WHAT WOULD I DO IF I WASN’T AFRAID? by Anne Knorr
Posted by loiswstern
A friend recently asked me, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” She wasn’t talking about jumping out of airplanes or climbing Mount Everest, but the subtle things we do or don’t do because we’re afraid, such as letting go of a relationship that doesn’t work any more, speaking up to voice an opinion, changing careers or simply singing Karaoke. With more days behind me than in front of me, (unless of course I beat the odds and live past 100), now seemed as good of a time as any to start living from my heart and push past some fears that were limiting my choices. I was reminded of a quote by Martin Luther King Junior, “Courage faces fear and thereby masters it.” Inspired, I decided to launch into the second half of life with a willingness to master some fears.
First on my list of fears to conquer was to ride in an Arabian horse show on my daughter’s horse SBA Sensational, otherwise known as Al. We’re not talking the low-key, local fairgrounds type horse show, but the kind where fancy horses and riders with trainers attend. Easy enough, I thought. I can do this. After all, I’d been watching my daughter compete in horse shows throughout her junior and senior high school years and figured I had a pretty good idea of what to do. As a seasoned trail rider, how hard could it be? The scary part for me would be riding into an arena to be judged on my performance and compared with other accomplished riders – a situation I normally tried to avoid at all costs. Three days before the big event my anxiety mounted and an old whiplash injury flared up. The muscles in my neck and shoulders were so tight I pinched a nerve resulting in a slight tingling sensation down my left arm that continued into my hand and fingers. The throbbing headache at the base of my scull didn’t appear until the night before the show. Maybe my body was trying to tell me something? Well, vanquishing fear was not for wimps, and I certainly was no wimp!
Driving to Denver on the day of the show I could feel the cortisol coursing through my body and wondered if showing was really such a good idea after all. Thoughts whirled through my head – what if I embarrass myself, what if Al gets the wrong lead, what if I accidentally cut off another rider, or what if I can’t get Al to go into the show ring? I began to think, “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” is a ridiculous question and I’m no Martin Luther King Junior. Undeterred by my raging self-doubt, I exited onto Interstate 70 towards the arena. Once inside the building, I found the area where Al was stalled along with the other horses from my barn. A quiet tension filled the air as the grooms busily readied horses to be shown and riders put on makeup, pulled their hair into tight buns held into place with layers of hairspray, and pinned entry numbers onto their riding jackets. I stopped to check on Al who had been transformed into a beautiful creature, his mane neatly braided and eyes and muzzle highlighted with baby oil enhancing his chiseled Arabian face. As I gazed into his eyes and scratched his ears I tried to determine what frame of mind he was in, hoping he was relaxed and not in one of his stubborn, defiant moods.
Now it was my turn to be transformed. I headed to the dressing room where I traded my comfortable frayed jeans and T-shirt for tight tan breeches, a button down blouse, and tailored jacket. My worn clogs were replaced with tall black boots, and along with a velvet helmet and black leather gloves, the outfit was complete. With my hair slicked back and makeup in place, I felt like one of the Texans I’d seen (and made fun of) at the ski resorts dressed in swanky clothing attempting to blend in and disguise their lack of skill. Funny how fate has a way of reversing itself. A voice echoed across the loud speaker announcing that Adult Amateur Hunter Pleasure was the next class up and to please check in at the gate. So the moment of truth had arrived. I mounted Al outside the arena and along with four other riders awaited the cue to enter. We looked like clones of one another, each wearing the same riding uniform other than slight variations in color. The only marked difference was that Al fidgeted and pranced while the other horses stood quietly in attention with a calm rider on their back. Little did I know that this was an omen of things to come.
Katie, Al and Anne
When the gate opened, I took a deep breath, faced my fear and trotted into the stadium. So far, so good. We circled around the arena at a trot and I was beginning to settle into a rhythm when I heard my trainer barking orders from the side rail “Bridle him, bridle him, more leg, more outside rein.” I immediately tensed up, pulled on the reins and added pressure with my legs hoping Al would arch his body into a “collected” frame only to have him stop dead in his tracks and then begin backing up. We’re not talking a few steps, but half the length of the arena. Other riders veered around us to avoid a collision as I continued to coax him forward. This was not good. I was beginning panic and all I could hear was a distant voice instructing me, “More leg, kick him with your spurs, sit back.” I was mortified but finally managed to get him moving forward as the announcer called for the hand gallop, a gait we actually did quite well. For the remainder of the class my only goal was to finish without any other major mishaps. After a few more minutes of trotting and walking the class ended. Relieved, Al and I lined up in the center of the arena with the other riders in front of the ring steward. The judge made one final request as he walked past each horse, asking riders to back five steps. Standing in front of me he grinned slyly and said, “Well, I guess we know you can back up!”
Leaving the arena with my 5th place ribbon, I didn’t feel like I’d mastered my fear completely, but I certainly made some progress. My underlying fear of failure, which I certainly did with some flair, was lessened as well. A fellow rider with a wicked sense of humor asked if I planned to move forward next go-around. Fortunately, the following class was for beginner riders and Al out-performed the other sole contender to win first place. As my brother would say, “We were the best of the worst.” I like to think Martin Luther King Junior was sending a little encouragement my way. Perhaps a bit of his courageous spirit dwells in all those willing to face their fears, large or small.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Knorr is a licensed architect in Colorado and has beenthe principal of an architectural firm for over 20 years designing homes. She is also a practicing spiritual director and writer. Anne has written and lectured about the connection between architecture and spirituality and offers workshops and retreats on the topic. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband where she enjoys hiking the trails near her home. Click here to visit her website.
Beauty Without . . .
What’s Your Passion?
About loiswsternI was in education for just over 20 years when I unexpectedly pursued another passion and entered the world of authors and journalists. I have since published two non-fiction, full length books on different aspects of beauty, but also avidly endorse the confluence of Inner and Outer beauty. I have written feature articles for Long Island Beauty Guide and LI Woman, and have served as Editor-at-large for MakeMeHeal.com, the largest Internet site for plastic surgery and beauty needs. I enjoy researching what's new in the world of aesthetics & anti-aging and devote one of my blogs: www.FabulousBeautyBlog.wordpress.com to sharing cutting edge, hype-free information. I devote my second blog to my other passion: writing, collecting and sharing stories to warm the spirit and inspire the soul. To this end, I have created an 'Authors Helping Authors' project/contest, to create books for inspiration, the first of which is titled: Tales 2 Inspire ~ Beyond Coincidence. It is a jewel of a book, filled with inspiring stories and full color original photos and/or drawings. If you're a talented writer with one inspiring story to share, visit www.tales2inspire.com to learn how to participate. FREE to enter. All you need is the talent and perseverance to do so. Lots of positive platform building opportunities for the winners. Learn more at: www.tales2inspire.com.
Posted on February 2, 2012, in Lois' Contest, Off the Beaten Path, Tales2Inspire, TALES2INSPIRE WRTERS CONTEST, The Power of Your Words, Words to Inspire, Writers contest and tagged "CREATOR OF THE TALES2INSPIRE CONTEST", "TALES2INSPIRE CONTEST", Anne Knorr, author, inspiring tale, Lois W. Stern. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.