This letter may be a little different than the letters that fill your mailbox at this time of the year. Instead of asking for something special that I have yearned for all year, I want to share with you all that I am thankful for and the gifts I have received throughout 2017.
I came across this picture today from a trip my husband and I took to Savannah a few years ago. We were fortunate enough to have been able to experience their first ice storm in 20 years while we were there. Of course their version of an ice storm and ours in Canada vary greatly. But, nevertheless, many sights and venues were closed. Including this iconic laneway leading to an historic site.
I stood at these gates gazing down this beautiful laneway wishing with everything inside me that this day would be different somehow. I hadn't yet reached the point of feeling sorry for myself and our not so perfect vacation..but I was getting close...
As I look at this picture now, it reminds me of paths in our lives that seemed impossible to follow, no matter how badly we wanted them. We can see our shiny future on the other side, but there is no way we can bust through the barriers to get there. The locks are turned, the signs are up, the spikes on the top look painful...we are not getting through this......today.
That is what I am discovering. It may not be today...It may not even be tomorrow. But with patience, perseverance and a willingness to keep coming back and trying again..those gates will open and the pathway will be clear.
So with patience, perseverance and a change in attitude, I am waiting for the gates to open and then the beauty that lies beyond will be mine to experience. In the meantime, I will explore all the other possibilities that lay before me and be grateful for this life and these oppotunities I have been given. The ice storm will not hold me back..
Sometimes the strangest feelings arise at the strangest times.
I have been experiencing amazing and wonderful growth in my business lately and have felt such a high from it. Since starting my business, I have always felt incredibly grateful to be able to be a part of so many people's experiences with horses and share in their moments of greater awareness and growth. I have been blessed with stories of how my horses have given people the ability to move through fear, anxiety, apprehension and many other feelings and move them in a direction of greater awareness and strength.
I have cried tears of joy for people.
My heart has been so full of gratitude that it feels like it is bursting from my chest.
And yet..in the midst of all these wonderful feelings..I feel depressed..
Where is this coming from?
What happened to cloud 9?
What is wrong with me?
So of course off to Dr. Google I go only to discover that 30% of entrepreneurs suffer from depression.
Well there are a myriad of reasons. But the biggest for me was the cold hard fact that we as entrepreneurs put our heart and soul into our business. We put it all on the line. We eat, breath, sleep, laugh and cry our businesses every minute of every day.
Our roller coaster doesn't just have ups and downs..It has loops, twists, bends, flips, things popping out as us, things trying to rip us from our seats and hammers hitting us in the head.
So no wonder every now and then we feel a little beat up.
Would I change it though?
Not in a million years...
I've always loved roller coasters...
Plus I am fortunate to have the most supportive and healing team ever!
So right now I think I am going to go get a little help from the herd...
It's funny how life has a way of putting you right where you need to be in order to learn the lesson and the answer to the question you have been asking.
Corporate team building scared me..What do I have to offer business people? I have never had an "office job" in my life! The last one I had at the ripening age of 21 I got fired!
I know nothing about it...That fear paralyzed me.
One day it hit me like 2 hind feet of a mule. ( I say a mule because my horses would never do that and mules are more than willing to knock some sense into you). I live with the best and most efficient corporation of them all! My herd! They know how to get the business done.
So there is Metta. She is the lead mare of our herd and no one pushes her around. She has earned her respect from the herd just by being constant, stable, understanding and accepting. Sherlock, who is our elder male gelding, once held that prime position. But as Metta slowly rose through the ranks of our herd as she aged, Sherlock recognized her power and talents and easily stepped aside to allow her to take on the role of leader. He didn't argue, disagree or really put up a fight. It was simply that he realized she was better for the job of taking care of the corporation. He still holds a senior role and sits on the advisory council of the herd. But his days are now less stressful.
Every member of the herd knows their place. Accepts their place. And works to keep the relationships in tact and healthy so the herd stays strong and safe.
It really is beautiful to watch this well oiled machine work their magic and stay in peace.
So many businesses out there struggle because they have forgotten the most basic and first rule of survival. The strength of the herd is in the relationships of the parties involved. Without trust, respect and acceptance, survival is threatened and definite destruction occurs.
So I guess I can say that I have been fortunate to have been given the chance to be a part of a corporation that is not only surviving, but is thriving! I hope I don't get fired from this one!
Oh yea..who will feed them? Ok..so now I have found my place in the herd...
I accept that....
Sometimes we don't see the beauty a particular moment has through the tears and humiliation we are experiencing.
I am realizing that with age my hindsight is getting better...Can't really say that for my eyesight..but maybe there's a beauty in that too..
When I was 20 years old, I had a job as a bank teller. Now, I thought I had hit the jackpot! Woohoo! Look at me! I am on my way up baby! However, as time passed I slowly began to discover I had a slight form of dyslexia. Not the best place to discover this. Lists of numbers became a sea of confusion. My supervisor at the time was a wonderful and compassionate woman. Very forgiving and willing to help me at anytime. Unfortunately, she was replaced with a not so willing, forgiving and helpful woman. My " dream career" was fading from view as each day I dragged myself into work, sometimes in tears and left that day dreading the next.
One fateful ( or so it was at the time ) day, the annual Maple Syrup Festival, I was put in charge of deposits for all the vendors. I never understood why it was me..but I actually felt somewhat honoured. All I had to do was enter the numbers and the supervisor balanced the deposits.
Needless to say, I was out that day and the amount was never found.
The next day, I was invited into her office and told I wasn't meant for this job and fired on the spot.
Shame, humiliation, self-doubt, self-loathing filled my entire being.
I had to walk past all the tellers on my way "out the door".
After a few days of utter despair and depression, I called a farrier I knew to ask if I could apprentice with her. A farrier is a person who trims and shoes horses feet. I had mentioned to some friends at the time that I would like to do this and was promptly told I was too weak to do a job like that. Of course that didn't sit so well with me ( I think there may have been some slightly fowl language used at the time..but who really remembers that? )
Needless to say, it was the best thing I ever did! Now don't get me wrong..there were many moments during my 18 year career as a farrier, that I thought there was definitely a better way to make a living. During those 18 years, I did start and sell a business. Plus, a few other service based businesses as well.
A blow to my head ended my farrier career.
I grieved and grieved..One day while on a walk with my dogs down our country road, the realization came to me that if had never been fired, I may never have become a farrier. A profession that I am still very proud of. The shame, blame, self-loathing and self-doubt I had carried all those years slipped away as the tears of release streamed down my face.
I became thankful and grateful.
I have discovered some of my worst moments have led to the most beautiful moments I could ever have imagined.
I am living it now.
And again, I am thankful.
My first horse was crazy...but he was an incredible teacher..
I bought him at the ripe young age of 14..with my own money (and a little help from my Grandfather). I am pretty sure I was born with the love for horses and my first word was probably "giddy-up" lol..Well I don't know about that..but I do know that I fell deeply and crazy in love with Apache...And he did everything he could to be in control of our relationship! Apache really believed his way was the best and only way to go. And he had very strong opinions about everything I tried to do with him in the early days of our tumultuous relationship. He was a gangly two year old when I bought him and I soon learned what Ray Hunt, the father of today's horsemanship, said so wisely, "the horse knows, he knows if you know. He also knows if you don't know." And boy did Apache know what I didn't know! Even at 2! Oh but I thought I did. After all, I was very experienced at my ripe young age of 14! I had mastered the ponies at the farm already! How much more did I need to know?
As it turned out..quite a bit.. Many times I limped and dragged myself or was carried home after a duel with him.
What I finally realized, after a very severe concussion and Apache getting injured, is that I really didn't know. And it was high time I did! So I bought a "How to Train your Horse" book...and it saved my life..and his.
So why didn't I just give up?
Why did I keep going back for what seemed like endless self-punnishment?
Why didn't I let the fear take over and wash my hands of this so called untrainable useless animal? ( a trainer actually told me that).
I loved him..
And I wanted him to love me back.
So I had to be better.
I discovered what I didn't know and took the necessary steps to gain that knowledge. I started over with him. Clean slate..
I focused on being a better horsegirl..
I committed to the never ending "School of the Horse" and became a forever student.
And I am so much better because of it! I am so much better because of him!
There is so much more to my story with Apache..how he helped me heal..how he directed me down the path I am now on long after his death..
But the most important thing he taught me was to walk through my fear because what is beyond that is absolutely out of this world amazing! And that is what I did every time I put my foot in the stirrup..said a little prayer..held on tight..and when I stayed on and we had an enjoyable ride..what can I say but "oh what a feeling!".
Yes. I was crazy in love with him anyway. We did have many good years after the first few..I conquered my fear..or I should say, I held it at bay and did it anyway. That is the way I have lived my life. Fear didn't stop me.. I sure felt it many times...but the feeling after the fear is what has always kept me pushing on..
So thank-you Apache..for all the wild and crazy rides..for all the tears you wiped away...for being my best friend..and my greatest teacher...And showing me the beauty is in the rising after the fall.
Surprise..it's not just about me
. I am reading this beautiful book by Kathy Pike Called Hope when suddenly this thought crept into my head. What if all these different forms of Equine Assisted Learning/Facilitating/therapy aren't just about us? We can't deny the growth and healing that happens for people that engage in all forms of animal assisted therapy. If , indeed, healing and growth is what the person is after.
But what about the horse? I have heard it said, "what are we doing to the horse when we "use" them to heal us"?
I have to admit, it has stuck with me as well. Is this just another form of disregard for the horse that we humans have been so adept at doing? Let's face it. Our history with horses isn't all the commendable. We have eaten them, used them to carry us from one place to another..sacrificed them in war..delivering our mail...dragging our belongings from one place to another. Even for our entertainment we have abused these majestic beings..in early movies of the wild west, horses were injured and sometimes worse in order to make the scene realistic enough.
Not to mention the atrocities done in training just so we can win the our place at the top of the podium.
So why on earth would they want to help us?
But what if we are now helping them?
I know for myself, as a life long horse woman, I have experienced incredibly, beautiful moments when horses communicate back what my soul aches for. I have witnessed others discover strengths they didn't know they had and move through fear to places of truth and clear direction. All this through the amazing and intuitive actions and reactions of a horse. The response then back is of heartfelt gratitude and dare I say, love.
So what does that give the horse?
Respect...awe...appreciation...honour...courtesy and I believe..healing. We, as humans have a lot of ancestral healing to do for horses. I think it is their time to shine. I think it is our turn to serve. By becoming more honest and in alignment with our inner selves, we are healing the horse.
I am grateful for their patience.
So, to you, the Horse, I bow down.
Meeting with Metta
Today I had my first session with my coach, Metta.
Metta is a 2000lb percheron mare from our herd. In fact, she is the lead mare.
We have always had an interesting relationship her and I. She really knows how to push my buttons!! Perhaps it's because we are both lead mares...perhaps she knows I have a thing or two to learn from her.
This is raw and unedited from my journal that I wrote immediately after our "session"..So no judgement..Funny..that was the first thing that came up for me as I began to groom her..
Ok!! Wow! That really, truly was powerful!
First feeling: entering the roundpen and brushing Metta. She was a muddy mess!
Instantly, I felt like a bad owner. I obviously don't love Horses as much as I claim or they wouldn't be so dirty. That went to being a bad mother...I didn't take the time to care for my so called "loved ones" because I can't be bothered.."I'm too busy" "I'm not domestic"..
that leads into always hurrying. Gotta get it done!!!!Hurry to the next thing. This is too time consuming.
Oh but make it perfect!
That lead to not wanting to be in the moment. Get out of this moment..My mind wanted to drift to other things...I kept pulling it back.
When have I felt this way before?
Metta moves away from me..
So I went into the middle of the pen and knelt down. She watches me from the other side of the pen then comes to me and stands over me, running her nose around my head and shoulders.
I immediately felt distrust (what?? I'm a horse girl!!)
What if she bonks me on the head?
What if she walks over top of me?
What if she steps on me?
How many times do I think the worst can or will happen?
Metta walks away.
I stand up and feel the pain in my chest that has been there since I began brushing her.
Tears waiting to fall.
I close my eyes and feel the pain.
But I decide I want to feel happy, light. I begin to think of Genie and I galloping together but change it to Metta and I and see my legs melting into her sides.
She comes to me and rubs her nose on my chest.
Finally the tears come.
She places her head on my shoulder..chews..yawns..exhales..
Then steps closer.
Trust finally shows up and I stand perfectly still.
She moves to the other side of me and does the same thing.
She again puts her head on my right shoulder and rubs my chest.
Elation starts to fill me up!
Patience..I hear..I lack patience..I am in a hurry to get inside to write this down. But Metta doesn't move.
It will be done when she walks to the gate. A few more minutes pass as she stands very close to me running her nose up one side of me and then the other. Still standing close.
Finally she walks away.
We are done.
I have my homework all laid out for me..
The question that arose is
"How do I grow and get better without beating myself up?"
The responding question was
"What's wrong with where I am now?"
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