears ran down my cheeks, it all made sense to me. The bad days with horses, the sick times, the hardest times...they were always spent with Daddy. He was always the voice that said "This is hard but its what has to be done, Bud...we've done all we can do here"...it was what I was missing- his reassurance. He was right there beside me, taking Doc's lead and saying "Come on, boy..."

Later that evening as I stood in the barn, I thanked God for trusting me to care for such marvelous creatures. As I kissed the muzzle of my other two dream horses, I smiled knowing Daddy was doing the same.


Take my advice...never pass up the opportunity to own your dream horse.


January 10, 2019

Goals

I don't set resolutions for myself. I feel like setting a resolution tends to set me up to fail. However, if I set a goal...it seems much more attainable. 

In setting goals, I've learned a lot about myself. I've learned that while I hate to disappoint others, (ie: let others down) I will quickly cancel on myself. In the fall, I read "Girl, Wash Your Face" and while it didn't completely rock my world, I did walk away from it with one big reminder- to show up for myself. Whether it is an hour spent in the horse-barn or a two mile run...show up. Sometimes just showing up is half the battle.

In order to show up, you have to make a plan- set that goal. Putting myself out there and sharing my goals is another way to hold myself accountable. (Because I can't very well let my four faithful blogreaders down. Hi, Mom!)

The Goals-
- Show up & hold myself accountable to things that are important 
- Don't show up to social media. It is SO okay to not be online-accessible all the time. If the world is ending, someone will call. Seriously. The more we are on it, the more we feel the urgency to be on it. Set social media times and stick to them.
- Write. Journal. Blog. Creativity fuels creativity.
- Read a chapter of something every day.
- Re-read goals list...check yourself before you wreck yourself.

So in keeping with my goals...it has been quite sometime since I've blogged, while I've kept a wildly sporadic journal over the last year or so, my blog has gone dark. 

Part of me that wants to write about 2018- the ups and downs- the happiness and sadness...the OCD in me wants to catch this page up from the lack of entries over the last year. But a bigger part of me doesn't. Ultimately, the big picture is the same from year to year...I still have a little farm with a lot of animals...I still talk about my horses almost as much as I do my kids and my husband...I still attend weddings for one career and divorces for another...I'm still really, insanely sarcastic and think I'm funnier than I actually am...and I'm still the friend who says what everyone else is thinking. 

Well...that satisfies the need to catch up. Here's to reaching goals in 2019! 

November 15, 2017

13e.1ieve in Yourself

My body hadn't fully recovered from running my first half marathon in April when I was already scouring the internet for my next race.

Outer Banks Southern Fried Half Marathon...November...click, boom, bam...registered.

Being that I didn't die or injury myself running the Flying Pirate, I felt confident that the race in November would be a breeze. At least, not rougher than my first...right? 

Between the summer heat and summer schedules, training quickly fell off my calendar. I managed to get in a few miles every week or so...most runs motivating me for the next.

Cut to the end of October...crunch time.

"I'm doing it...I can do it," I told my husband.

Having a positive attitude is half the running battle. If you let your brain tell your body you can quit, you will never make it out of the driveway. #nevergivein

I hit the pavement while Little Miss was at play practice, running a few new routes. I learned quickly that running in Nags Head vs. Wanchese offered two obstacles 1) restaurant food to smell 2) pools...lots of pools to consider trespassing/diving into. #itwashotandiwashungry The struggle was really real on my beach road runs. 

Between weather, migraines, and training solo...it could've been so easy to say eff-it and hop on the couch to train for a Netflix marathon instead. But I didn't give in to the temptation. I ran in the rain. I ran with a migraine. My determination kicked into high gear.

Friday, two days before the race, my excitement (or adrenaline) started to kick in. I thought back to the previous race- which I ran in honor of Daddy. A mix of anger and sadness stole my excitement.

"Fuck cancer," I whispered to myself.

A light bulb went off in my head. I immediately grabbed my phone and typed in those words. I found a few ideas that I liked...but, knowing our Southern community...I wasn't sure how a runner with "F Cancer" on her back would be received.

Later in the day, I picked my packet up and mentioned my idea to one of the vendors at the race expo.

"My daughter wears a headband with that on it...she is 12. It's well-received. Cancer is the offensive word there," she said.

"I agree...does your daughter have cancer?" I asked.

"Yes, for 10 years now. She recently opted out of treatments."

My heart stopped for the mother standing in front of me. I couldn't imagine her pain, her worry...her every day life. 

"Wear that shirt proud," she winked at me.

Saturday morning I woke up with the beginnings of a cold. I tried to keep myself busy designing my race shirt and planning for the following morning. 

"That cold is just trying to distract you...you're going to kill it!" my race partner from the previous race texted. #shewasright

At 4am, I popped out of bed like it was Christmas morning. #whodoesthat? Breakfast. Yoga. Immodium. (#seriouslyworstfear) Hydrate.Hydrate.Hydrate. Out the door.

It seemed like I blinked and the timer began. I ran the first 3 miles feeling great. Then someone must've attached concrete blocks to my feet and poured baby powder down my throat. I was dying of thirst and felt like I couldn't- for the life of me- pick up my feet to run.

Push through it...mind over matter...I can do this...why did I sign up to do this?!...and alone...that was dumb...I will never do another race again....I can do it...just 9.5 more miles.

I talked myself through each time I felt like I couldn't do it. I reminded myself that my battle was nothing to complain about. I reminded myself why I had those two special names on my shoulders and F-CANCER on my back. I played little mind games with myself- set short goals and met each one. Before long, I was feeling great about my running once again. 

Mile 9. Washington Baum Bridge. Holy freaking incline-that-never-ends.

From this point to the finish, I don't remember much but everything hurt and I was just trying to make it to the finish to collapse into my family's arms. (Although I do remember getting passed by a few full-marathon runners...that added a little boost to my confidence. #lies)

But I made it! (And I beat my previous time!) All the thoughts I had of never racing again, were gone as soon as I crossed the finish line.

I'm so thankful I believed in myself. I'm thankful I had two heroic names on my shoulders to remind me to never give up. And today, I'll be thankful for the moment my shins quit throbbing so I can run again. #crazymotherrunner #fucancer





September 13, 2017

Mom So Hard

It's a thing those gangsta moms say- we 'mom so hard' b/c you know...we do.

But we also 'wife so hard'...and 'cleaning lady so hard' and 'chef so hard'....I, personally, juggle about 8,023,759 things around on my plate. You guys, I do a lot of shit. (And sometimes, it actually involves literally shoveling shit.)

Here's the thing- I love to be busy. I love helping people- and hate asking for help myself. I rarely say "I'm sorry, I can't do that"...I'll just toss it into the mix of my schedule and hope for the best.

Cut to midnight one evening...I'm sobbing in my bed because I'm so overwhelmed and exhausted that I can't breathe. My husband is looking at me like I have lost my damn mind and my dog has belly-crawled his way into the hallway and covered his ears.

"I'm just f*cking everything up. I can't seem to do anything right!"

My husband stares at me blankly. We both know my statement isn't true...but in the moment, I felt like I sucked as a mom, wife, friend, daughter, etc.

"Well stop doing so much!" he says. (An utterly ridiculous statement that will never happen- not for lack of him trying.)

When I get overwhelmed I can't focus on anything positive...which is not at all who I typically am. I am the person who 95% of the time sees the glass half full...and if it's half empty- it's only because whatever was in it was so delicious that I had to drink it down in one gulp. (I know...it even annoys me sometimes.)

But on this particular evening, in my sobbing state of complete irrationality- the only thing I could focus on was that I wasn't even doing a good job at being positive. I couldn't even find my glass to see if it was half empty or full.

I was no busier than I was the previous week. Nothing monumental had changed in my life...was it hormones? The moon? Football season? I wasn't even sure exactly what I needed to pull me out of the quicksand of negativity I was stuck in...but I knew I needed my husband to lasso me out.

My mind swirled after my tears had long dried on my pillow and I wondered...why do I need someone else to pull me out of this? No one got me here but myself...and the reality of the metaphorical place I was in was no-more real than a monster in a fairy tale.

I searched for the positive...and there it was in the clearing like a rainbow after the storm.

My husband.
Our family.
Our home.

Yes, life is busy...but life is wonderful.

I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.

The following morning, I climbed out of bed ready to take on the world. I was ready to mom/wife/photog/legal-assistant/chef/taxi/cleaning-lady SO freaking hard...and there wasn't a grain of quicksand in sight.