Stop and breathe

Last night I handed in the paper that signified the end of my first year in my master’s program. It has been quite the year – I feel like all I’ve done is study, write papers, and cry about how stressed I am.

I’ve learned a few things in this year.

First, and most importantly, I’ve learned that my kids support my dreams as much as I support theirs. This year came with sacrifices for them as I was not as available as I used to be. A reminder of what awesome humans they are.

Secondly, I’ve finally begun to understand my anxiety and to work with it and challenge it in life-changing ways. Literally life changing.

Third, I’ve realized that what all the “old” people say is true (as an up and coming old person myself). It’s really never too late to start to live your dreams.

When I started this blog 5.5 years ago I was a completely different person, and finding any happiness in the day was such a challenge. Now I’m in a place where I feel safe and I can see my dreams becoming a reality. It’s exciting, it’s hopeful, it’s living!!


So this happened….

So it turns out that the loss of our beloved Dotted Doggie was harder on me than I thought it would be. I mean, she was 16, she survived the streets of Tennessee, moved with us to Rhode Island, Virginia, and then flew home to Alberta with one very disgruntled cat where she had over 5 years of happy ranch living. She was my companion through the worst and scariest times of my marriage, while my parents died, while I got divorced, and while my kids were sick. She was just there.

And then when she wasn’t the house was just so empty. I said to myself “self, this is stupid. You’ve grieved so many things in so many ways, maybe it’s time to grieve differently”.

So this happened….

My new girl

And I’m totally and completely in love. She’s just the best little ball of goo and in this photo you can kind of see her angel wing heart on her chest.

But what really got me was her “baby photo” where I could see not only her angel wing heart, but her little dotted legs. Which don’t seem to go with her brindle colouring at all, and it’s like our little Dotted Dog sent her to us.

Love is endless, I will always love all my animals whether they’re here or waiting in heaven. But there’s a certain joy and peace that comes from having a true blue, loyal companion.


When it’s time to say goodbye

Goodbyes are hard no matter how many times you have to say them. Saying goodbye forever to someone you love and who is part of your family is painful.

It’s been a week and a day since our beloved Dotted Dog unexpectedly left us and went on her heavenly journey. I mean at 16 it was somewhat expected, but she was doing so well and was such a powerhouse of love that we felt she’d be here forever.

The house is so quiet without her and our hearts miss her so much. There’s a lifetime of memories for my kids with her – she watched them grow up. In many ways she was my partner in raising my kids and was most definitely an irreplaceable member of our family.

She loved us when we were unlovable. She was there for us whenever we needed her. And while she struggled with her own anxiety issues. She in turn taught us patience and compassion.


Love your tribe

I’m sitting at the car dealership waiting for my car to get diagnosed – I’m pretty sure my battery is dead.

How do I know this?

On Wednesday I drove it, let it sit (turned off, in park, doors closed, lights off etc) for an hour while I went riding and then it was dead.

My lovely friend and riding instructor helped me jump it and off I went. Except that when I got home the same thing happened – dead car. So, in order for me to get here I had to call my cousin’s husband (poor man, he’s so good to us) and ask for help. He was unavailable so he sent one of the ranch guys over to give me a hand.

We are not supposed to have to do everything alone, I am so thankful for my tribe. They help keep me moving ahead.

It’s easy to find the negative and dwell there. But it’s not where peace and happiness live. The one thing I know for sure is that I’m not giving up on myself, I’m not giving up on my kids. But I know that to get through things we need to support ourselves, each other, and those around us. Really – a little kindness goes a long way.

Be the change you want to see in the world.


Back to gratitude

I’m being reminded of how important it is to be grateful for my many blessings.

I was driving with the girl today and she was talking about one of her friends and an issue she was having. My girl looked me in the eyes and said “I think what the difference is is that she (friend) doesn’t have the relationship with her parents like I do with you. We can talk about anything, most of my friends can’t do that”.

That’s the relationship I’ve always wanted to have with my kids. It’s why we have uncomfortable conversations, so that they will know they can have them with me. It’s why we spend so much time together, so they learn that family is important and they are loved. It’s why we talk about God, and everyone’s individual relationship without judgement, so they know that they are part of something greater than themselves.

I am so grateful that I get to share my life with them. Whatever I have given them, they have given me more back in spades.


Sunflower days

These last few weeks have been a little rough. The end of May meant that it had been 5 years since Dad died and I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing him. Even more than I miss him for myself, I miss him for my kids – they still needed him.

It also marked 5 years since his funeral, which was the last time I or the girl saw Mr. X. The boy saw him one time a year later in a therapy session that went horribly wrong and neither kid has any contact with him at all since. My kids deserved better, so did I. Such is life.

But more than I regret what Mr. X won’t do, I miss what my dad was so wanting to give them. He wanted to be an active part of their lives, he wanted to provide guidance and love and protection. He wanted to see them both fail and succeed and watch how they learned from both.

My dad really was an exceptional man. He was involved in our lives, and he was a master at being fully present and doing what we were interested in. It’s a skill I admired about him, one that I strive for while I’m raising my family.

Now when I see sunflowers I associate them with Dad. I happened to be out on the anniversary of his funeral and came across a giant pot of sunflowers that was calling out to me to come home. So it did. Now when I look out of the kitchen window I am greeted with a bunch of bright sunshine-y yellow faces smiling in at me. It brings me joy and peace, and while I miss him, I know that he gave me all the tools I need to know how to get through things.

I know I can’t be that for my kids, but I sure hope his influence shines through in what I do.


Perfect practice or hit the wall

Years ago, one of the schools that I subbed at had a saying that it wasn’t “practice makes perfect”, rather it was “perfect practice makes perfect”.

I had a riding lesson earlier this week and it was awful. He doesn’t like to bend, and when we get into it he throws his shoulder out, his head up, and I lose him to the outside. What that means is that as I get to one particular corner, he won’t turn, and tries to mow me into the end of the arena.

Now to be fair, he’s broke to death and about the kindest horse I’ve ridden, so I don’t feel like I’m in danger, but as we are barreling towards the end of the arena my brain has panic moments.

My panic moments are really what screws me up – I start messing around with the reins and that makes things so much worse. I get focused on the end of the arena, instead of focusing on where I am at that moment and what I can do to change things.

So this lesson…. what we ended up doing was send Melissa and horse into the corner over and over ( and over and over and over) with my instructor explaining to me in various ways what I needed to do.

What I did was get frustrated. Like so frustrated I wanted to just stop and cry. I was like – I’m 49 years old. I’ve been riding since I was in diapers aside from the years I couldn’t ride when I was married. Why the f*ck can’t I get this well broke, well mannered horse to turn the damn corner??? So my instructor proved to me that I was wrong and that in fact, if I kept practicing and working I could do it.

You see, my corner issue comes from a lifetime of bad riding habits that I’ve picked up. Ones that were helpful to me when I was riding less broke horses, but really are just getting in the way of me being able to have a good ride now.

Much like life. I have some old habits that I’ve developed that were needed to keep me safe when I wasn’t. But that now are kind of getting in my way.

It’s hard to let go of old habits. Particularly when they’re ones that were developed to keep you safe.

However, if I want to enjoy the horse I’m riding NOW, I have to develop new, better, healthier ways of riding.

If I want to enjoy the life I have NOW, I have to develop new, better, healthier ways of living.

And this is where perfect practice comes into play. Practicing over and over – whether it’s on horseback or in life. Practice, practice, practice to change the old habit and replace it with a new one.

Over and over, until the skill is mastered.

Then a new challenge will present itself and I will start again with that one.

The wild beast – as you can see he’s a gentle soul and omg I love him.