I’m not one for annual wrap ups, but seriously 2016… what a year! Rather than go through my blog and re-live the highlights, which is something I’d usually do in any recap, I’ll use a hundred and fifty words per season to recount what was really going on, and why 2016 was a year of growing up and prompting change…
2016 couldn’t have started any better – right in the midst of a heat wave and I had two months of seemingly endless summer holidays stretching before me with big plans to spend as much of those in the saddle or underneath a waterfall as possible. I was halfway through my teaching degree, but had recently switched to a degree in urban planning with a focus on environmentalism and was positive that this was the best decision I could have made for mine and Louis’ future. Business was booming and life held a lot of promise, (as it always has).
In the back of my mind I was still sad over the loss of a much loved friendship, my hand raised orphan kitten was killed and another good friend moved away. On the whole though, that summer is one of my fondest memories – full of success and optimism for the future.
Autumn began as positively as summer – I was loving every aspect of my new degree, and it was paying off with consistently high grades and awesome feedback. The good weather was sticking around, meaning I was riding lots and making great progress in our dressage lessons. We even went hunting which itself was an experience I will remember forever!
Things started going downhill slowly with my grandmother being taken into palliative care – resulting in an impromptu visit home (highlight!, though on sad terms), float troubles, and cash flow into the business slowing down to nothing towards the end of the season.
Enjoying our financial success over the summer had caught up with us and resulted in extortionate tax bills on top of usual year end bills – we foolishly hadn’t prepared, and had no way to pay them. I quickly became stressed, felt isolated being away from family… and very lonely.
Things got progressively worse over winter – the financial stresses manifested, creeping into our relationship. We started having trouble with the ute, and couldn’t afford the repairs needed. We got into more debt trying to get out of debt. I was caring for four stabled horses, meaning they all required exercising on top of their daily care – I was exhausted with schoolwork, animals and the very real possibility of bankruptcy. Louis would escape the stress with his friends which resulted in arguments, making me feel even lonelier.
Our different ways of dealing with things caused tension – internalising the stress I slowly began to get very depressed. Most days I just lay in the hallway, crying and unable to see any way out. My hobby became a time consuming and energy depleting chore, my family seemed farther away than ever and the life we’d built was threatening to crumble in black fog.
“when life changes and becomes harder, change yourself to become stronger..”
Spring is the time of new beginnings… but nothing changed miraculously when the seasons rolled over. For a while it got worse – we borrowed even more money ( :(!!!! ). Dairy prices were (still) down and the economy seemed to be struggling across the board.
But we began to notice change, within ourselves and our situation. As we slowly ticked off the debts, we became more confident that there was a way out… our persistence began to pay off. Declaring bankruptcy would have been an easy thing to do, ten times over, but we chose to work harder – Louis got a second job.
As the ground dried up the horses were able to be turned out and the daily demands to muck out, feed, and excercise everybody eased – I started to enjoy the stables again.
And, with the holidays came fresh optimism – our challenges are only relative and force the way for change…
Some changes have been set in motion already – with my mum securing a lease on a block of dirt in Auckland, I’ll be sending my sister’s horses back to her. Not only were they a financial strain this year, but also an energetic and emotional strain. Mum’s actively involved in various animal charities and so initially Buzz will join the mares, with the hopes of eventually sending him off to a retirement home under the charity umbrella. If nothing comes of it, he can come back but we’ll see what happens there. I’ve helped out by looking after the horses for over three years now, and I had to draw the line somewhere and send them back. They’ll leave the Manawatu in mid-January.
Also, in the midst of all the stress, we applied for contract positions for Louis overseas. Something came back but being in the early stages, it makes no sense to elaborate or go any further on that note. Hopefully I’ll have something to share at a later date, but for now we’re really just focusing on generating business income into outgoings, whilst Louis’ second job pays his wages.
I know that in comparison, 2016 has not been a terrible year for us – especially when broken down into 150 words per quarter and reflected upon. Globally, 2016 has been a politically shocking year for many and depression, loneliness and potential bankruptcy doesn’t even compare to those living in war-stricken areas for example. At times I felt like an over-privileged whinging ‘pom’ and covered up our struggles with “i love my pony” type posts and focused instead on positive things, like engagement photos!!.
Struggles are only relative though, and just because the world’s true horrors are happening far away from this shaky little country I call home, it doesn’t mean I’m immune from such things as depression, anxiety and stress. Stress however, is a very important driver for change. At a certain point you have to respond, and here’s hoping that our response pays off and 2017 is a year of opportunity, hard work, and progression (and consistency is definitely my word for the year, I’m well over the feeling of being all over the place).
Time will only tell what the year will bring.. so in the meantime I have a horse to ride and fresh goals to work towards! I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful holiday period, and is ready for big things and infinite happiness in 2017!