Doing The Right Thing…Or the Right Thing for YOU!!

I spent two hours on Saturday talking to Mum about why I am in Portugal.

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She said that as you get older, you realise how important it is to have family memories, and family to share them with.

Course I had been up all night Friday being sick, which is the only time I really just want my Mum ;)!

But Mum said it’s the family stories that shape who you are…and I agreed with her, but who I am, was built on the memories I have here in Portugal…

The person I am now, was shaped in Portugal.

There is a part of me that always thought I would go back to Australia. But there is also a part of me that always thought I would have a family of my own, kids of my own…

When those things don’t seem to turn out…you start holding onto the things that you do know…

I know that I love to ride, I know that I love my friends, I know that I love who I am, and sure there are things about me that I would love to change, but there is nothing that I am ashamed of.

Ulisses Farewell
Ulisses Farewell

Today Ulisses my older Lusitano left for the UK, and it felt like losing a mate…My horses were my family in Portugal, when I knew no-one.

I relied on them, to be there. Mum always used to tell me not to get attached to my horses, but that is impossible.

Maybe it was just the massive headache from the flu, but I didn’t know how to answer mums questions about Australia. Course she misses me, and we have the same talk every year around christmas when I start to get “saudades” and she feels I am not myself.

But she knows that I associate Australia with the person that I was, and all the memories that go with it…She knows too, that that is all bullshit, because of course if I went home now I would stay as strong and as independent as I am now, just with my family around me.

But do I need that? No, I don’t. I love my life. People too often do the thing that sounds right, or is right for everyone else…I spent 15 years doing everything that was right for everybody else, and I was miserable.eye7

It seems contradictory, but doing the right thing, can actually be the worst thing for you.

Mum said, that I am a person who always thinks about making other people happy. That may seem like a good thing, but it’s not. Staying in Portugal was the most selfish thing I have ever done, and it was a surprise to most people who had seen me work everyday on the farm since I was little, not because I was suppose to, but because I wanted to.

Are you someone who always does what is expected of you?

Or are you someone who only ever thinks about themselves?

If you read the two above you might think the second is worse, but I admire the people who fall into the second category, and even more the ones who can find a balance between the two.

Mum tells me often that I could afford to be a  bit more selfish in my thinking, to tell people NO, to not justify or apologise…It’s easier said than done, but I will keep working on it 😉

So when I say to mum that I might want to stay in Portugal, I think that she is not at all disappointed, because actually she knows that whatever I decide, it will be for me,and that’s actually all she ever wanted.

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian...like their page to find out more...https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts

 

 

Looking Back…Looking Forward…How Was Your 2016?

 

As we head into Christmas, most people start to reflect on the year, on their life.

2016 on a global scale has been sited as the year where the world turned against the establishment…With Britain leaving the EU, and America voting in a game show host as President.

On a personal level it was the year I very nearly gave up and sold Batialo…and then didn’t.

Just two years until the World Equestrian games, and whether I make it or not, I am already winning, because I just love what I do!…

It was my sister’s birthday last week, and I was lying in bed yesterday and I thought, “my birthday is next”.

Followed by an awfully strange feeling of guilt and sadness. It’s my father’s birthday first.IMG_20150304_182008

This year could have been a really hard one. I had tendon inflammation, a lot of pain, and I couldn’t do the thing that I love to do.

Horse riding, is not so much a sport, but a religion for horse people. I was talking to a friend yesterday who said when she doesn’t do Yoga she feels something is missing, and I understood that feeling. I am also someone who needs to do a lot of physical sport or activity, so in the beginning it was hard for me, to just do nothing…

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Some of the great times of 2016, with the best people, and the best horses 🙂 🙂

However, it turned out to be the best year I’ve had, since I can remember. Guess sometimes your best mates, help you more than even they realise.

I’m so grateful to those people.

I also admitted a lot of things to myself, because like I said we deceive ourselves all the time, and I feel proud of how much I have changed.

It’s great to surprise yourself, particularly when you just did it for yourself.

And it is amazing, when you can focus your mind on what’s important, how much better your horse goes!! Nothing surprises me more than just how much animals understand, without you telling them anything.

 

“The horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see. Sometimes you will.” Buck Brannaman

I have to admit, Christmas isn’t the easiest time for me. I think I would actually be fine overseas by myself, except that people ask “so what are you doing on Christmas”, but with a look like I might break in half and run off to cry in the corner.merry

Truth is I am perfectly fine.(and not the fine women say when they are not fine, but the actual fine ;)… I have my horses, I talk to my mum everyday, we are closer now than we have ever been, and I have friends that I love to be around.

People put a lot of pressure on christmas as the day to bring everyone together, but really you should be there for the people that matter, and be grateful for them, everyday. I try to be. Of course it’s hard being on the other side of the world.

I thank my mum all the time. For supporting me, and not thinking I was nuts when I called one day and told her I was staying In Portugal to be a top rider, without a horse, a contact, or a place to stay.

I wish I could thank my father. I can now admit, and not feel somehow weakened by the fact, that I still miss him. I can talk about him openly without getting upset, but then sometimes, like the moment above, I will burst into tears just for forgetting that his birthday is before mine.

For a long time I never let myself think about him, and when I did it would be to remind myself of how disappointed he would be in me.

Now I think about him a lot, in the completely opposite way…Thinking just how much he missed, and how much I wished he knew me.

He would have loved Portugal, but more than that I wish he got to see the person I turned out to be, and how much I just love my life._20150605_123836

Christmas is always a time of reflection and planning. Asking where you are, and where you want to be…

I have set my sights on the World Equestrian Games, and I have made a plan for how I can best make that happen. As my friend told me, first eliminate all the obstacles and unreliable elements, and then just give it everything.

The best part is, if I don’t make it, I love every day that I spend training my Portuguese horse, in his homeland, a country rich in history, (and seafood), so not only am I looking back on this year and smiling, but I’m looking to tomorrow and I just can’t wait!sun-7

 

 

 

Giving advice…

“People, in general,” he said, “only ask advice not to follow it; or if they do follow it, it is for the sake of having someone to blame for having given it.”

A quote from “The Three Musketeers”, a great film.

Giving advice is not always simple.15175379_10209164490821191_1406640283_n

Firstly, you need to learn when to give advice, and the best time is usually when the person actually asked for it…

I will never forget a very early video of Batialo and I when he was still very young, at our first competition. A lady wrote to me saying that I really should start my warm-up on a loose rein walk…I thought brilliant idea if you want me to get killed.

Then you need to know if the person will actually accept the advice.

Today a friend wrote to me asking my opinion about something. I gave it. She said I didn’t know what I was talking about. I said possibly not, but the reason you asked me is because I will tell you what I think not what you want to hear.

She said “yep”, and knew that she was doing what a lot of us do. We ask advice, and when it isn’t the advice we want, we try to convince the person of our point of view.

So then why ask advice in the first place if you already know the answer you want?

In dressage, there are lots of people who seem to think their advice is valuable, even if it’s not asked for. “Dressage Critics” who possibly can’t even trot on a 20 metre circle, but feel it’s needed to condemn everyone else. I love criticism, it’s what helps you get better, but you need to have all the information before you can pass judgement.

Trainers are paid to give advice…and in my experience there are two types of trainers…the ones that take your money and tell you what you want to hear, or the ones that tell you the truth, and risk that you might not return…

11357057_10205406431392054_1759484067382632414_oOr there is my mum who tells you not to bother coming in the first place if she thinks it’s a waste of her time 😉

I know countless people who have gone to top trainers, and not improved at all, because the trainer knew that they A would not accept the truth, and/or B not listen or try to change anyway.

I remember the first lesson where I didn’t try to do what mum said, and I turned around to ask her a question and she had gone home.

Knowing who to ask for advice, is about knowing who is honest…Knowing which trainer will tell you the truth, is about knowing who really gives a shit if you improve or not.

Asking for advice is good, but sometimes we ask because we just want to justify or support the idea we already have.

It can never hurt to have a second opinion, just make sure that you’re open to the possibility  that the advice you get might not be in line with what you want to hear, and the chance that even if it isn’t, it doesn’t mean it is the wrong advice ;).

 

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian...like their page to find out more...https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts

 

 

Are You a Strong Person?

They say that you cannot build strong castles on weak foundations.

A person with a weak character will rarely appear strong, at least not to those that really know them.

It’s interesting though that strong people can become weak, if they are pushed to their absolute limit.

Some people think that if you never show weakness you are strong. Quite the contrary. When I was weak I would show nothing of my true self to anyone.15491838_10209366304186399_1063649507_o

Now that I am strong, I don’t let unimportant things affect me, but if it is important, I will show that I need help, or advice, or just someone to be there.

Yesterday someone tried to insult me, and I said, “you are right”, and they were not sure where to go from there. The truth is if you know your own weaknesses, you can except the truth, and deal with it.

“Wear your scars like armour, and they can never be used to hurt you.” (Game of Thrones 😉 )

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No sugar lumps for you today!!

The best thing I did was to admit I needed help with Batialo, because just being humble enough to say it, made people respect me more.

I think too that strong people react to things differently. When Batialo used to spin I would get very upset, and afraid, and worry about the pain. Now I just shrug it off, and move on. And because I don’t react, he doesn’t do it as much.

When he does, like he did yesterday, I don’t let my mind stay stuck on it, but I ask for help. Not from a place of weakness, but a place of honesty, and humility, that way people actually want to help you!

I talk a lot about suicide in my blog, because for many years I felt so ashamed of my father, mainly because there is a huge stigma around suicide, and the belief that people who commit suicide must be weak, or crazy, an outsider, someone who does not fit in with society.

Tomorrow is my father’s birthday, and I was remembering today who he was. To be honest I wish I knew him better…I can just remember the way that he made me feel, things he said,  the way he looked at me. But I do remember that more than 700 people turned up on our front lawn for his funeral, and cars were parked some kilometres up the dirt road to our house.

He was loved by many…a popular, sporty, community man. Not a single person who came that day knew him as anything but happy and strong, and grateful for his family that he adored.

But he committed suicide.

Do I understand it? I never will. Is there anything I wish to know? No there isn’t. I am so grateful for everything I have, and everything I had, and everything that I went through. It made me a person who loves everyday, who cares so much about people, who would do anything to make someone smile, because I learnt early that you just never know when they won’t be there anymore.

I write this not to dwell on the past, but to acknowledge that life can change people…Or destroy people. I was told recently that you don’t get to choose how you react to things, and I don’t believe that. I think who you are shapes your reactions, so there must have been a lot happening underneath the strong image that my father presented, but he never admitted it.

We all have stuff that we deal with. Some deal with it better than others. But if there is one thing I have learnt in my life, it is that showing weakness, or asking for help, actually makes you a strong person!15537076_10209375587378473_541122431_o

 

 

 

 

Self-Deception…Who Are You Really Deceiving?…”Honest Liars”

Being honest with yourself, about yourself, is such a complex thing…

I read a quote today that said
“I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.”
― S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders

 

I smiled because it’s true…

Self deception is far more common than we think.

Beijo...NAILED IT!!
Beijo…NAILED IT!!

Some people lie about their age, or their dress size, or how much they really ate that day. Some lies we tell ourselves for survival, we convince ourselves that what we see on the news will “never happen to us”…

Other lies we tell to justify our behaviour…”I only yelled at you because you yelled at me first”…”I don’t have a problem with alcohol but yes I have to drink everyday”… but there must come a point where we can distinguish the lie from the truth…The sad part is some people lose this ability…

“The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. ”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

We all know someone like this…And it’s easy to see that they are an “honest liar” in the sense they believe the bullshit they are telling you, and the bullshit is quite clearly…bullshit.

But sometimes it’s not so black and white…Sometimes people lie to themselves and to others as a form of protection…I remember when my dad died people would say “I know it will all work out”, or “it will all be alright I know it”…and I would think, what will work out, pretty sure nothing will work out. This is just shit, and it will stay shit, and that’s how it is…but I appreciated their effort.

14543712_10208886056780514_1647359598235895250_oAnimals are the best when it comes to self-deception…As a rider it’s easy to fool yourself, it’s much harder to fool your horse…Batialo knows if I’m afraid before I get on him, even if I have convinced myself I am not…He knows if I’m not ok, even if I’ve told myself that I am…The single greatest asset to a rider is self-awareness, and self awareness is literally the absence of self-deception!

 

I laughed recently because a man told me that he needed to take one of my horses to “re-train” it, because he had “a method”. I said no rather bluntly and made a pretty obvious sarcastic comment, and he just assumed I knew nothing of his “talents”…

Two weeks later he entered three dressage tests and was belled out in two of them because the horse just stopped…I thought “wow, what a great method”, and was reminded again of how much rubbish and self-appreciation (arrogance) people use on themselves in order to make them feel superior to others

I read that people who deceive themselves constantly are actually just showing themselves as weak, because they don’t have the psychological strength to first admit the truth and then deal with the consequences.

The best people you will ever know are the ones who know that yes you can lie to yourself, and yet try to figure out their own truth, even if it isn’t the truth the other people see, or that other people approve of.

People who are humble enough to recognise their own weaknesses, and not pretend to be better or less than anyone else.

No-ones battle is harder, or easier, it just is…I cannot tell you that my pain is worse than yours, or that I have been through more, because you can’t measure it and I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to be you, or pretend to myself that I know more or less than you do…

Yes, Self-deception is something that will always be there, but the new thing, that I think has come about because of the increased awareness of mental health, is the “oh but I was depressed” people…

I was talking to Mum this morning about the increase in the number of people who seem to blame everything on depression. Yes I lied and cheated and was an awful human being “but I was depressed”. Like that somehow makes it all ok…

Truth is, if you actually have depression, more often than not you rarely talk about it, and if you do it’s not to excuse a bad behaviour, but more to admit something that you feel truly ashamed and sad about.

We were talking about adults who throw tantrums, or lie to others, and then tell themselves that it wasn’t their fault because they were just depressed…

I think this brings self-deception to a new level, and unfortunately depression is such a complex thing that it’s very hard to know how to deal with it.

Mum says that I got depressed when I was still very young, and I tried to hide it for as long as I could.

Depression isn’t a bad day, or a bad week, and it’s not something that excuses bad behaviour, because typically if you are depressed you feel as if you need to make everything ok, and you don’t want to excuse yourself for anything, because you feel as if you deserve everything you get.

But how do you tell if someone is really depressed and reaching out to you, or is just using that as an excuse for their bad behaviour? I wish I knew the answer…Usually the person is alone, or feels alone, and usually they don’t have the energy to throw the tantrums, or the mental will to lie or deceive…Having been hit incredibly hard with the effects of depression though, I would always side on caution because I would be too afraid to risk that the person really was depressed.

But I feel disappointed by the thought that people would use this as an excuse, to lie to themselves, to make others worry when they know they could have prevented, or stopped themselves from acting that way.15052207_10209106607374141_1016170260_o

I have bad days still, everybody does, but I would never ever tell someone, or excuse myself for something that I did, or a behaviour that I had, by saying that “I was depressed”.

I have said it before that you DO get to chose how you react to the things that happen to you…Sure you won’t always act the right way, but I would ALWAYS prefer a person who admits that they just acted badly, over a person who deceives themselves into believing that their behaviour was just a consequence of something they could not control.

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian...like their page to find out more...https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts

Summertime Sadness?…NOPE!

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Yesterday someone told me that you don’t get to choose how you react to the things that happen to you…I don’t agree.

Maybe when you are a child perhaps not, but I have always been told that nothing good comes easily, and the making of a good person is not how they handle the good times but how they react to the bad…

When I was 8 I came out of a dressage test in tears because my pony just stopped and tried to eat a tree at the side and mum said that if I ever did that again she would sell all the horses and I would have to stop riding.

I learnt early on that no amount of preparation can prepare you for everything and at some point you need to learn to just go with it.

It’s true that some things you can’t prevent…I don’t think there was much that could have been done to prevent the downward spiral I went into after my dad’s suicide, but I still wish I knew then what I know now. That everyone you meet in life has there own stuff do deal with, and more often than not nothing you did, or could have done, would have changed it…

Having a goal changed my life, but of course not everyday will go how you want it to, however there is always something you can take out of it.

People will tell you that everything happens for a reason, I think that is crap. I think everything happens, period, and it’s how you cope with it, and ultimately learn from it that defines who you are, who you become, and who stays with you.

Since just making the decision to get to WEG I have been pushing myself harder, and while there are many more good rides because I’m more focused, every now and then I have a really bad ride, that reminds me of how far I’ve come, and also that I always need to be ready to deal with new challenges.

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WINTER IS COMING…and so is a new clothing sponsor woo hoo 😉

Nothing just happens, nothing is given to you, and nothing good comes easily!

You have to work at it…everyday.

I talk often of my grandparents, but their marriage was one that I think is unfortunately rather rare, and my grandfather used to say that love was something you did, everyday. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

Today I finished the lesson disappointed in myself, and I really hate that feeling.

Knowing that you could have done better, or reacted better, but you didn’t…

That feeling lasted two minutes, because after that you have to move on. I have had people writing to me asking about something they did on the horse two weeks ago, and my reply is, why are you still worried about that?…move on!

I read a post today about how miserable winter is, and like many things in life there is good in everything, but for the last two years I actually started to love winter…

When I was depressed I would get cold, but a cold that I couldn’t warm up from. Now I feel warm, even when it’s cold, it sounds strange but it’s like being happy just makes you naturally warmer 😉

I rode in the rain today, and it was so much fun! Bob Marley used to say “some people feel the rain, others just get wet!”IMG_8269

I’ve learnt in life that it’s always going to rain at some point…worrying about when it will rain, crying because it’s raining, or thinking about the time it rained…well, you are just wasting that time you could be spending in the sun!! 🙂

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian...like their page to find out more...https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts

Setting a New Goal…

14689708_10208841767393307_1892293369_o-2Starting again is never easy…Starting again after riding, starting again in a new house, a new place, with a new person…Whatever it is that ended, the new beginning always takes a new level of strength, and if you are smart, a new level of understanding…

Today I was nervous to ride because on Friday we had an incident and by Friday night my back was causing quite a lot of pain…

I am learning though, that the less you focus on it, the less you feel it, and it’s amazing how much pain we eliminate if we just don’t give it any importance.

I woke up on Sunday feeling really great again, happy that the recovery is getting shorter each time, and I read the announcement that the World Equestrian Games for 2018 will be in September in North America…

And just like that I decided, that I would be there, with Batialo…Course there are 1 million things that need to fall into place for that to happen, but if you never set your sights on something it won’t just magically happen.

I told Mum, and she laughed…I said why are you laughing and she said of course you can do that, I’m laughing because you are just deciding now.

I told Batialo on Sunday as well that “we were going to WEG”, and today he was just amazing, trotting with his feet up near his face, I swear he hears every word that I say to him…I hated to have to tell him that the World Championships weren’t actually today, but not for another two years 😉

I was so disappointed last year to make it so far and then stop because of injury, but mum reminded me that technically my goal was to compete internationally, which I achieved, so the next goal has to be bigger!

If you ask if I have enough people around me who believe that I can make it, the answer is probably no…but if you ask me if I believe enough in myself not to care the answer is absolutely yes.

Every time I read a story about an athlete who made it, it never starts out with, “he had a super easy ride and everything was great, and came easily, and ta da he made it”…buttre-wouldnt-melt

I was talking with a friend recently who agreed that more often than not the athletes that really make it have the mental capacity to overcome the hurdles that everyone faces. Your body will always need to take pain, your mind is what tells your body to keep going anyway.

My hip hurts everyday…yep…can I do anything about it?…nothing that I’m not already doing..so I can cry about it, or I can get on with it.

The worst thing you can do for yourself is wake up when you are too old to do anything and realise that you could have done it. I don’t want to be that person…14686425_10208841880516135_448099613_n

Your goal doesn’t have to be the world. Your goal might be to get back riding, or to compete in preliminary, or to work out the balance between family and riding. What ever your goal is, it’s yours, others don’t need to understand it, approve of it, or even believe in it.

If I look back I want to say, well I gave it everything I had, and whether I make it or not I will have a hell of a lot of fun on the journey.

These last two years have been the best of my life. Not because they were easy years, but because I became the person that I wanted to be, and now I will put that to good use.

Sure I still have fear, because I’m human and I care about the lives of the people I love enough to care about my own.

They say that if people aren’t laughing at your dreams then they aren’t big enough! I have many dreams that I would love to fulfill, some of which I can make happen, and others which I cannot, but one thing is for sure, if you don’t try I will never know.

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian...like their page to find out more...https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts