It's been a wonderful fall. It seemed every tree has burst out in bright, hypnotizing gold this year, with hardly any red or orange, and I've been able to witness a lot of it. I'm immensely grateful to have the sort of work/life schedule where I can go out and enjoy the crisp air and changing colors and shocking beauty of fall.
Unlike other years where I've had to tamp down my agony about the colder weather, for once, I was happy to put the summer behind me and walk into the future. In all honestly, this past spring and summer were maybe the most difficult I've traversed in my happy, comfortable first-world life.
It's been a bit of a transition, leaving behind a good career and bustling office for a better career but lonelier landscape. Saying goodbye to my mare and finding her a better fit ultimately led to me taking a break from what has been an emotional, physical, social, therapeutic outlet and passion for me for many years, which in turn meant losing regular contact with my closest friends. I lost so many healthy things, including a part of my identity. For many months I felt very lonely without ever actually being alone. Every blazing hot day was a reminder of the life outside that was not for me, but for someone else.
As the baby has become a better communicator and more physically capable of an adventure, the road has gotten easier. We're adventure buddies instead of shut-ins - though ideally she'll be able to take a longer car ride soon without losing her mind.
I'm making peace with my reality instead of mourning it, appreciating my unquiet solitude rather than cursing it. Motherhood has not come naturally to me, nor the lifestyle that accompanies it, but The Beatles have assured me that all you need is love, and I can offer that to my baby in spades.
I used to always think that the people who lost their identities in marriage and family life did so because there was something toxic about the inner dynamic. That only codependency and/or a low self esteem could cause a person to disappear into another identity. I feel I'm in a happy marriage to a good person, and have a loving, hilarious daily kinship with both my people. But I also see how I've lost the "other" thing that existed before all this, and it's an idea I'm eager to explore.
I may not have the capacity at this moment for my barn life, but I have to find the bandwidth for the rest of me. I have to make time for my inner voice, and I have to remember the joy I found in sharing it.
This space may yet turn into a ghost town again in three weeks, but for my own sake, I hope not. After 15 years of dedicated journal writing and blogging, I think there's an ominousness to the quiet.
A peek at our golden life on the Jordan River trail near Utah Lake:
It is so easy to get stuck in a rut when you have a 6-month-old baby because your entire life is beholden to the routine. This many feedings, that many naps, an hour of tummy time, 8-10 diapers a day. Paradoxically, not one of the big things in my life remotely resembles how my life looked just a few months ago: I quit the more predictable of my 2 jobs, committed fully to freelance writing, and moved barns twice in as many months before selling my horse altogether. It's not all bad, but it is sort of a lot to absorb.
Perhaps the worst of all right at the end was the genuinely suffocating inversion smog that fogged the throats, brains, and hearts of every citizen on the Wasatch Front this past week. It was a heavy, translucent monster swallowing up the good nature of our family, and we needed to make a break for it.
So against all odds, despite the vows we've taken to uphold the routine, we piled the tiny family into the car and headed south for the long weekend and a much needed reset.
Around the time I was setting up this photo, I was feeling a lot better.
We just couldn't have asked for a better weekend of clear, warm, sunny winter days. And the baby came along for all of it just fine. On the one hand, we got lucky that Leah is the absolute most easy-going baby ever born, but on the other hand, I think we also just decided we were going and having a good time no matter what, and babies can adapt to that. Moreover, a little forethought means planning drives during natural nap times, thinking through every feeding that day before 8am, and making your home kitchen as portable as possible. Now that we know how successful we can be, I'd like to think we'll be doing this a lot more.
Posted by Lorraine at Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Today I got a Big Mac. I haven't been eating much meat lately and even less beef, but it's kind of a tradition for me to get one after a major horse event.
Today, that major horse event was getting Itxa on a trailer and saying goodbye.
It may or may not be a permanent situation, but it's a significant step in untangling myself from a several year relationship that just hadn't gone how I had hoped. There's not a single part of me that isn't shattered, gutted, disappointed. It's not that I feel like a failure- it's that I failed her. I have only loved a couple things in this world more than I loved that mare, but years of hard work and all my love couldn't make her happy. It couldn't fix whatever unknown trauma she has endured. Five of the best trainers I've ever known could get her roughly compliant, but never happy, and never fully trustworthy. There was always something dark lurking there that we could not fix.
She is now in her last ditch effort situation with someone I really trust, and we'll see if she can find some happiness outside the sandbox and on the trails. It's an option I haven't been able to provide her, and I'm rooting for it to work out with all my heart, because I'm not sure what will happen if it doesn't.
A part of me has died with the loss of this relationship, and I feel like it will be awhile before I can love a horse again.
But I'm lucky to still have my love of the horse universe: the people, the stories, the miracles. They are as extraordinary today as ever, and I feel at peace living as the storyteller for awhile.
Just me, my laptop, and my Big Mac.
We rescued what was left of this saddle from the barn of my husband's great grandfather, and it now proudly hangs in our daughter's nursery. The Jacksons ran cattle and sheep in Southern Utah for decades, and we feel lucky that we can share that legacy with the next generation through this treasured relic. #horsenation #cowgirltoughA photo posted by Lorraine (@lorraine.jackson) on
Our microwave broke, and in my desperation to enjoy the Indian curry leftovers in our fridge, I bought the nearest cheap microwave on KSL that would meet me today. And only when I got home did I realize I had acquired the EXACT. SAME. MICROWAVE. Manufactured 3 months apart. Will it break in 3 months? Don't care, I got my curry. 🍛🍚🍲A photo posted by Lorraine (@lorraine.jackson) on
When I first saw the news in the wee hours of yesterday morning that David Bowie had died far too young by a terrible disease, I cursed as my gut twisted, and I tried to wrestle myself back to sleep.
When I first saw his last gift to us mere mortals in his music video 'Lazarus', I didn't feel like cursing and crying anymore, I felt profound awe that a man would share the intimate experience of death with the world in such a bold and vulnerable way. A groundbreaking artist to the end- It was just so damned Bowie.
The baby and I spent the rest of the day getting her all taught up on Goblin King by watching all of his insanely crazy work that spans more than 4 decades of humanity, and we danced our pants off in the living room of our pioneer house to Fame and The Jean Genie and of course Let's Dance.
I can bring myself to feel anger about cancer being what it is, but I can't bring myself to feel sadness about David Bowie's death. He was always so otherworldly that this just feels like a natural segue into immortality, and there is something really powerful about that to me as I grapple with my own circle of life and legacy. It's weird, but I feel like David Bowie's death has taught me more about my feelings on the afterlife than twenty years of Sunday School ever did.
I also wrote this little tribute diddy on Horse Nation last night, and I've been shocked at how well it's been received. Apparently I wasn't the only horse person who felt this way about David Bowie. One of the comments we got was 'So many good tributes. Astronauts, now equestrians!' And it's true. Even though as far as I can tell, David Bowie never came near a horse, he was one of us, because he was a little bit crazy, and we get that. He knows what it means to be a little left of mainstream, to see beauty where others might miss it, and certainly that life ought to have a little more pomp and circumstance.
Basically, if you're doing life like David Bowie, you're doing it right.
On Sunday Itxa moved to yet another new barn - this time to enter dressage boot camp with one of the most impressive trainers and kindest people I've ever met. And for the first time in a long time I have hope for this little mare.
She's shown brief glimpses of potential amidst so much inner turmoil, but now she's in the right hands to actually succeed.
While I'm really so pleased that she was able to do some of this on her first day:
I'm even more happy that she did some of this:
She had been so wound up and tense and disenfranchised the past couple months that it was really meaningful to watch her release all this stress she's been holding. She's been chewing and yawning and standing politely (for the most part) a lot since she got to her new home, and that is really a huge part of what I'm hoping to work through in the next few months.
Beyond any goal or hope or forward looking idea, though, it was just powerful to watch her yawn and be content in this moment, and it reminds me to do the same. To dwell in this incredible present moment of being with my healthy hilarious cherub baby, my family, my friends, and Itxa. The future is completely unpredictable, but the present is full of joy.
From earlier this week. One of my favorite things about a snowy winter is how pristinely clean the horses hooves get, so I can see the incredible art and science that is a perfect hoof. The anatomy, the ecosystem, the beautiful colors. Basically, there is something really wrong with me. #itxagram #horsesofinstagram #horsenation #barefoothorseA photo posted by Lorraine (@lorraine.jackson) on
If omens are real, today's was not a good one. It was supposed to be a tremendously productive day writing about numerous inspiring, bizarre, endearing and death-defying horses and their people from around the globe, but instead I spent the day fighting a cold, holding a cranky baby, and constantly refreshing the home page to see if my company's servers had come back online yet. (They haven't.)
I stopped all of my fretting long enough to enjoy the triumphant return of Sherlock on PBS, and was shook up a moment by this lovely bit from our protagonist:
"Fear is wisdom in the face of danger. It is nothing to be ashamed of."
While I'm quite fortunate not to be in any eminent danger, my situation is admittedly less safe than it used to be. Freelancing can be quite good work, and other times precarious and unrewarding work. And I can't say I've been overwhelmingly fearless in the face of my new full time responsibilities.
That being said, I like the idea of accepting the fear. I'm not so naive as to think it will absolutely work out, but I'm also not going to let trepidation shut the door in my own critical mind maze.
Day 1/365 is in the books as a hot mess, and not without worry. But it also didn't stop me, and that's the attitude I hope to have during the hard times and keep in my back pocket during the easy times.