Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy National Cat Day!

Lucky for you I have a MILLION pictures of my cat.  His name is Sterling.  I initially met Sterling at one of Tucker's barns.

He and Tucker were really good friends.

Initially dubbed "The Breakup Kitty," I brought him home when I had my heart broken and needed something to cuddle. Over the course of our six years together, he has proven himself to be extremely good at being cuddly and comforting.

He's not like most cats, who wake you up by poking at you until you're too annoyed to keep sleeping. He will stay cuddled up next to you as long as you want to sleep in.  And when you do wake up, he starts purring, because he's just so happy you're awake and he's your cat and you're his human. 

Problem solving is not his greatest asset. Flopping for belly rubs is, however, his principle means of artistic expression. He is not very bright (he forgets who I am if I'm gone too long), but what he lacks in IQ points, he makes up for by being incredibly affectionate. 

Thankfully, things are starting to really look up in my world (more on that later), and I don't think I'm currently in need of a Breakup Kitty, per se.  I am however always going to need cuddles and fluffy belly rubs, and he's got loads to spare.

Everyone should have a cat like Sterling.  He is just the best.  Happy Cat Day! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

October Lesson with Amy

Last Wednesday I had my October lesson.  We had planned that this one would be a training ride, because I feel like at this point it would be helpful to have Amy sit on him.  I think she'll be able to feel for herself what holes in his education need fixing before we move into training during the off season and (hopefully) prepare for our move up to 2nd level.

But, since Hurricane Joaquin rescheduled my ECRDA championship to this coming weekend, we decided I should stay in the tack this month.  So, I told Amy what we've been working on, what has been going well, and what could use some help.

For the past week or so I have been warming him up yet another way (in case you don't follow along with Tucker's warm up routines quite as closely as I do, I had previously departed from the long and low warm up in favor of lots of walking and lateral work getting him into the bridle first).  Now I'm trying, after a few minutes of loosening up at the walk, picking up my reins and going really forward to start - like a not too pretty trot that feels to me like I'm running him off his feet but gets him actually taking both reins.  

Well, Amy loved it.  Although she said he looked a little more forward than ideal, it didn't actually look like he was being "run off his feet," and she told me to then just settle into my regular working trot without allowing the feeling I had on the reins to change.  We then had some truly lovely trot work, and moved up to our canter.  

The only adjustment she made to our canter (which I've been thrilled with lately) is to have his nose come up and out a couple of inches.  Just envisioning that slight change totally altered the balance of the canter.  Once we did that, she said "There!  That's the canter you need to have in your test."  Amy observed that Tucker prefers cantering over trotting, which isn't something I had thought about before, but seems pretty accurate.

We moved on to the zig-zag leg yield that appears in the 1-3 test, which I've been struggling with all season.  I demonstrated that we do lovely leg yields across the diagonal when the line isn't as steep, but when I try to make the line happen from the corner to X, I completely lose the alignment and his haunches end up trailing.  I also explained that I have a really hard time with the corner, because I have to bend right around the turn and then change the bend and begin my leg yield toward X in the space of 6 meters:

From the Equitests App.  If you don't have it, get it.

So she had me (for practice) work on starting my leg yield on the short side, so I'm leg yielding around the corner as I turn and then just continuing the leg yield toward X.  This smoothed out the turn considerably and then I just made that less and less obvious as we practiced it.

Once I made the correct line toward X, however, she saw what I meant about losing the alignment. And here is where the big game changer came in.  When I try to force the leg yield to happen on that steeper line, I try to drive him sideways with my left hip and left leg.  This ends up sending his shoulders diagonally right, so his shoulders move over faster than his haunches.  And then we lose the alignment, even when we start out the leg yield with his haunches right behind his shoulders.  

So instead of doing unhelpful twisty things, Amy had me step my weight hard into my right stirrup, keep both hips facing forward, keep him "in the box" (between both reins) and bump him over with my left leg.  Like magic, we executed a lovely zig-zag, repeatedly.  Amy explained that the horse wants to stay under your weight, so if you step into the stirrup you want them to go toward, they'll naturally move over to stay underneath you.  (Side note:  Why has no one explained this to me before?  This makes SO MUCH SENSE.)

After we solved the leg yield issue we moved on to his stretchy trot, which is the next movement in the test, and the other trot issue we've been working through.  I demonstrated the false transitions we've been working on, which Amy was very happy with.  We aren't nearly to the point yet where we'd get a good score on a stretchy trot, but the concept of reaching toward the contact is coming along.  The problem I have is that I lose his hind end when he stretches, and (especially at the walk) when he reaches down it fees like I'm sitting in a hole.  I think when he stretches down, he stops using his back and his hind end altogether.  Which probably stems from Tucker's lifelong understanding that stretching down in any gait means break time.

So she gave me exercises to work on.  First, I need to start working on asking him to "dig in" more at the trot, more collection, more drive from behind, being careful to compress his body without letting him drop his chin to his chest, so that I have a lot of horse I'm holding back in my hand, and then let him stretch out from there.  This is similar to the canter collection work we've been doing, so now we need to apply those same concepts at the trot.

Amy also wants us to incorporate more ground poles and cavaletti (which Tucker will be very happy about) at the trot, to get him to start lifting his legs and using his back more, which will both strengthen the back muscles he needs to do this work, and help me get the feeling I'm looking for when I ask him to "dig in" at the trot (more suspension/engagement, not more speed).

She gave me some ground work to do as well, asking him to step sideways around me in a circle (like a turn on the forehand, but in a little circle, to work on loosening up his lower back so I can get better cross-over behind.  We've done some of this before, it sometimes causes panic-flail moments but we're going to work on that too.

So, good progress, a couple of lightbulb moments, and some homework I'm looking forward to for the next month.  If we're being honest though... I think perhaps my favorite part of this lesson was when Amy came back into the barn while I was untacking and said "Do you drink red?" Cause that's my favorite sentence in the English language.  Cheers! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Matter of Perspective

I pretty much spent the weekend at the Bucks County Horse Park.  On Saturday, I went to watch my friend Allison compete her gorgeous horse at a USDF show there.  They put in two beautiful, pretty much perfect tests (at least the parts I could see, since I was her reader), scored over 70 in both and brought home two blue ribbons.  It was a windy and chilly, day, but other than that a great time hanging out with some friends from a previous barn and talking horses.  We've decided to do it again, over wine.  Because, wine.

On Sunday I went to the Spookarama at Bucks County with two of the girls from my barn and their magnificent beasts, Goose and Keira.  A Spookarama would be a hunter pace, with clues and games and obstacles along the way, in costume.  (Tucker does NOT approve of any of this, so my trailer and I were available to transport these two.)  As you can see they had a blast, the costumes were adorable, and their horses were perfect.

Again I've been promised wine as compensation for my (obviously) awesome photography skills.  I am starting to see a pattern, but I'm okay with it.

I finally made some time for Tucker on Sunday evening.  He was fresh, it was chilly and the sun was going down, and I was starting to feel like the cold I've been ignoring for a week was finally becoming something not to be ignored.  

I walked for a while at the start of the ride until he took some deep breaths and started walking flat-footed, but when I picked up my reins to start working, he was spooky and tense and rooting/leaning/yanking me around.  (Proving what I had said in jest earlier, that we don't need to go to the Spookarama because Tucker's entire life is a spookarama.)  All my usual tactics - lateral work, transitions, over-bending away from the spooky thing - were just not working.  In fact, they were making it worse.

I walked again, feeling totally frustrated and about to lose my cool on him.  I wasn't feeling well and he was being intentionally difficult.  

And then, of course, I laughed at myself, because horses don't know when you're not feeling well and are pretty much never intentionally difficult.  And Tucker especially does not have the kind of mentality where he'd intentionally misbehave.  He was being evasive, maybe, but making it personal is just ridiculous.  

So I decided to change my approach.  I decided to try to figure out what we could do right, instead of getting annoyed at everything that was going wrong.  I started working on his stretchy walk, picking up my reins and letting them out again, working on smoothing this process out, without letting him root the reins, and maintaining contact with his mouth through the stretch, by sending him into my right rein even when he's reaching down.

Then I wanted him to lift his back while stretching down, so we worked on false halts and actual halts, and I'm pleased to say this went really well.  Once he figured out the game he would halt and stay in a longer, lower frame, and then walk on, without bouncing around in the contact or coming way above the bridle.  I got a little more sophisticated and practiced asking for the halt using only my core muscles (something I read in an article a while ago).  It actually worked, and he stopped spooking, got a little more relaxed and started listening to me.

We moved on to our stretchy trot, practicing the transitions a bunch of times until he maintained the long lower frame through the transition, which was a challenge, but we got there.  Once I had him stretching down into the contact, which took a while because he was very unsteady in the bridle to start, I worked on slowing the trot down with my posting, and then we did our numbers game (2 = almost walking, 8 = very forward) and worked on transitions within the stretchy trot.  To my surprise he did a great job with this exercise, and we ended with a connected, long and low, slow trot. 

We quit on that really positive note for the day, and I was so, so glad I stopped myself from getting annoyed with him and got some good work from him, even if it was just this simple exercise.  Maybe his back was just tight with the cold weather, so the stretch work felt better to him?  Maybe focusing on something different than our usual routine got his brain working more?  Whatever the reason, we both ended the ride feeling so much better than we would have if we continued down the path we were headed at the beginning.  

So, I was getting frustrated because things weren't going well, and then I changed my approach, and things started going much better.  There's definitely a life lesson in there:  Sometimes the difference between success and failure is a matter of perspective.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Thank You Note

To each of you - a big, heartfelt, sincere thank you for your comments on my last post.  To my regulars - in some cases, we have been commenting on each others' blogs for years now, and I no longer refer to any of you as "a girl who writes one of the blogs I follow," now I just say "my friend" when something you wrote comes up in conversation (which happens more often than you'd think, since you all write about horses, and I'm usually talking about horses).  Although I've never even met some of you in person, I really value the friendships we've made.  And to my anonymous commenters, thank you for reaching out and taking the time to comment when you ordinarily would not. It makes me feel good to know that my post connected with you, and it reminds me that there are hundreds of you (you show up in my stats!) who don't comment but read the blog every week, and I'm grateful for your silent support too.

In no small part due to your kind and thoughtful advice (each of which I read and thought about very carefully), I was in a better frame of mind yesterday when I met up with Ethan for dinner, and we had a genuinely fun time.  We talked, we laughed, we listened to each other... if it had been a first date I would have been calling my friends to gush about him. We still have a ways to go and many things to figure out, of course.  But it was a positive step.

Now onto something horse-related.  I promised a more in depth recap of how my test went.  We had two judges, one a C and one at E (my first time riding with more than one judge). C judge commented that our opening halt was a little early, and E judge commented that we walked into it (true, he anticipated the halt).

My impressions were that the trot lengthenings were a little conservative, we showed a difference but we usually do better, he felt like he got into the indoor and slowed everything down to get a good look around.  But both judges gave both of them a 7, so they must have looked better than they felt.  Both judges commented that I need more bend in the half circle when I go from the rail to the centerline for the leg yields, so I will work on that for next time.  The leg yields themselves were good, they got 7's except for the "C" judge who said the leg yield left was losing impulsion, which makes sense.  I often find I have to ride really hard to complete that movement and get him to keep moving over all the way to the rail and not lose his alignment.

The only part of the test that I was not totally happy with was the free walk, Tucker kind of yanked the reins out of my hands and while I got him to drop his head, he didn't stretch down and out.  And then he kind of threw his head in the air for a step when I picked my reins back up.  So that scored a 6.0/5.5.

The left lead canter transition got a 6 from both, and left 15m circle got a 7 and a 6.5.  They said he was a little stiff through the transition, which was probably true although I don't specifically remember.  Good energy and accurate balance for the canter circle.  The left lead canter lengthening got a 7 and a 6.5.  I actually loved that lengthening because I felt like he stayed really round but the C judge said he was on his forehand.  Still that seems like an improvement over him getting rigid and above the bridle.

The canter/trot/canter transitions across the diagonal got a 7.5 from the judge at E and a 6.5 from the judge at C.  I'm going to say that the judge at E had a better vantage point because I thought this part was really smooth and went better than it ever has before.  The remainder of my test (15m circle right, lengthening right lead, trot transition, stretchy circle, centerline, halt) got 7's from the judge at C.  I would agree with that, it all felt really smooth and consistent even if none of it was world record breaking.

The judge at E went with a 6.5 for a couple of those and a 6.0 on the stretchy circle (which was directly in front of her).  She says "Reins too loose, hands too far apart, horse needs to stretch into contact."  I agree with all of this, because we are still working on it.  He initially went to stretch, I let my reins out, and then I was losing him so I spread my hands to maintain contact.  Still, for us, I think the stretchy circle went fairly well.

As for the collective comments on the back, while they aren't all glowing, I kind of love them.  The judge at E said "Beautiful ride! But should not be in half seat. Help horse off forehand by sitting back more."  Yes Judge, I will be working on that for the remainder of my riding career.  The judge at C said "Elegant horse and rider combo - develop more elastic connection/over the back for extra points. Tactful corrections."

Beautiful, elegant, and tactful.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  We were really trying!  Sigh.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Two Wasted Years?

Today would have been my two year anniversary.  If, you know, I hadn't decided to blow up my life. Two years from this day... don't I look happy?

I was happy then.  I was on what would be referred to that day and for every day in the future as "the best first date in the history of first dates."  It is so easy to fall in love, but much, much harder to stay in love.  Falling in love is something that just happens (if you let it).  Staying in love takes work, and effort, and is it even plausible that two people will consciously decide to want the same thing over and over and over?  It would be like two people going to a restaurant and both genuinely wanting to order identical meals every time.  Sure sometimes you both want the risotto special, but every time? The odds aren't good.

I don't really know what I want.  Well, I guess that's not true.  What I really want is to go back to how things were in the beginning, before he started making all these negative assumptions about me, before he started viewing spending time with me as a chore, before he saw me a the girl that gets upset about everything, and before he started throwing around accusations that I'm depressed and I have anger management issues instead of trying to treat me in a way that doesn't make me feel sad or angry.  

When we first started dating, I felt like all the things people had been telling me about love were actually true.  When a guy wants to be with you, he makes time for you.  You don't have to wait around for him to call.  You don't have to wonder when you're seeing him again.  You know where you stand right from the start.  He makes you feel like a priority.  Last week, he cancelled plans on me, twice.  And the second time, he didn't even tell me he was cancelling until the moment said plans were actually about to happen.

So I'm not sure if it's possible to go back to that place, and what the heck am I fighting for?  Trying to convince someone that they should care more about you is exhausting, and demoralizing.  And probably not even realistic.  There is a voice in my head telling me to just walk away, because this is no longer a person who cares about me, and I deserve better, even if that means being alone.  That voice is pretty pissed about the fact that he went mountain biking rather than come to Regionals, and all the resentful things he's been saying about how much time I spend with my horse.  That voice says that Tucker and I will be just fine on our own, like we've always been, thank you very much.

But then I think of all the nice things he's said to me in the past couple of weeks, about how I'm too important to him for him to just give up, and he'll never find another girl with as many good qualities as I have, and I'm sweet, and caring, and nurturing, and smart, and he loves that I love horses.  And then I think it would be foolish of me to throw away what we've had together just because last week kind of sucked. There is a voice telling me to be a grown up, and work through it, and stay positive, and be solution-oriented.

Part of me wishes very much that we had stayed together and could be celebrating two years together today.  But honestly, I know it was right for me to leave, because things weren't going well, they were about to get worse, and we needed something big in order to prompt us both to take a hard look at how we were behaving.  But now I don't know what the right move is.  

I have this recurring dream where I'm driving and suddenly the road is gone, and my truck goes straight out over a cliff into nothingness.  That's what life feels like right now, like the path I was on fell out from underneath me, and now I don't know what's ahead.  I know that's just being dramatic, and I still have a job, and a family, and friends, and a fantastic horse, and life will go on and I'll figure out a permanent place to live.  But where and with whom is a big, scary, intimidating question mark.

Monday, October 12, 2015

2015 BLM Championships - First Level

So, apparently Region 1 (the region in which we dressage) is special, and has kind of an extra Regional Championships, known as the Colonel Bengt Ljungquist Memorial ("BLM") Championships.  All I knew going into this is that it was at the NJ Horse Park, I needed qualifying scores from Test 2, and I could ship in for the day to compete.

So, once I had my qualifying score, I went online and figured out how to send in my application, and then read the prize list three times to figure out what class I needed to sign up for, then panicked when I saw everyone in my championship class was signed up for other classes, then realized that was because most of these people were shipping in from out of state and were making a whole weekend of it.

Apparently when our haynet runs out we pass the time
by taking our halter off.
Before Saturday I knew there were 42 entries in my class, and that they were combining Open (professionals), Adult Amateurs, and Young Riders (ages 16-21).  I promptly put the thought out of my head that I was competing against trainers, and told myself that with all those entries, even a goal of getting in the ribbons was lofty.  So I figured the goal was to go in and ride a good test.  And try to have fun.

"I was just scratching an itch and it fell off.
I'm just as shocked as you to be honest."
So the day was completely beautiful - sunny, cool, and bright.  I got to the barn early, cleaned my tack, hitched and packed the trailer, and braided Tucker.  I opted not to bathe him because it was a little chilly in the morning, he's getting fuzzy, and I didn't want him all wet and tight and cold for the drive down.  So I ran a damp hot towel over him, cleaned up his white socks with alcohol, and trimmed his whiskers.  I recommend the damp towel trick, worked like a charm.

I headed out solo, patting myself on the back for being the kind of badass DQ that braids her own horse, trucks in by herself, and doesn't need a groom.  Except, as I've mentioned, my friends are amazing, so when I was walking to the office to get my number, one of my best friends Michelle was walking toward me.  She is simply the best.

Tucker and I got ready with Michelle's help. He was looking extra adorable, and I wore the new Goode Rider coat I got for a steal at Riding Warehouse so I was looking pretty spiffy too, if I do say so myself.  Goal of having fun was already going well.  

He warmed up great, pretty quiet and relaxed at first but I was able to get him going forward by the time we were ready to go in.  Our classes were in the indoor, which Tucker hadn't been told (he was quite taken off guard), but I reminded him that we've shown in that indoor before, so once we got in there and cantered around and his eyes adjusted to the change in light, he was fine.

So fancy.
The test went very well. I'll do another post tomorrow with details, but overall I was very happy with it. He listened, he responded, and I kept thinking and riding the whole time.  For us and where we are at right now, it was a solid effort.  Goal of putting in a good test achieved. I didn't think it was a 70, but I also knew there weren't any major mistakes, so there was a voice in my head saying... maybe?

I love this photo.
Then I looked and saw the highest score in the class was just over a 69, and figured we might not be too far off that.  Well, with the combined score from two judges, we had a 65.86.  The scores were so close, however, that put us in 11th.  Not going to lie, although the words coming out of my mouth were "that's still great," my heart sank a little at the realization that this put me just out of the ribbons.  I told myself there's no difference between 10th and 11th place, but there is no denying that there is a big difference between getting to be part of a victory gallop and going home with a big ass ribbon, and going home empty handed.

We had some lunch, window shopped, and I figured I'd swing by the office to get my test.  Which is where Rose, the best show secretary on the face of planet earth, told me not to go home, because if someone didn't want to ride for their ribbon, I would be moved up to 10th. (Dressage Rules are crazy.)  Kill an hour at a show for a chance to do a lap of fame?  You're damn right I will.

We finished lunch and then looked again at the show office window.  I had to double check at least eight times, but my name had indeed been moved to 10th.  Was there a grown woman jumping up and down in tall boots at that moment?  There may have been.  I'm telling you, the Universe was like, "Nope, Marissa needs this one.  Let's just let her have that big ribbon today."  I did another happy dance in my seat when they re-announced the placings and I heard Tucker's name over the loud speaker.

When we headed down to the awards, I was literally surrounded with the fanciest group of dressage horses I've ever been that close to.  They were like giant life-sized Breyer models.  Some of the horses in my class posed for their award photo with the owners standing beside them.  These horses have owners, you guys.

That's us on the far left!
Now, I'm not knocking anyone who has a fancy pants imported animal and keeps said animal in full training, because there is certainly a lot to be proud of when you have earned the kind of financial stability it would take to make that whole situation happen, but I'm not going to lie...  I was pretty proud to be down there sitting on my home bred who I've raised from a baby and pretty much trained myself.  I'm going to just go ahead and toot my own horn on that one.  It was a damn good feeling.  I told that horse I loved him about twenty times.  I had a big old lump in my throat.

I let him put his head in the air for this photo like the proud giraffe that he is.
Tucker loves victory gallops.  Other horses were prancing and stomping and chewing their bits, and then there's my guy, standing on a long rein and taking it all in.  One of the other horses reared when we started the canter and I swear Tucker looked at her like, "oh no it's okay don't be scared this is gonna be fun!"  (I may be imagining this, don't care though.)  

Still poses like a hunter.
I just love this horse.  He makes me so happy.  He is not just talented, but also just such a good boy. He tries so hard, and he's always so well behaved (I mean as long as there are no imaginary mountain lions lurking in the distance).  It just melts my heart and makes me feel like the luckiest person on earth to be the one that gets to ride him and take care of him and call him mine.

At the end of the day I went back in to the show office to thank Rose for telling me to stay, and she said "You're Quigley right?  Tenth place!!"  And held up her hand for a high five.  I beamed.

Life has been really hard lately, I totally needed this.

Friday, October 9, 2015

My Favorite Moment

I have a favorite moment with Tucker, it happens just about every time I see him.

When I ride after work, I've usually just come from at least 9 or so hours of almost non-stop tension, mixed with a little anxiety, sometimes interrupted with some boredom, peppered with the occasional full-blown panic attack.  I am almost never in a good mood when I leave the office.  

And then I sit in traffic.  So, you can imagine that does wonders for the psyche.  (New Jersey drivers have a special kind of road rage.)

I get to the barn, it smells like horses and fresh air.  There are usually cars in the driveway of people I like.  Sometimes there is wine waiting in the fridge.  I change out of work clothes into breeches and start feeling a bit better.

And then I take a walk out to catch my horse, and I start feeling a little buzz of anticipation, knowing in moments I will see his sweet face.  

I get to his field and grab his halter from the hook, the worn leather and the weight of it feels familiar as I toss it onto my shoulder.  The rattle of the chain breaks the silence as I go through the gate.  It's even better this time of year because it's completely dark when I get there.  The air is cool, it's completely quiet except for crickets chirping and leaves rustling.

I wander farther into his field until I spot two little hind white socks emerging from the darkness. Sometimes he sees me coming and starts walking toward me, sometimes he stands facing me, head in the air, waiting for me to approach, and sometimes he keeps eating with one ear pointed in my direction. 

Then I get to him, and I reach my hand out.  The tips of my fingers touch his velvety nose and then he lowers his head and gently pushes forward against my palm, so my hand slides all the way up over the smooth hair of his face and into his soft forelock.  We do this every time we greet each other.  It's become as familiar a gesture as between any other people.  I stand for a minute and stroke over his eyes and scratch behind his ears before holding his halter under his nose for him to slip his head into it.

And for that one quiet moment, everything is right with the world.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I've Got a Girl Crush...

... on this mare.  These photos are gorgeous but honestly they don't even do her justice.  In person she is positively stunning.

Seriously, I'm in love.

I wasn't sure if I would make it to Dressage at Devon this year, because there was this whole hurricane thing, but I really wanted to see Amy ride and I guess the Universe decided to just take it easy on me for once, so the storm blew out to sea and although it was gray and a little windy, it turned out to be a nice afternoon.

Despite the chill and wind, which was making a lot of the horses more tense than usual, Amy put in a really great test.  And this mare, you guys.  I was keeping a close eye on the warm-up so I wouldn't miss her, but there was no chance of that.  This girl stands out in a crowd.  

I took a video of the test, which I uploaded and deleted from my phone... and then YouTube ate it.  I really wanted you all to see what a lovely rider Amy is (she sits so still), but for now you'll have to settle for these screen shots.  

Such eye candy!  I have a major case of grabby hands for this mare.

Also, given that I have been a bit morose about my love life on the blog as of late, it's worth mentioning that Ethan came to Devon with me and we had a great day together, so things are looking up. Which just proves what I've been saying for years, that Devon is a magical place.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Life Lessons I've Learned from Horses

1.  No matter what the problem is, keep going forward.

2.  It's important to have a Plan A and a Plan B, and sometimes a Plan C.  And equally important to accept that someone could lose a shoe at the last second and Plans A through C will go out the window.

3.  When you are struggling with something, taking a day off to do something more fun and enjoyable can be more productive than continuing to struggle through it.

4.  When you aren't sure what to do, treat the issue conservatively and give it a few days.

5.  Sometimes "bravery" just means fighting the instinct to run like hell.

6.  It is possible to do something the wrong way for a long time, without making it impossible to do it the right way in the future.

7.  Safety in numbers is a real thing. The right friends can get you through just about anything.

8.  Getting frustrated or angry will not get you what you want.  Being clear about what you want will eventually lead to the right results.

9.  Success is not linear, and a set-back or a mistake does not equal failure.  (I've said this before, but it bears repeating. I should probably have this written down in several places.)

10.  A sense of humor always helps.