Everyday each one of us faces the challenges before us. Sometimes the problems are small and sometimes they are large- life and death (or it may seem like that in the moment). How we face our challenges says a lot about the person that we are, the person that we want to be and how much happiness and joy we experience in our life.
I encourage you all to face your challenges and fears with an open heart. Ask yourself, “what can I learn from this situation?” instead of reacting from a place of fear which will often only lead to worry which is one of the biggest wastes of time and energy there is. Worrying will only rob you of any chance of happiness in the present moment and the present moment is all there is.
In Whatever Arises, Love That, by Matt Kahn he explains that “We entertain ourselves with worry when we don’t know what to trust. When you trust in what remains beyond temporary form, you are trusting in all that you are, as all that is.” When you begin to have faith in the Universe and something beyond yourself, it brings acceptance that wherever you are on your path, it’s right where you are meant to be.
Let your own growth and development be your highest purpose and open yourself to the lessons and opportunities that arise from every situation. Each day we encounter moments in which we can choose who we want to be. With every choice we make, we decide who we want to be. We are constantly creating our own realities. Live with compassion, kindness and love- not just for those you encounter but for yourself as well.
Let learning be your goal. Allow yourself to become a student of the process. In horsemanship even masters in their 80s still claim to be students of their art. Try not to let your focus be on outside factors like a score or a show placing but instead place your attention on cultivating yourself as an artist, which is what you are if you are a rider. You and your horse are clay to be sculpted and developed over time. Let self mastery be your goal and your intuition be your guidance.
Face each challenge you may face in your riding endeavors with curiosity and openness but never judgement. Aim to have faith in the Universe and trust the process. Discovering your inner connection to the Divine through meditation and creative outlets like writing, painting, and riding can deepen your trust in the Universe and in yourself.
I invite you to Awaken to the Truth of divine nature. You are love, you are loved and you are always enough.
Last year I became a chicken farmer. I bought 8 day old chicks and raised them up to laying hens which we now enjoy immensely with their comic demeanor and of course fresh farm eggs. So, as I tend to do when I find something I enjoy, I went all in and ordered new chicks for this year, all in more rare and beautiful breeds. In order to decrease stress by having them sent to me through the post office, I decided to drive an hour to pick them up. Although I hadn’t been to this town before it was near the route I used to drive when I was in college so I had a pretty good idea of where I was going. So, like any good modern person in our society, I typed the address into my iPhone and went on my way. About 25 minutes in, my phone had me take a turn and proceed to an alternate route than what I had planned on in my mind.
As I drove down backroads past beautiful, shady pecan orchards and the green rolling hills of east central Texas, I started thinking about what I was experiencing in that moment. It was exciting to be on a road that I had never travelled. It was filled with possibility but also a little bit of fear. What if I had car trouble and no phone service on these quiet roads? But, of course the excitement of forging a new path pushed me forward through the fear of “what ifs”.
So many of us live life on autopilot. We let the grooves in the record of our life become deeper and deeper while we yearn for more. We question, “was I meant for something greater?”. We say, I’ll write that book later when I have more time or if I could just lose weight I would be happy- yet you never make a lifestyle change that will allow the transformation to happen. Stepping outside the comfort zone is scary and for some the fear of the unknown keeps them planted firmly where they are, even when their soul is calling out for more.
One of the most profound sayings I have ever heard is “Don’t die with the music still inside you”. I believe we are all here for some divine purpose yet many of us still slumber in the routines of our human existence. It’s time to awaken to who you truly are - a divine being of ultimate love here to express that love to yourself and others and it starts by listening to that wise inner voice. It’s the voice of intuition that calls you to your greatest purpose but most of us have blinders on, not understanding that we have all the answers inside of us if only we learn how to listen.
I encourage you to listen to that inner voice. It may say something like, “maybe I should try an art class” or “I wonder what is down that path.” It is ok to feel some fear but I encourage you to take a leap- you may find something truly extraordinary on the other side.
If this is too new agey for you, there is an entire area of study called “neuroplasticity” that studies the ability of the brain to change throughout a persons life by creating new neural pathways. By the age of 25 most pathways are set and so creating new ones can come along with some sense of fear and discomfort. Fear of the unknowns, fear of the “what if’s”. But remember, growth only occurs outside of your comfort zone! By creating new neural pathways you will keep your brain young and fit! So, take that class, go explore a new part of your city or take a different route to work.
Let the excitement of forging a new path push you forward through the fear of “what if’s”.
I invite you to Awaken to your divine nature. You are love, you are loved and you are always enough.
Any athletic or artistic endeavor requires us to embrace vulnerability. In competition riding we put ourselves on display for not only the judges but also our competitors, the general public which includes the ever present “railbirds”. At times we are subjected to the cruelty of others. I would bet many of you have a story where hurtful comments have been made either directly to you or you heard what was said behind your back. I’ve been shocked hearing some of the things my students have been told not only by their peers but even by previous trainers! Sometimes the comments were incredibly cruel, hurtful and unkind. Putting yourself “out there” whether in competition or in a clinic or lesson is an act of courage but in order to maintain the enjoyment of the activity, some resilience is necessary or one would quit at the first negative comment.
I think the first step to learning to be resilient is to acknowledge any feelings that arise. If something was said to you or about you that hurt your feelings, identify that. Let your body and mind communicate with you whatever it is you feel, whether it be anger, sadness, frustration, loneliness etc... Until you allow yourself to feel what emotions arise, you will not be able to move forward. We live in a society of emotional repression and i think that’s a dangerous way to live. Meditate, sit in stillness and own your feelings. After that, I think it’s a great idea to get your feelings out on paper. Journal or use automatic writing. Purge your mind, body and spirit of the blockages preventing you from taking forward action. When you clear the space of these trapped emotions, you will have the ability to move on.
Secondly, as country artist Patty Loveless sings, “Life’s about changing nothing ever stays the same.”. The first of three marks of existence in Buddhist teaching is the idea of non permanence. Situations are fluid, constantly changing. Working towards creating an ability to adapt in challenging situations will help you be able to become more resilient in times of difficulty. People that are able to “go with the flow” and be flexible are going to be much better overcoming obstacles than those that are rigid in their mind set and expectations. Embrace change as an opportunity for growth. Remember, growth only occurs outside of your comfort zone!
Third, and this is a big one...work towards creating a higher self esteem. This of course, is a fluid process in itself. Letting harsh comments roll of your shoulder instead of taking them personally will go along way in keeping the joy in your pursuits. However, this is so much easier said than done! In one of my favorite books, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, he explains “Others are going to have their own opinion according to their belief system, so nothing they think about me is really about me, but it is about them.” When I encounter a difficult situation where I feel on the receiving end of an unjustified hurtful comment or action, I tell myself that what was said or done ultimately had nothing to do with me and was a result of that persons own insecurities or belief system. It sounds simple but sometimes just changing our perspective on the situation can allow you to see it in a whole new light. Jesus says to “turn the other cheek.” Cruel words and gossip can feel like being slapped in the face. Reacting to cruelty with anger and revenge only creates a never ending cycle until someone is strong enough and wise enough to rise above it!
As a professional, one of my biggest challenges is when a client or horse moves on to a different trainer, especially when they’ve been with us a long time. All professional trainers know this feeling. Often there is no explanation and so we are left wondering...what did I do wrong? In this situation I have come to understand that peoples situations change and perhaps we were only meant to be on this journey together for a short time. Maybe that person leaving will create the space for someone new to step in that is eager to learn from our knowledge. If your sad or disappointed allow yourself to feel it. If you’re angry, allow yourself to feel that. Then move on. Learn from the situation what you can but then move on and focus on the present moment and give your focus and attention to those that remain.
The final step in creating resilience is reconnecting with your purpose. My mission is to share my passion and love of classical Dressage to all who want to partake and when somebody says goodbye I trust in the Universe/God that there is a plan. By reconnecting with our purpose we step outside ourself and can see the bigger picture. Perhaps someone said something mean about your riding or your horse. Reconnect with why you started riding in the first place. Let their comments fuel your fire but not out of anger or vengeance but to become the best rider that you can be for YOU. Let growth of the spirit be your ultimate goal.
It’s so important that when we create resilience in ourselves that we do not close our heart in the process. This is what I personally find most challenging. Whenever we put ourselves out there we open ourselves up to potential pain and struggle but also to love and joy and friendship. Speaking from experience, it is not worth losing the good by keeping out the bad. No risk, no reward or as Shakespeare says “Better to have loved and lost than to never have been loved at all!” It’s natural for us to put up walls when we get hurt so we can’t get hurt again but a wall is a wall- you can’t keep out the bad without keeping out the good.
Strive to live with an open heart. Allow difficult situations to fuel your growth. Live a wholehearted life. To quote Brené Brown, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.”
And remember, no matter what anybody else says, you truly are enough, just as you are.
Until next time, express love in all you do, think and say.
Today I wanted to share my two cents on what to do when you are presented with a challenging situation. Last week our group attended one of the biggest shows in our region. I entered Freedance in the CDI small tour (PSG Friday, I1 Saturday and I1 Freestyle Sunday) and I entered Jypsy Rose into her very first PSG all 3 days.
Friday was pretty rough. I was so focused on keeping Freedance round in his top line that I sacrificed balance in our PSG test which led to some uncharacteristic mistakes and we scored the lowest we have scored in that test. I knew I would have to deal with Jypsys nerves and tension in her test but it was more extreme than I expected and I don’t think I had one step of walk in all the walk work! Needless to say this didn’t lead to a very good score. On top of it all my almost three year old daughter seemed to hit the “threenager” stage that day. I felt overwhelmed and like a big failure.
My normal response would be to criticize and berate myself for entering the show at all and then I would direct anger at myself for riding poorly or feeling like I didn’t prepare myself or my horses properly. It’s amazing how mean we can be to ourselves. We say things to ourself we would never say to a friend! What I needed to do in this state was to reframe my mind and my perspective.
The first question to ask yourself is what went well? What can I be proud of? With Freedance the CDI was my goal to work towards these last few months after having the baby. Having this goal pushed me to work on my fitness and nutrition goals. I’m proud of how rideable Freedance is in the show ring. He can be tense in the warm up with other horses at times so it was a big win that we had a good, relaxed warm up and as soon as we go in the show ring he was confident and brave. With Jypsy, she warmed up beautifully and is really feeling ready for the level. I’ve felt really stuck with her for a long time and was worried she wouldn’t progress much further but over the last two months back in the saddle I feel she is finding herself especially in the canter and I’m thrilled with how she feels. She did get very tense once we went into the main arena (and away from all other horses) and became extremely vocal! But aside from the not walking debacle we only had two small mistakes and much of the test felt quite good. I could be very proud of that.
The second question to ask is what can I learn from this situation? With Freedance I learned that with his tricky neck I need to ride the contact a little more open so he can lift his shoulders to be in a better balance. With Jypsy I understood my job is to be the best leader I can be to coach her through her nerves.
This next one is a big one- Set new short term goals. My goal for the next day with Freedance was to ride him a little more open and a little more engaged from behind. We ended up with a clean test and scored almost 64% and placed 6th! With Jypsy I just wanted her to call less than the day before which she did and we had no jigs in the walk and had a totally clean test to break into the 60s! I was thrilled with both horses.
I think it’s easy to get focused on the outcome which we really have little to no control over. What we do have control over is how we choose to perceive the situation and we can choose what changes to make that will lead to improvement in the future. Allow your goals to be flexible. You may go into the show expecting a certain score or result but maybe the horse is nervous in the arena or struggles with a specific movement. Adjust your goal to having a more relaxed horse than yesterday or more success in a specific movement and don’t be angry with yourself if it isn’t perfect. Perfectionism is the enemy of progress! Look for the lessons in all situations that will lead to the greatest growth. Don’t dwell on the mistakes but do learn from them. Sometimes when bad things happen they lead to the greatest opportunity for growth.
Remember your thoughts create your reality. Express love in all you do and you can’t lose!
Until next time,
This blog will be all about personal growth. I will discuss different topics and issues, some relating to horses and some not. Feel free to comment!