This is my new blog to continue my journey with my Dales Ponies. It will also be the story of my building a new life for myself, alone now, except for my friends, horses and dogs, since my partner died in March 2009. We had lived and worked together, mostly twenty four hours a day, for nearly 28 years and I have never lived alone before. It is a tribute to my wonderful friends that I am still here, still sane(ish) and ready to re-invent myself. I love them all more than words can ever say and can never thank them enough for all they have done and are still doing. It is also a tribute to Alexandra Kurland and 'The Click That Teaches' that I know how to save myself now. To new beginnings.......

Monday, 29 June 2009

A Turning Point?

After our joke fest on Thursday I tried to maintain the same spirit on Friday but by mid afternoon on a day spent alone and in too much thought, depression caught up with me. I had sent a lighthearted text to my main inspiration earlier but suddenly I was sitting in the sun on the garden wall outside the back door with tears streaming down my face and texting him a question about fear of the future. His answer was so profound, wise, beautiful and touching that it took my breath away. I stopped crying in an instant and went inside to write it down, to refer to whenever I need to.

I asked him how, although 15 years younger than me, he has so much wisdom that he makes me feel like a child.

I have read his message several times everyday since and the fear and knots in my stomach that have been my constant companions whenever I'm alone since David died, however much I've tried to ignore or deny them, have finally gone, to be replaced by optimism and calm.

I realised today that I have instinctively avoiding asking very much of Bella and, especially, Jack because I didn't want them to have to cope with my emotional turmoil. Grace is older and wise in her own right and she rose to the challenge of looking after both of us. Now the fear has receded I can go back to working with Bella and Jack again at last. I can also concentrate on following my dreams for the farm.

Deep breaths, go with the flow, phew.........

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Living for Two.

After a few really horrible days, to do with scattering ashes and too much time alone without anyone to distract me, I have had a really wonderful day. My driving lesson this morning was brilliant and suddenly I love driving! My instructor is good, easy company and goes out of his way to make me feel successful, and I have found that if I put my foot down on the straight he lets me get away with slowing approaching bends, which keeps me a lot more relaxed and feeling in control. I really do believe that I am going to be a very good, safe driver, despite the late start, and I can't wait to get my Land Rover out on the road. I'm really excited about that!!!!

When I came home to an empty house and farm I was far more cheerful than usual and then began a four hour joking texting session with my M.I. which made every part of me ache from sustained and continued laughter and apparently did nothing for his lines, as he was baling haylage at the same time.

I have had the increasing sense lately that I am now living for David as well as for myself. I feel that I have taken on part of his personality and, as he could usually be relied upon to wrestle triumph from disaster, that I am going to be able to do this and do it well. I'm still worried about all the responsibility I now have but I think I will be able to cope, especially with all the help I'm getting - practical and with morale and confidence.

I said today that I liked someone because he could laugh at himself and it made me realise that I wasn't very good at that before this all happened, but I've had to learn to as I was so hopeless and useless at most things, and I like myself much better for that ability. Dignity and self control are great for dealing with and influencing people in authority but I believe now that it's only by coming clean and admitting vulnerability and how much people's help and affection means to me that I've been able to forge the kind of friendships that just have to last a lifetime as we've all been through so much together. For every ounce of vulnerability and openness I've admitted to I've been shown two pounds back, as friends have fallen over themselves to empathise, confide and connect. Maybe I am just very lucky and I'm surrounded by extraordinary people....

So, I am now living for David and for myself, which means that I need not be lonely or unhappy when left alone with only the memory of his company, and need not be too worried about making and keeping friends, or looking after myself, our house, our animals and our farm. I still find it impossible and too frightening to think of any of it as mine but ours is comforting and manageable, and I'm sure he's there, just out of sight, urging me on, especially on a day filled to the brim with laughter like today. Why would he want to be anywhere else?!!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Driving and Planning.

I put my case for learning in the Land Rover to my main inspiration and was told that there is no way I could take my test in it as I have to prove that I can drive at the national speed limit. The Land Rover does a maximum of 40mph downhill with a following wind. I was told that my best option would be to have lessons several times a week until the car felt more familiar. I came up with increasingly pathetic and desperate reasons why I needed to learn in the Land Rover ending up with the fact that I have to have a bath before each lesson in the Mini Cooper, so I don't leave it smelling of horse. My main inspiration's reply to this was "Oh, no! That could be two baths a week then!" Then he suggested I do as his brother does (who was there listening) and cover the smell up with perfume instead! I gave up and admitted defeat gracefully and in fits of laughter.

I had a two hour lesson on Thursday followed by the same on Friday, by which time I was relaxed and doing 62mph on one A road, and spent a lot of the time having a giggle with my instructor. I have another on Monday and am actually almost looking forward to it! I need to motivate myself to get on with the theory part now.

I also realised in the last few days that, although I am supposed to be selling the four remaining cows with calves at foot, I really, really don't want to part with the two cows who calved after David died. He was desperate to see the calves, as those two cows were his favourites. They are lovely, quiet, friendly cows in their prime (and home bred) and they have exceptional calves. I also get on so well with livestock farmers, who are all big softies where animals are concerned (well, the good ones are anyway. You have to be observant, empathetic and willing to put yourself out and do whatever it takes, to look after livestock really well, which is probably why they've made such a fantastic job of looking after me too!) and I'd like to still be a proper livestock farmer myself too. Having a few retired pet sheep doesn't really cut it!

Doing manoeuvres when I'm driving is my 'thing' - anything that involves going slowly and backwards is my area of expertise and I love it - so if I learn to drive a loader tractor before the winter I should be able to manage to do a few cattle and sell the calves as stores next spring. If it proves a financial disaster I'll have to think again before the following winter but I'm going to give it a go. I just need to find a nice, quiet Aberdeen Angus bull to borrow for a few weeks now, to get the cows back in calf.

I also think I can see a way to get the yard to provide me with more income and company, plus a supply of new people and horses to meet. I look at my ponies in their stables and really envy them, having each other for company all of the time. I have become a real herd animal and really, really dislike living alone. If my plans work then I might be able to use the farm to provide me with everything that I need to be happy and fulfilled. If they don't then at least when I can drive I will have more options. At the moment, though I'm cheerful and happy for much of the time, I am still spending a lot more time alone than I'd like to ideally. I'm sure I'd get used to it but as most of my friends are farmers it'll get worse before it gets better, with harvest fast approaching, and if it wasn't for frequent jokey text messages with my main inspiration whenever I'm feeling lonely and a bit down, I'd be doing a lot less well than I am. I don't want to be any more of a pain in the **** to him than I already am, and preferably less of one!!!

A very dear and wise friend of mine emailed me the following words which I hope she won't mind me sharing with you because I think they are beautiful and absolutely true:

"I do believe that love is the glue that keeps the world from falling apart, likewise laughter, kindness and friendship. They are like golden threads that come through."

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Mat Work for Horses and Learning to Drive.

Learning to drive is giving me yet another insight in what it must be like to be a horse, on all sorts of different levels. I feel that I really shouldn't be trying to do it at this moment in time but I must, especially now I've begun, for reasons of self esteem as well as practicality.

David was a big person, in every sense of the word, and it was easy for me to hide behind him with everything except horses and sheep, which I knew more about than he did. To start with, after he died, everything was unreal and strange so getting into the driving seat of a Mini Cooper with someone I didn't know, when I'd spent 28 years being a passenger in a Land Rover, a Discovery or a Bedford horsebox with someone I did, was no stranger than being here without David, which I hardly ever had been before for more than a few hours.

Now I have the beginnings of some normality and it all centres around being here, alone or with friends. If I go out as a passenger in a Land Rover, any Land Rover, with someone I know I feel fine. If I go out as a passenger in the van of my oldest friend I feel fine. If I go out as a passenger with someone I know in a car the world starts to rock a little if I get too far away from home, as though my grip on reality starts to slip. When I go out driving the Mini Cooper with someone I didn't know at all until recently I'm totally lost. I don't feel at home in the car, I don't know what I'm doing, I don't recognise the roads from my new vantage point, I don't know my instructor very well, and I know there will be no David at home to talk to about it when I get back. The world's gone mad and turned upside down and there's nothing familiar to hang onto or draw comfort from. I'm told to relax and breathe but there is no way I can and it's going to take forever before any of this feels familiar enough to cope with.

I get back in the Land Rover here and I just instantly feel reassured and comforted. There are hours and hours of stored up good feelings associated with it and it is totally familiar and home. I don't know yet whether I can make my instructor see things my way but I can see no alternative for me than to have the rest of my lessons and take my test in it. It may be harder to drive mechanically speaking but it's the only vehicle I'll ever want to drive anyway and I understand it. It's a big part of the past and I need it to help me to be able to learn.

It suddenly occurred to me how similar this is to mat work with horses - clicking and treating horses for standing on a mat with a rapid rate of reinforcement so the mat becomes associated with loads of good feelings and good things, and then, if taken away from home with the horse, becomes a place of comfort and reassurance - something solid and substantial that can be relied upon for security - a portable piece of home when everything else is strange and unfamiliar. That's what sitting in the Land Rover is like for me.

I'm not looking forward to telling my instructor because I'm not sure he'll go along with it and, even if he does, I know he won't like it. He's been so sweet to me and gone out of his way to try and boost my confidence and find ways to help me learn, and I hate to feel that I'm making a fuss or being a drama queen. Most other people manage perfectly adequately in a strange car so I feel that I should be able to too, and should just shut up and get on with it, but if I were a horse, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't do that to me, and I'm trying to be kind to myself as well. I love my old Land Rover - David's old Land Rover - and I think it may well be the one he learnt in and passed his test in too.

I need my mat at this moment in time. One day the world will probably stop rocking and seem like a normal, ordinary, comfortable place to be again but that moment's not now.

Friday, 12 June 2009

My main inspiration has been worrying me. He often has an air of melancholy about him which tears at my heartstrings and I suddenly realised that I didn't know him well enough before all this happened to know if it's just the way he is or whether it's what being around all this has done to him. It must have been very hard and taken an awful lot of courage and determination, to keep on and on coming back here and facing it all, especially when there was no good reason why he should have to. I'm not at all sure I could have done it, although I like to think I would now.

I know if I asked him he would say he's just a grumpy old b******* and he's always like that (I can hear him saying it!) but I think the truth is that being able to empathise so strongly with people carries it's own toll and I know he's anything but grumpy! We do all laugh a lot together and I know I can usually make him laugh, if only in despair at my incompetence with all things mechanical, so that's yet another reason to be and to stay cheerful.

I have come to the conclusion that, in the absence of war or famine, good humoured, affectionate, genuine, heartfelt laughter is the answer to just about everything, and the ability to generate it is a very valuable gift. Grace had me almost whooping with joy yesterday while riding her, and my friends often have me laughing to the point of tears.

David and I always spent a lot of time laughing and I still do, thanks to my extraordinary friends and to my beautiful, talented ponies. I don't think I need much else.

Grace and Aspirations to be a Devil's Horseman.

I think I have now begun a second childhood. Ever since I watched the Devil's Horsemen again at Herts Show in May I have had this yearning to be one of them. Earlier this week I even bought the boots that I saw Camilla Naprous wearing when she was walking around the showground, so I could feel like one of them!

I rode Grace in the school tonight and continued with this theme. We practised some halt to canters and canter to halts, all on a slack rein, and she was awesome and loved every moment of it, sitting onto her hind quarters and coming right up in front. I'm going to see what she thinks about a lance next, so I can try some mock jousting, and perhaps some Garrocha. I don't think I'll be trying hanging upside down from the saddle and picking things up off the ground at a flat out gallop just yet though!

Grace has been a revelation to me lately. Having not owned her for very long or as a youngster I never felt that I had quite the same bond with her that I do with Jack and Bella before, which is maybe why I've found riding her easier than I have them since March, because it is less emotional for me and I've been on internal emotional overload so much of the time.

Grace has tried her heart out, whether it's being brave in heavy traffic, accompanying a nervous horse and rider and giving them a lead, setting an impeccable example of how a sensible, confident horse should behave, including letting me lead them from her when necessary, or trying her hardest to do what I'm asking from the tiniest possible cue and in self carriage, which was never her forte, she's been just terrific and the bond between us has strengthened immeasurably. I am so grateful to her and I think she knows it, from her enthusiasm and pride in her work.

She is a little treasure and treasure her I most certainly do.

My New Stables.

My ponies in their new stables, thanks to the hard work of my lovely friends.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Another Lovely Day.

The first thing that made me happy today was to see that Lornz has found my blog, and to see a picture of her and her Dave. I met Lornz on my brief visit to Merry Widow and she said exactly what I needed to hear - that I wasn't mad and wasn't trying to do the impossible - thank you so much Lornz and I hope you are managing to laugh a lot too! If you feel able to stay in touch through posting in the 'comments' at the bottom of the posts, that would be just fantastic and I would love to hear how you are doing!

The next was that I confided how bad things had been to two more friends and received the sort of confidences back that will form a bond between us always. I am finding it awe-inspiring, how opening up to people, in a calm and rational way, can form bonds of deep empathy and understanding. So many people have had to deal with a huge tragedy in their lives that nearly overwhelmed them and I can now recognise the scars it leaves in their eyes. It makes me realise how lucky I've been that I had escaped until now.

One of my friends came to visit with his six year old son today. I have never had much to do with children before but was already very grateful to him for the time he spent with me last Sunday, when I was at rock bottom. We spent ages together working out how to cheat infallibly at 'Pop Up Pirate' and were jubilant at our success and having a great time until the grown-ups came along and told us off!

Today we were drinking tea in the kitchen and talking about this and that when we mentioned how confusing it was when you knew several people with the same name. I said that we used to have three Davids here, David the farrier, David the livery, and I hesitated. The six year old looked me in the eye and said quietly "And your David". Those words, and the way they were said, left a warm glow that has stayed with me all day.

For me life is still good and living it happily is simply a matter of smiling at every possible opportunity and laughing often, and there are some really lovely, kind, generous, understanding people out there.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Understanding Fear.

There have been two distinct positives of this experience as far as my horses are concerned.

The first is that I am a better, more relaxed rider than I have been for some years, because I'm not so worried about my own safety now. I know that I should be because the farm depends on me alone now, but I'm just not. This isn't as dodgy as it sounds because I'm very worried about my horses safety and very concerned about their confidence and happiness, but I can now relax, go with the flow and react only to what's actually happening beneath me, rather than worrying about what might happen, as I did sometimes before.

I also have more empathy with horses because I have become intimately acquainted with fear. I know what it's like to live with constant, often non specific and irrational, all consuming fear.

It began when I got a phone call in the middle of the night when David nearly died four days before he did die. I knew it was going to be bad as soon as I heard the phone ring and could only manage a small, hoarse voice to answer it with.

After he had died the fear stayed with me and my shame and disappointment because of it knew no bounds. The worst had happened so the fear could only be for myself and became so great that the knot of it in my stomach prevented me from eating almost entirely for the first week and forcing food down stayed very difficult until very recently. That has now become another positive as I have lost 22 pounds and am now thin and really fit for the first time in my life, which cheers me up immensely.

Thanks to the guide on the Merry Widow website I now understand that fear comes with the territory of what I've been through, along with losing my identity and having to find out who I am now.

Horses, who survive by being nervous anyway, must often live with this same sort of intense fear, especially in times of change or in new situations when they have little or no control over what happens to them. I will never again blame a horse for being afraid of something, familiar or unfamiliar, even when it was confident before, because I've been there myself.

This was a very bad time for me to try and learn to do something completely new and challenging like learning to drive, and after the first lesson I came home almost paralysed with fear and disappointment in myself because of it, but no doubt that was a useful lesson too. If my instructor and my friends had not been sympathetic and encouraging I would not have been able to continue. As it is my confidence has grown in leaps and bounds, along with my self esteem.

I also found with my driving lessons that I remembered and dwelt on every last thing I did wrong and instantly forgot anything I did right. I thought when I was riding Grace the other day that I have done the same many times when riding - remembered each and every time the horse was fearful of something I, in my arrogance, thought unreasonable, and forgot or didn't even notice all the times the horse made an effort to be brave and do his best. I suppose this is almost inevitable if a fearful reaction on the part of the horse leads to a fall - it's hard not to dwell on that when you have the bruises to remind you - but it still seems a very unfair way of thinking to me now and one I hope to avoid in the future. It seems to me that anxious horses could often be trying very, very hard to do the right thing 99% of the time and get little or no credit for it because of the one time they just can't. I hope I can avoid falling into that trap with my horses now.

I said in my other blog that Grace was frightened of high sided vehicles on narrow roads. Well, she is still not completely relaxed with them but since the new me began riding her she can face up to them and stand her ground. This is partly due to my more relaxed attitude to her nervousness and partly due to the fact that I now treat her in the way that someone has treated me whenever I am frightened or upset. I adopt the same attitude of concentrated concern and empathy combined with gentle, affectionate humour and reassurance and it works every time. She knows I'm there for her, thoughtful of her feelings and helping her through without thinking about myself at all, and it's all she needs to comfort and reassure her.

It gives her the confidence and strength to be brave. It worked for me too!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Memories to Treasure from the Last Few Weeks.

The title probably sounds mad but I do have some memories from the last few weeks that I will treasure for the rest of my life and I want to document them, to make sure that they never fade.

When David was very ill I felt I'd lost him for a while. Nobody knew for sure that he was going to die until he had a catastrophe in intensive care but he seemed to shut himself off from me at one stage. I knew he'd come back to me when he woke up early one morning. I'd been sleeping in a chair next to his bed and he said, his voice full of concern "You look awful!". I was so grateful and thankful that he was able to notice and care again that no compliment could ever have sounded as wonderful.

The night before he died he asked me to give him a hug for five minutes then get him off to sleep. I hugged him and, after about two minutes, he said "Right, your five minutes is up now, you can get me to sleep and go home to see to the dogs." I told him someone else was looking after the dogs and I wasn't going anywhere and, hooked up to machines left, right and centre as he was, he said "Oh good, it's just like being at home again." I was never more certain that he loved and needed me than in those last few days and, ill and confused as he was, he was a joy to be with.

Two of my friends, and one of their nephews, have spent long hours at weekends getting the farm under control and presentable, so that I can manage it as a non-tractor driver and make new plans for earning a living here. The place was a tip and I have never learned to drive (I am now!) and most of the work needed diggers, tractors and trailers. There were some things that required manual labour too and I worked alongside them as much as possible, loving every last moment of it. We laughed, teased and joked with each other and I felt like a teenager who'd been allowed to join their gang. I now understand that feeling totally worthless, hopeless and frightened comes with the territory of what I've been through, and I've done loads of all of those, but never when I was working with them. They were knights in shining armour, arriving on tractors instead of white stallions and wreathed in diesel fumes instead of mist, and my gratitude to them for those memories is beyond words.

Another friend is helping me with the paperwork, probate and the accounts. It's a thankless task, as I'd much rather be working outside, but she chivies me along tirelessly, even though it's her day job too. She, like the others, must have the patience of a saint, and although I will treasure no memories of the task, I will always treasure to fact that she is helping me through it, spends time with me and bolsters up my confidence at every possible opportunity.

Another is meeting two friends I have made through my old blog and the support and care they have given me. One has phoned and emailed me daily, showing care and concern every step of the way. It was after a telephone conversation with her that I remembered that David had said I was tough and could cope with things that most people struggle with, and I came up with my plan to save my own sanity and dignity. She has given me strength and believed in me. She too has my undying gratitude.

There is also the memory of some pride in myself. I have come to realise that, throughout the time at the hospital, I did everything anyone could possibly have done and handled it all in an exemplary fashion. I never once thought of myself until after David had died and he never saw me lose hope. Every time he looked at me I was always smiling. I may have tried too hard on his behalf at the end but I can hold my head up about everything I did and everything I said to everyone involved, and I know that David was really proud of me in there. I've held onto that in moments of despair and intend to try to make sure that I can always say the same about everything I do in future.

My gratitude to Alexandra Kurland herself. Without her books and DVDs I wouldn't be in the shape I am now, positive and hopeful. I emailed her to thank her and she sent me a wonderful reply just yesterday, which I will always treasure.

The patience, gentleness and softness that my horses have shown me in the last few weeks has kept me going too. They love their work and have had precious little of it lately but have shown joy and enthusiasm each and every time I've felt able to do anything with them, and waited patiently for me between times. My heart is still not totally in it but I am getting back to them slowly and surely.

The last memory I treasure is from yesterday. I had been trying to keep happy but was wavering slightly and some people had tested me to the limit. I kept my composure with some difficulty and, just as I closed the door behind them, not knowing whether to laugh, cry or hang myself, my main inspiration tentatively and apologetically text me a dirty joke. His timing was just immaculate and I have felt happy and serene ever since.

With the time, effort and care that everyone has invested in me how can I possibly fail?

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Saving Myself.

David, my partner and soulmate night and day for nearly twenty eight years, died ten weeks ago and I have been told that there are stages of grieving that have to be gone through, a 'roller coaster ride like no other imaginable' I've heard it referred to, and there can be no escape from the probably years of despair that have to be worked through.

I hit rock bottom last weekend and even ended up phoning The Samaritans. I thought that maybe someone could say something that would help me but no-one could. Loneliness and desperation seemed to have swallowed me up completely and everywhere I looked I saw the same tale of the inevitability of a long time more of the same.

Well, I can't do it. I don't have years to spare, or even more months. I have a life to be lived and I need to get on with it.

I hate the word 'grieving'. I think it's an ugly, frightening word and I refuse to have any more to do with it. Sadness and loss are gentle, kindly words and I can cope with them but having to 'grieve' - no, no more, I refuse to.

I have spent my working life, as well as farming, training my own horses from a young age. Young horses are often highly emotional animals. Being nervous and suspicious is how they survive as prey animals.

For me, the secret of successful and compassionate training is to teach them how to control and alter their emotions for themselves, through positive reinforcement and the feelings of comfort and success it inspires.

If you can get a horse to look like a confident, happy horse it will behave like a confident, happy horse and start to feel like a confident, happy horse. I use clicker training but the above in itself is self reinforcing - the horse loves feeling confident and happy and joins wholeheartedly in his own training.

I don't find any positives in crying. It slows me down, wears me out, gives me a headache, makes me feel ill, stops me eating and upsets those around me.

I have been in the pit of despair for most of the weekend and I can't do it anymore. I can't live like that. It's taking away any self respect and dignity I have left.

David was full of praise and admiration for the way I handled myself and the doctors at the hospital. It made me realise how much I had longed for his admiration before. I intend to really earn it now.

I've already noticed that if I put a brave face on things people are lining up to cheer me on but if I look like bursting into tears any moment most people want to run.

This isn't just about making it easier for other people, this is also about me and what I need. I don't want pity - I want respect and admiration and David would have wanted that for me too.

I'm already a kinder, more gentle and intuitive person than I was before but I want to be a strong, inspirational one too (I don't want much, do I?!!!). I want to be happy in my own company and I've spent the last few weeks wishing I could get away from me for a while. I used to be a happy, optimistic person and I intend to be again, asap.

This may all sound unrealistic and unachievable but I believe in myself. I've got everything to win and nothing but months or years of misery to lose. I've been a great believer in 'keep taking the body and the mind will come along with it in the end' for a long time.

I'm not going to force myself to smile, just gently encourage myself, from first thing in the morning onwards, then bask in any good feelings or pride in myself that comes with it. I am going to notice and revel in every positive feeling or action that I can manage and ignore everything else, as if it doesn't exist. This isn't about repression - it's about rewarding success and finding comfort, and having the courage and confidence to try and keep on trying.

I have managed to gently and patiently encourage profound and lasting changes in my horses, who love me for it and can't get enough of it, so there's no reason why it can't work for me too.

I had forgotten that the doctors and nurses were in admiration of me too. They said I should have someone with me but I told them it had always been just him and me and there was no-one else that I wanted there. They told me that I was a very strong lady because I did it all alone with courage and dignity, right to the end.

I always concentrate on the positives with my horses and ignore everything else and I've been doing the exact opposite with myself. My driving instructor has been telling me off every time for being so hard on myself. I try always to be kind and thoughtful of other people and yet have found it so hard to be kind and generous to myself.

Since I watched him die I have felt David to be totally and utterly lost to me but, since I decided upon my plan, I'm sure he's near again, cheering me on.

I used Cat Stevens and Donovan's music, David's favourites, for the funeral and one of them (can't remember which) wrote a song called 'Decide to be Happy'. Well, just as I decided some weeks ago that, no matter how bad things got I wasn't going to try to join David, I have now decided to be happy and I'm not going back.

There will be times of sadness I know but I refuse to do black despair anymore and I think it would be an insult to his memory and the love he gave me for me to do so.

He helped to make me the person I am now and, for him and for myself, I intend to be amazing!!!

I believe that there are always positives to be found in everything if you look hard enough and long enough. I am going to find them all and marvel in every one of them.

It isn't often in life that you get the chance to be amazing and I'm going to grab this one! Today is the first day of the rest of my life (trite but true!) and I'm going to make the most of every minute of it that I can!
I can't imagine ever wanting another partner. There was never anyone before David so why would there be anyone after? I do feel the need to have a social life though, for the first time in my life. It will be easier when I can drive but I would like to meet more people.

I intend to build a whole new life for myself. This isn't the end for me, it's a new beginning, a new challenge, a chance to find out what I'm really made of. I've lived through the worst possible thing that could ever have happened to me and I'm still standing. I am capable of practically anything now!

I read somewhere that "life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it."

Also that most people "live as though they'll never die then die as though they've never lived". I don't want to be one of them.

A poem that helps me. It's about horses, as you might guess, but I find it transferable.

Don't cry for the horses
Brenda Riley-Seymore

Don't cry for the horses
That life has set free
A million white horses
Forever to be
Don't cry for the horses
Now in God's hands
As they dance and they prance
To a heavenly band
They were ours as a gift
But never to keep
As they close their eyes
Forever to sleep
Their spirits unbound
On silver wings they fly
A million white horses
Against the blue sky
Look up into heaven
You'll see them above
The horses we lost
The horses we loved
Manes and tails flowing
They gallop through time
They were never yours
They were never mine
Don't cry for the horses
They will be back someday
When our time has come
They will show us the way
Do you hear that soft nicker
Close to your ear
Don't cry for the horses
Love the ones that are here.

And another:

Don't Think of Her as Gone Away by Ellen Brenneman

Don't think of her as gone away
Her journey's just begun
Life holds so many facets
This earth is only one

Just think of her as resting
From the sorrows and the tears
In a place of warmth and comfort
Where there are no days and years

Think how she might be wishing
That we could know today
How nothing but our sadness
Can really pass away

And think of her as living
In the hearts of those she touched
For nothing loved is ever lost
And she was loved so much!

My main inspiration is a friend of mine. I have watched and marvelled at the calm, quiet, caring way he leads everyone he works with. Softly spoken but utterly competent and reliable, his leadership is irresistible and everyone turns to him for guidance. He inspires trust, calmness and confidence in all of us and, since watching him in action with people, I am a better, more relaxed and beguiling trainer for my horses and for myself. He is living proof that compassion, empathy, competence and patient coaxing with gentle good humour are far more irresistible leadership qualities than brash assertiveness and loud attempts to dominate and control. He has shown me the way to win hearts and minds, of people and of horses.