Most of us have something in our lives we’d like to change. Maybe we want to start a new hobby. Maybe we want to feel better physically or emotionally. Maybe we want to move somewhere new. Maybe we want a new job. Maybe we want to stop putting ourselves down for all of the things we think we’re not doing right. Whatever it is for us, we all have something that we keep starting to try to change.
I say starting to try to change because the reality is for most of us it can feel like a constant cha-cha dance of starting and stopping and starting and stopping and on and on it goes. At least this is true for me.
It’s only when we allow ourselves to dig really deep and get to the true heart of our “why” that lasting change has a real chance. Staying at the surface level, first, quick answer is part of what keeps us in the change cha-cha. We’ve got to ask, “Why is it important?” over and over again until we get to our core answer. It is when we find the heart of our why that we find the determination and the drive for real change and our cha-cha dance slows. Let me show you what I mean with one of my own desired areas of change.
“I want 2023 to be the year I publish a book of my own.”
Why is it important to me?
“I’ve got stories and ideas inside of me I’ve wanted to share for years.”
Why is it important to me that I share these stories & ideas?
“I feel like there is someone out there who could use my life musings as hope beacons.”
Why is it important to me to offer hope?”
“Because it’s only because of others’ stories that I found hope to keep going through my dark. I want to do the same and pay it forward. “
Why is it important to pay it forward?
“Because I will never be able to pay it back to everyone who’s helped me keep going when I thought I couldn’t. “
Why is it important to pay it back?
“Because I feel like I owe it to the world to not keep these healing heart gifts to myself.”
Why is it important to not keep it all to myself?
“Because it feels like keeping it all to myself would leave a bigger hole in me and leave me feeling like I’m living a “less than ” life.”
Why is it important to publish a book of my own in 2023?
“Because in opening my heart to share the gifts of hope I’ve been given, not only can others possibly heal but I can heal deeper as well.”
I feel my soul settle into a deeper “Ahhh yessss! It’s all about heart, healing, and hope.” As I allow myself to dive deeper & get closer to the heart of my why, I realize THIS is what will help me stay on track even through moments of doubt.
If you are curious about playing with this powerful process yourself let me know. I can send you some resources that have been super helpful for me. What if this year became the year that your dreams of change became reality? How cool would that be?!
What if simple joy came first every day?! What if I fueled myself with things that light me up first each day instead of leaving those things as rushed leftovers?
I’m a supporter of dreaming big, setting goals, and having solid habits to help us live into our dreams. I’m also realizing more and more that expecting myself to start my day off focusing on my goals or to-do list simply exhausts me.
So it came to me today what if I stop expecting myself to do, do, do things before I’m barely awake & instead I start by relaxing with a second cup and reading a favorite book for a few minutes as my first priority? What if instead of creating a habit of a productive focused morning I create a habit of a JOY-focused morning? What if I allowed myself 10-15 minutes of pleasure to infuse JOY into my day right from the start?
Well, let me tell you, my heart and my soul skipped a little beat and whispered ” Could we? Could we really stop having to psyche ourselves up first thing? Could we really start with joy and ease into our day? Could we? Could we? Could we?”
With a smile and a deep, joyful breath I feel things click into alignment as I answer ” Yes we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we WILL!”
Start your day with whatever brings you simple, contented JOY! Maybe it’s exactly what you need to fuel the rest of your day.
March 20, the Spring Equinox, is a time of new beginnings; a time of hope; a time of trusting in the promise of warmer and sunnier days; a time of greening; a time of taking deeper breaths; a time of joy. It has long been one of my favorite days of the year. I have loved celebrating it and inviting others to do the same. When I ran the horse farm, we’d have a spring bonfire to celebrate and release all of the pent up heaviness of the winter. It was glorious!
March 20 is also the anniversary of my husband, Russell’s death. 7 years ago he left this world after a very short 7 days of confusing illness. That day 7 years ago stopped his life; stopped my life as his wife; stopped my kids and my lives as we had known them; stopped the world for us for a very long time; and stopped my choosing to celebrate the Spring Equinox. The symbolism of endings and beginnings was not lost on me that Russell died on the Sring Equinox. But it became nearly impossible to imagine or give myself permission to celebrate with joy the first day of spring, when March 20 had also become the day of remembering our family’s deepest loss.
This weekend a very significant shift has occurred for me. I’ve found myself dancing in the shadowy space between the light and the dark of joy and sadness in a profound way. Not just standing stuck in that space, but dancing there listening to soul music only I can hear. I released the guilt I’ve felt for years about wanting to celebrate the Equinox as I felt it somehow would take away from the death of Russell. I listened to the very real truth that part of my life’s work and mission is to dance in that center space and speak of what that is like for those who can only feel the darkness. My choice to become a Soul Life Coach and an Equine Guided Facilitator flows from this truth. I have walked through a dark night of the soul. I find joy every single day of my life. I know how to weave these threads of dark and threads of light together in ways not everyone knows how to do. I want to guide those who long to learn how to dance in this shadowy space. I laughed a lot this weekend. I rode my pony at sunset tonight which has always been a joyous Spring Equinox activity. I reveled in multiple sunsets. I had my first fire just for the Equinox (originally a decades-long commitment) since his memorial fire a year after he died. I shared stories with friends and family. I started a dream list for spring. I celebrated with joy and no guilt!
Dancing in this center space between death and life has been a dance I have done for longer than I can remember. Even before Russell’s death, it was as if I could hear music in that space that others couldn’t hear. Now, my desire is to offer hope to those who need it most. I can only do that if I allow myself to fully embrace both/and. Remember Russell on this day of his death AND celebrate the first day of spring. THIS is how we say yes to hope in the midst of our suffering. We don’t try to pretend that there is no pain in life. We don’t try to push through and ignore it all, only making it worse. We don’t deny ourselves joy or peace or rest. We learn, baby step by baby step, how to dance with all of the pieces.
As a concrete way to share tiny bits of hope for others who are out there looking for any sign that they’re not alone, I started a new habit today. Those of you have been following me for a while know that I find pennies (and other coins) all of the time. The notion of “pennies from heaven” was one of the BEST things a friend shared with me early in my grief journey. I think of them as penny hellos from Russell. They bring me hope; they make me smile; they help me feel less alone when I need it most. I don’t really think Russell drops them for me, but I do feel them as love reminders. And I find them all of the time because I look for them all of the time. I am open to the magic of something as simple as a penny to change my day.
Well today, I decided to start randomly dropping pennies when I received them as change. There are others out there who will find those pennies and smile. Maybe they will find them, like I always do, just when they need them most and believe they aren’t alone. Maybe they will find a little bit of joy to help the darkness not feel so dark.
These are how I dance in the shadowy center space between light and dark, offering hope to the world. One musing blog post at a time. One sunset alert at a time. One willingness to share that I’m not always okay. One joyful picture at a time. One penny at a time.
Today I remember Russell, missing him always. Today I celebrate the first day of Spring. Dancing with both, and feeling love for it all!
Sometimes things happen that spin us into an emotional space faster than we can blink. I call it “Universal shoves into an emotional rabbit hole. ” It’s a place where the emotions that bubble up seems to be disproportionately intense to the event occurring. I’ve learned enough through my life journey to realize it means that something ready for deeper healing has been triggered and I have a choice before me. Will I navigate the warren-like tunnels in this emotional rabbit hole to gain more clarity, more healing, and more peace or will I barrel my way out of the hold as fast as I can, stuffing all of my emotions into food, silly shows, alcohol, or other avoidance crutches?
Here’s the very quick version of the background event that left me in my current emotional rabbit hole. Last night, while out getting a Christmas tree with my youngest, Demetri, our truck stopped working. We had a wonderfully kind gentleman come over and help us jumpstart it so I thought “Great, I will just go get a new battery right now and we will be good to go.” We made it about 100 yards before the entire thing shut down, just short of a very busy street. Called the tow service and settled in to wait for the hour eta of a tow truck. Several people stopped, including the police. I reassured them we were good despite the cold. I was struggling not to cry and go into overwhelm mode as Demetri rocked staying positive and supportive. Our hour-long wait extended farther and farther out, with the police checking in every 30 minutes. Finally, at 2 hours and 15 minutes of waiting with very little word about when someone was actually coming, I said yes to the police officer’s questioning if I wanted them to call someone. At this point, I felt cold, tired, a little near panicking, and struggling to remember that things ALWAYS work out for me. All three of my kids and several friends who kept checking in kept reminding me of this. But that freaked-out voice in my head wanted to scream and scream and scream. 20 minutes after the police called a tow service the awesome driver arrived! He had us hooked up and home within 30 minutes. He was nice, very competent, understanding, and a pure ninja getting the truck backed into our tricky driveway. Demetri and I put up our tree. I took a very hot, long bubble bath. We had dinner watching Elf at midnight. I went to bed knowing I couldn’t begin to deal with the emotions that had bubbled up right then.
This morning I woke up exhausted and feeling like there was lead in my body. I knew with intense clarity that I needed to journal and move my emotional energy. The biggest thing that had popped up last night, making me want to smash things and scream, was being pissed at Russell for dying and therefore not being here to help me. I rarely feel angry at him for dying, but last night I really did. I felt angry and I felt abandoned and I felt very vulnerable. Oh, I felt grateful for many things too but gratitude is simply the light that shines into the dark places of my emotional rabbit holes, offering me hope that I will be able to move my way back out again. I knew this morning I HAD to allow myself to feel the feelings and put some action to them.
So, I decided to smash some glasses with my sledgehammer. I found several glass jars, put them into doubled-up trash bags, and proceeded to smash away yelling all of the things I’d been thinking last night but didn’t want to open the door to speak in an enclosed space. I let all of my pissy, scared, angry, frustrated, sad feelings and thoughts come out as I smashed away.
As I opened up the bag to take a peek at the smashed glass the thought came to me “It’s not enough. I need to smash more. It’s not enough.” That thought quickly raced towards the next ones, which hit me like a bolt of lightning right to the gut “I’m not enough. I can’t do enough. I can’t figure things out enough. I’m not enough for my kids alone. I’M NOT ENOUGH.” This just about knocked me over as the tears came crashing in harder and I had to sit down. I let the tears flow, put my hand on my heart, focused on my breath (all the tools I invite my clients to do), and allowed the pain to ease as I trusted that feeling my feelings, I mean really feeling them, wouldn’t leave me stuck in this rabbit hole. I added some more glasses and smashed some more, pouring my feelings into each pounding of my sledgehammer on the glass.
This, “I am not enough” is at the heart of my fears and I believe the fears of most of us. It’s that deep, niggling, insidious thought that “I am not enough” that trips me up over and over and over again. I don’t mean in my daily actions as much as in me growing deeply and truly loving myself exactly as I am. I mean in trusting that no matter what life throws at me I can choose to keep believing in my worth and my value to the world because my worth and my value are NOT tied to what I am producing or what I have or what I do or what I don’t do or any of those things that I seem to want to tie it to. Clearly, everything that bubbled up with my truck breaking down is a sign that I am ready for deeper healing and deeper embracing of who I am.
Feeling my feelings and allowing those feelings to be expressed with intentional action has freed my body, my mind, and my heart up today. It feels like I cleaned up a deeper layer of wounds that needed attention. I find myself sitting here feeling clearer than I have in weeks. I find myself stepping out of this rabbit hole with gratitude that I took the journey in. I find myself believing on a deeper level the truth that things can work out in ways we never could have imagined on our own. I find myself accepting my worth and my value just a little bit deeper and a little bit broader today. I find myself at least considering being wildly open to receive gifts from others. I find myself very grateful that I have the tools I need to feel my feelings and listen to the messages they have to share with me. I find myself taking a deep breath as I say “thank you for all that has happened and is happening.”
I am enough simply because I AM! You are enough simply because you ARE!
Have you ever felt like something inside of you isn’t quite in the place it used to be? As if things have shifted and you don’t know exactly when things all fell apart? You just wake up one day realizing that things aren’t quite right and you want, or need to, make some shifts? When this picture from 3 years ago popped into my memories a few weeks back that’s exactly what happened to me. I felt my breath catch in my heart. I felt tears fill my eyes. I felt a pit in my stomach. And, I felt my entire being say “We remember her. That Lara was on fire with passion, power, physical strength, purpose, and joy. How about we take a good hard look at our self right now, and find our way back to her? What do we need to do? Here is evidence of Warrior Lara who knows her way and is living her best, healthiest, most joyful life. Let’s put her back together!”
Ever since that day, I’ve been ruminating and taking a good hard look at myself, my life, and what needs to shift for me to be living in my greatest strengths. The image that came to mind was that of myself as a giant puzzle that somewhere along the line in the last couple of years fell all the way apart. Oh, enough has stayed together to keep working, keep dreaming, keep seeking & recognizing the pockets of joy, keep believing in myself just enough to try new things, but there has been a fragmented feeling that has been like a whispery voice throughout it all. It’s as if my inner critic and my doubting self have been consistently, subtly, and very quietly pulling pieces of my Warrior Lara self away from me.
I know that I am getting to my own truths right now as the desire to curl up in a ball and cry is pretty fierce. There’s a large part of me that wants to shut this writing down and hide under my covers. Ahhh, a sure sign for me that this is exactly what I need to write at this time and this moment. Am I finding joy and massive things to be grateful for in my daily life? A big, huge YES! The things I am doing and the things I am creating are fabulous. But those are just some of the pieces that I have been able to fit back into myself. And some of the things that I haven’t been able to piece back together are pulling at me, threatening to break the fragile new connections I have made.
So here is some of the reality that I haven’t wanted to see, or admit, in myself. I sure haven’t been sharing any of that with the world. 🙂 But, I have long believed that sharing my story, my WHOLE story, is healing for me and potentially offers hope for others. And today, my Muse and my Warrior self say “It is the time!”
*My physical health is at the lowest point it has been in over 4 years. I’m active enough that my body can do a lot which is awesome. But my energy is low, my weight is way higher than I want, and I just don’t feel like a strong warrior self.
*I have not been reaching out, sometimes unintentionally and sometimes intentionally, to the people who I know could support me through some of the sticky parts of life. Why? Because a part of me has felt embarrassed and like a failure for not “getting it right” or for not being able to do it on my own. PFFTTT! I coach people all of the time that asking for help isn’t weakness, it’s a sign of strength and powerful self-care. But I get that it is so much easier said than done when we feel like we have fallen way back in our journeys.
*I am having big bouts of doubting myself. The work that I am doing as an instructor of kids and adults, and more especially my work as a life coach for women fills my soul. As we inch towards winter, I’ve been exploring part-time job opportunities just as backup work if the weather goes to hell in a handbasket. Receiving rejections or literally no calls back for positions I could do so easily, is very disheartening.
*I have so many things that I have started and stopped, then started and stopped another thing, etc, etc, as I am trying to figure out which puzzle pieces I still even want to have fit into who I am right now. Part of the downside of not living my healthiest path is that my focus scatters. Well, when I already feel like I am putting back together an entire self that is scattered and shattered, having scattered focus doesn’t help. 😉
*I am deeply missing the communities of support, accountability, and growth that I was actively a part of 3 years ago. I am recognizing how much I really need people around me to keep my energy flowing as I work. Being able to do things virtually has been great since 2020, but it’s not enough for me. I need communities in person!
Putting the puzzle back together – I do not know all of my next steps forward. Today, I am okay with that. I know that, for me, this is the first big step forward. Getting real with myself and writing about it helps me to see things way more clearly. And while I may not know all of the steps, or all of the pieces to fit my Me puzzle back together, I do know the following:
1. I need to focus on living my healthiest life again – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially. The great thing is I love the health program that I found 4 years ago (and now coach) because it focuses on the WHOLE self, not just our physical body. It’s easy for me to dive back in and start again.
2. I need to reach out for more regular support from the people in my life who have helped in the past and continue to do so today. That being said, I have finally gotten brave and reached out to my own coach asking for support. It wasn’t easy but I know it’s hard to support others if I am not getting the support I really need because I am trying to do it all on my own. There are others I will be asking for more support as I figure out what that can look like.
3. I am tapping back into several communities that have been powerful places of growth for me in the past. I’d still love to create some kind of space in which entrepreneurs could gather together several times a week in a co-working/creating kind of space. That will come.
4. I am reminding myself that the heart work that I am doing brings value to the world in ways that no part-time “job” could do. It will grow!
I find that, for now, there is little more that needs to be written. I am deeply grateful that writing is a form of healing and growth for me. I am deeply grateful for the Warrior Lara photo that popped up and is now above my desk as a reminder to me that living in power, purpose, passion, radical health, and joy is possible. I am deeply grateful for the imagery of a broken puzzle that I can put back together in whatever new way I want to. I am deeply grateful for every single pocket of joy I am experiencing in my life as I figure out my way forward right now. I am deeply grateful to feel like I am starting to put myself back together.
I see you. No, I mean I really see YOU! I see that soul part of you that you long for others to see but also, maybe, fear others will see. I see that part of you that glorious in its’ rawness and its’ realness. I see that part of you that couldn’t lie about how you are really doing even if it tried to. I see that part of you that is aswirl with light and dark, hope and despair, resistance and acceptance, sadness and joy. I see that part of you that is so uniquely YOU that it strives to shine through all the layers of walls and protection you have built up around it. I see that part of you that is like no other past, present, or future. I SEE YOU!
This is what came flooding over me this afternoon as I watched Penny with one of our coaching clients. It’s always a magical experience for me to be an observer of watching women with the horses. There are messages I receive about my own journey and my own healing as I have the honour of watching the interactions unfold. Magical gifts are given every single time.
But today, ahhh, it was very special. Two times within the extended dance of connection, I watched Penny stop and just stare at the woman interacting with her. In those moments, it was as if everything else fell away spotlighting the two. And I heard “I see you. I mean I REALLY see you.” as if Penny was speaking out loud. The hair stood up on my arms in each moment, as everything around became almost electric with the energy and beauty of it all. I just sat there in silent awe for the wisdom Penny shared with me.
Horses see us in ways that we can’t see each other. Heck, they see us more deeply than we see ourselves. In seeing us, there is no judgement, merely an acknowledgement that they see us in all of our glory and all of our messiness. There is such healing to be found in that experience of being truly seen by another living being. In being truly seen, we begin to consider the possibility that it might be okay to be seen by others.
As much as I wish it were possible, I know that I cannot offer the opportunity to experience the magic healing of my horses to everyone I know. Some of you are too far away from and I have yet to figure out how to offer coaching with the horses in a virtual way. But, for those of you who are close to me and are longing to be truly seen as you, not for what you can do or for what you know, but just as YOU, the horses and I are ready for you. We are ready to hold space for all of you – every bit of visible and hidden piece of you.
How many things in life do we find ourselves drawn to and we don’t quite understand all of the reasons why? Those things that pop up as possibilities to say YES to. Maybe it’s a job or business that intrigues us; or maybe it’s an opportunity to play & create in ways we’ve never done before; or maybe it’s a new person we meet who we feel an immediate connection with; or maybe it’s something we are ready to let go of because it simply doesn’t feed our souls anymore. Whatever IT is there is a spark of joy and hope and curiosity and “what if” that lights up inside of us. We can’t stop thinking about it. We want to know more. We want to say YES and take the step towards us. And yet, something holds us back.
This musing isn’t about those somethings that hold us back. While I could write about that too I find myself thinking a lot these days about all of the things I’ve said YES to in the past dozen years or so and what has been made possible because of those YESes, things I couldn’t even dream of when I said YES to what I thought was just about me. So I wander down some of the paths I have taken because I said YES – some so quietly I could barely hear them myself and some so loudly it’s as if the world would hear.
Because I said YES…
*to running a horse farm that felt way too big, unwieldy and hard for a family who was homeschooling 3 young children, Avalon is here today.
*to my own health – body, mind, spirit – I have learned how to make the changes I need with the support I need to listen to what my body needs, not just what my emotional being desires for comfort. I know I can restart as often as I need to in order to have the best body freedom possible. I love how great I am feeling again!
*to teaching horse back riding lessons, camps, field trips, and dozens of other programs thousands of kids have had the opportunity to feel the magic of horses. I’ve done some of the math and it is well over 1000 kids and several thousand more adults who have felt that joyful magic that only horses can bring.
*to writing and publicly sharing my own grief, healing, life journey others have been able to experience the possibility that someone else understands a little bit about their own journey.
*to offering “I am a Warrior” women retreats, vison board playshops, women’s circles (WOW) and other healing retreats women have found ways to dream bigger, love themselves a little bit deeper, and find ways to say YES to more joy in their lives.
*to my own health, 100s of people – family, friends, new friends – have been able to create healthier habits for themselves. It brings me great joy that I have been able to encourage others to believe they are worth living their healthiest life. Being part of people going from feeling completely out of touch with their bodies and hating them to listening to what their bodies need and loving themselves right where they are – ahhh that is powerful stuff!
*to letting go of Avalon I now get to watch Emily live out a life long dream of her own to have a farm. Watching her grow and transform Avalon into her vision, feeling the love she has for what she now gets to do, is an honor to behold. My YES connected with her YES and we both took big leaps that are now impacting so many other people.
*to Penny when it made almost no sense to, I have ridden more than in the entire 12 years I actually ran Avalon. More importantly, I have rediscovered my confidence in riding a horse and experienced profound wonder as we have learned to trust one another. Karoly helped me to Just Breathe through the early years of my grief. Penny has taught me to trust the sweet joy of freedom.
*a year long mentorship about Equine Facilitated Learning there are now dozens of women who are experiencing the deeper, very profound connections that horses offer us. Connecting with our deepest selves while being in the space of a horse is such an amazing gift. I said YES to that mentorship mere weeks after Russell died and it provided healing I very much needed. It took me years to be able to be ready to share it more broadly, but I am loving it now.
*listening to my kids and what they most need for their own life journeys, I believe I am closer to them than if I had simply set their paths for them. I don’t always get it right, but I hope they know that my commitment to keep them as my number 1 priority will ALWAYS be true.
*to selling the first farm that Russell and I loved, we now live in a farm cottage where I can daily see some of the prettiest sunrises I’ve ever seen; see my horses outside of my front window; and walk to one of my “jobs”.
*trusting my intuition, that quiet inner voice, I have learned to love myself more than I ever realized I could. I’ve learned how to say no to what I need to and yes to what I want to. I trust that I know me better than anyone else possibly could.
*when Russell first entered the hospital to allowing myself to dance in the shadow space where the light and the dark threads of life meet, I have life tools that I am now able to share with others who feel like they are stuck in the muckity muck of life. That shadow space is where I find my MOJO and I very much want to help others find theirs.
Because I say YES every single day to seeking joy and growth with the passion of a warrior woman, I know that I can continue to grow, dream, learn, and create a life that feels better and better and better all of the time. I invite each and everyone of you reading this to listen to that part of you who is wanting to say YES to something new. That thing that you can’t stop thinking about might lead you down a path filled with joy and purpose you can’t even imagine right now, if you just say YES.
This musing is not about my knee, even though it starts there. My knee is trying to tell me something. Actually, it’s probably trying to tell me many somethings. The question before me is am I willing to listen to the messages behind the physical pain to the deeper things hidden further in. I teach my clients, in our work with the horses, to first do a body scan and see what messages our bodies are trying to tell us. Well, I am listening and I am trying to pay attention to the answers.
While I stop, try to quiet my mind, and listen to the messages underneath the pain there are many musings bubbling to the surface. Some of these are probably directly connected to the core message(s) my knee pain is directing me to. And some are just because this is what my mind does, it tries to see the connections between my current experience, my past experiences and my entire life journey. Maybe in the writing of all that is rambling through me I will shed some light on what is going on for me right now.
The pattern of my current knee pain has been most fascinating. It started seemingly out of nowhere last Friday morning. I don’t have any recollection of any extra strain or injury that occurred. I’ve experienced pain in my knees off and on for years, sometimes intensely, other times almost non-existent. Watching what I eat, resting it, avoiding certain kinds of exercise, stretching, listening to my feelings, etc. all help. Overall, I’ve been pretty good the last few months. So, it was very surprising on Friday when I could barely move. On Friday, no matter what I did – rest, move, stand still – my knee felt locked in place and very painful.
When I am sitting or lying down I am okay and can move my leg around with no pain. When I am walking I feel stiff but overall don’t feel painful. When I am riding (which I tried for an hour yesterday) I feel great and experience no pain or frozen joints until I try to get off. But when I stand still for more than a few minutes, my knee hurts a lot and feels like it will barely hold me. As soon as I sit back down for even a few minutes I feel good again and can even continue walking around. But holding still is the worst.
While this is about my knee, it’s also really not about my knee. Physically I am setting somethings in place to deal with the physical aspect of what is going on. More importantly, I am aware that my knee is telling me in a VERY loud voice “Hey you. Yes you, Lara! LISTEN! There are things you need to accept and you’re not doing it. The pain will continue and increase until you do. PAY ATTENTION! There are things for you to learn right now.”
So today, I am writing about so much more than what I need to do physically. Because ultimately, I know this is about way, way more than any possible arthritic flare up or other physical issue.
This reminds me so much of what my grief journey was like in the beginning. And it also speaks to what my ongoing self-growth journey looks like. Holding still causes the most pain. Standing still in my grief and in the ways I am trying to grow now can cause me more pain than anything else. Just standing in place, waiting for the next grief wave to crash over us, or waiting for the pain of feeling stuck to hit, is wicked hard. I remember thinking in the first year or two after Russell died that if I just didn’t move maybe I wouldn’t feel the pain of his death so much. Maybe if I just held my breath, it would all go away somehow. Maybe if I stand really still the grief or the overwhelm won’t crash over me this time. Pffft, obviously that wasn’t true and it’s an impossibility. We can often fear moving forward because we think it will cause more pain. But it’s the standing in place out of fear or overwhelm that ultimately hurts us the most.
I’m feeling this same sense of wanting to stand in place and not move in my life right now. Not because of grief, but because of sooo many other things that are shifting, changing, and being created. Some are mine. Some are others. All of them leave me in that space of wanting to just hold my breath and not move. What if I move the wrong direction? Is the path I am on the right one? What am I doing? What am I not doing? Have I done enough? Am I enough? Over and over and over the questions, doubts and fears run through my end. I stand frozen in place with the pain of feeling stuck ready to knock me over at any moment.
Resting, truly allowing myself to just breathe and be in the moment, offers sweet relief from the overwhelm and the pain of fear and doubt. That rest is needed. That rest is welcome. That rest must happen. Icing my knee; staying off of it; letting my muscles chill the hell out; all of those things helped me through last weekend. Each day got a little easier to move as I allowed my body the time to rest. Rest is needed when we grieve. Rest is needed when we grow. During intense seasons of grieving and intense seasons of growth, our bodies, hearts and minds are working hard to navigate all of the emotions that arise. We need to allow ourselves enough time to both grieve and to grow. We need to cut ourselves some slack and recognize that in order for true healing or transforming change to occur, we NEED TO REST. That doesn’t just mean, sometimes, taking a day to chill. Sometimes it takes longer to give ourselves all that we need to be able to move again. AND THAT IS OKAY!
Feeling our feelings can shine light towards the path forward that we need to take when we are ready. After allowing ourselves the rest we need to ease the initial hits of new pain, movement can begin to occur. That doesn’t mean jumping right back into everything we were doing before. We can cause ourselves a lot more injury and pain if we jump back in too fast. Taking things slowly and testing the waters of what feels okay allows us to listen to what our bodies, minds, and hearts are ready for. It might mean new ways of doing things need to be set in place.
It becomes even more important in this return to movement to listen to our bodies and our feelings, ignoring neither one. It is here that questions will arise – What if it hurts even more once I move? What if I can’t do it? What if I can never move with ease again? What if? What if? What if? The fear can be very real, even as we are hoping and planning for the best. But move we must in order to continue forward on our journeys. The solution is to listen and pay attention as we take that first step forward.
We take a step or try things out again. We check in with our bodies to see how it is handling things. We do a few things. We listen to what movements feel better than others. We rest a bit. We take a few more movements forward. We check in. We listen. We rest. We do things that feel really good and do even more of that. We celebrate. We listen. We rest. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. We find our way back to a place that feels comfortable again, hopefully with a little more wisdom.
As I’ve moved through this process of pain, listening, resting, trying new movement, listening again, etc. over the last several so many things have opened up for me. Somethings I was aware of and other things that feel like they’ve come out of a hidden box buried under a whole lot of other stuff. As more awareness has come the pain has eased. I’m not really surprised by this. I’ve known for a long time that when my knees hurt, it usually means there are parts of my life journey that I’ve been avoiding moving forward with. My knees get stuck and locked in pain when I am feeling stuck in other ways. As I listen to those blocks the pain eases. Oh it still takes awhile for my knees to get back to better functioning order, but simply listening to the message behind that pain eases it.
Am I getting answers to why my knee decided to stop working last weekend? Not necessarily. Am I getting clarity around new insights that have popped up in my extra, necessary rest time? Yes. Am I getting a chance to practice listening better to my body and what she needs? Most definitely. Is all of my pain gone? Not yet. Am I feeling more hopeful that I have a newer plan to strengthen my body, my heart and my resolve to keep creating my best life? YES!
Our bodies give us messages all of the time. The questions are – Are we willing to listen to the quiet, gentle messages it’s trying to tell us? Or, are we going to keep ignoring the messages until the pain is so bad we have no other choice but to listen?
Horses have had a part of my heart and my dream world for as long as I can remember. I honestly can’t remember a time that I didn’t want to read about them; draw them; take pictures of them; look for them everywhere I go; and simply BE with them. From pretending my pink, banana seated bike was a horse, to working whenever I could at a barn in college, to choosing field trips with my kids that included some horse sighting, to having imaginary horses as friends as a kid, to managing/owning a horse farm for over a decade, to teaching kids to ride and care for horses for over 30 years, to now life coaching women with my horses as my partners and guides, horses have held my heart.
That last sentence right there, “horses have held my heart”, is the most profound gift I can imagine in this lifelong journey with horses. Through moments of imagination and moments of being brave and moments of trying new things and moments of celebration and moments of the deepest grief, horses have held my heart. There is both a grounding and an awakening that happens for me when I am in their presence. It’s as if, when I am with them, I am most ME. Not because I have to do anything special. I just have to be with them and I am somehow more whole.
The most profound experience of their capacity to hold space for me and invite me into deeper healing has come with my relationship with Karoly, the retired circus horse who entered my world 9 years ago. For the first several years he was simply this really cool, calm, magnetic horse who I got to use for teaching kids to ride and enjoy riding myself. As bombproof as they come, Karoly’s steady presence has made him one of the best horses I’ve ever known to teach basic riding skills, help people build confidence, and be a buddy to horses who need a steady presence. I have so many pictures and stories of him I could fill an entire book.
As amazing as all of these things are, it is his capacity to hold healing space for me and for others that makes him the biggest gift. After Russell died, being at Avalon was both blessing and challenge – two sides of the same coin. Blessing because I could be exactly as I needed to be that day. Challenge because I could be exactly as I needed to be that day. It was a safe place to show up however I was – hot mess and warrior woman all in one. There were many, many days that the emotions were so powerful I simply didn’t know how to navigate the intensity. Those were the days that I turned to Karoly the most. Whether we went for ride or I simply went and stood with him wherever he was, in his presence I could bawl it all out. He would stand there steady as a tree and JUST BREATHE. Somehow, magically, he would match his breath to my shallow breath and then he would slow his down, inviting me to do the same. I know it may sound very weird, but he would audibly breathe in and out slower and slower and slower with a silent invitation for me to do the same and ground my energy through him. He held my grief in all its’ swirliness and just breathed through it with me.
He is THE reason I chose 6 years ago to enter into a mentorship to become certified in Equine Facilitated Learning. My experience with him holding space for me as I grieved awoke the desire to offer the same gift to others. I’ve watched him offer this gift to others over the years and every time I stand in awe of the heart energy that is exchanged. Simply being in his presence seems to ease others anxiety. Fear seems to lessen as he holds the space to walk through it with trust and a desire to be braver. Tears flow as emotions that have bottled up for sometimes years are allowed to flow. Joy awakens as this magical being opens his heart space for others to find their way.
Linda Kohanov writes in her book Riding Between the Worlds, “True freedom arises from the courage to feel , the willingness to be vulnerable and the humility to appreciate the wisdom all living beings have to offer.” Horses invite us with their very presence to find the courage to feel our feelings and walk our way through them to the other side. Don’t we all want to feel more free?
I wish with all of my heart that every person who is hurting had the opportunity to rest their weary selves in the presence of a horse like Karoly. It is because of the healing gifts Karoly has given to me that I am creating the space and the opportunities for others to find a little bit of grounding, healing, safe space for themselves. The gift he has given me is to precious to not share with the world.
LISTEN TO THE WHISPER AND DO IT NOW! In the blink of an eye life can change. PLEASE DON’T WAIT FOR ANOTHER TIME!
Holy schmoley, Facebook memories are something. This is what I shared 6 years ago, an hour and a half before I took Russell Peterson to the hospital where we took our first, crashing step into Cuckoo Luckoo Land. I’d say that was also the first step towards becoming a Warrior Woman for love, dreaming, living out loud and inviting people to live deeply in this time, this moment.
That whisper was very quiet 6 years ago. Finding and sharing this was probably my only awareness that I was hearing something coming. Now though? Wowza that whisper is coming through loud and clear every day.
What is whispering inside of you?
6 years ago I shared this passage and the passage pictured here. Little did I know that the trip to the ER soon to follow would not only change my day’s plans but it would change my life completely.
Don’t take chances that you have plenty of time. There is no way we can know that.
I am pretty sure the Peterson household has the plague. Kateri has had a fever and flu like symptoms for 4 days. Fever goes up and down but overall feeling horrendous. Russell is now having similar symptoms and feeling awful. Soren and I had about a day and a half earlier this week we were feeling sick. Hoping that’s all that occurs for us. Demetri only one who has remained totally healthy. Plans for my day will be changing as caring for two stickies is needed.