October 24, 2013

a little alone time


Yesterday was my day off this week and I spent almost the entire thing at home, alone, and it was delightfully, indulgently, glorious. Do you daydream about how you would spend a perfect day, going over the agenda in your head, throwing in a few extra luxuries because, well, why not? Yesterday came pretty darn close to mine, minus the yoga, massages on the beach, and fruity cocktails in hand… but that's what vacations are for. it'skindofallI'mthinkingaboutthesedays

 I woke up early to send my sweet man off to work with a kiss and then crawled right back into bed to drink Chai tea and read for another hour.  Our bed has the best view in the house of the tree tops and hills in the distance but we are rarely in it during daylight hours to enjoy it. So lying there, looking out at the foggy morning was the perfect start to the day. Then I decided to put my old paints and brand-new brushes to use and finished a painting I started last week in a class after work. It was the first time I devoted any real time to painting since we moved which is downright embarassing since I spend 40 hours a week talking about and selling art supplies. Its like working at a library and never reading or being a car salesman who doesn't own one…where does one even start? (Yes it is possible to over-think such things).  But having a practical, tangible project to complete and using the supplies I already had took away the pressure and I was just able to have fun. 

After painting, I spent a solid hour eating grilled cheese and watching the first thing I came across on Netflix that Dan would never publicly watch with me… a documentary on Katy Perry. Only after all of this did I decide it was time to change out of my pajamas and get ready to head down to the stables to see Gracie. We were supposed to have a lesson with one of her owners who is also a trainer, but car problems kept her from coming by so it was just the two of us- Gracie and I- and our first time riding alone, and it was perfect. We spent over an hour and a half practicing everything we have been working on the past few weeks. It's hard work and at the end of each day of riding, muscles I forgot I had are shaking but it's so rewarding. It feels like practicing choreography with a reallyreallybig dance partner, and each time something clicks or another move is mastered, it feels like a little victory. 

By the time Gracie was back in her stall, Dan was home and ready to start dinner. We collaborated on a spaghetti squash casserole, bruschetta, and finishing a bottle of cabernet sauvignon. We vacuumed the house while dinner was baking and lit a few candles. We watched two episodes of House of Cards,  which seems interesting enough, although we have been struggling to find a good series since Downton Abbey and Broadchurch ended. Any good suggestions? (criteria: suspense or drama {no zombies, no serial killers, no drug cartels… I know, where's all the fun!?}... episodes have to be shorter than 50 mins and series no more than 2 or 3 seasons in… we have to have lives, people!)

Then we were in bed with lights out by 10! That calls for a hi-five in our books. It felt like the very best, most wonderful way to spend a Wednesday.

How would you spend your perfect day off?


October 21, 2013

Hailey vs. Wild

On Saturday my sister-in-law and I drove up to the top of a mountain and spent five hours learning how to "survive" in the wilderness. We sat on the ground. We made rope out of plants. We made smaller rocks out of bigger rocks. We glued sharp rocks to sticks. We whittled sticks and set small-animal traps (in case we would want a pet while lost in the woods, obiviously). We peed in the dirt...

Overall, it was a great way to spend an afternoon and some decent cash, because now I know how to keep myself busy, and hopefully from starving, if I am ever lost in the woods- and mostly because I learned why I should avoid all potential getting-lost-in-the-wilderness activities, altogether,  from now on. 
My sister-in-law, however, conquered the survival workshop like a boss. On our way up to the mountain site she told me about how she once canoed through the Yukon and "befriended" bears and moose, and how she learned how to build a shelter from sticks and leaves. I decided then and there that should my first plan of wilderness avoidance fail, you'll just find me glued to her side. 
She'll be the one that looks like Pocahontas...


October 11, 2013

the greatest gift

Give me a few hours with a horse...

a wooden barn 
the sound of rain on a tin roof
 the smell of sawdust, grain, and leather 
a soft brush that finds the sweet spot behind two fuzzy ears
 a hoof delicately placed in your hand
 the warm breath from the softest nose
 the biggest, most trusting brown eyes 
a forehead that is lowered politely to be petted
curious lips circling in your palm
a gentle mouth pulling a solid bit over flat teeth
a slack rope and heavy footsteps following behind
the soft footing of an arena
the tug of a leather girth stretched into place
boots pressing down into metal stirrups
ankles tucked against a warm side
knees squeezing a cool leather saddle
hands holding thin reins like they were porcelain
a helmet strap tucked underneath my chin
moving forward as one body
a hundred dizzying laps
a silent language spoken between best friends
a satisfying dismount
a quiet walk back to the barn
the slow release of a bridle 
the weight of a warm saddle being lifted
the excited chatter of neighbors as dinner is delivered
fresh alfalfa flakes tossed into feed bins
the release of a halter buckle 
hoof prints in soft shavings
the latch on the wooden door sliding shut
a friendly face hanging over the rail,
 turned to watch me walk away...

I will give you the fullest heart I can find.


October 07, 2013

back in the saddle

{on Cheyenne, 1996}

What little girl didn't dream of having her very own horse? Brushing their long, flowing manes and swishing tails; galloping bareback through a wildflower field; holding their heavy muzzle and burying your face in their warm necks...  

Ever since I can remember, horses completely captivated me and I wanted nothing more than to be near them as often as possible. Around age 8, I started taking lessons regularly and after a few years, progressed to novice competitions and horse shows, eventually having the privilege of leasing a pony named Bubbles whom I absolutely adored. I ultimately outgrew Bubbles, and a lot of the barn politics that dictated when, how, and where I could ride, so I sought out leases on privately owned horses at smaller stables. Two or three days a week I would head up the hill to the stable and spend as long as I could (thanks for driving me, mom!) grooming, riding, cleaning, and bonding with my biggest, and some of my very best, friends. I was completely content at the barn, but when my friends started talking about dance lessons, junior lifeguards, and cheerleading, I decided that in order to fit in with everyone else, I couldn't be a horse-loving little girl anymore. 

Not choosing to seriously pursue riding throughout high school and beyond is something I wish I could go back and change but horseback riding is expensive, time-consuming, and somewhat isolating- a challenging combination for a teenage girl who started working, and dating, at 16. Since then, I have made every effort to spend as much time around horses as possible, briefly volunteering with a horse-rescue in Colorado, taking trail rides, and visiting my friend's horses a few times over the summer. But I knew that if I were to take riding seriously again I had to make a firm commitment, and since we aren't in any position (nor will be anytime soon) to own a horse, I decided to find one to lease again.

Over the weekend I dusted off my old saddle, pulled on my boots, and rode two very different and wonderful horses, carefully weighed the circumstances  of each, and made the tough decision. I spoke to the owner last night and am waiting to finalize the plans for my first official day with "my" new horse. I am so giddy I could barely sleep last night. 

It feels so good to be back.

Is there anything you wish you had continued to pursue from your childhood?

Have you made the transition back to that thing as an adult?

I'd love to hear about your process!


October 05, 2013

In which I ramble about having nothing to say


Three times this week I sat down and stared at a blank box on the screen, my blinking cursor ticking away the seconds as I struggled to spit out a sentence. Dozens of words and witty comments flashed behind my eyes, but putting them down on "paper"? I may as well have been asked to translate a foreign language. 

It's not like I don't want to. I have an endless list of all of the things I want to say, I just don't know how I want to say them. It's so cliche, but I don't know how to get the things inside my head out, in some sort of order, with some sort of clarity. I don't know how to wrap a topic up neatly with some sort of resolution and an appropriate title. And mostly, I simply don't know where to start. 

In some ways I wonder if I have simply forgotten how to write, or worse, if I have forgotten how to speak. I don't mean talking- I do plenty of that. I spend my days talking to other people, strangers really; asking them questions, giving them answers, explaining facts and ideas, and wishing them well on their way, but it has been weeks, maybe longer, since I had a real, deep conversation that forced me to dig past the surface. And poor Dan, who gets the somewhat deflated, thoroughly exhausted version of his wife each evening who says she doesn't want to talk anymore because she is tired of hearing her own voice. The one who requests that they at least not talk about work then realizes she doesn't have much else to contribute. The one who shuffles her feet at suggestions that they have people over because it just seems like a whole lot of extra effort. 

This is so not like me, and it's disappointing to say the least, and anyone who has ever known me; for five minutes or fifteen years, wouldn't believe a word of this. But I wonder if over the past few months in this new town, and new life, away from the familiarity and friendships and our community in Colorado, I have slowly slipped into an introverted version of myself. I wonder if I am just lonely, not having my close friends nearby anymore. I wonder if I am just tired and don't have the energy to invest in making new ones. I wonder if there's an element of fear and hesitation clouding my thoughts, pulling me back from putting myself out there, on here, and in real life. But why? To be honest, at the moment, I don't know. But this is different and strange and unsettling. But is it really so bad?

Perhaps this is a season in life where I am being forced to do more listening, observing, asking, and waiting. Maybe I am learning to adjust and grow and experience this moment without the safety net of an active social life. Maybe I'm making a bigger deal of all this than it is and plenty of people our age walk in the door at night, put on their pajamas, pour a glass of wine, and watch old episodes of Portlandia before going to bed early. 

Then again, maybe they don't...