Sunday 28 December 2014

Christmas Time, Rest Time

Walking in Cheshire today :) 
I wonder if the ease with which we cope living the life of nomads comes from having a distant anchor of family houses, tradition, routines, love and care. For sure I feel more and more appreciative of that as I grow older.
As years go by I definitely feel a stronger yearning for own place but that feeling is still quite faint and temperamental, sometimes raising to the surface, all - consuming and dominating sometimes so quiet I barely notice.

Christmas 2014 has just gone and it's been a lovely one :) This time last year we were with my family back in Poland, this year we are in the UK with my other half's family.

More than ever I feel grateful for every positive moment in my life. For simple things like having a great meal, seeing new places, walking in the fog, playing fun games, watching a movie on a sofa, falling asleep under a warm duvet, breathing in a sweet scent of a candle, watching the lights flicker on Christmas tree.

This morning, after a lovely walk, we sat down in the garden with a coffee, birds singing in the bushes, sun playing glittering races across the melting snow. When the crazy, challenging and scary 2015 starts, I will go back to this moment to re-charge :)

Many plans and goals for next year ahead of me and I will share them with you as we go along. For now though, it's my last resting day today. Catching train back home tomorrow and full on teaching day awaits me on Tuesday.

I hope you are all well and have had a great festive time. If you didn't, don't worry. Catch the little things that are easy to miss.
Only a few more days left of this year, I am enjoying the suspense :)


Wednesday 10 December 2014

Organising stuff - the challenges

9.30am - frosty yard near Bristol where I did my clinic this past weekend. Lovely place!
Organisational skills are not my forte. I sometimes get people asking me how I get all these things done: the travelling places without a car, the teaching, the Academy, the blogging/writing etc and the answer is - not blooming easily! ;) In fact, organising it all is what truly feels like work in the "I really don't want to but I have to" sense of the word.
I would like Santa to bring me a good project manager this Christmas who would just get everything nicely organised.

To get things done in some form of fluid order I have to almost draw a map for myself of how I get from A to B and what needs doing in between. I envy all great organisers out there who just "see" a good way of connecting dots! Apart from my love of all things stationary and creative I don't have many positive emotions for organising...

One thing that helps me is my yearly diary - it's a simple book size diary with real pages i.e. not an app on my phone or this blog. Somehow writing things to do with a pen on paper makes them more doable than typing them into an electronic version.
I also have one day a week - Wednesdays for the last few months - which is my designated planning, organising and admin day and if I ever miss it, my whole week becomes a one hectic affair. My days generally are more connected to who I teach or where rather than being named as per days of the week. This can be a little confusing when my clients change days on which they ride for whatever reason or when I have to make changes. It's a challenge!

I decided that since organisational party is my weakness I need to put more effort into it so from this week I will have to find two mornings a week that will be spend on getting stuff planned and organised. Even just writing this down makes me feel like I want to avoid it straight away ;)

Testing share horses at London yard; Sunday
7th December
The London yard is now pretty much fully booked for Academy places unless someone pulls out last minute for whatever reason. I am really looking forward to running my programme there.

What I am looking forward to a little less is more organising ;) The most difficult aspect of my work for me is the constant insecurity and unknown: will the riders continue long term? Will the horses continue to be suitable? Will the facility be good for everyone involved? Will the trains run? If a rider quits the programme for whatever reason will I find a replacement quickly?

It's not just the financial insecurity, although of course that is a huge worry, but the fact there are many elements out of my immediate control that do make me lose some sleep.

This is why I am upping the organisational time so I can put some "risk management" in place. I didn't do it back in 2012 and have been dealing with results until now so it's about time to learn on one's mistakes.
Technically it's January when the world becomes obsessed with resolutions and yearly plans but I am making myself start now. Let's see what comes out if it!

How do you deal with making sure you get things done?


Friday 5 December 2014

Last two months in honest review - life as it happens

Last two months I'd been mostly searching...for answers and for the right opportunity to come along for my London clients. I finally gave up on one of the ideas and that is the one which was based on finding more riding schools to work with. I am not saying no to it fully but for now I feel that if I haven't made something happen in 2 years then it's probably best to become more creative. Without going into too much detail riding schools are either already fully booked and sorted with own activities or have excuses for not opening up to new ways of providing riding education.

The bonus of working with a good facility is of course the access to that facility, to the infrastructure, to comfort for the riders. However, I had a good think about it and I came to conclusions that after all, primary vision for non - owners branch of Aspire Academy is to provide top quality riding tuition for riders without own horses NOT plush time in cosy coffee rooms (even though I do like those :). 

That's when I changed my approach and whilst continuing to search for a centre on smaller scale, I put 90% of effort into finding another solution...I'd been testing a "share a horse for lessons" scenario for a while now and decided it could be the way to go. Owners of the types of horses I am after often welcome a financial contribution to the upkeep of their horse whilst the type of rider I am after to teach is eager to build relationship with the horse they train on. It is not easy for a learner-rider to find a share horse simply because the owners are worried that the horse might end up mistreated or ridden badly due to simple lack of knowledge of the inexperienced sharer. The situation is different if the learner rider actually takes well structured, long-term planned lessons that not only teach the rider but might also school and improve the horse...

I'd emailed and messaged (good old Facebook) pretty much everyone that I thought might help me move forward with this development but for many weeks I had no luck. Either horses were not suitable or the place was just that little bit too "out in the sticks" or there were other reasons that would make the logistics impossible like the horse being only available on Mondays get the idea. 

In the meantime, various funky things were happening, like this bite on my eyelid a few weeks ago!

Waking up with an eye swollen shut is not a very amusing welcome to the day

Not sure what my immune system was thinking but it decided to blow up half of my face as well as the eyelid, working on laptop with one eye was a challenge and was also surprisingly tiring. I also had to teach in sunglasses so I didn't scare anyone and that was a little inconvenient too since it was a week of fog and rain ;) It lasted about 5 days but felt like 5 weeks. Kudos to all one eyed horses jumping and eventing out there, just moving around people and horses in walk was hard enough! 

Finally, I found a yard with several owners looking for sharers. The yard that is very easy to get to and so the big trial begins this month. Of course it wasn't without a drama that almost made me lose the remaining hair that still hangs on to my head but all seems ok, for now at least! 
If as many riding schools' owners say it is not possible to accommodate certain structures into the schools' set ups then perhaps it's time to change the set ups...Sharing a horse for lessons might not be for everybody but if it is for the kind of person that Aspire programmes exist for in the first place, then maybe that's the path to take. 

I have so many plans for next year. I don't know if it's the age, the stress, the various things that needs sorting out but taking forever to do so or what but for the last couple of years I lost quite a lot of my usual courageous ability to make plans. Fear of failure maybe, not sure. I am glad I managed to shake it off to some extent. 

Some big changes coming up next year too. One day I am feeling invincible to take them on, the next one I'd rather be hiding under the duvet ;) On those pathetically fearful mornings I tell myself that the clock is ticking, the time is passing, the worst that can happen is that someone will say no. 

If you are doing something different or entrepreneurial in your life do let me know what you are up to and how you deal with your challenges! 
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