In the swift turn of the season from harsh everlasting winter to dry hot summer so to has my life changed. Just weeks ago my weekday mornings were spent at the Discovery Lab working with students on writing, math, weaving and science. My afternoons were often spent at the barn with my gelding Endy riding through the woods above the Teanaway River. We rode through the winter in rain, deep snow and finally spring mud and wildflowers.
I visited with parents at the classroom each day, chatting about children’s progress and catching up on everyone’s busy spring lives. I visited with the barn girls, a group of amazing, kind, interesting women who adore their horse time as much as I do. I prepared for the end of the year and the goodbyes that were ahead. I had decided months ago that I would retire from Discovery Lab when we lost our space at Thorp in the brick building at the end of the school year.
In a flash, the last few weeks of school and the goodbyes came and went. My horse Endy got sick with strangles and our glorious rides through the woods were replaced with visits in a stall wearing a Tyvek suit and rubber gloves and bleaching myself as I left. He is finally starting to feel better, which I can tell because he is furious about his situation. He went from days of leisure in a herd in a pasture to solitary confinement. There he will sit for another four weeks due to the contagiousness of his condition.
My identity has shifted in so many ways. I applied for and was offered a job as the K-12 Art Teacher for Thorp Elementary and IGNITE (gifted) Program teacher. It was a total long shot, I didn’t really think I would get the job but I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t apply. So, this summer I dust off a few old hats and plan for a few new. I am living as a novice horse trainer, working with Inez and Pippin an hour a day on sacking out, leading, round pen basics, bathing, ground manners, and preparations for riding, though for Inez that is a few years off. I finally got a garden in with strawberries, raspberries, pumpkins, sunflowers and herbs. I have been studying for my Teacher Preparation Exams because I am now working towards my teaching certificate and hope to apply to Central this fall. I am meeting with a mentor who teaches a similar art program in Seattle as I work to design the new art curriculum, taking classes and trying to make art everyday.
With all that change, one thing stays the same and that is family. My boys and Neil are the center of my universe and the choices I make affect all of us. Without their love and encouragement and blind faith in my intuition, I would not be leading the amazing life that I lead. Then, there’s Inez. She has been here almost a year and changed me profoundly. As I watch her grow and change and work with her, she makes me feel like with enough persistence, I can do anything.
What a blessing it has been to watch her evolve into this happy, funny, affectionate, and smart yearling. I can vividly remember almost a year ago when she barrelled into a fence as we tried to load her into the trailer at the orphanage in a total panic. Within a day, I had touched her. Within a week I had haltered her. She is still a wild girl at heart. Sometimes she seems to “pretend” to be scared of some non-existent threat to tear around bucking and racing and jumping anything she can. She loves her girl Pippin and spends their visits badgering her into mutual grooming and moments of play. Those two keep me steady. Everyday, I am out there, it doesn’t matter the weather, I made a commitment.
Pippin has changed too. After a winter of viewing me with skepticism, I started working with her this spring. She hasn’t been ridden in almost a year so we started back at the beginning. Her aloofness faded with each lesson and she now follows me around leaning in for a selfie at every opportunity. Her sweet owners said she can stay a while longer and I am grateful. Endy will come home as soon as he is cleared of strangles and is well. I can’t wait to see him every morning when I wake up and say goodnight in the dark each evening.
My wise friend and leader of Discovery Lab often reminds me that “Everything is unfolding as it should.” I will never be one to settle. I want to spend my life growing, changing and swallowing up every possibility that I can imagine.