I came home exhausted today--both physically and emotionally--after my usual Monday morning of exercising horses at the therapeutic riding center where I've been volunteering for the past 6 1/2 years. It's been on my mind awhile now, this feeling that maybe it's time for a break, but I've been reluctant to give in to the idea. There are so many rewards working there, not the least of which is developing relationships with those very special children and adult riders. And I've so enjoyed learning more about horses and their wonderful, giving personalities. If not for this volunteer work, I doubt I'd have taken up riding lessons for myself, much less have the opportunity to help train the therapy horses.
Yes, there's a lot I'll miss. I've made many good friends among the volunteers and staff at the center. It's been a joy helping at Special Olympics and other competitions for riders with disabilities. It's been fulfilling to have worked there long enough that my input is valued for committee work, task forces, and volunteer training sessions.
But, as I said, I'm tired. Lately I've even had fleeting thoughts of pulling up stakes altogether and moving to another city--a need I haven't felt in a really long time. When my husband's job used to transfer us every 18 months or so, I had frequent opportunities to start fresh in a new community. I didn't have to worry much about growing bored or burning out on my involvements because I could always count on regular changes of scenery and friendships. Then we settled in one city for 14 years before moving on, and I had to learn to enforce my own changes when I needed them. And now we've been in this location for 11 years. And in the same house for longer than I've lived in any one home in my entire life.
Seven-year itch? Yep, now that I think about it, I'm in my seventh year at the therapeutic riding center. But things change. People change. Life moves ever forward. Nothing stays the same. New staff people at the center, new volunteers, new horses, new procedures. So it's not boredom driving me away. And the changes aren't necessarily bad . . . just different.
So what's my problem? One huge factor is the large chunk of time it takes just to make the round trip out there--a good hour and a half (if traffic cooperates). Then another hour or two or three or four of volunteer work, and half (or more) of the day is gone! I keep telling myself I want to invest more quality time in my writing career, but when I come home exhausted two or three times a week, that quality time is kaput. I can't keep subdividing my time and energy.
I guess a lot of this sounds like rationalization. Maybe it is. It's just a very, very hard decision to make. I need to pray about it, and I hope anyone reading this will pray with me and for me.