Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The ballet raindrop and the horse

I took ballet as a kid. You've seen me write that I started Zumba with no dance background to speak of. This is true for all intents and purposes because in my opinion, being a "raindrop" in a ballet recital at the age of five after eight weeks of classes, does not a dance background make! Ballet was really just a raindrop in the bucket too. Most kids take lessons in something, usually in whatever their interest is. Me, I took lessons in just about everything. I did figure skating, I did art, drama, computers (such as they were back in '88), music, gymnastics, swimming, canoeing -and- kayaking, knitting -and- crocheting, I even twirled a baton! Basically, it was a little of everything but not a lot of anything, with two notable exceptions. One was piano, the other was horseback riding.

If you asked me today to play you something on the piano, I'm sorry but I'd have to laugh in your face. I can't play. So how then did I take lessons for three solid years? Muscle memory. Do the same pieces enough times over and your hands will practically play by themselves. Any kind of musical instrument (and there have been several...) has always been a challenge for me since I don't understand sheet music. It might as well be Sanskrit for all the sense it makes to me. I have enormous respect for people that can play an instrument because I know from my own struggle how hard it is.

Me at 15, Joe at 17
So, on to horseback riding. That was the thing that stuck. It was -the- thing for years. I loved it, I loved horses and I was good at it. For a long time, my life revolved around it. Long before I was a "Zumba freak" I was a "riding freak". That's me in the picture by the way. Whenever I show this to people who didn't know me back then, they almost always go, "Wow!". Those who don't, ask me if it's a picture of my sister, or maybe my cousin. Nope, that's me I tell them, and then they do that comparison of me now to me then. It's always interesting and it makes me smile. I've changed a lot since I was 15. Back then I was a lot... Younger right? That's what everyone's thinking? No, I know I was a heavier teenager (and that haircut totally didn't help). This photo was taken at a riding competition not too long before I went into the ring. You can tell it's before the ring because one, I don't have helmet hair yet, and two, I'm not wearing my high boots. Preparing for the ring can get messy and it won't do to have scuffed boots when the judge is looking at you. That's Joe standing next to me. He was wonderful (to me) and I loved him, but he sure was an ornery cuss if he decided not to like you; people and horses alike. Every time we went into the ring, he had a red ribbon tied to his tail. If you aren't familiar with ring etiquette, the red ribbon indicates that the wearer will kick if approached by another horse, so other riders could consider themselves warned. That was my boy, unsocial to the extreme. We were definitely a good partnership, and I was extremely attached to him. The problem with that though is that riders, as they improve, outgrow their mounts and then they need to find a new and more challenging horse to ride. I think you can see what direction this is heading in? Yeah... Before Joe, it didn't really matter what horse I rode. I'd sit just about any horse and be happy with that. After Joe, that changed, but at best, I would have had another two years with him before I would have learned all I could from him. I couldn't picture myself with a different horse, I really couldn't. As much as I loved riding, I loved riding with Joe more and I didn't think I'd be able to continue without him. I gave up riding all together the summer I turned 17, so a little more than a year after this picture was taken. It was the right time. I never rode seriously again. I've taken hour-long trail rides and the like, but nothing that could be considered "real" riding and never on the same horse twice. I think a small part of me always thought there would come a time in my life when I'd start again but that never happened. My life filled up quickly with university and a husband, then work, then a family and now here I am.
Me at 31
Monday July 29, 2013

This was taken several Monday's ago. Me in my favorite black pants, and what used to be my brightest tank top, pre-tie-dye. I've traded in my blazer and breeches for a tank top and cargoes and I feel great about that. I also feel great about the better looking haircut even though it's hard to see with it braided back for class. I don't want anyone to feel bad on my behalf because I don't feel bad about any of it. I am happy with how things have turned out for me. I am satisfied with what I have and I am grateful for all of it. In all honesty, after the first few Zumba classes when I realized how awesome dancing was, I wondered to myself: "Where has this been all my life?" Turns out, there's more to dance than being a ballet raindrop. How did I not find that out sooner? Ah well, the important thing is, I know it now.

Best advice: Love your life. It's special since it's the only one you have.

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