Every once in a while, for your mental health, you should try something new, something completely different from your day-to-day life activities.
I did that this weekend when my husband, son and I drove down to southern Ohio and stayed in an authentic log cabin complete with a wood-burning stove, gingham curtains and an embroidered picture that said “cabin sweet cabin.”
But this wasn’t the main attraction; the most exciting new and different activity I engaged in was horseback riding.
At the horse ranch, before we could ride, we had to fill out paperwork. We were essentially signing away our lives. We were insuring that the ranch would not be responsible if we were injured, dismembered or killed. At that point, I almost backed out, but something, some spirit of the novelty, made me sign on the dotted line.
It was official. I was going trail riding.
Enter Kim, a short, pudgy Palomino with a penchant for munching grass.
“This is a great horse,” the guide said. “She just likes to eat.”
Did she ever! I couldn’t get her out of the field. Kim wouldn’t lift her head up long enough for me to say “get-e-up.” I had to yank her reigns hard and make loud kissing noises to get her to move.
Finally, I got Kim going, and we got in line. (When you go trail riding, the riders travel in a straight line just like in the cowboy movies.)
So we rode a bit. It was slow-going at first; the horses were trudging through six inches of mud. I was glad we were on the muddy trail because there was no grass there, and Kim couldn’t dip down for a snack.
I was fine until we came to the first hill. For some reason, Kim felt like galloping up the incline. I held on for dear life, praying “Dear Lord, get me through this.” Thank goodness I remembered to lean forward.
“How much longer?” I asked the guide.
“We just got started,” she shouted back.
The guide was leading my son’s horse by a rope. Tommy wasn’t mature enough to handle a horse by himself. I wished someone was leading me by a rope. At 54, I wasn’t ready to ride a horse either.
Up and down hills we rode, through fields, and acres of mud.
I was absolutely hating the experience, but I knew if I could get through it alive, I’d be extremely proud of myself for doing something completely new. And I’d be happy to be out of that uncomfortable saddle.
Oh no, Kim was at it again. She had veered over into the grass and was having another snack.
The ride continued like this for about an hour. Oh, and, of course, there was more praying. More of me asking “How much longer?”
By the time it was over, I was so ready to get off that equine. My legs hurt; my back ached. But I had a high that comes from engaging in a peak experience. I had done the impossible. I’d ridden a horse. The only thing that could have topped it was jumping out of a plane.
So, why try something new?
It’s memorable. You’ll have a nice set of novel memories you can muse on for the rest of your life.
It’s stimulating. Learning on the “job” is what the new experience is all about, and it’s very titillating.
It shows you that you can do more than you think you can.
It’s not boring. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone is definitely not a bore.
It might be hellish, torturous, but a new experience can be just what you need.