This year I had made a New Year resolution that I would do things for myself. As a mother and wife it’s easy to get lost. I want to make everyone happy. Honestly, the past 22 years I made my purpose to nurture my family. I kept our home neat and organized. I worked in the garden to have beautiful flowers that changed each season. I woke up at 5am to enjoy the peaceful silence in the morning. I enjoyed my cup of coffee and would plan my day. By 6am I would be watering and weeding my gardens. 7am I would make sure the kids had breakfast, made their lunches, and were getting ready for school. While Izzy and Sophia were at school I cleaned up, made beds, and did errands. After school we made a snack, did homework, and then I prepared dinner. When I went back to work things changed a little, but I still strived to be the best mother and wife.
This is what I learned from my mother. She is the most loving, wonderful, and without a doubt the strongest/bravest person I know. She made me who I am today.
When Izzy and Sophia started riding horses, I went to all their lessons. We would spend our whole Saturday at the barn. We made life long friends, and we found a community we wanted to be a part of.
Our routine changed as Izzy and Sophia started to get serious about horses. We were at the barn 7 days a week. They sacrificed a lot for the sport. When looking back did they have a “normal” childhood? Sometimes I feel that their sacrifices made them miss out on so much. I wish they went on more sleepovers or maybe explored other interests. Who knows…sigh.. maybe it’s just my parent/Catholic guilt talking.
I do know one thing I would change. During this time Nick had to cook dinner to help us. I don’t know how we survived those meals. Ha! I was back on dinner duties when we moved. The first thing Izzy and Sophia said to me was: “Thank God you’re making dinner again!” Hahaha! Still makes me chuckle!! I do love him for trying:)
A lot changed when we moved to our farm. So much to do, and so much to learn. It’s hard work to care and maintain animals and property. I now know why farmers start their days at 4am. I could spend every waking hour working outside, and there is always more to do. I would say weed control and fence repair seem to be never ending. Would I do it differently? I say no. I love it! But if I hit the lottery, look out! I’m hiring a gardener and handyman.
None of us were prepared for me to be diagnosed with cancer. That was a huge set back. I don’t talk much about that time. I do have survivor’s guilt and ptsd from my experience. With time I heal, but I’m forever changed.
This past September 11 marked my 3rd year of survivorship. No one tells you what the effects of radiation and the drugs do. There are times when I am frustrated because I can’t do all the things I once did. Sometimes it’s difficult to handle the daily pain and my groggy brain. I still have days that I’m just too tired. It took me to have cancer to learn how to ask for help. It took me to have cancer to be ok with living in an imperfect world. I accept that sometimes there is a sink of dirty dishes or that I will put off dusting and vacuuming for another day. I accept that I have more weeds than flowers growing in my garden. The things that I could get done in a day can take me weeks, and the past 3 years I have worked on accepting that it’s totally ok if it takes me longer.
Needless to say, while I was struggling so was my family. I think these past years we were all a little lost. Now, we have to all figured out what our new roles are. So, this is why I made the New Year resolution to have a me year. When, Izzy and Sophia were little I did so much for them and with them. Now at 17 and 19, they are finding out who they are. Just like I am. My role in life has also changed. Yes, I’m still a wife and mother, but they don’t need me the same way. I need them more. They are my strength when I need it.
It’s been challenging to have a me year. I have felt selfish and guilty at times. So far, I’ve been on 3 trips with Nick and we did not bring the girls. I shopped for new clothes and shoes in stores other than at Costco or Tractor Supply. I’ve spent time at the spa, and I’ve been learning how to relax with essential oils. I have made time for friends, and have even rekindled some old friendships that I have missed dearly. I begged, begged, and begged and we now have a new horse trailer that is easier for me to manage.
I love, love, LOVE this trailer!!
I took a few horse lessons so I could learn more about properly handling horses. I have been getting out there and practicing my photography. I’ve been reading the manual and books about my camera to learn all the features on it. I love how my camera forces me to go outside and do something I enjoy.
Nick and I did whole30 . I learned what I eat affects my body. I am vegetarian, and I thought I was a healthy eater. Whole30 made me realize I can make better choices, and when I do I feel better.
Another thing that I learned in my me year is that my kids really need me. My friend, Elise brought to my attention that my kids still looked for my support. They sought my approval in their decisions. This took me back. I’ve been taking a step back these past few years. I wanted them to start making the decisions with their horses. Of course I wanted to be there for them, but let them take the lead. I had Nick take them to lessons without me while I was working. I also didn’t take the time off when they were showing, and would only go to their events on my days off. I thought they wanted to be independent. What happened was they started to show less and less. In my defense, I was going through my own heavy journey. I was terrified of dying, and not seeing my kids grow up. I was heartbroken thinking Nick would become a single parent and widower. I feared the pain I would cause my kids, spouse, parents, and siblings. I was also afraid of taking time off of work. I was afraid of losing clients.
Looking back I should have taken time off. Obviously, I was not in a good place. I only took 4 days off after my lumpectomy. The holiday season was starting, and that’s my busiest time. I went to work after radiation treatments. I was in survival mode. I was afraid if I stopped I would realize I was sick.
I had to be strong for my family. I had to show everyone that I was fine. Thinking about this time I shake my head. I was foolish. I still lost clients, and the world did not end. I just couldn’t keep up with my old pace, but I got through it all. Honestly, no matter how hard I tried to be “normal” it did not fool my family, friends, or clients.
No one tells you what is the aftermath of cancer. I will never be the same. I had to learn that I do have limits, and the fatigue… I never knew I could be so tired. Ugh! and why is my brain scramble eggs? It’s just so frustrating!
Anyways, I focused on listening to Izzy and Sophia, and have been working on being present. Sophia was wanting to get back into eventing. It has been 5 years since her and Poni competed.
So I agreed to help her find a new eventing horse. Sophia wanted to find an Irish Sport Horse. She felt that Delilah ( her horse she competes in the jumper ring with) was not the right fit to do cross country. The sport can be dangerous, and the partnership and trust that one needs is a must. I love Delilah! I love all our horses, and I knew finding a new horse would run the risk of Sophia selling Delilah. I cried, but I had to get over it because this was not about me. I needed to do what would be best for Sophia and Delilah.
First thing I found out is that there were not a lot of Irish Sport Horses on the West Coast. Fewer in California, and fewer in our price range. Sophia was sending me ads for horses all over the United States. How do you shop for horses that are so far away?
It was nice to spend time with Sophia. I will take any positive communication from my then 16 year old daughter. We were talking and we were doing something together. We found a couple horses that were promising after watching many, many videos. We planned a couple road trips together.
First, we went to Southern California and visited a beautiful mare. Sophia liked her, but she did not want to make any quick decisions. We were going to take our time, and Sophia was going to find her perfect match.
It was nice to spend a couple days together talking and having fun. I was trying to encourage her to trust her instincts. She knew what she was looking for, and I was here to support her.
A couple weeks later we planned a trip to Idaho to meet and ride a couple horses. I do have to say my friends and family thought I was out of control. Yes, there are a lot of horses for sale closer, but they were not an Irish Sport Horse. I did not want to influence Sophia, and have her compromise. She was looking for her dream horse. So, in Melinda fashion we had to just go for it….what ever it takes.
We did not know what to expect in Idaho. We drove straight to the barn. Everyone that we met were very friendly, and made us feel welcome. Sophia rode a couple horses, and one stood out.
Gwen, a 6 year old chestnut Irish Sport Horse. She wasn’t exactly what Sophia was looking for. Sophia wanted a horse with a little more experience. Gwen had training and could jump, but she wasn’t finished. She wasn’t perfect, but Sophia’s instincts were saying she was special. We decided to check in a hotel and relax. We made arrangements for Sophia to ride Gwen the following day. We talked about all the pros and cons. We sent friends and our vet videos, and gathered all the information they gave us. After we talked and talked and talked… we had to end the evening with a little ice cream.
The next morning Sophia made a decision. She said Gwen was the one she was looking for. A little background. Sophia is the most indecisive person I know. I knew she was serious when she told me her feelings for Gwen. I got on the phone to make arrangements for a thorough vet exam. I felt good working with the vet hospital in Idaho and my vet at home. I received 2 thumbs up after all the tests, blood work, and x-rays. A week later Gwen arrived to our home.
Sophia spent her time getting to know Gwen. Sophia took the risk with her. We still did not know how she would be on a cross country field. I signed her up for cross country camp, and we were off again to Oregon House, CA.
At camp, the weather was great, Gwen was very willing with cross country, and we had a great time with some old friends.
Now, we decided to prepare for their debut horse trial. 3 day eventing has 3 different riding phases: dressage, show jumping, and cross country. There’s a lot of work involved. I spent the summer taking Sophia, Gwen and Delilah to riding lessons. I was so proud of her dedication.
We began our show season this year at the end of summer. We started late because I , as part of my me year, went on a week long birthday vacation. I didn’t forget to have fun!
Sophia and I laugh about this first show. Sophia was not prepared for this show. We didn’t have time to school the cross country course, we ran out of time to ride Gwen in a dressage court, but Sophia just went for it.
And they were amazing! Yes, Sophia was nervous, but she tried her best. They ended on their dressage score, and earned 4th place in their class. I was so proud of them. I believe they will have a great eventing future.
We have gone to a few more shows and clinics. Also, Jinxy was started under-saddle and taken to the Westphalen horse inspections. Izzy spent most of her summer working. She wanted to take some time off of showing, and just enjoy her horses. Too much horse stuff to share. Keep a lookout for future posts.
I wanted to do a couple family activities as part of my year. First, we raised 6 baby goats. It was a lot of work, and all of us took shifts to bottle feed our babies.
These babies came from a local dairy. 4 were 1 to 2 weeks old and 2 were a couple days old. It was a great experience. We all bonded with these goats. They are special to us. When we first brought them home we had to feed them every 2 hours. We all picked shifts. Izzy fed them in the morning and before she left for work. Sophia took the after school shifts. Nick and I did the after dinner shift and before bed shift. And I did the late night and early morning shifts. We added an hour each week to the feed times and slowly weened them. If I remember correctly, it was a 3 month process for them to be fully weened. Izzy and Sophia always talk about how much work it was, but they cherish that time. They get very emotional when talking about the goats. They will alway be their babies.
I decided to order day old chicks after the goats were fully weaned. I never raised chicks so I thought it would be fun to do once. I like coop ready pullets. They are so much easier to care for. They are fully feathered and ready to live outside. But I wanted to experience raising chicks. This was also a lot of work. I was always concerned if they were warm enough. I ordered 14 chicks. They were so cute. I would sit with them and let them climb on me. I watched them grow. They created friendships and bonds from the beginning. Certain ones still roost together every night.
Ok, I just realized why I’m so tired. These past 10 months have been jammed packed! Izzy and Sophia hint to me about raising all different animals. I think I get a daily picture of lambs, pigs, kittens, puppies. You name it, but I think I’m good for now.
I have 2 more months to complete my me year. I have a couple trips in the planning stages, but I need to figure out what will be next for me. So far, I feel I’m growing. I’m discovering who I am. I’m figuring out what brings me joy. For so many years I focused on Nick and my girls. I didn’t think about what makes me happy. I thought I was happy when they were. I’ve discovered that doing things for myself didn’t change our family dynamics. We are all busy and doing our own thing, but we all still make time for each other. I’ve discovered that the girls feel it’s important for me to still be a part of their journey with their horses. I don’t have to be their groom anymore, but my presence is required. It has always been our thing. When I’m watching them ride at a show, clinic, or lesson. I notice they first will look for where I am, and it warms my heart.