A couple of months ago, when we had received enough rain to warrant mowing the lawn, I conquered two big fears. One long standing fear (which I like to call a goal) was to mow the property using our old Sears 1993 Craftsman Lawn Tractor. It is hard to start, doesn’t exactly have power steering and is so loud it sounds like I’m grinding stumps when it is mowing. The five speeds don’t bother me since I’ve been driving stick shift cars and trucks since high school. But there is a special combination of cuss words, prayers and steps to getting it started. If that doesn’t work I call my wonderful neighbor who takes it across the street and works his magic, returning it to me in mint condition. That is until the neighbor leaves and I try to start the tractor alone. If/when it does start I learned not to turn it off in the middle of mowing as there is another mantra for getting it started after it is warmed up. It requires full choke, some choke, no choke, my foot on the clutch, blades up, turn the key and listen to it grind. Obviously this machine isn’t used to a woman’s touch. If it were a horse I would have been thrown into the sky. But after a few curse words, which I’m sure my Christian neighbors have unfortunately heard, the tractor started up this particular day. It was a happy occasion to have taken the tractor out of the garage, fired it up and started off mowing. “Look at me! No man to help me! I did it all by myself!!”
The next fear to conquer was how to mow the hill in back. Leaving that area until last I finally drove along the edge of the hill, fearing the tractor would tip over with me pinned underneath. Maybe I should knock off reading the Stephen King/Dean Koontz novels. This machinery isn’t possessed-probably not-I hope. Each pass around the back section I drove closer and closer to the dreaded hill. At one point the tractor was on the very edge of the hill. The engine (or is it called a motor) kept the speed even and the tractor didn’t take off down the hill like a runaway go-kart. So next time around I headed the tractor toward a steeper section. I was mowing the hill over and over, conquering a slice at a time. Not only was it easy it was fun.
As I was finishing the mowing it came to me that this attitude of fear and defeat is what is keeping me back in dog obedience Utility training. My trainer has been giving me bits and pieces of information to give me confidence. It is working and like gradually going down a steep hill in a bulky tractor it has turned out to be fun. The lesson learned is: don’t let your fears keep you from trying. Start off one step at a time and build confidence. It is working for me.
Now if only we had some rain so the lawn would grow back and I could play on the hill again.