An Audit

We spent several business management classes at school discussing how best to avoid a dreaded audit from the IRS (like the Inland Revenue) every year when we file our endless and absurd taxes that don’t even provide a national health service.

I’m sorry, I must have slipped on to my soapbox there. Let me hop down again.

An audit would mean having to find all of the documents that support what your taxes are saying. Receipts, invoices, reports, statements, pay slips, that scribbled note from somebody who promised they’d trade you a massage for a custom belt. It means somebody taking a good look at the picture you’ve painted of your life and making sure that you aren’t fibbing to everybody.

I’m sitting in Panera Bread (I have a problem, they put crack in the scones, I’m certain), about to open my text books and do my homework. This in itself is unusual – I am a die-hard last minute homework doer, and this homework isn’t due in for two whole days. I could do it tomorrow, but I’m oddly keen to get it out of the way today. Over the weekend, I finished my homework in the more traditional fashion: late on Sunday night. Except for I finished without rushing, with time to spare before I panicked about going to bed. This included the time it took to dick around with the printer and make it work, which was a solid forty minutes of going back and forth, sighing, and of course tutting.

At the weekend, I managed to do enough laundry to keep us all in underwear for the week, to cook real food at least twice, to work my horses, mow the lawn, spray the driveway for weeds, go to the gym, buy food for Cowboy to eat while I’m gone, and even jettison some of the junk that we are accumulating. On Saturday morning, I got out of bed at 7.30am of my own accord and had left the house before 8am.

Anybody who has known me for any length of my life knows that I am not a Morning Person. I do not do things like get out of bed at 7.30am unless compelled to do so by fire or an axe murderer, or maybe the apocalypse. I certainly don’t function highly enough to drive anywhere before 10am.

So what has happened? How am I able to wake up more easily, and get on with the day so efficiently? How am I not despairing, groaning, at the alarm every morning? Instead, I am pushing snooze and snatching only another couple of minutes before feeling like that was completely sufficient and getting up. How is it that I can achieve so much in a day? Am I grievously ill? It must be a brain tumour.

Hence: I’m doing a quick audit of myself. Life appears to be getting under control. I need to check up on this, make sure the facts are straight.

(Let’s gloss over the parts of life where I walk from one room to another and have no idea why I am in the new room, or the times when Cowboy refers to a conversation we had two days previously, of which I have absolutely zero recollection, rendering him so incredulous that he retorts: “Why do I even talk to you?” Let’s also gloss over the number of times I tell him my life-changing stories – we must be in the thirties by now, and he patiently lets me tell them again.)

For the first time in about as long as I can remember, I am sleeping well. I sleep soundly, so that I don’t notice Sir Richard sprawling his entire body along my side all night until I look up at my alarm and find his back feet shoved in my face. I’ve had to odd anxiety dream related to a few specific stresses in life, but nothing so awful that I woke up feeling exhausted. In fact, I wake up feeling like I actually slept. I genuinely can’t recall the last time I felt this way in the morning.

Junk food has stopped tasting good. Don’t mistake me, cake and scones and sweet things are still delicious, and you don’t have to offer me a peach turnover twice. It’s the other things – the pizza, the boxed mac and cheese that was a thing in my life for a while here, the sneaky bag of Doritos is no long appealing, and I find myself lusting after nectarines and strawberries and tomatoes. And scones. Always scones.

Self-motivating has become less of a chore. It used to take me a good half an hour to chivvy myself along enough to go and put some trousers on. It’s probably down to about five minutes, now, and that is usually due to being sucked in to the newsfeed of drivel on Facebook, from which I would love to extract myself. It’s really a shame that in order to be well connected to your industry, your passions and your friends, you have to buy in to the rest of the nonsense that comes with social media.

In the same vein, though, switching off the technology and going outside is quick and painless. I don’t fret about missing anything. In fact, I fret about missing the sunshine and the daylight and the productive outdoor working time. I fret about not having an hour to spend in the saddle, or about not pulling up the weeds before they completely destroy my garden. I fret about not being able to see our friends, or not being able to hop in the pickup with Cowboy to make a swift trip to the hardware store or the feed store. I fret about having the right equipment so I can go and get some new chickens.

Is this real life? Is this what being a grown up is about? Finally feeling like you might have your act together?

Really, what I am squinting at in the fine print and the numbers is that shadowy thing that I don’t like to talk about – that black dog. The other weekend, I had a day where I felt a little bit flat. I caught myself lying face down on the bed at some point in the middle of the day, for no other reason than I couldn’t think of anything better to do with myself. Cowboy caught me at it. I was full of sighs and shaking of the head, and apologies. He was, as he always is, supportive but unable to help me. I was frightened that it was the start of a long dip into depression.

I was surprised to find myself bouncing back out of it the next day. “Wait, are we not having an episode?” I asked myself, bewildered.

“Nope!” I said, skipping about the kitchen gaily. “We just had a blip and that is totally acceptable and we don’t even have to feel bad about it, because we’ve been working ever so hard and we are quite tired, but we feel better after sleeping well last night, and we are going to be outside all day long! Hurrah!”

Paw prints in the mud by Thea Wilsher - Deviantart

Paw prints in the mud by Thea Wilsher – Deviantart

The audit has even called for the black dog, to see where it might be hiding, but all it uncovered was a print in the mud at the back of the fields. The dog is far, far away.

So what has changed to bring me to this lovely, black dog-free place? I hired a trainer to make sure that I exercise hard and well. I work hard out in the fresh air, and I walk a lot – back and forth to the barn, up and down to the fields and the arena, and around and around the house. I try to eat well – including scones. I touch other living things with love and attention, whether it’s Cowboy, the horses, Sir Richard, Blue Dog, or the strawberry plants who are vainly struggling to grown despite the weeds in their bed and their general neglect, or my massage clients.

That’s what the audit has turned up. Nothing groundbreaking or astonishing or revolutionary. Just some mindfulness, some effort, and some good vibes, wherever those are coming from. Hurrah!

Oh, of course this new found grip on life will disappear the minute we decide to get a puppy/start a new business/refurbish the house/have a baby/go on holiday. But it’s fun to imagine that I’ve got a grip for a while.

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