Reinventing Myself for 2020

This is what my old office looked like...

Mary and I pulled into the gas station at 11pm, about 3 hours into our 5.5 hour drive home. We had just finished up a week at a horse show caring for 13 horses between the two of us, and left 3 hours later than planned due to a horse who refused to load, so the sparks that had flown from the back of Mary's truck were the cherry on top of an already particularly trying day at the end of a very long week. We stood in the parking lot and tried to figure out what to do with the muffler that was half on, half off, the old Ford F150 that pulled the smaller trailer with 2 ponies.

"Find a coat hanger and tie it back on," was the response from my boss when called for advice. Not being able to procure a coat hanger, we were able to get some metal wire from a contractor who happened to be there and asked if he could help - he even bent under the truck to try to get the best angle with which to tie things back together.

I purchased about ten king size bags of peanut M&Ms, checked on the 6 horses in my bigger gooseneck, and got back on the road around midnight. As 1:30am approached, I opened up the candy and began eating, fire hose style, to help me stay awake.

When we pulled into the barn nearly 22 hours into our day that began with a usual 5am horse show start, we thought that the next step would be blissfully straightforward - unload the horses, unwrap their legs, fill up hay/water, and high five each other. Unfortunately, our property manager had decided to power wash the barn while we were gone, and every shelf, hook, bucket, and stud had been removed. So, we went to work nailing the O-rings back into place, finding the buckets that were piled in the wash rack, and filling them to the top.

At 3:30am, we drove, zombie like, back to our shared apartment, and threw ourselves into bed (I don't even remember if I took off my clothes). The alarm went off two hours later, signaling the start of the next day.

That experience was, to say the least, a low point in my career with horses. But I tell this story not to be salacious - there were lots of amazing times at that job as well - but so you understand the decision I'm about to make is not done while wearing rosy colored glasses, or without extreme, serious consideration.

I've accepted a groom position at a very nice, high end Hunter/Jumper facility here in Colorado.

Even as I write that sentence, a part of me questions my sanity a touch. Taking a non traditional path, especially in your late 30s, is not exactly touted as a smart move by the world at large. But there has been a nagging voice for years telling me that something is off as I've struggled to find my place in the "real world."

I quit horses not because I stopped loving it, but because I couldn't figure out how to have a husband, a house, and stability, while also being on the road constantly and freelancing from one operation to the next. I was curious about my potential with my writing, which is what I had originally gotten my degree in. Plus, even though it was all in my head, I always felt slightly judged by the wealthy, successful clients I worked for - those with enough means to fly to the show on the weekends, then fly back to their glass offices in tall towers - that they viewed my work as something I "had" to do because I "couldn't" do anything else, rather than a deliberate choice I made to be there.

But now that I had stability, now that I found my husband and purchased my house, now that I climbed the career ladder and earned the title of Marketing Director, I looked through my social media feeds at all of my friends who took the non traditional path and lived to tell the tale - and found myself envious. The friend in New England who left her marketing career to restart her family farm, and is now raising cows, chickens, and pigs on her own land with her own hands. The friend in North Carolina who left her career in the financial world to open up her own yoga studio and start her Life Coaching business. The friend in California who left his 9-5 and became a comic book artist.

And I took a very long hard look at what I wanted my life to look like, what sacrifices I would have to make to get there, and how I could piece things together while maintaining my other commitments and responsibilities. I decided that nobody was going to give me the life I wanted, that I was going to need to go out and make it for myself, no matter how ::gulp:: scary it might be, or how others might judge my decisions.

So when the groom opportunity came along, the chance to work outside all day with lovely horses, fantastic trainers, and nice people, I took it. I asked my current employer if my marketing job could move to part time - and they very graciously listened to my proposition and reasons, and agreed to give it a shot.

I'm not sure why I'm so confident that this time I can make it work, other than the fact that I've been to the other side and have a different perspective. I don't have to travel on the road, and I have no desire to be the next Big Thing in the Hunter/Jumper world. I'm very content to stay on the ground, work with the horses, and be a part of a larger team. I still have my Callie to ride and love on, and I look forward to continuing our progress together as well with no other goals than to learn and grow with her. I have an amazingly supportive partner who is excited for my new adventure and proud of me for striking out on my own path.

There are hard trade-offs - it will mean leaving my current wonderful trainer who has become not only my trusted teacher but also my friend. It will mean saying goodbye to all of the amazing people I've met in her program. It will mean working on weekends and holidays, covering the equivalent of 1.5 jobs, long days, and less time off.

But then I remember that goodbye doesn't really occur in this ever connected digital world. I remember that nobody is dying, and the future is still a blank slate. I remember how much I love horses, and how much time and effort I've put into building my resume and knowledge in that world. I remember my friends who all struck out on their own and are happier for it.

Here I am - 37 and back in horses. To some who know me, this will come as no surprise. It's always been the one constant thread in my life, the one thing I've returned to time and time again. I'm ready to commit. Let 2020 be the year it all works out.

Me at 10, already 5 years in the saddle, and hooked for life. 


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