Newbie Horse Rider

Blog for new adult horse riders

Author: Robyn Adams (page 1 of 6)

A Visit To Oz

 

“There’s no place like home.”

The longest I have ever lived in one place is 18 years.  It is ironic is that those years were spent in a place where I never felt at home, despite having married and had three children while living there.  I was a teacher at a local high school and even made a few adult friends over the years.  No matter how hard I tried I never felt a part of the community; I was outside looking in.  When my husband was offered a job in New Jersey I was nothing less than ecstatic.  As we drove away from a house that held so many memories I was shockingly unemotional.

We have moved three three times since that day, each time opening us up to new experiences and people.  Some of the moves were easy, but others were not.  Leaving behind family and friends in Texas was excruciating.  Adjusting to life in New York had its challenges, not the least of which was the weather.  Endless numbers of cloudy days and frigid temperatures can challenge even the hardiest of souls.  On the other hand, lush rolling hills, quaint towns, and an abundance of farms paint a picturesque landscape.  It is only recently I have come to appreciate the splendor of upstate NY.  This eye opening realization came after what I can only describe as an Oz moment: when you suddenly realize that you feel at home in a place that previously you felt nothing but contempt for.  My personal Oz moment came when my family traveled to the South on a scouting trip after my husband’s company began hinting that they’d like him to relocate there.

After 48 hours it became apparent that the reality was not lining up with our expectations.  Think your life would be so much better somewhere else?  Maybe.  But before you pack your bags and find a new barn ask yourself a few questions:

  1.  Is the weather REALLY that much better?  Ok, so moving south would relieve us from foot-numbing cold that lasts for six months or  more.  However, NY does have beautiful summers and even nicer autumns.  And let’s face it, there is nothing better than a snow  day!  Eight months or more of soupy heat and humidity will get to you – eventually.  Tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, forest fires  – these are truly frightening weather catastrophes that, luckily, we don’t have to contend with very often in the Northeast.
  2.  Housing prices in upstate NY must be some of the most affordable in the country.  Most of the houses around here are not new,  and most have bathrooms that date back to the 1950’s.  However, few regions will allow you to buy a decent  home on a nice street for under $150,000.
  3. Taxes – we pay some of the highest taxes in the country.  It sucks, it really does.  However, if you have kids then high taxes usually equate to good schools and affordable health care.  We are lucky to have a top-notch public high school right around the corner  from our house.  In many areas low property taxes mean underfunded school districts.
  4.  Traffic.  Don’t think traffic is a big deal?  It is when it takes you 45 minutes to go 5 miles.
  5.  This last one is important – BARNS.  Do you belong to a great barn?  What’s special about it?  I completely took the barn we go to for  granted, until I started looking for a new one.  To get the same quality of care, training, and proximity to our house was impossible  to find, at least at an affordable price.  Plus, it is run by some of the most caring people you could ever meet.

Nothing will make me like winter, and I will continue to long for sun-filled days.  However, as I pull on my paddock boots and drive the 20 minutes to our barn, I will appreciate the beauty and serenity that accentuates our days in rural NY.  Understandably, NY is not for everyone.  Whether your home is on the west coast, the east coast, or somewhere in between, there is something deeply emotional in the connection we have with the place we call home.  Indeed, the grass is not always greener on the other side – sometimes it’s just different.

Share what you love about the place where you live.  What’s special about it?

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Mission Impossible?

My mission:  To completely overhaul my riding position.  This means keeping my legs underneath me, back straight, abs tight, thighs rolled in, calves resting softly on my horse’s side, torso up, shoulders down and back, seat deep in the saddle, eyes up,…  In short, I feel like I’m trying to do this:

Photo by Juan Pablo Rodriguez on Unsplash

While doing this:

Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

and this:

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Sure, this is challenging for any rider.  But by the time you’re 50 your body is pretty certain which body parts are supposed to be where, and this just isn’t the place.  So at the end of a lesson I feel like this:

As my mind contemplates the leg muscles that I never knew I had – despite having been a runner for 40 years – the words to Once in a Lifetime by the Talking Heads ring loud in my head:

And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And you may say yourself, “My God! What have I done?

How did I get here?  It all started when my fabulous young trainer announced that he would be moving to California to pursue a graduate degree at USC Davis.  I wasn’t really surprised by his announcement.  He is incredibly smart, and let’s face it, being a horse trainer is not an easy life.  There is no medical plan, no 401 K, no dental insurance.  If he got hurt (which would likely happen eventually), who would pay him while he recovered?  As a parent I completely support his decision.  However, I am sad that he is gone; he became an extended member of our family and things just aren’t the same since he left.

Carter with my daughter, Emma whom he coached to win a class earlier this summer

Nevertheless, when one door closes another one opens.  Yes, I am aware of how cliche this sounds, but it’s true.   In this case the door opened on another young, but equally talented young equestrian.  You may recall that I almost slammed the door on this sweet young woman when I had an initial lesson with her (sorry Anna – I was having the mother-of-all bad days). I have now had a total of three lessons with her, and…she is totally kicking my butt!  While I was pretty sure that my seat was secure and my leg position correct, I was apparently riding under false assumptions.  What’s changed?  Well – everything it now seems.  Now, to be fair on myself, Anna is correcting my position from the vantage point of a hunt seat rider, which I am not.  However, good riding is good riding.  At our last show Austin got extremely crooked, and because of my newbie status, I could not figure out how to fix the situation.  The result?  He remained crooked, I became crooked, and together we were a big hot mess.  Anna is giving me the tools to prevent this from happening again in the future.   All horses are crooked to some degree, but figuring out how to fix it is the challenge.  On the positive side, my legs and abs are getting nice and strong.  It goes without saying: when it comes to riding, we never stop learning.

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Live Your Dream

 

Would you jump out of an airplane?  How about run with the bulls in Pamplona?  What about swim with sharks in open water?  Like most people, the thought of engaging in these activities scares the heck out of me.  But I can’t help but wonder, does fear keep us from making the most of our time on this earth?  Is our fear of death so acute that we would rather sit back and watch; be part of the audience rather than join the actors on stage?

My daughter, Emma

A few things occurred this past week that got me thinking about this.  One was taking my daughter to the New England Morgan Horse Show in Northampton, Massachusetts where she and her horse Matt competed with some of the best junior exhibitor hunt seat riders in the country.  I watched in awe as these talented young participants rode high strung 1,000 plus pound horses with the elegance and grace of a classically trained ballerina.  Perhaps some of their bravery can be explained by their sheer innocence.  At some point in life we become acutely aware of the dangers involved in riding, and in living life in general.  We stop doing what we love for fear of getting hurt – physically and emotionally.  We tell ourselves that we’ll pick it up again – some day.  But when that ‘some day’ is here we find that we are just as fearful as ever.

Emily Dickinson’s House

The second event that led to my philosophical exploration of fear was a visit to poet Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst, Massachusetts. I have always been fascinated by her life and work, so my daughter and I decided to take an afternoon off from the horse show and explore the house and gardens of this remarkable American poet.  There are a number of misinterpretations of Emily Dickinson’s life, particularly surrounding her decision to live a life of seclusion in her later years.  Many people are under the impression that it was fear and depression that led her to isolate herself from the rest of the world.  Depression was very likely a part of her existence, and for understandable reasons.  At an early age she became familiar with death and loss.  In addition, while not regarded as a feminist per se, Dickinson was well aware of the limited options available to women in her day.  She knew life was short, and thus decided to spend her life doing what she loved most: writing.  By making this decision she was not exhibiting fear, but rather a fierce and brave determination to live life on her terms.  As she advises us in one of her poems:

If your Nerve, deny you –

Go above your Nerve –

He can lean against the Grave,

If he fear to swerve –

I often times wonder if longer life spans have extinguished our zest for adventure and meaning.  Think of Amelia Earhart, our nation’s founding fathers, and countless numbers of writers and artists who spent their early years taking chances and following their heart’s desire.  So, stand tall in the face of fear.  Step outside of your comfort zone and do that one thing you’ve always wanted to try.  Take your horse to a show, or experience the exhilaration of cantering across an open field.  It doesn’t have to change the world; it only has to make life more meaningful for you.

 

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The Horse Lovers Guide to Making Friends

Have you ever had this happen to you?  After meeting someone for the first time you casually mention that you own or ride horses. Suddenly, you become keenly aware of the contorted expression that has spread across the face of your new acquaintance:

You do what??

I get this look a lot, which probably explains why I don’t have a lot of non-horsey friends.  Of course I also get this look from some of my own family members.  My daughter also experiences this in school which can make a teenager feel somewhat isolated at times.  Why is it so difficult for people to understand the passion that comes with loving horses?

The reaction that I get from people when I express my love of horses usually determines whether or not a friendship has any hope of survival.  This is not a bad thing, because who has time for insincere friendships?  My husband doesn’t ride (or at least not very often), but he understands and supports my passion and frequently comes out to the barn with me.  The horses love to see him since he usually has a bag of carrots in tow.  He understands that I would rather go on a trail ride than shop at the mall; I don’t want to go to a party if it interferes with my riding lesson; I don’t care if my car is always covered with muck from the barn and smells like horse manure. Unfortunately, few of my other non-horse friends understand this about me.  So how does a horsey-loving gal make friends outside the barn?

My husband on his second ever trail ride

My suggestion is to bring a friend who doesn’t understand your compulsive need to be around horses out to the barn.  Introduce them to some horses; let them brush one and show them how to safely give treats to a horse.  Make sure that the horse you use for this introduction is friendly.  If your friend looses a finger while feeding a carrot you’ll probably never hear from them again.  The point is to show your non-horse friend how peaceful it can be to interact with horses, out of the saddle.

If the trip to the barn goes well, take them on a trail ride.  There are many places that specialize in trail riding for non-riders.  This is a safe way to introduce your friend to the sport.  Many people underestimate how relaxing a trail ride can be – meandering down wooded trails on a hot summer day.  Hopefully the ride will clue your friend into the spiritual connection that forms between horse and rider, even on an hour long trail ride.  We did this when my husband’s family came out to visit us in Texas.  My daughter and I had recently bought our first horse, and many members of the family seemed to feel that we had lost our minds.  By taking them on a relaxing trail ride they gained a better understanding of our passion.

Taking the family on a trail ride in Texas

Another way to introduce non-horsey friends to equestrian sports is to take them to a horse show.  Summer is horse show season and there are plenty of shows going on across the country.  (Check out usef.org for a list of events taking place across the country.)  Taking in a horse show with a friend can be a wonderful way to introduce them to a variety of equestrian sports.  Whether you watch dressage, jumping, or go to a rodeo, there is a lot to learn about the physical strength and mental concentration required to be a top notch equestrian.

Have any other suggestions about how we can build friendships with non-horse people?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

 

 

 

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Fabulous 50

 

Napa Valley, CA

For over a year I dreaded the day that was fast approaching:  my 50th birthday.  Thanks to my wonderful husband, the half century mark blew in like a lamb as we spent the day on route to San Francisco.  Having turned 50 last year, his words of wisdom rang true: the prospect of turning 50 is far worse than the actual event.  Most people get stressed out over at least one birthday.  For some it is 30, for others 40, but for me it was 50.  Having moved past this milestone has allowed me to reflect on why I was so stressed about it.  After all, it’s just a number.  The funny thing is, I’ve decided that I actually LIKE being 50!  So, for all of you who are stressed about getting older, let me share a few words of wisdom.

  1. Look forward, not back.  Sure, you’ve done some awesome things in the past.  Feel free to recall those fond memories, but don’t dwell on them.  Instead, look forward and think about all the stuff you’d like to accomplish in your next 50 years. Spend some time planning how you’d like to live the second half of your life.
  2. Being young is so over rated!  Ok, so maybe I had more energy 15 years ago than I have now.  So what?  I use that as a terrific excuse to curl up with a good book on a Sunday afternoon, something I would never have had time for when I was 35.  When I was younger I was constantly on the go: full time teaching job, kids, graduate school, etc…  Sometimes I look back and wonder how on earth I did all that without loosing my mind.
  3. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a little more money to spend on yourself when you’re 50.  When my husband and I were first married we would sometimes have to look around the apartment for loose coins just to put gas in the car.  While we do have three kids to put through college, at least we can fill up our gas tanks and take an occasional trip.
  4. Embrace who you are, inside and out.  When I was young, I didn’t always like what I saw in the mirror.  Why did I have to have curly red hair when all the beautiful people had straight blonde or brown hair?  I hated my freckles, my rear end, my height… As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to not only accept the way I look, but embrace it.  Now the things that I used to despise about my physical appearance are the things I love the most.  They are what set me apart and make me, me.  Hopefully I’ve passed this message onto my teenage daughter.
  5. Age gracefully.  There is nothing wrong with having lines on your face, or gray hair.  Our society has an obsession with youth and has brainwashed us into believing that we should look 30 forever.  Why???  I don’t want to look 30.  I’m not 30.  I like the lines on my face because they are a road map of all that I’ve done in my life.  I’ve earned every single wrinkle and every gray hair.  Of course I believe that we should take of ourselves as we age, but we shouldn’t have to hack up our bodies and inject toxic substances into our faces just to feel accepted.
  6. Wake up every day feeling grateful for this wonderful experience called life.  How fortunate I am to have this opportunity to turn 50 when so many poor souls never get the chance.  I try to find beauty in the most simple of things, and laugh as much as I can (which probably explains the wrinkles around my eyes…).

Now go out and enjoy your age!  And remember, your horse doesn’t care how old you are or what you look like as long as you show up at the barn with carrots.

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The Newbie Horse Rider at Large

The beautiful view from our room in California wine country

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…”   Charles Dickens could always find the right words to sum up any situation, such as my life over these past few weeks.  It started with what I thought was a stomach bug, followed by a whirlwind vacation with my husband to San Francisco and Napa Valley (now thinking that perhaps drinking numerous pints of beer and eating copious amounts of bread wasn’t such a great idea), stomach issues continued, then the horse show (more to come on that in a second), stomach still not right, out to Dallas to see my mother and father, stomach still in turmoil.  On the bright side my mother is doing well, on the downside my body seems to have developed an aversion to all sorts of things, most of them yummy.  Ugh!  Getting older can be rough on the spirit.

For the time being I am home and excited to share all the gory details of my second horse show – ever!  Unfortunately, my travel situation did not set me up for success in this past show.  I arrived home from California Wednesday night and by Thursday afternoon was riding Austin around the show ring.  I had been counting on practicing in the arena before the show, but my plane got in too late on Wednesday to allow for this.  There are many experienced show people who would not be at all fazed by such a situation, but I am not one of them. Showing up to the fairgrounds feeling exhausted from the trip, not to mention a stomach that was not cooperating, really did not put me in the mood.  I even told my trainer, “I’m not feeling this.  I really don’t feel ready for this, like at all.”  His response?  A coy smile.  That’s his code for, “Yeah, you’re still riding.”  Damn!!  Why can’t I find a trainer who gives into my whining just occasionally?

It felt like I was on Austin for less than a minute before we were ushered into the arena.  There were four of us in the class, and I couldn’t help but notice that the other women seemed far more experienced at showing their horses.  Nevertheless, I did my best to focus on the task at hand and recall every little thing we worked on in our lessons.   Austin was nervous, likely due to the fact that he had a stressed out woman on his back, and kept trying to pull away from the rail.  Despite my best efforts I couldn’t get him to walk straight, and so he moseyed on down the rail as crooked as a drunken sailor.  We got through it, but it wasn’t  pretty.  The surprise was that we actually took third place, not bad considering.  The championship class two days later was much better, even though we took last place.  In that class my goal was simply to ride well and keep Austin relaxed, which he was.  He was so relaxed that he broke momentarily from a jog into a walk at the exact second the judge was looking at us.  After that I knew our place was not going to be stellar, so whenever I felt Austin tense up I’d scratch his neck and he’d relax.  The great thing about showing is that it provides a window into the gaps in your riding and training.  We know what to work on, and already I’m noticing a huge improvement.

My daughter, Emma

My daughter, Emma, had nothing but terrific rides on her horse Matt.  After winning her equitation class, she is now ready to compete at the Morgan show in New England in July.  Well done Emma!

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When Life Gets in the Way

I’ve fallen way, way behind in my blogging due to circumstances that I will explain.  First and foremost, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a few weeks ago.  This has consumed my attention and made it very difficult to concentrate on anything else.  As with most women who receive a similar diagnosis, it came out of nowhere.  I guess that is life.  We go on, day in and day out, attending to the minutia of everyday life, until we are stopped dead in our tracks.  The plans she was making with my father for summer and beyond have been put on hold.  Now doctor’s visits consume her days, and thoughts of what’s to come haunt her nights.

My mother is in her 70’s, so most people who see this will not be surprised by her diagnosis.  But when you are close to someone, age seems irrelevant.  Life goes by so fast that it is hard for our minds to catch up with the toll that time has taken on our bodies.  In my mind I see her as the young mom from my childhood – always on the move.  Thankfully, she has wonderful doctors and a supportive family who will see her through this.  She is strong and determined.  As a cautionary tale to all women: pay attention to any change, no matter how insignificant.  The only symptom my mother had was itching.  Understandably, my mom thought the itching was simply dry skin, and continued to treat it as such.  Luckily a yearly mammogram caught the tumor before it got any larger.

The Breeders show starts on the 19th, after which I will go to Texas to help my mother.  I would love to keep the blog going.  My goal in starting this was to provide a forum for new adult horse riders, such as myself, to come together and talk about this unique experience.  And so, I am going to reach out to all of you and ask – okay, plead – for guest posts.  This would be a huge help during the weeks when I will be attending to my mother.  Please let me know if you’d be willing to help out.

Ok, hopefully this Does Not happen!

Meanwhile, I continue to gear up for the show which is only two weeks away.  I’ve been riding well, and Austin is looking better than ever. Yet I cannot help but feel nervous.  We rode outside for the first time this season and had a very disappointing ride.  Austin was feeling lazy, and the flies were driving us both crazy!  However, this last Monday made up for the mistakes we made during our previous ride.  We continue to work on staying straight, and moving into canter transitions that are slow and collected.  I can’t help but wonder if pre-show jitters ever go away, or if they are simply part of the experience.  When my nerves get the better of me, I will turn to my tried and true methods of relaxation:  mediation, mindfulness, and positive imagery.  I have found this last one to be extremely effective.  Simply closing my eyes and picturing my ideal ride, does wonders.

I will keep you up-to-date on my progress as we get closer to the show.  In the meantime, please let me know if you’d be willing to help out with a guest post.  I will be eternally grateful!

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Count Down to Show Season: 4 Weeks

The kids were home from school last week for spring break.  Alas, I’ve fallen behind on my blogging and just about everything else.  I try not to stress too badly because I know that in the near future I will miss all of this – the crazy schedules, the messes, the laundry…  So, for now I enjoy every minute and apologize for my tardiness.

With the Breeders Show quickly approaching, I’ve decided to document my journey toward what will be my second time in the show arena.  I have been trying very hard to stay calm and focused, and also to remind myself that it is my horse the judges are looking at.  Of course how I ride will affect how my horse looks, but I tell myself this as a way to calm my nerves.

For the last two weeks I have been riding without stirrups hoping to perfect my seat and leg position.   This has been tremendously helpful.  In addition to helping me discover muscles I didn’t know I had, it has forced me to use my seat for balance and communication.  I have come a long way in the last eight months, but there are still improvements to be made.  I think everyone can say this.  If there is one thing I’ve learned about riding, you never really stop learning.  The mere fact that I am able to canter comfortably around the arena without my stirrups is alone testament to how far I’ve come.  There is no way I could have done that a year ago.

Last week Austin and I worked on staying straight.  For a long time neither of us were particularly straight.  Now that my riding has improved and I am more centered in the saddle, it is time to work on Austin’s straightness.  Every horse bends naturally to one side over the other.  This is what is commonly known as lateral bending.  In Austin’s case he moves more easily to the right.  Whether a horse moves naturally to the right or the left is dependent on a number of factors, including his spine, muscles, and movement of legs.

Photo Credit: Straightness Training

It is easy to constantly hold a horse in the position you’d like it to go, but doing this will not solve the problem.  My instructor has convinced me that it is much more effective to make a sharp correction, and then go back to straight.  When Austin begins leaning on the right side of the bit, I make a sharp correction by pulling on the left rein so that his head is moved away from the direction he is leaning. When doing this it is important to relax your hands once he straightens out.  It is only by applying pressure and then releasing it when he responds that Austin will learn what is expected of him.  As with training any animal, the key here is consistency and then praise when they respond appropriately on their own.  For more information on keeping your horse straight, I highly recommend that you checkout Straightnesstraining.com which provides valuable insight into the reasons for lateral bend, and is chock-full of helpful tips on how to straighten out your crooked horse.

Does your horse move more easily to one side or another?  How do you straighten out your crooked horse?  Your personal insight could help others.  Please, share your thoughts in the comments section.

Happy Riding!

 

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Countdown to Show Time: 5 Weeks 2 Days

I once read that people are most afraid of things that they have already experienced.  There must be some truth to this because I have become more anxious the closer we move to the start of Show Season.  Notice how I put that in caps.  For many people in the horse world, especially for newbies like myself, Show Season is far more than some vague time marked in on a calendar.  This is why we work tirelessly every week, and every month; why we continue to challenge ourselves mentally and physically until our bodies ache; why we show up for lessons in blinding snow storms and ride in subzero temperatures.  Show Season is a thing – large and looming in the distance that sets the bar for all of our time and effort.

It was about a year and a half ago when my instructor first suggested that I consider showing.  I laughed.  Me?  Show?  Yeah, sure.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was not such a far fetched idea after all.  I had seen enough horse shows to realize that men and women of all ages and abilities show their horses.   I decided to give it a try.  After selling my Paint horse and purchasing a beautiful bay Morgan gelding (Austin), I set out to learn as much as I could about showing  Western Pleasure.

Looking good in silver.

Austin joined the barn in March of 2016 which did not provide much time to prepare for the start of show season in May.  It was decided that my trainer would ride Austin in the first two shows, giving me ample time to watch and learn.  It is truly amazing how much you can learn by simply watching riders in a show.  I tried to catch every single Western Pleasure class that I possibly could.  Transfixed, I would take note of riders’ hand and body position, level of relaxation, confidence, leg cues, everything.  I would try to predict who would come in first, second, third, etc.  By engaging in conversation with other Western riders I  would gauge my level of understanding.  In the evenings I would practice in the arena, learning to feel comfortable riding in a large space while dodging multiple riders.  It was during these sessions that I came to realize the infectious power of self-confidence to influence not only the horse, but observers as well.

By August I was ready.  Or, at least that’s what everyone told me, though I had my doubts.  The weeks leading up to the final show of the the season were spent preparing physically and emotionally.  Shopping for my show outfit provided a pleasant distraction and calmed my nerves.  Trying on my outfit in front of a mirror – chaps, show shirt, boots, and hat – the reality hit me.  Could I really attempt this at my age?  Can an old dog really learn a new trick?

On the day of the show I left plenty of time to get to the show grounds and change into my outfit.  Assisted by kind and experienced show people, I warmed up in a small arena and tried to find that elusive self-confidence that I knew would get me through this.  My heart was pounding and I wondered what Austin was thinking as we practiced a few canter transitions.  A horn blew to announce the start of the class, and we rode in looking focused and confident.  In the end, we had a terrific ride.  It wasn’t perfect; they seldom are.  We rode as a team the best we knew how and won our first blue ribbon.

Our victory lap.

That win put me on a high that has lasted for eight months.  Now begins the countdown to the next show, and I am more nervous than I’d like to be.  I can recall far too easily the fear that gripped me when we entered the practice arena.  When anxiety gets the better of me I will strive to recall the feeling of pride as Austin and I rode our victory lap around the show ring.

 

 

 

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News Roundup: 4 Great Articles to Read This Week

Aging: it’s not for the wimpy.  And while I’m far from ‘old’ I can no longer claim to be young.  Three great articles recently appearing in the New York Times speak to those of us who are stuck in limbo –  this vague space where you are no longer young but not quite old.  All three articles get to the heart of what it takes to approach this time in life with optimism, curiosity, and determination.

Some day I’d like to…  I really should…  Do either of these sentence starters sound familiar to you?  If so, I urge you to read both of these terrific pieces by New York Times contributor Cal Richards.  The Wish List I Made After My Wife Almost Died and How to Turn Your Wishes Into Reality Instead of Regrets speak to the importance taking life by the horns now rather than waiting until it’s too late.  After nearly loosing his wife in a tragic accident, the author became consumed by regret.  His regret stemmed from things he wished he had said and things he wished he had done with his wife but never had.  Luckily, he was given a second chance.  He decided to jot down items that he considered important enough to go on a deathbed wish list.  He then set out on a journey toward living a life without regrets.  As he discovered, taking one small step each day toward your goal can make an insurmountable wish more manageable.  Such reflection is important, as it gives us the opportunity to think about how to live the life we’ve always dreamed of.  I urge you to read these short pieces, and then sit down a make your own list: what things would you wish for if you discovered you had very little time left?

My Wish List

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turning Negative Thinkers Into Positive Ones, by Jane E. Brody, is a must-read for anyone who tends to look at the cup as being half full, or who knows people who look at the world this way.  Of course no one is happy and cheerful all of the time.  But, as Brody discovered, “accumulating ‘micro-moments’ of positivity…can, over time, result in greater over-all well being.”  According to research conducted by Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, our ability to obtain positive emotions from even small everyday activities can boost our overall physical and mental health.  Such micro-moments of positive thinking add up over the course of a day, and help to protect against debilitating stress and depression.  Dr. Fredrickson suggests a number of ways we can incorporate positive emotions into our daily lives, including establishing realistic goals for ourselves and learning something new, both of which can be accomplished through riding!

Don’t be a Debbie Downer

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate more positivity into your daily life, consider tapping into the skills and knowledge of a young mentor.  In Phyllis Korkki’s article, What Could I Possibly Learn From a Mentor Half My Age?  Plenty, the author discovers the benefits of reaching out to a colleague who is half her age but well-versed in social media.  As she explains, many mid-life people are of the opinion that learning is hierarchical; knowledge and guidance should filter down, not up.  Reaching out to someone who is younger may feel awkward at first, but doing so can help to bridge the gap between the generations and expose you to a new set of skills.  As Korkki points out, “Each age group has untapped resources that can benefit others at a different stage in life.”  In the process of learning something new, the author also learns a great deal about the middle-aged brain and how it processes new information.  She discovers that an old dog can learn a new trick – it just may take a little longer.  Maybe I need to share that bit of information with my instructor who is half my age…

Have you read something new and noteworthy lately?  Let us know so we can all benefit!

 

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