We are in the thick of summer and though we have been having lots of fun, it also feels like we’ve been weaving around unavoidable chaos. Summer has completely thrown off my momentum of self-care and I have no excuse other than my inability to focus when I don’t have a solid schedule. Ivy’s summer break combined with a work trip then a small pleasure trip completely threw me off my path. I haven’t worked out consistently and my eating habits have been on and off for weeks. I have gained back a few pounds and I’m starting to think I need to throw my scale out altogether – just for my own sanity.
But, here’s the good news: I haven’t beaten myself up about the weight too much. In fact, that is a secondary side affect of my choices. The bad news is actually that my anxiety has crept up again. I haven’t been sleeping well and the crazy scenarios that used to occupy 75% of my brain have started slowly filling it up again like a steady leak on a faucet tap.
It’s time to fix the pipes instead of co-existing with that constant drip.
So, I shall get back in the saddle. And the funny part of that idiom is that it’s actually not an idiom. I have, quite literally, gotten back on the saddle.
I recently wrote about getting Ivy into riding to help with her confidence. It was a great decision and we love watching her getting up onto those beautiful animals with ease, excitement and the necessary calm of riding. But, each week, as I watched her ride, I found myself feeling so envious. Why hadn’t I done this as a child? I mean, I grew up surrounded by the opportunity. My dad is an equine vet, for God’s sake. It was all right there for the taking.
So, each week, I watched somewhat longingly as Ivy had her lesson. And then I found myself googling everything horse and riding related. I started reading horse forums. I started searching for barn volunteer opportunities near us. All of this under the guise of doing it for Ivy. And then one day, I actually posted on the horse forum I’d been following for weeks.
Am I ridiculous to think I could start taking lessons at 44 years old?
The amount of responses I received was incredible. The kind, encouraging words filled me with confidence and ambition.
“Riding is for any age! It doesn’t matter when you start!”
“I just got my 68 year old mom to take lessons!”
“I’m a 57 year old man and I’m surrounded by teenage girls at the barn. Just do it!”
“I started when I was 47…”
“I started on my 40th birthday…”
“I started after I retired…”
I have perused many a message board in my lifetime and these were honestly the kindest, most helpful responses I’d ever read. There wasn’t one snide answer in the bunch. It was a giant push I needed.
But the final straw that made me do it?
What am I showing my daughters if I don’t do it? That it’s too late. That I think my age is a barrier, a dead end. That my fear of looking silly outweighs my desire to ride. That dreams die when you’re an adult.
Oh, hell no.
Every reason why I wouldn’t do it is the exact opposite of what I’m trying to teach our daughters.
So, what do I show my daughters by taking riding lessons? That it’s never too late. That age doesn’t have to be a barrier. That I am still living. That I am still experiencing new things. That my fear of looking silly will never get in the way of my desire to do something I really want.
So, three weeks ago, mama got back on the horse. Literally. And the natural high I had afterward far outweighs the slight embarrassment of being in a barn full of experienced teenagers (who have all been so incredibly sweet and helpful, by the way).
And I’m not alone. My trainer told me she’s been teaching a 68 year old woman for a year now (and she’s just starting to jump – which is an ultimate goal of mine). She also told me another mom started taking lessons the same week as me. And every single person in that barn has been so kind and encouraging.
I am currently in the throws of learning to post while trotting. And it is a complete comedy. (Seriously, I laugh out loud to myself thinking about it…) It hasn’t clicked yet and my obsession to conquer it has lead me to watch numerous YouTube videos and read endless tutorials online.
The benefit I get from all of this is worth every small fleeting moment of embarrassment and aches. My mind is occupied and present in the moment, which dilutes my anxiety and provides a focus. My daughters see me taking on something new and challenging, regardless of my age. My husband gets to see me in riding pants.
(Ok, that last one doesn’t really benefit him or I in any way. In fact, it may actually belong in the con side of this pro/con list…)
So, this is what I have to say to anyone who is reading this: just do it.
(Eh, that’s trademark infringement of Nike’s tag…)
How about: just do something.
Screw possibly being embarrassed.
Screw what other people will think.
Screw the fact that you may look like a drugged squid on the back of a mechanical bull when trying to post on trot.
Think about something you have always wanted to do and don’t let the fear of embarrassment, your age – or even just fear, in general – stop you.
I’m 44 and I’m in the thick of this one life. Why would I ever stop learning… or living?
Why would you?