Resurrection?

This is not a ghost story!

The past few months have passed me by in a rather rapid manner. I am struggling to comprehend the reality facing me; it’s 2017, I’m 27 this year and so much has changed. Again. I haven’t written anything since September. I was resurrected at the start of the year. Not in a weird creepy ghosty way or even a Jesus way. I just remembered, suddenly, that I had this blog and that I enjoy writing it. So, allons y…

2016. Media would have you believe it was the worst year ever to curse mankind with its presence. So many well-loved celebrities died and I must admit I was deeply saddened by several of them. Alan Rickman in particular. Being honest, I can’t really say it was the most fantastic year I have ever experienced, but there were certainly good points amongst the bad.
My personal highlight last year was the addition of a certain spotty puppy to my life. Miss Daisy Dot joined me in August and has been a constant source of joy, frustration and warm grumbly cuddles ever since. She is now seven months old, getting naughtier by the day and I can’t wait to enjoy her company in the years to come. She’s an absolute babe and I adore her.

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A sad day in November brought the news that my parents had to say goodbye to my childhood dog. Dear Saffi had been unwell since July and after managing so well on her medication for so long, finally got to the point where she needed to let go. It was extremely sad and I think we are all still recovering from her loss as she was such an important, fluffy, smelly (to the point of almost suffocating us by the end), guggy, astonishingly pretty and gorgeously affectionate part of our family for thirteen long years. Making that kind of decision is never an easy thing but I feel that my parents did it right and managed to find the balance between giving her a wonderful life until the point that they couldn’t, and being able to understand that although it was harder for us to let her go, it would have been unfair on her to make her carry on.

Apart from getting a puppy, I have moved around a few times and changed my direction. Not away from horses, just placing my feet with different ones. I left my job with the Devils Horsemen in June, taking a position in Peterborough. In late November I realised it was not the thing I wanted to continue doing, and made the decision to move on again. Yardandgroom is not my favourite website. I hate job searching. And yet I had put myself in that position, so search I did. There were several adverts which took my fancy but I was reluctant to actually set the ball rolling with any of them. One in particular interested me and something about it rang bells in my head. Out of curiosity, I found myself messaging someone I had worked for part-time before starting with the Devils,
“I’ve just seen a really nice advert. Sounded a bit like you, thought that would be a bit weird…”
She got back to me the same evening, “Oh yes that is me! Are you interested?”, and away we went. So it is with great excitement that I look forward to starting work with Laura Wollen Dressage in the next week. We are actually moving to a yard in Ampney Crucis, near Cirencester, next weekend. Yay.

Although leaving two jobs in one year and moving back home for a bit were not exactly good points, I certainly could not have the opportunities I now have without them. Coming to live in Malvern for a short while again was not exactly a negative either. It has been nice to have the time to regain my sense of self, catch my breath and enjoy my puppy without any pressure. Daisy bonded well with Ruby and Tilly (my parents dogs) and my parents have both said that having her around has changed the absence of Saff in a good way. Although they miss her, Daisy coming in has changed the focus of home life in a way that means no-one really has time to dwell on the Saffi shaped hole and has kept the dog count at three which, although it’s a different dog, feels less strange than only having two. She has been a healing distraction for everyone and I think she knows it. She has this tendency to come and flop her head on you when you need it most. And she smells warm and biscuity and her ears are too big for her head and they’re so soft. Sorry. I’ll stop.

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Riding wise, I do not have a great deal to regale you with. I continued riding as and when I was required to at the Devils but did not progress any further. When I moved to Peterborough I had two geldings to exercise, and although they hacked a lot, I was also able to do a little bit of jumping (something I hadn’t done in a veeeeery long time). I also lunged a fair bit which was nice to re-visit as I’ve always quite enjoyed it. Being able to watch the horse working and see what the muscles are doing and how the horse is using itself has always been fascinating to me.
I am really looking forward to working with the horses Laura has. They are all dressage horses and they’re all rather gorgeous. It’s funny how I have met so many different horses and some of them still strike that kind of awe and humility in me. These guys are a bit like that. It’s not just that they’re not small horses. They have something there, a power, a strength, a presence. It makes me feel honoured to be around them and it is a true privilege to work with them.

In an odd twist of fate, I have found out that in my new home I will be living just down the road from a previous instructor and friend, Kelly. I knew she had moved to the Cotswolds area but when she said it was the very same place it seemed almost a little too coincidental. Ampney Crucis is hardly a big place, nor is it the centre of the equine world and yet there we are, Kelly lives there and I’m moving there. I am delighted to have someone so fantastic so close. Not only will it mean fewer lonely evenings as I’m sure I can coerce her into going to the pub, but it will also give Daisy someone new to meet and run with; Kelly’s beautiful girl, Sky. New friends! How exciting.

I cannot say that 2016 was the best, nor the worst year of my life to this point. I have left it with the loveliest softest sweetest little spotty dog you ever could want. That makes me happy. My family are, as ever, supporting me in my new endeavour and I am excited to start the adventures that 2017 has to offer.

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With regard to resolutions, I did not make any as such. I am not going to join the gym, because my job will be physically demanding enough. I am not going to give up alcohol or chocolate because I will, without a shadow of a doubt, need it! I am not going to try and lose weight, be kinder, wear more red or change my hairstyle. I am not going to change. Instead, I make these promises, half promises and vague ideas to myself if nothing else:

+ I will make sure Daisy is healthy and happy, whatever may happen.
+ I will be the best groom that I can be for Laura in this next stage of her journey.
+ I will try to write more regularly.
+ I will not dismiss the idea of having something resembling a social life.
+ I will start baking again, probably sporadically but it’ll be something.
+ I will let go more easily and more often. In the last year I have learned how important letting go can be, and I have got better at it. I will continue to let go, whether that be of negativity, stress or my own personal worries.
+ I will offer more sunshine. At various points throughout my life, I have been called Little Miss Sunshine. My mum, grandparents, friends parents, employers, friends and friends of friends I’ve only met once, have all at some point or other said it either to my face or about me. I know that when I am in a good mood and smiling, I am capable of radiating happiness to those around me. I would like to regain that ability as I feel I have let it gather a little too much dust. I will try to be Little Miss Sunshine a bit more than I have been of late.
+ I will cuddle my puppy and pull her ears and kiss her nose and hold her paws at every opportunity I get. This is a solemn vow. You cannot love a dog too much, not ever. Their capacity for loving us knows no limits, so why should ours?!

That’ll do donkey. That’ll do.

Ducks In A Row

You cannot fail a test you are not taking

One of the things I find most difficult about society, and perhaps the world in general, is the expectation that we should all have a plan. I do not know if this is an actual thing or whether it is just something perceived to be there by those of us who feel watched. There just seems to be this overwhelming shadow hanging up there that says “what are you doing with your life?”

The reason I find this difficult is because, amongst other things, I cannot answer that question with any semblance of clarity or confidence. I end up feeling insecure and indignant that anyone should have the right to put me that position. Having that feeling that you cannot live up to the expectations of society can leave you feeling more than a little bleak. Like you’re failing a test you didn’t even know you were taking.

I am prone to overthinking things. On occasion my thoughts have been known to wander down paths I’d really rather not explore. So you can imagine how feeling like a failed member of the world could affect me and the hundreds and thousands and millions of other people in that same position.

Stop. Don’t panic. There is, somewhere, a light to be found. Sit down, put your feet up and take a sip of tea. I’ll help you find it. You see, I then get to thinking “why?” Perhaps it’s the last residual philosophical brain cells trying to cling onto their place in my head, but I find myself questioning this expectation. The general consensus “you should have an idea, a plan, a goal” is, as far as I’m concerned, a big pile horse poop. In reply I scream “WHY??” Go on, tell me why.

No one can, because there really is no answer to that question. There is no reason in this entire universe that I should have my shit together. None of us really have any real cause to.

“But what are you going to do with your life?”

Well, my dears, I think the best thing any of us can ever do with our lives is to simply live them. That means every day. I do not want to waste today or tomorrow by worrying about whether I am achieving something that will make a difference in ten years. Because over the next 3652 days(there will be 2 leap years in the next 10) I will make a lot of decisions and do a lot of things. I cannot know what impact they will have down the line so perhaps my time would be better spent living the days that are rather than fretting over those which are not yet.

Life is not a test.

There, I found your light. Here, grab it and hold it close. Let it soak in through your skin like the sunlight. It will nurture you from the inside and remind you in the toughest and most terrible of times that you are doing okay. You cannot fail because there is no grade boundary, no mark scheme. No test at all.

I am 26 years old. I have changed my mind countless times and am likely to do so countless more. I have worked a number of different jobs and experienced a variety of industries and environments. I have lost family, friends and pets. I have fallen in love and let it go. I have been rejected, disliked and bullied, accepted, praised, loved and respected. Three weeks ago I got a puppy of my own and I have learnt a new selfless unconditional all-encompassing love I had not experienced before. I do not know what I am doing with my life. I do not know what I am going to do with it either. Some days I am a cluttered clumsy mess of a woman. I must definitely do not have my shit together. But I am not failing.

I was once tricked into the mindset that it was very important to study hard and get a good job to earn good money and eat well and have a family and a happy life. I say tricked, but no one duped me. It was just the way my brain processed things at the time I was told to start making decisions about “my future”. I am glad, in a way, that I then went on to study philosophy as it reminded me to ask that all important “why?” It helped me realise that I did not want those things. At least, not for those reasons. I wanted to study because I love to learn new and interesting things. I want to work because I like to be doing but I wanted to find work I enjoyed whether or not it paid a lot.

And so although I question myself on a daily basis as to what I am doing with my life, I do not mind so much that I cannot answer. I find it harder when other people ask as that societal pressure rears its head, real or not. The expectations come crashing through the door uninvited and shake my confidence again. I hope that one day I have a hazy silhouette of an idea of what I’m doing but if I never do then I can at least say I never did in the first place.

I may never manage to get my ducks in a row, so to speak, but maybe my ducks are not meant to line up so neatly. Or maybe the puppy ran through and scattered them again…

And That’s A Wrap

It never gets any easier.

Driving away from people you care about is not an easy task and it doesn’t seem to matter how many times you do it; it always feels the same. Somehow it always manages to break my heart a little. I don’t know if it’s the thought that I might never see those people again, or simply the action of leaving people behind as I drive away, but something about it really gets me.

I’ve done it a few times now. When I finished my job at the college yard and I drove away after my last day ready to head to Ireland the following day, I felt that strange heartache as I accelerated up the road. Before that when I’d worked my final shift at Malvern St James and drove home, dropping my supervisor off at her house as I always used to, there it was; that weird pull that made me think about the fact I would probably never do that trip again.

Then I left a whole country to go home. I drove away from people I loved and it totally shattered me. That was definitely one of the hardest drives I’ve ever done, that trip from Kerry to my hotel before catching the ferry the next morning. It took some time to piece myself back together after that, to have the patience to rebuild the bits of me that had chipped away. But I got there.

And now I have done it again. Last night I left The Devils Horsemen. Having completed my notice period, the date finally came for me to pack my things into my little car (quite the squeeze I can tell you!) and head off to pastures new once more. It has not been easy to say goodbye to so many amazing people.

I do not like goodbye. It is a very final word and I think it is that finality which hurts me. Because I do not know for certain whether I will see those people again, and saying “goodbye” with such strength suggests I won’t. Which would be a genuine shame, as I have made some good friends and care a lot about them. It is always much harder than we initially think it will be to stay in touch with people, busy working lives give little time for the people who are not present.

I know for sure that I will miss my friends from the Devils. It is true that in that kind of living situation, you forge friendships out of convenience and necessity. Nevertheless, given time those friendships become something more real, something you will actually miss. I am a realistic kind of person. I do not know how successsful I will be in maintaining those friendships because my history at such endeavours shows me to be pretty rubbish at it. I shall try, however, as despite initially being friendships of convenience, I have come to appreciate each and every person that I met through the Devils. And after a year of living with them, working with them and drinking them, I should think they are worth it!

I will miss the horses too. Particularly the ones with which I had snuggles and fun rides and quiet moments on set. Epa, the ultimate cuddler, will be sorely missed of an evening. I used to have a lovely little cuddle every night on my way to my room when he was stabled there. Lovely darling of a horse despite his special moments. Benzel Bear and his gorgeous characterful face will leave a little hole in my heart. I have nothing but love for that horse. Something about him just makes me adore him. I could list and list the horses that I love, but I won’t. Instead I shall just remember the joy of riding some of them and the peace that came from being with them during those quieter moments. I am glad that I am coming away still with that understanding of why I love working with these animals.

This past year has been a total whirlwind of crazy, stressful, frustrating, wonderful, surreal, beautiful experiences. I have had the opportunity to ride as a double on film sets, perform in live shows and salute audiences as one of The Devils Horsemen (something I’d wanted to do since I first saw them perform). I have had low times, seen horses die, plotted the death of people out of utter frustration, and nearly packed my bags in the night. And I have had the highest of good times, enjoying the company of my friends and co-workers, riding some extremely special horses and being totally blown away by the totally unique and abnormal lifestyle I was immersed in.

I cannot say I regret a single day of it. Not one moment. My decision to leave came as a bit of a surprise to me, but I followed my instincts on it. I am the kind of person that needs to walk away from something before it goes sour, at the point at which I have those first feelings of “hum, I don’t know if I want to be here anymore.” If I don’t, I fall into a downward spiral of depression and resentment at the work I’m doing. I end up hating the job, the people and even the horses. I did not want to do that again, so I made the decision before I got to that point. My gut told me it was time to move on and find new opportunities, so that is exactly what I have done.

Those of you that know me will be aware of my considerable lack of emotional response sometimes. Suffice it to say, I was able to give everyone a hug (brief but heartfelt) and drive away without really feeling anything. It did strike me as strange to leave my room so empty, to have my car so full and to have everyone wishing me good luck as I got into my car. Maybe I lied earlier, maybe it does get easier. Perhaps I have driven away from enough people now that my soul just accepts it as an inevitable event. Who knows?!

For now, I am almost out of words. It only remains for me to send a quick message to my friends that I have just driven away from.

You are wonderful. Every single one of you. I thank you for you friendship and for your quirks and your individual selves. I hope you never stop being who you are. I will miss you, all of you. I am glad I got to know you, even a little bit, that I worked with you and drank with you and shared some of this completely insane place with you. I have gained from knowing each of you, whether or not you realise that, and I will take that forward with me. I will not forget you crazy bunch. I hope that you will not forget me too quickly either. I do not know whether I will see you again, but if I do I’ll bring the wine if you bring some gossip and a few beers. I love you guys.

I am delighted that for a year of my life I was well and truly a Devils Horseman (Hey!)
I have nothing further to add.

Megs out.

Don’t Think Too Much.

Having spent an hour writing and making no sense of it, I have come to the conclusion that I think too much. My mind is constantly preoccupied by a myriad of clamouring thoughts, all tripping over each other to get noticed. I find it hard to make much of any of them, so quickly so they jostle each other out of the way.

They take away from my mood, leaving me feeling off key and unbalanced. I never thought I would describe myself as discontent, but I think that’s what I am. It feels as if I just do not have enough, and yet I know I have more than plenty. I am an extremely fortunate soul, who am I to demand more. Maybe it is not that I want more, and simply that I have not yet found that which will make nothing feel like everything.

I think perhaps I am too changeable with my emotions. I am indecisive. I just can’t make my mind up.

If I were a horse, I would be one of the ones we call ‘special’. One of the ones that is totally fine and everyone is pleased until it randomly freaks out at nothing and tries to throw someone on the floor. The horse that is almost fast asleep for the farrier until the last foot when it decides to rear and flip over backwards. I’d be the one that didn’t bat an eyelid when you put it’s rug on yesterday, but today the rug is definitely a lion and you’re definitely in league with it. That kind of horse. The kind that few people have much patience for.

But of course it’s different when you’re human, because no one can see all that weird stuff. You can mask it with words and smiles and if you get good at acting, no one will suspect. So people don’t realise how flighty you are, how much you want to run from anything that looks remotely threatening, how difficult you find it when there’s a plastic bag flapping in the wind. Okay, that last one was a joke. Just so you know…

And I definitely think too much.

A Good Book

I absolutely love to read

On a cold evening at the farm there is little better than curling up with a book and a cup of tea under a multitude of blankets. There is, however, one painfully large downside to a good book. It is so very hard to come back to your own reality having been immersed in another for so long. With a really good book, I feel a little bereft when I have finished, a little lost.
I was snapped out of a reading binge yesterday and found myself almost in shock at the fact that my own life was so utterly different to that of the book. Unfortunately I’d also just hit the part where things were coming together to make everything right which meant real life was so much less satisfying than the book too.

I love the escapism and the feeling of wrapping oneself into a story. I hate the huge bump when you find yourself facing the harsh truth that real life is not quite what literature can make it into.

It is a strange feeling. But I still love books.