In his book Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence, author Mathew Sanford describes healing stories as stories/phrases/sayings/memories that help us cope with difficult situations that arise in our lives. I’d like to take Mr. Sanford’s concept of healing stories and add one more component: healing stories not only help us move forward, but the remind us of why we are moving forward! Everybody has a healing story, probably more than one if you ask them. I keep a wall full of healing stories, in the form of inspirational quotes, in front of my desk so that when I’m daydreaming I end up looking at encouraging words that help me finish up the seemingly endless reading assignments. Well, today, I am proud to say that I found a few healing stories at Dream Rider’s today!
Have you ever just had a week that would never end? Well, that sums up my week last week-it was just one thing after another. Today, I was practically chomping at the bit (seriously, no pun intended) to get to the barn. It was so hard to stay focused when I knew that in a few short hours I would be away from campus, away from homework, and oh darn, just out of the reach of the nearest cell tower! I found out today that I find menial (yet important) tasks like cleaning water troughs, filling water buckets, and using a leaf blower to clean the walk ways extremely therapeutic! Usually, menial tasks drive me crazy- but I feel like at DR everything that I do serves a purpose. AND, most importantly, it gives my mind a break! I am relieved to find that my internship is proving to be a haven for me to escape to; something that I can devote 100% of my attention to. While I’m there, nothing else matters. I feel like, in time, this will become a healing story for me… something that I can reflect on when I reach my destination of becoming an Occupational Therapist and know that this early experience prepared me for my career!
Why did I spend so much time explaining healing stories, you ask…. here’s why! I worked with Zach again today (if you’ll recall Zach has Autism) and I couldn’t help but imagine the healing stories that he has. What keeps him and his family going when Autism throws a curve ball? Does he know that he will be my one of my healing stories that will remind me why I need to keep going to pursue my dreams of becoming an OT even when school gets challenging? Today, for the first time, I saw Zach willingly make eye contact with someone other than his mom… that somebody was me. Almost as if he was asking for reassurance that he could in fact say loud and clear “WALK” to tell the horse to go on, which is difficult for him. He looked me right in the eye as he told me what color the foam hearts that we used in today’s lesson were… he did so very clearly I might add. I’ll never truly know why Zach made eye contact with me today- it could have been so I would shut up and stop asking him to say “walk” for the millionth time in 45 minutes. But I don’t care because today, I was reminded that this is what I want to do with my life. I want to work with kids who have special needs and to help them do what others think is impossible for “someone like them.” Again, I may be looking way too deep into the eye contact thing, but I know that for children who have Autism, making eye contact can be a huge cause of stress for them. So hopefully that was progress.
In closing, there’s a saying that says “to find one’s calling, one must follow bliss”, I can assure you that today in the riding ring I found bliss. Bliss in my confidence levels, which the head riding instructor noticed that they were improving,and bliss in Zach for giving me something to work with today! So I guess, here’s to the many healing stories that I hope to gain from this semester at Dream Riders.