Sunday, July 29, 2012

On the other side of "The Hill"

"Success isn't just about natural-born talent. If you put in the time, persevere and work harder you can do amazing things" Nicholas Sparks

The goal was pretty simple, make it through the "Over the Hill" show. Try not to embarrass myself, Joker's owner Jess or Etta our riding coach. I think we managed to meet the goal, and then some. We not only got through it, we rocked it. We came home with a second place for Showmanship and a forth place for Western Pleasure Walk/Trot. I could find lots of ways to devalue our outcome, it was novice classes, others had major incidents in the classes, but screw that. WE ROCKED IT! I could not be happier with our result and quite frankly more shocked by it.

To prove that I have to share the funniest moment of the day...when they announced our placing for Western Pleasure....I did something I need to learn not to do..I whooped still sitting in line and out of my mouth came "Holy Shit". There is photographic evidence of it....

As I said in my previous post about this show, this show was about deciding for me if I really had what it took to do this, not in the way of winning ribbons and placings, but if this is where I belonged. I found my answer. My friend Paul put it way better than I could have.

"Congrats Pam. I'm proud of you. You have graduated. You are no longer an aspiring Horsewoman. You've made it!"

Not only did I ride and find my stride but I can say not once while I was in that arena did my weight cross my mind. I was so worried what people would think seeing me on a horse, but yesterday I only saw one thing when I looked at the stands. A lot of really special people around me who believed in me long before I did and were there to remind us we are not in this alone....affectionately now known as "Team Joker". I looked up and saw our coach, Theo (he doesn't have a title but is there for everything it seems), my adopted show parents Carole and Neil (they are Etta's parents but I adopted them at some point) and so many friends. I was shocked yesterday that some people drove nearly 2 hours to watch us ride...friends from Lifetime, horse friends Kathy and Liz, Joker's mom Jess, Janet who got me all into and her daughter Amanda. They all dropped what was going in their lives to be there for us.

And the face that I seemed to find first every time around, our groom for the day Jordy. Who has to get mentioned because she not only was there for everything we needed yesterday before I could even ask, she got up at 3am to go on this adventure with us.

I don't think any of these people will ever realize how much them being there meant to me. I tend to get feeling sorry for myself because my family isn't in my life for the moments that matter, I will probably never see anyone with DNA I share standing on the other side of that rail, but it hit me yesterday as I stood back from the trailer and looked at the number of people there hanging out with Joker and I, I have no reason to feel sorry for myself, DNA means nothing, yesterday was one of those few times in my life I truly felt loved unconditionally!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

My illogical life with food...

I'm not going to lie, it has been a long cruddy week. I have been hurt badly twice by people I really considered friends (both crossed the only line I wont tolerate being crossed), work has been stressful, I am deep in training for my upcoming show (4 lessons this week) and the gym has been a real challenge (my own beating myself up for being "broken" getting the better of me). Add on top of that sleep has been really off, even for me, and I have been having really messed up vivid dreams.

All of those things would typically mean one thing for me, food would go out the window. Mostly my reaction under these circumstances would be to stop eating, but it may also be peppered with terrible carb binges. And I am not going to lie, the night I left the gym in tears there was NOTHING I wanted to do more than visit Dairy Queen, McDonalds and go buy a cake.

But the big shocker to this week has been that I held it together on food really well. My calories were over 1800 every day this week (my goal is 2000+ but we have all agreed if we get to 1700 or so it is a good day, considering my norm previously was in 300 range), I cooked all my own food, I brought lunches to my client meetings and I met all the rules (no dairy, no eggs, no wheat, no yeast, no high tyramine, high healthy fats, extreme low carbs (I am eating anywhere from 1-3% carbs these days) and adequate protein.).

I don't want that to sound like it was easy, that is actually the point of my post. I am doing this, I have been successful for about 5 weeks now with following the new guidelines, and it IS working. At my highest recent weight I was 258 *gulp* at my weigh in this morning I was 244. 14 lbs in less than 2 months is a big feat, since the nutritionist defined success at losing 1 lbs a week.

And logically I can sit here and tell you why its working...I am avoiding carbs (kryptonite to me), I am avoiding all the foods that cause me inflammation reactions, we are slowing upping my body's desire to burn fat over glucose, but most importantly..................I am eating (I have my body out of starvation mode). Logically I "get it".

But for someone with disordered thinking around food, "getting it" and even doing it don't change the struggle. Despite how easy I have learned it to make the foods I need, no matter how much I can this is working (Nick was right *rolling eyes*) and what I was doing before wasn't. I still hear that same voice in my head. Lately it is less about food being evil or having to force myself to swallow the food and more the voice that nags at me "wow if you lost almost 3 lbs this week imagine how much faster it would come off if you dropped the calories and skipped meals". This voice also has a companion set of noise that says "just lie on your food journal, up the amounts, no one will know". Even when the noise is quiet, I also have to fight my normal tendency to just not eat. I literally have to remind myself "it's lunch time go find food". I went through a short period when we started this new plan where I was hungry for the first time in a long long time, but that has faded as my body adjusted. I am back to having to eat off the clock because the cues from my body don't exist.

It amazes me the tenacity of an eating disorder. I truly thought by now this would become habit (the conventional wisdom is it takes 30 days of doing something for it to be a habit) and the ED crap would fade but so far that isn't happening. Some days I actually think the eating makes it worse, it definitely did in the beginning. I truly wonder if I will ever be programmed like other people for eating to just be a normal part of life or not. Certainly not there yet.

Next week is the first time I travel under this new plan. I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't scared. I don't know how to do this when I cant cook my own food. I keep bouncing between whether I fear I wont eat at all, or if I fear eating the wrong things. The first seems less damaging (because we wont need to clean out those substances again from by body) but either one is going to slow progress or move me backwards. Finger's crossed I figure it out......

Monday, July 16, 2012

Time to get "Over the Hill"

I am back in show prep mode...wash the tail, clean the tack, do the horse's laundry, trim the whiskers, pack the hay bag. I feel so much more in control this time around, I have done this once, I know what to expect and I feel like I am going into this with a plan. Unlike my first show where I would say slightly controlled chaos reigned the day before the show I have my roadmap and I am ready to roll. This time I am on a two week schedule, I will be able to glide into the day before with ease.  I have my lists, I know what day I am doing what, it's all good.

I am actually somewhat surprised how calm I am about this show, because even though it isn't my first, it is the one I really care about this year. This is the show that from the moment we started contemplating me showing I knew I wanted to do. To me this show is my rite of passage, the show that means I am truly a show rider, that I belong, that this is the path I am going down.

Ironically this show is the "Over the Hill" Show (at Northwest Saddle Club). The name comes from the fact that it is all riders 18 and over (yes in the horse world 18 is "over the hill"). But for me I find the name much more meaningful, for me completing this show means I have truly gotten "over the hill" of my own fears (maybe they should be calling it the over the mountain show in my case *smile*) and am really part of the show world.

A year ago I sat and watched the Over the Hill Show, my riding coach Etta was showing and I went to see what this was all about. It was one of the first horse shows I had ever been to. I had ZERO interest in ever showing, but figured watching people of the caliber who show ride would help me as a rider. I went with my best friend Kaye, who now finds great humor in my metamorphosis. Through the whole show I vowed I would never show, (something might have been said about hell freezing over),  I was very confused by the "dance" done in Showmanship (believe my words were "why wont they just stand still already, how annoying"), I was turned off by the show clothing in Western classes (rhinestones and I are slowly making friends) and I just couldn't see the point in it all.  As I said, the road from watching this show a year ago to riding in it this year definitely went "over the hill".

Getting to this show on July 28th also meant climbing the hill of my own weight issues. Around the time I saw this show last year my lease on Cheyenne was falling apart because of her owners issues with my size and as a result I was incredibly self conscious of my weight and whether it meant I would be able to ride or not. And in all honesty the show only made it worse. I was sitting next to someone who obviously had very strong views on who should ride and who shouldn't, they spent their time making fun of the larger riders and saying how sorry they felt for their horses.

Needless to say that stayed with me. The thought of someone watching me ride and saying that has never left my mind. It was another mountain in my path. But a mountain I have mostly conquered. I have grown a lot in a year, I have learned (through the wisdom of my riding coach) that it isn't about being too big to ride, it is about having the right size horse and I do. Joker is built for me to ride, he's a big strong horse and carries me without a second through. His owner is fully supportive of me riding him. She and Etta reassure me regularly that we are well matched size wise, and anyone who doesn't think I have the right to ride him because of my weight will just have to live with that. It's their hill now not mine!

It has been a long road from that naive rider to where I am now. It is hard to believe how much my world has changed in a year. I have learned "the dance", I have put on the rhinestones and when we ride into that arena on July 28th it wont matter if we place or not, because for me, being "over that hill" is all that matters. This show marks the beginning of a journey I never thought I would take, one that was more chosen for me than me choosing, and one I can't imagine my life without.

The other side of the hill is pretty damn amazing!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I could die happy....

I am home sick today (really bad sore throat that I have been fighting for a week finally won) and knew I needed calories but was in no mood to eat. A friend posted on FB about the ice cream she made and I thought hmmmmm that would be good. But obviously with the new food rules going to the store to get some was out, so I decided to be creative.

If you read back in the blog I have actually been on the hunt for a good way to make ice cream healthy for a while. I am someone who eats mostly for texture than taste and one of the reasons I keep failing at sticking to any meal plan is I get craving the feel of ice cream and fall off the wagon. I have been determined to stick with the current plan and not fall prey to that, so I had to solve this puzzle.

I have previously tried making ice cream from almond milk (without an ice cream maker) and failed miserably. Almond milk has no fat in it so the result is an ice cube when it freezes. Last week I tried making it with coconut milk and it worked better (it helps that I bought an ice cream maker for that attempt) but the coconut was too overpowering (it just tasted weird not like coconut per se) so I wanted to go back to the almond milk, but knew I had to get more fat in there. I searched the internet for recipes with almond milk to get an idea what people used, but since none met my food restrictions I decided to just go for it.

If you haven't read my last couple posts I am currently eating a ketogenic, low tyramine diet while also avoiding foods I have blood work to confirm I am "sensitve" to (these include dairy, eggs, wheat, and yeast). The goal is to be high (healthy) fats, adequate protein and little to no carbs. This is not an easy way to eat (when you combine the three sets of restrictions) but I have committed myself to making it work. And I know for me that means solving certain texture and taste cravings that will send me off track. So I have worked to be as totally creative with "safe" ingredients to find those same tastes and feels. And truthfully I have been SHOCKED how easy it is. But I still hadn't solved ice cream.....until today....

May I introduce "I Can Die Happy" Chocolate Ice Cream..................


- 1 1/4 cup chilled almond milk (I use almond breeze vanilla)
- 1/4 cup chilled canned coconut milk (you want the canned with the solids well mixed in, this is the fat the almond milk lacks)
- 1 small banana (I keep bananas already sliced and frozen in my freezer for things like this)
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I like dark chocolate so I used  1 1/2 tbsp cocoa power and 1/2 tbsp special dark cocoa powder)
- 2 dates
-  1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)
- 1 square unsweetened bakers chocolate
- 1 tbsp finely chopped raw pecan
- 1 tbsp raw unsweetened coconut flakes


You will want to follow the directions for your ice cream machine. I have this one and it requires you freeze the mixing bowl before starting (I actually just store mine in my freezer for moments like this).

Next you need to make sure your milk and banana are cold. Again mine worked out of the fridge/freezer. I think having the bananas frozen actually helped the ice cream solidify faster. I did microwave them for about 30 seconds just to soften.

I prepped the dates by putting them in a small bowl with about a tbsp of water and microwaving for 30 seconds I wanted them soft so I didn't get date chunks.

I combined the two milks, the banana, the dates, and the cocoa powders in the blender (I have a ninja I use) til it was all smooth. This went into the ice cream maker and churned for about 15 minutes (til it was thicker than soft serve). I then added in the pecans and coconut flakes and let it churn another 5 minutes.

One the ice cream was done I put it into a freezer safe container.

I wanted to also try putting some more chocolate through it (ribbons were the goal) and I needed another way to up the fat content for my diet. So I melted together (double boiler style) the coconut oil and the bakers chocolate. Once melted I let this cool for a minute (so it didn't melt the ice cream) and drizzled it in and pulled it through with a fork.

The chocolate ribbons didn't happen, but instead had a happy accident, chocolate flakes throughout the ice cream. This was a result of using the coconut oil. For those that haven't worked with coconut oil, it is a solid at room temperature, it melts when heated but then solidifies pretty fast. When the chocolate with the oil hit the cold ice cream the chocolate solidified (think of those hard candy shell chocolates they dip cones into).

The result overall was amazing. The amount of chocolate was perfect. The sweetness was right on, the texture out of the ice cream maker was already of a loose hard ice cream. It was decadent to eat, but it meets all the rules, its healthy and I actually would prefer it over most store bought ice cream I have had. It certainly beat out DQ which is my normal cheat.

For anyone keeping track the calories for the ENTIRE BATCH batch (which should be about 6-8 serving sizes I would guess) is 672 calories, there are 71 g of carbs, 51 grams of fat and 10 g of protein. Assuming 6 servings that is 112 calories, 12 g of carbs, 9 g of fat, and 1.5 g of protein. If you are looking to up the protein (I know some of my readers are) you could easily add protein powder to the recipe! Either way, there is no way a store bought product could touch this on taste, health content or calories!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Harder than I ever imagined....

This is probably going to be one of those slightly rambling posts, but I need to work out all that is flying around in my head, and I always try to remind myself when I hit this place others are probably there here goes.

I am a relatively intelligent person. I have been incredibly blessed in life that I find it very easy to learn new things, especially if it is something that interests me. I have taught myself most of my careers with little to no specific education or guidance, I self taught myself Hebrew in a couple months, heck in the last few weeks I have taught myself how to cook like a gourmet chef. My brain just works well at breaking something down and grasping it fast when I want to. I am also very good at seeing the big picture and being able to dissect it apart and figuring out the steps to get to where I want to be. However when it comes to riding, not only is none of that seeming to work, I actually think in some ways it is working against me. It is certainly raising the level of pressure I feel to "get it". I am not used to feeling this stupid no matter how hard I try.

I can say without a doubt...I have never tried so hard, mentally, physically and emotionally, to learn something as I have with riding and showing. And I can also say nothing has ever left me as excited and proud of myself or as drained and frustrated as this has. It seems to just depend on the day which side of that coin I am on, and that is the hardest part of this for me, the constant roller coaster.

Anything else I have ever tried to do or learn the learning and accomplishments followed a predicable study, you practice, you struggle but once you get it you're there. It's then a skill you have and you can count on it. Riding is nothing like that.

One day I can get on Joker and do everything right, the next day I can get on and try the same things and have a totally different outcome. The number of variables that come into play are overwhelming...the weather, the time of day (I have a totally different horse depending on how long ago the last meal was or how soon the next one is), what other horses are in the arena with us or if we are alone, whether the doors are open or closed. Its a type of variable I have never had to work with before.

And for me on top of those that just naturally come from working with a partner you can't have a rational conversation with, I also find my body plays a huge role in how the day is going to go. If I am tired or sore I struggle much more to feel the things I need to to ride well. I sit differently. I have more or less flexibility to turn the way I need to, some days I can feel if I am holding my feet right or not, other days I cant. Most days because of the nerve damage in my right side I cant even feel if I am doing what my riding coach asks me to and I just work to try to get there and hope my body will accidentally do what I need it to. Consistency of seat is so important in riding, and my body is anything but.

Don't get me wrong, I know I have made immense progress in the last 14 months. I remember that every time I get on Joker. But at the same time I have to admit I really stress that I don't feel like I am where I would want to be, where I expect myself to be, and most of all where I feel like others expect me to be by now. I don't handle feeling dumb well, and many days lately that is how I feel when I get off my horse. I don't yet know how to make peace with having a skill that works great one day and next day falling apart at the exact same thing. This is such a different world for me, and I cant say I feel like I fit yet. I don't know how to not put all this pressure on myself, and I know it is coming from me and no one else.

I also am coming to realize that some of my personality quirks work against me as a rider too. I am an introvert, big time, I have many of those social insecurities us geeks are made fun of for. I tend to walk looking down, I tend to have a hard time holding eye contact with people, I tend to want to minimize my "footprint" and so I slouch and curl into myself. Not one of those things works well riding. I have to work hard to look up when I ride, to focus on where I want to go, to sit back, to stretch up, to put my shoulders back. None of this is coming naturally to me and when I am riding my head is spinning to try remember to do it all, on top of also trying to make my body do what it needs to and to give the proper cues to Joker.

And all of that combined brings out probably my worst habit (one that bites me in the gym, the arena and lots of other places). When my brain is going 100 miles an hour I lose focus on what is around me and where I am going. I can look like I am looking somewhere or at someone and yet in reality I couldn't tell you what I just was looking at. That sounds weird but how many times have you driven somewhere and realized you didn't remember half the trip. I do that all the time. I get so focused on all that I am trying to process and do that I kind of go on auto pilot related to what is around me. Not a good thing when where you are looking has so much to do with cueing your horse.

I am not sure where to go with this post now, I guess I really didn't have a point. I think more than anything I am just saying all this to try to make peace with the fact that I am not unique in anything I wrote. That everyone who rides and especially those who compete all struggle with this. That this is the first time I am learning at a normal pace. But for me learning at a normal pace is so unnatural and I don't know how to be ok with it. Man being human sucks!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Restrictions or an eye opening...

I just have a conversation with a facebook friend, she is starving herself as a way to lose weight. The emotions that she brought out in me reminded me I hadn't blogged in forever (sorry) and it was time.

First a quick horse update, still leasing Joker, still love him to pieces. I become a better rider every time I am with him. We had our first real show in June and I was SHOCKED to have placed in two classes (ironically the ones I was most dreading as they were the ground classes where my ability to physically jog were a factor). The classes were huge (20 + riders) which made it even more amazing to me placed. We took 6th in Halter and 4th in Showmanship. I have to admit I was totally addicted after the first show and am counting the days til our next show (July 28th). I feel like I have found my place! This might be the first thing I have done in my life that I can say I truly felt proud of myself for. I know how hard I worked for this (and continue to work). It is the first real accomplishment of my life that isnt on an intellectual only playing field and it was the most amazing thing I have ever done.

Now the harder stuff, my weight is up, I was back to around 255 lbs, so 40 lbs gained from my lowest. I am back to where I was two years ago exactly. It's frustrating, it's depressing and it makes me want to give up. But I am still luckier than most, in that I still have my personal trainer, Nick, to back me when I give up. And over the last two months he has been really working to try to get me nutritonially back on track.

The new plan of attack started with testing my food sensitivies, testing my adrenal function and some other blood tests. The food sensitivity test was to me the most interesting. The test looks not for a pure allergic reaction, but rather inflammation reaction (immunoglobulin response) to certain foods. What many of us discount is that our weight is made up of more than fat...inflammation and fluid retention are a huge factor. You cant gain 40 lbs of fat in a few months, its not possible. And since I was back to eating next to nothing again, this was a more likely issue. When we did the test I expected to have a few things come back, but even I was blown away by the results. I reacted to: blue cheese, green beans, onions, tomatoes, eggs, dairy, wheat, baking yeast, brewers yeast and chocolate. The results put different categories on the reactions (1 through 5) and the varying levels require different changes.

We also found my adrenal levels were much higher than they should be. Finding all this was nothing new. It was new facts, but I have been told many times before things weren't working like they should, but then usually need to find my own solution, because usually the next part of the message was "ok cut those foods out" but no suggestion on what to eat. And in that situation I just restrict my eating even more.

But the difference this time, Nick has also worked to make sure I had someone who had experience with these issues to help me figure out what to do with it all. Enter Paul into the picture. Paul is a corporate dietician for Lifetime Fitness. I will be honest. I went into working with another dietician beyond skeptical. Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows I have been this route before. A new dietician, they see all my medical issues, they hear about my eating disorder issues and when the prescribed "eat less, cut out x foods" wont work they get frustrated and are done.

My first meeting with Paul was shockingly different. He got it on my tyramine restrictions, my long medical history didnt seem to spook him and most importantly he came to the meeting with a workable plan, something I could try. His recommendation, a ketogenic diet. High (healthy) fats, decent protein, low low carbs. And the goal he set was 2000 calories *gulp* a day. The thought behind the diet is that it forces the body into burning fats instead of carbs. In addition we had to work in my food sensitivies (especially no dairy, no eggs, no wheat, no yeast - which were the higher categories) and my need to avoid high tyramine foods (because of my medical issues). This assignment seemed to me beyond comprehension, but I felt I had to try. If for no other reason than because Nick had worked so hard to find me someone to help me.

I am now about 3 weeks into trying this and I had an epiphany today. The foods most of us eat have a lot of really unnecessary ingredients in them. Not only have the "restrictions" been very doable, but the taste of what I have been eating is either the same or improved over foods I was eating before. I didnt need those foods at all.

The biggest change is that I have started actually cooking (a few people just fell over from shock). Cooking was key to be able to do this, you cant eat out or by prepared food and eat the way I needed to. Cooking has allowed me to explore products I had never considered: coconut oil, safflower oil, coconut flour, almond flour, and coconut milk (who knew you could make whipped cream out of coconut milk).

In the last three weeks I have made: shrimp scampi, tandori chicken, beef country ribs, curry shrimp, coconut chocolate mousse, goat cheese stuffed burgers, coconut pecan bark, a healthy version of mounds bars and many other dishes. No (cow) dairy, no eggs, no wheat, no yeast and yet every one of them has been tasty and at least as good as the original if not better. I am still working out the best pancake recipe!

My weight dropped about 5 lbs the first week, it is up a pound this week, so this is no quick fix. Nick keeps reminding me I have spent years screwing up my metabolism I cant expect to fix it overnight, but I can say I feel better. Less tired, less bloated, less fluid retention.

I have always been honest in this blog, I am not going to say this has all been a walk in the park. You dont meet with a nutritionist and erase an eating disorder. Eating is still the hard part for me, I HATE the thought of 2000 calories . That number seems insanely high to me. There are many meals I have to force myself to get started making. My brain is wired to see cooking and eating as a waste of time. The whole situation, knowing others are watching and waiting to see if I succeed or fail has me very anxious (waiting to let Paul down like every other nutritionist has been when my body doesnt react the way it should), I am very scale obsessed again (something I had had under control, spending hours working out in my brain how I can fit in getting the clue to see what the scale I trust says.

The hardest part has been being hungry. Feeling hunger is something my body stopped doing decades ago, I could easily go days without food and not feel hunger. But the change in diet have done somethng to trigger the feeling of hunger. And as someone who obsesses with not gaining weight through not eating, being hungry is SCARY. It makes me fear over eating and gaining weight, it makes me want to run from food to make sure I dont lose control. It is hard for me to come to terms with this being a normal bodily function.

I am sure some reading this post will think I am advocating this new way of eating as being right for everyone, just the opposite. I hope in reading my blog people will realize how different every person's body is. That there is no one size fit for weight loss and being healthy for everyone, whether it is eating less, whether it is high fat or low carbs. You need to know what your body is doing, you need to know what your unique challenges are and eat to them!

BTW for anyone looking for more information on the reasons for high fat low carb I am currently reading a book recommended to me by the nutritionist, .It's not the lightest read in the world, it has a lot of biochem in it, but it does make a good case for going back to eating much more like our ancestors did.

Monday, May 14, 2012

12 Months....5 horses....50 private lessons and a lifetime of change....

Some of my friends tease me, because I am big on dates and remembering how long I have known them, how long since we met, how long since something happened. I can't remember where I put my keys but I know exactly how long it has been since a friend moved away or how long I have had my car.

I put a lot of value on remembering when something happened and stopping to mark those milestones, "anniversaries" if you will. I do it for two reasons...1) Milestones remind us to stop and say thank you, to acknowledge the people who matter to us and how lucky we are. Life moves too fast most days and I like that I am forced to stop and value changes in my life. And 2) they help us to measure how much we have changed, how far we have come and who we have become.

Tomorrow is a huge milestone in my year since I started riding. And both the reasons to remember fit in here for me. My life is so amazingly different than it was a year ago, I am a different person than I was a year ago and this journey has not only brought me a peace and a type of growth I have never experienced before, it has also brought a whole new group of people into my life that a year ago I would have never stopped to meet.

For those who are new to reading my blog I guess I should back track and share my story. One year ago I was at a pretty low place in my life. I was still trying to awkwardly find my way through abruptly changing personal trainers (and losing a trainer who had had a big impact on my life), I was deep in a battle with my eating disorder, I was fighting with systems of clinical depression from a poor medication choice by my dr and I was wrestless with my career. I had been searching for a few years to find a stress reliever that didnt involve over working out on the treadmill and nothing had stuck.

At that point in my life horses were NO WHERE on my radar. As far as I was concerned they were big scary monsters whose primary motivation was to throw helpless humans off their backs. My only riding exprience had been on my cousin's horse as as a small child and that didnt end well.

So when my friend Janet (thank you #1...without you Janet this would never have happened) tried to convince me to go ride with her, and sweetened the deal with a discount via livingsocial I can't say I was interested. But I gave in, mostly to appease her, and figured I could live through the hour if nothing else. I actually believed that despite having lost over 100 lbs there was no way a horse could hold me or that I could mount with my nerve damage so it would be a fast hour.

Little did I know life was going to change that day (May 15, 2011). We went to take our riding lesson at Woodloch Stable in Hugo MN and fate had already started to set the wheels in motion. The instructor we were paired with that day turned out to be the perfect match for me (and has been my riding coach since). Stubborn enough not to let me wiggle my way out of things, smart enough to be able to find answers that satisify my logical side and caring enough to know how to keep my self doubts from over taking me.

Etta, as I have told you over and over again. Had there been anyone else that day I would never have been back. You told me on day one "there is a cowgirl in there somewhere" and I thought you were nuts. You believed in me long before I did and have stood by me through it all for the last year. I am so grateful to you and one of your biggest fans. You have been a teacher, a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a confidante, a mentor and a role model. You have changed my world (oh and thanks for bringing your mom and Theo into my world too!!!!)

Etta was also smart enough to know the perfect horse to put me on. Snapper. The slow, been there done that schoolie who is part Eeyore, part saint. He taught me to walk, to trot, he was my first trail ride, my first adventure through a stream. And when the time was right he forced me to learn to canter.

After that first day things moved very fast it seems. Truth the last year is a blur. In short order I was in weekly private lessons, I had leased Cheyenne for a short time. I had graduated to Cody (another WL schoolie) and I had spent time with Kola (Etta's loving Appy, who I still have to admit might be the horse I most fell in love with in this past year). I even considered buying a horse, but the next part of my journey was just as pre-determined by fate it seems as the start. Etta had figured out the perfect horse for me and played match maker with his owner and I. And once I accepted that she knew what she was talking about (did I mention it is a good thing she has tenacity) Joker and I began our time together.

Joker has now been my loyal friend and teacher for a little over seven months. I couldnt ask for a better horse for me. He is solid, smart, patient, polite, but yet still on a daily basis reminds me he is going to keep me on my toes and teach me new things. He is a handful when I am not learning fast enough and a great companion when I am getting it right.

When I started leasing Joker I had one goal, I wanted a trail horse, I wanted a horse that I could get on and escape into the woods, down the road and through the streams. I had NO (ZERO, ZILCH) interest in showing. I thought it was dumb and stupid. Again I had a lesson coming to me. Within a very short time Joker made me realize that my view on showing was more self doubt, belief that I could never be good enough, than anything else. And he helped me see that he was the part of the picture that I needed to be good enough. That together we could do this. And we have. I have spent the last 6 months preparing to show, we have done one fun show and this summer we will do at least 4 "real" shows. My original goal had been to show in just trail class, but since then the dream has morphed to Showmanship, Western Pleasure, Horsemanship and I just learned today, Halter.

And while I would normally be terrified and doubting myself that is the growth I talked about earlier. Joker has taught me for the first time in my life that it is ok not to be perfect. That no matter the outcome as long as we gave it our best that is good enough. This is the first time in my life I have undertaken learning a skill that you never really get good enough at, and that has been a challenge for me, but one I am finally wrapping my arms around. It has relieved me of that pressure I always feel to learn it fast and be flawless. Riding is a life long lesson, there is always more to learn, your horse will always find a way to challenge you and it is ok to have good days and bad. You can be as perfect as you want and there will also be that four legged variable that even pro's can be stumped by. And that has been really liberating for me. I am not good at letting myself just be my best and not fearing rejection, being humilitated or criticized, but in this realm everyone expects you to struggle, it is ok to fall off the horse every so often and no one is ever perfect.

Writing this it sounds like it has been such an easy road, but it has been far from that. I have struggled a lot with my body, my physical challenges, my fears of falling, my insecurities and that is where the thank you's come in. I have had the most amazing support around me. And in ways that has been a lesson too. Anyone who has been reading this blog a while knows letting others in, trusting others is a struggle point for me. But the other thing I have learned with riding is that you cant do this alone. Every day I have to trust Joker and communicate with a being who cant talk to me, who has a mind of his own and for someone who has always hated group projects and wanted full control this has been a mind shift of epic proportion.

But beyond trusting my horse has also coming trusting others and showing my vulnerable, imperfect side to others. And I have been truly truly blessed that I ride at a barn where the support is unending.

There is NO way to ever thank the owners and barn crew at Woodloch Stables enough. They have answered my dumb questions (and yes they have been dumb, including a week or two of "is this the right horse" every time I would bring Joker in (he has a look alike in his pasture). They have jumped in when he was injured or sick (including smelling his feet  on more than one occasion) and taught me how to give Bute, deal with a scratched eye and other normal horsey things that to me seemed monstorous.

In addition they have cheered for us, celebrated my high points, been there to support at the low points and have been family in ways I cant count.

Woodloch is this marvelous place of learning (with clinics, lessons and the owners being so hands on and there anytime anyone has a question), friendships, social activities, amazing facilities (we have two indoor arenas, two outdoor, a full rodeo arena, amazing trails and a cross country track) and loving care for all the horses there. I couldnt be luckier, all found by accident. I not only found riding, I found a family and a home.

The next huge thank you is Joker's owner, Jessica. I couldnt ask for a better person to lease from. I had come off a bad lease and was pretty jaded when I looked into leasing Joker but Jess has been a dream to lease from,from day 1 she has been as sure Joker and I belonged together as Etta did. Not only does she support all the crazy things I ask to do with Joker but she is patient with my newness, she is already ready to teach me and help me learn, she is so calm about her horse. And for me that is what I needed, someone as steady and calm as Joker is. She helps balance out my wanting to baby and protect him. I would easily have him seen by the vet once a week without her calmness to remind me horses are strong and do crazy things to themselves. Thank you Jess for allowing Joker in my life and for putting up with me. I love you!

My next thank you has to go to my personal trainer, Nick. He has been my closet supporter. He gives me a hard time about my riding and horses, but at the same time has worked many of our sessions in the gym into addressing my riding challenges, especially around ground mounting (something I still cant do). He is great at drawing parallels between what we are doing in the gym and my riding and helping me work my body towards my riding goals. I know you are behind me on this Nick, even when you give me a hard time about it!

The final thanks goes to the hundreds of people who have shocked me this year by supporting me on this journey, friends I have made at the barn, friends on facebook who feel like family some days, those of you who read this blog, horse people I have met along the way, friends I had before this past year who I have developed deeper friendships with. The names are too many to list.

You have laughed with me, you have cried with me, you have listened to me ramble on on and on. You have shopped with me, you have sat and watched me ride, you have looked at 100's of pictures. You have been along for this journey every step of the way. For someone who has nearly no family support, that is invaluable.

 I can say a year ago I really felt completely alone in the world. I had lost the desire to interact, I had given up on the world. In this last year you have all reminded me that the world is made up of more good people than bad, that the ride is more fun if you go with someone else and that letting new people in isnt always a bad thing.

I am overly excited to see what this next year will bring. My expectation it will be even more amazing than the first...showing, trying English and heck maybe I will even jump over something. Hold on Joker, the ride has just begun!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Perception is NOT reality.....

"People say I'm the life of the party
'Cause I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughing loud and hearty
Deep inside I'm blue

So take a good look at my face
You'll see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer, its easy to trace
The tracks of my tears..."

When you grow up with an abusive parent there are lessons you learn pretty fast...

  • Displaying weakness or vulnerability puts you at risk...
  • Hide imperfections or struggles to understand something and then go figure it out...
  • When someone is busy, stressed, or grumpy make yourself as invisible as you can...
  • Be ready to figure it out on your own, because most requests for assistance will go unanswer...
  • At the end of the day you are on your own and need to be able to survive that way...
As a child trying to stay safe in an unsafe environment these lessons serve you well, they keep the abuse to a minimum, but as you grow up and venture out into the world, they can often become a handicap. Because for most of us who grew up this way, we never stop seeing the world as unsafe and even when it is we automatically revert to putting on the charades we learned as survival tools.

This past week has been a great lesson for me in how this plays out for me in my life, particularly the first one. Because what trying to hide weakness or vulnerability leads to is wearing a mask for the world, a smile or a swagger that people often take as confidence or cockiness that in reality is nothing more than a shell to keep safe that inside you are scared to death.

This past week I lost two (horse) people from my life, that I actually considered friends, because they thought that what they perceived about me was reality. And while many of my friends have told me to move on, it is there loss and they werent really friends if they feel the way they do, it bothers me. Not even so much because they are gone from my life (in the end that may be better for me and them) but because they are gone because they judged me on what they thought I was and not who I am. And as I thought about it I realized this has always been the thing that bothered me about people in my life (especially those that get frustrated with me and walk away), that most people think I am someone I am completely not.

This all stemmed from the horse show this past weekend, but it started before then. Last Friday night in my group lesson one of these friends made a comment about me being so bent on winning. And at the time I responded but realize now nothing I would have said would have mattered, it is what she saw that she believed. I am guessing if you had asked most people how I felt going into the weekend they would have told you I was confident, thought I could win or cared about winning. The reality was so far from that. I have said it many times but I realize now that few have taken it to heart. I went into this with one goal, don't make a fool of myself and that was honest and sincere. I had NO expectations of winning anything. I saw myself failing in every class. It is part of why my reactions to winning were so big (something again mistaken as self absorption). I was SHOCKED at my placements, I still am. Quite frankly I consider them a fluke and go into the next show with even lower expectations of myself. I have written off my results as being "it was just the fun show".

I went into Sunday terrified, without any self confidence and expecting to be laughed at by those watching. I go into most things that way, expecting people are looking at me like the emperor with his new clothes. Yet that abused child in me knows better than to show that, so I go in like the victor, like I am so confident, but it is merely to protect myself. And it does that, but it also has down sides, one is how people see me, and the second is that I end up often going it alone, because people figure I have it all together and dont need help or support. I was really shocked this weekend that only one person (thanks Theo it meant a lot) took the time to ask how I was feeling, if I was ready, how I was doing and was there with a pep talk when I told him I was honestly scared out of my mind. I am venturing no one else even considered that, and that isnt an attack on anyone, I get it, I prevent that crossing people's minds when I play my role.

The second person this week that I lost was also lost because people dont see me, but this one is probably even more my fault. I was told this week that I have had it easy in how fast I have learned this horse stuff, that I made it to the top this fast because my instructor likes me. I think the perception people have gained, again because i hide my struggles, is that this has been an easy learning process for me or is now. I dont think anyone, including my riding coach, has a clue how hard this is for me. How much practice time I put in, with and without my horse. That my lack of depth perception makes learning patterns harder than I ever let on, so I take horsemanship patterns and run through them in my living room trying to figure out how to space things, let alone the hours and horse I have spent on Joker trying to learn to ride an even-ish circle. That the fact I made it through my cones in my trail pattern Sunday only happened because he and I have spent countless hours using a bunch of trees (where no one could see us) working on the timing of trotting cones and making corners on cones).  And do I want credit for all that, no, it was time I chose to invest and I am glad I did. But at the same time it does bother me that people cant see how hard I have worked for this. This hasnt been a given, no one gave me a free ride. From the first day I got on Snapper I have worked my ass off to do this. I have overcome major fears with trotting, I am still trying to overcome issues with loping (look at my videos my hand is still on that horn).

Beyond the two friends that walked, I know there were others who don't get me and took it the wrong way. I really went out of my way this weekend to deal with how I dressed, to worry about the details of how Joker looked. I went far beyond what the show required, most people wore jeans, sweatshirts and rode their horses as is. I dressed up, I had jewelry on, Joker was bathed, vacuumed, braided and beaded. I was asked more than once why I did so much and was even accused of showing off. People truly didnt get it, that this was all a way to cover the fact that I was completely freaked out inside about being seen by people and feeling so fat and ugly. I needed to do anything I could to make myself feel better about how I looked so that I could reach a confidence level high enough to let me ride into that arena. People who thought I was showing off had no idea I spent 12 plus hours and went to over a dozen stores just looking for a shirt that I would allow myself to be seen in. That for me how I looked and the fear of people seeing me and thinking I was "too fat to be riding" was nearly paralyzing. They had no clue when they were putting me down for over doing it that that was the armour I needed to even participate.

I cant end this post without thanking my best friend Kaye, she is the one person who DID get it this weekend. And I truly have no clue how I am going to do the rest of my shows without her here. What most people saw, and probably thought, was Kaye did SO much this weekend, she was my groom, my horse braider and cleaner, she put up with my attitude, she helped me buy clothes and do that marathon shopping to find one shirt, she kept me fed, she kept shoving water in me, she was to an outsider (and maybe even felt it at times) pretty much my show slave. But as with everything else there was so much more going on. Kaye gets me....Kaye knows when I stress i dont eat, Kaye knows I freak about how I look, Kaye knows that my body makes some things really hard (like getting down on the ground to scrub a horses hooves), Kaye gets that when I am stressed I get bitchy, impatient and short. But Kaye also knows my heart, that these things aren't me, that I am the most insecure, scared person in the world. That the outcome of this weekend was a total shock to me. And Kaye I hope you know for seeing me for who I am and standing by me anyway I love you more than words can express. I truly believe you are the one person on the planet who really KNOWS me! What am I going to do without you for the rest of my shows?????????????

Sunday, April 22, 2012

344 days later.....the story no one saw...

"I’m gonna take that mountain
Ain’t nothing gonna slow me down
And there ain’t no way around it
Gonna leave it level with the ground
Ain’t just gonna cross it, climb it, fight it
I’m gonna take that mountain"

Three hundred and forty four days ago I walked into Woodloch stables praying to live through the next hour of my life. I wanted nothing to do with horses and I couldn't believe I let a friend talk me into even trying to ride one.

Today I walked out of Woodloch with a blue ribbon and a host of other ribbons.

I still have a hard time believing the journey of the past year. How I went from terrified to exhilarated. From city slicker to cowgirl. Every day I have to remind myself this is all real. Even after today it still is hard to comprehend.

Our outcome today far surpassed my wildest expectations. Our placings were...

Showmanship 14 & Over - 4th place
Open Walk/Trot Horsemanship Rail - 3rd place
Open Horsemanship Rail- 7th place
Open Walk/Trot Western Pleasure - 2nd place
Open Western Pleasure - didnt place
Open Walk/Trot Horsemaship Pattern - FIRST PLACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Open Horsemanship Pattern - didnt place
Open Egg & Spoon - 6th place
Open Trail - 6th place!

A blue ribbon, any ribbon was not on my radar, even in a fun show. My goal was to not make a fool of myself, if I could have just reached that bar I would have walked away happy. I couldn't have even dreamed of reaching the achievements I did today.

But the real achievement today, the surprise I promised in the last post, had nothing to do with ribbons or placing, it had to do with conquering a personal goal, to regain something that was stolen for me.

Some of you will know this from reading previous posts, but very few people cheering for me today had a clue what really went on today. 16 years ago I was paralyzed on my right side (botched surgery) I had to relearn to walk, to use my hand. I got back to functional, but much of that time was little more. Two plus years ago I started working with a personal trainer and got back more mobility, riding has brought me even more, but there was still one piece I couldn't do, jogging. I have tried on the treadmill, I have tried alone in parks and on back roads, I could not make my body do it. I had asked a couple people to help me relearn how to make my body work, but it hadn't gone far. I had pretty much given up, and then Joker came along. I finally had my patient, non-judgemental running buddy, who didn't care how silly I looked or how slow we went and who wouldn't tell anyone what we were working on.

So last fall Joker and I started training. One step, then two, then a few. We would go out on the track, down by the rodeo arena, anywhere people wouldn't see us. Holding his lead rope gave me enough balance to not trip over myself. Joker would wait, make sure I was balanced and then move with me. Never running ahead, just waiting for me, he knew he had an important job. For as much as I trip over my own feet walking, I never once fell learning to jog with Joker.

When I decided to show this all took on new meaning. One of the classes I had under consideration was Showmanship. In this class you are next to your horse, not on them, and you move together through a pattern. You are judged on how well you move together, how your horse starts and stops with you, how your horse pivots. It was something I longed to do, but something I knew I might never do. Because an integral part of Showmanship is jogging with your horse, in uneven, sandy, deep arenas.

As show season got closer my riding coach and I had to make a decision, and in March we pulled Showmanship off the table for this year. I let my fear momentarily get the best of me and agreed it was the best plan. But my heart broke at the decision, it once again meant my body would win. Yet another thing my heart wanted but my body couldn't deliver. I came away from the decision saddened but also frustrated, not ready to give up.

So I went and had a long talk with Joker (ok I talked and cried, he ate grass, that is usually how our meetings go) and we decided neither of us was ready to give in. So we stepped it up, going and jogging in the arenas when no one was around. Since March I cant even count the number of hours we put in. And no one knew, til last Monday. I had signed up for Showmanship at the Fun Show (allowing people to assume I would walk the jog portion) and had a couple details I needed to work out in my riding lesson. When we got to the point in the pattern my coach offered me to walk that part, but I got to say the greatest words ever "nope we've got this one" and off Joker and I went. It wasn't fast, it wasn't picture perfect, but together we jogged. We had done it!

I still can't jog by myself, don't know if I ever will be able to, but as long as I have my loving patient friend Joker by my side, I am normal. I can do what others do. And that is better than anything I could win!!!!

The video of our Showmanship class can be found at:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

When you think you can' can't. But when you want, you will...

"Tell me it can't be done, and I will do it. Tell me the goal is too high, and I will reach it. Place an obstacle in front of me, and I will soar over it. Challenge me, Dare me, But do NOT underestimate me. For on the back of my horse ANYTHING is possible."

I am so pitifully behind in updating this blog. Life seems to be busier than ever and I guess because I am overall handling life better I am here venting less. Life is good right now, life is crazy right now, life is pretty surreal right not.

First the obligatory update - I am still losing the weight battle, I am up about 35 lbs from my lowest. I am still going to the gym, still seeing the trainer 3 times a week and added a TEAM Weight Loss class. But despite all that I am still moving backwards. I still believe in my heart of hearts that there is still something more medically that we are missing. The thyroid meds aren't stemming the weight loss so there has to be more. I am frustrated and scared and saddened on this front, the fact that we cant stop the gain has me terrified that I will continue back to where I started, and have considered giving up the fight multiple times, but luckily I have a personal trainer who doesn't give up when I do, so still fighting the war.

My weight is probably my only real complaint at this moment, otherwise my life is incredibly exciting these days, and totally unexpected. This weekend is my first horse show!!!!! I have to admit for as much as I have prepared for it, and for as many times as I have said it, that hasn't really registered yet in my brain that it is real! I have done all the shopping (Joker has some great new show duds) and I am practiced my heart out, but yet it all still seems so far out of something I would ever do that I can't make it real yet.

I also can't seem to make real the amazing amount of love and support people, some pretty much strangers, have shown me on this journey. Heck the woman who works at the deli counter at the grocery story asked if she could come (she asks me ever time she sees me how riding is going), I have clients who want to come, I have a friend flying in from NC to be there, and on top of those there in person I have an entire herd of show moms on Facebook who will be there in spirit. A friend pointed it out the other night, how amazing it is how many people are rallying around me for this show. Quite frankly at times I am spooked by it, letting people in has never been a strength of mine but at the same time I believe it is part of the lesson I am meant to learn this summer and am trying to embrace it.

I would be lying if I didn't say I was having nerves about the show, but ironically they aren't about riding. On that front I am good with knowing I have trained my butt off, that Joker and I will give it our best and the result will be what it is.

My nerves are my old demons, weight and insecurities. The closer the show gets the more I worry about how I look. I am fighting more and more to eat, I am freaking out about what to wear. I am very glad my best friend Kaye will be here the rest of this week, because truthfully without someone here I can see myself bailing on the show over nothing more than issues about my weight. Its hard knowing all those people will be looking at me, and in my mind judging how fat I am. But I have to keep trying to remind myself that is all only in my head. It is this great irony of being overwhelmed by all the love and support around me, and yet at the same time feeling totally unworthy of it.

The good news is that no matter what, I know I have the best partner in the world going into the ring with me Sunday morning. With Joker there by my side I now realize I can do ANYTHING!!!!!!! And I know that he and I have a HUGE surprise in store for most of the people in my life (3 special people already know). An accomplishment that far outreaches in my mind any blue ribbon I could ever win.

Curious???? Feel free to come watch the show. It starts at 9am Sunday April 22nd at Woodloch Stables in Hugo MN. For those that cant make it I promise to try to remember to blog afterwards!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shoulders back and stick out your chest...

"Your horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see… sometimes you will.” ~ Buck Brannaman

Not exactly sure where to start this post, really struggling and know I need to write this out, because it feels like one of those moments that others can relate to, but not sure how to say it all yet, so here goes.

When I started riding I worried about the obvious things, mounting the horse, not falling off the horse and doing technical things wrong. I had no clue that this journey was going to be much more about who I am on the inside than what I do on the outside. And there are times, like today, that I wonder if I had known that it would have gone down this road would I have opted in. While I love the new parts of my world, the self discovery is not coming easily. And last night it all felt like it hit me.

I guess first an update is in order, since I havent blogged in a couple months. I still adore riding as much as ever. I am still leasing Joker and couldnt be happier. He is smart, fun and has taught me more faster than I could have learned on most horses. We are cantering, we are working on patterns and the big news, I have decided to try a couple horse shows this summer with him. Our focus is going to be trail class (obstacles) but we are also going to give a shot to some of the pleasure classes (showmanship, horsemanship).  When I first started planning for this Etta (my riding coach) asked me what I was most scared of, my answer, cantering. I thought it was going to be the riding skills I was worried about, but as the days go by that fear fades. My new answer scares me more than loping and has me questioning this whole idea, but I truly hope like trotting and loping I can work my way past this.

My new angst, having to ride in the same arena with other people, particularly people I dont know. That sounds really dumb, but for the last nine months I have worked really hard (even more than I realized) to find empty arenas, to go out on trails or to stay with people I knew. I thought it was all about worrying about my riding ability, but last night I found out that wasnt it, it goes to how I see myself in the world, and have most of my life.

I keep mentioning last night so I guess I need to go there. Etta suggested this week (she is a pretty smart cookie) that maybe I should consider doing some group lessons (in addition to my private lessons) so that I could see how others struggle with some of what I do and also to get practice riding with others. So I gave it a try last night. I knew this was something I wasnt going to love at first, and came into it  with a lot of butterflies, but left more stressed than I imagined possible. The last thing I thought it was going to make me do was question showing, but it did.

It was a group lesson at WL. I knew no one in the lesson. I was pleasantly suprised to find out that even though most of these people had been riding much longer than me I was at least equal to them and in some areas Joker and I were ahead of them (I give him the credit, he makes me look good). I had my panic moment when I knew I was going to have to canter in front of them (this is somewhat new for me on Joker) but even that went better than I anticipated. And as usual Etta was there to keep reminding me I was just fine and she wouldnt let me get over my head.

But for all that I still found my anxiety level off the chart the whole hour. I was getting more and more wound up by the chaos of sharing an arena, of people riding in different directions, cutting me off, my horse reacting differently (wanting to play tag and race with the other horses) and it just all became overload. And the irony is I realize this was really quiet as group riding goes. By the end my heart was racing and I was nearly in tears. Panic attack is the only way I can explain it. Even writing about it the tears are there. I was beyond stressed and wasnt sure why.

I needed to understand this and last night I ripped it all apart and came to the realization that the anxiety comes from the very core of how I have seen myself in life from the time I was very young and the negative messages that were instilled in me from day one. The basic message I came away from my childhood with was "you are in the way, you are unwanted" and because of that I have spent a lot of my life trying to blend in, minimize myself and go out of my way to not get in anyones way and I totally bring that to my riding.

That statement about wanting to hide and blend in might surpise people who think they know me but dont really. Most people in my life if asked to describe me would say...courageous, pushy, harsh, confident, likes to be the center of attention, thinks she knows it all, thinks she is always right. And they would be dead wrong. It used to bother me when people said those things about me, but I have grown to just accept anyone who thinks that has never gotten to know me and is judging their perception of me not who I really am. At my core I am shy, scared, greatly devalue myself and usually put myself last when comparing myself to others.

The way that plays out in my life is I try to stay to myself, in groups  of peopleI hide on the edges, I am the person who if I see a friend in public wont speak until spoken to because I dont want to interrupt or be in the way. I find it very presumptious to show up uninvited somewhere and I dont do it. I start at the assumption I dont belong or am unwanted and dont move from that spot unless pushed to. And all of that played out last night riding.

My lesson from last night is that group riding stresses me out because 1) I spend the whole time worrying about trying not to be in everyone else's way and the more I cant do that the more frustrated I become (the fact that I couldnt just ride the rail and because joker moved faster than other horses was making me nuts, I felt like I was constantly having to move around people and couldnt stay nice and tucked in and hidden) and 2) the big lesson was that people who arent like me, who are ok interrupting, who worry about themselves and doing what they need to makes me really MAD. I am not sure if it is mad because I find it rude (via my messed up mindset of values on this) or because I envy them. Probably a little of both or a lot of both.

I have no clue yet where I go with this new understanding. I feel like I am standing on a fence, run and hide or face it, give up the idea of showing or force myself weekly into this group lesson, find options for riding around others and get past this. I know the latter is the right answer, just not ready to say that is where I will land.