Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Current Goals

By Laura Crum

Lately some of my fellow authors on this site have been posting about their goals. Losing weight, getting fit, getting their horses ridden regularly, getting their next book written. All great goals. People write in the comments here about their goals; I read mugwump’s blog and hear about all the goals people have with their horses. I am impressed. I wonder, what are my goals?

Uhmm…I’d like to lose weight, sure. Am I willing to diet? No. I’m way too much of a hedonist to diet. I love good food and drink. (Margaritas, anyone?) I do try to exercise regularly by hiking the trails as often as I ride them, but this is a goal I don’t often achieve. Last week I rode five times and hiked once. Hmmm.. My horse is getting fit, anyway. No, I can’t exactly call getting fit a goal. At least not a goal that I’m doing much to achieve.

How about writing my next book? Yep, I am writing my next book. I really am. Sometimes. And then I hear my fellow authors talking about how many pages they wrote last week. Oh dear. Some weeks I get a chapter done. Lots of weeks I get nothing written at all. I’m not a very disciplined writer. As the deadline approaches, I crank it out. That’s my pattern. I hope it works this time.

But yes, it is a goal of mine to finish book #11 in my mystery series and turn it in at the specified deadline. I’m just not motivated to do it in a methodical fashion. I guess this counts as a goal.
As for the horses, when I say I rode five times last week, you might think I was pretty goal oriented there. The unfortunate truth is that I ride when I feel like it, and the weather was beautiful last week so I felt like riding. And what sort of riding are we talking about? Nothing too demanding. My current riding is limited to cruising my little plug of a trail horse through the hills or along the beach in the company of my eight year old son. When you consider that I used to show cutting horses and compete at team roping, it sounds pretty tame.

Yep, that’s me in the above photos. Winning the cutting at the county fair on Gunner, a horse I trained myself, and turning a steer for my good friend Sue Crocker on Flanigan, one of the best rope horses I ever had the privilege to ride. (Sue is on Pistol, another great horse.) Those of you who have read my mystery series may recognize these horses; they’ve all become characters in my books.

This next photo was taken last week. We had an 80 degree November day and took the horses down for a ride on the beach. Big fun for me and my son, but not exactly in the same league as what I used to do with my horses. My goals with my horses these days? Use what’s left of my (much diminished) riding skills to have fun with my kid. Cruise through the landscape on a steady horse and enjoy it. That’s it. Not too ambitious.

The truth is that I really am fine with my relatively unambitious lifestyle, but every now and then, listening to others, I wonder that I seem so unmotivated these days. Am I content and tranquil? A zen horsewoman/ enlightened mama/ relaxed author? Or am I just lazy? I really don’t know.

I can remember the effort and energy I used to put into my riding and writing; I was pushing and striving, trying hard all the time. I’m much happier now. At this point all my pursuits flow relatively easily and naturally….but I’m sure not getting as much done. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I think my current goal is just to be grateful for what I have. My family, my animals, including my reliable little trail horse, my home, my pasture, my career as a mystery author, which still engages me, even my relatively healthy, if slightly too ample body….all these are things I am thankful for every day. Maybe I don’t need to worry about what I don’t have, seeing as I have so much.

You tell me….
Happy Thanksgiving!

Laura Crum


Leslie said...

Laura, I "hear" myself talking, through your post.

I was able to "retire" from working in the outside world, for now. For that I am grateful. But the reasons I left the outside work world, well, I haven't goaled up on them yet. Still working on it. Sometimes I ask myself the same questions you are asking yourself.

I enjoy my simpler life, most of the time. That's what I've come to realize. I'm happy it's uncomplicated right now, but do question myself some days. You're not alone!

Anonymous said...

Leslie, I hear you. I am actually quite happy with my life, and if I have a goal, it is to simplify things even further, to have more time for watching the plants grow and the sun rise and set...etc. But this sort of goal is in such marked contrast to the lives around me that I sometimes wonder how I ended up with this mindset. Still, every time I sit down and reread a page or two out of Henry David's book, I know I'm on the right path.

Joy said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you too Laura Crum!

I like your goals. Mine are similar. I used to be very career oriented. I was an executive and made lots of money. Through a series of unfortunate (at the time) and life changing events, I am waaaaaay more low key these days.

I work 30 hours a week and sometimes I think it might kill me. I ride whenever I like, but I admit I'm dedicated to that only because my horse is healing from an injury and he has to move. Every day. So that's my motivator. If he was still in his top form, I can pretty sure I would putz around and get him out when my whims dictated.

My point being, I'm much happier now. I'm much more healthy mentally and spiritually. I love life and I don't feel the need to prove anything to anyone. It's real freedom (except for the lack of funding at times) and I love it.

I think you may have it right when you say "zen mama". I think you just might be. And more power to you zen mama!

verylargecolt said...

I've been struggling with my feelings that I don't get enough done in general and have lost my guts with horses for years, and I think I'm just finally letting it go. I'm getting other things done that are equally valuable. I do not need to retrain every mystery-historied flipped out rescue horse in the world.

I think most of us have trouble accepting that one phase of our life is over and another has begun, and things are just different. I still beat myself up over the fact that I used to have really cool high-paying jobs in L.A. Never mind that I was miserable and fat because I stress-ate all the time, but based upon the standards drilled into me by my mom, I was successful then and now I am not. I figure I'll get over it eventually, or Horse Reunions will take off and I'll be able to say, see, I can be successful without sitting in an office 7 days a week and spending my life on endless conference calls...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joy and Cathy, I enjoyed reading your insights on Thanksgiving morning. Its interesting to me that there are so many of us middle-aged women (OK, I think you, Cathy are at least 10 years younger than me so I hope I'm not insulting you) who are in some sense or other "re-riders" (I learned this term on your VLC blog) in the sense that we used to do more with horses than we do now. We all seem to be struggling with similar issues (the fear thing, the should I be doing more thing, the weight/fitness thing), and we all seem to have the underlying realization that letting go of the goal oriented way we spent our youth and embracing a freer, more intuitive path based on what we really want to do in the moment is the way to go. We are all finding we enjoy our horses more this way. And yet we struggle with the conflict between this mindset and the way we think we "ought" to be. For most of us the "ought" comes from the way we were raised, and the way we perceive that society views us. I have so enjoyed the dialogue on this subject that I've read on both the VLC blog and mugwump's blog.
Cathy, I really hope Horse Reunions works out for you and is a big success. It is a great concept and should be a huge gift to many people. And it just seems to me that having the most successful horse blog around ought to pay you something (!) I am still hoping that all this blog stuff (which I find very entertaining) will increase my book sales. I have no idea if its working, though.
Happy Thanksgiving! I've got to go feed my horses.

mugwump said...

"If you want to translate the world, you need to use your appetites....There's no creation without talent...but talent is cheap. Talent goes begging. Hunger is the piston of art." Stephen King (believe it or not)
I am chronically hungry. I worry about getting old and having no money. I worry about my daughter being able to go to college. I spend my life with an underlying fear that I am trivial, and sooner or later I will be found out.
I worry that I'm not good enough, always. I worry that my pursuit of making a living through my "talent" is selfish and destructive to my family. (No benefits, no savings, no retirement). I have to learn and progress in order to justify my choices.
Hunger will not let me relax. Ever.
I think VLC is a little like that.
Part of why I admire and like Laura so much is she had found the place where she can let go. It is extremely hard to get there. I am trying hard to learn from her.
Laura has been hungry, but she's been able to take the edge off. We're both fans of Thoreau after all. The difference is, I long for it, Laura has gone there.

Anonymous said...

That's very flattering, Janet, and I apreciate your saying it, but I kind of feel like an imposter if I even pretend for a moment that I've gotten somewhere special. I think we're all on the same path...and there's lots of us, as I learned from your blog and the VLC. The thing is, I admire you for being so much more energetically creative than I am at this point, so it seems like we're both admiring the other for that little piece we feel is missing in ourselves. The old "grass is always greener" syndrome. I admire both you and Cathy for being willing to still get on green horses--I'm way too chicken to do that any more. So, there you go, we all have strengths and weaknesses. And I, too, am grateful for our odd cyberfriendship and all I have learned from this world of "horse bloggers".

Jessica Burkhart (Jess Ashley) said...

Nice photos!