Subourbon Mom


What’s Your Dream?
June 20, 2022, 10:04 am
Filed under: Middle Age, Posts, Sports | Tags: , , , ,

Here’s something I learned this year – you can keep your childhood dreams, but they’ll look a little different when you’re middle-aged. But really, what doesn’t look different as you get older? I literally am those people on the Progressive commercials that are turning into their parents: “We all see it…we all see it…BLUE!!!”  Don’t know what I mean? Watch this…

So, back to childhood dreams…

This summer I checked off two huge bucket list items. To most people they might seem frivolous or meaningless, but to me they mean so much more. For the first time in 35 years, I jumped a horse over little cross rails (for non-horse people, that means poles set at a foot off the ground). By jump, I mean the giant horse I was riding barely saw them and hopped over while I just tried to stay out of the way. I also rode in a small horse show trotting over poles just lying on the ground. Yes, I was the oldest in the class by maybe 30 years, competing against a few  people, most of whom were children and at least two who were your people training horses who barely knew what a pole was.  Did I forget my girth (saddle belt) and have to borrow one?  Yes. Was I freaking out?  Yes.

But I did it, and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself.  

See what I mean?  This doesn’t seem like much, in but in my heart those two things were huge. Let’s back up so you can see why – and why you should still pursue your dreams, no matter what shape they take as you age.

After a terrible year of deaths in our family this year, human and animal, the barn where I ride was and remains my refuge. Soon after the sweet horse I leased died in January from a sudden, terrible infection, I walked back into the barn to get away from the world. It was awful, seeing his empty stall and halter, but the barn has always been and always will be my refuge.

One of the horse moms (aka boarders) saw me and said, “I didn’t think you’d be back.”

Not come back? For a second, I was really offended. I had to regroup and remember that this nice woman didn’t know me as a child, creating notebooks full of fictional racehorses with breeding charts, colors, personalities and race results. She couldn’t know that for years I doodled horse heads all over my school notebooks; that I drew pictures of the horseback wedding I was going to have (shockingly that didn’t happen); or, that until I was 15, when I fell off, busted my shoulder and simultaneously found boys, the only thing in the world I wanted was a horse.

To my mother’s credit, a single teacher who made $30k a year, she somehow found a way for me to take lessons once a week and occasionally do a local horse show.  But a real horse of my own?  Out of the question. As an adult, I was able to satisfy my horse itch by being a horse show mom for years, until Daughter #2 was clearly able to do it on her own but let me “help” because she knew I needed to be involved.

Then came the end of 2021 and early 2022: three family deaths, one horse death and one horse near-death.  It was terrible, but there was a silver lining. Losing so many people and animals in such a short time made me realize time really is finite, and that if I want to achieve some dreams I have to put my phone down, get off the couch and figure out what that means.

A horse of my own may still not be in the equation, but now I take lessons. Do I want to be in big horse shows? Not really – I don’t need that kind of stress. My dream has changed into finding that balance between learning to ride better and riding for mental health. The two are not always the same. Some days its okay to just walk around in a field, to look at the bobbing head beneath you and find that simple joy. Other days, its feeling like flying as the horse you’re riding graciously allows you to flop around while it steps over poles. Whatever your dreams once were, don’t let them go entirely – find out what parts of those dreams you can still do, or how they might work in new ways for you.  Life is short and unpredictable.  Ask yourself, am I going to be mad next year, or in five years, that I didn’t start something today? If the answer is yes, then put your phone down, get off the couch and see what can happen. You might be surprised with what your old dreams look like now, and what it feels like to realize them.  

Special thanks to my family, friends and especially Kimberly Anderson at Manakin Sabot Equestrian Center for their patience and encouragement. Thanks to Daughter#1 for telling me the truth and making me get up and do it, to Hubby for funding and taking pictures, and to Daughter #2 for listening to my blow-by-blow descriptions of each lesson. 🙂



No More Exercise Appointments
July 23, 2021, 7:00 am
Filed under: Exercise, Middle Age | Tags: , , , , , , ,

In our efforts to become more and more efficient with our time, exercise has become something we do to be healthy, look good and relieve stress. And the faster we can do that, the better.

So, hat’s off to all you exercise psychos who get up at 5:00am, be at the gym by six and showered and at your desk by eight.  You’ve knocked it out for the day and you’ll sleep better knowing your blood pressure is lower, your muscles are tired, and that eating the donut Kevin brought into work isn’t going to wreck your dietary world.

I used to be one of you. 

But, since the pandemic forced me to work from home, I’ve learned some unpleasant truths about myself: 

  • I won’t exercise at home unless it’s walking the dogs, and even then it’s really only because my apple watch talks to my health insurance and I get $1 for it.   
  • Watching exercise videos on YouTube is like watching TV – I’ll just turn it off when I don’t like what they’re doing. It’s a lot harder to do that when you have a trainer blocking the gym door against runners like me.
  • I need physical and mental separation from my work, which doesn’t happen for me, working from home. Compartmentalizing is not my thing. 

As soon as I could, I started going to a Pilates studio. I was too out of shape to go back to Orange Theory (no way was I going to go back to being a “Walker” – if you know, you know…).  I had injuries to heal, and I knew Pilates is good for strengthening your core. Since my “core” had expanded to include a lot of peripheral areas, that sounded perfect.

And it was, for a while. But just like with all the other exercises I’d tried, I got bored. It became an appointment I had to keep instead of being something I looked forward to.  Worse, I still couldn’t disconnect from work. I’d be doing stretches and making a “C—Curve” until my body shook, but I would still be thinking of all the things I had to do.

Finally, after a lot of bitching and a heart-to-heart with Daughter #1, who is now a personal trainer herself, I understood that I need to find an exercise that is something physical that I enjoy doing away from the house/work, but that also takes my complete attention.

Enter Daughter #2, who asked for the millionth time why I didn’t just start horseback riding again.

From the mouths of both my babes.

With horses, you must be present. They can read your emotions form the moment you enter the barn, and trust me, if you’re in a shitty mood, they’re going to be too.  And who can blame them?  Would you want someone sitting grumpily on your back, hands clenched, attached to the reins and the bit in your mouth?  When I’ve tried to ride Daughter #2’s horse like it’s a mission to accomplish, he simply refuses to walk out of the barn, and I don’t blame him.


From grooming to riding to walking them to their field, horses demand your complete attention. There’s no sneaking out when you’re done, like I used to do at Orange Theory, when the rowing part of the class was just the last straw. If you’re not paying attention with a horse, you’re either on the ground, chasing an escapee or simply stepping in a big pile of shit.

humor patience

So this fall, after Daughter #2 heads back to college, I’m going to start riding again in earnest. God help the poor horse that has put up with me flailing around until I’m strong enough to stay balanced (and on).

Now, I know riding isn’t for everybody – that’s not the point. The point is to make exercise something you want to do, not an appointment you have to keep. Go find your thing – hiking, canoeing, pickle ball, swimming, rock wall climbing, yard work, whatever it is that floats your exercise boat.  Just make sure it’s something where you have to be completely present – the rest will follow.  

   



Outsourcing Your Body – Vendor Assessments
July 19, 2019, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Exercise, Middle Age, Misc. Humor, Sports | Tags: , , , ,

Most of them time, my brain and my body work together pretty seamlessly – but sometimes I wonder if that same body hasn’t become the worst third-party vendor ever. Especially in my 40’s.

I recently started horseback riding again – and by that, I mean flopping around on top of my daughter’s wonderful horse as I try to make muscle memory turn into actual muscle doing.

After hours and hours of watching her ride in lessons and horse shows, I have a pretty good mental idea of the mechanics of how it is done. And, I remember how to physically do some of it from when I used to ride as a kid – but now I have to outsource the job to my much older and out of shape body.  As a third-party vendor, my current body’s still the cheapest (and only) option, but the relationship has begun to take a turn for the worse.

So, I Googled how to improve vendor performance:

First, Measure Performance – I do this every day, and sometimes I surprise myself with how well I (and my outsourced body) are doing; other days, I’m horrified. Take sleeping, for example. I used to be able to read for an hour and sleep through the night.  Now I’m lucky if I can stay awake for two paragraphs and snore half the night. On the other hand, I can do sit-ups, push-ups and burpees, and like getting up at the crack of dawn because.

Measuring performance leads to:  Listen to Your Vendor“How often do you really have a two-way conversation with your vendors about their issues and the support they need to do a better job for you?  Ok, so I just expect my body, er, vendor, to do what it was hired to do…but when my expectations are too high, or my body hasn’t had time to prepare (i.e. horseback riding), it does still try to find ways to meet my needs. The result – I rode for 20 minutes without falling off, but I couldn’t walk the next day.  Perhaps my outsourced body would tell me that it needs more time in the gym, less bourbon and maybe a vitamin on occasion.

Establish a Service Level Agreement – There was never an agreement, although it appears that as I age, my body is beginning to make the rules around what is happening, instead of me.

Vendor: You’re going riding again? Fine, I’ll do it, but you don’t get to walk anywhere for two days.

Me: I think we need to revisit our agreement. I’m supposed to be in charge.

Vendor:  I just made you pee a little.

Me:  That’s not funny.

Vendor: That’s just the beginning. Go ahead – eat that crabmeat again – I dare you.

Establish Routines and Be Predictable“It is much easier for vendors to better supply you when your ordering is predictable and consistent. Um, yeah, because life works like that. If I could be predictable, I would, but the best things in life usually aren’t in your routine…and if there’s a vendor cost for that, so be it. The 20-minute ride was worth it.

outsource1



The Fast & The Furious – “Stealing” Cars at Horse Shows
July 12, 2018, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Misc. Humor, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , ,

(Names have been changed to protect…well, you be the judge.)

Recently my friend Amy’s daughter Grace was taken to the hospital after a fall from her horse during a horse show.  Don’t worry – she’s fine. But what happened on the way to the hospital just shows that there’s humor even in frantic and scary situations.

As the EMTs were loading Grace into the ambulance, Amy called out to Grace’s boyfriend to take her car and follow the ambulance.  Eager to help, Dominic raced across the showgrounds, found the car and was soon trailing the ambulance on the highway.

Meanwhile, in the ambulance, a clearly concussed Grace keeps squinting out the back window. Noticing her daughter starting to strain to see through the rear window she asked, “What, honey?”

“I – I think that’s Dominic behind us,” Grace mumbled.

Amy looked out the back window and, sure enough, it was Dominic following them – but in the wrong car.   

amazingAmy tried in vain to get Dominic’s attention by waving her arms, making a “cut/stop” motion with her hand across her throat and mouthing that’s not my car! Dominic had no idea what she was doing – he was busy changing the preset radio stations from gospel to country and rock.

When they got to the hospital, Dominic rushed to Grace’s side.

“You ok, babe?” he asked.

Grace chuckled softly. “Uh-huh. But You’re a criminal.”

“What?” Dominic asked.

“You’re a criminal – that’s not my mom’s car.”

Amy added, “You have to go back to the show and get my car – it has my purse and ID in it!”

Because he’s a good boy, Dominic promptly freaked out.  He jumped into the borrowed car, drove back to the showgrounds and did what any red-blooded American would do – parked the car in the same spot and used his t-shirt to wipe the steering wheel, radio buttons and door handle for fingerprints. As far as we know, no one was the wiser for his mistake.

All this is funny by itself, and typical of my friends.  But here’s what I still makes me laugh:

  1. I still wonder what the owners of the “stolen” car thought when they got back in at the end of the day – the radio stations were different and the car seat was in a different position.
  2. What did the other drivers behind the ambulance think when they saw Amy waving and mouthing words from the back window of the ambulance? That she was a psych patient that needed more meds?  That the ambulance was secretly a rape van and she was being kidnapped? Or that she was celebrating because England beat Sweden in the World Cup?
  3. Grace and my daughter (D2) look out for each other at these events.  One time, Grace and Dominic raced to our house to get D2’s rescue inhaler while she sucked on oxygen at the end gate.  D2 has accompanied Grace to the hospital a couple of times now, and each time she takes a selfie. It’s what friends are for…keepin’ it real…

Jesse Selfie3



SUV Exercises and other Desperate Moves to Get in Shape for Summer
June 17, 2015, 1:09 am
Filed under: Exercise, Middle Age, Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One of the benefits of working in an office is that I have been cultivating a nice store of fat around my stomach that keeps me warm now that the office air conditioning has kicked the temperature down to “Tundra.” Seriously, my index finger actually went numb the other day.

So, my schedule being what it is (work in the meat locker all day, take teenager to the barn, stay at barn while she rides, go home and fix Bagel Bites for dinner – it’s real food – and collapse in a super-sexy snoring heap on the couch), I have tried to get creative with my workouts.

Walking on country roads is interesting, if you don’t care much about fancy sports cars driven by a mid-life crisis speeding around corners and flicking you off because you’re in their space. If you go off-road for your walk, keep walking right to the drug store and get some cortisone for the poison ivy and chiggers.

So in the words of Clint Eastwood, I improvised. I adapted. I overcame.

I started working out in the back of the SUV while parked at the barn.

This workout is not for the faint of heart. Cross training? Please.

You’ve got nothing on someone who can do sit-ups and leg lifts

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with only their upper body supported in the back of an SUV littered with hay, miscellaneous barn paraphernalia and water bottles…

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…in the heat and dust, with 20 deer flies buzzing around the car like 13-year-olds around the mall, and with somebody’s smelly soccer cleats next to their head because nobody ever remembers to take them out of the car after practice.

Who needs a weight room bench? I’ve got a scraped-up bumper that serves nicely for my tricep workout.IMG_3661

Sideways planks and pushups work well off the bumper, too.

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Of course, I’m not limited to the SUV exercises at the barn, although those can be done anywhere (except where your teenager thinks someone might see you).

Mats? Are you kidding? Try doing pushups in a barn with manure everywhere. You will not be touching the floor with anything except your hands and toes, I can promise you. And if you can’t do a real pushup horizontally, find the nearest fence or your car bumper and do them from a 45-degree angle.

Step class? Got that covered too. Find the nearest mounting block and there’s your step. Hop up and down on that a couple hundred times and you’ll never complain about the stairs at your house again.

Need to work the biceps and shoulders? Grab a bucket and put some water in it, then do your lifts. How about the rest of my arms, you ask? Easy – just brush a horse from head to toe. You’d be amazed how tired your arms get in 10 minutes. Wax on, wax off. Mr. Miyagi had something there.

And finally….cardio. No need to get on the treadmill or elliptical (a.k.a. the “I-limp-and-drool”) – go put a horse out in the field after being in all day, and then try to catch it again. Good luck – you’ll be chasing that beast for an hour. Scared of horses? Then walk the empty fields searching for the fly mask each horse managed to scrape off the day before.

Not a barn mom? Don’t despair – these exercises can be modified to fit any sports mom schedule, especially the SUV workout. Soccer mom? Try lifting their sports bags or water bottles instead of a bucket. Run or walk around the playing fields, but don’t do any arm exercises when you’re doing that – the paramedics might be called because your child has died of embarrassment.

 

 




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