|August 9, 2022||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Everyone loves a good story.
Almost everything around you that is consumed with your eyes and ears is a story. Stories are so important to our brains that our brains will edit our memories and experiences to be more consistent with the narrative that we tell about ourselves.
Stories sell books, movies, and shows of course. But they also sell products, people and ideas.
Everyone is a sucker for a good story.
Want to get into vet school? Tell a good story with your application. Want to start a business? Your pitch to the investors better tell a good story. Want to educate a group of students? Tell a story with your subject. Want to unite or divide a group of people? Weave a good narrative.
It’s not enough to talk about why you want something, how something went, or the cool and wonderful details that happened along the way. Ideas are wonderful, but until you can weave it all into a story, no one cares.
Now 13 years and 1750 posts later (OMG) when I sit down to write a blog post, it’s not enough to tell you what happened. With very few exceptions it’s not worth writing a post unless I can also tell a story.
A story has a beginning, middle, and end. It takes the reader on a journey and has a purpose. It’s deeply unsatisfying to only know part of a fascinating story (I learned that lesson with the cat eye worm video on tiktok) and it’s boring to read something that doesn’t have a story in the first place.
The latter is, in a nutshell, why I haven’t been writing. I have things to say but they aren’t a story.
I keep asking myself where’s the story?
Title: Mel’s 2022 Summer
Subtitle: In which nothing story-worthy happened and I probably could have spun something to make it into one with enough mental effort but that seems like a lot of work so I didn’t.
First Chapter of Not-a-story
I’ve been ponying Farley off of the polo horse I leased for the summer. It’s been immensely satisfying.
Farley has made……poor decisions over the last couple of months. After an OK trail ride not not that long ago at the beginning of summer I was hopeful that if I was careful I could ride her on the trail with Fig and her new pony, Katie. Ride with Matt on the polo pony.
Tried that. Didn’t go well. Pissed me off.
I rarely take things personally when it comes to my animals or my kid. You just can’t. Sometimes they are ass holes, most of the time it isn’t personal, and at no time does it help the situation if you allow emotions to get in the way.
The problem is I can’t keep my emotions separate when it comes to Farley.
For the last couple of years she’s been a like a 16 1/2 year old teenager that isn’t quite old enough to kick out of the house, but wants to run her own life anyways. Introducing a new horse to the herd has probably escalated this a bit right now too. Mare life emotions that are bleeding over to the work that is being done with the humans.
So I decided to pony her on an arena set with the polo pony. Let’s work out a bunch of this while I’m not riding you, and you don’t know the game as well (like lunge or round pen).
Plus, Mono works a little harder when he has some competition beside him.
Round and round the arena we went.
Farley hasn’t been ponied in a while (ever?) but I assumed since she came from the track it was in her skill set.
She didn’t particularly like not being the one in the preferred position of being the one ridden…but mare, you soweth your own seeds for that.
Wanting my horse to be happy doesn’t mean letting her make all the decisions. Trails and endurance clearly don’t make her happy, but she doesn’t want to be left out of everything and turned out to pasture either. I’m willing to listen, but I’m not going to give into every temper tantrum.
At one point she tried to opt out of the pony set experience altogether by just….stopping at the gate.
BWHAHAHAHAHHAA I think not little pony.
I think she was a little surprised when I flipped mono around and dealt summarily with that particular behavior. Turns out perhaps she didn’t believe that I had quite as many tools in my box when I was mounted on another horse.
You want to surge ahead and go faster? OK. We will turn around so you can work harder on the outside.
You give me pinned ears when I move Mono into you? Figure 8’s here we come and here comes my toe in the side of your rib cage…nudge nudge nudge nudge.
Nope, no biting. No snake necks with teeth. and if you guys want to race down the straight aways….great. Mono needs a little more Go anyways.
I ended that set feeling like good work had been done for her brain, and while she was a little spicy and I had to correct some social behaviors, she hadn’t actually told me no.
So, I took her out on a trail set.
Mono likes the company, and Farley knows the trails and for all her faults isn’t a spooky horse. Mono is a good horse but he’s no endurance horse, as he aptly demonstrated when I asked him to walk down a short hill. He seemed confused just how he was supposed to organize his feet for that endeavor. (LMAO).
Walk to the orchards, trot to the levee, pop over the levee and hit the first straight away.
Mono: Really? You Really are asking for me to go fast here? on the trail? Like, you really want me to to let it all out?
Farley: Yes. This is where we go. Boy, you better starting running.
Mono: WHEEEEEEEE THIS IS FUN LET’S GO!
Farley: No, now we turn. Trot and turn.
Mono: I’m so confused. I thought we were going WHEEEEEEEE. So now we trot?
Farley: you are so dumb.
Second Chapter of Not-a-story
This week Fig confidently trotted a big polo mare around the full size outdoor arena all on her own for most of the lesson. No one beside her pacing her or providing direct support. No lead-ins. Just her tiny little 40 pound frame on a big ole thousand pound grey mare at a trot, doing laps on the rail, circles on the middle, and down the center to goal. All on her own.
Not quite a year ago she fell off a different grey mare and broke her arm. It’s pretty darn cool to see her having fun on horses again. Between “big pony” lessons Fig has been riding her pony Kaite. The difference in “big pony” lessons before and after introducing Katie to her life has been astounding. Like Bonnie told me, “whatever you guys are doing with the pony between our lessons, keep doing it.”
Honestly, it doesn’t seem like we are doing much riding….My brain tends to be firmly in the all or nothing and more is always better mindset. I KNOW that isn’t true. If judged by the results….apparently this level of practice that my brain is insisting is lackadaisical and inexcusable is….working?
Aside from riding sets and the occasional stick and ball/scrimmage at home, summer break has also been a polo break for me. I’m good at consistency, I’m bad at breaks. What if I never go back to the thing? What if this is the inevitable decline to me not riding for another 5 years if I step back now? HOW CAN I POSSIBLY GET BETTER AT SOMETHING UNLESS I DEVOTE EVERY SECOND OF MY DAY TO IT?
I’ve been riding Katie the pony and doing a lot of dressage schooling. (Thank you past self who spent a lot of time and money on dressage lessons even though it was hard). She got a bad summer sore (on her lip and chin. Awful locations) and I’ve been treating daily for months. I think we will both be relieved when the first frost comes and our routine no longer include debridement, ivermectin, and fly control.
Third Chapter of Not-a-story
I swam yesterday. Thirty minutes, 1,000 yards, in a pool. It’s been almost exactly a year.
It’s also been a year since I’ve done any significant running. (July 2021 was my last big race).
In fact, it’s been about a year since I’ve done any substantial training.
Some of it was burn out and struggling to find a purpose after my last 100 mile DNF. Part of it was being distracted with polo. But that isn’t the whole story.
I’ve been doing a lot of brain reprogramming when it comes to food, training, running, and finding a way forward that’s sustainable.
I’ve always had a disordered relationship with food. Running doesn’t help. At some point running and food were inexorably linked in my mind. For decades I’ve been trying to find balance between the two. I’ve been getting away with binge eating for decades because of my running mileage. I have problems with hypoglycemia. Is gluten and dairy really a problem for me or is like the mainstream media says and it’s all in my imagination if I don’t have celiac disease?
The first step was finally being able to divorce my running and other physical activity from food. A big part of this for me was to stop adding back in the calories that I “burned” to the daily calorie target. The calories I eat are consistent from day to day and account for my average activity. Running and any other activity is part of my lifestyle and my average food intake daily accounts for this without having to make wild changes day-to-day.
Making this change essentially eliminated my binge eating. Thank God.
The next thing I did was try a diet trial to see if some of the debilitating joint pain (shoulders, hands) I’ve been struggling with for the last year was responsive to eliminating gluten and dairy from my diet.
The short answer….yeah. It did.
In less than a week.
And then a whole bunch of other things improved too which I did not expect. My hypoglycemia issues are gone, my appetite is self-regulating (meaning that I feel hungry and full appropriately), and I can go 4 hours between meals instead of 2.
I used to avoid gluten and dairy in my 20’s while in vet school/before being pregnant yada yada and always felt better for it. But, after getting pregnant and getting slammed with the eye issues/treating the tumor…..I just sorta never got around to starting it back up after pregnancy. Some of it was I just got tired of trying to navigate a world of food where I was instantly judged for wanting to avoid those things. I already had so much else medically going on and I was just tired. People I respected in nutrition regularly warned against eliminating whole food groups unless from medical necessity, and as someone that was trying to fix disordered eating patterns, I really was trying to do the “right” thing. And I didn’t really have any evidence that I had a true allergy. I just nebulously “felt better” when I wasn’t eating them. So I tried to just be normal.
During the whole “why the hell are you going blind” thing I had a LOT Of testing done, and one of the things that kept showing up was auto-immune disease markers. That’s why my tumor was mis-diagnosed for so many years, the red-herring of auto-immune disease. When the eye issue ended up being a tumor rather than optic neuritis, the doctors just shrugged at the auto immune stuff and it was shelved until I started showing more symptoms that made it easier to categorize it.
I’ll just stick my head in the sand in a little bit longer and pretend that this diet-responsive joint pain isn’t going to get any worse or morph into something *else* that requires specialists and doctors. I’ll just be over here with my cashew milk ice cream pretending that eeevvverryyyttthhiiinnnggg willll beeeeeeee oooookkkkkkk.
The third thing I did was to add daily movement routines that were NOT associated with training. I started with a 15-20 min daily walk in the evenings. It’s just a short walk, by myself, usually in the dark. It was one of those things I tried, not knowing what exactly it was going to turn into. Was I reserving time for running later? Eventually building in time and effort? It turns out that 15 minutes to myself walking around the block in the evening has absolutely nothing to do with physical exertion, getting into or staying in shape. It has everything to do with my mental health. Recently I added 10 minutes of yoga back in the morning for similar reasons. These aren’t a substitute for, or have anything to do with whatever training I decide to layer on top of my day. They are completely separate from training.
What’s going to happen when I add training back into the picture? I’m not sure. I’m starting small. An open water swim race in mid September. I need to swim a couple times a week. It’s an experiment, just like everything else so far. When I look back at the last 20 years of my distance running and other sports, I suspect that a healthier model (and one that has worked the best over the years) for my running and training is event driven instead of constant maintenance.