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The Summer of Facing Fears and Learning Polo

I had no idea that this was going to be the summer of facing my fears or learning to play polo.

Two months ago, after 27 years of living in the Madison, Wisconsin area, I said good-bye to my incredible friends, family and clients, and closed my fitness business. I do plan to open my business here in Plainfield, IL once we build our home. It’s great that I’m still able to be a spiritual ambassador and life coach (helping women figure out who they are and why they’re here) while we’re in this transition.

After a month of me living here, my husband J.C (aka McSmeetchie) was blessed to receive polo lessons from professional polo players from Argentina. Amazing and crazy, right!? J.C.’s Uncle Jim plays for and owns the Oakbrook Polo team. Jim was thrilled to have us now live close by and excited for J.C to learn the sport. Little did I know that it was soon to be the summer of facing my fears.

Walking Through Fear

With my schedule being a bit more flexible during this transition, I went with J.C. to take pictures and videos, documenting the process. As I was watching, the pros tried to get me on a horse. I was proud of myself for setting boundaries and saying “no”. “No, I don’t ride”. “No I don’t want to ride”. Well…that didn’t work. One of the pros, Toto, didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He didn’t understand someone like me – a non-animal person. Just walking into the stables was so out of my comfort zone, horses and dogs everywhere. Where was I? How did I even get here? This sounds ridiculous, but I had to go out and buy clothes to wear to the stables. All I had was fitness wear, athleisure wear and ‘going out’ clothes. Sounds ridiculous I know, but true.

On J.C.’s third lesson, Toto told me to get on the horse, so I did. Toto walked her (Patsy) around the arena, and I was on her for 5-10 minutes, it was ok. By the third time I was on Patsy, they put a mallet in my hand and had me “stick & ball” — hitting the ball while walking on the horse. I actually hit the ball a few times (harder than it looks), and it really helped me forget that I was on a horse, which I liked. It was actually fun, and I even enjoyed myself. The fourth time I as on Patsy, I trotted around the arena. By the 6th time, we were outside doing the stick & ball exercise as I walked Patsy up and down the field.

As a result, I now have riding boots and actually look forward to riding and hitting the ball even if just for 10 minutes. But please know this was NEVER a goal I had (to ride) nor a desire! I had a fear of horses and dogs due to traumatic experiences as a child. As this challenge, opportunity, gift, however you want to view it, was in front of me, I started praying and focusing on the Bible verse: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

It was amazing how this transformed me. I felt more confident. Fear dissipated, and I was overcoming my fear. Unbelievably freeing! Thank you God!

First time getting on Patsy as Toto walked her around.

Third time on Patsy, learning to stick & ball.

What I’ve Learned

Expectations: If you know me, I LOVE to manage expectations (for myself and others). I like to know what to expect: location, what to wear, if I need to wear sunscreen, what’s going to take place, etc. By going to the stables this summer, I never knew what to expect. Slowly I started to wear jeans instead of athliesure wear, purchased my first pair of riding boots, and I take each session as it comes, not having any expectations, just  to enjoy myself. It’s been quite wonderful having no expectations, not caring how well I ride, hit the ball or what I do. I’m just enjoying trying something new, getting more comfortable on a horse and connecting with great peeps!

Facing Fears: Having someone you trust and feel safe with makes all the difference in the world as you walk through your fear. Toto and Patsy have been such a blessing and are gifts from God. Also, knowing God’s word and truth sets you free, if you just believe. Once I started speaking out that Bible verse above (2 Timothy 1:7), I started to believe it, the fear disappeared and everything changed. Fear has a way of appearing so much larger than it is, like this steep overwhelming mountain. But once you walk through it, it feels like a pebble in your shoe. I love to remember the acronym of FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). It’s so true and it holds us back from being our best selves.

Polo Near You: We’ve learned that polo clubs are everywhere. I highly recommend you find a club near you and attend a match. It will be one of the most amazing sports you’ll watch. Not only will it be a blast to watch, it’s very affordable ($10 for lawn seats, $45 per vehicle to tailgate, etc.). You can be super casual, or it’s a great excuse to play dress up and go all out. The season in the Midwest usually runs June to mid-September. It’s a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon, so make sure it’s on your list of something to do/see some summer.

My hope is that by sharing a bit about a big fear that I’ve had, and how I’ve walked through it (still alive I must add), that it inspires you to face a fear you have. And, for you to know that you are never alone.

Thank you Uncle Jim, Toto, Mariano and God for this unplanned opportunity and growth. I am forever grateful!

Be bold. Be brave. Be you. And always…

Shine Brightly!
Ali

One thought on “The Summer of Facing Fears and Learning Polo

  1. Mary Claire Salerno

    So nice to read your story Ali. Proud of you for going outside your box and trusting God. Miss you

    Reply

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