Discomfort Zones

Dang, I’m sore. It’s painful getting out of your comfort zone, isn’t it?
Have you been outside your comfort zone lately? Won’t you leave a comment and share with us how you’ve stepped outside? Or maybe you’re thinking or planning some stepping out? Also, check out the POLL at the bottom of the post. Join in!
I think it’s interesting how we each develop our own unique, personal comfort zones. Yours is different from any one else’s. Where and when we feel comfortable is impacted by our experiences and environment. It’s molded by what opportunites we’ve had and the ones we take advantage of. It’s molded by our genes: what we are inspired and motivated to do; what we fear and avoid. My own personal comfort zone is very different from say, MaryJane’s, who lived in the wilderness. Or from my Grandmother’s, who raised ten children on a farm. I’m totally comfortable with confrontation or public speaking, but I generally stay in a fairly “cushy” (and cushion-y) setting, with my feet in shoes and firmly planted on the ground.
But. This weekend I decided to step out of my comfort zone and boy! Am I sore! Actually, I decided to push my whole family out with me too.

You see, we were at our Mountain Farm for a few days.

(Doesn’t my new green roof that y’all picked out look awesome?! I love it!)

The first morning there, I woke up to quite a concert being performed right outside my bedroom window. The concert started before the sun rose.

Loud, clear, hopeful, sweet, persistent.
He sang and he sang and he sang.
So I got up, made a pot of coffee, and headed out to the porch. I sat in my rocking chair, trying to ignore the fact that rocking chairs need a good coat of varnish. I sipped coffee, listened to the bird, and waited for the sun peak out over the mountain. I work hard to think of nothing in particular while I sit here. I enjoy being unplugged, but find it’s hard to be still. The sun came up over the mountain at 7:36 on this particular morning.

Once the sun came up, I took a picture of persistent singer.

There are no words to describe the song.
Tweet? Nope. Twitter? No. Suhweeh-suweeh? No, not that either.
Here, the little bird sings as he lifts his head to the sun’s warmth and light.
Soon he turned around to face me, singing all the while.
And that’s when it hit me. A brilliant idea.
It is time to take my City-fied-Cowboy-Wanna-Be-Husband on a trail ride. He’s talked for a long time about being a cowboy; but he’s so busy being a venture capitalist that he never has the time to even wear the cowboy hat I got him 20 years ago or so. You wouldn’t believe how supportive he is when it comes to my “Farmgirl” dreams; so, it’s time I pushed him towards his Cowboy ones. And here we were, out in the country, the perfect place to be a cowboy. When he woke up, I told him about my horse ride idea. At first, he answered with much conviction, “No.”
It’s true; we had a lot of work to do at the Farm. It would take an awful lot of ignoring to drive down the driveway and away from all that needed to be done. But I worked on him, you know, with my womanly wilds and finally talked him into it. My 10-year old daughter was all over it immediately. She had taken a couple of horse riding lessons a few years back. (For some reason which I can’t now recall; maybe it was for this day.)
I looked through the yellow pages and found a nearby horse stable. The first one was already booked. The second one had gone under with the economy. The third one was a charm. We set up a reservation. When the time came, we left the work at the farm, including varnishing the rocking chairs on the front porch where ideas simmer. We also left this: our neighbors working to take the hay off our hayfield to feed their cows later in the year. It is a great arrangement for both of us. Whenever I watch our neighbors work on or for their farms, I am struck by what hard, physical work being a professional farmer is. Truly.

We took a right off a state road and drove right out of our comfort zone.

We drove and drove, down roads we’d never been down. We saw fly-fisher-persons in a river beside the road, waders on, poles in hand. We continued deep into a secluded mountain cove, down a dirt road. Where was this place? Were we lost? Should we turn around? Just when we were about to give up, we saw the sign for horse trail rides.

Now, before we go much further, I must confess: I’m no cowgirl. Y’all know that already, right? Sure, I have cowboy boots, but they came from the mall, not the horse store.
I have never had the opportunity to KNOW or APPRECIATE horses. They scare me. Big time. I confess further: I  envied the relationship Wilbur had with Mr. Ed. But, in general, if they don’t talk, then horses are way too big for me for me to feel comfortable. I’ve heard that horses smell fear, so I must stink to high heaven to them.
On the way there, I asked my husband when the last time was that he rode a horse. “About 40 years ago,” he said. He told us that when he was a boy, he loved horses and even took riding lessons. At some point, he was thrown off the horse and he never got back on. He became involved in music and sports.
Then he asked me the same question. For me, it had been well over 20 years, pre-husband. And I had ridden a horse just that one time. It didn’t go well. I was on a “date” of sorts on a group trail ride. I hadn’t admitted to my date that I had never ridden a horse before; I was just like “Sure! That sounds like fun!” When we reached the stable, I whispered to the guide, “Give me your oldest, slowest horse.” He did; but even the oldest and slowest horse there wasn’t old enough or slow enough for me. I did not have a great time on that ride. I couldn’t keep the horse on the trail. Some things you can’t fake. Knowing how to ride a horse is one of them. On that day, my horse and I spent a great deal of time apart from the group. He’d go off the trail, into the woods. Someone would come and guide me back out. I remember vividly how hard it was to stay on that horse when he would take me under low branches of trees. I was sure he was trying to force me off his back. He would also take off into a gallop with me barely hanging on for dear life. The guide finally tied my horse to his. Relief at last. I never rode a horse again.
Until today.
So here we are, about to get back in the saddle again. My husband, after 40 years. Me, after 20. This should be interesting. Doubt bubbled to the surface. What was I thinking? Why get out of the comfort zone on this particular day? The comfort zone is so….comfortable. And you know, safe. Something to be said for safe.
We got to the place and I noticed how large the horses looked. We met our trail guide and he helped us get ready for the ride. “Give me your oldest and slowest horse,” I told the guide.
I didn’t take my camera, knowing I couldn’t ride a horse and take a picture; but, my husband took this with his ever-present Droid. Here’s our guide, with my horse, “Cowboy,” behind him.

With a quick lesson in how to use the reigns (I was too nervous to comprehend what he was saying), we were off.
I don’t know when I’d been more nervous and tense. Not only for me, but for my daughter, who looked tiny on her horse. The guide’s daughter also went with us, thank goodness. She rode her horse, a mustang born in the wild, bare-footed. Yes, bare-footed. She must have been about seven and I’m sure I gasped out loud when she kicked off her flip-flops and jumped right on the horse. The two girls: our daughter and the guide’s daughter.

My husband got up on his horse for the day. He looked perfect: calm, in control, at ease, and cute to boot.
I brought up the rear and tried to make my grimace of fear look like a smile whenever anyone turned around to check on me. I held onto the reigns with one hand and with the other I tightly grasped that thing on the front of the saddle. Needless to say, my form was terrible. My feet were pigeon-toed in stirrups, my back was hunched over. I bounced and bobbed so much it felt like my teeth were bouncing too. I had no idea UNTIL JUST NOW—when I asked my husband and daughter why they aren’t as sore as I still am—that you lift your rear up out of a saddle. At one point my husband turned around and hollered, “You okay back there?” I let out a fake “YeeHaw” instead of replying. What could I say? I’m dying back here? No, not only did I not want anyone to know it, I didn’t want their JOY rides to be negatively affected by my not so joyous one.
We climbed rocky hillsides; we hugged steep drop-offs; we zigzagged down steep paths; we rode down dirt roads and through woods and across creeks.
I watch them up ahead; I see both my daughter and husband having a ball. Laughing and talking, visiting with the guide and his daughter. Bits of their talk made it back to me: the west and horses and boots and rodeos and life. All the while, each of them was somehow CONTROLLING THE ANIMALS ON WHICH THEY RODE.
And here I was, with the edge-rider: the horse that walked so close to every edge and drop-off that I thought we were going to slide down the mountain side before the day ended. The words inside my head, “Just a small mis-step of one hoof and….”
After a while, when my horse didn’t throw me or drop me off the cliff, I developed an affinity for him. Here he was, dutifully taking me on this wonderful ride. I love the woods. I love the mountains. I love creeks. I thought about how my usual fear in those settings is of snakes; yet sitting high up upon this beautiful strong creature I am safe from those slithery, scale-y, and scary creatures. I noticed that the horse started to respond to my voice when I spoke to him in a sweet, loving tone. It was hot and steamy that day, he traversed difficult terrain in an area full of flies and ticks and briars. And here he was, carrying me along. Me, who didn’t know what she was doing. He was patient and kind. And that’s when the HORSE JOY struck me. During the rest of the ride, I adored this horse named “Cowboy.” What wonderful, amazing, gorgeous, strong creatures they are. Now I know what you are talking about when you talk about your complete love for your horses. I get this whole horse thing now. I totally get it.
Now, don’t think it was all roses after that. It wasn’t. Even though I came to appreciate and yes, love him, I still didn’t know how to ride him or control him. What happened the first time I rode a horse also happened this, the second time. I somehow once again got off the path. This time we were on a dirt road, thank goodness. Cowboy took me off into someone’s front yard. He checked out the bird feeder and the flowering bushes. I tried to get back on the path: nope. When I realized I couldn’t, I called out for help. And that’s exactly what I yelled out to: “HELP!” When I got back with the group, my husband was laughing so hard he was crying.
What an afternoon we had. It’s fun there, out of my comfort zone.
For me, it was the discomfort zone. I still have a sore back, a sore shoulder, and a very, very sore backside. The sore back and shoulder, by the way, got me out of weed-eater duty at our Farm, so I “ain’t” complaining. And this morning? I caught my husband looking at horses and horse farms on the computer. So, you just never know.
What about you? Won’t you tell us about a time you got out of your comfort zone? Are you sore?
Here’s our very own Farmgirl Horse Poll.
It’s short and sweet, won’t take much of your time. Stop by a cast your vote. It will be interesting to see how many of us do or don’t have a horse and how many have horse dreams. Or feel free to tell us below in the comments.
Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!
And get out of your comfort zone if you get the chance.
Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah

  1. meredith says:

    OK! you had me laughing till I thought I would wet my pants! Thinking of you and Cowboy and the bird feeder! GREAT POST-thanks for the comic relief- we are getting ready to leave our comfort zone and head to Kansas City for the the Hereford Junior National Expo with 4 head of cattle- Thanks for providing me with a few minutes of laughter to ease the pre-trip panic! 🙂

  2. MaryFrantic says:

    LOVE your roof! Which of the "green" colors is it?…Seems like I remember Green Frost and Evergreen …and…?
    I’ve only been on a horse 3 times. I could not wait to dismount. I have NO immediate plans to try it again!

  3. Lora says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us! I haven’t been on a horse in 35 years, my best friend from high school still rides almost daily. We live about two hours from each other now, and she’s always telling me to come up and ride anytime I want … well, I want to, but I’m terrified! And I used to ride all the time, so I can imagine how you must have felt … thanks for giving me courage … I may just take her up on her offer now next time I’m up that way!

  4. Pam deMarrais says:

    What a great way to start my morning! I was laughing until I started wheezing, and enjoyed every word! I could really relate to your story of the wandering horse. My daughter, a trained rider, got her first horse for her 10th birthday. He was a sweetie, but he was not to be pushed around by an amateur like me. I did take a few riding lessons, and I learned how to "post". That didn’t keep me on the route I wanted to take. Not long after I left my property the horse decided he had had enough of me. He started turning around to go back to the house, but I thought that I could get him to see that I wasn’t ready to go back. He turned into another farm and wouldn’t budge. When I tried to get him to turn around he reared up! Of course my neighbor, a seasoned rider, was watching me. She couldn’t believe that Yankee [I was living in New Hampshire at the time.] was being so disagreeable. But then again, he weighed about 1500 pounds, and he knew he could. He could tell that I was a bit unsure of myself, and didn’t ride anything like my daughter…so it was back to his home after a five minute ride! I am glad that you got past the initial fears, and got to feel that joy of being a cowgirl. I am more happy that I chose to start this day by reading your story! You are a great writer!

  5. gwen Quon says:

    You are a brave girl and I know you gave your family a wonderful day and memory. I bought my first horse at 53 and now I am 59. I ride five days a week and my horse is my best friend.
    He is ever faithful to carry me on a trail or ride like the wind in my big arena. I understand why people are afraid of them because of size and speed. I too, was very afraid of them until my son wanted a horse. He has been riding since he was eleven and now at eighteen is a competitor in the sport of Eventing. I bought a horse for myself so we could ride together and I wanted to challenge myself. I have never been in better shape physically or more at
    peace because of my horse. He is happy because he is cared for and has a purpose. I am blessed because he takes me to places I have never been.
    Thank you for your post and you gave your family a beautiful day !! It just could be the start of a beautiful thing!

  6. kathy schild says:

    Rebekah, I love that you left the work and purposely sought an adventure. That’s truly the balance in life, is it not, and what we want to pass on to our children. I, too, love horses. When I was a little girl living in the suburbs, I used to follow a girl who would come riding down our street on her horse. I had the biggest lump in my throat and ache in my heart when I saw her coming. Then, when I reached fourth grade, we moved to a couple of acres, and I got a little beauty of a POA named Dolly. Oh, the horse stories I wrote about her! I moved on to a faster, more sophisticated Arabian horse named Misty and took up barrel racing. Misty and I were one, whether we were racing the barrels competitively or , barefoot and bareback, swimming through ponds in the pasture. Times change, girls grow up, and college beckons. I’ll never forget watching through my mother’s bedroom window, tears flowing, as the new owners of Misty loaded her up in their trailer. Fast forward many years, and I’m 48. I still love horses as much as ever, but I’m back in suburbia for NOW (there’s still the dream!). I must tell you that my gentle, affectionate, athletic, playful female standard poodle, who is the size of a small horse, is a pretty amazing substitute. Unlike a horse, who must remain outside, she is my constant companion, always by my side, ready for a walk or nap – tis no matter to her as long as she is with me. Such a blessing.

  7. aurelie higgins says:

    This was too funny! I have been out of my comfort zone for a couple of weeks. It is a long story but I have made friends with an Amish family that live in apple creek ohio, about an hour from me. I have since learned how to milk a goat, feed a horse, (flat handed of course, don’t ask) and watched a the wife baked 9 blackberry pies before seven am while I was still on my first cup of coffee. With eight children, five boys, who work on the farm and plow with as horse she assured me that the pies might last two days.
    They also invited me to an all Amish auction, a sea of white caps, blue dresses and straw hats. Thank goodness I wore a longish blue jumper and white blouse instead of crop pants which would have been my first choice. The family never ate a regular meal all day…just homemade ice cream which was delicious but I could hear the calories and cholesteral courseing through my veins by the end of the day. I never saw so many quilts in one place in my life, so may horses, or buggies, or so many hard working honest people in my life. I felt like a slug. At the end of the day we went back to their house and six lines of laundry had been done and on the life…done by a 15 year old with a hand operated wringer washer. As I helped her fold clothes off the line she told me of her dreams, to find a good hardworking man, to have many children and a home of her own. I thought about this alot on my way home and looked at my life. 44 years as a nurse, working my way up to management, two college degrees, serving as a Pastor, and always striving to be more than I perceive myself to be. Discontent over trivial things in life, fear of the future, and always looking for the next thing to add to our happiness and then at them. This girl sang as she took in the laundry, the family laughed together on the front porch, and not an unkind word, foul laungage, or sign of impatience with the other was heard either at home or at the auction. There life is not simple or easy, they work hard pray hard, and love each other hard. By our standards they seem backwards, simple, disconnected to the world. But after spending the day with them I found myself, not wanting to be amish, but to examine what my world is, how I live and what is really important. The whole day was out of my comfort zone but somehow I think that it is my fault that it is. Perhaps we all have much to learn from those that have chosen a simpler understanding of life and let that simplicity not control but affect how and why we exist in society.

  8. Carol in NC says:

    Sounds like everyone had a great time. I’m glad you ditched the work to have some fun! I really miss my horses and believe it or not, we’re looking at acreage again. I can’t breathe in town! Well, that’s not entirely true, and city living has its perks (my tennis game has improved), but I do miss the quiet. Besides, I want a cow!

  9. Rebekah says:

    Thanks everybody!! I’m not quite as sore this morning-thank goodness!
    I’ve put up the results of the Farmgirl Horse Survey at http://www.rebekahteal.com. What fun! Here’s the link. I’ll keep the stats and respones current, so join in if you haven’t already.
    Mary, the roof is the Evergreen Blend. I adore it!

  10. Cindy says:


    Oh my, this reminded me of the last time I rode a horse…last time I will too! It was about 20 years ago and we were on a trail ride, up and down hills and such, like your ride. My horse refused to move with the rest of the group. It would stand there, then when everyone got a nice distance ahead of us, he would take off running to catch up. He kept doing this no matter what anyone did to try to make him keep up with the pack. He had his own mind made up he was going to run that day. I was scared to death. They are beautiful big creatures and I love them. I love standing by them, scratching their nose, and whispering sweet nothing in their ear. Not riding them!

    Cindy Bee

  11. Cheri says:

    WOW- I love your blog and the comments just as much.

    Aurelie- I live in centerburg and have an Amish farrier, as I also quilt- I love to see their work and think that spending more time with the Amish wld be just amazing.

    HORSES- I have been riding since i was 10. And was completely horse crazy before that. I finally realized my dream of having them in the backyard when I was married to a very amazing husband who GOT what it means- which also means he gets BIG toys. While I ride hunters and dont really compete- we are active in 4H and my daughter drives our dartmoore pony. You shld try DRIVING. It is a blast and you get to go along with a friend. You can jsut do pleasure driving- not the wild combined driving that they have in the Olympics. We have 3 horses at home now. They are a huge part of my life and dont take much time. We just put up hay and that isnt my favorite part- but it sure does smell like heaven.

  12. Martha says:

    I’d had horses almost all my life, but was without for 15+ years or so. Bought an Arabian who was pregnant. Then discovered Paso Finos!! A glass smooth ride, a SHORT gaited horse, stocky enough to carry me as long as I would ever want. I now have the Arabian’s filly (Pinto) plus 11 Pasos!! My ‘best’ mare (they’re ALL my best) just had a smoky cream filly I’m thinking of naming Creme Brulee. She is gorgeous with startling blue eyes!

    I raised Oberhasli dairy goats for 25 years and they were a LOT more work than the horses ever are.

  13. katie says:

    Love the green roof….good choice.

    Now riding a horse would be waaaay out of my comfort zone.

    Spoke at a memorial a few days ago, guess that would
    be my most recent "out of my comfort zone" experience.

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