Successfully Yours

I have been volunteering at Loudon Therapeutic Riding for the past six months, and lately, one question has been dogging me: Why has this place lasted fifty years, and evolved to be one of the premium operations of its kind? What’s going right here? What could other programs be replicating, if they only knew what a difference it would make? I will ask the operations director what she thinks contributes most to the program’s success, (and I wish I could ask the horses).

Horse barns come and go. The business is subject to a thousand whims of fate. Did the hay crop get rained on? Did the tireless schoolmaster gelding take a bad step and now has to be on lay up for six months? Either surprise could affect the bottom line to the tune of thousands of dollars.

For therapeutic barns, the challenges multiply with significant certification requirements, a unique client population, and enormous funding demands (wheel chair ramps, mats, adaptive equipment, annual trainings…). But somehow, LTR has not only persisted, but thrived.

I am prone to asking what’s wrong. What have I missed? Where did I lose my momentum today? Those kinds of questions have value up to a point–especially when revising a manuscript–but they assume that all problems have solutions, and diligent inquiry will reveal the answers.

And yet, the advice authors hear over and over is not, “Obsess on your flaws and imperfections,” but rather, “Play to your strengths. If you love social media, make that the centerpiece of your marketing footprint. If you are a natural networker, look for A Gentleman Fallen on Hard Times by Grace Burrowesanthologies to join. Focus on what’s working, and do more of that. You will never solve the whole Rubik’s cube, but you can focus on what you do best as an author, and what processes work best for you.”

So my challenge to me, during this most wonderful time of the year (because No Bugs), will be to look for what’s going right, for what pleases me and surprises me in a good way, for what deserves a second look simply because my experience was problem-free or maybe even positive. And then I am going say something–to thank somebody, to offer a  compliment, to write a happy little review.

There are enough critics in the world, and my capacity for analytical thinking too often gets fixated on the pea under the mattress. I am asking myself to make the effort to also admire the bed hangings, the comfy pillows, and the lovely quilt going forward, and maybe there won’t BE as many stupid little peas.

What have you noticed lately going right, being done right, working just as it should or maybe even better?

Lord Julian’s series opener, A Gentleman Fallen on Hard Times, is free in the web store for the whole month of December, as is What a Lady Needs for Christmas. On my Deals page, I also list a  half dozen shorter reads (we’re busy, busy, busy these days, I know) that are free and exclusive to the web store.



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10 comments on “Successfully Yours

  1. Pingback: A Dramatic Conclusion!!! | Grace Burrowes | I believe in love.

  2. I haven’t actually noticed anything being especially better than expected lately, but I suspect that’s because I have high standards and I always expect the best. I don’t always, or even often, get it but that’s what I expect. It would take something pretty spectacular for me to notice it. For what it’s worth, I hold myself to very high standards, too, and no, I don’t always meet them.
    I have been trying to concentrate on the positive rather than the negative, like you, and I have always offered compliments and thanks. In that vein, thank you very much for the free books you are providing on your webstore and the others that I read through the library! I don’t read reviews and I don’t write them and I kind of resent the constant barrage of emails I get asking for reviews for making regular purchases or visiting physicians. I’ll answer surveys but I don’t spend time on social media (unless this blog counts).
    As I’ve written before, your blog posts are a highlight of my week and always thought-provoking. Even when I don’t have a comment I want to make (or that gets lost in the ether as has happened a few times), I look forward to them. So Thank you for these, too!

  3. I’ve shared this before here, I think, but the young people today are so impressive. I’ve been teaching college freshmen for over twenty years now, and I can’t over-emphasize how impressed I am with this cohort’s kindness, their intelligence, their desire to leave the world better, but also to leave everyone better today, with a kind word or a sincere thank you. I also have gotten to volunteer this year at the local elementary school, and those kids impress me too: earnest, hardworking, thoughtful, and kind. One of my own children has some social limitations that may be adding up to an autism diagnosis (it would be what used to be called Asperger’s). The other girls actively reach out and include her, and they’ll even explain the social cues she misses. Not in a condescending way, just matter-of-fact. It has helped her so much. Normally, in unstructured social situations, she will seek smallest, quietest place she can find (closets, under tables), but she asked to throw a holiday party for her friends, and we had a troop of happy, loud kids in the house yesterday, and it went so well. At one or two points things got overwhelming for her, but she quickly recovered, in no small part due to her friends reaching out with concern.

    The kids in my little corner of the world are doing so many things right.

    • Ona,
      Thanks for this. I try not to bite at click bait, but when I see somebody on social media casually slamming young people (they don’t want to work, they can’t use a rotary phone, they can’t write cursive…) I do get up on my hind legs. In so many ways, “kids today,” are an improvement over Boomers. Young people are less criminal, less violent, less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, less likely to become parents during their minority, less likely to become parents before marriage, far more environmentally aware, more tolerant… on and on and on. Whether they learned from good examples or bad, young people are getting a lot of things right that their parents and grandparents got wrong.

  4. I also have volunteered on and off with LTR and donate regularly. They’ve expanded their audience greatly over the past ten years, I hope to be one of those in my nineties getting to pet a horse.
    Your latest book, Miss Dramatic, has a description of Gavin’s horse Roland which I’ve quoted, and of course given you full credit for.
    “He wants to please but he gets distracted. He doesn’t enjoy a lot of native courage….” That fits my 9 yr old Morgan gelding to a tee. My horse lady friends have had a good laugh over that. Thanks for all your wonderful books, I’ve read them ALL.

  5. I’m glad the therapeutic riding place is thriving. You have made me see that I am focusing too much on the pea under the blanket. I’ll try to correct my course on that.

  6. First, that is a lovely comment from Ona. I read a lot of bad news about youth, so it was very encouraging to read her report on kids being kind and thoughtful and caring. I focus too much on the pea as well sometimes. If one does 100 things and 99 go right but 1 goes wrong, do we congratulate ourselves on the 99? of course not! We obsess about the 1 that went wrong. I am trying not to do that – yes, fix the 1 but not dismiss the other 99! My life is going fine right now, and that’s a blessing. No major health issues for me and mine after a couple of little scares; I have heat, water, food, a car that runs, etc., so I am feeling content. And thank you for the latest Lord Julian. I just downloaded it and will have read it by tonight!!

  7. What a Lady Needs for Christmas is one of my favorites, thank you! Dante’s decency and insecurities and parenting has endeared him to me.

    I had covid in November and I am delighted to have the brain fog lift! I can finish a sentence without drifting off! Glorious! Feeling healthy is such a gift, I appreciate it so much. And, a new job direction became clear to me during that down time, a brain with some time to ponder can land on spots that a busy brain cannot.

    My siblings are also doing everything for our mother’s crazy schedule of appts for cataract surgery for both eyes. I was sick when the schedule got sent out and by the time I felt better, every appt was voluntarily taken by someone that was not me. My husband will be out of town during a lot of it and I am happy to not have additional stuff on my plate while single parenting. My brothers are even taking the lead on holiday plans, I love when that happens.