Happy birthday to me!

Today is my birthday. I’m now officially 46 years old and closer to 50 than I am to 40.

It’s OK. Getting older has some benefits. To me it seems that aging involves better self-knowledge and general life experience, but less physical resilience. I haven’t fallen into total decrepitude, although I did spend most of one day in the ER last month only to learn that I can now add diverticulitis to my list of infirmities.

I’m stumped as to why I developed a condition and infection that typically develops from eating too much processed food and low fiber. If you ask any of my family and friends, they’d say I eat a heck of a lot of veggies and high fiber foods, and eschew most highly processed stuff. It may be that the dietary changes I’ve been forced to make with the braces have had an impact and/or it may be stress related.

Stress is something I really need to get a handle on. For the past several years I’ve become increasingly unhappy in my job, and I’ve tried to find something to do in my company that will continue to interest and stimulate me. I’ve been working with this organization for nearly 15 years and there is a lot that I like about it. But if every day is a drag and leads me to spikes of frustration and tears, then it’s time to do make some changes. I’ve been transitioning to a new role for the past five months, yet my tolerance levels haven’t improved. I still get pinged about stuff related to my old role and haven’t completely off-loaded certain tasks. When that stuff happens, I can feel really explosive.

There are frequently days where I feel like just running away and living in a little camper truck so I can pick up and move whenever something starts to annoy me.

We’ve been having the most marvelous spring weather, though, and it makes me love my garden and yard intensely, and reluctant to give it up. We had a lot of rain in May, and even some flooding in the area. (My house remained dry and snug.) There have been a few light showers in June, but nothing terrible. The coolness of the weather has been a real delight. Some people love hot weather, but I’m more fond of the moderate temperatures we’ve been having.

I’ve added two new things to my life this year that are working out well so far: bees and horses.

The bees are living in the garden in a hive owned and cared for by my dog walker. He started exploring bee-keeping last fall, and approached me a few months ago about putting a hive in my yard. I love bees and have often thought about adding a hive to my yard, but the learning curve was intimidating to me. I now have the best of both worlds: a hive AND no responsibility to care for it.

I’m fascinated by the bees, though, and whenever Paul has to tend them I’m usually right there with him watching and learning. They are super gentle. We’ve had to open the hive a few times, and even pick it up to place it on a better footing, yet the bees have never acted aggressively or stung us once. While Paul does have a bee veil and suit, he’s never needed to wear the veil while working with the bees, and I’ve been out there helping him wearing shorts and flip-flops.

I haven’t added a horse to my little city homestead, but I have been happily (ecstatically!) taking riding lessons at a stable not far from my home. Like many girls, I was horse crazy in my younger years. We didn’t have the resources for me to take riding lessons regularly, but I did spend two weeks at Girl Scout “horse camp” one year, and learned how much I preferred English tack over the Western gear I had been exposed to during occasional trail rides. Back in 2008/2009 when I was going through the divorce, I identified regular horseback riding as something I wanted to take up during one of my introspective times. I made some attempt at that time to take riding lessons at a local stable (not the same one I’m riding at now) and was really disappointed.

This time the opportunity presented itself because one of my friends suggested we take a vacation to Scotland in the fall. In looking over the details of the trip, I saw that a couple of the places we’ll be staying have riding stables nearby. So I got the idea to train for taking one or two (or maybe even three) half-day riding excursions while in Scotland. While it may be possible to ride Western saddle there, I really want to ride English and am training with this in mind.

The stable I’m going to now is so much better than the other one I tried. I like all the people I’ve met (trainers, receptionists, grooms, and other riders), and all the school horses I’ve ridden have been well-behaved. I’ve been on five different horses and am working with two different trainers so I’m getting a lot of varied experience, which is exactly what I want and need.

I started lessons in March and am now riding twice a week. Even though I was in pretty decent shape before I started lessons, it’s taken a while for my body to adjust to the demands of riding. I have to develop muscle memory, balance, and confidence to be a good rider. I’m not the fastest kinesthetic learner, and while I could build strength in the muscles used in riding at the gym (core and legs), there isn’t a way to emulate exactly how those muscles are used in riding except to…well…ride.

Just in the past two weeks my posting trot has improved tremendously and I’ve had good experiences on four different horses with four different strides. I also was approved to participate in an open ride (supervised, but not being trained) last week when there was a scheduling snafu and I found myself without a trainer. Not only did I get the riding time, I was able to spend it productively working on my posting trot and balance. (And I’m proud that I was able to get that particular horse into a trot all by myself, since this can be a challenge at times!)

I’ll be working on trotting for a while yet, but I’m also eager to add in cantering and some small jumps. Frankly, I’m super happy to just be on and around horses. My time at the stables has done a lot to boost my happiness quotient, and I love sitting in my riding clothes, smelling the horse scent on me after I’m done. Yep, that horse craziness stil hasn’t worked it’s way out of my system after all these years. 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Happy birthday to me!

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  3. How wonderful!

    I am sorry to hear about your condition (one that I’ve never heard of before, incidentally). That can’t be much fun. Ditto on the work stress. 15 years is a long time anywhere.

    And of course, happy birthday!

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  4. I have just started riding lessons after a lifetime of wanting them – and I love it! Like you, I wanted them badly when I was a kid, and we simply couldn’t afford it. So now I have the time and money, and am very pleased to have found a great stable. Not close though; but very good teacher!

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    • I feel lucky that I could find a riding stable so close where I enjoy riding. If I had to drive an hour or more away to take my riding lessons that would make it much harder for me to fit in two lessons a week.

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