A few days ago, I finally caught up with Kathy to ride, and we had a long, chatty walk on our boys. It was Iggy this time for me, which felt like going home in so many ways. In the weeks that had passed since we’d gotten together, much had happened.

Sharing the news back and forth while sitting on a good horse on a beautiful day … As I frequently say to Kathy as we untack, “just what the doctor ordered.”

She mentioned scribing for a judge at a dressage show that day and her favorite comment in the collective remarks.

Takes good risks.

That one took us down a delightful rabbit hole of introspection about riding and training horses, and life choices and the future as it lies ahead of us, both fifty-something.

When Tom and I chose to move to South Carolina, it all happened in a whirlwind of bold and quick decisions. Separately and as a new couple, we left what can only be described as a bountiful safety net of people profoundly dear to us — family, friends, colleagues, oh heck, even contractors, and things as simple as our favorite restaurants and grocery stores.

But it felt right.

Wherever you go, there you are.

I often think of that quip as a cautionary tale, but perhaps it is encouraging as well.

I told Tom with great (faked) confidence — “don’t you worry, they’ll come.”

And they did. They are. (Covid slowed it down a bit, but that gave us time to unpack, furnish the guest rooms and build horse fencing and stick a few plants in the ground.)

Tom’s son moved south to take a new job, a mere three hours from us. He joined my family, and some friends, here for Thanksgiving — a mix of new and old and Tom’s and mine — I felt a giddy contentment.

Friends passing through and detouring here, overnight or for a weekend. Horsey friends staying in Aiken, getting in touch, laughing and sharing. More on their way, an onslaught of the best kind. We have a calendar just to keep track of all the comings and goings in this new life.

I caught up with some dear, longtime friends just a few months before we left, celebrating the life of our friend Kathi Arigoni. Kathi, who I always liked to describe as “very.” Yes, just the single word. Very. Because Kathi was so Very whatever-it-was-in-the-moment. Very passionate, Very joyful, Very <insert adjective here.>

If joie de vivre had a meme, it would be an image of Kathi. Laughing over something Very Funny. Defending a political stance she believed in Very Intensely.

These friends, perhaps a decade older than me, as was Kathi when she passed, had a message.

Keep living!

I think my past motto might have been Keep Hustling.

(For work, for money, for things, for approval, for worthiness, mostly.)

But it seems there has been a shift, a cosmic turn, one tiny incremental tweak at a time. A course reset if you will.

I dance as I make this house a home, recalling deep in my bones, the marrow, that for me my home has always been about having a place to welcome people I love, and feed them (of course.) This time, this morning, it’s my not-nearly-famous Polish lasagna. Later this week, apple pie. With my baby sister, it will be outsourced — sushi and dumplings made by someone else.

And all the idle and not-so-idle talk and earnest sharing of life that happens over that communal meal. Over a cocktail, a chat in the living room, while tacking up a horse, or on the patio, or in the Ranger, buzzing the property.

I squeeze in business zoom calls between the important stuff, imperfectly. Riding and doing yoga, getting on the Echelon bike, and taking care of Tom and plants and birds at the feeders and horses and planning how to squeeze in more living. Some days I get sucked into a work dilemma, but I spend less time circling that drain.

It’s simple. More taking care of others while being taken care of myself, including by me.

I tell Alexa to play music — a stupidly eclectic variety. Dua Lipa, Vivaldi, Justin Timberlake, Walker Hayes, Queen, the Ozzy Osbourne station. (This was originally an acoustic sacrifice for Tom, but don’t tell him, I play Ozzy when he’s not hereĀ  from time to time.) Acoustic jazz, Fergie, the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

I dance.

Often saying —

Alexa, turn up the volume.

The little radio in the barn gets the best reception on a country music station. And now I’m finding myself singing along with those tunes as well. Country music fan, who knew?

I am just dancing to the music that happens to be playing.

The longer I live, the more I understand that we all have a story.

Mine is a love story.

Not in the way you might think.

A story about Loving Life, such as it is.