A New Direction

NEWS III 1200 WM

Things are changing here on the farm. It’s time to shed the old to make room for the new.

Change invariably means discomfort ~ it’s why so many people are averse to engaging in it.  A proverbial “Do Not Disturb” sign hangs on the psyche of most because the need to hold on to the known, even if it feels debilitating, is the rut they know how to negotiate. It takes courage to forge a new path and stake claim on a new way of life. When thinking back to the city folk I used to be and the country folk I’ve become during the past three years, I know that the change, notwithstanding all the challenges and discomforts, is the best thing I could have done for myself. My health is better; my resilience strengthened.

And so, like the proverbial software upgrade, we’re updating to a newer version of our farm, complete with another learning curve.

Exciting and slightly unsettling all at once.

Sophia copy

 

In the meantime, Sophi and I deepen our bond as we continue our climb up the dressage training ladder. So much fun and so satisfying to grow in this way while the winds of change blow about us.

Change is inevitable. How we adjust to it depends entirely on our attitude and our willingness to accept an opportunity to grow. For me, this represents yet another chance to shed the negative old that no longer serves to make room for the positive new. I relish the opportunity.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019

 

 

Learning Curve

Bear

 

~*~

Learning curves do not move in a simple arc …

They are a three-steps-forward-two-steps-back, twisting, turning road that can drive us around the bend at times, motioning us beyond our comfort zones into a miasma of uncertainty and fear.

It’s little wonder people are afraid of change. And yet, if we do not go there we risk becoming ensnarled in our own traffic jams of negative thought and self-loathing. From my own experience, when we refuse an opportunity to venture into greater self-awareness and a deeper understanding of the world around us we deny ourselves the full capacity to embrace life.

In fact, it occurs to me that our comfort zones can, if we’re not careful, become more like dead zones. As I’ve discovered while doing my own healing work, the comfort zone is a good place to escape to now and then when we’re feeling overwhelmed, but to dwell there all the time can be stultifying and render us stuck in patterns of behaviour that prevent forward movement and personal growth.

Any number of things can keep us stuck, of course. Fear, vulnerability, depression, etc. can leave us feeling unable to move beyond what we perceive to be our limit. Busting through that self-imposed boundary (especially when we don’t know why we put it there) comes only when we can find the capacity within ourselves to leap with faith into the unknown. The assistance of an objective third party capable of holding a safe space for us while we work through whatever’s blocking our way is important too. When I started therapy four and half years ago, I felt the stigma. But now I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to take the opportunity to free his- or herself from a burdensome and painful past in order to step boldly into a bright future.

Changes happen at various stages along the curve. They don’t all happen at once or we would become overwhelmed. Old concepts of self must be shed little by little and new concepts added just as gradually so as not to shock the system. Certainly there are times when I wish things would unfold a little more quickly, but when I look back on the past few years of my life and the changes that have occurred since I chose to to step out of the confinement of a false self-perception I am satisfied that everything has unfolded the way it was supposed to in order for me to come out of the process feeling more whole.

My big breakthrough in the past week has been to be able to ride Bear out back in the fields without company. Not long ago I would have hesitated, but enough has shifted inside of me with all that I’ve been learning in the last little while that my confidence has returned and things I would not have attempted before I am comfortable to do now. It’s a confidence my horse can feel as I put my leg on his side and ask him to march down the steep and narrow gravel driveway, past the scary pond, across the little bridge that takes us over a running stream and up the grassy hill on the other side to 70 acres or so of corn-planted fields surrounded by cut paths around cross-country jumps set in rolling hills. We have gone from feeling frightened to having fun! So liberating for us both after years stuck in our fear caused by trauma and my shifting middle-age physiology.

Another important component when moving along the learning curve is being able to pull a sense of humour out of our back pockets. Being able to laugh when things go wrong shows our willingness to allow life to take its course. When my summer riding agenda was rudely interrupted by a lower back injury caused while struggling to remove a dressage boot from my right leg I had, in the end, only to laugh about it. What a ridiculous thing to do! When I was able to allow the initial frustration to dissipate, I realized this silly episode actually put me in a position to learn some deeper lessons about my life with Bear. It put me on a new path, one I would have missed otherwise.

Stepping onto a new path for the first time is likely to start with a messy puddle at the gate, but with the first splash into the unknown comes awakening. And with awakening our recognition of that dead zone in which we find ourselves, and the desire to move beyond it; to peek around the door of a self-imposed prison and see what else is going on out there that resonates with and, perhaps, heals who we are in here.

I’ve been on a heavy duty learning curve the past few months …

First learning the theory behind the experiential learning practice ~ lessons on how energy works; heart resonance; how the body processes and releases trauma; treating emotions as information; psychotherapeutic terms and explanations; the spiritual aspect; various aspects of horse behaviour … and on.

And then the practice ~ energy exercises involving the horses; observing and understanding how individual energy fields (human and equine) impact the environment and how to adapt or self-regulate in the face of fear and uncertainty.

And while I learn I process. Long-buried stuff gets triggered … stuff which, within the sacred space created by the group, (and in my therapist’s office and at home) can be recognized for what it is, honoured for the role it has played and that is no longer relevant, and released to allow for new, more life affirming information to be integrated and acted upon.

So many profound healing moments on so many levels. Growing self-awareness and mindfulness. Exciting and exhausting all at once.

In the midst of this experience I realize the road to self-awareness is one of the most exciting adventures upon which I will ever embark. It is the exploration of an inner world ~ climbing my own mountains; forging my own seas; walking my own forests. An opportunity to recognize the beauty of my inner landscape and to clean up the toxic emotional wastelands initially created by the dysfunctional people in my life and perpetuated by my unquestioning belief in the noxious myths they’d planted that threatened to lay waste to the light of my own truth. As I pull out their weeds there is room for my own truth to grow. It is a wonderful experience to see my Self in the light of day.

This summer has also been about recognizing and attending to Bear’s aging process …

It’s funny how we echo each other. As I watch my own body go through the mid-life “change” his is doing something similar. In horse terms he is still in his prime, but as soon as he turns 14 next June he’ll be considered “aged.” (Sigh …)

With us both getting long in the tooth there are many health issues to consider.

Sadly for Bear, my adrenal fatigue has had an effect on his life. My lack of physical strength has diminished his own simply because I have not been able to train and exercise him in the way he needed to maintain the fitness he (we) once had.

Since I am now feeling somewhat better and we have great support around us we can step up our game. Our summer of lameness is behind us and we’re both feeling more up for a challenge. With the help of his chiropractor, massage therapist and the lovely barn owner I need to figure out an appropriate maintenance program for Bear as we continue to grow together toward our potential.

Nine months ago I moved Bear to a new barn and together we jumped right into a mud puddle of possibility. Since then, we have ridden the learning curve and evolved and changed in ways that I could never have imagined.

And the journey continues.

Now, as luck would have it, I just received a link to a new and beautiful short video filmed at the farm where I’m taking my course. Spend a few moments with 12 year-old Olin who, through the healing power of the horse, begins to overcome his anxieties and find his feet in the world. Here’s the link:

Free Rein ~ Olin’s Journey ~ click on the video at the bottom of the page “Free Rein Part 3: Horse Connections.”

Enjoy!

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2014

 

 

When It Must Be Love …

Love bugs

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When it must be love what does any equine with the name of Shakespeare do? Why, write a sonnet, of course …

Sonnet XXV

As in the dark of night a thief doth steal,

New love my heart hath seizéd in a trice.

And shouldst I share with you just how I feel:

Its thumpy-thumpy-thump is rather nice.

A feisty filly brightens this ol’ bay,

And so profoundly fills my soul with bliss

I scarce believe, this cold Feb’rary day,

A move from old to new hath brought me this.

*

I did not look for love; no, it found me.

And in my heart-home set most perfect peace.

Where once twas blind I now more clearly see

For ‘pon this life love’s joy hath wrought new lease.

And to my heart hath whispered pure and true

With lovely presence of my darling Zu.

~*~

If you’ve been following this blog for the past few weeks I suspect you knew this was bound to happen.

Believe me, my purpose with this blog is not to focus on Shakespeare’s (aka Bear’s) love life. Still, it’s part of his journey and I spend time with him every day, so how can it be ignored?

As I’ve noted before he is much happier in his work lately. There’s more spring in his step. Is it just the fresh guidance we’re receiving as we begin to learn the nuances of dressage, or does Bear’s (and my) happier heart also have something to do with it?

There’s more to life than work, of course. Love is what really makes the world go around, and love is what we celebrate on Valentine’s Day.

Frankly, I wish it was more than romantic love, and its lustful deviations, that were the focus of this day. This is a rather small and, on some levels, insignificant part of the story.

Hearts and flowers and dinners and whatever are all lovely, but the essence of love ~ the peace it brings to our hearts when it is true ~ is what I feel needs to be celebrated and promoted.

What does true love feel like?

A gift of roses from Shakespeare and I to you ... :-)

A gift of roses for you …

It can take years to understand that true love creates feelings of perfect peace. It allows us to always be ourselves. Doesn’t judge. Doesn’t ask us to modify our behaviour or body or destroy our spirit for any reason. Any changes that occur “in love” are a natural evolution of the expansion of our comfort zone while feeling loved and secure in the presence of another.

True love accepts about us even the things we find hard to accept about ourselves, because it sees beyond our weakness, insecurities and imperfections to our truth.

Being comfortable in our own skin, in love, is one of the surest signs I know that love is true.

Strange as it may be to say this about a horse, I believe this is true for Bear. Since basking in the winter sun with Zu he is the most relaxed I have ever seen him.

Am I a jealous mother?

No!

Zu Zu brings Bear a peaceful heart, and isn’t that what every mother wants for her child? 😉

It must be love.

Nurture what you love this day … and forever …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014