Yesterday, I was busy. Busy with work, busy stacking wood and busy stressing about the reduction in force occurring this week. Tuesday, I learned that a senior executive (who was also a 25 year employee and a colleague I respected) was eliminated. Despite being assured that I have nothing to worry about, it came as a shock and put me off balance for the rest of the day.
Our Chief Operating Officer, who has also been my mentor for the past 15 years, hosted her annual Christmas breakfast that morning. She is battling round two of cancer. Breast cancer showed up five years ago and we spent many of our meetings during that time talking about coping with chemo. She was cancer free for five years, then it came back but in a different place and in a more difficult place to treat. The chemo this time is really taking a toll. She talked at breakfast about how much we all mean to her, the importance of doing the things on your bucket list, and that she loved us all. Now this woman is not a gushy kind of person. She is strong, she is smart and she does not show emotion at work. She said the "L" word and eyes all around the room immediately got wet. Mine included.
Back at my office, we celebrated the retirement of my employee who is taking the voluntary separation package. She opened her gifts, cried, hugged us, thanked us and then we all went to lunch. Before she left at the end of the day, she came into my office and thanked me for being her "best" boss and for the atmosphere of calm that permeates our department. Her words meant the world to me.
Wednesday morning, I started playing telephone tag with the vice president of human resources and my boss, the Chief Financial Officer. The involuntary reduction will occur on Friday. I have an employee that I am required to eliminate. Brett and I will be on an airplane, then in a rental car, and finally a ferry on Friday in another State. The trip is my Christmas present from Brett and he booked everything months ago. Nonrefundable airfare, etc. I wanted to meet with the employee on Monday when I am back. I feel that I should be the one to have conversation. But, I won't be -- there are some other circumstances that far outweigh my personal preference on how this is handled -- and with which I agree.
Phone calls finished; I went to the barn and saddled up Jackson. My plan was to go around the block and then do some trot work in the arena.
Instead, we went most of the way around the block and then Jackson turned left instead of right at the top of the long, uphill grade. Turning left means going up a very steep road. Turning right means downhill and home. I asked Jackson if he was sure he'd rather go up that steep hill than go downhill and home. He was sure. We trucked all the way to the top, with him looking at all the houses and driveways with interest. Me too. I haven't been up that road in forever.
We eventually made it back home, did about five minutes of trot work and then called it a day. He was tired from the hill work and I was feeling relaxed -- finally.
I used to have a training schedule that I adhered to come hell or high water. Jackson (or maybe my age) has changed all of that. If it is below 40F with a stiff wind, I don't ride. If it is 29F before I leave for work, I skip riding that morning too. Sometimes we work hard in the arena but sometimes we just go for a chill ride around the community. I don't clip him in the winter anymore so he doesn't have to deal with a blanket. I just make sure I don't ride so hard that he sweats a lot. I want him sound. I want him correct. I want him to move in harmony with me. But I don't care if we never get past 1st level. I don't care if we don't show. Maybe someday he'll be able to handle the stress of a show. If so, that's great. If not, I'm okay with that too.
I want training rides and I want therapeutic rides. I want this journey with this horse, my Jackson.