Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 4
I'm sore all over and walking like a 103 year old woman. It's a little pathetic. I have muscles that are sore that I didn't even know could be sore.
Well, that isn't exactly true because they have been sore before, just in a much younger body. You know, at an age where muscles were stretchier and bounced back from overwork faster. What have I been doing to cause myself all this misery? I'm taking back up the first and only sport I have ever loved and done well at: horseback riding.
As many of you know, my parents have been paying for P. and A. to take horseback riding lessons for the past couple of years. P. is still enjoying riding, but A. was feeling as though she was ready for other adventures. When I spoke to my mother about this, she asked if I would like to take A.'s spot. I was so happy I was nearly crying. I adore horses and riding, but some choices often preclude others. It's just a fact of life. Having ten children and living in the city are some of those choices which make regular riding a little difficult.
Yesterday was the big day. (It would have been last week, but I cancelled the lessons due to the rampant stomach flu.) I will tell you I was a little nervous. While I have been on a horse occasionally over the past 26 years, it has been just brief pleasure riding. That type does make you sore if you are not used to it, but it is nothing compared to active riding. The idea that riding is not really a workout and requires physical strength and endurance is false. Balancing your body correctly (particularly in a jumping position) is hard work. Posting a trot is hard work. And while you are doing all of this physical work, you also have the mental work of both communicating to your horse and anticipating what he is going to do.
Now I could go on and on about riding and horses, but I know most people don't share my passion and maybe haven't even read this far. Other than getting reacquainted with certain muscles I had lost touch with, I have learned something else, something about age and dreams.
When I was a girl, in the throws of major horse-craziness (which more than one person told me I would grow out of as if it were some awkward stage that had to be tolerated), I had a firm belief that if I didn't have a horse while I was still a child that it wouldn't 'count'. Grown-ups seemed so different from children that I couldn't fathom that having a horse as an adult would feel the same way. Surely it wouldn't mean as much to me as it would as a child. On some level I was right. The passions we have as children hold a special place in our hearts and often times we do grow out of them, or they are diluted with all the other cares of adulthood.
Yet, I was also wrong. I can remember my dear mother-in-law telling me (when she was, ahem, 40), that it was always surprising to her that at her age, she still felt inside just like she did when she was 10. I completely understood because I (at a younger age) felt the same way. What made me,me, didn't change with my chronological age. I may know more, I may have experienced more, but I am still that same person.
It was with a little trepidation that I put on my boots, zipped my half-chaps, and headed to the stable. Would I remember anything? Would I be able to do it? Was it ridiculous for a 48 year old mother of ten to even be doing this? What if it turned out I couldn't or had suddenly become fearful of riding? (I have heard of this happening in more than once instance. It's a thing.) It turns out that the biggest act of courage yesterday wasn't the actual riding, but the decision to try. I love it. I could still remember a lot. My muscles will need a lot of work to get them back into shape, but the basics are still there. My trainer would love to help me get back to jumping. It makes me so happy and sore as I am, I can't wait to go back next week. The best part? My trainer (whom I think I will work very well with), told me it really doesn't look as though I had a 26 year break and that I did a great job. Every person can use this kind of affirmation.
So my message to you today is, Keep trying new things... or picking up old ones you had to drop at some point. Do something because it brings you joy and don't worry about how it appears to others. Don't get to the end of your life and regret that you hadn't tried something because you were afraid or thought you were too old. Remember you are still that ten year old somewhere inside.
(Thank you, Mom and Dad.)