miércoles, 22 de abril de 2015

Little Lady, John Wayne and my anniversary

One year ago today, I damn near killed myself.

I have posted about breaking my back in a riding accident before, but my recovery has been long in the making.  I was in a corset for two months, could not dress myself, had to sleep sitting in a chair, and had to re-learn how to get on and off the commode.  But, by last October, I had fewer and fewer pain episodes, by November I could lift the laundry basket, and by December I started to do the grocery shopping by myself and pick up a shovel in the garden.  You do not realize how important these little things are in your life until you cannot do them any more.

Physically, pilates has done wonders to regain my flexibility and movement.  I am convinced that I did not have more extensive damage because my back was already strong from having done pilates previously.  This winter, using a shovel and hoe and pushing the wheelbarrow around in the garden have built up my strength once again.  This progress was very slow and calculated: "today, I will only lift one shovel-full of dirt; tomorrow, 3; the next day, 5."

However, with the return of my strength came a nagging urge to start riding again.  Even I was surprised, because I honestly thought that I was done with horses.  But, I found myself obsessing, and by New Year's Eve I had made the resolution to get back in the saddle, if only just once.

Little Lady, my psychologist

My trainer and I made a plan.  In January, I started brushing one of the lesson horses at the riding center, named "Little Lady".  She is a Spanish Purebred, and sort of a mix between mother hen, nosey Nelly, and stubborn old mule.  In February, I started riding Little Lady: at first only at a walk, then at a posting trot, and, when I was ready, at a canter.

Spring wildflowers, yum!

Sounds too good to be true, right?  Well, it was.  The initial adrenaline rush of just getting into the saddle was soon replaced with jitters, hyperventilation episodes and full-on panic attacks.  There were days when I couldn't even get my toe into the stirrup and had to walk away.  Out into the olive grove.  For miles.  But, for some inexplicable reason, I kept going back and would not let myself be beat.

"You again?"

Those who do not know what a struggle I have had tell me that I have nerves of steel.  Others say that  I am audacious or downright ballsy.  Others still simply question, "Oh, you're riding again?", and I know they feel I am foolhardy.  Maybe they are right.  Maybe I am.  Maybe it's crazy.  I often think so myself.

As you can imagine, there's no one jumping for joy at home, either.  So, my inspiration has had to come from elsewhere.  I heard a quote by a soldier on the radio: "Fear does not keep you alive; it keeps you from living."  Food for thought, ay?  Then there's the one from John Wayne: "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway."  Spot on.  Oh, and don't forget the clincher: "Never give up on something that you cannot go a day without thinking about."  Definitely me.

Simply put, I will not let fear rule my life.  And now, after riding for 7 weeks, the confidence is coming back and I have not had a panic attack for about 3 weeks.  I am making progress.  But, when and if I do feel the nerves coming on again, you'll find me out in the garden.  It's harder to let imaginary concerns cloud your head when you've got your hands in the dirt.

Having a toes up with Rosa Banksiae after a ride.
Surely Lady Banks rode horses, too.

My sincerest of thanks on this anniversary to my trainer, Little Lady, John Wayne and my husband for biting his tongue.






10 comentarios:

  1. I can only imagine how difficult the last year must have been. Congratulations for coming through it. Different reasons for anxiety here, but I do so identify with losing it to the dirt.

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    1. Yes, it's funny how therapeutic dirt is, isn't it?

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  2. Dear Karen, My eldest daughter is also very much in horse riding. She has this quote of John Wayne in a picture frame in her house. Maybe it is normal to have some fear! But you have such a nice horse... go for it en enjoy it. And don't forget to garden as well. Groetjes,
    Hetty

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    1. Hetty, that's interesting! I have never even seen a John Wayne movie, but my father used to imitate his voice. Unfortunately, I had to sell the horse I had the accident with, but one day I hope to get another. Time will tell.

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  3. Watching my brother recover from an accident many years ago - I can fully understand your feelings and think that by doing it 'your way' is the only way in which you will over come all the feelings you are and have been experiencing. Thanks goodness for the support you have had.

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    1. Angie, for a time I really didn't know how to deal with it all, and I considered seeing a psychologist. I even found one that my insurance would cover, but never made an appointment. For now, I think I'm OK.

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  4. Good for you to get back in the saddle....I can only imagine how hard it was.

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  5. Hi, not sure if I can contact you this way... We are currently starting up a new business (Belgian production company) and as our name would be La Mancha we are planning a trip to the Mancha region from 8 until the 12th of April 2016. We want to make shots of the real La Mancha, the traditions, typical but not touristic sights and traditions within families. Not sure whether you would be able to help us to get us in touch with the wright people? There might be a big celebration (flamenco, wedding, baptism,... others) in a certain neighbourhood where we can make some nice shots? Thanks for your help. Best regards, Rebecca (you can contact me via email : rebecca.cocquyt@gmail.com

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    1. Sorry, I've been away from my blog for quite a while and just saw this message. I hope your plan in April worked out well.

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