And then?

And then?

The past few weeks have felt like a renewal of an old part of myself.

Even amidst a deep freeze here in the home province that made riding and pretty much any un-heated activity not possible, I was able to bring back weight training for myself. Fueled by a steadily building interest in doing things for myself in this sense again. It’s been a long time since athletic pursuits felt good. Probably since before I broke my leg in 2013. After that period I came in and out of things like structured workouts, riding, and other somewhat manic self-care routines but often felt like they were fueling burn out more than they were serving me.

After a few years now spent in self-diagnosed burn out recovery, I feel that part of myself returning. In a sustainable, healthy way. During the deep freeze my coaching partner, friend, client and coach utilized some of that motivation to get into a weight training routine.

Odys spent that time keeping his blanket on for the first time in two years (likely because I’ve discovered the magic of placing a sham blanket on top of his winter blanket, to take the damage). I built in a few sessions of ground work and lunge work, and when the sub -30 temps finally lifted brought back riding. The past couple weeks I’ve been able to do more intense sessions with him both on and off, and he seems to have appreciated the two weeks in deep freeze to mature even more.

He came back to regular work mentally and physically a evolved guy, and our jump sessions within the past two weeks have been inspiring to say the least!

Not only am I feeling stronger and more connected in the tack, I have a motivated team mate. We jumped a 3’3 course Sunday and it felt amazing. Having only jumped half a handful of courses that size, Sunday’s rounds felt more than comfortable and confident. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the night before, even not knowing I was going to be jumping the next day, I had dreams of Odys and I jumping around a course feeling exactly the way we felt on Sunday.

An interesting experience I had in my lesson last week, prior to this course day, was jumping two jumps on a figure of 8 pattern. Our coach set the jumps high enough to trigger my anxiety, but the nature of the exercise required committing to a set rhythm regardless. The moment the jumps were set bigger (for me), an internal dialogue depicting the worst case scenarios began in my mind. It was like a highlight reel of every gruesome what if. But on the other side, another voice reflected on an anxiety exercise I had recently read about (as of right now I am blanking on where I read about it, will update when I remember): responding to doom-thoughts with the question “and then?”. Leaning into those worst case scenarios.

In the case of the moment I was in, the answer to “and then” was quite simple: if any of those uncontrollable slip ups, or accidents happen, control would be removed from me. In the event of a nasty fall, there’s very little I can do to change the scenario once it’s unfolding. Believe it or not, this was quite a relaxing series of thoughts to have.

After this momentary internal discussion, settling into the exercise became significantly easier. I was able to stay in the present instead of spiraling somewhere outside of my body and the moment.

Fast forward to Sunday’s courses, I felt none of the usual doomsday thoughts creeping in. Instead I felt connected to my body, to Odys and to the task at hand.

The idea of going to a competition setting is becoming much easier to imagine after the past couple weeks. My intentions continuing through January are to continue adding at least 1-2 more rides in the week, time spent with Odys and saving whatever pennies I can towards an upcoming series of shows near the end of February and into March.

One of the challenges for me right now is to lean into and stay within a level of stability. More in the sense of routines, even amidst the unpredictable global environment which on a local level is impacting financial stability and time stability. I’ve come to learn and reflect on in the past few months how uncomfortable the idea of stability, the same old, and steady, non-chaotic progressions are for me. I caught myself this week, being faced with another unpredictably slow week full of cancellations and rescheduled appointments (covid related) manically creating projects, writing half a book, and desperately searching for things to make me feel successful.

This is certainly an old pattern. One that has served and harmed me all at the same time. With compassion, I allowed parts of that habit to exist while gently allowing myself space elsewhere to be aimless, in a sense. Focusing on “non-achievement” based tasks like creative writing, water-color, baking and hanging out with Odys. Along side this I am working to focus on externally controllable tasks like house-hold chores, tidying, and breathing practices to settle my internal-progress, dopamine seeking sides of self. The sides of me that are prone to burn out. I have noticed that focusing on those externals helps to ground me, and when I notice those externals slipping- it’s often a signal to my deeper, internal mental state.

That’s all I’ve got for now to reflect on!

2 responses to “And then?”

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