Monthly Archives: January 2014

Some Things Never Change

Thankfully, some things never change. Like horses. Horses never change. I fell in love with them when I was two years old, and they are the very same creatures now as then. In a world whirling with change, that’s pretty precious. They smell the same, sound the same, act the same. They are as gorgeous, fragile, and dangerous as ever.

When I was a kid, the horses I knew were ponies. Down and dirty, backyard ponies housed in old sheds. They were fenced in with a motley assortment of boards and wire.  They received only rudimentary vet care. They were hardly trained and could be very unpredictable. They were good teachers, though. Nothing will teach you to hold your seat in the saddle like a sudden left-hand turn at a full gallop. Their lives were simple. They were happy and healthy animals, loved by their people, and content to trot kids through the woods for hours.

Now I ride at a beautiful, beautiful barn. It was designed and built for the management of well-bred dressage horses. Every possible care was taken to make sure they would be comfortable and safe. The horses have a live-in manager to watch over them. They get dental care. Massages. Acupuncture.  

But you know what? They are no different in most ways from the shaggy little guys I knew and loved. They are still creatures of flight that will flee from imagined danger into very real danger in the blink of an eye. You still have to win their trust. You still have to remember to watch out for their hooves and their teeth.

When I was a pony-mad girl, I only knew I loved horses and wanted to be near them. Now I know how they nourish me.

For one thing, horsemanship and riding are difficult. Anyone can provide basic care for a horse, but to really understand them takes a lifetime of devotion. I love that. I’ll never, ever, learn enough and that’s okay. To ride well, whatever the discipline, takes patience and focus. To persuade a horse to participate as a partner rather than force him to obey takes delicacy and respect. Even the littlest is huge–a miniature horse can weigh 250 pounds–and they are both strong and opinionated. They do not suffer fools. 

My work as a writer nourishes me in a similar way. Writing is difficult and takes a lifetime’s worth of learning. I love that. I’ll never, ever, learn enough and that’s okay. Writing requires patience and focus. Even the littlest bit of writing–a 250 word picture book–is huge and opinionated. To try to force words to do anything is both foolhardy and likely fruitless. They’ll run away from you every time and once loose, are hard to capture again. Beautiful writing, like beautiful riding, takes delicacy and a respectful attitude. 

So I try. I try to ride well, despite achy joints and the many pressures of life. I try to write well, despite the same achy joints. Both disciplines are difficult. Both are beautiful. Some things never change, and for that, I’m grateful.

Enjoy the day.

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Our twelve brand-new months

Like many people, I have mixed feelings about New Year resolutions. While I’m all for self-improvement, I don’t like to see people greet the next twelve months feeling already defeated by some notion they had last January. Not me. Not anyone.

Yes. Yes. Yes. We should all be better, stronger, faster. But this is a strange and challenging world. The eighty or so years we hopefully get isn’t enough time to really get the hang of it. We’re all new here.

Here’s what I suggest: Try to take the year ahead as it comes. Cultivate patience and gentleness toward yourself and others. I know life feels like it’s getting faster all the time, but…it isn’t. Take a deep breath and say it again. It isn’t. The year, the month, the day, the hour, are just as long as they ever were. Claim the right to set your own pace, if only in small ways.

I wish you and yours a joyful and fulfilling 2014.