There’s Something to Be Said About A Mid-Life Career Change

You may not necessarily be able to relate to this career change, but it may, in fact, act as a catalyst to get you thinking about how important it is that we not put ourselves into a box.

It involved the life on one Alan Greenspan, my 8-year-old Arabian horse who was imported from Argentina and brought in through Florida and found his way to me in California. He’s got his sexy on, despite the fact that he was neutered when he was but a toddler.

Alan has had a really, really good life, heretofore. He spent the last 5 years of his life living in the lap of luxury. With a beautiful stall to sleep at night, an arena to run for a few minutes during the day and long hours spent, first, in our beautiful shaded forest and late afternoons joining the other horses mowing the grounds, this boy would have had something to write about, if only he could write.

Alan was one of my polo ponies. The only Arab of my team, but a tremendous athlete, nonetheless.

Horses don’t keep a journal in their minds as they tend to live very much in-the-moment, an attribute that we humans do not have.

So, when we left Oak Forest, my husband decided not to transport Alan far away but, rather, to keep him here. My husband has a deep, personal friendship going with this particular horse. So, he brought Alan over to the very large racing stable of a dear friend of ours…a woman who has been successfully racing Arabians throughout the state of California for many years. (as you know, Thoroughbreds are race horses and very few, if any, professional trainers race Arabs, but this very talented trainer does).

We decided to bring him over to her stable because these horses have fun. She has approximately 60 horses on a hundred acres, with their own pool (yes, you read that right), a full-on race track (for training) and pastures upon pastures of lush green grasses where horses are buddied-up to run and play all day. There’s also a stable, a rather large one, but most of the horses play outside all summer and life is good for these spoiled-rotten little pampered kids.

I’ve got to tell you, when Alan got there, he just knew he was in horse heaven (I think he even thought he’d died and gone to heaven, it was that good!). The very second he got off the trailer, it was like that horse took a gander around and, for a brief second, we thought we saw a smile on his face (no, horses don’t really smile!).

He was immediately taken to a pasture with about 10 other handsome males and they started frolicking and running around like there was no tomorrow. They were so happy to have a new friend to play with and he was just tickled-to-death to have 10 horses he could boss around and control (yes, he’s a bit similar to Jill Zarin, in that regard).

Alan watched his peers work out on the track and he must have looked very longingly because…

Something very strange happened…

This fine specimen of a horse broke out one day after a couple of his friends were being worked out on the track and he charged for the track, too, whereupon the trainer said… “My God, this boy’s got talent and he wants to run.”

Our friend called us and said “I’ve got a crazy boy on my hands. Your guy wants to go to the races!

Of course, we said “No way?!! Alan Greenspan wants to race? You’ve got to be kidding! He’s too old for that!” (usually 3-year-olds race and their careers span, maybe 5 years, at best). So we talked about it for half-a-second and we said “Why not? Let him go for it!”

So yesterday he was brought out to the real race track and was given his first chance to try out a practice run on a real California race track. Not to race, mind you, but to have a once around the track to see how he handled the noises, sights and sounds of big tractors at work, the stands (though empty) and the other horses being worked out.

Here’s a picture of Alan looking at a real race track for the very first time with his jockey/trainer on his back.

Alan’s First Look at a Real Race Track.

Then the trainer said to him “Are you sure you want to do this buddy?…ok…let’s go.

And off they went.

Holy Guacamoli! Alan Greenspan Can Run!

Naturally, I thought “This kid’s got talent“, but I’m his mum, so I just watched with glee as he pranced around the whole of the track.  He was fancy (that’s horse-speak) and he really seemed to like it and, for an old guy, he was full of it…speed and power. Frankly, he was pretty cute, not a quality that I think is an attribute on the race track, but what do I know?

When he came off after one trek around the track, both he and the trainer seemed to say… “That was good for me. Was it good for you, too?” As they took the walk off the track for the first time in Alan’s old horse-life.

Wow! That was fun!

So, imagine our shock and excitement when this morning, at the crack of dawn, Alan’s now-official trainer called and said, on this, his second day at a real race track “We just took Alan out for another run and we couldn’t hold him back. Can you bring his papers to me right away so I can get him entered in the next race. This kid’s gotta go!

Whereupon, I went to the file cabinet, got his papers and sent my husband off to deliver the papers”.

And here’s what I have to say about that:

It’s never too late for a mid-career change and you just never know how your destiny can change. It seems like one of the most wonderful things about life is that we get to reimagine ourselves and constantly tweak. It’s not like we get a life “re-do” (obviously we can’t change the past), but we can dream different dreams and change course, sometimes on a dime. It’s our job to explore new opportunities, to carefully pay attention to that heart of ours and see what brings us real glee, because that’s what we’re supposed to have.

We can try new things. Fail, because we will, and try again. Alan knew he was happiest on the polo field. He thought he was living when he was pulling my husband around in a carriage.  He’d mastered it and he really looked forward to his daily work-outs. No, his heart wasn’t singing, but he was living, so he thought he was happy. Then one day he was exposed to something new and his heart began to sing. It sang so loud he busted out of a pasture and ran as fast as he could to be with his friends on the training track and he discovered real happiness and said to himself… “now this is what I call living” at a very old horse-age for just entering the racing world. A new career for both Alan and his happy owners and why are we happy?…because like all parents, you want to see your children shine at whatever is it that helps their hearts sing and, you know what?, we, too, deserve to find that place where our heart sing.

Alan has talent.  He didn’t walk around talking about it.  He demonstrated it and someone else said “this kid’s got talent”.

I’ll keep you all posted on Alan Greenspan’s maiden race and my new career as a race-horse owner.  Maybe I can make some money at this and I won’t have to look to sue Fabulous Fred, after I’ve gained my 30 pounds! 🙂

Learn from Alan’s story and seek out your happiness and natural talents, regardless of your age or whatever you think is holding you back, because whatever it is that you think is an obstacle, really isn’t, it’s just you getting in the way of your natural, God-given gifts!  The world awaits your gifts.  Share them with us!

I laughed, I cried, I felt every emotion.  Here’s the rest of the story.

Race day was finally here for Alan.  They had worked him like a dog, packing 1 month of training into just two short weeks and he was tired.  His trainer had tried him in a couple of practice races and he was puckering out, but today was race day and Alan was all fancied up.  His mane was groomed, he was showered, his hooves painted a shiny black and all his racing equipment polished up.  I’m sure he had a hearty breakfast so he must have known today was his big day.

We were driving to the track at great speed, having gotten caught up in a major traffic jam an hour before.  It was sad because we weren’t able to go greet him before the race to encourage him and tell him we were there, rooting for him.  Now all we could do from the box in the bandstand was watch him parade in front of the crowd along with his competitors.

The trumpet sounded.  You know the sound.

What happens next is the great walk out, where all the horses are mounted by their jockeys and paraded by the audience and then ridden for a few minutes on the track until it’s time to take their places in the starting gates.

Alan was number 2, which he wore quite nicely.  Blue was the colour of his saddle pad & the colours his jockey was wearing.  They were colour coordinated and cute as could be.

We thought “well, there’s our Alan!” very proudly as he pranced past us.  We shouted his name, hoping he would recognize our voices above the crowd.  My husband rushed to place his money on our boy.  The options were win, place or show.  My husband bet on win, of course, anything else would have been putting our faith somewhere else.

Then, with eager anticipation, we watched as Alan entered the gate and he did it as if he had done it a thousand times before.  No resistance.  No fear.  Just in he went…and a couple of seconds later, the gates opened, the boys charged out and the announcer said “…And they’re off….”

We watched.  No trips.  He got out of the gate.  Then he started picking up speed.  Then he took 5th place, then 4th, then 3rd, then 2nd and then…

yes, you guessed it,

our Alan took first place and he kept going.  Soon he was 3 horse lengths ahead of the pack and we were standing up yelling at the top of our lungs, “Go Alan, Go Alan, Go Alan, Go Alan!   Our Boy’s in the lead, go, go, go, go” and then…

the world seemed to stop.  We held our breadth.  We froze.  We stood there, everything going by in slow motion, as if we were in a surreal moment…he had just completed almost the entire race, with only a quarter of the track to go, and then…

something shifted…

Alan, our Alan Greenspan, the horse, started falling behind.  And quickly.

One-by-one the horses started passing him up.  One-by-one Alan started losing his steam.  One-by-one Alan fell to the back of the pack.  And, yes, Alan came in last.

It was the biggest let down I had ever experienced and I couldn’t breath.  I stood there, frozen, watching.  Is this real?  Did Alan just have the race and then give it away?  What made Alan give up?  Did he start to think this was just too tough for him or did he experience something physical that made him slow it down?  Was he afraid of a heart attack or was he just too damned spent?

We couldn’t believe our eyes, but we also couldn’t believe the length of the race.  Alan’s an old guy compared to the others.  And, not only had Alan come in last, but he came in at least 15 lengths behind the last horse.  This guy was tired.  He was completely pooped but, for at least three quarters of the race he was in the lead and it was completely breath-taking.  He was just spectacular to watch.  (I’m sorry I didn’t bring a photographer.  I was so silly, I thought I was going to take pictures, but I was too busy screaming and rooting him on.  Dumb, dumb, dumb and totally regretful)

We rushed down to meet him after they took off his tack.  He was still hot and sweaty.  We told him how great he was and how amazed we were that he had accomplished that.  We patted him on the shoulder, hugged him, kissed his face and told him he was the most amazing horse we had ever met.

Then, we turned around and both cried and I thought to myself “isn’t that the very thing all parents do (in hiding) when they see their child’s hopes dashed?”

Then we talked to Alan’s trainer.  She said, our boy did a great job for his first race and it was 6 furlongs, a tough distance for any horse.  Even at the Belmont stakes the 3-year-old’s owner’s worry at the length.  6 furlongs is 3/4 of the entire track and much longer than most races.  Considering that, he’s going to be a clear winner in the shorter races.  This kid can race, she said.  He’s got what it takes.

I thought “well, that’s optimism and that’s good”.  I’m not sure I ever want to see the guy in another long race.  He’s not an athlete and he probably shouldn’t have been put in a race that was more typical for that of an athlete.  I felt sad for him.

And here’s what I have to say about that…

Good for Alan Greenspan!  How many times in life do we just want to give up?  How many times do we feel the weight of defeat and just choose to sit life out for a while hoping the demands of life will just leave us alone for awhile?  How many times do we find ourselves hiding in sadness, removing ourselves from the living and cry ourselves to sleep because of a failure we think is too much to bare?  And how many times should we actually walk past the finish line, instead, rather than giving up even though we’re the last one there?

Alan is an old guy.  I am his mom.  Do you ever wonder about the moms whose children suffer with defeat everyday?  Who’s child suffers a permanent disability that cannot be fixed?  Do those moms ever give up?  Do you ever hear them saying “my kid’s a loser?”  The answer is no.  They may often turn their faces away and cry a silent cry for their child but you never see them give up on that light of their lives. You’re not gonna hear this mom saying it, either.  We can’t ever give up on our kids because, at the end of the day, it is our voice that keeps them from giving up.

And you know, you can never give up on yourself, either.  For the rest of my life I’m going to remember that for most of the race Alan was way in front of the others.  And, I’m also going to remember that there have been times in my life that I’ve achieved quite a bit.  Do I sometimes feel defeated?  Yes.  Do I sometimes want to give up?  Yes.  But I never will.

Someone’s rooting for me.  I may not hear them yelling but I know now that they are and someone is rooting for you, too.  Though you may not hear them screaming at the top of their lungs they’re saying “Come on.  Get back up.  Come on. Come on. Come on” but they are. Alan did not hear us.  He must have not have heard our voices or known that we were there screaming at the top of our lungs for him.  You may not hear anyone screaming for you, but they are.

Get back up.

Always remember…You are loved.  All is well.

Your friend,




28 thoughts on “There’s Something to Be Said About A Mid-Life Career Change

  1. I love that first picture of Alan because that’s the view I had from the carriage. It is a really good story. Thanks for sharing. Tell me about your new abode.

    • Oh, yes. I forgot about that! You did go on a carriage ride, didn’t you? We’ll have to go to one of his races together. 🙂

  2. I have to admit I have not looked at you blog for a long time…. I bet there is mention about your move in there… I love reading your story’s so I will get to them soon.
    Libby Ryan Griffith

  3. Nicely written! Go Alan and all of us!

    • Gosh, we just could.not.believe how that kid took the race…and then just seemed to die. I just don’t think he knew we were there and 6 furloughs is a mile. Even a pea brain (Kelly) would have thought that to be too much for an old guy. He’ll be in shorter races in the future. 🙂

  4. That is such a great story!!! I just shared it over at IHJZ. Duchess of Dryer Lint is looking for a new job/career and I think it will be inspirational to her.

    I must say you wrote that so well, my heart started beating faster as your story progressed. Is Alan related to Seabiscuit?

  5. Picked up this story from Codystl on IHJZ. So very glad I took the link because the story was inspiring beyond belief. I am one who is the depths of despair (no job opps on the horizon, teenage son ready to leave the nest, financial crisis, etc. etc.) and your story came JUST WHEN I NEEDED IT. Henceforth, when I am feeling sorry for myself and hosting my next pity party, I will think of Alan and his courage and of you, Lady Brooks, for providing such an uplifting and insightful story. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    Cait Messina

    • Please, just remember that, even whilst your parents or siblings may not be near to be rooting you on, they are. I’m sorry to hear about all your shit. I love pity parties, if ever you want to dump on me. I don’t want you to give up. I know it’s hard, but I also know that you are strong and you are a survivor. You may have forgotten that. Start remembering the things in your life you were doing when everything was going much better. Were you taking walks that you aren’t now? Get back to taking them. Were you cooking a loving dinner for your son every night? Get back in the kitchen. Re-create the happiness you once had and your memory of success will quickly come back to you AND I AM ROOTING FOR YOU, WITH EVERYTHING I’VE GOT! Thank you for writing.

      • Hard to type thru tears. Just this – thank you from the bottom of my aching heart and I will take all of your advice and run with it with Alan in mind. Ps Shared your story with my wonderful husband (who owned and bred Thoroughbreds). Can’t wait for him to read it so we can share in this amazing story. Hearts from a Canadian who knows all of the words to “God Save the Queen”…..

      • God bless you and I’m so happy to have shared the amazing story of Alan, the new race horse, with you. It’s truly an inspiring story, especially considering so many of us have suffered so much during these tough economic times and it’s so easy to beat yourself up. Someone is out there rooting for you, you just don’t hear them, but they’re there. That is my promise to you.

  6. Great post !! I think that Alan is a winner. He ran hard and was leading the pack but instinctively knew when it was time to back off. That was a smart move for our equine hero. At the end of the day, all that matters is the love we share with our pets and the bonds that we forge. Alan is a hero and proved he can “hang with the big dogs”. Bravo Alan Greenspan and bravo Lady Brooks for recognizing and honoring his urge to give it a go !!!

    • Oh, I love you for saying that. Thank you. He was brave and I was so sorry he didn’t know we were right with him all the way!

  7. Gosh, I’m so proud of him! He gave it his all, didn’t he? His story gave me goosebumps! Glad to hear he’ll do more racing. He’s just telling mum shorter races, please and then you’ll see what I can do!

    • Your comment was very uplifting to my husband who heard it, laughed and said “That’s terrific! See? Someone else believes in him, too”. I had only wished we could bet on last, but then some would wonder if he had thrown the race!

  8. I, too, came over here on a link from “I hate Jill Zarin” website (great people there!), and I’m so glad I did. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this essay about your wonderful horse. And it’s all the more powerful because he didn’t win that first race (who does?) and because of the perspective you provided on all that. Thank you.

    • Very kind of you to say those kind words. Of course, we’re just glad we didn’t bet the house on his winning! Yikes! I might have beheaded him myself, but it all worked and it was a magnificant flush of emotions.

  9. I too found you on IHJZ, what a wonderful story! Just the right pick me up I needed this a.m. as I am feeling a bit sorry for myself with all that is on my plate and lingering pain from surgery. Thanks for sharing a very meaningful message!

    • I owe a debt of gratitude to IHJZ. Several times Lynn Hudson has referred her readers to me when I’ve written a particularly funny piece and it helped so much. I like her community of readers and, someday, I hope she likes my commentary enough that I’m a regular on her site. She’s the only person I know who has 30 hour days, gosh that girl cranks it out!

      As for picking you up on a rather down morning…we all have them and it a good thing the story was able to help you. Having a full or diverse plate can tend to bring anyone down. Having nothing on your plate is much harder to cope with as so many people are with unemployment running rampant. I hope your surgery pain goes away quickly. Just remember…if the thought feels good when you think it, keep thinking those kinds of thoughts. If the thought feels heavy when you think it, shift your thinking and find one that moves you in the direction of a thought that feels better. Soon you’ll find those things you’re grateful for and a grateful heart will lift you out of even the heaviest of times and as you begin to focus on more hopeful thoughts your entire attitude begins to shift. I wish you every positive success today. Thank you for writing.

  10. Dear Lady Brooks-
    I passed your compliment on to Lynn, of course, and she responded:

    “Thank you Shiny! I hadn’t seen that but it’s nice to hear! I wasn’t aware that she wanted to write here but guest bloggers are always welcome as you all know. She’s a really great writer and a lovely person!”

    Clearly a mutual admiration.

    Glad I found your website: I’m looking forward to reading your earlier columns in my “spare” time.

    • Oh, I’m so excited and it is the mutual admiration society. I am just delighted you and I connected and thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  11. Hi Lady,

    Any updates on Alan Greenspan’s racing career?

    • Thank you so much for asking. My little boy is going in his second race on Saturday, August 20th, after now having had several more weeks of hard practice under his girth. His trainer is exceedingly excited, absolutely certain he is going to win, as she should be, since he was in the lead for over 5 furlongs in his first race. I will not be able to watch the race as I am playing with a several of my noble friends from home in Las Vegas for a couple of weeks and it is possible Earl Spencer and his new wife will come to join us, as well. You can bet we will all place our bets on Alan Greenspan at one of the sports books here in town and will behave in a rather rowdy fashion as we watch our boy! It should be a blast and I’m going to try to get everyone in the sports book to bet on him, too. It’s quite possible I will be an embarrassment to all, and for that, I apologize in advance!

  12. LOVED this story! Thanks for sharing your wonderful ability to keep a reader enjoying and absorbing each paragraph from beginning to end! Certainly tops my list of short stories I’ve read in a while. Also, thank you for the gift of encouragement you gave this 46 yr old mom tonight thru this sweet story!! XOXO’s

    • Natalie, I’m glad you enjoyed it and that it uplifted you. Watching our boy come into his own at such a golden age was truly an exhilarating experience and it’s proof positive that we are not our age at all. It seems to me only people are so concerned with their ages and their histories. It would serve us all well to get over those two rather insignificant issues. When we are past our “prime” we are still the same and the destiny we are supposed to be living fights its way to the front and, somehow, we end up winning. You see it really didn’t matter to us whether Alan won any of his races…it only mattered to him that he was able to run them. Just be yourself and embrace it all whilst you’re doing it because life truly is an ever-expanding journey and is meant to fulfill your soul. Enjoy the race, struggles and all, and know that your children will always be the light of your life.

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