Monday, September 18, 2017

Don't Ask

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "Ask and ye shall receive."  I know that I have.  And, apparently I have asked, because today I have received.

Our 2005 Suburban has been a trusty vehicle for all the years we've owned it.  12.5 years, to be exact.  It was basically brand new when we bought it (company used, about 4500 miles on the odometer when we took possession).  Now, more than a decade later, it is showing a bit of wear on the outside, with some rocker panel rust and more than a few dents and dings.  What can I say, it's been through four teenage drivers, and numerous long distance trips.  It has carried us from mid-Michigan to places like Canada, Florida, Oregon, Pennsylvania, the Upper Peninsula, as well as to South Carolina about a handful of times before DS1, K2 and the grandkids moved up here.

That's just the trips that were more than 200 miles one way.  Daily commutes to the Christian school I had at least one student in until June 2011 racked up 220 miles each week during the school year.  To say it has high mileage would be kind of stating the obvious.

Earlier this month, the odometer rolled 238,000 miles, and I said to DH: "We are about the enter the unknown."

You see, we've had three other vehicles that we drove to over 200,000 miles before something major (more truthfully, majorly expensive to repair) gave out on them.  First was a 1984 Chevy Caprice Classic (bought in the summer of 1991 and retired in 1997).  Then, a 1989 Pontiac Bonneville (bought in the fall of 1993, and retired late winter/early spring 1999).  Most recently, a 1999 GMC Sonoma (bought in March 1999 brand new!!  5 miles on the odometer! and retired in 2008.)

Of those three, the Bonneville made it to about 238,200 miles and then blew the head gasket. It has been our record holder, so far, for highest mileage before 'dying'.  Although truthfully, none of those vehicles became scrap immediately after leaving our possession. Nope, each one was lucky enough to be sold to a young mechanic (DH has an affinity for finding young mechanics on tight budgets) who was going to fix what was wrong with the vehicle (doing the work himself, thus saving the high labor cost that was the reason we no longer wanted to repair the vehicle), then use it for a daily driver.

That's why, when the Suburban ticked past the 238,000 mile mark, the suspense began to build.  How many miles can I drive before something major breaks?  Can I make it past 238,200 miles? What will it be that dies?  Where will I be when it happens?  (Cue either the Twilight Zone music, or the Jeopardy final question music).

Not that something major has broken, but in a way today I feel like I shouldn't have asked.  You see, I was on my way home from the grocery store (approx. 20 miles away), and the odometer clocked yet another milestone reading. 238,400 miles.  I even took a quick picture of it, so I could show DH.

Wouldn't you know, about ten minutes later, less than 2 miles from home, I was coming up over a blind hill and was surprised to see a combine coming toward me, taking up 3/4 of the narrow road.  I jammed on the brakes, and felt the pedal pretty much sink to the floor.  Luckily between me quickly steering as far onto the shoulder as I could without hitting a mailbox or tree, and the farmer doing the same in the combine, we passed each other without touching.

Where had my brakes gone?  They were there just minutes before, at a stop sign, like normal. But when the combine appeared, my brakes disappeared.

The rest of the way home, I made sure to give myself lots of stopping distance, and to utilize engine braking when needed.  Thank goodness there was zero traffic after that combine.

Once home, I took the groceries into the house and put them away (can't let the ice cream melt, I'm going to be stress eating some later today for sure!).  After the cold food was safely stored, I went back outside to see if I could diagnose what the issue with my brakes was.

Didn't take long to figure out.

Appears to be a blown brake line on the left rear.  I guess after 238,400 miles a brake line is allowed to wear out.  That's pretty darn good service.  We've had to replace them a lot sooner on other vehicles we've owned.

Thankfully, a brake line isn't a major thing to replace.  So, the suburban should be up and running again in a day or two, just as soon as we get parts and time to fix it.  Which is good, because I have a goal to roll at least 250,000 miles before I give up my suburban!

Friday, September 15, 2017

ADD/ADHD (part 3)

But wait, that's not all!  There was more that DH & I did with our family than just change what we ate.  Edible intake was a huge portion, but that alone didn't 'fix' everything for DS1 and his possible ADD or ADHD.

That kid (well, all our kids, and I truly believe every kid in the world) thrived on structure.  Now, I don't mean over scheduling and micro-managing his time.  No, it's simpler than that.  Having a consistent time that he woke up, had breakfast (never, ever, go without breakfast--doesn't matter if you are a child or an adult, eat your breakfast!), went to school, came home from school, played, did homework, had dinner, played some more, took a bath, went through the bedtime routine, and went to bed every single day, allowed him to focus on what he was supposed to do when.  Plus, regular and consistent sleep is a huge benefit to brain function, no matter who you are.  There weren't fights and meltdowns over homework (usually), because he knew what portion of his evening he had to sit down and do it. There was no use arguing, this time slot was homework time. And the sooner it was done, the more play time he had.  (*side note* I really and truly believe that DS2 watched and learned from his brother's experience with school work.  DS2 was 4 grades younger, and it was his personal goal to never have homework.  If he could get all his assignments done at school, or on the ride home from school that was his plan.  He got almost to high school homework-free with this mindset.)

I always gave my kids a snack (both solid and liquid) and at least a half-hour of play time when they got home from school.  Didn't matter how much homework there was that day, first order of business upon arriving home was to have something to eat and drink, then go outside and run around (weather permitting--basically if it wasn't down pouring, thunder storming, or wind chills below zero) for at least a half-hour.  I firmly believe kids need to decompress a little after being cooped up in a classroom.  Their bodies need refueling and a good blood-pumping bit of physical activity, then their brains will be better able to focus on any necessary homework.  The amount of time spent on homework varied by child, and even by the day.  The less homework, the more play time; because the only things they had going on (when everyone was in elementary school) after school was dinner, chores, homework and play time.

Something that always grated on me, and honestly still does, is the common practice in schools to take away recess time for undesirable behavior in the classroom or for not having assignments finished on time.  Especially in young children.  Making them sit still even longer during the day, and not having that short bit of physical activity doesn't really make them have an easier time not being wiggly, or grumpy, or help them think through their work better.  Everyone needs a break to stretch now and then; we all come back refreshed and ready to tackle the next task.  My preference would be more towards having sentences to copy ("I will sit still" or "I will be quiet" or "I will be nice to my classmates")  or an short essay to write ("Why it's rude to talk back to the teacher" or "Why it hurt Joey's feelings when I pushed him" or "Why it's a distraction when I keep falling out of my chair") for older kids rather than being punished by missing the physical and mental break of recess.  Anyway. . .

In addition to the play time, if DS1 was having a particularly rough day body-wise, I would assign him laps.  Meaning he either had to walk, or run (depending on how much 'steam' I felt he needed to burn off) a certain number of times around the outside of our house.  These could even be done in the dark (such as in the winter when the sun was down about an hour after we returned from school) because he was following the walls of the building and not going far out into the yard or near the street where I might not be able to keep an eye on him (for anyone leery of having their child approached by strangers in cars. . . )

In the summer, the daily routine changed, of course, since there weren't six to seven hours of being away at school during the day.  Instead, there would be reading time, drawing/coloring time, helping to cook, bike riding time, etc.  We would go to the library, or the beach (weather permitting) on a particular time on a particular day each week.  Same with grocery shopping.  It was predictable, and reliable, and DS1 (as well as the other kids) knew when it was coming and what to expect (and how he was expected to behave or what he was expected to do).  There is a great deal of comfort for kids in having a routine and knowing what is going to happen next.

So we've got nutrition, structure, free time (play) and physical exercise all helping to manage DS1's tendency toward ADHD type behaviors.  But wait, that's not all! Limitations on screen time also helped.

Now, this was back in 1998, remember, that I started this whole big research project into what would help DS1 with his energetics, noise, and other behaviors that were creating the whole "Does he have ADD/ADHD?  Does he need medicating?" question.  There were no such thing as smart phones or tablets back then.  Laptops really were a business thing, not a home computer.  And not all homes had computers.  We didn't get our first computer at home until 'Santa' brought the whole family one for Christmas that year.  We didn't own a video game system, either.  So most of my kids' screen exposure was the television.  And I was the TV Nazi, let me tell you!  Even as a child, I wasn't too impressed with TV, and I've never really been an avid watcher of television.  I remember being about ten years old when I stopped watching cartoons, because I felt they insulted my intelligence.  The three stooges?  Puh-leeze.  Soap operas?  Really?  I mean, seriously, does that represent anyone's real life?  Give me something that I could apply to my own life and benefit from. (Yes, I do love documentaries and other types of educational programs.  You probably were wondering. . . )

My poor kids were allowed to watch 30 minutes per day of cartoons and that was only the ones on PBS (we've never had cable or satellite TV).  Not every day, but some days, they could also watch one video, which was typically something by Disney.  A "long" movie might be an entire 90 minutes of eyes glued to the television, which they felt was a huge treat.

Might sound like cruel and unusual punishment compared to the amount of screen time kids get these days, but you know what?  It gave them more time for outdoor play, sports, reading, playing board games or doing puzzles, or just interacting with each other, their friends, and DH & I.

When we did, eventually, acquire a home computer and a video game system, their individual screen time increased by another 30 minutes.  They could now watch 30 min of TV and spend either 30 min on the computer (playing the few computer games we owned, all of which were probably considered educational) or playing a video game (also monitored for acceptability before being purchased).

Sounds harsh, yes?  It worked.  On the occasion where DH or I got lenient with the times and allowed TV, movie, computer or video game binge-ing, behavior went into the toilet quickly. Then we all suffered: DS1 (or whichever child was zombified by screens), DH and I all had to pay the price of doing screen detox and getting back on track.  And, now, many years later when all my kids are adults, I have to say that they all are very good at entertaining themselves without having to be glued to a screen.  They all, even DS1, are good at time management.  They all have in internal monitor which tells them when they haven't been physically active enough and need to slot in some time to move around or get outside

Hopefully these posts been more than a trip down memory lane for me and a (maybe) somewhat interesting story for you to read.  If you, or anyone you know (your child, for instance), struggles with possible ADD/ADHD or behavioral issues (constant motion, talking a lot), it can't hurt to try changing your diet for a month or two and see what happens.  Structure and consistency help a lot also, as well as the opportunity to be physically active numerous times a day.  Screen time can be beneficial when the right sorts of things are on the screen, for limited times, but can also be a downward spiral of sluggishness, grumpiness, and other undesirable traits when used too long or for the wrong sorts of things.

If you are someone facing ADD/ADHD in your life, I wish you luck.  Don't give up, and don't get discouraged.  You can experiment and learn what things help, and which things make life more challenging for you. You can learn to be in control of it, and not let it control you quite so much.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

ADD/ADHD (part 2)

Meanwhile, that same time Spring, I was digging into how to manage some major health issues of DS2's.  He'd always had skin problems; had been seeing a dermatologist since he was nine months old (he was just over 4 years old when we started down the path of trying to see if DS1 really had ADD/ADHD).  The day after DS2's 4th birthday, he'd woken up in his first ever asthma attack and ended up in the hospital for 3 days.  Two month after that, another severe asthma attack netted him another two days in the hospital.  Now it was the following Spring, his allergies were kicking back into high gear with all the pollen around, his asthma was flaring again, and I was seeking all the info I could get on how to keep his allergies & asthma under control enough to prevent any more hospital stays.

Enter a book, the title of which I have long since forgotten, containing a chapter about nutrition.  A chapter that brought to the forefront of my mind a sheet of food additives that his dermatologist had long ago given me, telling me that often things like dyes (artificial colors), artificial flavorings, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives (particularly TBHQ, BHA and BHT) increased the likelihood of an eczema flare up.  Then, I had an A-HA! moment.  Eczema, hay fever (allergies) and asthma all have a genetic link.  So, if those things would cause DS2's eczema to flare, would exposure to them also increase the severity of his asthma?

Since he was all ready exposed to a number of allergens I couldn't control (pollen, outdoor molds during the warm wet weather), could I lessen the chance of an asthma flare up if I cut those suspicious substances--all the artificials and preservatives--from DS2's diet?  It certainly seemed worth the effort to give it a try.

And it was an effort.  Unless you are a organic vegan grow and cook everything yourself person, go to your cupboard and fridge, and read the ingredients on every single item of food and condiments and seasonings that you have.  How many of them contain at least one colorant, flavoring, sweetener other than sugar/honey/molasses/maple syrup, or a preservative? (note, I attempted this on Monday and couldn't find a single item with TBHQ, BHA, or BHT, so not sure if they are rarely used these days or if I've gotten so good at eradicating those items that there isn't any in my house even though the kids are grown up and don't eat here anymore).

BUT, DS2's asthma stayed under control.  Not only that, since everyone in the house was eating and drinking the same things as DS2, everyone got healthier.  Skin was better not just on DS2, but also on myself and DD2 (we have eczema also).  DD1, who has been on the run since she learned to push herself around in a baby walker, didn't bounce off the walls so much and her mouth which seemed to never shut ran at a lower speed (later experiments with her enlightened us to how sensitive she is to red dyes).

This new way of eating became our normal over the summer of 1998 (which, not coincidentally, is the summer I started gardening, and have grown an increasing portion of our food ever since). When school started back up again, with DS1 in 4th grade, DS2 in Kindergarten, and DD1 in preschool, I learned how to pack lunches and snacks that avoided the 'bad things'.  The complaints about DS1 being noisy and not sitting still didn't resurface at all that year (although he still zoned out sometimes, and he struggled with boredom and organizational skills).  DS2 stayed relatively asthma free (no hospitalization, not even one missed day of school).  DD1 was a favorite (and well behaved) student of her preschool teacher.

That year, and the next six or seven, no matter how many kids I had in school (be it two or three or four), not a single one had a single sick day.  Ever.  Many years, it was noted that the S____ (our last name) kids all had perfect attendance.  More than one year, ours was the only family in the school where not one child had missed school.  (Then came the year of the recurring head lice epidemic and that went to h@*%.)

Coincidence that my kids' health and behavior issues improved?  I really don't think so.  And, apparently neither does DS1, who has been the main person lately drilling me about what I fed him growing up.  K2 has recently been diagnosed with ADHD and has been put on meds for it (which seem to be causing her some unpleasant side effects).  K3 sometimes shows signs that she might possibly have an attention or learning problem. DS1 remembered vaguely the time when it had been thought that he had ADHD, and so he sought me out for advice.  Which has led to a conscious effort on my part to remember all the things in 'regular' food that I have avoided for so long that I don't even have to think about them anymore.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

ADD/ADHD (part 1)

This is a subject that I had not thought of in many years.  But recently, it's been brought up to me several times, and since I'm having my brain picked by others right now, I thought maybe it would be a valuable topic for a blog post.

Back when my kids were small; actually so far back that there were only three of them, DS1 was having some issues in school and it was suggested by more than one person that he might possibly have ADD or ADHD.  Our first course of action was to go from public elementary school, to a small private Christian school in search of a smaller student to teacher ratio, hoping that more one-on-one type of attention might help in his wiggliness.

Having a smaller, and multi-grade, classroom helped somewhat, but hadn't alleviated all of the issues. By the middle of DS1's second grade school year (and now the parents of four kids), DH and I were at what we thought were our wits end. (Oh, if only we knew how his educational future would play out!  Then again, it's better we hadn't known then because we may have slit our throats and gotten it over with.  Truly, getting DS1 through to high school graduation was sometimes that bad.) I took DS1 to be evaluated for ADD.  Now, this was back in early 1998 or so, when it seemed like ADD was the scourge of nearly every single boy in school.  No kidding.  ADD was 'diagnosed' a hundred-fold more times than it had been in the past decade, and more than it would be just ten years later.

Which is a nice way of saying I had my doubts as to the accuracy of these diagnoses. So I wasn't going to be satisfied with a doctor taking a quick 5-minute look at my child and be willing to have a 'professional' label him as ADD and stick him on drugs for the rest of his life.  In my mind, I wasn't sure he wasn't just bored with school.  He was a quick learner (as I had been; I only went to school for 12 years, completing 1st & 2nd grade in one school year, and doing college classes while still in high school. My father had gotten his diploma even quicker, skipping both Kindergarten and 7th grade, graduating at just 16) and I knew that I'd spent many classroom hours bored out of my skull.  What had saved me was that I was a doodler, so as long as my hands could be busy drawing on something--or, when I got older, writing elaborate stories--I could sit still and quietly wait for the teacher(s) to move on to the next lesson. My boy didn't apparently have my affinity for doodling, was too young for writing fanciful sagas, and he was a wiggling, squeaking, beeping, airplane-noise-making mess.

We started with our family doctor, who asked a few questions about the school time wiggles and airplane noises, asked a few more questions about DS1's attention span outside of school, and basically said "Well, he could have ADD or more likely ADHD, but I'm not really an expert.  Would you like a referral to someone who knows more about it?"

I took the referral.  On to doctor and evaluation #2.  More questions, starting with infancy.  Had DS1 hit all the typical developmental milestones on time?  Yes, and many early.  Had he gone to preschool? Yes, sort of, it was a rural area that did Head Start as a weekly home visit from the teacher who after her hour with Mom and Child left a packet of activities for the mother to work on with the child until the next visit.  Once a month all the students of that teacher (and their mothers) had a 1/2 day group session where the children interacted with each other and the teacher while the moms were given an informational presentation and interacted with each other.  (*side note*  I really, really loved how that program was done.  I had not heard of one like it before or since then, and I wish more programs were run in that manner.) How did he do in preschool?  Awesome; his teacher was challenged to keep him in materials as he ate up the tasks and was always eager for what the next thing was that he was going to learn.  In fact, that teacher had cautioned me not to hold him back from kindergarten just because he had a Fall birthday; she felt that he was more than ready at nearly five and would be troublesome in school if he had to wait and was bored.  He actually had begun to teach himself to read, and the summer before Kindergarten, he was sounding out small words on his own.

The second doctor also sent home a questionnaire for DS1's teacher to fill out.  But he never, ever interacted with DS1 himself, or observed DS1 in any way.  So, when he said "Let's try putting him on Ritalin, it might be ADHD", I went off in search of a doctor who would actually look at DS1 himself.  I mean, if a doctor wouldn't prescribe an antibiotic over the phone for an ill child just based on the mother's description of how the child was behaving and what it's vitals were, but insisted on the child being brought in for examination first, how in all honesty and accuracy could they prescribe behavior altering drugs without actually watching or talking to the child?

Doctor #3, who if I remember right also had training in child psychology or psychiatry or something, did the testing I had been looking for.  A detailed, complete evaluation.  One whose questionnaire began with questions about the pregnancy itself (including mother's health and nutrition), any complications during labor or delivery, development/illnesses/injuries of the child since birth, home life, and school history.  Then there was a long and detailed form for DS1's teacher to fill out on separate days (I think) three times a week for two weeks running.  And, on top of that, two sessions with DS1 and the doctor; one with me in the room, and the second one on a different date of about twenty minutes of just the doctor and DS1 (with a staff member witnessing).

Finally!  Finally!  Finally!  And the outcome of this was that DS1 did seem distractible enough to warrant a trial period on medication.  If the meds helped, then he most likely had ADHD and should continue on them.  If they didn't help (because for kids who don't actually have ADD/ADHD, this med would make them even less focused and more jumpy) then we would discontinue them.

Well, for two weeks I faithfully gave DS1 his pill.  For two weeks, his teacher filled out a daily evaluation form in regards to his classroom behavior (she didn't see much change).  For two weeks, I also had sheets to fill out about his behavior at home.  For two weeks, DS1 had trouble sleeping.  For two weeks, DS1 had a nosebleed nearly daily--and he'd never had nosebleeds before.

At the end of two weeks, we took him off the meds.   It pretty much corresponded with the end of the school year, so DH and I decided that for the summer, we'd take a break from any further seeking of medical fixes for DS1's classroom energy issues.

More of the saga to come in my next post.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Toad's Wild Ride

We have a small plastic motorcycle that Toad loves to ride.  It is a manual, not an automatic, in that it is foot powered rather than battery powered.  His other grandparents have bought various (large) battery powered ride-on toys for Toad and K3, but DH and I prefer the kind that require some exercise to make move.

Anyway. . . Toad loves his red motorcycle.  He wants to get it out of the garage and ride it just about every time he is at this little place here.  This spring, he discovered that if he starts at the top of a slope and gives a push, the momentum and the slope will carry him along to the bottom.

From riding it down the slight slope of the sidewalk and the cement approach to the garage, he graduated to the little bit more slope of the curve of the driveway, and then, before the grass grew too thick and longer once warm weather really hit in late April or so, he would ride it down the hill in the yard from the parking area, past the wood boiler, and out towards the field.  He could really pick up some speed that way.

But, once the grass started growing in earnest, he found it was easier and faster to use his feet to power it down the driveway and around the loop from house to barn.

Earlier this week, DS1, K3 and Toad came over for a while in the evening.  Us adults were sitting out on the patio, talking, while K3 and Toad ran around playing, alternately riding the big wheel, the little green tractor, the motorcycle, and scrambling around on the two plastic play structures we were given this summer by some friends at church whose grandchildren had outgrown them.

All was going well, until, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of Toad at the top of the railroad tie stairs that lead from behind the garage down to the patio.  He was at the top, then suddenly he was flying and flipping, landing halfway down with his motorcycle tumbling on top of him.

DS1 was out of his seat in a flash, running to retrieve Toad and to see if he was injured.

No harm done, just a few bumps.  Toad was more mad than hurt.  He was mad at the stairs, apparently.

I gently said "did you try to ride your motorcycle down the stairs?"

"Yes," he sniffed, his eyebrows knit in consternation.

"Toad, you have to go down the long way, on the grass." I told him, indicating the grassy slope that runs along the top of the terraced flowerbeds, about 60 feet or so, down into the backyard.

"The grass makes my motorcycle too slow," he informed me.

"Ah, but motorcycles don't do stairs very well." I replied.  "The grass doesn't hit your head like the stairs do."

Oh, the painful learning experiences a stubborn (and crafty) three year old boy has to go through!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

One Sock

It's been a long time since I posted anything about knitting.  Partly because there hasn't been much knitting going on this summer.  I took a skein of yarn to Alaska with me, thinking how wonderful it would be to relax and knit during the non-hiking portions of our vacation.  You know, in the airport, on the plane(s), while rolling down the road in the RV, at the family reunion (since I'm not a card player, and playing euchre is one of the major parts of the reunion).  I had a skein of sock yarn in my stash that seemed perfect for this particular vacation:  the colorway is called Northern Lights.  So, even though there would be no aurora borealis during my time in Alaska, thanks to the midnight sun, I decided I must make a pair of socks in Alaska.  

I even chose a pattern, called Envy, which sounded like it would jive with my Alaska/northern lights theme.  According to the description, it was a shifting rib.  Which made me think of how the lights of the aurora seem to shift and jump in the sky.  Perfect for this trip, perfect for this colorway.

Except I got hardly any knitting done during the two weeks I was in Alaska.  Knitting at the airport didn't work out.  Knitting on the plane didn't either.  And knitting while rolling down the road in the RV was absolutely non-existent.  If we were rolling, I was usually having to navigate.  Which required looking up our route in one Alaska travel book, and looking for possible hiking spots/scenic overlooks/tourist attractions and camping locations in another.

Back at home, I got a little knitting done, between all the regular summer tasks.  Instead of making a pair of socks in two weeks, I made one sock in two months.  Two months.  One sock.


Hopefully the second one doesn't take me quite as long.  Although I shall probably have to wait until October to knit it; once the garden is done and I'm finished canning for the year.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

So I Am

I splurged on a new t-shirt for myself.

The graphic spoke to me.  So I bought it.

It's a simple design: the neck and head of a horse facing the torso and head of a girl (woman) with a ponytail.  The words printed on it sealed the deal and made me relate to the picture (well, that and the fact that the horse looks huge compared to the girl--like the California Horse is--and I often wear my hair in a ponytail):  She believed she could.  So she did.

Because right now, I am.  I have always (well, okay, since I was sixteen) wanted to learn dressage.  Not just learn dressage, but master dressage.  I wanted to do the movements, do the dance, become one with a horse talented enough to go where most horses and riders never get.

Leasing the California Horse is making this all possible.

No, that's giving him all the credit, which isn't quite true.  Let me restate that.

The California Horse is the horse I am partnering with to learn the more complicated movements of the dressage dance.  Several things are making it possible.  One, being the fact that I finally have time to properly devote to my riding.  Another being the availability of this lease of the California Horse; he is a good fit for me--both in terms of size and in terms of temperament.  A third, but equally important factor is DH finally seeing how happy riding makes me, instead of looking at me in confusion and saying "you haven't been yourself in years, you used to be much happier".

But most of all, what has made this possible is my belief that I can. I can be a dressage rider.  I can learn all this complicated mental and physical dressage stuff.  I can pilot this gigantic horse and bring out his talent. I can accomplish my dream.  It may not have been in my twenties, or my thirties, but I didn't give up, and now it's happening in my forties.  All the challenges that kept me from focusing on my riding goals for decades could have discouraged me enough to make me give up.  I mean, two decades is a long time.  And physical tasks (like riding) don't get easier as you age.  But whenever I would feel like I should just give in, just write it off as a pipe dream of youth, I'd hear voices in my head.  Voices of former employers, coaches, trainers.  Voices that had one upon a time tried to convince me not to have kids, because I wouldn't be able to ride (and I was "such a good rider") professionally if I had kids.  Voices that had once upon a time tried to talk me out of getting married, because a husband would take me away from the horses.  A husband, kids, those would tie me up and keep me from becoming the kind of rider I had the talent to be.

I had the talent.  I have the talent.  So I believed that I needed to bide my time, to wait until the kids were grown and gone, until the housekeeping and child rearing didn't eat up the majority of my waking hours.  Then, then I would be able to ride as seriously again as I had in my youth.  Then I would be able to realize my potential, to put my talent to use.

I believed I could.  So I am.