Thursday, January 02, 2014

2013 - the year in review

Like so many folks are doing this week, I'm looking at the year gone by as I create some plans for the year ahead.

In 2013 I was intent on finishing the novel-in-progress, (the girl who was) Never Not Broken. I finished the first draft during my November writing retreat at Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities, and am now working on a second draft edit.

I published the second book in my Magical Pony School series, Fiona and the Water Horse, right at the year's end. Although I had so much more on my list "to do" with regards to November Hill Press and publishing, I'm happy with this year's work and looking forward to new goals in the coming year.

2013 will always be remembered in my mind as the year Salina left us. She was a grand old mare and letting her go was one of the hardest things I've lived through in my life. She came through last winter and enjoyed the spring, leaving before the heat of summer hit, and the worst insect year I remember since we moved to November Hill. That she is buried behind the A in our arena, and keeps me company in spirit every single day, is such a gift.

I had possibly the least number of rides in 2013 than I have had since returning to the riding life in 2003. There were weather issues, aching hip issues, the loss of Salina and a period of grief, and what has been a slow but steady return to the saddle since fall. Riding the Big Bay these months since September has been a revelation of sorts. He will be 25 years old in April, and although he is sound and still capable of gorgeous movement, I realized that neither of us are on the path to GP dressage. I knew that already, but sometimes rode like we were in training.  I have tossed the idea of levels altogether and we are simply enjoying the rides we have. Our dressage tests are aimed at stretching our muscles and opening our joints, and we make them up as we go along.

It's wonderful to finish the year with a long string of lovely rides on such a dear and beloved horse. I am treasuring every single one.

Last night I was working on my plans for 2014, sketching out the books I want to write and the way I want to spend my days. The daily schedule that has fallen into place this fall is one I want to keep:  write, ride, muck, and gym. That keeps it simple but doesn't include the pleasures of spending time with my daughter and husband, sending messages to my son at college, and being surrounded pretty much all the time by loving horses, a painted pony, the donkey boys, six cats, and the Corgis. It's a good life and I'm grateful to have it.

I got an email from Janet Roper, who many of you may know as the creator of the radio show Talk To The Animals. She's expanding that work this year and has invited me to write a monthly column about my interactions with the menagerie I live with - equine, feline, canine, and the wild animals that visit us regularly. I'm so excited and will share more about this in a week or two.

I plan to use this blog to post daily or near-daily entries - a sort of running commentary on my days and what I'm doing. As usual, I love comments and getting a conversation going in that part of the blog - so feel free to share your own days and your routines, successes, frustrations, etc. I hope we all have a great and productive year - productive in that we make the time to do the things we love, because in the end, as Annie Dillard wrote so eloquently, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.
 -Annie Dillard


Grey Horse Matters said...

It sounds like you've got a good plan worked out for the New Year. So exciting about working with Janet Roper and How to Talk To The Animals. I'll be looking forward to your thoughts.

I think as we and our horses get older we do appreciate each day with them and each ride. I try not to set too many goals anymore. I'm fairly certain the horses and I will not be on the show circuit again anytime soon. And I find it more fun to just ride and enjoy ourselves as much as possible with a little training thrown in for good measure.

"how we spend our days is how we spend our lives." Perfect.

billie said...

A, it's a relief in some ways to be riding w/o much care to end results - I don't mean it quite that way, but more like - viewing each ride as its own pleasure and enjoying what is good in that ride, on that day, with that horse, is a lovely way to be in the saddle.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Working on instilling good habits for the coming year, riding and non, as well as appreciating daily what is right in front of me.

Congrats on the column. I always love your posts about November Hill's critters, and the wisdom they share. Looking forward to reading more of those...

Happy New Year to you all!

Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff coming in this new year. I lost my Noble at age 30 in 2010, and know how hard this can be - he's with me always.

I think the older horses tell us how much they want to and are capable of doing, if we listen, and older horses can be such a delight - there's a wisdom there.

I'm glad you're trying to do the running/daily post thing - I've tried too last year and may take it up again.

billie said...

Thanks, C - may this year be a good one for you and the handsome Val!!

billie said...

Kate, that's such a good point - about the seniors telling us how much they can do. I've been letting Keil dictate the warm-up and when/if we go from walk to trot, trot to canter, etc. He and I both have gotten off the canter wagon but are just now getting close to jumping back on it. :)

Matthew said...

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. "

This is so true!

Matthew said...

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. "

This is so true!