happiness

Don’t panic

I had the most amazing thing happen to me today. I was heading out to catch my horse for my riding lesson and was thrilled to see him standing by the gate looking (I thought) intensely happy to see me. And perhaps he was, but not in the way I thought. I opened the gate and went to catch him, when he turned away from me and started walking towards the shelter. Usually, he is very easy to catch, so not being totally sure what was going on, I told him to stop, grabbed at his blanket, and tried to make him stay with me. He was having none of it and just kept calmly but stubbornly walking towards the shelter.

As soon as we got beyond it, he stopped and I could see why he’d brought me there. A horse had rolled under the fence and was completely trapped on his back with all four legs stuck in the fence. Fortunately, he was lying there calmly, but it was pretty bad and he desperately needed help. The other two horses were standing quietly beside him, almost like they were encouraging him. I called my instructor and she came out, cut the fence, and we tied and rolled the poor dude out. As soon as he was on his feet, he shook himself and wandered off completely fine.

I’ve never seen a horse behave like this, the horse I went out to catch absolutely saved this guy’s life, and it was done very intentionally. The other horses were so calm and I think helped the one that was down stay calm as well. It’s a good reminder that no matter what, panicking won’t help the situation.

 

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happiness

Change the voice in your head

The last week or so I’ve been feeling really ungrounded and dealing with a lot of unwanted voice chatter – old tapes replaying things in my head. I know it’s in part because of recent issues I’ve been dealing with regarding Mr. X, it brought up a lot of the old crap that I’ve buried or not dealt with. And while I know I need to deal with those old emotions, I find the tapes on endless replay in my head difficult to handle.

I think most of us have some version of this – old things that someone has said to us that we say over and over. They may say it one time, or a few times, but we say it to ourselves millions of times and that causes a lot of damage.

I had my riding lesson today. As I was struggling with transitions, my instructor pointed out that I needed to get rooted and that I had to stop reacting to him jumping around – she said that I was using old reactions to deal with present problems and that wasn’t going to work. She actually stopped me and said it was like I had old tapes playing in my head of how things used to be and that wasn’t going to help me at all in my present situation.

One thing that she said that was really helpful – on my horse and in life- was when things start to go wrong not to get all tense and upset and expect myself to be able to get back  into balance immediately. She said “I don’t care if it takes you one or two times around the circle to get yourself back together, just as long as you don’t let yourself get rattled, you stay present in the moment, and you keep working at it. Let go of that old tape and use the new skills I’ve taught you.” Proof that how we do one thing is how we do everything. I’ve learned new skills riding, and I’ve learned new skills in life. Now the trick is to remember to apply them.

And that was exactly what I needed to hear, on my horse and in my life.

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happiness

And canter

It may sound stupid but after 20 years off of riding and then a big wreck a couple of years ago I’ve been scared to canter.

One of my favorite childhood memories is galloping across a field at the ranch praying my horse didn’t trip in a gopher hole. Even a couple of years ago I was cantering around in one of the fields with my Drishti. that feeling of freedom – there’s nothing like it.

There is that saying that you need to get back on your horse as soon as you fall off. There’s a reason for that. I did get on about a month after, but it was over a year before I could really ride again. Too long to let fears sit.

But the great thing about being human is that not only do we hurt, but we also have an amazing ability to heal. When placed in a safe, loving environment where you can trust and depend on those around you, it’s possible to heal from almost everything.

And so I cantered.

Not well, not elegantly, but I did it. And I’ll do it again. And every time I do it I will be stronger and better. Sometimes it won’t be graceful, sometimes it won’t feel like I know what I’m doing. But I’ll keep doing it. Because that’s how we keep healing.

I thought I was broken, but I think actually we are unbreakable. Sometimes we just need help to heal.

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happiness

(Don’t) stop and collect yourself

I had a riding lesson today. I was tired, I had a crappy night sleep and I’ve got lots on my mind, but horses are my therapy and I knew I needed the healing time.

I was having a hard time holding him properly in the trot. On one transition I felt totally unbalanced, and basically like I was riding like a sack of crap. I tried to right it, felt myself getting off balance, it felt sloppy, I was annoyed with myself that it wasn’t going how I wanted, so I pulled him back to a walk.

My instructor got after me see, you dropped him and he fell into a walk. I said no, I’d felt like it was all falling apart, I couldn’t get it together, so I asked him for the walk so I could stop and get myself together.

She said you don’t get to stop to get it together, you need to get it together while you keep going. YOU ARE NOT A NOVICE AT THIS. The only way to actually get where you want to go is to keep pushing ahead.

And I was like

You have no idea how badly I needed to hear that.

My horse may be my therapy, but my instructor is like my life coach.

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happiness

Leg on

Because I never know where life is going to take me, for the last couple of months I’ve been taking dressage lessons. That was always on the bottom of riding disciplines I wanted to learn, and to my surprise I freaking love it.

But I’ve been having a really hard time with leg aids. Or to put it in simple English, i can’t make the damn horse move. It’s been driving nuts that I can’t seem to get my leg to understand how to move in a way that my horse understands. But no matter how hard I worked at it I wasn’t getting results.

Well today, by trying less hard and feeling the process, I was finally to understand how to make the damn go button work. I was so excited. It sounds like such a simple little thing, but it was a difficult thing for me to understand.

Like with most things, once I just surrendered and allowed to feel, I was able to get it.

I’m feeling quite accomplished.

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happiness

Facing fears by asking for help

Those of you who know me know that I have a tendency to be a little stubborn. I come by it honestly as there is a long and strong stubborn streak that runs in my family. It’s like a superpower and when it’s used for good it is unbeatable and creates some amazing results, but when it’s used for evil it can be pretty destructive (almost always destructive for myself as opposed to other people).

I’ve been having issues with my horse as many of you know. But in truth I’ve been having issues with myself not my horse. It’s been a year since I fell off and although I’ve been on him a few times, I’ve not really enjoyed it and basically been scared shitless. It has come to the point where I need to face my fear or get rid of my horse.

I don’t like giving up on things. That’s part of my stubborn streak. However, in the last few years I’ve learned that sometimes it’s not just better but essential that I walk away from certain things.

I have a friend who has stepped up and is helping me with my Drishti issue. He likes my horse and he’s known me my whole life, and he’s kindly jumped in and given me a hand starting to get my confidence back. He came out today and rode my horse so I could see that Drishti isn’t some crazed beast, but rather a horse with energy who has had a year off. 98.654% of the issues I’m having are because I spent too much time in my head getting freaked out.

But horses are my passion and I’ve waited years to have one back in my life. I got to the point where I had to ask myself what I wanted more – to not be afraid or to ride.

I want to ride.

So today after my friend rode my horse, I rode my horse. Not elegantly or well. In fact it took me about 10 minutes to force myself to get on, and then he had to lunge me – so I felt like I was safely on a leash – before he let us go free in the ring. But we did it. And I made myself ride until I no longer felt like I was going to crap my pants or throw up (I’m so elegant).

Everything I know about being brave I’ve learned on the back of a horse. The back of a horse then can’t be the one place I fear to be. It just can’t. Asking for help was the only way I could begin to face this fear. The problem with being stubborn is often I don’t ask for help when I need it. I’m slowly learning that we need each other to get through this life, and if we don’t ask for help people usually don’t know that we need it.

And so the journey begins. Being brave enough to ride will make me brave enough to continue to face whatever life throws at me. It’s my passion, but it’s also my greatest learning tool. That is a huge step on my happiness journey.

Here he is going cowboy style while I watch

The next stage is allowing him to help me.

And finally trying on my own while he watches.

None of this could have happened if I’d stubbornly plowed ahead myself and not asked for and allowed for help.

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Evening therapy

You know it’s funny, it seems like when life is in crisis I forget all my coping skills.

My dad and I used to talk about this on our walks along the ridge. He said that prayer and meditation were so important for him in the good times because they stored up love and hope that carried him through the bad times when he maybe wasn’t as consistent at his spiritual practice.

I feel the same way.

But I’ve been back out with my guy who brings balance and love to my life.

He’s my SUV – spiritual utility vehicle

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