A friend just sent me a video over Facebook that he thought I would appreciate.
It’s about a horse that goes to hospitals and makes rounds visiting sick people.
Now I’ve seen this video many times.
And every time I click play, I know I’m going to cry.
And every time the crying starts at the same part: A particular moment when the horse reaches out to an elderly man, and you can see the man trying to touch the horse’s face, lead rope, halter, anything he can get his hands on.
When I watch it, I see in this man’s eyes that he must have had a horse at some point in his life.
I cry because I will be that man one day.
Desperate for one last feel of a horse's warm breath across my face, the soft hair of his neck under my fingers, and the coarse feel of a lead rope in my hands.
I know this deep in my bones.
Tonight I will go down to the barn.
I will bring in 12 horses.
I will feed them.
I will blanket them.
I will attend to...
Yesterday I had a meeting with a group of women that I really admire and enjoy talking to.
We meet once every other week, and I'd not been able to attend the previous meeting, so I was particularly looking forward to this one.
About an hour before the meeting started, my daughter came to ask me if she could go skiing with her friends since they had a snow day.
She has been dying to ski all winter and it was the perfect day.
I said yes.
And I showed up to my meeting in the car, on the phone instead of on Zoom, and with 3 rowdy teenagers as passengers.
I did not apologize to my colleagues.
This is not because I’m a rude person.
It’s because of a conversation I overheard last week.
We had a significant snow in Cincinnati and all the schools were closed.
My husband was in the kitchen connecting to a work call.
The woman he was talking to could not stop apologizing about the fact that her children were in the...
I woke up on Tuesday morning and peered out the window just like I do every morning (when you own a farm somehow the first thing you do before your feet even find the floor is put eyes on the barn to make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be).
A blanket of unexpected white greeted my eyes. Far from the 1 to 2 inches that had been forecast, a solid 6 inches topped the grass.
I knew right away that my barn manager would not be making it in until later, which meant I would need to go down to the barn and give hay, water and breakfast to the horses, cats, and chickens.
I made my way out to the kitchen because...coffee first.
Just as the pot started to brew a text popped up on my phone.
“Hey,” the text read, “I heard Tricia wasn’t able to make it in this morning. Text me when you head down to the barn and I’ll meet you there to help feed and water.”
My retired neighbor who has a property right next to...
This week on the farm we had a rather unexpected occurrence.
One of our horses went from being a lovable farm favorite to an uncontrollable, dangerous animal in a split moment.
It happened while I was walking him into the barn from the pasture.
Out of nowhere, he began kicking, rearing, bucking, and directing lots of aggression toward me.
It was scary and I did not have the tools I needed to handle him.
I gave him a pass, figuring that something very unusual must have happened to cause him to behave this way.
The next time I brought him in the same thing happened.
And the following night he dished out more of the same, but this time towards my daughter.
Now I was frightened, angry, and perplexed.
What on earth could have caused a normally polite horse to behave in this way.
And, more alarmingly, what was I going to do about it.
I immediately began to obsess that something was terribly wrong with him.
Had there been a neurological event?
Was he in a...
I’m not sure why but somewhere in the last decade I started to tell myself that I didn’t like to do things that make me uncomfortable.
This is fairly laughable because I’ve done a list of things in the last 10 years that have made me HUGELY uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, I started noticing that little thought creeping in more and more frequently.
It was not said in a reassuring tone, but rather in a judgmental, shaming one.
It ran under the radar for a long time, but the implications it carried were pretty large.
It taught me that maybe I wasn’t as tough as I thought.
And maybe I wasn’t as brave as I thought.
And maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t be putting myself out there as much as I wanted to.
That thought became a mental handcuff.
Instead of feeling proud of the things I was doing and accomplishing, I started feeling like nothing was ever enough.
Like if I could just be braver and try...
A few days ago while I was at the store, I heard my name being called.
I looked over my shoulder and saw a woman with a baby in a stroller approaching me.
She had a big smile on her face, as she walked up to me.
“Hi Mrs. McCusker,” she said, “I’m not sure if you remember me, but I used to babysit Caroline.”
My jaw probably hit the floor.
Because wasn’t it just yesterday that I had left my infant daughter with a senior in high school, happy to have a babysitter so I could escape for a few hours?
It was, in fact, yesterday.
Except, that 18 year old was now a married 32 year old with a child of her own.
Every once in a while we get the reminder that time marches on.
My daughter will turn 15 this year.
I will turn 44 this year.
My Dad just turned 70 this year.
It all seems impossible because I actually remember being 15 myself, and it doesn’t feel all that long...
Two weeks ago my mom ended up in hospital, needing an unexpected heart procedure.
Because of COVID none of us could be with her, and we spent 5 long days sitting at home feeling useless.
To cope with my lack of control, I went into “fix-it” mode.
I logged into my mom’s hospital chart and looked at all her test results.
I spoke constantly to a friend who is a doctor.
I called my mom a dozen times a day.
I made my dad dinner and kept him busy.
I collapsed into bed at the end of each day, completely exhausted.
But the morning of her surgery, I had to come to terms with how little control I really had.
She was in the hands of extremely competent doctors and nurses.
Yet if I could have been in there with her, I would have been.
I’m not a medical professional.
Not even close.
But my desire to just “fix” things was so intense that I couldn’t and wouldn’t let myself see the truth.
This was just one glaring and scary...
Late last week I felt the stirrings of a familiar lifelong pattern,
I felt unable to settle myself.
I was consumed with a to-do list.
I felt like I needed to keep going, keep moving, keep doing.
When a small voice inside asked if I shouldn’t perhaps stop and take the dog for a walk, or sit down and meditate, or get up in the morning and sip my coffee and watch the sunrise, I answered with a very familiar refrain.
That’s a great idea. I think I’ll get back to that next week.
Of course, we all know how that turns out.
Monday became next week.
Next week becomes Christmas break.
And I’m sure, if left unattended in my mind, Christmas break will become the New Year.
The truth that I keep pushing off these self-care activities because part of me feels like if I stop to rest, I might never get up again.
The other part of me doesn’t want to look at all the grief, sadness, anger, and despair that 2020 has brought us.
I’m back in COVID jail for the second time in a month.
If you do the math that means that I’ve had 7 days of “freedom” in the last 35 days.
I’d be lying if I said I took this second quarantine gracefully.
I argued with myself, with my family, with my work.
I blamed other people.
I resented everyone who was able to go about their business (as much as any of us are able to go about our business right now).
The laid back, low-key attitude I had about our first quarantine was over.
And it showed.
I didn’t feel like cooking.
I didn’t feel like cleaning.
I didn’t feel like working.
All I wanted to do was stay in bed, binge watch Netflix, and eat junk food.
And it actually gets worse than that.
Instead of being kind to myself, and the situation I had found myself in yet again, my mind went in the opposite direction.
Why are you so lazy?
Why do you have no structure in your life?
This is so typical of you.
Fourteen years ago, almost exactly to the day, I loaded my 6 month old daughter into her stroller and pushed her up the street to my friend Kristen's house. We waited while Kristen loaded her young daughter into a stroller and then we trudged up the massive neighborhood hill, along the sidewalk, and about 2 miles to the park.
I put my daughter in a swing for the first time that day, and the memory of her delight as she experienced “flight” for the first time is forever imprinted in my mind.
The sky was deep blue, not a cloud in sight, and the temperature was a remarkable 87 degrees.
It was an anomaly.
A glorious day of weather, when so many less than glorious ones would be following close behind.
Kristen turned to me and said: "Better enjoy this day while we can. We won’t have another one like it for a while."
And she was right. We didn't. Not even close, probably not for 6...