I went to a riding instructor update clinic and just recently returned. It’s mandatory to attend these clinics every few years to maintain the instructor credentials. And it’s nerve racking … the travel, the being watched and critiqued over your teaching, and instructing riders you’ve never met before and will probably never see again.
I’ve been attending these clinics for 15 years and yet I never seemed to get used to it, I’d be anxious for months beforehand … the anxiety over this event spilled over into all other areas of life … affecting sleeping, affecting constipation, affecting energy level, etc. I love learning new things but I was never excited for these clinic “learning” experiences … on the contrary, it was really hard to take in new information or do anything else except to grin and bear it, persevering until the update clinic was over.
I tried to spice it up by going to interesting places like Steamboat Springs, Colorado for one update and by experimenting with having clinics from different lead instructors but the stress continued to blend into other areas of my life. I was a bundle of nerves. I still did it anyway … because that’s what I do … I push through and carry on towards the end goal, but I pay a terrible price doing it that way. Not at the expense of unfulfilled dreams (I do live my dreams), but rather it’s the ‘wear and tear’ that pushing through life causes on a body. I have my dream life, yet I haven’t been able to enjoy having it. Instead I feel that self-induced heavy load creating unnecessary muscle tension and pain.
But something is changing. Really changing. A couple of years ago my body broke down from pushing through life and I’ve slowed down … was forced to actually. And I find I like a slower pace … it suits me. I don’t even canter much when I ride anymore and that surprises people and I’m ok with that. I’m enjoying life, relaxing, and smelling the proverbial roses along the way. I’m acknowledging my limits and not striving to be Wonder Woman anymore. And you know what, stress is no longer bleeding through into other areas of my life … it’s contained. Yes, there is still stress (that’s an unavoidable fact of life) but it’s only brief and is appropriate to the situation and I don’t lose sleep over it anymore.
This last update clinic I went to Vermont, the home of the founder and I had an amazing time. I learned a lot. I enjoyed the people. I slept at night. Yes, I was nervous when I taught but it was within the boundary of the teaching time. And when the evaluation time came at the end of the clinic, I felt good.
It just amazes me what happens when we stop pushing through life, slow down and start going with the flow of life. Saying no more often, being ok with our personal limits, and saying yes with integrity. Everything opens up and all of life feels like spring again. New and refreshed.