Thursday, January 14, 2010

Real Life Tales about Learning to Jump--Give Away

A few years ago, during a transition in my life, I returned to college to update my teaching credentials. My marriage was ending, and it appeared I would be going back into the work force. I hadn't been out of it too long, having most always at least worked part-time while playing tag team parenting with my husband. Part of being a teacher, however, is keeping up your credentials--taking classes the state mandates and earning credit beyond your degree. Stupid me, I'd let my certificate lapse.

So, back to school at the age of 33--feeling old (was I crazy??) and dowdy and out-of-place.

I only needed one class, a class on teaching Reading, but I figured since I'd be going anyway, I would also take classes for fun. Which reminds me of when I met with my college adviser in the 80's--eighteen years old and fresh out of high school. I thought when you went to college, no matter what degree you were pursuing, you could just go through the catalog and take whatever you wanted. I took my registration slip and wrote in Shakespeare, Dramatic Literature, Creative Writing: Poetry and Intro to Teaching. Ha ha. My adviser took his pen and crossed out all of the first three and left only the Intro class, adding other intros as well--Intro to Sociology, Principles of Elementary Math, etc. As I returned, a graduated adult, the same rules DID NOT apply. Whew--I filled in my wish-list.

So started my wonderful return to college. It wasn't long before the feeling of not belonging wore off. As an older, wiser student I was one of those who always does her homework and extra, knows all the answers, talks ad nauseum to the teachers--you know, one of those annoying ones. And, Of course, I loved my English classes and decided to keep going after getting the job of editor (a paid position) of our college newspaper.

I bring this up because, during my return to college, I had a wonderful Creative Writing teacher. A beautiful, strong horsewoman named Claire Davis. It appeared to me as a fearful, mother-of-three, divorce'--unsure of myself and what my place would be in the world, or if I could survive there, that she was the epitome of fearlessness, courage, intelligence, and creativity. She was a published writer, beloved teacher, and I was intimidated by her even as I studied everything about her.

Later, we'd become friends and we'd meet for rides along the Snake River at the edge of Hell's Canyon. She was an accomplished jumper by then and her horse, a young Connemara/Arab cross, dappled gray and athletic, was also at the top of his form.

It's hard to imagine that a woman like that had any fears of her own, then or before. How could she?

This is my introduction to a book I'm going to give away in a few weeks, Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Notes From the Midlife Underground by Twenty-Five Women Over Forty.

As we all discussed jumping the other day, I was reminded of her own real-life story, contained in this book, about learning to jump at fifty, falling off her horse during one of those jumps and breaking her hip, and in the journey back to wholeness, the process of moving forward despite falling and overcoming some of her other fears. (Yes, she had fears, too). The bonus is that the book contains many more wonderful stories, as well, by various women writers.

So, this is my winter give-away--as we pass time until our Spring trail rides--a copy of Kiss tomorrow Hello. I'll enter you once for every comment and draw a name on February 10th. I have two extra, so there will be two winners this time.

I should probably give you an update on the horses since I haven't mentioned them in a while. They're muddy. Very, very muddy. This year we've had little snow, but lots of rain, and it has made our turnout a swampy mess. I couldn't even get my wheelbarrow through it these last few days, so the barn is also a mess. Today, in fact, as soon as I post this blog entry, I'm heading out to the swamp to clean stalls and TRY, try, try to groom my horses.

It's warm, so they're feeling GOOD, despite the fact that they're mud-ugly. Do you think they care? Nah. No, they've been running around doing sliding stops and pirouettes and other Lipizzaner-stallion-type tricks.

Hope your barnyards are cleaner and drier than mine, and please take the time to say hello and tell us what's going on at your places, so I can put your name in for this book. You'll love it.


  1. No Linda, our paddocks are aweful and the stalls are worse. If that is possible. I can't get the wheelbarrow to roll. Bob is cleaning them today and shoveling it into the tractor bucket. We have several lakes. I am ready for spring.

  2. Hi Lea--I just got back from cleaning stalls--I cleaned two of six..(Yay?) I guess that's an accomplishment considering it broke my back to push the full wheelbarrow through the mud. It's about 3" deep. I like Bob's idea of using the tractor. Tomorrow I'll use the 4-wheeler.

    The mud on Beautiful was dry, so I'm going to try to curry her again when it rains.

    I'm with you--I can't wait for Spring!!!! (Please come early, Spring!)

  3. Sounds like a cool book!

    Too bad about the muddy turnouts. Luckily (can't believe I used "luckily" lol) where I live, everything freezes with snow for a few months so we get a break from the mud!

  4. The book sounds like it's right up my alley! What a great idea. Yes, we have mud and mud puddles. Lots of it. I always have to chuckle after spending time grooming all the mud off of Boo because when I turn him back out the first thing he does is roll.

  5. How cool is that, that your college professor and friend has such a part in this book. The stories sound so inspiring. I'd imagine that the contributing writers are strong women, made so partly by their stories.

    No mud here. Yet. Just some snow, not too much this winter. But now we're facing an extended January thaw, with temps reaching into the 50s, so it'll be a melting mess for awhile :( Not that I have horses, but just putting in my weather contribution ;)

  6. Laura--I was wondering today which I'd rather have, and I was leaning toward snow. So, maybe you are lucky!

    Wilsonc--Mine do the same with rolling after being cleaned. They like it. This time, they're a bit muddier than usual--more of that caked on, baked on type. Well, at least Beautiful--I'm not really sure how she does it--she has a talent.

    Joanne--Your weather sounds a bit like ours!! You don't have to have horses to know how hard it can be to manage mud.

    I think you're right about all the contributing authors to this book--they're strong women, if for no other reason then certainly for the fact that they're honest about their experience--which, as you know, can be hard to write about when it's really personal.

  7. Ohhh....that sounds like a book I would really LOVE to read! And, Linda, I went back to school to GET my teaching credential when I was 33 years old! I was one of the oldest students with a crop of "young ens"! I really felt out of place! But, I knew it was what I wanted to do, so I gritted my teeth and endured their hostility! It really was NOT fun!!!

  8. Cheryl Ann--my hat's off to you. Those first few steps back to college are NOT easy when you're a mother in your 30's. Looking back, of course, I think 33 is the perfect age! ha ha. So young. To tell you the truth, I got so, so much more out of it the second time through. I wish I'd had the maturity at 18 that I did at 33, I would have taken advantage of more opportunities.

  9. That looks like a really good book! Great idea for a giveaway.

    We have incredibly muddy horses too. I got home today and caught Tonka with DRY mud for once, so he got a thorough grooming and I saddled him up and rode for a few minutes. It was really nice.

    It feels so springlike. It's hard to believe that it's only January.

  10. It's too cold here to be muddy - everything's frozen. We've still got snow on the ground and I'm not looking forward to the thaw, because that's when we'll get out mud. I want Spring to get here quick, but could do without the mud. I've got a bay mare, so the mud's not as nocitible as on my mom's greys :)

  11. Andrea--it feels like Spring here, too. That part is GREAT! I hope it stays this way and dries up the mud and we skip winter entirely!! Good for you getting out to ride--I hope I can get one in today, too.

  12. GunDiva--you're right about grays showing more mud--we have one of those, too, and some whites--but, luckily, they seem to be neater than my dun colored Mustang. Beautiful Girl is more of the "Tomboy" type of filly. LOL. I wish she'd work on her prissy side--if she has one. :)


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