Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Toot your Horn, Bang your Drum!

A completely self-serving, self-congratulating... self-ish post.

Alfie was picked to be the Profile Horse of the Month at our barn for the month of August. Yay! Its not any sort of major award, but I'm going to brag anyway. Anyone who visits the barn's website for the next month will get to see my super pony, and thats pretty cool.

So check it out

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Changes are Afoot

Since I last blogged...

I did have a wonderful and sloth-free Lent. I kind of let things slide the past few months, and I often find myself waking up on the couch, after having passed out upon coming in from the oppressive heat.

My garden is beautiful and bountiful! I have a 3-gallon bucket full of tomatoes sitting on my porch, waiting to be turned into tomato-onion jam!

My older sister, her husband and their precious daughter, Layna, moved back to the Atlanta area after living in Tampa for the past 6 years. Layna met Alfie and all the horses her first weekend here. I think she's in love.

I got promoted... which is awesome and scary at the same time. A little extra money makes it a bit easier to deal with :)

Alfie is coming along beautifully. I need to post some before and after pictures of us. He's such a good boy. I love him. I'm hoping to get to a combined-test or two this summer. I think we can do it!

I learned that I don't have to have a novel prepared to make a blog post. Many of my favorite blogs are perfect. They're short and to the point, but expressive. I'll try to emulate them, and hopefully keep up with this better... with the goal of a CT this summer, I should have something to blog about.

Probably the most difficult change in my life since last posting is that my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in April. She's only 62. She's my favorite person on the planet and -- even though my sisters and I have been suspecting this news for the past couple of years -- I can't believe this nasty disease is going to take her from me. From us. From the world.

Thankfully she's seen a wonderful doctor at Emory's Memory Disorders clinic, and he said she is in early stages and that its wonderful that she is still so active. He's given her a couple of complimentary medications to take, and has instructed her to walk a minimum of 3 miles a day, to do activities that will engage her brain (cross word puzzles, other games that revolve around words) and to find new hobbies to learn. Mom's very open to this and takes it seriously ("I have to do my walking"... "I have to do my activities"), so that helps and is very encouraging.

Still... there is no going back. There is only going forward with Alzheimer's, and its a scary path to go down. I am blessed beyond words that I have an amazing husband, two incredible sisters, co-workers who care and are in similar situations with their parents and friends who are there to buoy me along when I need it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Today is the first day of Lent. Traditionally, one gives up some vice or habit (swearing, smoking... I've heard someone say once they were going to give up almonds...) for the 40 days of Lent to mimic the temptation Jesus faced while wandering the desert (at least, I think I have that right... I am not what you'd call a "good Catholic"). One faces the temptation to swear when they slop tomato soup all over their pants.... or the craving to have a cigarette... (or to eat an almond...) and have to rely in their inner strength to not give in, as Jesus did not give in to the temptations of Satan in the desert.

Again... I think I have that right.

Traditionally, being the not-a-good-Catholic that I am, I don't give anything up for Lent. I didnt grow up in a household where-for better or worse-we didn't practice that particular act of sacrifice. This year I am changing that. I was inspired--and I continue to be inspired-by a book I am reading that champions self-reliance, productiveness and pride in one's accomplishments. It has motivated me to... to DO. Just to do... something. Laundry. Dishes. Tasks at work that are perpetually on the back burner. I feel compelled to start and finish projects large and small. Or to learn new things so that I can do more. Produce more. Accomplish more. Rely on myself more.

Therefore, I am giving up sloth for Lent.

I want to spend the hours I am awake doing, learning, creating. I spend too much time... wasting time. Last night I read a passage in the book that explored how much more we can get done if we simply do. If I become super proficient in... say in making dinner, and cleaning things up as I go along, there is more time for me to spend after dinner doing something else. The more I cook dinner and find shortcuts & streamline the process, or the more attention I pay to planning the preparation of the meal, the more time I can have in the midst of the process to clean the mess I'm making. Which in turn means there is less to do after I eat. Which in turn means I can do something else with that little chunck of time I've created for myself. Go to the gym. Walk the dogs. Pull up weeds in the garden. Anything!

That is not to say I'm not going to relax... for even relaxation can have purpose. I am not toting some kind of idea that I have to spend 20 hrs a day physically doing something, constanting putting pressure on myself to do, do DO!. Thats crazy. I can physically relax while I read a mentally-challenging book, or a book that I can learn from in some way. I can work on planning my garden... which will become a labor of love by July, but for now I find enjoyable, creative and fun... not taxing.

In other words... I want to live my next 40 days full of purpose in everything I do. Whether it is cleaning the house, working in the yard or riding my horse. Hopefully after doing for 40 days, I will have created good habits for myself, and it will carry on to the long-term, and that those good habits will help me achieve some personal goals I have set for myself.

One... which has been my stated-but-never-reached goal for the past couple of years.. is to go recognized at Beginner Novice this year. Fall would be good. And for those who are unawares of what that means Beginner Novice is the lowest level of nationally-recognized Eventing. And its a BIG DEAL. To me it is, anyway. I was recently blessed to recieve an offer I could not refuse... to have Alfie in full training at absolutely no cost to me, and this is a huge step in the right direction for us. Alfie's trainer loves him (Happy 9th Birthday Alfie!!!) as much as I do, and sees the potential he has, and she wants to help him succeed. I have to do my best to succeed, too, so that come fall, Alfie and I are a well-conditioned, perfectly tuned in to one another and prepared. I'm planning on asking some of my horsey friends to hold me accountable and keep me on track.

So... the purpose of this whole blog is now to keep myself accountable and to report in on my progress on, not just my 40 days of sloth-less living, but my overall attempt at changing my habits to be productive.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Primacy: THE END

In my world of working for a non-profit, there is an annual cycle to fund-raising. In September and October (or "Primacy" as we call it) we raise almost half of our entire annual Community Campaign. What is half? A mere $7 - 8 million. In eight weeks. And, lets not forget, this year our offices were closed for 15 days in September. So as you might imagine, its a tad busy and crazy around the office. Tempers flare, nerves are frazzled and much coffee is consumed.

As last year, I was again graced to be one of two lead staff persons working on our annual Phonings Week. Only this year I was working with someone who actually behaves in a professional manner and doesn't make me want to quit at the end of every day. I actually really like the person I collaborated with and it was amazing! Phonings Nights were last week (Oct 18-21) and were a HUGE success. We had over 300 volunteers over the 4 nights and raised over $750,000. There is so much work that goes into these four nights--all told its only 12 hours of people making phone calls to donors, but we work for weeks to get everything pulled together. And then at the end of the week, we're absolutely exhausted. The only time last week I wasn't working on Phonings was when I was sleeping. And that's God's honest truth.

But Phonings Week is sort of the traditional last hurrah of Primacy, so the end of this maddening time of year is about to come to and end. And maybe I'll ride my horse again. And go to the gym. And cook a real meal. All important things since I plan to ride a Combined test New Years weekend, and I bought a beautiful dress for Hunter's wedding thats about 1/2 a size too small, but I'm sure the gym will fix that... and I can't remember the last time I made real food (as in... no portions were previously frozen).

When my life gets back to non-Primacy insanity, I will have more updates!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Well I Didn't See THAT Coming

I was at the barn last night, getting Alfie tacked up. One of the teen-aged girls walks up to the grooming stall where I was and pronounces to her young gelding "Why can't you be perfect like Alfie, huh?"

Seriously. She said it. My hand to God! I about fell over I was so shocked.

I looked at her and laughing said "Alfie, don't let your head get too big buddy. I think she's teasing." But this dear, sweet child insists she is not joking and proceeds to tell me how she's never seen Alfie act up, be naughty or do anything but stand quietly and perform his job obediently.

I look at my horse. And sure enough... he's standing there quietly, almost asleep. I lunge him in side reins and he's good as gold, stretching like a good boy. I ride him and he's listening to me, despite all the activity going on around him. When I finish my ride, I bring him into the barn and we are once again met by our new best friend, who professes again that she wishes her horse was more like Alfie.

My horse... who I see as quirky and difficult, with baggage enough for a barn full of horses. A horse who a mere year ago wouldn't cross-tie, and who two years before was fighting with veterinary staff at Auburn... while he was sedated. A horse who typically would spook at just about everything, including his own shadow, and couldn't stand still to save his life... he was described by someone who is not me as PERFECT?!?!

I don't know why I'm so surprised. Alfie is perfect, after all.

my darling, mud-covered pony

Dontcha think?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September Already?!

What happened to my summer? My grand plans? My vacation? Wait... I didn't even HAVE a vacation!!

Despite some ups and downs over the summer (some seriously down downs, I might add), I am embracing September and the coming autumn. I had the opportunity to interview for two positions in the development office of my alma mater, but, alas, I was not The Chosen One for either position. Darn close, but not close enough. However, I am taking that as a sign that there is a bigger and better plan for me, and I have decided to embrace my current position like never before. I'm powering on through a busy and cramped (because of all the holidays we're closed for) campaign season in September and October and taking on some projects that are new to me, but have so far struck the right balance of interesting and challenging. I'm not giving up my search, per se, because I know that something perfect is out there for me... but for now I am going to get the most from my current job as I can, and expand my knowledge and experience.

I also moved Alfie to a wonderful, amazing new barn at the beginning of the month. Its closer to home, and has the right amenities: huge, lush pastures, in which the horses are turned out for about 18 hrs a day (!!); a small cross country schooling field; a galloping track to practice pace; and miles and miles of trails. Oh, and a fabulous staff and group of boarders! Its been about three weeks since we moved and Alfie is a completely different horse. He has taken everything about the move in stride. He's calm and focused whether he's in the cross ties or working in the ring. I should have made this move sooner, but the timing and the cash-flow weren't quite right before. But I think its just perfect! My younger sister, who is a hunter rider, has ridden Alfie a couple times since the move and she was suprised how calm he is. Even when schooling in the ring one night, with the lights casting shadows everywhere, Alfie was perfect. I don't know what it is about the facility, but its having an amazing, positive affect on my boy!

Now I'm hoping we can keep shoes on him long enough to get going and maybe, you know, do some eventing or something. I have my first lesson since June scheduled for Friday (those really down downs? that was the shoes and not getting to ride. For more than TWO MONTHS) and I am hoping Alfie is as good as he has been.

In other horsey news, I volunteered for two days (September 9 & 10) at the American Eventing Championships at Bouckaert Farm. It was amazing. The facility. The volunteers. The organizers. The riders and their horses! I had the chance to meet a couple of "on line friends" for the first time, and they're even more cool than I expected. I scribed for a dressage judge one day and learned a ton (thank you, Elizabeth Kane, for making my first time as a scribe a positive one! I was terrified!). The second day I learned all about bit-checking and stuck my finger in the mouths of about 25 horses. And had to ask Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton to very kindly, please, sir, I know you'll be on the US team at WEG's, leave my warm-up ring thank you. The coolest thing was seeing Jimmy Wofford though. I wizzed by on a golf cart as he came out of the show office and i just GAWKED! But of course he's there! He's Jimmy! I wish I had run into him again later... I was told that he's very approachable and will talk to you for hours if he isnt busy.

On the "healthy eating" side of things, my husband is down... like eleventy-million pounds. I'm really proud of him. He's going to the gym at least 4 days a week, and sometimes gets up at 4:30am to go before we leave for work. Sometimes. On my personal front, I weighed in at 164.4 lbs On Monday! Only a pound shy of my low from two summers ago, so that will be an easy benchmark to hit. Then I will have to really bust my butt to hit my goal weight (145-ish, but I won't cry if I am within 3 pounds of that). My REAL goal is to get my behind in those a-freaking-mazing FITS breeches I bought two summers ago when I was around 160. I really needed to be a little smaller than I was at the time to truly fit in them, but the Large size was about 4 inches too long in the inseam, so I bought a Medium and squeeeeeeazed into them. Once. I plan on making them my show breeches, so I'd better drop some poundage!

I've been alternating between the elliptical machine and running on the treadmill at the gym, depending on my mood. The last time I ran, I did two 15-minute sets with a two minute walking break between. That felt really good. I also do some leg and abs exercises after cardio, though I should probably do more with weights. I did find two 10-minute workouts On Demand this week that I really like, so I may add those to the routine regularly.

Monday, August 9, 2010

One Thing Leads to Another...

A couple months ago, my husband and I learned that his younger brother was shopping for engagement rings; my brother-in-law was apparently smitten with his girlfriend and knew she was the one, as often happens throughout history. Needless to say we were very excited for him... but then a stark realization punched us in the gut. We're going to have to get back into wedding shape! Especially my husband, who will likely be in the wedding. Yikes!

I have in previous posts mentioned my "fatty saga" and professed my intention to get back into a better routine at the gym and start actively logging my Weight Watchers points again. So a couple of weeks ago I threw my hands up and said "TODAY IS THE DAY!", and with the possibility of a family wedding coming up, now was as good a time as any. I am proud to say that in the first two weeks back on Weight Watchers I've lost six pounds. Heck yes! The biggest motivator ever is watching that number on the scale go down week by week. I think the key to making a healthy-eating plan work (b/c "diet" is a four-letter word) is just planning ahead. Menu planning, packing your lunch the night before, even keeping a stash of good-for-you snacks in the office... ALL forms of planning ahead. All good things to do. And it makes sticking to your plan so much easier. Ask the high-fiber granola bars and 100 calorie bags of microwave popcorn in my desk!

Sidebar: I noticed with my re-entry into WW that they FINALLY added "grooming a horse" to the list of Activities. And let me tell you, cleaning a horse before you even ride is absolutely a cardiovascular, muscle-toning workout. Ask any horse owner. No... go ahead, I'll wait right here. Yeah. Its WORK. Especially when its muddy out in their pastures... getting all that mud off is about an extra 10 minutes of working out. And THEN you get to ride and really get sweaty. But I digress...

Then last weekend my brother-in-law popped the question to his girlfriend, now finacee. And my husband is also now super motivated to get back to fighting... I mean wedding weight. I'm really proud of him. He has had... well, lets just say that he has taken issue in the past with other people telling him what he should do, and eat and not eat and all those kinds of fun things that everyone loves to hear. In the nine years that I have known him, I have learned that I can only lead by example when it comes to exercising and eating healthier, and cannot nag or even mildly suggest that he do something. It backfires. And I can't blame him one bit; after living the better part of my life being made to feel badly about myself and my choices, I'd be pissed off hearing it again, too. So that he decided all on his own to make healthy, positive changes made me very, very happy for him.

And then he got this wild notion about going to the gym this weekend. Wha-wha-WHAT?!

OK, you know what? Fine. Lets go. I haven't even been to the gym in like 6 months, and thats just terrible considering we pay the gym every month. So instead of going out and doing something fun on Saturday night, we went to the gym! I kid... I kid... We did go to the gym, and I guess--while it wasn't exactly fun--it wasn't terrible. I thought for sure I'd be completely wiped out after 15 minutes of brisk walking on the treadmill, but I did better than that...

Nearly 8 months ago my friend Lynda fell off of her young, green horse, Rasta, when he spooked at some kids driving around in a golf-cart (waving a UGA flag... clearly they were not smart enough to know thats a bad idea near a horse). In the fall, Lynda broke two vertibrae in her neck, and by miracle was not paralyzed. She wore a halo for 6 long months, but never lost spirt, as her doctors promised her she would be back to her normal activities within a year. Good thing for Lynda, who is a very active runner, and rider. You can't keep a goo woman down! Last week, Lynda was given the green-light to begin running again. Only about a month before, she sat on her horse again for the first time since her fall. She's an amazing woman.

So I decided right there standing on that treadmill, if Lynda can run, there is no reason I shouldn't be running either. Even though I'm not a runner. At. All. But when I got the the gym on Saturday, I decided to work some running into my session. One minute turned into two. Then a couple of minutes of walking... then another couple of running. And wouldnt you know it, I did about 25 minutes of 2 run/2 walk, and it felt really good. I think I pushed myself just enough that it was hard, but I didnt over-do it.

Lather, rinse, repeat on Sunday evening. :)

Of course today, as I write this, my body is only functioning from the waist up, despite my best efforts to stretch before and after my workouts. But I'm really proud of myself, and of my husband, for getting back to the gym.

Strike that... also having trouble lifting my right arm up above my head, since I pulled Alfie's mane yesterday (without a fight mind you! That is h-u-g-e HUGE for him!). But thats another story.

So... brother-in-law goes ring shopping... I start back on Weight Watchers... Brother-in-law gets engaged, we both start going back to the gym... my friend makes a miraculous recovery, and I become a runner. Things happen for a reason... I think its up to us to recognize that reason and respond to it.