The Name of the Game is Trust

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The name of the game is TRUST! The question of the game is who is teaching who? (Umm, or should whom be in there somewhere?)

I write this as a person who is taking daily strides to create her best life. I write this as a person who has moved from being the manager/owner of a large horse farm to being a boarder at that same farm. I write this as a person who believed she had much to teach/share/show another creature. I write this as a person who is realizing that she is the one who is learning far, far more from this creature and the situation of her life than she could have fathomed.

Trust can be a tricky thing. Oh, we can say we trust something or someone but do we really? Our words and even our actions speak far less of our true trust level than do the fears that wake us up at night. Those that keep us awake reveal how much work we may still have to do to really, truly let go, breathe and trust that all will be well.

Penny, or Little Miss Thing as I still like to call her, came to us a month ago with some significant trust issues. She arrived at Avalon Horse Farm just 2 weeks before my final day. It quickly became clear that she wanted to be near people but touching her was not something she was willing to allow. Hmmm, that can be tricky when a horse is going to live outside and be used as a lesson horse. She’d hover close by and even come when called but a halter had to remain on her 100% of the time to allow for easier “catching”. The energy coming off of her said “I think you are okay. But, I have thought that in the past and received too much pain. So, no, I cannot trust you. I want to but NOPE!”

The plan for her full intro into farm life slowed wayyyy down. Usually, horses are integrated into a herd within about two weeks which includes a quarantine period. No way would that be enough time. But ack, that’s all I had. Okay, “breathe” I told myself and just focus on what this sweet, little mare needs to feel safe. So we all did lots of hanging out near her. She got turned out into a smaller space and came into a stall at night. Slow, steady movements were made. She’s food motivated so that helped as she wanted to come into eat. The quietest, gentlest of touches were offered. And she was given tons of room to begin to believe all is okay.

Fast forward a month to the final move to introduce to a herd and full-time turnout. Here’s where it gets super interesting for me and my own trust journey. I couldn’t be here last night for her turnout with the full herd. Just the conversations with Emily Hall Butchart around when and how this would happen opened up some fascinating rabbit holes of fear and anxiety. As the caretaker of Avalon, I always felt in control (key component here) of the introductory process. Yes, there were always weird things that could happen but I didn’t fear the process.

As a boarder, ooooh that changed really quickly. It’s been a herky, jerky letting go and deciding to trust Emily’s process that I’ve done this past week. But what if? what if? what if? ran rampant through my brain for days. What if she never is catchable again? What if she gets hurt? What if she never comes to any of us? What if? What if? What if?

I finally, two days ago, told Emily “I trust you to make the best decision, at the right time for you, for Penny and for the needs of Avalon.” And then, I committed to staying there when Emily texted me last night “I’m doing it tonight.” Ack, fear rose again until I said “Shh, remember we are trusting the process and believing that all will be well.”

This morning when I went out to see, just see if Penny would come when called as she has been guess what happened? She came running right up to me when I whistled, with no fear coming off of her and completely trusted me to keep her safe as we walked past the horses who still aren’t quite sure of her. She happily ate and then leaned into me while I brushed her. I am still a bit stunned.

Horses have soooo much to teach us and this little mare and I are going to learn together how to deepen our trust as new adventures unfold. My heart is so full right now for the opportunities unfolding for me to become ever a more trusting, conscious, hope-filled person.

On The Other Side of Fear

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Fear and the recognition of the things that I am afraid of has become quite a lively interaction within myself these past few weeks. I’ve never really thought of myself as a fearful person and have always worked hard to act from a place of thoughtful calmness rather than from an anxious, reactive place. Heck, all that I have gone through in the past 3 1/2 years with my commitment to living my life out loud has been about acting towards my dreams rather than reacting from my fears. While that hasn’t really changed some new awarenesses of myself are arising with the entry of Phoenix into my life.

Rising from the ashes indeed with new intentions of living my bravest, most daring life is what I am being called to do. This photo of me with my two horsey loves right now is such a perfect depiction of what they signify for me. And it speaks to the part of my journey right now of moving past comfort, even if that feels shaky and crazy scary sometimes. I will continue to speak my journey out loud as I move through my fears one by one because I must if I am to release the stranglehold they can have over me.

Karoly is all about comfort for me. Just riding him is like riding the comfiest couch – it’s 100 %safe, it’s cozy, it’s like being permanently wrapped in a perfectly heated blanket, it’s about bringing light into my dark days. There is never any fear in riding Karoly. In fact, he can dispel the dark threads of anxiety from me quicker than just about anything. Just grooming him warms my heart and eases my breathing into a gloriously balanced space. This photo of me with him is from a mere 3 weeks after Russell died and it was a day of laughing and joy in the midst of one of the heaviest periods of my entire life.

Phoenix, I am discovering, is all about tapping ever deeper into my inner warrior. I fell in love with him immediately and was drawn to the fact that he is the image of what I have wanted since I was a young girl. A black pony with a desire to explore and connect with everyone and everything around him. He comes when I call. He loves to be groomed. He wants to trust. He’s the perfect riding size for me. And he also has pulled back the curtain of comfortable contentment I’ve had with Karoly to reveal some real fears lurking in the shadows. Fears that I must face if I am ever to be free of them. Fears I must move beyond if I am every to completely become the empowering warrior woman I dream of being. In many ways, Phoenix is symbolizing the dark threads within the light. Fascinating.

Phoenix wants to go and be in charge at all times. He’s super willing to try and listen to me, but definitely has a lot of anxiety hidden behind a mask of confidence. (Hmmm, sounding like me). He is so forward and so quick to react I can too easily see falling if I can’t learn to stay calm and balanced on him. Staying balanced on Karoly is as easy as breathing. Staying balanced on a much smaller and narrower pony is not quite so easy. I often hold my breath as I ride, forgetting that the very act of breathing deeply will help me stay grounded and balanced. So many life lessons being opened up before me to embrace or to ignore. With every moment I feel scared of what might happen if he spooks or bolts and I fall, and then I keep going anyway, I add a small bravery thread to my inner warrior and I’m a little less afraid.

People often comment on how many white animals I surround myself with – my dogs and 4 of my horses have all been white. While I think it’s circumstance, there is also the reality that in all things I try to focus on choosing the light paths of life – hope, love, possibility, joy, positive spins on things. Intentionally buying a black pony speaks to my belief that the dark side of life – pain, despair, grief, fear – all of these hold just as much value and wisdom for me. Walking the place between light and dark is a lifelong commitment of mine to live all of life to the fullest I can.

I am committing to exploring my fears as they pop up then gently yet firmly calling myself to step forward through and past them. I imagine I will be sharing lots about this in the comings days, weeks and months as I seek to lie a brave, transformative, hopeful life. I am so grateful to have 2 horses who are facilitating such a radical part of my rising and transformation. What an amazing, absolutely precious gift that is.

Always see the MAGIC

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MAGIC – I hope and pray every single day that I will always believe that there is magic alive in this world. I’m sure I will as long as I continue to be part of things like yesterday as the very land of Avalon seemed to pulse with it from beginning to end. It was if a giant bell had been rung upon first light of the sun that sent reverberations through the horses, the people, and the land itself throughout the entire day.
This is the MAGIC I hear and feel to some extent everyday that I am part of Avalon. From the first moment I stepped my foot onto this property, I could hear and feel the land speak to me, no more like sing to me a song meant just for me. It’s weird to me to talk of it at times as it feels so twilight zoney and foreign to world that seeks to have such tangible proof of things. But yesterday and now this morning, the MAGIC continues to sing to me and through me so powerfully I am alternating between laughing and crying with joy and amazement.
Watching people come to Avalon and hear for even a short amount of time the MAGIC song that is there always leaves me feeling humbled and awed that I get to part of something so much bigger than a horse farm. I love the events themselves and watching people ride their horses to personal successes is wonderful. But it is watching people smile and laugh while they volunteer or compete or watch their loved ones compete that leaves me a tingle with love that seems to expand forth from the deepest part of my heart. I open myself up to feel all that energy and channel it right back through my heart to reconnect with all that is Avalon.

Beyond, so far beyond, my desire for us to create successful events is my desire for us of the Avalon community to create a place where people realize, or rather remember, MAGIC is alive in our world. It is the MAGIC of love, connection, community over competition, hope, joy, patience, humility, respect, learning, and always seeking to do things just a bit better than the time before.

This is the life I want to lead – a life that ALWAYS see the MAGIC in this world, in its’ creatures and in the humans who walk it with me. Every single day I want this to be my focus, no matter what swirly places my mind and the tasks that can weigh on me seek to take me.

I tell you what, I may not always get things right and I may not always handle the things in my life as well I would like, but that’s okay because I know I am always striving to grow and become a better friend, leader, mother, daughter, and person. Plus, I can see MAGIC at work in the world around me and I can hear the land that holds a large piece of my heart sing. How AMAZINGLY cool is that!

 

Project Seeking JOY

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There is much swirling around inside of me this week and many musings that I am writing in my journal to be shared on my blog soon.  But this one that I started on Thanksgiving in the early morning hours, reflecting upon the trip to Mizzou with Walter, my daughter’s horse, the day before and all of the crashing into the dark places I went that day.    Since much of this musing is connected in with things I want to and need to reclaim for myself at Avalon I wanted to share it with all of you first.
THIS – Project Seeking JOY! This is one of the bits of wisdom that flitted into my being last night as I drove home from the farm after getting Walter settled back in. In the quiet of my truck I heard this quiet, yet very confident whisper “Your next focus is to reclaim JOY – joy of horses, joy of the land of Avalon you’ve been entrusted with, joy of play, joy of living. This will be your new fight song, your reclaiming of a power that is unique to you alone. Joy in all of the little ways it can lighten our hearts; seek this again.”
 
I felt my body breathe a sigh of relief as I imagined just sitting with the horses again, grooming them, breathing in their smell that I love so much, remembering the joyfulness of horses not just the heartaches, taking Karoly or Magic for walks to the pond, walking with my Tara, Willow, and Hinata through the woods, sitting under our Magic tree to just be (and now in the Sanctuary room), playing with the kids and teens in my life in all the silly ways I used to do; and profoundly playing my way back to a joy for life that I miss.  Choosing ways to play first!
I can feel the YESNESS of this welling up inside of me as I write.  The picture I shared here is one of those wonderful moments of JOY – barefoot, bareheaded, riding bareback on Karoly with one of my wonderful dogs by my side.  Ah yes and the sun is shining, and I had just finished swimming with Karoly in the pond.   JOY!
I’ve become so very bogged down in the tasks of my life – chores, work, business planning, helping the kids find their way forward on new paths – that it’s become easy for me to forget the great JOY available to me everyday. This is especially true at Avalon.  As has always been and always will be true there is way more to do each day than any of could ever possibly get done. Projects, events, coordinating lessons, teaching, farm work, problem solving, on and on and on.   Yes all of these things are important things but it is easy to lose the joy, the pure, unadulterated JOY for the horses I’ve known all my life in this.
So I am taking steps forward to SEEK JOY.  All of the extra horsey things at Avalon – sunrise rides, parades, full moon rides, drill team, just hanging with my horses, finger painting Karoly, brushing a horse – these are the things that bring that sweet, innocent, playful joy of horses to me.  I think this is probably true for most of us and that each of us could stand to remember that doing the playful things together and with our horses helps us remember why we want to do what we do.
Saturday we will ride at sunrise. Yes it will be EARLY and it will probably feel cold too.  But it is one of the most magical things to ride a horse as the sun comes up, feeling the heat of their bodies warming your legs.  And wow does the hot chocolate taste even better after we’re done.
I will be seeking many, many ways to play more paying attention to the kids in my life to help remind me of what I want to bring forth into my life.  I will be inviting anyone and everyone to come along with me as I seek ways to play again and experience joy in my life.  I will be seeking ways at Avalon and outside of it to just be silly and have fun.  It sure can make all of the work a whole lot easier to deal with if I play first.
So if you’re ready to play more, to lighten your heart and breathe a little easier join me in Project Seeking JOY!  It might make winter a whole lot more fun.

Why oh why?

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Why oh why do we not do the things that bring us the most joy more often?  Why do we put off the things that energize us, that inspire us, and that make us smile?  Why do we spend our days longing to spend even just a little time following our bliss? Why do we insist on filling our days with only the things we have to do, leaving no time for the things we most want to do?  Why do we not love ourselves enough to say yes to seeking joy?

I’m pretty sure if I could come up with the answers to all of these questions I could radically change my life.  Or at least get closer to clearing out the things that block me from saying yes to me.  And as I get clearer I could spend more time each day seeking joy.

Tonight I rode one of my horses, Karoly, for the first time in 6 to 8 weeks.  Now the silliness of it is that I own/manage the horse boarding farm where I keep him. I see him at least 5 days a week.   I could be riding for even a little while everyday I am there. But I don’t.

My heart filled with this singing kind of peaceful joy as I rode him bareback tonight. I felt the stress I’ve been feeling melt away a little bit more with every step he took.  My breath slowed and deepened as I allowed myself to drop into sync with him. I laughed and chatted with my student as she rode alongside of me.  I allowed myself to just simply and very profoundly be in the moment for a good hour.

What if I did this everyday?  Would I be able to flow better through the rest of my life by giving myself permission to ride everyday? Would I maybe get more done by fueling myself first?  I’m betting I would experience a great deal more peace and joy if I spent more time on the back of a horse.

I am feeling very grateful that I had this gift of time with Karoly tonight.  I begin my settling into sleep with a smile on my face thinking of this lovely time.  Oh what a gift!