Sunday, March 10, 2013

My DHC challenge for today was to remember, with all five of my senses, a success from my past. The need to use all five senses explains the overuse of descriptive terms, adjectives and adverbs, lol. You have been warned so read on at your own risk. ;-)

I've been off my horses for well over a year now and both they and I have put on the pounds. I've shared with all of you before about my fall seven years ago and how it scared me to the point of panic attacks and hyperventilation every time I had to get on a horse. It keeps creeping in and the last time I attempted riding alone, here and on my own horses, I ended up taking an hour preparing and five seconds backing out, unable to get in the saddle again. I made excuses but the truth was, the fear was still there. I thought I'd killed it but I'd only buried it deep and locked it away but the tricky demon managed to slip out again. So, on this beautiful day, I might not be riding but I hope to soon literally be back in the saddle and to do that, I'll remember that triumphant day when all my fear slipped away and when I realized that all of the things I constantly worry about could happen but so far they haven't and through all the accidents and close calls I've been through, I've miraculously emerged unscathed. With the exception of a few bumps, bruises, the worst damage I've done was a few broken ribs and that is miraculous because the accidents I've had, on horse, on bike, and in a car, most likely should have killed me. It's always seemed as if an angel was watching over me and I am one of those crazies who very much believes in angels. So, today, in preparation for my next horseback ride, I will remember the day that I realized that all my worry was not only for naught, it wasn't warding off anything and was actually causing me more trouble and pain. It was a warm, sunny Autumn day. I spoke with my dear friend Huston as I drove to the barn where I was going to take my first ride in a long time. I came into the barn to see my horse tacked up and waiting on me. I led him out to the arena where several others were already riding and working....a situation which would have sent me into a panic before, thinking of all of the train wrecks that could possibly happen but today, I actually welcomed the distractions, they would be a test for me. I smell the horse, that sweet smell of hay and sunshine. I look into its gentle, brown eyes and we size each other up. I hope I convey to my horse that it can trust me and I trust it. I take a handful of rough mane in left hand, I put my right hand on the smooth, cool leather of the saddle seat, I put my foot in the stirrup and give a little hop, pushing up on my right arm and vault myself into the saddle. There is a feeling of security as I seat myself  firmly into the curve of the saddle and feel the horse beneath me. I start off slowly, circling the horse by pushing against his side with my leg while my hands gently massage the bit in his mouth the way my trainer, Brandy McDonnell, has taught me to warm up and become acquainted with my mount. Then we take off at light jog. I look where I'm going, I feel the horse's steps beneath me and listen to the rhythm of his hoofs striking the ground. I use a light hand and the pressure of my legs to guide him around the arena while staying in control and keeping him steady in gait. Then, when I know that we both are comfortable with each other, I squeeze my legs against his sides and speed up the gait finally pushing with my inside leg as I cluck and move him up to a rocking canter. I feel like I'm flying, I'm elated, I'm in control and I'm having fun. As the cool breeze of our movement pushes my hair back, the saddle squeaks a bit in rhythm with the horse's hooves, and I move with him. I'm overjoyed, not just to be riding again, but because I'm riding with confidence that even my trainer notices and is amazed by. My senses seem more alive, I'm aware of coolness of the air on my skin that contradicts the warmth of Autumn sun. I feel every ripple of muscle as the horse moves beneath me and although I keep my hands light, I feel our connection through the reins and the bit in his mouth and through my body touching the horse, using all of my muscles, all of my body as a voice to communicate with the horse. There are other riders around me, other noises and distractions on the working farm but all I hear is the sound of my horse, all I see is what lies before us, the view between his ears. The hour ended far too soon and I reach over and pat my horse's smooth, silky neck to thank him before I dismount. I hit the ground and stir up some dust and I walk my horse back into the barn where I untack him and brush down his sweaty body, thanking him with an apple treat before I lead him back to his stall. He's grateful for the snack but has no idea how grateful I am for the milestone he helped me to jump that day.
As I walked to truck to leave, the sunshine on my skin felt warmer and everything looked brighter because I was so happy. As soon as I was seated in my truck, I called my friend Huston again. I excitedly described my entire ride to him and he said something that made my heart swell and feel as if it were going to burst out of chest. He said, "I always knew you could do it. I had faith in you and I believed in you even when you didn't believe in yourself." He doesn't know it but I started to cry. My lips were smiling a smile so big it made my face hurt while the warm, salty tears streamed down my cheeks. That was the last time I was able to speak to Huston for a very long time. He had a major stroke exactly a week later. He survived that stroke and many small ones that followed and recently a broken hip. He is such a strong man and truly my hero. He's not able to carry on the long conversations we once had and I miss that so much but I will forever be thankful for the hundreds of talks we had and all of the wisdom he's shared with me. I am also eternally grateful for those words he spoke to me on that day that I returned to riding. Those words are what's going to give me the courage to ride again....and very soon!

I had another epiphany during my morning prayers. I'm not ready to talk about it yet but it was profound and inspiring and life changing and I feel as if God has been trying to tell me this for a long while and I finally, quite literally woke up and listened. Below is a story of how that epiphany continued through the words of my sweet friend, Gary. Gary is struggling with pancreatic cancer and is facing a dangerous surgery next week so I hope you all will remember him in your prayers. He is the kindest person I've ever met and such a truly Godly man. He was a minister until the cancer forced him to stop but his faith is always an inspiration to me. 

I posted all of the above on my Facebook page, Journey to Wellbeing, Health and Fitness. I recently set up this page so that people who were trying to change their lives for the better, like me, could share recipes, fitness tips and also triumphs and stumbles. So far, we only have seventeen members and I'm the only one who ever talks but we all know that I talk enough for the other sixteen most days. After I posted today, my dear, dear friend, Gary Keith Riggs, wrote the following and it touched my heart and soul so deeply that I had to share it with all of you:

"Huston's not the only one who believes in you. I do too.

Once many years ago, in Illinois, my late sister Missy was taking lessons from a world class equestrian.From me leading her and a pony around, thru barrel racing, then on to hunter jumper- I had seen her skill, and love of horses grow.That day something went wrong.I was watching her there in an indoor arena, but not closely.Suddenly I realized that she was upside down, caught in a stirrup, and her head and helmet were taking a beating by the nervous and still in motion horse.Instinctively I started to run towards her, but her instructor grabbed my arm and said to stand still and calm down.After an eternity long few seconds the horse stopped, and she freed herself.It was a situation where I had no control.Neither did Missy! Or the horse.God had enough control for all of us.Our control is illusory, His is complete."

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