The Learning Year

As we near the end of 2020, with less than 15 days until the new year, I find myself compelled to look back over the past 12 months. It’s been a strange ride. Everyone has had more than their fair share of negativity about all manner of things, so I’m choosing to look at and focus on what this year brought me, rather than what its taken.

2020 was supposed to be my “Year of Yes!” that was the intention I set for myself in January. Saying yes to as many things as possible, though it really didn’t turn out that way. Instead it became a year of learning.
What a gift that has been.

In early spring, I (we all) had to learn how to navigate the world of Zoom and I had to learn how to get over fear of “public speaking” in the Zoom format. I still find this an awkward way of communicating, but I found my voice over time as I was forced to speak up in board meetings and chose to speak up in class calls and zoom meetings with friends and teachers. A growing moment.

In the summer, I tried my hand at gardening, something I’d wanted to be good at for my whole life but had convinced myself I had a brown thumb. With a mindset shift and a hardy succulent plant, I started small, and with encouragement & a gift from my beloved, a brand new outdoor veggie plot, I succeeded in growing a few zucchini squash, a watermelon, and I kept a flower alive for 2 years! (I got my flower plant from my mom in 2019) Until this October when it was overrun by small flies that I couldn’t get rid of.

I discovered that without a proper horse, gardening wasn’t the treat that I’d hoped it would be, but with the proper equipment (perhaps a watering can?) I may try my hand at it again this coming summer.

I took up a pencil and paper in the fall, and decided I would see what artistic genes may have been passed down to me, as both my maternal and paternal sides are/were artistic and creative, and I discovered, though my talent is not yet refined in any way, and many of my attempts are childlike, drawing has become an activity that I find immensely soothing, and it keeps me engaged and away from social media. I’ve focused my attempts almost exclusively on learning to draw horses, but a secret line drawing of my Honey while he was playing a video game turned out better than I could’ve hoped!

Perhaps most importantly to me, was undertaking riding lessons.

I pondered my options for the better part of the year as it became clear that my fears of riding still had a hold of me and I had to do something to help myself or my training career was going to go down the tubes.
I looked into western and bareback trainers but never committed. Then one day I was compelled, as I was walking past her, to circle back to Tanya, the riding instructor where I board, who I have known for 15 years, and ask her about lessons.

English lessons.

Something I’d never before considered, something I had zero interest in, until that moment in time.

We set up a session for the very next week and I have been enthralled ever since. She kicked my ass that first day, when on my very first lesson she asked me to post. I hadn’t been expecting that at all, I was expecting to ease into it, maybe after a lesson or two. I should have known better!

Even so, and hour later, as I dismounted the gentle giant Thoroughbred, Clyde, and cowboy-style bowlegged walked him back to his stall, every muscle in my body aching, and the two-day sore than came after, in spite of it all, I was absolutely hooked.

Learning to ride a different style, filling the holes in my own training/riding, gaining a more secure seat, and pushing myself outside my comfort zone (Ride over those trotting poles with no reins and my arms out to the sides like a bird, what?! Okay here we go!) It has all become the best part of my week, and I’d venture to say, the best part of my year.

It’s been a strange year. I have gained much. I’ve stretched and grown, and had ups and downs. I’ve faced fears head on. I’ve had fun. I’ve learned. It wasn’t so much a year of “saying yes”, but instead, a year of saying Yes!

 “There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”

– Jiddu Krishnamurti

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