The inadequacy of “my condolences”

A coworker lost his father last week. Unexpectedly. Suddenly. Tragically. Emails have been flooding my inbox – what’s his address, where does his family live, what are their wishes, an invoice for flowers, a group card to sign. Since I work on a three person team with him, I wanted to send my own card, my own expression of sympathy. Yet as I stood in the card aisle at Walgreens pondering the rather slim selection of  cards, a card didn’t seem adequate. How can words relieve or lessen the pain of losing a loved one.

I’ve lost two grandparents, a number of very loved childhood pets, and been there for my best friend who lost her mother to cancer when we were 17. Each time there were no words. Just pure raw emotion. Words were trivial strings of letters that floated through the heavy, grief stricken air.

I do not consider myself experienced in grief. I have not approached a time in my life when the people I know and love leave forever. Forever. Such a scary and intangible word when combined with death. So how can I, someone who has been fortunate to experience so little grief, expect my words to lessen the pain of someone who is suffering through the unexpected death of a loved one?

My condolences seem inadequate.

What good will words do?

And yet here I sit, staring at the gold writing of a Hallmark sympathy card waiting for the words to come. Words that can show him that I care. Because I do care. And sometimes words are all we have.

Fitness Friday

This is going to be a long update because I missed last weeks post – I was on vacation in the Caribbean for a blissful internet-free week. To be honest, I didn’t miss the internet one bit. Of course I love reading everyone’s blogs, updating my own, and staying connected in general, but I really needed a break from all the residual stress caused by my attachment to my phone, iPad, laptop, etc.

Saturday (3/8): Went for a fabulous trail ride with T – the weather was gorgeous!

Sunday (3/9): A new friend came over and went on a nice relaxing trail ride with me. Surprisingly the two hooligans were very well behaved… phew!

Monday (3/10): My stomach wasn’t feeling too hot so I biked 6 miles (and read a great book!) instead of running.

Tuesday (3/11): My birthday! I managed to fit in a 2 mile run during a very busy day. I was so rushed I forgot to write down my time! Need to get better about doing that. Due to daylight savings, T and I squeezed in a wonderful sunset trail ride before dinner with my family.

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Wednesday (3/12): Spent the day traveling…

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Thursday (3/13): Hiked, snorkeled, hiked, snorkeled, hiked. We hiked over a giant hill/mountain on a trail that is not very maintained. Then after our first round of snorkeling, we hiked along a “beach” (more rocks than sand) and around a couple points (this involved lots of wading through sea urchins) to a deserted beach from which we went on another snorkeling adventure. It was a great first day (other than slicing open my toe… I think I will be losing that nail. Not to gross anyone out or anything…).

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Friday (3/14): Went for a quick, but hilly bike ride to another beach with great snorkeling. We snorkeled for an hour, relaxed, did some exploring, and then biked back.

Saturday (3/15): Dragged T out of bed at 7:30 am (early for us, especially on vacation) for a mile or so run down to the old ferry dock. Then my cousin took us on a boat to a uninhabited island where we hiked to these awesome “baths” in which we snorkeled and explored for hours.

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Sunday (3/16): Relaxed all morning and then took T on his first dive. An overwhelming experience for him, but he said he’ll try it again sometime. If only it wasn’t so expensive. T returned full of endorphins and dragged me back out for more exercise. He ran to the beach we went to on Friday while I biked there. We arrived almost at the same time because I kept stopping to take photos. After being drenched by a tropical rain storm, we rode back to town and then kept going down to the old ferry dock. We paused for a bit to enjoy the view and then rode home to some much needed showers.

Monday (3/17): Swam with sea turtles. Need I say more? It was awesome.

Tuesday (3/18): Woke up early and went to swim with the sea turtles again. Spent the afternoon relaxing on what is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Wednesday (3/19): After an early morning ferry ride, we spent the rest of the morning walking around Old San Juan before catching our afternoon flight home. We came back to a very rainy, cold Maryland – quite a shock to the system.

Thursday (3/20): Work was totally insane. At lunch time, I had such a bad headache for all the stress so I rushed to the gym for a quick mile (for me, quick = 11 minute mile… I am so slow) before a 1 pm meeting.

Friday (3/21): After an 11 hour work day yesterday, the last thing I wanted to do was be inside all day. So at lunch, I went for a 1.5 mile loop around where I work. My dad ran it with me, which was great since I hadn’t seen him much since getting home. We probably did the loop in about 18 minutes. I tried timing it but then my phone decided to die part way through so I had to depend on my non-digital watch.

Next week

Saturday: My friend and I are taking our pups for a hike at Terrapin Park on Kent Island.

Sunday: Maybe a 2 mile run/walk with T – weather permitting.

Monday: Yoga day.

Tuesday: 1.5 miles (with some speed work possibly)

Wednesday: Core conditioning class and 1 mile.

Thursday: 2 miles!

Friday: 1.75 miles

Almost 2 months until race day! My goal is to run this 5k just a bit faster than my last one (even a few seconds will be fine with me). But I don’t feel like I am getting any faster or stronger in general so perhaps I should just stick with the goal of running the full thing.

Equine Tuesday

Since I am about to leave for vacation tomorrow (cannot wait) and next week’s Equine Tuesday post will also be on vacation, I decided to write about my long-term goals.

Longeing

As I mentioned in my previous post, Finnegan is not good on the long line. He tends to quickly back up in circles or flip out. This past summer I got him going well, but then this fall he fell back into his old ways and would randomly stop and back up in circles. I could not get him going again, despite everything I tried. Those sessions would usually ended with him standing in the middle of the ring looking smug and me banging my head on the round pen fence.

I know Finnegan responds best to consistency and lots of attention. So my long-term goal with him is to be patient and keep trying. The key will be to stop on a good note, even if he’s only been doing one small good thing for 10 seconds. He loves praise and I think I need to be more free with it. Now I just have to get over my frustration and approach our longeing sessions with an open mind and the drive to succeed in any possible way.

Timbre is much better on the long line, i.e. she will actually go in a circle, respond to voice commands, and listen. Because of her foot injury, I want to ease her in to longeing since it can be hard on her legs.

Ring Riding

I don’t have a riding ring, nor do I have a trailer to take the horses to public riding ring. We live on a very hilly piece of property so schooling the horses is often very difficult. Luckily, my neighbors have a riding ring that they let me use. It is a bit of a hassle to get over there, but I am so grateful they let me school my horses in their ring because it has been a life saver a number of times. When my horses haven’t been worked in a while, they get pretty wild and mischievous (like many horses).

1381305_10201039198442017_2083886851_nT and I will be working with Fin and Tim in the ring a lot, not only to work on their behavior, but also to improve our skills and their fitness. I can’t wait to actually canter with them in a controlled fashion within the ring. Maybe by next fall we will be schooling over small jumps – but that could be wishful thinking.

Trail Riding

Finnegan is surprisingly well behaved on the trail. He tends to act up more in a ring (I guess he knows he has to work more in the ring). But he will sometimes startle at a deer running past or a dog running up behind him. He is also very tense when he is out alone, so it will be a while before I trail ride Finegan alone. He will need a lot of consistent riding before we get to that point.

Timbre, on the other hand, is the opposite of a cool cucumber. She tends to get herself worked up once we pass a certain point on the trail. She feels like a ticking bomb ready to explode at any time – certainly not material for a peaceful ride. She tries to wheel around and rush home. I do a lot of circling with her and we are slowly working our way further and further along the trail. The key is to refocus her energy and make her work a little so she can’t focus as much on her nervousness. Before a riding accident a year and a half ago, she was going really well on the trail. But now I feel like I am starting over again. At least I know she can be calm, which gives me something to work slowly toward.

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The key for all these goals will be for me to find the time and the will to confront these problems. Like I said in past posts, my confidence is not what it used to be, so while my horses take baby steps in their training, I will be taking baby steps in building my confidence. This is why I started these weekly posts – to create small weekly goals to work toward.

When I return from vacation, I will dive headfirst into working with Fin and Tim and writing weekly goals and updates.

Fitness Friday

Saturday: Quick 20-minute yoga session and a 30-minute trail ride! A nice change of pace after running most of the week.

Sunday: Jogged around the farm with T (maybe put a 3/4 – 1 mile in?). Lots of hill work though! Another quick ride – this time in the light rain. It feels so good to start riding again.

Monday: Due to the snow storm, I could not get into work so I did a 20-minute yoga session focusing on hamstrings (killer). I also went sledding out in the horse pasture with  my dad and uncle, something I haven’t done since I was a little kid. Hiking up those hills is hard work, especially when you are laughing so hard you can’t breathe properly.

Tuesday: 1.75 in 22:17. I was hurting today so my time ended up being super slow. Oh well. I don’t want to push too hard or else I know I will get injured.

Wednesday: 1.25 miles and 15-minute core conditioning class. Don’t remember my time for the run (I was in a rush) but the class was tough!

Thursday: Did the run I was supposed to do on Monday. 1.5 in 17:01. Feeling a bit sore (especially in my knee) and tired…

Friday: 2 miles in 23:28. I’m afraid to jinx myself, but this run felt easier/went by quicker.

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Pretty sunset on my Saturday ride

Goals for Next Week

Saturday: Perhaps a quick ride if it’s not too muddy. Otherwise it will be a rest day.

Sunday: Long walk with the dogs.

Monday: 1.75 miles.

Tuesday: 2 miles (I going to exercise on my birthday? That’s a first).

Next Wednesday T and I are leaving for a week-long vacation to a small island near Puerto Rico! The past few days have been going so slowly because I am so excited. I don’t have any specific exercise plans while there, but we will definitely be very active. I am a NAUI certified scuba diver so I will doing some diving, and of course lots of snorkeling 🙂 I am packing my running shoes (for the first time ever!) so T and I canrun/explore some in the mornings before it gets too hot. Next week’s Fitness Friday will be on hiatus because I will be totally unplugged (no Internet access where we are). I am very excited to get away from social media, work, and other distractions.

404052_10150605961076345_601344171_nI hope everyone has a good weekend! I don’t know about anyone else, but I am so ready for spring. I can’t wait for the “spring forward” time change this weekend. More daylight in the evenings = more outside time, more trail running, more riding.

 

Equine Tuesday

As some of you may have noticed, I have many many interests. As a result, this blog has no real focus – it is not a photography blog, a running blog, a writing blog, or an equestrian blog. I just can’t seem to confine myself to one of those areas. Perhaps I should as that would probably build readership. But alas, it probably will not happen. So! Without further ado, I present… Equine Tuesdays!

Equine Tuesdays will feature the progress (I hope) that I am making with my two rather barn-sour horses. For my non-equestrian readers, barn-sour means that my horses do not like leaving the barn (or each other) and act up as a result. I talked last fall about how I lost all of my confidence as an equestrian. In order to face those fears, I signed up for riding lessons and they really helped. I plan to sign up for another round once the weather is nicer. But I also want/need to conquer my fear of riding my own two horses. I decided to start these weekly posts about my progress because I need something to push me and hold me accountable, but also because I hope my adventures (or mis-adventures) will reach the eyes and ears of other equestrians struggling with the same problems.

Let me introduce you to my two demons (I love them dearly).

Meet Sweet Timbre

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Nicknames: Timbre, Tim, Timmi, Tim Tim, Stubborn, Miss Piggy

Gender: Mare (female)

Breed: Quarter Horse/Warmblood cross

Color: Chestnut (the color of a copper penny)

Age: 15-17?

Markings: 4 white socks, adorable white stripe

Height: about 15.3 hands (1 hand = 4 inches)

Timbre is a food-driven boss. She rules the barn and whatever she says goes. She is sweet as can be to any human who wants to feed her a carrot or two and give her a good brushing. She’s an angel on the lounge line as well. While riding, she likes to hold her nose in the air and constantly tries to bolt back to the barn. She feels like a coiled spring of nervous energy. My goals with her are to work her on the lounge line to get her back into shape (slowly) and to refocus her energy when she tries to run home. Easier said than done, her nervous energy makes me nervous too!

Last summer, she had a deep tissue bruise in her front foot and was out of commission for months. After a round of shoes and lots of time off, she seems to be better, but it’s something to watch as I ease her back into training.

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Meet Finnegan

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Nicknames: Fin, Finners, Fin Fin, Pig, Snorty, Clown, Crazy One

Gender: Gelding (castrated male)

Breed: Cleveland Bay

Color: Bay (dark brown with black mane, tail and legs)

Age: 12/13

Markings: One little white coronet band on hind foot

Height: about 16.1 hands

Everyone falls in love with Finnegan. When he is bored, he shakes his head up and down, snorting like a pig. Even the vet does not know why he does this. He’s a wonderful mover, but a true jokester. If he gets bored or just doesn’t feel like working, he’ll start pulling tricks. In order to ride him, you have to be prepared for anything and be willing to outlast his stubbornness. In general, he’s an easy ride, especially if he is being worked regularly (he loves attention). But there’s one caveat… Finnegan LOVES Timbre. He goes nuts whenever she leaves without him. He won’t come in to eat if she’s not there first. Thus, it’s hard for me to ride him alone. He’s not awful, but he feels anxious and I am afraid one day he’ll just lose it. He’s also terrible on the lounge line. So my goals are to get him working well on the line, work on his attachment issues, and increase my confidence while riding him.

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In short, I have a lot of work to do with my horses to get us all back in to mental and physical riding shape. I’m hoping that setting weekly goals for us and signing up for riding lessons will help me face down my fears and bring my ponies back to their former glory.

This week I probably won’t get much riding in due to an early March snowstorm and frigid temperatures. So I’ll be cleaning my (English) tack in preparation for all this upcoming riding.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am siked for the time change next weekend – more daylight after work! This means more riding, running, playing, etc. Stay tuned for next week!

Fitness Friday

Well this week was certainly more successful than last week! For once, I actually stuck to my schedule.

Saturday: Went for a run outside (it was in the 50s!) with Molly. I didn’t track my distance but I’d say it was about a mile or so. My knee start to twinge toward the end so I walked the last stretch.

Sunday: T, Molly, and I went for a run outside again along the same route (kinda) that I did the day before. It was such a nice weekend for running!

Monday: 1.5 miles in 17:26

Tuesday: Yoga night. I did Armilicious again because I didn’t have time to go in search of new videos.

Wednesday: Ran a mile in 11:01. My gym at work offers free classes with membership, so I went to a 15-minute On the Ball core conditioning class. I used to go regularly, but then turned my attention to running and stopped going. Boy do I regret that decision! The class kicked my butt! Planks are my arch nemesis – they never seem to get easier. Guess I should do them more…

Thursday: 2 miles in 24:21. Not as fast as I’ve gone before, but finishing it is enough for me right now.

Friday: 1.5 miles in 18:17. The rest of the week caught up to me today and I am so sore. I did a long walking warm up and took walking breaks (hence my slow time).

Next Week’s Goals

Saturday/Sunday: It seems we are going through another cold spell this weekend and my body definitely needs a break so I’ll probably do some yoga and perhaps a long walk. If it does happen to warm up one day, you’ll find me on the back of my horse.

Monday: 1.5 miles

Tuesday: 1.75 miles

Wednesday: 1.25 miles and core conditioning class (hopefully I have time! I’ll be attending a training Wednesday – Friday and don’t know how long we’ll get for lunch)

Thursday: Yoga night!

Friday: 2 miles

I just can’t seem to focus enough to run through 1 mile. I always get bored, start focusing on my aches and pains, and decide to take a quick walking break. I can’t get in some sort of “zone.” I’ve tried watching Netflix shows on my phone but still find my mind wondering. Does anyone have any advice?