A Snowball’s Chance
Frosty never had these problems
Even though I love riding, every time I mount up, I find myself having a flash of the “what-ifs”. What if I fall? What if I embarrass myself? What if my horse hates me? Sometimes I have anxiety.
In my experience, anxiety can snowball. You start with one scary thought and if you don’t check it, the next thing you know it’s rolling down the slope picking up every anxious thought on its way. Meanwhile, you’re standing at the bottom waiting for what is now an avalanche to bury you.
So, I work on strategies to get past the anxiety. One of my favorites is picturing all those fears as little clouds and as I take deep breaths, I blow a cloud away with every exhale. Might sound silly, but it helps.
At least it helped until I fell and injured myself. It will be a few more months before I ride again but already, I’m considering my entire recovery strategy. My arm will eventually be back to normal, but I want to make sure I recover mentally and emotionally as well as physically.
Flying through the air and landing on the surface of the arena, the earth beneath me felt plenty solid and hard. But as I’m navigating my return to life after being sidelined, I’m feeling the ground under my feet shifting, moving all around me and making me anxious.
And there’s only a certain number of little clouds any sane human can puff away.
Moving around in the world with only one fully functional arm has been difficult. I find myself flinching at everything that could possibly come in contact with my injured shoulder. I have constant discomfort, which I’m told will get better but when the negative thoughts start, it’s easy for my imagination to run away with me. What if my arm never fully heals? What if I never have a night without pain? What if I’m never brave enough to ride again? What if I am too afraid to do a lot of things I used to do? What if I just fade into old age and oblivion?
And there it is, the snowball.
My arm has made it challenging to work. Does that mean I am less valuable as an employee? Economically we’re in a tough time and my financial services employer is beginning to make some difficult cuts in expenses. What if that means my job? How will I pay for my horses and still have enough to live on in retirement? I love my horses and my barn. They are the best parts of my life! I could never give them up. But…
And the snowball starts to roll downhill.
It can take a herculean effort sometimes to get your head up and stop the avalanche. It means coming back to now. This moment. This breath. Whether in the saddle or on the ground, it takes effort to stay balanced.
I am not a religious person and though I was raised with the story of Christmas, what I really get from the holiday season is the sharing of love and gratitude and connection with each other as we come together to celebrate the idea of a birth, a fresh start, and the hope of new blessings in the coming year. Not that bad things don’t happen. They do. But there is always time for a new beginning. We can always start again.
Understandably, I’ve been a little behind on my normal Christmas planning and gift compiling. Normally I do a custom card, featuring my animals in some way. But this year time got away from me and creative photoshopping just wasn’t in the cards, so to speak. I bought regular old Christmas cards (featuring horses of course) and kept my purchasing online rather than trying to mail packages full of gifts as I normally do.
I struggled to write and sign holiday cards with my bad hand but while I was writing, I was forced into the present moment, and it calmed me. I was focused on the people I was writing for, the people I care about and who mean so much to me. In doing something for others, even something so small, I found some balance.
Even on a good day, my penmanship can be hard to read. At least this year I have an excuse! Hopefully the recipients of those cards can read enough of my scrawl to know that I wish for them a joyful holiday season and a new year full of blessings and abundance, a new beginning.
And this I wish for all of you.
Lee, Trudy & Thymen
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