Tag: chronic illness

No stirrups, no fears

I’ve never gotten to participate in the storied torture/tradition of No Stirrup November in my years of riding, so if being excited about it after my first lesson makes me crazy, I’ll gladly hold that title. After fretting over the microsleep at the show on Sunday, I had a great ride on Wednesday with M and then rode again on Friday with the pony club kids who were doing mounted games. In all reality, a few simple choices would have likely prevented the episode from occurring, and it does me no good to dwell on it.

On Wednesday Divine initially continued her lackadaisical demeanor from Sunday, but once she realized we were getting to do her favorite thing (canter), she was insistent on a trot speed that offered the best chance for falling into a canter. So that was slightly painful until after she had a good five minutes of trot-canter-trot transitions circling about the arena. M had an understandably more difficult time on Eli, who’s trot I would liken to a slow-motion, extra-springy pogo-stick that could quite literally bounce someone out of the tack should they start giggling (may or may not have happened in this lesson…).

Friday I was excited to do games like the egg and spoon race and whatever crazy relay they came up with, on Pretty, the 12 hand wonder/devil pony, but after my futile attempts to catch her, I was bequeathed with Rain instead. Rain is a WhoTheHellKnowsBred that most closely resembles a Dutch Harness horse. She came off the slaughter lot, learned a ton with trainer MS, was sold and then returned (but not before being almost completely soured) and has been worked intermittently since. I actually liked her a lot, but completely emphasize with M now – MS warned me that she has yet to sit her trot, and my measly attempts were met with some pinned ears from her and a quick return to posting on my part unless I wanted to eventually part ways with her. Even with a bucking fit (due to a loose girth, my fault) and a mini-meltdown from a hula-hoop (not totally unreasonable), I never felt afraid or like I was going to come off.

I mention that for two reasons. One is because when I started back riding in June after a over a year off, I was seriously questioning if I’d still have my nerve and “pick up the bike-ness” so to speak. Two is that it’s baffling to me that I can be so calm with a spooky or actively bucking horse and then terrified about some additional medical testing I’m having done this week. Objectively, I’d say that’s probably because I have a lot more experience with horses and a lot less with obscure diagnostics which I have no idea how my body will react to. And that seems… pretty obvious. But what am I trying to prove by admitting the later and building myself up with the former? Why’s that question important? I’ve got no answer to either question.

 

 

What if it were enough?

I know there are several very real and pretty complicated barriers to overcome if I want to accomplish my ‘dreams.’ Just as many, if not more, are perceived rather than real boundaries and I’ve certainly let fear of failure and “how-it-should-go” stall me. And, I obviously can get stuck in a pity party.There’s also the fact that my dreams are blurry and while I’ve been trying to find a road-map (of any sort, anywhere, something!) nothing quite fits. Is that scary? YES.

I’d be doing work I enjoy and where I can put my health first. I’d show others that you can be successful AND manage narcolepsy AND not hide it, but embrace listening to what your body tells you. I’d help others with something practical or empowering and then maintain those relationships. I want to learn and love – through travel, through culture, nature, activities, strangers and friends. At the same time, I want to be more present and less concerned about checking things off. Horseback riding was the first thing I shifted from a goal-oriented activity to enjoying for its own sake after a whole mess of experiences, and still amazes and excites me every time I go to the stable. If I stop for a second though, technically, I’m doing a lot of the above already. I want to say “BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH,” but why? Why is it not enough? Because I say it’s not, think it’s not, assume it’s not. Therefore, it IS not. And it will stay that way as long as I want it to. I’ve already been through the phase where I secretly wanted everyone’s pity, but pretended like I didn’t. I pretended to be fine with my life circumstances when I was so very not. Then I dropped the facade and just openly complained about the impossibility of it all (still do this some…).

But what if I could truly just be ok with where I’m at? There are some real benefits. I’m getting to ride on a regular basis – last week I jumped cross country for the first time and I can’t even describe how insanely happy that made me. I actually had three lessons last week! I rode in a show jumping clinic with Kira Conner, a CIC** eventer out of North Carolina, on a cheeky pony that has scope for daaays. Then I did a little dressage test with the OTTB mare I later rode on Friday for xc and she was a star for that as well.

Did I mention I’m back at the stable where I first sat on a horse 15 years ago, all of 10 minutes from my house? And my instructor is someone I rode with in 4th grade? It’s a small world folks.

I’m making monies working at an independent health foods store, and I get to help people everyday. Of course, there are the people who come in two minutes before closing, or who call the store and launch into a diatribe about their bowel movements…  but there’s also the little girl who’s using some of our loose herbs in the rice bags she’s selling to offset the costs of a school exchange trip to Japan (!!) in October. And the vegan or gluten free customers who can’t find a certain grocery item anywhere else. And the regulars who, as soon as they walk in, you can tell them whether we have their supplements in. Or passers-through who just have incredible life stories and they happen to share a snippet with you.

Then there’s the fact that I kinda-sorta have a dog. Well the benefits of one at the moment, without the responsibility or costs. I walk/run with her most mornings, and as a Husky, she has been thoroughly enjoying the recent temperature drop we’re having in the Midwest. One of the things I love about it is that it gets me moving and outside first thing. There’s still dew on the lawns of my tree-lined neighborhood and the sun makes us squint and warms my skin when we’re walking back.  She’s taken to looking for me and will lay at the end of her house keeping an eye on either my or the bathroom window. While I know her enthusiasm is more for the walk than for me, I still can’t help but laugh and get more excited as she spins in circles (and still occasionally tries to jump on me… sigh… work in progress) and starts whimpering when she feels I’m not moving fast enough.

There’s also all the time I’ve had to learn more about myself; through therapy, through researching narcolepsy, keeping up with current events (although those can be just as depressing as my own vicious little circles…), learning more about the Myers Briggs system, the Enneagram, Spiral Dynamics and other systems. I’m figuring out what my habits are – beneficial and not-so-helpful. I’m working on my self-esteem, becoming more involved with my community, reading books, going through all of accumulated stuff from over the years.


I’m not doing so bad anymore.

Even that is scary to admit, because I think I assume by naming that, I can’t have any more bad days. Or that stating that will call forth more shit. But I’m thinking too far into the future again – something I am incredibly good at, for better and worse. Right now, I am well. I am content. I’m still keeping an eye out for the proverbial Next Opportunity, but I don’t need to go blindly chasing after it. I’ve started reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, and just read the part about mentors, wherein countless young women will explicitly ask (sometimes) random people “will you be my mentor?”

Now, I want a mentor as much as the next person. I’ve never asked someone if they would be/are my mentor, but I’ve done it with opportunities: I will literally ask myself if this is my next big thing. Nine times out of ten, when I’ve had to ask that, I’m trying to make it something it’s probably not. The most influential opportunities/decisions I’ve had, I didn’t need to ask. I either knew it was, or went in with no expectations. To be clear, that’s not lowered expectations, but none, and it’s helped create some of my best experiences, or ‘lead-in’ opportunities because whatever it is, is enough. Point being, I know how to just be and ‘catch’ big possibilities that come near me with forcing it, but doing that on a daily basis is more challenging. I’m making a concerted effort because where I’m at and who I am right now must be enough, otherwise I’ll spend more time in the mindset of my last several posts here, which only creates more of the same.

Here’s to succeeding, surely failing, and then succeeding again at being enough.