I've been in some jams. I mean, of the serious there is no way in hell you are going to survive this one kind. Not just the omigosh I have stepped up on the wrong horse at the wrong time kind. Those aren't great either but the ones I am talking about are of considerably greater magnitude.
I have faced eviction as the single mother of two little kids and a certain amount of cats. Innocent lives depending on me to make a midnight hour right decision after I've probably made a series of wrong ones. I have watched my only vehicle ride away on the end of a tow truck because I skipped one too many payments (usually in favor of groceries or staving off said eviction but it matters not on the bottom line).
I have said the final word, the straw that broke the camel's back and destroyed relationships that meant the world to me. I've woke up in the middle of the night with the firm conviction the world would not miss me, where I to depart and that I surely would not miss it. I've opened my eyes in the morning, disappointed to still be alive.
Cheery, eh, on this day of Thanksgiving? And isn't this supposed to be a blog about horses? Don't worry, it's about to take an upturn and there's going to be a horse, almost always, there's going to be a horse.
I woke up this morning understanding how very incredibly blessed I am, me and just about everyone I know. There’s the basics, roof overhead, heat that works, food in the fridge. The luxuries are too numerous to mention. There is just about no way to get from the places and people I have been to where I find myself and at times, ungratefully even yet.
I've had to learn how to live life differently to stop the above type events from repeating themselves. Taken in solidly to heart that if you don't like what you are getting, change what you are doing. Hey, yeah, this applies to horses, too . . .
I used to think the things I did had something to do with lack of choices. “Did what I had to do.”
If I had a nickel for every time those words have been my excuse, I'd not need the day job I currently show up to whether I “feel it” or not.
There's been the gift of a series of teachers my entire life bringing home to me the message that what I do, I choose. Take responsibility for the results and if they aren't what I care for, there is ALWAYS another choice to make. When you are in the tunnel, you probably won't know this; I don't, but one foot in front of the other will get you some amazing places. (you can insert horse, here if you like)
When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Last night I am teaching my little lesson group, an honor I am privileged to have. We are in the indoor arena, big beautiful thing with the frigid chill just touched by the comfort of the wood stove chugging away in the corner. It's downright cozy. The technique for the night is backing up from the ground, horse straight, soft, chin down and in.
I grasp Royal by the halter knot, facing him. I pick a spot behind us and set my intention to back to that spot. I may only need a step or two, or it might take us halfway across the arena to get it right. I am willing to be as soft as I am able and as firm as I need, to get my point across. As with human beings, it’s almost always softer than I think that does the job.
Doesn't take much, in fact he's a lousy demo because it's really hard to see what I am doing to get him to do what he is doing.
It's not as easy as it sounds and it certainly isn't as easy as Royal is making it look. I laugh and explain he surely did not start like this. I talk about the rebellious head flinging that used to greet my requests for give. The snail like rolling of his neck til his chin was upside down against his chest, feet heavily braced until he had to jump away from me rather than acquiesce to my request. How that squirrelly butt will often go anywhere, everywhere than take steps straight behind.
So, things don’t always go easy, in fact, the most worth while rarely do. It’s the lessons learned on the way that turn out to be of lasting value. Who knew?
I say Peter has been the latest in that line of great teachers, but you know, really it's Royal. He's the one it mattered enough to hang in there with, not the first but the latest.
Learning how to stay in for the long haul started quite awhile ago, pretty accidentally with friends I found I could let go of for a moment but not a lifetime.
Kids whose love matters more to me than anything on the planet so I take care to preserve our relationships and now, their kids that I can hopefully be the right kind of Grandma to, a first in a long line of teachers to come. A husband that has grown with and beside me. We might not always agree but neither one of us are living with our hand on the door knob and we'll keep working things out and enjoying one another's company. There’s that job that isn't looking forward to the day I am not there.
Committing to the long haul is showing up one day at a time, suiting up in the best way you are able and sometimes that just means staying alive and drawing breath until the next good step to take shows up.
We are all in this alone, have to take our steps ourselves. And, none of us are truly alone, there is always someone with a hand to grasp even though you might not see it right away or it might be a different one than you thought you needed.
This is all about surviving the dark night of the soul and it shows up eventually for us all and some, sooner and more often than others. It's about making changes that the twins, fear and pride tell you aren't possible or necessary.
Those changes start small and end up unimaginably big.
The light at the end of the tunnel is the sun coming up for one more day, of life, of choices, of offering gratitude and another opportunity to saddle up and ride.
Happy Thanksgiving all, may your day be blessed and your saddle never leave a sore. (insert horse)