Saturday, February 11, 2017

Thoughts on transitions

At the beginning of September, 2016, I went back to work full time. I haven't had a full time, out-of-the-home job in just about ten years -- the entire length of my youngest child's life thus far. Up to that point, I had worked part time from home for a company I had been a part of for the entirety of my time here in Richmond. Fifteen years. But in 2016, due to the aging of the company's owners, and the volatile market for health care provider agencies, the company was sold. My work appealing denials of payment for therapy services was not required by the new company, and I was laid off. The first time ever in my life I was let go from a professional job. By the end of the summer, though, I had found a new job, and began that work with a little bit of trepidation. It was full time, outside of the home. The kids would need before-school care, and the ability to let themselves into the house after school. I would no longer be able to run errands for the family, make daytime appointments easily, take time off without too much consideration, and be able to go to the kids' school for awards ceremonies, lunches, or to pick up a sick kid without a re-arranging of my day. I'd have to switch my volunteer work schedule at the museum to all-evening or weekend work.

And I would no longer have the ability to ride in the mornings, to have most days be available to spend a couple hours at the barn after my work was done, riding, helping out, and frankly, being with my friends. I know that sounds like a total first-world problem, and it is. But it was a life I had finally been able to craft for myself, in which I contributed financially to the family, took care of the kids, some house stuff, and our animals, and left time for me to pursue interests that had been gnawing at me for years.

Now, it's not all bad, and I don't mean to complain too much. I mean to reflect a little, and try to make some decisions about how my life is going to go in this new reality in which most everyone else already participates. I like my job, it suits me, and I like my coworkers, even though I am struggling to learn a new and very complex role in which I am no longer the authority figure. It's a state job, so the benefits are fantastic, and I do have some flexibility for appointments, sick kids, and the like. Also -- state holidays!

I generally am not an afternoon or evening person, though, so it's been very difficult for me to remain motivated by the end of a long sedentary day to get my ass out to the barn. I struggle with guilt over leaving my family to fend for themselves in the evenings I ride, and for Travis to have to deal with kid drama as it arises, or the function as the inevitable kid shuttle service to activities.

I find myself struggling with guilt over work when I take a sick day to be home with a kid who needs me, and the guilt when I notice I am thinking if I can possibly schedule some riding time into the sick day without abandoning my kid. Good Parent Guilt never goes away, no matter how old your kids are.

I'm not riding well consistently enough, and show season is coming up in a month. Joe needs to work consistently in order for me to be able to overcome his innate inflexibility, and my general lack of technique. I have goals I want to achieve this year, as always, but finances are tight and time is even tighter. I'm cramming the same number of activities and obligations into MUCH less time, and frankly, I have not yet found a weekly rhythm that I am comfortable with. To top it all off, it's winter, which means my hibernation instincts are strong on grey days, my mental health takes a hit (seasonal, and because of my 'new' life), and the afternoon/evening post-work window for daylight riding is small.

Things will improve; the days will stay lighter longer soon, it won't always be cold and grey (soon I'll be bitching because it's too fucking hot to ride), my kids will grow and become more independent, obligations may change that will make schedules change, and this dressage journey I am on is a long-haul sort of thing. Having the faith that I just need to keep plugging away and do what I can do each day is tough for me, goal-directed and ambitious as I can be. Nobody's pushing me but me. Well, my trainers push me, and my friends encourage me, but nobody is *pressuring* me, I should say.

I hope I figure this thing out soon. I love my guy Joe, and I love to ride, and the best thing that has happened to me in the last four years outside of family stuff has been finding my tribe at Saddlebrook, along with "my" horse, trainers who suit me perfectly, and the atmosphere for myself and Wren to enjoy riding and learn at our pace. I just feel like most of the time I am giving not enough attention to everything. It's a hard place to be, and I dislike it.

If you've read this far, you're a saint. Mostly I'm talking to myself. It's Saturday, and there's nothing on the agenda, and my coffee cup is empty, so I think it's time to head out to the barn and refresh my soul, and get some air, and love on Joe.

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