Monday, April 21, 2014

Are you cheating on your horse?

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Dealing With Excuses | TechCrunch

I got on Zip yesterday after a long, miserable winter that seemed to start in August and just kept rolling till this weekend.  Oh, I could have ridden him during the brief thaw in January.  Or during the nice days last week.  Or on any of the days when I rode Dolly, Leo, or Dakota or made Duke run his little legs off at the end of the longe line.  But I didn't.  I have a whole list of accumulated excuses.  Some of them are in my last book, Horse Bound: The View From the Top of Mount Manure, for you to use at your discretion.  The article linked above is full of some of the classics that we've all used more than we care to admit.  Read and learn.

Most of my excuses this winter were Zip-specific, however.  He's a special case.  I'm not afraid he'll buck or rear or do anything else that would drive the standard fear response.  Nope.  My lack of enthusiasm is completely based on his.  If he refuses to move or balks in the middle of something that should be fun, then the ride and all the fun and joy associated with it meet an unceremonious end, and my day morphs into a post-mortem rehash of what I must have done wrong this time.  I hate that.  It's not dangerous or foolhardy or painful, just distasteful, and I'm distastefulness-averse.

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What are some of your favorite excuses, and how are they affecting your life?  Are you an "I don't have time" kind of person?  Have you realized yet that you'll never have all the time you want for whatever it is you need to do?  Are you more of a "Phase of the moon is wrong" kind of person?  Does there always seem to be a sign somewhere that you shouldn't be doing whatever it is you know you actually should do?  Do you get that that's just bullpucky?

It's often hard to tell whether you're just giving in to the reality of your situation or coming up with reasons to avoid aversive activities.  If you're a mom with a sick child, you know you need to stop what you're doing and tend to the child.  A sick child isn't an excuse for not going to work or not making lasagna or not working Fuzz Butt over fences today.  It's a fact of life and a duty you've agreed to discharge.

But having just come from having your hair done, legs waxed, nails painted...those are things that fall into the Marginally Acceptable Excuses bin.  If you have a child and he musses your hair, you smile and hug him (hopefully).  If you have a horse and the idea of putting a helmet over that hair just makes your stomach clench, you need to rethink your priorities.  Get your hair cut in a helmet-friendly style.  Have your nails done with clear polish.  Forget your legs; they don't see daylight unless you're on vacation anyway.

Or change your life.

There are enough real-life emergencies and exigencies to fill your day and block out any hope of hitting the saddle.  Making up more of them isn't cost-effective.  If you find that you're looking for ways out of something you used to like, it's time to reconsider your options.
Without excuses, the sun just shines.

There is no law that says that once you're a horse person you have to stay that way, just as there's no law that says you have to wear the blue power suit to every meeting you attend.  These are choices, consciously made and unconsciously made into necessities.  We choose something every heartbeat of every minute of every day--sit, stand, breathe slowly, sip coffee, look up, read that passage again--and being conscious of those decisions is the best thing we can do for ourselves and the world at large.  Call it Mindfulness or call it paying attention.  It's what makes us aware.

So make today Get Real Day.  Start by thinking about the things you don't want to do today and why you don't want to do them.  If you can cut some of the fringe, think about how best to do that.  Then do it.  Weed your mental garden until it looks like a fine place to spend some time.  Only you can do that.  Until you do, every excuse you make is just a cheat.

Cheaters never win.  

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