My own personal pain journal

So, things are going but also going sideways, haywire, etc. My work is nuts (I am directly involved in public information), and also we are seeing a lot of things shake down, as part of the pandemic.

It’s so stressful- for all. I am not a frontline worker, but I see the effects of this day by day. I am writing a list of fun things I want to do when this blows over/winds down (go travel, go out for a team breakfast! Run! Do a race!), but in the meantime, I vacillate between extreme self-pity,  fear and paranoia, to ‘it’s all okay’. UGH.

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Welcome darkness, my old friend… I REALLY don’t want to do this again. But I might. I guess when you’re going through hell, keep going. 

I also have a recurring stress fracture, so I can’t even run right now. Man, when it rains, it freaking pours eh? I guess the timing is (good? I disbelieve that word even as I write it) now that I can’t race anyways.

Just…Fuck me.

I did have a nice weekend though, believe it or not! I had a riding lesson on Saturday and Oats was great! He was my little superstar~ I rode on Sunday and let too much angst out, and I know I shouldn’t have. I am easily triggered right now, and I want to make it up to Oaty! He is being the best boy he knows how.

It was also like, gale-force windy this weekend, ALLLLLLL weekend. It finally lessened up on Sunday, so I rode and then my husband and I hiked up Mt. Finlayson. There I learned I am a huge chicken, and I was afraid of the steep, rocky bluff ascent. Yikes!

I refused to go back down that way (jesus, no.) in part because I was afraid of it, and also it was smoking busy! I didn’t feel comfortable hiking with so many people swarming around.

We went the long way down, got a bit turned around (thanks to the signs closing the one pathway that actually links back to the parking lot…sheesh), and then we made it home. And we shared a hotdog! Yum! 🙂

I then drank wine, sat in the sun with a blanket – yes it was still chilly- but the sun had some strength that day.

So where does that leave us? Uncertain. Out of my control- even my body is out of my control. My mind? Yeah, that’s gone too. I don’t know anymore. But I can ride, so I will do that now and just …Keep on.

To quote Charles Dickens:

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

I know what needs to be done. But why can’t I do it?

I feel extremely ambivalent about everything right now. I know some of the reasons (suffering from horrendous allergies, and now I am allergic to everything, so breathing isn’t really something I can take for granted right now. I started a new medication for endometriosis and I am hoping it freaking levels out soon, because this on top of allergies makes me feel like my body is under some sort of attack, constantly?!!).

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Course marshal

But also, just…Life ambivalent. I feel very sensitive to a lot of the bad stuff happening to my close friends and horse friends. I also am struggling with change, and trying to embrace it as a net positive, but…yeah. I also got approached to change my lesson times to the weekend, and at this point, it’s feeling like a hard no. I like having my weekends free, and my day-to-day is intensely scheduled, so having a free day is just…Mine. You get it? Add in the layers of feeling guilty about not being flexible, on top of my trainer’s father DYING last week, and just..UGh. Can I crawl out of my skin for a month or so, let me get some breathing room?

My counselor says I need a break. Like, a month break.

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Surveying the course 

I know I can’t do that- my brain would probably melt or something. But at the heart of it, she’s right- I need some space, some time. For it (riding) to be easy, non competitive, non training. I feel like I have lost a bit of the ‘why’ and the drive, to be honest.

Even when I think about competing, and there are so many fun looking events?! But I just feel…Blahhhhh about it right now. So blah. Maybe it’s my allergies talking, but yeah. I can’t get excited, I don’t want to move lesson, I just don’t want to do anything!!

Oats has been good, though our lesson on Friday was outright bad. He bucked, he was pissy, he was angry and tearing around like a deranged llama. Greeeat.. My trainer is newish to us, and said she had never seen him like that before?! Ha. Yeah it has been awhile!

He was fine this weekend though, and my husband and I went up to volunteer at Bear Mountain’s XC Pan Am cup challenge, and it was very neat! A quick ride after, and then I had my friends over for a really fun dinner – fondue!

So like things are fine, but I’m just not feeling it.  At all.

What fiction is for

Phew this is a busy week- but not so for riding and working out! Just a ton of social/work obligations, due to the holiday season. Oats got ridden Monday by me, Tuesday he had his beginner’s lesson, Wed I rode again (and we did our ‘Homework day’ and fantastically flubbed two fences, and then picked up our socks and fixed it. Go figure, I hate doing homework days with an audience b/c it is SO bad sometimes, and hilarious. Oh well! Over, under or through eh?!), and then tonight his beginner rider takes my jump lesson because it is my organization’s Xmas party.

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And yesterday I took my dad out for lunch to the Public Market (he had the spaghetti and meatballs from Roast, and I had the side salad kale vegan cesar salad and a side of mac and cheeze, both of which were enormous! I was stuffed and couldn’t finish the mac ‘n’ cheeze at all!!), and today I have another lunch date at Dobosala. Great value from the Very Good Butchers though, would recommend.

And then tomorrow I have another office party at night, so no riding for me Thur/Fri at all! Busy busy. I still have some sinus pain and coughing/snorking a LOT which is pissing me off royally…It has now been TWO WEEKS of the hell-cold/flu. Fuck me.

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From last winter. Doesn’t it look so serene and Christmassy? 

Otherwise it is ludicrously warm out, I am enjoying a real plethora of Xmas treats (cookies! hot chocolate! timbits! chocolate!) and am subsequently feeling the consequences of treats + no riding + no workout at lunch + multiple days in a row of eating out = chubby schlubby. Wowza!

Oh well, might as well enjoy it while it lasts eh??

Ha.

Saved

Things are going well in my world this week! The weather has been mild, I had a very enjoyable couple of rides on old Oats as well as a fun lesson yesterday and I have been running to and from work happily and successfully!

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I still kind of miss the summer though… 

This weekend is a busy one- I am celebrating my husband’s birthday today (35! where does the time go??) and we have an Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday night. Should be a fun one! I am also working at the barn (raking party to handle the new sand/sawdust for the outdoor and indoor), and I hope the weather cooperates for that. We currently have a wind warning on, and in true ‘Wizard of Oz’ style, I see leaves blowing up against the windows of my office building…

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Plus one of our bosses brought doughnuts today. A win! yeah!! 

Tonight we’re off to a movie, Oats gets the night off (he got worked 3 days in a row this week, so his day off is well-deserved).

I am looking forward to riding tomorrow!

Low maintenance (and yet I still wish to be maintained)

I  had a really interesting chat/session with a friend yesterday (in lieu of me going to the gym at lunch, which is my preferred routine). Because I am still recovering from some of my minor injuries (shoulder, the scrapes on my hands, knee and elbow, now with added bonus of shin splints), I figured I needed to take more time off from working out that I wanted to.

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Healing! This was on Friday.

So we met and had a great conversation! I was kind of struggling mentally with the (relatively minor) setback I had recently, so it was really nice to talk about this stuff with someone who can help me ‘reframe’ what is going on in my head, and help me make a plan for my future rides, and runs, where I’m not running through disaster scenarios in my head, or reliving tripping and falling. If I am being honest, I had falling nightmares after Thursday. All I could feel when I was trying to sleep was this scary ‘rocked’ feeling?

Ugh.

And this weirdly triggered some pretty intense riding anxiety. A ‘physical’ anxiety, if you will? When I went to ride Oats, and he was lame (and now sound), I just couldn’t deal. Physically I’m not even badly hurt, but for some reason it felt serious, like wow…I could get hurt doing this (riding, running, whatever) in a way that doesn’t feel real most days. Or at least, I don’t care.

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This one started healing really early!

Now I do. For now anyways!

I have to tone it WAY down this week. My shin splints hurt so badly this morning I limped to work. That was idiotic. I’m making the big step to walk home from work (can’t run), and get a lift in tomorrow, which is strangely difficult for me to swallow. I don’t WANT to get a lift in? I want to run.

I’m clearly still healing, and this is hard for me to take.

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this one remains the grossest. Not that painful, but it got stuck to my breeches. YUCK.

So my friend and I worked on a plan for my rides (mentally mostly) to make sure that when I go out to ride, I do not bring this negative, ‘triggering’ mentality with me. I’m looking for fun, easy, happy, positive rides. Productive? Sure, can be. But is it fun? That’s the most important.

I had to work on this mindset last night, I was back in the indoor (I am VERY afraid of bringing back his weird 2-week lameness???) so I have been riding in the indoor. Plus my shoulder is messed up, and I have on and off numbness in my foot from the freaking shin splints. You should see me dismount…It’s not pretty. Lots of cringing, and a slowwww slide off Oats.

It’s not as fun, but whatever. He was very good, nice floaty trot, but he was heavier on my hands, draggy through transitions, whatever. Typical Oats stuff. But if/when I’m having kind of a tougher day mentally, this sets me off into a ‘perfection’ spiral, if you know what that means?

Luckily I had JUST worked on defusing and moving on that morning. So I did that! I didn’t get tense, clench up on him, anxious or anything. If I felt like we were getting too ‘into’ it and intense, I moved on and did stretchy trot. I thought ‘calm’ and ‘moving on’ when it got too much. Plus I smiled! I miss riding. 😉

It’s weird that a physical pain (falling) translates into me being extra-anxious and hard on myself and my horse…But that’s kind of where I am. I’m working my way back, and I feel hopeful that we can do it! I want to be challenged, I want to have fun. I want to learn, try, fail, achieve and succeed again. I miss that (and honestly, it’s only been like 3 weeks. Hah!).

Love and appreciate Mr. Oats

Boldness comes from confidence and confidence comes from success.

Quote by Jack LeGeoff, a very famous showjumper. And I have to say…He’s right. I was musing on this verbally with my trainer last night. I have had long-standing anxiety/fear issues with jumping (even though I love it!!) and it’s taken me a long, long time to let my body and brain be okay with what I’m doing- jumping! Years and years at 2′ basically.

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Screengrab my trainer took- Oats cantering 2’9” like a little pro! Can you believe we TROTTED this in our warm-up? Me either! 

In some aspects I look back and am like, man why did it take that long? But that’s basically the same emotion as finishing a solid personal-best style race and muttering, ‘Why couldn’t I have gone just a little bit faster?’ It doesn’t serve anyone.

What does serve is being appreciative and happy with the progress you/I have made. Taking it jump by jump, lesson by lesson, and day by day. I don’t really take it for granted (much…It’s still a human instinct apparently).

Anyways, my trainer announced she was going to have me do something yesterday that she knew I’d really hate- trot jumps. Ughhh!! Even better, we were going to play the ‘how high can you go’ with a trot jump?! I was like, oh this is going to be good… But I played along! Part of my anxiety in the past wouldn’t let me just try things, and I’m ready to try now.

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Another, less fabulous screengrab- a fail on my part, a too-close distance for Oats over the oxer. We had to re-ride this (and it went fantastic!) 

So we trotted in! We started with a canter x-rail, and then moved it to a very small (under 2ft) vertical for the trot in. We did a few trot in, and up it went! And then up it went again and we went SPLAT for one jump- I kind of pushed and then pulled and couldn’t make up my mind to leave him alone to it, haha. And then to 2’6”! Wha? I got with the rhythm a bit better, and figured things out, and we called it quits…Until I said go to 2’9”- I know we can do it. And the first time, I got nervous and did the ‘Go-no wait, no canter, now go!’ And I did confuse the poor pony but he bobbled up to it and flew over! We had to do it again, and this time I TROTTED and didn’t get all nervous and grabby. 🙂 YAY Oats!

It felt like a ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ moment but it was excellent for the both of us. For me, to understand that jumping bigger fences and ‘waiting’ not rushing or driving at them is a-ok and totally fine. For Oats, he was pushing off his hind end more equally. Win-win! And a bonus- when we went to canter it for our second course, it felt pretty darn easy.

That’s not to say our courses were foot-perfect (hahah no) we got in way too close on our second round to the rocks and to the oxer, so we had to ride them again. But you know what? I just love and appreciate the ‘try’ my pony exhibited in the whole ride, his willingness, and the mind/mental freedom I had to give these new and scary things a go.

Moment by moment, I just really am feeling this little guy more and more now.

The Dream is Over

Of jumping lessons in the outdoors at night for me, sadly. We attempted to finish up my last lesson in the outdoor last night, and it got too dark, plus the footing was quite deep and Oats was struggling a bit in it. He had his shoes removed, and his trot was good but his canter felt ‘mushy’ like I just didn’t have enough horse there for jumping.

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Back to blurry screengrabs instead of nice crisp shots. Ah well…Video thanks to Nicole.

Compared with our fab jump lesson last night, it was…disappointing. But, jumping can’t be fantastic every time, can it? And we still had a good focused warm-up, and went straight into a fairly decent course outdoors, where I was quite pleased with Oats’ effort. Jumps stayed small.

It got dark, and we zipped into the indoor to wrap up our jumps. We worked over a few small jumps, and then over a course. I even demanded Nicole raise the jumps! (ok, demanded is a strong word. I suggested it! Go me!). And it was…very sloppy. Ha. Yikes my eq was definitely sucking. My leg (right leg) was a windshield wiper. My upper body? Throw at the horse! Eeeghhh.

In my defense, I have been feeling like crap over past few weeks (on and off since last week). I felt terrible yesterday, grinding fatigue, out of breath, sore throat, and my stomach was killing me with zero appetite. I literally had this feeling like if I stopped moving I would probably collapse and not be able to get back up again. So I kept running, moving, doing chores, getting dressed, going to riding and anytime I stopped moving, I was literally wavering on my feet. Lovely. Anyways, it sucked.

Add on to that my crushing insomnia and you have a recipe for a fabulous week…

But I rallied for my jump lesson! I had this sense that Oats was feeling similarly to me, ha. He was asleep on his feet in his shelter when I came to get him to tack up. Anyways, I am really hoping for some sleep tonight, and Oats is also getting the night off in preparation for my next dressage lesson on Friday. Fingers crossed we are all feeling better by then!!

So far no sore throat today, but stomach ache remains and my eyes are so watery from fatigue it looks like I have been crying. Ahhh.