Happy Trials (sic) to You

I left the practice of law because a contract I’d held for twenty-five years (representing foster children in my county) was awarded to another vendor who had much higher prices, no experience in my jurisdiction, and no staff in my jurisdiction when all three factors were mandatory bid evaluation criteria.

Being told my services were inadequate was no fun, but I was so relieved to get shut of the political, crooked, grueling procurement process (my law school major was procurement law, and this process was black letter crooked), that I just wanted to be done. No farewell lunch, no flowers on the last day, just pack up the files and get on with life. (And a trip to the New Zealand Romance Writers conference lifted my spirits considerably!)

When my former husband asked for a divorce, I was sad and bewildered (“Did I do something wrong?” “No.”), but you can’t make another person happy, so best of luck, and off we go.

When I quit making a living as a musician, that was sad too. I was a terrible performer, but a pretty good teacher, and a competent dance class accompanist and pit pianist. I could not see myself having the stamina to succeed within the narrow band of abilities I had after years of practicing daily for hours, so… give up and move on.

I contrast these exits with my recent experience trying to find another barn where I can get back in the saddle. The first three places I’ve queried have “had no openings.” These barns are scrounging for birthday parties, but they can’t put me on a horse for an hour a week? I am, admittedly, a tri-fecta of what nobody wants in a riding student (and I make my situation plain when I query): Un-athletic, un-ambitious, and un-wealthy (by horse people standards), but still…

A Gentleman in Challenging Circumstances by Grace BurrowesI did not see getting voted off the horseback riding island coming. I’ve been a lover of horses since childhood. Long before I was a lawyer, musician, writer, or much of anything… I loved horses. I was a horse girl. I am still a horse girl (the only context where I will permit my very adult self to be designated as any sort of girl). I am not done looking for ways to get back in the saddle, but I’m a bit daunted. Not daunted enough to buy another horse (yet), but pretty close.

Have you ever been voted off the island? Not picked for any team? How did you recover? ARCs for A Gentleman in Challengng Circumstances still available. Just email me at [email protected] and tell me what sort of device you read on.


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12 comments on “Happy Trials (sic) to You

  1. Pingback: Lady Violet Says, "Finally!" | Grace Burrowes | I believe in love.

  2. Since the age of 8 I had been involved in Theater. Both musical and dramatic theater. I loved it and almost always auditioned and got the part I wanted.
    Forward to my mid twenties when I was “off type”… Blond, short and curvy. I often was told by directors that I had the best audition, reading, voice for the lead, but they were looking for a tall, thin, brunette. Two of the roles I tried out for were actually changed vocally to suite the person they picked for the part.
    I decided that I wasn’t cut out for the disappointment and reality of professional acting.
    I still sing in an occasional wedding or two.

  3. So many BIG disappointments you’ve weathered! But we, your readers, have been the lucky recipients of the results of your “winnowing” — wonderful novels! I DO hope you find a barn soon so you can resume one of your favorite leisure time activities.

  4. I moved to small town ohio to start into medical practice. The only female in my spectalty in 3 counties. I was very busy. I underestimated the small town ole boys club mentality that meant my abilities would be questioned based on gender alone. But I would be the change. Toxic behaviors, 22 to 28 days of call per month for 12 years and newly diagosis of autism in one of my kids and my burnout entered the state of quite crispy. Besides my family, my work is my passion, and it was difficult to accept the advice of my trusted mentors to move on to where we could get more support.

    Move on I did. We moved to a suburban town (still hard for this country girl) new hospital, practice full of lady docs(!) Closer to supportive inlaws, and most importantly, more services for my kid.

    Then my hospital was bought out, my partners scattered, citing poor previous dealings with new health system. leaving me with my midlevels, who left too. Second grand earth shattering event in 18 months.

    New colleagues came to my aid. The new system is actually backing me quite well. And my new partner is good. So here we rebuild, because moving an autistic child is much more difficult.

    I know others who do GAL work. It becomes a passion of serving those who need it. And to be shut out of a community one has worked so closely with is like going through a divorce.

    One door closes, another opens. I have much more time for family, and to pursue my artistic endevors again. This time with my kids. I am doing better. I resumed my sewing, needlework, and am now learning watercolor.

    My limited experience with horse barns.. they have different cultures. The ones I know are more chill and do adaptive riding. The other type full of the snobby 1%ers… let them have their place. You will find the right place for you.

  5. I’m so sorry you are having a tough time finding a place to ride. I’m sure I don’t have any helpful advice to finding a spot, but I can certainly sympathize with the rounds of rejection. I don’t think I have any helpful advice on how to deal with that either, I tended to just keep moving, doing what needs to be done next without really processing the rejection part of it, which eventually caught up to me. I do not recommend that approach.

    I hope that one of the barn ladies will end up pointing you in the right direction, or a fellow rider who knows someone who knows someone who wants to share a horse or is semi-retired and only wants to give lessons to those not on the competition track etc. Good luck and I hope your perserverance pays off with the perfect situation!

  6. I can think of two times I was “voted off the island” and it actually worked out great for me. The first was when I was about 25-ish, working in the promotions area of a large bank. It was the days of “open a savings account & get a free toaster.” Well, all those orders from the entire large metropolitan area came to me to process. With numerous promotions going on at the same time, I couldn’t keep up. I informed my boss but he was a short timer looking forward to his own departure from the island and didn’t care. When I came back from a short vacation, I was informed that I’d been fired. I was unemployed for a couple of weeks, collected exactly one unemployment check and was promptly hired by a multi-national magazine publishing company where I met and married my amazing husband. I seriously thought about sending flowers to the person who fired me to thank them!

    The second time I was “voted off the island” was when I worked for a small print shop. Unfortunately their business was not doing well, so they reduced my hours from full time to part time, then changed my status to “on call, as needed.” They quickly stopped calling. After 8 years of working there, I was summarily dismissed, without their even having the decency to tell me I was being let go! However, I was quickly hired for the best job of my life. My grandson was born a couple of months later and I got to take care of him 4 days a week, 9 hours a day for 4 years. His sister joined the crew at year three. It was exhausting but marvelous at the same time and I have a closeness with my grandkids I would not have been able to have any other way. So sometimes getting booted from “the island” is not at all bad! Stay safe. Stay well everyone!

  7. I can’t believe none of those places will let you ride. It just seems really strange – why are they turning away business? I hope you find one soon with a horse that is just right for you.

    Hmmm – voted off the island. Yes, I married a man that my friends didn’t like and was abruptly dropped from all invitations. Our group did things together on the weekends, went out as a group to go dancing, went on vacations together, and had for years. I won’t say it didn’t hurt but it also showed me how little I was valued.

  8. Sigh, I rarely even get on the island yet I too have been voted off. My main problem is that I just don’t “get” the less than straightforward communication patterns. I loved working with autistic kids and other neuro atypical kids. They are direct and without artifice. Their pleasure and enthusiasm in finding someone who will listen to their thoughts and ideas was a gift to me. Can anyone follow that?

  9. I don’t know that one recovers fully from being voted off the island, but “living well is the best revenge.”

    You can come live here, if you like. You are allowed 1 horse (3 chickens, no roosters) in the city limits.

    Still, it’s different. I rode my friend’s pony bareback with a halter or hackamore. My future brother-in-law’s family kept theirs on the the front lawn and in the drainage ditch to keep the grass down. Now there are folks who do well growing “horse hay.”

    Am very much enjoying running into old friends with Lord Julian. Thank you.

  10. I read it on my iPhone Grace, and I loved it. I was captivated from the first chapter on.
    I love horses too. My family had a lot of horses, I’m talking a lot. We weren’t rich, we sold our horse farm in the mid 70’s when my dear father passed away, but horses are a lot like like dogs or cats. What’s another one or two? Till you have a herd of these beauties to feed and clean up after. I miss everyone of them. (Except a mean little miniature shetland pony who shall not be named who detested me.) #Worst5thBirthdayGiftEver

  11. I’m sorry to hear that someone with your years of experience and dedication was treated so shabbily. My own story is similar, just in the field of education.
    I was “voted off the island” by the school where I have been doing the equivalent of 3 jobs for the past 21 years. The pandemic, the unexpected death of my husband in 2021 and my 17 year old’s diagnosis of Crohn’s disease right after his Dad died frazzled me, for sure, but I have been a psychotherapist for 40 years and I handle things. My request for less time in the classroom(I’m not a teacher-I was the school counselor/ESE specialist/administrator)was turned down. I had been very sick from the RSV virus which I got from going into classrooms to teach “ guidance lessons”. I resigned/retired 5 years ahead of schedule in June of 2023, and I don’t have the heart to return to the field of mental health. Private practice is hard to start, rents are astronomical and we wait with bated breath to hear the latest abomination from the governor of my southern state (guess which one-hint-mouse with big ears) as to what we can and can’t do/say with teenage clients. I will have to find some sort of work, but I’m not qualified to do anything else. I harbored a secret desire to write historical fiction/romance, but I am a novice and writing for my own enjoyment only. I’m kind of old to learn the craft of writing and make a living from it, so I continue to write because I like to and wonder how I can overcome the sense of betrayal from being shoved out of a place that I gave my heart and soul to. Not like me to be so pessimistic, but life has hit me pretty hard these past few years. This Phoenix is having a hard time being reborn. Guess I’m still burning.