What are the defining moments of your childhood? Is there an event or a series of events that really stand out to you? Maybe it’s a big family reunion/campout or how you spent two weeks at your grandparents house every summer. For me, it’s showing my horse at the Grant County Fair.
I started 4H when I was 8 years old. I’m pretty sure that was as early as you could start. Both my sister and I joined. We were part of the Skyline Cherokees horse club and the cooking club. We were an all-in kind of family and my mom soon took over as leader of the horse club. There were countless hours dedicated to this pursuit and consequently we reaped the benefit of sincere friendships and extraordinary experiences. Just last night, while scrolling though Facebook, I saw two photos of my 4H friends. They are now middle-aged women with children going off to college. However, for me, they will forever be chatty girls who I served with for barn-duty.
The pinnacle of the 4H year was showing your animal at the fair. The picture shown is of me on my pony Misty. If you know anything about Shetland Ponies than you know they are a tricky bunch. I was tossed from that pony more often than not. It just became a usual occurrence – no big deal. She gifted me with the ability to fall off well! Part of the slate of classes you rode at the Fair included bareback. No problem. That’s how we rode all of the time. At the Fair, you’d go around in a circle with all of the other riders trying to look appropriate with your head up, toes up, and a solid seat. Around and around we went. Eventually we were instructed to “lope your horses.” Away we went. One lap and then the start of another and then someone’s hat fell off right in front of Misty. Of course, she shied and balked at the approaching object. There’s not much to keep you on when that happens and I fell off and rolled as I always did. And then I picked myself up, jumped back on, and went about the ride.
Whenever your horse acts up or you have an issue, you don’t want the judge to see it but, in this case, it worked in my favor. Believe it or not, the judge awarded me a blue ribbon! I was awarded not so much for my show posture but for my perseverance. I go up, dusted myself off, and went on with it. This is such a great metaphor for life. It’s tempting to just stay there on the ground and cry, wallow, and demand help when things don’t go our way and life throws us a curve ball. But perhaps someone’s watching us – what will they see? Will they see you dust yourself off and get back on or will they see you crying in the dirt?
A personal history gives you the opportunity to tell your story and it might not always be a rosy one. Those times when you were in the dirt, what did you do? How did you get yourself going again? It’s these life lessons that have true and lasting value. As we tell our story and share our memories, we have the benefit of hindsight. We can see those defining moments and attribute them value. Plus, we have the opportunity of sharing these lessons with others. What you experienced might just be the thing someone else needs to hear to encourage them to get up out of the dirt.