Yesterday our son, Max, started horseback riding lessons. He did a little bit of riding over the summer with my sister in Vermont and I’d forgotten that even touching a horse had initially been on his “bucket list.” The bucket list started out as a list of things he wanted to do within the next twenty years. He encouraged me to start my own (mine is for the next two years). Some of the things on our lists are fun and exciting and some are scary. Often they’re both, like my goal of learning how to swim with a “mermaid tail” or monofin.
I’ve been volunteering at Whispering Manes for a couple of months and I’ve become more comfortable around horses, but it took me a while to get to that stage. I don’t ride, I’m a “side walker” and I walk along next to the students as they ride. Some need more support than others. I was surprised yesterday when Max seemed fearful. At first he didn’t seem to even want to touch the horse. When he did stroke Honey’s neck he commented on how soft she felt. After he was seated in the saddle the instructor encouraged him to breathe and then to sing to the horse. When we sing we have to breathe, so singing is a good strategy to help reduce our fears! We walked around the paddock, singing Row Your Boat to Max’s consternation. At age eleven he’s way beyond the “baby” songs. About half way through the lesson he was comfortable enough to start using the reins to change Honey’s direction. However, each new step caused some of the fear to come back. When we’re fearful our posture often contracts and we hunch over to protect our soft insides. Our breathing becomes shallow or we hold our breath completely. It’s hard to concentrate on learning a new skill, like lifting the hands that are supporting us on the saddle, sitting up tall and balancing on our sit bones. As we practice new skills they become easier, but it’s hard to practice when our fears stop us.
Watching Max work through his fear was inspiring to me. I’ve got a list of things I want to do to get my life coaching business off the ground. Some of them are scarier than others. I notice myself avoiding the scary stuff, finding ways to distance myself from it or procrastinating. My breathing constricts. My posture changes and I contract. So today, I took some deep breaths and tackled a few of the items on my list. I changed the “theme” on my website from the one that I’ve had since I started it four years ago. It was a little bit scary but I did it. I’m humming Row Your Boat as I write this blog post, the first one I’ve published since November.
Moving forward I would like to serve more moms of children with special needs in my coaching practice. To do this I need to do some things that seem scary at first, like offering workshops to organizations that serve children with disabilities. Even though I worked in the field of special education for many years I never worked specifically with parents as a life coach. Putting myself out there as someone who can help feels like a stretch. But knowing how much I benefited from coaching makes me realize that it’s not fair to let my fear hold me back. Someone might really need to know that being the mom of a kid with special needs will teach us more about courage than we could ever imagine.
If you know someone who might need to hear this, please forward this post. I’ll be waiting to talk to them, singing Row Your Boat.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream…