How Rachel Got Her Groove Back

I have had 3 jumping lessons since my last riding post. Each one has had little victories leading up to a major one last night!

**Side note on how I am reporting my trainers names. My barn is owned by sisters so they are both technically the barn owners and they both are trainers but I tend to ride more with trainer S so I have called her “trainer” and the other one the BO. But then it gets confusing when I do have a lesson with BO so I am just calling them TS for trainer S and TD for trainer D.**

Two weeks ago TS was out of town so TD gave my lesson. I love TS but sometimes it is nice to have a lesson with TD because she sees me with fresh eyes and picks up on different things. Winifred was SO dead on the flat! I had to push the crap out of him but I knew he was just saving his energy for jumping. The second I asked him to pick up his trot for our warm up fence holy shit did he wake up! My fellow lessoner laughed and said, “you called it!” He really was not horrible but there was NO way he was doing the adds. Victory at this lesson was that I nailed the long approach to the single that I have been completely flubbing on (and almost fell off at during the show). Literally in the air I let out a “YE-AH!” to which TD gave me a puzzled look. Lol

Last week I did not do much jumping. I had been having weird waves of not feeling well all day. We did out warm up x and line then did a two stride. The first time I did not have enough canter going in but Winifred being as amazing as he is made up for it and stretched his strides out like you would not believe to make the 2 strides. Good Boy! I am blaming my lack of leg on the fact that I have never had to leg this horse into a fence. Lol. We came back around to do it again and nailed it but when I landed I got very light headed, major hot flash, and thought I was going to vomit. Friend, K, told me my face was bright red. I told TS that I was done.

Last night I came into the barn to see that one of Winifred’s pasture mates tried to rip his throat out! I should have gotten a picture! He is ok and while it looked ugly it didn’t seem to bother him. The boys in his pasture like to play a little too much. Lol. K’s horse keeps losing halters, Winifred’s blanket is swiss cheese with the filling literally hanging out of it, C’s horse has nicks all over, and D’s horse’s throat has looked a lot like Win’s. I do not know when they do all this because anytime we ever see them they are all happily hanging out with each other. Boys will be boys I guess but I am off topic. Back to the lesson. Our flat was good. Win was a little up but in a happy way not his nervous way. We were the only one to jump so it was kind of a private lesson. Did our normal trot X and he was good. He was excited but not bad. The warm up line was a 6 trotting in and while we have been focusing on doing the adds TS said to do the 6 cause it was a tight 6. That rode beautifully.

TS had some fun jumps set up so next warm up pattern trot the X, roll back to a skinny (red) this was at the end of the arena so the right turn that came after was pretty tight, then long approach to the square oxer (purple). If you have been reading my blog you will know that recently long approaches and I have NOT gotten along but it is amazing things that happen when you sit up tall and trust yourself to see the correct spot! After warm up we usually do a hunter course then an eq course. The hunter course was to canter into the outside line, orange diagonal, long approach to the purple oxer, then blue diagonal. TS gave me the option of doing the adds if I wanted but I was feeling confident after I nailed the mini course so I planned on doing the steps which were 5, 4, and 4. O-M-G the course rode PERFECTLY!!!Presentation1

Seriously, I am not normally one to be egotistical but my God did it feel good to have such a great round again! Not once did I question my spots and Winifred and I flowed again! He wasn’t fighting me to go faster. He played a little in the corners but he always does and he came right back to me as we headed to the next line. I need to remember to talk to him. He LOVES to be talked to! A little “easy bub” and he generally calms down. The only thing that could have been improved was after the last fence I kind of collapsed on him to pat him and say thank you and he took that as invite to cut our turn and go fast. Lol. This caused TS to have to yell at me to sit up but to Win a good turn and burn is a reward. Lol. I looked over at TS and she had a huge smile on her face. She told me that was the best she has seen me jump in a long time and told me she could see that my confidence was back. I was very conflicted cause I wanted to jump more but at the same time that was so amazing and with the issues I had been having TS and I decided to end on that very high note. It feels so good to be back!

I am hoping that I can slide into the lesson on Saturday since I leave for Shanghai on Tuesday. I hate missing out on pony time!

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Cookies for this perfect pony!
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30 Things You May Not Know About Me

I have been catching up on reading the blogs I follow and $900Facebook Pony and HelloMyOlivia just had a blog hop of 30 things you may not know about me. I thought it looked fun so I thought I would join in. I tried to make them as little about horses as possible. Lol

  1. I have 3 nephews. They are 18, 17, and 9 and they amaze me every day!
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OMG they make my heart happy just thinking of them! All cozy on their way to FL for spring break last year.

2. I grew up Catholic and while I do not attend church as regularly as I should I still talk to God every day and try to be a good Christian.

3. I love to travel! I am very fortunate with my job that I get to visit some beautiful places that I would never have gone on my own. I am getting ready for my third trip to China in 2 weeks (Shanghai this time but have also been to Beijing and Hong Kong). My longest trip was 3 weeks in Europe (Rome, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague). I have also been to a few places in England and Scotland as well as within the US. An Alaskan cruise is high on my bucket list!Beijing.jpg

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I got up at 4am just to get pictures of Charles Bridge without it being crowded with people.
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Looking at Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge. I learned an awesome story of how the castle got it’s lights. I need to do a whole blog on what I learned traveling!
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The Spanish Riding School was absolute HEAVEN!
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My view from hiking the Dragon’s Back trail through the mountains. I ended my hike at that beach and dove right in!

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4. I have always wanted to live in a different country for ~6 months to a year.

5. I am petrified to live far from my family and friends even for a short time. Lol.

6. One of my favorite things to do when visiting another country is to go into a grocery store.

7. I have Hashimoto’s disease. This makes life a little difficult at times and losing weight is hard but I deal.

8. I have 3 tattoos but I have been tattooed 4 times. My first tattoo was a butterfly on the back of my neck when I was 21. The artist talked me out of the butterfly that I wanted. Instead he gave me a super simple one. I found out years later that he just sucked and that is why he went simple and why the color faded so quickly. I got a better butterfly over it like I wanted in the first place. Tattoos

9. I am a huge Potterphile!!!! I love Harry Potter (although Ron is my favorite)! I have been to multiple Pottercons and I have waited in line to get the midnight release of the Harry Potter books and movies! I have also gone to Chicago for a weekend just to see the temporary exhibit they had in the Chicago Science Museum. And yes, if I am ever in England again I WILL go to Platform 9 3/4!

Me every time a new book or movie came out!

10. I used to show western pleasure. That is a dirty dark secret in my barn. Lol

11. Sushi is my favorite food! But I am a snob about it. It has to be good sushi not grocery store sushi! EWWWWWWWW!!!!

12. I will try almost anything once. That goes for food or jumping off a cliff although I have gotten more cautious about some things in my old age.

13. I used to lie to my trainer at horse shows and my friend would lie to her grandma that we were staying in each other’s trailer/camper but we would sneak into the show arena with our other friends to do stupid things like play football, chat, and/or play music/sing (its not as corny as it sounds my friend David was a really good guitar player).

14. Our senior year one of the facilities that we used to show at a lot put a sign above it that says “mommas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys” cause David and I used to seem it all the time. Turns out we weren’t so sneaky but our parents and trainers let it go because we really didn’t do anything too bad.

15. I love mud! One of the most fun things I have ever done was to run in a Mud Factor 5k obstacle course. I have also done multiple mud volleyball tournaments. We even won one of them! I am all about diving in!

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Yep that’s me!

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16. How do you follow up saying that you love mud……. By saying the complete opposite, I was once in a fashion show. Lol. It was based off the Sex and the City episode where they had professional models and then a few regular customers. I got to wear 3 different dresses. It was so much fun!

17. I was voted Most Likely to Come Back and Prove All My Teachers Wrong and Most Likely to Become The Next SNL Cheerleader my senior year of high school. (No I was not an actual cheerleader.)

18. I graduated from the University of Michigan where in my junior and senior year I taught an Organic Chemistry lab there. I loved it!! The only problem I had was with a few students who were older than me and had an issue with me being younger. I spent my 21st birthday administering and then grading over 800 exams!

19. I am a fanatic about theme parks! I could live in Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Universal, etc! I love feeling like I am in a new and magical place. I am happy right now just thinking of walking through Frontier Land in Disney. I can’t wait to go to Universal to see the newer Harry Potter land and ride the Hogwarts Express this fall!!!!!!

20. The book I have read the most in my life is The Outsiders. I have seriously read the whole thing in 1 day. I do not even know how many times I have read it. I still say “Let’s do it for Johnny man! Let’s do it for Johnny!” and “Stay golden” but I get weird looks a lot for it.

21. I am a huge nerd! I love doing scavenger hunts, escape rooms, and murder mystery games and yes even dressing up in the character. In fact I am such a nerd that at one of the murder mystery games my bestie and I went to we impressed the  actors who organized it so much with our detailed FULL background on the murder,victim, and murderer that they said they were going to make it part of their act from then on.

22. In high school basketball was my favorite sport (besides riding). It was the only contact sport for girls.

23. I cannot only fold my tongue in half but then in half again.

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24. I had to take an art class in college and had a piece picked for a student art show. I cannot draw to save my life but I am ok with paint.

25. I am a slave driver on vacations. I have 2 friends who travel with me and think I am crazy but I can’t help it I want to see everything! Plus I am not a chill on the beach kind of person. Thank God I have the best friends ever who deal with me.

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Casey doesn’t take pictures so all I can show you is Lisa. She is the only person I know who can travel with me for 3 weeks and didn’t want to kill me. Well at least she didn’t act on it if she did! LOL

26. I am really good at making tasty and fancy cakes and cupcakes but I don’t do it very often. My kitchen is small and I am a perfectionist so it stresses me out to make them cause they MUST BE PERFECT!

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I hated the corset cause I got rushed doing the lacing up part and it looks like complete shit! Not sure why I even put it on here.

27. I was mugged in Beijing but in a karma flip I was invited into a private mass service in the restricted area of St. Peter’s Basilica when I was in Rome. It was so beautiful and such a blessing that I teared up.

28. I once sang the Star Spangled Banner before a horse show.

29. I truly believe in angels and know that I was saved by them at least twice in my life. Once as a kid I was caught out on a boat in the middle of the lake when 3 tornadoes hit the lake. My dad got my cousin and I on to land but in the time it took for him to get back to my mom my cousin and I lost them. All I remember is an arm pulling me into their house. A wonderful couple let us bunker with them until the storm let up and then helped us find my parents.  The 2nd time was in Boston when I was 22. Someone must have slipped something in my drink at a bar and was being walked out by 2 guys when some girl stopped them and took me to the bathroom. I distinctly remember her telling me that she told my friend Sarah to come to the bathroom. She stayed with me until Sarah came into the bathroom but Sarah said I  was alone and no one came to get her and could not explain why she came to the bathroom.

30. If I was independently wealthy I would be a substitute teacher cause I would have summers off to horse show, could set my own schedule if I wanted to work any day, and I enjoyed teaching in college. Since I wouldn’t need the paycheck I would donate all of it to charity.

Another brick added

Well I added another brick to my confidence wall last night. It was such a nice small lesson and since everyone else was just flatting it turned into a private jump lesson for me. Trainer put the jumps down small 1) for my self-esteem and 2) it was cold and there is no reason to jump big in this cold when you don’t need to.

We did the exact same start as we did on Saturday. Warm up trot X, then a warm up of trot X, roll back to cavaletti, roll back to another X, then long approach to a skinny oxer. The oxer was one of the jumps that I really had an issue with 2nd guessing myself over. This time was much better. Next was our hunter course. Did the steps on the outside line to the long approach to a single vertical on the diagonal. He got a little spunky after that one so I circled before going to the outside line which was a 3 stride. I felt that rode nice then on to the diagonal that I flubbed on the lesson before. We jumped in and I wanted to do the add since I failed on it last time. We got the add but let me tell you it was not pretty! I failed to start to ask for it until our 3rd stride and given that it was set up as a 4 stride it was a little late to ask for it and have it fit nicely but he did listen and fit it in. As ugly as it was it reminded me that this horse does listen to me! Well he listens to me when I ride correctly. Since we flubbed trainer made us canter around and do it again. This time I asked right away and *wala* 5 fit perfect. Next we did an equitation course of X, roll back to other outside which was now a vertical, to the cavaletti, broken line to oxer, then broken line of the skinny oxer to the single vertical on the diagonal. Thanks to Kristen from Stampy and the Brain I have this on video, unfortunately, Maestro wanted to help video so I am out of the frame a little but I am still grateful for the media. Anytime I watch our videos it amazing me how little you can tell how hard he is pulling. Lol. Again the jumps were some but it is what I needed. I felt like myself again making the choices of where we take off and the pace I wanted. I also need to remember to breathe and talk to him. He really does seem to do much better when I talk to him.

I really needed this since I am out of town for work next week this was the last time I get to jump before our first show! The jumps will be a lot bigger but I feel like we can do this! I stated to get that fun feeling again.

Side note: You can see my baby Luther a little in the video. His owner rides him once a week and it is usually during my lesson. I just LOVE seeing him go around and how happy he has been lately. I need to do a whole post just on him soon!

Building

Is there Perfect Prep for people? A few years ago I started wine and cheese before my Tuesday night lesson. It was a lot of fun where those of us in the 7pm lesson would get together at 6pm to watch the 5:30 lesson, eat cheese, and drink wine before we had to go saddle up. Trainer said that we were all a bit more relaxed and rode better. It fizzled out as the weather got warmer and lessons moved outside. I am thinking maybe I need to bring this back. Perhaps wine was my Perfect Prep. Lol

I had a jump lesson on Saturday and jumping started off still shaky. The X trot warm up was fine. I hate trot fences but it was alright. Next it was a trot X, roll back to a cavaletti, roll back to another X, then long approach to a skinny oxer. The first roll back we missed our hind change because I was so concerned about not letting him get fast that 1. I was not asking for it and 2. I didn’t let him move out enough to get the change even if I was asking for it! Then as we approached the oxer I knew my spot but then right before hand I waivered. Trainer not only saw it in my riding but knew from my face that was 2nd guessing my instincts. I took us to a corner and had a long internal talk.

I reminded myself that Winifred and I are a team and the only reason that we are flubbing is because I was not trusting in him or myself anymore. I needed remember that he and I have fun together.

Time for our first course. Trainer suggested that for my mental state to do the adds. Outside line was great, long approach to a single on the diagonal was great, other outside line was perfect, then the diagonal on the way home…. It was a 4 stride so I wanted to do 5. Mental counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 but actually was 1, 2, 3, 4, take off! I was left so far behind! Win is such a good sport he was fine about it. Here is the issue, if I want an add I actually have to ask for an ad! Noble concept. LOL. He was being perfect and in my head I wanted to do the add but I literally did nothing to TELL him that I wanted the add. The 4 was PERFECT but since I planned on the 5 trainer made me canter around and do the 5. He was SUCH a good boy!! I am pretty sure the second we landed is when I yelled “I’m done!” I was so happy and feeling so much better about us being in stride together that I wanted to end on a good note.

I am so fortunate to have such an incredible barn family who is so supportive of each other. After my lesson I had a great talk with LT about different relaxation techniques. She suggested visualization which is to basically remember a time when we were on our game the best. For me that was the clinic. We definitely had some misses in the clinic like dropping strides but I left the clinic feeling on top of the world because I was able to make him do what we needed and it was so much FUN. And neither of us had Perfect Prep. Lol

I have another jump lesson with him tonight so I can continue to build my confidence. Wish me luck!

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Omg did someone say she is jumping me again tonight?!?

Broken Confidence

Just got home from my jumping lesson and I have to admit that my fall last week got to me more than I let on (even to myself). The lesson started much like it did last week with Winifred being a good little hunter going low and relaxed.

Things started to go downhill when as we went around a corner by the mounting block trainer closed her coffee cup lid which made a snap and after that Win was absolutely sure something was hiding in that corner waiting for the perfect time to jump out and eat him.

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We changed direction and suddenly the other end of the arena was a mine field. The funny thing is that is the clubhouse end and at the beginning of the lesson the barn dog was barking but by then she was silent. Normally his spook is to jump sideways and spin. We had a few of those and also two butt-tuck-under-then-jump-ups. He even did a “hopping” canter at one approach to that end to. Then he would relax down the long end then the scary mounting block monster would threaten. *Sigh*

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I thought that that things would be fine once we started jumping. While he gets super strong over fences he does get focused and scary things tend to fade away. We trotted the warm up X, well the front have of him did at least. Did it the other way and he definitely didn’t want to hit his legs again. Back and forth one more time fine then did the outside line. I like to force him to do the add in our warm up so we did a 6 SUPER easy and I relaxed but not one stride off the line he shot left. Not something he has ever done.

That run out brought up nerves I didn’t want to acknowledge that I had after the fall.  Part of me even wanted to tell my trainer that I was good for the night but I soldiered on. Our first course was going good until our last fence which was a long approach to a single. Win was building his canter stronger and stronger but I was holding my own. I saw my spot and it was the right spot but as he got stronger at the last second I gave in and ended up jumping ahead for the 2nd time ever on him (1st time ended in a face plant). This time ended up better because it was a single and not a triple but still not good. Second course was alright and I hit my spot on that fence but I am pretty sure I had a death grip on him.

This night (and last week) have got me completely rethinking my goals. Look, I know that many of you are jumping 3’, 4’, or giant cross country fences and probably think I am pathetic to question if I can do 2’6” but I didn’t grow up jumping. I did dressage and even a little western pleasure (shhhhhh don’t tell anyone!) and after my back surgery I know my mortality. Can I do this? Which yes, I am still confident that I can jump 2’6″ but can I do this on Winifred? I know that I can but am I good enough to handle a strong, spooky horse like Win?

Trainer and I discussed this after my lesson. She reminded me how confident I was at the clinic and how good we did over the solid jumps there. She reminded me that we have not jumped in a month (expect for last week) and that everyone loses confidence after a bad fall and that we did 20 jumps tonight and had 1 bad and 2 eh jumps. But of course all I am focusing on are the 3. Lastly, she pointed out that we have a schooling show in a couple of weeks and I can make some decisions then.

I thought I was fine but it is clear that I am now second guessing my distances. Anyone else ever feel this way, and if so, how did you get past it?

 

Face Plant

Saturday Winifred and I had a jumping lesson. As we went through the flat portion I was planning the title of this blog post. Winifred the Hunter! He was SO relaxed but not lazy. We even received a few “super” comments from trainer. Of course I still had my normal “your leg is too far back” comments as well but I am working on it and was overjoyed to have Win moving so nice and relaxed. So what happened?

We started jumping like normal just going back and forth over a trot fence. Trot fences are not his specialty but he looked and acted like a pro at them! Next we were asked to trot over a cavaletti, canter a broken line to an X, then around the corner to a triple (1 stride to a 1 stride). He did the cavaletti great but got a little stronger on the broken line which got an “easy” from trainer. He was not bad but getting stronger. He came of the X and decided he was having fun and got a little stronger still. Let me be clear though at no point was he out of control! We weren’t even going fast by any means he was just wanting to. One of the things that I know that he likes to do when he rides strong like that is to take the long spot and I sometimes get left behind. Saturday though I did something that I have NEVER done before on Winifred….. I jumped ahead. My only (flimsy) excuse is that I thought he was going to take the long spot but I should have known that he is too smart going into a triple to take the long spot. He slammed on the brakes and I launched over his neck.

I landed directly on my face. Thank God for helmets! I know that I landed right in front of him and got into a ball as fast as I could. He did end of stepping on my right hand but trainer said that he tried everything he could to avoid trampling me and jumped me instead. Once he cleared me he stood there until I got up then he decided to take a walk towards the hay cart. I guess he decided that I was fine and he deserved a snack. Lol.

I am not the best communicator when I am hurt so my behavior after worried my trainer. I got up but stumbled because both of my calf muscles cramped for a moment. Once I saw someone grab Winifred, I started walking across the arena. Since I was not talking yet everyone thought I was confused but in reality I was going to get the Kleenex out of my jacket to help with the blood. Trainer finally got me to sit down, as I am still looking around, I apparently looked very confused. Trainer asked if I could remember what happened to which I immediately stopped looking around, focused on her, and answered, “yes, I jumped ahead. I am just looking for a Kleenex.” This caused trainer and everyone to breathe a sigh of relief and laugh.

Trainer asked if I wanted to get back on but at that time I could not close my hand. My amazing friend LT walked with me up to the clubhouse and then went back to take Win back to the barn and untack. BO (who is also my other trainer) got me some ice and within a few minutes I was able to close my hand. All I could think that that point was that I needed to get back on! Luckily, I was able to catch LT before she untacked Winifred and brought him back to the arena. Trainer was happy to see that I wanted to literally get back on the horse! We did a trot fence to loosen back up then the original mini course. I was worried that Win would be nervous and maybe he was but his reaction was to take his time and went at a beautiful perfect pace. The entire time we came around the corner to the triple I could hear trainer, “sit up, sit up, sit up…..” I may have learned that lesson the hard way but damn it I think I won’t be doing that again!

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Really not a pretty picture of me but not too much damage done. (Why does my forehead look so big in this picture????)
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It is hard to see the swelling but it got pretty big later that night but all good now!
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Winifred: “That is the last time I let her pick the spot!”

Goals

Now that you met my new boys the big question is, “what do I want to accomplish with them????”  If you had asked me this question in the beginning of September I would have told you that the only goals I have are to continue to strengthen my back, lose weight, improve my confidence and equitation, return to the show ring, and in general not die. These are still part of my goals but they have grown a little.

My goals with Luther are a little simpler and easier to attain. Since he is semi-retired from jumping I will not be showing him, although I have considered taking him in to a flat class. He is hilarious to ride during a show because he is ON! This is a horse that I have wear spurs and carry a crop with to get to move forward on a regular ride but if I ride when we are hosting a show he moves out like he is 10 years younger. He also loves jumping so much so that when I started riding him and I could not get him to canter I would ride him towards a fence. He would get so excited that he would finally pick up the canter. Recently he has had an increase in his stiffness so my goal with him is to get him back to shape where he can do a small line again. I think that a full course would be too much but I know how much he loves jumping and a small line is achievable. Seriously he loves it! If other horses around him are jumping he gets so excited. I am not sure that this goal will be achieved in the winter though due to extra stiffness from our tundra like winters.

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Goals with Winnie, this is the tougher one. The last time I showed was August 2015 in the 2’3” division before my back surgery. My goal was to get back to showing in 2018 but that was about it. I was pretty satisfied with this as a goal until September 17th. It was the day of Medal Finals and at the end of the day my trainer, D, told me that she had been thinking about it and she decided that my goal is to be in the ride off for the 2’6” division Medal Finals. I was blown away that D believes that I can accomplish that when I didn’t even believe that I could qualify for Medal Finals let alone be in the ride off. (A little insight on me, I am not good in believing myself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I suck but I would put myself in the average to below average abilities group.) D setting this goal both elates and scares the crap out of me! I can’t explain what it means to me to have my trainer think that I am good enough but now I am scared about letting her down. Setting a goal for myself means that I am the only person that I have to “answer” to but having her set it puts a lot more pressure on me. I am still not sure I can achieve this one but there is a small seed in me that D planted that says maybe just maybe I can do this.

What are your goals this year?

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