I have recently acquired my dream of my very own barn to run. I have plotted and dreamed for the past 15 years to have my own, and now after much work, patience, and planning, I have one. And it isn’t just any old barn. It’s our beloved Triple Creek. The first home that Scarlett and I had together, and the accommodations are fit for royals. It is over 88 acres in it’s entirety, 15 of which need to be maintained. The barn is majestic. Historic, and over 10,000 square feet. All of which need to be maintained. There are machines, tractors, and trailers. All of which need to be maintained. There is a custom dressage sized sand ring and stadium jumps. All of which need to be maintained. There are 4 horses, 20 horse blankets, hundreds of grooming supplies, tack, a custom heated tack room, 4 birthing stalls, and a barn cat. All of which need to be maintained. There are about 36 cans of cat food, 110 bales of hay, 10 – 50 pound bags of grain, and 40 bags of shavings that have to be inventoried, ordered, delivered, and stacked every month. This is no one person job. Enter the co-operative.
Knowing that I love my legal career, my marriage, and my family, I decided that establishing a co-op would be the most cost and labor effective way to yield the desired result. Co-ops survive off of cooperation the way that a beehive does to produce honey. Everyone has their designated responsibilities, and does them. Included in the rent is some help with the maintenance of the property and pasture management from very talented tradesmen. However, even with that help the horses are not going to ride themselves. In order to move like a well oiled machine, there is a routine with very little wiggle room put into place, along with some negotiable, and some non-negotiable rules. This allows everyone to know exactly what is expected of them. However anyone completes the tasks is an individual thing, the tasks just need to be completed.
Horses make the structure a very black and white process. You have to bring them in to feed them, and you can’t bring them in if they have dirty stalls. Therefore, the morning feeding person must do their two stalls, so that when the evening feeding person arrives, they only have their two stalls to clean. The time not spent completing the everyday chores, is time spent with your horse. In fact, your being able to ride is completely dependant on the person before you doing their share of the work. If someone doesn’t do their job in the evening, I get stuck with the slack in the morning, and then not only am I not doing hill work with my trusty steed, I am late for work, or go without breakfast. On the flip side, if I don’t do my share, then the person after me runs late to pick up their daughter, or goes without dinner after a long day at the office.
The happy part about a co-operative is that there are people to catch you when you fall. God forbid someone gets sick. Or has a legitimate emergency, the others can cover short term while that person enacts their emergency plan. The others are able to do this only because of two reasons: 1. It’s temporary. And 2. They know that you would do it for them. If either of those two points are missing, then bitter resentment will begin to ensue. They are spending their time and their gas to help – it is then up to the other person to do whatever they can to mitigate the damages. I have found that all of the above also applies to the rest of life.
I give my equine endevour’s back story so that I can speak about something that some people, especially women, can relate to; being a “slack catcher.” A slack catcher is someone who picks up other’s responsibilities because those responsibilities must get done, however no one is doing them leaving only the closest person with a good moral conscious to do them. Slack catchers are also known for fixing what hasn’t been done properly. They are also greatly known for having others offload their responsibilities on to them outright, because irresponsible people know how to manipulate to surive and know that the slack catcher has an inability to say no. Even if they are passive aggressive about it. Slack catchers are not the “If you want it done right, do it yourself” folks, what I’m talking about those who litterally can’t do their tasks because they constantly have to first complete the person before them’s tasks in order to do theirs. Slack catchers run around putting out emergencies due to other peoples blantant irresponsibility. As a result of all of the above, a slack catcher is usually running behind, frantic, busy with not a whole lot to show for the time/energy/money spent, and has little time/energy/money left over to get their personal needs met after all are drained by picking up other people’s slack. Therefore they put themselves at risk for burn out, resentment, anger, depression, anxiety, emotional abuse, manipulation, and all other unpleasant physical ailments.
Some slack catchers can’t ask for help for fear of being labeled weak. Others don’t establish boundaries for fear of looking uncooperative, unreasonable, hard to work with or bitchy. Still others don’t know that they even have a choice. Maybe some slack catchers have broached the topic with the people that lack personal responsibility, usually it’s a frustrating exchange and they only end up manipulated further. I personally know what being a slack catcher is all about, and I have suffered from many of my above listed ailments as a result. Then one day while having a physician explain hypertention to me at the age of 28, I just said fuck this. Now I am going to teach all of you slack catchers how to say fuck this too. Hopefully without you having to lose your shit, and hopefully while sparing you the IBS that I had to suffer. If anyone gives you any problems, then you can blame me and send them over here for I officially went into Slack Catcher recovery back in 2008 and have been sober since and will have no problem putting them in their place. This is how I started;
1. Recognize when NOT taking action in an immediate situation will directly and negatively impact your life.
2. ONLY do what you HAVE to do to minimize that impact, and only that impact.
3. Say no to the rest.
Homework: Practice saying no when you want to say yes. This will force the other parties to truly evaluate when to come to you for help. If they are still having a hard time with that concept, it’s time to enact phase II;
1. Take a percentage.
For reals, I am asking you to charge for your valuable time. Tell the other person that you want 20% of the profit, or tell them that you need to be paid their hourly rate for doing what they would be doing for that time frame. OR just charge a flat rate to complete the task.
Someone wants you to take on their portion of XYZ project, tell them that you can as long as they take ABC portion of your other project and that you will keep tabs with weekly emails asking for status.
3. Go into “Emergency Only” status.
Tell the other person that you are currently only available for emergencies, that of which constitutes death, extreme illness, physical imcompacitation, and possibly famine.
Homework: Think nothing else of it and explain no further.
It is better to be labeled a bitch short term to gain long term revenue. Once you have the users squared away, this leaves so much more time to help and be of service to others that truly need you. It will also give you time to nurture, renew, and recharge yourself – which you should be doing daily for optimum health.
Busyness is a positive and happy thing so long as we are filling our hours with things that are helping us fulfill our goals and lay a solid foundation for, or help build our dream life. One must be discriminatory to how we fill our 24 hours in a day. Running around constantly because other people fail to meet their own personal responsibilities is a sure fire way to ensure that your dreams never come true. You cannot simultaneously complain about co-dependancy while single handedly enabling it. You are allowed to establish boundaries with others, and there must be accountability for actions – or lack there of. The last piece that I hope for all slack catchers contemplating recovery to think about actually comes from Star Trek;
It is the struggle itself that is most important. We must strive to be more than we are. It does not matter that we will never reach our ultimate goal. The effort yields its own rewards.
The effort actually yields its own rewards. When I ran around all through my 20’s being manipulated, picking up slack, and putting out other people’s fires, I was learning. I was gaining valuable insight that only ended up helping me. It helped me get my barn, build a marriage that is loving, and career that is successful. I had to lose a few “friends” by establishing boundaries to learn how to set boundaries. Finding beauty in the struggle is how you live your positive life. Having a personal task list that can reach to Mars and back full of things that has you doing God’s work, all while there seems to be no end in sight means that you are alive. You’re busy, and people trust you to have that kind of responsibility. That is beautiful. It is also essential that you kindly refrain from other people’s nonsense to allow full experience of what is necessary and useful to create serenity. Those communications may be a struggle too – but allow the break down in order to build up if necessary.
The way of being everything to everyone is old and unsustainable and we must let go of that cycle so that the new and the wonderful can come in. The new and wonderful may not look how you think it will, and it may not look how you want it to, and in fact I guarantee both thoughts. That does not mean that it won’t be the exact cycle that you need in order to grow and strengthen your glorious soul, and one that will actually sustain all of the dreams that you have been dreaming. Let go of being a slack catcher – that has nothing left for you to learn from. Instead, turn your attention to what you allow in your life. Start there.