Cha-cha-changes Lent Writing # 3

Empty pastures but a rainbow in the distance.

Remember that old song by David Bowie (or not) about turning and facing the changes?  Well, I got to face a change I made the first of February that was effective when I got home from the cruise.

The last weekend of January I gathered all my boarders together for an announcement. I am not sure what any of them was expecting but I don’t think it was what I said. I told them I was closing the boarding portion of the barn effective March 15th.

Many things had lead me to making this decision that would change my life and my lifestyle. It would also grind to dust many of my dreams.

Certainly, things have been leading up to this for sometime. I had increasing responsibilities at my day job. Lauren was increasingly gone at hers.

Meanwhile, my health was deteriorating in many ways most of them orthopedic. And my ability to get up day after day after day dwindled and exhaustion set in.

On an average day I would get up around 4:30 am. This is not predawn, it’s before dawn even thinks about getting out of bed. I would bundle up, strip down or cover up according to the weather that faced me when I walked out the back door. The dogs would be fed, the horses brought in from the pastures, the horses fed and the cats tended to as well.

A quick shower, fresh clothes, make up and hair done, off I would whirl to work. I have a very busy job at a Fortune 30 Company. Responsibilities are huge and make no mistake-futures are based on past merits. Every day it is important I bring my best game to work. Sleepless, hurt or aching could not be acknowledged nor would it be admired.

And before you ask, no retirement from my job is not an option. Too many years in the volatile health care industry as a single mom with three kids has totally waylaid the retirement option.

Likewise after the day job, especially when Lauren is gone, I still had a full-time job to come home to despite the best efforts of my daughter Ally who has sacrificed her family, schooling and friends to always be there to help me out.

By week four of Lauren’s journey to Florida both Ally and I had had it.

And it was not something that could be solved simply by Lauren’s return. It was more fundamental and basic than that. As much as we loved our boarders, they were a constant, never ending reminder of work to be done and challenges to meet.

You might’ve noticed I posted very few times from Christmas until now. During that time I learned I would need surgery on both of my hands- get this-I need bi-lateral thumb replacements. Seriously. Who has even heard of that?  I also learned my back had severe osteoarthritis, for which nothing could be done. And honestly, effectively managing any of the barn chores without my hands and without using my back is pretty impossible.
Plus, I had the added advantage of three years of tax data just finished. And maybe because of the service we were trying to provide and the high quality foods we were feeding we were certainly not making a profit. This added the final piece to the puzzle of if we should be a boarding barn.

Since our announcement, boarders have been moving out by bit and day by day. When we returned from our trip only one boarder  was left. Lisa who is our housesitter and my ever faithful back up when Lauren is gone will continue to keep her horse here. At least until this year of traveling is done for Lauren.

All of these things make my decision a good one. How many changes especially dream crushing, life altering, changes are easy? I would guess none.

When you have this many animals you are constantly counting. I count the cats when I go outside the door to be sure they haven’t followed. I count the dogs when I come back in the door to make sure they have. And whenever I am outside I constantly survey the pastures and make sure every horse is where it should be.

Today, I kept looking across at the mare’s pasture. I only saw three horses there; Nova, Betty Sue, and Feather. It has thrown me off-kilter. Likewise, I excitedly headed to the barn last night anticipating telling tales of our wonderful cruise. But no one was there.

I will grow used to this. But it will take some time. The major advantage is with my own horses only to care for, I will not need to race out to feed or hay or take horses to the pasture at any given time. I am only here to serve my own needs and those of my own horses.

Important changes. Life-changing changes. Perhaps life extending changes.

As always, thanks for riding along.