Okay, I confess. I’m afraid of loading a horse on a trailer. I fear that my high-spirited, eleven hundred pound equine will freak out, squish me into the side panel breaking all my ribs, and generally mangling me to a bloody pulp. Of course, two weeks ago, there was no one within a fifteen-mile radius to load my young mare into the trailer –except me. I fretted for five days prior to D-Day. Psyching myself. Remembering past successful loading experiences. Reviewing my escape-from-this-trailer options… Breath… How was I going to do this?
Funny enough, two weeks previously, I spoke at an event about overcoming obstacles and pushing through fear. When I was asked to speak, I was told that there are things that qualify me as a bonafide “bad *ss:” Pilot, aerobatics competitor, horsewoman, carpenter, writer, producer, and director, not to mention, finding the emotional courage to face death as Patrick and I battled his terminal cancer.
I thought I was pretty fearless until Patrick/my ”Buddy” died. Then, I found out how much I had always felt protected by him. I suddenly was in crippling grief and had to take care of myself. And I found all these fears springing up. But now, I was alone, and in a position where I couldn’t afford to meltdown. I had no one to depend on, but me.
Buddy used to get so mad at me when I was afraid (he was not afraid of the devil himself)! Upset, I wondered why he wouldn’t give me a break (I’m a girl, right?). I realize now that he saw a courage and boldness in me that I wasn’t seeing myself. It’s like he kept trying to hold up a mirror to say, “Don’t be silly! Look at who you are!!”
Sometimes it’s hard to overcome the boogey men in our minds.
And you know, it’s not really about having a brave man around for protection. After Buddy died, I was faced with how capricious life can be. I became aware that bad things could happen to good people. All the time.
I tried so hard to save him. And it was hard for me to accept that, ultimately, this life is something I can’t control. So, who says that if I do the right thing, make the right choices, that something bad might happen anyway? Suddenly, the world is not a very safe place, and seems to be so without rhyme or reason.
Trust in yourself. And think.
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do,” said Eleanor Roosevelt.
The trick is, to not get paralyzed by fear. Sometimes I get my back up against the wall, and I have no choice but to think my way out of it! More often than not, I’m afraid of something that doesn’t even exist, and even though I can feel my mind peering at it, assessing it, seeing all the evidence to the contrary, it can still be hard to move through the anxiety. One thing about Buddy, he refused to let fear rule his actions. He trusted his experience, calculations, and talent.
“I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it,” said Nelson Mandela.
Ah, take a deep breath.
I never wanted to have to be this strong. Face so many difficult obstacles. But . . . maybe life is asking me to step up to the plate. Maybe it’s asking me to be everything Buddy already believed I was. Maybe he’s up there smiling, saying, “What did I say?” & “It’s about time.”
No doubt. It’s still hard, but I am getting stronger, braver, and wiser.
And when I went to load Ali that Sunday, I was calm (horses read energy extremely well, you
know). I had decided I wasn’t going to worry about what could happen, and instead, we’d take this a step at a time. Think. I asked her to step on to the back of the trailer. She hesitated, but did. I clucked to her. She boldly stepped up with her rear feet also – Whuompf. And as I led her forward, she stopped, flattening her ears (unhappy)! I didn’t rush her, and coaxed her forward reassuringly. And she moved calmly into place, ready to be tied.
Wow! That went great! I almost can’t wait to do it again!! I felt sooo excited.
I see that I am faced with challenges everyday: from loading horses, piloting a plane through icy clouds, to making a difficult phone call. And if I stay aware, I get to choose how I deal with them. And it’s those choices that make me stronger, more determined, and fearless.