Funny Feeling

Those of you who know me, and/or have read my blog before, will know that I’m not averse to spending time alone. In fact, I rather like it. I’ll often choose alone time over a social environment. Alone time with my lovely dog that is. So perhaps you can tell me why tonight, I am feeling somewhat lonely and rather wish I wasn’t going back to an empty flat.

I’ve had a few days at home recently; two over my birthday and then another two at the start of this week, so I imagine that’s a contributing factor. I love coming home to see my parents and the dogs but I don’t often feel weird about leaving again these days. The past two days have been a bit odd though as Mum and Dad are on holiday so it was just me and Ben looking after the dogs. He went out this evening with his girlfriend and as they shut the door I suddenly felt a bit odd.

I have my Daisy and we have a nice little routine together. I enjoy my evenings curled up on the sofa with her, watching rubbish on tv or a Disney movie. She’s nice quiet company for my cranky old lady soul. It usually doesn’t occur to me to feel lonely or to even think about the fact I don’t have anyone waiting for me apart from the washing up I didn’t do before I left and possibly a spider or two that crept through the window while I was away. But tonight, it’s on my mind.

Tonight I am having those thoughts that make me wish I was better at making friends, that I had a social life of some description, that I could fire off a message and be having a drink with someone twenty minutes later. I know it’s my own fault, my cantankerous nature coupled with the lifestyle I maintain is not conducive to my becoming a social butterfly. I do not meet people for one, as I live and work in a secluded location with limited contact outside of the horsey bubble. And even if I did? I’m so tired and grumpy most of the time it’s little wonder I do not endear myself to others.

I find myself yearning for school and uni days sometimes. Those years of having friends around every corner. I could pop down the road to the pub whenever I wanted and there’d be someone to talk to.

It changes the way time passes I think. When you spend a lot of time alone, it can feel like you’re wasting it. And it can drag on and on, making you feel truly miserable!

Don’t worry, I’m not getting mushy and sentimental. I don’t intend to sit here and cry “woe is me” and desperately seek human interaction. I’m the kind of person that tends to sit and analyse their thought process (hence this post) rather than act on it.

And you needn’t worry that I’m allowing myself to wallow and fall into a pit of lonely despair. Nothing of the sort. Like I said, I have my Daisy and crappy tv.

I’m merely feeling the consequences of my life choices. I think it’s healthy to acknowledge that. I have made my bed. Time to lie in it. Although I might change the sheets first.

Who doesn’t love clean sheets, right?!?

Also, I apologise for the unimaginative format of this post. I’m writing it on my phone because everything else is in the flat.

To which I really should travel soon.

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In Which Megan Does Not Get On With Monday

I’ve always wondered why everyone hates Mondays so much.

Honestly, I’ve never seen it as a problem. Monday has not offended me before. Sure it’s the first day after the weekend but in my line of work, weekends are never really much of an issue seeing as we don’t really get them! My weeks are a little weird and less than structured so, Monday gets blurred in with Tuesday and Saturday and all the other days.

Today has, however, provoked me to a level of grumbling I have not felt for a while. If having to get up when I was utterly not ready is not enough of a rubbish aspect to the day, I have managed to end it with many more hurts than normal.

Along with the usual aches and stiffness, I have added extra injuries to my list today. While rescuing a lamb which had its head stuck in our fence, I managed to rip three nails. Oh, I hear you cry, what calamity. Broken nails, oh my god that is so totally like the worst thing ever. Don’t worry, I appreciate the humour in it. I am not usually the sort of girl who worries about a broken nail. But these hurt like little buggars because I didn’t just “break a nail“, I have split three nails so low down they’ve actually caught the skin underneath. So they sting and sting and ouch! Put something of a downer on my good deed, I must say.

Later on in the day, having recovered from the sore fingers, I found myself being head-butted quite ferociously by one of the boys as we brought them in. He decided to be somewhat obnoxious as we came through a gate and chucked his head straight at my face, leaving me with tears streaming down my face and blood trickling from my lip. So I am now sporting a very attractive purple fat lip. Never have I felt more feminine than I do at this moment, with my swollen lip and mangled fingers. I am, in short, a mess at present.

It’s a shame to feel quite so battered and bruised this evening as Daisy and I had a rather nice weekend. After mucking out the stables on Saturday, we were invited to go along to Badminton Horse Trials for the afternoon. One of Laura’s lovely clients very kindly offered me a place to park at her house as she lives a two minute walk from where everything was taking place. I was delighted by this, as parking cost something like £12, so saving money was a win. If that wasn’t nice enough, she then told me that there was a pass I could use. It was so unexpected and I couldn’t have been more grateful for her generosity! Once we were in, we took to wandering the expanse of stalls and shops and crowds. As it was cross-country day, it was extremely busy but I didn’t mind too much. Daisy was quite excited but only managed to trip up a few people and did get admiring looks and comments everywhere we went. We met up with Laura and Frosty after a bit and I tried some different gins at Frosty’s stand, Gundog Gin (go look it up, buy some, it’s truly delicious. I recommend the Rhubarb!) We then met up with a few others at one of the fences and took to walking along the course, watching the different jumps as riders came through. Some of them were real heart-in-mouth moments, and we were only spectating! I’m sticking with dressage. Much safer!!

I also ended up meeting a girl that I feel I’ve known for ages but had actually never met before. We know each other through Eclipse, in Ireland, and our mutual friends there. Our timing has always been off, however, and we’ve missed each other by a few days each time our paths could have crossed. So to have her face appear in front of me asking “Hello, are you Megan?” was both weird and normal at the same time. I knew who she was straight away and it didn’t occur to me that she wouldn’t have some to say hello, and it was only when I went to introduce her to the people I was with that I realised how weird it sounded to say “This is Iris, I know her through Ireland but I’ve never met her before!” It was really cool to actually meet her in person though.

Sunday was my day off, as going to Badminton was instead of my usual half day on a Friday. After a leisurely morning of not having to hear my alarm (although a stallion shouting his head off and dog decided to whine were unwelcome substitutes), I went to Crickley Hill Country Park with the Dot. We met up with Tillie and Ségolène for a lovely sunshiney walk and then lunch at The Air Balloon pub. Yes, that Air Balloon, the one everyone hates by proxy because of the roundabout it represents! I had managed to book a dog friendly table thanks to a very helpful member of staff, so Daisy was able to come with us and charm staff and customers alike. She had bar staff bringing her bowls of water and people coming in to get a drink and ending up getting a cuddle instead!

Daisy excelled herself this weekend. I’m very proud. I hope that when we go to our training class this week, she continues to show herself (and me) in a positive light and that I can tell Linda that our hard work and perseverance is paying off.

I do so love her.

So much!

Oops

I did it again…

Yes, that’s a Britney Spears reference. No, I’m not going to apologise for it!

What I am referring to here, of course, is the fact that I promised to write more and then left it two months before I actually wrote anything. I am rubbish. I am also very busy but I know you won’t accept excuses like that.

In the time since I made promises I couldn’t keep (yeah, I’m that girl) I have settled into my new flat with Daisy and made headway with my new job. Laura and I have finally got things sorted to resemble some kind of routine/organisation. The horses are all happy and settled in their stables and on the whole everything is running smoothly.

We’ve had a couple of blips of course. Going to a show and ending up stuck on the slip road to the A417 for 3 hours because Laura put petrol in her diesel lorry; Donald jumping out of the field and runnning amok because his friend was being ridden; a tree splitting in the stormy weather the other day and half coming down across the path. Little things like that. But generally speaking, we’re doing okay here at Laura Wollen Dressage.

I’ve been home to see my parents a couple of times (much to Ruby and Tilly’s delight when Daisy came wriggling through the door) which was nice. They had a new kitchen fitted recently so the last time I was home it was a little chaotic as things were still being finished off. Like painting the walls, skirting boards, unloading boxes etc. But there was wine. So that was nice. They came to visit me as well a few weeks back, with the girls. Daisy enjoyed showing them where all the best places to sniff are and eventually we managed to even settle them down in the flat despite Ruby nose whistling pretty much 100% of the time. Daisy was so excited when my dad walked up the stairs it was really quite funny. I thought she was going to fall down them, she wiggled around so much!

I’ve also seen Kelly, although not as much as I should have given how close by she lives. I popped up to her place for a glass of wine and some garlic bread. Sky was extremely tolerant of Daisy invading her space, stealing her toys and basically waltzing into the limelight. Bless. I keep meaning to arrange to see her again, but then I forget! I’m a terrible friend sometimes.

I’ve been doing a lot more riding again since being here. I’ve had Donald and Ben to tick over with (although hopefully both will be moving on soon) which has been good for getting my fitness back on track. I’d forgotten how much work goes into riding a horse properly, and doing it more than once seemed impossible! I’m feeling stronger again now though, like I can actually get off one horse and on another without needing to sit down for an hour!

Hacking days are great, as Laura seems to think it’s funny to give me all the slightly tense horses to take out. I think (hopefully?) it’s because she knows I’ll just stay relaxed and quiet and encourage the horse to chill out too. Generally I end up laughing on reflex, which as we all know causes your body to relax anyway. So I’ve had some interesting hacks recently. And I’ve been lucky enough to be allowed to stretch horses for Laura occasionally. Which is really quite nice as it’s a rare opportunity for me to ride extremely nice dressage horses in a constructive environment. Laura even gives me some tuition at the same time to help me get the feel of the horse and improve my general riding. Last time I really enjoyed doing canter/trot/canter transitions and allowing myself to work out the exact moment that the horse was going to come back to trot to allow me to rise with it straight away in a controlled and collected manner rather than being thrown into it. It also helped coming back to a more balanced and rhythmical trot from the first stride rather than having to work really hard to regain it later.

Riding horses like that and learning how things can feel when the horse is working properly is quite amazing. Getting the tuition from Laura is awesome, and although my legs felt pretty achey the day after it’s pretty great to have the sense that I’m starting to improve as a rider again.

I am lucky, as these horses are all nice and genuine characters. They are sweet natured and gentle, but they are still competition horses and have a certain level of high maintenance about them. The fact that they have such pleasant demeanours is what makes them good to work with. There is a fairly nice balance between the highly strung moments and the chilled out snuggle time. It means I don’t worry too much about getting injured on a regular basis (apart from the clumsiness inflicted stuff) and I know that nothing Laura asks me to do with them is going to be overly scary or unfeasible. They might have their YeeHaa moments, but they’re not malicious or deliberately threatening with it. Such a relief for me!

And Daisy is still my joy. Even when she’s in trouble (which she was the other night, big time) I still adore her. She’s almost 9 months old now, and apart from the odd moment is an extremely good girl. We’ve started going to a dog class on a Tuesday evening. We did our first one last week and although she was a bit exciteable she did pretty well. She did the recall perfectly first time, which I was absolutely not expecting. I thought we’d have a ping pong moment as she bounced from dog to dog across the hall. But she turned and ran straight to me, ears streaming behind her. Such a good girl! Hopefully she’ll be a little more settled next time (yeah right) and we’ll achieve even more. I think it’s great for her though as it’s quite an intense environment and she has to focus really hard. Which must be really difficult for such a young dog surrounded by other young dogs and lots of very exciting people and such. I’m proud of her, she’s such a sweetheart and she’s having to adapt to so much all at once. Considering the way I’ve basically plunged her in with no warning to all this stuff, she’s coming on brilliantly. And she’s so beautiful.

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Anyway, that’s all for today I think. Not much else to report. Oh, I have a new phone! It’s shiny and I like it because it’s new. Now I really have told you everything.

Toodles.

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…