For about a decade of my childhood, I spent every Saturday afternoon riding horses at a barn outside of town. The lessons were equestrian style riding (no big saddles, cowboy hats and bandanas, unfortunately!). We focused on gait changes, dressage and jumping. It sounds high brow, but the instructor was a jeans and flannel wearing woman, and the horses were second hand and old.
The ideal situation for getting your horse to move is a light squeeze of your legs. Then, your energetic and attentive prancing pony moves into a lovely trot — all without looking like you’re doing anything at all. The most talented riders and their horses seem telepathic. Despite all my horse-obsessed dreams, the old fat ponies of my childhood riding class were far from sensitive or attentive. One particular horse, Hawkeye, had to be kicked as hard as a sixty-pound girl could kick, and still, he wouldn’t move. (no horses were hurt in the making of this blog post…or during my lessons). Only when I dug my heels in repeatedly would that dang horse get to trotting. I didn’t look like the horse queen I wanted to be, but I was out there each week making my dream come true.
Digging in and taking action doesn’t always look like what we pictured, but each time you giddy up you are active in creating your own path!
Taking action sounds like a big deal, but action comes in all shapes and sizes. Getting motivation and energy to do the damn thing doesn’t have to look like a pre-planned organized event, and you don’t have to look like a blue ribbon international equestrian. Each time you choose to giddy up it brings you an inch closer to something great.
Taking positive action IS a powerful, even if you don’t have a bigger plan…yet.
I started seeing my therapist when I was twenty-six. Until that point in my life, I had been journaling and relying on my skills of self-awareness to get me through tough times. That year, I hit a wall pretty hard. I found myself confronted with legal, financial and extreme emotional obstacles. Many of these hurdles I had created through unhealthy relationship patterns and alcohol abuse. I count it as a blessing that when I was hitting a personal low, I began to see my life more clearly.
For the first time in my life I could not answer the fundamental questions: Why am I unhappy? And how did I get here?
These questions, I realize, are familiar to us all. I’d been kicking them around for years and finding half-answers and quick-fixes but now, I was at a total loss. My mother took action on my behalf and sent me a list of therapists in town.
I came up with a list of questions to bring to the first appointment. What do I want for my life? Why don’t I know what I want? Why am I unable to find happiness and direction for my life? These questions bounced around in my head, my heart and the pages of my journal for weeks.
I did not know what therapy would do for me, but I knew that it was the giddy up I needed at that time of my life. I was unhappy and wanted to change, and therapy was something I could do for my future self.
The only action we can take for the future… is in the present.
Taking action doesn’t always feel like you’re doing much of anything. Sometimes you have to lean into a slow, unfamiliar process. At first, going to therapy didn’t feel like it was doing much at all. I was dealing with some pretty huge repercussions from my personal choices and part of me wanted to do something more dramatic: quit my jobs, or find a more lucrative job, move away, or live with my parents and give up for a few years. But I knew that what needed to change was intangible, inside of me, and so I quietly continued therapy.
The work from my sessions, personal journaling, and positive verbal affirmations brought great changes to my life: I bought a van to fix up and travel, I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, I became more focused and fulfilled at work, I ended a toxic relationship and met someone else. I’d finally gotten the ‘horse’ of my life back to trotting. It felt like I was headed into a beautiful, endless horizon.
It’s been almost two years since all that hard work, change and action. To be totally honest, that positive wave from my initial giddy up into therapy is waning. That ‘someone else’ I met recently broke up with me. I applied to graduate school when I got back from my hiking trip, and the school rejected me too. I see my life extending before me and I’m not as confident as I was a couple of years ago. So I won’t sugar coat this…that initial action gets you going, but sometimes that momentum does not last forever.
What I DO know is that I have giddy-ed up before and I can damn well do it again. It’s time to dig in my heels, kick the horse a few times and take action.
So… get on your metaphorical pony and giddy up,