A Simple Truth

 

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I was out feeding the horses a few mornings ago when I allowed my mind to wander from what I was doing to thoughts of issues that were stressssssing me out and causing me allot of internal conflict.  Before I knew it I was literally having a fight with myself inside myself.

Gratefully it didn’t last too long because two beautiful hummingbirds were drawn to me.  Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you want to look at it, they were drawn to the energy of my inner conflict.  They were busy having their own conflict.  The hummingbirds were zipping around my body at an incredibly high rate of speed and using me as a tool while they postured & fought.  I have never seen hummingbirds do this. They seemed to be in a highly confrontational state.

These little birds moved so quickly that it was mostly just a blurr of brilliant red with a hint of green and grey.  My eyes could not even come close to keeping up with them.  I would just get a split second view before they were behind me and then right back in front of me and then above me.  It was absolutely fascinating and delightful. It brought me straight back to the present moment and out of my state of conflict.  I loved it!!

I wish they could have stayed longer.  When they flew off into the trees I stood there feeling very aware of why they had visited me.

Physically they brought me back to the present moment.  Symbolically they reminded me of who I am and how I truly feel.  Most importantly they reminded me of the effects of the energy that I put out into the world via my thoughts.  The little birds that were in conflict were comfortably drawn to me as I was also in conflict – we all vibrated on a similar level of conflict.

My thoughts and the energy created by my thoughts are my gift or my weapon – the choice is always mine. The little birds reminded me of this simple truth.

The spiritual & symbolic meaning of Hummingbird:         It is the only creature that can stop dead while traveling at full speed. It searches for the sweetness in life. Its long tongue lets it bypass the often tough and bitter outer layer to find the hidden treasures underneath.  Hummingbird brings love as no other medicine can and its presence brings joy to the observer.  If you have Hummingbird medicine, you adapt easily to whatever situation you may find yourself in and make the most of your new circumstances.  You don’t waste time looking back and wishing for “what was” for you are concerned with making the most of “what is”.  To restrict that wonderful, free, loving energy is to suffer great depressions and feelings of uselessness.

 

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The Big Pretty Buckskin Horse

025I felt nervous as I led the big pretty Buckskin horse from his paddock to the stall where Bert Lambert the “sedation free” dentist would work his dental magic.  I knew that if anyone could see a horse clearly and put it into words – it would be Bert.

The big pretty Buckskin had been my attempt at finding a good riding partner.  My own mare, who I adored but was honestly never a great trail riding horse, was in her retirement now and I was looking for a new partner.  A more agreeable partner.  I had also decided that in 2014 it was time to alter my relationship with horses from mostly caring for them to spending allot more time riding and enjoying life with them.

When I had started the search I was clear in my mind about what kind of horse I was looking for.  I wanted a sound, good minded, well mannered, well seasoned, kind and fun trail horse.  I did not want another rescue, rehab project or horse who didn’t like being out on the trail alone.  It seemed so simple when I started my search but as life goes and as deep rooted issues often control our perceptions & actions, it was anything but simple.

I have long been attracted to the fiery, big, bold and somewhat difficult horses.  When I was younger and fearless this was not a problem it was an honest attraction and an honest relationship.  I loved the horses that most others shied away from.  As I aged my love and attraction for those fiery horses didn’t leave but my patience and ability to enjoy their antics was no longer present.

It can be allot like the human partners we choose.  All too often we are attracted to exactly what will eventually drive us a little crazy and leave us feeling as though something is missing.  In human partnerships I understand this well.   In equine partnerships I understand this but the transition from what I was attracted too to what I wanted was a bit more challenging.

In the middle of 2014 I began scouring horse sale ads, made numerous phone calls, spoke with many owners and looked at more than a few horses. Nothing was really jumping out at me.

Towards the end of the year I saw a horse for sale on a trusted trainer/friends website. He was a big pretty Buckskin.  We spoke and the horse sounded great.  He sounded like exactly what I was looking for.

It was all so easy.  I knew the trainer, I trusted her, I knew that her own horses were well behaved and she didn’t put up with too much silliness when it came to work time.  So I thought any horse coming from her direction would be perfect for me.  What I hadn’t really thought about was that this was not her horse.  This was a horse she was helping out and what ran thru my mind more than a few times in the weeks before he arrived was that this whole thing felt “funny”. I conveniently ignored that “funny” feeling. The big pretty Buckskin horse fit my old attraction pattern but I wasn’t fully aware of that yet.

Not long before the horse arrived at my ranch the trainer let me know that he was a bit thin and a bit off because he had been unhappy doing his previous work which was a lesson horse.  I immediately started to unconsciously dumb down my list of “what I want in a horse”.  I reminded myself that I do rehab so what’s a little time getting him back in shape.  I told myself that I’ve waited this long to have fun on the trail so what’s a little more time dealing with him being a bit off. Then the trainer added that the horse had been rather spoiled by his original owner as a foal and adolescent horse – one of my personal pet peeves when it comes to horses.  I was doing allot of talking myself into this being the right horse for me even though word by word this horse was getting farther away from what I said I wanted.  Of course it’s easy now to say I should have declined to take him but there was a bigger part of me that needed to revisit having a dysfunctional equine partnership and work thru the feelings and underlying energy that surround that issue.

The big pretty Buckskin arrived mid November 2014.  I got right to work doing what I know well.  Getting his diet in order, making appointments with the chiropractor and the massage therapist.  Giving him adequate exercise to rebuild muscle.  What I didn’t get to do was ride – the one thing I said I most wanted.

I am always fascinated by the human beings ability, my ability to say one thing that they really truly mean and yet do and settle for another.  For me ignoring what I said I really wanted was driven by the underlying energy with in my own personal make up that said I must work really hard for anything I want.  Some how if I pay this due of working really really hard then I will at some point deserve the payout.

So here I was again, doing exactly all the things I said I didn’t want to do.  The big pretty buckskin was nothing but work.  There was very little joy involved in our relationship.  I knew to get him to a place of even being able to ride him, we were looking at months of rehab and after all that who knew if he was even capable of doing what I wanted.

By mid December it was quite clear to me that the big pretty buckskin was my “old programming”.  I felt my old pattern of work, work, work and it was really painful this time.  Once I knew he wasn’t what I wanted I then became faced with what would come up for me if I decided to stop “working really hard”.  What I found in that space was the pain of giving up, the guilt of giving up, the feeling of having been wrong and of letting someone down, ugh, it was kind of a mess under there.  So I held onto the horse a little longer, a few more weeks, while I began to process the mess I was unearthing.  I had unfinished personal internal business to be dealt with before I could let go of the old programming and have what I really wanted.

At the end of December after a really awful appointment with the equine chiropractor where the big pretty horse was just non stop difficult I made a decision and emailed the former care giver to say I had made a mistake.  He wasn’t the right horse for me.  I sent the email off and with in seconds I was overcome with such intense grief, pain and the fear that I really felt I might have acted to quickly. That maybe I had given up on something potentially great.  So I emailed her right back and told her what I had just experienced and I wanted to try a little longer.  Oh my what a deep rooted issue I had.

He stayed with me one more month.  During that month I became more and more sure that this was just all wrong and that the grief, pain and fear I had felt when I told his former caregiver that I wanted to send him back was all about me and my grief, pain and fear over so many situations in my life that had created my need to give, fix and set aside my own needs and desires for the needs and desires of others.  It was such a messy web of feelings.  So complicated yet so simple.

On that morning of my final decision in January of 2015 I led the big pretty buckskin over to meet Bert, the dentist, who was here to work on our horses.  As we walked up Bert said “well that’s a pretty horse”.  I smiled on the outside and cringed on the inside.  Not a congruent behavior for me at all but I felt what was about to come and could only react.

Bert took the pretty horse and led him into the stall.  As he began to look him over Bert said this horse is off.  I acknowledged his observation.  Over the next few minutes the pretty horse was difficult, fussy and seriously ill behaved.  At one point the pretty horse decided he would use his head to smack Bert since none of the pretty horses other diversion techniques were working.  Bert avoided the hit, settled the horse and then stopped and just looked at me.  He said “why would you want a horse like this?” “Don’t you want to have fun? Horses are supposed to be enjoyable, there’s nothing enjoyable about this horse” “He’ll hurt you some day and he won’t think twice about it”

His words pummeled me.  The words opened up a wound so long closed off that I felt like I might die standing right there as he spoke to me.  The words were all true. They were all words I’d been saying too myself but to hear those words from his mouth made the difference that I needed to take my next step.  I gathered up the pretty horse and walked him back to his paddock.  As I put the horse away, I also put away my need to prove anything to myself about this horse or our relationship – I finally felt that I had nothing to prove, nothing that I owed, nothing that I needed to fix beyond my own choices and behavior.  A feeling of neutrality about the whole situation washed over me.  I could finally exhale and let go.

That night after all the horses had been put away and work was finished.  I headed into the house and emailed the former caregiver.  I said I’d decided it just wasn’t going to work out for the pretty horse and myself.  He would need to go home.  Arrangements were made and I felt nothing but relief this time.  No second guessing, no guilt, no anger, no frustration, no grief and no pain just the feeling that I had finally, after all these years stepped over a void that had been long elusive.  Those layers of pain were replaced with an honest and more current energy of I tried, I learned, I’ve made a decision and I want something different.

After the pretty Buckskin went home I continued my search for the right horse.  This time no short cuts and no compromises. I was prepared for the search to take as long as it took.  Ironically or perfectly not long after the big pretty Buckskin left my ranch a friend offered me her former trail riding horse, Rose.  Rose was no longer up to the 20 mile rides my friend did but for the kind of riding I enjoyed – Rose was perfect.

This time around it was a different kind of easy.  Everything about the horse felt right in my body.  There was no dumbing down of what I wanted, no altering of hopes or needs.  I have easily had more fun with Rose this past year than I have had collectively in the last 10 years.  With out going thru the experience with the big pretty buckskin and letting go my need to fix & work rather than enjoy I know I would not have been able to have the experience I am now having with Rose.

See him for who you are

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I was visiting with a friend the other day and we were discussing human nature and the irony of the way people see one and other.

It’s so clear to me that every situation and human we encounter is an opportunity to personally grow and get closer to our authentic selves or to grow further away from our authentic selves – the choice is ours.

In my describing to my friend my take on human nature I said – See him for who you are. – It struck her quite funny she laughed and said that’s just like the saying but opposite.  I didn’t understand what saying she was referring too so she reminded me that many a drama filled conversation between girlfriends over coffee at the local starbucks starts something like this – See him for who he is.

It’s so true; the “See him for who he is” statement is rarely a positive one, its generally about seeing the flaws of another and separating yourself from that person.  That person is judged for who he is.

If we could just turn that saying around to seeing him (or her) for who we are, the world would truly be a very different place.

My personal way of moving thru life is to look at those around me and be aware of how I feel about them or how I feel when I am with them.  The instant I feel judgment I know that I am seeing myself in them and I do not like what I see.

I recently had an opportunity to really use my belief to stretch myself and see another for who I am.

I work with sick horses and this means I also work with very stressed owners.  All the owners I come into contact with have some level of anxiety, either stemming from their past traumatic experiences or their fear of the future unknowns – and of course they real issue will their horse get better??

I expect this, it doesn’t bother me I am able to support, understand, listen and help in just about any way they need to help them feel more at ease.  The anxiety usually subsides relatively quickly and we move onto the active part of the healing process for the horse and the human.

So when I began working with this owner and she had allot of anxiety, it was no problem, it was almost expected,  I felt for her and did what I could to help her and her horse feel comfortable.

What came next did surprise me.   The height of her anxiety and the duration was not something I had seen before.  It appeared as though there was never a second with out anxiety for her.  It appeared as though having the anxiety had become as important a part of her life as breathing was to her body.

One day her anxiety was at melt down level, so I suggested we sit down in her horses paddock and observe how her horse was actually doing.  We watched her horse move about the paddock, from my perspective the horse was doing very well.  From her perspective the horse was dying.

I have talked many an owner thru traumatic transitions of all kinds, from shoe removal to letting them pass from this earth so in that way this situation was no different.  What was different was that each time she would have a ‘moment’ of relief from the anxiety, she would start to exhale, but before the exhalation could even be completed she would be gripped with terror.  She would suck in a quick breath with almost a level of violence toward her body and begin shallow short breathing that was hyperventilation worthy at times.    Her body would tighten, her posture would shorten and we would be right back at “the horse is dying”

This went on for hours that day.  At the end of the day I was aware that she didn’t feel any better or any different.  This level of anxiety went on for weeks with no shift.  The horse this entire period of time was doing ok.  Definitely not dying.

As the weeks progressed I started to feel some pretty uncomfortable feelings myself.  I started to have judgment about her level of anxiety and what that level of constant anxiety was doing to her body.  The instant I realized the judgment was there I knew that on some level I did in my own life, exactly what she was doing in hers.  But I could not see it clearly.  I kept telling myself, reminding myself to see her for who I am.  But the clarity wasn’t coming.

At one point I actually began to feel some anger with her while watching her hang on to this anxiety.   That s when I knew I must carry the same level of anxiety as her and in a really big way, so why could I not see it?  It was driving me crazy, I was meditating on it, talking to peers about how I felt, I was looking intently at myself and still no clear answers came.

One day I was feeling incredibly frustrated about the whole thing and said audibly to the universe please help me see where I am the same! And it hit me, like a ton of bricks; I fell back into my seat hard as the realization of where I do this in my own life flooded my body like a drug.  I was dizzy with clarity.

For the past 12 years  I have had cysts all over my body internally, they appeared after a radiation treatment I had to stop an over active thyroid.   When the cysts first appeared of course I thought cancer.  Because in my mind lumps = cancer.  All kinds of tests were performed and it was concluded that the cysts weren’t cancer they were just fatty cysts brought on by the radiation treatment.  The cysts were my body’s way of reacting too and dealing with the toxic substance that was now inside my body.  Knowing that they weren’t cancerous was good but the fact that the cysts existed with in my body was a struggle

My mind was so programmed to interpret a lump in the body as cancer that I would be on a daily basis reminded that cancer is a possibility.  With that said I didn’t feel constant or debilitating anxiety as I had been watching but I was on a daily basis triggered by these lumps in my body.

I would feel a lump then feel a moment of fear.  I would have to remind myself all of the time that I am healthy and to take a deep breath in and let the fear go.  It was truly no different than her being triggered by her horses healing process.

To look at our situations on the outside it would be easy to say we handle things differently and our responses are different.  But to look at the root of what drives us, there was no difference.  It was about fear of loss.  In her case a fear of losing her horse, her closest family member who she loved very much and in my case fear of losing my life, which I love very much.

Her expression of the fear was all on top for all the world to see and my expression of fear was deeply buried under my skin.  I didn’t express the fear externally as she had, but that didn’t stop me from being aware of it almost constantly which in and of itself is relentless and could even be classified as a form of violence against myself.

Once the realization that we were truly the same settled into my body a calmness also settled in.  I felt no more judgment just compassion – compassion for her and compassion for me.  I could finally see her for who I am.