Sunday, May 4, 2014

Getting Back in the Saddle:Don't Give Up

     "If you fall off your horse, get back in the saddle."

     How many of us have heard that quote or it has been expressed to us in a certain situation we are experiencing?

     I know I have.  Both literally and figuratively.  I've grown up riding horses and as a child I have been thrown from my saddle a couple of times.  My Father, ordering me to get back on my horse as I stare at him with a look of dismay, then angry pouting as I put one foot in the stirrup, grab the reins and head back to the barn, because I was done riding at that point. 

      Like anyone I would never want to admit my parent was right about anything as an adolescent, but now as an adult, it's clear as parents we adopt situations as learning lessons.  We use these for our children's betterment and our aspiration is that at a juncture in their lives they will use it themselvesThey will smile as they repeat the words we said to them in their younger years and they will exclaim, " Oh my, I sound like my Mom/Dad!".

     This original quote feels true to myself as I have had to get back on that horse several times in the last three years.  My trauma surgeon informed me in no uncertain terms that I could  lay in a hospital bed, in my living room and never get out of the wheelchair that awaited me.  My other option was to conquer my anxiety, work long and hard and take the chance that my body might fail. 

      But what if I succeeded?

     Choosing to get back in that saddle was the only option for me.  I am fortunate that is my natural response, whether it comes from deep within me or from my upbringing, I don't care.  Succeeding requires this mental attitude.  

     Physically I haven't accomplished activities as I would have before my injuries.  I have learned great patience and creativity.  Looking at the situation and adapting has been my greatest achievement.  The lessons I have cultivated from my tragedy are appreciated.  I have an improved sense of myself because of them.

     It is now not enough to know how to ride, I must know how to fall.  There is an art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.  There is a discipline to recovering.  I must always be thinking ahead,  preparation is key and sometimes I just have to take a risk by sitting in that saddle and say, "Well, let's see what happens."  

     Taking this lesson literally today, I had my husband saddle my horse for me. (it was his horse until I stole it from him)   Three and a half years have passed since I've truly ridden a horse comfortably.  I have a special horse named Jack.
     He stands at 14.2 hands and is a perfect gentleman to me.  Having my pelvis and both ankles fused with loads of metal covering my bones does not make it easy to stretch your leg up to a 15 or 16 hand horse.  Today I was able to mount him unassisted, my first accomplishment, then I was able to insert my right toe into my stirrup for the first time since my fourth ankle surgery, a year and a half ago. 

     I decided to attack this challenge the same way as I had to relearn my physical activities.  One step at a time.  I prepared. 
 I had a special horse.  Special stirrups.
Special braces.
(I realize lace up boots are not cool anymore and this is not the epitome of sexiness, but they are necessary.  Don't judge my boots.)

     Jack and I walked for fifteen minutes, so far everything is
 A- Okay.
     Jack is as excited as I am and we are both chomping at the bit to try a trot.  He's a smooth dancing guy, I have to say.  There was just a slight  'tork' on the outside of my right ankle as we progressed. Still going splendidly.  I then realized, 

We are in a Wide. Open. Field.

Oh Yes, I did!

     A slow canter, a faster gallop, then a flat out run!  Jack's mane was whipping in the wind as my spirit soared to new heights.  Waiting and wondering for three and a half years if I would ever be able to experience that feeling again has finally ended.  My smile covered the entire county as I laughed and a tear of happy relief raced from the corner of my right eye.  I don't even know who I whispered, 'Thank You' to, but I am truly thankful.  
      I had a little swag in my hip movement as I rode back to the barn to relay the details of my adventure to my husband.  I should give that credit to Jack though as he was the one who was actually prancing up the drive way creating my swag.
     My heart leaps, knowing that greener pastures are on my horizon and I cannot wait to see what new freedoms I will unlock just by giving it a try.

     By getting back in the saddle, I may encounter failures, 
but what if I Succeed?