I think that every little barrel racing girl growing up has that goal of running down the alley of the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas - becoming one of the top 15 in the world, qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo. It seems that as we grow older, that dream starts to fade, our lives have changed, our priorities, our goals.
Philip and I just recently came home after a few days in Las Vegas watching the NFR. If there is anything to rekindle that fire, that desire and that dream, get to the Thomas & Mack early and sit down thinking about what it'd be like to be a contestant. Just think of running down that alley way blind to that first barrel, the thrill of inhaling second and flying home from third. If the very thought doesn't send shivers down your spine, then I don't know what will!
I was definitely one of those girls that wanted to make it to the NFR and run under the bright lights. It was great getting to spend time in Vegas, seeing the rodeo, the contestants and of course the Cowboy Christmas. It was also great to reflect, to think about what it would take to make it to the NFR, to make that original dream a reality. Could it happen? How? When? As I went to college my first year, I thought that it was a definite possibility and by the time I left college, my goal had become just a memory. "Why?" I asked myself as I was recently interviewed on the very subject for an article in Western Horseman. Why had I let my dream slip away from being in my sight? There are a multitude of different reasons as I reflected back on the last 6 years. I have no regrets for where life has taken me, but I do regret that I have not been working toward this dream all this time.
After all this time, could it really happen? Do I have what it takes? Could I do it? I don't know the answer to those questions but I know this, if you want it bad enough, you will make it happen. I really believe in God's timing and I also believe that the talent that He gives us is a gift - what we do with that gift is our gift back to God. I don't know what His plans are for me, maybe the NFR isn't in His plans? Maybe it's something else? However, I do know this...God gave me a gift as a barrel racer. He has made things happen for me as a barrel racer that are not possible without Him.
Like I said, I don't know when His timing will be, but I can be prepared. I realize that every day that I don't work out, I am that much weaker than my competition, that much heavier for my horse to carry, and have that much less reaction time that could be the difference of tipping a barrel or lifting my leg to save me from that 5 second penalty. Along with this, I realize that every time that I eat that cookie, take seconds, or give into my guilty pleasure of pizza, that I am going have to work that much harder to get/stay fit or I will be weaker than the rest of my competition. I realize that for every day that I don't work on my mental game, I am weaker than my competition. Every day that I don't ride my horse means my horse is less fit than my competition. And every day that I don't think about my ultimate dream - the NFR - makes me that much weaker than my competition. Don't make excuses...go DO it! Make it happen!
If you want something, you have to work hard for it. You have to be dedicated and be tuned into your dream/goal. It's a lifestyle. Philip, my husband has always been an inspiration to me. He works harder than any other person that I know and he does the absolute best that he can do at everything that he does. While at Vegas, we had a lot of good talks about the NFR. One of the things he said to me that really is sticking to me is to make every run I make be like my last shot. You never know when you have another chance, another run, so make everything count and leave it all in the arena. Go in there and know that you've done everything that you could to win starting from home and working all the way up into the arena. Show God just how much you want it, just how hard you're willing to work for it, leaving the outcome in God's hands. Glorify God in all that you do and in that, you will be giving a gift back to God.
My barrel racing friends, no matter what your dream is from the NFR, or maybe it's something else not even related to barrel racing, please keep this verse in mind; "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." Colossians 3:23
Until next time, work hard, ride hard and DREAM BIG!