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Zeist, The Netherlands

She Showed Me I Was Truly Seen

When I was 17 years old, I volunteered at a riding stable for people with disabilities. It was my job to help the jockeys and groom the horses. Being a jockey myself, I did this with great pleasure and commitment. My greatest dream, however, was to one day become a horse-riding instructor. So whenever I could, I watched the instructors give lessons and I absorbed every minute of it.

The owner and teacher was a devoted and passionate woman who started the stable for her younger sister, who had a disability. A natural leader, the owner was a great inspiration to me. At this time, things at home were not easy. Yet here, helping the children who came in for classes, I enjoyed life and developed as much self-esteem as the students did during their weekly lessons.

One day, the owner called me to her as she was preparing the next lesson. I assumed she needed my help with one of the pupils or horses. But this time she had a surprise for me in store. She looked me in the eyes and with a bright smile on her face, nodded towards the waiting group of jockeys and said, “Go ahead. It's your class.” I could not believe my ears! My class?!

Of course, I happily stumbled my way through giving my first lesson. She gave me her trust and appreciation in that precious moment where she showed me I was truly seen. Looking back, the impact of this occasion on my life was huge. It was the kick-off for my becoming a teacher, coach, and trainer and affected me in many beautiful ways throughout my life.

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