Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Related to the Same Subject

SUMMARY: Lifetime Gold and another blogger.
Also, on doing less USDAA: I was hoping to finish Tika's Lifetime Achievement Award (LAA) Gold this year. We need 32 Qs. Last year we earned 85. So (in theory) I could do half the USDAA trials and still make it. Although--ahem--of course it would be nice to see whether we could actually make it to Platinum. That's Gold plus another 150 Qs. Two more FULL years like last year and then some. And she'd be over 12 by then. So we'd have to keep on with a full slate of USDAA.

Nothing like pressure.

Meanwhile, another blogger (Cedarfield, back east) just posted about her new agility life sans actual trials. I can see my life, if I were to stop trialing, roughly parallel hers. So it's great food for thought.

Her blog post is private but she kindly gave me permission to repost. So here it is.

My New Life
Feb. 15th, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Even though I'm still adjusting to this new non-trialing lifestyle, I can say that I'm definitely liking the slower pace and lack of pressure I feel. I no longer spend my Friday evenings dreading the thought of getting up in the cold pre-dawn to schlepp myself and all my stuff and my dogs out to some cold, damp, windy or otherwise inhospitable locale to spend the day feeling out of place among all the people who were happy to be there. And I'm loving that I can sit around on a weekend morning and just enjoy the company of my husband and dogs rather than always rushing off to be somewhere else. Why, last Sunday I actually spent a couple of hours reading a book. I can't remember the last time I did that unless I was on vacation.

And I'm still doing agility. I take a class once a week that I thoroughly enjoy despite having to drive 90 minutes each way after working all day and knowing I'll have to get up early the next morning. I'm teaching a couple of times a week and training my dogs when I have time and I feel like it. I'm still just as interested in agility as I was before but I've added a couple of new training interests and signed up for a Nosework camp next Fall. I'm also still working on getting started in a new activity that I don't want to talk about until it actually happens. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time but never had the time or resources to do because--hello!--agility trials ate up everything I had. I'm even taking a basic drawing class one night a week just because I've always wanted to learn how to draw and now I have the itme.

I definitely do miss being part of the agility community and seeing people and dogs that I've known for years. And even though I'm still doing agility with my dogs and teaching agilty classes, I don't see most of the people I've spent so much of my life with over the past 15 years. I feel a little like I'm standing on the side of the road watching busloads of people going past. They're all going to the same party but I got off the bus and now I'm feeling a little lonely and forlorn standing there by myself. It's what I knew would happen if I stopped going to trials. I've spent so much time trialing that I neglected to become a part of other communities. But despite feeling lonely sometimes, I know I'll find new things to do and new friends. I'll develop new goals and new interests and probably by next year at this time, I will have forgotten how I feel now.

I have actually entered a couple of local AKC trials for one day only. I want to get Zodi out there just to see what happens. I wonder if it will be fun or if I'll regret entering. If I find I'm feeling those old (negative) feelings again, I can just stop entering. There are also a couple of CPE trials that allow day of trial entry so I might do those, too. The people who go to local CPE trials are not the same people who go to the local USDAA and AKC trials so I'm wondering how that will change the experience. I don't usually enjoy going places where I don't know anyone but I'll give it a try and see what happens.

And the weather for the last month has been dry and sunny which will soon give way to perfect camping weather. This will be the first Spring in quite awhile that I'll have the time to do more than one quick trip. Another big thing on the horizon is the yard sale I've been wanting to do for oh, about 120 years. I think I've finally convinced my husband that it's time we parted with some of the accumulation of almost 41 years together. Every time a relative died and left anything behind, we somehow ended up with it. Both of us are so sentimental that we find it hard to part with anything but I have a good--no, a GREAT goal of what to do with the money. It's been almost 14 years since we've been overseas and this is the year I want to go.

We have friends who own a little house in the Greek islands that we plan to sponge off of for at least a week and then take a drive down the length of the Peloponnesus to see the Mycenean ruins. And I really want to see Paris and visit the Louvre and maybe take a quick trip to Cornwall. So, I'm clearing out the barn and the closets and having a huge blowout yard sale. It might not be enough for the whole trip but it will sure go a long ways toward the plane tickets.

I actually already started cleaning out the garage this weekend when I threw away almost all of my agility ribbons and notebook upon notebook of seminar notes, class notes, camp notes and notebooks. I don't know why I saved it all, it just seemed like anything I put that much time and effort into, I should have something to show for it. Unfortunately, I don't. It almost seems as if I'm waking up after a long sleep. What was I doing all those years? Yes, I had fun and stayed busy but what was it all for? It's not like I became a champion or anything close to it. I never became famous and gave seminars all over the country (although I did make an appreciable contribution to other presenters annual income). It was a pretty sobering exercise but it felt good to clear out all those old boxes and see the clean space underneath.

26 comments:

  1. I feel like we should start a 12-step program to help ourselves and others deal with the withdrawal pains of Life After Agility. Not to make too light of it, though. It's pretty painful at times--especially when I was tossing out all my old ribbons. It felt like I was saying goodbye to those dogs all over again.

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  2. Wow, yeah, I can imagine. I have boxes & boxes that I keep meaning to line up, take photos of, and then dispose of. All it takes is time... [ complete thought with the usual litany of busy-ness].

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  3. And AA would work for us, too--Agility Anonymous.

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  4. I am now 2 or 3 years post agility and I have filled my life with other things. I've actually had the thought that I might not focus on agility with my next dog (OMG did I really just type that?). I can't imagine giving up my new activities. The first year was hard - I had the same getting off the bus feeling that Cedarfield so accurately described. Nose Work is a great sport in that there are at the moment only 2-3 trials per year in a region. That will grow with time, but it will be ages until it's 3 trials per month!

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  5. Just wanted to add that I think it may have been extra hard for me because I didn't really choose to get off the bus. My dog chose it for me. I never dreamed that I would be thinking about not getting back on it with the next dog. I so need to join the AA group :)

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  6. I was going to say, I wonder whether it's harder if you're forced into the decision. But you preempted me. I think you're in the AA group on the rare occasions when we manage to go hiking together when there's an agility event going on. Ummm... so... when?

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  7. Kinda sad. I hope I dont get to that point.

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  8. Diana, you can probably avoid it if you can avoid getting caught up in the "must enter every trial available" syndrome that I did. And make sure not to neglect the people in your life in favor of doing agility.

    I actually was encouraged by my agility instructor to enter as many trials as possible so that I could get as much ring time as possible. Seemed like good advice at the time but if I had had more time to think about it, I would have realized that just trialing more won't neccessarily solve your performance anxiety problems.

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  9. Wendy: I'm having a lot of fun with Nosewok, too. I love Tracking but it requires a lot more time and effort than NW. I can set up finds in my garage on my lunch break from work and the dogs love it. I'm even going to a seminar next month and a multi-day camp in Sept.

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  10. Cedarfield: Which workshop are you going to? I assume you're going to the poconos for camp?

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  11. @Diana: Ditto what Cedarfield said. I got to the point where I wasn't doing anything else that I liked to do because I was either trialing or trying to catch up on basic chores and errands that I hadn't been able to do because I was doing agility. And it wasn't just the weekends--had to pack and go to bed early fridays, so that was out. And had to sometimes work more earlier in the week to accommodate friday. And (for a long time) two nights a week were class. So my whole life was agility and nothing else, and I got to resenting it. Basically: There can be too much of a good thing.

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  12. @Cedarfield: Wendy has been teaching nosework here in the bay area. It appeals to me, too. Waffling on signing away my sundays (for a more local class than wendy's).

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  13. I'm a little puzzled here. Seems like it's a simple matter of balance. Why are the only choices to trial almost every weekend or to give it up entirely? I do a LOT of stuff other than agility but I still love to go to trials. It only takes over your life if you let it.

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  14. Yeah, balance, absolutely. But I know from C's earlier posts that she's evaluated what she likes and doesn't like about it and is giving up the parts she really doesn't like. Like, getting up at 4 in the morning in the cold and the dark to drive for hours to do agility. I have come so close lately to just turning off my alarm and going back to sleep. It is not a pleasant experience, and it has gotten so old that it no longer even has the excitement that it once did of doing something different/unique enough to make it worth that misery.

    Which would limit me to maybe 4 or 5 trials a year, "sleeping in" until 5:30 or even gasp 6:00, which doesn't seem quite as bad, but still, there are the fridays taken up with packing (it always takes a couple of hours, no matter how well organized i am) and going to bed early, so every agility weekend is a 3-day weekend, so every pre-agility week feels shorter and more compressed. Which would be fine if I had only done that occasionally, but again now it feels onerous instead of unique and exciting.

    As C said: If you always maintain balance, you're probably good. Once you've overdosed, you'll no longer feel the same about it.

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  15. Wendy: yes the one in the Poconos. And I'm doing an intro day in Asheville in March.

    Ellen: Someone pointed out that there still aren't many NW trials so even if you're going to class, you won't be spending every weekend trialing. Plus this is a great way to amuse your dogs when it's too cold or wet to take them outside to play. Check out some You Tube videos--especially those of the dog "Parker".

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  16. Elayne: I think it's a bit like gambling. I had some success with Jaime (my BC) and wanted more. I thought if I increased the amount of time I spent training, going to seminars and classes and trialing, I would increase the amount of success. It didn't happen that way but I had just enough success that it kept me thinking if I just put little more time, effort and money into it, I'd get where I wanted to go. Plus, the people I spent the most time with back then all encouraged me to set performance goals. They were excited about going to Regionals so I thought I should be, too. It puzzled and worried me that I didn't enjoy it the way they did. I thought maybe I'd enjoy it more if I was more successful.

    Last Fall I decided to set a goal of trying to qualify my dog for the AKC Nationals. I thought having a goal was good, it seemed that everything I read and heard was about how you had to have goals or you might as well not train at all. Unfortunately, I bought that line of thought and in trying to reach it put too much pressure on myself--and even worse, my dog--and became progressively less happy about going to trials.

    I hope I find that I can have a good time trialing again but even if I can't, I still love training my dogs and teaching so I'll contine with thise activities for as long as they're fun.

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  17. LOL! I like the comparison to gambling. Also an addictive thing. ;-)

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  18. @cedarfield - you'll have a blast at the workshops with amy and jill. I heard camp was tons of fun too. If you stick with the sport I'm sure we'll run across each other at some point. I'm working behind the scenes for the NACSW and am now also a certifying official for trials...

    @ellen - Sunday class at downtown dogs is now full. You'll have to wait for the next opportunity. Maybe that will ease your mind as the decision is made for you (for now)

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  19. Wendy: great! It's not often I get a chance to meet a blog buddy in person.

    btw, do you know of anyone in or near NC who gives NW lessons?

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  20. Cedarfield: I don't know of anyone, but I don't have the lists of instructors who are working on their certification. There is an option on our "Contact Us" page (http://www.nacsw.net) to ask if there are group classes in your area. The email will go to someone who has the info. I'm pretty sure that the upcoming workshops will be our first time in NC, so unless someone has travelled to do workshops elsewhere, there may not be anyone teaching it yet.

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  21. I think goals ARE good if you're treating this like a 'sport' that you want to improve at. However if the goals you set put you on a journey that you're not going to enjoy (ie lots of time trialing) then it's not a good goal. Also there's nothing wrong with not reaching a goal if you enjoyed the journey along the way. There's also no reason that you can't enjoy agility as an activity in and of itself and not worry about performance goals or getting better. It's all about what you want out of it and what you're willing to put in. Hmmm, I should do my own blog post rather than hijack your comments.

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  22. I find that hard to do. If it's a competitive sport, I want to compete. If there are scores, I want them to be good. Anyway, I think that's exactly what C is trying to do--teaching, taking classes, and maybe a local trial here and there, and enjoying that.

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  23. In 2011 I'll be doing quite a bit less trialing and think my decision for doing so may in part have been from following your blog... the osmosis thing. Just this coming weekend actually there's a trial within my 2-hour driving distance that I chose not to enter and definitely don't regret that decision. Also the out-of-town trials this spring I'll only be doing one day instead of my usual two -- still have something to look forward to and enjoy, but also have some down time and a lot less money coming out of the bank.

    Hope you're able to find the right balance for you and your merle girls.

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  24. Elayne: "perfomance goals are neccessary if you want to do well in any sport" is the message that most of us receive and I was encouraged to believe by more than one mentor that in order to "do well" I had to have goals like place in the top 10 at Regionals or Nationals, earn an ADCH, qualify and attend AKC Nationals. None of my mentors, instructors, or seminar presenters (except Kathy Keats)ever suggested that those weren't the "right" goals for everyone.
    Contrast that with the NACSW whose message seems to be "Fun first and foremost". Yes, they are totally different sports and no, I'm not suggesting that all dogs and people should be able to earn an agility championship. But, I think that the message of having fun, relaxation and friendship has been drowned out by the voices that say "have performance goals", "set your sights high", "get a Border Collie so you can be more competitive", "work on your mental game so you can compete more successfully".
    Maybe I'm just nostalgic for when the sport was young and there was a good deal more cameraderie and less competition.

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  25. @cedarfield, can I share your last comment with someone?

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