• Stephanie Hammond

What regrets will you have on your deathbed?

Is that a morbid question? We had lunch with friends on Monday and when Bruce mentioned that “it’s not the things we’ve tried and failed that we regret on our death bed, it’s the things we failed to even try”, it made me think.

I started a list. What would I regret not having done at my life’s end? If I wasn’t to have those regrets, I realised I’d have to get started or I might truly be too old to do them!

I’ve never been very physical. Sure, I walk a lot, I love kayaking, I enjoy Pilates, I used to run, I love to dance. But body contortions were beyond my physical ability. As a child, I watched my cousins and siblings do all sorts of gymnastics with envy. I couldn’t do that. And when it came to seeing my children, I felt a niggle of regret that I’d never learned. I was in my mid 20s before I rolled down a hill. That was fun, but not necessarily anything I needed to repeat. And I was a grandmother before I rode the flying-fox. And the joy of doing that is with me still, flying through the air above the ground. Riding the zip-line is high on my list, but not at the top.

Three days ago I looked at my list. My experience with overcoming fears in the past is really helpful right now. I know the steps I need to take and first is to get a coach, someone you trust, to talk you through the steps. So I asked my husband for help. He has been a keen gymnastics coach and the perfect person to help me.

I wanted to learn to do a forward roll. Yes, that was top on my list! I KNOW I’ll regret it if I don’t master that one simple childhood joy that I never, ever experienced in my life. He brought out the exercise mat and I got him to demonstrate how it was done. Head down, he flipped and stood up.

I’m grateful I’ve lost my excess weight! Even so, I didn’t think I would be able to stand up. After 7 babies, my core isn’t that strong. Still, I’m thinking at least I’ll give it a go.

He did his forward roll again and again, until I felt the rhythm for myself. With encouragement to keep my chin tucked in and give a little kick with my feet (just like getting airborne off the flying-fox!) I was over - and landed flat on my back!

I did it! I did a forward roll! I lay there on the mat, dizzy like I’d never felt before. But I did it! I was so pleased. Did I feel the need to do it again? Mmmm. Maybe.

I was so excited I couldn’t wait to tell my youngest daughter - ever my champion and so gymnastically competent herself, I knew she’d be pleased for me. She was and challenged me to “take a gif of yourself doing one every day for a month and see how good it gets.” Oh dear! I’ll have to do more.

So today is day 3. Day 2 I landed flat on my back again. Today I landed and sat up. Still feeling dizzy. Hmmm! I wonder what day 30 will feel like?

And that’s the secret to success to doing what makes me scared:

1. Find a coach, someone experienced who I trust.

2. Share what I’m doing with someone who will hold me accountable and be happy for me.

3. Commit to the challenge.

4. Stay ferociously curious about the progression and final outcome.

And I’m now thinking. After this 30 days of practising every day, I just might learn to do a cartwheel!

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