“Remember Who You Are…”

I’m coming down the home stretch with the first draft of A Gentleman of Unreliable Honor. This will be Lord Julian’s sixth adventure and once again, our hero will be told to take his clues and get lost just as he’s growing certain more is at stake than missing ear bobs. Why am I so bent on inflicting on his lordship rejection of his sleuthing, the very thing he does best?

The answer is pretty simple: I want to hit him where it hurts, a lot.

When the last horse that I leased (dear old Santiago) went literally out to pasture, I cast around for another riding situation. Nobody I asked was interested in adding me as a student to their lesson program when I am not keen to buy another horse, I no longer have any interest in showing/competing, and I don’t care to clinic with the big names. My ambition is and was  to continue fostering a connection with a horse, period.

Buck and Grace, both of us about age 14

Barn doors were all but shut in my face as I attempted to find a way to do that, and man, that hurt. “Before I played the piano, baked brownies, or wrote in a journal, before anything else, I was a horse girl,” says me.

I practically memorized the World Book Encyclopedia article on horses. The only thing I taught myself to draw was the profile of a horse. Every year for my birthday and Christmas, I asked for a horse, and when my Barbie had no horse of her own, I stole my brother’s Johnny Quest horses for her to ride.

Horses helped me distinguish myself from a lively heap of accomplished siblings. Horses helped me move away from home as an adolescent, because to spend time with my noble steed, I bunked in with my godparents and their offspring for days at a time. Horses were how I dealt with pretty serious depression in my mid-thirties, and how I formed a lot of those middle-distance, low-stress relationships that can yet be a source of comfort and support on a bad day.

Stretch and Grace
Both of us middle-aged

Horses have been a lifeline between me and my daughter. And those… those people who gave me the bum’s rush were trying to convince me that I wasn’t a horse girl any more? That my horse girl identity had reached its expiration date?

I think not. Hence I knocked on the door of a therapeutic riding program whose motto is, “Love, Trust, Respect.” The experience of being rejected though, of being told I was surplus to requirements, not fit for duty, no longer welcome in a milieu I’d moved in for decades, stuck with me.

Lord Julian has turned to solving mysteries as a lifeline back to dignity, self-respect, and a valued place in society, however marginal. When he’s told to run along before his efforts bear fruit, he’s cut to the quick. Skills he risked his life to develop, lessons learned the hard-and-dangerous way, contributions he’s uniquely suited to making, and he’s supposed to run along?

Delray and Grace,
both of us having fun (I hope)!

He can’t. He can’t and he won’t, because he is a sleuth. It’s not a hobby, not diversion, not a job. It’s who he is.

Have you ever been told to take your hard-earned wisdom and sweat equity and just run along? Have you been tempted to take your sold gold marbles of experience and go home? To one commenter, I’ll send a $100 Amazon gift card (or Apple, Kobo, or B&N if that’s how you roll).

PS: I’ll be putting the blog on hiatus for a few weeks in July, because his lordship has some Christmas sleuthing to do, and I need to get cracking on that tale (along with a few other projects)!


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27 comments on ““Remember Who You Are…”

  1. Sometimes at work, people with fancy titles insist they know more than the workers who do the actual work. When that happens my instinct is to just do what they want if they won’t listen and watch things blow up in their faces because they didn’t understand downstream impacts.

  2. For almost the last 20 years I’ve been very involved with a musical theatre group. I initiated more than several events that lasted, depending on when they started, for a number of years, as well as supporting numerous others. Lately most of these have been stopped or changed and the group really has no further appeal. I can support change, but it seems that ‘corporate’ knowledge is being willfully ignored. It definitely seems like: so long, it’s been good to know ya. And I believe I shall wave bye bye, or as Grace puts it, take my gold marbles and go home.

  3. Yep, at my job. Had a hostile corporate takeover that completely ruined a beautiful setup. The new overlords refused to listen to how our boutique service ran, and proceeded to make numerous changes that ran the business into the ground. No matter how many times o gave my input, the new owners ignored me. I took my marbles and left, and they ended up losing millions of dollars- ha!

  4. “You gotta know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away; know when to run.”

    I sincerely appreciate the post and the comments, as my reaction has been to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. And, no, I can’t do what I once did, and in some respects honestly don’t want to. But “they” have made me feel useless and I can’t believe I’m buying it.

  5. Gosh, yes! I was the Subject Expert at a software firm and happy with sharing my knowledge with customers (who had problems that needed solving) and new hires (who needed to learn the products). But a new manager (after a merger with an East Coast company) basically told me I had to move to a new area because if one stayed too long in one area, one wasn’t doing the expected thing. I was middle-aged and had no need to move up the ladder but they felt moving up was the only way to go. I still don’t get it but corporate America seems to be valuing knowledge and experience less and less. Maybe that explains why good customer service and quality products are less and less available in our lives.
    Happy hiatus but I’ll miss your weekly essays. Looking forward to new books though!

  6. Pingback: Hot Times on the Blog!!! | Grace Burrowes | I believe in love.

  7. Oh boy, I remember a time when I was absolutely told that all of my wisdom had served its purpose, and all the extraordinary effort I had put in for a job that was on the brink of disaster (read: trying desperately to help the company avoid massive fines and a p.r. nightmare) was, let us say, old news. Why? Because my boss wanted to reorganize the department so he could have a personal assistant, just like everyone else at his level did, and in order for that to happen he needed to reduce my job to part-time. Bye, bye, me! I was crushed! I was humbled–I went from indispensable to unwanted. And then I came to see that my great humiliation did not matter to the people who really mattered to me. My family did not think I was a lesser person. The people I respected at the company knew the job elimination did not reflect on my self-worth. And when my dad was hospitalized two days later, everything fell into place with perfect clarity: If they didn’t need me, that freed me up to be where I was needed most.

    • Oh, Beth, how perfect for you. I hope your father is doing WELL – and that you are, too! Congratulations on perceiving the Universe’s hand in your life in such a beautiful way. ♥️Ripple

  8. Hi Grace! I’m so enchanted to be writing – to YOU! Thank you for your amazing storytelling, your natural (apparently) ability to gracefully span generations of English “being there”-ness and bring “there” to us now! For some reason we are obviously thirsty for this epoch in the world’s past, whether we have background in Britain or not! Why is that, do you think?

    Anyway, I read everything you write with relief and towering enjoyment. Love infuses your words, overrides all and justice prevails in matters that naturally touch my life and my heart. Thank you so much for inspiring hope in my soul through the love in your books. Thank you so much for being an “old soul” so we, your grateful readers, may absorb your enchanting – yes, there’s that word again, applied to YOU! – stories and be inspired to hopefully tell our own!

    Thank you for bringing more loving justice into our world by validating this huge community of world readers who obviously all value the same qualities!

    You bring me such joy through your words and their arrangements.

    Filled with gratitude for YOU, I am, Ripple♥️

  9. Yes, I have been told to “just run along” and it’s never welcome to hear…especially when you’re a volunteer offering to help. Like Lord Julian, I persevere! Enjoy your July respite.

  10. After working as a graphic designer for a small print shop for nearly 8 years, I was summarily dismissed…actually I wasn’t even give the dignity of being laid off outright. My hours were cut from full time to part time to “on call as needed,” to not being called at all (a few days before Christmas, just to add insult to injury). I was told that my skills were no longer needed. Well, apparently I was more important than they thought. Soon after being “disappeared” I began hearing from my former clients about how there was no longer anyone at the print shop who knew how to help them with their projects as I had. One of them said they told my (former) boss, “Tina would have been able to do this!” A few months later, they went out of business. Now there’s an insurance brokerage in their place. Too bad. So sad. Not! I enjoyed caregiving my grandkids for the next 3 years, then came out of retirement to work for a non-profit where I am endlessly complimented and appreciated. So it all worked out in the end. Stay safe. Stay well everyone!

  11. When I read about your riding dilemma and need to be around horses, I thought of our local Rocking Horse Rehab and how your skills would be perfect. The closest I’ve come to being told goodbye was when I (and others) were laid off from out computer programming jobs which went overseas with some onsite “consultants”. Tho it would have been good to get a few more years of a nice salary, the silver lining was that I was able to aid my Dad in his last few years (and I didn’t miss the corporate aggravations but did miss the actual programming).

  12. Well sure-I think that happens to most of us one time or another. A recent time was when I was told I’d done the job so well that there was no need for the position any longer. The decision was made by a threatened boss who a few weeks later lost her position. Since mine was “eliminated,”I got a bit of severance pay. She didn’t… karma’s an odd thing.

  13. To me, the ultimate rejection is a spouse who rejects you in a time of need, right when you’re expecting to lean on them.

    There I was, lying in a hospital bed, 24 staples in my spine, on a morphine pump for the pain, & in strolls the man who said something about “in sickness & in health.” Instead of stepping up & taking over the provider’s role for awhile so I could quit the job that was literally killing me, he blithely informed me, “You’re no fun anymore. I want a divorce.”

    Thank God for morphine. I pushed that button that allowed for an extra hit of blessed numb & managed to get through hearing about the other women who were NOT paying his bills or shouldering all the adulting while he played & betrayed. Captain Oblivious so self absorbed that it never occurred to him that a woman lying in a hospital bed on IV morphine definitely did not need any extra pain inflicted by someone she trusted & relied on.

    It’s soul destroying to realize the person you tied your life to honestly doesn’t care if you live or die & views a life-altering injury only in terms of how it’s impacting their fun. Talk about a rejection!

    I’ve done far better in life without the anchor of an immature manchild dragging me down. But the soul scar of that level of rejection & betrayal remained raw & painful long after the scars of the body flattened, faded & healed.

    Our Grace’s realism in portraying the damage this kind of rejection inflicts on the psyche is one of the things that makes Lord Julian such an unforgettable & addictive character. He resonates with us on a deeper level.

  14. After spending 4 months in war torn Paris at 20 months old, I was taken to Williamsburg with my grandparents for my second birthday. I remember thinking this was very fine and that I liked it much better than bombed grand buildings. Later I moved on to dollhouses. When I was 14, my mother bought an abandoned farmhouse built by a revolutionary war soldier in New Hampshire. It turned out I had very good three dimensional sense and I drew the renovation plans and did a lot of the construction work. I put the roof on the house with the help of a neighbor.
    When I was seventeen I went to Radcliffe College which was the girl’s part of Harvard. I wanted to major in Architecture, but I was told as a girl I did not have the math skills to do Architecture. My Math Achievement Tests were 780 only 20 points under the top score of 800.
    I continued working in construction and doing renovation. Eventually after I was married, I got a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering and Architecture at Stanford. I went on to buy and sell properties and renovate them. In the 1980’s I had a construction company in New Hampshire. I loved working on historic properties in Berkeley CA, Morristown New Jersey, Roland Park in Baltimore MD and now as an old lady I have redone the colonial house I worked on in Bradford NH.
    I just went to my 55 Harvard reunion and I’m still cross they would not let me major in Architecture because I was a girl!

  15. My comment isn’t about my own experiences, but about a conversation I had this past weekend with family. They are in total support of proposed laws that would put an age limit on politicians: nobody over the age of 70. I pointed out that I’m 66 and I don’t believe I am less capable than a 50 year old. I also pointed out that there is a reason cultures through the ages have revered their elders and sought out their counsel. The family with whom I was having this conversation remained unmoved. The “elderly” should not be in positions of political power. My son allowed that they could be in an advisory position, thereby taking advantage of their knowledge and life experiences. It was interesting getting this viewpoint from the 30-somethings, but frustrating at the same time.

  16. When I was growing up everyone always looked up to the “elders”. You wanted their advise, their knowlegde. Newly married couples asked for advice. Pregnant women asked for the wealth of knowledge from those who have been in their shoes and how to make it through it all. I waited for that day. My experiences were going to help the new generation. How wrong I was. So many think it is outdated and don’t want to listen. They think they know better and do not need the help of generations past down.

  17. My “got the boot” moment came with a book club that I had started with friends. It was a delightful group of people until two women that I worked with wanted to join. They weren’t my favourite colleagues but the majority approved and so they were in. Unfortunately for me and I’m guessing other quiet people, the two of them totally dominated discussions until it was impossible for me to be able to give my opinions of the titles we were reading. While I wasn’t kicked out, I realized our gatherings were no longer fun for me, so I quietly left “my” book club that was no longer mine. Happily, I found other groups that were much more enjoyable.

  18. Wow! Did that strike a note with me. I’ve spent about 8 months nursing the hurt. I am thinking about taking my “talents” to a different place later this summer.

  19. I never thought of you as an author who loves to torture her character’s Grace, but a) I’ve been saving Lord Julian’s books for this summer so maybe you’re just putting him through more, or b) I’ve just always been so caught up in the story that I never looked at the events as character torture. Hmmm

    I think every woman has been dismissed and rejected for completely invalid reasons — especially after we hit a ‘certain age’. I know it has happened to me many times over the years in school and on various jobs. I was either too young or inexperienced to do the job or even to understand the objectives. (insert eye roll here). Later, I was too old to understand the technology and keep up with the younger employees.

    My last job before retiring, had my boss telling me I mothered my team – for several reasons that boiled down to treating them like adults with respect. He thought that every little mistake deserved being written up with the verbage that the next mistake could lead to being fired. This included being as much as a minute late clocking in or out – even when the crew members were helping customers. I decided I was done, so did my assistant manager. Two weeks after we left, there was only one crew member left because the people they brought in to manage the store had the attitude he wanted, but that no one wanted to deal with – including the customers.

  20. Just like many others, I had a workplace lack of appreciation. Oh well, I’m happier not dealing with the passive aggressive boss and the vague non-instructions and resultant criticisms for not mindreading what was actually wanted. As much as an unexpected dismissal was shocking, it was also such a relief. It may be trickier but using the interests that got me into the job in the first place, elsewhere, on my own terms, makes me happier.

  21. It’s always difficult to deal with those who “think” they know more than you do, but I’ve learned to say nothing and just go ahead and do what I want without arguing (or giving them power over me). Those capable of learning realize that I can be incredibly stubborn when I want to. Sorry that you had the painful experience of getting blocked from something you loved, but glad you found a workaround.

  22. A boat load of examples come to mind. I no longer react for long but I am always sad. The most fun I have in this life is working in a collaborative group. So much fun and everything turns out better. Unfortunately for me it has been comparatively rare. I like Lord Julian and I hope his HEA is across all issues.

  23. OH my, this essay struck to the depths of my heart. However, since I was in 6th grade I lived for my time at the stables with a friend Leah. Thankfully, her family could afford to buy and board a horse and I was lucky to muck stalls and other jobs to enjoy exercising a horse every day.

    I so often think of Leah and the times we had. Due to the choices of a young girl wanting to do “good and save the world through prayer, work, and solitude”, I chose the convent and Leah went on with her horse.

    Oh, how my heart sours at the sight and touch of a horse at any time and anywhere permitted.

    I understand being rejected as a wise, older woman (83) dismissed from the “horse girl” world.

    Other adventures have filled my heart but there is always that dream of getting on a horse even for just a short turn around a circle others determine. Hopefully, that’s why I enjoy Julian’s adventures. If you’re knocked down, get back up and try again. You are an inspiration. Go for it girl!!

  24. I share Lord Julian’s pain every time he gets brushed off, but the very act reveals that there is more afoot. It’s almost a validation; he’s gotten so far they are worried he might discover deeper secrets. He still has unanswered questions, significant ones. It’s a setback: painful and personal. But I find his daily experiences more painful, before he gets the boot – he questions himself constantly, worries that his brain or body is betraying him, and has that ongoing feeling that he’s overlooking something.

    In my Real Life, I got the boot so hard I still have “scars” 25 years later. But the workplace didn’t fall apart when I left – they had already found people to do my job without being as difficult to work with. Unlike most commenters here, I had to face a workaholic’s unpleasant reality: I was no less replaceable than if I took my arm out of a bucket of water. On the bright side, it was a woefully underpaid job taken for job security. After a massively large layoff due to contractual issues (the people who hired the company didn’t allot funds), the project finally got funded again. But some key employees had already found greener pastures at normal salaries. Without that job security, there was no point staying at the poor salaries we had been getting. Other key employees demanded market-value salaries. To my surprise, they brought me back in a different role, knowing I had other strong abilities. And while working there, I kept looking, and within six months found a job elsewhere for a 50% increase in salary. The experience won’t stop hurting. I still have nightmares about conflicts with my old boss. But in subsequent years my life took unexpected turns for the better. I’d rather not have gone through the experience, but my days are as peaceful as I want them to be.