What a week!

It has been over a week since I have spent any quality time with the horses – and it shows! Not with them. No, they have been well taken care of by “grandma”, who is now retired and has plenty of time to tend to their needs. The clear effect of this separation is on me!

Work, already busy, took over my life when my boss went on vacation. I work in a public institution, and it feels a lot like working in a

The Care Bears! (That would be me in the middle.)

The Care Bears! (That would be me in the middle.)

Care Bears movie – except for the sniping and carping that goes on behind closed doors! For someone who grew up identifying with Mr. Spock (Star Trek), this is a significantly challenging environment. I am straightforward and not prone to playing all the social “games” – which is equally challenging for my coworkers. I’m just not the “warm-fuzzy” type … except when it comes to my critters. And I sometimes underestimate how important the furred and feathered are in keeping me on an even keel … but I was reminded this week!

First, a confession – I have a high tolerance for ignorance. You cannot blame someone for not knowing “better”. However, this tolerance breaks down in two specific instances. First, with the incurious. You can be blamed for ignorance if the answers are all around, but you never reach out to touch them. Second are the “know-it-alls”. I grew up with men in our family that were instant experts in everything. As someone with an insatiable curiosity, I see this as a highly limiting mindset … not to mention that these people are just plain annoying!

So, after over a week of living only for my job, and seeing the horses just long enough to take Noble in or out from turnout, I found

Brief moments like this were all the interaction I had for over a week!

Brief moments like this were all the interaction I had for over a week!

myself leading a meeting filled with both of the aforementioned types. This was not a winning formula for me! After an hour of trying to patiently help the incurious, it ended with me summarily shutting down a know-it-all who could not take a hint that the discussion was over (picture parent of pushy child finally shouting “Enough!”). This has caused quite the stir among the Care Bears, who reserve all of their frustration for sniping behind closed doors.

I will confess that I have always struggled with societal norms, like being polite to someone’s face and then slamming them behind their back. I don’t deal in disingenuous.  Ask me a question, you will always get a straight answer. Cross me too far, and I will not hide my feelings … I will still try to be civil, but I will not pretend to be friends. I am never afraid of burning bridges. I’m not saying these are necessarily virtues … they have certainly gotten me into trouble. But, my moral compass cannot operate any other way. So, as much stir as it caused, I felt no remorse for what happened – only slight regret at the chatter my boss now has to listen to. Ah well … this too shall pass … and the Care Bears will be worrying about something else soon.

"All I pay my Psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay and he'll listen to me any day"

“All I pay my Psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay and he’ll listen to me any day”

So, last night was my first opportunity to spend some quality horse time – and the warm-fuzziness was there! I have, in my barn, a thermometer that says “The Doctor Is In” – this is only partially in jest. Since I was young, the horses have been my therapy. Whether I’m down, stressed, or just lacking in direction, it all disappears as soon as I am with my horses. It’s everything about them … riding is exercise, and we all know that exercise makes you feel better. But it’s also the smells, now so a part of my being and tied to so many good feelings and memories. And it’s Tally’s upper lip nuzzling the small of my back, as she reminds me that she’s right there and could use a scratch. Or leaning against Noble’s shoulder while he grazes, getting lost in the rhythm of his munching and thinking of nothing at all.

On my way to work, one day this week, the DJ was reading about a study in which women had the same “feel good” brain chemical reactions to their dogs as they had to their own children. For me, it is my horses – and I did not need a study to know that. I listen to people describe their visceral feelings when they look at their children, or their significant other. I too have been in love, where just seeing him or hearing his voice brought me comfort and joy. Though it is near sacrilege to say, my truly bonded relationships with dog or horse have had the same feelings – blood pressure lowers, dopamine and oxytocin are released (the source of warm-fuzziness), and all feels right with the world.

Well, lesson learned … again. I cannot survive in the world of the Care Bears without regular visits to my therapists. In fact, I feel that a marathon weekend session is in order, straight away!

Be good to your horses!

Lia

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