Why Horse Owners Need Self-Care and How to Incorporate it into Your Life with Horses By Pamela L. Maynard, PhD
"Taking care of yourself can help you take control of your life."
I believe it is fair to say that horse owners tend to take care of their horses better than themselves. The horses get their teeth done before we go to the dentist. We budget for horse vitamins but not vitamins for ourselves. And we will go without before our horse does. I know for me when one of my horses is sick or not at their best, it stresses me out. However, when we don’t take care of ourselves then we can’t always have the capacity to take the best care of our horses. Our health is interconnected with the health of our horses and it is important to learn the practice of self-care—even if it is just 15 minutes a day. Because when we don’t take the time for self-care and create some balance in our lives, we start to spiral and feel like life is out of control.
When you feel out of control, I am sure the last thing you are thinking about is your own physical and emotional health. It is not uncommon for us horse lovers to put the needs of our horses before our own needs. As life gets progressively crazier, you will probably feel the need to take control of something. You might concentrate on making sure that at least you have not gone over your monthly horse budget. You may console yourself with the knowledge that you are on top of things at the barn. You could take some measure of control back by making sure that your horses are fed on time. When the tides of life have left you running yourself ragged, self-care is probably the last thing on your mind.
Self-care brings images to our mind of relaxing in a giant bubble bath with a glass of wine and chocolate, but the reality is that you feel lucky if you manage a ten-minute shower every day. You tell yourself that you can focus on yourself once you are caught up and have everything else under control. Unfortunately, it is hard to balance your life back into some sort of order when you are exhausted, run-down, unfocused, and low on energy. However, taking time to focus on your own needs can help you regain the motivation and clarity you need to create balance in your life. And part of that balance is having time to ride, show, and care for your horses.
The last I checked we are still having a global pandemic. The wildfires are raging across the US West Coast and times just seem crazy. I can’t think of a better time than now to start implementing self-care into your horse life. So today, I challenge you to start incorporating self-care into your everyday life. It will help you take back your life when things seem out of control. To do this, you have to have some tools in your toolbox to maintain your sanity during these unprecedented times.
No matter how busy your schedule is, I bet you can probably find 15 minutes a day somewhere. Whether you set your alarm to go off a little earlier, take a slightly longer lunch break or pause for a few minutes after dinner. I encourage you to find or create a small gap in your schedule. This is now your “me-time.” Use this little block of time to do something that is just for you—not for your friends or family. Pick something you enjoy doing alone and that you find relaxing and refreshing. Instead of an evening shower, spend 15 minutes soaking in a hot bath. Set your alarm for a few minutes earlier and take a 15- minute walk through the woods or the neighborhood. Do something to refresh your energy and let yourself breathe. Even if those 15 minutes feel like wasted time, remember that in airplane emergencies you have to put your oxygen mask on first! You are not able to help anyone if you are running on an empty tank. Take a few minutes for yourself each day and, when you feel guilty for it, remind yourself of the old saying, “physician heal thyself.”
Unfortunately, stress is a normal part of life and it doesn't just go away. I would take this a step further and remind us that even though for many people horses are our sanity, it can also be stressful. Many have been running a horse business during the pandemic dealing with canceled shows, which results in reduced income. Customers who lost their job were forced to take their horse out of training. In addition, the cost of hay has gone up along with unemployment rates. The list goes on and ignoring it does not help the matter. Neither does bottling it up inside. Internalizing stress just creates anxiety and/or irritability that makes you feel like you're going to explode. You might manage to keep your happy face on for a while, but eventually, it builds up too much and we end up lashing out at someone close when they ask for the simplest of things. This also crosses over to our horses. Horses sense our emotions, tension, and stress. Did you have a bad ride on your horse this week and blame it on the horse? How many times have you said the horse was having a bad hair day or that it woke up on the wrong side of the bed? The reality is that WE were having a bad day and the horse was just reacting to us.
If you have a smartphone or other device, you are virtually carrying around the world in your pocket. You can connect with anyone anywhere in the world at any time. You have access to an overwhelming amount of information via the world wide web. With the explosion of online shopping options, you could comfortably live more or less your entire life without ever having to leave your house. And yet, we were freaking out about having to stay home for a while. The constant exposure to information that comes with technology can leave you feeling like you are on an endless roller coaster ride. You can see every detail of your friend’s lives on social media, and the tragedy of the day follows you around in the news. If you have your work emails synced to your phone, you are never really on vacation, and most apps come with notifications that inform you about updates, status changes, or that someone liked your recent horse meme.
Don’t get me wrong it is fun looking at horses in the sale Facebook groups and watching Olympians ride their freestyle on YouTube. However, when you are tied to your smartphone, iPad, or computer all the time, you are at the mercy of the rest of the world. You struggle to control what you see, and even the best day can be ruined by the latest story on the news or seeing another horse that needs to be rescued from the kill pen. If you want to take back your life, try taking a break from technology and social media on a regular basis. Leave your phone in the barn when you go for a ride or limit yourself to how many horse videos you watch a day on YouTube. You will find that taking control of your own life is much easier once you step back and untangle yourself from other people’s lives and technology. I call it a digital detox. I make it a point to leave my phone in the house or the barn while I am with my horses. I can't be fully present with my horse and have the best ride when I am stopping to answer my phone, respond to a text, or like a post.
Exercise seems to be the remedy for all mental, emotional, or physical health concerns and it is something us horse lovers probably don't do enough of. Yes, we spend a lot of time moving while mucking stalls, moving hay bales, and sweeping barn isles. The good news is that some physical activity is way better than none. Even though riding is great for our thighs and glutes, it is not the same as working out. Regular exercise releases endorphins that help reduce stress and can help you sleep better at night. Exercising a few times a week will also leave you feeling more energized as your health improves and it will get you in even better shape for riding that Grand Prix test! You do not need to become a gym junkie or a workout guru to reap the benefits of exercise. A brisk morning walk around the block can help you feel more focused and 30 minutes on the treadmill can do wonders for your sleep. It’s easy to make excuses for avoiding exercise. “I don’t have time” and “I am too tired” are some common justifications. Spoiler alert! If you have time to watch The Walking Dead or scroll through Facebook, you have time to exercise. You can also do both activities at once. Set up a treadmill or exercise bike in your home where you can see the TV and watch your favorite shows while you work out—just not while you are supposed to be doing your digital detox! LOL!
It is hard to feel in control of your life when you are always feeling tired and need a nap. If you are skimping on sleep, you probably do not have the motivation to take back your life even if you had the energy to do so. As anyone who has stayed up too late knows, lack of sleep will leave you exhausted, irritable, and unable to focus on the things that are most important to you—like your horses! In addition to miserable mornings and a deep longing for the ability to drink straight caffeine (which raises your cortisol levels-the stress hormone), chronic sleep deprivation has been connected to several health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.
Getting enough rest will make a world of difference in your life. You will have more energy and motivation to put toward your goals, and life’s little irritants will leave you far less annoyed. Make it a point to get enough sleep each night, and you will find it much easier to take back your life. Because it is pretty hard to enjoy your horse when you are dealing with health issues!
Self-care does not have to take a great deal of time to be extremely effective. Getting enough sleep, watching TV from a treadmill, and spending a few minutes each day on yourself can leave you feeling like a whole new person. Spend some time focusing on yourself, and you will find it much easier to take back your life. After all, you cannot reasonably expect to control the many twists and turns of life if you cannot make time to control your health. Take care of yourself, and you will find it much easier to take back control of your life. Trust me your family, friends, and horses will thank you for it!
About: Dr. Pamela is a professional equine and health educator, certified equine bodyworker, published researcher, and life-long learner with a high drive to incorporate mindfulness and contemplative practices in her work with horses. In addition, Dr. Pamela guides professional and lifestyle horsewomen on their journey to personal growth, improved inner health, and reduced stress through self-care practices, online women’s gatherings, and presencing groups. Go to conscioushoofbeat.com to get a FREE audio exercise you can do right now to be more present with your horse!
Today I want to talk to you about the notion of “Are you a human-BEing or a human DOing?” We are living in a world where everything is go-go-go. Even during the current global pandemic, people are having a hard time sitting down with themselves and just being in the present moment. We are so used to doing something all the time and being connected to the news, information, and technology. If you are feeling like a human-DOing lately and would rather feel more like a human-BEING start implementing the next four things in your life. First,
Be on purpose with your day, what you do and how you show up for yourself, others and the world. Human doings are usually reactive and tend to get caught up in deadlines, the fast-paced drama of the western world, and not living in the here and now. Set your intentions for the day the night before or before you get out of bed. When you start your day with intention, you will be more on purpose. Next,
Know your talents and spend time honing your skills. Stephen Covey calls it “sharpening your saw.” This might mean attending a seminar or simply reading a book on a topic you want to learn more about. Sharpening your saw will help you both personally and professionally. Third is
Time management Time management starts with taking the time to plan and this includes scheduling down time. Sometimes downtime is as simple as taking time to exercise three times a week or maybe taking the weekend off from checking your email. This will help you stay focused and be more efficient with your time. And last,
Spend time outside- And I don’t mean cleaning horse poop or doing yard work. I mean spend time with nature. Go for a leisurely stroll or watch a bird make a nest. Just 15 minutes a day in the sun helps your vitamin D levels. Also, consider spending time outside your box. Sometimes our habits keep us in the box. So get outside! Both literally and figuratively!
As horsewomen, it is easy to let our own self-care take a back seat to our business, our families, and the care of our horses and pets. As women, I feel it is safe to say that most of us are passionate about what we do and easily internalize and take-on the problems of
others which adds to our already established stress. This is why it is so important to recharge your own batteries on a regular basis.
We all know the metaphor from flying that explains how important it is to put your oxygen mask on first before you try to help anyone else. The point is that if you aren’t getting enough oxygen or in this case getting enough recharge time, you will be in no condition to help anyone else!
Too often, we get our performance mixed up with our identity. When you ask someone, “Who are you?” they answer, “I’m a nurse. I’m a entrepreneur. I’m a horse trainer. An equine bodyworker —you get the gist. But the truth is, that’s what they do—not who they are. When you are grounded, centered, and connected to your higher self that is where you find peace and self-acceptance. That is where your value and your worth might come from. You feel good about WHO you are and not what you do. When you are positive towards yourself you are in agreement with yourself and who you are. It’s time to turn off the mind chatter and join us in Circle. In circle you discover your truth and who you really are. So let me ask you, “Are you ready to be a human-being instead of a human doing?” Go to conscious hoofbeat.com and join me in Circle!
Circle is the place where women gather to be seen, heard, and loved. It is held in the living room of someone’s home or in a room designed specifically for circle. The women sit in a physical circle and go around so that each woman has an opportunity to share. I have found that it is important for every woman to know she has equal time for her voice be heard. There is a facilitator (or two co-facilitators) who make sure there is integrity in the circle by adhering to the circle agreements and guidelines.
Circle is for every woman.
This is not a clique nor a sorority. We are all mirrors of one another and so there is no woman who does not belong. We are not trying to create more separation with circle. We are creating unity, harmony, connection, and collaboration. When we acknowledge our judgments toward one another and see that those judgments are our own shadow, we begin to have more acceptance of ourselves and others. We start to heal the division between humanity.
Circle is a space for all voices to be heard.
No one sits back just to observe and listen. Everyone is an active participant. Everyone’s voice matters.
Circle is like a wheel, not a pyramid.
While there is a facilitator, that woman is not put on a pedestal and treated as separate. There is no hierarchy in circle. Each woman matters. We are each a spoke on the wheel, which means that we must show up and contribute physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. The wheel cannot turn without everyone understanding and believing that they are equally important in creating the structure of the wheel.
Circle is a place of abundance.
We are giving and receiving in the circle. It is not about always showing up as your best self to give. Sometimes, a woman is down and needing to receive support. This is where we learn that everything we need is in circle because we have everything we need inside of us. The lesson here is in valuing the container and the facilitator and seeing it as a mirror, valuing yourself.
Happy New Years! 2020 isn’t just a new year it’s a new decade! Have you set your 2020 intentions? Made your resolutions? Are you determined to make them stick this year?
Yesterday, I received an email about how if we can go slower day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month, we can end up going faster year-to-year and decade-to-decade.
Every new year, I read several posts and articles about new year’s resolutions and the reason diets, gym memberships, and self improvement plans don’t work is because it is way too much effort for very little gain all at once. I say it’s because we come from an instant gratification society.
We get excited and jump on the New Year’s resolutions band wagon. We sincerely believe we can achieve the new diet, continue going to the gym, and make the changes in our life for self improvement. Unfortunately, shortly into our new endeavors, the struggle becomes real and we don’t have the wear-with-all to push through it. We can't keep up because our food addictions and bad habits take over and it’s easier to give in than to press through.
This is when we start to hear things like, “Rather than seeking radical change, look for the little things to practice. It’s the little things that lead to your end goal. Create a vision for how you want your life to look and then remain patient and empathetic with yourself when you struggle.”
I don’t disagree with this and it may be helpful for many. However, I have spent many years playing small, spinning my wheels, and getting nowhere. In 2018, I buried my father at the young age of 71, another friend at the age of 70, and the older I get the faster life goes. So, this year I am declaring acceleration over my life! Acceleration over my business, my career, my love life, my horse goals, my inner work, my physical and mental health! I am learning to take risks, trust the Universe for support, and listen to my inner guidance system. All my years of baby steps have prepared me for acceleration!
Maybe your not ready to accelerate and that’s okay! Maybe 2020 is about preparing for your acceleration year. What do you want to declare for life in 2020 and the next decade? One of the best things I did to prepare myself for acceleration was being part of the women’s gathering movement called Circle. If you are looking for unconditional love, support, and preparation, then join us in Circle for Horse Women 2020!
Old age is often considered a time of decline, but older adults around the world are filling their golden years with amazing accomplishments. It is a common misconception that once you are 50, you are “over the hill” and you begin an unending decline. Recent research seems to dispel this myth from both a mental and physical standpoint. There are some amazing, almost unbelievable seniors who’ve set ambitious physical goals for themselves and through hard work and dedication have accomplished some incredible feats.
Following are the most adventurous senior athletes who are finding ways to stay active and motivated as they age. Their accomplishments would make much younger athletes quite proud. These athletes, some who have lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement prove that health and fitness don’t have an age. With purpose and dedication, they’re dismissing boundaries and showing the world that speed, strength, athleticism, and passion don’t have to fade as the years pass.
Take for example, Orville Rogers who is 100 years old and routinely breaks records at track meets around the country. Sure he doesn’t have much competition in his age bracket but that is beside the point. “Some people think I run because I can, but that’s backward, I can because I do.” The world’s centenarian population is expected to grow eightfold by 2050, according to a Pew Research Report Center which shows America leading the pack in the sheer number of citizens age 100 and up.
Then there is Tao Porchon-Lynch who at 98 has practiced yoga for 70 plus years and taught for more than 45. She has earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest yoga instructor. She can still execute a perfect tree pose. Like Orville, Tao’s secret is simple, she can because she does. “The breath of life is in all of us, but most of us don’t use it all the time,” says Porchon-Lynch and “there is nothing you cannot do!”
Meet another runner, Harriette Thompson, the Rockin Runner from Charlotte, North Carolina who at 92 crossed the finish line at the Rock n Roll Marathon in San Diego becoming the oldest woman to finish a marathon and the second oldest marathon runner in U.S. history. She finished the race in 7 hours and 7 minutes to break the record for the fastest time in her age group. She is a cancer survivor and ran her first marathon at age 76. Her advice for fellow seniors is to keep reaching for their goals. She says, “I think if I can do it, anybody can do it, because I wasn’t trained to be a runner. I have also found that it’s very invigorating. I feel like a million dollars when I’m finished.”
Meet unconventional athlete, Sister Madonna Buder, who started running at age 48 and completed her first triathlon at 52. After that she was hooked. She practiced on a nephew’s bike until she was eventually ready for a full Ironman. She completed the Ironman event in Hawaii in 2005 at age 75, earning her the nickname “Iron Nun.” She is the oldest woman to finish this extremely grueling event, which consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, followed by a marathon of 26.2 miles. Her time was just shy of the 17 hour cut-off. She offers these words of wisdom, “Don’t pay attention to how old you are, only focus on how old you feel; and be patient, I’m still trying to fine-tune it so that I’m able to stop and smell the roses.”
Then there is the amazing octogenarian, Johanna Quaas, the Grandma Gymnast born in 1925. She started doing gymnastics at an early age and participated in her first competition in 1934. Eighty years later, she is still completing and has earned entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest gymnast in the world.
Reaching new heights is this unbelievable oldster, Yuchiro Miura the first person to ski on Everest 33 years before his first summit climb. In 2013 Miura became the oldest person to summit Mount Everest. He broke his own world record that he’d set in 2003, despite battling diabetes, undergoing three heart surgeries and recovering from a complicated surgery to repair his shattered pelvis in the decade between the summit attempts. In spite of his physical challenges he persisted, rebuilding his fitness routine until he was ready to tackle the ultimate peak once more. He reflects on his amazing victory, “I had a dream to climb Everest at this age. If you have a dream, never give up. Dreams come true.” Miura continues to train for ambitious skiing descents as well as a fourth Everest bid at 90 years of age.
As I travel through my own aging journey it is so inspiring to hear of these unbelievable “older” athletes. I ponder and marvel at the outstanding accomplishments of these octogenarians and beyond who are vibrant, vital and living their lives with impressive physical and mental attitude. “The thread that binds them is not the year on their birth certificate but the way they live.”
What is the common thread that weaves through these amazing lives? They each have a resolve and a passion that is ignited and burns strong in each of them. They are goal driven and refuse to give up or give in to the aging process that so many people of their generation and younger do. They are rather miraculous role models for all, especially those of us who enjoy physical challenges. Clearly, there is pain and discomfort in what they do, but apparently for them, the sheer joy of achieving their goals supersedes the bodily pain that certainly accompanies their amazing accomplishments.
What can we baby boomers learn from these super seniors as we journey to their advanced decades? Are we all going to run a marathon? Be a triathlete or even climb Everest? Probably not. However, having dreams, setting goals and taking small concrete steps toward those goals can empower, energize and excite us. Progress reinforces behavior, and before you know it, you have realized your dream and find that you are ready for the next one.
Gloria Friedrich was born, raised, and lives in Colorado where she has always enjoyed the outdoor life. She has been married for fifty years and raised two children while pursuing a couple of careers. She worked in retail management, then returned to college to get a BA degree in her 40’s and an MA in her 50’s in order to build a career in teaching. All the while she has followed her dream of an active life. She maintains a regimen of regular aerobic and weight workouts, but also participates in a number of outdoor activities. She loves hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking, and tennis. In her lifetime, she has run numerous road races and hiked half of Colorado’s 14er’s. She is an avid traveler and reader who enjoys hearing and learning about other’s physical achievements. That’s what keeps her motivated. If others can enjoy the struggles and accomplishments of physical activity, so can she. That’s what spurred her to write this piece on exercise and aging.
When you think of ritual, what comes to your mind? Funerals? Weddings? Religious ceremonies? Yes, rituals are integral parts of religious services but the ritual isn’t always about religion. Ritual is so much more! I love this definition: “Rituals are actions that support the deepening of our spiritual and emotional connections. They bring extra brightness and fulfillment into our lives.” In addition to traditional rituals, everyone has the ability to create practices that they can personalize to the uniqueness of their own lifestyle and relationships. Some people pray together silently or aloud. Others sing, dance, or play instruments. Rituals can take many forms. For me, a ritual is about connection, sweetness, and vitality into my partnership with my horses.
Being with horses is ritualistic and every aspect of my time with them is part of my daily spiritual practice. My morning practices set the tone for my day. They are about setting my intentions for the day, getting grounded, and bringing peace and presence into my day, which rolls over into my everyday life. I start by making the horse’s morning mashes. It makes me feel good knowing that I am giving them the best quality alfalfa/timothy noxious weed-free hay cubes with 100% bioavailable vitamins, digestive support, and organic carrots—exactly how I choose to take care of myself. As I wait for their mashes to soak, I prepare my daily habit of chai tea. I love the smell of spices in my kitchen as the tea steeps. As I walk out my door, I hear the happy neighs of my horses and see their beautiful faces. Their ears are pricked forward greeting me with enthusiastic smiles. I smile back, breathe, and feel myself get centered and grounded for the day.
My everyday practices with my horses connect me to my soul by quieting my mind. Horses bring me into the present moment and ultimately connect me to the Divine. Horses are my inner voice of love—self-love, compassion, and empathy all come from this place. When I drift from this place of being present, that is when my ego takes over and usually ruins my day by allowing fear to kick in. My daily practices and rituals not only connect me to nature but also connects me to my inner nature.
I believe when I am with my horses it is from a place of reverence. This place of reverence increases my capacity for connection and alignment with my soul. When I am aligned with my soul, I am happier, healthier, and I live more on purpose. The more I can step away from my outer life to create my ‘soul space,’ the more I feel and hear my intuition. Isn’t that what we are all craving? To feel peaceful, fully alive, and connected?
Through the practice of ritual, I am grounded and able to create balance in my life. When I don’t take the time for my daily rituals, I feel more anxious and I am less productive during the day. The time I take for my practices yields far greater results than the time I waste from not being grounded. Ritual has the ability to elevate my everyday manure cleaning into contemplative practice.
My friend from Wild Souls Yoga explained it best, “Humans naturally seek connection. Humans are actually wired for connection – to each other, to nature, to ourselves, and to a Higher Power. The Inside, the down deep, the wise inner voice—this is where our soul lives—our human point of contact with the Divine, and ultimately with all of Life. This ‘deep down’ place is not a physical place, but rather a place of awareness, openness, and interconnectedness. When we lack this connection, we live life from an ungrounded, unbalanced state, which gives rise to all the modern ailments which afflict us.”
All aspects of ritual are essential to fulfilling relationships with our horses and the people in our lives. Contentment and peace are a result of ritual. Take the time to notice your everyday activities and start being more aware and intentional as you do them. This will strengthen your appreciation, relationships, and everyday moments that we take for granted. Stop going through the motions of life stagnant and asleep. Wake up! Integrate a daily morning practice or ritual and watch your life become more fulfilling and your afflictions will quietly start to disappear.
I don't ever feel alone when I am with horses. I can spend the entire day in the barn and not talk to another human being and be totally at peace. When I have a bad day, a disagreement, fight, or painful experience, I go to the barn. It is my refuge, solace, and serenity. That said, the fact remains that we as humans are social animals. We need human to human connection as much as horses need to belong to a herd.
In this age of technology, I believe we are lacking intimacy and connection more than ever. I feel like I desire more now than before because I don’t get it the way I used to. This desire for connection has required me to learn yogic practices that train the mind, body, spirit, nervous system, and the breathe system to open my heart and the human spirit. This is not easy. It is very hard and requires commitment, discipline, and desire to serve each other’s spirits and I don’t know how to achieve it if it doesn’t come from both sides. Horses will more often than not want that connection with me. Humans are often too caught up in Facebook to even know what it is. This connection requires vulnerability and spiritual training. I start with meditative awareness and become more in-tune to what I am feeling. By learning awareness of what is happening in my body, it allows me to make choices in how I react. Being mindful when I am with my horses is not only safer than reacting, it yields far more positive results.
When I am in emotional pain, turmoil, or imbalance. My horses show up for me. They lower their heads and touch my heart chakra reminding me that I am loved. Every morning while I clean manure, my pinto gelding follows me around. He likes to touch me with his muzzle. He just wants to feel close to me. He doesn’t say anything and he doesn’t ask for anything in return except that I let him touch me—an exchange of loving energy that needs no words. My connection with horses is only painful when one leaves my life. The rest of the time is the true connection of mind, body, and spirit.
Sometimes, it is the opposite. My horses will remind me that I am not balanced. They tell me with their reactive body language that I need to slow down, breathe, and get grounded. When we aren’t in sync, the horses tell me and I choose to listen. It is not just being in sync with them, it is usually indicative of not being in sync with my life. Not allowing the ebb and flow of life to just happen and trust that it is all in divine order. Sometimes, I resist and when there is resistance I don’t move forward in life. I can’t move and feel stuck. I am reminded that when I try to make things happen it does not work. But when I don’t do anything, I remain stuck right where I am at and that doesn’t feel good.
So, how do I get unstuck? I move. I walk, hike, yoga, dance, or ride my horse. Movement connects me to the divine. It nourishes me. Whether I am hiking, walking, dancing, or riding, movement is a huge part of my health, healing, and it restores my connection. The horses remind me to slow down. I don’t have to always run and move fast. Movement inspires me to spiritual openness which yields great feats of heroic acts such as kindness, love, and connection.
However, when my horses get a little too sassy with their expression, it is up to me to say, “That doesn’t work for me.” I don’t settle for their poor behavior. My horses get reprimanded and are reminded if something is inappropriate or bad behavior. I thank my horses for reminding me that we are each other’s reflection of what is going on in life and when the behavior shifts I reward their good behavior.
Horses are such wonderful teachers. Everyday, they remind me of how good it feels to be touched and loved. I believe that when I show up for other relationships the way horses show up for me, the connection has the potential to be open, painless, and full of love. And who doesn’t want to be loved?
I recently listened to a yoga instructor from Wild Souls Yoga share what has intuitively been coming up for her in regards to intention, ritual, and our soul’s purpose. She feels, that right now on a collective level, courage is showing up for us women. This totally resonated with me! I know that I am in the process of gathering the courage to be who I was born to be.
In essence, isn’t that what we all want? We as women all share the need to gather the courage to face our fears, struggles, feelings of limitations, and the criticism we allow upon ourselves from our negative inner voices and perhaps even some of the people around us. This is why it is so important to practice the art of self-love. It is why I have learned to honor and accept myself as the horse lover that I am—it is why I do horses. It is my gift and I know it is the catalyst of my destiny.
As a women, I know the Universe is asking me to embody my soul’s purpose. I ask myself, “Am I stepping into alignment with my soul?” As I move forward on my journey called life, I can’t help but question why am I here? What I do with my time and energy is so important. How I contribute to raising the vibration of the planet and raising the consciousness of myself is directly related to my soul’s purpose.
What is my soul purpose? I am clear that part of my purpose is to awaken my divine feminine gifts which essentially helps raise consciousness. The divine feminine is the embodiment of heart energy. Heart-centered energy of love. I know that sharing it with the world is how I heal myself and those around me. Love is the most powerful healer and not only did I learn how to love from horses I am loved by horses.
I feel strongly that something is wanting to grow and awaken within me. A part of me that I had to put on hold until I became of age. The age where I learn to be comfortable in my own skin. The age where I learn that the essence of my being is connected and grounded in my own self. I am being invited by the Universe to grow and honor these qualities. My soul’s gift, my genius, and purpose on this planet. My purpose is the essence of my being what am I supposed to be sharing just in my being in my natural presence.
A huge part of this is learning to live with intention. When I live in my purpose and honor my being, my life becomes intentional. My intention is to provide a safe space for horsewomen over 40 where we share our struggles and similar anxieties. A sacred space that transforms our comparable limiting beliefs and helps each other transform common fears into the courage to express our authentic selves.
Horses give me the emotional strength and courage that supports me to fully love and appreciate myself. Every time I start to doubt myself, I go to the barn and breathe. I take in a deep breath. I inhale a deep belly breath through my nose and exhale (through my mouth). After another big inhale, I relax my shoulders, let go of any tension in my body and soften into my purpose. My purpose of loving horses and sharing how this love transforms my life.
Bonus day for my 21-day meditation experience! Day 22, “Achieving Wholeness.” I believe that one of the reasons I am so in love with horses is because of their beauty and this beauty and wonder also live in me. I know I can be as unique and awe-inspiring as these amazing creatures that inspire me every day. Just like people gaze at the night sky and take in the wonder of the Universe or sit by the ocean and take in the rhythm of the waves, I like to watch and be with horses because nothing is questioned and I feel complete. Even though I am constantly changing, aging, and evolving, the real me is constant. I am part of the timelessness of the ever-present moment. My inner light knows no bounds and my inner glory shines. When I am with horses, I am grounded. I pause and breathe into these moments with gratitude and grace. This is when I feel whole.
The Universe is guided by our creator’s infinite wisdom and care. In today’s world, we are skeptical and don’t see the Universe as whole and complete. The Universe is random and I struggle feeling pulled in several directions. Our society does not teach us about wholeness. I have found that I either feel whole or I don’t. Each day is separated into work, obligations, demands, pleasure, commitments, and pains. Wholeness is a process that requires that I learn to perceive something as whole. I find wholeness in horses. They give me unconditional love. Wholeness comes and goes in and out of my existence. However, my constant companion is myself. My true self does not feel whole without my connection to horses. After 22 days of this meditation experience, I have learned that my true self is what I am most grateful for, which I tap into when I am being present with horses.
My ego self has been changing my entire life, however, I am grateful for my true self as timeless awareness. As awareness, I have always been whole, but I allowed external factors and negative voices tell me otherwise. An interesting fact; wholeness, holiness, health and healing all derived from the same root word. As I continue to expand my awareness through gratitude and the practice of meditation, I have the ability to heal myself through my own wholeness. This is when I receive grace. I want my individual self to stop feeling separate and alone. I know I can achieve this when I start feeling thankful for who I am ... the real me. My identity today is temporary. I am always evolving and growing. The real me is my wholeness that I am meant to live with gentleness, love, grace, kindness, and beauty. The gentleness of the 1,200-pound horses who give me love without judgment. The grace of the horse’s way of going as they gallop across the pasture and their feet don’t touch the ground. The kindness my horses extend to me just for showing up for them. And the beauty that I see both on the inside and outside. Where do you find wholeness?
Day 21 of my 21-day meditation experience “Seeing with the eyes of the Soul.” Whew! I feel like I just ran a marathon! Exhausted, exhilarated, and very happy with my commitment to follow-through and complete it. I have learned that there is a sacred connection between gratitude and grace and how that connection creates a foundation for a joyful and awakened life. When I am most open and alive is when I ease into a moment and feel no resistance. This is when I absorb all the beauty around me. My next step is to see everything as alive and accept everyone for who they are more and more until it becomes a way of life. This is when I manifest grace or rather grace has manifested in me. The more I practice the better I will get. I strive to be in a state of the greatest clarity, calmness, and feeling of completeness. As I learn to see with the eye of the soul, this new way of seeing unmasks beauty, truth, and everything that is real. I am awakened to life’s perfection in every moment—especially when I am with horses.
Deepak Chopra taught me that every spiritual tradition has prayers of thanksgiving to the creator. In a secular world, this attitude has fallen away and in its place, we now demand a valid experience. These kinds of experiences try to convince us that we are believing in something real. Grace gives me hints of what is really real. Behind the mask of appearances, there is a realm of spirit that we see with the eyes of the soul. When I am experiencing grace, I can see with the eyes of the soul because I am perceiving the subtle imagery where truth, beauty, and love are undeniable. This comes from my source. Then I feel great happiness of my own being, I feel drawn by an irresistible pull. When my mind and body almost burst with pure joy, that is when I experience the highest state of a gladdened heart. It is that feeling I got when I nailed a lead change for the first time. It was when my first newborn foal ran for the first time. It was that feeling when my abused, rescue horse nuzzled me and nickered at me the first time … pure gladness and love.
In India, this experience is sometimes called, “being mad for God.” But in reality, this is the highest sanity because our perception has become perfectly clear. Probably why we horse lovers say all the time, “horses are our sanity.” When I am being with horses in the present moment, my perception is the clearest. The more I am in a place to see the world permeated by light, the more I experience gratitude. The more I spend time being with horses, the more I become connected to these concepts of higher consciousness.
It is taught that ultimately all gratitude is spiritual. The only difference is how clearly you see the light and know that it is real. For some mystics, this light is as visible as sunlight, but the eyes of the soul see another kind of light which is the vibrancy of creation—the presence of love and the beauty of nature that shines in all things including horses. Meditation has taught me to perceive silence, peace, and the purity of my own being. This meditation experience has assisted me in seeing these things clearer. I am the most clearest when I am being with horses.
I am learning to see others and the rest of the world with the vision of grace and love. This is called "seeing with the eyes of the soul," because when your deepest self recognizes its essence in another person, it experiences love. When your true self sees itself in an object, it experiences beauty. When we see with the eyes of the soul, we find our pure self everywhere even in horses.
Most horse people have heard the saying that looking into the eyes of a horse is the window to the soul. What I know for sure is that horses are definitely the window to my soul and how I receive grace. Today, I bow to you from the divinity of my heart to the divinity or your heart. Now, go to the barn and hug your horse with pure gratitude. Namasté.
It is taught that the highest love is grace. The purest most essential energy is love. Love begins with gratitude and transforms into grace. I am one with the source of creation because I am here on earth. Life loves me. Life gives and takes become blissful. When I love life, life loves me back. This is grace, so simple and yet profound.
Grace is considered divine but comes to us in human ways. When my heart opens to another’s true self, I feel the same divine love. When love flows from my true self to the true self of another—higher consciousness becomes real. Love is the closest experience to the feeling of completeness. When I am on the path of gratitude, that is when I can transfer the responsibility of love from another person to myself. This is no small step and does not happen without awareness. I never learned to give love to someone outside of myself even though it is the key to transformation. I have learned all love is directed to the self, not the ego self, but the shared self which permeates everything. This kind of love is more than an emotion, it is a state of awareness. Not loved by someone outside of myself, but loved for simply being—god consciousness, unity consciousness it is all Unconditional love.
This was deep for me today and some things that showed up for me I am not comfortable putting in my blog. However, the one thing that resonated the most was when it was explained how when love flows from one true self to another true self, higher consciousness becomes real that is when two souls are vibrating on the same level. I experienced that once and I want to experience it again because it is beautiful!
Day 19 of my 21-day meditation, “The Path to Total Transformation.” I love the story Oprah Winfrey shared when Maya Angelou told her to, “Stop crying right now and say thank you because God has put a rainbow in every cloud even if you can’t see it. Be a blessing to somebody.” I am starting to believe in my rainbow even though it hasn’t come to fruition … yet.
It is beautiful out today. Not too hot and not too cold. I am spending the afternoon with my horses and then going to have Friday night dinner with my dear friend. So, today’s blog is going to be a “cheat” day and not very long or in-depth. Because sometimes, being with horses and friends are more important.
This I know for sure. Change is natural and we all want to move in a positive direction. It is easy for me to feel gratitude when my life is going great and things are falling into place, but not every day is as simple as that. That said, the more knowledge and experience I gain, the more my life flows and the better I deal with the not-so-good days. Instead of constantly struggling against the darkness, I choose to see the light—even though sometimes I do end up down the rabbit hole. What is important is that I don’t stay in the rabbit hole. I always manage to bring myself back up and horses are usually there to help me.
No coincidence, I saw a rainbow today! I choose to believe it a sign from the Universe and a little bit of light at the end of my tunnel!
Day 18 of my 21-day meditation experience, “The Rewards of the Higher Self.” Through meditation, I have learned that I can choose to operate from ego and limit myself to the five senses and deprive myself of the deeper meaning to life. Or, I can access my higher self which unlocks the divinity of the Universe. When I am connected to my higher self, this is when my true self is filled with spirit, love, and grace. Gratitude is a portal to my higher self—it yields an intrinsic faith that allows me to trust that all will be well. I take one step and one day at a time.
The higher self and the true self are the same in essence because they go beyond the ego. The higher self and the ego behave differently but they are intimately connected. My ego dominates me when I believe in the material world. My higher self dominates me when I choose consciousness and am aware of what the ego is doing to me. When I focus on the demands of I, me, and mine, that is when I am in the place of ego. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means I am participating in the world. The current world is about surviving and wanting to get ahead in life. I am in my higher self when I focus on self- awareness and the expansion of my being. This is when my story shifts. Tapping into my higher self requires gratitude, love, and truth.
This meditation experience on gratitude is liberating my awareness and now I am ready to shift to my higher self; away from the drama, victimization, depression, and self-pity of the everyday material world. One role of practicing gratitude is to keep me humble about the limitations of what I know and don’t know about the future. I really don’t know the long-term outcome of my life story. When I really stop to think about the future, it causes worry and anxiety. This is not for my highest good. The realization that came to me was that gratitude leads to surrender. Learning to surrender in an attitude of trust is my next step.
It is a journey. A journey that can take me from doubt to certainty. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I am learning the wisdom to get myself where I need to be. As my vision becomes more clear, I will have a deeper sense of gratitude and trust.
I love what Albert Einstein once said about the secret of life, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle and the other is as though everything is a miracle.” How are you living your life?
Day 17 of my 21-day meditation experience, “Making Grace a Way of Life.” Wow, that’s deep! My first thought was, “Is it possible to manifest the power of gratitude every single day?” I have gone from the feeling of gratitude to a way of being in the world. I know as this happens trust, authenticity, and openness will emerge and embody grace in all aspects of my life. The more I practice gratitude the more grace gets easier and flows into my life. I believe it is time to open my heart even wider …
Building a life around grace is very different from most people’s daily life where grace plays little or no part. I have had very few conversations at the local coffee shop or chatting with my friends about grace. As I implement this new way of life, I will no longer question the value of trust, love, surrender, or faith. To make this last, it requires me to establish new habits. My inner work now includes dealing with the conditioned negativity of my past which was based on struggle and criticism. I desire the freedom to feel who I am really. I achieve this when I am with horses and it brings me joy and happiness. When I feel like life isn’t going my way, it is really easy to blame others. This is when I go to the barn and let the horses bring me back to the place of gratitude and into the present moment. This is the place where I can change my personal reality.
Some days, I feel like making gratitude part of all I do is like making sure I don’t ever eat junk food again. For me, meditation is like exercising my mental health. In the same way, I hike, ride, and do yoga for my physical health, I meditate for my mental health. That said, getting to the place of health that I desire and then staying there is challenging! However, through meditation experiences and creating daily practices, I have a foundation. I have tools in my toolbox that I can rely on when the going gets tough. And, I have the self-awareness to know that I am not perfect and I am not going to always feel like being “healthy” every day. I allow myself “junk food” when I crave it, but I make sure I come back to my foundation that I worked so hard to create. It’s okay to have cheat days or take a day off, but always come back to now.
It is just like riding and training horses. When you do all of the foundation work and teach a horse the basics from the beginning, you can give them days, weeks, or even months off. Unless a bad experience has happened, nine times out of ten that horse will pick up right where you left off as soon as you put a foot in the stirrup. Horses don’t forget and neither will you! Just like I have to practice riding to get better, I have to practice gratitude to make it an everyday habit. My ultimate goal is to make the practice of gratitude a natural occurrence in my everyday life, which in turn becomes a life lived in the state of grace.
Day 16 of my 21-day meditation experience, “The Hidden Secret of Being.” To just be means to exist. When I am with the horses, doing even the simplest things like grooming or cleaning poop, puts me in that place of being. I find my deepest thoughts and “ah ha” moments arise from simplicity—watching the sunset, listening to the frogs croak in the distance, and feeling the breath of a horse on my back followed by a nuzzle. These “ah ha” moments I have with horses are always fresh and anew. Inside my existence with horses are the most amazing gifts of love, truth, and beauty.
I now know that those who have criticized my love and devotion to my equine lifestyle have a constricted and narrow awareness aka. They are stuck in their box. Awareness can only expand when we step into a place of gratitude. Whenever I am out in nature and with the horses (every day), my consciousness expands and opens. My time with horses creates awe and wonder. Horses bring me back to who I am really am. Horses take me out of the ego-self and I experience freedom. When I am with horses, there is no judgment. I feel expanded and open to what the world has in store for me. The hidden secret is that grace (which I receive through the horses) brings me back to who I really am. In order to truly experience this, I must be free within myself. I am centered and at peace when I am being with horses. From what horses teach me, I can apply into my daily life outside of horses.
I am so thankful for the gift of horses. Horses fill my soul. Horses live in that moment of constant presence. I pay attention to that moment when my soul connects with the soul of a horse. I wouldn’t change those moments for anything. When I am with horses, I am home and my true self has no limits or boundaries.
Day 15 of my 21-day meditation experience “Seeing the Big Picture, Becoming the Big Picture.” This is the final stage of my journey where I begin to learn how to live every day in a state of grace. What I learned today is that the more complete I am, the more grace resides within me. I was taught that my heart opens when I am in a state of gratitude, which leads to grace and this is supposed to be a natural way of being. It is the interconnectedness of all that is—you, me, others, nature, animals, everything. I have been drawn to horses my entire life. This tie to horses is innate knowing that I am connected to something greater than myself. When I am present with horses, it just makes sense. It feels right. It feels good. Horses open my soul to a knowing that I don’t get from anything else.
Society has led me to believe that grace is only known and given to saints, holy men, and spiritual masters. This meditation experience taught me that grace permeates everywhere in every aspect of my life. This is natural for everyone—especially when living in gratitude. I know grace happens when I am a complete person. I know expressing gratitude is beneficial to becoming a complete person. I also know it is a work in progress.
This meditation experience has allowed some of my personal stories to emerge and enlarge my perspective. It has also brought up some pains from my past. I know we are interconnected with nature, people, and I am definitely connected to horses. But in order for me to fully live in gratitude and grace, I have to change my attitude. I need to learn to show generosity to horses and people. This new role should come effortlessly, but I have to admit it’s not coming easy for me. Being an agent of grace consists of embodying grace in a fulfilling way of life. Right now, I have it totally down when it comes to horses and animals. My next step is to learn to apply this life to the people around me. Patience, practice, and perseverance … and one day at a time!
Day 14 of my 21-day meditation experience. Today I dove into “Gratitude brings Compassion.” This is what I learned: Compassion is supposed to link us together through our humanness. We as humans are more alike than we are different. And yet, from what I see in the world, we humans can’t seem to get along or see eye to eye. Judgment will deny us the connection that ties us together. Persons who practice compassion become a conduit for peace and understanding. Hearts soften and miracles can happen. I am learning to have more compassion for humans. I feel they are tainted from a very young age. Parents influence judgment by telling children what to believe and how to think. I know that is why I am drawn to animals. Animals are so connected to nature that they don’t judge us.
It is taught that gratitude and compassion are linked. The warm feeling of kindness in our hearts is compassion. For me, sometimes compassion feels impossible towards people. My judgment against those who have wronged me sets in and the desire to be right and validate my feelings takes over. I know this creates separation, but sometimes I can’t help how I feel. I am learning that gratitude is the opposite of judgment and one cannot judge and have compassion at the same time. At times, I feel the need to help and not condemn. However, my bruised ego takes over and I feel that the person who hurt me does not deserve my compassion.
Forgiveness is the next step and I find it very much emotionally depleting—especially when I have to do my forgiveness practice over and over for the same person. Even though I know forgiveness loosens the grip of resentment and grudges, it is still a work in progress for me. When I do find forgiveness, I know my awareness becomes all-encompassing. Forgiveness expands beyond me, myself, and I. Forgiveness allows compassion to open up to an empathetic common ground with humanity. In order to purify my soul, I can only offer this without pride or self-regard. When I stop judging others, that is when I can stop judging myself. Once I get to that place, I will be in a state of grace. Getting there is the hard part ...
Only eight days left of my 21-day meditation experience—today is day 13 and I examined the concept of “success through gratitude.” It is taught that we can’t attract more into our lives until we are capable of being grateful for what we already have. I have learned from society that success only comes from hard work and sacrifice. Spirituality says this is not true. The Universe wants to fill my life with blessings. When I feel my life is blessed, my blessings multiply—that is a law of nature. When I believe I am worthy and recognize my worth, that is when I attract abundance in my life. It is a process, but I am learning to recognize my worth, radiate my gratitude, and give thanks from the depth of my being. As I get better and better at this, success shows up for me.
Success and grace are linked together. I don’t believe in evaluating success from my financials but rather what I achieve on the inside. The desire for more is natural and this is constantly changing. I am learning to accept every gift from the Universe with humility and gratitude. This doesn’t come easily from the ego, but I am learning from meditation how to express gratitude from my true self. Grace is the source of abundance—not the ego’s selfish struggle of wanting more. Ego gratification feels like triumph and grace feels warm to the heart. Ego gratification is only temporary because the ego feels empty and wants more. I addressed this ego-based “more and more” idea on day 11 of my meditation experience and how it applies to the horse world. The ego wants more to feel gratified.
Gratitude aligns my intention to receive the support of nature through horses. I accept a deeper truth—especially when I am with horses. I have always been successful in my relationships with horses and animals. How do I know this? Because they fill my soul with a warmth of peace and satisfaction that I have never achieved from anything else. This sensation never came from a blue ribbon or a trophy. I was only able to experience this true connection with the horse on a spiritual level after I learned how to put my ego aside. Now, I am connected with horses on a level I never dreamed possible. And, it continues to get better and better every day as I practice gratitude and self-awareness. And in return, I receive grace.
Today is day 12 of my 21-day meditation experience and let me tell you this is not getting easier. Today’s meditation was themed “Loving with Gratitude.” It was about divine love, the spiritual grace that supports everyone and everything and this was a challenging topic for me in regards to human love.
My Bio-Energy Analysis mentor taught me that we have two choices—love and fear. I can’t have both at the same time. I either choose love or fear. One or the other. Love, from a place of gratitude, can erase fear and with love, I can overcome fear, anger, and rejection. This is really about connecting with the truest expression of myself. My life experiences have shaped me into who I am today. Loving fearlessly through gratitude is one of the hardest things for me to do ...
In every wisdom tradition, grace is connected to divine love and it is something we can have even if we feel we don’t deserve it. Grace isn’t necessarily a choice, but love is. I can choose whether I give a little or a lot of love. I limit the amount of love I express to humans because humans have caused me more pain and rejection than any horse or animals. There is nothing more awful than allowing yourself to be vulnerable and love someone only to find that love is not reciprocated. However, the pain from my past does not stop me from giving and receiving love with horses. The more love I give to the horses the more I become who I am really am and my heart is gladdened. Gratitude assists in love through the removal of my ego … but I am not always successful.
At this time in my life, the only way I feel supported by divine love and grace is through animals. My horses are a huge support system, but I also have some amazing felines in my life. Horses are amazing creatures, however, when you have a cat or dog that lives in your house and shares a bed with you, it changes the dynamic. For me, there are few things more gratifying than a snuggly, purring puddy cat on my lap.
Active steps I take towards gratitude that are helping me overcome my inner obstacles and resistance to divine love with humans is learning the art of forgiveness. It is not easy for me. I know how to forgive and keep it in the past. I have yet to accomplish it in the present. I feel like if someone hurts or wrongs me over and over then I just have to do my forgiveness process over and over. It is emotionally exhausting. Thank goodness for the animals that rejuvenate me! I know as I continue to practice forgiveness (over and over) and keep practicing gratitude and receiving grace, one day the hurt and pain will stay away and I will be able to experience divine love on a whole different level. Today, that’s all I can do but practice makes perfect, right?
Today is day 11 of my 21-day meditation experience and the theme for today is “Nature’s Generosity is Waiting.” What does that mean? I have learned that in a moment of grace, I am supposed to feel safe and worthy. Love is all around me. Nature is infinitely generous and I am supported all the time. For most of my life, I have been criticized for my love and committed lifestyle to horses—mostly by non-horse people, but nonetheless criticized and judged. Over the years, I have learned to embrace my uniqueness and gift of being connected to horses. This inner growth has led me to my truth, understanding, and acceptance of myself. Something I believe I never would have learned to acknowledge and honor about myself without my gratitude for the horse.
The more I grow to appreciate horses the more I receive grace from the horses. When I am with horses, I lose all thoughts of being unworthy or symptoms of contracted awareness. When I recognize limitations in my life, I choose to come back to meditation and open my awareness. I do this when I am with horses. Some people think that meditating requires sitting cross-legged on a pillow chanting the word “om” over and over. Yes, this is one way to meditate, however, being in the present moment is achieved in many different ways. One can even meditate while doing the dishes. I meditate while I am cleaning poop, grooming, and sometimes just sitting and listening to them eat.
The opposite of contracted awareness is expanded awareness and it isn’t passive. Expanded awareness opens me up to the generosity of nature. I see this in my connection with horses. I know in my heart that it is part of my birthright and my God-given destiny. Expanded awareness is normal to me when I am with the horses. It is said that contracted awareness is abnormal and stems from fear and doubt. I am sure we have all experienced that!
Nature is always generous through constant replenishment. It is the flow of life. Even though it is very painful when I lose a horse, it doesn’t stop the Universe from bringing new ones to me. This flow of horses in my life is what keeps me growing and blooming. Horses inspire me and are my mentors for keeping in the present moment. When I am generous and give to the horses my time, energy, and love, I always get something positive in return from them—their energy renews me. Horses are truly a gift to me from the creator of the universe!
There are two domains of life—the inner and the outer. Through my gratitude for horses and the world they live in, it effortlessly links me to my inner domain. I believe our culture and society only know how to link to the outer domain of life. We are taught that more material things are better and more leads to abundance. But what I observe in the horse world, is that more leads to extremes and extremes lead to unhealthy horses. From an inner perspective, I would like to see more love, respect, and appreciation for the health and well-being of the horse that yields longevity. This would require us to put aside the ego and release all attachments to blue ribbons and accolades.
I gave up horse shows years ago. It is not to say that I will never show again or that I condemn horse shows. I say it all the time, “It’s not what we do, it’s how we do it.” The motive for doing things with horses should not be in a competitive nature. It needs to be about the nature of bonding and connecting with the horse. I desire to see a shift in the horse world. A shift in the mentality that believes the horse is a tool and a means of winning. For this to happen, it would require us to think differently. For example, we need to use the discipline of dressage for the horse and not the horse for dressage. Perhaps this begins with the awareness of gratitude and being in the present moment. When we stop thinking about the next show and the next ribbon, that is when we can truly be in the now and appreciate today’s ride and the love of our horse.
When I feel gratitude at the moment, I can cultivate a sense of acceptance and openness as is. I know that by dissolving differences it allows an opening to a way of deeper connection alignment and energy. That is true love and grace manifested. Heartfelt gratitude enables bonds to flourish and connect with what truly matters. Gratitude can bring us together. But first, we have to be open to it ...
I imagine gratitude is magical—it has the ability to dissolve resentment and remove obstacles. But, it comes down to have a fulfilling relationship and you have to be able to relate to each other. I have learned that what I give and receive is the life of my relationships. Giving is most powerful at the emotional level. I believe the horses are thankful I am in their life and I am thankful they are in my world. World traditions teach that the giver benefits as much as the receiver—I experience this every day I am with horses. I know this is supposed to soothe the heart and allows relationships to flourish, but sometimes I only experience it with horses. However, it is taught that we cannot achieve this without expanded awareness aka. gratitude. My true self knows that grace can accomplish what the ego cannot. My ego self isn’t always ready for it.
I am learning to be grateful for the here and now and not the delusion of an old dream. The real potential is ready to be awakened when I allow gratitude and form a bond that allows two to become one. I totally get this from my relationships and bonds with horses. I am learning that grace can keep the flow open even when I am anxious and doubt the perfection of any relationship. I know my real potential is waiting to be awakened. However ...
I am not going to lie, today’s meditation was a challenge. Perhaps life got in the way, a tax appointment, distractions, and just not enough hours in the day. But as I follow through on my commitment at the eleventh hour, I realize that today’s theme is probably not a coincidence after what I wrote yesterday. If gratitude expands every relationship, then why do I have a hard time finding gratitude in the ex-relationship I spoke of yesterday? Words are hurtful and you can’t take them back. It’s like putting toothpaste back in the tube … it does not work.
Love is nothing without action. Trust is nothing without proof, and sorry is nothing without change. My current emotional state does not allow me to feel the good qualities I once thought I knew of this person. The qualities that used to make me feel good. I have no idea if it would be possible or how it would be possible to feel what I used to feel, but what I know for sure is this, “Right now, at this exact moment in time, horses are the only thing that makes me feel good. That and a cuddly, purring puddy cat sitting in my lap. That is my current present moment and the present moment is all that matters and for that I am grateful.
This meditation experience is assisting me in learning to be aware and appreciate the privilege of the ultimate connection to grace through gratitude. It is my connection to the divine. I am grateful for who I am. It has taken me many moons of being the black sheep of the family and learning about myself. But what I know now is that I am the author of my own story and I choose the chapter I want to write—day by day.
Reality is always personal based on each individual experience. Every one of my experiences is filtered through my core beliefs and attitudes. My emotions are always responding even when I am not aware of them. I know that I am unique in how I see the world and I have control over my individual reality. Only I can reassure myself. Only I can be the author of my own life story and my story can change. Every day is a new world with new possibilities. I am not the same person as I was yesterday and I will not be the same person tomorrow. Gratitude connects me to today’s reality. As part of my true self, the only constants in my life are existence, nature, grace, truth, and love.
When I make this connection to gratitude, hours and days stop feeling like the same thing. Repetition makes life stale. It brings boredom, indifference, and fatigue. When I keep repeating the things I have no real interest in, I can grow numb. Instead, I choose to experience life through the nature of being with horses. The continuity of the freshness in every moment I experience with horses delivers me grace. This is why I do horses. Every day is a new day. Every ride is a new ride. Every moment is a new moment. I never stop learning or growing when I am with horses. Without them, I would be numb and stale.
I have specific memories of an experience I had with an ex-boyfriend regarding my lifestyle with horses. On numerous occasions, he belittled my relationship and my love for horses by saying hurtful things like, “You repulse me because you wear cowboy boots to ride in.” Ultimately, I feel he blamed the horses and used it as an excuse to break up. It is very hard for me to find gratitude from that relationship. I know we had some good times and vibrated together in chemical attraction and at times on a spiritual level. But at the end of the day, I have strong physical sensations of pain and feelings of hurt and betrayal. It always made me question how someone could tell me they loved me, but then devalued the only unconditional love I have ever known from horses.
As a result, I have gained an even stronger love and appreciation for the horses in my life. Horses are not just a hobby. They are the only constants in my life. Horses are my existence. They are my connection to nature, grace, truth, and love. And for that, I am eternally grateful that the Universe brought horses into my life as a small child and that I will leave this planet with horses in my heart and spirit.
Today, I started the second week of my meditation experience. This week explores a deeper facet of gratitude—my overall health and well-being. Science has proven that new pathways open in our brains and change when we practice thoughts of gratitude. The more I practice gratitude the more I want my neuropathways to open up and change for the better.
There are only two kinds of input our brains experience; negative and positive. Obviously, positive input increases our well-being and negative input decreases our well-being. Gratitude is a positive input and aids in the generating of new pathways in my brain. Gratitude also leads to compassion and empathy. When I focus my awareness on positive input, greater health and well-being come my way. But, it is something that I have to exercise—just like going to the gym to exercise the body we have to exercise our brains too! As I continue to exercise my brain with gratitude, compassion and empathy become a little easier.
Gratitude is not a totally new concept for me. One of the first spiritual teachers that showed up in my life was Dr. Wayne Dyer. I have never forgotten how he shared the first thing he did every morning when he awoke was to say, “Thank you.” This is a practice I have incorporated into my everyday life except I say “thank you” one time for every horse and cat I have in my life. I also give my animals hugs and tell them they are loved. Because every time you give a hug, you receive a hug and love is one of the highest vibrating emotions.
Three main factors that contribute to negative input in my brain are the negative voices in my head that stem from negative people in my life declaring things over me like, “You can’t do that” and “You will always be a failure as long as you have horses.” This negativity has led me down a path to insecurity, self-doubt, and fear of standing in my truth. Ways I am learning to eliminate these negative inputs are by eliminating people and things in my life that are not for my highest good. From now on, I only allow people in my life who love and accept me for me—this includes my love of animals along with my passion and lifestyle for horses.
When I practice gratitude, it allows the awareness of what shows up in different areas of my life including health and wellness. The more I practice gratitude the more I can reroute old pathways in my brain and turn them into a positive pathway. From now on, I choose a healthy mind and body and I hope you do too!
I am still learning how to connect gratitude and grace through this 21-day meditation experience. What I have learned is that shifts towards grace open up from a place of gratitude. It is not uncommon for obstacles to show up during personal growth. Obstacles many times are messages from the Universe. I have to remind myself that when I start to feel struggle from life’s obstacles, it is time to pause. I can choose how I react to the obstacles. Do I react as a negative or as an opportunity to know that all will be well? There is always a blessing in every issue.
Obstacles are not my enemy. They are signals from my true self to look at the situation differently. When obstacles show up, many times I allow inner resistance to getting in the way of my gratitude. Looking at life’s dark side was taught to me by my family. I grew up hearing nothing except negative. Over time, these pessimistic beliefs became “normal.” When those old thought patterns show up for me, I can’t see or feel gratitude. My family never taught me to be grateful for anything. I was only taught to be what my father called a realist. Learning to shift my perception has helped make room for optimism to start in my life. This is where I am today. Learning to not resist opens me up to receive grace.
One thing I struggle with that I am sure we can all relate to is stress. Stress from everyday life. Things don’t always go the way I plan or things show up in my life that I wasn’t expecting. I know I shouldn’t let it, but I allow it to stress me out. Through meditation, being with my horses, and learning the art of gratitude, it puts me in the present moment. I believe we can’t hear it enough, “When you are in the present moment, nothing else matters!” The past no longer exists, therefore, the past does not matter. The only thing we have control over is the here and now. As I learn to do this, I start to feel the joy of my true self and that feels good.
Eckhart Tolle taught me to say yes to the present moment and yes to life. This includes surrendering to what is. And the next step is to change yes to thank you. When I allow distractions to distance me from the here and now, that is when I feel I need more and don’t feel satisfied with my current life. Bringing myself back to a place of gratitude reminds me that the present moment of gratefulness creates abundance.
I realize that every moment has its own energy and unique feeling. It brings out grace in the here and now. Grace does not exist in the past or the future. When I awaken my gratitude, grace responds to me. When life is not enough, gratitude turns my attention away from what I don’t have to what I do have.
When I spend time with the horses, I have sincere gratitude for their energy and presence around me. Horses are the epitome of being in the present moment. I love sitting with them when they eat. I love listening to their gentle munching noises and observe the softness in their eyes. The horses are not worried about what tomorrow will bring. The horses aren’t angry about something someone did to them in the past. Every moment I am with my horses is filled with grace.
Things that distract me are text messages and Facebook notifications. When I hear my phone ding, I can’t help but see what or who it is. But when I check my phone, I am no longer in the present moment with my horses. I make it a habit to leave my phone in the house or tack room while I am with my horses. Horses are definitely what brings me into the present moment. How do your horses assist you in tapping into the here and now?
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