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Step Back

This week our horse, Gunner, got an infection which caused a pretty big scare on our little farm. It required an emergency vet visit and the help of some of my horse buddies. Part of the treatment included coating his leg with a paste called poultice and wrapping it almost like a cast. He reacted the way most animals do when you put something new into their world. He lifted his leg, tried to check it out, and was pretty hesitant to move forward. The vet, drawing on her experience, wisely grabbed hold of his halter and moved him backward. She explained that for some reason when exposed to something new, it is easier for a horse to take a step back than to move forward. After taking a step back, Gunner realized all was still right with the world and he was able to walk forward with the make-shift cast on his rear leg.

This life lesson has been stuck with me all week. There are so many times in life when we face new challenges and trials. Sometimes we can’t figure out the way to move forward. What if the trick really is just to take a step back? This hack certainly works for learning. So often when I work with students, they are stuck on what they need to learn or what is happening next. At times they can become overwhelmed with assignments or expectations. When we stop and take a step back and identify what they already know or break the task down into steps, they are able to move forward. I’ve seen this in my own journey with writing and preparing to launch my book. Each time I face a new unknown or challenge I freeze. I’m not sure how to move forward or what to do next. I have taken a step back and turn to what I know.

Sometimes life launches us really big challenges and things seem impossible. Maybe it’s cancer, or an illness, or even the loss of a loved one. When these things happen the best thing to do is often to step back. Surround yourself with those you love. Reach deep and find that comfortable spot, the one thing or the next thing you can do. You don’t have to move forward all at once, sometimes all you need is to take a step back.

I knew instantly last week when I saw Gunner take a step back in order to adjust to his new situation, I would be focusing on it for my blog this week. I mulled it over and thought about how it relates to learning and the curve balls life often throws our way. I had no idea I would actually be putting it into practice today. Today we lost a very dear member of our family. My father-in-law, my husband’s dad and my children’s grandfather, Richard Peterson, passed away early this morning in his sleep. He has been struggling with his health for the last few months. Lately for him every day has felt like a step back. Just when he thought he might be doing a little better, something else pulled him back down. This morning he took his last step back. I’m not sure what you believe, but I believe he is finally able to move forward. I believe he is in a much better place where he is able to run, play and let his spirit soar. I believe his spirit will be with us in the coming days and weeks where as a family we will take a step back from our busy lives and come together to celebrate a life well lived, to hold each other up in love and support and to say our goodbyes to a man we so dearly loved. I know every time I write, I will step back and remember how Rich read each and every one of my blogs and always encouraged me as a writer, an educator, and a mother. I’m sure some days I will step back and re-read his words and remember some of the encouraging words of advice he has given to me over the years. I will remember his love for me, my husband and our children. When I take this step back, it will be what I need to recharge my soul, to move forward and face whatever challenge lies ahead.

Richard Peterson

1943-2020

This one is for you!

Your last step back leaves a legacy

that will continue to inspire me to move forward.

I love you!

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