Relaxation With Conditions

I am sipping tea in Oakland, California at 2:45 in the afternoon in my sister’s house. I’m still in my pajamas. I have done very little in the way of productivity today, and have really enjoyed it.

As every mother, business owner, worker of any kind, person living in todays world knows – you have to work for money, and this takes up your time. Self care is a privilege.

I’m blessed to do what I love for work. Though I’m working very hard to organize my life to factor in more time to myself and family, I make a trade off of some freedoms for others- the freedom to follow my life’s passion in exchange for some certainty, predictable income, shaky ground I sometimes walk.

Normally, time off is a burden. Anything I don’t do in that time is an additional load when I get back to work. Fences come down, shoes come off, feed runs out, something gets missed, somebody forgot something- feathers to be smoothed, relationships repaired, work to catch up on.

Telling a person to relax without providing the conditions to enable it is folly.

Now, I’m on the second day of my little mini vacation and feeling the layers of rush, of go, of checking my calendar, of answering emails and messages and text messages and tweets and twitters and carrier pigeons and smoke signals… they are beginning to melt away. I’m starting to breathe a little bit. But it’s taken almost two days to just let go of feeling like there was some work I was missing.

I’m reminded of a horse, a person, and a round pen. I think of watching the horse let go a little bit, and how much the person wants the horse to let them in- to relax, to accept. And how we weedle our way in and become untrustworthy in our want- it’s a selfish demand, wrapped up in a cloak to appear harmless. I want. I want you to trust me, I want you to confide in me, I want to feel like I know what you need-

We can’t make any of those things happen. We can only allow. We can’t tell anyone to relax or let down or trust, we can only be a safe and neutral person nearby.

We can’t make someone relax, but we can take the burden off of them until they trust that they can breathe.

We can’t make the horse let down until the conditions are present to allow for it. We can say all the right things, and have all the right intentions- but if the presentation is a trap, is predatory, is untrustworthy, we are a wolf in sheeps clothes-

Be that person that can plunk down and surrender, and wait. Be that person that is there, every time, and proves they are trustworthy. Be the one that eases the discomfort, that provides some solution. You can’t say I want without giving-

Be that person that needs nothing from the other- that is the lesson in friendship that horses offer us when they saunter over, smelling of warm, musty sweat and thistle, and rest their muzzles on our shoulders- they offer us a place to let down, because there is no want. There is no condition, no push, no “come on, you can confide in me.”

You trust because there is a place for you, a place that has been there, time and time again, for you to nestle into, and let go.

To My Student

To my student-

I am at times going to give you some information that might hurt you.

I would never want you to hurt intentionally, because I care deeply about you. But, because I know you want growth, I am obligated to tell you what you need to know to grow. I respect you too much to let you go on this way.

I will try to present this as best I can with a tone that can help you hear it, but, I know ultimately it is out of my control how it is received.

I will try to layer in praise, encouragement and everything else a person needs to go forward- but I know it is humans nature to hold on to criticism for dear life.

I know that what can pull you through these times is the relationship of trusting we have- trusting each other. You trust me with your safety, physically and emotionally- I know just how giant a leap one must make to trust someone in that way, and that is very special to me. I trust you to give me your best, to tell me what you need, and to be respectful toward me, too. I’m sharing work that means the world to me, work that is meaningful and beautiful to me, and I trust you to honor it.

You trust that I want you to be the best you can be, and that I respect you enough to tell you this. This information comes to empower you, never to make you feel small. Because I know how strong you are, and what you are capable of.

It is not attached to a judgement. If you are on the wrong path, making a mistake, doing something that just won’t work, it doesn’t make you bad. It just is. I know how painful it can be to hear were doing something wrong, but it doesn’t mean YOURE wrong. I know it’s wrong because I’ve done it – I’ve been there, and I see where it goes.

I’m not better than you, and that’s not the point. I’m someone who has experience and can see what you need, but I’m not speaking from a pedestal. I’m here with you to bring you to where I know you can be.

But this isn’t about me, in the end. It’s you who has to make that leap of faith, to take my words and trust that they’re there for you, not to take away from you. It’s you who has to put in the work of improvement. I can be here waiting in the arena for when you’re ready to do the hard work, but I can’t do it for you.

I’m here, because I know you can do it.

Photo by Melinda Yelvington

Work/Life/Riding

Work/family/life balance?

Let me just start off by saying I do not have it together. This is not a how-to, because I do not know ”how-to” have it together. There’s just too much going on and not enough time in the day.

And I know that it isn’t just me- I know that as a society, we are all over scheduled, over burdened, in debt, overwhelmed, and let’s just say it straight- not doing so hot.

Anyone who looks at someone and thinks they have it all together is only seeing the outer presentation- maybe some of us have more means and support than others, but we all have our own version of “hard,” no two ways about it.

So this is not a how to, but simply my observation and advice when it comes to splitting time between family, work and horses-

1- something has to give. Sorry, but you can’t have it all. Don’t worry about looking perfect- The house might not be perfectly clean, or you wash the laundry again for the third time instead of putting it away in exchange for riding- you decide your priorities with the time allotted you, and cut out what isn’t essential. You might end up cutting more than you wanted- In a survival situation, what’s going in the life boat? You can’t take it all.

2- aim for quality above all. You might not be able to get in a full hours ride at the barn- putting your 100% focus into something basic you can do a great job at is far better than nothing. Let go of the guilt and put in your best with the time you have

3- outsource if you need help – if you can’t get out to ride your horse and you have the means, seek out someone to fill in the spaces you can’t fill. Outsource the bookkeeping, the house cleaning, the stall cleaning, whatever you need or can do. It’s not a failure- nobody can do it all.

4- say no to tasks you can’t manage. If you don’t have time, you don’t have time for people pleasing. I know exactly how easy it is to overfill your books to take care of everyone, but learning to say no to others is saying yes to yourself- you deserve it. Albeit hard, it is a complete life saver. No is a full sentence

5- arm your circle with people who are willing to deal with the “real.” Folks who arent offended by a late reply, know that kids are messy and loud, know that your work is a lot to carry- people that allow you the space to be a full and real person. You’ll feel supported, in good company, and have the space to let down a little if you know you don’t have to put on the act of having it together.

Perfection ?

An old mentor of mine once said, “the best are not better than you, they just failed for longer.”

When we look at those we aspire to be like, we likely see them wrapped in a shining aura of success. What we don’t see is their lows, their struggles, and what they came from.

Some folks have more resources and help than others, some have more opportunities than others, but, nobody is without their struggle.

We like to idolize our heroes and put them on a pedestal , I’m guilty just as much as anyone else – what would you think if you saw them at their lowest? If you saw them bucked off in the dirt, or having a meltdown, or met them when their clients had all fired them, or when they couldn’t load a tough horse, or when they were mid divorce or after a loss or otherwise not on top of things?

We want vulnerability, but we praise perfection and punish the mess. We often don’t tolerate professionals making mistakes – but, we know that mistakes are essential to growth.

So this is a two part plea- one, to forgive your mess, to have grace in your bumpy ride down the potholed road to success. It will jar your teeth, it will make you cry, and you will fail. And that is all perfectly normal, necessary even.

And two, to forgive the mess of others, and when you see someone blatantly wrong, to know they can grow. When you see someone fall, know they don’t have to live there. When you see someone’s arrogance or anger or frustration or outright dismal behavior, it isn’t a free pass, but it’s simply a snippet of their life- a bump, a twist, a turn- and they don’t have to live that way in your mind forever.

Success is not a destination but a mindset, that every bump leads somewhere and has value, that the obstacle IS the path.

What We Want

We want our horses to behave, but most of us haven’t learned to behave ourselves

We want our horses to be calm, but most of our minds are twisted up like a brambled ball of barbed wire
And our horses carry the burden

We want our horses to know their limits, but most of us still use the adult version of a temper tantrum to get what we want-
We’re entitled, never satisfied, and bitter about what we didn’t get
but hope the horse is happy with nothing but what we give him

We want the horse to settle and live peacefully
But we can’t get along with each other, can’t eat our words, can’t say sorry I messed up

We want the horse to be satisfied
But we complain endlessly

We want the horse to be straight
But we haven’t straightened out our own lives

We want, want, want,
And leave the horse wanting-
A reflection of our own inner turmoil and imbalance

Can you see this is a very real problem?
It all begins, and ends, inside our own minds
Inside our own lives
Inside our daily behavior
Inside how we get along
Inside what we put out

For what you do to one,
You do to all

I Don’t Want To

I don’t want to be right
I want to be open

I don’t want to defend my work all the time
I want to discuss ideas

I don’t want to look like I have it all together
I want to look curious

I don’t want to be in an arms race against a million other voices
I want to make people think, squirm, get mad, be moved, be uncomfortable, to wake up, to feel something

I want to ask questions
Wonder
Learn
And practice

I don’t want to be thought of as an expert
I want to be thought of as a human, with observations

I don’t want to waste my energy protecting an image
Because there is too much out there to learn
And I don’t have enough time to do it all

A person will turn their nose up at your wording
Or your shirt

Ask who you ride with
And argue semantics

But

I never met a horse who corrected my spelling
Or said they couldn’t take me seriously without a wardrobe change

And so
This is where my time is best spent

Learning to be the best type of person a horse could feel good next to
And talking about it to anyone who will listen

Learning

The actual process of learning, if we’re thinking of it as just a straight shot of information, does not take that long.

If we were simply learning, we could progress very quickly.

The lengthy part is the floundering, the internal crisis, the doubting, the comparing our journey with all our friends, the stumbling over mental habits that get in our way, the leaving the program and coming back later, the trying but not really cause it’s hard, the crying-

The process of learning, for most of us, is not actually putting information into application, but the unpacking of our previous beliefs, the thought patterns that aren’t productive, and the garbage we carry around that keeps us from progressing in a real way.

Learning takes the time it takes because of the tangled knots in our minds- it drags on because we untie one knot and tie in three more, until we’re wrapped up and choked out by them. But for the unknotted mind, it is simply information with a clear place to land, and practice moving it forward.

It’s Time

It’s time to retrain ourselves in how to learn and expect learning to go.

For decades, top names have pedaled programs in digestible, easy steps. You can buy a dvd and a trademarked stick and stick to the plan for success; follow the flow chart. Trainers have rotated horses in and out of their barns at lightning speed, 30 days to broke. We’ve subconsciously learned that you can buy results, in a customer is always right mentality –
But you can’t buy it, and the customer is not always right. The horse is.

You can’t buy an education, and you can’t buy training. Not really. You, the student, have to open your mind, do the work, be your own salvation. The teacher can guide you to it, but you can’t buy it.

It’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s time to accept information you don’t like- to be told you have to go back to basics. It’s time to stop seeking tips, tricks and tuneups, and start seeking a real basis of knowledge. Its time to understand the horse doesn’t come reading the training manual- it’s time to learn to observe and think for yourself, stop seeking a step by step plan.

It’s time to be ok with hearing no- your horse is too lame to jump, you can’t ride him til he’s ready, hes going to break down if you don’t rehab him first.

It’s time for clinicians and trainers to stop dumbing the content down, and to start taking their craft seriously. It’s time to tell the public what they need to hear, not what they want. It’s time to say you have no need to learn to piaffe, you need to learn how to sit better or quiet your mind. It’s time to start delivering the truth and not what’s going to make you popular.

It’s time for real change in the industry – it’s time for real change within ourselves. It’s time to get comfortable not knowing, not being validated, and not being sold a magical cure. You know it to be true, but it won’t happen until you take it to heart, and put it into action.

Self Improvement

I’ve become incredibly interested in self development as the only real way to make lasting change with horses. We can teach training methods and spout opinions until the cows come home, but until we learn to master our own bodies and minds, it will lead to very little progress.

To me, horsemanship has become a vehicle for self improvement, of which I’m extremely grateful.

Meditation has been an important part of my daily habits and has impacted me greatly. I’ve become very interested in the subconscious mind and just how much it affects us in a large way, and thankfully have been introduced to some amazing people doing important work –

All this is to say that I’m grateful to have a new partnering with Hypno-Ride , which is a team of two amazing women offering daily meditations and self hypnosis for confidence development and overcoming fear. This is suitable for all riders looking for a better experience with their horse and in their life. These are women looking to make a difference in peoples lives and spread their content in an inclusive way, affordable enough for everyone to benefit from.

These are very economical and generously priced downloads that you can use again and again to help better your mental frame, to bring your horse your best.

They’ve generously offered a discount from an already generous price to my readers with the following discount code:

Check it out: http://www.hypnoride.com

I’m really excited to be teaming up with folks making a real difference for people!

Leadership

Leadership isn’t all puppies and rainbows. Sometimes we push a button, step on toes, hurt feelings. Sometimes we hit a nerve with a student. Sometimes we scare a horse. Sometimes we draw a line and people don’t love us.

A good leader doesn’t relish confrontation, but understands the bigger picture is more important than temporary comforts. A good leader isn’t a people pleaser, but a conscience pleaser.
They model unemotional boundaries. They have the best interest of others at heart, and sometimes tough conversations happen.

To serve others, me must serve ourselves too. The work of making others happy at our own expense is so draining, there would be nothing of value left to give- a leader knows this energy is precious and gives it freely, but judiciously.

A good leader is a steward of those in their care- and remembers this even when what’s in the best interest of others is not what they wanted.