Monday, December 13, 2010

Mud and Growing Up

Yesterday, my husband told me that I needed to improve my outlook because all I was doing was sending out bad energy. Easy for him to say, sitting in the sunshine in California with the rest of our family enjoying themselves on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I was engaged in a battle of the elements here on the East Coast. We were getting two inches of rain, which was flooding the corral and our basement. Tonight, it’s supposed to be followed by temperatures in the 20’s and lots and lots of ice. The horses don’t have their borium shoes yet, and the farrier can’t come for another four days.

Once again, I was feeling sorry for myself that we were having bad weather with all its drama when my capable, strong, hard-working partner was out of town. It seems to almost always happen this way. Over and over, every couple of hours all day, I bundled up and shoveled and drained the ditch and cleared the water out of the basement with some small assistance from my very grumpy fifteen year old daughter. We also put up the Christmas decorations and hung the ornaments on the tree by ourselves, missing my mom, our dog and our kitty. It took all my effort to keep going, dragging along a child who wished non-stop that we were with Daddy and everyone we love in that warm, sunny place where we used to live.

I could hear the rain all night long, waking up at 4 am with all of my worries to keep me company. I got up expecting the worst: a flooded barn, more water in the basement. Instead, my labor had paid off, and it was dry downstairs. The corral drained well, and the frozen moon craters were soft enough that I can smooth things down before the freeze tonight. Siete didn’t want me to pick out her hooves, but instead of forcing the issue, I left her alone to eat her hay. A few minutes later, I came in through the back door of her stall, and she very willingly let me take her hoof and clean it. At that moment, I had this interesting realization.

All of this challenging physical work helps me and my daughter hold onto an important part of who we are. I’ve never been very coordinated or strong, so small victories like I was experiencing this morning mean a great deal to me. It reminds me that I don’t need someone to help me make it be okay here. It keeps me from getting too attached and dependent on my husband, but at the same time, it helps me appreciate the things that he does for me when he is around. It teaches my daughter that she can make it through difficult situations on her own. Most important, as the rain stopped, so did my bad energy.

I listened to a conversation that poet David Whyte had with the founder of “Sounds True”, Tami Simon, on the Internet this morning. He was talking about creativity and originality. He said, “Start close in. Don’t take the second step or the third. Start with the first one, close in, the step that you don’t want to take. “ He believes that it is the only way to find the courage to “get into the fierce center of the conversation”. He encourages us to open up to vulnerability. “Once you actually turn toward vulnerability, not as a weakness but as a faculty for understanding what’s about to happen, you can transform your life in a way which is quite extraordinary.” I feel like I faced the deluge this weekend, in full awareness of my weaknesses, and it didn’t drag me under. Now, if I can extend that acceptance of my vulnerability to other areas of my life and do the best I can as the situation unfolds, I might actually be able to look back and learn from it. I guess I'm not done growing up yet.


Anonymous said...

I hope I never stop growing up - I like it that things develop and change. I think ossifying or just zoning out are much worse - a type of living death.

I think the ability to accept, and really experience, our feelings leads to our accepting ourselves. And it's the lack of kindness and acceptance of ourselves that's one of the biggest barriers to growth.

I always enjoy reading your insights - there's always something valuable there.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

I think it's amazingly easy to not give yourself a break, and to justify it... as discipline, as independence, as strength. Hard to see where to draw that line sometimes.

Accepting our vulnerabilities, in addition to being a catalyst for growth, allows us to accept the vulnerabilities of others... makes us more compassionate.

Wow - such a powerful post. Thank you!

detroit dog said...

ahhh...everything that Kate and Calm Forward Straight say!

Plus a big hug, because you DO need to give yourself a break.

(And I hope our weather isn't headed your way -- 5 inches of snow and sub-zero temps. Best wishes for staying warm and dry.)

Breathe said...

Love this post, thank you for it.

I remember when my husband's back first went out. Over the next 10 years my "strong as an ox" partner could no longer help me with even the most basic lifting and carrying.

So now I'm the strong back in our family. I carry the laundry up and down the stairs. I hook up the trailer. I carry children when they are hurt, I wrestle with luggage.

At first I resented it, to be honest. Now I don't. It's forced me to be stronger and to realize that I can do far more than I ever thought.

Then again, I sometimes wish for a cabana boy. That's because I haven't grown up all the way either.

positive affirmation said...

you really love horses.. nice they are great..

Grey Horse Matters said...

Ditto what Kate and Calm said.

I also feel that the more you do independently for yourself and yours the more proud of yourself you will feel. I don't feel comfortable having to rely on someone else for what I need to get done. It's an hereditary thing learned from my mother. She showed us by example that you can get anything done that needs doing without relying on others. I hope I've imparted the same way of doing things to my children and think I have.So putting up with a grumpy daughter may be trying now but she'll thank you for it some day when she's on her own.

billie said...

Victoria, I really loved reading this.

It's interesting to me that living here on our farm, with all these amazing animals, has been a huge awakening for me personally.

The part you wrote about taking that first close step is so true - I think I have always done this in certain parts of my life, but living here, dealing with the elements and all the things to do with horses that are impossible to control, has pushed me to look closely at this process. Which is really an incredible way of coping with any challenge.

I find myself in almost every situation now asking - what is the first, most important thing to do? The answer is so often either "digging trenches" to slow the flood (literally or figuratively!) or taking a moment to listen and come at the problem from a slightly different place.

Living with horses and aging parents and teenagers and spouses is like post-graduate study in adult development. :)

Here's hoping the rain is over for now, and that you get some relief from the elements. I nearly cheered when I read that your trenches worked!

Rising Rainbow said...

I hope I'm never done growing. Even though it's hard it's definitely been worth it.

However, I might add if someone was sitting in some warm comfy place telling me to be more positive as I dealt with all the dark elements of winter, I'd probably fly off the handle. LOL

Annette said...

Your post is spot on! I love feeling like I can take care of stuff myself but I love even more when my husband does them for me. If it makes you feel better, it's raining here in Southern California...