Liebster Award

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liebster-award

I started this blog one year ago on June 14, 2012. Today I am happy to write that I was nominated about a month or so ago for the Liebster Award–an award that recognizes smaller blogs with less than 200 followers. It’s nice to know that what started off as a requirement for my final class as a graduate student in the Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse program at DePaul University can have personal purpose and sustainability beyond the degree. It’s even more rewarding to know that I’m building a real audience with whom to share Ngugi’s Word. A sincere thank you to Alex at Valourbörn for nominating me and Ngugi!

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you and link back to their blog.

2. Post 11 facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 questions for your nominees.

3. Nominate 11 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.

4. Display the Liebster award logo.

5. No tag backs.

Here are eleven facts about me:

1) I teach 8th grade English and love the quirky nature of 14-year-olds.
2) After a long day teaching, I crave what I’ve labeled “ghetto nachos”–just melt American cheese on tortilla chips in microwave for 45 seconds.
3) I play piano and teach about 15 students per week.
4) I traveled to Nicaragua last summer and hiked a volcano for 9 hours.
5) I sing songs to my three cats and engage in deep conversations with them.
6) Both my parents are German, so most Saturdays of my childhood were spent at German school.
7) I am severely inept at sports–besides riding! I played kickball with my 8th graders last week and screeched as I kicked the ball.
8) While I can easily live with the simplest of necessities, I should listen to “Bear Necessities” more as a reminder to stop worrying.
9) I am an INfJ if you’re familiar with Jung’s personality typology.
10) I need my work space to be bright and welcoming of sunlight. Plants must surround me at home and in my classroom.
11) My pinkies are crooked. I think from piano.

My answers to the questions I was asked:
1) A word that makes you laugh? Tuddy Totoro. It’s what I call one of my cats!
2) Your favourite colour and your favourite object of that colour? Green, for sure. After a long winter, I am always shocked by the vibrancy in fresh green grass and bursting buds. Like I forget it exists or something.
3) Have any pets? Yes, the infamous Ngugi (my muse and my horse) and my three cats (Tuddy Totoro, Condi, and Nica).
4) If you could be a bird of any kind, what would it be? A yellow chickadee
5) Do you collect anything? If not, what would you collect? I’ve been collecting rocks and stones from different places I travel and have them displayed in my dinning room.
6) Have a catchphrase? In the classroom, I have many… Instead of shouting, “Aww, shit!” I say “Aww, sauerkraut!”
7) Favourite type of hat? Not sure it’s my favorite, but I wear it the most… my Charles Owen riding helmet!
8) If you could learn another language overnight, what would it be? Spanish so I could travel back to Nicaragua soon and actually not have to rely on my husband.
9) Ever had a pen pal? Yes, my aunt and I used to write to each other a lot. I still have all those letters.
10) An instrument that you can/would want to play? I’ve played piano since I was seven, but I’ve had this strange obsessions with the harp for some time.
11) Where’s the tallest place you’ve ever been? Traveling to Germany to visit family a lot as a kid, I had the chance to visit the Alps in Switzerland.

11 questions I give my nominees:
1) What do animals do for you?
2) What do you remember from 8th grade English class?
3) What would you change about yourself if you could?
4) What has been your proudest moment?
5) Who do you admire the most in your life and why?
6) If you could make a soundtrack to your life, what song would definitely be on it?
7) Do you have a favorite mantra?
8) How do you define a relationship?
9) What do you spend most of your time thinking about?
10) What scares you?
11) What’s your favorite thing about blogging?

And now it’s my turn to nominate 11 blogs that I find valuable to any lover of life and horses (as most of what I read on WordPress is related to horses):
1) This wonderFULL Life
2) A Dressage Story
3) Positive Natural Horsemanship
4) Backyard Sporthorse
5) Sky King’s Girl
6) Lisa & Calla
7) Mud on My Sneakers
8) A Wish and a Whinny
9) Bits, Belts, and Breeches
10) Nancy Hartney
11) Exechorseluver

Thank you to all eleven I’ve nominated for sharing something new with me that has made me think and reflect on life. Keep writing and sharing with the world!

~Stefanie

Peaks and Valleys

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I’ve been thinking a lot about my confidence–how it’s created, how it sometimes gets crushed, and how I take certain steps to rebuild it. Just when I think I’ve reached a peak in my riding, some new challenge creeps in and seems to test my commitment to Gugi. I suppose it’s part of the cycle of highs and lows, peaks and valleys, pride and humility, laughter and tears…

My last posts in March point to a recent peak / accomplishment: being able to canter Gugi. As much as I’d love to say that the past few months have been spent developing a softer canter than the previous videos I posted, I can’t even say that I have cantered intentionally at all. I’ve actually been dreading this post for about two months because there’s no way I can write without mentioning my first fall off Gugi. And I can’t not write about it because I think it’s part of the reason why I’ve been struggling to gain back my confidence. By not writing about the fall, I haven’t fully reflected on what happened and how I can move past it with deeper understanding. Sure, I’ve replayed the whole scene in my mind a thousand times, but that just feeds the reactive, emotional side of me. It’s like my mind’s eye has sensationalized it and labeled it with some exaggerated headline: “Malicious Mare’s Rear.” Yes, that’s exactly what I saw flashing at the bottom of my TV screen mind! So rather than re-casting the event as some huge tragedy, I’ll give basic details of my fall and then focus more on what major take-aways or lessons I’ve learned.

I was in a lesson with trainer Kim and we were working on my less balanced, and therefore more difficult, direction at the canter: the left. I got Gugi into the canter, but then started clutching with my legs and not allowing her to move forward. Hands and arms locked and got tight on her mouth. Her canter felt stiff and short-stepped, almost spiraling in towards the center of the ring. Instead of allowing her to move out and forward, I kept bracing myself against her, never finding her rhythm. She rightfully got upset with me and started tossing her head a bit and crow-hopping. What I should have done at this point was an emergency turn in a tight circle, disengaging the hindquarters, but I just kept pulling back causing her to rear up and flip to the side. Luckily we were both uninjured–unless, of course, we count my crumbled confidence as injured.

Confidence. It really is a complex and fragile thing. On the day of the accident, I thought I’d never get to the point where I could try cantering again. I was completely defeated. But, with careful attention to details, I spent a good two weeks really feeling her again at the walk. I became very interested in all the finer footwork (especially disengaging the hindquarters) that could help me in future emergency situations. Overall, though, it’s my feel on her mouth and finding the rhythm through my arms, core, and seat that I’ve been forced to pay closer attention to now. I’ve learned that some falls need to happen to force you to learn something louder and clearer, so to speak.

Peaks and Valleys.

To end this post I’ve been actually dreading to write, I’ll close with two clips that I would call peaks.

Both videos are of us trotting again for the first time after the fall. I think it was only 4-5 days later. These are from a lesson with visiting dressage trainer Bridget.